Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Samsung Announces 256GB UFS 2.0 Mobile Storage Just Days After Galaxy S7

This afternoon, Samsung unveiled the mobile industry’s first 256GB UFS 2.0 internal storage chip for high-end devices, including smartphones. That’s awesome news…except for the fact that it comes three days after the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge were announced, both of which do not include this new 256GB chip. I don’t want to kill the announcement with my confusion over the timing, so let’s talk about what this new chip means. 

Last year, around the time that Samsung announced the Galaxy S6, they also announced that they would be moving to UFS 2.0 storage solutions because it was not only the “future” of mobile storage, it was faster than the standard eMMC storage that most smartphones had been using for years. UFS 2.0 storage is faster at both reading and writing to storage, and can read and write at the same time. At the time of the Galaxy S6 unveiling, Samsung announced that it had created the industry’s first 128GB UFS 2.0 chip, which of course, was then made available in a Galaxy S6 variant.

With this new 256GB UFS 2.0 chip, Samsung says that it is capable of handling read speeds of up to 850MB/s and write speeds of up to 260MB/s. Those read speeds are “nearly twice as fast” as your typical solid state drive (SSD) used in PCs and the write speeds are three times as fast as high-end microSD cards. In just a year since announcing their 128GB UFS 2.0 chip, Samsung says that they have doubled the capacity and speed.

This new chip is smaller than an external microSD card, which Samsung says gives “greater flexibility to smartphone designers.”

So why not include this chip in the Galaxy S7? Honestly, I don’t know. Samsung seems to have limited storage in this year’s Galaxy S line to 32GB and 64GB models, so the timing of this is quite odd. Does this mean we’ll get a Galaxy Note 6 with 256GB of storage? Will they introduce a 256GB S7 later on down the road? Do they have something else planned to use this chip in, like a media player? Again, we don’t know. But damn, that’s a lot of internal storage and whole load of speed.

Via:  Samsung

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Link Bubble Officially Rebranded to Brave, Includes Ad Blocking and Tracker Protection

Launched simultaneously across multiple platforms, the Brave browser application is now available for download on Android. As users of Link Bubble will notice, their app has been rebranded to Brave, since Link Bubble was sold off back in August, 2015. The buyers were not publicly named, but it was known that it was a startup in stealth mode. Now that everything is official and released, let’s go over what Brave offers. 

The app is a browser that loads webpages in the background. For example, if you are browsing Twitter and click a link, the webpage will load inside of a popup bubble that appears. Once loading is complete, you can tap on the bubble and it will expand, showing the complete webpage. In addition to being a basic bubble browser, Brave blocks ads that are seen as intrusive or track a viewer’s history, which can be good for those who are cautious about their Internet browsing. When first announced, it was stated that these ads would be replaced with “clean” ads, the profits of which would still go to the site owners. At this time, after a bit of looking around, it appears the app is only blocking ads, not replacing them.

Inside of the settings for Brave, users can choose between different themes for the app, specify domain redirects (a certain site always opens in Chrome or whatever browser you want), a color toolbar, and more. The app offers many settings for the savvy, such as HTTPS Everywhere, Tracking Mode Protection, Reading Mode, and Reading Mode and Wear.

The app is free to download from Google Play.

Play Link

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Don’t Expect Another LG Nexus This Year

In 2015, Google wanted to bring back an updated take on what is arguably the most popular Nexus phone of all time when they partnered with LG for the Nexus 5X. The phone features upgraded specs over LG’s original Nexus 5, yet it is still available at a relatively similar low price. While none of us know how well the Nexus 5X has done in terms of sales or if Google considers it a success, LG is already telling the world not to expect a version 3 for 2016. 

During a brief conversation with CNET at MWC, an LG spokesperson said that the Korean electronics giant is taking a break from the Nexus program to “focus on its own brand.” LG is supposedly “totally happy” with its relationship surrounding Google and the Nexus program, building a Nexus phone requires a lot of resources that may be better spent/utilized on their own phones, like the G5.

