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1 day ago

New TV ads show the HTC One M9 beating the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S6 in 'blind tests'

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HTC is trying to convince the smartphone buying public that its HTC One M9 is better than Apple's iPhone 6 and Samsung's Galaxy S6. It's latest marketing effort is a series of TV ads where "blind tests" are conducted to show how the HTC One M9 can beat those two smartphones in normal tasks.

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1 day ago

4th of July Sale: 20% off all accessories at ShopAndroid

4th of July Sale

Before you fire up the grill and fireworks this 4th of July, swing by ShopAndroid to save 20% on your favorite accessories.

Starting today, everything in store including the most popular wireless chargers, cases and covers, screen protectors, and quick chargers are all up for grabs at a boomin' 20% discount! There's plenty to check out for popular devices like the LG G4, Samsung Galaxy S6, Galaxy Note 4, and many more. After you've filled your cart, use coupon code: 7415 to enjoy instant savings on everything. If that's not enough to spark your interest, we even offer free shipping on all orders over $50 within the continental US, along with reasonable rates on expedited options. Don't miss out this holiday week, because the gettin's only good until midnight, July 7.

Light'em up and let's shop!

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1 day ago

Nest Aware, and why the Nest Cam subscription makes sense

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Nest Aware Subscription

You'd be hard-pressed to find a conversation about the new Nest Cam this week that doesn't include some form of unrest about the subscription portion of the product. Aside from the additional monthly cost, there's a significant chunk of users out there that don't understand why it is Nest doesn't offer the ability to manage Nest Cam locally, including storage the user might already own.

The answer to this question can be found in the features baked into Nest Aware, the not-quite-obligatory subscription service so many are unhappy with. A quick look at the features offers a lot of insight into why Nest Cam, and the Dropcams that came before it, is a cloud-only platform.

It's easy to get lost in "why can't they just" when talking about a product.

As users, we frequently mistake "cloud services" as code words for online storage and easy access. It's not entirely our fault, cloud storage is the service most commonly talked about in the consumer space. Cloud computing, where multiple servers in a data center somewhere process local data so your single local machine doesn't have to, is an entirely different set of technologies. Nest works hard to make it look like their services happen effortlessly, with a user interface that lets the user feel in control. At their core, however, Nest services need some help from the Internet in order to be useful, and relying on third-party services isn't always an option. In the case of Nest Cam, more specifically the Nest Aware service powering the camera, relying on a third party would be disastrous.

Nest Zone

Any web connected camera can grab video and store it to a NAS. Nest Cam offers a ton more than that. You can set up motion detection for specific areas the camera can see, zoom in and enhance a portion of the video for better facial recognition, and quickly assemble timelapse videos. All of this happens through Nest Aware, and it happens because Nest servers are processing your video in real time to offer these features. The physical Nest camera and your local software aren't doing any of this, and they can't. Your mobile device can't handle the kind of video processing necessary to do this sort of thing immediately, and making a local client for Nest to run on Windows/Mac/Linux would be a tremendous undertaking that would never result in a service that ran as smoothly as the current implementation of the Nest experience. The cost of Nest products would go up significantly, the Nest software would iterate at a significantly slower rate, and as a user you didn't actually gain anything.

Like the Nest Thermostat, this camera is designed to be something everyone can set up in seconds and use easily. There's no concern for existing hardware or software, it quite literally just works once you connect it to a wireless network. Where more technical folks seem to get hung up is the storage. As a part of Nest Aware, you can have either a 10-day backup for $100/year or a 30-day backup for $300/year, but there's no way to pull a local copy of that backup. Even the Nest Aware clip creator only lets you pull an hour of video at a time, any longer and the service switches to a timelapse mode. The lack of a functional long-term local backup means you have to trust the folks at Nest with your data, and when it comes to the security of your home that can be a big ask for some. When you factor in the additional image enhancement and total lack of user-side effort offered through Nest Aware, it's a system that makes a lot of sense if you let it.

Nest History

It's easy to get lost in "why can't they just" when talking about a product, but after a few days of using Nest Cam it's clear the folks at Nest are on the right path here. There's also nothing wrong with knowing Nest Cam isn't for you, and with an ever-growing list of Works with Nest products out there it's unlikely we'll go too long before seeing a competing product that plays well with other connected home tech. For its intended purpose, Nest gets the job done better than most. That happens because of services like Nest Aware, and it's important to keep that in mind when planning your next purchase.

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1 day ago

OnePlus is giving away the Cardboard VR headset ahead of OnePlus 2 announcement

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OnePlus is set to announce the OnePlus 2 on July 27 during a virtual reality event. The company has already started giving away some affordable Cardboard VR headsets to let consumers tune in and enjoy the show. That's right, they're giving away Cardboard VR headsets for free.

