Samsung is creating a smart speaker after all

Back in July, it was reported that Samsung was manufacturing a Bixby-enabled smart speaker, following hot on the heels of Apple announcing a smart speaker and Google and Amazon contributing to the market, too. It didn’t take long before another report said that Samsung might not be making a smart speaker after all. But the rollercoaster isn’t quite finished.

Today, following the unveiling of the Galaxy Note 8, the President of Samsung’s Mobile Division, DJ Koh, confirmed to CNBC that Samsung is indeed making a smart speaker.

Of course, Koh didn’t provide any real details about the device, but he did seem pretty confident in it, saying that he has already “started on it” and that Samsung envisions a “a fruitful user experience at home with Samsung devices.” A smart speaker would certainly be one device that users could take advantage of, so it will be interesting to see what Samsung creates.

Would you be interested in a Samsung-branded smart speaker featuring Bixby?

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Take an exploratory journey through the heavens with Gemini - A Journey of Two Stars

X.D. Network is quickly becoming a publisher to notice. Not only did they bring To The Moon to the Play Store, but they also recently released BeatEVO YG, a popular K-pop themed rhythm game. Today we can add Gemini - A Journey of Two Stars to this list of great titles. While it's self-described as an "interactive poem," that apt description hardly does this beautiful game the justice it deserves.

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Take an exploratory journey through the heavens with Gemini - A Journey of Two Stars was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Here are 40 temporarily free and 47 on-sale apps, plus the first App of the Week

Welcome to the first app sales post of the week. Of course, today is not Monday, so I can understand your confusion. My classes started this week, so I got busy sorting everything out, but at least I'm back now. So here you are, a fresh list of apps... for what it's worth.



  1. AHK Text Expansion Keyboard $3.49 -> Free; 1 day left
  2. Drink Roulette $1.49 -> Free; 2 days left
  3. Search Everything Pro Key $0.99 -> Free; 2 days left
  4. SnagBricks - Site Auditing, Snagging & Punch List $6.49 -> Free; 2 days left
  5. Easy Parental Control Pro $1.49 -> Free; 3 days left
  6. Kill Procrastination $1.99 -> Free; 3 days left
  7. App Shortcuts Creator - App Shortcuts Master Pro $0.99 -> Free; 4 days left
  8. MSafe - Pro $0.99 -> Free; 4 days left
  9. Music Translator (Recognition) $0.99 -> Free; 4 days left
  10. MyHue App and QuickSettings Tiles for Philips Hue $1.49 -> Free; 6 days left
  11. T Music Player $0.99 -> Free; 6 days left


  1. 돌풍마법 디펜스 $2.49 -> Free; 2 days left
  2. CELL 13 - Platform Portal Puzzle $0.99 -> Free; 2 days left
  3. BlindSlash:VR $0.99 -> Free; 4 days left
  4. Orb Smash $0.99 -> Free; 4 days left
  5. Paper Duels $0.99 -> Free; 4 days left
  6. Shan Gui $0.99 -> Free; 4 days left
  7. Traps and Treasures $1.99 -> Free; 4 days left
  8. 4x4 Safari Pro $0.99 -> Free; 5 days left
  9. A Dark Room $0.99 -> Free; 5 days left
  10. TA: Little Red Riding Hood $1.49 -> Free; 5 days left
  11. TOUGE PROJECT: RACE AND DRIFT+ $0.99 -> Free; 5 days left
  12. Castle of Nightmare Gold $0.99 -> Free; 6 days left
  13. Freelance Simulator: Game Developer Edition $0.99 -> Free; 6 days left
  14. The Firm $0.99 -> Free; 6 days left
  15. 0 to Billionaire (No Ads) $0.99 -> Free; 7 days left

Icon packs & customization

  1. Castle 3D Pro live wallpaper $0.99 -> Free; 3 hours left
  2. Deep Space 3D Pro lwp $0.99 -> Free; 1 day left
  3. Cerco Pro $0.99 -> Free; 2 days left
  4. Dream Score - S8 Icon Pack $0.99 -> Free; 2 days left
  5. MaskIt - Customize your icons!
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Here are 40 temporarily free and 47 on-sale apps, plus the first App of the Week was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Fresh Meat: 10 new Android apps worth checking out

New apps need lovin’ too, right? Every day there are thousands of additions to the Google Play store, but many go unnoticed and never receive the attention they deserve. We’ve shown in the past that this community can discover great apps and propel them to new heights. Our weekly Fresh Meat column highlights new apps with fewer than 100,000 installs. Browse our new Android app picks below and let us know which ones you enjoy.

Style Music


Style Music

Description: Beautiful Material Design together with fancy animations & transitions makes you addicted to using the app. Stream from over 50.000 radio stations all across the globe or enjoy any song you want by finding a station that plays it The app fully supports Google Cast aka Chromecast Built in – allowing you to stream music up to 24bit FLAC to devices in your WiFi area.


Samsung Gallery


Samsung Gallery

DescriptionYou can view your image & video with fast and cool way through Samsung Gallery used and recognized in Galaxy smartphone globally, Besides enhanced security helps protect your image & videos in safe, you can enjoy your image & video anywhere through cloud sync with signing in same account, if Samsung Gallery is installed.


