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1 week ago

Android team explains how Project Treble will (and won't) improve Android

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Googlers confirm most of what we knew (and had guessed) about Project Treble.

Members of the Android engineering team at Google are participating in a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) today. Find a list of the team members participating here.

One of the questions was about Project Treble and was wondering if thinking it could fix Android fragmentation was too optimistic. The response from the Android team explains most of what we need to know about Treble, and affirms many of the guesses crafted from the information we did have.

Devices launching with Android O will come Treble-enabled out of the box. Project Treble will make it easier, faster and less costly for device maker partners when these devices are updated in the future. In addition to the engineering changes, which enable Project Treble on all new devices launched with Android O and beyond, we're working closely with device makers and silicon manufacturers to both get required Android customizations (such as carrier-specific requirements) into AOSP, and reduce their cost and complexity when updating to the new version of Android. For example, Sony and Qualcomm have already contributed dozens of features and hundreds of bugfixes into AOSP so they no longer need to rework these patches with each new release of Android.

We'll publish more information about Project Treble on source.android.com soon.

Read the comment thread in its entirety

We know from Google I/O 2017 that many companies who make the components were asking for something like Project Treble, and seeing Qualcomm already taking advantage is a great sign. Further confirmation that smartphone makers have to incorporate Project Treble in new models is also good to hear.

We want Treble to make a significant difference. The existing way is obviously broken, so we can't help but hope the next step is better. These early indications keep us hopeful.

Android O

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1 week ago

These are the exclusive games for PlayStation VR

Which games are exclusive to PlayStation VR?

PlayStation VR is here and its library of games continues to grow. We love that a lot of our favorite titles from other platforms are also available on PSVR, but the real meat lies in the exclusive stuff.

What are the exclusive games, you ask? Here are all the titles that you'll only be able to play if you own a PS4!

Read more at VR Heads!

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1 week ago

Most Secure Android Phone

Best overall

Google Pixel

See at Google See at Verizon

The Google Pixel is the most secure Android phone you can buy, and one of the most secure phones of any available today.

Without disabling any security protections, the Pixel and Pixel XL are updated to keep you protected against known public security exploits and remote installations are monitored by Google's scanning software which blocks potential malicious content. While security and privacy are two very different things, when you decide you want private things to stay private you need to make sure your phone is secure to keep them that way.

Bottom line: The open-source nature of Android and the dedicated Android security team work in tandem to make the Pixel and Pixel XL the best phones when it comes to security and privacy.

One more thing: The Pixel and Pixel XL also show us that a secure phone that's great to use is a reality.

Why the Google Pixel is the best

A phone you want to use can also keep your data safe — and it comes in two sizes to fit everyone.

Every device that can connect to the internet has exploits available that break the default security configuration. If your phone isn't getting timely updates to combat them, you're simply not secure. We keep a vast amount of private — and priceless — data on our phones, and we all should care about keeping it safe from outside attacks. After you read all the agreements and decide what you're willing to give away, you should expect the remainder to stay private.

The Pixel phones are updated directly from Google with the latest version of Android. Outside of any new features that may come with, the device security model has been updated and strengthened by a dedicated team who regularly audits and enhances the code used to build Android. On top of this, Google releases updates to the security model at the beginning of every month for the people who build Android phones to apply to its software. These are important. More important than any other update. the Nexus 6P will get every one of them for its lifespan.

Equally important, but often overlooked, is transparency. You shouldn't have to trust a company when it says something is secure or updated, and the Android code for both the platform version and all updates is available for anyone to take a look at. Plenty of people do, and despite any opinions to the contrary, Android, as written, has proven to be a very secure platform. A phone like a Pixel is the embodiment of this.

Most important of all is that both Pixel phones are not only secure but are also phones that you'll want to use. No compromise is needed and the 5-inch Pixel and 5.5-inch Pixel XL both share the same fast processor and other internal components. A great — and secure — experience is available for fans of both sizes.

Best for typing

BlackBerry KEYone

See at BlackBerry Mobile

BlackBerry is legendary when it comes to mobile device management and security, and follows that trend when using Android to power its phones. With the KEYone, you also get the keyboard experience that only BlackBerry can offer. The KEYone is a great way to enjoy Android for people who still want a physical keyboard on their phone, and peace of mind that knowing a company is concerned about security.

