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Google warming up to China again, announces new A.I. center

By Team AA

Google has been a long-time supporter of net neutrality and the general concept of a free and open internet. This is why, seven years ago, Google drastically slashed its business interests in China, even threatening to leave the country entirely: Chinese censorship and government control simply went against the values of Google as an entity, and Google wouldn’t play ball.

But a lot has changed in the past seven years when it comes to China. Now Google may be slowly warming up to the idea of doing major business there again…however reluctantly.

Today, Google announced that it will be opening a Chinese research and development center focused on artificial intelligence. While this move is not as much a reversal of policy as something like bringing the Google Play Store to China, or even having Google.cn not automatically forward you to the Hong Kong variant, it is a clear sign that Google has not been blind to China’s growth as a tech powerhouse.

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The biggest companies in China’s Silicon Valley

In the world of smartphones, we’re becoming more and more used to Chinese technology companies competing with popular global brands, but we also know that the pendulum doesn’t necessarily swing both ways. The Chinese government’s “Great …

In fact, China’s work in the artificial intelligence industry has been monumental, a direct result of the government investing substantial amounts of money into research. The country intends to become the global center for A.I. tech within the next 15 years.

Although Google’s headquarters is here in the United States, government science funding has been slashed domestically, so the talent and resources are flocking to places like Beijing where the money flows freely. If Google wants the best people in A.I., it has no choice but to have a presence in China.

The two people tapped to run Google’s Chinese A.I. center are Fei-Fei Li, who currently runs the artificial intelligence sector of Google’s Cloud business, and Jia Li, who also works with Google Cloud. Both are of Chinese descent and are Stanford University alumnae.

“Whether a breakthrough occurs in Silicon Valley, Beijing, or anywhere else, it has the potential to make everyone’s life better for the entire world,” Fei-Fei Li wrote on Google’s blog. “As an A.I. first company, this is an important part of our collective mission. And we want to work with the best A.I. talent, wherever that talent is, to achieve it.”

There’s no question that Google’s refusal to work in China has cost it billions of dollars. With one billion mobile phone users in the country, the lack of Google products like search, Gmail, YouTube, and the Google Play Store, has forced citizens to use competitor’s products. With today’s announcement, the tech industry will be watching closely to see whether Google’s hard stance on Chinese ethics will soften.

…read more

Source:: android authority

    

Deal: Get the Moto X4 for just $339 at Best Buy

By Williams Pelegrin

It might have represented a big departure from previous Moto X phones, but we concluded that the Moto X4 still hits all the right marks without sacrificing too much. That being said, it never hurts to see a $60 price drop, something that Best Buy was more than happy to deliver as a doorbuster deal.

From now until the end of the day, you can pick up the Moto X4 for $340. Keep in mind that this is not the Android One version, nor is it the unlocked version with Amazon ads — this is the regular unlocked version. That means you can take the phone to all four major US carriers and have it work, though how successful you’ll be with the likes of Verizon and Sprint depends on who you talk to.

Either way, the Moto X4 is a capable smartphone. The phone sports a 5.2-inch 1920 x 1080 resolution display, with a fingerprint sensor that supports gestures sitting at the bottom. Above the display is the earpiece that doubles as a front-facing speaker, as well as the front-facing 16 MP camera. Around back, you’ll find a 12 MP primary sensor and an 8 MP secondary sensor for wide-angle and portrait shots.

Editor’s Pick

Deal: Motorola is discounting its phones by up to $150

With the holidays inching closer, the deals are heating up. We recently told you about Amazon putting some of its Prime Exclusive devices on sale and Verizon discounting the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL …

Under the hood, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 630 processor and 3 GB of RAM power the Moto X4, with the 32 GB of internal storage backed up by a microSD card slot. The 3,000 mAh battery is large enough to last you all day, and you can use the USB Type-C port to rapidly charge the phone.

As we’ve discovered in our review, the cameras aren’t great and battery life is in the middle of the pack, but found the performance to be just fine, thanks to Motorola’s lean implementation of Android 7.1.1 Nougat. Updates won’t be the fastest, given Motorola’s reputation under Lenovo’s command, but they will arrive.

If you’re looking for a Moto X4 either for yourself or for someone else, you can purchase it through Best Buy at the link below for $340. Again, the $60 discount is good only for today.

