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6 days ago

Begin your Android development career with this professional bundle for $29

Ready to make a change in your career and start creating your own Android apps? Getting started can be a difficult task, there is a lot to learn, a lot of different ways to do things, and unless you have someone to chat with it can be hard to do on your own. There are a number of different ways you can begin your new path, and this bundle is one of the best.

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Meet the Professional Android Developer Bundle, a great way for you to learn the basics and more advanced features of building Android apps. From an introduction to Javascript to the fundamentals of the operating system itself, there are countless hours of information here for you to move through at your own pace.

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6 days ago

Everything Flo is packing in her Gear Bag for Google I/O 2017

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It's basically just sunscreen and some phones.

If there's one thing that stuck with me after attending last year's Google I/O, it's to always wear sunscreen. If you've ever had to carry a giant bag full of things on top of sunburned shoulders, then you know the pain. And that pain is not fun to have lingering around when you'd rather be soaking up developer sessions and checking out the latest Android-based demonstrations.

This year, I'm packing a ton of sunscreen. Bottles of it. I'm bringing the spray kind, the lotion kind, and some for my face — I'll probably slather a bunch in my scalp, for the days I forget my hat. I'm packing a couple of other neccesary things, too — a laptop, a couple of smartphones— but I'm attempting to keep it my kit as concise and as whittled down to the necessary as possible so that I've enough room to carry all that sunscreen.

The bag: Something I bought off of AliExpress

I couldn't do the Timbuk2 Classic Messenger anymore. The more gear I'd cram into it, the more my back seemed to ache for days after merely an hour with it on. So, I switched to this little backpack I found on AliExpress a few months ago, though it's quickly turned into one of my favorite carry-all. And it was pretty affordable, too!

This off-brand bag is big enough to fit my MacBook Pro and Timbuk2 Snoop Camera Insert (the link takes you to the new version of the product). There's also a front pocket that fits my phone and my wallet perfectly, and there's enough room inside to store rolled-up sweater, too. Google I/O will likely be in the upper digits towards the mid-afternoon but at night fall it can get pretty chilly in the South Bay.

Also inside: So much sunscreen

As a pale-skinned woman who burns considerably after only minutes in the sun, I've gotten into the habit of carrying some very heavy duty sunscreen. My favorite is the Alba Botanica Hawaiian sunscreen. It smells nice and it's water resistant, and it's kept me protected through various hikes through the California Redwoods and beyond. It's also available in spray form, which is convenient for quick touchups throughout the day.

On my face, I wear Tarte Guard Sunscreen, which offers all the protection without the grease. But if you're put off by the bright pink bottle, Dr. Jart's Every Sun Day UV Sunscreen is a great Korean-made alternative that's also dermatologist-tested and cruelty-free.

See at Amazon

The phone: Pixel XL

I remember last year, I was already struggling with the Nexus 6P around this time — I vividly remember pulling over while navigating around Mountain View because the phone had randomly shut down in the middle of my route. You can bet there was plenty of screaming and cursing happening that day.

I don't expect to run into the same issue with the Pixel XL, but that's because it's been so consistent since I adopted it last October. I know that I can trust it to post to Twitter, Instagram Stories, and Snapchat without shutting down on me, as well as provide ample battery life for answering the barrage of Hangouts messages and emails I'll be fielding throughout the entire week. It also takes the best photos, and it's the only phone I have in my arsenal with the absolute latest version of Android.

See at Google

The smartwatch: LG Watch Style

To be very honest with you, faithful Android users, I've long since ditched Android Wear 2.0 for the hybrid Fossil Q (also pictured here) because I don't like having to charge a watch every single night. But during major event weeks, I'll switch to the LG Watch Style, which is one of the most comfortable smartwatches for those with smaller wrists. I like to have the notifications pop up as they appear, not to mention it's much more convenient to respond with a simple "ok" on Android Wear than it is to always have my phone in my hand.

See at Google

The other computer: Samsung DeX

I'm not actually planning to use the Samsung Galaxy S8+ to cover Google I/O. I'm actually bringing it to test out the Samsung DeX, which I'll be using in my Mountain View hotel room to decompress at the end of each day. I'm impressed with what I'm seen from Samsung's "desktop experience" thus far, but the real test will be whether it makes sense for me to travel with a mouse, keyboard, and HDMI cable in tow, too.

See at Best Buy

Other gear and accessories

There are a couple of other necessities I'm packing with me. My battery pack this year will be the AUKEY 20,000 mAh solar-powered battery pack, which is quite dense and will certainly add a bit of weight to my bag. But it's got multiple ports for the crew to charge along, and I never have to worry about it running out of juice as long as the sun is still shining.

I'm also bringing along a Polaroid wide-angle lens, which easily screws on to the existing 40mm lens already affixed to my Canon SL1. This makes it so that I can widen the shot of the crazy sculptures placed throughout the Shoreline and switch back to the pancake lens when I need to snap a photo of a screen, for instance.

Coming to Google I/O?

Are you making the trek to Mountain View for Google's annual developer conference? Leave a comment and tell us what you're packing for the event!

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6 days ago

Farpoint Tips and Tricks for survival

These tips will help you survive the inhospitable world of Farpoint.

Farpoint has arrived on PlayStation VR, delivering an excellent sci-fi experience for you to shoot your way through. If you want to be well and truly ready for everything this desolate planet is going to throw at you, then knowing what you are about to get into is handy. So we've put together a few tips and tricks to help you survive what is coming.

