Friday, April 29, 2016

Don’t Miss These Android Stories: April 29, 2016

Another week in the books here at DL. This week was filled with a lot of good news, highlighted by Rick Osterloh’s joining of Google to oversee the Nexus program. Also filed under the “good” section of this week, Fenix (the Twitter client) did not vanish forever due to running out of tokens, and instead, Twitter appears to be working better with developers to keep issues such as this from happening.

Also happening, we posted up a guide to buying your first unlocked smartphone, gave you five good reasons to purchase a HTC 10, provided an overview of Google’s new MODE Android Wear watch bands, talked about possible HTC Nexus device, and much more.

Don’t miss this week’s highlights. 

Go, Blazers!

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DEAL: Unlocked Galaxy S7 Edge Drops to $628.99 at eBay

So, earlier today, we shared a deal on an unlocked Samsung Galaxy S7 that was available over on eBay for just $559. That’s still a hell of a deal, but now we have a Galaxy S7 Edge, a phone that is arguably superior and a fan favorite around these parts, in the same unlocked capacity, for just $628.99.

Come on, that’s just not fair. This phone is well over $700 at US carriers and is inching close to $800 at some. 

With this unlocked S7 Edge (SM-G935F), you are looking at the same situation as the unlocked S7 (SM-G930F), which means Exynos processor instead of the Snapdragon 820, no Samsung Pay, and connectivity on T-Mobile and AT&T only. Other than that, this is a great option for those looking for a deal on the best phone of 2016.

This deal also includes free shipping, plus all three colors (black, gold, and silver) seem to still be available.

eBay Link

Cheers Scott!

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Friday App Sales: Star Wars: KOTOR, Star Wars: TCS, House of Hell, and More

In case you are not a Portland Blazers fan or plan on watching all of the baseball action scheduled for this weekend (Go Giants!), might we interest you in a few new apps and games? Each week, Google Play has a ton of applications on sale, ranging widely in genre. This week, there are a few Star Wars titles (KOTOR, LEGO Star Wars, and others), The Forest of Doom, House of Hell, and Battlestation: Harbinger.

If those don’t strike you as cool, there is Fitness Point Pro for $2, Trial of the Clone for $1, Island of the Lizard King (not related to Jim Morrison, sadly), Blood of the Zombies, and many more.

Check out the massive list below. 

Friday App Sales

Go grab a few games for this weekend.

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AT&T Galaxy S6 is Next in Line for Marshmallow Update

According to Samsung, the Galaxy S6 on AT&T is the next of its 2015 flagships to receive the update to Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow. After updating most of its other carrier variants, AT&T getting in on the action all but rounds out the S6s.

The update will arrive as software version G920AUCU3CPC2. Thanks to Marshmallow, users will be able to use Google Now on Tap, see longer battery life through Doze, and enjoy finer controls over app permissions. Samsung’s support site is the spot carrying this news of Marshmallow rolling out as early as yesterday, while AT&T’s support page for the S6 doesn’t mention anything rolling out yet. We also aren’t sure when the Galaxy S6 Edge on AT&T will receive the update, but it shouldn’t be far off.

To check for Marshmallow on your AT&T S6, head into Settings>System>About device>Software update>Check for updates.

Via:  Samsung

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DEAL: Unlocked Galaxy S7 is Just $559 at eBay

During launch week, you could buy an unlocked Samsung Galaxy S7 for $599, a hell of a deal at the time. Here we are a month later and that same phone can now be had for $559. At most US carriers, you are looking at close to $700 for this phone, so you can see right there that this phone is being sold at a substantial discount.

This is the model (SM-G930F) that I own and use on a daily basis. It’s an international unit that runs an Exynos octa-core, which most across the internet would agree crushes the Snapdragon 820 variant, both in terms of performance and battery life. It’s the version that we wish Samsung would have released in the US. Other than the processor switch, this is the same great Galaxy S7 that you know. 

This particular unit will work without a hiccup on T-Mobile or AT&T and is a GSM phone (no Verizon or Sprint here).

As for downsides, just know that Samsung Pay is not currently supported on these international units. Samsung seems to have blocked Samsung Pay by model number, from what I can tell, rather than by location or SIM. These units may get access to Samsung Pay once it launches in select countries later this year (like the UK), but there is no guarantee.

The deal includes free shipping.

eBay Link

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Droid Life Q&A Sessions: Volume 39 Answers

On Monday, we posted up Volume 39 of the Droid Life Q&A Sessions, looking directly at you to submit questions. As always, you didn’t disappoint. We received tons of a great questions, ranging in multiple subjects. We were asked about the Nexus 6P, our current thoughts on Android N, which fitness devices we love, and even our predictions for the Portland Trail Blazers.

With Google I/O coming up and Motorola probably launching a device or two, 2016 is about to heat up. Much like you, we are looking forward to it. Fingers crossed for a blazin’ rest of the year.

Take a look at our answers below. 

Reminder: K is Kellen, T is Tim.

After seeing the G5’s lack of Modules, what modules would you want in a modular phone?

K:  I feel like there are much more innovative thinkers than me who could answer this, but it could be cool to see some sort of speaker attachment to turn your phone into a great external speaker for occasions where you don’t want to also carry around another Bluetooth speaker. It could be cool to add some sort of secondary display like the YotaPhone had that shows real details and is touch sensitive.

