Monday, August 21, 2017

Report: Google to announce smaller Google Home and new Chromebook Pixel

At this point, we fully expect Google to announce the successors to 2016’s Pixel and Pixel XL. However, there is now word that not only will the search giant also announce a smaller Google Home, but a new Chromebook Pixel as well.

Starting with the smaller Google Home, Android Police did not provide exact measurements or what the device will include as far as features are concerned. Even so, it is similar to what Amazon is doing with the Echo Dot, a smaller and more affordable version of the larger Echo. In other words, a smaller Google Home would allow Google Assistant to be in more places around the home without breaking the bank.

As for the new Chromebook Pixel, there is speculation it could be Google’s Project Bison, though the report couldn’t confirm this for sure. This is notable because Project Bison is rumored to run Andromeda OS, which reportedly bakes Chrome OS features into Android to give devices more flexibility when it comes to usage.

As for Project Bison itself, it was rumored to feature a 12.3-inch display, 32 GB or 128 GB of built-in storage, 8 GB or 16 GB of RAM, and a Wacom stylus that folks can pick up separately to use on the display. Because Bison was designed to have a slim profile, it will reportedly feature a “tablet” mode, which makes the device more of a 2-in-1 than your standard laptop.

We have to stress that there is no confirmation that the alleged new Chromebook Pixel is Bison, since they could be two separate projects. Given the amount of time since the last Chromebook Pixel, however, it would make sense if this was the case.

We will have to wait and see until Google launches the new Pixel phones to see whether the smaller Google Home and new Chromebook Pixel will be unveiled alongside them. Even so, would you be interested in either of the rumored devices? Let us know in the comments and we’ll be sure to keep our ears on the ground for any more specifics.

14 Common Madden 18 Problems & How to Fix Them

Madden 18 is finally here and with it new Madden 18 features that will change how you play. We are also seeing Madden 18 problems that frustrate gamers who want to enjoy a competitive game of football on the PS4 or Xbox One.

Here are the most common Madden 18 problems and how you can fix them on your own. Keep in mind there are some Madden 18 server problems that will prevent you from playing against friends, and for those you will just have to wait it out. There are also going to be some Madden 18 problems and Madden 18 bugs that you cannot fix. The good news is that the first Madden 18 update is planned for soon after release, so you can count on fixes coming through that in early September.

With new Madden 18 game modes, play styles and changes across the board, there are bound to be some bugs and issues once the game rolls out to millions of players. The aggressive catch is toned down even more this year and there is a new passing mode that you may have trouble adapting to.

Gamers typically complain about a variety of Madden 18 problems including missing MUT packs, slow downloads, Madden 18 EA Access problems and of course server problems and online party issues.

This is what you need to know about these Madden problems and how to fix them if you can do it without waiting for EA.

How to Fix EA Access Madden 18 Problems

What to do if you run into EA Access Madden 18 problems .
What to do if you run into EA Access Madden 18 problems .

The EA Access Madden 18 trial starts on August 17th. That’s confirmed by EA, even if EA Help on Twitter has no clue about it. You can start playing on the 17th. We don’t know the exact time, so if you don’t see a download available, you may need to wait a little while longer.

That said, if other players are able to download the EA Access Madden 18 trial and you don’t see it you can refresh the Madden 18 Store page by pressing LT + RT + Y multiple times until you see the trial.

If you start the download and you cannot play the EA Access Madden 18 trial, you may need to wait for the full game to download. EA recommends a complete download before you play.

You cannot get more time if your Madden 18 EA Access trial ends early. This is a 10 hour limit, and if you leave Madden 18 open, your time may expire. To prevent this, make sure you quit Madden 18 and if you want to be sure, open another game before you turn off your Xbox One.

If you cannot find the PS4 EA Access Madden 18 trial, your only problem is that Sony doesn’t want EA Access, so you cannot play Madden 18 early on the PS4.

