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3 hours ago

From the Editor's Desk: Why do we want 'foldable' phones like the Galaxy X?

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From the Editor's Desk

So ... foldable phones, huh?

The Galaxy S9 and S9+ haven't even been announced yet, and we know so much about them. So that means it's time to start looking at the next thing, right? If that's your thought process, you've no doubt been keeping up with the Galaxy X rumors — the "foldable" phone supposedly coming from Samsung this year. Samsung isn't the only company working on this sort of thing, but if any company is setup to take advantage of branding and marketing to sell an altogether new form factor and technology, it's the one.

If the rumorsphere is to be believed, the Galaxy X will effectively have a "standard" phone form factor, with the same width (or so) as a Galaxy S9, but with extra screen height to it. That extra height gives you more phone to look at without making the phone super wide, but makes it awkward to use. The solution? Let the thing bend in half on itself — at least, that's what the current thinking is.

Samsung Galaxy X render

Not knowing much else about how Samsung would position the Galaxy X, it seems like more than just a novel idea and a technology demo. Sure it looks a little funny now, but so did all-screen phones in the early 2000's. It looks like the premise is simple: you get a big screen when you're actively using it, but then it can be folded over into a more compact package when you're not. This obviously involves some pretty large technological hurdles to have a screen that can be reliably folded back and forth thousands of times without quality degradation, but let's assume Samsung has that figured out.

Galaxy Note Edge and Note 4

Yes this form factor will only actually appeal to a small piece of Samsung's typical audience, the core technology enthusiasts, but that's kind of the point. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ will still be out and available. We may even have the Galaxy Note 9 by the time the Galaxy X is unveiled. This foldable phone will be an extra piece for Samsung to show what it can do and try to push the industry forward. To get people to expand their thoughts about what a phone can be. And, of course, it lets Samsung experiment a little bit.

In 2014 everyone thought the Galaxy Note Edge was ridiculous with its asymmetrical curved display ... but that development was merely a stepping stone for Samsung to make it to what we see today in the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8: phones with smaller bezels, narrower profiles and bigger screens in smaller packages. The Note Edge wasn't practical in any way, but today's phones using the same general technology most certainly are.

We've seen this strategy play out before, and last time it worked out really well for Samsung. I'm not inclined to bet against it this time around, even if the Galaxy X seems way more "out there" than the Note Edge. I am absolutely excited for it.

Let's close this thing out with a few other random thoughts form the week:

  • I switched from my Pixel 2 to a 2 XL prior to CES because I needed the extra screen and battery for the show. Now that I've been back for over a week ... I'm still using it. Somehow I've normalized the size, even though I don't "need" the extra battery anymore.
  • There are still plenty of times that it's just awkward to hold and annoying to reach the top of the screen, but they apparently haven't been annoying enough to get me back on my Pixel 2.
  • You may have noticed this week's editorial about Google Now and Google Assistant. Apparently I'm not alone — most people think Google has handled this transition from Now to Assistant poorly, and there's work to be done.
  • In further editorializing, great piece from Daniel Bader this week on where LG's headed in the U.S. It has an outsized brand awareness as a company overall, but it just can't get a foothold in the U.S. market. The future isn't looking great.
  • I leave for Barcelona to cover MWC 2018 in exactly one month. Dang that came up quickly. But I'm excited to see how the show shapes up with Samsung's announcement that it'll unveil the Galaxy S9 there rather than a separate event.

Have a great week, everyone!

-Andrew

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3 hours ago

Get the most out of your tax refund with the $36 TurboTax Deluxe tax software

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April 15 is right around the corner.

The TurboTax Deluxe edition tax software is down to $35.87 on Amazon.

Amazon had a Gold Box deal back in December that shared new pricing for TurboTax's tax filing software. Back then the Deluxe dropped from $50 to $40 and has stuck to that price. This is its first time dropping as low as $36, and no other retailer has matched it.

As part of TurboTax's exclusive with Amazon, you'll also get a one year subscription Quicken Starter Edition 2018 with this purchase. If money is an issue for you, it might help to get a little more organized throughout the year and not just on tax day.

The Premier edition includes five free federal e-files and one state product. It comes with free customer support and coaches to help you maximize your deductions.

This is a physical disc that works with both PC and Mac.

See on Amazon

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4 hours ago

Keep your browsing ad- and tracker-free with X-VPN

It's 2018 — if you aren't using a VPN already it should definitely be on your list of goals for the New Year. Whether you're annoyed with the proliferation of ads online or are concerned with how websites, ISPs, or other entities might be tracking your browsing habits, setting up and using a VPN has never been easier.

There are a ton of VPN options out there, but the best offer a wide range of virtual servers to choose from, offer unlimited bandwidth, and work across all your devices without logging any of your private browsing habits. Right now, Android Central Digital Offers has a great deal on subscriptions for X-VPN. You may have seen X-VPN as one of the top-rated VPN apps in the Google Play Store. It's been tried and tested in countries around the world (excluding China) and celebrated for its ease of use and ad-free mobile interface.

X-VPN has over 1000 servers located around the world allowing you to bypass geo-restrictions and browse ad-free in a secure environment. It works on both Android and iOS as well as recent versions of Windows and MacOS. With unlimited bandwidth available across an unlimited number of devices at one time backed by live chat support available 24/7 and a strict no logging policy for your personal data, this all sounds great — but what about the price?