LG wasn’t up for commenting on how well the Nexus 5X has performed, but I’d imagine it’s no where near the success of the Nexus 6P. In our review, we grew frustrated over its performance issues and have heard similar stories from dozens of readers. Most Nexus fans seem to have opted to toss out the extra $100 or so to get into the 6P. Let’s also not forget that the 5X started out at $379 yet has already been reduced numerous times to as low as $299 on the Google Store.

Are you sad to see LG step away from Nexus consideration or would you like to see them come back and do a high-end Nexus?

Via:  CNET

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Use Your Voice to Type, Edit, and Format Inside Google Docs

Users of Google Docs can now utilize their voice to not only dictate what they want written, but can comprehensively edit and format documents. Any editing or formatting feature available in docs can be commanded with your voice, such as heading settings, alignment settings, bullet lists, numbered lists, and more.

For example, if making a grocery list or recipe, you can say “make a bullet list, add 1/2 cup of olives,” followed by “new line” and “new paragraph,” as well as pick up anywhere on the page simply by stating which word you want to continue from.

The video accompanied with the announcement does a fantastic job at detailing what all you can do with the feature.

Check out video, then try it for yourself.

Play Link

Via: Google Docs

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Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge Accessories Include Snap-On Keyboard, Camera Lenses, and More

As is always the case whenever Samsung announces new phones, this year’s line-up for the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge includes a massive list of official accessories. From snap-on keyboards, new battery packs, and jewelry, to an angled fast wireless charger, handful of cases, and a couple of swappable camera lenses, I don’t know that Samsung has missed a category.

Here are a few of the items you’ll see over the coming months. 

Battery packs and chargers

Samsung has new battery packs with larger capacity and fast charging, but is also improving their fast wireless charger. The battery packs will weigh in with 5100mAh and 10200mAh capacities and fast charging. The new fast wireless charger is still fast, but it now includes a hinge or stand so that it can sit landscape (flat on a table) or portrait (propped up).


Jewelry / step tracker

Samsung is introducing a couple of smart bands that look like jewelry. They are a part of a “Charm” line that is capable of sending you notifications and tracking steps. They feature 17mAh batterys that are capable of lasting for up to 18 days and include LEDs for notifications. Take a look at this gems.

GalaxyS7_Feature_Accessory_Main_3 GalaxyS7_Feature_Accessory_Main_8


Of course, it wouldn’t be a Samsung product launch without a variety of cases and case types to choose from. We’ll see a new LED View Cover with LED display and controls via touch interface, Clear View Cover (image at top of post), S View Cover, and leather or TPU traditional cases.

galaxy s7 cases

Keyboard and camera lenses

On a slightly different note, Samsung is for the first time (at least to my knowledge) introducing swappable camera lens that attach over the top of the Galaxy S7’s camera. Accessories like these have been around for years from 3rd party outfits, but these are coming directly from Samsung. They will be available as either Telephoto or Wide Angle lenses.

Finally, Samsung is bringing back the Blackberry-style keyboard cover we saw with the Galaxy S6 Edge+ for those who need that physical typing experience. I don’t know that the keyboard for last year’s phones was widely available, so we’ll see what happens with this one.

galaxy s7 camera lens GalaxyS7_Feature_Accessory_Main_5

Of course, Samsung hasn’t offered information on pricing or availability for any of this at this time. I wouldn’t be shocked if only half of this stuff ever actually makes it to market, but at least we know what Samsung is capable of and is working on.

Will you pick up any accessories for your Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge?

Via:  Samsung

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OnePlus 3 Expected to Launch Before End of Q2

Recently disclosed to CNET in an exclusive interview, founder and director of OnePlus, Carl Pei, says that the OnePlus 3 is expected to launch before the end of Q2 this year. While Pei offered no exact detail into what fans of OnePlus can expect from the device, he did mention that he hopes the OnePlus 3 will captivate users the same way the original OnePlus One did with a “new design.”

When asked about the invitation system, OnePlus’ pride and joy, Pei declined to comment on whether it would be implemented for the launch of the OnePlus, although, he did state the company expects to offer a “better buying process” to everyone.

Furthermore, Pei claims that the US will be very important to OnePlus in 2016. Last year, the company launched the OnePlus X for many global markets, although, the device lacked specific LTE bands to allow it to work properly in the US. If OnePlus intends to take the US market seriously, inclusion of these bands will be necessary.

