Google OnHub turns one, celebrates with partnership with Philips Hue

Google OnHub was released a whole year ago. If you’re unaware, Google partners with manufacturers to create OnHub routers that are made to be as simple and easy to use. There are no complicated menus or setups, just a simple app and powerful, mostly maintenance-free hardware.

To celebrate OnHub’s one-year anniversary, Google has partnered with Philips Lighting to allow the control of Philips Hue lights directly from the network. Once on the network, You can go to “On.Here” in your browser and control the lights without any special apps. This means that guests can take control if you allow it. 

Not only is it a neat feature, it means you don’t need any apps and can control from any device with a browser. It’s definitely a useful addition.



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Google adding “In Apps” feature to search

Google Search is great for searching the internet, but searching one’s own device is a bit tougher. With so many apps containing so much separate data, finding what you need is a challenge. Thankfully, Google is aiming to fix that.

The company is adding an In Apps tab to Google Search which will search through your apps to find certain info. You can search a contact’s name and it will search through messaging apps, email apps, and more for the content you’re looking for. This can also work for lists, media, and more.

App support is small at the moment but it will grow. Currently, only Gmail, Spotify and YouTube are compatible. But Evernote, Facebook Messenger, Glide, Google Keep, LinkedIn, and Todoist are going to be added in the coming months. 

The feature is available today and will only get better over time. The LG V20 will launch with a homescreen and second screen shortcut for In Apps and LG’s pre-installed apps will support the feature.

I can definitely see some great uses for this feature, especially finding old messages in the sea of messaging apps that we use daily. What do you guys think of this new feature? Leave a comment!



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Qualcomm details Snapdragon 821 improvements

Qualcomm is the biggest player in the mobile processor game in many regions of the globe. Unfortunately, we Americans don’t get much competition. That means we’re bound to see a lot of the Snapdragon 821, Qualcomm’s new flagship processor, and today the company detailed the improvements it made to the Snapdragon 821 over the 820 model.

The 821 chip is overall faster than its predecessor, with up to 10% faster CPU speeds and up to 5% faster GPU speeds. Thankfully, it also has a 5% power savings over the 820.

Qualcomm also says that the SD 821 supports the Snapdragon VR SDK and is compatible with Google Daydream. There are also improvements to autofocus, including dual PD and extended range for laser autofocus.

The first device to use the Snapdragon 821 will be the ASUS ZenFone 3 Deluxe, but more manufacturers will soon start using it. It came a little too late for devices like the Galaxy Note 7, but we’ll start seeing new devices with the SD 821 soon. Hopefully it remains competitive, as SoC choices are only growing.



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Moto Z Play official; accompanied by Hasselblad True Zoom Moto Mod

Lenovo has officially announced its latest smartphone, the Moto Z Play (full review here), which joins the flagship Moto Z family with some unique features of its own. The Moto Z Play is being touted as the first smartphone specifically designed for Moto Mods, which is influenced by the device’s 3510mAh battery that provides up to 50 hours of battery life. In addition to the massive size, the Moto Z Play also has Turbo Charging which can provide up to nine hours of battery life in just 15 minutes of charging.

Here’s the rundown of specs:

  • 5.5-inch 1080p Super AMOLED display
  • 2GHz octa-core Snapdragon 625 processor
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 32GB of storage
  • 16-megapixel rear camera with laser and phase-detection autofocus
  • 5-megapixel wide angle front-facing camera
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow

Interestingly, the Moto Z Play uses a USB-C port for charging, but also resurrects the 3.5mm headphone jack, due to the slightly increased thickness from that extra-large battery. While we don’t expect Lenovo to keep using the 3.5mm headphone jack on other Moto Z family members, it’s interesting to see the company including it on just the Play.

The Moto Z Play is slated for a U.S. launch through Verizon and Motorola.com on September 8, with a price point of $408. The unlocked GSM version will launch in October for $449 in the US. That same model will launch in Europe in September for €499. Six color options of Black, Silver, Black Slate, White, Fine Gold and Sugar White will be offered.

true-zoom

Alongside the Moto Z Play is the Hasselblad True Zoom Moto Mod (full review here), which just received its official debut. This Mod gives the user access to 10x optical zoom and a Xenon flash, which are complemented by physical shutter and zoom controls. Additionally, users can shoot in RAW format and will have unlimited free storage at original quality for two years on Google Photos.

The Hasselblad True Zoom Moto Mod will launch in the U.S. on September 15 with pricing set at $250 through Verizon and $300 through Motorola.com. The global launch will take place throughout September and European pricing is set at €299.

What are your thoughts on these latest two devices from Lenovo?



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HTC teases something new arriving on September 20

With IFA 2016 about to kick off, we’re just about ready for another busy season of smartphone releases. And HTC wants to make sure you start paying attention to what it has in store.

The company has launched a brand new teaser video which clocks in at only 20 seconds long and doesn’t do much to actually show off whatever it is HTC has coming down the pipe. The safe bet is a new smartphone, but the teaser keeps the details hidden in shadow. We do get to see the curved top edge of what appears to be a phone, along with a pretty large camera housing on the back and a flash setup just under that.

The teaser says that “something” is coming on September 20. HTC has also included the hashtag #BeEdgier.

If we’re placing bets, it would stand to reason that the new device on the way is the HTC Desire 10 Pro, a phone that’s recently leaked and appears to look quite a bit similar to what HTC is teasing here, gold edges and all.



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Samsung Gear S3 Frontier and Classic now official with LTE, Samsung Pay, and more

Samsung‘s Gear S family has been growing at a steady rate ever since the first wearable made its way to wrists, and now there are two new additions to welcome.

