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4 days ago

How to download and share movies, music, and books on Google Play

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Google Play is more than just an app store.

We know that Google Play is where you're downloading most, if not all, of your apps, but there's much more that they offer. There are millions of books and movies for you to escape into, and music for every taste and time. While it may still seem odd to some of us to buy movies on your phone, or to buy an album that doesn't come in a sleeve, there's plenty here to love and enjoy, and we're here to help you make the most of the entertainment side of Google Play.

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4 days ago

Morning brief: Allo arrives, HTC is up to something, and Xiaomi wants us to be healthy

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You can now play around with Google Assistant, HTC is working a couple of interesting phones, and LeEco's Snapdragon 821 monster is here.

Today's turning out to be a wacky Wednesday, in large part thanks to the launch of Allo. The messaging service is giving us a first look at what's capable with the Google Assistant, and thus far, I'm liking what's on offer. In other Google news, Maps and Drive have received usability updates, and the company has managed to secure an extra three weeks to respond to EU's antitrust charges.

It looks like HTC is readying a tweaked variant of the HTC 10 for Sprint called the Bolt, which will likely make its debut next month. Another leak reveals that HTC is working on three new phones containing the Ocean codename. Meanwhile in China, LeEco unveiled the Le Pro 3, which is the second handset (after the ZenFone 3) to be powered by the Snapdragon 821 SoC.

Xiaomi is finally bringing its Mi Ecosystem products to India, starting with the Mi Air Purifier 2. Considering the deteriorating air quality levels in most parts of the country, the product could not have come at a better time. It's time for the news!

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4 days ago

Allo can send you messages on Android even if you don't install it

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Allo notification

On Android, friends with Allo can bug you even if you haven't installed the app yet.

Update: Google has announced that it's opening up App Preview Messaging, which is the Play Services feature powering these notifications, to third-party developers. Allo is a great use case for this feature, but the documentation makes it clear Google sees uses for it beyond growing Allo's user base.

Google has built a unique trick into its new messaging app, Allo, which may help spread its reach throughout the vast Android user base. Allo can send messages to your Android friends, even if they don't have the app installed.

It'll look a little something like this:

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4 days ago

Allo and phone numbers: Everything you need to know

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Allo

How Google's chat app handles phone numbers, multiple devices and switching phones.

Allo is tied to both your Google account — for intelligent predictions and Google Assistant — and your phone number, for helping friends and other contacts find each other. But the phone number requirement also introduces a few limitations in the way you can use Allo.

Here's a thorough breakdown of how things currently work.

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4 days ago

Traveling with Allo? You can swap SIMs without logging out

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Allo + travel

You can activate Allo on your normal number and still use a local SIM for data.

In addition to being linked to your Google account, Allo is tied to your main phone number. That makes things tricky if you use multiple devices — unlike Hangouts, there's no easy way to use it on multiple phones at the same time right now. And the phone number tie-in might seem to make things difficult for travelers too — specifically being stuck on one phone number with the associated roaming costs when traveling abroad.

Fortunately, there's a simple workaround.

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4 days ago

How to install and set up Allo

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A chatbot that leverages Google's machine learning and AI skills. Welcome to the future!

Google's smart messaging service Allo is finally available. The app differentiates itself from the plethora of messaging clients by integrating Google Assistant, which calls upon the company's vast machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities to provide contextual information as and when you need it. Here's how you can get started with Allo.

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4 days ago

Allo is now available from the Play Store!

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Google's smart messaging app Allo is finally becoming available to the public. The app is now available on Android and iOS. Announced back at I/O 2016, Allo is the first app to integrate Google Assistant, a chatbot that leverages the company's machine learning and AI smarts to provide answers, suggest replies to conversations, retreive your travel information, and so much more. Think of it as an evolution to Google Now.

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4 days ago

Verizon, Sprint start selling new Galaxy Note 7 as recall continues

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Well it turns out those new Note 7s aren't just for exchanges; they're also for new sales.

Right on the heels of the announcement that 500,000 brand new Galaxy Note 7s have arrived in the U.S. for customer exchanges, Verizon and Sprint have started offering up the new phones for sale. Verizon's page places a larage notice on the product page indicating that these are new "safe" units, while Sprint simply picked up where it left off with no notice.