Bottom line: BlackBerry continues its reputation of excellent mobile security and having a great keyboard with the KEYone.

One more thing: The BlackBerry is usually the first phone to get the monthly Android Security update — often hours before Google releases the bulletin itself!

Best for simplicity

BlackBerry DTEK60

See at BlackBerry

BlackBerry says the DTEK60 is the world's most secure Android phone.

The DTEK60 adds an enhanced version of the DTEK software tool to monitor application and system use to warn you when something isn't playing nicely. While this software is available as an update for the Priv, the out-of-the-box experience on the DTEK60 lets BlackBerry claim the "most secure Android "title. It's also pretty nice to use, too.

Bottom line:The DTEK60 is a welcome addition for many users and IT managers.

One more thing: Scott Wenger, VP of design and devices for BlackBerry says DTEK stands for "Detection."

Conclusion

Media outlets like to give Android a bad reputation when it comes to security, and it's difficult to blame them. Old, outdated software from manufacturers with no real concern for your security or privacy are the norm when it comes to phones running Android. But it doesn't have to be this way.

The Google Pixel delivers a great smartphone experience that ticks all the boxes for reviewers and users alike, and with no modifications, your personal data is very safe. A team of security professionals and engineers are dedicated to keeping it that way. Any of the phones on our list will do a great job when it comes to security, but the overall experience makes the Google Pixel the best.

Best overall

Google Pixel

See at Google See at Verizon

The Google Pixel is the most secure Android phone you can buy, and one of the most secure phones of any available today.

Without disabling any security protections, the Pixel and Pixel XL are updated to keep you protected against known public security exploits and remote installations are monitored by Google's scanning software which blocks potential malicious content. While security and privacy are two very different things, when you decide you want private things to stay private you need to make sure your phone is secure to keep them that way.

Bottom line: The open-source nature of Android and the dedicated Android security team work in tandem to make the Pixel and Pixel XL the best phones when it comes to security and privacy.

One more thing: The Pixel and Pixel XL also show us that a secure phone that's great to use is a reality.

Update July 2017: The Google Pixel remains our top pick, with the BlackBerry KEYone and DTEK60 rounding out the list.

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1 week ago

HMD Global CEO leaves abruptly ahead of Nokia 8 launch

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This is an odd one.

HMD Global (better known as just "HMD"), the company now making Nokia-branded phones, has parted ways with CEO Arto Nummela despite the company being in the middle of a re-launch of the Nokia brand. HMD calls this a "mutual agreement," which sounds rather ominous and adds to the confusion over why Nummela would leave as the company seems as though it's on an upswing.

HMD's new Nokia 3, 5, and 6, as well as the nostalgia-laden Nokia 3310, have been on the radar of many since launching earlier in the year at the MWC trade show. The Nokia 8, which is expected to launch soon, is supposed to be a proper flagship device that will compete at the top end of the market above $600. It's a far riskier bet than the budget-focused Nokia phones and one that could be a pivotal point for HMD's strategy with the Nokia brand.

HMD's board chairman Sam Chin had this to say on Nummela's departure:

Arto Nummela has played a key role in the creation of the HMD Global operation, building the team and launching our first products. On behalf of the whole Board, I thank Arto for his contribution and wish him well in his future endeavors.

While HMD looks for a new CEO, the current President and founder Florian Seiche has taken on the acting CEO role immediately.

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1 week ago

Google makes it easier to find high-quality apps with new curated Play Store bundles

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Find better apps from the humans at Google that use them every day.

Google has announced that it is bringing more order to the Play Store with a bunch of new human-curated app lists.

As part of an increased focus on its Editor's Choice section, which began last month with 'Android Excellence', which focused on high-quality individual apps, Google will now post "stories" that highlight groups of its favorite programs based on theme.

These so-called editorial pages run the gamut from "Puzzle Games to Test Your Logic" to "Track Your Spending With These 5 Budgeting Apps". The lists are relatively short, with a quick intro and a "last updated" timestamp, indicating that they will be refreshed from time to time.