Samsung has officially unveiled the Gear S3 Frontier and Classic variants. There’s no Android Wear on these new devices, though, as Samsung has once again opted to use its own Tizen operating system. As far as other features go, the Gear S3 (both variants) includes a 1.3-inch 360×360 full color, always-on Super AMOLED round display. It also boasts a Corning Gorilla Glass SR+ panel, which is designed specifically for wearables.

The Gear S3 is a bit bigger than the Gear S2, measuring in at 46 x 49 x 12.9mm. Inside that case is a 1GHz dual-core processor, 768MB of RAM, 4GB of built-in storage, and a battery that is measured in at 380mAh. According to Samsung, that means the Gear S3 will last up to four days on a single charge.

There’s also a heart rate monitor on board and plenty of other sensors. The Gear S3 boasts LTE connectivity, Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi, GPS/Glonass, a built-in speaker, and NFC and MST support so that Samsung Pay can be used as well for mobile payments. The Gear S3 is also IP68-rated, so it’s resistant to water and dust.

Both variants include the rotating bezel introduced with the Gear S2. Gear S3 owners will be able to accept or reject calls as needed, and can even snooze an alarm right from their wrist. Both models also support 22m watch bands.

To get the Gear S3 to connect to your Android phone, it needs to support Android 4.4 or later and have 1.5GB of RAM or more.

Samsung isn’t forthcoming about a release date or pricing for either Gear S3 model. However the U.S. press release confirms that the Gear S3 Frontier will launch later this year at AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile.

So, what do you think of the Gear S3?



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Lenovo Moto Z Play Droid edition review

We know you’re probably sick of hearing about the Moto X every time a new model of Moto Z is introduced, but it’s particularly relevant this time.

You see, when the Moto X was announced, it didn’t have the most high-end specs or the most premium casing, but that didn’t matter. The way the device felt in your hand and managed to keep up with day-to-day tasks was still better than some flagships at the time, and the price more than made up for any misgivings.

The Moto X was the perfect blend of performance and style, specs and pricing, something carried on by other entries into the Moto X series. The Moto Z and Z Force are not that phone. They are full-on, unabashedly high-end. The latest Moto G4 Plus picked up the torch, offering another killer experience for a fraction of what the normal flagship costs. But what if you want the best of both worlds? What if you want a more affordable handset that still performs well, looks good and can run Moto’s innovative Moto Mods platform of accessories? Enter Moto Z Play.

For all the ways the Moto Z Play differs from the Moto Z and Moto Z Force, it’s just the same. It mostly looks like a Moto Z and it mostly feels like a Moto Z, but there are some key differences set it apart. Some for the better, and well, read on more to find out.

Hardware

The Moto Z Play is fantastic little handset that fits right in with the current crop of mid-range devices available today:

  • 5.5-inch 1080p AMOLED display
  • Android Marshmallow
  • Snapdragon 625 with Adreno 506
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 32GB of storage
  • MicroSD expansion
  • 3510mAh battery with Turbo Charge
  • Water repellent coating
  • NFC
  • 16MP f/2.0 rear camera
  • 5MP front-facing camera
  • Bluetooth 4.0LE
  • USB-C
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Fingerprint reader

There are a few eye-popping specs that should have you excited reading from this list alone.

First, yes, the Moto Z Play uses USB-C and has a 3.5mm headphone jack. For those of us who aren’t entirely ready to dive headfirst into the future, this is a huge selling point.

Second, the Moto Z Play is a battery-efficient powerhouse, meant to go over two full days of mixed used. Not only does is include the biggest battery of the entire Moto Z lineup, it’s powered by the energy-efficient Snapdragon 625 that’s paired with a battery-sipping 1080p AMOLED display, as opposed to 1440p, for maximum battery life. You’ll see how this all plays out as you read on, but suffice it to say that Moto nailed the balance of the Moto Z Play.

moto-z-play-droid moto-z-play-fingerprint moto-z-play-headphone-jack moto-z-play-logo moto-z-play-rear

Design and Build Quality

We couldn’t praise the Moto Z enough for its ultra high-end design. Thankfully, the Moto Z Play is closely related in this regard.

The overall design is almost identical, with a minimally-branded glass face decorated with only a small, square fingerprint reader. The edges of the device are wrapped in a chamfered aluminum band, and the rear features a protruding camera that shares the aesthetic of the Moto 360 that’s leveled flush with the body of the phone with a Style Mod is applied.

The only real difference here is the material the back is made out of, which is glass. Whether or not it feels better is subjective (we are torn), but it definitely looks better. The metal rear on the Z and Z Force are fingerprint magnets. The Moto Z Play, not so much.

Overall, the design and build quality of the Moto Z Play are fantastic. It’s a little thick, but where else are you going to put that enormous battery? Just for comprehensive comparisons sake, the Moto Z Play feels more premium than last year’s Moto X Pure Edition and the Moto G4, but maybe just a skosh below the Moto Z and Moto Z Force. Again, this is more likely to be a preference though.

Display

This section could have gone between good and neutral. Why? It’s not that the 1080p AMOLED display on the Moto Z Play is bad. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. But it’s definitely not the best you can buy.

Good edges out neutral here for a few simple reasons. For one, do you really need much more than a display at 403ppi? It’s incredibly crisp, and colors are still bright and vivid. And let’s not forget the balancing act (balance is the word of the day in today’s review) the Moto Z Play is pulling off here. Crank up the pixel density and you can crank down battery life and performance. Choose a brighter LCD panel, and you could say the same thing.

