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4 days ago

Repair & upgrade your own gear with this 45-piece tech toolkit

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Our friends at Thrifter are back again, this time with a tech toolkit that could help you save more money repairing the stuff you love!

The 45-piece TEKTON Tech Rescue Toolkit has dropped to $19. That's its lowest price in more than six months and second-lowest in its pricing history. It might not be a radical drop from its normal $25 price, but consider how much money you can save repairing your own computers or watches with the tools available in this kit.

Not quite into the self-repair game but sort of want to be now that you've seen this? Check out iFixit. It's a website all about repairing all that stuff you own. It's a great way to get started.

The kit comes with everything you'll need to access smartphones, laptops, and even video game controllers. Here's everything the set comes with, in case you're looking for something specific:

  • 3-pc. Flat: 1, 1.5, 2.5 mm
  • 6-pc. Phillips: #000, #00, #0, #1, #0 x 3 in., #1 x 3 in.
  • 3-pc. Star: T3, 4, 5
  • 8-pc. Tamper-Resistant Star: TR6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, TR6 x 3 in., TR8 x 3 in.
  • 2-pc. Tri-Wing: TRI 0, 1
  • 3-pc. Pentalobe: PL 0.8, 1.2, 1.5 mm
  • 4-pc. Triangle: TA18, 20, 23, 27
  • 3-pc. Hex: 1.3, 1.5, 2 mm
  • 5-pc. Nut Drivers: 3, 3.5, 4, 5, 6.5 mm (1/4 in.)
  • 1-pc. Aluminum screwdriver
  • 1-pc. ESD-safe tweezers
  • 1-pc. Flexible metal spudger
  • 1-pc. Nylon spudger/probe
  • 1-pc. 3-corner spudger
  • 1-pc. 35 mm suction cup
  • 1-pc. Magnetic parts mat
  • 1-pc. Zipper case

See at Amazon

For more great deals be sure to check out our friends at Thrifter now!

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4 days ago

Android experiments bring out the weird side of Google I/O

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A co-operative virtual reality game, an easily trainable neural network, and multiplayer Quick Draw! — come take a peek at some of the experiments on display at Google I/O 2017.

*/ /*-->*/

What's the best way to show off Google's varying underlying technologies? Make them fun to use!

Every year at I/O, Google dedicates a portion of the show floor to experiments submitted by various developers from around the world. I managed to find some time to try a majority of them in the Experiments tent. Here are a few highlights, as well as links to where you can try out the Experiments for yourself.

OSP

Train your own neural network with this easy-to-program experiment.

Train your own neural network with this experiment, which utilizes Machine Learning and a Raspberry Pi. The wooden box shown here is actually a plug connected to a camera that you can use to program whatever is plugged into it. If it's a lightbulb, for instance, you can record gestures with the external camera that turns the light on and off. The MacBook Pro shown here was merely used to show how quick it is to program!

For more on this experiment, check it out here.

Konterball

Play Ping-Pong with a friend through the Chrome browser with Konterball.

All I've ever wanted to do in life is play Ping-Pong without the danger of losing the little plastic ball. Playing it in virtual reality is the next best thing. Konterball is a VR-enabled mini-game that lets you play Ping-Pong with a virtual wall, or a friend with another VR-enabled device. Best of all, this particular experiment showcases Chrome's new WebVR capabilities, which were officially announced this year at Google I/O.

For more on this experiment, check it out here.

Quick, Draw!

Draw — quickly! Or you'll lose the game.

Have you had a chance to play with Auto Draw? This experiment uses Machine Learning to identify what it is you're drawing on the screen. In this particular execution, you can play a multiplayer Pictionary-like game called Quick, Draw! with up to three people. Take heed: you really do have to draw quickly, or your score will suffer.

For more on this experiment, check it out here.

Giorgio Cam

Easily make music by taking pictures of objects.

This experiment is built with Machine Learning and it enables you to create a song by simply snapping a photo of an object. The app will then use image recognition to label what it sees, all while jamming out to a beat-laden Giorgio Moroder song in the background — hence the name Giorgio Cam. Giorgio Cam will give you lyrics, too, and it's surprisingly not that bad at piecing together words into thoughtful prose.

For more on this experiment, check it out here.

The Spirit

This gorgeous experiment was hard to snap a photo of, but it uses an Intel Edison board and Firebase to power it.

