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7 hours ago

T-Mobile reveals AT&T's true form as the evil Empire with new Chrome extension

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To celebrate Star Wars Day, T-Mobile has gone on the offensive against the evil Empire, also known as AT&T. The company has rolled out a new Chrome extension that essentially transforms all mention of AT&T on the web to The DeATTh Star, with accompanying images to boot.

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11 hours ago

Uber's Paytm integration will let you pay for your ride abroad in rupees

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If you use Uber in india, you know that the only form of payment currently accepted by the service is Paytm. While it's convenient to use the payment wallet in the country, the service doesn't work outside of India, which makes hailing an Uber in other countries particularly cumbersome.

That's all set to change soon, as Paytm CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma announced that the service will be integrated into Uber on a global scale, allowing you to pay for your ride in rupees even when you're abroad.

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12 hours ago

Xiaomi's Mi Band 2 runs into production issues

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It looks like Xiaomi's Mi Band 2 won't be available to consumers this month. CEO Lei Jun shared on Weibo that issues with mass production of the wearable have led to a delay of one month. The tracker was initially slated to launch alongside the Mi Max phablet and MIUI 8.

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15 hours ago

We're taking a look at the new Acer Chromebook 14 on Facebook Live!

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Come ask a few questions and get a closer look at Acer's latest Chromebook.

Acer has a brand new Chromebook 14 out that packs a metal body, 1080p display and some solid specs — and you aren't alone if you think it's in contention to be your next Chromebook purchase. Now this isn't the enterprise-focused "for work" model, but it's still pretty darn impressive in its own right.

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18 hours ago

What Launcher do you use on your phone?

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When it comes to customizing the look of your phone, we can't ignore launchers.

Whether you use a third-party launcher to make gorgeous themes to show off, or you're just trying to get the app drawer back that the LG G5 lacks, they are the best way to do it. With so many launchers out in the Google Play Store, it can be hard to decide which one will work best for you.

That of course, brings us to this week's poll! We want to know what launcher you use on your phone. We've given you 7 choices in this week's poll: "I use the default launcher on my phone", "Action Launcher 3", "Nova Launcher", "Google Now Launcher", "GO Launcher EX", "Apex Launcher" and "I switch between launchers depending on my theme."

What launcher do you use on your phone?

Do you basically just avoid launchers? Did we miss your favorite launcher? Be sure to jump into the comments below and let us know about it!

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19 hours ago

Android Central Mother's Day gift guide 2016

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Android Central Mother's Day gift guide

Not sure what to get Mom this year? Look no further than these great Mother's Day gift ideas.

Mother's Day can be a stressful time for sons and daughters all over the world. If you haven't yet found something for Mom, that is. Use this gift guide to help you through the process of buying for her in a way that will leave her speechless this Sunday.

Nextbit Robin

NextBit Robin - Mint color

If Mom loves taking pictures with her phone, the Nextbit Robin might be the ideal choice. Featuring a 13MP camera and dual-tone flash, this phone will have no problem capturing clear, vibrant images. The 32GB onboard storage is merged with 100GB of online storage, meaning she can take a picture a minute for about 75 days without running out of space. Expect a thorough catalog of children's and grandchildren's special moments.

The 100GB online storage can also archive things you're not using, meaning Mom can download more games and apps without having to delete old ones. This phone runs apps smoothly with 3GB of RAM and a Snapdragon 808 processor.

Let's talk about style. Users everywhere claim the same thing: this phone turns heads. Available now in mint color (think of a robin's egg) or a darker midnight, this phone has rounded edges while maintaining a rectangular shape that rests firmly in your hand. Mom will love this unique device that does it all at a fraction of the price of other flagship phones.

ON SALE MAY 4-10: And just in time for Mother's Day, the Robin will be reduced to just $299!

See at Amazon

Ring Video Doorbell

Ring Video Doorbell

This is a perfect gift for mothers concerned with security. (Or you staying out too late.) The Ring Doorbell captures video the moment the bell is rung or when motion is detected. The camera has built-in night vision so that there is no lapse in security. The Ring app (available for Android and iOS, and with desktop versions for Mac and PC) displays alerts and video over Wi-Fi, and even lets you speak with whomever is at the door.

The best part really is that you never have to actually go to the door to see who's on the other side.

The Ring Doorbell is easy to install. It can be wired directly to existing doorbell wires, or it can be powered with the built-in rechargeable battery. There are four color options to choose from — antique brass, polished brass, satin nickel, or venetian bronze — meaning there is a stylish option for any house. And a new option lets you see things in 1080p.

