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3 days ago

Moto G5 Plus is now up for pre-order on Amazon, Alcatel A30 on sale for $59

10

Amazon is offering a $45 discount on the G5 Plus if you're willing to put up with lock screen ads.

The moment you've all been waiting for is finally here. After getting announced at the end of last month, the Moto G5 Plus is now up for pre-order as an Amazon Prime exclusive for $184.99. That's for the ad-subsidized version with lock screen ads, much like last year's G4 Plus.

The standard version is also up for pre-order for $229 for the model with 2GB of RAM and 32GB storage, with the variant offering 4GB of RAM and 64GB internal storage costing $299. Amazon mentions that the phones will be releasing on March 31.

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4 days ago

U.S. Senate votes to strip away Americans' online privacy

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The resolution would also prevent the FCC from enacting similar consumer protections in the future.

Your service provider needs permission to sell your private information under current rules. But that might be changing if the House follows the Senate's lead on S.J Res 34.

Senate Joint Resolution 34 is congressional disapproval of the Federal Communications Commission rules relating to "Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services". The U.S. Senate voted 50 - 48 today to pass this resolution under the Congressional Review Act, which allows lawmakers 60 days to repeal a law before it's enacted.

A similar repeal vote from the House would roll back the requirement of broadband internet providers to get your permission before sharing personal information like your location, your web history and financial details with any third party. In addition, it would prevent the FCC from writing similar rules in the future.

Five Creepy Things Your ISP Could Do if Congress Repeals the FCC's Privacy Protections (EFF.org)

As predicted, the vote went along party lines with 50 Republicans voting Aye and 46 Democrats along with two Independents voting Nay on the resolution. Isakson (R-GA) and Paul (R-KY) abstained.

The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for debate and a vote.

The major talking points of the FCC rule adopted in December 2016 are considerations of user privacy. They read as follows:

  • Opt-in Approval. We adopt rules requiring carriers to obtain customers' opt-in approval for use and sharing of sensitive customer PI (and for material retroactive changes to carriers' privacy policies). A familiar example of opt-in practices appears when a mobile application asks for permission to use geolocation information.
  • Opt-out Approval. Balancing important governmental interests in protecting consumer privacy and the potential benefits that may result from the use of non-sensitive customer PI, we adopt rules requiring carriers to obtain customers' opt-out approval for the use and sharing of non-sensitive customer PI.

Other sections of the rule require broadband providers to notify subscribers in the event of a data breach and serve to establish a baseline of what data is private and how it needs to be handled. The Senate voted to strip the rule in its entirety.

If you disagree with this decision and want to talk to your representative about the situation, you'll find their contact details right here.

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4 days ago

Android O: Everything you need to know

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You have questions about Android O and we have answers. Here's the skinny on what you need to know about Google's next.

Android O is upon us! Well, not really. But the first developer preview has been released and we're starting to uncover what Google has been doing with Android for the past year and what to expect when it's released.

Google says to expect the full version in the fall of 2017 (likely with a Pixel 2 that runs it), but we should see a major update and a new preview version in mid-May right around the time Google I/O 2017 is happening. Our bet is that we will also see a proper beta program release then, but Google hasn't said as much.

In the meantime, we'll keep this page updated as the best place to find everything you need to know about Android O!

What's new in Android O

We have to start with all the changes under the hood that come with Android O. And we expect plenty of them!

With the first developer preview, we saw some exciting stuff that will have a big impact for developers and the apps they can make. New ways to use custom fonts and icons, a better way to deliver professional-level audio and awesome ways to connect with others for things like head-to-head gaming or local social applications.

We expect a lot more but this is enough for us to be excited as ever for the next version of Android.

What's New in Android O: Everything you need to know

What's the status of the Android Beta program?

Right now, the Android Beta program is still used for testing builds of Android 7.1. Rumors suggest that 7.1.2 will be the last Android 7 release to go through the Beta Program and we'll see a switch to the Android 8 platform come May, right around the time Google I/O 2017 is happening.

As public beta builds are supposed to be close to the release version and not something that will break things, this makes a lot of sense. We'll keep you updated on the beta builds and you'll know when the first Android O beta becomes available!

Android O isn't available in the Android Beta Program yet, will likely join in mid-May

Should you install the Android O developer preview?

Probably not.

As mentioned above, builds of Android that aren't yet ready for the beta program aren't really ready for prime-time, at least not for consumers. Expect the phone to be buggy in plenty of ways, applications to not play nice with the preview and there's no way you should depend on your phone being available in the case of an emergency if you're messing about with the developer preview.

