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13 hours ago

Your unlimited plan is probably ripping you off: How much data Americans actually use

The numbers are in and you probably don't need an expensive unlimited data plan.

Unlimited data plans are back. Here's some insight into why that happened as well as a look at how much data we really use every month.

We've recently seen all four major U.S. carriers introduce or revamp their unlimited LTE data plans. Multiple times. For some of us, this is great news: The folks who use upwards of 10GB of data on a line they pay for themselves found plenty of creative ways to hold on to older unlimited data plans, and sometimes that could be a hassle. Now they are available with a click of the mouse.

Unlimited plans coming back to AT&T and Verizon are a direct result of tough competition in the industry.

This wasn't unexpected, really. Companies like T-Mobile and StraightTalk made people notice the cost vs. value proposition of a cell phone data plan. AT&T and Verizon enjoyed a consumer mindset that they offered something superior when for many, alternatives could be just as good. When people started to take notice of that, it was time for a small shake-up.

People who will utilize an unlimited data plan and get their money's worth are outliers. Everyone can have a month where they are traveling or otherwise away from Wi-Fi and use a good chunk of data, but when you look at the numbers telling how much data is used per person on average, you see that most people would be better served with a cheaper plan that offers a capped data allotment.

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The numbers back this up. According to NPD Connected Intelligence, one of the groups that your carrier and the people who made your phone use for insight into growth and planning, in 2015 the average amount of data used per person per month was about 3.5GB. During the same time period, customers on T-Mobile used an average of 5GB per month and Sprint customers used about 4GB per month; and both carriers offered unlimited data plans to any post-paid customer.

T-Mobile and Sprint factor into these numbers in an important way: people with unlimited data plans still used just a moderate amount of data.

Why this is important

These are average numbers. That means that some people will be wildly outside the average on both ends: You might use 100GB of data per month but someone who uses 0.1GB per month offsets your input towards the average. An average can't predict the highest amounts of data being used (or the lowest) but it is a great way to determine how much data the average person uses each month. There's a lot of ways this data can be used and of course multiple ways it can be interpreted. For example, the average data a customer with access to an unlimited data plan uses isn't dramatically different from the amount someone without access to unlimited data is using.

People talking about new unlimited data plans means that they are doing what they were meant to do: Hype.

This means that the average person, regardless of network, doesn't need to pay for an expensive unlimited data plan. Unlimited plans are hypefests that get everyone talking about something as mundane and boring as a cellular provider. The hope is that you'll decide you need to sign up for one even though you don't need one. Sure, you might use a little more each month knowing that you have an unlimited plan, but generally, people who weren't using a large amount of data before aren't going to be using a lot of data after they switch. Old habits and all that.

None of this matters to the phone company. It has one goal: to make money. That's how business work. Every decision, every promotion, every marketing campaign and everything else is a way to try and make more money. A company won't be around for long if they aren't trying to bank a profit. And sometimes, how that profit can be shown on a quarterly earnings report matters as much as the amount that goes into the bank.

The ARPU

ARPU (Average Revenue Per Unit or User) is the total revenue coming in from the service divided by the number of subscribers. It's also a pretty big deal in shareholder's reports and earning's calls.

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ARPU is a number that translates into the amount of money a single line of service brings in over a set time. There can be a monthly ARPU or quarterly or yearly. This number includes all the money you pay to your carrier minus tax and regulatory fees. That means things like extras you may be paying for (international calling or live TV for mobile devices) are included as well as your normal contract or monthly price. The ARPU is an easy way for a company to track its income and growth over time, and each customer who pays for an expensive unlimited data plan brings this average up in a way that's statistically significant.

There is more than one way to count money.

Your carrier wants you to be excited about, and ultimately sign up for, an unlimited data plan because of how it affects the bottom line as well as how much.

Another way your phone company looks at their finances is with an eye towards profit instead of just income. The profit from a customer can be more important than the overall income generated from one. A company can be healthy and profitable even with a low customer count, or vice versa. We see this in action when companies give earnings results.

Income and profit are always two different numbers.

Consider a hypothetical that's not too far removed from actuality. T-Mobile keeps pulling more and more customers away from Verizon. But Verizon is making more money and has a higher value. That means Verizon is making more profit per customer than T-Mobile.

Calculating profit is pretty simple. The service an account uses is tallied then compared to the amount of income that account generates each month. If you sign up for an unlimited data plan and still only use 3-5GB of data per month, you help improve profit margins. All accounts are profitable, but some will be more profitable than others.

Don't hate the players

We're not trying to say your carrier is bad or unethical here. This is just how business works when it comes to a service provider.

Your phone company is supposed to make money if everyone is doing their job.

