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10 hours ago

Gear S3 gets Tizen 3.0 update with enhanced UI, fitness tracking, and more

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Tizen 3.0 is available to download now through the Samsung Gear app on your phone.

Samsung's Gear S3 was widely considered to be one of the best smartwatches around when it debuted in late 2016, and that's a point that's still often associated with it to this very day. Tizen 3.0 is now being rolled out to the Gear S3 as part of Samsung's "Value Pack Update", and there's a lot that's included with it.

Tizen 3.0 ships on the Gear Sport out of the box, so while the features here aren't entirely new, they are things we haven't yet seen on its older brother. One of the biggest improvements with the 3.0 update is an even heavier focus on fitness tracking. With Tizen 3.0, you can use the Gear S3 to continuously monitor your heartbeat with improved accuracy, add food eaten throughout the day to keep track of calories, and use Samsung's Health Fitness Program that allows you to control workout videos on your smart TV and even see your heart rate in real-time on the big screen.

If fitness tracking really isn't your thing, the update also allows you to now create contacts and events right on your watch, view and edit checklists, as well as edit how often you're notified of web and video reminders.

The UI as a whole retains the same look, but there are a few smaller updates that make interacting with it all the more enjoyable. Widgets have been reworked to showcase more information on the Gear S3's circular display, rotating the bezel quickly will allow you to see more options at once when changing your watch face, and you can go from a text message notification right to the reply field by just rotating your bezel as well.

Top this off with the ability to reorder apps based on how recently they've been used, swipe up or down from any screen to access the new Moment Bar, and a more modern look for the companion Samsung Gear app on your phone, and you're looking at a lot of new goodies.

Samsung's Value Pack Update with Tizen 3.0 is available to download now through the Samsung Gear app.

Samsung's Gear Sport is currently the best alternative to Android Wear

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18 hours ago

Gboard gets built-in stickers and 40 more languages with latest update

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Gboard now features built-in stickers and supports more than 120 different languages.

Although your options for virtual keyboards on Android are endless, Google's Gboard remains as one of the best around. Gboard recently received a new update, and it brings support for built-in stickers and 40 additional languages.

Starting first with the new languages, the biggest addition is that of Japanese. Google has offered a Google Japanese Input app for a while that allows users to type in the language, but it's nice to finally see it integrated into the full Gboard application. If you're currently using Google Japanese Input, you'll need to manually download Gboard and configure it for Japanese typing in order to get the new experience.

As for the built-in stickers, you'll now see four sticker packs in Gboard when tapping on the stickers icon. Stickers could previously be used with Gboard, but doing so required you to download Allo and grab them through it rather than directly through Gboard. It was a pretty clunky process, so we're grateful to see that there's no longer a reliance on Allo to make the sticker magic happen.

The latest update for Gboard is live on the Play Store now, but if you're not seeing it for whatever reason, you can download the APK file here.

Emogi for Gboard brings thousands of animated stickers to Android

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19 hours ago

Best zombie games for Android

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Prepare for the pending zombie apocalypse with these games

Few moments in gaming are as satisfying as mowing down a gnashing horde of zombies with a machine gun. Or as exhilarating as outrunning a swarm of the living dead.

Zombies have a special place in our hearts as one of the best video game baddies of all time, and nothing beats a good zombie game. Whether you're the type to go in guns a-blazing, or opt for a more stealthy and strategic approach, there's a zombie game for Android that's right up your alley.

Just remember: Don't get bitten!

Death Road to Canada

Death Road to Canada is a $10 game — I want to open with that just to get the sticker shock out of the way before I talk about how freaking awesome this game is.

Facing a zombie apocalypse, you must lead a scrappy squad of diverse characters on a deadly mission from Florida to the relative safety of Canada. Along the way, you'll need to explore and loot places for supplies, while also managing your team's health and morale.

Everything within Death Road to Canada is randomly generated, making every play-through a unique experience in this dynamic road trip action-RPG. You can randomly generate your character and buddy or custom design your starting characters with different attributes to help them stay alive, but you probably don't want to get too attached unless you're a really good shot.

The controls admittedly take some getting used to, and there's a pretty steep learning curve as you learn which weapons are most effective and what times it's better to fight or run. And you will die, early and often, although that's part of the fun of a zombie apocalypse, right?

There's a ridiculous amount of depth in this game, including 10 different game modes to unlock. The price might seem a little steep, but if you're a fan of rogue-like zombie games, it's well worth the investment!