Typically, X-VPN sells a lifetime subscription to its service for $720 but thanks to Android Central Digital Offers you can save 93% off the regular price and pay just $45. It's the best deal with the best value for your dollar, but there are shorter term subscriptions available if you only want a one or three-year subscription.

Getting all these great features in a VPN service for life for just $45 is a great way to start off better browsing habits for 2018 and beyond. Don't miss out on this great offer!

See at Android Central Digital Offers

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4 hours ago

These are the 12 thinnest cases we could find for the Galaxy S8

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What's the thinnest Galaxy S8 case?

You wanna protect your Galaxy S8 a bit, but cases make it look a li'l plump. Here are the thinnest cases we could find!

1. Impossibly thin

Impossible? Yeah! "Air Skin"? Like pudding skin? Sure, we'll bite. You can find it for around $10.

2. Awwww mSnap!

Give your S8 a "Maxboost" (see what I did there?) with this thin'un. Only $10.

3. Thinness out the Ying yang

"Crystal" might be pushing it as far as clarity's considered, but this one's about as thin as they come and only $7.

4. Straight from the horse's mouth

At 0.8mm thick, Samsung knows what's up for thin cases for its phone. Check these out starting at $6.

5. Yihailu: Go ahead, we'll wait while you try to pronounce it too

Yee... High loo? Meh. Thin case is thin and $12.

6. Because nudity rules!

When it comes to phones. Put your pants back on, Steve. Check these out for around $30.

7. Highway to the Geekzone

That girl in the photo is crying tears of joy. Don't worry; be happy. These are only $6!

8. Looking for thin cases? We have the Anccer for only $12!

GET IT? ANCCER???!!! HAHAHAHAHAHA! Love me.

9. Please pass the Pasonomi!

This is another awesome clear option for folks who like it nakey. Only $8!

10. Could you BKlove? And be looooved

I got myself a little BKlove, and this whopper's only $9.

11. Slip on a Peel

For everyone keeping track, that's 100 puns now. Grab a Peel case for $25!

12. You got Aladdin, Abu, Jasmine, and Elago

200 puns! That's a new universal record! Check out this case in three colors for $11 apiece.

Find anything thinner?

Sound off in the comments below!

Updated January 2018: Added four new cases and updated pricing.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Unlocked

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5 hours ago

You realize how much you rely on your phone only when you have to shut it off

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That little screen is your window to the world.

You hear it all the time: a smartphone is the best way to keep in touch with friends and family, know what's happening in the world, and have a little fun now and then. But I found out that you can come to depend on it being the only way to do these things, and when you can't have it you might feel lost.

I've had a round of doctors probing and poking at my back this winter. That's not something unusual for me, but this go 'round involved three minor surgeries. Ouch. I just had the third (and final, thank heavens) done and unintentionally spent some time cut off from everything because I was without my phone.

I had just finished the thing and was trying to get comfy in an uncomfortable hospital bed. I reached into my little pack (Be prepared; my scoutmaster taught me that!) and grabbed my phone to send a few messages to my people. I had just finished hollering at Daniel and the rest of the crew to let them know I survived, and a nurse with a look on her face that said "don't argue with me" told me to shut it off and give it to my wife to take out of the room. Apparently, my room was part of the intensive care ward and had oxygen lines (or something, I'm no medical technician guy) and electronics were not allowed. No big deal, I was only there for one night so they could watch me sleep or whatever creepy thing they like to do at hospitals. Or so I thought.

Being alone with my thoughts was not nearly as fun as I ever imagined it would be.

My wife made sure I was settled in, then she had to go to work. So it was just me and my thoughts. The book I had planned to read was a Kindle book on my phone. There was no TV, no radio, no anything besides me and the little voice in my head. Normally people slept in this room, I was just in it because scheduling around hospital renovations made it empty and convenient. I literally had nothing to do but twiddle my thumbs until the next morning when I could leave, and it was simply maddening. I could have brought a book or a stack of magazines or something to pass the time, but I didn't because my phone does all that stuff.

I know I'm not alone here. Not in the stuck in a hospital bed way, but in the depending on my phone to be everything way. These little gadgets have worked their way into our lives and replaced so many things like books or music players or even televisions, and I have always taken that for granted — I always have my phone in my pocket. That means I have the news, some music, YouTube and Netflix, plus a way to talk to real people with me all the time and never thought twice about it. At least until it was too late to do anything.

I love having a phone that does it all, but I'm going to start packing a book, too.

It's great that we have these wonderful contraptions and that they can do so many things. But I'm going to make sure I pack a book or two along the next time I'm planning to be away from home for a day or two because without my phone I felt isolated and alone once I got over the boredom. And this was just one day; I don't want to think about being cut off for an extended period of time. Being alone with my thoughts was not nearly as fun as I ever imagined it would be.

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6 hours ago

Everything you need to troubleshoot Google Daydream

Dealing with issues in VR can be frustrating, but we've got the fixes you're looking for.

There isn't a lot that can go wrong with Google Daydream. Like Cardboard before it, this platform is designed to be as simple as possible so you can just go and enjoy great games and videos. That said, occasionally something can go wrong. Don't worry. We're here to help. Consider this to be everything you need know to have a successful Daydream experience every time!

How to deal with controller issues

Google Daydream has moved away from a touchpad on your headset and instead uses a controller to navigate and interact with various VR apps. On occasion, though, you may run into problems with your controller. Whether this means that your aim isn't accurate or that it doesn't want to connect, we've got solutions for you.