Fantasy Football Draft Day 2017


Fantasy Football Draft Day 2017

DescriptionFantasy Football Draft Day 2017 is the best app to dominate your fantasy football draft. Start with expert rankings tailored to your league’s scoring from the award-winning Fantasy Footballers. Customize your cheat sheets, track each pick, view league rosters, and crush your fantasy football draft.


Smart Home Manager


Smart Home Manager

Description: We’re giving you more ways to simplify your home Wi-Fi experience with the AT&T Smart Home Manager. As an AT&T Internet customer you can now personalize your home Wi-Fi network from your smart phone, tablet or computer.


HD Wallpapers from WallR


HD Wallpapers from WallR

Description: Enable WallR’s Automatic Wallpaper Changer and it will keep changing your device wallpaper, automatically. Thus, set up once, and forget. WallR, will keep providing you with your favorite HD Wallpapers.


Life Hacks: Make Your Life Easier

Life Hacks

DescriptionUltimate Life Hacks brings you the most innovative ideas to discover and share that you never know. Fun Hacks you wish you knew earlier. We can save money and time, to get a new look to familiar things or just impress friends and relatives.


IP Flexible Reach


IP Flexible Reach

DescriptionThe IP Flexible Reach client allows AT&T IP Flexible Reach customers to make outbound calls from their handheld device while displaying their IP Flexible Reach Telephone Number as their Caller ID. 





Description Available for the first time ever it is a fully functional native app for your Android device! You have full access to manage your comic collection from your mobile device and take your collection on the go. Also included is the ability to search by barcode. You can create piles, add comics to your collection, sell list and want list and research comics in general with full access to our robust industry leading pricing database.


FurReal Maker: Proto Max


FurReal Maker

DescriptionNow you can create and code your ultimate pup! Get the most out of the furReal Makers Proto Max robotic pet by downloading the companion app. Using the app along with Proto Max allows you to have a fun coding experience!


GoDaddy SmartLine 2nd Number


GoDaddy SmartLine

DescriptionStill using your personal number for business? Your business deserves its own phone number. GoDaddy SmartLine adds a second phone number to your smartphone. That’s right – you can have one phone with two phone numbers. No more giving your personal number for business. Finally, know when a call is for business or personal.


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Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Makes a Grand Debut

After the deluge of leaks and rumors, Samsung finally pulled off the veil the Galaxy Note 8 phablet.

Design-wise the Galaxy Note8 is a mix between the Galaxy S8 and last year’s Galaxy Note7 – something which nostalgics will surely appreciate. The phablet features an InfinityDisplay akin to Samsung’s previous flagship, but with sharper corners which are characteristic of the Note family so far. As expected, the Galaxy Note 8 does away with the physical fingerprint scanner on the front and the bezels have been shrunken down considerably in the vein of the Galaxy S8.

On the left side of the phone, users will find a volume rocker and just below it the dedicated Bixby button. At the bottom lives the USB-C connector, a loudspeaker, the 3.5mm headphone jack and the S Pen tray.


Here’s the Galaxy Note 8’s full spec list:

  • 6.3-inch AMOLED display with 1440 x 2960 resolution and 18:5:9 aspect ratio
  • Snapdragon 835 processor (in the US) or Exynos 8895 (outside US)
  • 6GB of RAM
  • 64GB/128GB/256GB of internal storage
  • Main dual camera setup made of two 12-megapixel sensors, one with regular f/1.7 lens and a second telephoto one with f/2.4 and 2x optical zoom
  • Secondary 8-megapixel shooter with autofocus
  • Android 7.1.1 Nougat with Samsung Experience UX on top
  • Fingerprint scanner on the back
  • S Pen
  • IP68 certified

The distinctive feature of the Galaxy Note family is the S Pen, which as expected has been improved by Samsung in various ways.

Physically, the stylus is basically the same as the one found in the Note7 meaning it has a 0.7mm tip size and 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity.

But it’s in the software department where you’ll find the novelties. For example, Note 8 users will be able to take advantage of Live Message, a tool which allows you to take a quick note which is then sent off as an animated GIF showing the designer’s pen strokes.

Furthermore, the Screen-off Memo feature makes a comeback, allowing Note 8 owners to draw on the always-on display even if the device is locked.

When will you be able to buy this beauty? Pre-orders for the unlocked version start August 23, as well as carrier-specific ones. The actual release date is set for September 15.

The Samsung Galaxy Note8 will be available in Midnight Black, Orchid Gray, Maple Gold and Deep Sea Blue, but Canadians will only get the Midnight Black and Deep Sea Blue options. Pricing will start at $1,300 CAD and until September 15 those who pre-order a Note 8 will also be awarded a 128GB microSD + fast wireless charger free of charge.


The post Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Makes a Grand Debut appeared first on Android in Canada Blog.

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The Task Master watch face puts your calendar front and center

It's getting harder to do something new with Android Wear watch faces, but that doesn't mean you can't improve on what's already been done. Case in point: the new Task Master watch face shows calendar appointments on your wearable, but it does so better than other watch faces. It's even usable if you've got a lot of calendar appointments to track.

This watch face comes with two distinct versions, one round and the other square for older watches.

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The Task Master watch face puts your calendar front and center was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Buy a Pixel XL and Get a Google Home Free of Charge

Good news for Canadian customers interested in purchasing the Google Pixel XL. Those willing to acquire the device from Bell, Rogers or Telus will also be awarded a Google Home smart speaker free of charge, which normally costs $179.99 CAD.

