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7 hours ago

Allo: Everything you need to know

77

Everything you need to know to get started with Google's messaging service.

Allo is a smart messaging service that relies on the Google Assistant to serve up contextual suggestions. Assistant lives on as a chatbot within Allo, and you can invoke it to offer recommendations on nearby points of interest, tell jokes, play games, and much more. It'll also suggest contextual replies in conversations, provide you with score updates for your sports teams, along with weather and news updates, and so on.

Interactions with Google Assistant are designed to be conversational in nature, and it'll also tell the best bad jokes. If you're just getting started with Google's new messaging service, we have you covered.

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8 hours ago

How to use the archive feature in Google Photos

3

Archive pictures on Google Photos to keep your main screen free from clutter.

Google has been steadily adding features to Google Photos, and a recent addition is the ability to archive images from your main stream. The feature comes in handy if you're looking to get your pictures more organized within Photos, or if you want to move a few images off the main view.

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8 hours ago

OnePlus explains why it sent a push notification survey to OnePlus 5 customers

17

OnePlus gets caught out advertising the OnePlus 5 to OnePlus 5 customers.

OnePlus came under fire once again yesterday for sending out a push notification to OnePlus 5 customers asking them to take part in a survey to win a OnePlus 5. As expected, the move didn't go down well over on Reddit, with enterprising users tracking down the app that sent out the notification — the "Push" system app.

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9 hours ago

Google Pixel 2: Everything you need to know

340

What do we want from the Google Pixel 2?

A new, delicious version of Android will soon be upon us and if history is any indicator, not long after that we'll have some brand new Google Pixel phones to look forward to.

Up until recently, we thought this year's crop was to be a fairly predictable update to last year's — two devices built by HTC with improved specs and a newer version of Android. But things change.

Here's what we know so far about Google's 2017 Pixel phones.

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9 hours ago

This is our best look yet at the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel XL 2

58

Leaked CAD renders give us a detailed look at Google's 2017 flagships.

We got a first look at the Pixel XL 2 earlier this month, and a new leak out of MySmartPrice gives us a detailed look at the Pixel 2 and the larger Pixel XL 2. The 3D renders are based on CAD designs given out to accessory makers, and given the publication's accuracy with the Galaxy S8 leak, there's a high probability that this is what Google's 2017 flagships will end up looking like.

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10 hours ago

This NFC-enabled USB-C car dock is just $25 today!

0

Looking for an easy way to charge your Lumia 950 in the car and keep it in a safe place at the same time? If so, check out iBolt's USB-C car dock for a secure charging cradle option for the car. It has built-in NFC which will allow you to have your phone automate a task when you get in it, and right now you can pick one up for $25.

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11 hours ago

Galaxy Note 8 Emperor Edition could offer 6GB of RAM and 256GB storage

38

The Galaxy Note 8 Emperor Edition will be limited to Asia.

If a recent rumor out of Weibo is to be believed, Samsung will launch a special edition of the Galaxy Note 8 in its home market. Dubbed the Galaxy Note 8 Emperor Edition, the phone will feature 6GB of RAM and 256GB storage. Samsung is set to launch the special edition alongside the standard model, which is expected to feature 6GB of RAM and 64GB storage.

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11 hours ago

Android Octopus: Are animals the new sweet treats?

15
Android Octopus

Could Android 8.0 Octopus become a thing?

In sensible, functional terms, it's probably the least important thing about a new version of Android. Yet each year, there's intense speculation around what the new nickname of the next release will be. Google — including prominent Googlers like Hiroshi Lockheimer — play into the hype, teasing fans with cryptic confectionery references. The result is a predictable crescendo of hype in the month running up to the launch of each new version. Normally, by the time the final developer preview drops, we know the nickname.

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11 hours ago

Xiaomi rolls out a smart speaker with 360-degree audio sensing for $45

1

The Mi AI Speaker has an array of six microphones and 'excellent sound quality.'

Xiaomi is the latest company to launch a smart speaker. Announced at the MIUI 9 event, the Mi AI Speaker has a design aesthetic that makes it looks like a miniature version of Xiaomi's air purifier.

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13 hours ago

Xiaomi brings dual cameras to the budget segment with the Mi 5X

2

The Mi 5X offers the same camera setup as the Mi 6 for half the cost.