They need to offer you something that you feel is worth the monthly cost. If that means an unlimited data plan sounds like a good idea to you, one is available for you. With the U.S. telco market becoming more and more competitive it was a given that all companies would offer a fixed service that included unlimited data for a fixed cost. Users who needed such a plan would sign on and help improve that income per customer metric and users who didn't need an unlimited plan but signed up for other reasons helped improve the profit per user metric. This is how smart business works and the people in charge at your carrier are smart business persons. It's great that carriers now offer unlimited data plans for people who need them. It's also great if you can save money and not sign up for one if you don't.

The one thing to take away here is to ask yourself how much data you need every month. No one answer fits everyone, but there is an answer that fits you. Compare how much you need to how much you're paying for, and then check out what's available. A final metric that's harder to measure is how happy a customer is because happy customers are loyal customers. Make sure you're using a service that works best for you and makes you be that happy customer.

Updated June 2017: Edited some confusing language and made sure the information is as current as it can be.

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14 hours ago

Samsung to bring 'rose pink' Galaxy S8+ to Taiwan for a limited time

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Taiwan is getting a limited editing 'rose pink' Galaxy S8+ next month.

Samsung is known for adding colors to its flagship retinue in the months following a Galaxy launch, and we're seeing the first signs of that strategy unfold.

Starting in July, Samsung Taiwan plans to sell a 'rose pink' version of the Galaxy S8+ on its online store for a limited time, since artificial scarcity is the hallmark of a shrewd marketing campaign. It will cost TW 27,900, which is roughly $920 USD at today's exchange rate.

SamMobile reports that Taiwan prepped for the launch by rebranding its three existing Galaxy S8 colors to Ice Lake Blue, Smoked Purple Grey and Quicksand Gold from Coral Blue, Orchid Grey and Maple Gold, the last of which isn't available in North America.

What Galaxy S8 color should I buy?

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

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14 hours ago

Essential accessories for the OnePlus 5

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Unsure of where to go to equip your OnePlus 5? Let us help you in your time of need with this list of worthy things.

Like its predecessors, the OnePlus 5 continues to be a worthy buy. It comes equipped with the same level hardware specifications as the rest of the flagship brood, in addition to 64GB of storage space, 6GB of RAM, and a bigger-than-the-average battery. The OnePlus 5 available for under $500, too, and you can use the rest of your savings to purchase some essential accessories.

OnePlus Dash Type C Cable

Don't get caught out of the house without a trusty, official Type C cable from OnePlus. This Dash charger cable is a mere $10 and worth purchasing in bulk to ensure you have a couple of backups around the house. This cable is compatible with the Dash charger that comes equipped with your OnePlus 5. It enables you to charge up to 60 percent battery power in a mere 30 minutes. The cable is red and white, too, to match the OnePlus's company colors, and it's wrapped in sturdy silicone, so you don't have to worry about it fraying.

Also, if you'd like a backup of the OnePlus Dash-enabled charging brick, you can buy one here.

See at Amazon

SEGMOI 4-pack Universal Smartphone Ring Grip

If you purchased the OnePlus 5, you may find that the smartphone is a tad bit slippery. Covering the device in a case will certainly help prevent major damage from an accidental fall, but have you also considered a finger grip?

This helpful stick-on accessory sticks to both the back of the device chassis or an external case. The rear finger hook helps you effectively grip your phone, or you can orient it so that it props it up for playing music, gaming, or video chat. Best of all, this entry starts at $8 and comes in a pack of four, so you'll already have a couple for backup.

See at Amazon

UE Roll 2 Volcano

This is one of our favorite portable Bluetooth speakers. The UE Roll 2 features a maximum sound level of 85 decibels and it's waterproof for up to half an hour under a meter of water. It hooks up to the OnePlus 5 via Bluetooth or a 3.5mm audio output — this phone has a headphone jack, after all — and you can pair up to seven other devices. The UE Roll 2 will also last up to nine hours out in the wild, so you can quite literally keep that dance party going all night long.

The UE Roll 2 starts at $65 and comes in a variety of colors, including a gray and red combo that matches the OnePlus 5.

See at Amazon

AUKEY 5000mAh USB-C Universal Power Bank

Don't get stuck out there on the road without a battery pack. The Aukey 5000mAh power bank is a worthy buy to ensure that you've always got extra juice for the OnePlus 5's 3300mAh battery. It's small, too, so you can toss into your computer bag or purse without any added bulk. At $20, it comes with an included USB-C cable and features a two-year warranty.

See at Amazon

What did you buy for your OnePlus 5?

The OnePlus 5 will launch officially this summer. When you get yours, tell us below what you've bought for your new unlocked flagship device.

