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The Pixel Launcher is getting a revamped look for some users

By John Callaham

When the Google Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones launched in October, they also came with the Pixel Launcher. It did away with the traditional Google search bar, and instead presented owners with a redesigned Google “pill” widget on the left and a weather and date widget on the right. Now, there’s word that a new version of the Pixel Launcher has started appearing on some Pixel phones, and it seems to be going back to its roots.

See also:

Problems with the Google Pixel and Pixel XL and how to fix them

2 weeks ago

The new look of the Pixel Launcher, as first reported by Android Police, ditches the weather and date widget and turns the Google widget into a full search bar again that extends to most of the display. There’s no word as to why Google is making this change, but if we were to speculate, we would guess that many users prefer seeing the simple search bar on top compared to the somewhat more complicated design it originally had.

If you own a Pixel phone and want to get the new Launcher design immediately, you can do so by clearing the data in the app. Be aware this move will wipe out your home screen layouts. Alternatively, you can just wait until Google rolls out this new design automatically. What do you think of this revamped Pixel Launcher? Do you like it or do you prefer the original look. Let us know in the comments!

…read more

Source:: android authority

    

Ubisoft reveals Tom Clancy’s ShadowBreak shooter-strategy game for Android

By John Callaham

The Tom Clancy franchise of military combat games has been a hugely successful one for publisher Ubisoft on PCs and consoles, with several sub-brands like the Rainbow Six, Ghost Recon and The Division series. Today, the company officially announced Tom Clancy’s ShadowBreak, which is the first such game in the franchise made just for mobile devices running on Android and iOS.

See also:

How to create a 3D shooter for Android with Unity

August 25, 2016

The game looks to be a rather odd hybrid of the sniper shooter game crossed with squad-based strategy similar to Clash Royale. ShadowBreak will allow player to collect a range of different military operators and upgrade each of them with new weapons and other gear. Then you command them to make assaults on enemy bases. You can personally join in on the battles as you take out units with your sniper rifle, which can also be upgraded with improvements and gear. You are even allowed to change your sniper’s appearance with different faces, outfits and gear.

Ubisoft says the gameplay in ShadowBreak should allow for more players to be successful in online PvP matches. A good sniper that may not have as good of a squad on the ground can still win, as can a player who has created a great unit of operators but may not be as good of a shooter.

For the moment, only residents in Canada can download and play Tom Clancy’s ShadowBreak from the Google Play Store. However, Ubisoft hopes that this soft launch will help with collecting feedback that can be used to improve the game before its official launch worldwide later this year.

…read more

Source:: android authority

    

Samsung Galaxy S8 feature focus: Bixby

By Robert Triggs

Along with its yearly hardware refresh, Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus have brought us the company’s latest software endeavour and likely major player in the smart assistant space – Bixby. The system is a marked improvement on the old S Voice and has the impressive Google Assistant firmly in its sights.

Samsung calls Bixby a “multi-nodal intelligent service”, by which the company means that its assistant works not just with voice, but with text and camera inputs too. One of Samsung’s goals has been to ensure that touch and voice controls can achieve the same results.

Activating your new smart assistant is also a little different than before too. Rather than saying “OK Bixby” or “Hey Bixby”, you press on the dedicated Bixby button instead – located just below the volume rocker on the phone’s left side – and state your request. Samsung says that it thinks these repeated voice activation requests are an unnecessary step for the user.

See also:

Samsung announces Bixby, promises to revolutionize phone interaction

1 week ago

Starting with the familiar voice commands, Bixby is able to perform the tasks that you would probably expect. Requesting information about the weather, making calls to contacts, and opening apps are all in working order. Users can also create reminders or set a picture as a wallpaper with a simple voice command, rather than having to tap through multiple menus.

What’s more impressive is the assistant’s integration with other Samsung apps. During the demo we saw, Bixby was able to create a new photo album with a specific name the user requested after selecting a few photos from the gallery and speaking a quick command. So, Bixby is able to take inputs from one of Samsung’s apps, such as an image or piece of text, and perform more complicated functions with them using a voice command.

