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Square Enix announces Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition for Android
By Team AA
Final Fantasy XV is coming to mobile, but not in the way you might expect. Today at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany, Square Enix let us in on its plans for the FFXV universe and it looks cute as hell.
The brand new Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition is a completely reimaged mobile version of the road trip through Eos. Square Enix describes it as “an all-new adventure that retells the beloved story of Final Fantasy XV.” Pocket Edition will have an all new art style with touch-based controls, though it appears that all the same mechanics will carry over from the console version.
The story will be chopped up into ten episodes that will launch this fall on Android, iOS, and Windows 10. Square Enix says that the first episode will be free with the rest presumably coming as in-app purchases, although pricing information wasn’t provided.
Pocket Edition joins a growing amount of new content based in and around the Final Fantasy VX universe. In addition to consistent story mode updates and a new multiplayer mode on console, it joins a mobile strategy game, a Forza Horizon 3 FFXV car, and an upcoming virtual reality fishing spin-off for PlayStation VR. Square Enix also announced yesterday that the full version of FFXV will launch with an enhanced version on Windows 10 early next year.
Source:: android authority
Promotional price on Kickstarter success
By AA Picks
You’ve got your Samsung Galaxy S8, now you need some equally classy accessories. Look no further – We would stick the XVIDA Magnetic Samsung S8 Charging Kit high on that list. Wireless chargers aren’t a new thing, but if you’ve watched the product video above you gotta admit this would make a pretty kickass addition to your life.
This kickstarter success story will fully charge your device in just 100 minutes, and the super-sleek frame can hold it at a variety of angles. Once you put your phone in the slim-line XVIDA case, the carefully positioned magnets will automatically snap it into the correct position. Cable charging is a thing of the past
Boy does it look cool.
Obviously the design of this charger makes it a sexy piece of desk-candy for the office. But where it really comes into its own is in the car. Forget your old dashboard phone holder – The XVIDA charger will let you use your phone as a Sat Nav while still charging it at high speed. And boy does it look cool.
We’re spotlighting the XVIDA charger today because right now you can pick it up at the promotional price. Usually retailing for $109, today you can get your hands on one for just $83. The offer is on a countdown though, so don’t miss out.
Grab it now in black, silver or gold by hitting the button below.
Source:: android authority
How Oreo is better than Nougat: Background Execution Limits
By Gary Sims
Broadly speaking, a runnable app (meaning one that has been loaded into memory and can be executed) can be in one of two states on an Android device: it is either a foreground app, which is currently being executed and is interacting with the user; or it can be a background app, an app which is not interacting with the user.
Foreground apps can be battery killers, but that is OK, as the user has made a conscious choice to play a 3D game or watch a movie and is expecting a related drop in the battery level. However background tasks can be more insidious. Since they are not interacting with the user, the user has little or no knowledge of what these apps are doing and how much they are draining the battery.
Don’t miss: Our comprehensive video overview of Android Oreo
To try to limit the damage that background apps can do to the battery level, Android 8.0 Oreo implements background execution limits, a mechanism which limits certain behaviors by apps that are not running in the foreground.
At this point it is worth mentioning that the terms “foreground” and “background” here take on slightly different meanings compared to the more traditional definitions used by the memory management systems in Android.
An app is considered to be in the foreground if it has a visible activity (started or paused), if it has a foreground service, or if another foreground app is connected to the app, either by binding to one of its services or by making use of one of its content providers. This means that a music player is considered a foreground app since it will have a foreground service (with a notification for the status bar, placed under the Ongoing heading) even though the main UI is not in the foreground and isn’t interacting with the user.
When an app is in the foreground, it can create and run both foreground and background services freely. When an app goes into the background, it is given several minutes in which it can still create and use services. At the end of that time slot, the app is considered to be idle and Android will stop the app’s background services.
What all this means is that if an app, say a social media app, wants to check whether there are new posts available, even if it isn’t running in the foreground, then it can no longer just use a background service which checks with the cloud, as this background service will be stopped under the background execution limits mechanism. Instead the app should replace the background service with a scheduled job, which is launched periodically, queries the cloud, and then quits.
Apps should replace the background service with a scheduled job, which is launched periodically and then quits.
Android Oreo introduces a number of improvements to the JobScheduler, which are designed to help apps move from using background services to scheduled jobs. The JobScheduler is an API for scheduling various types of jobs that will be executed in your application’s own process.
The biggest change in Android 8.0 to the JobScheduler is the inclusion of a new work queue. When a job is running, it can take pending work off the queue and process it. This functionality handles many of the use cases where previously an app would have used a background service.
