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2 months ago

Snoopy and the Bat-Watch are just a few of the faces in the Gear S2 watch face roundup

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A blend of features, and simplicity in this week's watch face round up.

There are plenty of watch faces that are available on the Samsung Store to help you customize your experience. Trying to wade through all of them can be a serious pain though, especially when you can't go scrolling through the store from your computer. To help you out we've grabbed 5 watch faces available for your Samsung Gear S2 that you may not have seen quite yet.

See if we've found your favorite watch face!

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2 months ago

Alone at the top: RBC and the mobile payment coup

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It's early days, but mobile banking in Canada is already very competitive.

There aren't as many banks in Canada as there are in the United States, which has allowed the top ones — namely RBC Royal Bank, TD Canada Trust, CIBC, Scotiabank and BMO — to maintain a relatively large share of customers, and of regulatory influence.

But sprawling, monolithic organizations tend to get fat and lazy on their piles of presumed profit, and for years the Canadian banks didn't do much to brace for the impact of mobile computing.

Things changed in late 2011 with partnerships between two sets of Canada's leading companies in their respective categories: Rogers and CIBC; and RBC and Bell. The pilot projects were meant to bring mobile payments to Canadians at a time when few phones supported the necessary technologies, such as NFC and Secure Element SIM cards. For years, the banks relied on the carriers because there was no other way to store confidential PAN (primary account number) credentials — they had to stay on the SIM card itself.

But in late 2013, alongside Android 4.4 KitKat, Google unveiled a new initiative, Host Card Emulation, with the goal of moving those all-important credentials from a physical SIM card to the cloud. Working with Visa and MasterCard, banks like RBC could take ownership of their mobile payment strategies, removing the need for per-device certification and the need to educate the customer on these strange SIM cards that looked the same but cost significantly more.

Now, after being the first to release Host Card Emulation-based payments for all Android devices, RBC has revamped its Android app suite with new, modern designs, separating its unified banking app into two: one for core mobile banking; the other for all payment and wallet-related activities.

According to Linda Mantia, Executive Vice President of Digital, Payments and Cards at RBC, despite competitors like TD Canada Trust recently moving to HCE-based solutions for their Android mobile payments, her company is still way ahead of the pack, both in Canada and the rest of the world.

"We are the leader in North America in fraud [prevention]," says Mantia, referring to the multiple levels of security developed for the solution. The first is the mere use of Host Card Emulation, which allows for more efficient remote improvements of credential storage standards. The other is RBC's own patented dynamic tokenization method, which takes those of the payment networks, namely Visa and MasterCard, and amps the security. Tokens are numeric representatives of a customer's PAN, exposed to the merchant and network in lieu of an actual credit card number. Should that number be stolen or intercepted, the number is almost impossible to decipher.

But regular tokens, like IP leases, can last for days, months or even years if desired, depending on the needs of the issuer. RBC generates a unique token for each transaction — a one-time cryptogram, according to Mantia — that is never reused.

"We are the leader in North America in fraud prevention"

The third advantage to RBC's Secure Cloud, which encompasses the company's mobile payment environment, is the use of a so-called digital master key is generated when the RBC Wallet app is installed on an Android device. When the phone is registered with Secure Cloud, it forms a trust network between the phone itself and the payment network, protecting the dynamic token the entire way through the transaction.

These are all valuable security features, sure, but the reality is that only a small number of people in Canada care about mobile payments right now. Mantia says that number is growing quickly, and the industry is primed for services like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay to bolster the mindshare.

In the meantime, Mantia says that Android-based RBC customers are well served with this two-tiered app approach, which now allows customers to check balances without logging in (in the core app) and purchase gift cards directly from the Wallet app.

Mantia tells me that she sees the smartphone as the future of banking, not just payments, where customers will be able to open accounts, apply for credit, transfer money to friends, make in-store and in-app payments, and do comprehensive budgeting, in the same place.

"We are in the early innings of mobile banking"

She separates mobile payments — the physical act of paying for items using a smartphone instead of a physical credit card — from the rest of the ecosystem, because she acknowledges that Canada's payment infrastructure is already so mature, and that there needs to be a continuous benefit cycle, which involves more than just the lateral displacement of payments from plastic to phone, to entice mainstream customers.

Many millions of Canadian smartphone users engage in some form of mobile banking. According to a Canadian Banking Association survey done in mid-2015, 31% of Canadians used mobile banking in some form in the previous year, and nearly half anticipated migrating to a predominantly mobile banking future in the next five years.

For Mantia, who says that we are in the "early innings" of mobile banking, the most important place her company can be is as far ahead of her competitors as possible. That won't translate to overnight success, but in the meantime there are fancy new Android apps to peruse.

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2 months ago

Samsung Galaxy S6 on Verizon is the first to get the April security patch

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Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 edge owners on Verizon are currently being treated to a Marshmallow update on the day typically reserved for terrible pranks in the tech world, and it looks like there's something extra in this build of Android 6.0.1. If you take a look at the security patch level for these phones, you'll see it reads April 2, 2016. This is unusual for a couple of reasons, but it's true nonetheless. The Verizon version of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 edge have received the latest security patch from Google before it has even been announced, not to mention before Nexus and BlackBerry phones have received the full patch update.

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2 months ago

A deeper look at themes on the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge

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Samsung's theme engine has been improved dramatically on the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, completing the concept from the previous generation.

Theming your phone can be a complicated but deeply rewarding project. Even with in-depth instructions and a tutorial video, a frequent response to some of the incredible themes assembled by our own Ara Wagoner is asking why there isn't a one-button solution that applies the theme automatically. Last year we started to see that exact feature roll out in various forms from Samsung, HTC, LG, and Cyanogen. Each system presented their own unique set of problems, but Samsung's has shown the most growth and improvement from the early days.