T:  I would be all about an external speaker. I would use that thing all of the time. LG sorta has one for the G5, but it’s unavailable in the US. Beyond audio, I would also like to see more development towards a camera attachment, but not one that only adds a dedicated shutter button and T/W wheel. Talk about boring and uninspired.

Looking to buy a smaller (~5″) phone for my wife, who’s joining the 21st century and finally getting a smartphone. Any suggestions?

K:  There aren’t many. The Xperia Z5 Compact is an option, but it’s just not that great of a phone. iPhone 6s heh.

T:  Nexus 5X seems like it’d be a good choice. Pure Android, no funny business. Good camera, and the overall performance has gotten better thanks to updates.

nexus 5x review-2

What’s your favorite fitness device?

K:  Almost all of them suck, unfortunately. I wore Jawbone’s garbage trackers for years, am wearing Fitbit’s giant Alta thing now and don’t like it, and use my TAG Connected for runs and don’t like it either because like all Android Wear watches, it’s battery life is trash. My favorite individual thing is probably my Jaybird X2 headphones. They sound great and last a long time.

T:  Even when I’m doing fitness stuff, playing sports and what have you, I don’t use anything. For some odd reason, I don’t really care to track my steps, calories, BPM, or anything like that. Just doesn’t interest me as a consumer.

What are your thoughts so far on Android N?

K:  I wish I could spend more time with it, but it seems to be pretty buggy still. I’d try and say that I’m excited for multi window, but I never used multi window on any other phone regularly. The new notifications with quick reply look great. So ummm, yeah it’s cool, but doesn’t exactly seem to be anything ultra special at the moment.

T:  We are only on DP2 of Android N, and as of right now, I would say, “so far, so good.” The UI for the notification pulldown is a little iffy, but if that gets straightened out, I am excited for its release. It seems to be a very comprehensive update for the OS. As of today, though, it’s pretty plain and borderline boring. Bring on the public launch!

android n

What hardware or software feature would you like to see get implemented for the next big jump in smartphone camera quality?

K:  I mean, how much better can we get? I guess we can start bumping up resolution again while keeping the pixels bigger. I do think that we’ll continue to see dual cameras too, because with the limits in smartphone thickness, two cameras do allow for some fun things, like wide-angle shooting or monochrome goodness. But these ideas are still pretty new and need to mature.

T:  In my opinion, it’s not the hardware or camera software that needs to be upgraded, but it is the services that we share our photos to. For example, when I post a picture to Instagram or Twitter, I don’t want to be losing quality. IG has definitely come a long way since the days when they were jacking up our resolution, but I still think there is a long ways to go. At this point, I don’t know how much more is really necessary to make mobile photography any better. I won’t say we’re at a pinnacle or anything, but we’re pretty damn close, right? I guess the only next step would be 3D cameras. Everyone wants that.

htc 10 camera

Will Project ARA ever see the light of day?

K:  Probably not. I just don’t think that the interest is there any longer since we are years and years late on any type of release. I always thought it was a cool concept, but didn’t make much sense for hardware manufacturers to get behind in the long run. The support and cost involved has to be huge. But, Ara did lead the way to phones like the G5, which are attempting to make modularity main stream for the first time. So there’s at least that.

T:  While I love the concept, I don’t see it coming to market anytime too soon. And even if it does, it will likely be met with the same issues the G5 has – too few modules. You need tons of developers and hardware makers combining resources to build a platform on modularity, and right now, we are not seeing that. I believe Toshiba is currently leading the charge on modular goodies, but even with that big name in the game, we are a long ways off.

Is the Nexus 6P still the best all around bang for your buck smartphone?

K:  Probably, yeah, if you like big ass monster phones. But at sub-$500 on most days, thanks to deals, I’m not really sure how it isn’t always in the top 3 choices. It’s stock Android, gets updates, has a nice design and great build, and super good camera. Not much to hate on there.

T:  If you don’t mind the size, the price and specs are still suitable for daily driving, no doubt. I love that phone. Even if you were to argue against the Nexus 6P, it’s easily in any blog’s Top 3 Android phones list. It’s that good. Just thinking about it makes me excited for what we might see from Google this year.

galaxy s6 vs iphone 6-8

What will Apple need to do to make the iPhone 7 your daily phone?

K:  They can’t do anything to make that happen. Apple has made really good phones for a long time and I still have absolutely zero interest in owning one for daily use. I typically don’t like the design of iPhones and absolutely think that iOS is a garbage operating system. And that’s not just me speaking as an Android elitist. iOS is just so walled off still and not at all friendly to someone who considers themselves as even somewhat of a power user. IT STILL DOESN’T HAVE A F*CKING FILE SYSTEM OR MANAGER. IN 2016. Ugh.

T:  I really wanted to test drive the iPhone 6 for a while and even review it, but Kellen snatched that opportunity from me. Maybe I can do the iPhone 7. We’ll see. The phone will likely be thin, have a Retina display, newer processor, and better camera. It’s always the same thing, just with updated specs. I’m sure it will be a fine phone, but I don’t see myself dropping Android anytime soon, especially with all of the money I have invested in apps and stuff.

