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June 15 2017


The top three Android phone makers lost ground in the US – Kantar

Research firm Kantar released some of its findings covering the three months ending April 30, and it’s a mixed bag for Android. On one hand, the combined market share of Android manufacturers decreased in the United States. On the other, Android extended its lead in Europe and urban China.

In the US, the three top Android manufacturers – Samsung, LG, and Motorola – all lost market share year on year.

This decline should come as no surprise, given that both Samsung and LG had a pretty bad 2016

This decline should come as no surprise, given that both Samsung and LG had a pretty bad 2016 and that the sample period (February to April) was right at the end of their flagship cycle. Samsung infamously recalled the Note 7, leaving the Galaxy S7 as the main sales engine. Meanwhile, LG reeled after the failure of the G5. Sales of Galaxy S8/S8 Plus and the LG G6 begin around mid-April in the US, so they weren’t enough to buoy Samsung’s and LG’s numbers.

Lenovo/Motorola is in a somehow similar situation – the Moto Z lineup is about to be replaced after a less than stellar performance in the market. The weakness of the leading Android OEMs in the US enabled Apple to increase its share in the country to 36.5 percent, up 5.8 percentage points from a year before.

Overseas, Android fared better: In Europe’s top markets, the total share of Google’s OS hit 78.3 percent, a 2.2 percentage point increase year on year.

More worrying for Apple, Android also did well in urban regions of China, which make up the most dynamic phone market in the world. Here, iOS devices saw a 3.8 percentage point drop from the same time last year, down to 16.2 percent. Virtually everything else went to Android.

So what does this mean? Despite Google’s and its partners’ best efforts, Apple is still entrenched in the United States. While we expect Android to bounce back a few percentage points in the next report, Apple seems to have a solid grip at the 40 percent mark. It’s a different deal in the rest of the world – Android continues to dominate Europe, it owns India, and it looks like Apple’s days of growth in China are over, at least for now.


Deal: keep your devices charged with these discounted Anker products (today only)

Looking to save some dough on a new wall charger, car charger, or USB cable? Anker’s got you covered. As part of the latest Amazon Gold Box Deal, a number of different Anker products are on sale for today only. Some of these products are up to 80% off right now, so you might want to hurry before the sale ends!

First up we have Anker’s Quick Charge 3.0 car charger (pictured above), which sports two USB ports for charging multiple devices simultaneously. Normally available for $60, you can get it right now for just $18.89. Not bad!

We only have access to so many wall outlets in our homes. If you need to use yours sparingly, you’re going to want to check out one of Anker’s Quick Charge 3.0 wall chargers. Both of these wall chargers listed below have two USB ports each, which will definitely come in handy if you own more than one mobile device. The best part? They’re on sale for less than $20.

While phone manufacturers have definitely been moving towards the USB Type-C standard over the past year or so, there are still quite a few smartphones out there with Micro USB ports (any Galaxy S7 owners out there?). Anker is currently selling a five pack of Micro USB cables, with assorted lengths, for just $9.69.

In addition, you can also grab a 6-foot Lightning cable for just over $8, if you happen to know anyone with an iPhone.

Remember – these deals are only good for today, so you’ll want to jump on these sooner rather than later.


Amazon Echo and Kindle devices see huge discounts for Father’s Day

4 days ago

The OnePlus 5 design is a step backwards

While OnePlus – and some others – would like to have you believe the OnePlus 5 design doesn’t look at all like the iPhone 7 Plus, it clearly does. But laboring that similarity misses a larger point: it’s not so much the iPhone 7 Plus connection that’s disappointing as it is the Oppo R11 connection. That OnePlus is once again falling back on a design borrowed from one of its sibling BBK companies demonstrates the company hasn’t matured quite as much as we otherwise might have thought.

See also:

Will you buy the OnePlus 5 given that it looks like this?

6 days ago

To give you the basic background, OnePlus, along with Oppo and Vivo, exists under the broad umbrella of BBK Electronics. That means there’s naturally some shared supply chains, R&D, and in some cases, crossovers of smartphone design. The original OnePlus One was itself a fairly faithful borrowing of the Oppo Find 7 design and Pete Lau left a VP position at Oppo to co-found OnePlus. While both companies seem reticent to discuss the connections, they’re pretty plain to see.

While some stereotypes about Chinese companies shamelessly cloning iPhones are justified, what’s more interesting than what the Oppo R11 looks like is that OnePlus is still using a design blueprint from Oppo for its latest smartphone, three whole years after its first. This is an odd move for a company that has justifiably begun to outgrow its early growing pains and increasingly come to be seen as “all grown up”.

OnePlus finally did away with its awkward invite system with the launch of the OnePlus 3 last year. While that system may have been a necessary evil for managing supply and demand in the early days, it reeked of a fledgling company. OnePlus has since expanded dramatically to new regions and expanded its team by hundreds.

Software missteps with Cyanogen aside, the consolidation of its Oxygen and Hydrogen OS teams was also a move indicative of a company maturing – even if I’ve been critical of its success at times. Likewise, those tacky, clickbaity marketing attempts (remember the awful “Ladies First” campaign?) largely seem to have been relegated to OnePlus’ immature adolescent phase.