Moto made the right call with this display, and they deserve recognition for it.

Software

This section could be an exact repeat of the Moto Z and Moto Z Force review. As Droid edition devices, there is some annoying bloatware mucking up the Z family. But that’s all on top of pretty-much-stock Android with some great Moto enhancements to boot, like gestures (really cool), custom launch phrases (like a best friend in your pocket) and Moto Display (the best part of Moto’s custom software, honestly).

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: you could do much worse. A non-carrier-branded Moto Z Play would be better, but compared to other phones on Verizon, the Moto Z Play is still good.

Performance

Remember what the word of the day is for today’s review? That’s right, balance. That’s what all mid-range handsets are about, but it bears repeating time and again with the Moto Z Play becuase it’s so wonderfully done.

In normal use, the Moto Z Play sings, no matter what you throw at it. The UI is slick, animations are buttery smooth and games load with little to no problem and with little to no lag. In everyday use, you’d be hard-pressed to tell the Moto Z Play wasn’t a top of the line phone.

Out of curiosity, we benchmarked the Moto Z Play against a Nexus 6P and iPhone SE using Geek Bench 3. Here are the results:

Moto Z Play: Single – 917 / Multi – 4647
Nexus 6p: Single – 835 / Multi – 3300
iPhone SE: Single – 2525 / Multi – 4418

While numbers don’t tell the whole story, in this case, we believe they accurately reflect real world use. In other words, you don’t need to worry about performance with the Moto Z Play.

Camera

This is one area where we would be glad to see the Moto Z Play break way from the Moto Z and Z Force, but alas.

It’s not that the Moto Z Play has a bad camera, it’s more than serviceable. But it’s still not the best you can buy. What does that mean today?

Photos you share on social media are going to look great. In fact, with only a little practice, every photo you take will look great. But if you’re pixel peeping, you can see the difference between the Z Play and higher-end Android phones. Some people would argue that that means the Z Play really has a good camera, but we’re sticking with average because we feel it is precisely that.

Performance on the camera was average as well. Most photos were captured perfect, quickly and on the first try, but not all. Though we don’t know if any smartphone can really pull that off.

Enough talk, though, click the link below for the real story.

Moto Z Play photos

Battery

One of the biggest selling points of the Moto Z Play will undoubtedly be its massive battery life. Motorola claims you should be able to get 50 hours of mixed used, lasting you well over two days on a single charge.

Battery size-wise, it’s merely on par with other high-end Android phones in 2016. But thanks to a lower screen density, power-sipping processor and energy-efficient AMOLED display, those claims stand up. Moto has battery life pretty well figured out. This was the case with the Moto Z Force, and the Moto Z Play has a slightly bigger battery.

This is all without even mentioning battery enhancements with Moto Mods and Moto’s Turbo Charge. What we mean to say is, if you care about battery life, the Moto Z Play is deserving of your attention.

Lenovo Moto Z Play Droid edition9 / 10

The Moto Z Play from Lenovo is truly the culmination of years of work from the Moto team. It takes the performance to style balance of the Moto X and seamlessly combines it with the innovation of the Moto Z.

The Moto Z Play, unlocked and off-contract, customized and devoid of any Verizon bloat and branding, is a very strong competitor to anything currently on the market, and should even give whatever Nexus is in the pipeline a run for its money, too. Not only that, but true to history, the Moto Z Play is a worthy competitor at all budget levels as well. Because of this, we’re not shy in saying it’s the best entry in the Moto Z family. The best of all worlds.

If it’s innovation, performance, design, battery life and price you want, it’s Moto Z Play you want. It’s as simple as that.

The Moto Z Play Droid edition goes up for preorder on September 8 with a September 15 release at Verizon for $408 off-contract. An unlocked U.S. GSM model of the Moto Z Play also launches September 8 for $449. It comes in Black Silver/Black Slate, White/Fine Gold/Sugar White.



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Hasselblad True Zoom Moto Mod review

Camera quality has come to be one of the most important aspects of modern smartphones. Point-and-shoot cameras are dead, as most phones are simply good enough not to need one. But there are still a few areas where smartphones lag behind.

The gap in depth of field and low light performance has been ever-shortening, but optical zoom is still a long ways off. That’s not to say smartphone manufacturers haven’t tried to come up with unique solutions to these shortcomings, though. Even the idea of strapping a beefy camera to the back of your phone isn’t new, but Lenovo is trying something slightly different here with its Moto brand.

The Hasselblad True Zoom is a 12MP Hasselblad camera that magnetically connects to the back of any Moto Z device. Right off the bat, we can tell you this is both a good and a bad thing. But first, the technical specs:

  • 12MP with 1080p 30fps video capture
  • OIS and video EIS
  • f3.5-6.5 aperature
  • BSI CMOS 1/2.3-inch sensor
  • 1.55 um pixel size
  • 10x optical zoom
  • 4.5-45 mm (25-250mm 35mm equivalent) focal length
  • Xenon flash
  • RAW compatible

With that out of the way, let’s start with the two bad things about the Hasselblad True Zoom before. First, it’s big and heavy. It’s powered by the battery in your phone, so that helps with weight, but it’s still 145 grams, which practically doubles the weight of your phone. It also makes the phone more than twice as thick, so it’s not very pocket-friendly.

The other bad thing also needs to be gotten out of the way up front: The Hasselblad True Zoom will not turn your Moto Z, Force or Play into a DSLR. Does it greatly improve camera quality? Absolutely. There’s just only so much you can do with so little space. Moto and Hasselblad do very well with the True Zoom, but again, don’t expect a miracle.