How do you feel about the Blazers’ Playoffs chances now with impactful injuries on opposing teams?

K:  For once, the Blazers aren’t the injured team and getting taken advantage of. It feels weird. I certainly feel for the teams that are now injured and about to be bounced by the Blazers, but I can’t help but also think, “Man, finally it’s not Portland.” That said, the Warriors sans-Curry can still take out the Blazers, probably in 5 or 6. As fun as the Blazers can be, the Warriors are next-level good.

T:  I foresee the Blazers making it to round 2, meeting up with the Warriors, and possibly taking the series. But even if that happens, which seems unlikely, the Spurs or OKC would annihilate us. We don’t have the depth (weapons) needed to go to the Finals. We have a ton of heart, but even with the amount of drive, I don’t see us winning a championship this year.

To see all of the past Q&A Sessions, look here.

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Unlocked HTC 10 Orders Begin Shipping Next Week

With HTC 10 pre-orders through Verizon shipping and arriving next week, those of us who pre-ordered the unlocked model a couple of weeks ago have been starting to wonder if Big Red’s early exclusive would push us aside as well. According to HTC’s Jeff Gordon, that shouldn’t be the case and unlocked pre-orders should ship next week as well. 

In response to a couple of HTC fans on Twitter who asked about pre-order shipments, Gordon carried on a somewhat evasive conversation about early May shipments and credit card confirmations going out (which we have yet to receive on any front) before finally committing to “unlocked HTC 10 begins shipping in the US next week.”

One thing I should point out is the fact that HTC uses a company called Digital River to handle distribution of their online ordering system. I mention them because they made quite a mess out of the HTC Vive launch a few weeks back. The mess included credit card payments being canceled moments before shipments were supposed to start and HTC offering very little help in the matter because they don’t seem to work all that closely with Digital River. They had no way to check on the status of your order or when it would ship or anything useful. Hopefully, that doesn’t happen this time around.

Either way, take that, Verizon early exclusive garbage.

htc 10 shipments

Via:  @urbanstrata
Cheers Bert!

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HTC Mother’s Day Deals Include Pink One M9 for $399, Garnet One A9 for $389

HTC is hosting a Mother’s Day promotion through its online store, valid from this morning until May 8 (Mother’s Day). If your mom is in need of a new smartphone, HTC has three different choices for you to select from.

For mothers that enjoy pink, there is a Pink One M9 (unlocked) for $399, down from its usual price of $649. For something a bit lighter in-hand, there are two One A9 models to choose from, a Sprint variant and an unlocked variant – both priced at $389. Both models are the Deep Garnet color. The One A9 is typically priced at $499, making the deal good for more than $100 off. 

If its Father’s Day you are looking to shop for, HTC details that it will have a promotion in time for that holiday, too. Be on the lookout for that.

Go make your momma proud.

HTC Link

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Sprint Gets the HTC 10 on May 13

Remember how Verizon said that they had nabbed some sort of exclusive on the HTC 10 which would allow them to be the first to sell the phone in the US? Well, that came true. They opened up pre-orders this morning and will deliver the phone on May 5. But what about the other couple of carriers planning to sell the phone – when are they getting it? For now, we know that Sprint will sell the HTC 10 on May 13, a full week after Big Red. 

According to a press release from Sprint, on May 13, you will be able to buy the HTC 10 for $26 per month for 24 months ($624 in total payments). Sprint didn’t reveal which color(s) would be available, but we’re hoping it’s more than just the silver that Verizon is offering.

We have yet to hear from T-Mobile and will update this post once we do. As a reminder, AT&T passed on the HTC 10 and will not be selling it.

Via:  Sprint

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HTC 10 Now Up for Pre-Order at Verizon for $100 Off

Verizon told us to expect pre-orders for the HTC 10 to open up on April 29 and they have delivered. HTC’s latest flagship, though only in silver, can now be pre-ordered with a limited-time $100 discount.

As of this morning, Verizon has priced the HTC 10 at $22.83 per month with a 24-month device payment plan or $648 at full retail. To see the $100 discount I just referenced, you will need to sign-up for the 24 monthly payments ($547.92 will be your total). If you buy the phone out right, Verizon has no deal for you. 

Be sure to read our HTC 10 review for the full details on HTC’s best device in years. Or you could read the 5 reasons we think the HTC 10 is worth buying, check out a bunch of tips and tricks for it, and browse through all sorts of photo samples from the camera.

Verizon expects pre-orders to be delivered by May 5.

Verizon Link

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

BBM Video Beta Hits Android in US and Canada, Global Launch Scheduled for July

BlackBerry announced today that it is bringing BBM Video to Android and iOS, but before that happens, the company is hosting a beta for the feature. Naturally. This beta will last until July-ish, when BlackBerry says the feature should launch globally. During this testing phase, BB will monitor performance, gather feedback, and all of that good stuff.

For those in the US and Canada, simply update your BBM to test out the feature. Once you update, you will notice BBM Video is much like any other video messaging service, such as Skype or Hangouts. To get started, tap on a contact and the video icon to initiate a video call.

Both parties taking place in the call will need the required hardware, as well as have access to this feature. That means, for the time being, only US and Canada friends can video chat with each other.

BBM peeps, go check it out.

