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1 hour ago

New photos offer up a look at the Android-powered BlackBerry Venice slider

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While the rumors surrounding the BlackBerry 'Venice' slider continue to swirl, the device has now appeared once again in some new, clearer images which are pretty on par with everything we've seen thus far. As mentioned previously, there's still a lot of things up in the air surrounding this device and BlackBerry has yet to announce anything officially but judging from these images, the Venice is as was expected, running a customized version of Android Lollipop that brings along with it some BlackBerry 10 influence.

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7 hours ago

Mobile Nations Weekly: Sticky S Pens, an iPhone 6s event, and leaky ships

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Sure, next week is IFA 2015, but that doesn't mean we can't have news now!

We're still putting the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 through its paces, but we got one surprise this week: if you put the stylus in backwards, it sticks and will probably break your phone when you try to pull it out (if you can). So don't do that. Apple also announced the date for the anticipated iPhone 6s launch event, more photos of the BlackBerry Venice Android slider leaked out, as did the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL and their Continuum dock.

It's time for Mobile Nations Weekly!

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Android Central — A brief moment of panic

Things got a little exciting last week as we all discovered that the combination of the Galaxy Note 5's design and a little user error could well end with the S Pen being stuck inside the phone, or broken, or both. So please, folks. Don't put your S Pen back in the phone backward. That crisis died out pretty quickly, though, so we have a feeling folks got the message loud and clear.

CrackBerry — Slider from the left, slider from the right

This week, we saw BlackBerry CEO John Chen take the stage at the Churchill Club for a candid discussion on how things are going at BlackBerry plus, the BlackBerry Venice slider appeared in some fresh images which show off the device from nearly all angles. In other news, BlackBerry announced a new WatchDox app for BlackBerry 10 Enterprise customers, closing off the question of how they would integrate the service into BlackBerry 10 devices.

iMore — iPhone 6s Watch, Day 208

Invitations have gone out for Apple's annual iPhone event, and that means come September 9, 2015, we should be getting our first looks at the next-generation iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and Apple TV. Oh, and iOS 9 and watchOS 2 as well. It's going to be a big show this year. How big? Just ask Siri for a hint.

Windows Central — New Lumias cometh

Those yearning for new flagship Windows Phones received some nice surprises this week with new renders and another alleged photo. The Lumia phones – codenamed Cityman and Talkman – are expected to be announced in October and so far, audience reaction to the designs is mixed at best. Indeed, in our currently ongoing poll 1/3 flat out think the new Lumias don't look so hot. Will people change when the phones hit shelves in November? Time will tell.

Windows Insiders received a new build of the Windows 10 desktop OS. Build 10532 hit computers this week bringing along with it some menu UI and Microsoft Edge improvements. Speaking of Windows 10, the OS is now installed on more than 75 million computers and should surpass the OS X install base sometime in September.

Kicked

This week on Kicked we look at chewable coffee cubes, along with a reinvented axe, a GoPro stabilizer, and more! Plus, Drew and Patrick reminisce about an old Canadian heavy metal band while trying to avoid a YouTube copyright strike.

For the coolest crowd funding projects you need to know about (along with a few weekly antics) be sure to subscribe to the Kicked TV YouTube Channel and follow us on social media. We're active on Twitter, Facebook and of course Instagram.

Connectedly

This week on Connectedly, we looked at reasons why you should and shouldn't buy the new Samsung Note 5. We also show you a new wireless home monitoring camera that has been getting a lot of attention. We showed you how to make your own motion-sensing monitoring system using an old Android device. Valve stems that alert you of low tire pressure, bicycle lights that you can lock up, and a new product that turns your older car into a smart connected one.

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9 hours ago

IFA 2015 preview

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IFA

The last of the major trade shows of the year is upon us as we pack our bags and head for the German capital.

The IFA conference takes place every September in Berlin, and in past years has been the home of some huge Android announcements. The big elephant in the room was always the traditional announcement of the Galaxy Note at the pre-show press day. But with that out of the way already, you might think it's set to be a little quieter this year.

How wrong you'd be. Here's a look at what's going down at this years show.

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9 hours ago

The Razer Nabu fitness smartband is getting a relaunch in October

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Remember the Razer Nabu fitness smartband? Well, Razer wants you to know that the wearable is finally launching, or rather re-launching, in October. The Nabu, which was first announced in January 2014 at CES, will have a few design changes along the way.

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9 hours ago

Honor 7 video walkthrough

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The Huawei-built Honor 7 is now available in Europe, bringing impressive specs, a capable camera and fingerprint scanning technology to the table, along with a host of new software features. We've got all the details you could want in our Honor 7 review, but if you're more of a visual learner, we've also got the whole thing summed up in three and a half minutes.

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12 hours ago

HTC's co-founder gets a second job at the visual effects studio Digital Domain

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HTC is hoping to improve its virtual reality efforts in an interesting way. Co-founder and former CEO Peter Chou has just been named as an executive director at the famous movie visual effects studio Digital Domain, and will officially start working there on Aug. 31.