See original article

My pointer aim isn't accurate

Your Daydream headset and the direction it thinks the controller is pointing have lost sync, which means you're pointing the controller forward and the light beam is off somewhere else. There's no need to play through the pain. You can quickly reset your Daydream orientation no matter what app you are in.

To reset your Daydream controller orientation:

  1. Look straight ahead, pointing your VR headset forward.
  2. Raise your Daydream controller up, pointed straight in front of you.
  3. Hold down the Home button for three seconds.

This will reset the orientation of both your controller and your headset, aligning everything in front of you. From here, you should be able to continue playing without alignment issues!

Daydream says "We're having difficulty finding your controller" during startup

The first thing Daydream does when you start up a VR app or game is try to connect to the controller. This happens when you press and hold the Home button on the controller like the instructions say when looking into the headset. Occasionally, you'll see an error telling you the controller can't be found. As long as your Daydream controller has been recently charged, all this really means is your controller is taking longer than usual to connect.

To connect your Daydream controller:

  1. Ensure your Daydream controller pulses when you press the Home button.
  2. Press and hold the Home button for five seconds.
  3. Release the Home button and repeat up to five times.

The act of releasing the home button and starting again ensures your Daydream controller continues to attempt pairing with your phone. As long as you are using the controller included with your Daydream headset, the pairing will happen within a few seconds after using the above steps.

My Daydream controller is paired but refuses to connect

If your controller is completely unresponsive, you may need to start fresh. This isn't something that happens often, but if something goes seriously wrong with your Daydream controller you may need to force it to unpair from your phone so you can reconnect it as though it were a new controller.

Before you consider this move:

  • Ensure your controller has been charged.
  • Force close your Daydream app and try connecting again.
  • Reboot your phone.

If none of the above has allowed the Daydream controller to reconnect to your phone so you can enjoy Daydream experiences, it's time to force unpair and start again.

To force unpair your Daydream controller:

  1. Go to Settings > Bluetooth.
  2. Tap the cog next to Daydream controller in your Paired Devices list.
  3. Tap Forget.
  4. Open the Daydream app and go to Settings.
  5. Tap Pair new controller.
  6. Hold down the Home button on your controller until pairing is complete.

How to reorient your view

It's pretty common in VR to end up turning and twisting in order to see everything around you. When you do this, however, you can end up not only twisting yourself into some uncomfortable positions, but you can also lose sight of the way the headset is oriented. If you find yourself contorting awkwardly in order to see what is going on, then you may want to reorient your headset.

This is actually very easy to do. Just point straight ahead with your controller and then press and hold the home button. After a few short, moments your screen should reorient itself, and you can happily continue your adventures in VR.

Step by Step instructions

  1. Hold your remote out in front of you.
  2. Press and hold the home button.
  3. After a few moments your screen should reorient itself.

How to change which hand the remote goes in

Google Daydream uses a remote in order to interact with apps and games in VR. However, there is one small catch. By default, the settings think that you are using the remote in your right hand. This, of course, causes problems for those left-handed folks ready to enjoy some time in their shiny new VR headset.

Thankfully, it is very easy to fix this in your settings. Head to the settings menu, and from there you can select your controller. This will open up the options for controller settings. Select Handedness, and then select Left-Handed. At this point your remote will be calibrated to be used in your left hand without any issues.

Step by step instructions

  1. Open the Daydream app.
  2. Enter the Settings menu.
  3. Tap Controller to open the controller settings.
  4. Tap on Handedness.
  5. Select left-handed.

How to deal with Nausea in VR

Even with the newest VR headset on the block, getting hit with a wave of nausea can happen. While it's irritating and not much fun there are some things that you can do to help make sure it happens as rarely as possible.

See the original article

Get comfortable

The very first thing that you can do is to get physically comfortable. Specifically, you'll want to find an open space where you can sit down and enjoy your VR in peace. Some Daydream experiences work better when you're standing, but if this is your first time and you're not sure what to expect you should start seated. Sitting down can actually reduce a potential nausea inducer called cue correction, which is what happens when you brain thinks your body should be moving but it's not. If you're prone to motion sickness, this is especially important.

By starting out playing in a comfortable, seated position, you can ensure that you're taking steps to be prepped for nausea. Many of Daydream's apps and games are entirely playable from a seated position, so you shouldn't miss out on much by hanging out in your favorite swivel chair if you find standing uncomfortable.

Avoid shaky experiences

One of the biggest culprits of nausea in VR, including on Daydream, comes from shaky videos. Being able to watch 360-degree video from YouTube is great, right until the person holding that camera decides to start running down the street while waving their arms around. These videos are rarely stabilized for comfort, which can quickly make you feel like you're on a tiny roller coaster in someone's hand.

Remember to keep your Daydream controller in hand and tap the Home button if you ever need to quickly escape a bad 360-degree video.

Know your tolerance

Not everybody has the ability to jump into Daydream and get lost for two hours without issue. Everybody has different tolerances, and while some of them won't get sick at all, others are extremely sensitive. Taking the time to slowly immerse yourself in VR to test your tolerance is a good call. That way you won't jump into a game and wind up feeling sick for twenty minutes afterward. The absolute worst thing you can do is try to muscle through discomfort in VR, no matter what is happening.

This doesn't just mean feeling sick either; VR headsets can cause eye strain over time. If you start to feel your eyes straining, then it may well be time to take a break. Avoid playing with your Daydream when you have a cold, an ear infection, or an eye infection — VR and the inner ear are connected, and you may exacerbate your problems in the short term by playing.

