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1 day ago

Shanghai consumer rights group sues Samsung and Oppo over pre-installed apps

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Samsung and Oppo are facing lawsuits filed by the Shanghai Consumer Rights Protection Commission. The watchdog group claims both companies pre-install apps on their smartphones without telling consumers ahead of time.

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2 days ago

Galaxy S6 owners, how's the Android 5.1 update treating you?

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Galaxy S6 Android 5.1

The Samsung Galaxy S6 is receiving its first major firmware update — and it's time to tell us how you're getting on with the latest software.

After shipping on Android 5.0, the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 edge have started receiving the latest version of Lollipop in recent weeks, bringing a host of changes and improvements. As well as bringing both GS6 models right up to date on Android 5.1.1, the new firmware reintroduces Guest Mode, adds new settings for fine-tuning images in the camera app, and lets you add a parallax effect to home screen wallpaper. That's in addition to the usual collection of post-release bug fixes and performance improvements.

That's all well and good, but we want to know how you, the Android Central community, are getting on with the latest Galaxy S6 update. If you own a GS6, be sure to hit the comments and share your thoughts. Is it better? Worse? What do you think of the new features, and is there anything else you'd like to see added? And if you've yet to update, let us know if you're eager to do so, or happy with the way your GS6 is working so far.

Looking for even more discussion? Join the conversation on the Galaxy S6 forums!

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2 days ago

Choosing a battery case for your Samsung Galaxy S6

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Choosing a battery case for your Galaxy S6

A battery case could potentially solve some of the GS6's power woes, but it isn't a perfect solution.

We know the Galaxy S6 doesn't have the best battery life, and though wireless and quick charging help minimize that issue it doesn't help when you're mobile. Cases that integrate external batteries can potentially fix battery woes, and while they aren't a new idea they may be on your radar for the first time since picking up a GS6.

We've rounded up a handful of popular battery case options for the Galaxy S6 and put them side-by-side to see which one offers the best trade-off of battery, size, protection and value — here's how they rank.

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2 days ago

Leaked render shows off the Android powered BlackBerry Venice

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A leaked render of BlackBerry's upcoming "Venice" slider phone shows the device running Lollipop, instead of BlackBerry's own BlackBerry 10 OS. There have been rumors that BlackBerry was working on an Android powered device, but until now we had no idea just how that would look.

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2 days 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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2 days 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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2 days 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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2 days 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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