In total, Bixby will be integrated with 10 Samsung apps at launch, including phone, contacts, camera, Bixby Vision, weather, gallery, and the settings menu. Other Samsung apps will follow later, but the company plans to open Bixby up to third party developers at a later date as well.

Pressing the little “Bixby Vision” button in the camera and gallery apps begins an image search.

It’s this tighter integration with Samsung apps where the touch and imaging aspects of Bixby come into play. Bixby Vision, which can be accessed from the Samsung camera app or from Bixby Home, empowers users to perform searches based on images. The results can pull up location search results, shopping listing, and business or people results, depending on what you’re looking at.

For example, Bixby can find information about a landmark and other businesses nearby, pull up online shopping prices for a book you’re interested in buying, and even give you details about wine vintages, flavors, and food pairings.

This doesn’t just apply for real-time pictures either, Bixby is able to perform the same searches on images that are already saved in your gallery, even ones that you’ve edited or applied a filter too. Again, this is done by simply tapping the Bixby Vision icon. This integration even applies to Samsung’s web browser. You can look up a high resolution picture of a person or object, long press and select “Bixby Search” from the menu to look up additional information. Users of Google’s Now on Tap will probably be quite familiar with the type of results on offer here.

Coming full circle, Bixby isn’t just an assistant for the occasional task, as it now appears to be a part of Samsung’s home screen too, in much the same way as Google Now used to be. Navigate over to the Bixby Home page, either by pressing the Bixby button or swiping left on your home screen, and you’re presented with a selection of “cards” from a much wider variety of apps. S Health shows you your steps taken and today’s exercise, news cards offer up the latest headlines, and thumbnails of your latest pictures appear near the bottom. The usual assortment of email, contact, calendar events, and even alarm cards can be spotted in the mix too.

Users are able to toggle these cards on and off to pick and choose the type of information that they would like to see. Third party application support already appears to be present and these cards can be downloaded if you want to add features that don’t come pre-installed, such as social networks or additional news outlets.

Samsung’s new smart assistant isn’t without the expected teething issues though. During our demo it wasn’t super snappy at performing …read more

Source:: android authority

    

The Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus’ displays are Full HD by default, but can be changed to WQHD

By John Callaham

If you decide to get the Samsung Galaxy S8 or Galaxy S8 Plus, you may have expected that the phone would automatically come out of the box and ready to show videos and images on the phone’s full 2,960 x 1,440 resolution. However, that’s not quite true. A look at the fine print on Samsung’s website shows that out of the box, the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus will have FullHD+ display settings as its default, or 2,22 0 x1,080 resolution.

See also:

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus pricing and availability: what we know so far

6 hours ago

However, it should be a pretty simple matter to go into the phone’s settings and switch over to the full WQHD+ resolution so you can get the full effect. You can also go down to the phone’s lower HD+ settings if you want, which will bring the resolution down to 1480 x 720. Keep in mind that the higher the resolution goes, the more battery use the Galaxy S8 will likely generate.

The smaller 5.8-inch Galaxy S8 will have a 570 ppi (pixels per inch) measurement, while the larger 6.2-inch Galaxy S8 Plus will actually be lower at 529 ppi. Samsung stated during the Galaxy S8 press conference today it has secured a deal with Amazon Prime Video so it can show HDR supported videos on those mobile devices, too.

…read more

Source:: android authority

    

The Samsung Galaxy S8 can handle near-gigabit speeds on T-Mobile’s network

By John Callaham

The newly announced Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus smartphones pack in a ton of high-end hardware inside. However, T-Mobile claims that the phone will also be the first device that can handle near-gigabit download speeds on its network.

See also:

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs the competition

6 hours ago

T-Mobile claims that the Galaxy S8 and the S8 Plus are the first smartphones that can support three cellular network technologies that are used by the carrier: 4×4 MIMO, carrier aggregation and 256 QAM. The company claims this will allow those phones to have download speed up to twice as fast as other phones on its network.