We know it's tempting, and if you have an "extra" Nexus or Pixel phone laying around you might give it a try. Just think twice before you install it on a phone you need to depend on.

Should you install Android O developer preview on your Pixel or Nexus?

What devices can install the Android O developer preview?

The Android O developer preview is available for the Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, Pixel C and Nexus Player.

Remember, that doesn't mean Android O will be released for all of those devices, as we saw the Nexus 5 get developer previews for Android 7 and it was not part of the release. There is a lot of work behind the scenes with licensing and software versioning so just because a device can run the software doesn't mean it will officially see it.

Google announces Android O, Developer Preview image now available

How do I try the developer preview, and how do I roll back if I want to?

One of the best things about Nexus and Pixel products is that Google lets us install the operating system anytime we want to, just like any other computer.

Not only does this help folks who fall victim to the squirrelly world of cellular data connections when they never get an update they should have, but when we want to tinker with the software on our phone we can install any version that's compatible any time we like.

We want to stress one more time that we don't recommend you install the Android O developer preview, or any pre-release software on a device you depend on.

There is a very good chance that things will not work the way you need them to work. This software is released for developers to start building new apps and for testers to find bugs. There is very little support for issues and things are expected to break.

That means you can download and install the Android O developer preview, and if you change your mind (or when the second preview comes along) you can go back to the stable release by reinstalling the operating system. The process isn't difficult, but it does require some computer knowledge and the ability to follow directions to the letter. We've put everything you need to check out the preview and go back when you're finished in one place.

How to get Android O on your Pixel or Nexus (and how to roll back to Nougat)

Android O

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4 days ago

Android 7.0 Nougat for the Nextbit Robin is just around the corner

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It's so close you can almost taste it, though we don't condone attempting to eat your phone.

Good news, Robin owners. According to a forum post, Nextbit appears to be in the final stages of finishing out a stable Nougat build for the Robin. The final build is rolling out to current beta users right now and if it passes with flying colors, the update could soon rollout to everyone else.

Beta users, look for Build number Robin_Nougat_88. You'll be on Android 7.0 with January's security patch after the update.

Wondering why the update to Nougat on the Nextbit Robin is such a big deal? Well, not only will you have the Robin's seemingly unlimited backup feature, but you'll also have all of the goodness of the latest version of Android, including multi-window capabilities, direct replies from the notification shade, and customizable quick settings.

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4 days ago

Facebook adds reactions and direct mentions to Messenger

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One step closer towards becoming a robust messaging app; one giant leap towards adopting features typically heralded by Slack users.

First, it was Google Hangouts, and now it's Facebook Messenger. Companies appear to be particularly drawn to those features that have made Slack so popular, but can you blame them? Slack's communication dynamic truly is a deligh to use, and those other companies want people to say the same about their messaging apps.

Facebook has announced it's rolling out two new functionalities to its Messenger app. Reactions will allow you to effectively react to a friend or foe's response the same way you would a regular Facebook post. However, unlike Slack's vast emoji offerings, Facebook limits you to seven, including a very terse thumb down emoji.

Messenger has also adopted Mentions, which seem to work the same way they would on Slack. To mention someone, type the @ symbol before their name to notify them to join the chat. This pings the person with an entirely different notification so they're aware they're wanted in a specific conversation. Of course, if you're just not that into your pals, you could turn off this notification entirely.

The update to Facebook Messenger should be rolling out in the coming days.

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4 days ago

Android Theming: the ultimate guide

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Life's too short for an ugly, cluttered home screen.

Android is a system with a singular opportunity to shape our launcher and home screen experience in almost countless ways into what we want. Want to cover your home screens in app icons and make it look like an iPhone? Knock yourself out! Want your desktop to party like it's 1999 with a home screen like Windows 98? Rock on! Just want to make your phone look presentable so you can find your apps without digging through pages and pages of nonsense? We're here to help you!

Whether you want to tweak everything down to the dirtiest details in your folder icon colors or you just want to find a better way to organize your home screen, we're here to help guide you through whatever you want to do with your launcher… or a new launcher.

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4 days ago

These are the best apps for watching 360-degree videos

These apps deliver awesome videos from all over the world.

