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3 days ago

Galaxy S7 Nougat update: Top 10 features to know

Galaxy S7 Nougat

There's a lot to see in the Galaxy S7's biggest update so far.

The Android 7.0 Nougat upgrade for the Samsung Galaxy S7 + S7 edge — currently in testing through the Galaxy beta program — is the most comprehensive update yet for Samsung's 2016 flagship. In addition to giving the GS7 its first Android platform update, the Nougat beta gives us our first look at Samsung's next-gen UX, which is loaded with new features.

There's a lot to see, and because we're dealing with non-final software, things may change between now and the day the final OTA hits. Nevertheless, we've rounded up the features you need to know so far. Check out our top ten:

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3 days ago

U.S. Supreme Court rules in Samsung's favor in iPhone patent battle

Apple - Samsung

Samsung and Apple are still fighting it out in the U.S., and the country's top court has just ruled in the Galaxy maker's favor.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in Samsung's favor in its ongoing design patent war with Apple, throwing out an earlier ruling that Samsung would have to pay the iPhone maker $399 million for infringing on its design patents, and giving Samsung a chance to win back some of the damages awarded to its rival. The justices voted 8-0 that Samsung's patent infringement could only affect a component of an infringed product — i.e. the iPhone's distinctive appearance — and not the sum total of its parts.

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3 days ago

Grab two of Aukey's car chargers for just $12 right now


Right now you can pick up two of Aukey's dual-port car chargers for just $12 with coupon code AUKCARCC, which is a savings of $5. Each charger has two USB ports to plug in the cable of your choice, and each port offers 5V 2.4A of its own for maximum charging speeds. It also has built-in safeguards to protect your phones and tablets from overheating, overcharging, and receiving excessive current.

All you have to do is add two of the chargers to your cart and then use coupon code AUKCARCC at checkout for the savings.

See at Amazon

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3 days ago

Samsung Gear S3 gets custom designer watch bands


Samsung is partnering with two designer watch band companies to offer custom bands for the new Gear S3 line.

Strap Studio and SLG Design are now offering leather and canvas bands between $29 and $109 depending on the style, color and material, compatible with both the Gear S3 Classic and Frontier.

Of course, both watches are compatible with any 22mm band, irrespective of material or color, but these bands were designed to fit with the specific lug shape of the oversized smartwatch. In his review, Android Martonik said that the Gear S3 was great at doing a lot, but had the potential of putting off people with smaller wrists:

Samsung is walking the line of alienating a large portion of the population who just want a smaller, simpler smartwatch that gets the basics done, looks nice and fits on those with average-sized wrists. There's no doubt that Samsung is doing the most out of any company with a single wrist-bound wearable, but is it trying to do too much?

While these designs may not overcome that issue entirely, some of them are certainly fashionable enough to tip certain buyers over the edge.

The bands are available through the companies' websites in all countries, and through Samsung directly in Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Mexico.

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3 days ago

Best Gifts for Cord-cutters


What are good gifts for someone who's cut cable out of their life?

The cord-cutter movement is growing more and more these days. People are looking to save money by cancelling that pesky cable bill and finding alternative ways to fulfill their entertainment needs via internet and/or wireless needs.

Netflix. Plex. Over-the-air antennas. Just a few of the options cord-cutters rely on to stay entertained without cable TV. Give the gift of cutting that special someone's cable bill with these fantastic gifts for cord-cutters.

OTA Antennas

If you or someone you know is looking to cut out the cable bill from their budget, but still enjoys just throwing on the TV and vegging out without the hassle of finding something new to watch on Netflix (right?), an over-the-air (OTA) antenna can be a great compromise. But before you consider whether to buy an OTA antenna, you'll want to know what channels are available in your area and what type of antenna you'll need to draw them in. This TV signal locator from will let you know what signals are available from you or your giftee's address, and from there let you determine whether you should be getting an indoor or outdoor antenna.

An OTA antenna can be hooked up straight to a TV in your house to watch live TV. A couple of the other items on this list require a OTA antenna — HDHomeRun Connect and TiVo Roamio. If either of those boxes tickles your fancy, you'll need one to draw in the signal. Depending on what channels are available in your area, you'll need either an indoor or outdoor digital antenna. The antenna we've recommended here, the HD Frequency Cable Cutter Antenna, is designed for urban areas, and can be set up indoors or outdoors. Again, the channels you'll get will be dependant on a number of variables, so the price of this antenna makes it great for testing purposes.