OnePlus 5

OnePlus

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15 hours ago

Lenovo Flex 11 Chromebook review: Tough, durable and inexpensive

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The Lenovo Flex 11 is one tough SOB.

The Lenovo Flex 11 Chromebook is a consumer version of Lenovo's very solid Chromebooks For Education products. It's built tough — rated to take a 2.4-foot drop and has a water resistant keyboard tray to keep spills out, but still comes in at a very reasonable $279.99. Finding a "rugged" Chromebook that's not EDU branded and uber-expensive isn't a common thing, so we were instantly interested.

After a bit of time with it, the strengths outweigh the drawbacks and we like the Flex 11. It's not the most powerful Chromebook we've tried but it wasn't made to be. It's a decent, solid performer designed to take more abuse than most other products in its class.

We think the durability factor and low price make the Flex 11 a great Chromebook for kids or someone who tends not to treat his or her stuff all that respectfully. And while the body is pretty darn durable, the keyboard leaves a lot to be desired. Read on for our full take.

See at Lenovo

Tech specs

The Lenovo Flex 11 has the same basic specs as most every other Chromebook under $300.

Category Spec OS Chrome Display 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 IPS Touchscreen Processor MTK 8137C @2.10GHz RAM 4GB Storage 32GB
Full-size SD card slot Connectivity 802.11 a/g/n/ac
Bluetooth 4.0 Ports 1 USB-C
1 USB-A (USB 3.0)
HDMI
Kensington Lock
Headphone/Microphone combo jack Size 11.65 x 8.11 x .8 inches Weight 2.9 pounds

Overall hardware

Let's address the elephant in the room: the Lenovo Flex 11 is not a pretty laptop. It's not an ultralight aluminum model designed to be light and look good; instead it's a polycarbonate machine designed to take a bit of a beating. It's a uniform gray top and bottom, with a lighter gray rubber bumper around the edge of both the top and bottom of its clamshell body. Even the text is gray. I like gray, and I like subdued, muted things but even I have to say the Flex 11 isn't a looker.

The way the Flex 11 is built clearly puts ruggedness over appearance.

The body of the Flex 11 is solid. There's no give if you push on the top of the lid, no wiggle when it's flipped open, and no soft spot on the bottom inside of the bumper feet. The right side of the body holds the Kensington lock, power button, volume rocker and the combo headphone and microphone jack while the USB and HDMI ports are on the left along with a full-size SD card reader.

With the lid closed, the Flex 11 is bland but tough. I appreciate the fact that it's tough and I know that others (especially those with younger kids) will, too. But I would like to see just a little bit of flash instead of the stoic gray. Order a cool sticker for this one if you decide to buy.

When you open the lid, you're faced with a metal-finished keyboard pan and palm rest (gray metallic in looks only, it's still plastic) with a standard island-style keyboard and trackpad. The keyboard is your normal Chromebook style, with Chrome keys replacing the function row and backspace. The display is surrounded by a rather wide bezel, though it's black and under the glass rather than the same metallized plastic used for the keyboard pan. Again, everything is a testament to function, not form. This works better on the inside, as colors and extras by the way of logos or other markings can be a distraction.

Even the hinges are built better than most others.

The 360-degree hinges mean you can flip the screen over and use the Flex 11 in tablet mode or flip it halfway and use it in easel or tent mode for watching a video. The hinges are solid, no matter the position of the screen. Satisfyingly so, even. Where some models will shimmy and twist with a little force when "tented", the Flex 11 doesn't. Again, a testament to what this model was designed to do — be more rugged than average.

Lenovo says the Flex 11 can survive a 2.4-foot drop. 2.4 feet is not very high, but it is about the height of a lap while sitting down or the top of a child's desk. I've dropped it multiple times while closed and open onto a carpeted office floor as well as hardwood floors in my dining room, with no ill effect. I don't suggest anyone try to manhandle or drop their own unit, but I'm satisfied with Lenovo's claim of durability here. And of course, I was going to try dropping a review model that's said to be able to withstand it because it would be unfair not to.

All in all, the chunky 3-pound Flex 11 isn't much to look at. But it feels durable and solid and lives up to the claims of surviving a minor fall or two. Or twenty. I also went a bit above and beyond to see how well the Flex 11 would handle a bit of torture. Let's just say that 80-pounds on the lid had zero effect on the operation and that Lenovo doesn't suggest it should survive this. It's tough. Very.

Display

The 11.6-inch, 1366 x 768 display on the Flex 11 isn't the best I've seen. It's not terrible, but in an age of 1080p or higher displays on even a few budget models, seeing last generation's 1,366-pixel resolution is never ideal. I understand that it's standard for most laptops under $300, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

Most cheap laptops have a 1366 x 768 display. Still waiting for the budget-priced model that bucks this trend.

