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1 week ago

AC Podcast 324: Android Wear Strikes Back!

2

Audio-only stream below

It's ALIVE!

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1 week ago

The Honor 8 is getting its long-awaited Nougat update

28

The Honor 8 is officially getting Android 7.0 Nougat beginning February 10.

Users of the popular unlocked device can look forward to EMUI 5.0 and its many improvements — particularly to notifications and the home screen — along with Nougat's myriad upgrades, beginning February 10. Honor is particularly calling out the transition to what it considers "stock Android" on the Honor 8, though that simplification does still have its own quirks, as we've seen in the Huawei Mate 9.

The company says it will take a few weeks for all Honor 8 units to get upgraded to Android 7.0, but the whole thing should be complete by the end of February. Honor also says that the Honor 6X is slated to receive Nougat in Q2.

Oh, and Honor created this helpful graphic to explain the EMUI 5.0 update for the Honor 8. Enjoy.

Honor 8

Amazon HonorBest BuyNeweggB&H

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1 week ago

Celebrate your love of Android with a limited-edition t-shirt!

0

Treat yourself or your loved one this Valentine's Day!

Candy is beautiful and roses are yummy — or is that the other way around? — but clothing is essential.

So is Android.

That's why we think it's the perfect time to buy an I ❤️ Android t-shirt, hoodie, or coffee mug. The deal expires on Valentine's Day, February 14. That's only a few days away, but you can still get it delivered before next week if you hurry.

You do love Android, don't you?

You can get the t-shirt in one of five colors, and the hoodie in four. Then there's the coffee mug, which is also available in four colors — and I just need one more to complete my collection.

See at Teespring

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1 week ago

Google highlights VR support for Chrome via Daydream

0

Experience virtual reality with your Daydream View and Chrome.

Google has been hard at work fleshing out new ways to integrate virtual reality into our lives. In its latest blog post, Google introduces a new way to use virtual reality, by accessing web-based VR experiences built right into Chrome, using your Daydream-compatible phone and a Daydream View headset.

That's right, you need no other apps other than Chrome to enjoy a fully immersive VR experience. Google has highlighted a few standouts currently available, with more coming soon. If you're already good to go with Daydream VR, you can browse to a VR-ready site and try it out for yourself. You'll want to save the following links to your bookmarks so you can show them off to friends and family. It includes a virtual reality project from the National Film Board of Canada, a collection of Within VR experiences, and an interactive VR experience created by PlayCanvas:

  • Bear 71 — Explore the intersection of humans, nature and technology in this interactive documentary from NFB.
  • Matterport —Tour Matterport's library of over 300,000 celebrity homes, museums, canyons, iconic architecture and other real-life places.
  • Within — Watch more than two dozen award-winning VR films.
  • Sketchfab —Discover​ more than a million stunning 3D scenes created by the world's largest community of VR creators.
  • WebVR Lab — Use your Daydream controller to experiment and play in the WebVR Lab from PlayCanvas.

Right now these VR experiences are only available with Daydream View, but Google plans to expand support to more devices in the future via Google Cardboard. It's all done in an effort to make virtual reality more accessible to a wider audience than ever before, and we couldn't be more excited!

Google Daydream

Google

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1 week ago

The LG G6 is almost certainly going to have Google Assistant

35

Google Assistant is probably coming to the LG G6 for these reasons.

The LG G6 is almost certainly going to have Google Assistant, according to a teaser released by the company this week.

The company is spending the weeks before its MWC-based announcement hyping up particular aspects of its flagship. We've already learned that the phone will be waterproof, and have a screen with very slim bezels, and now there's reason to believe Google Assistant — or some form of artificial intelligence — will be included.

Image: ZDNet

One of the more pervasive rumors since the LG G6 was pre-announced has been the expansion of the Google Assistant into third-party manufacturers from Google's own Pixel lineup. We've seen that the company is willing to offer the service to other devices in the form of the new NVIDIA Shield Android TV and the LG Watch Sport and Style, so there's no reason to believe that the G6, made by a company with whom Google has a very good relationship, won't be the first third-party phone with Assistant.

We'll have to wait a few more weeks to be sure, though: the press conference is set for February 26.

LG G6

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1 week ago

Everything you need to know about YouTube on Google Daydream

Enjoying YouTube in VR is a blast with Daydream View.