See at Amazon

HDHomeRun Connect

The HDHomeRun Connect is a HDTV broadcast tuner that, working in conjunction with an OTA antenna, lets you draw in the available HDTV channels broadcasting in your area. Setup is easy — simply connect your HDHomeRun box to power, the antenna, and your router, then install the software on your computer. From there, you're able to watch live TV from the available channels shows on any DLNA-compatible device connected to your Wi-Fi network, whether that be a smart TV, a phone or tablet running the HDHomeRun DVR app.

But that's not all. What makes the HDHomeRun a real home run (I'm sorry) is its beta DVR compatibility with Plex. Anyone in the know knows that Plex is one of the absolute best media servers you can use, so if you know your friend or family member relies on Plex this exclusive integration with HDHomeRun receivers is certainly worth exploring.

See at Amazon

TiVo Roamio

TiVo's Roamio is certainly worth looking into if you're cutting a cord and considering an OTA antenna. The Roamio comes with 1TB of space to record all your favorite shows as well as built-in integration with Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video, Hulu and more.

It's a TiVo, so you'll be able to pause and rewind TV live, as well as use SkipMode to skip over the commercials in your recorded content, or use QuickMode to watch your shows 33% faster with no audio distortion, meaning you can binge watch your favorite shows in less time.

See at Amazon


Once you get your first Chromecast, you quickly learn that you can never have too many Chromecasts. It's such a versatile little device that lets you stream Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video, Hulu, YouTube, HBO Now… There's a ton of great content available for Chromecast.

This year, Google introduced the Chromecast Ultra, which supports 4K TVs if you already have one or are planning on upgrading. If not, the Chromecast from 2015 is still a completely capable little device, and you really can't beat the value here. And like I said, once you've got a Chromecast on one of your TV's, you're going to want to have one for every TV in the house.

See the Chromecast (2015) at Best Buy

See the Chromecast Ultra at Best Buy

Nvidia Shield

The NVIDIA Shield doesn't garner as much attention as it deserves — it's a sleek-looking box running on the Android TV platform, granting access to all the great content streaming and media options found in the Google Play Store, along with being a scrappy gaming console powered by a GeForce GTX graphics card.

It can stream Netflix and YouTube in 4K, and supports a number of great media server apps including Plex and Kodi. If you're only planning to use it for streaming purposes, you'll get 16GB of onboard storage for your media, along with a streamlined and fast UI so you can get right down to binge watching PLUS it doubles as a Cast target.

If you're also interested in what it can do for gaming, you'll be able to enjoy the latest and greatest Android games, along with the ability to stream popular PC games via a GeForce NOW subscription.

See at Amazon

Gift memberships to streaming services

Netflix. Amazon Prime. Hulu.

These are the services that are largely replacing cable TV for an ever-growing number of consumers. Whether or not your loved one already has one of these services, you can cover a few months of their favorite streaming service for a gift that keeps giving throughout the year.

Your best value is absolutely a year's worth of Amazon Prime. Not only do they get access to both Amazon's music and video services, they also get all the benefits of being an Amazon Prime including next-day delivery on a number of products.

Both Netflix and Amazon Prime offer electronic gift cards for their services, but you should also be able to find them at a most major retailers. Hulu currently doesn't offer electronic gift cards, but you should find physical Hulu gift cards at retailers such as Target, Best Buy, and Walmart.

Learn more at Amazon

Learn more at Netflix

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3 days ago

Meizu's $33 fitness band outdoes Fitbit at a fifth the price


Meizu's new fitness wearable doesn't do anything new, but that's not the point.

Meizu is entering the wearables market, and the popular Chinese smartphone maker is taking on one of its biggest rivals, Xiaomi, in the process. But the fitness tracker, aptly titled Meizu Band, further reinforces the notion that most wearables sold in North America are, if not overpriced, sold at a considerable premium.