Many apps with background services would have used IntentService, a class based on background services that handle asynchronous requests on demand. Now with the Android Support Library 26.0.0, a new JobIntentService class has been introduced, which provides the same functionality as IntentService but uses jobs rather than background services when running on Android Oreo.
Finally, scheduled jobs now support several new constraints including isRequireStorageNotLow(), which ensures that a job does not run if the device’s available storage is low; and isRequireBatteryNotLow(), which stops a job from running if the battery level is low.
By default Background Execution Limits only apply to apps that target Android 8.0, but users can enable these restrictions for any app from the Settings.
The reasoning behind these changes is to stop over zealous apps taking up too many system resources while in the background. What is interesting is that by default Background Execution Limits only apply to apps that target Android 8.0. However, users can enable these restrictions for any app from the Settings, even if the app was built for a version of Android prior to 8.0.
The result of this is that Google is essentially forcing developers to abandon background services and instead use the more “smart” and controlled JobScheduler.
What do you think, are there any popular background apps that should be curtailed a little? Any apps that you would like to see move over to the alternative job mechanism?
Source:: android authority
Essential Phone review
By Dima Aryeh
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 …read more
FreedomPop’s new annual plan will cost less than a nice dinner
By Team AA
If you think cell service costs too much, listen up. FreedomPop, the Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) that has been giving away free basic cell service, is introducing its new Annual Plan that will run you less than a nice dinner out on the town.
The best prepaid and no contract plans in the US
Here’s how it works: right now, you can head over to FreedomPop and sign up for its brand new annual plan which runs $49 a year. The plan entitles you to 1,000 minutes, 1,000 texts, and 1 GB of data per month on either Sprint or AT&T’s network. If you need more data than that, you can choose one of FreedomPop’s bi-annual plans that run either $78 ($13/mo) or $114 ($19/mo) every six months. These plans bump you up to unlimited calls and texts, and either 2 GB or 5 GB of data a month respectively.
If you need more than 1 GB of data, you can choose one of FreedomPop’s bi-annual plans
FreedomPop sells inexpensive phones, tablets, and hotspots too. On its web store, you can find used and refurbished devices like the Nexus 5 for $119, the Samsung Galaxy S5 for $149, or the Samsung Galaxy S7 for $449. All of the 125 devices offered by FreedomPop come with its free mobile service, a 30-day money-back guarantee, and a 90-day warranty. When checking out, you can choose to pick up a protection plan for $9 a month on supported devices that covers cracked screens, accidental breaking, and water damage.
“We’re moving away from the idea that a mobile service has to come with a monthly bill,” says FreedomPop cofounder and COO Steven Sesar. “For a one time purchase of under $80, you can get a smartphone and service and not have to think about ongoing payments.”
FreedomPop is obviously aiming to disrupt mobile carriers with these unreal prices and offering consumers a true bargain option. While its initial free plans were based on upselling customers more minutes, texts, and data, these new plans seem to be more focused on asking customers to pay up front for a steep discount.
Would you consider a FreedomPop plan at these prices? Let us known down in the comments.
Source:: android authority
Verizon splits up its unlimited plan and throttles video quality on phones
By Evan Selleck
Recently, Verizon was called out for throttling data on its network, to which it replied that it was simply running tests and not actually throttling video on its unlimited data network for its millions of subscribers. Well, Verizon was partly on point, because it wasn’t simply aiming to throttle content from some platforms, but apparently all of them.
Today Verizon Wireless announced that it is splitting up its simple unlimited data plan and opting to offer two plans instead. They’re called Go Unlimited and Beyond Unlimited.
The new plans will go into effect beginning Wednesday, August 23. Here’s how they break down:
- $75 for the first line
- $65 per line for two lines
- $50 per line for three lines
- $40 per line for four or more lines
The Go Unlimited plan includes unlimited 4G LTE data, but Verizon notes that under this plan your data access can be throttled at any time when the network is seeing congestion. There is no requirement that a user needs to reach 20GB of data usage on this plan before their speeds are slowed. In addition to that, watching video on a smartphone is now limited to 480p resolution. Watching video on the network with a tablet is limited to 720p, and tablet data is a $20 per month add-on. Meanwhile, unlimited mobile hotspot data is topped at 600Kbps.
- $85 for the first line
- $80 per line for two lines
- $60 per line for three lines
- $50 per line for four or more lines
There are a few key changes with this plan. First, you’ll need to reach 22GB of data in a month before your speeds can be throttled, because this plan offers “premium unlimited 4G LTE data.” Additionally, if you’re watching video content on the network, it’s throttled to 720p on a smartphone and 1080p HD on tablets. This plan also offers unlimited mobile hotspot data, but there’s a limit of 15GB of 4G LTE usage. Unlimited calling, texting, and data usage is also available in Mexico and Canada.