YouTube is already one of the most popular apps available for Google Daydream. It was one of the launch titles, and it's definitely got a new way for you to consume the videos that you need in your life. Enjoying Youtube in VR can make those videos more awesome than ever, and there is a lot going on within the app. That's why we have all the details for you here!

Read more on VRHeads.com

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1 week ago

New Home Control section in Google Assistant makes the Pixel way more useful

7

Google Assistant is starting to look more like an assistant.

If you have a Google Home or use the Nest or WeMo app on your Pixel, you probably already have a setting for Home Control in Google Assistant. With the latest Google app suite, everyone will see the same thing and know that Google Assistant can do more than tell you the weather or recite a poem.

The Home Control section is where you can add native support for products from Nest, Philips Hue lamps, WeMo devices and accessories, Honeywell thermostats and SmartThings devices. Once set up to work with Google Assistant, you'll be able to control your stuff with voice commands from your Pixel the same way it works with Google Home.

You'll find the new setting once you have the latest Google app and Play Services update right in line with the rest of your Google Assistant settings.

It's worth noting that if you've previously set up any of these products to work with Assistant through IFTTT, both instances will be live and conflict can occur. I've noticed that the response is a little faster for my WeMo devices and Hue lamps using the native controls.

It's great to see more being baked directly into Assistant so we don't have to rely as heavily on third parties like IFTTT if we don't want to. Keep 'em coming, Google!

Google Home

Google Store Best Buy Target

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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1 week ago

Android Wear 2.0 SDK finalized and available, developers encouraged publish before tomorrow's launch

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Android Wear 2.0 is official, and developers can get ready now.

Google has the final version of the Android Wear 2.0 SDK ready, and it's available for download.

Support for new hardware features and stand-alone watch apps is included in the release, and all the existing documentation from the developer preview version of the SDK has been merged into the main Wear Developer site and everything needed to produce and publish applications for the new platform version is up and running. You'll find the new SDK and all the tools needed in Android Studio's SDK manager.

The Android Wear app quality review process has also been updated, so if you're building apps for Android Wear and want an official Wear badge and listing, you should have a look at the documentation and guidelines and check out the changes.

Google is also encouraging developers to publish their apps right away so they can be ready for the official February 10 launch date. We've seen early partners like Strava pushing apps for Android Wear 2.0 and hope to see plenty more in the coming days.

For all the details about building apps for the new Android Wear, you can check out the developer site.

Android Wear

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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1 week ago

Best Third-Party Bands for LG Watch Style

0

A stylish watch deserves a stylish band.

The LG Watch Style may be aimed at those who care a little more about fashion than function, but there are plenty of functional reasons to swap out bands on your new watch. Maybe your perfect fit is between sizes, or maybe you need something a little more sweat-proof — or maybe you simply want something that matches your wardrobe better. Swapping bands on the Style is a breeze, but first you need a band to switch to, and that's where we come in!

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1 week ago

Molson Canadian and Sportsnet bringing 360 VR experience to Hockey Night in Canada

5

Beer, hockey, and virtual reality — a Canadian dream come true!

Sportsnet and Molson Canadian are teaming up to give Canadian hockey fans a front row seat for six upcoming Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts thanks to the power of virtual reality… and beer!

To check things out you'll first need the Sportsnet app and a special VR viewer from specially marked cases of Molson Canadian beer. Load up the VR tab in the app, enter the special pin code from your VR viewer, then load up your preferred camera angle, slip your phone in the viewer and you're good to go!

There are six games on tap for this VR experience, the first an all-Canadian affair against the Calgary Flames and the Vancouver Canucks on February 18th. Here's the full schedule:

  • Calgary Flames @ Vancouver Canucks: Saturday, Feb. 18
  • Montreal Canadiens @ Toronto Maple Leafs: Saturday, Feb. 25
  • Detroit Red Wings @ Edmonton Oilers: Saturday, Mar. 4
  • Calgary Flames @ Winnipeg Jets: Saturday, Mar. 11
  • Chicago Blackhawks @ Toronto Maple Leafs: Saturday, Mar. 18
  • Ottawa Senators @ Montreal Canadiens: Saturday, Mar. 25

There's no word whether you need a Rogers subscription to access this content, but you will need to buy a case of Molson Canadian to get pin code — although you have no obligation to drink the beer.