The unfortunate glare hitting the Experiments dome made this particular experiment a bit hard to parse, which is a bummer — but that was only because I couldn't see the full spectrum of color unfolding on screen. The Spirit enables you to use noise derivatives and Curl Noise to create weird, smokey shapes — think the smoke monster from LOST. It's powered by an Intel Edison board running Android Things and does a majority of its processing using the Firebase cloud.

For more on the experiment, check it out here.

Spot the Bot

I feel really bad — I could hardly manage to help this man effectively spot the robot.

Looking for your next cooperative game? Spot the Bot is fairly simple in terms of game mechanics, but I can see it immediately becoming a popular party game for anyone who has Daydream View in the house.

Spot the Bot ostensibly requires a friend with another device to help you spot the robot by describing its features and characteristics. But the onus is on you to locate it in the virtual reality world. I can imagine that this game is especially fun now that you can stream your Daydream VR experience to the big screen.

For more on the experiment, check it out here.

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4 days ago

Samsung's Galaxy S8, S8+ BOGO deal is infinitely better than T-Mobile's

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Our friends at Thrifter are back again, this time with a Galaxy S8 deal you can't afford to miss!

We've seen it many times before, and it will continue to happen. New phones release and cellular carriers offer these ridiculous "Buy one get one free" promotions to entice people to purchase them, but most of the time the offers are quite terrible and require you to change plans, get small credits each month for 24 months and more. Samsung is currently running its own offer, which is actually a really great deal.

Here's how it works:

  1. Purchase 2 new Galaxy S8 / Galaxy S8+ phones from Samsung.com
  2. Activate a line on the T-Mobile Network on Samsung.com
  3. Samsung will issue a rebate to original method of purchase up to $750, 7-10 days after activation

Pretty simple, huh? No long waits for a mail-in rebate, no hoops to jump through. The offer is a bit confusing with the "activate a line on the T-Mobile network", but according to Samsung all you have to do is activate the included SIM card on any line through its site. Once your order ships and is delivered, you'll be able to click an activate button on the order status page, and then once it is done, you are set. The rebate is issued directly to the original payment method and is for up to $750.

You can opt to pay for the devices in full, or sign up for a payment plan, and both phones will qualify for the free entertainment kit from Samsung. The kit, which has 6-months of Netflix and a 64GB microSD card will be automatically added to your cart with the phones. You can mix and match with one S8 and one S8+ or grab two of the same, and you can choose between Midnight Black, Arctic Silver, and Orchid Gray for each.

If you're in need of two new phones on your T-Mobile plan and have been looking at the Galaxy S8, you won't want to miss out on this deal. Once you've got your new phone on the way, be sure to stock up on some USB-C cables and cases for it!

See at Samsung

For more great deals be sure to check out our friends at Thrifter now!

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Main

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint

About

The Galaxy S8, and its larger sibling the S8+, are Samsung's top-end devices for 2017 meant to appeal to the general consumer and power user alike. The two phones are only differentiated by screen and battery size: 5.8 inches and 3000mAh, and 6.2 inches and 3500mAh.

The displays have a new 18.5:9 aspect ratio with a QHD+ resolution, meaning they're extra tall and narrow. Samsung moved to on-screen buttons and reduced bezel size dramatically in order to fit as much screen into the body as possible. That moved the fingerprint sensor to the back of the phones, where it sits somewhat-awkwardly next to the camera lens. Iris scanning makes its return in a new-and-improved version from the Note 7.

Though the batteries haven't increased in size from the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, the hope is that the improved efficiency of the new 10 nm processor inside will provide some help. The processor is backed up by 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Waterproofing and wireless charging are still here as well, plus a new USB-C port on the bottom. The rear camera is unchanged in terms of its 12MP sensor and f/1.7 lens, but has improved processing thanks to a new ISP and software.