To be eligible to receive the Google Assistant-infused speaker, you’ll have to activate or renew a Pixel XL on select two-year plans, depending on carrier.

For example, if you’re buying it off Bell you’ll be able to choose any plan. However, if you want to do business with Rogers you’ll need to jump on a Share Everything plan. At Telus, you have to buy a complementary Your Choice plan.

With Android 8.0 Oreo out and about, the Google Pixel XL is one of the most exciting devices on the market. However, do bear in mind that Google is gearing up for the release of the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL in a few months. So you might want to hold on, on making the purchase.

Recent rumours also indicate Google is working on a miniature Google Home smart speaker, as well as a next-gen Pixel Chromebook and a pair of Google Assistant-powered headphones. All these products will allegedly be unveiled alongside the Pixel 2 and Pixel2 XL.


The post Buy a Pixel XL and Get a Google Home Free of Charge appeared first on Android in Canada Blog.

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Monument Valley 2 is up for pre-registration in the Play Store

The original Monument Valley launched in 2014 and immediately captured everyone's attention with its impossible Escher-esque world of forced perspective and intuitive touch controls. There have been a few add-ons to the game since then, but now a true sequel is about to launch on Android—Monument Valley 2 is live for pre-registration on the Play Store.

Like the original, Monument Valley 2 is a puzzler with numerous imaginative landscapes and structures that are themselves the puzzles.

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Monument Valley 2 is up for pre-registration in the Play Store was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Here are Asmodee Digital's upcoming game plans, fresh from Gen Con

Any tabletop fanatic is going to be pretty familiar with popular board game publisher Asmodee Digital. They have produced digital versions of some of the most popular board games out there today. Ticket to Ride, PandemicMysterium, and Splendor are just a few of the high profile releases they have brought to Android, and it would appear that the ride isn't over yet. That's right, Asmodee Digital announced a slew of upcoming games at Gen Con that are either in development right now or are releasing sometime soon.

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Here are Asmodee Digital's upcoming game plans, fresh from Gen Con was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Samsung will announce a new Gear S smartwatch at IFA 2017

The Samsung Gear S smartwatch lineup will get a new addition next week, according to one Samsung executive.

Following the big unveiling of the Galaxy Note 8, DJ Koh, Samsung’s President of Mobile, spoke with CNBC and confirmed that his company will have an announcement to make during the IFA trade show next week in Berlin, Germany. The focus will be on a wearable, as Koh confirmed the newest member of the Gear S wearables lineup will be unveiled.

Unfortunately, Koh wasn’t able to go into any real detail about the upcoming smartwatch. He did tease a bit of what the wearable might feature, though, suggesting that health features might be a big push for the wearables industry as a whole. It seems like a safe bet Samsung will continue to focus on health-related features for the new wearable.

As of now, we’ll have to wait until next week to see Samsung’s newest smartwatch. What are you hoping the new wearable bring to the table?

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Start on Android and succeed on Google Play

Posted by Karolis Balciunas, VC & Startups Business Development, Google Play

Early Access was launched at Google I/O 2016 as a destination on Google Play for beta app and game titles still in development, and to attract early adopters willing to test those titles. The results speak for themselves. The program has helped over 350 developers launch their titles and generated over 40M beta installs for their apps and games during just the short window before their public availability on the Play Store. More importantly, the average rating for titles that have been through Early Access is 4.3☆ once in production, putting them in a strong position to be favored in search and discovery on Google Play.

Early Access also generates positive awareness for new titles. Alumni like Simple Habit and Digit were chosen as finalists in the "Standout Startup" category at the Google Play Awards this year. Omnidrone's game Titan Brawl became the first game to reach 1M testers. Hear more about their experience in the video below.

Early Access and our work with the venture capital community has taught us a lot about successful startups. We know you seek rapid iteration towards product-market fit and are thirsty for the same kind of powerful testing, analytics, and user feedback that Google's own product teams depend on to launch successful products. When we know about your startup's plans well in advance of your launch date, we can impact your trajectory by supporting you through this understood process of iterative improvement.

Start on Android

Earlier this year we launched Start on Android to identify the highest potential Android startups earlier in their lifecycle and provide tools, perks, and guidance for those who qualify. We've developed five components that have proven to be most impactful:

  1. Early Access participation enabling developers to recruit beta testers and respond to their feedback before it impacts an app's rating on the Play Store.
  2. Pre-launch user interface and user experience reviews from the Play editorial team to help optimize onboarding experiences, material design implementation, business model execution, and user engagement.
  3. Access to Google perks like the Google Cloud Platform's Spark Package which includes $20K in Google Cloud and Firebase credits, free 12 months of G Suite for up to 10 employees, and other financial incentives.
  4. Opportunities to participate in Google Play and other Google teams' programs and special events including Google Cloud Platform, Google for Entrepreneurs, and Launchpad.
  5. Guidance in the form of videos and content on startup best practices available to all at

We are just getting started

We've already seen a lot of developer interest and received hundreds of public applications and referrals from venture capitalists and other startup influencers. Below are a few accepted startups:

  • Socratic - A Spark Capital backed company that allows students to solve math problems by snapping a photo with their camera and using computer vision to return relevant answers and related concepts and video.
  • Astro - A Redpoint portfolio company that layers AI on top of your email to help intelligently manage your inbox.
  • Snaky Snake -
  • Peanut - A Tinder-like app for connecting moms, funded by NEA and Felix Capital.
  • Gyroscope - A startup working on an "operating system for the human body".
  • Empower - An exciting new money management app backed by Sequoia Capital, coming soon to Android.