In addition, T-Mobile said Samsung’s new phones will also be the first to support LTE-U, which offers phones a way to access underutilized unlicensed spectrum on the 5 GHz band. They will also support T-Mobile’s new AWS-3 spectrum. This will allow the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus to achieve near-gigabit download speeds, at least in theory, when the carrier starts rolling out its Gigabit LTE network in the near future. As you can see in the video above, the Galaxy S8 is shown downloading content at near-gigabit speeds at T-Mobile’s labs.

The carrier also posted another Galaxy S8 related clip. This time, the company posted an unboxing video of the phone, but underwater in a cage in a location filled with sharks in the waters off of West Palm Beach, Florida. The video shows how well the phone operates even while submerged. The Galaxy S8 is suppose to work in up to 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes.

T-Mobile will begin taking pre-orders for the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus at 12:01 a.m. Eastern time tonight. The Galaxy S8 will be priced at $750, or $30 down and $30 a month for 24 months. The Galaxy S8 Plus will be priced at $850, or $130 down and $30 a month for 24 months. Buyers will also get a free Gear VR headset and motion controller with their purchase. The phones will officially go on sale on April 21, but it’s more than possible T-Mobile will begin shipments of the phones to pre-orders before that date arrives.

…read more

Source:: android authority

    

Insta360 smartphone camera add-ons now support Facebook Live videos

By John Callaham

The Insta360 Nano and Insta360 Air cameras, which are designed to be clipped onto the top of Android smartphones and the iPhone, have added a way to take 360-degree photos and video and upload them directly to Facebook Live.

See also:

Facebook live video streaming is coming to Android

February 26, 2016

The new feature will come via an app update for the Insta360 Nano and Insta360 Air. Once that update is installed, the app will be able to choose to go live on Facebook directly from the camera interface. Insta360 users can go live on their Facebook timelines, groups and Pages. While consumers will be able to use this feature, the addition of support for Pages will allow businesses to also upload live streaming 360 videos on Facebook via the Insta360 cameras.

After a Facebook Live streaming event has started, on-screen indicators in the Air and Nano apps will let those users see how many viewers are tuning in, and they will also be able to watch “Likes” and other reactions update in real time. They can also see and interact with live comments from their viewers.

The Insta360 Nano is currently available for $199.99, while the Insta360 Air is priced at $129.99. The upcoming Insta360 Pro, which supports uploading 8K video, will also have Facebook Live integration when it is released later this year.

Buy Insta360 Nano at Amazon
Buy Insta360 Air at Amazon
…read more

Source:: android authority

    

Galaxy S8 Plus vs Galaxy S7 Edge: How big is the generation gap?

By Lanh Nguyen

Samsung really needed a flawless launch today, and so far, it delivered. From our time with the new Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus, Samsung did a great job preserving key aspects of the Galaxy S experience, while taking the series into new directions with the switch to on-screen keys, a new screen format, and Bixby.

The Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus are two very polished and sleek devices, but most of us only upgrade our phones once every two years. This raises the question: Are the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus worthy updates compared to their predecessors? And how big of a difference a year makes?

We attempt to answer these questions in our Galaxy S8 Plus vs Galaxy S7 Edge first look.

Edge is the new flat: The “Edge” moniker is gone because both versions of the Galaxy S8 have curved edge screens this time around. That said, the Galaxy S8 Plus would more or less be the direct successor to the S7 Edge, which was the larger phone out of last year’s duo.

At a high level, the Galaxy S8 Plus looks like an evolutionary upgrade. At the same time, it’s another step in Samsung’s quest for a bezel-less future that we’ve all been dreaming about. The bezels on the Galaxy S8 Plus are dramatically thinner than on the S7 Edge. The slim bezels are not just eye candy, they also make way for a massive 6.2-inch screen, compared to the still very generous 5.5 inches of the S7 Edge.

The shrunken-down bezels allow the screen to truly be the center of attention and it looks absolutely stunning. Fans of minimalist designs will appreciate that there’s no more Samsung logo on the front, and, because the bottom bezel has been minimalized, Samsung’s long-time signature home button and capacitive keys have been swapped out for on-screen soft-keys.