The move represents the latest in a string of attempts to make the Play Store less of a maze for the average user, where often high-quality apps, especially those by individuals, are hidden in a sea of low-quality offerings, many of which "game" Google's search results. And while Google still puts a lot of emphasis on its algorithmically-generated results, the focus on human curation in its Editor's Choice section puts it on more equal footing with Apple's App Store, which is getting a human-touch redesign with iOS 11.

These lists are launching in Australia, Canada, the UK, Japan, South Korea, and the U.S., with more countries to be added soon.

See all the Editor's Choice editorial pages at the Play Store

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1 week ago

Google Home: Top 10 Tips & Tricks

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Get the most from your Google Home by starting with these tips and tricks.

Using Google Home is fun. That's not unique to just Google Home — telling any computer, no matter what size or shape, to do stuff by talking is fun. And the more you talk to your Google Home the more things you'll find out about what it does and what it doesn't do.

Here are some of the cool things you can do with Google Home once you get it home!

1. Set up IFTTT

Home automation and the world of tomorrow will be really cool when everything finally works with everything else, but in the meantime, there's IFTTT.

The IFTTT service takes the things you say to your Google Home and sends commands to the other smart things you have, even if the two don't talk the same language out of the box. Setting things up is easier than you think, and the list of smart devices supported by IFTTT is huge.

When I wake up in the morning, saying hello to Google Home has my Hue lamps (Hue applet) glowing a nice soft yellow, music playing through my stereo (Harmony applet) and a pot of coffee brewed, hot and ready (WeMo applet) when I step out of the shower. All because of IFTTT and Google Home. Your smart stuff can be just as cool if you set it up.

2. Find the settings

The settings for your Google Home are kind of hidden in the Google Home app. To find them, open the hamburger menu (the three lines in the upper left corner) and look for Devices in the list. You'll see your Google Home there. Open its menu by tapping the three dots in the upper left corner and choose Settings.

Everything you need to get the most from your Google Home is in there!

3. Set up Guest Mode and Multi-user support

Your Google Home is a Chromecast Audio target, too. You can tell it to play a song and it will play through its own speaker if you didn't tell it to play the music on another cast ready device.

Setting up guest mode lets anyone connect to your Google Home once they enter a four-digit PIN provided by the app. Do it while you're poking around in the settings.

Multi-user support is also now available on Google Home, allowing it to easily differentiate between the people in your house who want to use this awesome accessory. Each person will need to teach Google Home their voice, but once you've done that you'll be good to go!

4. Give it a new name

In the settings, you'll see an entry for Name. It's exactly what you think it is and you can rename your Google Home any time you like.

You can have fun with it, but if you have more than one it's pretty handy for the name to describe where it sits like "Living Room" but you can name it whatever you like. Remember that anyone you give guest mode access to can see the name — even your mom.

5. Set up your preferences

We're still in the settings here, and we're looking at what's in the More listing.

Here's where you tell Google Home things like which music service to use when you want to play a song or two and which news sources to use when you want to know what goes on in the outside world. It's also where you set your address and tell Home what to call you.

Look through them all to make sure Home does things the way you want it to.

6. Check your activity

One last thing in the More settings — scroll to the bottom and tap the My activity entry.

A web page will open with everything Google Home (and Assistant on your phone if you have a Pixel) has recorded, sorted by date and time. You can go through the list and play back exactly what Home heard, get the details about the recording or delete them.

As mentioned at the top of the page, only you have access to these records. But remember, Google "heard" what you said when Home tried to interpret it even if they can't see the handy list.

7. Give your Chromecasts an easy name

You change the name of a Google Chromecast-ready device the same way you changed the name of Google Home. Now that you're talking to send movies or music to them, make sure you give them a name that's easy to remember and recognize.

Like Google Home itself, anyone with guest mode access will see this name so keep that in mind.

8. Play a movie

Settings can be boring so let's close them.

Tell Google to play a movie from your chosen source or a video from YouTube on your cast ready TV, or tell it to play a song, playlist or genre from your music source on a cast ready device.

You can adjust the volume with your voice (say volume up or set volume to 50%) and tell it to stop playing when you're ready to turn things off.