We've all watched OnePlus very publicly find its feet – and occasionally trip up – in the smartphone game.

The hubris OnePlus showed with the OnePlus 2 (especially regarding the messaging surrounding the absence of NFC) got them burnt fingers they vowed to learn from. Getting busted trying to game the benchmark game with the OnePlus 3 and 3T demonstrated that some sneaky tricks are better left untried too. What I’m getting at is that we’ve all watched OnePlus very publicly find its feet – and occasionally trip up – in the smartphone game.

Admittedly, the company still has a long way to go when it comes to update promises and customer service, but the difference in approach and attitude we’ve seen in recent years has been noticeable. Until the OnePlus 5 design, that is.

Recycling the OnePlus 3 design for the OnePlus 3T made sense and was completely understandable. Earlier changes in design represented the company finding its signature design language, culminating in the premium look and feel of the OnePlus 3. But the OnePlus 5 bucks those trends, transporting us back a few years to when the little startup that could needed all the help it could get from larger companies like Oppo.

But those days have passed. OnePlus looks a lot more like a “real” OEM than a scrappy startup these days and that means there are certain things we’ve come to expect, whether they’re reasonable to expect or not. Sure, OnePlus still makes gaffes and mistakes like any company, but they are fewer and farther between.

OnePlus looks a lot more like a real OEM these days, and that means we've come to expect certain things.

I think that’s why so many folks were disappointed when they saw the sixth OnePlus smartphone appear looking a lot like the most famous smartphone in the world. Even if that was largely due to the Oppo R11 borrowing from the iPhone 7 Plus design rather than OnePlus itself: it just felt like a step backwards, not forwards.

While the phone itself will no doubt be great and be adored by many, it’s just a shame that OnePlus hasn’t matured enough yet to never settle where its design language is concerned. Of course, there will certainly be plenty of differences between the OnePlus 5 and the iPhone 7 Plus for those that want to go looking for them, but we shouldn’t have to.

You’ll have to wait until the phone is out to draw your own conclusions (and decide whether it even matters to you). But considering the other potential designs we’ve seen leaked in recent weeks, we were kinda expecting something more original from the OnePlus 5. OnePlus can’t be upset with this reaction either, because the company itself has religiously fostered the hype surrounding its devices, so we can hardly be blamed for wanting more. Maybe next year.

What do you think of the OnePlus 5 design?


Gameloft’s Asphalt Street Storm Racing now available on Android

The latest in Gameloft‘s “Asphalt” racing series has launched today on Android. Asphalt Street Storm Racing, as they name suggests, sees you take part in street races across some of the world’s “most glamorous” cities, earning cash and upgrading your vehicles as you go.

You’ll find yourself racing through storms, blizzards, and scorching heat in the French studio’s take on drag racing. The game features licensed vehicles from “old-school muscle cars” to “high-powered supercars,” which can be customized with different paint jobs, decals, superchargers, nitro systems and more.

Players are able to place bets on races too, giving them a chance to win in-game money as well as “pink slips” (the vehicles you race against). This is something also available in online multiplayer — which will definitely raise the stakes of a race.

It’s another free-to-play title with in-app purchases like Gameloft’s previous Asphalt games, and it looks very similar, but the drag racing theme could take the gameplay in an interesting new direction. There aren’t many well-known developers who’ve tried to make drag racing work — probably due to the difficulties in offering meaningful gameplay choices in short, straight races — but it might prove to be a winning formula.

Download Asphalt Street Storm racing free via the link below and give us your thoughts on it in the comments.

Google Now may get a transparent background overhaul

LG G7 and V30 may both see accelerated launches

If you follow the South Korean media at all you’ll know they have an approach to news that’s similar to Samsung’s old product portfolio strategy: if you throw enough spaghetti at the wall some of it is bound to stick. But that’s not to say they’re not always onto something. Take the recent claim that both the LG V30 and LG G7 will see accelerated launches.

See also:

2017 release calendar: All the major smartphones we’re expecting this year

April 12, 2017

Citing a report from Aju Business Daily, The Investor states the LG V30 will debut in August and the G7 will arrive in January 2018. While some parts of the story are clearly misguided – according to The Investor LG only just started R&D for the LG G7 last month – some parts are more or less feasible. So let’s take a closer look at the claims.

An early concept render for the LG V30 – don’t expect the final design to look like this though.

LG V30 in August

First up, the LG V30 launching in August. At first glance this would seem foolish: to launch a new phone in advance of one of the biggest tech shows of the year (IFA in Berlin). Samsung can get away with it because Samsung is Samsung, but other OEMs wisely prefer to take advantage of the condensed media attention a trade show provides. But if you consider that LG has a penchant for announcing new devices a few days in advance of big shows, then the claim has a little more credibility.