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5 days ago

Evening brief: Samsung releases millions of green battery icons, Google approves

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Lloyd

Replacement Note 7s are here, and Google is totally okay with their battery icon color.

How about some more Note 7 recall news? Samsung announced that 500,000 new safe phones have arrived in the U.S., ready to be exchanged. They'll have new software that makes the battery icon green, which Google's Hiroshi Lockheimer says is just fine considering the circumstances.

Now, Samsung news that doesn't have to do with exploding phones! Several carriers in the U.S. and Canada have started to push the September security patch (fixing the QuadRooter vulnerability) to the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, while Samsung Pay now has cloud syncing capabilities when you switch to a new phone.

Google quietly updated the beta version of the Google app (which powers the Google Now Launcher), changing the redundant names of Google Now on Tap and Google Now to "Screen Search" and "Feed," respectively. The functionality remains unchanged ... for now. Here's the full breakdown of today's Android news!

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5 days ago

Samsung now has 500,000 new Note 7s in the U.S. waiting to be exchanged

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Last week, coinciding with the official U.S. CPSC recall, Samsung claimed it would have replacement Note 7s available by Sept 21.

Samsung now says that a whopping 500,000 brand new Note 7s have arrived in the U.S. and have been distributed to various carriers and retailers, ready to be swapped out for the recalled phones that are still out in the wild. Getting beyond what must have been a logistical nightmare of distributing the phones, this should relieve some of the frustration Note 7 owners have been experiencing trying to exchange their phone only to be greeted by a lack of available new stock.

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5 days ago

PS4 vs PS4 Slim vs PS4 Pro: Which should you buy?

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Which PlayStation 4 should I buy?

By the time family members roll into stores to buy their loved ones a PlayStation 4 this holiday season, there will be three options that look very similar. You've got the original PlayStation 4, the new slimmer PlayStation 4 with the exact same branding on the box, and the soon to be released PlayStation 4 Pro. It's confusing by anyone's standards, so your best bet is to know what you need before you head into the store.

What's the difference?

Sony has a history of releasing a "slim" version of the PlayStation a couple of years after its initial release. In the past, those consoles have been labeled a little differently at launch to make it easier to tell the new version apart from the old one. These slimmer versions typically offer more a physical difference than a functionality difference, and this year is no different. The significant feature and performance difference comes with the PlayStation 4 Pro, and even then the difference isn't huge.

Category PlayStation 4 (2013) PlayStation 4 (2016) PlayStation 4 Pro Price $349 $299 $399 Dimensions 10.83in x 12.01in x 2.08in 10.43in x 11.34in x 1.54in 11.61in x 12.87in x 2.17in CPU AMD Jaguar 8-core (x86-64) AMD Jaguar 8-core (x86-64) AMD Jaguar 8-core (x86-64) GPU AMD Radeon (1.84 TFLOP) AMD Radeon (1.84 TFLOP) AMD Radeon (4.2 TFLOP) Storage 500GB / 1TB 500GB / 1TB 1TB Optical out Yes No Yes AV out AV/HDMI 1.4 HDMI 1.4 HDMI 2.0 Power consumption 250w max 165w max 310w max 4K Streaming No No Yes USB USB 3.0 (x2) USB 3.0 (x2 ) USB 3.0 (x3) PSVR support Yes Yes Yes (Enhanced)

The biggest functional difference between the original PS4 and the new slimmer PS4 is power consumption. Sony claims the new PS4 has a max power draw of 165 watts, which sounds impressive next to the original 250w max of the first PS4 until you see most benchmarks. The original PlayStation 4 had an average power draw of 150w during its heaviest gameplay sessions, and never pushed anywhere near that 250w max. It is slightly smaller though, so there's that.

As you can see, Sony is using the same CPU and a GPU that's a little more than twice the performance in the new PlayStation 4 Pro. There's also an updated version of the HDMI standard in the PS4 Pro, but there's no immediate difference in performance out of the box for video output. PlayStation 4 Pro exists to offer 4K video streaming and enhanced graphics on supported titles. Game developers will have the option to offer higher quality graphics to PlayStation 4 Pro gamers, but it's not yet clear how many will take advantage of this or how significant those differences will be.