Download: Death Road to Canada ($9.99)

Telltale Games: The Walking Dead

How could we not include one of the most popular zombie franchises out there? Telltale games hit it out of the park with its series of games based on AMC's "The Walking Dead."

The game follows Lee Everett, a convicted criminal, in his efforts to protect an orphaned girl. Telltale Games have a unique storytelling method where the decisions you make throughout the game, including any conversations with other characters, have a major impact how the story plays out. This allows for some variety in multiple play-throughs.

You get the first episode in the series for free when you download the app, with the remaining five episodes available via in-app purchases.

Download: The Walking Dead Season One (Free w/IAPs)

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Dead Trigger 2

Dead Trigger 2 continues to be the quintessential zombie-shooting experience on mobile. The graphics are amazing, though the game hardly takes itself seriously — there are lots of tongue-in-cheek references and over-the-top baddies to mow down. This version is a little different in that players now have their own hideout and a crew that can build stuff for them. The controls have also been streamlined for touch; all you have to do is move the crosshairs over a zombie, and if you're in range, you'll automatically start shooting.

There are many missions to enjoy, and the in-app purchases have been scaled back with the removal of the premium currency — now you can buy and build everything yourself without spending a cent.

Download: Dead Trigger 2 (Free)

Into the Dead 2

Into the Dead 2 is a first-person game that puts you in the role of a survivor in a post-zombie-apocalyptic world. You must run for your life to stay alive, occasionally finding weapons to help you fight back.

There's a surprising amount of variety in this game with a story that spans over 60 stages with multiple endings. Unlock and upgrade your weapons and even play with a canine companion as you explore military bases and survivor campsites looking for other survivors.

On top of the unique gameplay, this game also looks gorgeous. It's the perfect game to play with the lights off.

Download: Into the Dead 2 (Free w/ ads, IAPs)

Plants vs Zombies 2

Plants Vs. Zombies is one of those classic game franchises that's just so fun to play. I can still remember beating the first one after marathon sessions in University while I was supposed to be studying.

Plants Vs. Zombies 2 continues with that winning formula, offering a new campaign that spans over 11 unique worlds spanning all of space and time — from Ancient Egypt to outer space. Collect and choose your favorite plants as you battle against swarm after swarm of brain-hungry zombies.

It's just classic a classic strategy action game with a splash of zombie fun that's fun and accessible for the whole family. Not your "traditional" zombie game compared to the other entries on the list, but a great game nonetheless and certainly worthy of its spot here.

Download: Plants vs Zombies 2 (Free)

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Zombie Gunship Survival

Zombie Gunship has always offered a unique zombie gaming experiences on mobile. Rather than compete with the flashy first-person shooters or more challenging strategy games, Zombie Gunship Survival has you take to the skies as you offer support to ground troops looking to push back the hordes.

The graphics are outstanding as it's got a very authentic look and feel during gameplay. As you complete missions you can upgrade and your weapons and start building out your remote airfield as your base of operations. Like so many other games, your basic duties are to survive and save other survivors.

Check out Zombie Gunship Survival if you're looking for a fresh take on the zombie survival genre.

Download: Zombie Gunship Survival (Free w/ ads, IAPs)

Zombies, Run!

Part fitness tracker, part audio drama, Zombies, Run! is the perfect app for those of us who really need to be motivated to keep running. Developed by Six to Start, this app has been around for quite some time, but it's always a fun recommendation to throw out there for anyone looking to start a running routine. Simply load up the game on your phone, pop in your favorite workout headphones and head out on your adventure.

You fill the role of Runner 5, a survivor of an ongoing zombie apocalypse that must venture out into the infected lands to collect supplies and find new survivors. You're able to listen to your own music with the story cutting in between songs. If you start slowing down, you might begin to hear zombies following you — a not-so-subtle reminder to pick up the pace.

The base app is free, but you can pay a monthly or yearly subscription to unlock all the missions and content at once. If you've never tried it before, it's definitely worth checking out.

Download: Zombies, Run! (Free w/ optional subscription available)

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How do you like to slay zombies?

There are our picks, but did we miss your favorite? Let us know in the comments!

[custom:android-gaming]

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21 hours ago

What email app are you using?

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There are a lot of email apps to choose from, but these are the top ones our forum users recommend.