It's also on the dim side which means colors don't pop the same way they would on a brighter display. This is most evident when looking at dark shades layered on each other while watching a video. Dark blue struggles to stand out against black, for example, and it's obvious when using the Flex 11 somewhere with plenty of ambient light. When you're in a dark room or looking at a static image, you won't notice it as much. This isn't uncommon to see from inexpensive IPS displays but still needs to be mentioned.

The 10-point multitouch, however, is great. Touches register immediately, and multi-finger gestures like two-finger zooming or alt-clicking work flawlessly. Touch response rivals the Chromebook Pixel, which retailed for $1,100 more than the Flex 11 when it was available.

Overall, the display is acceptable when you factor in the sub-$300 price tag. I'm not knocking the Flex 11 for its screen because it compares favorably to other models in its class and has a touch screen as good or better than any other Chromebook on the market. It just doesn't have any "wow" factor.

Keyboard and Touchpad

While the screen is fine, the keyboard is a little disappointing. Everything works and it works well, but the keys are very shallow and easy to press. I find that combination makes it difficult to type quickly and accurately with errant key presses or double letters being the result. If you hunt and peck with two fingers, you won't have too many complaints but touch-typers or anyone who has Ms. Beacon's proper form will struggle. My biggest complaint is that a laptop clearly designed for youngsters has a keyboard that would be bad to use when learning to type. I'm sure using the Flex 11 full-time would help us get used to the keyboard, but I never like having to "deal with" or "get used to" something that's not great.

The trackpad is much better. It's nice and smooth with just a hint of texture and has a very discernable edge where it's recessed into the keyboard pan. Touch and tap gestures worked great, and if I had to find a complaint it would be that pressing/clicking the trackpad seems a little stiff. That could be the hardware itself, or it could be that I never click the touchpad and use tapping gestures instead so it seems stiff in comparison. Like the touch response, I was pleasantly surprised with how good the trackpad is on the Flex 11.

The keyboard is advertised as water resistant, with "innovative internal channels beneath the keyboard to divert liquid away from sensitive electrical components. It can handle up to 330 ml – about 1 cup – of liquid without damage."

The Flex 11 handles spills just fine, but it's not "waterproof." Don't treat it as such.

It passes that test with flying colors. I tested just under a full cup of tap water, and while it made a mess on the desk it had zero effect on the keyboard. I shied away from using any sticky liquids like soda or coffee, and wouldn't recommend trying it.

In the end, one of the perks of using a Chromebook instead of a tablet is that you have a good keyboard. While the Flex 11's keyboard is far better than anything you would find for an Android tablet or iPad, it's not a great keyboard. It's completely serviceable for most users, but I can't ignore the issues.

Other features and performance

The Flex 11 uses a basic industry standard MediaTek ARM processor, bundled with 4GB of RAM. Not too long ago I would have told you to shy away from a Chromebook with an ARM processor, but times have changed. The performance is on par with every other laptop in its price range. You can have multiple Chrome tabs open and won't hit the "lag wall" you see in some 2GB models. You can comfortably use 10-12 browser tabs before the system slows down or suspends any older tabs.

The MTK8137 CPU provides decent performance, but battery life could be better.

Full-screen HD video through YouTube and Netflix renders well, and outside the issues of dark colors as described above you won't have any complaints provided you have the bandwidth to stream. The speakers are loud and bright, which is great for watching a video or listening to a podcast, but not optimal for music — there is the definite lack of bass response you find with most laptops. The 3.5mm combo jack provided better audio and should satisfy most users with typical headphones or headsets.

Connectivity was fine, with both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi having good range. It's worth noting that the lack of 802.11 b in the specs is not a typo, and if you're hanging on to ancient equipment that uses the "b" Wi-Fi standard you won't be able to connect the Flex 11 to your network. Bluetooth connections from a phone, headset with microphone, headphones, and a portable speaker went without a hitch and performed well throughout the Bluetooth's standard 33-foot range.

The battery life was a minor disappointment. Lenovo suggests up to 10 hours of life away from a charger, but that's optimistic; seven or eight hours is a more realistic figure with "average" use. Most ARM Chromebooks have the same battery longevity, so this isn't a problem. My issue is the way the battery drains while watching a video because it seems to deplete much faster and the device gets warmer than other Chromebooks with the same basic processor arrangement. The screen could be more power-hungry or there could be a difference in the device configuration, but it's noticeable. You'll have less juice in the tank after watching a video with the Flex 11 than you would with other similarly priced Chromebooks.

Seeing USB-C instead of a proprietary charging port is always a plus.

The battery charges via the USB-C port, which uses the standard power-delivery feature. With a USB-C to USB-C cable, you can charge your phone or anything else that also uses the USB-C PD standard.