If you don't have another Google cast device, you can always play music on your Google Home itself. It has a half decent speaker inside and can get plenty loud.

9. Mute the mic

Sometimes you might not want Google Home to be listening. It doesn't care that you sing along to 80s music or about those sexy time sounds you make, but you might not want it to even be an option.

There's a button on the back of Google Home — it's the only button and it has a microphone on it — that toggles the mic. Press it and Home will tell you Microphone off and present four amber lights up top. Press it again and it tells you Microphone on and goes back to always listening mode.

10. Get your agenda

Google Home makes a pretty good assistant, too.

Ask Google to Tell me about my day and it digs through your data and uses the internet (and your settings) to tell you the time after a friendly greeting, give you your appointments for the day, tell you about any traffic issues if it thinks you might be driving to one of them, the weather and reads news from the sources you defined in step five above.

There's plenty more things you can have Google Home do and say. Be sure to talk about what you're doing with it in the comments!

Updated July 2017: This article was last updated to correct outdated information and to offer the best tips possible.

Google Home

Google Store Best Buy Target

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1 week ago

From blah to blob: The history of Android emoji

27

A reflection on the yellow-bellied emoji that many of us have come to love over the years.

If you've been following along with what's to come in Android O, then you've likely heard that Google is retiring its line of blob-like emoji. Plenty of loyal Android users have expressed their joy over the upgrade to circular emoji, conforming to the rest of the emoji standards set forth in the mobile world, but there is also a host of us who had long rued the day that this would happen. That day was World Emoji Day, which the Internet celebrated with great fanfare this week. It's the day that Google reminded us it's still retiring the blobs to that Great Big Emoji Farm in the sky. #blobvoyage

But Android didn't always employ yellow blobs as its emoji schtick. A long time ago, in the heydays of Android, you were lucky to have emoji at all — and if you did, they looked nothing like iOS's. But when those yellow blobs came along, they were the perfect response to what was once a homogenized world of skeuomorphic smiley faces and peaches resembling butts. 🍑

From cutesy to blobby to conventional

Android has a unique emoji history, partly because it didn't even widely support them until much later in its lifecycle. In its early days, Android's emoji were essentially antenna-eared doppelgängers. They were cutesy and mod-like, though they were also kind of silly compared to Apple's more realistic glyphs.

What Android's emojis looked like back in the day compared to iOS. (Via Emoji Blog)

Google only added native emoji support in 2013 with the release of Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, and that's when it revamped the glyphs to look like the yellow blobs we know today. They were pudgier back then, but eventually evolved to be just as expressive and as relatable as the iOS variants that had become a craze.

Android's blobs were favorable, too, because they weren't all overtly emotive like on the iPhone. Some of the characters were ambiguous enough that they passed off as double entendres, and though that's part of why Google is revising the emoji anyway, it also gave Android users a sense of identity they didn't have before: The identity of an amorphous blob that could be interpreted as needed.

The evolution of Android's emoji, per Emojipedia.

The blobs were refined over the years, and Google eventually added more human-like emoji as the Unicode standard expanded so that blob was not always the only option. You can imagine the shock, then, when Google announced it would introduce a new aesthetic to an emoji system that seemed nearly perfect.

Google's Rachel Been explained the overhaul of the emojis in a blog post after Google I/O 2017:

Our original emoji style was simple and flat with bold pops of color. The flat design became Android's signature style, differentiating us from other platforms.

Over the years, as additional emoji were added across all of the categories, the set became stylistically divergent. Our design system wasn't equipped to provide standards that unified the look and feel of all the illustrations across the many emoji categories. As a result, our emoji became inconsistent between old and new designs, making it difficult to quickly scan the keyboard to find the right emoji.

It's a fair point. I've often reverted to using emoticon ;) to express my like or disdain in a text message knowing very well that my Android emoji didn't express the same sentiment on the iOS side.

The revamp of the emoji from blobs to conforming circles modifies the meaning behind some emoji.

The blog also cites the fact that Google is attempting to address "cross-platform emotional consistency" — that is, that Android's emoji communicate the same message regardless of the platform. "We wanted to assure the user that when they sent an emoji to a friend, the message was communicated regardless of whether they are on iOS, Windows, Samsung, or any other platform," wrote Been.

