Google Play Movies & TV expands HDR cast support to Nvidia Shield TV, Sony smart TVs

Almost a year ago, HDR support came to Google Play Movies & TV by way of Google's 4K streaming dongle, the Chromecast Ultra. Now, compatible Sony smart TVs and the best Android set-top box in the game, Nvidia Shield TV, are getting support for HDR content from Google Play as well — but only if it's cast from another device.

Of course, you can't watch HDR movies on just any old screen.

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Google Play Movies & TV expands HDR cast support to Nvidia Shield TV, Sony smart TVs was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


Android Match

13 new and notable Android apps from the last week including Instagram Lite, BBC Sounds, and Navbar Weather (6/24/18 - 6/30/18)

roundup_icon_largeWelcome to the roundup of the best new Android applications that went live in the Play Store or were spotted by us in the previous week or so. This week I have a few exceptional apps I would like to highlights such as Instagram Lite, BBC Sounds, and Navbar Weather. Heck,there is even an app for all you Pokémon GO fans out there with the release of Silph Road.

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13 new and notable Android apps from the last week including Instagram Lite, BBC Sounds, and Navbar Weather (6/24/18 - 6/30/18) was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Improving discovery of quality apps and games on the Play Store

Posted by Paul Bankhead, Director, Product Management, Google Play

Every day, millions of people come to the Play Store to discover the best apps and games. As part of our continued effort to deliver great experiences to our users, we regularly update the Play Store to help people find and discover safe, high quality, and relevant apps and games.

Over the last year, we've been enhancing our search and discovery algorithms' consideration of app quality and user engagement. This means that apps and games that have high retention rates, low crash rates, low uninstalls, and many other factors, are recommended more often.

Recently, we increased the importance of engagement and app quality in our recommendation systems and users reacted favorably to the changes. With more high quality titles being surfaced in the Play Store's recommendations, people are playing the games they download more often.

We believe that providing great experiences for our users on Google Play will encourage a healthier, growing Android ecosystem. We encourage all developers to review some of the suggestions in this post and on developers.android.com for guidance and best practices.


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LG Stylo 4 with 6.2-inch display heading to Cricket Wireless

It has been over a year since the LG Stylo 3 started making the rounds at wireless carriers, so now it’s time for the handset’s successor to show up.

Cricket Wireless is launching the LG Stylo 4 at a price of $230. What you get for that price tag? A 6.2-inch Full HD display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of built-in storage, and a battery that measures in at 3300mAh.

The Stylo 4 is also equipped with a 13MP rear camera, a 5MP front-facing camera, and Android 8.1 Oreo. There’s also a stylus in the box, and LG has thrown in more than a few features to help take advantage of the accessory:

  • Pen Pop – helps you quickly launch note taking and screen writing apps when you pull out the stylus.
  • Screen-off Memo – lets you instantly jot down brilliant ideas! –Just write, no need to turn on the screen!
  • Pen Keeper – ensures you never get too far from your stylus. A pop-up message lets you know when you haven’t stored it back away.
  • GIF Capture – allows you to capture and create GIF files from video
  • Pop Lens – when reading, use the stylus to magnify text and view clearly.

So, that’s the LG Stylo 4. Does the mid-range handset catch your attention at all?


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YouTube TV is down for many subscribers, but Google is working on it

Looking to kick back and relax this Friday afternoon with some streaming TV courtesy of Google? Well, your plans might be on hold. We're getting multiple reports of YouTube TV outages. Streams are failing to load left and right, and some users can't even log in.

According to Outage Report, there are around 100 users with issues each day. That number could easily be because of user error. Today, there have been almost 2,000 reports.

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YouTube TV is down for many subscribers, but Google is working on it was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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AT&T's $15/month WatchTV streaming service is now open to all

AT&T surprise-announced WatchTV, its $15-a-month Sling TV competitor, in April. Earlier this month, the service went live for subscribers on certain AT&T plans. Now, it's available to everybody, and if you're in the market for an alternative to a basic cable package, it's actually looking like a pretty good option.