See at Amazon

Ring Stick Up Cam

Ring Stick Up Cam

The Ring Stick Up Cam can be mounted anywhere and can be rotated to capture whatever angle you desire. The camera is designed to monitor your property but has many other uses. Because it features two-way talk, it can be used to keep an eye and ear on the kids when you're not in the room and, with night vision and forthcoming on-demand video, you will be able to make sure the baby is sleeping soundly without leaving bed.

Video footage can be saved to Ring's cloud service for playback later, and you can check footage any time you want from anywhere in the world. If you're strictly local, the camera can also save footage to a computer.

This camera is powered by a lithium-ion battery that can be charged with solar energy. Since it is generally installed outside and in sunlight, you will not be wasting power while the camera monitors every movement. The Stick Up Cam is a great addition to the Ring Video Doorbell, creating multiple layers of security for Mom's property.

See at Amazon

Moto 360 for Women

Moto 360 - Rose gold and blush leather band

Motorola combines tech and style with this watch (a staple Mother's Day gift!) designed exclusively for women. There are three options to choose from to best suit her style: a gold face with gold metal strap, silver face with silver metal strap, and rose gold face with blush leather strap. Moto 360 straps can be swapped out in seconds thanks to a quick-release mechanism, allowing simple customization. The display is fully customizable, and there are many Android Wear apps to augment your experience, including Spotify and Shazam.

This watch also features a built-in fitness tracker that monitors heart rate, counts steps, and tracks calories. Keep in mind that while this watch is smart, it cannot make or take calls — Motorola advertises "Updates, not interruptions." Not a bad idea for the mother who can't find enough time in the day to get it all done.

See at Amazon

Bose QuietComfort 25

Bose QuietComfort 25

Featuring Bose's incredible sound and noise-canceling technology, the QC25 headphones are a great idea for the music lover. Choose from two color options — white and gold or black — to fit Mom's style. The headphones are large enough to fit over the ear while maintaining a lightweight design, and the suede-like material on the headband rests lightly for extra comfort.

While these headphones are advertised as Apple-compatible, they are also compatible with most Android devices. You'll be able to listen to music on any device, but double-check compatibility before making calls or controlling music playback.

Whether Mom flies a lot or simply yearns to listen to music without interruption, she will love these noise-canceling headphones.

See at Amazon

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2

No matter the role Mom plays, she will love Samsung's Tab S2. Her professional side will enjoy Microsoft Office Tools, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. The Tab's Multi Window capability allows easy multi-tasking; edit documents while simultaneously sharing photos with grandparents.

If Mom enjoys gaming, she will be pleased with the Tab's vibrant AMOLED display that is available in 8- and 9.7-inch sizes. The tablet comes stock with 32GB flash memory and is expandable using a microSD card, ideal since Mom will take a lot of pictures with the 8MP camera.

This tablet is light, mobile, and will complete the tasks Mom throws at it. If she is upgrading from another tablet, Samsung's Smart Switch makes transferring data a breeze.

See at Amazon

Google Chromecast

Google Chromecast

Chromecast is a small, unobtrusive device that plugs into the back of your TV or speakers and allows streaming content from your laptop or smartphone. Mom will love how easy Chromecast is to set up, and will love how soon she can take a well-deserved break with her favorite TV show or movie. Although Chromecast works best with Android devices, it is also compatible with Mac products.

Chromecast also has hundreds of compatible apps, including Netflix, HBO GO, and Hulu Plus. Keep in mind that some of these services require an extra subscription — not a bad idea for an add-on gift.

Mom is also able to turn her TV into a talking piece using Chromecast's customization options. Create personalized slideshows with your own pictures that turn your TV into a backdrop for the day's activities, from entertaining guests to giving a professional presentation. Overall this is a very versatile gift with an attractive price tag.

See at Best Buy

Huawei smartwatch

Huawei smartwatch

Watches are a common gift for Mom on her special day. If you feel like changing things up a bit this year, Huawei's brand new smartwatch does stuff your standard watch does not do. Not to mention she'll be one of the first rocking this fancy accessory.

The 1.4 inch AMOLED display shows notifications and alerts when paired with your phone (compatible with Android and iOS). Help Mom keep up with text messages and apps; she can even answer or make calls through the watch. This is a great idea for the mother in perpetual motion. Add a fitness tracker and heart-rate monitor to the equation and you have a top competitor for smartwatch supremacy.

Having mentioned function, let's now discuss style. This smartwatch is designed with luxury in mind. Featuring a stainless steel body colored with gold and a white genuine leather wristband, this watch attempts to make a statement. Not satisfied with the watch's strap? Check out these other options. Huawei's smartwatch is a strong option if Mom is looking for something suitable for any occasion or with any outfit.