Existing Verizon Wireless customers can keep their plans, but these Beyond Unlimited throttling rules are going into place for them, too. That means you’ll still be tapped out at 720p video quality on smartphone and 15GB of 4G LTE mobile hotspot data.
So, Verizon not only decided to make their single unlimited plan much more complicated, but they are also throttling as much as they possibly can.
What do you think of Verizon’s new idea?
What you need to know about Sony’s LDAC
We’ve been talking a fair bit about Bluetooth audio lately, mostly because consumers and high-end audio companies are making more noise about it than ever before. Be it wireless headsets, hands-free ear pieces, automotive, or the connected home, there’s a growing number of use cases for good quality Bluetooth audio. Fortunately, a number of companies have us covered with solutions that exceed the so-so performance of out-of-the-box Bluetooth solutions.
Qualcomm’s aptX already has a ton of Android phones covered, but multimedia-giant Sony has its own high-end solution called LDAC. This technology had previously only been available on Sony’s Xperia range of handsets, but with the roll-out of Android 8.0 Oreo the Bluetooth codec will be available as part of the core AOSP code for other OEMS to implement, if they wish.
So here’s everything that you need to know about Sony’s LDAC Bluetooth codec.
Higher quality Bluetooth audio
What’s interesting about LDAC is that it comes with three different types of connection mode – quality priority, normal, and connection priority. Each of these offers a different bitrate, weighing in at 990, 660, and 330 kbps respectively. So, depending on the type of connection available or the option you pick, there are varying levels of quality. It’s clear that the slower bitrates aren’t going to give the full 24-bit, 96 kHz quality that LDAC boasts though, so keep that in mind.
LDAC supports the transfer of 24-bit, 96 kHz (Hi-Res) audio files over the air via Bluetooth, with three quality settings to choose from.
Comparing bitrates is a questionable science, but it does give us a good idea about how much audio data each codec sends per second. High quality standard low-complexity subband codec (SBC) clocks in at a maximum of 328 kbps, Qualcomm’s aptX at 352 kbps, and aptX HD is 576 kbps. On paper then, 990 kbps LDAC transmits a lot more data than any other Bluetooth codec out there. And even the low end connection priority setting competes with SBC and aptX, which will cater for those who stream music from the most popular services.
Sample rate (Hz): the number of points of data per second in an audio file. You need two samples to accurately capture any frequency, so audio is sampled at at least twice the limits of human hearing (approximately 20 kHz). Higher resolution file formats tend to be exported at 96 kHz or greater.
Bit-depth (-bit): the number of bits saved for each audio sample. A higher bit depth records a signal more accurately. CD quality is 16-bits, but high resolution files extend this to 24-bits.
Bit-rate (kbps): usually measured in kbps or mbps. This is the amount of audio data transferred per second over Bluetooth. For uncompressed files, this is calculated by multiplying the sample rate by the bit-depth.
Sony is keen to make it clear that LDAC transmits up to 3x more data than SBC. However, that’s only with the Quality preset, and bit-rates are only part of the picture. The bigger question is how is this data being optimized.
However, it’s impossible to say exactly how good LDAC is based on this data alone. Sony is keeping its LDAC secret sauce closely under wraps, but to properly put these numbers into context we need to know how the technology works on a lower level. So far, we can only say that, at it’s best, LDAC transmits a lot more data than other Bluetooth codecs.
Increasing the transfer rate
Unfortunately, Sony hasn’t published much in the way of in depth materials for how LDAC works. But scouring some older Japanese sources has yielded some details about what Sony is aiming to accomplish with LDAC, at least at its highest bit depth.
There are two major parts to Sony’s LDAC. First is achieving a high enough Bluetooth transfer speed to reach 990 kbps, and the second is squeezing high resolution audio data into this bandwidth with a minimal loss in quality.
LDAC makes use of Bluetooth’s optional Enhanced Data Rate (EDR) technology to boost data speeds outside of the usual A2DP profile limits. But this is hardware dependant.
The first stage is accomplished by using Bluetooth’s in-house Enhanced Data Rate (EDR) option, which was introduced all the way back with Bluetooth 2.0 to increase maximum speeds. EDR speeds are not usually used by A2DP audio profiles, but the spec is rated up to 3 Mbps. Although in reality, 1.4 Mbps is mostly achievable, with 1 Mbps being considered the minimum stable connection. Hence why Sony’s LDAC sits just under this threshold at 990 kbps.
I should point out that EDR is an optional part of even newer Bluetooth 4.x devices, as the focus has been on decreasing power consumption for the most part. So not every chip, and therefore not every phone, will necessarily support Sony’s LDAC at the highest quality setting. Bluetooth 5 supports 2 Mbps low energy speeds out of the box, and is also backward compatible with EDR versions of Bluetooth, but again this higher speed is optional.