Another feature not included in the OnePlus 2 or OnePlus X was NFC. OnePlus claimed that users did not want the feature, so instead of building it in, they left it out, which meant anyone hoping to perform mobile payments via Android Pay were unable to do so. Again, with Pei stating that the US market is important to OnePlus, NFC should be included.

Q2 in 2016 is set to end on Thursday, June 30. Mark your calendars, OnePlus fans.


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RIP: Sony Confirms Xperia Z Line of Phones is Dead

Earlier this week, Sony announced a new lineup of Xperia X devices that would hit the US. More interestingly, the company confirmed this morning that the Xperia Z line of devices is now no more. In a statement, Sony states that the Xperia Z line has “reached its culmination” and that the Xperia X line represents a “new chapter” of the company’s product strategy. 

The latest devices in the Xperia Z line, the Xperia Z5 and Z5 Compact just arrived in the US earlier this month, so for those who purchased either of those phones, we do hope Sony intends to support them into the foreseeable future.

Here is the complete statement from Sony provided to Xperia Blog.

The Xperia Z line has reached its culmination – Xperia X series represents a new chapter and evolution of our product strategy. Whilst the Xperia Z series was all about bringing the best of Sony’s advanced technologies to smartphones, Xperia X series is based on bringing smart, adaptive Sony user experiences across camera, battery performance and hardware / software design.

Considering the Xperia Z line was not the most widely available lineup of devices in the US, it’s okay if this news does not affect you very much. There is a passionate group of Sony Xperia fans, and for them, this news may be sad. Don’t worry, though, as Sony has the new Xperia X line coming to the US and it might be easier to acquire them over the Xperia Z devices, but that remains to be seen.

Via: Xperia Blog

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HTC Teases One M10 on Twitter, Shows Off a Lot of Chamfer

HTC has begun the teasing process for its next flagship device, likely to be named the One M10. On Twitter, a photo of what appears to be the outside edge of a device is provided, along with the hashtag, “powerof10.” Power of 10 is probably a hint at the device’s name, One M10. 

As we see in the photo, this phone appears to have big chamfered edges, just like the leaked image (via) we saw from last week that we didn’t write up because we thought it was too ugly to be true. The photo does not provide an abundant amount of info, but it does somewhat resemble another reported photo of the device that we first saw earlier this month.

HTC gave no additional details, such as press event time or anything like that, but this tweet means we are getting close.

Ready for chamfered everything?

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Gmail on Android Gets Rich Text Formatting, Instant RSVP to Calendar Invites

The Gmail Android app is receiving an update this week that introduces two new features that after using, will probably make you wish were around years ago. Those new features are rich text formatting and instant RSVPs to calendar invites. 

With rich text formatting, you’ll be able to bold, italicize, underline, color, and highlight text in an email without having to leave the Gmail app. In the image above, you can see the new rich text formatting bar that lives just above the keyboard, at the bottom of an email draft.

As for instant RSVPs, if you use Google Calendar or Microsoft Exchange, you’ll start to see boxes appear in emails with options of “Yes,” “Maybe,” and “No” when you receive a calendar invite. The boxes will also include snapshots of your schedule, so you can respond without opening up another app.

Play Link | Download Link (v6.0.115234454)

Via:  Gmail Blog

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Facebook Reactions Combines All Possible Human Emotions Into a Few Emoji

First entered into testing last year in October, Reactions from Facebook is now available globally for all to use. Basically, instead of liking or commenting on a post through your phone or desktop computer, users scrolling through a timeline can include additional emoji to better express themselves. The only problem, you better hope your emotions can be best summed up by one of only six usable emoji.

To use the feature on desktop, hover over the “like” button on any post. When hovering, six emoji will pop up and be animated. Available emoji are Like, Love, Haha, Sad, Angry, and Wow. On mobile, long press the like button and the same options will hover and animate themselves.


Reactions is cute, but not exactly revolutionary. Using a keyboard on your phone you can already insert any emoji you want to express yourself with. Besides, none of these emoji are wearing sunglasses or flipping the bird. We all know those are the best emoji.

The change is already live on desktop and is rolling out to mobile users now.