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2 days ago

New Android One phone launching in India on July 14, marketed as an 'affordable Nexus'

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After launching the first generation of Android One devices in India last year, Google is set to unveil a new handset made in collaboration with local manufacturer Lava Mobiles. ET Tech states that the device will be retailing for ₹12,000 ($187), double the price of the first-generation phones. The new device will allegedly feature a 5-inch display and 2GB RAM, according to the anonymous source.

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2 days ago

Plex's forums hacked, user data being held ransom

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Streaming service Plex's forums have been hacked, and the hacker is holding the data ransom in exchange for Bitcoin. Plex has announced that the hacker was able to gain access to IP addresses, email addresses, hashed and salted passwords as well as private message. Payment information is not stored on Plex's servers, so that information is still secure.

The streaming service refused to pay the ransom, and has reset the passwords of all affected users. Plex uses a SSO (single sign-on) authentication, so if the hacker were to reverse-engineer the hashed passwords, he or she would be able to gain access to a user's Plex.tv account as well.

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2 days ago

Microsoft drops patent suit against Kyocera over technologies in its Android phones

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Microsoft announced today that it has struck a deal with Kyocera to expand their patent licensing agreement, putting an end to a patent infringement suit that Microsoft brought against Kyocera earlier this year over technologies used in its Android phones.

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2 days ago

New in the Android Central app: Samsung Multi Window support, and bug fixes!

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Coming soon to an Android phone or tablet near you — it's the latest version of the Android Central app! In this latest release we're introducing a new feature, Multi Window support for Samsung devices, that should help you get all the news and information you want from Android Central while also keeping up with other things on your devices.

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2 days ago

The Nexus 9 is finally a tablet you should buy

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Nexus 9

More than eight months after we first got our hands on the HTC-manufactured Nexus 9 tablet, we're finally ready to officially recommend it as an Android tablet that's worth buying.

We've reviewed a lot of devices here. More phones than I can remember. A whole bunch of tablets. But things got a little weird in the fall of 2014 with the release of the Motorola Nexus 6 and the Nexus 9 tablet. And the source of that weirdness was Android 5.x Lollipop.

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2 days ago

Marcelo Claure's comments to John Legere about Jump OnDemand aren't wrong

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Claure and Legere

John Legere has made quite the name for himself by speaking his mind and using PG-13 language in places you don't usually see C-level executive for major companies doing so. He routinely pokes at the competition on Twitter, frequently calling out other mobile carrier CEOs and mocking decisions they've made recently. It's usually fairly entertaining, especially when it's clear one of these companies is rolling out a lamer version of a plan Legere's team has just finished deploying.

As you'd expect, the other CEOs rarely respond — lets be honest, some of them probably don't actually use their own Twitter accounts — but last night that changed. Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure — whose time would be better spent not screwing people out of video streaming — fired back at Legere in an unfortunately childish way, but in doing so made a valid point about T-Mobile's new Jump On Demand service.

John Legere

If you listen to our podcast, you've heard some words already on the "amped" version of the Jump program. T-Mobile started out with an upgrade path worthy of the Uncarrier hashtag and turned it into a leasing program in a continued effort to strip away the things that made the original program so impressive. You gain the ability to upgrade three times a year, but you lose the included Premium Handset Protection and Lookout Premium that were included in the previous version. You also never truly own your phone, which means if you downgrade your service plan out of the list of qualifying T-Mobile plans or you decide to cancel altogether you have to either return the phone and pay the remaining payments for the hardware. There are also additional costs associated with having a credit score T-Mobile deems unacceptable, which have to be paid up front as a down payment on the device you're leasing.

While there have been some great changes through this movement, Jump On Demand is just about as far from Uncarrier as you can get.

Perhaps most important of all is the point Claure made on Twitter. The current advertising for Jump puts the iPhone in the spotlight for $15/month with an eligible trade-in. What isn't mentioned anywhere is the increase in cost when you Jump from one device to another. If you jump from an iPhone 6 to a shiny new Nexus this fall, for example, that $15/month goes away and will actually be closer to $27/month. While it's true you're still paying less than you would if you bought a phone outright on this plan, you still have to pay the balance if you want to own the phone and you still need to pay the extra $8/month to get the protection plan. Remember, if you take a broken phone to them and try to Jump, you'll be sent away. A single phone is now costing you $35/month after your first Jump.