Via: BlackBerry

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Apple Music on Android Gets Music Videos, Family Membership Sign-Ups

Apple Music, the music service from that hardware company who just posted its first revenue decline in 13 years, received an update today! The update includes video music support, you know, for when Drizzy drops that new exclusive album with accompanying videos. You’ll also now be able to sign-up or upgrade to family membership in the app, something that was previously only available on the iOS app or iTunes software. 

Anyone here an Apple Music subscriber? I can’t fault you for being one, but if you answer “yes,” we may giggle at you a bit.

Play Link

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Details and Screenshots of Google Trips App Hit the Web

Only a few days ago, Google was sending out invites to select members of its Local Guides program, hoping to find a few good people to test out an upcoming travel application. Since this is the Internet, many details, and even screenshots of the app, have made its way online. According to Android World out of the Netherlands, the app is called Google Trips. The app is essentially a trip organizer/planner, helping you keep track of all information pertaining to your trip. This includes any reservations you have, things to do in the place you are traveling to, and much more. To do this, it is possible that the Google Trips app will only need permission to access your Gmail account, then it can pool all of your travel data automatically without needing the user to plug in any details. 

Detailed in the screenshots, upon arrival, Google Trips will give you the 411 on getting around your destination. This information comes from the public transit systems that service the city. For example, if you fly into San Francisco, CA, Google will notify you about BART or where to grab a taxi. As we see written, these do not appear to be just automated details. Instead, the information is very detailed, as if an Local Guide (someone who deeply knows the area), wrote it for Google. This could be why Google was only reaching out to Local Guides (Rank 2+) to test out the application.

In addition to getting around your vacation spot, you can read detailed write-ups of where to eat, things to do and see, get an overview of all reservations associated with the trips (dinners, activity bookings), and other “Need to Know” tidbits. Again, it’s possible that much of the information provided in this app has been tapped from Google’s large Local Guides resource.

At this time, we still don’t know of any public launch, but the testing is taking place. We have Google I/O next month, so maybe we will see it soon?

Take a look at the screenshots below.

012e9aebdf88ca47f295792d912011f4 1eeb40af3fc491115962f4322f8cbe82 bf9c0e7d5a8bf1263c5f92cc64d9fc4b dcee0b3f2836d35dbed3c0744f809ff0 e32f094ec06c5af3a5e0b7c840d0c279

Does this look like an application you might be interested in?

Via: Android World

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Quick Deal: Triple Your Phone’s Storage for $18 With This 64GB SD Card

If you don’t own a Nexus phone, there is a good chance that your device has a microSD card slot available for expandable storage. Assuming you have yet to take advantage of the almost-daily deals involving microSD cards at places like Amazon, here is another. For just $17.99, you can triple the storage on your phone with a 64GB SanDisk Ultra microSD card, since your current device likely has 32GB of internal storage.

Prime shipping is there, plus the card comes with an adapter for plugging into a computer.

Amazon Link

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#TBT: 8Pen Keyboard Wants to Reinvent the Way You Type

We all know what a keyboard looks like and how it operates. It’s been the same experience for decades, but a few years ago, the makers of the 8Pen keyboard app looked to drastically change everything you knew about typing on your smartphone. The app launched with a very futuristic look, which had many in the Android community excited, but as people began to download and attempt to use it, we all quickly learned how impossible that was going to be. 

To this day, I still have no idea how 8Pen works. Using swipes and gestures, you essentially draw what you are attempting to write. I tried for days to figure out how to master it, but unfortunately, I went back to Swype after many failed attempts.

According to the 8Pen website, the developers have gone back to the drawing board, and for those interested in an update on 8Pen, you can follow them on Twitter. Sadly, the last time the company tweeted was in October of 2013.

So, yeah, 8Pen is dead.

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Former Motorola Boss, Rick Osterloh, Heads to Google to Oversee Nexus Program, Other Hardwawre

According to a report out of Recode, it didn’t take long for former Motorola boss, Rick Osterloh, to find a sweet new gig. Osterloh, after fleeing Motorola just last month, has landed at Google as a new senior vice president who will head up a new hardware division that aims to unify the company’s many projects, including Chromecast, OnHub, ATAP, Glass, Chromebooks, and yes, Nexus devices.

Google has apparently confirmed the addition of Osterloh. 

According to Recode, Osterloh will work on Nexus hardware development alongside Android SVP Hirsohi Lockheimer, who may focus a bit more going forward on software and platform development. He’ll also take over the lead on Chromecast hardware duties, Chromebook and Pixel devices, OnHub routers, ATAP (the whacky stuff that Google makes), and Google Glass (or just “Glass”). But wait, isn’t Nest boss Tony Fadell overseeing Glass? He was, but with Osterloh at the helm, Fadell will reportedly stay attached only as an “advisor.”

While I don’t know Rick personally, I do get the feeling that he is well-liked in the industry after having dealt with him and Motorola over the years. Not that Google hasn’t been equally as enjoyable to work with, but with Osterloh on board, I’d imagine things can only get better for both media relations and on a product front that eventually end with devices in your hands.

Dance, Rick, dance.