Learn more at Sportsnet.ca

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1 week ago

Best ways to use your Android phone with your PC

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Best ways to use your Android phone with your PC

Make your Android phone interoperable with your PC.

Getting your Android phone to seamlessly connect to your PC isn't as daunting as it used to be. There are several services that let you mirror notifications, reply to messages, and sync data between your phone and PC. Here are some of the best options currently available on both platforms.

Pushbullet

Pushbullet

Pushbullet is the easiest way to send files between your Android phone to your PC. The app started out as a way to "push" links, files, and documents between devices, but has since evolved into a robust messaging platform. Along with the ability to mirror notifications from your phone onto your PC, Pushbullet lets you view and send text messages from your computer.

Pushbullet also lets you send files and links to your friends. All you need to do is add the email ID your friend used to register for the service, and you'll be able to share messages, links, and files with ease. Then there's the Channels feature, which offers notification feeds across categories, including news, sports, gaming, entertainment, and tech.

Pushbullet is available as an extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera, and you can download the Android app from the Play Store. The browser extensions let you access most of the functionality that Pushbullet has to offer, but if you want to access files on your computer remotely via your phone, then you need to install the Windows client.

Pushbullet is still the service to beat for notification mirroring and seamless transfer of files.

Using the native Windows client lets you remotely access files on your computer through your phone, and vice versa. Setting it up is easy: all you need to do is enable Remote Files access on both the Windows client and Android app, and you'll be able to access files on your computer through your phone.

The service is now offered in two tiers — a free option that has most of the features you're likely to use, and a pro version that costs $4.99 a month or $39.99 yearly that comes with universal copy and paste across all your devices, actionable notifications, and increased storage and file transfer limits. The free tier lets you send files up to 25MB in size and has a storage limit of 2GB, while the paid service lets you transfer files up to 1GB and offers 100GB of storage. You'll also be able to send unlimited SMS messages on the paid plan, whereas in the free tier you're limited to 100 per month.

Of all the pro features, the one that stands out is actionable notifications, which lets you reply to WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or Allo messages directly from your computer. Regardless of the tier, Pushbullet offers end-to-end encryption using AES-256 for notification mirroring, SMSes, and universal copy and paste.

Pushbullet offers tremendous value, and while its pricing leaves a lot to be desired, the free tier should be adequate for a majority of users interested in transferring files and syncing notifications between devices.

Download Pushbullet (free/$4.99 monthly)

Join

Join

Join is very similar in functionality to Pushbullet, with the service also offering notification mirroring, the ability to reply to notifications from your computer, send and receive texts, share links, files and documents, as well as a universal clipboard. Tasker and Google Assistant integration is baked in as well, letting you extend the functionality of the service.

Join also offers end-to-end encryption, and you can locate your device remotely by making it ring. Join is available as a Chrome extension, a Windows 10 native client, and an Android app.

The main difference is that unlike Pushbullet's yearly or monthly subscription plans, Join requires a one-time fee of $4.99 to unlock all the features. If you'd like to take a look, Join offers a 30-day trial with all the features enabled.

Download Join (free for 30 days)

Syncthing

Syncthing is similar to Lenovo's ShareIt in that both services let you transfer files across devices. That's where the similarities come to an end. Syncthing is a decentralized file sharing service that relies on an open source framework and encryption to secure your data.

With Syncthing, you essentially set up a server, and use it to connect to other devices. For instance, you can run a server on your phone, and connect to the server from your desktop computer to sync files between the two devices. Best of all, Syncthing is a free service, and its interface isn't riddled with ads. You don't even have to create a user account with the service, as it relies on unique identifiers for each device. Just enter the ID of the device you want to connect to, and you'll be able to transfer files between the two with ease.

Download Syncthing (free)

Cloud storage services

Drive

Cloud storage services are different from utilities like Syncthing in that they act as centralized repositories of data. You can pick from a multitude of services based on your needs, including the likes of Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, OneDrive, and so on. Each service has a free tier that gives you a certain amount of storage, and you can upgrade your storage quota by paying a monthly or annual fee.