Play Link

Via: Facebook

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Why the LG G5 Should be Your Next Phone

Immediately after both Samsung and LG unveiled their next flagship phones this past weekend, the discussion began – which of the three (if any) are you going to buy? We tossed out polls asking not only that question, but why you might be passing on all three as well. You’ve given your reasons why or why not, so now it’s our turn. Tim and I decided to tackle each side of the Korean match-up. As you can tell by the title of this post, I’ve got LG and he has Samsung.

In the post below, you’ll find a handful of reasons why the LG G5 just might be the phone for you, even after Samsung took time out this week to unveil two amazing phones. You see, the G5, at least in my opinion, matches up quite nicely to the new Galaxy S7, maybe even besting it in a few areas.

This is why the LG G5 should be your next phone. 

It’ll probably get faster updates

For many of you, this is reason enough to skip on Samsung’s new phones. The LG G5, assuming LG keeps up with what they have done with the G4, will more than likely get the next version of Android (Android N) weeks if not months before the Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge. Samsung just barely started pushing Android 6.0 Marshmallow to some of its global devices from 2015 and hasn’t even sniffed a US carrier-attached phone. LG’s G4 saw Marshmallow internationally in Poland back in October and then through Sprint in December before hitting every major US carrier, including Verizon, by early February. Even the 2-year old G3 has received Marshmallow on a handful of carriers. Again, Samsung has failed to push Marshmallow to any of its US devices at this time, including the S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, Note 5, S5, and Note 4.

Samsung could change how they push updates, but they’ve never been good at it. LG, which was once terrible at updating phones, has gotten much better in recent years. So if you want Android N within a couple of months of release, the G5 should get you there faster than Samsung will.

Removable battery

While Samsung may have included bigger batteries in the Galaxy S7 (3000mAh) and S7 Edge (3600mAh), LG stuck to what it has done for years and that’s going the removable route. The battery capacity weighs in at 2800mAh, so it’s not that far off from the regular Galaxy S7, yet should you drop to day-ending levels of juice, you can always swap in a full battery and be on about your day. That means less time on a charger and more time for balling out on the town with your bad-ass metal self.

Oh, and if swappable batteries isn’t your thing, the LG G5 also supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0, which means you could grab up to 80% charge in just 35 minutes with a capable charger. The bottom line is that the LG G5 has a big enough battery for most, but it offers the flexibility heavy hitters require.

lg g5 battery camera grip

It’s modular, man!

With the G5, LG tried to make a phone that can get even better over time. They built a modular phone that sees expansion and new features via removable battery slot. For now, LG is pushing out a camera grip and a Hi-Fi audio DAC, but should hardware partners see the potential, that list could grow and we could see some really cool innovations around the G5.

Today, the options to expand the functionality of the G5 are geared towards camera enthusiasts and audiophiles. The camera grip turns the G5 into a point-and-shoot style camera, with zoom controls, shutter, and video record button, all while making it much more easy to handle. It also adds an additional 1200mAh of battery. As for the DAC, we’re talking about giving G5 users the ultimate audio experience by upscaling audio played to 32-bit. What other phone can do that?

Dual cameras

Because two is always better than one, right? OK, not always, but with the G5, LG tossed in two cameras to give you the opportunity to never miss a shot, or at the very least, know that you can adjust more than anyone else to get the right shot. The G5 has a 16MP standard camera that will take incredible shots on its own, but LG also tossed in an 8MP wide-angle (135-degree) shooter for those tight shots or those that include an area most cameras will struggle to capture. The cameras are aided by laser autofocus and enough manual controls to get even the most advanced photog feeling steamy.

It’s not a fingerprint magnet

I spent a solid hour with the Galaxy S7 this week and needed to wipe off the fingerprints more times than I care to remember. While fingerprint issues don’t seem like reason enough to skip a phone, some of us would rather own a phone with equally as impressive specs that doesn’t require a t-shirt wiping every couple of minutes. The LG G5 sports a full metal body that feels great, looks great, and isn’t a smudgefest. It’s also likely to be more durable than the S7, which features glass on both the front and back. Sure, it has an arguably ugly dual-camera hump on its backside, but it won’t gross out your friends when you hand it to them to take a quick pic of you posing in your latest sneaker pick-up.

lg g5 specs


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Why the Samsung Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 Edge Should be Your Next Phone

For those possibly on the fence after this weekend’s flagship announcements from LG and Samsung, allow me to make the decision a bit easier for you. Buy a Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 Edge. Oh, you want a few reasons why? No problem, I handle that.