Read more at VRHeads.com

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6 days ago

Best Family Plan

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Best Family Plan

What's the best family plan in the U.S.?

If you're looking to save money on your monthly mobile bill, then signing up multiple lines is the best way to go. The Big Four carriers (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon) don't really have "family plans" anymore, per se, but they do have multi-line plans that are similar to buying in bulk. The more you add, the more you save.

Here's the best family plan you can get from the Big Four.

Best family plan: T-Mobile

T-Mobile

Since all the major carriers switched to unlimited plans, T-Mobile has taken the lead in terms of savings with a family plan.

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You can sign up up to four lines on one account for $160 per month ($40/month/line), taxes and fees included. With each line, you get "unlimited" data (up to 30GB of 4G LTE, 2G speeds after that), unlimited talk and text, Music Unlimited (unlimited streaming from select services with no data charges), and tethering at 3G speeds.

With certain services, like HBO Now, you can also stream as much video as you please without extra charges, though video streaming quality is throttled to 480p. If you like your HD video, you'll have to compromise.

Though T-Mobile's coverage still isn't the best in the country, it's quickly catching up to Verizon's wide reach.

T-Mobile's Buyer's Guide: Everything you need to know

Runner up: Sprint

Sprint

Sprint may not play nice when it comes to bringing your own device, and its CDMA technology might be a little dated, but Sprint's "Unlimited Freedom" plan costs just as much as T-Mobile's for four lines, and you get HD video streaming and 10GB of hotspot data per line. You'll also get unlimited talk and text and 2G data.

The first line is $60/month, the second is $40/month, and each additional line is $30/month, so four lines are $160/month. This does not include taxes or other fees.

If you prefer Sprint's service, or you're already with Sprint and are considering resigning, know that you'll get roughly the same deal as T-Mobile.

Sprint Buyer's Guide: Everything you need to know

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For your consideration: Verizon

Verizon

Verizon may not have the best deal on family plans, but it does have the best coverage in the U.S., and its multi-line pricing is still competitive.

Verizon only offers multi-line plans on its unlimited data plans. Four lines are $180/month (taxes and fees not included). You get "unlimited" data (22GB of 4G LTE, possible throttling to 2G speeds after), unlimited talk and text, HD video streaming, tethering, and service in Mexico and Canada.

Like Sprint, bringing your own phone to Verizon is a bit difficult, but if you want the best coverage available, then check it out.

Verizon Buyer's Guide: Everything you need to know

The other guy: AT&T

AT&T

AT&T may be the second biggest carrier in the U.S., but its current unlimited family plans are a bit difficult to parse. For its "Unlimited Choice" plan, AT&T's site says you can get 4 lines for "less than $40 per line, per month", but the exact price isn't listed anywhere. You'd have to speak directly with an AT&T rep to see. You can, however, have up to 10 lines on one account.

AT&T Buyer's Guide: Everything you need to know

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6 days ago

Common Moto G5 problems and how to fix them

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If you're having issues with your Moto G5 or G5 Plus, we're here to help.

The Moto G5 and G5 Plus are great new additions to the Moto G lineup, but that doesn't mean they're not without their issues. Whether it's erratic Wi-Fi connectivity, background noise in videos, or issues with the bundled TurboCharger, you can rely on a workaround to solve the problem.

Here are some of the common problems affecting the Moto G5 and G5 Plus, and potential fixes.

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1 week ago

Moto E4, E4 Plus, and Z2 Play show up in leaked renders

6

Leaked renders give us an early look at Motorola's upcoming phones.

A leaked slide from over the weekend revealed that Motorola was planning to launch nine new phones this year. The company already released two phones at the start of the week in the newly-minted Moto C series, which is now the entry-level tier for the brand.

We're now getting a look at the Moto Z2 Play and the Moto E series courtesy of Roland Quandt of WinFuture. The Z2 Play will be a successor to last year's Z Play, and will retain support for Moto Mods. Meanwhile, the Moto E series sits one step above the Moto C lineup, with the phones — the Moto E4 and E4 Plus — likely to retail for under $200.

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1 week ago

Samsung sells over 5 million units of the Galaxy S8 in less than a month

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Galaxy S8 and S8+ hit the 5-million sales mark in their first month of availability.

The Galaxy S8 and S8+ made their debut in South Korea, Canada, and the U.S. on April 21, with availability in European markets and India kicking off a few weeks later. The company is now stating that it sold over 5 million units globally, with shipments exceeding 10 million units.

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1 week ago

Netflix no longer works on rooted or bootloader-unlocked Android phones

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Wanted to go for a binge on your rooted Android phone? I've got some bad news.

Rooted users started noticing the app gone from Google Play on their devices over the weekend, and Netflix eventually confirmed it did this intentionally. The streaming service is now using Google's Wildvine DRM to block the app from rooted devices that don't pass Wildvine's security status, and its Google Play listing will not appear for devices that fail a SafetyNet check, which not only rules out rooted phones but also unrooted phones that are bootloader-unlocked.

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1 week ago

Samsung Galaxy S8+ India review: King of the hill

5
Samsung Galaxy S8+ review

The Galaxy S8+ is the best Android phone available today.