A free Dropbox account comes with 2GB of storage, and Dropbox Pro offers 1TB of storage for $9.99 a month or $99.99 yearly. You get 15GB of free cloud storage with Google Drive, and you can increase your quota to 100GB for $1.99 a month or $19.99 yearly. If you have more storage requirements, you can get 1TB of storage for $9.99 a month or $99.99 yearly.

All services mentioned above have robust native clients for Windows, as well as feature-rich Android versions. If you're looking for a hassle-free way to sync files across several devices, a public cloud storage service is a good place to start.

Your turn

What service do you rely on to transfer data from your Android device to your computer? Let us know in the comments.

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1 week ago

Great Valentine's Day Gadget Gifts at $50, $100, and $200

14

Get your tech-centric pal or loved one something new to play with.

Life is full of little gadgets that make life more interesting, so why not help out a friend or family member? We put together a list of neat tech that quickly automates your home or adds a bit of flair to your smartphone. There are great choices at $50, $100, and $200 price points!

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1 week ago

Microsoft releases Project Rome SDK for Android

1

Easily control your Windows 10 devices with just your Android smartphone.

Ever wish you could control your PC from your Android device without having to finagle some third-party app you found in the Play Store? Microsoft's Project Rome SDK aims to help with the multi-device life that many of us live on the daily.

Project Rome for Android is now available to let you connect to your Android devices. It's limited at the moment, so you can only control Android and not the other way around. But it doesn't enable you do things like control a media player on Windows 10 with the Android device you already have in your hand.

Project Rome was initially announced late last year to help take advantage of experiences beyond the device it's happening on. For instance, if you're listening to music on one device, you should be able to easily "toss it over" to another device without having to interupt the moment.

Curious to try it out for yourself? Read up about it on the official Windows blog.

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1 week ago

Here's how Google Assistant works on Android Wear 2.0

4

The Pixel and Google Home are the best implementations of Google Assistant, while the Android Wear version still acts like it's in its nascent stages.

It's everyone's vision for the future, right? Talking into an electronic wrist watch to command your every whim. Well, I hate to break it to you, but we're still not there yet — especially not if we're using Android Wear as the example.

Sure, Android Wear 2.0 is the best version of Android's wearable operating system to come forth thus far. And yes, Google Assistant is totally the most coveted feature of the Pixel and Google Home because of its contextual usefulness. But that doesn't change the fact that Google Assistant is still pretty sub-par on a smartwatch, especially if you're sporting one of the more basic ones.

What works

It's not all bad news bears. The Google Assistant you're getting with Android Wear may only offer a fraction of the functionality, but it still works. On the LG Watch Style, which is what I used to test the latest version of Android Wear 2.0, you call up Google Assistant by holding down the exterior crown. Assistant will then ask you how it can help, and that's when you can speak your query.

In many situations, Google Assistant on Android Wear is just as helpful as whipping out your phone and typing it in yourself. You can use it to do things like find out the time somewhere else on the planet, or do a quick conversion for foreign exchange rates. You can use it to send a message as you're running through an airport, or start tracking your actual run through town.

Google Assistant on Android Wear is typically successful with very basic commands. The key to using it on the watches is to keep it simple — anything between the realm of "send a message" and "set a timer." Queries that are more complicated involve specific app commands and you won't always get a desired result if you go that route. For instance, when I ask Assistant to tell me about my next flight, it defaults to the Google Calendar app rather than launching TripIt. Conversely, shouting "launch TripIt" will launch the app, and you can quickly scroll down with the crown wheel to your itinerary. Of course, you can do neat tricks with Google Assistant, too. Ask your watch to tell you a story, for instance, and Assistant will regale you with a tale of most plots.

Assistant is also the binding thread that keeps your device connected to Android ecosystem, so if you're watching Chromecast upstairs, for instance, you can use the device that's already strapped on your wrist as a remote control of sorts. Assistant lets you control any compatible smart home devices, too, like Samsung Smart Things or a NEST Thermostat, but I'm still in a mere "dumb home" and wasn't able to test that on my own.

If you require more context or more granular controls over what Google Assistant can do with on Android Wear, there's a helpful settings panel available in the Android Wear app. Curiously, you can't access this panel from the Home app. There's also a Shopping list option for you to set up a Google Keep post-it so that you can easily dictate your shopping list when you think of it.