If you can live with those two things, you will love everything else about the True Zoom.

HB4116

Design-wise, the True Zoom feels fantastic. Cool gray metal and soft, textured rubber give the True Zoom a premium, high-end feel when nestled in your palms. There really is nothing like holding a real camera to take photographs. The zoom switch and shutter button both offer a satisfying, tactile experience that makes us nostalgic for cameras like the Canon S95.

We don’t have any complaints about performance, either. Focus is fast enough, even at 10x optical zoom, and there isn’t much lag between pressing the shutter button and capturing a photo. It is slower than a normal phone camera, but not horribly so.

Moto has also included a handful of software enhancements to the default camera app that activates when the True Zoom is attached to your phone, including RAW support and different scene modes like portrait and landscape.

Enough about the hardware and software, though, because all that really matters is how all this translates into photographs. We’ll let the photos do the talking:

Click here to view photos taken with the True Zoom.

As you can see, quality is good. In many cases, it’s even great. Colors are beautiful and deep, images are sharp and the optical zoom works very well. Just like with any point-and-shoot camera, high ISO still equals high noise. But low-light performance is still improved over the average smartphone.

Between the improved camera quality, design quality and the fact that the True Zoom’s just plain fun to use, we think it’s worth they money if you can afford it. Just don’t put yourself out for one.

The Hasselblad True Zoom will be available September 15 for $249 and $299 from Verizon and Motorola, respectively.

true-zoomtrue-zoom-fronttrue-zoom-reartrue-zoom-shutterHB4116



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Acer announces three new Android smartphones

IFA 2016 kicks off in Germany in a couple of days, but Acer has gone ahead and announced not just one, but three new Android-based smartphones today.

Those new handsets are the Iconia Talk S, shown above, and Liquid Z6 and Liquid Z6 Plus. The big phone is the Iconia Talk S, which features a 7-inch 720p HD display. There is a quad-core processor under the hood, and a 13-megapixel camera around the back of the device. It boasts a pair of SIM slots, has 4G LTE connectivity, and it’s running Android 6.0 Marshmallow under the hood. It will cost €169, or about $188, and it will ship in Europe, and the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) this September.

As for the other two, here’s how they break down:

  • Liquid Z6 (pictured lower left) : 5-inch 1080p HD display, MediaTek MT6737 quad-core processor, 8MP rear camera and 2MP front-facing camera, 8GB of built-in storage, 1GB of RAM, and Android 6.0 Marshmallow. It launches in November in EMEA for €119 ($132).
  • Liquid Z6 Plus (pictured lower right): 5.5-inch 1080p HD display, MediaTek MT6753 octa-core processor, 13MP camera on the back and 5MP front-facing camera, 32GB of built-in storage, 3GB of RAM, 4080mAh battery, fingerprint sensor, and Android 6.0 Marshmallow. It launches this December in EMEA for €249 ($277).

acerliquidz6z6pluslarge



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Samsung delaying some Galaxy Note 7 shipments for quality testing

Samsung found a hit with the Galaxy Note 7, but it turns out the company has decided to delay shipments of the new phablet.

Reuters has received confirmation from Samsung that shipments of the Galaxy Note 7 have been delayed. Samsung says the reason for the delay is “additional tests being conducted for product quality.” However, details regarding what Samsung is testing and which parts of the world shipments will be delayed weren’t announced.

While it would be great to know exactly why the Galaxy Note 7 is being delayed, we’ll just have to accept that Samsung believes there is something that has to be fixed and that they’re doing what it takes to fix whatever issue there might be.

If you purchased a Galaxy Note 7, did you notice any quality issues?



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Fresh Meat: 10 new Android apps worth checking out

New apps need lovin’ too, right? Every day there are thousands of additions to the Google Play store, but many go unnoticed and never receive the attention they deserve. We’ve shown in the past that this community can discover great apps and propel them to new heights. Our weekly Fresh Meat column highlights new apps with fewer than 100,000 installs. Browse our new Android app picks below and let us know which ones you enjoy.

Ultrasurf VPN

Ultrasurf VPN

Description: Fast and Free VPN, No trials, No registrations, No logins, No bandwidth limitations, No Ads. Unblocks popular apps and websites: YouTube, Facebook, Google, Twitter…Secure your connections on public WiFi hotspots, hide your IP to browse the web privately & anonymously.

 

Night Mode Enabler

Night Mode Enabler

DescriptionWant access to the Night Mode Quick Tile on Nougat? Seems like it’s hidden. But with this amazing app, you can get a sweet VIP pass to that awesome blue-light killer.

 

Geekbench 4

Geekbench 4

DescriptionGeekbench 4 includes updated CPU tests that model real-world tasks and applications. These tests are designed to quickly and accurately measure mobile CPU performance. Every Geekbench 4 CPU test is multi-core aware, allowing Geekbench 4 to measure the full potential of your device’s CPU.

 

Weather Now (Unreleased)

Weather Now

DescriptionWeather Now is the Simplest Weather app you could find. It is a straight to the point weather app that shows you only the information relevant to you: The Weather !

 

Crowdsource

Crowdsource

DescriptionDo quick, simple tasks that have a huge impact – like improve the quality of Google Translate in your language, or of Google Maps in your country, etc.

 

Roadster watchface by Liongate

Roadster watchface by Liongate

DescriptionWatchface for Android Wear Device (Moto 360, G Watch R, SmartWatch 3, etc.) Support both round and square displays. Customizable ambient mode. Customizable time format. Displayed information: numeric date/month, day of the week, watch battery level, phone battery level.