Then there’s the fact that the press days for IFA, when most major press conferences are held, will this year occur on the last two days of August (IFA officially starts on September 1). That said, an LG V30 announcement then seems much more likely, if the device is to actually be unveiled at the show, with a release date some time afterward. Previous V series devices have not been announced at IFA, presumably because they haven’t seen European releases, but this year could be different if all of this is anything more than coincidence.

A recent LG patent some think represents the upcoming LG G7 design.

LG G7 in January

Then there’s the LG G7 launching in January. This would put the announcement during CES, but as many of you know, CES is more about refrigerators and TVs than it is about mobile. Launching a new flagship during MWC in Barcelona makes a lot more sense. But if we consider the missed opportunity LG suffered this year when it failed to get the G6 out fast enough to truly capitalize on its pre-Galaxy S8 release, bringing things forward several more weeks makes a lot of financial sense.

History also supports this theory. Successive G series phones have always appeared slightly earlier than their predecessors: the G2 arrived in mid-September 2013; the G3 in late May 2014; the G4 in late April 2015; G5 in mid-April 2016 and G6 in early March this year. Following that logic, a January 2018 announcement and February launch for the LG G7 is totally possible.

See also:

Report: LG and Qualcomm already working on Snapdragon 845 for LG G7

2 weeks ago

The question will ultimately come down to whether or not LG is ready to go by that time. It obviously takes more than half a year to develop a phone (for example, LG had been working on the modular idea for the G5 for three years), but there’s no telling how far along things are now or will be by January. The report even quotes an LG rep saying “Nothing has been decided on the launch schedule of the upcoming phones”.

While it might seem logical to launch the G7 at CES to get a better head start on the Galaxy S9, that advantage will be largely lost if LG can’t get the G7 on shelves faster than it got the G6 out. An MWC launch would provide more preparation time, more mobile media attention and, if LG can get the phone out sooner rather than later, still lure plenty of customers in well before the Galaxy S9 becomes a real possibility.

When do you think we’ll see the LG V30 and G7? What’s on your wishlist?

Sprint gets aggressive and offers free year of service to switch to their network

iPhone 8: 5 new juicy clues video

Apple's WWDC was packed with hints about its next big phone.

Samsung Galaxy S8 nav bar update to reduce screen burn-in?

Samsung has been rolling out Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus updates recently with Bixby improvements and fixes for SD card related issues. The South Korean manufacturer has also just started to roll out the June security patches in Europe and India, and with these comes an update to the navigation bar settings that might not please everyone.

According to SamMobile, the update removes the RGB scale for the navigation bar color, and replaces it with light color shades only. This not only restricts the breadth of color options available, but also means you can no longer select a pure black navigation bar (though there are reports that you can work around this by using a black theme).

The black navigation bar background is the default on most Android handsets, so it’s often the go-to choice for those who don’t want the nav bar to stand out. It’s not clear why Samsung has changed the options for this, but it’s possibly connected to burn-in fears.

Via Sam Mobile

OLED screens don’t use powered pixels to create the black color on a display; instead, black pixels are simply pixels that are switched off. This means that activated pixels — that is, the non-black pixels on a display — degrade at a faster rate.

In extreme cases, this can lead to certain parts of the screen becoming lighter than the rest of the display — what we typically refer to as burn-in. Samsung’s new change may be intended to avoid this issue on its phones, something we’ve already seen with the constantly-shifting home button. (You can read more about the Galaxy S8 and screen burn-in here.)

Weight is also given to this notion by another part of the update: Samsung now provides users with an option to hide the nav bar completely. This is thanks to a new setting in the nav bar menu, and it means you no longer have to use this workaround to achieve the same thing.

This update should be rolling out in the US within the coming weeks; what are your thoughts on the changes? Let us know in the comments.


Xiaomi announces Mi.com reward program in India

Chinese smartphone and accessory maker Xiaomi has announced a Mi.com reward program in India allowing registered Mi.com users to obtain reward benefits while purchasing Xiaomi products from the website.

According to the company, in terms of smartphone sales, Mi.com is the third largest e-commerce platform in India, after Amazon and Flipkart. The companion Mi Store app too has over 5 million app installs to date on Google Play Store.

In its first phase starting today, the program will allow users to earn Mi Tokens for each transaction on Mi.com depending on the amount. These Mi Tokens can be redeemed to get price benefits via different means during the next purchase on Mi.com. Mi Fans also stand a chance to earn Mi Tokens during special campaigns or convert them into coupons or F Codes.

The second phase starting from the first week of August will be referral-based and will enable Mi Fans to invite more friends to become Mi.com users and earn Mi Tokens in return. There will be a third phase of the program too that will begin later and will include Tier privileges where customers will fall into different tiers based on their previous purchases and each tier will have special privileges including express delivery, early access to sales, products etc.

More details about the Mi.com Reward Program are available on mi.com


EU roaming is now free – what you need to know

EU Free Roaming - Roam Like Home!

The EU’s long running attempts to abolish roaming charges for customers across Europe have finally been fruitful, with carriers across the block set to drop roaming charges for hundreds of millions of prepaid and postpaid customers.

