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3 hours ago

Daily brief: Android Weariness, Google Maps listens, and what the heck is LeEco?

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What happened on September 29?

Do you use a smartwatch? I do, and there's a higher-than-normal percent chance that you do, too, if you're reading this. But do your friends and family members adorn Moto 360s, Gear S2s or Pebbles? Perhaps some wear an Apple Watch? The more likely answer is that they wear a Fitbit, if anything at all. I still know some folks who wear the same Casio calculator watch they graduated high school with 20 years ago. Man, I'm getting old.

With the news that Android Wear 2.0 is getting pushed to early 2017, it occurs to me that the smartwatch wave rose and fell more quickly than even tablets, settling into the steady pace of iteration we see today. It helped that companies already had a pretty good playbook to work from, but it also speaks to the fact that, being accessories, they don't need to be overly complicated. But with Google bringing elements of the Play Store to Android Wear devices, it appears the company is readying itself for the swift proliferation of 3G and LTE-connected watches. Will they catch on? Will people even want to leave their phones at home?

I doubt it, but what do I know? I'm just a blogger.

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6 hours ago

Charge quickly while on the go with this $22 battery pack!

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Jackery is currently offering its 10050mAh Quick Charge 3.0 battery pack for just $22, a savings of $8 with coupon code THUNDERJ. That's right, Quick Charge 3.0 on the go, right from your bag, without needing to be tethered to a wall. Now, as you walk between business meetings or wait for the bus to arrive, you can charge your phone up quickly and easily. At just over 10000mAh, you'll be able to charge most phones up to four times, and thanks to its dual USB outputs you can charge more than one device at a time.

If you don't want to spend hours waiting for your phone to charge, you'll want to grab one of these before the deal runs out. Remember, you'll need coupon code THUNDERJ for the full savings here.

See at Amazon

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6 hours ago

How to add a goal to Google Calendar

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Adding a goal in Google Calendar can help to keep you on track.

Plenty of us already use Google Calendar to keep track of the many different parts of your life. On top of making events and reminders you can also set goals for yourself. These include goals for exercising, work, friends, and plenty more. We've got the details for you here on how to set one up.

Set a goal in Google Calendar

  1. Open Google Calendar.
  2. Tap the red plus icon in the bottom right corner of your screen.
  3. Tap the blue flag icon to add a goal.
  4. Tap to choose what type of activity goal you want to set. You will be show a preset list of goals based on the type of activity.
  5. Tap an item from the list, or alternatively you can tap Custom... to add your own goal.
  6. Tap to chose the frequency of reminders to complete your goal (options range from weekly to daily).
  7. Tap to set the duration for your activity.
  8. Tap to choose the best time of day for completing your goal.
  9. Tap the checkmark to confirm your goal settings.

Google Calendars will now automatically find time in your schedule for the upcoming month based on on the parameters you set and add them as special events to your daily schedules.

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Sponsored Post

This rugged HTC 10 pouch is just $16.95 today!

Not a fan of cases but also don’t like your HTC 10 being unprotected while transporting it? If so, check out Rugged’s horizontal pouch to keep it safely secured to your hip. The holster will allow you to store your phone inside its protective layers, and right now you can pick one up for just $16.95!

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8 hours ago

Google delays Android Wear 2.0 until early 2017, adds Play Store support

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Android Wear 2.0 is coming later than expected, but for a good reason.

Google is pushing back the public release of Android Wear 2.0, the huge upgrade to the company's wearables platform unveiled this summer, to early 2017. Announced alongside the third developer preview, Google says that after a great response from the developer community thus far, it has "decided to continue the preview program into early 2017, at which point the first watches will receive Android Wear 2.0." One more developer preview will be released in the coming months before the platform is submitted to OEMs.

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8 hours ago

Google Maps adds hands-free voice input to make driving safer

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Google has announced that Maps on Android now officially supports hands-free voice commands, allowing users engaged in navigation to interrupt the helpful narrator to ask the locations of nearby gas stations, or to reroute on the fly to avoid highways.

A long time coming, Google Maps has for a long time supports voice search, but now the app responds to "OK Google" commands at any time, making it considerably easier, and safer, to interact with the app while actually, you know, driving.

Enabling the feature is relatively easy:

  1. Open the overflow menu and tap Settings.
  2. Tap OK Google detection.
  3. Enable "While driving".

The benefit of this feature is obvious, especially if you've ever been in a position where you need to make a change to your navigation route while stuck in traffic or driving down a highway at 60mph.