Specs

Width Height Thickness 5.86 in
148.9 mm
2.68 in
68.1 mm
0.31 in
8 mm
5.47 oz
155g grams
  • Display:
    • 5.8-inch AMOLED display
    • 2960x1440 resolution
    • 18.5:9 aspect ratio
    • Dual-curve infinity display
  • Cameras:
    • 12MP ƒ/1.7 rear camera
    • Dual-pixel phase detection autofocus
    • 1.4-micron pixels
    • 8MP ƒ/1.7 front camera
  • Battery:
    • 3000 mAh battery
    • Non-removable
    • USB-C fast Charging
    • Qi + PMA wireless charging
  • Chips:
    • Snapdragon 835 processor
    • Samsung Exynos 8896 processor
      (varies by region)
    • 4GB RAM
    • 64GB internal storage
    • microSD card slot
    • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • GS8+
    • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    • 6.2-inch AMOLED display
    • 3500mAh battery
    • 6.28 in x 2.89 in x 0.32 in
      159.5mm x 73.4mm x 8.1mm
    • 6.10 oz / 73g

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5 days ago

Best Android Phone Under $700

Update, May 2017: The Google Pixel is still the best small phone you can buy, if you can find it, though we've also added the LG G6 to this list and removed the HTC 10.

Best Overall

Google Pixel

See at Verizon See at Google Store

I have good news for those of you ruing the day that the first phablet was ever announced. Google's Pixel smartphone is a mere 5 inches, so those of you with smaller hands and diminutive pockets can rest easy knowing that there is flagship-level, feature-packed Android phone out there that doesn't take up so much room.

The Pixel is impressive on the inside, too. It's got the latest Snapdragon 821 processor and 4GB of RAM. You can purchase it with up to 128GB of storage, though if you decide to stick to the alternative 32GB option, Google will still offer unlimited Photo uploads for your pictures. The Pixel also boasts impressive camera performance that nearly bests the Samsung Galaxy S8's.

Bottom line: If you're looking for the smartphone that best represents Google's Android, go Pixel.

One more thing: You can purchase device protection insurance for your Pixel. It covers accidental damage from a drop or water ingress, as well as any general malfunctions for two years.

Why the Google Pixel is the best

It's everything Google could want in a smartphone.

The Pixel is unlike any smartphone that Google's collaborated on before. Lest you forget, the company doesn't actually manufacture its own smartphones. For this particular launch, Google enlisted the help of HTC, a company that's produced many a major Android hit though its financial health is still a bit weary. Regardless, there is nothing remotely HTC-y about the Pixel, unless you count its curved chassis and iPhone-like looks, like on the HTC U11.

Our very own Daniel Bader summed it up succinctly in his review of the smaller Pixel:

This is a well-made phone that performs its function as a mobile computer better than any Android phone currently available, and potentially better than any phone, period.

The Pixel isn't entirely defined by its chassis or its specifications, anyway. Google's more focused on advertising the fact that this device will grant you access to its all-powerful, all-knowing Assistant. If you like Google Now or were interested in the AI abilities of Allo, your ears might perk up at the mention of this particular feature. It still feels a bit "beta" in its implementation, but over time the feature is likely to get better as Google pumps more resources into it. And hey, it already has IFTTT integration.

The end of the Nexus era is a bittersweet one for many of us, but if you're aching to use Android just as Google meant it to be used, the Pixel is the way to go.

Best Second-best

LG G6

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

The LG G6 is the next best alternative for a sub-$700 smartphone, particularly if you aren't too interested in buying one of last year's Samsung devices as this year's daily driver.

Sure, LG was known to be chasing gimmicks with its flagship releases the last few years, but it's since changed its tune with the G6. This hand-friendly smartphone features an attractive design, great build quality, and a stunning, nearly bezel-less 5.7-inch display. It also features Qi wireless charging, water resistance, a rear-facing fingerprint sensor that doubles as a power button, and a bevy of fun, wide-angle camera features.

If you're the kind of person who loves to go crazy with camera effects in your daily Instagram posts, then the G6 is a worthy buy. You can grab it unlocked in a variety of colors, including black, white, and platinum.

Bottom line: LG is back to making really solid smartphones and the G6 is a worthy buy if camera hardware is especially important to your.

One more thing: The LG G6 is only available in 32GB in the U.S. and Europe, so be sure to grab an additional microSD card for a bit of extra storage for your photos and such.

Best discounted, last-gen device

Samsung Galaxy S7

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

Since the Galaxy S7 was last year's best Samsung smartphone, you're likely to find it at quite a discount. And it's still a worthy wield: The Galaxy S7 is equipped with a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 3,000mAh battery pack. Its 12-megapixel rear-facing Dual Pixel camera is particularly impressive, and you'll appreciate its performance in low light.