WatchTV includes some big-name channels like Cartoon Network, TLC, and TNT, with more networks on the way. Like pretty much every service of this kind, you can sign up for a one-week free trial; after that, it's $15 a month, and you can cancel whenever.

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AT&T's $15/month WatchTV streaming service is now open to all was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Verizon certifies Moto Z3 Play, adds Samsung Galaxy J3 to postpaid and prepaid plans

Verizon on Friday announced that it has certified a new Motorola smartphone for use on its network and that it’s also bringing a new entry-level Samsung smartphone to both its postpaid and prepaid offerings.

Fist up, the new Moto smartphone. Verizon has officially certified the Moto Z3 Play (which launched earlier this month) for use on its network. That means you can buy the Moto Z3 Play directly from Motorola, Amazon, or Best Buy and then stick your Verizon SIM card and get full 4G LTE support.

Samsung-GalaxyJ3

Next, the Samsung Galaxy J3. This is the third generation model, improving the cameras, built-in storage, and battery life over the previous generation. As far as features go, the display measures in at 5 inches, there is an Exynos 7884 processor under the hood, there’s 16GB of built-in storage, a 2600mAh battery, and support for microSD cards up to 400GB.

The Galaxy J3 is running Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box, and it’s priced at just $7.00 per month for 24 months or $168.00 full retail for postpaid customers. Meanwhile, prepaid customers can pay just $124.99 for a limited time to get the new smartphone.


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Sling TV gets more expensive, adds à la carte channels and free content

Sling TV announced a number of changes yesterday. Strangely, it seems people who don't subscribe to the service stand to benefit the most. While the price of a basic package has gone up by five bucks a month, from $20 to $25, the company has introduced free content for non-subscribers, as well as à la carte channel selections and additional on-demand programming that don't require subscriptions.

So long as you have a Sling account, whether or not you're a paying customer, you'll have access to "more than 100 hours of free TV shows and movies" in the Sling app.

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Sling TV gets more expensive, adds à la carte channels and free content was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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A New Universal Music Player

Posted by Nicole Borrelli, Android Developer, Programs Engineer

 Screenshot of UAMP v2's UI showing a pair of albums

The Universal Android Music Player (or "UAMP") is a favorite on GitHub for music app developers with over 9,500 stars and 3,000 forks. Since UAMP was first released, Android development has changed significantly. ExoPlayer has improved, Architecture Components were introduced, and Kotlin became a first-class language for Android developers.

We decided that the best way to integrate the modern features for our beloved music app would be to re-write UAMP.

UAMP v2 was built from the ground up in Kotlin. The UI is built around ViewModels and LiveData. Playback, and particularly integration with MediaSessionCompat, was vastly simplified by utilizing the MediaSession extension of ExoPlayer.

We also added a bunch of new songs by The Kyoto Connection and Kai Engel.

There are some features from UAMP v1 that haven't been integrated into the new code yet. The missing features include Android TV with the Leanback library and remote playback via Google Cast. Even though these features aren't yet included in v2, we wanted to show you the new updates as soon as possible. The old code will continue to be available in the v1 branch on GitHub, so please take a look there to see how to use those features in a music app.

We would love your feedback on which features to add next. We are considering offline playback, improving the integration with Android Auto, and using the upcoming Navigation components of Jetpack for the UI. We'll be creating GitHub issues for features and improvements to help you let us know what is most important to you. Go vote on these features to let us know where we should focus our efforts.

We'd also like to invite you to open pull requests for bug fixes and features that are missing. See the contributions process for more information.

Grab the code from GitHub!