See at Amazon

Have your say

Did you give Mom something extra special last year? Did you already purchase something for her this year? Let us know in the comments section below.

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19 hours ago

Best wallet cases for the Galaxy S7 edge

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Best wallet cases for the Galaxy S7 edge

Make your pocket or purse lighter. Wallet cases have it all!

Screen protectors and the Galaxy S7 edge do not mix! Have you ever tried to put one on? If you did, we are positive you either gave up after 5 minutes or you are happy living in a delusional world where you say it fits the phone perfectly. Those curvy edges are kryptonite to screen protectors everywhere.

Luckily, wallet covers fold over the screen of your phone and protect it. Most of them tend to make your phone a little bulkier to carry around. But, since most wallet cases have room for cards and cash, it's a great way to be able to leave your wallet at home. So in the long run your pocket or purse will feel a bit lighter.

These are our picks for best wallet cases for your Samsung Galaxy S7 edge.

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19 hours ago

Google to add 100 Chrysler Pacifica minivans to its self-driving car fleet

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Google has announced it will add about 100 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to its fleet of self-driving cars. The first of those vehicles will be on the streets in the U.S. by the end of the year.

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19 hours ago

The best Android phones of 2016

If you're looking for a new Android phone and you're shooting for the top, this is the place to start.

One of the strengths of the Android ecosystem is the diversity of smartphones to choose from. If you can't find a suitable Android phone to meet your needs and desires, then such a phone may not exist at all.

But while there's a lot of stuff to choose from, it can also be tough to find out what's the best one for you. And that's where we come in.

If you're looking for the very best Android phones available right now, then look no further.

New for May 2016: The HTC 10 makes its way onto our list, as does the Huawei P9, and the Samsung Galaxy S6 gets aged out.

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20 hours ago

Marshmallow's share jumps to 7.5% in latest Android distribution numbers

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Google has released its latest update to the distribution numbers for each version of Android, with data that was collected on May 2. According to the latest numbers, Marshmallow's share saw a notable jump up from 4.6% in April to 7.5% in May.

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20 hours ago

The Rock's new motivational alarm app will help you crush your day

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Have you ever wished you could wake up to the smell of whatever The Rock is cookin'?

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20 hours ago

Battleborn Tap mobile title lets you take rewards back to the main game

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Gearbox Software and 2K Games have released Battleborn Tap, a free-to-play game that offers players rewards for the just launched Battleborn MOBA shooter on the PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

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20 hours ago

Everything you need to know about 4G LTE in Canada

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The science of wireless

It's pretty well understood that 4G LTE is faster than 3G. Millions of Canadians have upgraded from phones that used to operate on 3G, or third-generation wireless networks, to LTE, which is considered the fourth generation.

In addition to faster data speeds, LTE improves upon previous generations in a number of ways, including spectrum efficiency, latency, cost of deployment, and more.

What is 4G LTE?

In Canada, LTE has rolled out to nearly every carrier operating across the country (with the exception of Wind Mobile, but we'll come to that). When referring to LTE, we're referring to the type of signal that connects the phone in your pocket to the tower operated by your cellphone provider. Both of those pieces need to be in play for you to receive ultra-fast LTE speeds; if your smartphone supports LTE but you're in a part of Canada where the cell towers have not yet been upgraded to LTE, you'll likely see the symbol change to H+ near the top right of your phone, which denotes that you've dropped down to 3G speeds.

In Canada, LTE has rolled out to nearly every carrier operating across the country... with one major exception.

Practically every phone sold on the Canadian market today supports LTE in some form. When connecting to your phone provider's towers, the network provider (Rogers, Telus, Bell) tells your phone that it wants to connect on a particular frequency, or band, which transmits the wireless signal on particular wavelength. You may have heard some people use terms like "AWS" or "700Mhz", both of which refer to particular frequencies and bands that Canadian smartphones connect to. (While they're technically different, I'm going to use the term "band" and "frequency" interchangeably in this explainer. A band is merely a combination of frequencies, determined by the 3GPP, a body that standardizes radio frequency combinations throughout the world.)

While it's not particularly important to know the specifics of each band, most smartphones don't just connect on one: they use a combination of low (700Mhz) and high (AWS, or 1700/2100Mhz)) to ensure that they can glean the most coverage and speed throughout the day, depending on your location. Generally, the lower the frequency, the longer that signal can travel, but at a slower speed; the higher the frequency, the greater the potential throughput, but at an expense of distance and penetration.

Which bands do Canadian carriers use?

Nearly every Canadian carrier uses a combination of different bands to achieve consistently good LTE performance.