…read more

Source:: android authority

    

All Pixel system apps on Play Store now show ’1-5′ installs

By Dima Aryeh

Pixel-launcher-play-store-installs

When official sales numbers are unavailable, people have been judging some device’s sales using the Play Store install count on some system apps. It’s an easy, though likely not very accurate, way to judge how many devices have been sold since those apps often auto update for most people.

Google seems to be unhappy with this method of judging sales, so it has changed the install count on all Pixel device system apps to “1-5″ on desktop and “1+” on mobile. Considering that every other app shows its install count, this method has people frustrated with Google abusing its control over the install count on its own app store. It’s also technically false information, which is not a great look for Google.

Removing that section entirely could be a better method to hide potential sale counts, but then it should be offered to all developers. Nonetheless, it’s a bit of a shady move by Google.

…read more

Source:: androidandme

    

Verizon offering BOGO deal on Galaxy S8 and S8+

By Dima Aryeh

Starting Friday, you’ll be able to pick up a Samsung Galaxy S8 or Galaxy S8+ and get another for free with Verizon. You’ll have to get both devices on payments and open a new line for the second device on a Verizon Unlimited plan, then you’ll get bill credits for the second device every month for the 24 month payment plan.

This is a standard BOGO deal but it’s a good chance to get a free flagship if you need a new line. The deal also applies to the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8+ if you’re into that kind of stuff. It starts Friday so let us know if you plan to hop on it!

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Source:: androidandme

    

Honor 7X redefines what you should expect from a budget phone

By Promoted

Sponsored by Honor.

Buy the Honor 7X!

Not long ago, the term ‘budget phone’ was a bit of a dirty word. After all, most phones that fit into this category weren’t just cheap in price, but also performance, quality, and design. Thankfully affordable phones have seen somewhat of a renaissance, and brands like Honor have been a large part of this change. In 2017 Honor is redefining ‘budget’ once again with the brand new Honor 7X.

The Honor 7X is only $200, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the phone. The Honor 7X borrows many of the same trends as modern flagships but manages to undercut these brands by several hundred dollars at least.

Here are just a few reasons why you might want to consider the Honor 7X, which is arguably the best budget phone we’ve ever seen.

Join the 18:9 club, on the cheap. When the first ‘tall’ phones starting surfacing, they were all high-end devices that cost as much as $1000. Since then we’ve seen a few other more affordable attempts to deliver an 18:9 display, but few under $500. The Honor 7X makes 18:9 affordable, and its 5.93-inch FHD+ (2160 x 1080) display looks every bit as nice as many of its competitors.

Beauty that defies the price tag. In addition to its beautiful 18:9 display that’s nearly bezel-less in nature, the entire body of the phone looks and feels very premium thanks to its metal unibody design.

A modern dual camera experience. The Honor 7X manages to keep up with yet another current trend by featuring dual lenses. The primary shooter is 16 MP, backed by a secondary 2 MP lens. This second lense allows the phone to offer cool features like applying bokeh affect.

While the rear dual camera is certainly the most crucial part of the phone’s photographic experience, on the front is an 8MP shooter that’s perfect for all your selfie needs as well.

A battery that lasts and lasts. The 3,340 mAh battery is pretty standard these days, but the performance is actually much better than you’d expect due to great optimization efforts on Honor’s part. A full day’s battery life is fully achievable even for power users, though for more modest users a day and a half (or more) is more than possible.

Performance that outstrips expectations. Sure, the Honor 7X doesn’t have the latest Snapdragon 835 and won’t compete quite at that level. Don’t be fooled into thinking that means the Honor 7X lags, though.

The Kirin 659 octa-core processor, paired with 3GB RAM, is surprisingly snappy. Getting around the UI is a breeze and just about every app, and game, you throw at it is handled beautifully. Other key specs include 32GB storage, a fingerprint scanner, and EMUI (powered by Android Nougat).

So who is the Honor 7X for? The easy answer is anyone who wants a quality handset with a stunning display but can’t or won’t drop $500+ to get this experience.

In particular, gamers will enjoy the combination of great battery life, decent performance, and a wide display. The same goes for media junkies that play a lot of YouTube, movies, or other media and are looking for a display that can keep up with it all.