Madden 18 G.O.A.T. Pre-Order Shows as Standard

Most Madden 18 pre-order issues are related to Amazon not stocking the G.O.A.T. edition on the PS4 in disk form, but if you pre-ordered Madden 18 G.O.A.T. from the ad inside of Madden 17 with the 10% off discount you may only see that you pre-ordered the standard edition.

EA is aware of the issue and is working on the problem. That means you don’t need to do anything at this time. It is likely that EA will fix this before the release date arrives on August 22nd. If you see this, you are not alone, but there is no need to be concerned about missing out on your Elite G.O.A.T. player yet. You can send @EAHelp a message about it, but for the time being just wait a little longer.

How to Fix Madden 18 Download Problems

How to fix Madden 18 download problems.
How to fix Madden 18 download problems.

No matter what edition of Madden 18 you buy, you may run into problems downloading the game. This is especially true with the EA Access trial that requires you to download the full game, even if you plan to buy the game on disk. The Madden 18 download size is 36.49 GB, which means you will need to wait a while and you may see some slow downloads.

If your Madden 18 download is slow or it looks like your download stops the best thing to do is pause it and restart. If you have a network cable, you may see better download speeds using a wired connection.

On the PS4 this is super easy.  Go to downloads and press X to pause the download. Wait a second and then restart. On the Xbox One, go to the Games & Apps and then choose Queue. After that select the Madden 18 tile and choose pause installation. Wait a little bit and then re-install.

How to Fix Madden 18 Installation Problems

How to fix Madden 18 install problems.
How to fix Madden 18 install problems.

We expect to see some Madden 18 installation problems. Most often this is not a problem with your Xbox or PS4, or even with your network. When this happens you may see the Madden 18 Xbox One install stuck at 0% for a long time. If that happens you need to change some settings on your system. That said, make sure you have enough storage on your console or on an external hard drive.

You’ll need to clear your Xbox One local save games. As long as you store the saves on Xbox Live, you son’t lose any progress. Go to Settings -> All Settings -> System -> Storage -> Clear local saved games. Once this is done, go to Settings -> All Settings -> Network -> Network Settings -> Go offline. Now restart your Xbox One by holding the power button for 10 seconds. Put Madden 18 back in and install the game again before you go online again.

On the PS4, you may need to clear your PS4 cache to fix Madden 18 installation problems. Turn your PS4 off, unplug it for a full minute and then plug it back in. If that doesn’t work, delete Madden 18 from your PS4 and start the installation over.

How to Fix Cannot Choose Most Madden 18 Game Modes

If you get the alert that you can start playing Madden 18, but then you cannot choose all of the Madden 18 game modes, the game is not likely completely downloaded or installed. Often you can play parts of a game while the rest downloads and installs. If you can’t choose all the options, you will need to wait and try again when the download completes.

How to Fix Missing Madden 18 MUT Codes

How to fix Madden 18 MUT Codes problems.
How to fix Madden 18 MUT Codes problems.

Both of the Madden 18 editions include MUT codes that allow you to unlock MUT packs so you can build up your Madden Ultimate Team. You may see this code on your receipt or it may be bundled in the game. Either way, you may run into problems redeeming your MUT codes in Madden 18, at least during the first week.

Any missing pre-order bonus needs to be taken up with your retailer directly. Try customer service online or on social media, as many stores may not be able to generate the code needed. If you ordered online, check your SPAM folder.

How to Fix Missing Madden 18 G.O.A.T. Content

EA offers the following fix for missing G.O.A.T. edition content. “If you bought the G.O.A.T. Edition but you don’t have the content you’re supposed to get, try backing out of MUT, then go back in and check your unopened packs. You should see the G.O.A.T. Edition content now.”

If that fails, try restarting Madden 18 or restarting your console. If you bought Madden 18 G.O.A.T. and there was no code in the game box or the code did not work, you need to try it a second time. If that fails, contact EA support.

How to Fix This item has already been removed from your collection error in Madden 18

If you go to open a pack in Madden 18 and you see the error, “This item has already been removed from your collection,” you should still have the content, it’s just hiding in your binder.

