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3 days ago

Allo: Everything you need to know

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Everything you need to know to get started with Google's new messaging service.

Allo is finally available, and it offers a first look at what's possible with Google Assistant. Assistant is Google's AI chatbot that answers questions by drawing on the vast trove of information it has collected over the years. It suggests replies in conversations, offers recommendations on nearby points of interest, tells bad jokes, plays games with you, and so on. Unlike Google Now, interacting with Google Assistant feels more personal and conversational.

If you're just getting started with Google's latest messaging service, we've got you covered.

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3 days ago

Lenovo Z2 Plus comes to India: 5-inch FHD display, Snapdragon 820, 3500mAh battery for $300

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An excellent mid-range phone at an excellent price.

The Indian handset segment is rife with excellent budget phones under ₹15,000 ($220), and great mid-range options like the OnePlus 3, which is priced at ₹27,000 ($415). There haven't been many devices in the ₹15,000-₹25,000 that stood out in terms of a value proposition. Until now. Lenovo has launched the Z2 Plus in India, and the key highlight isn't the fact that it comes with the Snapdragon 820, but its pricing: the phone will be available for just ₹17,999 ($268).

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3 days ago

Evening brief: Between a Note and a hard place

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Software updates, hardware recalls, and Allo's essential features!

Earlier today, I spoke to Samsung Canada's COO about the Note 7 recall, and he told me the same thing I've heard the company's executives say in every market: Samsung dealt with the recall properly, quickly, and safely. And that it is sorry.

That this is going to have lingering negative effects on the Samsung brand isn't in question: it's for how long, and how severe. The consequences of a recall like this reverberate for months, maybe years, largely because people — the average buying public — now balances the strength of a product against the trustworthiness of a brand. There isn't much more to say about this, either: soon, people will start receiving their replacement units, if they haven't already, and many will likely forget that this issue arose in the first place. But what about the 100 or so people injured or traumatized by a phone that was safe one moment and ablaze the next? Let's hope they're not forgotten once things get back to normal.

And with that, tonight's news.

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3 days ago

Samsung going to great lengths to force return of recalled Note 7s

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Samsung is taking unprecedented steps to convince customers to return recalled Galaxy Note 7s.

"Most Canadians are extremely supportive of how we've handled things," says Paul Brannen, COO and Executive Vice President of Samsung Canada, in a Toronto board room.

He's talking with reporters in 15-minute sessions, hoping to quickly cut to the essential truth of the issue: Samsung Canada has handled the Galaxy Note 7 recall better than any other region. He conveys this without saying it, noting that Samsung has managed the return of 70% of the nearly 22,000 outstanding devices, and already has the inventory to replace that number and more with phones containing updated, safe battery cells.

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3 days ago

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 recall: Everything you need to know

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Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Here's what you need to know about Samsung's Note 7 recall.

Samsung has announced a global recall of the Note 7 along with a halting of sales after concerns of faulty components causing battery explosions. Every Note 7 sold before September 15 is effected by the recall and must be returned or replaced. That's scary, and product recalls aren't fun for anyone to deal with, but Samsung is taking the necessary steps to make sure all of the bad units are replaced.

Here's what you need to know about the recall and how to handle it with your own Note 7.

Note: This is a constantly evolving story with information that is being updated regularly.

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3 days ago

Slap a Pebble Time to your wrist for just $90 right now!

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Right now you can pick up a Pebble Time smartwatch for just $90 at Amazon, a savings of $60 from its regular price. If you aren't a fan of the current Android Wear watches and still want something to deliver notifications to your wrist, this is worth checking out. The Pebble Time is the first smartwatch from the company that offers a color display and its new Timeline OS. Pebble has also introduced a number of activity tracking and health functions in the watch, making it part fitness tracker part smartwatch.

If you are looking for a new wrist gadget, be sure to check this $60 savings out. Which color will you buy? Let us know in the comments!