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3 days ago

Best Dual-SIM Android Phone

OnePlus 3 S7 edge

Having a dual-SIM phone is convenient if you travel a lot, as it gives you the flexibility of using a local SIM while still receiving texts and calls from your primary number. Right now, the best option is the Galaxy S7 edge.

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

See at Amazon See at B&H Photo See at Amazon UK See at Amazon Canada See at Amazon India

The Galaxy S7 edge is one of the most feature-rich phones available today. You get a gorgeous 5.5-inch dual curved Super AMOLED display, Samsung's own Exynos 8890 SoC, microSD slot, a 12MP camera that can hold its own, 5MP front camera, and a 3600mAh battery with wireless charging. There's also IP68 water resistance, which makes the phone immune to the occasional splash of water or a trip to the pool.

The carrier variants of the Galaxy S7 edge offer a single SIM card slot, but you can pick up an unlocked international model with dual-SIM connectivity (SM-G935FD). The unlocked models are costlier than carrier editions, but on the bright side, you don't have to deal with any bloatware.

Bottom line: If you're looking for a high-end phone with two SIM card slots, look no further than the Galaxy S7 edge.

One more thing: Your best bet for an unlocked Galaxy S7 edge with dual-SIM connectivity is the SM-G935FD. The phone is compatible with LTE bands in the U.S., UK, India, and Canada.

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3 days ago

Google Wifi review: A perfect mesh router for most people

Google Wifi

Google's latest home product brings plug-and-play wireless networking to any sized house.

Google's latest effort to step into your living room comes in the shape of a small puck.

Google Wifi claims to be just what you need to get Wi-Fi to all your devices, no matter how big your home might be. To do this, the company is using mesh networking technology — a cluster of small devices can all carry the same Wi-Fi signal and be extended seamlessly. Mesh networking, whether wireless or hard wired, used to be one of those things people with lots of letters after their name would set up for you, putting it out of reach of most consumers. But all that has changed and Google is the latest of a slew of companies offering inexpensive home mesh networking products.

Router vs Mesh Networking: What's best for your home Wi-Fi network?

Since Google isn't alone in this space — products like the eero Home Wifi kit or the Amplifi HD home system are some serious competition — they'll need to do a great job at a competitive price point to be successful. We might accept quirks and bugs in out phone software, but nobody wants to get up and reset the Wi-Fi router. Ever.

Let's have a look at Google Wifi and see if it's something you need to consider buying.

The design: It looks good

Google Wifi three-pack

The unit itself is designed to not look horrible sitting somewhere it will be seen.

Google sent me a three-pack of Google Wifi units to test and review. You can buy a single Google Wifi, of course, but the three-pack is designed for folks with a bigger place (a single Google Wifi point covers up to 1,500 square feet and the three-pack will cover up to 4,500 sq. ft.) and you can save a few bucks and have everything you need to get started. You can add a network point to an existing setup if you find you need more coverage than one (or three) can provide.

The unit itself is designed to not look horrible sitting somewhere it will be seen. This is important because the network points work best when sitting in the open on a stand or table than they will in a closet. The units themselves are slightly more than four inches in diameter and about three inches tall (4.17 x 2.75 inches). They look a lot like a smoke detector, just a little taller. They're made of polycarbonate plastic and have a slightly textured finish for a matte look instead of a glossy look.

The sidewalls have a seam that almost circles the device, which acts as a window so you can see the LED ring that lets you know if things are on and running properly. The top and the sides are free of buttons, knobs and holes except for a power/reset button above the cutout for cords.

Overall it's fairly nondescript. Nobody will mistake it for an ashtray or coaster, but nobody will see an ugly Wi-Fi router, either. Again — these are designed to be set out in the open, in the places where you need Wi-Fi. If they looked like a Wi-Fi router, some folks wouldn't want them on the end table or the night stand.

Underneath is where everything happens. The unit itself sits on slightly raised rubber feet and the bottom has a recess for the things you need to plug in. You'll find three ports — a [USB-C[(/usb-c) port for power and communications and two plugs for Ethernet cables. The USB-C port is properly wired so you could use a phone charger if you wanted to, but each Google Wifi point comes with its own 5-volt, 3-amp power supply.