EA says, “If you get this error when you open a Pack, you should still have gotten the items from it. Check your Item Binder. All unopened Packs can be found on your Packs screen.”

How to Fix Madden 18 Online Problems

Madden 18 online problems and Madden 18 server problems can stop you from enjoying the game. If you cannot play online, you should check to see if there are any Madden 18 server problems or an outage. You should see a Madden 18 server status page appear here in the near future.

The first thing to do is restart your console. This can help fix many problems, and you should also check your local internet connection. From there, you can check to see if your console sees the Internet and online gaming services.

How to fix Madden 18 online problems and check server status.
How to fix Madden 18 online problems and check server status.

On PS4 – Go to Settings -> Network -> Test Internet Connection.

On Xbox One – Go to Settings – All Settings -> Network -> Network Settings -> Test network connection.

From there, check out basic connection troubleshooting including clearing the cache, disabling firewalls and restarting your network and console. If you still have Madden 18 connection problems, you may need to add exceptions for ports that Madden 18 uses. Here are the UDP and TCP ports that you need to adjust for Xbox One, and PS4. These should remain unchanged for Madden 18.

How to Fix Madden 18 Framerate & Audio Problems

When you see odd framerate and audio glitches in Madden 18, it’s time to restart your console. We haven’t seen this one yet, but it was a common issue in Madden 17, and you should know how to fix it if you run into any of these issues.

If you see any kind of lag in graphics or glitches, restart your console and see if that fixes it. In most cases, this will solve the problem without the need to make any other changes.

How to Fix Cannot See the Ball in MUT Squads

While playing MUT Squads there may be times when you cannot see the ball. This is by design as the camera is focused on the controlled player. So if there is a throw or run to the other side of the screen, you may miss out on it.

You can press up or down on the d pad to change the camera to one that shows you more of the field.

How to Fix Not Being Able to Play Modes and Features in MUT

EA changed up MUT in Madden 18, and you may find that you cannot play some modes or use some features in Madden Ultimate Team right off the bat. If this happens to you, it is because you are not leveled up enough. You need to play some challenges to level up more. You gain XP by completing objectives and playing games.

How to Fix Cannot Get EA Account Verification Codes in Madden 18

Some users cannot get an EA Account Verification Code in Madden 18 when signing in on a device that isn’t trusted yet. There is a workaround for this. EA offers the following steps:

  1. Log in to your EA Account on
    • If your computer is not a trusted device already, you’ll get a code sent to you. Use that code on your Xbox to verify your account and get signed in.

  2. If your computer is already a trusted device, go in to your EA Account and Billing Settings.

  3. Click on the Security tab.

  4. Click View next to your Backup Codes.

  5. You’ll get a code sent to you to use to view your Backup Codes. Use that code on your Xbox to verify your account and get signed in.
    • If you haven’t written down your Backup Codes and put them in a safe place yet, now’s a good time to do that. You can always use a Backup Code to get signed in to your account when you’re in a pinch like this.

How to Fix Annoying Madden 18 Problems

If you still cannot fix your Madden 18 problems, you may need to uninstall Madden 18 from your console and re-install. This can be a lengthy process if you bought the game digitally, but it often fixes stubborn problems. Other than that, the next best thing is to restart your console.

We expect a fast Madden 18 update that will address bugs and other problems that pop up in the first two weeks of Madden 18 gaming, so once that arrives you will need to install it to fix some Madden 18 problems.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Latest Action Launcher update brings weather widget, more robust theming options

Action Launcher has been one of our favorite launcher apps for years now, and that’s mainly due to the fact that the app’s developer, Chris Lacy, is constantly introducing new and useful features. Just a few weeks ago the launcher gained Google Now integration (yes!), and today the whole experience is getting even better with Action Launcher version 27.