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OnePlus is teasing a red OnePlus 6

It hasn’t been long since OnePlus launched its newest flagship smartphone, the OnePlus 6. And if you went to their online store right now to buy one, you’d find three color options: Silk White, Mirror Black, and Midnight Black. But a fourth is on the way.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, red is going to be joining the OnePlus 6 lineup here soon. The company has taken to Twitter to tease the upcoming color launch, and even renowned reviewer Marques Brownlee (MKBHD) has jumped in on the fun. OnePlus’s teaser is a bit more theatrical, so there’s not much to go on there.

Brownlee’s tweet actually has a very small tease of the handset itself. You can see a device with a similar design as the standard OnePlus 6, but with a very red coat of paint. It certainly pops in comparison to the black model, which you can see in the image at the top of the article.

OnePlus also has a date for potential owners to circle on the calendar: July 2. It looks like the red OnePlus 6 will go official on that date, so if you have been waiting to pick up a new OnePlus smartphone, that may be the date to look forward to. If red is your preferred color, that is.

Are you planning on picking up a red OnePlus 6 now that it’s on your radar?

Sources: @OnePlus@MKBHD


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Google Maps adding Waze-like incident reporting to Android app

It has been five years since Google acquired the navigation app Waze, but the app still functions on its own and is still popular.

One of the reasons drivers return to Waze so frequently is its real-time incident reporting. This allows for drivers to let others know what’s going on with a particular road as it happens, whether it’s an accident, construction, or even a police officer that’s been spotted. The app also lets users include even more information, like when an accident was reported or whether they have seen a road is suffering from congestion.

Google Maps may be adding the same feature to its app for all users, if a new report from Android Police is any indication. This particular feature was actually spotted being added into Google Maps a couple of weeks ago, and now it looks like the Google Maps team is starting to roll it out.

GoogleMaps-WazeIncidentReporting

The feature brings real-time incident reporting to Google Maps, but it isn’t apparently available for everyone just yet. That could suggest that this is just a minor test, letting some Google Maps users get the feature, or it could be indicative of a wider rollout coming later.

Google Maps adding incident reporting is a huge gain for the service. Are you excited about the potential for this feature to see a public release soon?


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22 temporarily free and 35 on-sale apps to finish off June

We've come to the end of another week and another month. 2018 is officially half over (almost), so it's all downhill from here, right? Doubtful, but I digress. We have a small list today to finish off June, including Adventures of Mana and Hitman Sniper, as well as some other excellent games. Just look for the things in bold.

Free

Apps

  1. Auto call recorder Pro $5.49 -> Free; Sale ends in 3 days

Games

  1. Hook $0.99 -> Free; 8 hours
  2. klocki $0.99 -> Free; Sale ends in 8 hours
  3. oO $0.99 -> Free; Sale ends in 8 hours
  4. PUSH $0.99 -> Free; Sale ends in 8 hours
  5. Dr.
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22 temporarily free and 35 on-sale apps to finish off June was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Isoland 2: Ashes of Time is a new point and click adventure game worth the $2 entry fee

It's been over a year since Cotton Game's gorgeous hand-drawn point and click adventure game Isoland was released on Android. In that time the developers have been working on a sequel, and today that sequel is available on the Play Store. You can expect to find the same gorgeous hand-drawn graphics in Isoland 2: Ashes of Time, but this time around the gameplay breaks from the original's linearity in order to give players a chance to decide for themselves how and when they would like to tackle the many logical puzzles contained within.

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Isoland 2: Ashes of Time is a new point and click adventure game worth the $2 entry fee was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Instagram Stories hits 400m daily users, introduces new soundtrack feature

If you use Instagram, there's a good chance you've tried out Stories, which lets you send timely updates to your followers in photo or video form. It's probably to blame for the waning interest in Snapchat and has had a steady stream of feature updates such as music stickers and sharing from other apps. It's not at all surprising to learn that Instagram Stories now has 400 million daily users.