We are incredibly proud of every developer we work with and grateful to our friends within VC firms and the wider community who bring exciting new startups to our attention.

Get in touch with us

If you would like to be part of Start on Android, complete the form at We're looking for developers who are planning to launch on Android soon, or have done so in the past 6 months.

How useful did you find this blogpost?

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Astro's voice assistant is dedicated to managing your emails

The Astro email app launched earlier in the year with the promise of helping you to clean up your inbox using AI. It's available for Office 365 and Gmail accounts and had garnered praise from users of both services. There's an integration that lets you manage your emails from Slack, and since June it's been possible to manage your emails with Astrobot Voice via an Alexa Skill on Amazon's Echo speaker. That same voice assistant functionality is now available directly from the app.

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Astro's voice assistant is dedicated to managing your emails was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 8 U.S. carrier pricing announced

Today Samsung officially unveiled the Galaxy Note 8. The handset is every bit as powerful and feature-rich as one might expect, and it looks like Samsung is more than willing to charge a pretty penny to get it into people’s hands.

Carriers have started revealing what they will be charging for the Galaxy Note 8. At the time of publication, only T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon have confirmed pre-order information, so as soon as carriers like Sprint and U.S. Cellular announce their own info, we’ll update this post accordingly.

But, here’s how it looks so far:

T-Mobile will offer the Galaxy Note 8 for a full retail price of $930. Customers can choose the Equipment Installment Plan that’ll cost $210 down and then $30 per month or the JUMP! On Demand plan which will cost $0 down and then $39 per month after that.

AT&T is charging $950 outright for the Galaxy Note 8. If you prefer monthly installments, the big blue carrier will price the Note 8 at $31.67 per month for 30 months with AT&T Next.

Verizon Wireless is charging $960 for the Galaxy Note 8 at full retail, or $40 per month for 24 months.

It’s worth noting that in all of these cases, the Note 8 is equipped with 64GB of storage. You’ll have to choose either Midnight Black or Orchid Gray, too, as Deepsea Blue and Maple Gold aren’t available in the U.S. at launch.

Samsung is also offering a deal for pre-orders where customers can choose either a Gear 360 camera or an accessory bundle that includes a 128GB microSD card and a wireless charging pad as a free gift.

Which carrier are you going with to get your Galaxy Note 8?

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Samsung is offering a discount on the Galaxy Note 8 to Galaxy Note 7 owners

The Galaxy Note 7 was a popular phone when it launched last year, and a lot of people picked one up. However, it wouldn’t last long before Samsung recalled those units, and owners were told to give up their device. Now Samsung is looking to make it right, and not just by simply launching a new phone.

During its official unveiling of the Galaxy Note 8 today, Samsung announced that it would be offering a discount on the Galaxy Note 8 for Galaxy Note 7 owners. Specifically, Samsung will be knocking off up to $425 off the new device with a trade-in. The discount will be available through Samsung’s website as soon as pre-orders for the Galaxy Note 8 start on Thursday, August 24.

This is a move that will impact Samsung’s bottom line, especially following the recall and discounts it offered for Galaxy Note 7 owners last year to get them away from their potentially dangerous phone. However, it’s one the company had to make. Getting an instant discount on the Galaxy Note 8 is certainly worthwhile, especially for Galaxy Note 7 owners who might be disillusioned after last year’s debacle.

At the time of publication, pricing was just starting to trickle out. For some carriers the Galaxy Note 8 will cost upwards of $950, so getting that discount might be important for many folks.

Did you own a Galaxy Note 7, and, if so, do you plan on taking advantage of this discount?

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Samsung Galaxy Note 8 now official with 6.3-inch display, dual 12MP rear cameras

The big announcement for Samsung‘s latest phablet has finally arrived, and the company has officially announced the Galaxy Note 8.

Following plenty of leaks and rumors, the newest addition to Samsung’s smartphone lineup is officially official. As expected, the Galaxy Note 8 crams a lot of features and specifications under a thin design, bringing the Infinity Display it premiered with the Galaxy S8 to the bigger design. The S Pen is getting a bit more advanced, too, which should be good news for fans of the phablet series.

First, the bare essentials. The Galaxy Note 8 boasts a 6.3-inch Quad HD+ display, which features a resolution of 2960×1440 (with 521 ppi). As usual, the processor in the phone will vary depending on the market, with one either being an octa-core (2.3GHz Quad + 1.7GHz Quad) chipset, or the other being an octa-core (2.3GHz Quad + 1.9GHz Quad). Both are 64 bit processors. In the United States, it’ll be the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor.

The Galaxy Note 8 will boast 6GB of RAM, and there will be variants with either 64GB/128GB/256GB built-in storage options. There is a microSD card slot for expandable storage as well. The battery measures in at 3300mAh, it supports wireless charging, and supports Fast Charging with Quick Charge 2.0. The Galaxy Note8 is running Android 7.1.1 Nougat out of the box, it has a fingerprint reader, and it also supports iris scanning and facial recognition.