In every sense of the word, the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge are an improvement over last year’s Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. They both include bigger batteries, water resistance, expandable storage, enhanced cameras, and countless other features that, as Samsung perfectly puts it, makes them the ultimate Galaxy devices.

If you are weighing your options still, please read on. If you’d rather have reasons the G5 should be your next phone, you’ll find those here.

Bigger Battery

Looking back on the Galaxy S6, it was a fantastic device in terms of overall specs and design, but no one can deny that it had its issues. For one, the battery capacity was too low at 2,550mAh. In our testing, we were lucky to go a solid morning to night without having to charge near the early part of an evening or late afternoon. As people who rely heavily on our mobile phones, this is no good. This year, Samsung not only brought back a similar, sexy design, but upped the battery to a full 3,000mAh. If that can’t get us through a day, then something is wrong.

Expandable Storage

Beyond a larger battery, fans of expandable storage will be jumping for joy with the addition of microSD support in the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge, a feature Samsung used to be very proud of in the Galaxy lineup. For whatever reason, maybe it was a size issue or they just wanted to make more money on offering different storage tiers, this was removed on the Galaxy S6. Samsung apparently heard the cries of many and opted to bring it back for 2016. With that said, for us in the US, only a 32GB model will be available for purchase through carriers, and microSD storage cannot be used as Adoptable Storage, meaning you can’t store app and game data on a microSD card. This does limit the usefulness of expandable storage. However, a microSD card can still be used to store your UHD 4K video and high resolution photographs, in addition to any data files you may need while mobile.

galaxy s7 waterproof ip68-4

Water Resistant

Without a doubt, the 2014’s Galaxy S5 may go down as one of the ugliest Galaxy phones ever created, but on the bright side, it offered water resistance to those who are prone to water damage. You could dunk it in a glass of water to show off to your friends, or you could read the news while showering – not that I highly recommend it. The point is, a feature that was actually cool was removed for the Galaxy S6, since Samsung wanted to redesign the phone from top to bottom. This included removing those hideous port covers on the bottom of the Galaxy S5. We ended up with a much better looking device in the Galaxy S6, but alas, it was not water resistant. In 2016, Samsung is bringing it back, but now rated at IP68, you can submerge the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 for 30 minutes in 5ft. of water. That means you can snap underwater shots in the pool, take your sexy Snapchat shower pics, or get it dirty and wet while cooking in the kitchen. The best part is that Samsung was able to bring this IP68 rating to consumers without sacrificing the fantastic work they did at designing a great looking smartphone.

Dual Pixel Camera

As we expected, Samsung continues to deliver an uncompromising mobile photography experience in 2016. Yes, it’s true, the megapixel count is smaller on the Galaxy S7 than on the Galaxy S6 and even LG G5, but don’t let that number fool you. The Sony camera module being used in addition to Dual Pixel technology will allow for faster auto focus, brighter, and more crispy images in low light settings. Featuring an aperture of f/1.7 on both the front and back-facing camera, the sensors will bring in more light to shine on the enlarged pixels, which will ultimately offer better photos all around. During our short testing period, we were snapping shots off left and right with the quickness, marveling at how fast the device was able to focus on objects. Needless to say, as soon as we get this device in-house, we will perform a comprehensive camera review.

… And More

Really? You want more? Ok then. The Galaxy S7 also features an always-on Super AMOLED QHD display, Vulkan APIs for an enhanced gaming experience that consumes less battery, Snapdragon 820 quad-core processor with 4GB of RAM, fast wired and wireless charging capabilities, support for Samsung Pay, fingerprint reader, and plenty more.

Oh, and did I mention that the Galaxy S7 Edge comes in Silver? Hotness. If you feel inclined, pre-orders for the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge are live right now. If you want the LG G5, you will be waiting until mid-March to get a pre-order in. Ouch.

Galaxy S7 Edge 43

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