But what about how it changes the way that Android users communicate? The revamp of the emoji from blobs to conforming circles modifies the meaning behind some emoji. Take the face with cold sweat emoji, for example, which The Verge also references in its ode to the blob. This particular emoji is often used to denote nervousness or anxiety because of the sweat bead accompanying its decidedly blank expression. Android O changes the meaning entirely, however, offering up a more sickly interpretation instead. The emoji no longer shows nervousness, but tiredness, which is not the same thing.

On the left is the old style of the "face with cold sweat" emoji; on the right is as it appears in the Android O beta.

You'll notice that the frowning face is also in line with the way it appears on Apple's iOS, and that's the real kicker here. Just like the Google Pixel was made to look like the iPhone, so will emojis have to conform to what iOS users see on their end. It is the way it is, and it's the best way to sell devices to a crowd who often lament that Android doesn't have what iOS does. But in the process, we all lose our identity as Android blobs.

Fortunately, we can choose which emoji to display by downloading other keyboard apps from the Play Store, or even by switching phone manufacturers. And if you're an Allo user, you can download the blob sticker pack to keep the tradition going long after the blobs are out of commission.

Android O

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1 week ago

Get these awesome weather-proof Bluetooth Earbuds for just $25!

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It's summer time, which means that people are taking advantage of the beautiful weather and getting outside more. Whether you're just going for a walk to the local park or hitting the pavement for some run training, it's always better if you're able to bring your own tunes along with you. But who wants to deal with headphone wires? No one, that's who!

Get great new earbuds for just $25! Learn more

Right now, you can get these awesome FRESHeBUDS Pro Magnetic Bluetooth Earbuds for just $25. We're sure You'll be impressed with the features jammed into these little buds.

These Bluetooth buds are connected by a wire so you won't lose one if it pops out of your ear during a workout. They're sweat and water resistant and designed to fit snuggly in your ear, with a battery that takes 90 minutes for a full charge and lasts for 10 hours of playback. But what really sets these apart from other Bluetooth earbuds are the magnetic features that keep them secure around your neck, and automatically connects to your phone via Bluetooth when you disconnect them.

Get great new earbuds for just $25! Learn more

The only thing that's cooler than these headphones is the price — at $25, you're saving 79% off the regular price of $119.99, it's quite the deal.

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1 week ago

Samsung brings Coral Blue Galaxy S8 to the U.S.

23

Coral Blue is coming to the Galaxy S8, and to you, starting July 21.

Samsung is bringing its popular Coral Blue color to the Galaxy S8 and S8+ starting July 21.

The new handset color will be sold exclusively at Best Buy stores and online, as well as at Samsung.com. Customers will be able to get the fresh color in AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and unlocked versions.

Best Buy is offering a nice promotion, too: customers who buy the AT&T model of the phone can get a second unit free if they're a DirecTV customer, which is technically a $400 savings, according to Samsung. Samsung's website is also offering a promotion for the next few days, discounting the unlocked model by $150, bringing the Galaxy S8 itself down to $575, the lowest price we've seen for the unlocked model so far.

See at Best Buy

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Unlocked

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1 week ago

Best HDR-capable TVs under $500

29

HDR video needs the right display, and you can get a great one for under $500.

HDR can make a dramatic difference in how things on your TV look when you're watching, and since more and more HDR content is being produced and released, your next TV should support it. Paired with a Chromecast Ultra, you can have your own theatre experience right in your home.

That doesn't mean you have to break the bank, though. There are a few great HDR-capable sets that check in under $500 to give you the higher contrast, better color accuracy and wide color gamut used to display HDR content.

More: What is HDR?

Hisense 50H8C 50-inch

Hisense may not be a common household name in many places, but that doesn't mean you should overlook its television sets. Over the past few years, the company has made huge improvements to its sets, adding a number of key features that people look for when buying their next television. From its built-in smart features to HDR compatibility and more, you get a whole lot more than you would imagine when buying the Hisense 50H8C.