Xiaomi switched up its dual camera strategy with the Mi 6, offering a phone with a standard 12MP sensor paired with a secondary 12MP telephoto lens. The company is now bringing the same camera configuration to the budget segment with its latest phone, the Mi 5X. The Mi 5X also offers 2x lossless zoom, but the phone will be sold for just $220 (¥1,499), nearly half the cost of the Mi 6.

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13 hours ago

MIUI 9 goes live with UI tweaks, smart assistant, and split-screen mode

2

MIUI 9 includes a ton of new optimizations and a few much-needed additions.

At a media event in China, Xiaomi showed off the next iteration of its popular ROM, MIUI 9. MIUI is Xiaomi's first product, with the first version of the ROM launching all the way back in 2010. Seven years later, the ROM has racked up over 2.8 billion downloads from 142 countries, and is translated into 55 languages. The Chinese manufacturer introduced a visual refresh last year with MIUI 8, and with MIUI 9, the focus is on refining the user interface and adding new features.

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15 hours ago

Galaxy S8 Daydream rollout begins as Google promises support on 11 phones by end of year

4
Galaxy S8 Daydream

As Verizon's GS8 gets its Daydream VR update, Google CEO Sundar Pichai says a total of 11 Daydream phones will be available by the end of 2017.

It was promised back at Google I/O, and now the Samsung Galaxy S8 has started receiving firmware updates to enable Google's Daydream VR platform. As spotted by 9to5Google, the update is hitting Verizon models first in the U.S., and also brings the option to hide the navigation bar — a feature which arrived on international and Indian GS8s in June.

GS8 owners should be able to enjoy a great VR experience with Daydream, thanks to its low-latency, high pixel density (especially on the smaller model) and subpixel rendering. The rollout is likely to be staggered across various carriers and regions though, so it could be a few more weeks until all Galaxy S8 variants are updated.

Meanwhile Google CEO (and new Alphabet board member) Sundar Pichai noted in yesterday's Alphabet earnings call that there would be 11 Android phones with Daydream support on the market by the end of 2017.

It's hard to pin down precisely how many unannounced Daydream phones are on the way.

It's hard to work out exactly how many unannounced Daydream phones are on the way without knowing whether the figure of 11 considers dual-size phones like the Pixel and Pixel XL, or Galaxy S8 and S8+ to be separate devices. Nevertheless, future Daydream candidates include the LG V30 (already teased at Google I/O), Samsung Galaxy Note 8, Google's second-gen Pixels and perhaps a future Mate phone from Huawei.

That's in addition to the standalone Daydream headsets being developed by HTC and Lenovo.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Unlocked

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Google Daydream

Amazon Echo Dot

Google

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22 hours ago

The Moto GamePad Mod is finally here and it's awesome

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Moto GamePad Mod

Mobile gamers will be a fan of this.

Motorola's stable of Mods for its Moto Z lineup of phones is constantly growing, and one of the coolest of the lot is the GamePad Mod that adds physical gaming controls to your phone. It was teased back in June with the launch of the Moto Z2 Play, but now we've actually used a production model and can tell you what this $79 accessory brings to the (gaming) table.

See at Verizon

While it may look a bit bulky at a glance, it's a totally understandable size once you see everything that's inside. At the base of it the GamePad has to be slightly thick to be stable while twisting and gripping during gameplay, but also that the control surfaces have something to grab on to. The controls are basic, but exactly what you need: joystick and d-pad on the left, joystick and standard buttons on the right, and a pair of bumpers on the top. There's also a 1033mAh battery inside to keep your phone topped up while playing.

Support for gamepad controls varies by game, but most of the types of games that you'd expect to work with a controller do, and it's handled at the OS level so you don't have to worry much about anything funky happening.

The GamePad's biggest advantage may be its physical connection and large battery.

Then there's the big unseen advantage: with a physical connection to the phone, there's no fiddling with pairing Bluetooth or messing with Wi-Fi to make it work. Just pop your phone on, and it instantly recognizes the controls — no latency, no disconnects, no problems. That, with all of the other things aside, is worth checking this thing out for.

Even though Motorola is finally talking about the GamePad Mod again, it isn't yet ready to release it to the public. The product page still asks you to "register for updates" and doesn't provide any better timeline than a summer launch, which we were told back in June. Verizon, for its credit, is listing a shipping date for pre-orders of August 25 — plenty of time for that to change, though. The price is honestly a fantastic deal for such a functional accessory among plenty of other Mods that push over $200.

See at Verizon

Moto Z2 Force Edition

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23 hours ago

MrMobile goes hands-on with the Moto Z2 Force

5

For the fifth year running, Motorola's spicing up the summer with a smartphone that's not afraid to stand out – but this year, the bombastic brand name feels a bit … Forced.