The quick take

The Galaxy S8+ offers everything you want — and a few things you didn't know you needed — in a package that looks downright futuristic. Combining top-of-the-line hardware with a gorgeous design and an incredible display, Samsung ticks all the right boxes. The phone isn't without its quirks, but when seen as a complete package, you won't find a phone that offers quite as much as the Galaxy S8+ for the price.

The Good

  • Infinity Display is amazing
  • Incredible design
  • Class-leading performance
  • Water and dust resistant
  • Great camera
  • All-day battery life

The Bad

  • Fingerprint sensor location
  • Fragile
  • Bixby is pointless right now
  • Smudge magnet

Samsung Galaxy S8+ review

Samsung Galaxy S8+ Full review

The Galaxy S8+ comes at a crucial time for Samsung. The company is getting back on track from last year's debacle, and although its profits weren't hurt by the global recall of its flagship late last year, consumer trust in the brand took a big hit. Samsung is looking to regain that trust with its most ambitious phone yet.

However, competition in the high-end segment is stronger than ever. Google got off to a great start with the Pixel, and LG has mounted its fiercest challenge yet with the G6. Samsung put itself in a precarious position with the Galaxy S8: it obviously needed to innovate to push past its rivals, but it also had to be wary to not overextend itself in the process. After all, it was the company's overzealousness in wanting to include the largest possible battery last year that led to its downfall.

With the Galaxy S8, we're starting to see the results of Samsung's cautious approach. The brand outdid itself in a few areas, like the Infinity Display, but elsewhere, there's a sense that it held back, opting not to make too many alterations just for the sake of change. In doing so, it created its best phone to date.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ Specs

Category Features Operating System Android 7.0 Nougat Display 6.2-inch AMOLED
2960x1440 (529 ppi) Processor 10nm Samsung Exynos 8895 Storage 64GB (UFS 2.1)
microSD up to 256GB RAM 4GB Rear Camera 12MP Dual Pixel, f/1.7
1.4-micron pixels
OIS Front Camera 8MP, f/1.7
auto focus Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11ac MIMO
Bluetooth 5.0
NFC, GPS, Glonass, Galileo BeiDou
LTE Cat.16 Charging USB-C
Fast charging
Qi wireless
Powermat wireless Battery 3500mAh Water resistance IP68 rating Security Fingerprint sensor
Iris scanner
Samsung KNOX Dimensions 159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1mm Weight 173g Colors Midnight Black, Coral Blue, Maple Gold

About this review

I am writing this review after using the Exynos 8895 variant of the Galaxy S8+ (SM-G955FD) for two weeks in Hyderabad, India. A week into the review, Samsung released an update to fix the red tint issue, bumping the build number to G955FXXU1AQDG. The unit was provided for review by Samsung India.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ review

Samsung Galaxy S8+ Hardware

The Galaxy S8+ is the most futuristic phone available today. The dual curved screen merges seamlessly with the edges of the frame to create a design aesthetic that elevates the S8 to a league all its own. Put the Galaxy S8+ next to handsets like the Pixel and the LG G6 — which also has an extra-tall display — and you'll immediately notice the sheer beauty of the thing. This is a phone you'll want to gaze at even while the display is off. The gold color variant in particular looks like it was designed for the robots.

To engineer the Infinity Display, Samsung had to get rid of most of the bezels around the top and bottom of the phone, and while I was initially apprehensive about accidental touches, Samsung did a much better job with palm rejection this time around. With no bezels to factor in, Samsung was able to cram a huge panel in a relatively small chassis.

Even though the Galaxy S8+ is offering a 6.2-inch display, the overall size of the phone isn't much larger than a regular 5.7-inch phone — it is marginally taller than the 5.5-inch Pixel XL. The phone has Gorilla Glass 5 protection both at the front and back, which gives it an added resistance to tumbles.

The USB-C port at the bottom is flanked by the 3.5mm jack on the left and a single speaker to the right. The speaker gets sufficiently loud and doesn't get garbled, even when you crank up the volume. The power button is located on the right, and the volume rocker is to the left of the phone. With the Galaxy S8+, Samsung has added a dedicated button below the volume rocker to invoke Bixby. For now, the Bixby button's main purpose is to come in the way of you taking a screenshot.

Moving a little further up, the 6.2-inch QHD AMOLED display on the Galaxy S8+ is amazing. The 2960x1440 resolution heralds a new age of 18.5:9 displays, and while it takes a while to get adjusted to the tall screen, the narrow width makes it that much easier to use the phone. You will not be able to reach all corners of the display, but it's definitely not as unwieldy as I initially imagined it would be from initial renders of the S8.

Samsung has raised the bar for smartphone displays for a few years now, and the S8+ continues to build on that. Colors are vivid, black levels are excellent, and the screen goes up to 1000nits, allowing you to read the panel outdoors without any issues. However, the 18.5:9 ratio comes with a downside — letterboxing in games and videos. Samsung offers a workaround by allowing you to scale YouTube videos to the full width of the screen, but it will be a while before developers start taking full advantage of the tall panel.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ review

The Always On Display feature has also picked up new functionality, and now offers six clock faces, music controls, more customization options, and colorful backgrounds. The Galaxy S8+ is also one of the first phones to offer HDR10 and Mobile Premium HDR certifications, allowing you to view HDR content from the likes of Prime Video and Netflix.

From an engineering standpoint, there's nothing else quite like the Galaxy S8+.