Bottom-line, if you are looking for high-end performance at a fraction of the price, the Honor 7X is a total no-brainer. To learn even more about the Honor 7X, be sure to check out our official review or follow along with the latest news from Honor at our hub page.

Buy the Honor 7X!

…read more

Source:: android authority

    

Price drop: 98% off 2TB of cloud storage from Zoolz for life (actually further discounted with promo code)

By AA Picks

The AAPicks team writes about things we think you’ll like, and we may see a share of revenue from any purchases made through affiliate links.

The allure of the cloud is easily understood. Hard drives fail and physical storage devices can get lost or stolen. But once you entrust something to the cloud, you can scrounge it up any time in the future from any device.

You know, barring a technological apocalypse or something.

Unfortunately, cloud storage typically runs off a monthly subscription model. That monthly billing can really stack up in the long run.

However, for a limited time, Zoolz is offering full access to their 2TB storage model for life. All you pay is a one-time fee of $49.99. If you use the promocode GREEN60 when checking out, you get an additional 60% off!

Zoolz is a well-reviewed and respected cloud service. The 2TB plan is actually a combination of 2 plans: a 1TB Instant Backup plan for quick storage and retrieval and a 1TB Archive Backup plan where you can store infrequently accessed files for the long haul. You get both for one price.

Here are the plans in a glance.

Zoolz Instant Backup

  • Store 1 TB of instantly accessible data for life, w/ no additional costs
  • Have your data encrypted w/ military-grade 256-AES encryption before it even leaves your machine
  • Quickly & easily select the files you want to store w/ Smart Selection
  • Retrieve stored files instantly
  • Enjoy backup scheduling, bandwidth throttling, icon overlay, file retention & more
  • Preview thumbnails of images
  • Get reliability w/ data stored over multiple facilities & devices

Zoolz Archive Backup

  • Archive 1 TB of retrievable data for life w/ no additional costs
  • Have your data encrypted w/ military-grade 256-AES encryption before it even leaves your machine
  • Retrieve stored files in approximately 3-5 hours from Cold Storage
  • Enjoy backup scheduling, bandwidth throttling, icon overlay, file retention & more
  • Preview thumbnails of images
  • Get reliability w/ data stored over multiple facilities & devices

Are you interested in snatching up permanent access to 2TB of cloud storage without having to worry about monthly fees ever again? Click here to check out the offer for yourself! Use the promocode GREEN60 to get an additional 60% off!

Is this deal not quite right for you? Head over to the AAPICKS HUB for more offers you’re going to love!
In disclosure, we may get a small percent from purchases made through affiliates. However, the AA Picks team only spotlights verified, legitimate deals. It’s a nice way to help keep the lights on around here, and it decreases our reliance on pesky ads. If you have questions or concerns, please reach out at aapicks@androidauthority.com.

…read more

Source:: android authority

    

Google Assistant expanding, now includes Android 5.0 Lollipop devices

By Evan Selleck

Google’s goal for Assistant has always been to put the feature on as many devices as it can. It wants you to use it, after all, and making it available on as many things just makes that reality much easier.

Today Google has announced that it is expanding Assistant availability in a big way. First, Android tablets will now be getting Assistant. Using Assistant on a tablet will let you do the normal things like adding to your calendar or adding to your shopping list and carry it over to your phone, too. You will also be able to use Assistant on a tablet to control your smart home devices.

Google Assistant for tablets will be rolling out over the next week to those who have Google Assistant’s language set to English in the United States.

The biggest new addition, though. is support for Android 5.0 Lollipop smartphones. It has already started rolling out to those who have set their language to English in the “U.S., UK, India, Australia, Canada and Singapore, as well as in Spanish in the U.S., Mexico and Spain. It’s also rolling out to users in Italy, Japan, Germany, Brazil and Korea.”

You will have to opt-in to start using Assistant once it arrives on your device.

…read more

Source:: androidandme

    

Verizon is working on an app to help manage your finances

By Williams Pelegrin

Verizon is looking to not only provide you an easier way to pay your phone bill, but also any other bills you may have hanging over your head. Android Authority has received information from a source familiar with the matter that Big Red is working on a finance management app called Prism.