Beginning today, June 15, the EU’s directive says mobile carriers cannot charge any extra to use your phone in Europe than they would for you to use it in your ‘home’ country. As the name “Roam Like Home” suggests, this ensures you won’t suffer from bill shock – unexpected and significantly larger-than-normal mobile phone bills when traveling.

Sounds great, right? It sure does! But now that this concept has made its way into reality, what exactly do you need to know about this new law? How does it impact roaming outside of Europe?

All information here is provided for guidance only and we cannot be held responsible for its accuracy. We recommend checking the finer details of your particular tariff with your carrier for clarity.
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What’s this all about?

For years, the European Commission has been trying to abolish roaming charges and has met plenty of opposition from carriers in the process. Yet, tackling the fundamental problem of the high fees between carriers applies a level playing field and allows this directive to be implemented.

The law applies to all new and existing contracts. As I found out with one of the carriers in the UK (more on that below), chances are you don’t need to do anything to be eligible for it. Putting the onus on the carrier to get everyone activated with no input from customers means the Commission can ensure there are no more surprises.

What’s covered under the law?

EU Free Roaming - Roam Like Home!

The law essentially means you can roam from your home European country to all the other European countries listed by your carrier and not pay any charges for making and receiving calls, texts, or using data. Instead of being charged an inflated fee for usage while roaming in another country, your carrier instead has to deduct the usage from your regular monthly allowance.

If you have Unlimited minutes or texts, these remain unlimited and can be used to call the country you’re roaming in, your home country, and any other European country. Calls to non-geographic, premium rate, and other non-standard numbers aren’t included and have an additional charge. Crucially, you can’t use this for free calls to a European country when in your home country; this is only for roaming.

For data usage, it would come out of your regular allowance, so if you have 5 GB of data at home, you’ll be able to use the same 5 GB when roaming. Of course, that 5 GB is collective for use at home and abroad (not individually) so if you use 4 GB while roaming and 2 GB at home, there may be additional charges due.

Where this becomes a little complicated, however, is with tariffs with unlimited data on them or where you have a large data allowance. For users with unlimited tariffs, the EU says:

Your operator must provide you with a large volume of roam like at home data depending on the price of your mobile bundle. Your operator should clearly inform you of this roam like at home data allowance. In case you use more data while roaming than the data allowance foresees, you may have to pay a small charge

How is this limit calculated? The EU says:

If you want to check the operator’s calculation, here is how: the roaming data volume must be at least twice the volume obtained by dividing the price of your mobile bundle (excluding VAT) by €7.7. For your information, €7.7 is the maximum price that your operator has to pay the foreign operator for 1 GB of data when you are abroad in the EU during 2017. This means that you may get more roam like at home data than the volume your operator can purchase with your monthly subscription from the foreign operator whose network you are using abroad.

Example: At home, you have a mobile bundle including unlimited calls, SMS and data for €42 (€35 excluding 20% VAT). When travelling in the EU, you get roam like at home for unlimited calls and SMS, and at least 9.1 GB of data (2*(35 / 7.7) =9.1).

Now, for users who have a package with a large data allowance, the calculation is a little more interesting. First, your carrier can only apply a data cap when the amount you pay per gigabyte (after dividing your monthly rental by the inclusive gigabyte data allowance) is less than €3.85/GB. This will drop to less than €3/GB in 2018 and even further to less than €2.25/GB in 2019.

If your carrier doesn’t tell you about any cap when roaming, you get to use your full allowance. I think it’s safe to say that almost all carriers will impose these limits where they can so how do they calculate it? You divide the price of your mobile phone bundle (excluding VAT) by €7.70 (the max a carrier has to pay for 1 GB of roaming data in 2017) and the cap must be double that calculation.

Here are two examples from the EU:

Example 1: At home you have a mobile bundle including unlimited calls, SMS and 3 GB of data for €30 (€25 excluding 20% VAT). In this case, €25/3GB = €8.3/GB. When travelling in the EU, you get roam like at home with unlimited calls and SMS, and 3 GB of data, exactly like at home.

Example 2: At home you have a mobile bundle including unlimited calls, SMS and 10 GB of data for €30 (€25 excluding 20% VAT). The calculation is €25 /10GB=€2.5/GB. When travelling in the EU, you get RLAH with unlimited calls and SMS, and at least 6.5 GB of data (2*(25/7.7) =6.5). If the operator wishes to apply such a data limit while roaming, they must clearly inform you of the volume available and whenever you have consumed that volume while abroad.

Keeping up with us? No? I don’t blame you really – this is rather complicated. But stick with us… we’re almost there.

There are lots of other examples on the EU’s FAQ page, but we don’t need to list those. Instead, how much will you pay if you go over any inclusive allowances? The costs are limited to 3.2 cents per minute for voice calls, 1 cent per SMS and €7.70 per gigabyte of data, all excluding VAT.

Does this mean no more roaming bills, like ever?

EU Free Roaming - Roam Like Home!

This all sounds pretty amazing, but is there a catch? For almost everyone, no. This law is designed to protect average consumers from humongous bills that line corporate pockets so while there are circumstances where the law doesn’t apply, chances are you’ll be fine.