Of course, as is the case with most versions of Android that aren't directly developed by Google, Samsung's version of Android is polarizing. The newly simplified offers some helpful features, but there are still too many extra software features. At the very least, you can disable and hide any apps you don't care for.

Bottom line: If you're looking to save some money, last year's Samsung phone is just as worthy of wielding as the Galaxy S8 that succeeds it.

One more thing: If the GS7's 5.1-inch display is too small for your liking, consider the Galaxy S7 Edge for its bigger screen and curved edges. The S7 Active is also a viable choice if you're a rugged outdoor person and an AT&T subscriber. And of course, Samsung offers an unlocked model that also works overseas.

Best for customizing

Moto Z

See at Motorola See at Verizon

It's always fun with a manufacturer tries something different. Motorola's trying out the modular smartphone thing with its Moto Z flagship. This svelte smartphone is an absolute sight to see: It's one of the prettiest phones on the market and is incredibly thin. Inside, it boasts a Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 2600mAh battery. It also has a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera.

If you're aching for features like more battery life or true-to-form optical zoom, you can invest in any of the Moto Z's modular accessories. For instance, there's a variety of power packs you can purchase for extra battery life, or you can buy the Hasselblad True Zoom for better smartphone photography.

Bottom line: The Moto Z is a worthy considering for anyone who wants a razor thin smartphone—or who believes modularity is the future of mobile devices.

One more thing: You can choose between the Moto Z Force if you're a Verizon subscriber and you're looking for a better camera sensor and a bigger battery, or the mid-range Moto Z Play if you're looking for something a little cheaper and a bit more basic. Both phones are compatible with Motorola's Moto Mods accessories.

Conclusion

We don't where Google's Pixel will rank another six months from now, but we know that right now it is still the best smartphone offered at the sub-$700 price point. It's not crowded with redundant applications like a Samsung device, nor does it come with extra gags you'll have to ignore. The Pixel is the smartphone that Google made and it's fit for both Android enthusiasts and newcomers alike.

Best Overall

Google Pixel

See at Verizon See at Google Store

I have good news for those of you ruing the day that the first phablet was ever announced. Google's Pixel smartphone is a mere 5-inches, so those of you with smaller hands and small pockets can rest easy knowing that there is flagship-level, feature-packed Android phone out there that doesn't take up so much room.

The Pixel is impressive on the inside, too. It's got the latest Snapdragon 821 processor and 4GB of RAM. You can purchase it with up to 128GB of storage, though if you decide to stick to the alternative 32GB option, Google will still offer unlimited Photo uploads for your pictures. The Pixel also boasts impressive camera performance that nearly bests the Samsung Galaxy S8's.

Bottom line: If you're looking for the smartphone that best represents Google's Android, go Pixel.

One more thing: You can purchase device protection insurance for your Pixel. It covers accidental damage from a drop or water ingress, as well as any general malfunctions for two years.

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5 days ago

Find My Device: Ultimate Guide

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Find My Device

Find My Device lets you remotely track, lock, and erase the data on a lost or stolen phone.

Android Device Manager has picked up its first major update in two years, bringing a new visual layout and a new name: Find My Device. The app's functionality isn't changing — you'll still be able to remotely track, lock, and erase the data on a lost or stolen phone — but the interface has picked up much-needed polish.

With the rebranding, Find My Device is now a part of Google Play Protect, a suite of services designed to protect your phone from malicious content. Google is leveraging its machine learning expertise to scan and verify the apps installed on your phone, and while the Verify Apps feature has existed since the Jelly Bean era, Google is making the process much more visible to users.

With Find My Device, you'll also be able to see the battery life remaining on your phone and the Wi-Fi network it is connected to. Here's what you need to know about Find My Device, and how you can set it up on your phone.

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5 days ago

Nokia 9 leak shows off dual cameras, 5.3-inch QHD display, Snapdragon 835

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An early look at the Nokia 9 shows off a device with a lot of potential.

Nokia's foray into the world of Android started off with three entry-level offerings — the Nokia 3, Nokia 5, and Nokia 6 — with the company stating that it would launch high-end phones at a later date. The Nokia 9 is likely to be the first of the premium phones, and a recent leak out of FrAndroid gives us a first look at the design and possible specs.