 

 Efflux Watch Face

Efflux Watch Face

DescriptionThere are 3 white rings on the canvas. Every ring means 15 min. When the hour begins a line starts growing from the center of the canvas and at 15, 30, 45 and 60 min it reaches a ring. Every filled line is an hour.

 

Opera VPN

Opera VPN

DescriptionOpera VPN is one of the best and fastest ways to access more of your favourite online content for free. With super-fast VPN servers and other premium features included for free, Opera VPN is a smart choice for you.

 

Investigation Discovery GO

Investigation Discovery GO

DescriptionWatch full episodes and live TV from ID anytime, anywhere. It’s FREE with your TV subscription. Just sign in with your TV provider username and password to get access to favorites like Homicide Hunter, See No Evil, On the Case with Paula Zahn, Disappeared and many more. New episodes are added all the time.

 

Funimate

Funimate

DescriptionFunimate is the most fun video editor and music video maker used by millions of people. With Funimate, you can instantly transform an everyday moment into a creative video with awesome visual effects. With its patent-pending technology, you can create cool videos with never before seen real-time effects.

 



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ASUS introduces the ZenWatch 3 with a perfectly round display

We’ve been hearing about the ZenWatch 3 for quite a while, but today brings us the official announcement of the latest smartwatch from ASUS. Right off the bat, the noticeable change is that the ZenWatch 3 sports a circular display, while its predecessors used the more generic square display. The circular display adds a new layer of class and improves the design. ASUS has also engineered the display to have a thin metal bezel to hold the display drivers, rather than sporting the flat tire look of the Moto 360.

Specs include a 1.39-inch 400×400 AMOLED display, Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor, 512MB RAM, 4GB of storage, Bluetooth 4.1, Wi-Fi and 340mAh battery with quick charging capabilities. As it’s looking, users won’t find LTE on the ZenWatch 3.

With the design, users can expect a body made from jewely-grade 316L stainless steel that is cold-forged and is reportedly 82 percent stronger than traditional steel. The watch comes in three color choices of Gunmetal, Silver or Rose Gold, and each option features three crown buttons situated on the side of the watch. When purchasing, users can choose a strap made out of Italian leather or a premium rubber.

ASUS has announced European pricing of €229, and while US pricing hasn’t been officially revealed, we expect it to be similar. Precise availability details haven’t been released, but we’ll keep you posted.



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This year’s Google phones reportedly won’t feature Nexus branding

As we near the fall season and subsequent high-end phone launches that come with it, a new report has surfaced that suggests that Google is taking a hard turn when it comes to its premiere flagship lineup of smartphones.

According to information obtained by Android Central, Google plans to drop the “Nexus” brand from the smartphones it plans to launch this year. Those two handsets are reportedly manufactured by HTC, codenamed “Sailfish” and “Marlin,” and previous leaks have indeed shown the design of those devices dropping the Nexus brand and carrying a Google logo instead.

The report states that Google isn’t just dropping the Nexus brand, but that it will be adopting a different brand instead. What that will be remains a mystery. It’s expected that Google will be eschewing the HTC name, too, and will market the device heavily as its own handset. Basically, this won’t be a Nexus-branded HTC-built phone, but a Google phone.

On top of that, Google is allegedly changing things up with the software this time around, too. Instead of opting for a stock Android experience, Google will be adding software and tweaking the interface for its new phones. That would line up with the change from the Nexus brand, too, which has typically meant a barebones Android experience without any additional software or tweaks thrown in. Changing the brand and the software experience together makes sense.

The original report does state that it’s unknown at this time whether or not Google will be dropping the Nexus brand altogether, but considering these new phones are launching in the same window that Nexus phones typically would, the safe guess is that Google is moving forward with this new brand and vision and leaving “Nexus” behind with the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X.

Finally, the report claims that Google does plan on launching its own Google-branded Android Wear smartwatches at some point in the future, which would seem to corroborate previous rumors.

What do you think of this shift in ideas from Google?



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Xiaomi Amazfit smartwatch unveiled for $120

Xiaomi is on a bit of a roll when it comes to product announcements, having just unveiled the Redmi Note 4 not too long ago. Here we are again with another new product, this time one meant for your wrist.

Xiaomi’s sub-brand, Huami, has officially unveiled the Amazfit smartwatch, which will go on sale in China tomorrow, August 31. It’ll retail for ¥799, or about $120, and it certainly has a distant design and flare to it. And, as far as features go, the Amazfit brings plenty to the table.

That includes a 1.38-inch 300×300 round display, with a 1.2GHz processor tucked inside the frame. It has 4GB of built-in storage, along with 512MB of RAM. According to the company, the 200mAh battery will last up to 5 days, but there is a caveat: The built-in GPS will apparently drop that battery life down to 35 hours if left activated.

There’s a Mi Fit app that will allow the Amazfit to connect to an Android device. The smartwatch is IP67 certified, which makes it resistant to dust and water. There’s a heart rate monitor on board, too. The Amazfit supports 22mm bands, and those can be swapped out when desired.

What do you think of the Amazfit?



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ZTE Warp 7 for Boost Mobile costs only $99.99

If you can remember the track record of ZTE and Boost Mobile, you’ll remember that the original ZTE Warp launched way back in 2011. Now we’re here, several years later, with a brand new member of the ZTE Warp family.