Google has a list of commands supported by the feature, but many of them, like "How's traffic?" or "Navigate home" are fairly obvious. But they could also be the difference between an accident and a quiet, uneventful ride home.

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8 hours ago

Google Pixel by HTC: Will the real manufacturer of Google's phones share in the glory?

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HTC logo

HTC's biggest-selling phones of 2016 might not even bear its logo.

With less than a week to go before launch, Android fans are eagerly expecting Google's Pixel phones. But just a couple of months back, the idea of a fully Google-branded phone hadn't yet dawned, and instead the rumor mill swirled around two new HTC Nexuses. (Marlin and Sailfish, if you want to get really nerdy.)

The difference is an important one. As we've already explored, the Nexus program was much more a partnership between Google and its chosen manufacturer. Although in recent years Google has hogged the limelight, there's still a Huawei logo on the back of the 6P, and it still appears right there on the manufacturer's website, alongside the likes of the P9 and Mate 8.

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9 hours ago

Huawei Mate 9: Next Huawei flagship coming Nov. 3

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Huawei logo

'New flagship device' to break cover at press conference in Munich.

Huawei's holding a launch event in Munich, Germany on November 3 for a "new flagship device", and that almost certainly means the Mate 9 is on its way. The latest in Huawei's series of big-screened phones is likely to pack the very best of the company's high-end hardware, along with the anticipated EMUI 5 interface, based on Android 7.0 Nougat.

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10 hours ago

Best Android Phones Under 5.7 Inches

The industry has sort of agreed that phones with 5.5-inch screens are mainstream. The best phone you can buy at that size is the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge.

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

See at AT&T See at Sprint See at T-Mobile See at Verizon See at Amazon

There's no question that Samsung hit a home run with its Galaxy S7 line. We already think the smaller GS7 is the best phone under 5.2 inches, and the larger, curved-screen Galaxy S7 edge is our pick for the best phone under 5.7 inches. Why? It takes everything we love about the smaller phone and makes it bigger — but not too much.

This water-resistant phone is comfortable to hold, and even to use in one hand, while the internal specs are some of the best in the business — Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 in the U.S. and an Exynos 8890 internationally — with 4GB of RAM and a standard 32GB of storage. But it's the dual curved display that is so arresting, with an infinity pool experience that really stands out amongst a sea of flat smartphones. That curvature also has a purpose, allowing for quick access to favorite contacts, apps, web pages, and more.

Around back, the 12MP rear camera is the best in the business; many other devices have been released since the Galaxy S7 edge came out earlier this year, and none — not even Apple's iPhone 7 Plus — has dislodged it from that top position. And just underneath that camera, a massive 3,600mAh battery keeps things moving all day.

Bottom line: The Galaxy S7 edge is one of the obvious choices for the best smartphones around, but it is definitely the best smartphone between between 5.2 inches and 5.6 inches.

One More thing: This highly-rated device is available at all four major carriers in the U.S., but if you'd rather live dangerously and contract-free, Samsung offers an unlocked model that also works overseas.

Why the Galaxy S7 edge is the best

A beautiful phone that delivers the specs and performance.

In previous years, Samsung managed to out-promote its way to sales victory, even as phones from HTC, Motorola and LG were objectively better. But starting in 2015 that all changed when the company unveiled its Galaxy S6 and S6 edge, two of the most interesting, beautiful, and well-designed phones on the market. That playbook was even more refined this year with the Galaxy S7 edge, which took cues from its curved predecessor while upping the screen size — and the usability.

The phone has a number of things going for it, including water resistance, expandable storage, plenty of speed and power, an enormous battery that lasts all day, and a stunning 5.5-inch QHD AMOLED display that curves at both sides in an effortless infinity pool effect. But the whole experience comes together when you realize Samsung took to heart much of the criticism levelled against its software in recent years, improving the way you navigate through the interface, while removing impediments to quick actions and shortcuts. Moreover, there are some truly innovative ideas in the software, from the edge screen to the excellent camera app, which was redesigned for this generation.

While the Galaxy S7 will likely appeal to more people, the GS7 edge's larger chassis and curved display give it something a little bit extra — including a higher price tag. We say that added cost is worth it if you're looking for a phone that lasts all day and then some, or use your phone for a lot of media consumption.

Best at many things

OnePlus 3

See at OnePlus

The OnePlus 3 does everything well — that's what you need to know first. It's a huge upgrade over the OnePlus 2, and its all-metal chassis doesn't feel overly large despite the ample 5.5-inch screen size. And that's what you're looking for in a big phone: one that doesn't feel like a brick in your hand.