Via:  Recode

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NFL Sunday Ticket Subscribers No Longer Need “Max” Upgrade for Out of Market Streaming

Previously, subscribers of DIRECTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket needed a “MAX” upgrade to stream every out of market game. As of today, that is changing. Announced by AT&T this morning, “Customers will no longer need to upgrade to NFL Sunday Ticket MAX when they subscribe to Sunday Ticket in its 22nd season.”

With this announcement, anyone who subscribes to DIRECTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket package will be able to stream every live out-of-market regular season game every Sunday afternoon. AT&T details that streaming of Sunday Ticket went up 35% last year, and this move should help increase those numbers even more so. 

With these changes, it should be known that MAX is not going anywhere. Sunday Ticket MAX includes the regular package features, plus premium services, like the Red Zone channel and the Fantasy Zone channel. These services are available on TV and for mobile device streaming.

The NFL season kicks off on Thursday, September 8.

Via: AT&T

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Google’s OnHub Router Now Supports IFTTT

The OnHub router now supports IFTTT, making your smart WiFi router even more useful during day-to-day life. IFTTT is based on recipes, which are commands to be followed by the service whenever a particular action occurs. As a basic example, when you connect your mobile device to OnHub, a Philips Hue light turns on. Pretty neat, right?

For a few more examples, OnHub details that users could be notified any time a loved one connects or disconnects to the WiFi at home, prioritize certain devices as soon as they connect, or control different devices (speakers, phones, tablets, etc.) and connect them to other products and services that support IFTTT. It seems that the possibilities are quite endless, meaning recipe creation should be quite fun. 

To see the basic recipes that have already been created which you can use, look here.

In celebration of this launch, Google and IFTTT are hosting a little challenge. The details are below. To sum it up, tweet your OnHub recipe, and if it’s good enough, you could win a few awesome prizes.

What can you do with OnHub and IFTTT? Over the next four weeks, IFTTT is hosting a challenge. Tweet your OnHub Recipe suggestions to @IFTTT on Twitter and you could win a whole bundle of free gadgets, including a new OnHub, WeMo switches, Nest cams, and more.

Via: OnHub

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Fenix Returns to Google Play After Twitter Helps “Fix the Issue”

This morning, Fenix, the popular Twitter app on Android that hit Twitter’s ridiculous token/user limit, returned to Google Play. That seemed odd to us since the removal was likely a part of a realization that the developer shouldn’t be selling an app to users who weren’t ever going to be able to login. So we reached out to the developer and he responded with a somewhat cryptic Tweet that is certainly interesting, especially to other 3rd party developers worried about Twitter’s limit. 

In response to use asking if the return was due to the fact that Twitter gave him more tokens or “just because,” Matteo Villa said that he had “been in contact with the Twitter team and they’ve helped to fix the issue.” When probed further, Villa said that he was not able to provide any additional details.

Of course, our brains are now zooming. Does that mean that Twitter did indeed lift the token limit on Fenix? Did it give Fenix an additional 100K? Are they about to do something similar for all 3rd party developers? Does this mean Falcon Pro and others who reached the limit years ago can rise from the ashes?

We’ll see what we can find out.

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Angry Birds Action! Hits Google Play, Right in Time For the Blockbuster Movie

When it comes to Hollywood and the scores of crap they regularly push, an Angry Birds movie might possibly be the single most original thought to ever leave Tinseltown. End sarcasm. Hitting theaters in May, Rovio has been hyping Angry Birds Action! inside of Google Play for the past couple of weeks. And while having a new Angry Birds game is already awesome enough, much more importantly, players can unlock Piggy Island to watch an “exclusive” clip from the upcoming movie.

As for gameplay, Angry Birds Action! is not a throwback to when the franchise was any good. Instead, it’s a game based off of the movie characters, including Red, Chuck, and Bomb. Instead of a platformer slingshot type of game, you are met by a pinball layout, with the player shooting characters at various objects to break them. It’s the same overall feel as the OG Angry Birds games, but definitely different in terms of looks. 

Players can also scan round badges they find to access new content, such as mini games, power ups for the game, and more. According to the app listing, these “BirdCodes” can be found all over, like at movie theaters, on Angry Birds toys, and other locations. Each code grants a different piece of content for the game.

As previously mentioned, this entire game is essentially a commercial for the Angry Birds movie. Not only does the game build hype for the movie, but if you go watch the movie in theaters, then open the game when the end credits roll, you can unlock a whole new area to explore in the game, as well as an exclusive movie clip. While the grown-ups here may find this lame, your kids will love it.

As a well known boy once said, “A crummy commercial? Son of a b*tch!”

Play Link

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Google Photos Update Introduces Redesigned Search, Customizable Movies

Starting today, an update will rollout to Google Photos on Android (v1.19) that will bring forth a “redesigned” search experience, customizable movies, the ability to edit device folders that you have created, and manage the photos on your SD cards. That sounds like a solid update to me!

In the new search, Google is ditching the floating action button and instead introducing a dedicated search bar at the top. This removes a step, since you had to press the FAB previously, before getting to the search screen, which then required another tap in the search box to begin a search. Now, all you need to do is tap in the top search box and search, right from the main screen. 

With customizable movies, the new Google Photos is letting users tweak the automatically created movies that the service provides, by giving you control over music and the photos/videos selected.

And finally, Google Photos will let you rename or delete device folders that you have created and also manage the photos on SD cards, which means adding new folders or copying and moving photos.