VR has already taken us on a pretty crazy ride, from roller coasters in VR to helping with new medical therapies. While the cutting edge stuff is fascinating, sometimes all you want to do is settle in and check out a great video. VR can deliver spectacular sights from places you've never even considered visiting. No matter your fancy, there are hundreds of great apps out there that deliver 360-degree videos to your VR headset of choice. Finding the best ones can be difficult, which is why we've put together this handy list for you!

Read more at VRHeads.com

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4 days ago

Best Galaxy S7 edge Cases

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If you want to keep your Galaxy S7 edge protected, check out these great options available!

Updated March 2017: This article has been with updated links and choices.

So you bought the Galaxy S7 edge but didn't bother to order a case, but now you really want one? Well, luckily there are already a bunch of different options that are available for the phone. From slim cases to clear ones, wallet cases and super protective, you can find just the right one for you.

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4 days ago

How to get the N7 armor in Mass Effect: Andromeda

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Because how your armor looks is more important than how well it protects you.

There's a lot of stuff to do in Mass Effect: Andromeda and mixed in are plenty of nods back to the original trilogy. One of them is the N7 armor that you can unlock and craft in the game.

It's pretty easy to do and doesn't require any tough missions or super rare materials. You can also do it early and it makes for a great armor to wear while you're working on unlocking those god-tier items. Here's how to look like Commander Shepard, at least while your helmet is on.

See at Amazon

Warning: Spoilers ahead

You'll need to find a research station. There are two that are easy to find if they're something you haven't come across just yet. The easiest one to find is on your ship, the Tempest. But you also get steered right to one if you play the campaign on the first planetary outpost you'll likely come across on Eos during the "A Better Beginning" mission.

After you power up the generators and lay waste to the first batch of kett, you'll be able to search the buildings of the deserted colony and one of the points of interest on your compass is a research station and some resources to use with it. When you first find it, you probably won't have the resources to unlock and craft the armor, so remember where it is because you'll be going back to Eos for some side missions shortly. But you can still look at the N7 armor and see what you'll need to craft it — best of all, everything can be bought from the Nexus.

  • Approach the research station and choose research
  • Make sure you're looking at Milky Way Technology
  • Choose the Armor folder

Scroll through the choices and you'll find four pieces of N7 armor: chest, legs, arms and helmet. You'll have to unlock the blueprints for each piece with research points, the chest needs 100 points and the other pieces need 50 each. You should have around 150 to 200 points just from playing through the first missions, and the rest are pretty easy to get right on Eos. Just hit all the buildings and scan everything you can find and be sure to scan the corpses from your encounter with the kett.

After you've unlocked the blueprints you can build each piece by choosing the development screen from a research station. You only need common materials and I bought everything I needed on the Nexus or the Tempest from the vendor. If you can't find the platinum, you can either save and restart until it's there or go to the planets and deploy some mining probes. Don't worry, it's not too hard to find, and everything else is super common and always in stock.

After you get all the pieces built, head to your cabin on the Tempest and visit your wardrobe. Here's where you can choose the colors to finish that OG Cmdr Shepard look. The colors you want to choose:

  • Color One: Grey
  • Color Two: Black
  • Color Three: Black
  • Pattern Select: 1.00
  • Pattern Color: Red

While this isn't the best armor in the game, it's one of the coolest just because of the nostalgia factor. You might as well look good while you're playing!

PlayStation 4

See on Amazon

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4 days ago

Samsung has announced a 4G LTE version of the Gear S3 Classic

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The more stylish Gear S3 now gets all the optional functionality of the Frontier model.

Samsung is set to release a new version of its Gear S3 Classic smartwatch that will feature 4G LTE connectivity. This adds the same optional functionality found on LTE version of the Gear S3 Frontier, allowing users to make and take calls, text, navigate, pay, and more without needing your phone. The LTE version of the Gear S3 classic will be available from AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon, with each carrier expected to announce the pricing and availability.

This will give those looking for LTE functionality in a smartwatch the option to choose between both the Gear S3 Classic and Frontier. But, as Andrew Martonik found in his review of the LTE version of the Gear S3 Frontier, the LTE functionality does take a bite out of the overall battery life of the watch depending how frequently you use the feature. Certainly something worth considering before you buy.

While we don't know how much the new Gear S3 Classic will cost, but based on the pricing differences between the LTE and non-LTE Grea S3 Frontier, you should probably expect to play somewhere between $349.99 and $399.99 for the LTE version of the Gear S3 Classic, on top of roughly $10 a month for data from your preferred carrier.

Have you held off buying the new Gear S3 waiting for an LTE version of the more stylish Classic model? What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!