From PCMag's review of the TV:

The Hisense 50H8C offers very good performance at a very low price for a 4K television. Even with its excellent color accuracy, though, it fails to stand out in the rapidly expanding budget 4K category. Hisense's Linux-based, Android-like smart TV interface is a bit awkward compared with the more accessible systems used in Roku TVs, and the fact that only half of the HDMI ports are HDMI 2.0 (and those ports are the less conveniently placed ones) hinder this otherwise strong television.

It may not offer all the bells and whistles that some other sets do, or the best performance, but for the price it is hard to beat this one. You can pick up the 50-inch Hisense for just $500 at many retailers, making it quite a deal.

See at Best Buy

LG Electronics 43UJ6300 43-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV

LG makes televisions for just about any budget. The 43-inch UJ6300 brings LG's famous display technology, a sizeable display and a great price tag in addition to 4K HDR capability.

The UJ6300 is the 2017 update of the 43UH6100, which received great reviews. Rtings.com has this to say about the UJ6300:

The motion handling of the UJ6600 is good. It has a fast response time, resulting in only a short trail following fast moving objects. The backlight flickers by default, and there is, unfortunately, no option to reduce this frequency and clear up fast-paced content. Movies from a Blu-ray player or DVDs are smooth, but some minor judder is present when movies are watched from a HTPC or cable. Most people don't notice this so it isn't an issue.

They love the lack of input lag, but ding the set for non-uniform black levels and brightness. It rates a 7.1 out of 10 on their scale and is great for mixed use.

The LG UJ6300 gives you 4K HDR capability paired with the webOS operating system, and is a great value if you're looking for an HDR smart TV under $500.

See at Amazon

Samsung Electronics UN40MU6300 40-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV

Most any list of best TVs will have Samsung representing a model that fits the category. Of course, they have a compelling 4K HDR TV that checks in under $500.

The UN40MU6300 is a 40-inch set that brings Samsung's UHD color management, backlit LED panel and connectivity options through the Samsung One Remote. It's also a smart TV with access to Samsung Apps and the SmartView mirroring service so you can share content from your Samsung phone.

Rtings.com likes the contrast ratio and no input-lag response, but dings the set for picture quality when sitting at an angle. The end score is 7.4 out of 10. They had this to say about the set overall:

It has a great contrast ratio, which means it has deep and even blacks that are essential for a great picture. The MU6300 also has low input lag, making it a good choice for a gaming TV. It doesn't have the widest viewing angles, but it deals with reflections and gets bright enough to be suitable for most environments.

At the price point, the Samsung UN40MU6300 will give you one of the best 4K HDR TVs you can buy.

See at Amazon

Your favorite?

If you have a favorite HDR TV that checks in under $500, be sure to drop a link in the comments so everyone can have a look.

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1 week ago

Designing a game for virtual reality is kind of like writing a movie

We talked to two of the creators of Virtual VR, about the process of developing the game for a mobile headset and how many drafts it took to get the story straight.

Take it from me, and the rest of the brains behind the site you're currently perusing: writing a story is hard work, and writing one for other people to experience and enjoy is even more laborious. A good story requires more than relatable characters and a plot to hook the readers; it also requires iteration.

It's the same process writing the plot for a game set in virtual reality. I talked to Samantha Gorman and Danny Cannizzaro, two of the creators behind the award-winning Virtual VR, about how designing and writing a narrative-driven game is kind of like putting together a play, or a movie. The Daydream VR-exclusive tells the story of a virtual world where robots are officially using humans for fun. The final product is an outstanding example of how effective VR storytelling can be, even if the device is small and the story is short.

Read more at VRHeads

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1 week ago

Satiate your hunger with a scrumptious food-themed wallpaper!

1

I like food.

Food is delicious, sometimes nutritious, and comes in so many shapes, forms, colors, tastes, and types. Food is everywhere, a lot of people take it for granted, and with the right tools, you can turn even the simplest and most popular foods into an edible art form. Sounds a lot like one of my other loves: Android theming. So it's only right that we bring the two together and make your stomach growl the way mine does every time Lammes Candies' talks about Chocolate Covered Strawberries.

GRRRRROOOOOOOWWWWWWLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!

False alarm, sweetie, they're not coming back 'til the fall.

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1 week ago

OnePlus 5: Top things you need to know

22
OnePlus 5

It's hard to ignore the importance of this phone in the Android world.