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1 day ago

Head to head: The Alcatel Idol 3 and the Moto G 2015

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It's time to pit two smartphones we love against each other. We've picked out four categories — things we think every phone (Android or otherwise) needs to get right before we can recommend them — and squared off the Alcatel Idol 3 against the Moto G 2015.

This is a tough one. Both are great phones, and neither one is the wrong choice. But it's human nature to find the "best" and we're going to dive in and make that hard decision.

Buckle up.

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1 day ago

Android Central 251: Death by Stylus

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Audio-only stream below

Is it really possible to fend of a rampaging horde of smartphone nerds with a simple stylus? Is Samsung's latest next big thing doomed because of the missteps of absent-minded users? And what is a Wileyfox, anyway? Answers to these burning questions — and a whole lot more — on this week's Android Central Podcast!

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1 day ago

Amazon Echo can now play music and audiobooks from multiple Amazon accounts

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The Amazon Echo can now play both audiobooks and music from multiple Amazon accounts, and switching between them is as easy as a voice command. Getting set up for the new functionality is simple as well, just head to the Settings in the Alexa app and add another Amazon user to the household. Switching between the two profiles is as simple as saying "Alexa, switch accounts."

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1 day ago

Living with USB-C

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USB-C has started its slow march to dominance, and I'm finally ok with that.

I was working in a mobile tech store when microUSB began its slow dominance of the mobile ecosystem. Everyone I worked with at the time glared at the massive wall of barrel connectors, weird plastic plugs with copper bits on the sides, and those huge 20-pin plugs with equal degrees of hatred. MicroUSB changed all of that, and eventually made it possible for almost every phone and tablet to use the same connector over the last couple of years.

It's been a good run, but after using what comes after microUSB for the last few weeks I am finally ready to say goodbye to this industry-changing port and welcome USB-C as the way of the future.

It wasn't all that long ago I was fairly unimpressed with this new USB connector. The port is physically larger than microUSB, the central connector stem inside the female end of the port looked fragile, and I've never been a part of the group that finds plugging in a microUSB cable frustrating. While the USB-C spec includes some exciting things for data transfer and charging, neither of those things affected me personally. I'm already using and loving Quick Charge 2.0, and because I live in a place where 802.11ac Wifi exists and high speed LTE flows freely, I rarely care about the transfer speed of my USB connection.

The experience was neither revolutionary nor earth shattering. Just a cable and a port, like the thousands I had used before it.

I'm also not a huge fan of the cable most frequently compared to USB-C. I own more than my fair share of Apple hardware, and personally I can't stand Lightning cables. The cables Apple includes with their hardware are often cheap and poorly made, and even the nice Lightning cables have dangerously fragile connectors. I've broken more Lightning connectors than I care to admit, either through accident and clumsiness or poor construction. By comparison, I've broken far fewer microUSB cables and use those cables significantly more frequently than I do Lightning.

Fortunately, I now know the truth about USB-C. Over the past couple of weeks I've used the OnePlus 2 and Asus ZenPad S 8.0 almost exclusively. This USB-C combination required me to replace the cables I use around the house and when I travel with the proper gear, which I did immediately. I didn't really notice any difference in my usage at first. Plug the cable in when I needed it, unplug it when I was done. The experience was neither revolutionary nor earth shattering. Just a cable and a port, like the thousands I had used before it. Also, neither of the devices I'm currently using have any of the extra magic that will make USB-C special in the future. These are essentially USB 2 ports in hardware with no Quick Charge capabilities or faster transfer speeds, so it really didn't seem like a big deal to me.

Halfway through the second week I needed to get something off of my Samsung Galaxy S6 edge, and it was in this interaction that I realized how different things were. It took me two tries to get the microUSB cable into the port, after which I immediately removed the cable to check the port because it didn't feel like the cable had seated correctly. When I re-connected the cable everything was fine, but the connection still felt loose and flimsy to me. I had already become a convert to USB-C.

A big part of what makes this connector special is its internal design. The oval connector is not only slightly wider and taller than microUSB, but longer as well. Inserting this port into a phone or tablet is met with a physical click every time, and the seated position means very little wiggling around. You wont, for example, be able to lean the connector up or down and watch as your hardware stops registering a connection. The connector pins are on both sides of the central stalk in the female part of the port, so as soon as it is connected it stays that way.

Fragility is not nearly as big a concern for me after using these connectors for the last few weeks, but it's still something I'm wary of. The USB-C connection in the OnePlus 2 is solid. Very little wiggle and in many ways more solid than most microUSB connections out there. A lot of that has to do with the metal frame and the position of the port. The ZenPad S 8.0, on the other hand, has a rounded plastic frame and the port is off to the right. This version of the port has a lot more wiggle to it, and feels as though a good drop on the cable would yield the same kind of breakage as microUSB. Since there's going to be a ton of hardware with this port in the not-so-distant future, it's clear overall quality will vary for some.