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5 days ago

Google I/O is the Greatest Show on Earth

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Google I/O is for everyone, and that's amazing.

Google I/O has only been around for a decade, but to many developers, tech fans and lucky writers, it's The Greatest Show on Earth.

Though it's shared a venue with both Apple's and Microsoft's developer conferences at one point or another, Google has managed to put its own colorful and at-times weird spin on the very dry notion of a developer conference. From a live Google Glass demo in 2012 involving skydivers to an infamously long and rambling question and answer period by then-CEO Larry Page, Google I/O has always been, through the thoroughly rehearsed keynote scripts and predictably healthy lunch fare, a bit haphazard and unpredictable.

This year's conference was a bit more sedate than previous years, but no less weird or charming.

When the conference outgrew Moscone and San Francisco and shifted to Shoreline Amphitheater in 2016 — a concert venue made legend by being inspired by, and hosting 39 times, The Grateful Dead — its haphazardness took on a whole new meaning, as organizers were completely unprepared for the relentless sun and torrent of people desperate to learn about a half dozen new products that would, in retrospect, take months to materialize.

This year's conference was a bit more sedate, but no less weird or charming. The weather, while no less relentlessly sunny, was more tolerable, and coupled with an ample number of (likely very expensive) air-conditioned tents and plenty of free water and sunscreen (the loadout for each attendee was a light cotton t-shirt, a pair of sunglasses, a metal water bottle, and a small clip-on tube of coconut sunscreen, all Google-branded), there was far less cause for complaint.

Similarly, despite the lack of major product announcements, I got the impression that developer attendees felt like this year's show was more substantial, as most of the improvements, from Kotlin being adopted as an official Android programming language to a bolstering of existing platforms like Assistant and TensorFlow, were ready to be played with.

And then there was the annual concert, headlined by one of my favorite bands — and one that I never thought I'd get to see live — LCD Soundsystem. It was one of the nicest Google I/O surprises I can remember, surpassing watching Tycho in the spitting rain back in 2015. Google I/O is always a spectacle, but there's something about watching thousands of increasingly drunk, swaying developers singing along to one of the most critically acclaimed and fun bands of the 2000s that makes me really happy.

Google I/O is also one of the few chances I get to convene most of the Android Central team in one place for an extended period, and there was a lot of blabbering, from the excellent podcast to the late-night pizza and beer as we scrambled to get everything finished. Working remotely is great and all, but it's nice to recall just how awesome everyone is in person, too.

"Everyone is welcome here."

The circus is now over and everyone has left the tent. But like the real Greatest Show on Earth, Google I/O will be remembered year after year as much for its follies as its charms. It's a sprawling mess of an act that somehow manages to attract a growing number of fans (maybe that's where the circus metaphor should end, though, since the Ringling Bros was an animal rights nightmare and may not survive scrutiny in a few decades) every year. And I think I know why.

It struck me when I was sitting on a picnic table drinking an afternoon coffee, lazily looking around at the passersby. A TV screen in the distance flipped between the Google I/O logo and a message: "Everyone is welcome here." It's a simple thing, to say that. You can even dismiss it as a platitude. But when looking around at the sheer variety of people, of backgrounds, of experience, I can confirm that to be true.

To some extent, Google I/O is a summer camp for nerds, a place where all are welcome and no one is discriminated against. In an ugly world, here's a guarantee of three days without intolerance or disrespect, of being both an individual who matters and a part of something significant. Yes, Google I/O is just a developer conference, but there's a good reason why I hear, time and time again, that it's the best one there is, and the greatest show on earth.

A few more thoughts from the week that past:

  • The HTC U11 is such a bizarre thing. I like what I've seen, but there is zero chance it's going to make a dent in the market, especially when the least popular major U.S. carrier was the only one to deem it worthy of supporting.
  • Yes, that's how carrier exclusives work: the provider agrees to put significant amounts of marketing support behind a product in exchange for its silo. I've spoken to many handset sales reps who say they never go out seeking an exclusive. It's the worst of all scenarios.
  • Nope. Just nope. But I ❤️ Russell for writing this.
  • I've had a surprising amount of fun with Alexa Calling this past week, though it's mostly been to troll Modern Dad. I'm not quite as bullish as he is on its disruptive potential, but I do like the notion of a voicemail box for the 21st century.
  • I also got a Google Home and so far, so meh. It doesn't sound nearly as good as the Echo (which doesn't sound nearly as good as my Sonos Play:1), but I also haven't delved into Actions just yet. We'll see — I'll write something on it soon.
  • On the other hand, I am so in love with the fact that I can now type to Google Assistant.
  • I can't wait until Google Lens is a thing. I can see that being used for so many useful things.
  • Off topic, but the second season of Aziz Ansari's Master of None is probably the single best season of TV I've watched all year, and I watch a fair amount of good television. Watch it.