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Instagram Stories hits 400m daily users, introduces new soundtrack feature was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Top 10 Android app updates this week: Firefox, STARZ

Welcome back to our weekly Top 10 Android App Updates column, where we take a look at the most frequently upgraded apps for the week. We’ve found that one of the best ways to discover useful apps is to find the ones that are actually being updated by the developers rather than selecting the apps with the most installs. As in the past, we’re going to filter out minor updates for the super-popular apps that have over 10 million installs, but we’ll make exceptions for apps that have had significant updates. We hope you enjoy this weekly feature and that you discover some apps that end up being useful.

Canva: Poster, banner, card maker & graphic design - Version 1.4.0

Canva

What’s new in this version:

  • In the “Your Designs” tab, we added a page number icon to multi-page designs, so you can easily get the info you need at a glance.
  • Also fixed an issue with publishing designs containing multi-slice elements (graphics that can be extended from the sides).
  • Lastly, this update contains 37 new languages! You can now design in Czech, Greek, Latvian, Chinese, Bengali, more!

 

Write on PDF - Version 2.4.23.0

Write PDF

What’s new in this version:

  • Supports Android O OS (Android 8.0)

 

Google Photos - Version 3.23.1

Google Photos

What’s new in this version:

  • Like shared photos and albums – Look out for the ♥️icon when viewing a shared album or photo.
  • Mark photos as your favorites – Rolling out this week, tap the ⭐️ button to mark a photo as a favorite.

 

STARZ - Version 3.6.4

Starz

What’s new in this version:

  • You can now login directly with your remote if you have a streaming subscription with STARZ.
  • Better integration with Google Assistant.

 

Telegram – Version 4.8.10

Telegram

What’s new in this version:

  • Mark chats as Read or Unread from the long tap menu.
  • Listen to voice and video messages in 2X mode if you’re in a hurry.
  • Choose which data to send when sharing contacts, including multiple phone numbers and other vCard fields.
  • Replace media when editing messages with media content.
  • Cancel sending messages before they are sent.

 

YouTube TV - Version 2.07.3

YouTube TV - Watch & Record Live TV

What’s new in this version:

  • Welcome the newest addition to our family of networks: STARZ! Now available as an add-on to your membership.
  • Also, regular bug fixes and all that other stuff.

 

Freeletics Bodyweight - Version 5.0.0

Freeletics Bodyweight

What’s new in this version:

  • NEW: You’ve conquered Aphrodite and Kentauros. Can you conquer Erebos, Achilles, Odysseus and Amazona? Find over 30 new God Workouts now in the app. Discover new favorites, set new PBs.
  • NEW: Your Freeletics Coach is now smarter and tougher. Discover the digital Coach that will challenge your body to transform. #noexcuses

 

Gboard- Version 7.3.1

Gboard

What’s new in this version:

  • Add text to Make a GIF
  • Search stickers in 15 more languages
  • 28 new languages: Bagri, Batak Toba, Bench, Bhili, Capiznon, Chavacano, Eastern Min, Fiji Hindi, Ge’ez, Gurani, Ingush, Karachay, Khorasani Turkic, Kipsigis, Maharashtrian Konkani, Lezgian, Mizo, Maguindanao, Malay (Brunei), Maranao, Southern Min, Northern Sami, Qashqa’i, Rinconada Bikol, Surjapuri, Tausug, Upper Saxon, Vasavi

 

Firefox - Version 60.0.1

Firefox Browser

What’s new in this version:

  • The new CSS engine introduced in the Firefox Quantum (57.0) desktop browser is now enabled in Firefox for Android

 

GiGa File Manager - Version 1.3.8

GiGa File Manager

What’s new in this version:

  • Fix bugs
  • Improve performance
  • Improve UI/UX

 


Android Match

Google Maps now showing Waze-like incident reporting for some

One of the main differentiators that Waze has over its competitors, including Google Maps, is user interaction. Wazers can report accidents, road closures, police car sightings, and so on, all of which helps other users out. It's what makes the app so popular. However, Google is adding incident reporting to its own Maps app, and it's starting to pop up on people's phones.