And, finally, there are a pair of 12-megapixel cameras on the back. One is a wide-angle 12MP Dual Pixel shooter with AF, F1.7, and optical image stabilization. The other is a telephoto 12MP shooter with AF, F2.4, and optical image stabilization. It also supports 2X optical zoom and up to 10X digital zoom. Around front there is an 8MP front-facing camera with AF and F1.7.

The Galaxy Note 8 is also IP68-rated water and dust resistant, and apparently so is the S Pen, which means you can write on the display even when it’s wet.

As far as features go, there are more than a few. Some of the more noteworthy ones include an ability to send animated texts or drawings to devices that support animated GIFs. This means you can animate something with the S Pen and quickly send it off to a friend. The Galaxy Note 8 supports the Always On Display functionality where owners can write on the display with the S Pen and take up to 100 pages of notes in this fashion. Owners will be able to pin a note to the Always On Display, too, and annotate as they see fit.

The S Pen features a translate feature. So the Galaxy Note 8 owner can hover over some text on the phablet’s display and translate it. This features supports 71 languages right out of the gate, and it can also convert units and currencies.

Finally, the Galaxy Note 8 supports Samsung DeX, which enables a desktop-like experience powered by the phone itself, courtesy of a sold-separately accessory. Of course, Samsung’s Bixby feature is present, too, with a Bixby button on the side of the device for good measure.

As far as pricing goes, that remains unknown at the time of publication. However, Samsung has confirmed the handset will go on sale in “mid-September,” and that it will be available in Orchid Gray, Maple Gold, Deepsea Blue, and Midnight Black when it does go on sale. It doesn’t look like Maple Gold or Deepsea Blue will be available in the United States at launch, though.

Are you already planning on picking one up?

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ASUS releases Page Marker, a Pocket-like offline page and article saving app [APK Download]

Page Marker was introduced by ASUS as part of ZenUI 4.0, but the app has now found its way onto the Play Store. It might be a closed beta for now as the testing enrollment page isn't open for all, or it could only be compatible with select ASUS devices (none of my devices can get it and even Corbin's two ASUS tablets don't show as compatible), but the app is listed on the Play Store and we were able to grab the APK file for sideloading.

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ASUS releases Page Marker, a Pocket-like offline page and article saving app [APK Download] was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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HTC U11, HTC U Ultra, and HTC 10 will be updated to Android 8.0 Oreo

Now that Android 8.0 Oreo is official, manufacturers are going to start coming out and announcing which of their devices will receive an Oreo update. Today HTC did just that.

HTC says that it plans to update the HTC U11, HTC U Ultra, and HTC 10 to Android 8.0 Oreo. No timeframe for the updates were given, but Google did name HTC as one of the companies that are scheduled to launch or upgrade devices to Android 8.0 by the end of 2017.

HTC added that soon it’ll share more details of its update plans, including additional devices.

The HTC U11 and HTC U Ultra were both launched in 2017 and are both hero devices for HTC, so it makes sense that they’d be updated to Android 8.0 Oreo. Then there’s the HTC 10, which is no longer a flagship but isn’t that old, and so it’s good to see HTC updating it to Oreo as well.

So now you HTC U11, HTC U Ultra, and HTC 10 owners can rest easy knowing that an update to Android Oreo is in your future. Stay tuned and we’ll let you know if HTC reveals plans to update any more of its devices to Oreo.

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LG V30+ brand name leaked in new image

Earlier this month, a report surfaced that said that the LG V30 will come with a V30+ sibling when it gets announced soon. LG has confirmed the V30 will be announced soon, it hasn’t done the same for the V30 Plus, so it’s purely speculation at this point. However, thanks to serial leaker Evan Blass (@evleaks), the rumored handset is starting to look more and more like it’s the real deal.

Today, Blass published a picture of what looks to be the brand name for the upcoming handset, making it officially the LG V30+. Blass adds, “In case there was any doubt…” which there probably isn’t much of anymore.

The aforementioned report about the LG V30+ offered up a few key details on how LG will differentiate the V30 and V30+. That includes more built-in storage, with the V30+ reportedly offering 128GB while the V30 is said to offer 64GB. There are a few other changes, including rumored inclusion of wireless charging and/or Hi-Fi Audio support, but specifics are light. The LG V30+ will more than likely only bring minor changes when compared to the V30, but for those that want more built-in storage, the V30+ looks like it might be the way to go.

Are you excited to see what the V30 brings to the table?

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Sony may have to offer partial refunds for “waterproof” devices in the US

Sony is being hit with a class action lawsuit over some devices that were claimed to be waterproof. The devices in question were actually water resistant, which means that even taking them into the pool could cause water intrusion. Just because it can survive under a few feet of water doesn’t mean it will survive the pressure of being moved around in that water.

Due to this potential false advertising, the class action lawsuit is seeking either a 12-month warranty extension or a 50% refund of the retail price. These figures aren’t final as Sony has not agreed to final terms. Here is the list of affected devices (including both WiFi and LTE tablets):

The lawsuit only applies to models in the US, so international Sony Xperia owners need not apply. Hit the source link for more info about the class action lawsuit and sign up by January 30, 2018 if you’re eligible. Let us know if you’ve had any issues with your Sony’s water resistance!