OnePlus did a great job improving the internals in the OnePlus 3: the 5.5-inch Full HD display is vivid and bright, and the quad-core Snapdragon 820 paired with 6GB of RAM makes the phone a formidable performer — even more so when you consider the $399 price point. While it lacks the little things that add up to justify the S7 edge's extra cost — water resistance, expandable storage, and a high-quality QHD display — the OnePlus 3 is without compromises, which is something we're really happy to see at this price tier.

Bottom-line: With a big, bright 5.5-inch screen, a great camera, excellent build quality, and loads of nice software touches, the OnePlus 3 is one of the best smartphone deals you can find today.

One more thing: The OnePlus 3 has a 16MP camera that does a lot more than just shoot great photos — it supports 4K video, slo-mo, and excellent panoramas.

Best for doing more

Moto Z

See at Motorola

The Moto Z is an interesting phone. Yes, it doesn't have a headphone jack, but there is so much more to the story than that. It's extremely thin — under 5.2mm to be exact — and light, but is made of strong stuff, including aluminum and stainless steel. And while the Moto Mods story is the one that most people are telling, even without add-ons the Moto Z is one of the best Android experiences on the market. It has a great 5.5-inch QHD display, the specs you'd expect from a $699 phone, including an excellent 13MP rear camera and some fantastic software, but when paired with a Moto Mod, the story becomes more interesting.

Those Mods, which range from inexpensive battery adds-ons to more expensive projector and camera options, add a considerable amount of functionality to the device, and are well worth the investment.

Bottom-line: It may not be cheap, but Motorola, under Lenovo's ownership, has proven that it is still one of the most innovative companies in phones today.

One more thing: You can buy the Moto Z unlocked directly from Motorola, as well as through Verizon under the Droid name.

Conclusion

There are so many smartphones out there today. It's not easy picking the right one, especially when tasked with choosing a phone at a certain size. This bracket, between 5.3 and 5.6 inches, appears to be the sweet spot for many people, which is why an increasing number of flagships are settling in it.

The Galaxy S7 edge has no real flaws: it is fast, intuitive, and well-designed, with premium materials and lots of space for a great camera and capacious battery. It may be expensive, but Samsung has proven with this year's phone lineup that the extra cost over, say, the OnePlus 3, is justified.

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

See at AT&T See at Sprint See at T-Mobile See at Verizon See at Amazon

There's no question that Samsung hit a home run with its Galaxy S7 line. We already think the smaller GS7 is the best phone under 5.2 inches, and the larger, curved-screen Galaxy S7 edge is our pick for the best phone under 5.7 inches. Why? It takes everything we love about the smaller phone and makes it bigger — but not too much.

This water-resistant phone is comfortable to hold, and even to use in one hand, while the internal specs are some of the best in the business — Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 in the U.S. and an Exynos 8890 internationally — with 4GB of RAM and a standard 32GB of storage. But it's the dual curved display that is so arresting, with an infinity pool experience that really stands out amongst a sea of flat smartphones. That curvature also has a purpose, allowing for quick access to favorite contacts, apps, web pages, and more.

Around back, the 12MP rear camera is the best in the business; many other devices have been released since the Galaxy S7 edge came out earlier this year, and none — not even Apple's iPhone 7 Plus — has dislodged it from that top position. And just underneath that camera, a massive 3,600mAh battery keeps things moving all day.

Bottom line: The Galaxy S7 edge is one of the obvious choices for the best smartphones around, but it is definitely the best smartphone between between 5.2 inches and 5.6 inches.

One More thing: This highly-rated device is available at all four major carriers in the U.S., but if you'd rather live dangerously and contract-free, Samsung offers an unlocked model that also works overseas.

Note: This list is of phones between 5.3 inches and 5.6 inches. We already have a list of the best phones 5.2 inches and under, and the best phones 5.7 inches and above.

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11 hours ago

Galaxy Note 7 vs iPhone 7 Plus: Function over form

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Should I buy an iPhone 7 or a Note 7?

Samsung stumbled out of the gate with the Galaxy Note 7 in a way that may permanently damage the Note brand, but that doesn't change our thoughts on the phone itself. The Note 7 represents unprecedented polish from Samsung, and a well-tuned feature set that can't be easily replicated. It's the best Android phone you can buy today if price isn't a concern, which makes it the perfect phone to compare to Apple's iPhone 7 Plus.

Samsung and Apple have both placed a premium on quality camera experiences, the fastest, most accurate fingerprint systems, and an external design that reinforces brand recognition. Here's what happens when you put the two side by side.

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12 hours ago

Save $35 on this Bluetooth speaker that will keep your party going!