If, at any time while playing, you start to feel dizzy or queasy, it's a good time to take a break. For most players, taking a break every hour or so is a good call. This will let you rest your eyes for a few moments, stretch out your limbs, and let your equilibrium settle back in. The more time you spend with your Daydream headset, the better you will be at identifying where your tolerances lie and how much VR you can handle in a single sitting.

How to fix apps stuck in Daydream Mode

Google's Daydream does something unique in the world of smartphone-based VR platforms. When you install an app, you get both the standard Android version of the app and the Daydream version of that app at the same time. Occasionally, you may find yourself trying to access a standard app on your phone, and instead of getting the normal interface you get the split-screen VR mode meant for when your phone is in the Daydream headset. Here's how to keep yourself from being stuck in Daydream mode!

Read the original article

Step by step instructions to stop apps from launching into Daydream mode

  1. Press the Recent Apps button.
  2. Locate the app stuck in Daydream mode.
  3. Swipe the stuck app to the left or right.
  4. Press Home.
  5. Re-launch the stuck app.

How to fix drift problems with Daydream View

Google Daydream offers a new way to interact with your world while in VR. With the use of the included remote is a greater degree of ability to easily zip from one menu to another with aplomb and ease. At least, when the remote is working properly that how it seems. Controller drift during a video can be distracting, especially if it crops up during a game. It can seriously throw you off of your stride. Thankfully, there are a few different ways to troubleshoot this problem so that it doesn't ruin your VR gaming experience.

Read the original article

Update your software

If your controller is acting funky from the first time you jump into Daydream mode, then there might be a ridiculously easy fix. Open up Google Daydream inside of Google Play Store. From here make sure that your Daydream is completely up to date. If it needs an update, install the update and then check back in to see if the controller is now working properly. If it's still acting up, head into your settings menu and ensure that your Android software is up to date. While it doesn't work in every case, a number of users have reported that updating their software has eliminated drift problems.

Tap your controller

One of the easiest ways to troubleshoot controller drift requires you to troubleshoot the controller directly. Turn the controller over and place it in your hand with the touchpad facing down. From there you'll want to gently tap the back of the controller where the touchpad is. You don't want to whack the controller when you do this. Rather you should aim for a solid tap.

Recalibrate the controller on a solid surface

In certain cases, the problem can be solved by recalibrating the Daydream remote. You can recalibrate the remote pretty easily, but for this method you'll want a solid surface like a table or the arm of your couch. From here, calibrate the remote several times. For some reason, calibrating the remote while it is sitting on a stable surface seems to make it steadier afterwards.

Charge the controller, and let Daydream View cool down

If controller drift starts to crop up after you've been playing for a while, then it might be time to take a break. If your phone has started to heat up inside of Daydream, it's entirely possible that's what's causing your problem. Remove your phone from the headset, and let it cool down. If your phone hasn't heated up, it may be that your controller needs to charge. Drift apparently seems to crop up more with the remote when it's battery is almost dead. Plug your controller in and let it get a decent charge before you try to jump into VR again.

Contact Google Support for a replacement

If none of these solutions have solved your problem, then it may be time to contact Google Support. Users who have troubleshot their Daydream View and not found any fix have had better luck contacting Google Support. When you call, they may ask you to go through some of the troubleshooting methods that we have outlined above. Don't get frustrated. Just go through everything with them. If none of their tips solve the problem, you can request an exchange and have a new remote sent out. For a few people, a malfunctioning remote was causing the overall problem.

How to deal with Daydream games not lining up

You're all ready to sit down and knock out some rival wizards in Wands after checking out some videos, when suddenly your headset doesn't seem to be working properly. When the game or app opens up, it isn't displaying correctly and you're definitely unable to enjoy it the way it is meant to be played.

Read the original article

Keeping things official

Not all VR headsets are created equally, and unlike Google Cardboard, not just any phone with work within Daydream View. While the headset itself can fit plenty of different phones, playing a game in Daydream mode just isn't possible for many people because their phone isn't quite up to snuff. If you're unsure if your phone is compatible you can check out Google's list of Daydream ready phones. If you aren't using a Daydream supported phone, then you won't be able to play Daydream specific titles. You can still play Cardboard accessible games and apps, but the newer apps won't be available until you upgrade your phone.

If you've confirmed that your phone is compatible with Daydream, there is an easy solution. The Daydream apps may be trying to open in full screen mode, which is not usable in VR. If this is happening to you, the first thing you should do is open up your phone and head to the settings menu. Go to Wireless and Network settings. Make sure that NFC is turned on. If NFC is not turned on, you are basically just using a souped up Cardboard viewer and Daydream apps will not launch or play correctly.

Step by step instructions to turn on NFC

  1. Open your Settings.
  2. Navigate to Wireless and Network Settings.
  3. Tap to make sure NFC is turned on.

How to deal with circular glare on Daydream 2.0

One of the biggest upgrades to Daydream View's 2017 model was the inclusion of the newer, Fresnel Lenses. These lenses are designed to be thinner, or flatter, but still, give the full range of optics when using them in VR. Both Oculus Rift, and Vive already use these lenses so it makes sense that Google would join in as well. But with great Lenses, comes great responsibility, or in this case, great glare.

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Reduce the Brightness.

Most of the time you will see this glare at the start of your app loading, when there is a lot of bright white on screen, or when there is a lot of white text. White seems to be the biggest trigger and of course the brighter the white the more the glare. By reducing the screen brightness on your phone you can reduce the glare considerably and really, it's just good sense to keep your brightness lower after all the screen is only one inch from your eyeballs.