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5 days ago

Lenovo rep confirms 3000mAh battery for the Moto Z2 Play

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Lenovo is trading battery life for a sleeker phone.

It's looking more and more likely that the Moto Z2 Play will feature a smaller battery than its predecessor. A leak from earlier this month revealed that the phone will come with a 3000mAh battery, and a recent tweet by a Lenovo representative confirms the change:

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5 days ago

How to deal with drift in your Gear VR

Drift is a common and irritating problem with Gear VR.

When it comes to being able to enjoy VR anywhere, Gear VR delivers a great experience. For the most part. However it's been plagued with issues with the screen slowly and inexorably drifting away at times. This problem can be exacerbated by a number of things, but no matter why it's happening it's never fun. We've got a few tips to help you cut down on how often it happens, and how to deal with it when it does.

Read more at VRHeads.com!

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5 days ago

When it stops being about the hardware: Google's way forward and an all-new kind of cloud

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The screen in front of you is now just the vessel for Google services.

*/ /*-->*/

It's been noted several times and with many words that Google didn't announce any hardware at Google I/O 2017. Never mind that we actually did talk of stand-alone Daydream devices and new Android Auto partners, the internet wants to hear about phones! All the phones!

Google started as a software services company and things have come full circle.

What we did hear tells us that to Google, phones no longer matter. Google is moving forward in ways that it only needs hardware, and not necessarily Android-based hardware, to use its services. This is exactly how it started all those years ago.

Google I/O has always been a developer conference, not a product announcement or a swap meet. Google will still offer a phone or two later this year, but the Pixel phones are built to showcase the services the company wants you to use and make sure they work properly without any third-party shenanigans. If we can believe the collective power of the internet rumor (and we should in this case), HTC is slated to build the Pixel hardware for at least one more year. But nobody presenting any sessions at Google I/O this past week is concerned about that. This was a developer conference.

Whether the best from Apple or Android Go, a phone is the window to Google's new world.

We'll still see big hardware announcements from the companies whose products make use of Google's services: Samsung and Apple. They are manufacturers of some darn nice pieces of gear, and two companies in direct competition because they both do the same thing: hardware, software and services. But, primarily, they make the hardware we love.

Google, though, like Microsoft, is not a hardware manufacturer. It has never been, despite the existence of Chromecasts, Google Homes and Microsoft's Surface tablets. It provides internet and cloud based services, and make them do things we love so we all keep using them. Much like we saw from Microsoft earlier this past month, it's now all about what can happen on any screen. And Google thinks it knows how to capture your attention and keep it: by building better services using artificial intelligence.

We've spent the past few days making and hearing the Skynet jokes about Google's new injection of AI into all the things. While the future can get very interesting when a company who knows everything about you also has machines that can problem-solve, right now AI is how Google is making the things they offer to us compelling to use. AI makes Assistant better, as well as Google Photos and Android and everything else.

Because Google understands how collaboration can make things better, it is also a big proponent of open source AI software and hardware with TensorFlow. This is working, and TensorFlow is the platform of choice for projects both large and small. This, in turn, makes Google's AI stronger and better.

Google's new circle of life: AI makes better services, We use better services and give them more data, AI uses the data to make the services even better. Everyone wins.

When machine learning can be used to improve an existing thing, we use it because it's better. That gives more data to the machine and it learns even more. This is a cyclical action where every party involved is winning. We get a better service. Google gets more users. Machines get more data.

All this needs a device to access it. Google has spent years involved in the hardware side, through reference devices like the Nexus program, or operating system software, or leading the charge with phones and tablets and TV boxes in some other way. It doesn't need to do this anymore because the device no longer matters for Google. The companies that specialize in making them will lead that charge, and in the end, they will all use Google's services anyway.