The SIM card slot — which also houses the microSD card tray — is located at the top, and is sealed by a rubber gasket. The Galaxy S8+ is IP68 certified, making it dust and water resistant. Samsung removed the physical home button to make way for the Infinity Display, and the fingerprint sensor has been moved to the back panel, and is now located next to the camera sensor. This is the most controversial design change with the Galaxy S8+, and one that makes unlocking the phone more difficult than it should be.

The fingerprint sensor itself is quick to authenticate, but its limited surface area and awkward placement make it harder than usual to locate it with your finger — doubly so when you're using the phone one-handed. More often than not, you'll put your finger on the camera sensor, where you'll end up smudging it. The lack of a noticeable indent also makes locating the fingerprint sensor difficult. Samsung was allegedly looking for a way to integrate the sensor directly into the display of the S8+, but the supplier working on the technology, Synaptics, couldn't get it to work in time for the launch of the phone. Maybe in the Note 8 then.

There is one positive aspect of the fingerprint sensor being located at the back, and that is the ability to pull down the notification shade or access Samsung Pay quickly with a swipe gesture. It doesn't make up for the fact that unlocking the phone is more difficult than it used to be, but Samsung has gone out of its way to introduce additional options to do just that. With the Galaxy S8+, you can use facial recognition and iris scanning to unlock the software.

The location of the fingerprint sensor isn't ideal, but iris scanning makes up for it.

The lack of a home button means that the ability to quickly launch the camera is also diminished. Samsung switched the functionality to the power button in international versions of the S8+, but the Indian unit doesn't have the feature enabled. Samsung has instead opted to offer a panic button — a feature mandated by the Indian government on all phones — that's accessible by three quick taps on the power button. What this means is that for Indian customers, there's no easy way to access the camera. Which is a shame, because the camera is one of the best available today. But more on that later.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ review

Talking about change, the S8+ offers a haptic engine at the bottom of the display that acts as a replacement for the physical home button. You'll be able to press down on the area where the home button used to be to wake up the screen when the phone is locked, and you can also use it to go back to the home screen while watching a video on YouTube or playing a game. There's also the option of customizing the sensitivity of the home button. It certainly doesn't come close to the feedback of a physical home button, but Samsung clearly wanted to offer an alternative in its stead.

While the front of the Galaxy S8+ is unlike any other phone on the market today, the same cannot be said of the design at the back. However, Samsung is doing a much better job of making various color options available globally. In India, you can choose from three colors — Midnight Black, Coral Blue, and Maple Gold. The black version looks great, but it also highlights smudges the most. The blue and gold options stand out more, and the blue, in particular, looks stunning. Thankfully, with all three options the front panel is black, which masks the litany of sensors located above the display.

The only uncertainty about the Galaxy S8+ is its fragility. With an abundance of glass at the front and back, it certainly isn't the most rugged phone out there. In the two weeks that I've used the phone, it took a single tumble — onto a tiled surface from a height of five feet — and came away unscathed. However, that won't always be the case. You should consider investing in a case, but definitely stay away from so-called premium screen protectors.

Performance

Coming to the internal hardware, the 10nm Exynos 8895 SoC on the Galaxy S8+ is a beast. The 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM is more than adequate to juggle several apps at once, and combined with the 64GB UFS 2.1 storage module, Bluetooth 5.0, USB-C, and Category 16 LTE modem with Gigabit LTE, it's easy to see that the S8+ packs plenty of punch.

That said, I did notice the occasional stutter, but that's more to do with Samsung's optimization (or lack thereof) than an issue with the hardware itself.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ review

Samsung Galaxy S8+ Software

Much like its hardware design, Samsung overhauled the software experience over the last few years. The UI is now called Samsung Experience (version 8.1), and if you're coming from the Galaxy S7 or S7 edge, there's plenty to like.

For one thing, there isn't a button for the app drawer anymore; you instead swipe up or down anywhere on the home screen to launch the app drawer. You can also swipe down on the fingerprint sensor to pull down the notification shade, à la Google Pixel.

Samsung has been offering a Multi Window mode for several generations now, and in the Galaxy S8+, you have the option to snap a particular portion of an app to the top of the display, and run another app at the bottom.

It'll take you a while to go through all the features on offer with the Galaxy S8+.

One-handed mode is also back, but without physical navigation keys to invoke the feature, Samsung has changed things up a little. To enter one-handed mode, you'll have to swipe up diagonally across the screen from either bottom corner. More often than not, you'll end up pulling down the app drawer, so there's an easier way to launch one-handed mode, and that's by tapping the home button three times.

The elimination of the home button has led to one welcome move: customizable on-screen navigation keys. For years now, Samsung strayed from Google's implementation of navigation keys — back button on the left, home button at the center, and the recents pane on the right — but with the Galaxy S8+, you can change the orientation of the buttons to suit your liking. You don't have as many customization options as that on the LG G6, which lets you add up to four buttons, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ review

With both variants of the Galaxy S8 offering dual curved screens, Samsung made changes to the way Edge panels work. The Edge feed has been removed, and you now have the ability to choose Apps, People, and Tasks edge panels. Each corresponding panel comes with a list of customizable shortcuts, and the optimization and quick tools panels are also present. There's also Edge lighting, which creates a halo around the edges of the screen for incoming notifications. If you don't like Edge panels, you can always disable them.