The four main LTE bands in use in Canada right now are:

  • Band 12/17 (700Mhz)
  • Band 13 (700Mhz)
  • Band 4 (1700/2100Mhz)
  • Band 7 (2500/2600Mhz)

Some carriers, such as Bell and Telus, have refarmed part of their aging 3G networks for the purposes of LTE transmission, which include:

  • Band 5 (850Mhz)
  • Band 2 (1900Mhz)

Other carriers, such as Bell and Telus, use small amounts of other frequencies, such as Band 29, just for downloads, so Canadians can get their video with no buffering.

Here's how the main three Canadian network providers stand when it comes to LTE:

Network Bands Rogers Band 12 (700Mhz), Band 4 (AWS), Band 7 (2600Mhz)
Band 13 (700Mhz) Bell Band 17 (700Mhz), Band 7 (2600MHz), Band 4 (AWS)
Band 2 (1900Mhz), Band 5 (850Mhz), Band 29 (700Mhz), Band 13 (700Mhz) Telus Band 17 (700Mhz), Band 7 (2600MHz), Band 4 (AWS)
Band 2 (1900Mhz), Band 5 (850Mhz), Band 29 (700Mhz), Band 13 (700Mhz) Videotron Band 4 (AWS), Band 13 (700Mhz) MTS Band 4 (AWS), Band 13 (700Mhz) SaskTel Band 4 (AWS), Band 13 (700Mhz) Eastlink Band 4 (AWS), Band 13 (700Mhz)

Just how much spectrum?

Every carrier wants more spectrum. That's the takeaway from half a dozen government-run spectrum auctions and dozens of regulatory-scrutinized exchanges over the past few years. Acquisitions, such as Telus's purchase of Public Mobile, Rogers' pursuit of Mobilicity, and Shaw's blockbuster bid for Wind Mobile had more to do with spectrum than the value of their cumulative client base.

While the story of Canada's spectrum is longer than this article, know this: until 2008, when the government set aside a certain amount of AWS spectrum for what would become Mobilicity, Wind Mobile, Videotron, Public Mobile and Eastlink, almost all of the country's wireless waves were controlled by Rogers, Bell and Telus.

Today, that is still the case (and, increasingly with consolidation, returning to those heady days of the mid-2000s), but the Canadian government has committed to ensuring a fourth competitor in each retail wireless market.

The Canadian government has committed to ensuring a fourth competitor in each retail wireless market.

Since that AWS auction, the government has auctioned off airwaves in three additional key bands: 700Mhz; 2500Mhz; and AWS-3. The two former frequencies are largely already deployed, increasing LTE capacity in the high and low end.

The latter, AWS-3, has yet to be deployed anywhere in Canada, and it is the one band, Band 66, on which much of the country's wireless future rests. That is because when the government auctioned it, it set aside a large portion for Wind to scoop up a bargain-basement prices. When Shaw purchased Wind late last year, it snuck into the spectrum party without much investment. (Though the sticklers will surely point out that Shaw purchased a large swath of spectrum during the original 2008 AWS auction, and ended up selling it to Rogers in 2013 after deciding not to enter the wireless market on its own. Yes, confusing!)

Suffice it to say, Rogers, Bell and Telus cumulatively hold many hundreds of megahertz of spectrum, both "legacy" — Band 2 (1900Mhz) and Band 5 (850Mhz) — and "modern" (AWS, 700Mhz, 2500, AWS-3). But because they hold some 90% of the wireless market share, they are always looking to acquire more, both in anticipation of future demand, and present constraints.

Back when Telus and Bell were building their respective LTE networks, they decided to continue a network and tower-sharing agreement established during their time as nascent HSPA+ 3G operators. Competing against Rogers, which was the only GSM-based provider for much of the 2000's, Bell and Telus essentially split the country in two, building a nationwide network with Telus taking the brunt of the infrastructure costs in the West, and Bell in the East. That stands to this day, though the specifics are highly confidential. But when one refers to nationwide LTE networks, there are two: Rogers, and Bell / Telus.

Talking LTE-Advanced

While the definition of LTE-Advanced is more than a little bit fluid, according to the 3GPP standards body, the specification focuses on higher capacity, mainly through carrier aggregation, multiple antenna devices (MIMO), and relay nodes.

Most Canadian carriers support LTE-Advanced in one way or another. Whereas the earliest LTE releases limited speeds to between 75Mbps and 100Mbps, LTE-Advanced utilizes a number of improvements in Release 10 and 11 of the LTE standard to reach speeds approaching 1Gbps.

Category 6 and Category 9 LTE

The baseline speeds for LTE-Advanced were achieved with between 15 and 20Mhz of deployed spectrum, compared to between 5 and 10Mhz for regular LTE.