See at Amazon

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4 days ago

Break the spell with these Beauty and the Beast wallpapers

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Beauty and the Beast is one of the greatest animated movies of all time (don't worry, Ariel, you're still #1 in my heart!). 2016 marks the 25th anniversary if its release, which Disney has celebrated by releasing a special edition on Blu-ray, DVD, and for the first time, digital! After you go grab it from Google Play and sing along, bring some of that magic to your home screen with these beautiful wallpapers!

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4 days ago

Best MicroSD Card For Android

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Behold: The best tiny cards for storing your stuff.

microSD cards, where they're supported, are a great way to add extra storage to an Android phone or tablet. You can easily offload photos, videos and music to the external card, thus freeing up valuable internal space for apps. And certain Android 6.0 and above phones even let you plug in a microSD and use it to directly boost your storage for all things — including apps.

But the microSD standard has been around for longer than Android, and not all cards are equal. So we've rounded up the best out there.

Best top-tier

Samsung EVO+ 256GB

See at Amazon

Samsung's very-highest-of-the-high-end microSD card isn't cheap. In fact, it's the priciest on this list. But you're also getting a winning combination of performance and storage capacity, with 90MB/sec write speeds and 95MB/sec reads, and an enormous 256GB of space.

That's more than you'll never need in a smartphone, and the high read/write speeds will help if you're shooting lots of 4K video on a high-end phone like the Galaxy S7 (as too will that enormous capacity.) Better still, it's water, temperature, X-ray and magnetic proof, so you needn't worry about it getting damaged while you're out and about.

Best value - capacity

PNY Elite 128GB

See at Amazon

If you want a nice high storage capacity without breaking the bank, PNY's UHS-I 128GB card is a good option — $34.89 gets you a staggering amount of storage, and with pretty fast read speeds to boot — up to 85MB/s. It's about the lowest price we've seen for a 128GB card, and a great way to free up a ton of space on your phone or tablet.

What's more, you can pay an extra $10 at checkout and get an OTG reader thrown in too.

Best value - speed

Lexar Professional 1000x 32GB UHS-II/U3

See at Amazon

If speed is more important — for example, if you're using Android's Adoptable Storage feature to keep apps on your SD card — you might want to give this Lexar card a shot. It uses UHS-II flash memory and boasts read speeds of up to 150MB/sec. The capacity isn't the greatest, but if you're up for paying $14 more you can double your capacity to 64GB.

The Lexar card also comes with a USB reader for plugging into your PC.

Best Balanced

SanDisk Extreme PRO 64GB UHS-I/U3

See at Amazon

This SanDisk card won't break the bank at a little under $45, but offers a great balance of speed and capacity. 64GB should be enough for most people's photo, video and offline music needs, while the card's speed rating offers up to 90MB/sec writes and 95MB/sec reads.

The card also comes with a full-sized SD adapter, for plugging into a laptop or camera.

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4 days ago

Google's latest Android Experiment turns your phone into a paper plane

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Throw a plane, not a phone.

After debuting it at Google I/O this past May, Google and Active Theory have released Paper Planes, an app and Android Experiment that means to bring people together on International Day of Peace (that's today).

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4 days ago

Here's every PlayStation VR game we've played so far, ranked!

We've been playing PlayStation VR games for a little while now.

With demo stations all over the US and Canada as well as several spots opening in the UK, there have been many opportunities to sit down — or stand up — and get some quality time in with PlayStation VR demo games. There's still a lot left to learn about the headset itself and how it functions within the PlayStation 4 ecosystem, but when it comes to the games we've tried it's clear there are some favorites. We've decided to rank our PlayStation VR experiences to date, including which games we will absolutely be buying at launch and which we're going to probably leave as a mostly positive demo.

Read more at VR Heads!

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4 days ago

Best Credit Card-Sized Battery Chargers

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Best wallet-friendly credit card sized battery chargers

The benefits of a power bank in one small, compact package!

If you find your phone tapped out of battery power often, no doubt you've probably looked into portable power banks. If you like the idea of having extra power with you, but dislike having to carry around the extra weight, you may love these super small and thin power packs!

GMLYE Ultra-Thin

The GMYLE Ultra-Thin power pack has a capacity of 2,500mAh, which is more than enough to extend your phone's battery life for a marathon session of Pokémon GO.