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Google v7.10 beta reveals Bisto-like headphones to be made by partners, details about hardware buttons and capabilities, and much more [APK Teardown]

Yesterday was a busy day with the official announcement of Android Oreo and our sun playing a short game of peekaboo behind the moon. Yesterday also saw the release of a brand new version of the Google app to the beta channel. After a bit of digging, there aren't any notable changes jumping out at us, but a teardown of the APK provides a monstrous amount of information about a mystery device called Bisto.

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Google v7.10 beta reveals Bisto-like headphones to be made by partners, details about hardware buttons and capabilities, and much more [APK Teardown] was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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32 new and notable Android games from the last week (8/16/17 - 8/22/17)

Making it safer to get apps on Android O

Posted by Edward Cunningham. Product Manager, Android Security

Eagle-eyed users of Android O will have noticed the absence of the 'Allow unknown sources' setting, which has existed since the earliest days of Android to facilitate the installation of apps from outside of Google Play and other preloaded stores. In this post we'll talk about the new Install unknown apps permission and the security benefits it brings for both Android users and developers.

Earlier this year we introduced Google Play Protect - comprehensive security services that are always at work to protect your device from harm. Google Play continues to be one of the safest places for Android users to download their apps, with the majority of Potentially Harmful Apps (PHAs) originating from third-party sources.

A common strategy employed by PHA authors is to deliver their apps via a hostile downloader. For example, a gaming app might not contain malicious code but instead might notify the user to install a PHA that masquerades as an important security update. (You can read more about hostile downloaders in the Android Security 2016 Year in Review). Users who have enabled the installation of apps from unknown sources leave themselves vulnerable to this deceptive behavior.

Left (pre-Android O): The install screen for a PHA masquerading as a system update.
Right (Android O): Before the PHA is installed, the user must first grant permission to the app that triggered the install.

In Android O, the Install unknown apps permission makes it safer to install apps from unknown sources. This permission is tied to the app that prompts the install— just like other runtime permissions—and ensures that the user grants permission to use the install source before it can prompt the user to install an app. When used on a device running Android O and higher, hostile downloaders cannot trick the user into installing an app without having first been given the go-ahead.

This new permission provides users with transparency, control, and a streamlined process to enable installs from trusted sources. The Settings app shows the list of apps that the user has approved for installing unknown apps. Users can revoke the permission for a particular app at any time.

At any time, users can review the apps that they've allowed for installing unknown apps. To make the permission-granting process easier, app developers can choose to direct users to their permission screen as part of the setup flow.

Developer changes

To take advantage of this new behavior, developers of apps that require the ability to download and install other apps via the Package Installer may need to make some changes. If an app uses a targetSdkLevel of 26 or above and prompts the user to install other apps, the manifest file needs to include the REQUEST_INSTALL_PACKAGES permission:

<uses-permission android:name="android.permission.REQUEST_INSTALL_PACKAGES" />

Apps that haven't declared this permission cannot install other apps, a handy security protection for apps that have no intention of doing so. You can choose to pre-emptively direct your users to the Install unknown apps permission screen using the ACTION_MANAGE_UNKNOWN_APP_SOURCES Intent action. You can also query the state of this permission using the PackageManager canRequestPackageInstalls() API.

Remember that Play policies still apply to apps distributed on Google Play if those apps can install and update other apps. In the majority of cases, such behavior is inappropriate; you should instead provide a deep link to the app's listing on the Play Store.

Be sure to check out the new developer guide that provides more information about installing unknown apps, and stay tuned for more posts on security hardening in Android O.

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Essential Phone review

Essential is the new kid on the block but it’s backed by the very man who created Android, Andy Rubin. The Essential Phone isn’t being sold on features or gimmicks, but rather an experience. In a flooded market where even the big shots are struggling, can a newcomer without any gimmicks to sell to the masses succeed?


Display: 5.71-inch 2,560 x 1,312 19:10 with rounded corners
Processor: Snapdragon 835
Storage: 128GB UFS 2.1
Camera: Dual 13MP rear (RGB + monochrome), f/1.85 lens rear, 8MP front
Battery: 3,040mAh, 27W fast charging
Operating system: Android 7.1.1 Nougat
Ports: USB Type-C
Other features: Fingerprint sensor, accessory pins, 4 mics
Dimensions: 141.5mm x 71.1mm x 7.8mm, 185g
Price: $699.00
Where to buy: Essential

The first thing you’ll notice about the Essential Phone is the display that takes up a staggering amount of the front. The top corners are curved, giving the device basically no bezels on three sides, while the fourth side is a bezel that’s smaller than most. The only thing at the top is the camera that cuts into the screen. It’s a very unique yet odd look. When the screen is off, all you see is a black slab.

Essential Phone 5

The rear is made out of ceramic, which creates a dark gray perfect mirror finish on the black model. The dual camera lenses, dual flash, laser autofocus, and accessory pins sit at the top without protruding. There is no camera hump here. Below them is the fingerprint sensor mounted in the traditional location.

Essential Phone 2

The frame of the device is made out of titanium that’s been polished to a mirror finish. You’ll find the volume and power buttons on the right side and the USB Type-C port, speaker, and SIM tray on the bottom. The absence of a 3.5mm jack a shame.