As popular as instant messaging services like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are, there will always be a time and place in which old-school email rains supreme. Email still has its place for both personal and professional use, and over the years we've seen a lot of really great email clients hit the scene.

One of our forum users recently announced that they were unsure of which one to download after moving from iOS to Android, and these are a few of the options that were recommended.

*/
mschmiechen 11-19-2017 10:35 AM “

I use BlackBerry HUB.

Reply
*/
raqball 11-19-2017 10:55 AM “

I just use the gmail app and add my external accounts there. Works great.

Reply
*/
bhatech 11-19-2017 11:11 AM “

I use Inbox for my personal gmail account and Outlook app for work office 365 email.

Reply
*/
bkrickles 11-19-2017 02:23 PM “

I have all 4 of my email accounts run through BlueMail and definitely no battery drain. All 4 pushing email with 1 account an exchange account. Very customizable and smooth. Definitely recommend

Reply

Now, we pass the question on to you – What's your favorite email app?

Join the conversation in the forums!

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1 day ago

Android 8.0 Oreo now rolling out to OnePlus 3/3T with OxygenOS 5.0 update

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The update will first be rolled out incrementally and then expand to more users.

OnePlus recently announced the 5T as its latest flagship handset, and while the phone does have a lot to offer, one area of annoyance lies with the fact that it won't receive an official build of Android Oreo until some point in 2018. However, if you own a OnePlus 3 or 3T, an over-the-air update for Oreo is rolling out now. An open beta for Oreo on the 3/3T began in October, but this update is being made available for all users as an official build.

With this being an update to Oreo, you'll soon have access to the likes of notification dots, picture-in-picture, Google's Autofill API, and smart text selection. However, in typical OnePlus fashion, you'll also find a variety of custom tweaks to elevate your Oreo experience even more.

OnePlus has added a new folder design within its launcher, there's now an option to upload photos you've taken directly to Shot on OnePlus, and the recently announced Parallel Apps feature that allows you to have two separate instances of the same application is here as well. Lastly, the update comes with the September security patch (and strangely not the more recent November one).

The Oreo/OxygenOS 5.0 update will be rolling out incrementally at first starting today and then expand to more and more users over the coming days.

Android Oreo

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3 days ago

YouTube TV app now available for Samsung and LG smart TVs

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Google's live television service continues its big screen expansion.

Earlier this month, Google finally released a YouTube TV app for Android TV and Xbox One consoles after months of patiently waiting. It was announced that the app would be making its way to more devices in the near future, and the latest ones to join the bunch include smart TVs from Samsung and LG.

Smart TVs from Samsung and LG that came out in either 2016 or 2017 can now get the YouTube TV app, and downloading it is pretty simple.

If you're in camp Samsung, go to "Apps" within the app launcher, head over to the list of recommended applications you can download, and find YouTube TV. For LG televisions, go to the LG Content Store, search for "YouTube TV", and download it once you've found it.

You can't currently sign up for YouTube TV from the TV app, so you'll need to first do so on your phone or computer if you don't already have an account.

Also, if you own older televisions from Samsung or LG that were released in 2014 or 2015, Google says a YouTube TV app will be available soon for them as well.

YouTube TV finally gets a proper Android TV app

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3 days ago

Google Assistant can help troubleshoot your Pixel 2

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If you own a Pixel 2, the Assistant can now help troubleshoot basic Bluetooth, camera, and battery issues.

The Google Assistant's list of various functions has grown far too large to list off every single one at this point, and while that's great, it also means that certain tricks can slip between the cracks every now and then. In the latest discovery, it appears that the Assistant (at least on Pixel 2 devices) can help troubleshoot some basic issues.

Initially spotted by Android Police, asking Assistant "why is my phone not charging" or telling it to "troubleshoot camera" will initiate a troubleshooting session where it'll ask you various questions about the issue you're having. If the Assistant can't help you resolve whatever problem you've run into, it'll ask if you want it to contact Google Support on your behalf.

The official Pixel Phone Help pages on Google's support site list the Assistant as a way for getting help with battery and Bluetooth issues, but the Assistant has also been discovered to aid with camera problems as well.

Troubleshooting with the Assistant is reported to work on Pixel 2 handsets running the Developer Preview for Android 8.1, but I also managed to get it working on my Pixel 2 running the latest November security patch for Android 8.0. However, no matter which version of Oreo you're running, this functionality does seem to be limited to the Pixel 2 for the time being.