LDAC, SBC, and aptX share a common idea?
Now for LDAC’s compression technology, which appears to be an intelligent combination of lossless and lossy techniques to maximise sound quality at 990 kbps. And it’s all to do with varying the bit-depth at different frequencies, which preserves significantly more data than psycho-acoustic compression algorithms, such as those used by MP3.
Those who are familiar with the human auditory system will be aware that hearing sensitivity begins to quickly fall off after 16 kHz, meaning that a lot of the data transferred in a 96 kHz file (48 kHz of audible data per Nyquist Theory) is incredibly difficult, if not impossible to hear. Furthermore, we …read more
Source:: android authority
You’ll have to wait longer than expected to play Alto’s Odyssey
A sequel to one of the best mobile games out there is in the works, but you’ll have to wait a little longer to get your hands on it.
Snowman, the developers behind Alto’s Adventure, is in the process of making a sequel to the hit mobile game called Alto’s Odyssey. In the new title, Alto and his friends are back, this time trading snowy peaks for desert hills. While most of the game’s mechanics are the same as its predecessor’s, that’s certainly not a bad thing. You’ll guide Alto and his friends down endless sandy hills, collecting items and avoiding obstacles along the way. The big new mechanic here is the ability to wall ride, which will allow you to climb higher than before.
How games make money: an interview with Noodlecake Studios, publishers of Alto’s Adventure
We aren’t sure how long the game will be delayed, though we hope it’s not long
Today Snowman released a blog post letting users know that Alto’s Odyssey is taking a little longer to build than originally planned. To be fair, the developer never gave a solid launch date when the game was first announced, only telling us it would arrive “this summer.” We aren’t sure how long the game will be delayed, though we hope it’s not long.
We talk about delayed software updates all the time here at Android Authority. And when the subject of delays comes up, I think most people would rather have a polished experience that takes longer to build rather than an unpolished one that’s rushed out the door. “As a small studio striving to make sure everything we release is lasting and artful, we’re firm believers that much of what makes an experience magical lies in the little touches,” explains the developer.
Of course, we’ll be sure to let you know when we hear any updates from Snowman about the Alto’s Odyssey launch. For now, feel free to check out the game in action in the video attached above.
Source:: android authority
OnePlus 5 with 128 GB of storage now also available in Slate Gray
By Mitja Rutnik
When launched, the OnePlus 5 variant with 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage only came in Midnight Black. Now, the high-end version of the device also comes in Slate Gray, the color initially only available for the entry-level version of the smartphone — 6 GB/64 GB.
It’s already available for purchase on the company’s website and will set you back $539 in the US and €559 in Europe. As a refresher, the OnePlus 5 sports a 5.5-inch AMOLED screen with Full HD resolution and is powered by the latest Snapdragon 835 chipset.
OnePlus’ new ad features severed limbs and jean shorts and we’re serious
It’s equipped with a dual-camera setup featuring 16 and 20 MP sensors and packs a 3,300 mAh battery with the fast Dash Charge technology, which should get the battery up to 100 percent in around 90 minutes. Other things worth mentioning are a 16 MP selfie snapper, a metal body, a front-mounted fingerprint scanner, and Android 7.1.1 Nougat with OxygenOS on top. To learn more about it, check out our review of the OnePlus 5.
Those of you interested in getting the 128 GB version of the OnePlus 5 in Slate Gray can do so by visiting the company’s website via the button below.
Just keep in mind that in addition to Slate Gray and Midnight Black, the smartphone has also been available in the Soft Gold color option for a few weeks now — only 64 GB version.
Source:: android authority
Samsung’s Bixby Voice now available in over 200 countries
By Evan Selleck
Samsung‘s Bixby Voice, the feature that lets Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ owners control a variety of functions on their device with just their voice, has had a staggered rollout throughout the year. It launched first in South Korea, and, following a public beta period, finally launched in the United States back in July.
There’s still room to grow, though, and Samsung made that clear with an official announcement that Bixby has rolled out to over 200 countries across the globe, in places like South Africa, the UK, Canada, and Australia. However, the feature still only supports two languages: Korean and U.S. English.
Samsung is positioning Bixby Voice’s rollout not just as a welcome addition to new markets, but also a means to make the feature even better. Samsung says Bixby Voice improves over time through usage, so getting more people to use it is important. Moreover, Samsung says that Bixby Voice’s rollout isn’t finished, with the feature heading to more markets and supporting more languages in the future.
For now, Samsung is rolling out Bixby Voice to more countries while also preparing for the impending arrival of the Galaxy Note 8.
Have you tried out Bixby Voice yet?