With the home button gone, the fingerprint sensor has been moved to the back. In a very controversial design decision, instead of sitting squarely below the camera where we normally see rear-facing fingerprint sensors, the scanner on the S8 Plus sits awkwardly to the side of the camera. At the moment, that doesn’t feel very user-friendly and it’s definitely going to take some to get used to. That’s especially true for the Galaxy S8 Plus, though you might have an easier time adapting to the sensor placement on the smaller Galaxy S8.

Luckily there are some alternatives to stretching your index finger to find the fingerprint sensor on the back. In fact, you don’t need to touch your S8 Plus at all to unlock it, thanks to the inclusion of iris scanning and facial recognition. The former is an improved version of the feature that first debuted on the Galaxy Note 7, while the latter is expected to add another layer of precision and convenience to what’s already a very secure authentication method.

The Galaxy S8 Plus’ design picks up right where the S7 Edge left off. You still have a metal frame with front and rear glass panels, and while the S7 Edge is a very sleek device that stood up to the test of time, the Galaxy S8 Plus refines the design even further with a more rounded and curvier body. It’s incredible how smooth and comfortable the S8 Plus feels in the hand – it certainly doesn’t feel as big in the hand as you initially might think for a phone with a 6.2-inch screen.

Which takes us to another big change that is visible at first glance at the Galaxy S8 Plus. While both the S8 Plus and the S7 Edge feature AMOLED displays, as you would expect at this point from Samsung, the Galaxy S8 Plus features an 18.5:9 aspect ratio that makes the screen narrower and taller than the norm. Along with the narrow side bezels, this screen format – also seen on the LG G6 – is why the 6.2-inch S8 Plus feels more manageable in one hand than you’d expect.

The extra tall format also means there are more pixels on the long side of the display, but it’s still considered a QuadHD screen – QuadHD+ to be precise.

From a hardware perspective, the camera on the Galaxy S8 Plus is largely the same as the one on the S7 Edge. The sensor is the same 12 MP resolution as before, with a f/1.7 aperture and that crazy fast Dual Pixel autofocus we’ve loved on the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge. However, Samsung says improvements have been made to the camera software – the S8 Plus actually takes three pictures every time the shutter button is pressed, with two of the frames being used to enhance the quality of the third and final frame. Another improvement is the autofocus capability of the front camera, which features an 8 MP sensor.

The Galaxy S8 Plus swaps out the microUSB port of the S7 Edge for an USB Type-C port, while other features remained intact. That includes the IP68 dust and water resistance, …read more

Source:: android authority

    

New Urbanears Stammen, Baggen Bluetooth speakers come with Chromecast support

By Nick Gray

urbanears-Baggen-3

Bluetooth speakers are a dime a dozen these days, but the new Stammen and Baggen from Urbanears are meant to stand out from the crowd. Color options include Dirty Pink, Vinyl Black, Plant Green, Concrete Grey, Goldfish Orange and Indigo Blue, allowing the speakers to perfectly match your space and style. But the two speakers have more to offer than just their looks. In addition to Bluetooth connectivity, Urbanears has given the Stammen and Baggen the full built-in Chromecast treatment, allowing you and anyone on your WiFi network to instantly stream music from any app which supports the Chromecast streaming protocol.

But that’s not all.

If you have more than one, the speakers can also be synced, allowing you to play the same music in multiple rooms around your house. The Stammen and Baggen speakers also work with the Urbanears app, giving you full control over speaker grouping, equalizer settings and more. The speakers themselves have two physical dials which give you the ability to quickly stop and start your music, switch between Solo to Multi Mode, adjust the volume or select between seven different presets.

Gallery



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urbanears-Baggen-5

The $350 price point of the Stammen and $450 price of the Baggen may seem a bit high, but the price is in line with other speakers on the market which offer similar functionality.

…read more

Source:: androidandme

    

Galaxy S8 promises better photos, especially from the front

By Brian Reigh

Though not much has changed in terms of Galaxy S8’s rear camera (for better or worse), the front-facing camera has been completely revamped.