However, if you fit one of the two following categories, then there will be additional complexities you need to discuss with your carrier:

  • Travellers: If you spend more time travelling in Europe than in your home country, then you’ll be foul of the fair use policy. If this is the case, your carrier may contact you – carriers will be on the lookout for abuses of these laws and can check domestic activity over a four month period. If you do fall foul of this, you’ll be asked for clarity within 14 days and if you continue to roam, you’ll potentially be levied with the charges above.
  • Migrations: Roam Like Home is designed for travellers but if you spend enough time in country that isn’t your home (say you live in Wales and work in Ireland with long stays in Ireland), the EU can argue that you have set up durable residence in that country. In this case, your home network no longer has to offer you free roaming, and instead you’ll need a subscription from your new network.
  • Cruises: Alas, the days of cruising the French Riviera while Snapchatting and Instagramming your travels with no concerns over the price are not quite here. The law only applies to fixed terrestrial communications, so those on cruises – or any other activity that uses satellite radios, not terrestrial – won’t be included. Guess you’ll just have to enjoy the pool, facilities and company!

The exclusions are few and for 99.9%+ of European consumers, roaming is now free!

What about roaming outside of Europe?

EU Free Roaming - Roam Like Home!

Roaming outside of Europe is, understandably, not bound by the European Commission’s new law. Neither is roaming to Europe on a non-EU carrier. However, at least in the UK, carriers have been very competitive in recent years on offering excellent non-EU roaming packages, and indeed this has continued further with the new changes today.

Considering the EU and carriers have been working towards this for several years, it’s unsurprising that UK carriers have been focusing on capturing the non-EU travellers as subscribers over recent years. Three already offers Feel At Home free roaming in several countries, while both Vodafone and EE offer very competitive paid-for add-ons for non-EU countries.

None of that is new, but what is new is EE’s free roaming outside of Europe, Vodafone’s Global Roaming plan and Three’s extended Feel At Home program. Here’s what the three carriers offer (fourth carrier O2 has no special inclusive plans for non-EU roaming other than a £5/day charge for limited allowances):

Vodafone Global Roaming

Vodafone has long been a pioneer of affordable roaming, both in Europe, and outside of it. For non-EU roaming, the company has offered a similar package (under various guises) for several years now.

Now called Vodafone Global Roaming (an evolution of Vodafone WorldTraveller and Vodafone Passport), it allows you to take your UK allowances and use them for free in 40 European countries and to ‘Roam-further’ in 60 non-EU countries for a low cost fee of £5 per day. The full list of Roam-further countries is available here and you are only charged on the days you use your phone.

Three’s extended Feel At Home Program

Three followed Vodafone by pioneering to scrap all roaming charges entirely, anywhere in the world. Of course, this is a rather fanciful dream, but the company has been instrumental in driving down the cost of worldwide roaming for UK customers, as well as offering free roaming in several non-EU countries.

Following the EU’s changes, Three has made roaming free to all European countries, but also extended its Feel At Home service, so you won’t pay to make or receive calls and texts and use data in lots of non-EU countries. The full list is available here and has today expanded to include the likes of Brazil, Singapore and French Guiana.

EE Roaming

EE has a rather checkered past with roaming – at one time, the company was fantastic and offered the best bang-for-buck roaming add-ons (you could get 1 GB of roaming data in the US for just £25 whereas recently it had risen to over £70) and while this did change, the company is making a somewhat determined march up the ranks again.

Beginning today, EU roaming is free for all customers and those on a 4GEE Max plan (which had the highest inclusive EU roaming allowance), will now be able to use their allowances for free in the USA, Australia, Canada, Mexico and New Zealand.

What would roaming outside of Europe cost on each UK carrier?

Taking the examples of Australia, Hong Kong, India, South Africa and the USA as would-be destinations, how much would 300 minutes of calls (back to the UK for simplicity), sending 300 texts and using 1 GB of data over a two week period cost you on each of the four carriers?

CarrierAustraliaHong KongIndiaSouth AfricaUSA O2£34.93 (£4.99/day * 7 days)£34.93 (£4.99/day * 7 days)£6,714£34.93 (£4.99/day * 7 days)£34.93 (£4.99/day * 7 days) For the purpose of the O2 calculation, we're assuming that you won't use more than 120 minutes of calls or 120 texts in any single day. Data has no upper limit but is subject to traffic management. EEFree on 4GEE Max plan£660£660£660Free on 4GEE Max plan EE offers various data add-ons. For the purpose of this calculation, we're assuming you pay £40 for the 750MB data add-on followed by an additional £20 for a further 250MB add-on. Both last for 7 days or until the allowance is used up. This table also assumes that you're on a 4GEE Max plan to get free roaming in the USA and Australia Vodafone£35 (£5/day * 7 days)£35 (£5/day * 7 days)£35 (£5/day * 7 days)£35 (£5/day * 7 days)£35 (£5/day * 7 days) ThreeFree (Feel At Home)Free (Feel At Home)£3,777£3,597Free (Feel At Home) <!-- #tablepress-830 from cache -->

O2 Travel makes things rather complex to understand as it offers 120 minutes of making calls and 120 minutes of receiving calls as well as 120 texts each day for £4.99 in select countries. It also includes an unspecified data allowance that is subject to traffic management and fair use.