On the flip side, standby times were off the chart. If you shut the lid and put your Chromebook away instead of shutting it down, you'll appreciate coming back to a battery in the same shape it was in when you put it away. I saw a mere 2% loss in the battery indicator after 72 full hours of standby.

Android apps

The Flex 11 has access to Google Play if you switch to the Chrome beta channel. The experience is the same as you'll find on any Chromebook with Play Store access, with most Android apps working fine but not quite optimized for a bigger screen. Hopefully, being placed on the fast-track for Android means that when Android for Chrome is updated to 7.1 with better controls for sizing windows the Flex 11 should see the update soon after.

Today, the experience is as expected with none of the troubles recent Intel-based Chromebooks are having. It's worth moving to the beta track and installing your apps to the 32GB of storage.

Should you buy it?

If you're looking for a Chromebook that's durable and a great fit for a youngster, the Flex 11 is the best buy. I wasn't thrilled with the keyboard, and the display isn't the brightest I've tested, but the overall package has plenty to make up for the shortcomings. If buying for a student with an interest in learning to type, I have to change my recommendation and suggest that you'll simply need to spend more money for the Lenovo N23 Education model which provides a rugged frame and much better keyboard.

If you need something built tough, the Flex 11 is where you should start looking.

If you're looking for a laptop that you can toss in your bag or on the back seat and not worry about bumps and bruises, the Flex 11 is also a good fit. There aren't any other Chromebooks this durable in this price range. The performance is solid and outside of our keyboard niggles, you'll be satisfied with how it works when you need it. The standby time is a great bonus here, too.

Of course if how your Chromebook looks is a factor or if you need something with a bit more power for tinkering you would be better served by something else.

I take a Chromebook with me most times I leave the house, and knowing that it can take a little more rough handling would put the Flex 11 on my radar if I were in the market for a new Chromebook.

Chromebooks

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16 hours ago

Honor 8 Pro is launching in India on July 6, will be exclusive to Amazon

0

Honor's flagship phone is landing in India on July 6.

The beastly Honor 8 Pro will be making its debut in India on July 6. The phone will be sold exclusively on Amazon India, and while there's no information on how much it'll cost, it is likely to be north of ₹40,000 if the UK pricing is any indication.

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16 hours ago

How to stop Alexa from buying things

8

These tips will make sure Alexa isn't purchasing something when you don't want it to.

Alexa can make your life easier in dozens of different ways, including ordering items off of Amazon for you. However, just because you're asking about something doesn't mean you actually want to purchase it. Since voice ordering is turned on by default when you set up your Amazon Echo, you may want to know how to add security when making purchases, or turn off voice purchasing entirely.

You can do it all right from the settings on your phone, and we've got the details for you!

How to turn off voice purchasing

  1. Open the Alexa app on your phone.
  2. Tap the menu button that looks like three horizontal lines in the upper left corner of the screen.
  3. Tap Settings.

  4. Tap voice purchasing.
  5. Tap the button next to purchase by voice to turn off voice purchasing.

If you still want to be able to purchase stuff, but want to prevent others from doing it on your behalf, add a purchase pin code.

How to add a purchase pin code

  1. Open the Alexa app on your phone.
  2. Tap the menu button that looks like three horizontal lines in the upper left corner of the screen.
  3. Tap Settings.

  4. Tap voice purchasing.
  5. Tap the text bar under require confirmation code and type in your 4-digit pin.
  6. Tap save changes.

Have you turned off voice purchasing?

Has Alexa tried to buy things you didn't want it to? Have you started using a confirmation code, or turned off voice purchasing altogether? Let us know about it in the comments below!

Amazon Echo

Amazon

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17 hours ago

The Amazon Echo is on sale for just $130 today

0

The Amazon Echo is at its lowest price all year.

The Amazon Echo is on sale for $129.99, a discount of $50 from its retail price of $179.99. That's the lowest price we've seen on the full-sized Echo all year, and brings it to parity — at least from a price standpoint — with the Google Home.

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18 hours ago

First OnePlus 5 update brings bug fixes, camera tweaks

6

OxygenOS 4.5.2 is now rolling out with bug fixes and stability improvements.

The OnePlus 5 will be going up for sale starting tomorrow, June 27, but if you were able to get your hands on one during the company's "early drop" sales event, there's an update waiting for your handset. The OxygenOS 4.5.2 update comes in at just 36MB, and has fixes for app installation issues, camera tweaks, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and network stability fixes, along with better third-party app compatibility.

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1 day ago

How to bring Harry Potter magic to your Facebook account

8

Quickly, Potterheads, to Facebook!