See also:

Galaxy S8 vs S8 Plus: which one is right for you?

2 hours ago

I’m not going to lie – when I heard that the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus would have the same 12-megapixel camera found on last year’s Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge, I was rather disappointed. But that certainly doesn’t mean that these camera sensors are bad. Far from it actually. Not only does my Galaxy S7 Edge take some of the best photos I’ve seen from a smartphone, it also received a score of 88, just one below the highest rated Google Pixel.

So has nothing been changed with Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus? Not quite. After all, Samsung has had over a year to work on these. While it is the same 12-megapixel Dual Pixel camera with the same f/1.7 aperture, 1/2.55” sensor size, and 1.4µm pixel size, the company’s new camera firmware and the brand-new image signal processor should improve how the device processes images taken.

The most notable addition is perhaps the multi-frame image processing.

The most notable addition is perhaps the multi-frame image processing: as explained in the official unveiling, this technology essentially captures three photos instead of one and combines them into one. By imposing all three on top of one another, objects are clearer and more detailed while noise and blur are reduced to minimum whether it’s zoomed-in or in low light. According to Samsung, “the camera can capture and process the image so quickly that users cannot tell the difference between it and conventional smartphone cameras.”

Other than that, the rear camera is as solid as last year’s. The gestures are simple and easy to use, just like the UI found on the Galaxy S7 with Nougat though now you can zoom in and out simply by sliding the shutter button. While there are no new modes, Samsung has added more filters when you swipe left, including some Snapchat-like AR filters. These come in handy when you’re taking selfies.

Instead of the 5-megapixel camera we’ve had for the longest time on the Galaxy S series, the selfie-shooter is now an 8-megapixel camera with smart autofocus.

Now, speaking of selfies, it’s the front-facing camera that has seen a major change with the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus. Instead of the 5-megapixel camera we’ve had for the longest time on the Galaxy S series, the selfie-shooter is now an 8-megapixel camera with smart autofocus. The aperture is the same great f/1.7, absorbing plenty of light even in low-light conditions, but the autofocus is the real star here. Not many smartphones offer autofocus with the front-facing camera, which could result in blurry, smudged, and just unflattering selfies in dark places. So whether it’s at a bar or a dimly-lit library room, the new camera module on the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus should give you clearer selfies (hoorah!).

We will soon bring you a more in-depth review of the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, including their camera performance, so stay tuned!

…read more

Source:: android authority

    

Samsung will sell a mesh Wi-Fi router that will compete with Google Wifi

By John Callaham

There were tons of leaks about the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus before they was officially announced earlier today. However, the company managed to keep another upcoming new device on the down low before today. That is the Samsung Connect Home Smart Wi-Fi System, a mesh Wi-Fi router with a really long name. On the surface, it appears that it will compete with similar routers from Netgear and with Google Wifi, among others.

See also:

Google Wifi beats competitors in independent test

November 22, 2016

According to Engadget, not only will Samsung’s Connect Home router serve as a Wi-Fi station, it will also double as a SmartThings hub. Connected devices that use Bluetooth 4.1, Wi-Fi, Zigbee or Z-wave will be able to access Connect Home, which means owners will be able to remotely control their compatible Samsung appliances from the router, along with connected lights, security cameras and more devices that support SmartThings.

Like Google Wifi, the Samsung Connect Home router will be sold by itself, or in packs of three. Each station will have a range of 1,500 square feet, and they will have two RJ-45 Ethernet ports in the back. Samsung will sell two versions of the Connect Home. The standard version will have dual-band 802.11ac hardware at AC1300 (866 Mbps) speeds, but the Pro edition will have more advanced quad-band 802.11ac hardware that supports AC2600 (1.7 Gbps) speeds.

Samsung has not yet announced a release date or prices for its new Connect Home routers, but it’s likely that the integrated SmartThings hub hardware will make it more expensive than Google Wifi and other competing mesh routers. It will be interesting to see if the general public will gravitate to such a router that can also quickly connect to smart devices.

…read more

Source:: android authority