The LG G3 bounces back to Kitkat-grade greatness with Marshmallow

The LG G3 bounces back to Kitkat-grade greatness with Marshmallow


The international model of the LG G3 has been swimming in murky Lollipop waters, an update that almost crippled this beautiful device to death amid complaints by Lollipop users across the globe. There’s no easy way of making this punch soft; Android 5.0 was, and still is a mess – but that was taken care of months ago when Google rectified the situation with Marshmallow – an attempt which has successfully managed to edge out the ugliness brought along by Lollipop. The OTA (over-the-air update) for the G3 (D855, both the 16 and 32GB model) was pushed more than a week ago in Poland, but I flashed the KDZ file on my device and have been testing it since. Here, in accordance to the official changelog, is what has changed/improved:


DOZE/BATTERY OPTIMIZATIONS

Doze is an all new feature that is part of the 6.0 update. Upon multiple tests, it works very well. Simply put your device at rest then through its army of sensors, Doze detects when it’s idle and sends your apps into deep sleep. There are no app refreshes during this period, and this helps in extending your battery longevity. Doze is then revoked when you start using your G3 again.

It is important to remember that battery optimizations can be ignored for apps that you want to get notifications from like that important email or a text from a contact in WhatsApp.

Additionally, there is a video optimizer setting that lowers video quality in games to save some juice. You can turn it off if you want your graphics to be crispy.

Battery Optimizations

Path: Settings > Battery & power saving > Battery usage


APP PERMISSIONS

Before Marshmallow, app permissions were shoved down a user’s throat; users had no control over them (except those running Oxygen OS on the OnePlus 2 with Android 5.1.1). Things have improved though, with an app seeking your approval should it need to access some part of your phone like the microphone, location or your storage. For example, if you want to send an MMS, the Messages app will ask you to allow it access the phone storage.

Marshmallow App Permissions

To manage these permissions, you can follow this path on your LG G3: Settings > Apps > Select Target App > Permissions


DIRECT SHARE

direct share 1

When sharing an item, say a picture from your gallery with the ‘Share Via’ option, the system recommends the people (top 8) and apps you frequently contact with just a single click. This is very useful as it reduces the steps of going into specific apps and picking out the desired person, or the hassles of scrolling through a number of the listed apps.


KNOCK CODE SETTINGS

Knock Code is LG’s exclusive lock screen security setting implemented by a sequence of unique taps on the screen. Now, it has been improved to at least six different taps on three different quarters from three taps (even on the same quarter) in the previous version. Personally, I’m quite skeptical about the new implementation; first, because it is tedious to unlock your device with 6 taps and secondly because there is no setting to disable the double-tap-to wake feature (they work together) if you don’t want it.

Path: Settings > Lock screen > Select screen lock


VOLUME CONTROL/SILENT MODE

Now you can control the system volumes with the volume buttons. The system can be muted via the volume-down key; the interruption mode in Lollipop could not do that because its provisions were not user-friendly. Somehow, this is still present under a new branding, “Do Not Disturb” mode, but with an intuitive presentation of setting it to Priority Mode with selective interruptions or Total Silence.

Marshmallow Volume Controls

Path: Settings>Sound & notification


HEADS-UP NOTIFICATIONS

Fancied as App Peeking, heads-up notifications can now be tamed; in Lollipop, you can’t stop them unless you stop app notifications altogether. I’ve always had a problem with this setting especially when it comes to privacy concerns because of their persistence of invading your notification shade at the wrong time, or when the wrong person is using your phone.

Path: Settings > App > Select Target App > Notifications


SIMPLIFIED APP SETTINGS (LOL)

Older Android versions have a tabbed app settings panel for running apps, downloaded ones and those on external/internal storage. With Android 6.0, all these tabs have been bunched into a long list of apps, with a toggle to show or hide system apps.

Here, you’ll find the option to reset app preferences, reset default apps, the ‘show system’ option and one for app configuration. It is with this last option that complicate things a little bit too much for my taste. It includes:

App Permissions

App permissions 3

Here, the numbers of apps accessing features of the phone are shown e.g, how many apps, and which apps are accessing your location. Additionally, the numbers of installed apps with permissions to access such a feature are totaled next to it as shown on the screen grab.

App Links

App links allows the system to have greater awareness of which apps should open content directly, instead of stopping users every time with the dialog box.

Default Apps (not a new feature)

Here, you choose a default app for a certain task, e.g Chrome as your primary browser, etc

Draw over apps

Draw over apps

This is a similar setting to heads-up notification. If checked, notifications from those apps will be displayed on top of the current screen.

Ignore Optimizations

If you want certain apps to ignore Doze, you can select them from these setting. This means that they will be running at the background at all times.

Modify system settings

You can give apps to write on system settings like file managers for the normal file operations, music players like Poweramp should you choose to delete songs or edit their tags, etc.

Modify System


GOOGLE SETTINGS

They are now part of the phone system settings and not as an app. You can review your sign-in security, privacy settings, check the apps connected to your Google account ,Google Photos backup, etc.


GOOGLE NOW ON TAP

This was extensively covered here.


OTHER KEY FINDINGS

The Dialer, Contacts and Messaging apps have received a material design facelift.

The UI

The LG UI

QuickMemo has been renamed to Capture+. It works the same old way, but it now needs your email so that it can sync your memos for safe storage.

A flashlight toggle has been added on the drop-down menu, so no more groping for a good flashlight app on the Play Store. It even works when you dim your screen.

The camera interface is the same with its minimalist approach (no manual mode, sorry). The slow-mo toggle has been added to the toggle plus you can now launch the camera by holding the volume down button when the phone is locked.

Slow mo

Bloat is absent. Nice. The only preload is the McAfee Security app. Bravo LG.

Battery life is better, with over 4hrs of screen-on-time of mixed usage.

LG G3 Marshmallow Battery Life

The entire UI is clean, relatively speaking. Some app icons have been redesigned, like those of the camera and gallery.

And to crown it all, performance has seen a huge boost. Sluggish app-switcher button? Tamed. I’m actually back to running lots of apps in the background and switching them back and forth without actually bogging down the processor or running out of memory. Slow app launches? Gone. Animations are sleek and buttery smooth.


COMPLAINTS

The navigation buttons are still gigantic. The design team might quickly defend them as they merge smoothly with LG UX, but it doesn’t make them small nonetheless. Worse still, they are widely spaced. Why? Ugh.

LG G3 Nav Bar

Why do they have to be so Gigantic?

Some may argue that the settings panel is cluttered, and I will agree. A tabbed panel that needs scrollable text at the top is obviously poorly designed. The app settings aren’t even intuitive because they actually stray off from the simplicity they are supposed to offer.

The power-hungry QHD display still overheats. This poorly optimised panel will never be helped even with a software update.

Finally, if you are a pure Android enthusiast, you will hate the LG skin from the first day. The toggles on the drop-down menu are not the prettiest, app icons are subjectively cartoonish and there’s a mismatch of those icons with downloaded apps, making the entire UI look disorganized to say the very least. But if you are okay with Android skins, then you will feel at home as you will find nothing wrong here other than lack of cohesion from the design crew.


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