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Right now you can grab Sharkk's Commando+ Bluetooth speaker for $75 at Amazon, a savings of $35 with coupon code Sharkk35. This powerful speaker has a 20w driver inside to get your music going loud, and the battery will last around 16 hours per charge to keep it flowing all night. The rugged design is paired with an IP65 rating so you can get it wet, just not fully submerge it. Unlike some other speakers, this one has the play/pause, volume adjustments, skip track and answer/end call buttons on the top of it, so you can do things without reaching for your phone.

If you are looking for a portable speaker that gets loud and gives you great sound, you'll want to check this one out. This discount won't last long so be sure to get your order in before it is gone! Remember, you'll need coupon code Sharkk35 for the full savings.

See at Amazon

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12 hours ago

What to do if you're locked out of your phone after resetting it

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While it's for our own good, Factory Reset Protection can trip you up when you reset your phone. These tips can help.

Getting stuck when trying to reset your phone seems to be a fairly common thing. The reasons for it are good — Google has methods in place to try and cut back on phone theft — but when it's your phone and your data, it can be frustrating if you can't use it. Here are a few pointers that can help if it happens to you, as well as what you can do to prevent it from happening.

Why do I need to know the old account information?

In recent versions of Android, once a phone has been tied to a Google account you need to use the same account and password to "unlock" it if you reset it. It's called FRP (Factory Reset Protection), and it's done to make stolen phones less valuable; if you steal my phone you can't unlock the screen to use it, and if you reset it you need my Google account information to set it up again. If you can't use my phone, you're less likely to steal it. Or if you've found a phone and can't use it you'll be more likely to turn it over to the police. Every company that makes phones with access to Google Play is using this feature and some also have their own version that can do the same thing through their accounts.

Even a great idea seems bad when it keeps you from using your phone.

The problem is that if you reset your own phone, or buy a used phone that still has FRP active you might need to know the account username and password that was last used on the phone to sync with Google's servers. Resetting the phone through the settings should remove the account before it erases the data, but it very often doesn't. Sometimes we forget those details, or if we bought a phone from someone else we might not be able to get them. While people are always looking for exploits to work around the FRP lock, once found they quickly get patched. (Though sometimes those patches take a while to work their way through manufacturers and carriers, so it's always worth a Google search.)

When this happens on your own account and you have access from another phone (or tablet or computer) first instinct is to have the password you forgot reset so you can move forward. But that only locks the phone setup completely for at least 24 hours because another security feature stops you from adding access to your Google account on the phone right after a password change or other "suspicious" activity. On phones running Lollipop, this might be 72 hours — Google changed it in May 2016 and some phones need a software update for it to take effect. Every time you try starts the 24-hour clock new, and we all would keep trying over and over out of frustration.

So what should I do?

There are three ways to get in. The first, using the Google account recovery tool, will only work if you took the time to set up a backup phone (and can swap your SIM card with another phone to get a text) or second email account. We'll go over how to do that in the next section, but if you already did it you can click this link to start the recovery process. Make sure your phone is charged and turned on, and make sure you have access to a phone using the recovery number or the recovery account email. If you're using two-factor authentication, you'll need a way to authorize your account. If that would usually be the phone you're trying to unlock, the recovery tool will walk you through the steps to disable 2FA or use a CAPTCHA code.

The next step is to reset your account password from another device, then wait 24 (or 72 — see above) hours before trying to set it up. You can leave the phone powered on or shut it off, just don't try to do anything with it while you're waiting or you may reset the countdown. Waiting a full day (or three) really sucks, but it's better than not having any access to your account and not being able to use your phone ever again.

If you bought used, you'll need to contact the original owner for some help.

The third option is for advanced users, and may not work on your particular model. You can try to wipe the phone's data and cache partitions through the device recovery. This used to work on some models, never worked on others, and even triggered a dialog asking for the same account details as setup does on others. But if you're into fiddling with things, this is pretty easy to try. The other thing to try is to reflash the operating system. Using whatever tools are needed on a computer (Fastboot, Odin, LG Flash Tool, etc.) and the correct factory image to completely erase the phone and start from scratch. This too isn't 100%. Rooted users can try ADB through recovery and then remove specific files from the settings database — search your particular model for more on this.

If none of these solutions work you can try filling out this form or calling 650-253-0000 to work through the Google Accounts customer service menu. You can also try checking with the company you bought the phone from, as they may have experience solving the issue.

If you aren't the original owner and don't have access to a way to recover the account, you'll need to contact whoever you bought it from.