One of the best parts of the Essential Phone is the lack of logos. You won’t find a single marking; no brands, no names, not even FCC info. Not only is this brave in terms of marketing, but it’s also drop dead gorgeous. I’m sure many of you know what I mean when I say how huge of a deal not having any logos on a device is. This phone is as aesthetically simple as it gets and I can’t get enough of how beautiful it is.

Build quality

As a flagship device with a flagship price, one of the first things to notice is build quality. Construction, materials, and design all affect how the device feels in the hand. The Essential Phone feels absolutely phenomenal without a single bit of exaggeration. It’s heavier than most devices of its size and feels incredibly solid. It feels like a brick. That doesn’t sound positive, but it really is.

The combination of the titanium frame and the ceramic back gives it weight and a strong feeling. The square edges give it the feeling of substance and makes it feel thicker than it really is (it’s a fairly slim phone). This means that it’s easy to hold, yet the edges are all rounded and don’t dig into your hand. The top of the frame has some plastic molded to the very edge around the display and this feels great, too. The buttons are solid and click very nicely. If any device conveyed pure quality, this is it.

Holding it in the hand feels great. Having no bezels is a big concern for some, as some people tend to accidentally touch the screen on other devices. This isn’t an issue with the Essential Phone. The square edges give you plenty of surface area to hold on and protect the edges of the screen from accidental touches. Despite being all screen, it’s as easy to hold and use as any other phone. It’s seriously impressive that Essential’s design made having no bezels so easy.

The Essential Phone is being billed as a tough device as well. Compared to an aluminum frame, the titanium frame is far harder to dent. A corner of the frame denting is a common cause of a shattered screen rather than an impact on the surface of the glass itself, and the titanium frame protects from that. After dropping it 5 feet onto hardwood right onto a corner, it came away without a single mark.

The rear resists scratches very well, far better than even the Gorilla Glass 5 on the face of the device. After hard use, it still looks pristine. However, it is a bit slippery on flat surfaces.


Essential Phone 6

Of course, the display is the star of the device. Despite the Essential Phone’s small size, the display is an impressive 5.71-inches in a 19:10 form factor. It has a resolution of 2,560 x 1,312, making it very sharp. It’s a beautiful panel, though it could use a little more brightness. You can’t see individual pixels whatsoever and the colors are vibrant and accurate. Despite being an LCD panel, blacks remain very deep.

Essential Phone 3

The camera intruding into the top of the display is very controversial, but it virtually disappears after a moment of use. Despite such things usually bugging me, the camera felt completely natural in the middle of the display.

Inside the Essential Phone you’ll find a Snapdragon 835 paired with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of UFS 2.1 storage. This is pretty much on par with other flagships and offers blazing fast performance. Animations are buttery smooth, apps launch quickly, and there is no lag to be found in normal use. Thanks to the stock software, there is no extra bloatware to slow it down.

The lack of expandable storage may be a downside to some, but most phones start at 32GB while the Essential Phone gets you a whopping 128GB. That will be plenty of space for most people.

The fingerprint sensor on the back works great. It may not be as quick as the sensors Huawei uses, but it’s quick and accurate, and it performs better than Huawei’s sensors when it comes to wet fingers. Failures to read my finger are few and far between. Unfortunately it does not feature the “swipe down for notifications” feature.

The device also features Bluetooth 5.0 LE, though stock Android still does not have a battery life indicator for connected Bluetooth devices.

Essential Phone 8

One big omission is the headphone jack. The Essential Phone is missing a 3.5mm port, meaning you’re forced to either use Bluetooth headphones or the included adapter. This may not be a big deal to some, but it really does impact day to day use for me. I still prefer wired earphones and having to remember to grab an adapter is a daily annoyance. But with how great Bluetooth earphones are these days, it shouldn’t be a huge deal for most. Still, I figured a headphone jack is an essential!

However, the output of the Type-C adapter is quite a bit louder than most phones. It can give a set of AKG K702 open back headphones enough juice for relatively high volumes while other devices struggle. The sound is also quite good. I’m impressed by this, though volume intervals for the lower end of the spectrum could be a bit finer.

At the top is a slim slot housing a notification light and an earpiece. The LED is quite bright and easy to see from any angle. The earpiece is above average and very loud. It sounds good in calls. The speaker at the bottom is ridiculously loud. In fact, it’s so loud I keep the ringer volume two notches below full, which is a first in my entire time owning smartphones. It’s not the highest quality speaker, but it’s loud and clear.

The vibration motor is powerful yet accurate, something that can’t be said for all devices. The haptic feedback feels very nice.

Essential Phone 9

Included in the very nicely laid out box is the device, a SIM tool shaped like the Essential logo, a charger, a Type-C to Type-C cable, and a headphone adapter. The cable and headphone adapter are of the highest quality, with a black and gray braided coating and metal connectors. The USB Type-C wall charger is seemingly made out of metal as well, at least around the edges. These are some of the nicest accessories I’ve ever seen, making the whole device experience feel even more premium.


On this device you’ll find a stock version of Android 7.1.1 Nougat. It even features the August 5, 2017 security patch at the time of this review. There are a few small modifications, but it’s pretty much the stock Android that we know and love.

Things that Essential has changed are the status bar behavior, the additional software for the modules, and the camera app. Everything else is pure Google.