Most network providers want to gain as much so-called contiguous spectrum as possible — that is, blocks of 5 or 10Mhz that are right next to one another, so they can form singular large blocks of up to 20Mhz at one time. The wider a channel, the faster that connection can perform; current smartphones, under the latest Category 6 LTE specification, can achieve speeds of up to 300Mbps with the right combination. But the most recent devices, like the Samsung Galaxy S7, can access Category 9 LTE, which is capable of speeds up to 450Mbps using tri-carrier aggregation (see below).

The problem with contiguous spectrum is that it is relatively uncommon, especially in Canada. While Rogers does own large swaths of contiguous AWS and 2500Mhz spectrum, Bell and Telus have been forced to use another method to achieve LTE-Advanced speeds.

Carrier Aggregation

Today, most carriers achieve incredibly high LTE speeds using carrier aggregation. Think of carrier aggregation as a bowl that is trying to fill with candy as quickly as possible. If you only have one pair of hands digging into the candy packet, it can only gain so quickly. But with three pairs of hands, each dipping into the packet at varying times and speeds, the bowl can be filled in no time.

At its core, carrier aggregation combines spectrum from various frequencies. In Canada, most carriers achieve high LTE speeds with dual-carrier aggregation, which combines two frequencies, normally one high and one low. A common combination is 700Mhz and AWS, used most often by Rogers.

But Bell and Telus have achieved triple carrier aggregation, which combines three channels. The most common combination that I've experienced is Band 2 (1900Mhz), Band 4 (AWS) and Band 17 (700Mhz). Combining 20Mhz, 10Mhz, and 15Mhz of the aforementioned bands gives us 45Mhz to work with, resulting in potential download speeds of 335Mbps.

VoLTE

At its core, VoLTE, or Voice over LTE, moves the voice call from slower, lower-bandwidth 3G networks to the same IP-based network used to transmit data. This results in much better voice quality with less compression; faster call connections, from seven seconds to under two; and the ability to retain an LTE connection while on a call, for faster browsing. The standard also supports video calls, though very few phones actually have that native ability.

Of all the Canadian networks, Rogers, Bell and Telus have rolled out Voice Over LTE to some extent, with an expanding footprint and device portfolio every few months. Because Rogers began its rollout first, it currently has the highest number of supported devices.

The future of LTE in Canada

Canadian carriers have traditionally been early adopters of new wireless technology, such as LTE-Advanced and VoLTE. While Rogers, Telus and Bell claim that their LTE networks are approaching the 97-plus percent coverage of their existing 3G HSPA+ networks, there is one company many Canadians are hoping will bring down the cost of monthly cellphone ownership, that has yet to launch its LTE network.

Wind Mobile, which is now owned by Shaw Communications, plans to launch an LTE network in late 2016 or early 2017, pending the availability of devices supporting the burgeoning AWS-3 specification. Unified under Band 66, AWS-3 and AWS-1 will co-exist on future smartphones and tablets, but until those devices hit the market, Wind Mobile can't realistically make an impact.

At that time, Wind will begin refarming some of its AWS-1 spectrum, which at the moment exclusively broadcasts 3G signal, to LTE, allowing existing devices to connect.

In the interim, Rogers, Bell and Telus will continue trying to convince Canadians that higher prices are justified for the consistent quality, speed, and coverage they receive. Regional providers, such as Videotron, Eastlink, SaskTel and others, will focus on their limited coverage areas while working with national incumbents to mimic national networks through reciprocal roaming agreements.

Questions about LTE in Canada? Leave them in the comments and we'll get to them in a future column.

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21 hours ago

Telus promises 99% LTE coverage in Ontario and Alberta by end of 2016

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Telus has announced that it plans to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into its wireless networks in Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta this year.

As part of its staged infrastructure investment rollout across the country, the company says that by the end of 2016 it plans to cover 99% of Alberta and Ontario, and 98% of British Columbia, with LTE signal.

Nearly $400 million of that investment will go to the Greater Vancouver area, filling in coverage gaps along popular highways, such as Highway 16 between Prince Rupert and Prince George. According to a press release issued today, the improvements are part of an agreement between Telus and the BC government, which sees the telco obliged to connect the province's population to high-speed wireless and fiber optic networks in rural areas.

Telus co-owns a wireless network with Bell, which yesterday announced it would purchase Manitoba Telecom Services for $3.9 billion.

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21 hours ago

Nova Launcher's latest customization tweaks include Android N-style folders, night mode

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Nova Launcher, one of the more popular choices when it comes to launcher replacements, has received an update that brings a couple of interesting new customization options.

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