Action Launcher 27 brings an inbuilt weather widget for devices running Android 6.0 Marshmallow or later. The new widget resembles the one you’d find on the Pixel Launcher, but this one allows you to change the temperature units, update frequency, and geofence radius.

The stars of the show here are the new customization options, however. You can now change the transparency of the All Apps page, Quickbar, folders, shutters, and more via Action Launcher’s Quicktheme menu. App Shortcuts and Notification Dots can now be set to match the color of your wallpaper or app icon, which is certainly a nice touch.

What’s more, you can now use the Quickbar (Google Search bar) as a standalone widget, meaning you can move it around to anywhere on your device’s home screen.

In addition to all the changes listed above, there are a few other tidbits included in version 27 that you might want to check out:

  • NEW: Adjust the color of the App Shortcuts panels via Quicktheme.

  • NEW: App Shortcuts, Shutters and Covers can be tinted with the highlight color of the controlling icon via Quicktheme. Allows for Twitter’s App Shortcuts panel to by light blue, WhatsApp’s to be green, etc.

  • NEW: Revamped Quickbar icon picker, and the number of icons available for Quickbar customization has increased from ~200 to ~950.

  • NEW: Option to disable widget padding (Settings -> Desktop -> Advanced -> Widget padding).

  • IMPROVEMENT: Fixed a nasty memory leak related to the animated clock icon that was causing excessive battery drain and general performance issues.

  • FIX: Misc. stability fixes.

Action Launcher version 27 is rolling out now in the Play Store, so head to the link below to check it out for yourself.

'Mass Effect: Andromeda' won't get more single-player content

The company will talk about multiplayer add-ons, support and N7 Day (November 7th)in the “coming weeks.”

While the decision against DLC wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment choice (EA previously shot down a rumor that it had cancelled extra content), the halt to single-player patches says a lot about the state of Andromeda. BioWare and EA aren’t happy with the game, and they aren’t about to sink more time into the solo side of it. That doesn’t mean Mass Effect on its way out, though. While BioWare is shy about what will happen next (it only “hope[s] to see you again in the Mass Effect universe), the franchise’s Casey Hudson is returning. That, to us, suggests that BioWare wants to do whatever it takes to restore the series’ good name.

Android O incoming – Google hosting live stream on Monday (Update: even more Oreo trolling)

Update 2: The suspicious among us don’t trust much of what comes out of a Googler’s social media accounts just prior to a new version launch, and few Googlers troll quite as hard as Hiroshi Lockheimer, SVP of Android. Last year Lockheimer pushed Nutella on us repeatedly before Android N became Nougat, and this year Android Oreo has cropped up in his feed again and again.

Nevertheless, now the tables have turned, as no one’s buying Lockheimer’s follow-up tweet after a video file with the name GoogleOreo_Teaser was picked up on Google+ (see Update 1 below). As funny as it would be that Lockheimer had been telling the truth this whole time, he is officially the boy who cried wolf. Or should that be Oreo?

Update 1: We already suggested there’s still a possibility all of this eclipse stuff is actually part of the trolling for the name — which could be Oreo after all. Again, we know we could be flat wrong. That said, Google may have leaked the name unintentionally on Google+. A now deleted tweet — courtesy of Android Police — refers to a video file “GoogleOreo_Teaser_0817_noDroids (1).mp4”.

Is this an actual leak, or just another Google troll? That’s anyone’s guess at this point. 

It’s been nearly one hundred years since we’ve seen a solar eclipse at the same scale as the one that sweeps across the US on Monday. In other words, it’s a pretty big deal. Google thinks so too, and that’s why it is using the eclipse as a launching point for Android O.

That’s right, Google has once again proven how unpredictable it can be by announcing it will show off Android O, and celebrate the eclipse, at 2:40PM ET at an event in New York City. Even better, it will be livestreamed. As you’d expect, Google is pretty mum on things like Android O’s name, when we might expect the Pixel 2, and so forth.