Prism first asks you to choose all of your billers. From there, you connect the billers to Prism, and the service takes it from there— it will sync your account balances and bills and present them in the app. The service reminds you when it’s time to pay your bills, and notifies you when it detects a new bill and pays close attention to your bank account activity.


I don’t blame you if you’re a bit creeped out by all of this. Not only does Prism share a name with a certain NSA program that ruffled more than a few feathers, but Verizon isn’t exactly known as the bastion of privacy.

Even so, Prism looks to give you a better idea of how much money you have to spend and where your money is going as far as bills are concerned. Thus, the convenience of it may outweigh the privacy concerns. Verizon stresses that Prism’s bill management system is securely encrypted, with any sensitive information sitting behind a firewall and not stored on your device, so take that as you will.

Interestingly, Prism is not a new service— it is already available as an app across several platforms. Given the visual similarities between Verizon’s service and the existing Prism app, we can speculate that Verizon might either be acquiring Mobilligy, Inc., the company behind the app, or taking over the app completely. We can also speculate that Verizon might push the app to its customers and perhaps even integrate it into MyVerizon.

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Speculation aside, Verizon’s service is currently available in open beta through this website and makes clear that it will monitor app usage and collect data on your activity. According to Big Red, the trial team will follow up with you regarding feedback you might have on Prism.

What are your thoughts on Verizon launching a finance management app? Do you trust the company to keep its hands off your sensitive information? Let us know in the comments below.

…read more

Source:: android authority

    

Best of Android 2017: Which camera IS the best?

By Christian Thomas

One of the most important areas for every smartphone is how good its camera is, but there are two ways to judge a camera: by whether it is technically good, or whether it looks good. Often, the most accurate smartphone cameras aren’t the ones that produce pictures that look good, so how do you decide which is the best smartphone camera?

For Best of Android 2017, we introduced an all-new method of testing smartphone cameras objectively, but we also wanted to see which smartphone camera looks the best. To do so, we split the camera into two parts. Below we’ll go into which is technically the best, based on all of our data. If you’re interested in which looks the best, check our 10 phone camera shootout post and vote in our poll.

What we tested

Given that modern photography is digital, objectively assessing image quality should be pretty straightforward, right? Wrong.

As recent controversies with scoring objective image data have highlighted, it’s very tough to come up with scores that mean something to the average consumer. To non-enthusiasts, taking a dive into test results can be boring and stressful, and nobody wants that. While the data we collected is much more comprehensive and complicated than what we’re showing here, we picked a few different basic measurements to compare the cameras of our candidate smartphones. Don’t worry, we’ll guide you through what we found without making it any more complicated. No scores out of ten, no hiding measurements behind skewed graphs, just the data and expert analysis from yours truly.

Bear in mind that photography is also an art form; what looks great often isn’t objectively great. For example: Instagram and a bunch of Lightroom presets will add imperfections and characteristics of “bad” cameras for artistic reasons. To most, “perfectly” processed photos will look drab, a bit soft, and somewhat lifeless. I went on phones where that suffered due to either a shortcoming of smartphone cameras as a whole, or a limit to human perception.

While we could rip into the hundreds of pages of esoteric results, we don’t really need to go beyond camera sharpness, color performance, noise performance, and video performance.

How we tested

Testing a camera unit objectively means removing as many variables as possible. In short: we had to create a lab for specifically this purpose. If you’d like to know more about that process, you can delve into all the nerdy details here.

With our perfectly blacked-out testing lab done, we then needed the right equipment. For this, we partnered with imaging specialists Imatest in Boulder, CO. I’ve used their systems in the past for other outlets, and their off-the-shelf solution gives users a time-tested way to get rock-solid objective camera test results. It’s our desire to be as accurate as possible, so instead of banging our heads against the wall in creating our own wrapper for a MATLAB analysis—we got the right software for the job.