Wanna feel old? The first Harry Potter book was released 20 years ago today. Don't let that bum you out, though. In celebration of this anniversary, Facebook has turned a few of your favorite words into spells you and your friends can activate on both the app and the website.

Here's how it works!

Casting a Harry Potter spell on Facebook

Unlike many other Facebook promotions, there's no page you have to go and like to access these powers. All you need to do is create a post or comment with one of these words:

  • Harry Potter
  • Slytherin
  • Gryffindor
  • Hufflepuff
  • Ravenclaw

When you send the post, a little wand will appear and magic will erupt across your screen. After the post is live, you and any of your friends can click or tap on those words — which are now colored special for the celebration — and that same wand animation will appear again!

What are you waiting for? Go have some fun!

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1 day ago

VR porn: The Ultimate Guide [NSFW]

VR porn isn't a thing of the future. It's here now, and easier to find and access then you may have thought.

When it comes to watching videos on VR, one of the first questions many people asked was whether or not you'd be able to watch porn or other adult content. From apps that let you speak with camgirls, to full blown 360 degree adult videos, porn in VR is here and it's making it's mark. Whether you've got a Gear VR, Oculus Rift, or even Playstation VR, there is plenty of adult content just waiting for you out there.

Read more at VR Heads!

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1 day ago

OnePlus 5's camera shows us the delicate balance of setting and meeting expectations

27
From the Editor's Desk

It's tough to hype up a phone while also keeping things realistic.

With the launch of the OnePlus 5 this week, we got to see a perfect example of what a delicate balance companies navigate in setting expectations and delivering on promises. OnePlus has always talked a (strategically) big game about many aspects of its phones — this year, it was all about the camera. Even during the launch event, at which point reviewers had been using the phone for over a week, the presenters espoused the wonderment of the new dual camera setup.

The only 'issue' here is the camera not reaching the great heights OnePlus claimed.

Reviews of the OnePlus 5's camera were slightly mixed, but in general came to the consensus that it's merely good, not great — and not challenging phones like the Galaxy S8, LG G6 and HTC U11. That's a problem, but not necessarily one with the camera itself — it mostly stems from the marketing of the OnePlus 5 that centered around the cameras and set unreasonably high expectations. It's a fine line: as a company, do you play it cool and then over-deliver? Or do you talk a big game to boost sales and run the risk of coming up short?

I think this time OnePlus overextended itself a bit too much in terms of claims about camera performance. Cameras are really hard to get right, and just about impossible to perfect, even for companies that have been at this for a whole lot longer than OnePlus. That's what made this strategy so risky — despite the OnePlus 5's camera actually being pretty good, the deck was stacked against OnePlus launching a game-changing camera experience.

Despite the hyper-analyzing of the camera performance this week, I still stand by the conclusion in my review:

Measuring the OnePlus 5 on its main camera alone, it's a capable shooter that improves from last year but also doesn't perfectly match up to the top-end flagships out there today that can offer better, more consistent performance in a variety of shooting conditions. The secondary camera gives a small bump to the OnePlus 5's overall camera experience, enabling new shooting options and a fun-to-play-with Portrait Mode, but it really doesn't seem like adding this second camera was worth losing OIS (and perhaps larger pixels) and the potential for better photos out of the main camera.

For a $479 phone, that's definitely good enough. Seeing improvement from last year and generally good camera performance is what you expect for that price. The only "issue" here is the camera not reaching the great heights that OnePlus claimed it would.

Now, on to a few more points from the week that was:

  • For even more OnePlus 5, be sure to listen to our latest podcast — Daniel, Alex, Michael Fisher and I talk for well over an hour on the phone.
  • Now that Bixby Voice is out in the world for more people to test, we're starting to get a feel for what this service will really be like. Let's see how much it improves prior to a proper consumer launch.
  • Regardless of how good Bixby Voice ends up being, it's hard to see things any other way than Samsung dropping the ball not having it ready to launch with the Galaxy S8, though. This is way too late — and I'm sure it's been bothering a lot of people internally at Samsung.
  • Then there's the bigger question: even if Bixby Voice is great, does that make us at all want to use Bixby Home or Bixby Vision? Because those continue to be lackluster products.
  • On a personal note, my brother Kris and his wife Alisa got married on Friday. Not only are they wonderful for each other, but it's quite amazing how they have brought together two very large families. The future's going to be great.

That's it for now. Have a great week, everyone.

-Andrew

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1 day ago

Save 33% on these wallet-sized stands for your phones and tablets

The past decade has seen us all steadily rely on our smartphones and tablets for all our entertainment purposes. In 2017, you can get away with watching all your favorite TV shows, movies, and YouTube content wherever you are on your smartphone or tablet.