I'm Michael Fisher, alias MrMobile, and I went hands-on with the Moto Z2 Force Edition and the latest Moto Mod, the Moto 360 Camera. Check out this video, and then head over to Android Central's hands-on coverage for more.

Featured Products

Stay social, my friends

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1 day ago

Moto Z2 Force hands-on: I can't believe it's not breakable

60

Motorola's latest flagship has a shatterproof screen and a crazy-fast processor, but at first glance you can't really tell.

Perhaps the biggest compliment and criticism one can level at the Moto Z2 Force is that it doesn't look unbreakable, or even particularly new. From the front, you'd have to squint pretty hard to tell it apart from the $408 Moto Z2 Play released in June, and its resemblance to the flagship Moto Z Force Droid Edition released last year is uncanny.

This is in large part due to the adherence to Motorola's increasingly busy Mods accessory lineup, which snap on to the back of the phone with a satisfying click that continues to impress even a year later.

But the Moto Z2 Force does have some notable improvements both over its predecessor, which was held to Verizon, and to the Moto Z2 Play, which we lauded with praise earlier this summer.

Moto Z2 Force Hands-on video

For the quick take on the Moto Z2 Force, be sure to watch our hands-on video above. After you get a feel for the phone, read through for our full initial impressions!

Moto Z2 Force Hardware

You'd be hard-pressed to tell this unbreakable screen isn't glass.

For starters, though the Moto Z2 Force resembles all the Moto Z phones before it, its default color is Super Black, which finds Motorola jumping on the Matte Black trend that began with the Galaxy S7 and OnePlus 3T. While there are other colors — Fine Gold, and a T-Mobile-exclusive Lunar Grey — the Super Black model is really the one to get.

On the front of the phone, you'll find the Quad HD Super AMOLED display, which looks great and gets extremely bright — its automatic brightness mechanism makes the phone quite usable in the sunshine, something you definitely couldn't say about the original. But the real victory here is what you can't see: the seams between the company's ShatterShield layer and the display itself. What began as a fairly opaque differentiator on the Moto X Force was improved on the Moto Z Force and is now completely integrated into the chassis on the Moto Z2 Force.

While there is a small border when you turn the screen into the light, the gap is gone, and that's probably the biggest advantage over Forces of past. I didn't get a chance to use the Moto Z Force for any length of time, and I definitely didn't get to drop it, scratch it, or attempt to inflict damage to the ShatterShield screen in any way, it's nice to know that should my clumsiness cause a fall onto cement, the screen will stay in tact. Add to that a four-year guarantee against breakage directly from Motorola and you've got a nice chunk of protection.

That said, ShatterShield is not glass but a plastic-like compound that, though much more resistant to breakage than glass, is also more susceptible to scratches. In our limited time with the phone, both Andrew Martonik and I racked up some pretty nasty scratches on the screen that, while not visible to the naked eye, can be seen when tilted to the light. This isn't a great first impression, so put a screen protector on it if you want to prevent scratches.

What does give a great impression is the 7000 Series aluminum bordering that plastic covering; not only is it beautifully chamfered to a fine edge, but the feeling is outstanding on this black review unit I've been using.

The phone also retains the more rounded front fingerprint sensor that debuted with the Moto G5 series earlier in the year, though Motorola's made some improvements to the unlock speed by increasing the surface area of the reader itself. We also find the "Moto" logo on the bottom of the device instead of the top when compared to the Moto Z2 Play, along with a reversal of front-facing camera and flash placements. All very subtle.

Around back, the only real difference between the Z2 Force and Play is the new dual camera setup. The camera array, which we'll deal with shortly, consists of 12MP sensors, as opposed to a single sensor on the Moto Z2 Play, but other than that you'd be hard-pressed to tell the two apart. Even the 6.1mm thickness is only 0.1mm greater than the Moto Z2 Play.

Despite being thicker than the Z2 Play, though, the new Force does not have a headphone jack. A USB-C to 3.5mm headphone jack is included in the box, but you'll be turning to Bluetooth or a dongle should you need to get tunes from the thing — or listen to the single front-facing speaker, which is just as tinny and underwhelming as most phone speakers. C'est la vie.

Moto Z2 Force Specs

We've got a pretty thorough listing of specs, so let's get to the finer points. Like most flagships this year, the Moto Z2 Force comes with a Snapdragon 835 platform, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage — at least in the U.S. International variants, such as those sold in Brazil, will come with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, while China is getting an extra-special 6GB/128GB version, because of course it is.