The Ethernet ports are proper unkeyed 8P8C jacks, so any standard Ethernet cable will plug right in but devices using a "real" RJ45 connector (like an older VOIP/landline telephony unit) are keyed not to fit. Chances are none of us has any equipment with a proper RJ45 jack, but be warned if you do. Each individual unit or three-pack is supplied with a one-meter Ethernet cable, and no matter how many units you buy you will only ever need one.

Key specifications

  • AC1200 2x2 Wave 2 expandable mesh Wi-Fi
  • MU-MIMO dual-band (2.4GHz / 5GHz) 802.11a/b/g/n/ac wireless support
  • 802.15.4 Zigbee TX/RX support
  • Bluetooth 4.0 LE support
  • 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • WPA2-PSK

Google Wifi ports

Connections are simple. The center USB-C port is for the power supply or a thumb drive if you need to access the recovery. One of the Ethernet ports is labeled with a globe symbol. Using the provided cable (or your own cable) connect this port to your modem. The other is a LAN port for a piece of wired equipment like a switched hub. If you don't have any wired equipment, this port will go unused. Additional Google Wifi mesh points will only need the power connection and are wireless. For these, both Ethernet ports are available for wired connections. This is extremely handy and makes connecting something like a wired switch for your TV cabinet a breeze. You can also wire the connection between mesh points with CAT 5e/CAT 6 Ethernet cables and Google's Network Assist feature will seamlessly integrate them into the mesh the same way as a wireless mesh point.

From a hardware perspective, Google Wifi is simple and unobtrusive — both in regard to design and operation.

Installation: There's an app for that

Google Wifi setup card

It takes more time to write about the installation procedure that it does to actually do it. Google has made setting up a complicated wireless mesh network dead simple with 802.15.4 (Zigbee) support. Doing that is the important part of the equation, and having inexpensive equipment that still would require someone with network engineering training to setup would prevent consumer adoption. This is a common theme from companies who are building wireless mesh network gear for home users, and Google's approach is logical and effective.

You have to use an Android or iOS device to set things up — no exceptions.

An included setup card tells you how to plug things in and points you to Google Play or Apple's App Store to install the Google Wifi app to continue. Setup must be done through the Google Wifi app and any visit to the DNS gateway from a web browser returns the same page you see when trying the same from a Google OnHub router — it just tells you to install the app. That's important — you can't set things up without an Android or iOS device.

The app will find your Google Wifi unit (fun fact — the Bluetooth radio in Google Wifi acts as a standard BLE Beacon — and let you know it's going to connect you to it). It verifies an internet connection at the modem (you'll be prompted to restart the modem if needed) and walks you through the initial pairing and connection. Each step waits for user input (there is a next link at the bottom of every page) so you know exactly what is happening even if you don't know how it's happening. After a minute or two network handshaking and setup, you're prompted for a network SSID and password. Enter those and you're connected to your new Wi-Fi network. If you don't have additional mesh points, you're done at this point.

BTLE Beacon

If you have more Google Wifi mesh points to install, the app tells you to find a good spot for one (two rooms away and out in the open is the suggested placement), then tells you to plug it in and continue. Give things 30 seconds or so, and you're done here. You can continue if you have additional mesh points or say no when prompted and setup is finished.

One snag I found while testing: If you unhook everything without factory resetting the individual mesh points, setting things up again but using a different unit as the connection to your modem is a bit more difficult. I was eventually directed to scan a QR code on the bottom of the unit I was trying to connect with and still had several "false starts" before things were connected. Setting up additional mesh points went smoother, but still required multiple device restarts. Resetting the devices is simple in the app and something you should do if you need to move things around.

The app: Simple and easy

Google Wifi

As mentioned, Google Wifi is dependent on its app to do anything. If you're familiar with the OnHub app you'll find a lot of similarities and some changes to make things easier.

The app is divided into three tabs on its main screen and a settings menu through the Android "hamburger" that slides in from the left. The tabs are (from left to right) messages from Google's Network Assist, information about the devices connected to your network, and quick shortcuts to the tools and settings you might need more often that others.

The Google Wifi app is easy to navigate and everything makes sense.

The Messages tab shows information from Google Network Assist will let you know about setting up a Phillips Hue bridge so folks can access it through the On.Here server running on your internal network, tell you what features of the Google Wifi you haven't set up yet (like your guest network or family settings), or just let you know that everything is OK. If your internet service drops out or you unplug your modem, it lets you know about that, too.