"Okay, Google. Add chocolate muffins to my shopping list."

What doesn't work

That chocolate muffin example doesn't actually work so well on the Watch Style. I'll ask Assistant to add the aforementioned to my master shopping list, which is pinned to the top in Google Keep. Once Assistant parses what I'm asking for, it replies, "Oops, I can't do that right now." It's a simple example of why Google Assistant has been frustrating to use, particularly for an early adopter like me, who is trying hard to integrate the functionality into her daily life. When Assistant repeatedly doesn't understand commands, I'm remiss to even try. It's not a fun party trick if no one's impressed.

It's also unfortunate that the ability to command apps and services via Assistant on Android Wear hasn't caught up to our future-facing fantasies. I can't call an Uber through Assistant like I can through Google Home. (In fact, I can't call an Uber, because the app still isn't fully compatible with the Wear platform, even though Google teased the ability to do so at I/O a few years back.) I can't even get Spotify to do something relatively simple, like play a specific playlist. That would be an amazing ability to have while squashed in between people on public transportation. Instead, I can only ask it to play music and then I get to pick from the last few albums I've fired up.

The other issue with Google Assistant on Android Wear is that it doesn't always hear me. Sometimes, I'll have to repeat my request once or twice over before the smartwatch is aware of what I'm asking. I have an inkling that this experience differs depending on the device you're wearing, but the times I've attempted to speak to the Watch Style — in the middle of the grocery store, for example — has been mostly marred by all the failed attempts. It's nice that the built-in keyboard functionality is there for when dictation isn't an option.

Look ahead

In its infancy, most technology is finicky and ripe with hiccups as it susses itself out in various iterations. However, in the case of Google Assistant, which comes off as an effective re-branding of functionality that already existed for some time, it seems like it's still awkwardly learning to walk.

Virtual assistants and artificial intelligence still have a journey to traverse before they're the technology of our dreams, but I was hoping that Assistant would be slightly further along on the smartwatch. For now, think of Android Wear 2.0 and its Assistant functionality as an accessory to an already fulfilling Android life, especially if you've got a Google Home and a Pixel in your arsenal. And if you don't, then it's merely an entryway to the future of Android as one circular ecosystem.

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1 week ago

Android Nougat update for the Shield Tablet K1 is now live

37

The Shield Tablet is still great and the Android 7 update means you won't have to buy a new tablet this year.

Android 7.0 is on the way for your Shield Tablet K1, extending the life of everyone's favorite 8-incher and bringing all the new features of Google's latest.

Besides the Android 7 enhancements — split screen, Doze 2.0, better notifications and those sweet, sweet emojis 🌮 🦄 — we see some extra awesome tossed into the mix with support for the new 2017 controller and an exclusive Shield Rewards loyalty program that we're eager to check out.

The update is pushing out now, so grab your Shield and make sure it's charged up. Now begin mashing that button! NVIDIA's full changelog is below.

SHIELD Controller (2017) Support

  • Updates to SHIELD controller support

New Multitasking Features

  • Split-screen: Run two apps side by side* in Portrait or Landscape modes
  • Quick switch: Double tap the Overview button to quickly switch back to the last opened app

Improved Notifications

  • Multiple notifications from the same app are now bundled for a streamlined experience
  • Reply to messages directly from within the notification*
  • Tap and hold on a notification to quickly silence or block notifications from the app

Improved Power Consumption

  • Doze on the Go: Doze is now smarter & kicks in even when the device is being carried around

Emoji

  • Includes all-new Unicode 9 emojis

Usability Improvements

  • Display & Font size can now separately adjustable to improve readability or screenspace
  • Quick Settings can now be customized directly from the menu by tapping "Edit"
  • The top Quick Setting tiles can now be accessed with a downward swipe from the lock screen
  • Settings now includes a Navigation Menu & Suggestions to improve usability
  • The "Clear all" option in Overview have been relocated to the top right

System wide improvements including:

  • New Data Saver: when enabled, limits access to Cellular data for background apps
  • New JIT compiler: improves the speed of App & System updates
  • Update to Android Security Patch Level December 1, 2016

SHIELD Rewards Program

  • Introducing SHIELD Rewards, the exclusive loyalty program for SHIELD owners

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