Tilting your head.

The angle the light hits the groove on the Fresnel lens makes all the difference on whether you get massive lens flare or not. By adjusting the position of your Daydream, or by tilting your head slightly you can reduce the glare to acceptable levels. Don't worry you don't have to move it to uncomfortable levels, just enough to change the reflection or refraction, whichever is right, so it doesn't hit your eye.

It's important to note the glare really isn't enough to stop you enjoying the Daydream but I have seen people choose to send theirs back and buy the original instead. Personally I don't think the glare is a reason to lose the heatsink and generally better build but if you truly can't live with it perhaps the OG Daydream View is for you.

Daydream Audio: What to do when there's no headphone jack

The Pixel 2 was revealed alongside the newest iteration of Google's Daydream View headset, and while this phone is amazing for VR it is rather conspicuously missing something. That something is, of course, a headphone jack. This isn't the first Daydream-ready phone with no headphone jack, but it is certainly the most popular.

Since wireless headphones don't offer the best experience for VR due to issues with latency. While this isn't ideal, it's no reason to panic. We've got your options covered for getting the best audio experience.

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USB Type-C Adapter

While there isn't a 3.5mm headphone jack to plug your headphones into, there is an easy way around this. Your Pixel 2 comes with a USB Type-C to 3.5mm adapter. All you need to do is plug in your adapter, and then plug your headphones into this.

This is certainly the easiest way to get around that lack of a dedicated headphone jack for your adventures in VR, especially since the adapter comes in the box with your new phone. This method also allows you to use your existing headphones without needing to purchase a new set of headphones.

USB Type-C Headphones

If using an adapter isn't really your style, then picking up a new pair of USB Type-C headphones. Obviously, these headphones will only work with a Type-C computer or phone, but they can be perfect for VR with your Pixel 2.

Just like with a pair of 3.5mm headphones, they start out fairly inexpensive at about $20 and get progressively more pricy from there.

Questions?

Have you run into a problem with Daydream View that we didn't cover here? Is there another fix we didn't mention? Be sure to leave us a comment and let us know about it!

Updated January 2018: We've added new troubleshooting solutions for your issues on Daydream!

Google Daydream

Google

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21 hours ago

Samsung Galaxy X: What we know so far, in video

16

Foldable smartphones have been talked about for years, ever since the first foldable OLED prototypes were shown off at trade shows. But it's only recently that they've started to become a reality.

One big name that everyone's expecting to see in this space is Samsung, with its rumored Galaxy X. A name like "Galaxy X" really plays into the old narrative of Samsung as the iPhone copycat. But the rumored name actually predates the iPhone X by more than a year, with the first serious reports bubbling up in early 2016. And even years before that, there was plenty of rumor fuel around the idea of a Samsung phone with a flexible, foldable screen — a device that could fit in your pocket like a phone, and also fold out to provide a more expansive viewing area.

Check out our video feature above to find out what we know so far about what could be a revolutionary new flagship smartphone.

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1 day ago

The best tech deals that you don't want to miss out on

Our friends at Thrifter post some great deals every day, and here are the best ones available right now!

From mobile phones to general tech, home goods and much more, the team at Thrifter is scouring the web every single day to find the best deals. Whether something hits a new all-time low, gets discounted for just a limited time, or has a new coupon code available for it, you won't want to miss out any of them. If you want to know about the deals as soon as they are happening, you'll want to follow Thrifter on Twitter, and sign up for the newsletter, because missing out on a great deal stinks!

So, what are the best deals that you should be looking at right now? Well, let's take a look at them so you can see which ones are best for you!

Philips SHP-9500S Over-Ear Headphones - $49.95 (Was $67)

These Philips SHP9500S over-ear headphones feature 50mm neodymium speaker drivers for Hi-Fi sound along with breathable cushions so you won't mind wearing them for longer durations of time. They're open-backed so the sound from them will be able to be heard from around you as well. This type of design helps enhance sound transparency.

Normally these headphones sell for $66 on average at Amazon. Headphones Lab rated them with a 4.5 out of 5 stars while they have 4.6 out of 5 stars at Amazon.

See at Newegg

Garmin Vivoactive black activity tracker - $99.49 (Was $112)

Garmin is well-known for making high-quality electronics, and its fitness trackers are no exception. The Vivoactive can track your steps, monitor your heart rate, so much more. Its built-in GPS helps keep track of your sporting activities like bike rides, rounds of golf, swimming sessions and more.

You can customize the display with various free watch faces, and the battery should last around three weeks per charge on average.

See on Amazon

WD Elements 4TB USB 3.0 External Hard Drive - $90 with code (Was $130)

This price is $10 less than Amazon currently sells it for and one of the better deals we've seen on the popular drive. If you're looking to save a little more, you can go with this 3TB internal drive for $69.99 with coupon code EMCXERP35.

These drives can be used with both your Windows and Mac-based computers.

See on Newegg

More great deals!

For even more great deals, and to see these discounts as they become available, be sure to check out our friends at Thrifter now!

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1 day ago

Here's what we're reading, watching, and listening to this week

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How we're spending our leisure time.

Everyone has a bit of quiet downtime once in a while. Whether you're sitting quietly at home or trying to relax on a plane or just giving your busy mind and hands a break, it's important to relax.

A good way to do that is to read a book, listen to some music or watch a movie or show. See what's caught our attention for the week of January 20th.