The status bar is a point of interest for everyone. If something needs to be fullscreen, like videos or games, a black bar surrounds the camera bump. This pretty much creates a 16:9 display like you’re used to. Just like in stock Android, the status bar will color match to whatever app it’s in. With the rounded corners, this looks especially nice.

Essential Phone 7

While most apps would not take advantage of this bigger status bar, some stock features do. The notification shade features the date and time and settings button flanking the camera, while pressing on the various toggles will show you data screens utilizing the entire top of the display. The Essential camera app puts its settings toggles around the camera bump, which is a very efficient use of space.

We hope that others apps will take advantage of the extra screen real estate if Essential allows it. For the most part, it acts like a regular phone without anything intruding into the display. But when something does take advantage of it, it looks fantastic.

The only other changes to stock Android are the option to jump to the camera app by double clicking the power button, and a form of ambient display. You can lift the device to see the ambient display glow with your notifications and time.


The device features dual 13MP cameras on the rear, installed flush with the backside of the device. The setup is similar to what we’ve seen from Huawei. The two sensors are identical, but one has had its color filter removed. This makes it more sensitive in low light, giving the Essential Phone better low light capabilities.

The custom camera app is lackluster, offering few features and mediocre design. You can tap to focus, but you cannot adjust exposure. You can enable HDR, switch to monochrome mode, and shoot slow motion video. There are no features like depth of field, grid, or panorama. Honestly, the app could use a lot of work. Exposure control is critical.

Using a different camera app like Google Camera solves many of these problems (hint hint, the ported HDR+ app works on this device).

Photo quality is mostly fantastic, but don’t let that “mostly” worry you. There is a big silver lining to consider.

The photos are generally very nice, though post processing can occasionally act out. In ample light, it can take some beautiful photos. The stock app produces vibrant colors and gorgeous close ups. Oversharpening is a problem, as is the lack of optical image stabilization. This omission really takes away from the flagship status of the camera.

In low light, the photos tend to be a little noisy, and when they’re not they tend to be soft. Low light performance isn’t bad, but it’s not great either.

In mono mode, photo quality is absolutely stunning. Adding a black and white filter is nothing like taking true black and white photos with the monochrome sensor. The contrast, depth, and pop is beautiful. Some of the photos the device has taken look far above what a smartphone is usually capable of, and this is without any editing.

The silver lining I mentioned earlier is that constant updates have been improving the camera experience, and some of the changes have been drastic. Overall photo quality has absolutely skyrocketed, making the average photo beautiful. And the device is still constantly getting camera updates.

Unfortunately, this also means that many of the photos I took earlier in my time with the device are significantly worse than the photos it takes now. The photos in this review aren’t quite representative of the images it can take now and in the future.

The front-facing camera is an 8MP sensor with a fixed lens. It’s capable of shooting 4K video, which is pretty cool. It’s not the best selfie camera, but it’s pretty good in ample lighting conditions. Unfortunately, photos from this sensor tend to come out somewhat blurry in low light.

Though the current camera situation is excellent, it’s only going to get better. I believe that the camera hardware is very capable, and the software is getting there too.

Essential Phone Photo Samples

Battery life

The battery is only 3,040mAh, which is on the smaller side for a flagship. It’s definitely not small for the size of the device (the body is smaller than a Samsung Galaxy S8). However, the device lasts a full day with ease. There have been a few days where I forgot to plug in my charger and it almost lasted two full work days with over 4 hours of screen on time. That’s pretty impressive for the battery size.

In case that’s not enough, the fast charging will take care of you. The included charger puts out 27W of juice, which should take care of a low battery situation really quick. I was seeing a charge of about 30% every 30 minutes.

Other features

A big selling point of the Essential Phone is its accessory pins on the back. These pins are for modules like the announced 360-degree camera. There’s a magnet inside to keep the accessories attached. More accessories will be released down the road, like a charging dock, so this is just the beginning.

Unlike Moto Mods, the Essential Phone modules don’t cover the entire back of the device. This means they’re compact and easy to carry around. This also keeps future device styling open, as they won’t have to be the same size and shape to keep module compatibility.

The 360-degree camera is more than two 4K sensors in a housing; it actually has processing hardware inside to make sure your images and videos are viewable instantly. The slots around the sphere are vents for the internal fan. Unfortunately, I haven’t had more than a moment to use this accessory.

If good accessories are released, this is sure to be more useful than Moto Mods. Hopefully third-party accessories will also be allowed so it can gain some traction. A couple accessories aren’t going to do much for the device.

Essential Phone9.5 / 10

Essential Phone 4

The Essential Phone doesn’t pack every feature of modern flagships, but it doesn’t need to. It’s a fresh, unique take on a flagship that puts a focus on experience rather than features.

With high-end specs and stock Android, the speed and usability is fantastic. The dual camera setup performs very well. The battery life is above average. The screen is beautiful. And best of all, it looks and feels special.

The phone stands out in the current market, which bodes well for a newcomer. People ask what it is when they see it; even strangers recognize that it’s not the usual smartphone you see every day.

I hope this pushes the industry further in this direction. Give us clean software, omit the big logos, and try something new. Despite its flaws, the Essential Phone is an absolute joy to use and I can’t help but wholeheartedly recommend it.

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