Bundles and sales

The default pricing for these consoles can and frequently are augmented by sales and bundles. Each of the PlayStation 4 consoles comes with a single game, usually marked with a giant photo on the packaging, so you have everything you need to get started. Many retailers have already placed the original PlayStation 4 on sale, so it's just under the $299 slim PlayStation 4 in order to help get rid of the older stock. The $399 PlayStation 4 Pro will of course also come with a game.

Is the PlayStation 4 Pro $100 better than the PlayStation 4 or its slimmer brother? Only if you have a 4K television or are planning to purchase one soon. If you're happy with your existing television and have no plans to upgrade, you aren't going to see any significant difference between the PlayStations 4.

Many retailers like to create their own bundles as we get closer to the holiday season, combining extra gamepads or recently discounted games to the package to help you feel like you're buying everything you need. A big part of this year's offering will no doubt include PlayStation VR. There are plenty of people who already own a PlayStation 4, but if you're looking to go all in for the first time and get everything you need, expect those same retail stores to have everything you need to get going.

Which should I buy?

Now that you know everything you need to know about the differences between these consoles, lets break it down!

  • PlayStation 4 — This is the PS4 most likely to be included in some kind of extra bundle with more accessories and games. This is also the only PlayStation 4 that comes in white right now. If you're looking for a PS4 and price is a big point of concern, you probably want to stick with the original.

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  • Slim PlayStation 4 — This is the PS4 you will see the most of on shelves this year, and it's the nicer looking of the three. If you care about that sort of thing, or you're just rushing in to grab a PS4 and nothing else, this is the version you want.

See on Amazon

  • PlayStation 4 Pro — If you own a 4K television, or you plan to own one before long, this is the PlayStation 4 you want. It'll last the longest, and be able to offer the most over time.

See on Amazon

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5 days ago

Best Accessories For Galaxy S7 And Galaxy S7 edge

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Best accessories for your Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 edge

There's a ridiculous amount of choice out there when it comes to Galaxy S7 and S7 edge accessories — let us offer a few top picks.

Samsung's best-selling phones of the year, the Galaxy S line, always command attention from accessory makers. Samsung itself has stepped up its game in first-party accessories as well, with lots of great Galaxy S7 and S7 edge options. From batteries to cases to car mounts, we have narrowed things down to a solid handful of accessories that you should consider for your phone.

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5 days ago

Go Time! Episode 10: The big repeat

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Episode 10 of Go Time! has arrived!

In Episode ten of Go Time Jen, Russell and Thom are here to rep their respective teams.

This week, the awesome Thom Obarski joins to represent Team Mystic. The group chats about Pokémon buddies, Pikachu's easter eggs, and the Pokémon that Thom is used to seeing. But what they really wanted to talk about is how they would play the game differently if they were to start over today. Plus, the best strategies, and how newer players might have a leg up as they make the climb to level 20.

Join us weekly for the awesomeness of Pokémon Go!

You can also join our Facebook page to keep up on all things Pokémon Go. See you in the world!

Pokémon Go

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5 days ago

Spigen Style Ring Review: The ultimate phone accessory

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Spigen's Style Ring is a multipurpose minimalist phone accessory you may just fall in love with.

So many smartphone accessories claim themselves to be a must-have accessory, but rarely do they actually live up to the advertised hype. More often than not, they end up in some drawer after a month or two for one reason or another — you've upgraded to a new phone that's not compatible with it, or you just got bored with using it.

The Spigen Style Ring may just be able to buck that trend. By incorporating so many handy features into one universal smartphone accessory, it basically become more and more essential the longer you use it.

And if you're also among the millions of folks swept up in Pokémon Go mania, you've spent countless hours running through your city trying to catch 'em all. During our own hunting adventures, we've come to realize the Style Ring is also the perfect Pokémon Go accessory.

No more death-gripping your phone

If you've own a smartphone for long enough, drop damage is inevitable. If you're lucky, it falls the "right way" and doesn't cause any permanent scuffs or cracks. With the Style Ring, you get an added layer of security when your phone is in hand. Slip your finger in the ring and you really don't have to worry about dropping your phone.