Boost Mobile is now carrying the Warp 7 from ZTE. The Warp 7 boasts a 5.5-inch 720p HD display and Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow. Under the hood there’s a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of built-in storage coupled with a microSD card slot for adding more storage if you need it. The battery measures in at 3080mAh and there’s a 13-megapixel camera on the back as well as a 5-megapixel front-facing camera on the other side.

The Warp 7 costs $99.99, and it’s available from Boost Mobile’s online store beginning today. If you want to check it out in a store before you buy, it will hit store shelves beginning September 5.



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Samsung Galaxy Folder 2 flip phone revealed in new images

Samsung is still a fan of flip phones, so it’s no surprise that the company apparently has another Android-powered device coming down the pipe.

According to images shared on the social network Weibo, Samsung is gearing up to launch a new Android flip phone. This new handset, the Galaxy Folder 2, will come in gold, and the leaked images give us a glimpse of what the handset will feature in terms of specs, too.

The Galaxy Folder 2 is expected to include a 3.8-inch touchscreen display, and a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor under the hood. It will have 2GB of RAM and 8GB of bulit-in storage, with a microSD card slot for good measure, and a battery that measures in at 2000mAh. The Galaxy Folder 2 will also feature an 8-megapixel camera on the back, a 5-megapixel camera on the front, and Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow out of the box.

samsunggalaxyfolder2leak2

The Galaxy Folder 2 didn’t reveal a launch date on the leaked images, though, but it will apparently cost around $250 whenever it does go on sale. It will probably only be available in China, too.

What do you think of the Galaxy Folder 2?



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Verizon LTE Advanced rolling out in 461 cities with faster peak download speeds

Verizon Wireless has officially announced that it is rolling out LTE Advanced to 461 cities across the United States.

With LTE Advanced, customer peak download speeds will see a sharp increase. Specifically, peak download speeds can be up to 50 percent faster thanks to carrier aggregation. To make it work, Verizon is combining its 700MHz, AWS and PCS spectrum, using either two- or three-carrier aggregation to boost peak download speeds.

For Verizon Wireless subscribers, this means peak download speeds are rocketing up. Right now, Verizon’s LTE network offers speeds between 5 and 12Mbps. With LTE Advanced two-carrier aggregation, those speeds can jump up to 225Mbps, and with three-carrier aggregation, speeds up to 300Mbps can be attained.

As far as device support is concerned, many different handsets already work with LTE Advanced. That includes the Moto Z Droid and Moto Z Force Droid, the LG G5, and Samsung’s Galaxy S6, Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 edge, and Galaxy Note7. Apple’s iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are supported, too. The full list consists of 39 devices, so go right here to check it out and find yours on it. The full list of 461 supported cities can be found right here.

Faster speeds will probably be welcomed by most Verizon customers, and with an expansive initial rollout like this, the arrival of Verizon’s LTE Advanced is a nice surprise.



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Top 5 most popular Android apps from last week: LOST MAZE, Notion

Every week we cover new Android apps with Fresh Meat on Wednesday, followed by Android Gaming on Thursday and Top 10 App Updates on Friday. When Monday rolls around, we look back to see which apps were the most appealing to our audience. Read on for the five most popular Android apps from last week. These apps are ones that are most likely new and haven’t appeared in the top five list more than three times.

1 . Navbar Apps

Navbar Apps

App info: Tired of your boring Navigation Bar? Make it awesome! Turn it blue, make it red – anything you want. Select cool image as background or match color automatically to fit it to running app.

 

2. Samsung Notes

Samsung Notes

App info: With Samsung Notes, you can create notes containing texts, images with footnotes, voice recordings, and music. Moreover, you can share your notes easily to SNS.

 

3. Notion

Notion - Thoughtful Email

App info: Notion is the first-ever intelligence layer for your email. It filters, highlights, and prompts you to focus on what matters most. Notion brings your inbox into focus by learning from how you use email.

 

4. Samsung Connect Auto

Samsung Connect Auto

App info: It allows you to monitor your car remotely, drive safer and more efficiently, save money with fuel and vehicle health reports, go on-line from multiple devices using built-in Wi-Fi hotspot and LTE connectivity. This app requires Samsung Connect Auto device (OBD-II).

 

5. LOST MAZE

LOST MAZE

App info: A girl named Misty lived in the maze, but the darkness from deep inside the maze has swallowed all the happiness of memory. She is forced to take on an adventure that nothing is sure, only you can lead her the way home!

 

Note:  To ensure that all apps receive a fair chance to make the list, we will retire any app that has made the list for three consecutive weeks.



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HTC rumored to announce One A9s at IFA 2016

HTC made the One A9 official in October of last year, and while the company made waves recently when it confirmed the One A9 wouldn’t be updated to the newest version of Android within 15 days of Nexus handsets, that’s not stopping HTC from prepping a successor.

According to VentureBeat, HTC plans on calling the new device the “One A9s” which, as noted in the original report, seems to emulate Apple’s naming scheme as much as the One A9 seems to emulate the design of the iPhone 6. Of course, this is all speculation at this point since the device isn’t official, so anything could change between now and when the One A9′s successor is announced.

Today’s report goes on to claim that the One A9s will boast a near-identical design to its predecessor, with the exception of changes to the placement of the camera and flash on the back. The new device will apparently come in black, a bluish-silver, white, and gold color options.

HTC will allegedly unveil the One A9s on September 1, so we don’t have long to wait to see how the A9s compares to its predecessor and the competition.

Did you buy a One A9? Would you consider upgrading to the One A9s?



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BLU Pure XR now official with 16MP camera, 5.5-inch HD display, and more

Earlier this month, BLU took to its official Facebook page to tease an upcoming flagship smartphone. The company confirmed it would be unveiled on August 29, and sure enough, BLU stuck to its word.