Samsung has had a shoddy track record when it comes to software updates in other regions, but when it comes to India, the company has done a magnificent job — at least in the high-end segment.

The Galaxy S7 and S7 edge have consistently picked up platform and security updates, and Samsung is continuing that tradition with the S8 and S8+. The phones picked up the May security patch this week, and the fact that there isn't any interference from carriers — all phones sold in India are unlocked — makes things that much easier for the manufacturer. The phone is still running Android 7.0 Nougat, and while there's no mention of when the Android 7.1.1 (or 7.1.2) update will be delivered, for now, Samsung is doing a great job when it comes to updates.

Samsung Pay

Samsung Galaxy S8+ review

With Samsung Pay now officially available in India, the Galaxy S8+ is the first flagship with the feature enabled out of the box. The service is also available on the Galaxy A7 2017, but the phone itself isn't all that great to use.

You don't really realize how useful Samsung Pay is until you get started with the service. It has fundamentally transformed the way I pay for goods at offline stores. The service's ease of use combined with its near-ubiquity makes it invaluable when making in-store purchases.

Samsung Pay transforms the way in-store purchases are carried out.

Samsung also nailed the rollout of Samsung Pay in India. Because of its integration with MST, the service works even on older card readers, and the South Korean company is leveraging its marketing budget to ensure retailers and customers are aware of the way it works. Out of the 20 locations where I've used Samsung Pay, only one cashier didn't have an idea about the service.

The service is also incredibly convenient to use: to access Samsung Pay, you swipe up from the bottom of the screen, or use the fingerprint sensor gesture. The gesture isn't enabled by default, but you can set it up from the settings (Settings > Advanced Features > Finger sensor gestures > Open Samsung Pay).

Everything you need to know about Samsung Pay in India

Once Samsung Pay loads up, you can select the card you want to pay with, and authenticate using a PIN or your fingerprint. For transactions carried out in India, you'll still have to enter your credit or debit card PIN.

Bixby

Samsung Galaxy S8+ review

If there's one sore point on the Galaxy S8+, it is the state of Bixby. Samsung's virtual assistant feels half-baked right now, and Bixby Voice — a key component for the service — won't be available until later this year in the U.S., with an Indian launch coming a few months after that.

Bixby isn't meant to take on Google Assistant. Instead, it is designed to make it easier for you to interact with your phone. For instance, you'll be able to ask Bixby to find images from a particular location or a particular date, and it will surface that information with ease.

With Bixby Vision, you'll be able to point your camera at an object, and the service will offer relevant information about that item. It worked well with QR codes, but when I pointed it at the retail box for the Galaxy S8+, it failed to identify it.

Bixby also lets you set reminders, see contextual information from third-party apps like Twitter, Uber, Foursquare, and more. Bixby on the Galaxy S8+ is a first look at what's possible, and the assistant will get much better over time. For now, though, it doesn't add a whole lot of value.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ review

Samsung Galaxy S8+ Camera

Samsung didn't make a big deal of the rear camera in the Galaxy S8+, and although the resolution is the same at 12MP, the phone has an all-new imaging sensor.

In addition to the new sensor, Samsung's latest Exynos 8895 chipset has an improved ISP that takes multiple images every time you click the shutter button. It then automatically stitches the images into a single photo, one that offers a better dynamic range. The new ISP also allows for digital stabilization of 4K videos.

The Galaxy S8+ excels at taking great photos with a minimum amount of fuss. It is on par with the Pixel or beats it in a few scenarios, particularly when it comes to low-light imagery. Previous Galaxy S flagships had a tendency to oversaturate colors, but Samsung has toned down the image processing algorithms in the Galaxy S8+, leading to more natural colors.

The main drawback with the camera is the fact that there isn't a way to quickly launch it on the Indian model. When it comes to the image quality, ease of use, and the sheer number of options available, it is one of the best out there.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ review

Samsung Galaxy S8+ Battery life

The standard Galaxy S8 has a 3000mAh battery while the S8+ offers a 3500mAh battery. The added battery size makes a lot of difference in everyday usage. Over the course of the two weeks, I routinely saw around 18 hours of usage with four hours screen-on-time and 30% battery left to spare.

Even on days where I was using cellular data all the time and had the Bluetooth enabled, the battery managed to last until late at night. Samsung's battery-saving measures contribute in this area, and you get regular reminders notifying you of apps running in the background that are consuming system resources.

With the Galaxy S8+, you'll easily get a day's worth of usage from the battery.

You can monitor apps' usage per hour, and set limits on a per-app basis to cut down on undue battery consumption. The feature certainly comes in handy in finding errant apps that suck your phone's battery in the background.

When you do need to extend battery life, there are two power-saving modes to choose from. The first mode — called "min" — decreases brightness by 10%, switches the screen to Full HD (if you've toggled QHD in the settings), throttles the CPU, and switches off Always On Display. The nuclear "max" option downgrades the display to 720p and further restricts background tasks.