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5 days ago

All about Kodi: What it is, how to get it, and which boxes have it pre-installed

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Cord cutters are raving about Kodi.

Update, May 2017: Added the Amlogic S912 Octa Core Android 6.0 TV Box to our list, along with a brief update on Kodi's legality below.

If you've been hearing people talk about Kodi lately, here's a quick breakdown of what it is, why it's great, and a couple recommendations for Android TV boxes that come with it pre-loaded.

Now, the legality of pre-loaded Kodi boxes is being challenged in places like the UK, where five people were recently arrested for selling them. To be clear, neither the boxes themselves nor the Kodi software are inherently illegal, but these individuals were found to have pre-installed add-ons specifically used for illegally streaming live sports, films, and TV. If that behavior is concerning to you, you can always limit Kodi on your own Android TV box to ensure it is entirely legal.

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5 days ago

Get two powerful military-grade flashlights for $18

What do you do when the lights go out? Sure, you could use the light on your phone, but if you can't charge your phone, then you'll want to conserve power. Maybe you're out camping or hiking, night falls, and you don't even have your phone on you. Then what?

Get two flashlights for $18 Learn more

If you're going to do things, do them up right. Don't bother with some dollar store flashlight that you'll have to toss because the plastic's dried out. Get yourself a flashlight with a metal casing that can stand up to the rough life so that you can take it with you wherever you go: camping, hunting, in the car, whatever.

The UltraBright 500-lumen Tactical Military Flashlight is made of an aircraft aluminum alloy and has a range of about a mile in ideal conditions with adjustable zoom. Right now, a two-pack of these flashlights is only $17.99 at Android Central Digital Offers. They regularly retail for $100 together, so you save 82%.

The UltraBright flashlights feature three modes to fit every situation: bright, lower bright, and SOS mode. They come with a convenient storage case, so you can toss them in the trunk of your card and never lose them. The handy and sturdy clip lets you slap one on your belt and have it stay put until you need it. UltraBrights are light and only take one AA battery.

Get two flashlights for $18 Learn more

If you're looking for a handy little flashlight that's perfect in any situation, check out the UltraBright 500-lumen Tactical Military Flashlight two-pack at Android Central Digital Offers and pay only $17.99.

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6 days ago

Talk it up in this week's comment thread!

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We. Are. Tired.

Google I/O is one of the coolest things and most fun places we'll visit this year — but we're tired. While we're resting our minds and bodies, we can think about the things we saw and people we talked to in Mountain View and all the things we'll have to say as they move from the "demo" to the real.

And there is a lot to think about this year. It's easy when Google shows us phones or Chromebooks or any other product. We know what to do and how to do it so to give you everything you need to know. I'll dare say we're pretty damn good at it, too.

But this year we have to think. This was very much Google looking everyone in the eye and saying, "look what we can do," and then enjoying the dropped jaws of everyone in the audience. After doing some thinking and talking we agree that Google Lens is going to change a lot of the ways we do things and be a hit on every platform.

While we're resting, you guys take this time and this space to talk about anything and everything. Then be ready for whatever comes next!

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6 days ago

Best Earbuds With Microphone Under $20

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Cheap can be good and these earbuds prove it.

Update May 2017: We've added the excellent Monoprice Hi-Fi Reflective Sound Earbuds as our choice for best sound.

A headset — earphones or earbuds (or even a single earbud) with a microphone and controls — is a different beast than a set of earbuds or headphones without a mic. For starters, not every set works with every brand of phone once you add the third wire. You need to make sure what you're buying is made specifically for one brand (Blackberry and Apple come to mind) and will work with Android when you need to answer calls and adjust the volume. And when products are cheap, there are literally thousands of choices to wade through.

We searched around the internet to see who was using what and why they liked or disliked them, then ordered a handful of headsets that seemed to be better than average. Here are your five best, including the overall winner.

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6 days ago

How to find a USB-C adapter for your Gear VR

Finding the right adapter is easier than you think.

Having a Gear VR means that you have portable VR right at your fingertips, so long as your phone has enough juice to get the job done. What happens when you upgrade your phone, and it requires a new type of adapter though? That's the question plenty of people who have upgraded to a Galaxy S8 have been asking, and we've got answers. All you need to do is order yourself a handy little Type-C adapter, and you'll be good to go!

Read more at VRHeads.com

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