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Welcome to Best of Android 2018

By AA Staff

A graphic showing the bracket competition for Android Authority's Reader's Choice award.

As 2018 winds down, we wanted to take stock of all the amazing smartphones released in the past 12 months by honoring the best of the bunch in our annual Best of Android series. Over the next two weeks, we’ll be releasing articles discussing our winners in detail.

For our awards this year, we used a completely new structure to find the best of the best. We wanted to hand out awards to devices that truly earned it with observable advantages. That couldn’t just come from test results and rankings — we needed to get hands on. We redesigned our Best of Android awards process to achieve this from the ground up, applying our math skills to reward good phones, and minimizing outlier measurements that could throw things off.

We also brought in the ultimate authority on Android phones: you.

The test bench becomes a leading lab

Though it’s a little less visible this time around, our testing is now far more serious. We drew help from our friends in the industry to ramp this up, including display experts SpectraCal, digital imaging pros Imatest, the brains behind Geekbench (Primate Labs), and our colleagues at SoundGuys to run each …read more

Source:: android authority

    

Best of Android 2018: best performing phones

By Chris Thomas

We’ve yelled ourselves hoarse cautioning people to not look too deeply at benchmark performance, but for Best of Android 2018, we’re ignoring our own advice a little bit.

The problem with benchmarks is many people don’t have a good idea what all of those numbers mean — sometimes they don’t actually mean anything at all. In addition to all that, manufacturers cheating benchmarks this year means confidence in these metrics is at an all-time low. Beyond that, picking the “best” performance is a little sticky, given folks use their smartphones for drastically different things.

We’ll post our test results below with a little bit of context, and mark them against the 2018 average so you can see what’s the cream of the crop. A lot of phones do exceptionally well, and some even beat our pick in certain metrics.

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro’s Kirin 980 has the best performance, with caveats

When it comes to silicon, for the moment you want Huawei’s Kirin 980 powering your smartphone. While there’s been a lot of hay made by tech bloggers about concerns shown with benchmarks, even Qualcomm is taking notes on this chip. Until Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 hits shelves, we won’t …read more

Source:: android authority

    

Verizon will enable RCS text messaging next year

By Nick Sarafolean

If there’s one area where iOS beats Android, it’s texting. Android has long struggled to create a clean, coherent texting service that features anything extra. While Google has tried a number of attempts to streamline messaging on Android, its best bet is in RCS, a newer messaging technology than SMS. But RCS has struggled to be fully accepted by carriers. Fortunately for Google, Verizon’s SVP of Consumer Products, Aparna Khurjekar, announced today that Verizon support for RCS is arriving in “early 2019.”

While the other major U.S. carriers currently support RCS, only Sprint, U.S. Cellular, and T-Mobile (limited capabilities) support the Universal Profile that allows RCS to operate between carriers. AT&T only supports RCS between its own customers and Verizon has traditionally used a proprietary system as well.

Fortunately, the GSMA (which hosted the conference where Verizon made the announcement) says that Verizon will support Universal Profile 1.0. While Verizon hasn’t spoken on the matter, we’re crossing our fingers and hoping for the best.

Additionally, AT&T gave a statement to The Verge stating that they were in the midst of upgrading their network to support Universal Profile.

RCS brings …read more

Source:: androidandme

    

Call screening coming to Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

By Nick Sarafolean

Google has been hard at work on nifty software features that use the AI abilities of the Google Assistant. One of those features is call screening, which launched alongside the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. Google promised that call screening would come to the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, and now the company is making good on that promise. The feature is slowly rolling out to devices, so keep an eye out for it.

How does call screening work? When users receive a call, they have the option to answer, decline, or screen the call. The Assistant will then automatically answer the call, ask who’s calling, and why. Users then get the conversation transcribed to them and can tap pre-loaded options such as “Tell me more,” “Is it urgent?,” and “Report spam.”

Call screening is especially useful for fighting off the scads of robocalls we frequently receive. Additionally, it’s a good way to see if a call is urgent if you’re in a situation where taking a call isn’t ideal. When using call screen, you can always pick up or tell them you’ll call back later.

If you’re a Pixel 2 …read more

Source:: androidandme

    

Weekend special: Build your own Force Flyers Drone for just $39.99

By AA Picks

Force Flyers Drone

Happy Friday readers! The cascade of price drops continues in the run-up to Black Friday, and we’re certainly not complaining. The latest deal we thought you might enjoy is a 20 percent saving on the Force Flyers Drone.

There’s only so much fun you can get out of a standard drone before you decide to see how fast you can smash it into a tree. However, if your drone is easily and infinitely customizable, suddenly you’ve got a fun and ongoing project.

That’s exactly what the Force Flyers Drone offers. It may not be the sleekest looking machine in the sky, but that’s because you can use almost any building blocks to build it yourself. The dream of actually being able to fly your Lego is here, and there’s fun to be had. You can follow the user manual if you want to play it safe, or go off-script and build the wackiest flying contraption you can imagine.

Both building and flying the drone are beginner-friendly. On the flying side, a six-axis gyro ensures a smooth maneuvering, with auto-stabilization and crash-resistant plastic also keeping things easy.