The OnePlus 5 is the most expensive phone the company has ever made, and subsequently has the highest expectations. The base plan to meet those expectations is to double down on the formula that has at least got OnePlus this far: high-end specs, solid hardware and super-fast software. Then there's the extra bit of marketing thrown behind its camera setup, which is the first substantial change to the formula of previous OnePlus phones.

The best place to get up to speed with the OnePlus 5 is right here — here are the top things you need to know about this phone.

A whole heap of top-notch specs

OnePlus 5 storage and RAM

For another generation, OnePlus is giving us just about all of the top-end specs we want to see in a high-end phone today. It starts with the latest Snapdragon 835 processor, and continues on with a standard 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. There's also an optional 8GB RAM and 128GB storage model for just $60 extra.

You'll also see an above-average 3300mAh battery inside despite the phone's 7.25 mm thickness, and it offers quick charging that can match or exceed how quickly other phones charge up with their Quick Charge 3.0 tech. You get USB-C connectivity, of course, and a 3.5 mm headphone jack — unfortunately, an increasingly rare item these days.

More: Spec comparison: OnePlus 5 vs. OnePlus 3

We're missing waterproofing, though

But of course, a phone that starts at $479 can't do it all. There are still a few specs and features "missing" here that you could find on other phones ... but the biggest one is waterproofing.

Yup, you won't find an IP rating at all on the OnePlus 5, and that's something you find in just about all of the flagship competition. No matter that those phones are $150-250 more than the OnePlus 5, because OnePlus is definitely framing its latest phone as a competitor to those flagships.

Some things remain unchanged from the OnePlus 3 and 3T

OnePlus 5 and OnePlus 3

For all of the advancements in the OnePlus 5, some parts of its experience have remain unchanged — or imperceptibly changed — from its predecessor, the OnePlus 3.

Much of what you find on the OnePlus 5 was introduced in 2016's OnePlus 3.

Some key parts of the hardware experience are the same now as they were before, including the 5.5-inch 1080p display, the one-touch fingerprint sensor below the screen, the great "Alert Slider" on the left edge, and the Dash Charge fast charging system. The phone's dimensions are also near-identical, with the OnePlus 5 being marginally thinner and narrower, and just shy of 2 mm taller.

The Android 7.1 Nougat software on the OnePlus 5 is also very similar in features to the OnePlus 3, particularly if you've dabbled in any of the beta builds for the older phone where the new software has been in testing. The experience of using the phones side-by-side today is hardly different, and the small differences can (and should) be brought to the OnePlus 3 in due time.

In many cases the stagnation isn't a bad thing, but it is worth noting that the OnePlus 5 has strong continuity with the phone that came before it.

OxygenOS is one of the best software experiences today

After a few early stumbles with its execution, OnePlus has created one of the best software experiences available on an Android phone today. OxygenOS, as OnePlus calls it, is based on the latest Android Nougat build from Google but also integrates several super-useful features that so many people desire in their phone.

You can tweak all sorts of little things like the status bar, launcher, theme, icon packs and the notification LED. But you can also change larger areas like choosing between on-screen or capacitive navigation keys, and adding screen-off gestures to launch specific functions and apps.

More: The OnePlus 5 is filled with great little software customizations

The best part about all of these changes is that they don't get in your way if you don't want them, and don't detract from the overall clean experience offered by Android the way it comes from Google. Performance on the OnePlus 5 doesn't suffer, either, which we can all be happy about.

You now have two rear cameras

A substantial area of change when compared to the OnePlus 3 is the OnePlus 5's camera setup. The new phone has a new 16MP camera, a faster f/1.7 lens and new image processing techniques, but has lost OIS (optical image stabilization) in the process. The main camera feels like an overall upgrade from the OnePlus 3, and it's capable of taking some great photos. But its lack of physical stabilization hamstrings it in scenes with mixed or little light, and the results end up being a bit grainy or blurry if you're not careful with stabilizing your hands.

Dual cameras give you new options — and one important omission.