The Devices tab tells you about your internet connection, your network devices and anything that's connected to the network itself. A tap on the internet icon allows you to check your internet speeds and see how much data you've used in a certain time period. Tapping the Wifi points icon brings you to an overview where you can see each node and the results of the last network test or perform a new test and a tap on the gear icon opens a page with more information and places where you can make adjustments like setting the LED brightness or changing the location of the node point. This is also where you factory reset things if you need to.

Google Wifi app

The Shortcuts tab is where you'll set a priority device or check your network speeds and connections, as well as access all your settings. The Advanced networking section has settings and options for the following:

  • Network DNS
  • WAN settings (DHCP, PPPoE, and Static are supported)
  • DHCP IP reservations
  • Port forwarding (TCP and UDP in and out)
  • UPnP on/off
  • Network mode settings (read-only) for NAT or Bridge modes

The adjustments are simplified and if you're running a complicated setup with multiple bridges and subnets Google Wifi is not going to be robust enough. But it wasn't designed for anything like that and I'll be the first to tell you not to buy it in that case. For more simple needs that still fall in the advanced category, it's fine. I'm running an SSH server complete with X forwarding (great read and how-to on that here) and an FTP server, each connected to the outside world through Google Wifi and the setup was simple for both of them via the Google Wifi app. Your needs might not be served as well. Remember, this is a consumer device.

Network testing: Rock-solid performer

Speed test

Google Wifi isn't designed for long-range networking, and that was easy to see when trying to duplicate the tests we did with the Amplifi HD from zero to 100 yards. What I did see while using iPerf — a MacBook Pro running the iPerf tool next to the NAT mesh point and a second MacBook (iPerf needs a PC so I couldn't use my phone) moving through the testing field — was a solid ~200Mbps connection right until the end-of-line for the network.

Google Wifi isn't designed for long-range networking, but it still works great in most big houses.

With the Amplifi HD, you could see when the network needed a boost but you weren't yet connected to a newer, closer mesh point but once connected to the right node the speeds were faster. Google Wifi was a constant speed with seamless handoff until we reached the edge of coverage, about 150 feet from the source. Acceptable performance (<30Mbps) continued until we reached a point 177 feet away from the NAT node and modem. The node layout, as calculated using 1500 sq. ft as a coverage sphere looked like this.

Network node layoutThis isn't how Google Wifi is supposed to be set up, but it works.

While long distance testing satisfies our curiosity, a better test was just using Google Wifi for a week while trying to do things that would strain the network. I was able to reach what I feel was network capacity by downloading four simultaneous Netflix streams (three at 1080p and one at 4K). At this point, downloading content from the internet via a computer would cause the 4K Netflix stream to stutter and pixelate and eventually buffer. My house is about 3200 square feet across two floors (1600 sq. ft per floor) and I have solid and fast Wi-Fi with exceptional ping times everywhere.

I have a great Wi-Fi network at the table on my back porch where I spend my summer evenings, and my phone will connect when I turn into my driveway. The TV can stream Netflix or a PC game through my Shield TV as well as it did when things were wired, and my outside connections perform exactly the way I expected and need them to work. While Google Wifi doesn't deliver blazing linear distance performance, it makes up for it with exceptional networking that's consistent in the whole network footprint.

I'm impressed.

The verdict: A great product

Google Wifi

Eventually, you're going to need a new Wi-Fi router. Chances are you don't have a bank of servers set up and won't need to clone MAC addresses or do any traffic steering. In that case, Google Wifi will be perfect for you.

But Google Wifi doesn't exist in a Vacuum. The Amplifi HD home system is as easy to set up, offers more advanced networking controls and better long-distance performance (as well as a dedicated long distance version with additional directional antennas) at a slightly higher price and more performance variability between nodes. Other systems from eero, Orbi, and Luma all have similar features. Each of these systems can be picked up at a price that's within $100 or so of Google Wifi and each has their fans. All of these choices are good, and the days of using wall-plug network extenders are, thankfully, about to disappear.

Google Wifi is a great buy, but so is its competition.