Sign me up, Scotty!

EU Free Roaming - Roam Like Home!

This turned out to be a lot longer than intended, but it’s a topic that can be complicated. There are plenty of caveats that will affect just a handful of users so for most people, and this means the end of would-be astronomical phone bills abroad. It also means there’s no need to rush and buy a local phone for short travel, as you can now just use your regular phone instead.

How do you get onto the new packages? It’s pretty easy; you do nothing. That’s right – all carriers have to automatically stop charging users for roaming from today onwards. When you’re next roaming in Europe, expect a message from your carrier telling you it’s free and snap, post and tweet everything you do. Don’t forget to send us a postcard!


Samsung Galaxy J7 Max and J7 Pro revealed in India with Samsung Pay

Samsung has expanded its mid-range phone lineup today with the reveal of both the Galaxy J7 Max and Galaxy J7 Pro. The phones were announced at a press event in India today, and both will go on sale over the next few weeks.

See also:

Samsung takes 13% of global smartphone profits in Q1 2017

1 week ago

The company put a lot of attention on two features that both the Galaxy J7 Max and J7 Pro will share. One of them is that the handsets will support Samsung Pay, the payment system that launched in India just a few months ago in March. These will be the first mid-range phones from Samsung that will support the system; previously, Samsung Pay was reserved for the company’s high-end flagships, including the recent Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus. The Galaxy J7 Max will actually support Samsung Pay Mini, which is making its debut in India with this phone.

The other new feature in the Galaxy J7 Max and J7 Pro centers on their cameras. The phones will have 13 MP camera sensors on both the front and the back with flashes. The front camera will have an f/1.9 aperture lens while the back camera will have an f/1.7 lens, which should be great for taking pictures in low light conditions.

The Galaxy J7 Max and J7 Pro will also allow for quick editing of images, along with adding Snapchat-like stickers and Instagram-like filters

Also, both phones will have what Samsung is calling a “social camera” feature. They will allow owners to set up the camera so that pictures that are taken with the phones can be quickly shared with their favorite contacts and social media accounts. The Galaxy J7 Max and J7 Pro will also allow for quick editing of images, along with adding Snapchat-like stickers and Instagram-like filters to photos. Both phones will have Black and Gold color options.

#gallery-1 { margin: auto; } #gallery-1 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 100%; } #gallery-1 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-1 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */ ]]>

The Galaxy J7 Pro will have a 5.5-inch Full HD display and Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box. It will have the company’s Exynos 7870 chipset inside with a clock speed of 1.6 GHz, along with 3 GB of RAM, 64 GB of onboard storage, and a microSD card to add more storage. Finally, the phone will have a 3,600 mAh battery and a fingerprint sensor.