Account recovery options

Save yourself some headache and set up your account recovery options. Visit your Google account settings page and run the "Security Checkup" you'll find in the left column. You can tell Google how to send you a token to get into your account if you're locked out and select recovery questions as part of the first step. We recommend you provide all the detail you can here. Just because the FRP "issue" hasn't hit you yet doesn't mean it never will.

With password managers and 2FA settings, the days of just remembering a simple account password are over for a lot of us. Don't think that you'll never be locked out of your own phone and your own account! Take a few minutes and make sure Google can help you get in if you need them to.

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13 hours ago

Pixel phones and the Nexus line: How we got to 'Made by Google'

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Should the Pixel phones resemble the Nexus line in some way?

When the Pixel phones debut next week — a 5-inch Pixel and a 5.5-inch Pixel XL, if rumors are to be believed — they are going to be compared, whether Google likes it or not, to the Nexus phones that came before.

Google may be attempting a clean break from that legacy of annual Nexus refreshes, but there's only so much in a name: To many people, this will be yet another Nexus launch.

Last September was the only year Google announced two Nexus phones at once, the 5.2-inch Nexus 5X and the tall, properly massive Nexus 6P. Previous years saw, in reverse order, the 6-inch Nexus 6 (2014), the 5-inch Nexus 5 (2013), the 4.7-inch Nexus 4 (2012), the 4.7-inch Galaxy Nexus (2011), the 4-inch Nexus S (late-2010), and the 3.7-inch Nexus One (early-2010).

Each of these phones has a core set of loyal fans, nostalgic for something or other, be it the compact size of Samsung's plastic Nexus S, or the shimmering glass back of the Nexus 4. Let's go through them one by one and have some fun.

Nexus One — early 2010

The OG, the Nexus One was my first Android phone, and such a beast. Rocking Android 2.1 Eclair, its 3.7-inch display was kind of terrible, but it felt so fast and fluid — and it came in this amazing box.

The Nexus One had a colored trackball, one of the most endearing parts of the phone.

More than anything, the Nexus One was a phone for developers. I wasn't — though I rooted the heck out of it — but the Nexus One felt to me like a blank slate, a phone on which you could do anything. It wasn't too far removed from the HTC HD2, which started its life as a Windows Mobile device but, even to this day, is used as proof that with enough patience you can basically keep a phone alive forever.

The Nexus One also had that colored trackball, a holdover from the early days of Android, and one of the most endearing parts of the phone. If the Pixel line brings anything unique to the table, I would love the phones to acknowledge the original HTC Nexus phone in some way.

Nexus S — late 2010

After the botched e-commerce launch of the Nexus One, Google stormed back 11 months later with the Samsung-built Nexus S. It was, for all intents and purposes, a reworked Galaxy S (not unlike the Nexus One, which was a retooled Desire), and judging by the screen alone it was worth the upgrade.

This is where the Nexus line got a bit more consumer-friendly, in my opinion. The camera was usable in more situations, the screen was huge for the time, and the interface, running Android 2.3 Gingerbread, was absolutely fluid. And those Live Wallpapers.

I still have a Nexus S kicking around somewhere, and I take it out every once in a while to snap myself back to reality, to reaffirm just how far this industry — and the Nexus line itself — has come.

Galaxy Nexus — 2011

The less I say about this one the better, for fear of Verizon customers storming the barricades. There were so many problems with this phone, from connectivity issues to the fact that Google didn't actually oversee updates to the phone (on the Verizon/Sprint models), that some would choose to forget Samsung's second Nexus device actually existed at all.

But once Google got around to selling the phone directly from its newly-minted online store, in the form of an unlocked HSPA+ model, everything was quite different, and Americans got to experience the phone that we in Canada, and many in the rest of the world, had been enjoying since late 2011.

The Galaxy Nexus was a big phone for 2011, with an ever-so-subtle curve that portended Samsung's eventual commitment to all things edge.

The Galaxy Nexus was a big phone for 2011, with an ever-so-subtle curve that portended Samsung's eventual commitment to all things edge. It was also a bit of an industry anomaly, featuring a dual-core Texas Instruments processor that would soon stop being supported, and, on the Verizon model, one of the first to support LTE — which brought along terrible battery and inconsistent signal.

I can't say I loved the Galaxy Nexus in my time with it: the phone was marred by a number of software issues that came along with Google's biggest-at-the-time Android release, Ice Cream Sandwich. It took until mid-2012 and the release of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean for many of the major bugs to get resolved.