Tom Westrick

First Aid Kit released their latest album, Ruins, on Friday, so I spent the morning listening to that. It's a Shame was released as a single a few months ago, but this is the first time I've listened to any of the other songs. I enjoyed them all, and I'll probably end up buying the album.

A good friend shared her Hulu password with me, so I've been watching shows that Netflix doesn't have and that I've been too lazy to buy on DVD. I caught up on this season of Bob's Burgers, and began watching The Goldbergs. The Goldbergs is great, and I recommend it to anyone who hasn't watched it yet.

Ara Wagoner

This last weekend was the season finale for Tangled: the Series, which gave me a great reason to curl up under my many blankets, watch some heartwarming comedy, and ignore the record-breaking cold outside my door. I'd fallen off the wagon with this show months ago, but it's nice to see that we've gotten some real character development this season.

The voice talent behind this show is second to none, between Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi reprising Rapunzel and Flynn, the legendary Clancy Brown voicing the slightly traumatized and secretive King Frederic, and Broadway powerhouse James Monroe Iglehart (former Genie in Aladdin and current Lafayette/Jefferson in Hamilton) voicing the quick-tongued and even quicker witted Lance Strongbow, Flynn's best friend and partner in crime. Even the tertiary characters like guards and Corona townsfolk have some big names behind them, like Diedrich Bader, Jeff Ross, Pat Carroll, and Sean Hayes. Jeremy Jordan gives voice to a dorky and increasingly desperate Varian, the alchemist who we witness falling from grace to become the villain our heroes face in the season finale, and while his story is tragic, it gives us more opportunity to see his singing voice shine in original songs from Alan Menken and Glenn Slater.

Daniel Bader

I'm not sure how to describe it, but there's a feeling you get when an album just "clicks" that is unlike any other feeling in the world. It's a wholeness, a completeness, something that you cherish and never want to let go of.

Recently, I had that experience with Kamasi Washington's beautiful and brilliant Harmony of Difference, a short album of epic, bombastic jazz that now, on a regular basis, allows me to close my eyes and listen deeply to every note. I am a superficial jazz fan — I know what I like, but don't know much else — and Washington's epic saxophone solos and choral interjections bring me somewhere I didn't realize I needed to be.

Marc Lagace

This past week, I binged through End of the F***ing World on Netflix and damn… that show is insane.

Based on a graphic novel of the same name that I'm probably going to pick up, the story follows two troubled teens — the rebellious Alyssa who's looking to escape her turbulent home life and James, who fancies himself a true psychopath who started killing small animals when he was eight and is now eager to kill another human being. Alyssa and James are two lost souls who find each other — except James harbors secret intentions of violently.

This show builds up the tension masterfully with brief moments of dark humor to break up the grim subject manner, and the soundtrack is pretty great, too. Season one has eight episodes that each clock in at around 22 minutes, so you can definitely binge this whole series in a day.

Oh, and if my brief summary of the subject matter, the trailer, or even the title alone didn't make things abundantly clear, this one's for mature audiences only.

Joe Maring

After remaining sheltered in its carrying case for far too long, I finally decided to whip out my Nintendo Switch once again after going through a backlog of games on the PS4. I've already invested 30+ hours into Breath of the Wild, but after booting up the game for the first time in a while this week, I know that I won't be playing anything else until I vanquish these last two Divine Beasts (or I'll keep getting distracted by new shrines, who knows?).

For my TV addition this week, I've been watching MAS*H. This is a show that I've been hooked on for years, and it's one that I know I can come back to time and time again to either laugh or cry with one of the best casts in television history.

Harish Jonnalagadda

I saw the precursor to the SR-71 Blackbird (the A-12) at Huntsville when I was a kid, and immediately fell in love. There are so many facts about the Blackbird that boggle the mind: 92% of the frame was made out of titanium, and as Lockheed couldn't find the material in the U.S., they had to source it from the Soviet Union. The plane cruised at Mach 3.2 and flew at an altitude of 80,000 feet, which meant that the two-man crew had to wear space suits. The angular body — designed to minimize the radar cross-section — combined with the black paint job and the huge spike inlets at the front of each engine made the SR-71 Blackbird look like something out of a sci-fi novel.

I've been meaning to read Sled Driver for a long time now, but the book is out of print and used copies cost as much as $300. So I'm going through a PDF version of the book. The book was written by a former Blackbird pilot, and has tons of interesting anecdotes about flying the world's fastest airplane. This is my favorite one:

Hayato Huseman

After countless recommendations from friends, this week I finally started listening to Karnivool, and it's been on my Spotify queue non-stop since. They've got a strong Tool vibe, but with a more modern prog/atmospheric metal approach. I've been in love with their albums Sound Awake and Asymmetry, but I haven't gotten around to their debut album Themata yet. I'm late, I know, but I also just finished The Office (US) for the first time, and uh. I'm not crying you're crying leave me alone.

Your turn

What are YOU reading, watching, or listening to this week? Let us know in the comments!

Update, January 20, 2018: This is a weekly series where we tell you what we're into, so check back every Friday or Saturday!

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1 day ago

Best Google Pixel 2 XL Cases

What are the best cases for the Google Pixel 2 XL?

The Google Pixel 2 XL is a beautifully designed phone — especially if you snagged the panda/Stormtrooper Black and White edition. But as much as you'll want to show it off, you're also going to want to protect a phone that cost you close to $1000.

