Wednesday, March 30, 2016

LG G5 Unboxing!

So, we have another LG G5 in house. Excited? Confused? I say “another,” because we have had a pink, non-retail unit around these parts for a good couple of weeks now that we were really only able to toy and tease our inner tester-selves with. But with this new arrival, we have a retail unit to finally do some dirty work to. That’s slick talk for, “We can finally test things!” You know, like the camera, battery life, performance, etc. That’s pretty exciting. 

To kick off this official testing period as we lead up to a full review, we thought we’d celebrate with an unboxing, since the last time around we did a non-unboxing of sorts. Oh, and if you missed it, we did a pretty good comparison of the G5 to the Galaxy S7 and shared with you our 7 favorite G5 features. See, we’ve had the G5 around for a while now.

OK, enough rambling, here’s the unboxing before the review!

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OnePlus OxygenOS 3.0 Update Detailed, Available for Early Flashing

Many OnePlus users have been left wondering where their OxygenOS Marshmallow update was, but finally, OnePlus is ready to let its users in on the goods. As posted to the company’s forum, a near final build of OxygenOS 3.0, which is the update to Android 6.0.1, is available for flashing by those who enjoy that sort of thing. If you don’t feel like flashing the update yourself, and choose to wait for an OTA instead, it’s not far out. 

Inside of the update, beyond just Marshmallow for OxygenOS, the OnePlus camera UI has been cleaned up, a new wallpaper picker is implemented, an improved Shelf UX is available, and general system performance improvements have been made across the board. The changelog is quite thorough, so we have pasted it below for you all to see.

According to OnePlus, if you do flash this build, you will be able to receive the final OTA update for it, so don’t worry about missing out on future updates. Furthermore, OnePlus also lists a few bugs they currently have inside, such as wiped fingerprint data and a Shelf UI bug. They are hoping those who do flash OxygenOS 3.0 will report their bug findings inside of the forum.

What’s New

  • Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow upgrade
  • New OnePlus Camera UI
    • UI has been cleaned up: swiping up/down now switches between photo/video, whereas HD/HDR and flash settings live in the top right corner
    • You can now change the aspect ratio and toggle grid view without going all the way to the settings
  • New wallpaper picker
    • Easily preview and set both home screen and lock screen wallpaper in one place.
  • Shelf UX has been improved
    • No more edit mode, long press boards to rearrange or remove
  • General system performance improvements
    • Benchmarked 47% faster than OxygenOS 2.2.1 on key test scenarios
  • Fingerprint performance improvement
    • Tested 45% faster than OxygenOS 2.2.1 on average
  • Settings changes
    • Old app permissions are gone, say hi to new (native Android) app permissions.
    • Alert Slider has its own entry point with more customization options
    • Improved settings menu readability by changing the order a bit
  • March security patches
Via: OnePlus

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Upcoming Update for Robin Brings Faster Camera, More Emoji

An upcoming update for the Nextbit Robin will bring Android 6.0.1, as well as reworked camera software to make snapping photos “twice as fast.” According to Nextbit, this update will be available in the second half of April, with another update rolling out today that addresses an app crashing bug. 

As detailed by Nextbit, the April update will also feature tweaks for the front-facing speakers, allowing them to sound “clearer and better” than before. On that same point, the speakerphone quality will also be louder and more clear during calls.

Here is the list of changes for the April update.

What’s New

  • Marshmallow 6.0.1 AKA new emojis!
  • The camera is now twice as fast in normal lighting and even faster in low light. We’ve also improved on-screen navigation.
  • Robin’s front facing speakers sound clearer and better than before, and speakerphone quality is significantly louder and clearer as well.

Be on the lookout for this update in late April.

Via: Nextbit

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Google is Running Another 75% Off Movie Rental Deal

Got your eye on one of the new movies to hit Google Play in recent weeks? Maybe The Hateful Eight or Creed or The Last Witch Hunter? If you are nodding your head to that last one, please leave, because we are all shaking our heads at you. But if you are interested in those first two, both of which are great flicks, hit up the link below! Google is doing another 75% off movie rentals deal! 

Play Link

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Deal: BLU Life One X for $99 on Amazon, $50 Off List Price

One of Amazon’s Gold Box deals of the day is a Life One X from BLU, a relatively inexpensive Android smartphone with quite a few decent specs. For only $99, down from the usual price of $149, the Life One X features a 5.2″ Full HD display, octa-core Mediatek processor, 2GB of RAM, and 13MP rear-facing camera.

Not only are you getting a smartphone with complete access to Google Play for $99, but the packaging also includes a free leather case, screen protector, charging cable, power adapter, and a set of headphones. For $99, that’s a steal.

As for which networks this device will work on, it is GSM unlocked, meaning it should be just fine on either AT&T or T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network. Supported prepaid carriers would include Cricket and StraightTalk, just to name a couple.

Follow the link below to purchase.

Amazon Link

Cheers Ben!