But the Galaxy Nexus also brought the Nexus program forward a considerable amount. It had enormous carrier support in many countries; it had a large HD display; it supported LTE, a burgeoning technology at the time; and it ran Android 4.0, which introduced the Holo design language, on-screen buttons, the deprecation of the physical menu button, and so much more. Android couldn't be where it is today without the Galaxy Nexus.

Nexus 4 — 2012

The Nexus 4 is still one of my favorite Android phones ever. As the Nexus S was to the Nexus One — a mature, polished successor to a very forward-looking, flawed original — the Nexus 4 was to the Galaxy Nexus.

The Nexus 4 was awesome: it felt fast, had a great screen, and felt amazing in the hand.

Shipping with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, Google had by then figured out many of the issues with the Holo design, and the Nexus line was beginning to feel more like a predictable project, less fraught with problems.

The Nexus 4 was awesome: it felt fast, had a great screen, and felt amazing in the hand. It had two fundamental flaws, but they could be overlooked at the time: it lacked LTE, and its camera was kind of terrible. OK, it was fully terrible.

Still, starting at $299 for the 8GB model, sold directly from Google, unlocked and unmarred by carrier interference, the Nexus 4 felt like an Android fan's dream phone. Sure, the rear glass cracked if you looked at it sideways, but man was it a heck of a looker.

Nexus 5 — 2013

This was the phone that everyone appeared to love at the time, and has since grown to hate. The phone was, as Alex Dobie writes, "a boring plastic nothing with bad battery life and a temperamental camera," but at $349 it was by far the best value for an LTE phone you could find in late 2013.

It also ran Android 4.4 KitKat, which to this day is an underrated upgrade. The last of the Holo versions, KitKat introduced the Google Now Launcher, HDR+, and a whole bunch of other subtle improvements.

Nexus 5: "A boring plastic nothing with bad battery life and a temperamental camera."

Unfortunately, the Nexus 5 will likely be remembered more for its terrible battery life than anything else; I don't think I ever got past 5pm on that thing. And that camera — it may have been better than the Nexus 4, but only barely, and that was a pretty low bar to climb. Still, the Nexus 5 sold buckets, and proved, like the Nexus S, to be a tremendous commercial success. Indeed, while we don't know the exact numbers sold, it's believed to be the best-selling Nexus device by an enormous margin, since you couldn't find anything that matched its price to performance value.

Nexus 6 — 2014

What can we say about the Nexus 6? It was big. Massive. Stupid large. It was the first phone to ship with Android 5.0 Lollipop, and all the problems the new version brought with it. Material Design looked good, but this giant Moto X was too big for most people to use. It was also nearly double the cost of the Nexus 5, a reality that hit the hardcore Nexus community really hard.

The Nexus 6 represents the moment Google reasserted the Nexus as a premium product, meant less to undercut other Android flagships and promote competition than to stand on its own as a really great device. Unfortunately, even with its powerful specs, the Nexus 6 failed to live up to expectations. Battery life was disappointing given its massive 3,220mAh cell. The 13MP rear camera sensor, even with HDR+ and optical image stabilization, struggled in low light. The phone was a mess of contradictions, made even worse by the fact that Samsung had just released the staggeringly improved Galaxy Note 4.

Prior to the Nexus 6, I liked every Nexus phone to some degree. In 2014, I decided to skip a generation.

Nexus 5X and 6P — 2015

The 2015 Nexus phones were — are— great. Both of them. The smaller 5.2-inch Nexus 5X may have had some performance issues well into its lifespan, but it was a worthy successor to the ultra-popular Nexus 5, and brought the entry price back down to a more palatable $379. I never spent enough time with the Nexus 5X to form a comprehensive opinion of it, but I really enjoyed it for the week or so I had it in my pocket last December. LG really nailed it.

The Nexus 6P is undoubtedly the best Nexus phone ever made.

The Nexus 6P is, despite being a bit too tall for my liking, undoubtedly the best Nexus phone ever made, and a candidate for one of the best smartphones ever made, too. In my opinion, of course. It's one of the only Nexus devices with few, if any, compromises — you can argue its lack of optical image stabilization is problematic, but I find it rarely gets in the way of a great photo — and is one of Huawei's strongest showings to date.

Both the Nexus 5X and 6P feel easy to some extent: easy to use, with Android 6.0 on board at launch, and easy to recommend. Even the $499 tag seems reasonable after the previous year's absurd asking price. And both phones are even better now running Android 7.0 Nougat. Google did well with its partners in 2015.

Pixel phones — 2016

So now we come to the Pixel phones, two seemingly-identical devices that will attempt to justify starting price points of $649, if rumors are to be believed. If you look back at the history of the Nexus line, no phone has been able to walk into a plus-$600 market and succeed commercially; the Nexus S, at $529, came close, but that was a very different time.