For Pokémon, the idea of not having to death grip your phone as you weave your way down streets and through parks tracking an elusive Pokémon is pretty novel. The Style Ring gives you the confidence and freedom to take off running when you hear someone yell about a wild Vaporeon — without ever having to worry about dropping your phone.

Perfectly car compatible

Another simple accessory included with every Style Ring is the Hook Mount, a little rubberized-plastic nub with mounting tape on the back. Wipe down a spot on your car's dashboard, adhere the Hook Mount, and you just installed one of the most minimalist car mounts for your phone on the market.

To mount your phone, you simply extend the ring, hook it on the mount, and push until you feel it pop into place. BAM! Your phone is secure and accessible to you as you drive. Perfect for controlling your music on the go, following along with turn-by-turn directions from Google Maps, or a quick swipe if you're near a PokéStop at a red light.

For Pokémon players who love to play while being driven around, the Style Ring lets you confidently lean out the window like a dog and really stretch your phone to get into range of distant PokéStop. As long as you've got the Style Ring on your finger, your phone is secure. We're definitely not recommending such behavior, we've just seen people doing it and it's only a matter of time before someone's phone slips and shatters on the pavement below.

Also works great on bike

If you're more of a Pokémon purist, maybe you prefer to bike around as you hatch and catch. With the Style Ring, you're able to maintain much better control of your bike while still managing to keep your phone literally on hand. This allows you to conveniently swipe PokéStops as you bike past, or pop off your bike at a moment's notice when you feel that vibration informing you a Pokémon is around.

This goes without saying, but as the game warns on load up, always be careful and alert when you're out and about. Heed the words of Professor Oak who frequently scolded you — there are time and places where you simply shouldn't be on your bike. Be considerate to your fellow trainers!

Better range for one-handed Pokéball throws

So we've talked about how the Style Ring can help you keep a better grip on your phone, but let's talk about how the Style Ring might help with some Pokémon Go fundamentals: catching Pokémon!

Spigen highlights how the Style Ring grants you a wider reach across larger smartphones. This added range will give you more control over your Poké Ball throws.

Once you're on that XP grind to to level up your trainer, every little addition helps. That means maximizing every Pokémon catch with a throw bonus. One of the coolest (and often frustrating) techniques is the curveball throw. It nets you an extra 10 XP, which should become automatic when you get the curveball down pat.

If you need to work on your curveball throws, we've got a guide for that!

And it's got other uses beyond Pokémon Go, too

On top of everything previously mentioned, the Style Ring also doubles as a kickstand, which is awesome. With the ability to tilt and swivel the ring 180 and 360 degrees respectively, you have the freedom to set up your phone any which way you want. Prop it up in portrait orientation on your work desk, or flip it to landscape for watching YouTube videos or Netflix.

There are many other clever uses for the Style Ring — you just need to use your imagination. Mobile Nation's own Kevin Michaluk is a huge fan of the Style Ring. On top of all the awesome functionality of the Style Ring mentioned above, he enjoys using it as a spin-the-phone game for determining who's going to pick up the cheque when out for dinner with friends.

Because of how the Style Ring secures to the back of your phone, removing it does takes some elbow grease. Best practise is to wedge something thin such as a guitar pick under a corner then slowly peel it back. But you can swap the Style Ring to another phone, which is great. Take care of your Style Ring and it may just outlive your device.

Oh, and if you're wondering, it doesn't quite work as a beer bottle opener. We tried.

Get it to match your phone

Spigen offers the Style Ring in five familiar colors — Space grey, Champagne Gold, Black, and White — so you should be able to find the right color to match your phone.

If only they came in Valor red, Mystic blue and Instinct yellow. (Psst! Spigen, you listening?)

An essential accessory, for average phone user, or the ultimate Pokémon Go fan!

See at Amazon

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5 days ago

Huawei's best mid-range phone is coming to Canada in October

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The Huawei Nova series is an interesting product line. Half flagship, half midrange, it embodies the shifting nature of the Android market away from expensive, highly-subsidized phones.

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