The BLU Pure XR is now official and it offers quite a few noteworthy features but also keeps the price tag to a minimum. First up, the 5.5-inch 1080p HD Super AMOLED display boasts an “Advanced 3D Touch display to Select, Preview, and Open,” which appears to work quite similarly to Apple’s own 3D Touch feature. Under the hood the Pure XR features a MediaTek Helio P10 octa-core processor.

BLU PURE XR

On the back, the PURE XR features a 16MP camera with phase detection autofocus, LED flash, and Laser Focus. Around the front there is an 8MP wide-angle front-facing camera. There’s a fingerprint sensor underneath the display which will not only secure the device, but also securely lock down files as well. The PURE XR also boasts Dolby Surround Sound technology.

BLU PURE XR2

The new Pure XR is running Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box and it’s unlocked, so will connect to GSM networks like AT&T and T-Mobile. It boasts 4GB of RAM and offers 64GB of built-in storage, with a microSD card slot that supports cards up to 64GB. The battery is of the non-removable 3000mAh variety. The Pure XR comes in Gold and Grey colors.

The BLU Pure XR is available right now on Amazon with a price tag of $299.99. Do you plan on picking one up?



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T-Mobile unveils One Plus add-on with unlimited HD video and high-speed mobile hotspot

Earlier this month, T-Mobile officially announced its T-Mobile One plan, which offers unlimited high-speed data, text, and minutes, but with a few caveats. The plan didn’t go over well with the general populace, though, so the Un-carrier is making some changes.

T-Mobile is shaking up its standard One plan and introducing a One Plus add-on as well. The standard T-Mobile One plan will now go up to 3G (512kbps) speeds for unlimited mobile hotspot.

The other change for the One plan focuses on HD video. Previously, customers would have to pay an additional $25 per month if they wanted to watch it while connected to the network. Now T-Mobile will offer what it’s calling HD Day Passes. They’ll cost $3 for 24 hours of access to unlimited HD streaming. The HD Day Passes will be available beginning in October.

T-Mobile One was previously scheduled to go live on September 6, but the Un-carrier has now confirmed it will launch on September 1.

And then there’s T-Mobile One Plus. This One Plus add-on replaces the $25 HD video and $15 mobile hotspot packages that were previously available. For $25 per month per line, T-Mobile One Plus subscribers get unlimited HD Day Passes. That means unlimited streaming of HD content while connected to the network, but subscribers will need to remember to actually activate their HD Day Pass if they want to access that content.

T-Mobile One Plus customers will also get unlimited 4G LTE mobile hotspot usage and data speeds up to 256kbps while they are roaming internationally, the latter of which is an increase from the 128kbps roaming offered by the standard T-Mobile One plan.

It’s probably worth noting that T-Mobile’s $95 Simple Choice Unlimited is still available, but only until September 1. So if you’ve been thinking about switching to the Un-carrier but these new plans don’t sound appealing, you still have time to grab onto the old plan.

What do you think of HD Day Passes?



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Performance Battle – UMI Max Vs Meizu M3 Note, Find the Best (VIDEO)

Who doesn’t like performance battles between smartphones, right! Today we have picked up two devices which are almost similar in specifications. The fun is when two similar contenders are faced together, and one emerges as a winner. We have picked up recently launched UMI Max and are putting it against the Meizu M3 Note.

In a video posted by the company on their YouTube channel. The Umi Max gets down on business with Meizu M3 Note to prove that it is a superior design. The comparison between UMI and Meizu handsets is interesting as both the handsets sports MediaTek Helios P10 processor. As well as packs 3GB of RAM and 16GB storage. So, it is a fair competition.

Below is the result of the UMI Max Vs Meizu M3 Note comparison. It includes the comparative figures for boot time, release speed, antutu score, Geekbench score and the Speedtest to learn who offers faster connectivity.

Boot-up Speed

UMI Max = 25.05 seconds

Meizu M3 Note = 48.20 seconds

Fingerprint Unlock Speed

UMI Max = 1.05 seconds

Meizu M3 Note = 1.24 seconds

Antutu Score

UMI Max = 45308

Meizu M3 Note = 43230

Geekbench Score

UMI Max = 816/2987

Meizu M3 Note = 804/2917

Speediest Network Speed

UMI Max = 61.55 mbps Download/ 3.31 mbps Upload

Meizu M3 Note = 60.71 mbps Download/ 2.59 mbps Upload

Application Launch Speed

UMI Max – Amazon = 2.00 seconds, QQMusic= 1.11 seconds, WeChat= 1.05 seconds

Meizu M3 Note – Amazon = 2.07 seconds, QQMusic = 3.10 seconds, WeChat= 1.07 seconds

From the video, we now know who is the quickest among them. It is UMI Max. The device is currently available on various international retailers such as Gearbest for pre-sale, which lasts until August 31st. You can get the device for as low as $169.99. If you are interested in a handset that offers high-end specifications at an affordable price point, then, UMI Max is the handset to look forward.

Buy Now at: Gearbest , Banggood



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Huawei partners with Truecaller, will pre-install caller ID app on Honor 8 and more

Truecaller is growing more and more popular, revealing recently that it’s passed 90 million monthly active users and over 250 million downloads. And, of course, it partnered with Cyanogen last year.

Now Truecaller has another partnership, and it’s even bigger. Huawei has partnered with Truecaller and plans to pre-install the app on the Honor 8 and future devices sold in the U.S., Middle East, North Africa, South East Asia and India.