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

Google Store Project Fi Verizon Best Buy

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4 days ago

LastPass won't be affected by restrictions on Accessibility Services

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LastPass and other big applications will be able to keep using Accessibility Services like normal.

At the beginning of this week, it was discovered that Google was informing app developers about new restrictions being implemented on the use of Accessibility Services. We have a full breakdown that explains exactly what's going on and why these changes are being made, but essentially what it boils down to is Google trying to prevent malicious applications from tapping into this deeper part of the OS.

However, while protecting against potentially huge security threats, this also left some questions regarding legitimate apps that rely fairly heavily on Accessibility Services, such as LastPass, Tasker, etc.

LastPass – "there is no immediate impact to our Android users."

Following this concern, LastPass issued a statement saying that "there is no immediate impact to our Android users." LastPass says that Google is currently working closely with certain developers so that they'll be able to continue to use Accessibility Services in the short-run, while also helping them convert to safer solutions down the road.

In LastPass's case, that long-term solution comes in the form of Android Oreo's Autofill API that allows for nearly the same (and sometimes better) experience as what's currently offered with LastPass's App Fill feature.

It's unclear at this time what developers have the green light from Google to keep using Accessibility Services for the time being, but should we learn of any more, we'll be sure to keep you posted.

Accessibility Services: What they are and why Google is cracking down on their misues

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4 days ago

'Bit Rot' explained: Why your phone is slower than when it was new

53

Your phone was faster yesterday than it is today, and will be slower tomorrow. Bit Rot is a real thing.

Computers are kind of like people — as they age they tend to get a little slower and flaws are easier to see.

Our phones are computers shrunk down to be pocket-sized and easy to carry around. And that means as time goes by, things aren't happening as quickly as they used to or things can get a little buggy. This is universal; it happens to Galaxy phones and LG phones and Pixel phones and iPhones and every other phone that does more than make calls and send texts. Some people say they don't see it happening, and that's because of why it happens and the way software is written for all the different phones out in the wild. But it is still happening on your phone right now, and always will be.

Let's take a look at what is commonly known as "Bit Rot" and see if we can't understand things a little better.

What is Bit Rot, exactly?

It's a term that gets thrown around a lot by people who are into computers, and it basically means that the software is "old" and has become slower than it used to be. There are three things at play, and they're well documented even if they're not very easy to understand: Software Erosion, Software Entropy, and Software Bloat.

First, some outliers

Sometimes there can be other factors, too. Data Degradation and Feature Creep can cause programs and apps to slow down, but they're easier to explain and are a little different than what we call Bit Rot. Data Degradation is a fancy word that means your memory — either the RAM, the storage or both — is getting old. RAM and Solid State media require an electric charge and over time it can disperse more than it was designed to do. This means some of the stored bits (software bits) can be changed. When a few bits are wrong, many programs can compensate but that takes time and the programs are a little slower. When a lot of bits are wrong things pretty much stop working as intended.

Data degradation and feature creep can make your phone slower, too, but are different from Bit Rot.

Feature Creep is easy to understand. Your phone was built with a specific set of software in mind. When you get an update that adds more features, the hardware has to work harder and things get slower. Online forums are filled with people who hated a recent update on their Galaxy phone and people with older iPhones who hate the latest version of iOS. That's because the software was written with newer and more capable hardware in mind, just like the software your phone originally shipped with was. We all love new features and updates, but the old adage "be careful what you wish for" is right on the money here.

These issues can certainly have an effect, but they're different from Bit Rot and probably aren't contributing much towards any slowness on our phones because we don't keep them long enough to see it in action.

Software Erosion

Software Erosion is the slow but steady deterioration of performance that can happen to any software, whether it's something we use a lot or just a little. Or even never. This happens because we use the software and all applications change when they're used — we add user data to the base so that the software does what we want it to do. Note that this is different than software getting slow or buggy while we're using it a lot but goes back to normal with a restart. That's usually due to small errors accumulating over time or a memory leak. You can't fix Software Erosion by closing and re-opening an app or restarting your phone.

All software has bugs and all software needs regular maintenance it never gets.

There are two different types of Software Erosion, dormant and active. Dormant software erosion happens when a program or parts of a program you don't use stop working well because other things changed, and active erosion happens because of changes while you're using it. Both types happen because of a few different reasons.

  • Unused or leftover code can (and often does) contain bugs that don't get caught.