I heartily recommend Google Wifi to anyone looking for a way to cover their whole house with a network connection. But I also can recommend the Amplifi system and have plans to look at what eero and Luma have to offer. I can't say one is any better than the other, but I can tell you that each is a good choice. This is a good place to be, where we have a choice of products that work the way we expect them to work. If you're deeply tied into the Google ecosystem, go with Google Wifi for a multi-device setup. You'll like the On.Here integration for connected devices, and the Zigbee and BLE radios mean more functionality may be coming, though we heard that before with OnHub and it didn't materialize.

If you just need one Wi-Fi router and want something expandable (and pretty cool to use through the app) definitely go with Google Wifi here. The price is comparable to any good Wi-Fi router and you'll appreciate both the network performance and ease of use.

See at Amazon

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3 days ago

Galaxy S8 reportedly sticking to QHD display, may not feature home button or 3.5mm jack


Samsung is making radical changes to the Galaxy S8.

The Galaxy S8 was rumored to offer a 4K display, but it looks like that won't be the case. According to SamMobile, Samsung will continue to offer a QHD Super AMOLED panel, albeit with a new substrate. That isn't all, as the publication notes that Samsung is all set to get rid of the 3.5mm port. The phone will offer USB-C, so if you're interested in wired audio, you'll have to pick up USB-C headphones.

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3 days ago

Netflix shows now start previewing as you browse


Netflix is coming for those remaining precious spare hours.

As if it wasn't already easy enough to begin binge-watching one of Netflix's many excellent shows, the company has announced that it is rolling out dynamic previews for many of its homegrown movies and TV shows in order to make it easier to sample before pressing the play button.

Available on all of Netflix's TV user interfaces, including smart TVs, Android TV, Xbox, PS4 and Roku, the previews are not traditional trailers but sculpted synopses of stories, characters and tone without spoiling the content itself.

Netflix says this is to make it a better experience to filter through the company's growing collection of first-party content, over 1,000 hours of which will be uploaded in 2017. "We know we have less than 90 seconds to capture someone's attention and get them excited about a title," says Chris Jaffe, VP of Product Innovation.

The new feature is rolling out over the next few weeks.

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3 days ago

Google Home vs. Amazon Echo: Which should you buy this holiday season?


Should I buy Google Home or Amazon Echo?

There are now two great home-based assistant speaker systems you can put in your house, but which one is the best fit for you? Are you a full-time Google user with a Chromecast on every television and an Android phone in both hands? Do you live and die by being able to have Amazon rush you something within an hour so you don't have to stop what you are doing? Maybe you're looking for the best way to fully automate your home, or the most efficient way to automate your personal life?

There's a lot to consider when choosing between Google Home and Amazon Echo, and it really comes down to what kind of person you are. First you need to know what kind of commands you can give and conversations you can have. We've got you covered here!

As you can see, neither speaker is perfect and there's some personalization needed to really get the most out of either experience. There's a few basic rules you can align with through this video:

  • Home is unlikely to ever be as capable as Echo for ordering from Amazon.
  • Echo is unlikely to ever handle sending video to your televisions like Home.
  • Google apps are much easier to connect to Home, but most work just fine on Echo.

There are plenty of basics that these speakers are always going to be able to do in roughly the same way. If you want a smart speaker in your kitchen that will offer you recipes or measurement conversions, both of these will work in essentially the same way. If you're looking for a nice single speaker to stream music in one room, both systems will handle that just fine. Asking basic questions about the weather or common search definitions are all the same.

Where things start to get more interesting is in less common but more day-to-day interactions. Starting from the top, you'll quickly learn that saying "Alexa" ten times a day to interact with you speaker is more convenient than "OK Google" will ever be (you can make this a little nicer with "Hey Google" but it's still not as mellifluous). Echo also has the benefit of having been around longer, which means Amazon has more services thanks to partnerships. If you have a favorite pizza order, you can have it delivered with only your voice. If you're looking for suggestions on a new mixed drink, there's an Alexa partner for that. You can even check your bank balance with Echo, though you probably shouldn't.

Asking to see a YouTube video and having it just show up on your television is so damn cool.