We've rounded up the best case options specifically for the Pixel 2 XL.

Google Live Cases

Just like the smaller Pixel 2, Google offers its customizable Google Live Cases for the Pixel 2 XL with a personal photo or a wide range of styles curated by Google.

Maybe you'll decide on a gorgeous satellite photo from Google Earth which also pairs with a matching live wallpaper for a cohesive look around your device. Looking to add a bit more of an artistic flair to your case? Check out the Artworks Live Case and find something that matches your style.

Google has curated a great selection of cases that feature artwork, photos from space, and naturally beautiful images that are really quite stunning. Prices range from $40 to $50 depending on whether you choose a minimalist shell or a more rugged dual-layer case. Create and customize your own case via the Google Store.

See at Google Store

Google Fabric Cases

If you prefer your phone case to have some texture for grip, you're probably going to love the Google Fabric Case. It features the same fabric finish look found on other recent Google products such as the Google Home Mini.

Designed in-house by Google, you can be sure of the build quality and fit for your Pixel 2 XL. These cases offer a premium microfiber liner to ensure your device stays scuff-free and your choice of four color combinations for $40.

See at Google Store

Incipio Esquire Series

Like the concept of the Google Fabric Case but don't like the idea of spending $50 for it? You'll definitely want to check out the Incipio Esquire series case.

This case is made of an impact-resistant TPU frame that will keep your phone protected, but the real eye-catching feature here is the ultra-soft fabric finish on the exterior of the case. There is a nice-sized cutout around the fingerprint sensor and camera on the back but it's otherwise a very sleek and minimalist design.

You can get yours straight from Incipio or from Amazon for just $35.

See at Amazon

Spigen Tough Armor case

Spigen has a very solid lineup of cases for the Pixel 2 XL, but one of the more rugged and functional cases they sell is the Tough Armor style. The combination of a flexible TPU sleeve and a rugged outer shell provides great dual-layer protection for your phone, with Spigen's air cushion technology offering support in the corners. Despite its rugged design, the Tough Armor case is still mightly slim adding just 2.5 mm of thickness.

Another great feature is the pop-out kickstand built into the shell. There are so many handy reasons to have your phone propped up, and having this feature built right into the case means you don't need to add a pop socket or style ring. For all its durability and functionality, the Tough Armor case is just $17.99 on Amazon.

See at Amazon

Spigen Thin Fit

It can be an issue finding a case for larger phones like the Google Pixel 2 XL that doesn't add too much bulk to your phone. The Spigen Thin Fit case is about as minimalist as phone cases get.

Available in black, this case will match the look of the Pixel 2 XL and features precise cutouts around the fingerprint scanner and camera on the back. It's thin enough to keep the Active Edge compatibility fully intact and yet still features Spigen's Air Cushion technology in the corners for added drop protection.

Keep your Pixel 2 XL safe from scuffs and scratches without sacrificing the slim design with the Thin Fit case for just $12.

See at Amazon

Supcase Unicorn Beetle Pro case

When you name your phone case after the Unicorn Beetle — one of the gnarliest looking armored bugs in the natural world — you better back it up with a rugged case. Combining a polycarbonate outer shell with a flexible and shock-absorbing TPU sleeve around back, the Unicorn Beetle Pro goes an extra step further by including a built-in screen protector to provide maximum protection for your Pixel 2 XL. There's also an optional belt clip holster if it's convenient for you.

It's otherwise a pretty standard design for a rugged case: beefy in the corners where it needs to be yet slim and sporty enough as to not turn your phone into a thick brick of plastic. You can get yours from Amazon starting at $17.99 for the black style, with three other styles available for $19.99.

See at Amazon

Ringke Fusion

Looking for a reliable clear case for the Pixel 2 XL at a very reasonable price? Check out the Ringke Fusion case.

Starting at just $9 for a crystal clear version, these cases offer two layers of protection for your phone — a rugged and shock-resistant TPU bumper combined with a ridged PC panel covering the back. There's a protective lip around the front to save the display glass from harm, and there are precise cutouts around the fingerprint sensor, camera, and USB-C charging port.

Get the clear version if you want to preserve the original look of the Pixel 2 XL, or opt to spend $11 on the Rose Gold or Smoke Black versions.

See at Amazon

Caseology Vault Series

Caseology has a couple different cases available for the Pixel 2 XL. We recommend the Vault Series ($15) because it's got a classic design. Made of flexible TPU, it features a sleek finish along the back and textured grip around the edges. It's available in black and should look great whether you went with the Just Black or Black and White Pixel 2 XL.

If you're looking for something a bit more substantial, check out the Parallax Series ($16) which offers a slim, two-piece design to keep your Pixel well-protected. It's also available in some really cool color combinations. Or consider the Legion Series ($15), which offers a more rugged matte shell around the back of the case.

See at Amazon

How will you keep your phone protected?

Are you going to be picking up a case for your Pixel 2 XL? Let us know if you're getting one off our list or opting for a different option in the comments below!

Update, January 2018: We've added the Spigen Tough Armor and Supcase Unicorn Beetle Pro cases to our list!

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

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1 day ago

How to turn off 'add icons to home screen' in Android Oreo

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Oreo introduces a new way to disable app icons from being automatically added to the home screen.

Android gives you a lot of options to restore apps and settings when you're switching from an older phone, but if you're looking to set up your phone as new, you'll have to go to the Play Store and download apps individually. And that means turning off the option to add app icons to your home screen as you download them unless you want your device looking like an iPhone.