The Force Flyers Drone at a glance:

Three US senators send letter to Big Four carriers alleging hidden throttling

By C. Scott Brown

  • Three U.S. Senate Democrats sent an accusatory letter to the Big Four wireless carriers.
  • The letter suggests the carriers are throttling customers’ video streams without disclosing, which is an FCC violation.
  • The data the senators based their accusations on has yet to be independently verified.

If you’ve had the feeling your mobile streaming is slower than it should be, you might not just be imagining things. According to research collected by a testing platform called Wehe, each of the Big Four carriers is throttling video streams from major media apps.

In the case of Sprint, it is additionally accused of throttling Skype calls.

In response to this, three U.S. Senate Democrats sent a letter to the Big Four carriers (the aforementioned Sprint, as well as T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon) inquiring as to what is going on — and demanding answers to some tough questions (via ArsTechnica).

Editor’s Pick

FCC ready to ‘take action’ against carriers if spam robocalls aren’t stopped

Huffington Post

In a press release dated yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission detailed the strongly-worded letter chairman Ajit Pai sent to the major players in the United States telecom …read more

Source:: android authority

    

Deal: Samsung’s Wireless Charger Pad Slim is on sale for $15

By Williams Pelegrin

Samsung Wireless Charger Pad Slim

If you are looking for a cheap way to enter the world of wireless charging, today’s Samsung deal knocks $20 off its Wireless Charger Pad Slim. That brings the price of Samsung’s cheapest wireless charging pad down to just $15.

There is no fine print with this deal, but there are still a few things to keep in mind. The Wireless Charger Pad Slim does not include a power cable and fast charging adapter, so you will have to buy that separately. Also, you can only get fast wireless charging if you have the Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 Edge Plus, and newer models of the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note series. Every other phone charges at the standard 5W charging speed.

Editor’s Pick

Best wireless chargers — what are your choices?

Apple is finally hopping on the wireless chargers bandwagon in smartphones. The company revealed last week that the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X will all natively support the Qi wireless charging platform, which …

Finally, Samsung will sell a two-pack Wireless Charger Pad Slim for Black Friday. …read more

Source:: android authority

    

Deal: Get a $799 service credit if you buy two Pixel 3s on Project Fi

By Williams Pelegrin

Project Fi promotion

With the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL out of reach for some people’s wallets, the latest deal from Google’s Project Fi nets customers a $799 service credit if they buy two of the new Pixel smartphones. That makes this somewhat of a BOGO deal for the smaller Pixel 3 and a hefty discount for the $899 Pixel 3 XL, though you still have to buy the phones.

Before you click that Buy button, there is some fine print to go over. First, the two Pixel phones must be activated by two people on the same Project Fi group plan. One of those people must port their current number to Project Fi during sign-up, with only one person able to buy both devices.

Editor’s Pick

Google Project Fi plans – what are your options?

Are you ready to dump those big carriers, with all their contracts, hidden charges, and unreasonable fees? There are some great options in the market, but many argue Google’s Project Fi is among the best. …

From there, you must activate the devices within 30 days of them being shipped and have the …read more

Source:: android authority

    

You can now add a Chromecast to a speaker group using the Google Home app

By C. Scott Brown

Third-gen Chromecast

  • Chromecasts can now be added to be speaker groups in the Google Home app.
  • Previously, only Chromecast Audio dongles and Cast-enabled speakers were eligible for grouping.
  • You will need to enable the preview program in your Google Home app to get the feature for now.

If you own several Cast-enabled speakers throughout your home, you’ve likely grouped them all together into a speaker group using your Google Home app. That way, you can cast music from one audio source and have the music play in sync throughout your whole house.

Previously though, you couldn’t group your Chromecast into a speaker group. You could group your Chromecast Audio, but not the Chromecast hooked up to your television.

Editor’s Pick

Third-generation Chromecast review: 1080p 60fps is the new baseline

Update October 11, 2018 ( 8:00pm ET): We originally shared that the outgoing Chromecast was only able to output at 720p. This was posted in error and has been corrected.

Original post October 11, 2018 (10:30am ET): Google …

Today, Google is finally allowing Chromecasts to get added to speaker groups in the Google Home app, via XDA Developers. You’ll have to enable the preview program through your …read more

Source:: android authority

    

The US might finally be doing something about robocalls

By Williams Pelegrin

CBS News

  • Two U.S. senators announced bipartisan legislation that cracks down on robocalls.
  • The legislation also requires carriers to use call authentication technologies and enact new protections.
  • No date has been set on a vote.

With robocalls continuing to plague consumers on a daily basis, Republican Senator John Thune and Democrat Senator Ed Markey unveiled bipartisan legislation that looks to impose stiffer penalties and force U.S. carriers to use call authentication technologies.

According to Reuters, the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act focuses on four changes:

  • Increase the civil penalties for offenders from $1,500 to $10,000
  • Require carriers to adopt call authentication technologies that make sure calls on your phone are legitimate
  • Require carriers to enact new protections for subscribers that would protect them from unwanted calls and texts from unauthenticated numbers
  • Increase the statute of limitations from one year to three years

Increasing the statute of limitations might be the most crucial, since such a change would give the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) more time to properly conduct its investigations alongside federal agencies and state attorneys general. It would also give the FCC more time to prosecute violators and impose civil penalties.

“Existing civil penalty rules were designed to impose penalties …read more

Source:: android authority