Google's strength with Home right now is in polish. The commands are more personal and conversation-like. You can use the nicknames you set in the Hue app without any extra configuration. Home treats everything like a first-party feature, where a lot of Alexa add on's require you to say "Tell [X Service] to do [Y command]" to get it to work. Home also syncs music across any Google Cast speaker, where Amazon Echo only plays on one speaker at a time. It's undeniably limited in these early days, especially when it comes to some of its coolest features, but the potential for this speaker to do everything Echo does only more naturally is significant. Also, asking to see a YouTube video and having it just show up on your television is so damn cool.

For many, this decision may come down to price. Amazon's Echo is $50 more than the $130 Google Home, but the smaller Echo Dot is only $50. It's cheaper to put Alexa in more rooms of your house, but if you care about streaming music and don't have a whole-house speaker system Home is a comparably inexpensive system that does a ton more. There's no clear "winner" if you look at it that way, but once you figure out what kind of user you are there's a lot of fun to be had!

See Amazon Echo on Amazon See Google Home on Google Store

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3 days ago

How to use Move shortcuts on the Google Pixel


How do I quickly access notifications using the Google Pixel's fingerprint sensor? Move shortcuts!

Google has added three useful gestures to the Google Pixel that are sure to make you more productive. While they're not exactly new in the Android ecosystem, found in various phones from Motorola to Huawei to LG, they're put to great use here.

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3 days ago

Lenovo PHAB 2 debuts in India with 6.4-inch 720p display, 4050mAh battery


Lenovo kicked off sales of the Tango-enabled PHAB 2 Pro in the U.S. last month, and now the standard variant of the phone — without the Tango tech — has made its way to India for ₹11,999 ($180). The phone will be available exclusively on Flipkart starting December 9.

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3 days ago

Nougat update rolling out to unlocked HTC One M9, coming to carrier variants early next year


Unlocked HTC One M9 is now receiving the Nougat update.

HTC has announced that it is rolling out the Nougat update to the unlocked HTC One M9 starting today. The company also stated that carrier variants of the phone will pick up the update early next year.

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3 days ago

Android Security Bulletin: Everything you need to know


Fixing the latest bugs and exploits in Android every month.

Google has detailed the latest Android Security Bulletin and released the fixes for Nexus and Pixel devices.

These are exploits and other security concerns that affect Android as a whole. Issues with the operating system, kernel patches, and driver updates may not affect any particular device, but these need to be fixed in the Android base by the folks maintaining the operating system code. That means Google, and they've detailed the things they have improved for this month.

Updated factory images for Pixel and Nexus devices that are supported are available, and over-the-air updates are rolling out to users. If you don't want to wait you can download and flash the factory image or OTA update file manually, and here are some handy instructions to get you started.

How to manually update your Nexus or Pixel

The company who made your phone uses these patches to send an update out to you.

These changes have been released to the people making Android phones for at least 30 days, but Google can't force anyone to deliver them to you. If you're using a phone from Samsung, LG or anyone besides Google, you'll need to wait for them to send an update and shouldn't try to flash any of the above files.

Of course, Google has safety checks in place to prevent any problems on your phone because of any security exploits. Verify Apps and SafetyNet are at work anytime you add an app to your phone, and seamless updates to Google Play Services will keep them up to date regardless of any hold up from a manufacturer or carrier. Details and incident numbers can be found in the yearly Android Security Review (.pdf file).

Highlights for December 2016

December 2016's update comes with two patch dates: 12/01/2016 and 12/05/2016.

  • Fixes in the 12/01 update cover Android in general, and address issues with the Android operating system itself. The most serious exploit addressed was in the CURL library (software used to transfer data that covers most transfer protocols and security certificates), where a man-in-the-middle attack could be performed by someone with a spoofed security certificate. Other patches for Smart Lock, the telephony system, and comm stack are also included.
  • The 12/05 patch date covers issues with the kernel or drivers. These aren't part of Android, but Google is the central maintainer and assembles updated code and resources from the folks making the hardware components. This time we see fixes for serious exploits from Qualcomm, MediaTek, and NVIDIA — so chances are your phone needs these. Samsung's Exynos chips are covered outside of the Android Security Bulletin and are patched by Samsung themselves.

If you get an update with a patch date of 12/05 you also have every issue addressed by the 12/01 update in place.

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