Sitting right next to the "main" camera is another camera as well: a 20MP sensor with an f/2.6 lens that has a longer focal length — around 40 mm equivalent to the main's 24 mm. You can tap the "2x" button in the camera app to quickly switch to this lens and take photos with a unique perspective — and because it has 20MP of resolution you can even digitally zoom in a tad without losing much fidelity.

More: The OnePlus 5 has a DxOMark Mobile score of 87

The big reason for including the second camera is "Portrait Mode," which is a way to use both lenses at once to create a faux background blurring effect to try and mimic what you'd see in a DSLR. It can be hit or miss (this software is really hard to do right), but when it works you get a cool-looking photo that's different from what you'd see from either camera on its own.

It works just about anywhere in the world ... but not Verizon

OnePlus 5 SIM tray

OnePlus surpassed a pretty big technological hurdle to be able to ship one model of the phone with radio support for 30+ countries — particularly in facing the Chinese market that uses many bands you don't find anywhere else. That means you can take your phone to most places in the world and have it work on the local carrier, which is great for international travelers. There are also two SIM slots, giving you even more possibilities.

More: There's one OnePlus 5 version for the whole world

The one shortcoming, speaking purely from a U.S. perspective, is its lack of support for Verizon and Sprint. Even though the OnePlus 5 technically supports some of the necessary LTE bands for the carriers, OnePlus is making no claim of testing or certification for those networks. It's annoying and frustrating, but you shouldn't buy the OnePlus 5 expecting to use it on Verizon or Sprint.

If you bring the OnePlus 5 to T-Mobile you'll find it works great, including support for both VoLTE and Wi-Fi calling. Unfortunately those advanced calling features aren't available on AT&T — you'll get the basic voice and data services there.

Dash Charge is awesome, but has some requirements

The in-house developed Dash Charge charging system helps your OnePlus 5's battery charge up incredibly fast. But because of the way the charger has to interact with the phone to perform the fast charging without generating much heat, it requires a special charger and cable. You must use a OnePlus-made Dash Charge charger and cable, or it just won't work. OnePlus includes the correct charger and cable in the OnePlus 5's box, and also offers extra wall chargers and car chargers on its website.

The only frustrating part about Dash Charge is that it isn't cross-compatible with other fast charging systems, like the widely used Qualcomm Quick Charge or the more generic USB-C Power Delivery spec. That means if you plug into another charger (or use another cable) it will likely top out at about 5V/2.4A — which is pretty fast, but not nearly as fast as Dash Charge is.

Read our review and other coverage

Get to know the OnePlus 5 in detail by reading our comprehensive review, as well as our second take review. You can see how the OnePlus 5 compares to the Galaxy S8 and then how their cameras compare, too.

OnePlus 5

OnePlus

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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1 week ago

Honor 9 Premium with 6GB of RAM and 128GB storage now up for sale in Europe

5

Honor 9 Premium is available in select markets in Europe for €499.

Honor is rolling out an upgraded version of the Honor 9 with 6GB of RAM and 128GB storage in select markets in Europe. The phone is called the Honor 9 Premium, and it is retailing for €499. There's also a variant with 6GB of RAM and 64GB storage that is available for €450.

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1 week ago

'Lawnchair' is the best new Android launcher you (probably) haven't tried yet

58
Lawnchair

New open-source launcher brings Google Now and Pixel Launcher capabilities to all phones — along with a huge loadout of customization features.

I'm usually pretty lazy when it comes to customizing my home screens. For the most part, I tend to stick with the stock launcher on whatever phone I'm using, and I don't go over-the-top tweaking absolutely every setting on my home screen.

Yet with the discontinuation of the Google Now Launcher, I've been on the lookout for a replacement, because so few third-party launchers include support for the Google Feed. (And for those that do, hacky workarounds are required.)

Enter Lawnchair which started out as an effort to bring Google Feed support to the Google's basic Launcher3 — the home screen app included in open-source Android. After gaining momentum on XDA, this curious little side project has become surprisingly polished, growing a bunch of new features from the Pixel, Android O and beyond — and porting over many Google Pixel design elements in the process.

And although Lawnchair, with its slightly goofy name, currently exists as a test release, outside the Google Play Store, it's well worth checking out. Developer Deletescape recently posted build 818 — a significant update with many performance enhancements and new capabilities.

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