Play Link | Download Link (.apk)

Via:  +Google Photos

Google Photos Update Introduces Redesigned Search, Customizable Movies is a post from: Droid Life

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Motorola Customers File $5 Million Lawsuit Over Warranty Servicing Issues

In recent weeks, Motorola’s customer service and warranty claims departments have taken a beating from the readers of this site and elsewhere around the internet for their failures to issue timely warranty placements of the company’s flagship products. It doesn’t take long to find horror stories related to warranty claims of the Moto X Pure Edition or Moto 360 because, according to Motorola, the company’s US repair center is currently “not up to our standard of excellence.” Motorola even “deeply” apologized for the mess.

But apologies can only get you so far in this world, especially when you are dealing with angry customers who have been thrown into the customer service blender for weeks and weeks on end without resolution. According to TrustedReviews, a $5 million class-action lawsuit has now been filed against Motorola over allegations of poor customer service. 

The complaint was filed on April 21 for “unfair, unscrupulous, immoral, and oppressive” business practices and claims that Motorola owes “thousands of people” compensation. The lawsuits states that Motorola violated its express warranty, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, and the Fair Business Act, while also being “unjustly enriched.” In other words, Motorola hasn’t kept up its end of the warranty bargain it made with customers.

As for a timeline of what happens now, TrustReviews says that all parties need to meet in court and a court needs to decide of there should be a jury trial. If it doesn’t go to trial, a resolution could still be worked out, but it could be months and months before anyone sees compensation, assuming they are entitled to any.

In the end, I think the important takeaway is that companies do need to be held accountable when they are drastically inconveniencing customers.

Via:  TrustReviews

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Nexus 9 Removed From Google Store, No One Notices

The HTC-made Nexus 9 tablet has been removed from the Google Store, leaving only the Pixel C tablet available for purchase to potential Android slate shoppers. After months of discounts and “Hot Deals” from HTC, Google is clearing its shelves, possibly for something new, but maybe, for nothing at all.

The Nexus 9 led us to ponder the tablet ecosystem as a whole with regard to the Android OS, as no particular build of Android has given way to a “ah-ha” moment for developers. Yes, Android tablets have their place and can be useful from time to time, but with no growing library of tablet-exclusive apps (like you see for Apple’s iPad), there does not seem to be any commercial demand for Android tablets. Even the Pixel C, which is a gorgeous device, comes off as pretty damn boring in daily usage. 

At this time, when it comes specifically to Android and tablets, Android N is our best hope to make these devices exciting. With the potential to see multi-window support come native to the OS, developers can do plenty of nifty things with that.

Regardless of your opinion on the Nexus 9, it’s gone. Probably forever. If you need one, you can find one on Amazon, starting at $320.

Nexus 9 Removed From Google Store, No One Notices is a post from: Droid Life

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Samsung Pay Arriving in New Countries This Year, Gains ATM Cash Withdrawal Support in Korea

During today’s keynote of the Samsung Developer Conference, the Korean electronics giant had some major announcement to share surrounding Samsung Pay. The news involves being able to withdraw cash from ATMs using the mobile payment service and which additional countries will (finally) gain access later this year. 

For Samsung Pay users in Korea who happen to use Woori Bank, you will now be able to withdraw cash at ATMs. That’s huge news, though Samsung wouldn’t share any other information about other future markets or supported banks. But still, if mobile payment systems are going to be the future, they need to be able to do everything your cards can and that includes getting you access to cash.

As for the rollout to new countries, Samsung said to expect Samsung Pay to hit Australia, Brazil, Canada, Singapore, Spain, and the UK later this year. That’s excellent news for those of us with unlocked Galaxy S7s who can’t access Samsung Pay, even in the US. Of course, that’s also great news for those of you who live in those countries.

Via:  CNET

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Minecraft Now Available for Samsung Gear VR, Priced at $6.99

For anyone who owns a Gear VR and compatible smartphone, Minecraft Gear VR is now available from the Oculus Store. Priced at $6.99, Minecraft Gear VR brings the same experience as Minecraft: Pocket Edition, but this time, you can be inside the world that you create. Both a survival and creative mode is available for playing, but more importantly, multiplayer is completely supported. 

Using a paired gaming controller, you can bash mobs who wish to destroy you, build castles, mine deep into the world, or do whatever it is you do during your Minecraft sessions. As previously stated, everything that is available in the Pocket Edition of Minecraft is available on Gear VR, which includes skins and different playing modes. However, there are two different viewing modes for those on Gear VR. One, which Oculus says is a bit more comfortable, is a theater mode. With this, you are sitting in a virtual Minecraft room, playing the game on a wooden TV. The other is a bit more immersive, which delivers a more FPS aesthetic. Both are highlighted in the trailer video below.

You can find the Minecraft Gear VR app in the Oculus Store, priced at $6.99. If you are looking for a gaming controller to interact with the game, Oculus suggests the StratusXL for $60.

For those who may condescendingly ask, yes, Minecraft is still a thing and yes, it’s still very popular. No, you are not cool for hating Minecraft.