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4 days ago

HTC U Ultra second opinion: U expect more

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HTC U Ultra

HTC's first phablet in years is a perfectly fine phone that feels a little half-baked in places — and for $750... well, you expect more.

Five or six years ago, HTC was a titan of the smartphone world. But the past half-decade hasn't been kind to the Taiwanese company. It's lost money, market share and several high-profile designers and executives.

Nevertheless, HTC's still here, and still making pretty good phones, both under its own brand name and for Google under the Pixel contract. The latest high-ender to come out of HTC is the U Ultra, the first "phablet"-sized HTC flagship for more than three years — launched first in Taiwan before being sold unlocked in the US and Europe. It's big, shiny, and more than a little quirky.

So does HTC still have some of its old magic left? I've spent the past week getting to know the phone, and while there are glimmers of hope, the U Ultra just isn't competitive at its current price.

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4 days ago

How to set up Plex Media Server on your NVIDIA Shield TV

19

Turn your Shield TV into a Plex Server is both easy and convenient!

When it comes to the centralization of your media in one place, nothing does it better than Plex. It's a very versatile and user-friendly application that lets you stream all your media to any device with the Plex app installed.

Best of all, it comes preinstalled on all NVIDIA Shield TVs, making the Shield a natural choice to set up as your Plex Media Server.

Why the Shield is a natural fit as your Plex Media Server

The NVIDIA Shield is an incredibly powerful Android TV box with support for 4K Ultra HD resolution, hardware acceleration for the top media codecs, and features a great user interface. The Shield Pro, in particular, is an ideal candidate for the Plex Media Server what with the 500GB of onboard storage for all your music, movies, TV shows and photos.

Plex has included the software for setting up a Plex Media Server on your NVIDIA Shield right out of the box and as with pretty much everything involving Plex, setup is intuitive and user-friendly.

See NVIDIA Shield Pro TV on Amazon

Creating an account with Plex

If you've never used Plex before, the first thing you'll need to do is create an account on the Plex website. It's free to set up an account and get the basic functionality from Plex, but you might want to consider going premium for some valuable features including Cloud Sync, which lets you sync your library to a supported cloud storage service so you're able to enjoy all your content even when your Shield is turned off or disconnected from the internet.

Setting up a Plex Media Server on your NVIDIA Shield

First thing you'll need to do is link your Plex account to the Plex app on your Shield. To do so, simply open the Plex app on your NVIDIA Shield and sign into your account. To do so, you simply have to enter the provided code at the Plex Account Link in a web browser. Once you've got your account linked on your Shield, it will instantly start searching for your Plex Media Server — and won't be able to find one unless you've previously set one up on another device.

Don't sweat it, because on the next screen you'll see the option for setting up the Plex Media Server. Setup is a breeze — simply keep tapping Next to enable Plex Media Server, create default libraries for your Media Server, and accept the permissions that Plex requires to do its thing. It will take some time for the Plex Media Server to set up at first, so you'll have to be patient. Once it's set up, you'll be able to view your server's settings by logging into your account at Plex.tv.

The NVIDIA Shield TV Pro has 500GB of internal storage, which makes it the ideal candidate to be your Plex Media Server.

Next, you'll want to load up your Shield with all your favorite media. This is where having the NVIDIA Shield TV Pro comes in real handy, because you'll have 500GB of internal storage to use compared to the 16GB of space on the basic model. The easiest way to transfer files to your Shield is over your local network. Go into your Shield Settings > Storage & reset, and toggle on Over local network under Shield storage access.

It will give you a username and password to connect to your Shield on your computer. Then, simply hop onto your PC or Mac, find your Shield in the shared devices, and start dragging and dropping into the appropriate folder in your Shield's file system.

If you've opted for the 16GB Shield, or simply don't have the space on your Shield to accommodate all the media you want to add, you can always connect a USB drive filled with your media to one of the USB ports on the back of the Shield, or set up a network storage device. Once you've got your media added, you'll want to go to Plex Media Server settings in a web browser and add your media folders as libraries, whether they're stored internally, on a USB, or connected via your network storage device.

Access your media on the go!

Once you've set up your NVIDIA Shield TV as your Plex Media Server, you're able to access all of your media by logging into your Plex account on any other device you own that has the Plex app installed. Your NVIDIA Shield will need to be up and running for remote access, so if you want your file accessible all the time, you'll want to go into the Screensaver settings and set it so your Shield never goes to sleep.