Previous rumors floating around have suggested Google may move away from its sweet treat naming convention with O, though it is worth noting that the Eclipse page on Google’s website does say “Android O is touching down to earth with the total solar eclipse, bringing some super (sweet) new powers!” So take that to mean whatever you will.

Whether they are actually releasing O, saying its final name, or both? We don’t know just yet. But we’re certainly excited. Also, we have to point out that the Sun under an eclipse looks a bit like a giant oreo in the sky. Just saying. Are you looking forward to Android O? What do you think it’ll be named, what features are you hoping to see? Let us know in the comments.

Global Bixby updates rolling out ahead of Galaxy Note 8 launch

After months of waiting, Galaxy S8 owners across the globe might just receive Bixby Voice in advance of the Galaxy Note 8 launch next Wednesday, with multiple app updates rolling out as of yesterday. While Samsung has yet to enable Bixby Voice functionality across the board, the code should now be in place for when the time comes. Some users in Germany (although not me) are reporting the ability to use dictation with Bixby already and at least one user was told Voice would be enabled on August 22.

With Bixby a core feature of the upcoming Galaxy Note 8, which is due to be unveiled on August 23 with pre-orders starting the next day, getting Bixby Voice out globally before then seems critical. Bixby suffered enough slings and arrows for not being fully functional on the Galaxy S, but Samsung’s support channels don’t exactly inspire confidence that Bixby Voice will be operational everywhere by the time the Note 8 is announced.

Sam Mobile

The suite of app updates including Bixby, Bixby Global Action, Bixby Dictation, Bixby Wakeup and Bixby PLM have rolled out in several markets around the world, including the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Argentina, South Africa, Afghanistan, Iran, the UAE, Australia, the Philippines, Malaysia, India, Pakistan, the Netherlands and several Nordic countries. So with any luck we’ll have Bixby Voice live in a few more regions outside the US and South Korea by the time the Galaxy Note 8 starts shipping.

What do you think of Samsung’s handling of the Bixby Voice rollout? Should it have just waited?

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Pixel is a real testament to good software

For years now the importance of smartphone software has taken a back seat in the arms race known as the specs war. How often have we lamented a beautiful piece of hardware – take most Huawei phones prior to the EMUI 5 update or Xiaomi phones to this date – ‘ruined’ by a bad software experience? But with the first Google Pixel, those poles were reversed, and largely horrible hardware was miraculously saved by superior software.

I know there are plenty of fans of the Pixel hardware out there – our own Joe Hindy is one of them, and we’ve debated the merits of the Pixel’s nuts and bolts at length. And while I’m not straight-up calling the Pixel’s hardware a dumpster fire, I would definitely call it dumpster fire adjacent. Defend the Pixe’s build quality if you will, but you can’t tell me it’s on the same level as the Galaxy S8, LG G6 or even the OnePlus 5. But there’s a good reason for why this is so…

Ron Amadeo at Ars Technica did a superb piece of sleuthing when the Pixel was launched to back up his convincing claim that the Google Pixel was simply a gutted HTC mid-ranger. Google’s original hardware partner, Huawei, reportedly backed out at the last minute over a branding dispute, resulting in HTC offering up a sacrifice of one of its children to the Google gods.

I’ve acknowledged elsewhere that what Google achieved in such an incredibly short timeframe was nothing short of a miracle and it should be applauded for the result. But again, that sentiment relates primarily to the software and camera, not the hardware generally (even if the chipset, RAM and so on naturally contribute to the software experience). Then, as now, I find the Pixel – as an object – to be uninspiring and infinitely forgettable.

Then, as now, I find the Pixel – as an object – to be uninspiring and infinitely forgettable.

The Pixel feels cheap, the glass on the front and back scratches incredibly easily, the ‘paint’ rubs off on the edges where it gets the most action and if you ever drop the thing, it fails to even vaguely hide dents and scrapes. If this phone had appeared under HTC’s banner it would’ve been mocked for what it is: a nondescript mid-range chassis that looks and feels like one. But add that Google logo – and again, that software and image processing – and suddenly perspectives change.


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