Despite looking like last year's model, this is one of 2017's most powerful phones.

Along with the higher-resolution screen and faster internals, this is definitely Motorola's most powerful-ever phone, which is great to see, but the original Moto Z Force was no slouch, either. The company appears, however, to be resting on the strength of its Moto Mods ecosystem, in which there are four separate batteries, to shore up its significantly smaller battery this time around. The original Z Force was a scant 7mm thick, with a 3500mAh cell; its sequel knocks 0.9mm from its waist and 22% from its battery capacity in the process. Not a great trade-off, in my opinion, even with the addition of a Moto Mod.

We've also got Qualcomm's X16 baseband chip, which means Gigabit LTE support on T-Mobile and, in some parts of the country, AT&T. So far, I've experienced excellent speeds using the Verizon model, though nothing surpassing 150Mbps on my home network of Telus.

Moto Z2 Force Cameras

No optical image stabilization is a huge disappointment.

Motorola went with two rear camera sensors this time around, one color and one monochrome, the purpose of which is to offer depth effects and a true black-and-white mode.

Both sensors are identical 12MP Sony IMX386 parts paired with f/2.0 lenses. Unlike last year's Moto Z lineup, neither lens is supported by optical image stabilization, an enormous oversight and a decision that was probably not taken lightly given the advantage it would bestow to low-light imagery. The lenses are also narrower than the Moto Z and Z Force: f/2.0 lets in less light than f/1.8, so it would be incumbent on Motorola to figure out how to use both cameras at once to improve low-light performance. We'll see.

Of course, Motorola has largely painted itself into a corner with its design, since the camera equipment has to fit into a narrow protrusion near the top middle of the phone, but the reality is still disappointing.

Moto Z2 Force camera samples. Left to right: Regular, Depth, Black-and-white

So is the trade-off worth it? It's not clear if the phone uses both cameras at all times, or only when calling the depth effect, which is accessed through a separate mode, but so far I'm impressed with the photos I've taken. Moreover, the dedicated monochrome sensor allows for true black-and-white photos straight from the sensor, something that only Huawei has offered until now with its Mate and P series. It's an interesting decision given how OnePlus and LG have differentiated themselves by using two color sensors at different focal lengths, and it remains to be seen whether Motorola made the right choice.

Of course, the company is also banking on users buying (or being gifted) the Hasselblad Moto Mod, which offers a larger sensor and 10x optical zoom, alongside a Xenon flash.

Moto Z2 Force Software

On the software side, the experience is largely identical to what you'll find on the Moto Z2 Play: Android 7.1.1 with some Motorola tweaks, most of which are highly welcome.

Moto Display continues to showcase just what ambient screens should look like, while the company's lo-fi, near-stock design is about as good as you'll get from an OEM. Given that I'm using a Verizon unit, I had to disable a number of apps and stubs that I will likely never use, but customers that don't want the hassle can pick up an unlocked version, updated straight from Motorola, in the coming months.

So far, so so

I'm certainly not writing off the Moto Z2 Force, since it's only been in my hands a few hours, but my impressions of the phone are decidedly mixed. In eliminating a proper sequel to the Moto Z, it has been forced to compromise on camera specs and battery life, two of the original Force's biggest advantages.

The Moto Z2 Force does a lot of things well, but its success will depend on its camera and its battery.

But the Moto Z2 Force is also an impressive piece of hardware, packing a lot of power into a very compact and well-made exterior. Every buyer will be getting at least one Moto Mod to start his or her collection, and Motorola is banking that, upon using one, more will follow. At the same time, add-ons can't make up for what appear to be decisions that many customers will not be impressed by, especially since some of them appear to be regressions from the 2016 models.

With most carriers charging between $750 and $810 for the phone, the Moto Z2 Force needs to have a strong marketing push behind it, something that it can achieve with Lenovo's deep pockets. That the phone is available at all four U.S. carriers, a first for Motorola, is a windfall for the once-powerful brand, and a confidence booster for an impressive line of smartphones that, despite a slow start, has emerged as a strong competitor to Samsung and LG in the Android space.

Much of the Moto Z2 Force's lasting impression will come down to the quality of the camera, and the longevity of the battery. Everything else, despite being familiar, is already here. It just needs to clear those remaining hurdles.

Where to buy the Moto Z2 Force

Moto Z2 Force Edition

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