And that's all it takes! You'll probably want to bookmark the Plex Media Server settings so you can quickly add or remove content as needed.

Questions? Thoughts?

Let us know what you think about Plex as a media storage companion on your Shield, and perhaps how it compares to Kodi in your opinion.

NVIDIA Shield Android TV

Amazon

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4 days ago

Qualcomm doesn't want you to take its Snapdragon 835 benchmarks too seriously

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Qualcomm wants — needs — the Snapdragon 835 to be about more than just CPU speed.

Qualcomm is in a bit of a bind. The company is readying its first Snapdragon 835 chips for the world's best phones, and though Samsung — the world's biggest Android manufacturer — will be co-opting much of the releases's spotlight with the Galaxy S8, Qualcomm wants to make it clear that there are still many advantages, both for other companies and consumers, in going with its products.

It pointed out that no other company fulfils the promise of a platform architecture like Qualcomm.

So it's trying to play two hands at the same time. Last week, it offers journalists a glimpse at what makes the Snapdragon 835 tick, including the opportunity to benchmark a MDP unit (Mobile Device Platform) that runs the latest hardware and a stock version of Android Nougat. Judging from the thorough set of benchmarks by Anandtech, the Snapdragon 835 is an evolutionary upgrade from the 820/821 in terms of CPU and GPU performance, and in a couple of benchmarks actually falls behind its predecessor.

Nominally, though, users can expect a 10-25% gain in CPU performance, and around a 20-30% gain in graphics abilities, switching from the Snapdragon 820/821 to the 835, which is significant but not groundbreaking. And then there's other more comparable SoCs like Huawei's Kirin 960, which despite being released in November is neck-and-neck with the Snapdragon 835 in many performance benchmarks.

That's why Qualcomm doesn't want the story to end there, and rightfully so. It went out of its way to show that CPU and GPU benchmarks are no longer indicative of the company's strengths as a whole, which is why it went on a media blitz this month to push the message that its processors are actually "platforms".

To that end, it made an effort to point out that no other company fulfils the promise of a platform architecture like Qualcomm: in addition to the CPU, GPU and memory, there's camera performance, video encoding and decoding, audio excellence, charging improvements, biometrics integration cellular advancements, and readiness for VR standards. But while these are all essential parts to a SoC platform, the computing and memory speeds are the most easily quantifiable, and to a subset of the population have a very heavy impact on buying decisions. This is true more so in the desktop space, but as Qualcomm butts up against Moore's Law the same way Intel and AMD have in the desktop world, it will continue having to find new ways to market its product (and platform) advantages.

The most important announcements at MWC 2017 were also the most boring

Much of that advantage, at the end of the day, will come down to how much more efficient the Snapdragon 835's 10nm manufacturing process is, and how much that will benefit the battery life of the average phone user. Early benchmarks on a non-commercial piece of hardware won't be able to tell that story, so we'll have to wait until the first phones ship with the part — the Galaxy S8, the Sony Xperia XZ Premium, and many others — to learn that particular part of the tale.

In the meantime, Anandtech sums it up nicely:

Based on these preliminary numbers and feature additions, the Snapdragon 835 looks like a solid evolutionary upgrade over the S820.

What do you think of the Snapdragon 835 so far based on what you've seen and read? Let us know in the comments!

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4 days ago

This is the difference between VR and AR

How would you like your reality served?

Two of the three major technologies we talk about here have the word reality in the name, and when you see the shortened version of these names it's even easier to get confused about the purpose of these two things. We frequently see "Is there a difference between VR and AR?" or "Can my VR headset use AR apps?" when doing Q&A sessions, and for good reason. The line between the way these two technologies gets used is blurry. Both can be used for games, both can be used in professional settings, and both can be headsets worn for extended periods of time.

The big difference between Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality is one you can see with your eyes, and that makes it very easy to explain.

Read more at VR Heads!

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4 days ago

Where to buy the Huawei P10 + P10 Plus in the UK

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Huawei P10

Huawei's latest flagship phone is available to pre-order in the UK!

The P10 is Huawei's best mainstream flagship yet, available in 5.1- and 5.5-inch flavors. It packs Huawei's latest Kirin 960 processor, up to 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage (in the P10 Plus), and the company's best Leica-branded camera yet. (Check out our review for more on what's great — and not so great — about the phones.) The street date for all P10 models in the UK is March 31, but we're already seeing pre-order links cropping up at some of the major operators.

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