Here's what you need to know about Samsung themes on the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge.

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2 months ago

CNN brings 360-degree videos to its Android app

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CNN has enhanced the video experience in its Android app by adding support for 360-degree video. Now, when you see a video story with a 360-degree video icon, you can just tap, then slide your phone into a Google Cardboard headset and look around for a full experience.

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2 months ago

It's not just you: Snapchat is down for some [Update: all clear!]

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Update: Everything looks to be in the clear, folks. Feel free to Snap to your heart's content.

If you're experiencing some hiccups using Snapchat this evening, it's not just you.

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2 months ago

Emoji search comes to Google Photos in time for April Fools' Day

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If you've ever been eager to search your photo collection with nothing but emojis, Google Photos will now let you do just that.

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2 months ago

It's time to get caught up on Pokémon Go

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It's almost time to step into your destiny as a Pokémon trainer.

With the Japanese beta of Pokémon Go recently started, we are closer than ever to finally getting to play Pokémon Go. Niantic, the ex-Google company who gave us the glorious gift of Ingress are closer than ever to delivering the dreams of being a real-world Pokémon trainer to gamers everywhere. While there aren't a ton of details out about the game quite yet, there is still plenty to sift through.

There have been several leaks surrounding the game, but because this game is in beta right now we won't be focusing on the type of Pokémon in the game, or any other information that is obviously subject to change. Instead, we'll focus on the highlights that have been made official so far.

The awesome folks over on the Pokémon Go subreddit have put together a list of Verified info which gives you a breakdown of who has said what about the game. We picked out ten nuggets of information about this awesome game. Keep scrolling to check out what's in store.

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2 months ago

Microsoft's new Skype bot Project Murphy can merge two things into one

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Microsoft launched support for text chat bots in Skype earlier this week and now a new bot made by the company is showing off what these AI creations can do. "Project Murphy" adds a new bot to your Skype contacts and then you can ask it "What if..." questions. The end result is a merging of two images that attempts to answer that question.

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2 months ago

Rogers brings full Sportsnet content to cord cutters for $25 per month

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Over the top sports finally comes to Canada

It may have taken Canada's regulator, the CRTC, to force unbundling of television services to make it happen, but Rogers, owner of Sportsnet and many other sources of Canadian content, has made its suite of sports content available to all Canadians for a monthly fee.

Available for $25 per month, Sportsnet Now will be offered to all Canadians with an internet connection, removing the need for an existing television subscription to access content from the MLB, NHL, NBA and more.

The unbundling of Sportsnet Now from television bundles — the actual service will go unchanged, but it will no longer be limited to television subscribers — is a first in North America, according to Rogers. ESPN, which is owned by Disney, partnered with Dish Network's Sling TV to allow customers stream ESPN for $20 per month, but Rogers takes the unbundling one step further, removing the requirement for a third-party subscription entirely.

One of the risks involved with cable package unbundling has been exposing the true costs of television to consumers. As an increasing number of Canadians cut the cord, live sports continues to be a source of leverage for the telcos to encourage customers to maintain their often-expensive monthly service. As of March 1st, all television providers are required to offer "skinny basic" television packages for $25 per month, along with low-cost channel bundles or individual channels. But many Canadians have balked at the relatively high price of total service, since providers like Rogers and Bell are not forced to include the cost of equipment rentals from the $25 base price.

Rogers, Sportsnet's owner, controls the licensing rights for the National Hockey League in Canada, as well as much of the Major League Baseball games broadcast in Canada. It also splits National Basketball Association broadcasts with TSN, its sports rival owned by Bell. Whether Bell plans to offer its five TSN channels to Canadian Internet subscribers remains to be seen.

Sportsnet Now will be offered in the form of smartphone, tablet and, on the desktop through the browser, starting Apr. 1, 2016. Channels include Ontario, East, Pacific, West, ONE, and 360, but not World, which includes content like cricket and rugby. That will still be exclusive to television subscribers at an extra cost.

See Sportsnet Now at Rogers

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2 months ago

Lookout everybody, things are about to get awesome! Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is now available on your Shield TV

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Because you can never get enough Claptrap.

Gearbox Software, 2K Games and NVIDIA have brought Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel to the Shield Android TV. And it's every bit as marvelous as you might be thinking.

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2 months ago

Samsung+ gains live support, tips and tricks, on-demand answers and more

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Samsung is aiming to offer even better customer support by adding a number of big new features to its Samsung+ app. With these new features, you'll have access to live support, tips and tricks, on-demand answers and more. For new device owners that have questions about their new phones, or existing owners who are confused by a feature, their questions can now be answered with a few taps on their screen.

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2 months ago

Check out how the Google app's latest voice was created

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Recently, you may have noticed that the Google app received an updated, slightly clearer text-to-speech (TTS) voice.

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2 months ago

OnePlus releases preview of Marshmallow-based OxygenOS 3.0 for the OnePlus 2

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OnePlus is getting closer to releasing OxygenOS 3.0, based on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, and now it's made a preview build available for members of its community. Owners of the OnePlus 2 can now download and flash the community release if they wish to do so, and OnePlus is asking those that do to help it test certain aspects of the software, including networking, camera improvements, performance, and battery life.

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2 months ago

You can now text to an AI bot with Skype on Android

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As part of Microsoft's Build 2016 developer conference, the company is updating its Skype messaging app for Android with a preview version of its bot support. The new feature will allow users to chat with an AI bot in via text messaging.

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