Jump On Demand

If you've got great credit, zero interest in owning your hardware, and really love T-Mobile's service, Jump On Demand still isn't a great idea. When you compare Jump prices after this promo trade-in period to the regular monthly Equipment Installment Plan, you see there's not a lot of difference there. T-Mobile started the Uncarrier movement by shouting from the rooftops about fixing a broken, stupid industry. While there have been some great changes through this movement, Jump On Demand is just about as far from Uncarrier as you can get. What's worse, it's being carefully marketed as a cure-all to folks with uncontrollable gadget lust, when in fact it's a different color collar to tether you to your carrier.

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2 days ago

Free App of the Week in Google Play: Thomas's Musical Day For Percy

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Google has been making a different app free each week in its Family section of Google Play, and this week's free app is Thomas's Musical Day For Percy. The app, which is normally $4.99, is free from July 2 through July 9.

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2 days ago

Best heavy duty cases for LG G4

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Best heavy duty cases for LG G4

The best rugged cases for the LG G4 must withstand the rigors of your daily environment — inside or out.

Not every case out there can hold up to the extremes of a busy lifestyle, where drops are commonplace and expected throughout your daily routine. Like it or not, heavy duty cases are important for those of us who require extra layers, screen covers, and sturdy belt clip holsters to get our LG G4 through to the next day.

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2 days ago

Getting to know Nest Cam

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Nest Cam

Nest has now fully absorbed Dropcam and graduated its core products and services into the Nest ecosystem, and the result is Nest Cam and Nest Aware. If you've ever seen or used Dropcam services, you should feel right at home with this upgraded piece of technology. As connected cameras go, there's a lot to explore an appreciate with Nest Cam, and the Nest Aware software that powers the experience is well worth taking a look at as well.

With that in mind, lets wander through this updated Nest Cam experience and see what is happening behind all the buttons.

For the uninitiated, Nest Cam is a web-enabled security camera with a powerful app and web interface to communicate with the camera from wherever you are. The camera can be a private security system for yourself, or a public camera that can be shared with the world. It has a speaker baked into the camera casing, so you can speak through your web or app interface and whoever is on the other end — kids, pets, someone breaking into your house and stealing your laptop — can hear you. Unlike its predecessors, Nest Cam is a 1080p camera with a UI that supports optical zoom and a night-vision mode that will kick in automatically if you tell it to. It's also incredibly easy to set up and use. As indoor security cameras go — this thing isn't waterproof, so don't try to stick it outside — it's one of the better overall experiences out there.

Powering the other features in the Nest Cam lineup is Nest Aware, which comes with a pair of monthly ($10 for 10 days of video history, or $30 for 30 days) or yearly ($100 or $300) subscription options depending on your needs. Nest Aware adds computer vision to Nest Cam, using cloud computing to sharpen and enhance the image you are seeing, especially when you use the app to zoom in on something in the room you are monitoring. The enhance button on zoom shows almost immediate results, and can be incredibly useful for things like facial recognition should the worst happen. Nest Aware also allows you to set custom zones in the room you are monitoring, like a door frame or a window, and the Nest app will notify you if there's any motion in those zones. When motion is detected, the app will create a special icon in the video timeline, so you can instantly tap and see what was happening at that time.

Nest Aware's services also come with aforementioned online storage options, allowing the camera to store either 7 or 30 days of video in the Nest app. Through this, users are able to create and export video clips of things they caught in the recording. The app lets you export up to an hour of enhanced recorded video at a time, but also lets you create timelapses from your video feed. These clips are stored on the Nest service until you decide to download or share them, and several social networking hooks are baked in to the service.

Nest Zone Aware

There's a lot to like about Nest Cam, just like there was a lot to like about its predecessors. The subscription options that power most of the good stuff is a little off-putting for a lot of users, but it's also pretty useful. Ultimately it's the cost of computer vision and cloud computing, which are critical components in making these feature work as seamlessly as they do. The folks at Nest have a long history of adding features year round, however, so whether you're already impressed with the service or on the fence it's clear there's always going to be something new around the corner.

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2 days ago

Pelican Protector and Voyager cases for the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge

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Pelican Protector and Voyager cases for the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge

Most people need basic phone protection, then there are people who need Pelican cases.

The Pelican name is associated with protecting valuables — particularly electronics and camera gear — against basically anything you can think of, and its Protector and Voyager phone cases bring that idea down to your Galaxy S6. The two cases each offer something different, but are both a step above any "average" cheap case you can throw on your phone.

Extra protection, a specialized look and a name that you can trust is what you get with Pelican cases — here's what they look like for the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge.

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2 days ago

ARCHOS announces the 50d Helium, a 5-inch device availble in July for £99

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ARCHOS has announced its latest device, the 50d Helium, which is set to release later this month and carry a price tag of £99.99. This 5-inch Android 5.1 smartphone features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage.

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