The phone also features wireless charging, but the main drawback when it comes to the battery is the lack of fast charging. Samsung offers Adaptive Fast Charging, which made its debut in 2014. The technology is based on Quick Charge 2.0, and is limited to 9V/2A.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ review

Samsung Galaxy S8+ Bottom line

Samsung ticks all the right boxes when it comes to the hardware, but that's just one part of the story. The Galaxy S8+ is so much more than its spec sheet — it is a culmination of a grander design that cements Samsung's position as the frontrunner in this space. With the Galaxy S8+, you're getting a phone with a stunning design, a gorgeous AMOLED display that may just be one of the best ever put on a phone, class-leading camera, and top-notch internals. From the gorgeous design to the build quality and execution, Samsung got everything right with the Galaxy S8+.

A Samsung flagship isn't complete without its fringe features, and although there have been many gimmicks in the past, that isn't the case anymore. Wireless charging, Samsung Pay, and IP68 water resistance — just to name a few — all come in handy, and give the phone an added advantage.

The phone has its drawbacks: the location of the fingerprint sensor isn't ideal, and the copious amounts of glass will lead to a constant worry regarding its durability.

Should you buy it? Absolutely

You should buy the S8 just on the merits of the screen and the camera, but there's so much more on offer with the phone.

The ₹64,900 asking price of the Galaxy S8+ is by no means affordable, but you do get your money's worth with the phone. Right now, the main competitor to the S8+ in India is the LG G6, which retails for ₹51,999. You'll be able to get it for as low as ₹46,999 after cashback offers, making it a full ₹17,901 less than the S8+. For that amount, you can pick up a Moto G5 Plus.

LG has significantly raised its game with the G6, offering a phone that's almost as good as the S8+. You get the same 18:9 ratio for the display, better resistance to the elements thanks to a MIL-STD 810G rating, 32-bit Quad DAC, and a dual-camera setup that has a slender lead over the S8+.

That said, the phone doesn't quite have the same allure when it comes to the design when seen next to the S8+, and Samsung's display technology is a step ahead. Samsung also scores a win in the hardware segment with the 10nm Exynos 8895.

There's a reason the G6 is priced so low — LG needs the market share in the premium segment, and as such the manufacturer is willing to forego profits to build its brand in the country. Samsung, meanwhile, is the number one phone vendor in India, and it is using that position to its advantage.

If you're in the market for the best Android phone, just get the Galaxy S8+.

See at Flipkart

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1 week ago

Google Store now offering free $35 case with Pixel XL purchase

11

Everyone likes free stuff — especially from Google.

Now that Google seems to have some Pixel XLs back in stock on the Google Store, it's running a limited-time promotion to hand out a free case with each purchase. If you go to buy a Pixel XL, you can just add one of Google's silicone cases in a variety of colors to your cart and see a $35 discount applied automatically. There's no specific end date on the deal, as it's simply listed "while supplies last" — but as we know, that may not be long when it comes to the Pixel XL.

The deal is only available for the Pixel XL, and only for the $35 silicone case — which is interesting, because it could easily get away with letting people pick up the cheaper $30 hard plastic case for free instead. But either way, we can't look this gift horse in the mouth. Perhaps the knowledge that the Pixel XL is in stock and you're getting a free case will be enough for people to buy,

See at Google Store

Google Pixel + Pixel XL

Google Store Verizon

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1 week ago

Daniel's Google I/O gear bag: 2017 Edition

4

Here's what I take with me when I travel.

Packing a travel bag for Google I/O is not dissimilar to going on vacation, at least not for someone who lives and breathe technology. There's the laptop and the phone(s), the cables and chargers, the adapters and other accoutrements that make the experience a little more productive during work, and more enjoyable during downtime.

What's interesting about this year is how much less stuff I am bringing; the older and more experienced I get at these shows, the fewer essentials I feel pressured to bring — to the delight of my beleaguered back.

Here's what I'm bringing to Google I/O this year.

The bag - Tylt Energi Pro

I usually have pretty short honeymoon periods with backpacks, but I've found a long-term winner with the Tylt Energi Pro. It's not the included 20,100mAh battery charger and cable routing, but the design and quality of the bag itself.

Excellent, weather-resistant materials mean that I don't have to worry about my stuff getting drenched in a storm or dusty from porousness. Tight, well-constructed zippers ensure that they won't break from applying too much force and, when closed, water won't seep in.

I love the number of compartments, and the easy access to ones on the side when I'm in a rush. The main compartment opens vertically, and is designed for camera equipment and other larger pieces; I can easily fill it with cameras, lenses, cables and adapters and still have plenty of room left over.

The laptop compartment is nicely cushioned and features a number of smaller mesh areas for storing tablets, phones and other diminutive pieces of tech.

Finally, the straps are fully adjustable, and wonderfully cushioned for longer day trips that have me wearing the bag for long periods.

See at Tylt

The computer - 2015 MacBook Pro

An early 2015 MacBook Pro is still my workhorse. It's spec'd out, with a Core i7 and 16GB of RAM, though Chrome churns through memory so I rarely feel its full speed potential.

Still, unlike Andrew I haven't moved to the newer form factor, for, as much as I love simplicity I'm not ready to give up MagSafe for dongles.

I may have to look at another laptop soon, though: the battery life on this computer isn't what it used to be, and I struggle to get more than four or five hours from a charge. In that case, I'd look into a Surface Book or an equivalent high-end Windows laptop. I like Mac, but I want to explore the latest in Windows — provided the notebook has a trackpad that's equivalent in performance to this one. You still can't beat Macs for trackpads.

See at Amazon

The phones - Galaxy S8 + Pixel XL

Two phones for this trip — keeping it simple. The Galaxy S8+ will be my daily driver, hooked into Rogers' Roam Like Home plan to let people from back home call and text me with no problems.