Via: Mojang

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HTC Double Nexus Bonanza Rumors Pick Up Steam With Codenames Surfacing, Potential Benchmark

Back in January, an “often-reliable leakster” over at Weibo suggested that HTC has been given the green light by Google to make not only one of the next Nexus phones, but two. Fast forward to today, through months of weak speculation on that idea coming true, and we get a tweet from @evleaks along with a post by Android Police that may add some validity to HTC becoming King of Nexus for the next year.

Here is what we know. according to these two. 

There are currently two Android N devices being built by HTC for Google under internal codenames or model numbers of M1 and S1. That bit comes from @evleaks, who doesn’t specifically say that these are Nexus devices, but we will go ahead and assume that they are. After all, if Google is asking someone to build it a device, it tends to be for the Nexus program.

With that bit of information in the wild, Android Police then chimed in with word from sources indicating that M1 and S1 might actually stand for the official codenames of each, Marlin and Sailfish. Call it a coincidence if you want, but the fact that they had names of “Marlin” and “Sailfish” in their pocket and @evleaks tossed out “M1” and “S1” seems like more to me.

As a reminder, Google almost always refers to its Nexus products by aquatic names. The Nexus 4 was Mako, Nexus 5 was Hammerhead, Galaxy Nexus was Maguro, Nexus 10 was Mantaray, Nexus 6 was Shamu, Nexus 6P was Angler, and the Nexus 5X was Bullhead. There are others, but you get the point. Marlin and Sailfish would fit in that naming scheme quite well.

A reference to “Marlin” in an AOSP Gerrit was found back in March and this benchmark surfaced a few weeks ago. The benchmark, which refers to the phone’s motherboard as “marlin,” indicates that the phone will run a quad-core Qualcomm product (likely the Snapdragon 820) and have 4GB RAM. Yes, the page lists the phone as a “Nexus 6P,” but you and I both know that the 6P has 3GB RAM and an octa-core Snapdragon 810 on board.

nexus marlin

As for Sailfish, well, we don’t have any public mentions of it at this time, so there is always a chance Google goes with another aquatic animal under an S name. For now, we’ll stick with the latest report, which pegs it as Sailfish.

We already know how Tim feels about HTC making the next Nexus (or two). I think I tend to agree that HTC, as long as it builds at least one of the phones as well as it did the HTC 10, would be a fine partner for this year’s program.

Know anything about this year’s Nexus phones? Hit us up.

Via:  @evleaks | Android Police | @rquandt

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Samsung Gear 360 to Release April 29 in Select Countries, No Pricing Yet

For those looking to get into a bit of VR content creation, Samsung announced during this morning’s keynote presentation at the Samsung Developers Conference, the Gear 360 camera will go on sale beginning April 29 in select countries.

Oddly enough, with that date being only two days away, Samsung gave no specifics as to which countries would be able to purchase it. Furthermore, no pricing was made available. As Samsung states, sales will be online-only at first, and will branch out to additional territories in the coming months. 

As more details are made available, we will keep you updated.

Any guesses on a price? I’m leaning towards $149. That seems like a sweet spot.

Samsung Gear 360 to Release April 29 in Select Countries, No Pricing Yet is a post from: Droid Life

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LG G5 Getting Update That Finally Adds “Home & App Drawer” Home Screen Option

As we approached the LG G5 launch a few backs, LG received quite a bit of criticism over its choice to leave out an app drawer on the phone. Before the phone was ever released, they made it clear to us that they had heard the cries and released a UX 5.0 overview video that detailed a soon-to-be-included new addition to the phone’s Home selector called “Home & app drawer,” which of course, was a traditional home screen and app drawer combo. This was LG’s way of saying, “We heard you. Please shut up. We’ll fix it very soon.”

Then the phone launched and the “Home & app drawer” option was still missing, even as a number of media outlets erroneously reported that it was available through LG’s SmartWorld app. The app drawer being pointed to there was from the UX 4.0 software that was released for previous LG phones, not the G5. Sure, it worked and re-introduced an LG-made app drawer and home screen setup, but it wasn’t the UX 5.0 version we were promised. 

Today, the real update has arrived.

lg g5 home app drawer-2 lg g5 home app drawer-5 lg g5 home app drawer-3 lg g5 home app drawer-4

If you own an LG G5, jump into Settings>About phone>Update Center>App Updates and you may find the option available for download. At least one reader of ours saw the update on his international unlocked model, but we also found it on a T-Mobile unit.

Within this App Updates screen, you should see updates for the new “Home & app drawer” along with the “Home selector,” which lets you chose this new home screen layout. Actually, when you tap the home button on the phone after installing these, you should be prompted to choose a default home screen, including the new “Home & app drawer” option.

Everyone happy?

Cheers Eric!

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RIP, Chrome’s “Merge Tabs,” Feature Removed in Chrome Beta 51

Chrome Beta 51 just showed up on Android and it killed off that never-quite-implemented-correctly “Merge Tabs” feature that was introduced back with the launch of Lollipop. The death of tab merging first showed up in Chrome Dev a few weeks back, but now that it has made its way through to Beta, I think it’s safe to say that it is probably on the way out for good. 

For those not familiar with “Merge Tabs,” we have to take you back a couple of years, to a time where Google thought that you wanted every single open tab in Chrome merged into your recent apps screen. That meant that if you had 5 or 8 or 15 tabs open, they were all intertwined with your apps, making a disaster of your app screen and also making it insanely more difficult than it needed to be to switch between tabs. If you had “Merge Tabs” turned on, it also killed off the tab count button and ability to swipe across the action bar in Chrome to switch between tabs.