The setting to disable icons from being added to the home screen was in the Play Store settings, but Google switched things up with the Oreo update and moved it to the home screen settings. So if you've moved to a phone running Oreo and wanted to turn off the option to add icons to your home screen every time you download an app from the Play Store, read on.

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1 day ago

Don't buy an Amazon Echo Dot — get the Zolo Halo instead*

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*But only if you're OK missing out on a few of the Echo's cooler features.

The is the Zolo Halo. It's mostly like an Amazon Echo Dot. It's a connected speaker. It's got a microphone. It has Amazon Alexa built into it. So it can answer questions and control things and do most everything the Echo can do.

And at $391, it's priced about the same as the Echo Dot (which officially is $49 but had been on sale for $39 for a while; your mileage may vary) — but it sounds a lot better. So much so that I'll say this: If you're considering an Amazon Echo Dot, give this a long, hard look first.

It's not that the Zolo Halo sounds great. It's a small, OK speaker for the price. You're not going to be blow away by sound quality by anything this small, and certainly not this small and this inexpensive. But for $40, it sounds just fine, and it sounds that much better than the Echo Dot.

I'm admittedly tired of the Echo Dot's tired design. So the Halo (much like the similar Eufy Genie, a third competitor) is a small breath of fresh air. OK, maybe it's got a bit of a pencil sharpener thing going on (now there'd be a cool trick), but it's definitely a step up from the oversized hockey puck Amazon's been selling for a few years now.

I'm digging the mute button on the front. There's no mistaking what you need to do if you don't want this thing listening in on you all day, every day. Hit the button, and it goes dumb. No more listening for you to say "Alexa."

I'm digging the rubberized buttons up top, done in sort of an inner ring/outer ring thing. Each is under a single sheet or rubber — a small but welcome detail. Looking down on the Halo, North is a button for Bluetooth control. South is play/pause. East and West are volume buttons. The inner ring is separated by the telltale blue LED light. There are a couple pinhole microphones up here, too.

Round back is an LED power light, 3.5mm aux-out port, and the power port. (Proprietary, at that. No Micro-USB nonsense going on here.)

So it's a better-looking, better-sounding Alexa device. What's the catch?

It's not an Echo. That means you'll not be able to do any of the Alexa Calling stuff that Alexa can do now. It also means that you can't do multi-room audio with other Alexa devices. You can, however, do multi-room audio with other Halo speakers.

So the decision is easy and obvious. If you just want an Alexa device that does the basics, get the Zolo Halo. If you have to have Alexa Calling, get an Echo Dot.

See at Amazon

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1 day ago

This is the Lava Red OnePlus 5T

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Lava Red OnePlus 5T is now available for purchase in India.

OnePlus has seen a meteoric growth in India over the last 18 months, with the brand dominating sales in the premium segment. There's clearly a lot of demand for the manufacturer's phones, and the brand is doing its part to cater to that demand by rolling out new color options. We've seen that last month with the gorgeous Star Wars-themed variant of the 5T, and now the company is launching the Lava Red color option in India.

The Lava Red OnePlus 5T is now up for sale on Amazon India for ₹37,999 ($595), the same price as the regular model. That's for the variant with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage.

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1 day ago

Spotify's 'Spotlight' feature adds a visual touch to podcasts and news

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Spotlight adds the visual component to Spotify you never knew you wanted.

Like a lot of you reading this, Spotify is my go-to app for listening to music. However, do a little bit of digging and you'll see that it has a lot more to offer than just your favorite tunes. Spotify is also home to a wide range of podcasts covering just about every topic you could imagine, and these will soon become even better with a new feature called "Spotlight."

With Spotlight, podcasts will now feature visual components such as text, images, and videos to give you more context about what it is you're listening to.

Podcasts using Spotlight will be featured in their own special playlists, and Spotify is first partnering with BuzzFeed News, Cheddar, Crooked Media, Lenny Letter, Gimlet Media, Genius, The Minefield Girl, Refinery29, and Uninterrupted as the brands that'll help launch it.

Spotlight is launching first in the United States, and "additional markets" will follow in the future.

Spotify is testing a sleeker and less cluttered UI for its Android app

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2 days ago

The Amazon Alexa app now lets you use Alexa voice commands

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Alexa's latest home is the Alexa app.

Up until now, Alexa's presence on Android has been a bit confusing. Phones like the Huawei Mate 9, HTC U11, and Moto X4 have the assistant built right into them, and last summer, Amazon rolled out Alexa to the Amazon Shopping app. Now, Alexa is getting a more fitting home inside of, well, the Alexa app.

The Alexa app has been a free download on Android since the launch of the first Amazon Echo, but you've never actually been able to use Alexa within the app. Instead, it's always acted as a hub for your Alexa lists, music control, etc. However, according to Android Police, Amazon will soon be updating the Alexa app so that you can tap an icon and perform all of the Alexa voice commands you've come to know and love.

This might be exciting news for Amazon superfans, but for most folks, this likely isn't anything that'll change your life. You'll still have to open up the Alexa app and tap the icon as saying "Alexa" doesn't do anything, and if this is the case, you might as well just use Alexa in the Amazon Shopping app that you probably already have.

Amazon's adding this new functionality to the Alexa app over the coming days, but I've already got it on my Pixel 2 with client version 1.24.3555.0 and bridge version 2.2.1010.0 of the app.

Or, you know, just use Google Assistant.

These are the 20 cities where Amazon's next HQ could be located

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