Get a three-pack of stands for all your devices! Learn more

It's great and convenient but has also led to other problems like trying to find a way to prop up that phone or tablet for hands-free viewing. There are a number of accessories you can slap on your phone that gives you that extra functionality, but what if you could have a convenient kickstand that fits in your wallet?

<img src="https://www.imore.com/sites/imore.com/files/styles/medium/public/field/image/2017/06/card-stand-imore-stacksocial.jpg?

That's where this great deal from Android Central Digital Offers comes in. You can get a 3-pack of slick wallet-sized stands for just $19.99. These cards fold flat, but can be set up in seconds whenever you need. The adjustable aluminum support bar pops into nine different slots, giving you a wide range of viewing angles to choose from. While the size is small, these portable stands will support your phone or a tablet (up to 11-inches) in either landscape or portrait mode. Leave one in the kitchen so it's always there for following along with recipes, or in your bedroom for those late-night YouTube binges.

Give your hands a break from holding your phone all day! Learn more

Typically a 3-pack of these stands would sell for $30 but thanks to this deal from Android Central Digital Offers you can get yours for only $20. Keep one for yourself and give the other two away to friends or family, or horde them all for yourself. The choice is yours!

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1 day ago

Best Samsung Galaxy S8 Deals for June 2017

42

Where is the best place to buy a Galaxy S8 right now? Let's find out!

Updated June, 2017: Samsung is running an awesome BOGO offer on T-Mobile versions.

Samsung's Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ are the company's latest smartphones to hit the market, and they've been the center of attention since. If you're the type that likes to stay on the breaking edge of technology, you're probably looking to get your order in sooner than later, so that you can have one to show off to everyone. Whether the smaller one is what interests you, or the larger display that pushes the limits even further speaks to you, the last thing you want to do is not find the best deal to buy one.

Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung Galaxy S8+

Your favorite deals?

Have you come across any deals that aren't listed here? If so, be sure to drop a note in the comments with a link to the deal so others can check it out as well!

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Unlocked

img { width: 100%; height: auto; } .devicebox ul { display: table; margin: 0 0 10px; width: 100%; } .devicebox ul li { background: #f7f7f7; margin: 2px 0; padding: 4px 15px; } .devicebox ul li:hover { background: #fff; } .devicebox ul li:before { display: none; } .devicebox p ~ p { line-height: 1.25; } .devicebox p:first-of-type + p { padding: 15px; } .devicebox a.buy-link { border-radius: 5px; display: inline-block; font: 14px/31px "Proxima Nova Extrabld",Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; text-align: center; } .devicebox a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:link, .devicebox a.buy-link:active, .devicebox a.buy-link:visited { background: #37B5D7; color: #FFF; } .devicebox a.buy-link:hover { background: #2694B2; text-decoration: none; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { content: "\e61e"; font: 40px/0 "ac_iconset" !important; margin: 0 3px 0 -8px; vertical-align: middle; } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { /* div:not(.columns-3) excludes help menu content */ .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p img, .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 660px) { .devicebox h3 { text-align: center; } .devicebox ul, .devicebox p { display: block; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox p img, .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 661px), all and (max-width: 500px) { /* 2x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(even) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) { width: 100%; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 659px) and (min-width: 501px) { /* 3x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(100%/3 - 10px/3); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n):not(:nth-last-of-type(2)) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:only-child { width: 100%; margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(odd) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } } @media all and (max-width: 500px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { display: none; } } .page-admin .devicebox {max-width: 350px;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe {position: relative; height: 0; padding-bottom: 56.9%;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe iframe {width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

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2 days ago

Android O's notification coloring is an abomination

64

This idea needs a second look, Google.

Not every idea is a good idea. And some good ideas aren't nearly as good as they sound once put into use. I'm not sure where the idea of colorizing media notifications in Android O fits into the "good" scale of ideas, but I know one thing. It's an idea that needs to change.

In case you're not up to snuff with what I'm talking about — even when launched Android O will take about a year to get on the majority of phones out there — the new version allows developers to build rich media notifications that include playback controls, album art and a different color template based on the album or video thumbnail. right now, Google Play Music and YouTube will give you these new colorized notifications if you're running the Android O beta.

And they are a mess.

The twitch level is off the charts when I see something like this.

Alone, they're not horrible. A notification that's not base gray with darker gray lettering (on the Pixel launcher, because that's different on every phone) is neat. A splash of color goes a long way and can help brighten things up. But eventually, you'll come across a colorized notification that's a color combo you can't read (Tom Petty's Damn the Torpedos in Google Play will throw a pink notification with white lettering that refuses to show up in a photo of an AMOLED screen). I am on the lookout for a black on black notification, but so far even AC/DC has failed me.