All software has bugs, no matter what a developer or user says. When a company changes some code there's a very good chance some of the original code is never going to be used but is still built into the final product. Bugs here aren't as likely to get caught and can have an immediate effect or one that takes a while to show up.

  • Changes because the software isn't user-friendly happen a lot.

A developer builds software with a specific idea of how we will use it, but once it gets into our hands we often don't use it that way! Sometimes this isn't our fault and software has a poorly implemented interface so we do things a developer never thought we would. Other times it is our fault and we do things like make multiple accounts or run multiple instances of an app or function that wasn't designed to run that way. This can leave user data or cached data that is more difficult for an app to process.

  • Lack of updates and maintenance are bad.

Any developer will tell you that the job isn't finished once the program is published, and software needs to be maintained. This means fixing bugs users find, but also frequent updates to work well with other software. Lack of regular maintenance across the board is the biggest cause of Software Erosion.

The "Android" that runs on your phone is actually a big group of independently running programs and services that need to communicate with each other constantly. An example: Facebook makes another change on their servers, then updates the app in Google Play. Your Contacts app ties into Facebook, so it might need an update. Or your camera gets an update but the gallery application that's tied to it doesn't. All the parts of the system need to work with all the other parts, and that means regular maintenance.

The good news here is that a lot of Software Erosion problems are fixed with a factory reset where all the user data is wiped. The bad news is that it all comes back eventually.

Software Entropy

All software that we can't change has bugs and unused code (see above). These bugs will probably stay unchanged over time, but can get worse as the complexity of software we can change increases. This is called Software Entropy.

The software you change affects the software you can't change because the system itself gets more complex.

Most of the software on your phone is in a closed system. You might be able to update the keyboard or camera app from the Play Store, but the bulk of the operating system is installed at the factory and only changed with a full system update. This is very different from all the apps, both factory-installed user apps and ones you installed yourself. The software you can change gets more complex over time and the software you can't change has to deal with it.

The people who wrote the software on your phone are pretty darn smart when it comes to all of this. But nobody can know the things we'll do, what new apps will be capable of doing, and how apps designed for one set of APIs (application programming interfaces), for instance, Samsung's APIs from their software development kit, will work with apps designed for another set of APIs, like the ones from Google that are part of Android. The developers have to do their best to guess and make the software in a way that won't break and hope for the best.

There are two ways to fight Software Entropy — regular software maintenance through timely updates, or resetting the user software back to the factory state.

Software Bloat

This isn't what the name suggests, though extra bloatware apps can and do cause things to run slower. Software Bloat when talking about Bit Rot means software that is filled with extra or unused features.

The more features added to any program, the more complex it will be. Complexity makes applications slower.

"Extra" features are impossible to define. Apps, or parts of apps, that I don't use are extraneous to me, but you might use and love them. From a computer's point of view, the only good application is one that does only one thing then closes itself once finished. This is impractical from a user point of view; imagine a keyboard app that closed after each letter was typed. The companies that make the phones we love have to find a happy medium between features and performance by using the right hardware or cutting back on features in apps. That could mean adding more RAM and using a faster processor or trimming features from an app, or both.

Another part of the "extra" features is software that has to be able to handle multiple (and often competing) standards. Your email applications are a great example of this. If you use Gmail and use the Gmail app, things are a lot more streamlined than they would be if you're using the other email app with a Gmail account, or an Exchange account, or something like a Yahoo! POP3 account. The Email app has to be able to do things the Gmail app can't, and has to be able to handle the different types of data we create. This takes time to process and as we add more data it takes more time.

Perhaps the best example of "extra" features and how they affect performance would be comparing Evernote and Google Keep. If you only use the app to take notes, all the extras in Evernote mean it takes a lot more time to add or read them. If you like those extra features, you'll quickly find that Google Keep just can't do most of them. There is no right or wrong here, but this does have a big impact on performance.

Unused "leftover" features can still run and cause problems, and our phones are filled with them.

Unused features are more frustrating because we don't know they are there and we couldn't do anything to change things if we did. When a company like LG (we'll pick on them here, but this applies to every company making phones, even Google) makes a phone with their own apps that are duplicates of "stock" android apps like the phone dialer or the calendar, there is a lot of leftover code that isn't being used. Some of the code still runs when you start your phone, too. We've talked about how this means bugs will be harder to find in that portion of code, but it also can have a big impact on performance. And when Software Entropy is factored in we see how those bugs can get worse and worse over time.