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Wednesday Poll: Do You Pay for a Music Streaming Service?

Yesterday, SoundCloud joined the likes of Apple, Google, and Spotify with the introduction of its version of a premium tier music service that costs $10 per month. The early impressions of it are pretty mixed if not bad, which probably means that it’s probably not your top choice for a paid music service.

But if not SoundCloud, what? Are you signed up for another paid music streaming service? Do you pay for a music streaming service like Google Play Music, Apple Music, or Spotify? If so, which one and why? If not, what’s stopping you?

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

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Uber Revamps In-App Customer and Driver Support

Since the beginning, customer support on Uber has equated to only emailing its support teams across the country, but going forward, things are going to change. With the company’s latest announcement focused entirely on customer service, whether it be for drivers or passengers, many of the help you might need is no more than a few taps away.

Instead of emailing messages to teams, you will handle claims from within the Uber app, thanks to an updated Help menu that will guide you on which steps to take in order to resolve any issues you may have. 

With the update in place, if you lost your coat or purse during a night out, simply open up the app, and report it from within the Help menu. If you want to know your passenger rating, head into your account from within the Help menu. Want to use Google Voice instead of a standard telephone number? You can do that, too.

Additionally, passengers can get answers regarding ride inquiries — such as a question about a receipt — directly from the app. As always, if the Help menu doesn’t have the answer you need, Uber’s local teams across the globe are there to assist you further.

These changes are rolling out today for Uber apps on Android and iOS. If you plan on using Uber soon, be sure to grab the update.

Play Link

Via: Uber

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Google Intros VR View for Developers, Easily Embed VR Content in Apps and on the Web

There is currently no shortage of content for VR, but at the moment, experiencing that content from the user standpoint can be somewhat limited. Google is looking to change this with the introduction of VR View. With this, developers of apps on Android and iOS, as well as developers for desktop, can easily implement immersive experiences for all of their users to enjoy.

For example, if you created a real estate app, how cool would it be to allow for users to get a 360-degree view of that kitchen from right inside of an app, instead of describing it with words. Or for travel destinations, sharing 360-degree views of the beach, instead of stating, “ocean views.” As Google puts it, it can turn a meh experience into a magical experience. 

From within an app with VR View, users can use either a Cardboard viewer, or use a tilt gesture to look around any VR scene. On a desktop, a simple iframe code can allow users to click and drag around a 360-degree VR image. To top it off, Google announced it has released an official Cardboard SDK for iOS, allowing iPhone owners to get in on the action.

If you develop, it’s time to update your app for the future of immersion.

Via: Google Developers

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DEAL: SanDisk’s 200GB Wireless Stick is Just $99 Today, 64GB SD Card is $18

Amazon is hosting a couple of decent deals today on SanDisk storage products for those of you in need of mobile storage, one of which would be perfect for those of you who don’t have microSD card slots (6P owners). For those with SD card slots (We’re looking at you S7 and soon-to-be G5 owners.), we have a nice price on a microSD card as well.

One of the products is the SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick with 200GB of storage that can be used as a flash drive for wireless on-the-go access to bigger files or photos or videos. You can access the wireless flash drive with up to three devices simultaneously, stream video or music from it, and even connect it to a computer via USB port, if needed. Again, this could be a really solid storage option for those without a microSD slot.

The Connect Wireless Stick is currently priced at $99.95, which is around $20 off. 

For those with an SD slot, the SanDisk Ultra 64GB microSD card is just $17.99 at the moment. That’s a lot of extra storage for less than the price of admission to “Superman v. Batman” in IMAX, only this will leave you feeling like you got your money’s worth.

Amazon Links:

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Nat and Lo Give Us the Skinny on the Updated Voice in Google Search

As you may have seen over the past week, the voice for Google Search has been getting updated for many users. It’s more clear, and at times, the way it speaks sounds very much as if you were speaking in real-time to another human being. Of course, that’s because at one point, the words you are hearing were previously recorded by an actual human voice actor. With countless hours of work, thousands of sentences are spliced and stitched together, allowing Google to have its search engine say whatever it needs to, in a way that comes off naturally. 

In the latest episode of Nat and Lo, a series based on two Googlers learning more about what they are curious about at Google, they go behind the scenes to experience voice and how it relates to search.

During the episode, we watch Google’s voice coach speak with the search voice actor, going over lines and recording sentences for actual use. Near the end, Nat and Lo even take a shot at recording a few responses of their own. As you might imagine, it’s not the easiest task.

Give it a watch.

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Amazon Bans USB Type-C Cables Not Spec Compliant

Googler Benson Leung has been on a well-documented journey to out all of the sneaky, cheap cable manufacturers on Amazon who are selling potentially dangerous USB Type-C cables to those of us just getting into Type-C phones for the first time. Leung started reviewing cables on Amazon after the new Nexus phones were released last November, highlighting both the good and the bad through his reviews profile. We aren’t sure what his end-goal is, other than to let you and I know which cables are worth investing in, but his work seems to have been noticed by Amazon, who recently updated their “Prohibited listings” guidelines for sellers, effectively banning those who sell Type-C cables that aren’t spec compliant. 