It was awful, for the most part. But really, all Google needed to do was let your tabs merge, while keeping the swiping and tab count button in the action bar and it wouldn’t have been that bad. But they never did that for some reason and now appear to be ready to abandoned the idea.

chrome beta merge tabs-2chrome beta merge tabs

Chrome Beta 50 vs. 51

And to show you that merging of the tabs is now 100% gone, here is my HTC 10 before updating to v51. You can see I had it merged with three tabs open, all of which were showing in my app switcher. Then, post update, Google took those tabs out of the app switcher and stuck them back in Chrome, plus it then told me where I could find the tabs because merging is gone. Sad face?

chrome beta merge tabs-6 chrome beta merge tabs-5 chrome beta merge tabs-7

RIP, “merge tabs.” You were unused by many and likely won’t be missed.

Play Link

Cheers @X0MBY!

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Google Calendar’s New “Find a Time” Feature Makes Meeting Creation a Breeze

According to Google, creating a meeting between multiple people is still in a pain in the rear. You have to double check everyone’s calendar to make sure they are free, and then sending the actual invites can be time consuming. With the new Find a Time feature in the Calendar app, scheduling a meeting that works with everyone’s schedule is made very simple, even if one party is in a different time zone.

Limited to those using Google Apps for Work and Google Apps for Education, as sharing schedules is the norm in some lines of work, Find a Time works to locate the best possible time for a meeting where everyone is free. If there is no free time, Calendar will look to see which conflicting meetings can most easily be rescheduled. 

Specifically, Find a Time only suggests a time — the user is still in control of which time they want to schedule a meeting. If you happen to manage someone else’s schedule, you can also make meetings on their behalf.

The app is being updated right now on Google Play, but again, make note that this feature is only available to Google Apps for Work and Google Apps for Education users.

Play Link

Via: Gmail

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If You Care About Software Updates or Security, Stop Buying Motorola DROID Phones

Here’s a pro tip on a Wednesday – stop buying Motorola and Verizon’s exclusive DROID phones if you care at all about software updates or security. I say that because Motorola and Verizon don’t seem to care about keeping them up-to-date, even as Google and the rest of the Android industry are at least doing their best to provide timely security patches. Not only are owners of these phones missing out on new features, but they are susceptible to non-patched security vulnerabilities that most phones are protected from.

Marketed as the ultimate flagships when they launch, the DROID brand of phones have become laughing stocks in terms of support. At this point, we are well beyond blaming Motorola’s thinned out support staff and Verizon’s notoriously slow update approval or testing process. This is borderline offensive and should deter you from even considering a Turbo 3 or whatever robotic name these two cook up and sell you on later this year. 

Aside from the fact that the Turbo 2 (and original Turbo) were solid phones with great battery life and unique features like a shatterproof display, they are typically some of the last phones to receive the latest and greatest (including protection) from Google. Take the Turbo 2 as a shining example. In stores on October 29 of last year, after three botched attempts at releasing Android 6.0 Marshmallow, Motorola and Verizon finally produced the update for all customers today. Google originally released stable Android 6.0 on October 5 after a number of previews. So not only did the Turbo 2 launch with year-old software, even though Marshmallow had been available for almost a month as a stable build, it then took Motorola and Verizon 6 months to finally update it to that version of Android, which again, had been out for almost a month before it hit stores.

droid maxx 2 turbo 2

Want a worse example? Look at 2014’s original DROID Turbo, which hit store shelves on October 30 with Android 4.4.4 KitKat, weeks after Android 5.0 Lollipop was announced and just days before it was made available via stable channel, didn’t receive the update to Lollipop until July of 2015. That’s 8 months later for a phone dubbed as a flagship.

Hold on, though, I think I can even top that one. The DROID MAXX 2, the budget-friendly DROID that launched alongside the Turbo 2 at the end of last year, has yet to receive any sort of software update. Think about that for a second. A phone that is 6 months old, has never received a single update. Forget the fact that almost all phones launch with bugs that need squashing, that means it not only hasn’t received the update to Marshmallow, but it hasn’t seen a single security patch. Google releases security patches every single month to address often scary security vulnerabilities. Samsung, a company who is almost as bad as Motorola has become at updating phones, still manages to at least push out monthly patches. Verizon and Moto with their DROIDs, almost never.

Oh, and get this. The DROID MAXX 2’s Marshmallow status page on Motorola’s site only says that it will receive the update to Android 6.0 “pending partner support.”  That doesn’t exactly sound like a promise or guarantee any longer. Look at this.

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 8.58.47 AM

And I haven’t even touched on the fact that Motorola and Verizon completely abandoned a promised Lollipop update for 2013’s DROID ULTRA, MAXX, and Mini.

As you can see, this isn’t a new situation, but it is one that seems to be getting worse. Maybe that’s a sign of the (probably overdue) impending death of the DROID brand or maybe it’s just another reason to avoid carrier exclusives. If anything, it’s 100% reason enough to avoid buying the next DROID, if there is one.

If You Care About Software Updates or Security, Stop Buying Motorola DROID Phones is a post from: Droid Life

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