When you see silly arguments in comments about how a phone like the Moto G5 is faster than a Galaxy S8 with half the hardware power, Software Bloat is why.

So what does all this mean and what can I do about it?

That's an easy question — it means that some phones are slower than others and some phones get noticeably slower over time while others are less affected. And there's not really anything we can do about it.

More features mean slower software and more opportunity for Bit Rot to happen. It's a trade many gladly make.

Real talk — a phone like the Note 8 is noticeably slower (and shows it when attached to tools that monitor performance) than a Pixel 2. The Note 8 will get even slower six months or so down the road. But the Pixel 2 will never be able to do some of the things a Note 8 does, no matter how many apps we install or how we hack the crap out of it. I can annotate a screenshot with the S Pen immediately after I capture it on the Note 8, but on the Pixel 2, I have to share the screenshot to another device to annotate it with the same level of features and detail.

Like the Evernote vs. Google Keep argument above, what's better is largely a matter of features that you like. The Note 8 has all the features. This means it has all the bugs and software bloat that makes Bit Rot more noticeable. This could be a problem for you, but for others, it's not because there is no other way to get the feature-set. This is why there are more Android phones than just a Pixel and Pixel Plus and what everyone means when they say Android gives you a choice.

And when Bit Rot ever becomes enough of a problem that you need to do something about it, just factory reset your phone and take a few hours to set everything back up.

Questions?

Sound off in the comments below!

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4 days ago

Vudu for NVIDIA Shield Android TV picks up HDR and Google Assistant

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Google Assistant available for all, but HDR is exclusive to the Shield TV.

The NVIDIA Shield TV remains as the best way to experience Android TV and all of the 4K and HDR content it has to offer, and Vudu recently announced an update to its app that reinforces this point even more.

With the latest update to the Vudu app on Android TV, you can now stream HDR content to watch your movies and TV shows with brighter colors and higher contrast for an overall better picture. HDR content is currently limited to the Shield TV, and you'll need to ensure that you also have a television that supports HDR10.

No matter what streaming box or smart TV you have, Vudu has also added support for the Google Assistant. You'll be able to say "Play [movie/TV show title] on Vudu" from your home screen to start watching right away, and once you're in the app and streaming your favorite show, you can use your voice to pause/play what you're watching, rewind, skip to the next episode, etc.

New NVIDIA Shield Android TV: Everything you need to know

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4 days ago

Google Assistant now supports apps for Canadian users

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Apps for the Assistant are available in both English and French.

There are many different levels and layers to the Google Assistant, and while it's great for checking the weather, adding events to your calendar, and staying up to date on the latest world news, applications made using Actions on Google Assistant help to drastically expand the functionality of the AI. Recently, Google announced that these apps are finally coming to users in Canada.

With these apps now available, you can begin to use Assistant on your phone or Google Home for a variety of new things. You can find apps by accessing Assistant on your phone, and if you find one that you'd like to use, simply say the voice command to connect to it. Unlike apps on your phone or tablet, there's no need to download ones for Assistant.

By using apps for the Assistant, you'll be able to use your voice to shop for holiday gifts on Best Buy Canada, break an early morning sweat with Fitbit Coach, learn how to make a prime cocktail with Tender, etc.

Canadians can start using apps for Google Assistant in French and English now.

Google Assistant gains a load of new features and supports more languages

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5 days ago

Google Assistant gains a load of new features and supports more languages

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The Assistant can send content from Google home to your phone, send out push notifications, help you find new apps, and much more.

Google is continually working to make its Assistant AI as smart as can be, and in the latest move to do just this, the company announced a host of new tools that developers will soon have access to.

One of the biggest announcements is that apps for Google Assistant can now be created in Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and Indian English. Consumers won't necessarily be able to take advantage of this right away, but we imagine that developers will work on getting their apps to support these new additions ASAP.

Also announced is a new API that will allow Google Home to send content to a phone that also has the Google Assistant on it. For example, if you're ordering a sandwich from Panera Bread by talking to Google Home, the speaker will be able to send you a receipt to your phone so you can complete the purchase.

Google Assistant has been pretty great for carrying on natural conversations for a while now, but that point's about to become even stronger with a feature that Google is calling "implicit discovery."

Implicit Discovery allows users to say more natural-sounding commands to perform actions within apps without having to specifically mention said app by name. For example, you could say "Ok, Google, track my flight" without having to specifically call out the KAYAK app by name. It's a simple change, but one that should make using Assistant apps a lot more second-nature.