It gets worse when you have two of the new rich colorized notifications or a normal notification and a colorized notification or any mix of either. The photos above demonstrate. This is not a good look.

The idea can be fixed if given a little attention.

OK, this is a beta. I know this. That means there's a chance the final product won't look anything like this, but that chance is slim. But I still want to give my feedback while there is time. Readability issues are easy enough to fix. Every color has a numerical value, and the software can be written so that certain numerical values won't ever be shown together. No more white text on light pink. But that still doesn't fix the fact that you might have one light pink notification beside (or above in this case) a normal one. Or one light pink one and one orange one. Or two brown ones with different color text.

And this is just the Pixel so far. Who knows how things will look on a Samsung or Huawei phone that has a pretty custom job going on up top for notifications. Which is part of the problem. Android can be too openy. It's cool that developers and users are able to change up how things look, but there needs to be a bit of control in some places. As mentioned in a recent episode of the Android Central Podcast, sometimes Google needs to stop suggesting how things are done and make a rule that needs to be followed. Especially for apps in Google Play.

Notifications with album art and controls are awesome. Can we make sure they look awesome?

The idea of having album art or thumbs in the notification is awesome. But they could be isolated from the rest of the notification area. Or something. I'm not a graphic designer, but I know at least a few work at Google. All I know is that no matter what phone I'm using, I never want to see the mess in the example photos.

A lot of people are going to disagree with me here, and that's fine. You should be able to have your stuff look the way you like. So should I. Let's hope there's an easy to find setting to kill the color when O makes its way into the world.

Android O

img { width: 100%; height: auto; } .devicebox ul { display: table; margin: 0 0 10px; width: 100%; } .devicebox ul li { background: #f7f7f7; margin: 2px 0; padding: 4px 15px; } .devicebox ul li:hover { background: #fff; } .devicebox ul li:before { display: none; } .devicebox p ~ p { line-height: 1.25; } .devicebox p:first-of-type + p { padding: 15px; } .devicebox a.buy-link { border-radius: 5px; display: inline-block; font: 14px/31px "Proxima Nova Extrabld",Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; text-align: center; } .devicebox a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:link, .devicebox a.buy-link:active, .devicebox a.buy-link:visited { background: #37B5D7; color: #FFF; } .devicebox a.buy-link:hover { background: #2694B2; text-decoration: none; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { content: "\e61e"; font: 40px/0 "ac_iconset" !important; margin: 0 3px 0 -8px; vertical-align: middle; } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { /* div:not(.columns-3) excludes help menu content */ .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p img, .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 660px) { .devicebox h3 { text-align: center; } .devicebox ul, .devicebox p { display: block; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox p img, .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 661px), all and (max-width: 500px) { /* 2x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(even) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) { width: 100%; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 659px) and (min-width: 501px) { /* 3x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(100%/3 - 10px/3); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n):not(:nth-last-of-type(2)) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:only-child { width: 100%; margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(odd) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } } @media all and (max-width: 500px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { display: none; } } .page-admin .devicebox {max-width: 350px;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe {position: relative; height: 0; padding-bottom: 56.9%;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe iframe {width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

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2 days ago

Get your groove on in this week's comment thread!

31

Sit back, relax and chat about stuff because it's the weekend!

Hey hey! Another week is done and we're all closer to _________ (fill in the blank there with retirement, graduation, or whatever). Hopefully, you had a good one.

We did because we get to live through yet another OnePlus launch and the internet fun-times that always go with them. It seems like a great phone. A great phone that may be too expensive, or cheat at benchmarks, or tell fibs about camera specs or whatever. You know, that regular OnePlus drama. Don't think that people in OnePlus' marketing department aren't loving seeing the words OnePlus 5 in every online discussion about Android ...

On top of that circus, we get to play with Bixby. Sort of, at least in a preview kinda way. Which is better than a not-at-all kind of way. Oh, and yeah, English or Korean only. ¡Lo siento!

It seems decent. Good with the on-device stuff and a start on the broader finding information from the internet stuff. Makes sense, right? Samsung is all about their hardware and getting Bixby to work with it had to be their first priority. The rest will come.

Photo credit Dan Perry, CC BY 2.0.

I'm excited this weekend, because right now while you're reading I'm on my way for a week's R&R in Captiva, Florida. A week's worth of swimming with manatees, collecting seashells, exciting nightlife in nearby Ft. Myers, or just sitting on my butt in a cabana sipping fruity drinks with tiny umbrellas in them. Probably the latter.

Seriously, it will be a great week spent with family and minus stress. There's even a new little one to see, and that gets me excited. I hail from the area, and it's always nice to go back. Especially in the winter, but June is good, too.

What are y'all up to this weekend? Talk about it, or anything else in the comments down below.

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