The new line added to the guidelines says the following:

Any USB-C™ (or USB Type-C™) cable or adapter product that is not compliant with standard specifications issued by “USB Implementers Forum Inc.”

As noted in a Google+ post yesterday, Leung acknowledges the “great news,” while reminding us all to “call out any bad products we find on Amazon.”

The power of reviews.

If you are need of a USB Type-C cable, be sure to checkout Benson’s list.

Via:  +Benson Leung | Amazon

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Google’s Calculator App Hits Google Play, Brings Android Wear Support

Google’s own Calculator application is now available for downloading on Google Play onto any Android device you have, allowing Google to send updates and new features more quickly to your device for the app. For the longest time, the Calculator app has been baked into the system, as it is on nearly every mobile phone ever made, but this continues Google’s work to strip out most apps and have them available right from Google Play. 

According to the app’s description, Android Wear support has been bundled in, allowing folks with an Android Wear smartwatch the ability to do simple calculations straight from the wrist. You will likely be unable to perform trigonometric or logarithmic functions, but hey, nothing beats a good addition and subtraction problem.

The app is available right now, downloadable by most Android devices that have access to Google Play. Checking my list of compatible devices, it seems the majority of phones and tablets are supported, with a few HTC and Samsung devices not making the cut. I downloaded the app onto a Galaxy S7 Edge with no issues, though.

Have at it.

Play Link

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Report: AT&T Might Sell a Bloatware-Infested Cyanogen-Powered ZTE Phone

According to a report out of The Information, AT&T is looking into a Cyanogen-powered phone, because it thinks that Cyanogen could make a compelling Android-alternative option to its customers. That may be better put as, AT&T thinks that by partnering with Cyanogen, it can load up even more garbage bloatware on phones to help push you into their other services, like DirecTV. 

The entire report is actually quite comical if you stand back at a distance and insert “Amazon” where it says “Cyanogen.” I think you all remember the Fire Phone don’t you? It was an AT&T exclusive that aimed to cut out Google and weaken its control over Android, only to become one of the biggest flops in the history of consumer electronics. But hey, let’s look at what AT&T, Cyanogen, and apparently, ZTE, think a partnership could mean.

Today’s report suggests that AT&T is “snubbing” Google by partnering with Cyanogen and that if this phone were to sell, it could really put a damper on Google’s continued attempts at making an Apple-like “consistent experience across all Android phones.”

Of course, the key word, which we tastefully italicized above, is “if.” A big giant “IF,” because no company to date has been able to put a dent in what Google and Android bulldozed their way to some years ago. No offense to Cyanogen and ZTE, but does a scenario with those two, coupled with AT&T scream, “Industry changer!” to you?

So ZTE is the supposed hardware partner, though their involvement may have already been cut out since the US dropped the trade sanction hammer on them just this month, with allegations that they had tried to “illicitly re-export controlled items to Iran in violation of US export control laws.” That’s right, the Chinese company created a series of shell companies to try and hide the fact that they were supplying electronics to Iran, a country that is under trade embargo from the US. The plot was uncovered after documents of ZTE’s surfaced with not-so-subtle “TOP SECRET” and “HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL” markings blasted across them were found by US investigators.

But let’s say there is a plan B that involves another hardware manufacturer. The point of this Cyanogen-powered phone is to allow AT&T to push as much bloatware and garbage into a phone as you can possibly imagine, something Google probably won’t allow it to do, but Cyanogen certainly will, for the right price. That means deeply embedding DirecTV services into it, allowing Skype into the native dialer, and maybe even including visual voicemail at a system level. There is also talk of deeper Uber integration, along with Microsoft’s Cortana, Spotify, etc.

Take all of that in for a second.


OK, sell me on this being a good idea. Outside of this being a major step forward for Cyanogen, by getting their OS onto a US carrier for the first time, who else wins here? AT&T doesn’t benefit unless it sells millions upon millions of these and gets a major portion of the suckers who bought them to sign-up for DirecTV. Same with ZTE or whichever other borderline-US-trade-embargo-skirting manufacturer you want to throw in the mix.

And does anyone see that happening, AT&T selling millions upon millions of these? If Amazon couldn’t get you to buy their phone, a phone which included a free year of Amazon Prime, how is AT&T going to sell you on a phone with a little known Android fork or skin or “OS” made by a Chinese company you may not trust?

That sure doesn’t sound like something Google should be worried about. That sounds to me like three companies sat down at a table, decided on a theory to overtake big, bad evil Google, and then took their plans in an off-the-record format to try and grab some headlines and see a reaction. Good work!

Via:  The Information (subscription)

Report: AT&T Might Sell a Bloatware-Infested Cyanogen-Powered ZTE Phone is a post from: Droid Life

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