As for user-facing features, Google is revamping the interface on your phone for finding new apps that are compatible with Assistant. "What's new" and "what's trending" categories will be added so you can quickly find the best apps that are currently available, and these will be joined by subcategories within the app directory so you can pinpoint the exact type of app you'd like to find.

In addition to these bigger changes, Google is also letting users say "cancel" to quickly end a conversation that they're having with an Assistant app, applications can show suggestion chips that allow users to sign up for daily updates from it, Assistant apps can finally tap into push notifications, and more.

Ecobee thermostats pick up Google Assistant

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5 days ago

Sprint Unlimited Freedom subscribers will now get Hulu included for free

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The promotion officially begins on November 17.

There are a lot of trends that take place with wireless carriers, and one that we've been seeing this year is the move to include a streaming service for free with unlimited plans. AT&T jump-started this theme in April by including HBO with its plans, T-Mobile followed suit with its Netflix deal in September, and now Sprint has announced that its Unlimited Freedom subscribers will be able to get Hulu at no extra cost.

Unlimited Freedom through Sprint will set you back $60/month for one line, $40/month more for the second line, and then your third, fourth, and fifth lines are all free. You'll get access to 1080p HD video streaming and 10GB of hotspot data per line, and starting November 17, you'll be able to bundle Hulu with it.

Similar to how T-Mobile includes the Standard plan with its Netflix promo, Sprint customers will get access to the base Hulu plan with limited commercials that typically costs $7.99/month.

Once November 17 rolls around, you'll be able to head to Sprint's website and enroll yourself in the promotion.

With that out of the way, we're just waiting on you, Verizon.

Unpacking the doomed T-Mobile / Sprint merger

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5 days ago

Philo live TV streaming service gets you 37 channels for $16/month

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As long as you don't care about sports, Philo just might be the live TV service you've been looking for.

Ever since Sling TV was first announced in January of 2015, Internet-based television streaming services have been steadily increasing in popularity. While Sling's been expanding its features and content library, we've also seen competitors in the form of YouTube TV, Hulu Live TV, PlayStation Vue, and DirecTV Now.

To go along with all of the current options out there, we now have a new contender in the form of Philo. Philo was founded by Facebook co-founder Andrew McCollum, and based on your TV-watching habits, it might be the best deal in this industry that we've seen yet.

Sports fans need not apply.

If you're someone that's a big sports fan, Philo isn't going to be for you. Unlike all of the other streaming options out there, you won't find channels for watching any of the games – big or small. Instead, Philo's main focus is on just about everything else.

Philo has two main plans that you can choose from, with the $16/month option granting you access to 37 channels and the $20/month one bumping the count up to 46. You can check out the full lineup below, but some of the highlights here include AMC, Animal Planet, BBC America, Comedy Central, Discovery, Food Network, HGTV, Nick, Sundance TV, History, TCL, and plenty more. If you upgrade to the 46 channel package, you'll get access to the likes of Cooking Channel, Discovery Family, Logo, and a few others.

No matter which plan you choose, you can stream in HD quality on up to three different devices at once and have access to a cloud DVR and on-demand titles. There's currently support for Roku, iOS, Android via the Chrome browser, and streaming on your desktop. A proper Android app will be coming soon, as will additional channels.

I've been using Philo for a few hours now, and I'm already impressed. For someone that doesn't care about sports, only paying $16/month for this variety of channels with support for DVR and on-demand shows is fantastic. Sling TV was previously the cheapest option out there, but trying to match Philo's offerings with it would cost you around $30 to $35/month.

Philo's still in its early days and is going up against a lot of stiff competition, but at least in my eyes, the service is already positioned to do exceedingly well.

See at Philo

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6 days ago

UC Browser gets temporarily delisted on the Play Store for 'misleading' users

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UC Browser has over 500 million downloads, and is a popular alternative to Chrome in India.

Alibaba-owned UC Browser is no longer available for download from the Play Store. The app is particularly popular in India, where it briefly overtook Chrome to become the most-used mobile web browser in the country earlier this year. The browser has a userbase of 420 million globally — racking up 500 million downloads on the Play Store last month — with over 100 million coming from India.

There's no statement as to why the app was taken down, but the prevailing theory on Reddit is that the malicious redirect ads served up by UC Web's affiliates to inflate installs prompted Google to take action and delist the browser.

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