These incident reporting prompts had first been mentioned in our Maps v9.79 teardown, but they're now beginning to go live.

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Google Maps now showing Waze-like incident reporting for some was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Android Messages for web borrows a fun Hangouts feature (☞゚ヮ゚)☞

As of this week, after a long rollout, Android Messages' new web interface is finally available to everybody. Even better, it includes with it an Easter egg from Hangouts: emoticon shortcuts. You can send your friends shruggies, table flips, and even Finn and Jake from "Adventure Time," all with simple text commands. Algebraic!

The shruggie was first added to Hangouts in 2016, summonable via the command /shruggie. Building on that, several more shortcuts were added the following month, and even more last year in what was arguably Hangouts' last meaningful update.

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Android Messages for web borrows a fun Hangouts feature (☞゚ヮ゚)☞ was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Automating your app releases with Google Play

Posted by Nicholas Lativy, Software Engineer

At Google I/O we shared how Google's own apps make use of Google Play for successful launches and updates and introduced the new Google Play Developer Publishing API Version 3.

The Publishing API enables you to integrate publishing operations into your existing release process or automated workflows by providing the ability to upload APKs and roll out releases. Here's an overview of some of the improvements you can now take advantage of in Version 3 of the API.

Releases in the API

The Publishing API now uses the release model you are familiar with from the Play Console.

{
  "track": "production",
  "releases": [
    {
      "name": "Release One", 
      "versionCodes": ["100"],
      "status": "completed"
    }
  ]
}

This gives you full control over releases via the API allowing a number of operations which were previously available only in the Play Console. For example, you can now control the name of releases created via the API, and we have now relaxed the constraints on what can be rolled out via the API to match the Play Console.

Additional testing tracks

The API now supports releasing to any of the testing tracks you have configured for your application as well as the production track. This makes it possible to configure your continuous integration system to push a new build to your internal test track as soon as it's ready for QA.

Staged rollout

Staged rollouts are the recommended way to deploy new versions of your app. They allow you to make your new release available to a small percentage of users and gradually increase this percentage as your confidence in the release grows.

Staged rollouts are now represented directly in the API as inProgress releases.

{
  "track": "production",
  "releases": [
    {
      "versionCodes": ["100"],
      "status": "completed"
    },
    {
      "versionCodes": ["200"],
      "status": "inProgress",
      "userFraction": 0.1
    }
  ]
}

You can now halt a staged rollout via the API by changing its status to halted. This makes it possible to automatically respond to any problems you detect while performing a rollout. If it turns out to be a false alarm, the API now also allows you to resume a halted release by changing its status back to inProgress.

Release notes

Release notes are a useful way to communicate to users new features you have added in a release. In V3 we have simplified how these are specified via the API by adding the releaseNotes field to release.

{
  "track": "production",
  "releases": [
    {
      "versionCodes": ["100"],
      "status": "completed",
      "releaseNotes": [
        {
          "language": "en-US",
          "text": "Now it's easier to specify release notes."
        },
        {
           "language": "it-IT",
           "text": "Ora è più semplice specificare le note sulla versione."
        }
    }
  ]
}

Draft releases

We know that while many developers are comfortable deploying test builds automatically, they like using the Play Console when rolling out to production.

So, in the V3 API we have added the ability to create and manage Draft Releases.

{
  "track": "production",
  "releases": [
    {
      "name": "Big Launch",
      "versionCodes": ["200"],
      "status": "draft"
    }
  ]
}

This allows you to upload APKs or App Bundles and create a draft release from your continuous integration system, and then have your product manager log in, check that everything looks good, and hit "Confirm and Rollout".

We hope you find these features useful and take advantage of them for successful launches and updates with Google Play. If you're interested in some of the other great tools for distributing your apps, check out the I/O sessions which have now been posted to the Android Developers YouTube Channel.