Google's Pixels will compete in a highly saturated high-end market.

And while it's easy enough for us to say that the Pixel phones should be priced lower in order to succeed, there are so many variables we just haven't considered. What will carrier support be like — we know at least Verizon will offer one or both of them on financing — and what does Google have up its sleeve to differentiate them from other Android devices in that tier? A few software tweaks — redesigned launcher with rounded icons, new navigation buttons, and so on — won't be enough, and specs alone can't win any arguments in the highly-competitive Android space these days.

The $650 market is saturated as it is, with Samsung's Galaxy S7 line dominant in ways we couldn't have imagined back when the Nexus S and Galaxy Nexus debuted. And in the $350-$400 space, where the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 rested so comfortably, objectively great products from OnePlus, ZTE, Honor, Alcatel and Motorola fit the bill.

In some ways I hope Hiroshi Lockheimer isn't hyperbolizing the notion that someday we will remember October 4, 2016 as fondly as we reminisce about the debut of Android itself, since the Pixel phones have a huge legacy of beautiful, flawed, complicated products behind them.

It's also why I hope the Pixel phones in some way resemble the Nexus One, since the idea of Google starting from scratch to build something amazing is what made us yearn for the new Nexus year after year.

Google Pixel + Pixel XL

img { width: 100%; height: auto; } .devicebox ul { display: table; margin: 0 0 10px; width: 100%; } .devicebox ul li { background: #f7f7f7; margin: 2px 0; padding: 4px 15px; } .devicebox ul li:hover { background: #fff; } .devicebox ul li:before { display: none; } .devicebox p ~ p { line-height: 1.25; } .devicebox p:first-of-type + p { padding: 15px; } .devicebox a.buy-link { border-radius: 5px; display: inline-block; font: 14px/31px "Proxima Nova Extrabld",Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; text-align: center; } .devicebox a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:link, .devicebox a.buy-link:active, .devicebox a.buy-link:visited { background: #37B5D7; color: #FFF; } .devicebox a.buy-link:hover { background: #2694B2; text-decoration: none; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { content: "\e61e"; font: 40px/0 "ac_iconset" !important; margin: 0 3px 0 -8px; vertical-align: middle; } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { /* div:not(.columns-3) excludes help menu content */ .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p img, .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 660px) { .devicebox h3 { text-align: center; } .devicebox ul, .devicebox p { display: block; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox p img, .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 661px), all and (max-width: 500px) { /* 2x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(even) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) { width: 100%; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 659px) and (min-width: 501px) { /* 3x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(100%/3 - 10px/3); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n):not(:nth-last-of-type(2)) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:only-child { width: 100%; margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(odd) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } } @media all and (max-width: 500px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { display: none; } } .page-admin .devicebox {max-width: 350px;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe {position: relative; height: 0; padding-bottom: 56.9%;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe iframe {width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

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14 hours ago

How to copy music to your Android phone

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How to copy music to your Android phone

How do I put music on my Android phone?

Most phones now have storage capacities that lend themselves nicely to holding all of your favorite tunes. If your phone has a microSD card slot, even better! You can usually transfer your music right onto the card.

Here's how to copy your music onto your Android phone using either Windows or Mac!

How to copy music from your Mac onto your Android phone using Android File Transfer

Once you've downloaded Android File Transfer, just plug your phone into your Mac via USB.

  1. Launch Android File Transfer from the Finder or your Dock.
  2. Open a Finder window and open the folder in which your music is contained.
  3. Click either Phone or SD Card, depending on where you'd like to transfer your music to. If your phone doesn't have a microSD slot, then you won't have to SD Card option.
  4. Drag and drop individual music files or entire folders onto Android File Transfer.

    Launch Android File Transfer, open a Finder window, click either Phone or SD Card, drag and drop music files or folders

That's all there is to it, but be careful: If you try to transfer too many files at once, Android File Transfer will likely just crap out and stop party-way through. Keep your transfers to batches under 1GB.

How to transfer music from your computer to your Android phone wirelessly using AirDroid

If you prefer to go the cableless route (which is probably a good idea if your alternative is Android File Transfer) then AirDroid is where it's at. It works for both Mac and PC, so just download it and set it up!

  1. Launch AirDroid from your home screen or from the app drawer.
  2. Tap Sign in or Sign up.
  3. Enter your email address and a password.
  4. Tap Sign in.
  5. Tap Enable if you'd like to see the app notifications on your computer in real time. Otherwise, tap Later.