<![CDATA[ #gallery-2 { margin: auto; } #gallery-2 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 100%; } #gallery-2 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-2 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */ </style><div id="gallery-2" class="gallery galleryid-779824 gallery-columns-1 gallery-size-large"> <dl class="gallery-item"><dt class="gallery-icon landscape"> <a href="http://cdn04.androidauthority.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Samsung-Galaxy-J7-Max-Black.jpg" rel="lightbox[779824]"><img width="840" height="354" src="http://cdn04.androidauthority.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Samsung-Galaxy-J7-Max-Black-840x354.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large" alt="" aria-describedby="gallery-2-779843" srcset="http://cdn01.androidauthority.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Samsung-Galaxy-J7-Max-Black-840x354.jpg 840w, http://cdn01.androidauthority.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Samsung-Galaxy-J7-Max-Black-300x126.jpg 300w, http://cdn01.androidauthority.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Samsung-Galaxy-J7-Max-Black-768x323.jpg 768w, http://cdn01.androidauthority.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Samsung-Galaxy-J7-Max-Black-16x7.jpg 16w, http://cdn01.androidauthority.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Samsung-Galaxy-J7-Max-Black-32x13.jpg 32w, http://cdn01.androidauthority.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Samsung-Galaxy-J7-Max-Black-28x12.jpg 28w, http://cdn01.androidauthority.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Samsung-Galaxy-J7-Max-Black-56x24.jpg 56w, http://cdn01.androidauthority.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Samsung-Galaxy-J7-Max-Black-64x27.jpg 64w, http://cdn01.androidauthority.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Samsung-Galaxy-J7-Max-Black-1000x421.jpg 1000w, http://cdn01.androidauthority.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Samsung-Galaxy-J7-Max-Black-475x200.jpg 475w, http://cdn01.androidauthority.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Samsung-Galaxy-J7-Max-Black.jpg 1147w" sizes="(max-width: 840px) 100vw, 840px" /></a> </dt> <dd class="wp-caption-text gallery-caption" id="gallery-2-779843"> Samsung Galaxy J7 Max </dd></dl> <br style="clear: both" /> <dl class="gallery-item"><dt class="gallery-icon landscape"> <a href="http://cdn01.androidauthority.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Samsung-Galaxy-J7-Max-Gold.jpg" rel="lightbox[779824]"><img width="840" height="339" src="http://cdn01.androidauthority.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Samsung-Galaxy-J7-Max-Gold-840x339.jpg" class="attachment-large size-large" alt="" aria-describedby="gallery-2-779846" srcset="http://cdn01.androidauthority.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Samsung-Galaxy-J7-Max-Gold-840x339.jpg 840w, http://cdn01.androidauthority.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Samsung-Galaxy-J7-Max-Gold-300x121.jpg 300w, http://cdn01.androidauthority.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Samsung-Galaxy-J7-Max-Gold-768x310.jpg 768w, http://cdn01.androidauthority.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Samsung-Galaxy-J7-Max-Gold-16x6.jpg 16w, http://cdn01.androidauthority.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Samsung-Galaxy-J7-Max-Gold-32x13.jpg 32w, http://cdn01.androidauthority.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Samsung-Galaxy-J7-Max-Gold-28x11.jpg 28w, http://cdn01.androidauthority.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Samsung-Galaxy-J7-Max-Gold-56x23.jpg 56w, http://cdn01.androidauthority.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Samsung-Galaxy-J7-Max-Gold-64x26.jpg 64w, http://cdn01.androidauthority.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Samsung-Galaxy-J7-Max-Gold-1000x404.jpg 1000w, http://cdn01.androidauthority.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Samsung-Galaxy-J7-Max-Gold-495x200.jpg 495w, http://cdn01.androidauthority.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Samsung-Galaxy-J7-Max-Gold.jpg 1156w" sizes="(max-width: 840px) 100vw, 840px" /></a> </dt> <dd class="wp-caption-text gallery-caption" id="gallery-2-779846"> Samsung Galaxy J7 Max </dd></dl> <br style="clear: both" /> </div> <p>The Galaxy J7 Max, as the name implies, will have a larger 5.7-inch Full HD display. It will also have Nougat installed but it will have a MediaTek Helio P20 octa-core processor, running at 1.6 GHz. While the phone will get more memory with 4 GB of RAM, the onboard storage is just 32 GB on the J7 Max, but there is a microSD card to add more storage. Finally, the phone will have a smaller 3,300 mAh battery.</p> <p>The Galaxy J7 Max will be sold first in India starting on June 20 for INR 17,900 (about $275). The J7 Pro will go on sale in India sometime in mid-July for INR 20,900 (about $320). There’s no word yet on when these phones will be sold in other markets.</p> <div class="aa_whlst_code"></div>]]>

Google Play Store has a new offline page, notifies you when you’re online again

New offline page on the left; old version on the right.

Android Police

With the new update, you no longer have to repeatedly hit the retry button when you’ve gone offline. Instead, Google Play Store will let you know when it’s working again.

See also:

Google Play Store not working? Here are some possible fixes

April 19, 2017

We’ve all been there before: we’re in the Play Store, dementedly clicking that retry button because our cellular data or Internet connection is down. I have two issues with the current offline page in the Play Store. The first is that users end up wasting time trying to refresh the page until it works. The second is that it’s simply ugly: with a single grey button in the middle, the UI is reminiscent of Android’s early days, not the refined Android Nougat that most of us are used to.

Though the update seems to be rolling out very slowly, it adds a new notification feature within the offline page.

Well, it looks likes the search giant will finally address the issue soon. Though the update seems to be rolling out very slowly, it adds a feature which lets you ask the Google Play Store to notify you once the page becomes online again. That way, instead of being stuck on that offline page, you can continue doing other tasks until you have a notification from the Play Store, indicating that the page you were trying to load can now be viewed.

As you can see above, the retry button is still there, but the new UI is much more in line with Android Nougat’s theme.

Have you received the update in the Play Store yet? What are your thoughts on the new offline page and the notify me feature? Let us know by leaving a comment below!


Kids can make their own Cars 3 movie with Google’s Toontastic 3D app update

Earlier this year, Google released Toontastic 3D, an app made for kids that allowed them to quickly create their own short animated movies. Today, the company has released an update that adds two new content themes, and one of them is based on the upcoming, and highly anticipated, Disney-Pixar movie Cars 3.

See also:

Best kids apps for Android

3 weeks ago

The Cars 3 theme will let kids create movies using some of Pixar’s anthropomorphic car characters like Lightning McQueen, Mater, and others. Two locations from Cars 3, the Florida 500 raceway and the Thunder Hollow demolition derby, are also included. The downside is that this content is only available for a limited time; it will be removed from the Toontastic 3D app after Sept. 30.

However, the app’s second new theme does not have an expiration date, at least not yet. It adds characters and settings from the YouTube Red animated series Fruit Ninja Frenzy Force, which itself is based on the popular Fruit Ninja games from developer Halfbrick. As with the Cars 3 theme, it will allow kids to make their own episodes with characters like Peng, Seb, Niya and Ralph.