I've had great battery on the Galaxy S8+ so far, and don't expect that to change even while roaming, though connecting to a non-native network does typically impact battery life.

See at Amazon

In the other pocket, a Pixel XL, which I may use to load the first Android O beta when it's announced during the keynote. I still love this phone, and often go back to it for a few days just to remember what I'm missing — the smoothness, the minimalism — when I switch to the Galaxy S8.

See at Google Store

The camera - Sony RX100 IV

This year, I decided to keep things simple and bring just my Sony RX100 IV, a fantastic point and shoot that outperforms rivals in its size range, and many larger DSLRs, too.

Google I/O isn't typically a photo-heavy event, but I've taken the RX100 to product launches, too, and have rarely been disappointed with the results. If there's one gripe I have with the damn thing, it's the lack of a microphone jack, but I've solved that issue, to a large extent, with the next item on the list.

See at Amazon

The Microphones

Zoom H5 microphone + input

Have you listened to a live Android Central podcast over the past year? You've heard this handy microphone in action. The Zoom H5 is a field podcaster's dream, with two XLR inputs along with a super-sensitive default cardioid mic attachment that does well in a pinch.

See at Amazon

Rodelink wireless lav microphone

The next piece of the puzzle is capturing audio wirelessly, and the Rodelink wireless lav is amazing. It hooks into the Zoom's auxiliary input and allows for the capture of high-quality audio from practically anywhere, even outside in the wind.

It's not cheap, but the Rodelink is a great deal if you're looking to capture vocals without having to worry about long cords or standing close enough a boom mic.

See at Amazon

Chargers

There are a couple of essential chargers and adapters I always include in a travel bag: my three-port AC adapter extension from Belkin, which swivels at its base to make sure it works in any plug; and my Aukey 5-port USB-A hub, which is perfect for charging all the things. One of the ports on the Aukey is Quick Charge 2.0-compatible, which is helpful, but generally I just fill them up with whatever cables and accessories need topping at the end of the day. Easy, peasy.

See at Amazon

Battery pack - Tylt 20,100mAh pack

This is the Tylt 20,100 mAh pack that I mentioned earlier. It's awesome: it has two USB-A inputs, including one that supports Quick Charge 3.0, along with a USB-C port that doubles as both juice in and out — it can give charge as well as receive it. I've only had the battery pack since March, but I am incredibly impressed with the quality of the cell.

See at Amazon

Headphones - Blue Satellite

Of course, my headphone load is my latest rave review: the Blue Satellite wireless headphones. They're comfortable to wear for long periods, and have both active noise cancelling and a separate amp, in case your source isn't particularly powerful. The dual 44mm drivers also sound great, with accurate mids and deep, rich bass.

See at Blue Microphones

Other items (not seen)

I brought my Nintendo Switch because why the hell not? The idea of playing some Mario Kart with some buds in the middle of Shoreline Amphitheatre sounds great. Sure, it's probably not going to happen, but we have to have some fun at these events, don't we?

I also lugged along my Kenu Stance USB-C tripod, which is an awesome little gadget for watching movies or framing video on the go.

Other than that, there are cables, granola bars (Nature Valley what up) and some adapters, as well as some roaming SIM cards from Roam Mobility in case I run out of data.

What about you?

What do you bring on your trips? Let us know in the comments below!

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1 week ago

How to connect a PlayStation Aim Controller to your PlayStation VR

Connecting your aim controller to PlayStation VR is a simple process.

The PlayStation Aim controller is the newest accessory for PlayStation VR, allowing you to really feel like you are in the middle of the action when shooting baddies in a game. However before you go shooting anything that moves, you need to make sure that your Aim controller is properly paired and connected to your PlayStation 4 console.

Getting connected will only take a moment or two though, and we've got the details on how to do it.

Read more on VRHeads.com

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1 week ago

Verizon cancels sales of the LG Watch Sport

33

You won't find the Verizon variant on LG's site either.

Verizon users who were looking forward to talking to family member through their wrists — a la Inspector Gadget — you're out of a luck. Verizon has cancelled the sale of the LTE-connected LG Watch Sport, in addition to pre-orders, and this is after the smartwatch had already experienced a significant delay.

From Verizon:

The LG Watch Sport has been cancelled and we are offering anyone who pre-ordered it $100 off a connected smartwatch of their choice.

The cancellation of the sale of the Watch Sport seems especially coincidental if you consider the fact that Verizon's own LTE-connected Wear24 went on sale just last week. The Verizon-compatible watch option for the Watch Sport has also been removed from LG's website.

Android Wear

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1 week ago

Best Front-facing Camera

Updated May, 2017: It's a new year of flagship smartphones! That means we've updated this post with our list of the best devices with improved front-facing cameras.

Best Overall

Samsung Galaxy S8

See at Verizon See at AT&T See at T-Mobile See at Sprint

Samsung knows how to equip you with what you need to take a selfie. Not only is the Galaxy S8 packed with some of the best front-facing camera hardware — an 8-megapixel camera with auto focus, to be exact — but it also offers a number of extra software features that'll help sustain your vanity. For instance, the camera app offers Snapchat-like features baked right in, in addition to a robust beauty mode that buffs out your imperfections and makes you look like the freshly airbrushed model you wish you could be. The filters also work on your friends' faces in group selfies, and if you can't fit them all into the shot, you can easily switch into the wide-angle selfie mode.