Our data is collected from only a handful of shots of test charts. Here’s a quick rundown:

  1. The Xrite Colorchecker is a 24-patch chart containing a 6-patch greyscale and an 18-point color range. From this chart, we can measure color error (ΔC 00, saturation corrected), color saturation, white balance, shot noise, and more.
  2. The SFRPlus chart is a multi-region slanted-edge resolution chart, capable of revealing all sorts of fun performance data. This is how we test the sharpness capabilities of our cameras, but it also allows us to quantify distortion, lens defects, chromatic aberration, and more. We store all of this data, though we’re only covering sharpness here. If its warranted later on, we can dredge up our other findings.
  3. The DSCLabs Megatrumpet 12 is a chart designed to test the video sharpness capabilities of any 4K-capable image sensor. By panning the camera during recording, the incredibly tiny lines disappear, leaving only a blotchy grey area. This gives us a fairly reliable quantification of how much data a given camera can resolve in a unit called line pairs per picture height (LP/PH).
  4. A randomly-generated spilled-coins chart created with Imatest’s chart generator function allows us to expose the weaknesses of the noise reduction algorithm that’s present on all consumer cameras. Ever notice how photos you take in low light look blotchy and strange? That’s the noise reduction feature getting confused about what’s noise and what’s detail. With lots of hard, round edges and bright colors, this chart shows how a camera is likely to remove detail in the name of noise reduction.

Results

After testing our candidate phones, it was striking how similar performance was across most cameras. It’s possible this is because a lot of the image sensors in mobile devices are manufactured by Sony, but it could also have a lot to do with the fact that there are very clear limitations to image sensors that small. Sure, image processing has come a long way—it’s incredible that these units can even take a picture, really—but many of the variations in performance seem to have a lot more to do with software than hardware.

Among flagships, camera performance isn’t incredibly different from phone to phone

Among flagships, camera performance isn’t incredibly different from phone to phone when you strip away the enhancements applied by the camera API. The Nokia 8 has a super-high sharpness rating, but it achieves this with intense software edge-enhancement. Functionally, you should be happy with any camera here (except for the BlackBerry, anyway).

Color

Of everything that can go wrong with a photo, the color is probably most noticeable. Sure, you could miss your focus, but nothing gives you that visceral reaction …read more

Source:: android authority

    

Grammarly Keyboard for Android hits the Play Store

By Matt Adams

Grammarly, the text and grammar correction tool that makes people everywhere look a little more competent, has just released a new Android keyboard. This comes after highly successful browser plug-ins and a recently launched iOS keyboard.

Grammarly is a service that checks your typing as you go to lets you know about typs typos and grammatical errors. It existed as a just browser plug-in for a while, but now it is branching out into the mobile world. Now that we can do pretty much anything on our smartphones, it makes sense for Grammarly to launch a keyboard app.

See also: The best Android keyboards

The keyboard is certainly interesting. We’re not going to get into full-on review territory here, but we do have some thoughts. First, the app is launching without swipe typing. Now, I know those of you who tap type won’t care about this, but it’s a huge deal for those of us that have been swipe typing for years. In fact, it was a deal breaker for me.

Grammarly is a cloud-based service and therefore needs an active internet connection to fully function. If you’re without one, you still get typo correction like with any other keyboard, but you miss out on the advanced grammar suggestions that Grammarly provides. Also, the app doesn’t recognize its name. That’s a strange oversight.

If none of those things bother you, you’ll love Grammarly. I love that it syncs your personal dictionary across devices. Any word that you’ve added to your dictionary on a computer will show up on your phone too. This is a fantastic feature that few apps can replicate.

Additionally, the grammar suggestions usually work out pretty well. I am by no means the best writer around, so it’s nice to have that extra layer between me and whoever I’m sending a message to. The corrections show up a little slow and stick around in the suggestion box until you clear them, but those are minor inconveniences compared to the return you get.

See also

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Personal data for 31 million users of ai.type Keyboard exposed

According to a new report, over 31 million users of ai.type Keyboard have had personal data exposed. While the keyboard boasts more than 40 million users across Android and iOS, it appears that only Android …

Naturally, the topic of security comes up when we’re talking about third-party keyboards. By nature, a service like this needs to track your typing to function. Grammarly makes no bones about that and says that it’s providing encryption to make sure no one else has access. It also doesn’t record any information you enter into sensitive text boxes like passwords and credit card information.

If you’d like to try it out, hit the button below to download it now. You can use it to type in American or British English only at this point, and it feels pretty bare compared to other keyboards, but it’s not terrible for a first release.

…read more

Source:: android authority