The bottom line is this — I'm a whole lot more interested in USB-C taking over the world nowadays. I like the way the cable feels when seated in the port, and when we start to see USB-C ports on phones with the USB 3.1 spec behind it, the doors will open for some interesting new features. We'll probably also start seeing more in the way of standardized USB accessories, but that's another matter for another day.

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1 day ago

Motorola pushes updates for its Camera and Gallery apps with new features in tow

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Motorola has pushed updates for both its Camera and Gallery apps, bringing some new features and functionality to both. For Gallery, Motorola has added the ability to better organize your photos and videos into albums. Additionally, you can now move the albums to an SD card.

As for the Camera app, Motorola has added QR and barcode active viewfinder capability to older phones. This will allow you to both recognize and act on barcodes and QR codes, without needing another app.

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1 day ago

Chrome to begin pausing Flash ads by default on September 1

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It was previously announced that Chrome would begin pausing Flash ads by default in an effort to improve overall performance for users, and that change is about to begin. These changes will begin to roll out starting September 1, meaning that the ads will no longer auto-play on pages.

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1 day ago

Top 5 heavy duty cases for Samsung Galaxy Note 5

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Putting your size concerns aside, a rugged case for your Galaxy Note 5 can extend the lifespan of your device quite a bit. Extra layers, built-in screen protectors and textured grip all play a role in keeping your Note 5 in your hand and off the concrete. Big names like OtterBox, Trident, and Urban Armor Gear are all making their return with the newly announced Galaxy Note 5 — and we're highlighting our top 5 that are up for grabs right now.

Read now: Top 5 heavy duty cases for Samsung Galaxy Note 5

OtterBox Defender Series Case

The OtterBox Defender Case for Galaxy Note 5 doesn't skimp on its multi-layer design, providing maximum protection against both scratches and impacts from front to back. This hybrid cover features a durable polycarbonate inner shell with foam padding, finished with a synthetic rubber slipcover. The built-in screen protector helps to keep the display clean, and the Defender's port plugs block liquids, dirt, and other debris from getting into the Note 5's openings. The OtterBox Defender Case is $69.90, but if you want the classic holster to match it, it's an extra $14.95.

Buy from OtterBox

Urban Armor Gear Case

Sporting a rugged design that's excellent for enhancing grip, the Urban Armor Gear Case for Galaxy Note 5 is actually quite slim for the level of protection it provides. All four corners feature an extra thick TPU for handling impacts, with easy-grip edges that feel great in your hand. Since both its armored shell and TPU core have been fused together, installation is quick and simple, keeping things exceptionally lightweight. This case comes in solid colors including black, white, and orange. For a transparent look, take your pick from clear, gray, or red for $39.95.

Buy from Amazon

i-Blason Prime Dual Layer Case & Holster

For superior protection without with ridiculous price tag, the i-Blason Prime Dual Layer Case and Holster for Galaxy Note 5 is an option that looks as tough as it protects. This hybrid cover rocks a dual-layer design that packs a fold-out kickstand on its textured polycarbonate shell — great for convenient viewing on the go. Bundled with the rugged case is a matching swivel clip holster that works great on most belts or even your pocket. Snag this heavy duty combo in black, blue, or red for only $11.95.

Buy from Amazon

Trident Aegis Pro Case

Built for the rugged user in mind, the Trident Aegis Pro Case for Galaxy Note 5 features a hardened, bio-enhanced polycarbonate shell and shock absorbing TPE interior. Meeting military standards, this durable case has been drop tested 26 times at 4ft. There are port plugs to keep out dirt and debris, as well as a built-in screen protector to shield your Note 5's display from scuffs and scratches. Trident also uses degradable, compostable, and recyclable materials for this cover — making it an eco-friendly solution to protecting your Galaxy Note 5. The Aegis Pro Case is available in black, blue, or pink for $34.99.

Buy from Trident

Supcase Unicorn Beetle PRO Series

Last up is Supcase's Unicorn Beetle PRO Series Combo for Galaxy Note 5, providing a more subtle rugged appearance that leaves easy access to ports, buttons, and the S-Pen. Next to its flexible TPU core and polycarbonate exterior is a built-in screen protector to keep scratches at bay without compromising touchscreen sensitivity. A strong, swivel clip holster is bundled with the cover for good measure, too. The Supcase Combo starts at $15.99 and is available in black, blue, green, pink, and white.

Buy from Amazon

What's your favorite Galaxy Note 5 rugged case?

That's our top 5 heavy duty cases for the Galaxy Note 5 available right now. In the coming weeks we're keeping our eyes open for other popular brands like LifeProof and Pelican — both great manufacturers for rugged covers. Have a different case in mind you plan on picking up for your new Note? We'd love to hear about it in the comments!

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1 day ago

Mobile Nations Community Update, August 2015

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Mobile Nations Community Update

Greetings all! Time for the Mobile Nations Community Update, your monthly look at the best contests, recent happenings, hottest forum threads, and more from Android Central, Connectedly, CrackBerry, iMore, and Windows Central.

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