How useful did you find this blogpost?


Android Match

Spotify's Android app will get track reordering... at some point

Spotify is definitely the elephant in the room whenever the subject of streaming music comes up, but the service isn't without its foibles. Up until earlier this year, it was a common complaint that free users couldn't actually directly select songs to play, and the A/B UI tests are almost Google-level frustrating. By far my biggest personal issue has been the inability to reshuffle tracks in a playlist from the Android app—a very basic feature that even Play Music has.

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Spotify's Android app will get track reordering... at some point was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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OnePlus promises two years of software updates, three years of security patches with Software Maintenance Schedule

One of the benefits of picking up a Google Pixel or Android One smartphone is the knowledge that you will regularly get OS and security updates for a long time after launch. Other smartphone manufacturers out there don’t typically promise the same thing, so when a company like OnePlus does, it’s certainly noteworthy.

That’s exactly what OnePlus has done this week, announcing what it calls the Software Maintenance Schedule. This means that its smartphone will get software updates for two years after launch, and security patches for three years, which is exactly what Google promises for its own devices.

OnePlus notes that the OnePlus 3 and 3T are pretty much at the end of that line when it comes to software updates, but the company is going to release one more open beta for the devices soon, and in early July it will launch an update to the stable build. Beyond that, the handsets “will be getting regular OTA updates till November of 2018 and 1 year of extended Android security patches.”

Meanwhile, the OnePlus 5 and 5T has one more year of software updates and two more years of security patches. And the OnePlus 6, which launched earlier this year, still has a full two years of updates and three years of security patches to look forward to

The best part is that the Software Maintenance Schedule is going into effect immediately.

This is news all around for OnePlus device owners and a big feather in the company’s cap moving forward.


Android Match

Amazon Show Mode Charging Dock will turn your Fire tablet into an Echo device

Amazon currently offers several Echo devices, and now it wants to help you transform your Fire tablet into an Echo device, too.

Amazon today introduced the Show Mode Charging Dock that’ll turn your Fire HD 8 or Fire HD 10 tablet into an Echo device similar to the Echo Show. When in Show Mode, your Fire tablet will use it’s full screen to show news, weather, camera feeds, and more. You can also ask Alexa to do things like show you a recipe, set a timer or alarm, start a video call, or watch a movie.


Your Fire HD 8 or Fire HD 10 tablet is plugged in and charging in a case while it’s resting in the dock, but you can just grab the tablet and go when you want to take it with you somewhere else. The dock itself is also adjustable so that you can customize the angle that your tablet is displayed at.

The Show Mode Charging Dock is now available for pre-order in Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 versions. Both will launch on July 12th.

Amazon’s new Show Mode dock is a pretty nifty idea. It allows consumers to see what having an Echo device is like without having to commit to a smart speaker, letting them instead buy a tablet that’s more multipurpose and can go with them. Plus, while an Echo Show is a bit cheaper than a Fire tablet paired with this Show Mode dock, using the tablet + dock combo lets you have a bigger screen than any Echo device has to offer.

amazonfirehd10kidsedition

Also announced today is Amazon’s Fire HD 10 Kids Edition. This version of the Fire HD 10 offers specs similar to the standard Fire HD 10 tablet, including a 10.1-inch 1920×1200 screen, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a microSD card slot, and VGA front plus 2MP rear cameras. The difference is that the Kids Edition tablet comes with a “kid-proof” case to protect the device. And with a two-year worry-free guarantee, Amazon will replace your tablet if it does get broken.

In addition to that kid-proof case, the Fire HD 10 Kids Edition comes with Amazon FreeTime Unlimited. This service offers more than 15,000 books, videos, educational apps, and games that’ve been curated to be appropriate for children.

The Fire HD 10 is now available for pre-order and will launch on July 11th.

Sources: Amazon Show Mode Charging Dock, Fire HD 10 Kids Edition


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