Bottom line: You'll win at narcissism with the Galaxy S8's fine front-facing hardware and its accompanying software features.

One more thing: If you need something bigger, the larger Galaxy S8+ shares the same hardware, not to mention it also offers a bigger screen for you to view the end results.

Why the Galaxy S8 is the best

Let's riff on the Galaxy S8's specifications for a second. The new Galaxy S8 features an 8MP front-facing camera with auto focus capabilities— even in the high end, most phones don't have auto focus capabilities on the front-facer. The front-facing camera also shoots with a f/1.7 lens, so it takes decent low-light photos, just like the rear-facing camera. It also has HDR capabilities, a selective focus mode for portrait shots, and you can download additional modes as you see fit.

The point is: The Galaxy S8 is not only equipped with an impressive front-facing camera, but it also offers a host of fun software features that'll keep you snappin'.

Best Non-Samsung

Google Pixel/Pixel XL

See at Verizon See at Google

I've been using the Pixel and Pixel XL to take snaps of me and my pals for the past few weeks. Its 8MP front-facing camera is a phenomenal performer, though it only shoots at an aperture of f/2.4. It also doesn't have as many extra feature offerings as Samsung's smartphones, though you can download a third-party app like the BestMe Selfie Camera to have some fun with your friends.

Bottom line: If you'd rather go Google because software updates matter more to you than an abundance of camera features, the Pixel is a bona fide selfie shooter.

One more thing: The Pixel also utilizes the helpful double-press-to-launch shortcut like the Galaxy S8.

Best Budget

Honor 8

See at Amazon

Huawei is particularly keen on boasting about its selfie capabilities — and for good reason. The Honor 8 is an entry-level smartphone with an 8MP front-facing camera. It shoots at an aperture of f/2.4 and comes bundled with features like the "Perfect selfie," which stores your customized beauty settings.

Bottom line: If you don't want to pay full price for a premium phone, but you still want a worthy selfie-snapping sensor, the Honor 8 is a worth considering.

One more thing: The Honor 8 also has dual 12-megapixel rear-facing cameras on the back, so you won't be compromising your main camera performance either.

Conclusion

Samsung knows selfies. It's been attempting to perfect them since the Galaxy S III, likely because it's a major selling point. And this year, the Galaxy S8 and S8+ have had their front-facing cameras overhauled with better features and more capabilities, making either one the most compelling choice for the most vain of smartphone users.

But for the most part, the best smartphone for selfies is the one you already have your hand. So get to snappin'!

Best Overall

Samsung Galaxy S8

See at Verizon See at AT&T See at T-Mobile See at Sprint

Samsung knows how to equip you with what you need to take a selfie. Not only is it packed with some of the best front-facing camera hardware — an 8-megapixel camera with auto focus, to be exact — but it also offers a number of extra software features that'll help sustain your vanity. For instance, the camera app offers Snapchat-like features baked right in, in addition to a robust beauty mode that buffs out your imperfections and makes you look like the freshly airbrushed model you wish you could be. The filters also work on your friends' faces in group selfies, and if you can't fit them all into the shot you can easily switch into the wide-angle selfie mode.

Bottom line: You'll win at narcissism with the Galaxy S8's fine front-facing hardware and its accompanying software features.

One more thing: If you need something bigger, the larger Galaxy S8+ shares the same hardware, not to mention it also offers a bigger screen for you to view the end results.

Why the Galaxy S8 is the best

Let's riff on the Galaxy S8's specifications for a second. The new Galaxy S8 features an 8MP front-facing camera with auto focus capabilities — even in the high end, most phones don't have auto focus capabilities on the front-facer. The front-facing camera also shoots with a f/1.7 lens, so it takes decent low light photos, just like the rear-facing camera. It also has HDR capabilities, a selective focus mode for portrait shots, and you can download additional modes as you see fit.

The point is: the Galaxy S8 is not only equipped with an impressive front-facing camera, but it also offers a host of fun software features that'll keep you snappin'.

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1 week ago

Android Things Developer Preview 4 adds full support for Google Assistant

0

The new update also features support for more development platform and a few other minor tweaks.

With Google I/O just around the corner, it seems like every Google property is getting a boost of oomph in preparation for the big developer event. Android Things Developer Preview 4 is next to get a bump with full support for the Google Assistant SDK for every compatible development platform, rather than just limiting it to the Raspberry Pi.

Google has also added more hardware and driver support. From the official blog post:

We are now adding a new Board Support Package for the NXP i.MX7D, which supports higher performance than the i.MX6UL while still using a low power System on Module (SoM) design. Support for Inter-IC Sound Bus (I2S) has been added to the Peripheral I/O API, now enabling audio drivers to be written in user space for sound hardware connected via an I2S bus. The AIY Voice Kit sampledemonstrates how to use I2S support for audio. We have also provided the ability for developers to enable/disable Bluetooth profiles at run time.

Furthermore, if you're interested in Android Things but are looking for some context on how it all works together, you can look at the code for the Edison Candle, the first in a series of production samples put out by Google that showcases how the software and hardware work together.

You can find links to all the relevant information at the official post on the Android Developers Blog. Or if you're ready to dive into it, you can download the system images here.

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