    Tap Sign In or Sign Up, enter you email address and a password, tap Sign In, tap Enable or Later

  6. On your Mac, go to http://web.airdroid.com. Alternativey, you can download the desktop client.
  7. Enter your email address and password and click Sign in.
  8. If prompted, click the device you'd like to transfer music to and click OK. You should then receive a notification on your phone that AirDroid is connected.

    Enter your email address and password and click Sign in, click the device you want to transfer files to if more than one shows up

  9. Click the Music button on the bottom left of the AirDroid options. A window will appear.
  10. Click Upload.

    Click Music, click Upload

  11. Click to open a Finder window.
  12. Drag and drop music files or folders as you please.

    Open a Finder windows, drag and drop music files and folders

You can drop as many files as you like; you just can't select whether your music is stored on your phone or SD card. It'll automatically be stored on your phone, though if your phone has the function, you'll be able to move your music onto your SD card.

How to transfer music from your Windows PC to your Android phone

PCs make life quite a bit easier in that they recognize your Android phone as a USB device and so long as your phone is in the right USB mode, copying music is as simple as connecting, dragging, dropping, done.

  1. Plug your phone into your PC via USB.
  2. On your phone, tap the USB notification.
  3. Tap the circle next to Transfer files (MTP). The File Explorer will automatically launch.

    Tap the USB notification, tap the circle next to Transfer files (MTP)

  4. Launch another File Explorer window from your taskbar.
  5. Find the music files you would like to copy to your phone.
  6. Drag the music files to your phone and to either the internal storage or the SD card, if you have one and release them.

    Launch another File Explorer window from the taskbar, find the music files you want to copy to your phone, drag and drop the music files to your phone's internal storage or SD card if you have one

Your turn!

How do you copy music files to your Android phone or tablet? Let us know in the comments below!

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15 hours ago

About that Samsung tablet that 'overheated' on a plane

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If you jam any modern tablet in an airplane seat, bad things are going to happen.

You don't need to look far for reports of Samsung things catching on fire these days. In the wake of the Galaxy Note 7 recall, the media — and public consciousness — is highly sensitive to anything that looks remotely connected to the Note's unprecedented battery woes. That's true whether we're talking about a completely different phone with no known issues, or a Samsung washing machine made by a completely different division of the company.

In any case, here's today's exploding Samsung thing: what appears to be a Galaxy Tab of some description, which started smouldering on a Delta flight from Detroit to Amsterdam.

The flight was diverted to Manchester after smoke was discovered in the business class cabin, then the (utterly destroyed) tablet was found wedged in a seat. The talk of "overheating" and "thermal runaway" here might make you think the tablet's cracked appearance is unrelated to the apparent battery fire. But what's way, way more likely is that the battery ruptured because of extreme physical damage — the kind that'll result from jamming it in an airplane seat.

As Jerry Hildenbrand explains in an earlier article:

Lithium batteries are designed to be lightweight, deliver high output, and be easy to charge. This means that the outside shell and the barrier(s) separating the electrodes are very thin and light, with most of the weight coming from the parts that can actually power your phone.

Because the partitions and case are thin, they're fairly easy to puncture or tear. If the structure of the battery itself is damaged in a way that makes the electrodes touch, a short circuit will happen. The instant electrical discharge is explosive, which can (and will) heat the electrolyte and create pressure to push it out through any ruptures in the battery case. It's hot, it's flammable and it's in contact with a spark. That's a recipe for disaster.

A Samsung statement given to The Telegraph blamed "external factors" — it's easy to see why given the extreme nature of the damage.

MORE: What makes a battery explode?

Everyone is more aware of exploding gadgets following the Note 7 recall, and as a result, incidents like this are often reported in the context of other Samsung gadgets catching fire. Case in point: Reports on a Galaxy Note 2 catching fire over India last week.

What we have here is a case of frequency illusion. (Sometimes called the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon.) This is a cognitive bias — a trick of the mind — where something which has recently come to the personal or collective attention seems to appear with much greater frequency shortly afterwards.

That's amplified considerably by the modern media, which is quick to jump on unrelated stories like the Note 2 catching fire over India, and present them in the narrative of the Note 7 battery fiasco. Had the Note 7 not had battery issues, a story about a single smartphone malfunctioning (albeit spectacularly) on an airplane, with no harm coming to anyone, wouldn't have been splashed around major news outlets as much as it has been.

The very same applies to a tablet battery rupturing after being crushed in an airline seat. Would this be getting so much traction if we weren't in the midsts of an unprecedented smartphone recall? Probably not.

MORE: Frequency illusion and exploding Samsung phones

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