Google also announced today that since Toontastic 3D launched in January, it has been used to create a total of 2.5 million cartoons that have a combined 24,000 hours of content. That’s a ton of clips anyway you slice it, and with the Cars 3 promotion, those numbers should go even higher.

June 14 2017


Google Drive will soon be able to back up your whole computer

Google is making a change for PC and Mac users who save files on its Google Drive cloud storage service. The company revealed today that it will begin offering the new Backup and Sync app for those users starting on June 28.

See also:

Best cloud storage services

April 8, 2017

The Backup and Sync app will replace the current Google Drive uploader client, and will also be integrated into the desktop Google Photos uploader. When the new app goes live, users will be able sign into the uploader via their Google Account, and then select which specific folders on their PC or Mac they want to continuously back up to their Google Drive accounts.

Many people will likely want to select their video, audio, or photo folders for this feature. They could even select their entire PC desktop for backing up, although it’s likely that would also cause them to purchase more storage space beyond the free 15 GB that Google Drive currently offers for cloud users.

Google stated that the Backup and Sync app is made for regular consumers. Businesses will continue to use the standard Google Drive desktop uploader, but the company plans to launch a similar new service, Drive File Stream, for those G Suite customers sometime later in 2017.

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Telltale has plans to make its own original game, but it may not be out for a while

Telltale Games has grown considerably over the past few years, perfecting its formula of releasing episodic adventure games near-simultaneously on console, PC, and mobile platforms. For the most part, these games have been based on licensed properties, but in a new interview, the company’s head of communications, Job Stauffer, said we will see an new original game from Telltale at some point.

See also:

Best adventure games for Android

June 23, 2016

In a chat with GameSpot as part of its E3 2017 coverage, Stauffer stated, “An original, new IP is definitely still in our future”. However, he added that the release of that game “may not be as immediate as the next few things we have coming up.” The last original game Telltale released was Puzzle Agent 2, way back in 2011.

Telltale now has 400 employees, and Stauffer said it is capable of developing up to four different games at once. In the past few years, it has seen a ton of critical and sales success from its licensed episodic games based on properties like The Walking Dead, Jurassic Park, Game of Thrones, Borderlands, Batman, and others. It is now in the middle of its five-episode run of a game based on Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, and it will begin a second five chapter “season” of Minecraft: Story Mode on July 11.

Stauffer also hinted that Telltale is looking into the VR space for future games, along with other platforms such as streaming set-top boxes. He said more official announcements on that front will be made later this summer, along with other game reveals. We wouldn’t be surprised if some of those announcements could be made in July as part of the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con.

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Clash of Clans developer Supercell reveals new game, Brawl Stars

Supercell, the development studio behind two of the most popular mobile games, Clash of Clans and its more recent spin-off Clash Royale, have surprised many people by announcing an all-new title, Brawl Stars. This upcoming game is a multiplayer top-down shooter with a cartoony art style.

See also:

Best games like Clash of Clans

April 29, 2017

The free-to-play game was announced earlier today via a livestream video on YouTube, showing members of its developer team playing Brawl Stars with a number of YouTube “Let’s Play” personalities. While you can play the game by itself, it was clearly designed for multiplayer. Players will select from a number of different characters, each with their own special attacks and abilities, to join their team in matches. All of the “Brawlers” can also be upgraded after matches and can get their own custom character skins.

There will be four main gameplay modes in Brawl Stars. One is Bounty, where the team that collects the most stars in a match wins. Another is Smash & Grab, where teams have to  collect crystals from the center of a map, with the first team to collect and hold onto 10 crystals winning the match.

Yet another mode is Heist, where teams have to either protect or attack a safe full of loot. Finally, there’s the Showdown mode, where 10 players battle it out on a map that slowly gets smaller, with the last character alive winning the match.

The video stream of Brawl Stars indicated that the footage was of a pre-beta version of the game, so features, modes and artwork might change before its full release. It will get a soft launch in Canada first before it is released worldwide, but there’s no word on when that will happen. Supercell is likely in no rush to launch Brawl Stars. It recorded earnings of €2.1 billion (about $2.35 billion) in 2016, along with earnings of at €917 million.

What are your initial impressions of Brawl Stars? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!


Latest Nova Launcher beta integrates with Google Feed via a companion app

Fans of the popular Nova Launcher can now snap up the latest beta version, which offers support for Google Feed (formerly Google Now) integration. However, there is a catch to this new support as users will also have to download a companion app as well to get this feature to work.

See also:

Nova Launcher beta adds Android O-like notification dots and rounded search bar

1 week ago

According to Android Police, the second app, which has the appropriate name Nova Google Companion, is needed because Google Feed requires that any app that integrates support for it has to be debuggable. However, debuggable apps can’t be published on the Google Play Store. This companion app, which is available from APK Mirror, allows the Feed pane to be activated with the beta version of Nova Launcher.

The article notes that there are still some bugs with this new support, as Google Feed sometimes didn’t detect the companion app, but future versions will likely see this support improve. Again, you have to download and install the Nova Google Companion app in addition to the Nova Launcher beta (5.3-beta1 and higher) for this to work.

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