The GMYLE is only about 5mm in thickness and about the same width and height as a credit card, so you don't have to worry about finding space to carry this thing around.

It starts around $17, and even comes with built-in Micro-USB and Lightning cables, which saves you the trouble of keeping track of your charging cords.

See at Amazon

PowerJet Ultra-Compact pocket power bank

Power Theory's PowerJet Ultra-Compact pocket power bank manages to pack a surprisingly big capacity at 4,600mAh, more than enough power to completely charge a Galaxy S7 and have a little left over.

The PowerJet also comes with a built-in Micro-USB cable, so you don't have to carry around a cord with you at all times. Plus, there is a little LED indicator which will flash red when it's at 10% capacity or less, so you know when it's time to charge it.

Due to its impressive capacity, the PowerJet does retail a bit higher than some of the competition, usually starting around $40.

See at Amazon

TravelCard Charger

Truly designed with portability in mind, the TravelCard Charger is a mere 4.7mm thick, making it actually small enough to fit inside your wallet with ease.

While its capacity is only 1,500mAh, it does have a few key features that are included in every power bank this size. The LED indicator will let you know when it's time to fill it up again, and it even has the ability to be charged while charging your device, so you should have no problem killing two birds with one stone.

The TravelCard has a built-in cable for Micro-USB and Lightning ports, so you shouldn't spend time having to untangle cords while you're on the go.

See at Amazon

Lankoo power bank

The Lankoo power bank is for the serious power consumer. It's got a capacity of 5,000mAh, meaning any phone you've got should be able to get a full charge from the Lankoo.

On top of its impressive capacity, the Lankoo also offers a fast charging speed. Its one USB port is certified 5V 2.1A charging speeds, meaning it shouldn't take you too long to recharge any phone.

The added bonus of the Lankoo, it comes in all sorts of fancy designs and colors making it visibly stand out from the rest of the competition.

See at Amazon

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4 days ago

Score an unlocked 64GB Galaxy S6 for just $389 right now!

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Daily Steals is currently offering new unlocked 64GB Galaxy S6 for just $389 with the coupon code ACSEPT10. You'll have your choice of white or blue here, and it is for model G920A which is the AT&T model. Being that the Galaxy S6 doesn't offer expandable storage, it's great to have the 64GB built-in and considering many 32GB versions are selling for this same price it's great to have double the storage at no additional cost.

If you don't need the latest and greatest, or are looking for a backup phone, you won't want to miss out on this deal. Remember, you'll need coupon code ACSEPT10 for the full savings here.

See at Daily Steals

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4 days ago

These are the top Allo features you need to know

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'Allo Allo.

Google's smart messaging app Allo is now available. The service competes with WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, both of which boast a userbase of over a billion users. Google is looking to differentiate Allo with Google Assistant, a chatbot that provides answers to your queries by drawing on the search giant's machine learning smarts. AI is at the core of Google's strategy, and we'll see the assistant make its way into the Google Home and future products. And it's all kicking off with Allo.

These are the top Allo features you need to know. If you're just installing the app, be sure to check out our setup guide.

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4 days ago

Digital Offers: Bypass geo-restricted streaming services for $39

Every year, more and more people are cutting their cable cords and turning to online streaming for all their TV and movie entertainment — and it's clear to see why. Whether it's for the convenience to watch what you want when you want on whichever device you want, or simply to save some money every month, the trend shows no sign of slowing.

But despite being hosted and streamed from what was once called the World Wide Web, you often lose access to all your favorite streaming services if you leave the US. Sure, you can always use a VPN — if you're savvy enough to know how to set one up and can afford another monthly subscription in your life. And you'll want to have it available on all of your devices, not just your laptop. If you only care about accessing your streaming services, you need to get Getflix.

Getflix calls itself a Smart DNS, because unlike VPNs that reroutes and encrypts your entire connection through overseas servers, it only reroutes the parts of your connections required for online streaming. This means you'll be able to connect to public or hotel Wi-Fi and access a whole bunch of awesome streaming services such as Hulu, HBO GO, Amazon Instant Video and more! Best part, for a limited time only you essentially get lifetime access to Getflix for only $39!