Apparently the deal doesn’t involve any money changing hands. Instead, the two companies just agreed on to form a mutually beneficial partnership. And Truecaller is a great app, so it’s gonna benefit the consumers too.



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Samsung Rewards cards in Samsung Pay being rejected

If you received a Samsung Rewards card for signing up for Samsung Pay, it seems like it is having problems for the past couple of days. People are reporting that the card is getting declined when trying to pay for things.

The Samsung Rewards card is managed by Citibank, and the bank says it’s working with Samsung to fix the widespread issue. So if you still have your Samsung Rewards card in Samsung Pay, expect issues if you decide to use it.

Thanks Bart!



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Google Wallet updated to automatically transfer incoming money to your bank

Google Wallet may have been separated from Android Pay for NFC mobile payments, but it’s still a useful app for easily transferring money to others.

A new update to the Google Wallet app will now automatically transfer incoming funds to your debit card or bank account rather than leaving them in your account to be manually transfer. Since there isn’t much reason to have money in your Google Wallet account, this is definitely a big improvement.

Unfortunately, the feature may not actually go live until next week, even if you get the update now. The update also has bug fixes and visual improvements, so head to the Play Store and check for updates!



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Google adds Tic-Tac-Toe and Solitaire to Google Search

If you’re in the mood for a quick and simple game, rather than hitting up the Play Store give Google Search a try. The company has added both Solitaire and Tic-Tac-Toe to search, both on desktop and in the mobile Google Search app.

If you want to play either, just search “solitaire” or “tic tac toe” and you’ll be able to play the game. Tic-Tac-Toe may be overly simple, but Solitaire is an addicting classic one could play for hours.

Google search Tic-Tac-Toe

A few other small additions to search include searching “flip a coin” to get a random coin toss result and asking what sound animals make for animal noises.

Google is constantly adding fun little things to Search, and this is just the latest addition. Thanks, Google, for making a search engine fun.



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Top 10 Android app updates this week: TED, Nike+ Run Club

Welcome back to our weekly Top 10 Android App Updates column, where we take a look at the most frequently upgraded apps for the week. We’ve found that one of the best ways to discover useful apps is to find the ones that are actually being updated by the developers rather than selecting the apps with the most installs. As in the past, we’re going to filter out minor updates for the super-popular apps that have over 10 million installs, but we’ll make exceptions for apps that have had significant updates. We hope you enjoy this weekly feature and that you discover some apps that end up being useful.

Google Drive - Version 2.4.311

Google Drive

What’s new in this version:

  • Easily upgrade your storage plan in-app
  • Add homescreen shortcuts to your favorite files
  • Receive comment notifications
  • Performance improvements and bug fixes

 

30 Day Fit Challenge Workout - Version 1.0.7

30 Day Fit Challenge Workout

What’s new in this version:

  • Support Russian, Turkish, German, French, Japanese, Indonesian, Italian, and Spanish
  • Make the challenges more suitable for users
  • Bugs fixed

 

PayPal - Version 6.5.1

PayPal

What’s new in this version:

  • Fingerprint login supported for more phones, including the Samsung Galaxy S7, Nexus 5X, and Nexus 6P (Android Marshmallow and above)
  • Sleeker send and request money experience with animated transitions
  • Performance improvements

 

Prisma - Version 1.1.0

Prisma

What’s new in this version:

  • We’ve made Prisma faster. Happy artwork making!
  • Introducing charity styles!
  • ‘Philanthropic’ styles are now available to Prisma users who can choose to not only have “a love” filter that is probably the most beautiful, but also to donate $1 to an Elbi charity.

 

Nike+ Run Club - Version 2.0.3

NikePlusRun

What’s new in this version:

  • The Nike+ Running app is now the Nike+ Run Club app with a fresh, new & improved look.
    - Coaching plans now adapt to your schedule and progress.
    - More fun and personal post-run sharing than ever.
    - Compare and compete with your friends by hash-tagging runs.

 

Polarr Photo Editor - Version 2.4.0

Polarr

What’s new in this version:

  • “1) We added a smart auto-enhancement button in Polarr! Try out the Auto-enhance button and see how Polarr make light adjustments for you.
    2) New icon and permission settings
    3) Fixed bug related to scanning and saving filters.”

 

SwiftKey Beta - Version 6.4.1.45

SwiftKey Beta What’s new in this version:

  • Sync service fixed
  • Number, email and other predictions containing ‘@’ are turned back on. All previously learned number, email and @ predictions have been deleted but can now be relearned
  • Android N emoji are now supported
  • Diverse emoji now available. Long press select emoji to modify their skin tone

 

Twitch - Version 4.11.1

Twitch

What’s new in this version:

  • Couch potatoes rejoice! Twitch comes to Android TV.
  • Channel Feed Comments
  • Enhanced search functionality

 

TED - Version 3.0.3

TED

What’s new in this version:

  • Optimized video quality and speed
  • Chromecast improvements
  • More intuitive full screen mode
  • Enable background playback from Settings
  • Change app language from Settings
  • Many other bug fixes

 

Pokemon GO - Version 0.35.0

Pokemon GO

What’s new in this version:

  • Implemented Pokémon Appraisal: Trainers will now be able to learn about a Pokémon’s attack and defense capabilities from their Team Leader (Candela, Blanche, or Spark) to determine which of their Pokémon have the most potential for battle.
  • Fixed a bug that kept defeated Pokémon at 1HP; these Pokémon will now return as fainted Pokémon. We’re working on rebalancing the training battle, stay tuned.
  • Minor bot fixes

 

 



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