To be clear, Getflix still requires you to have your own active subscription to the streaming services you want to use with it. And ironically, Netflix is not on the list of services supported by Getflix. But well over 60 streaming sites and services are, including popular music streaming services such as Pandora, Slacker and more. And Getflix also includes access to a free, optional VPN & SmartVPN account to encrypt all your traffic with 256Bit SSL encryption for the times when you need that, too.

Officially you get a 30-year licence to use Getflix — a value of over $800 — so you'll want to get in on this opportunity to save 98% on this deal and never worry about get locked out of your streaming services no matter where in the world you are!

See at Android Central Offers

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4 days ago

Xiaomi Mi VR Play review: Bringing VR to the masses

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Xiaomi made fitness tracking accessible with its $15 Mi Band. It is now doing the same for virtual reality.

It's an incredibly exciting time for virtual reality. The HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are catering to the enthusiast segment, and for those looking to experience what the medium has to offer on their smartphones, there's the Gear VR, Homido V2, and the budget Google Cardboard.

And now Xiaomi is getting into the fray with its first VR viewer, the Mi VR Play. Like all Xiaomi products, the Mi VR Play is designed to disrupt the segment it is targeting by lowering the barrier to entry for customers looking to try out the platform. The headset costs just $15, the same price as Cardboard. And like Cardboard, the VR Play accommodates any phone with a screen size between 4.7 inches and 5.7 inches.

The shell of the Mi VR Play is made out of Lycra, which minimizes weight and makes it more comfortable to wear for a prolonged duration. It weighs 209g, which is less than the plastic-based Gear VR's 345g. There's a textured button at the top for navigation, and the headset features anti-reflective aspheric lenses. You slot in your phone at the front by undoing the two-way zipper, and there's plenty of foam padding that holds the phone in place inside the headset.

The inside of the headset (the part where you stick your face in) is roomy, and it didn't pose any problems for my admittedly large head. You can use the headset while wearing glasses, but it'll be a tight fit. The viewer comes with a strap that wraps around your head, and a top strap that holds the headset in place and ensures that it doesn't wobble when you move your head around.

For $15, the Mi VR Play offers tremendous value for money.

Xiaomi will introduce customized variants of the VR Play in denim, floral, leopard, camouflage, and user-generated designs at a later date, but for now, the company is selling the default black variant of the headset. Right now, Samsung has the mobile VR segment cornered, and while Xiaomi isn't competing in the same category, it is making smartphone-based VR accessible to more customers, especially in emerging markets.

As the headset is designed for a Chinese audience, the Mi VR Play comes with a dedicated app that includes a selection of 360-degree videos from YouKu, China's equivalent of YouTube, Conde Nast Traveller, and others. Xiaomi is investing significant resources into expanding its digital content library, which will see the addition of more VR content. Xiaomi is also going to bring VR integration into MIUI shortly, which will lead to a better experience when using the headset with the company's phones.

The VR Play box contains a QR code that lets you download the app, but if you're like me and are interested in using the headset outside of China, you can just download the Google Cardboard app and be on your way.

All apps and games designed for Google Cardboard work just fine on the Mi VR Play. I tried out the viewer with Xiaomi's Mi 5 and Redmi Note 3, and the overall experience was identical on both phones.

Should you buy it? Yes!

The Mi VR Play is not as polished as the Gear VR, but at one-fifth the cost, it doesn't have to be. Essentially, the headset is a much more robust implementation of Cardboard. It is aimed at getting customers interested in mobile VR, and by pricing it for just $15, it will succeed in doing just that. While Lenovo's Ant VR viewer also sells for roughly the same price, it isn't anywhere near as good.

If you're interested in getting your hands on the Mi VR Play right now, you can do so from third-party sites like GearBest for $20. You can pick it up for a limited time for $12.99 by entering the code LHXMVR. The site is also running a sale on other Xiaomi accessories, like the Mi Band 2.

See at GearBest

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