Monday, July 31, 2017

The wait is over: The Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus now support Daydream VR

screenshot android

When Samsung launched the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus, one of the more glaring omissions was the lack of Daydream VR support. We assumed it was not for a lack of specs – the Snapdragon 835, 4 GB of RAM, and Quad HD Super AMOLED display ensure compatibility – so it was only a matter of time until that would change.

Fortunately for Daydream VR fans, that time is now, since Google confirmed Daydream VR is rolling out to Samsung’s pair of flagship smartphones.

The two phones have had quite the journey to get to where we are today when it comes to Google’s VR solution. When we first learned that the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus launched without Daydream VR support, we did not know whether that was because of possible meddling on Samsung’s part.

The company, along with Oculus, have their own Gear VR platform for Samsung smartphones, and it was possible that Samsung’s agreement with Oculus prevented the former from reaching an agreement with Google to support Daydream VR. You could change that by altering a single line of code, though the “solution” likely voided your warranty.

We then fast-forward to Google’s developer conference in May, when the search giant announced that Daydream VR support would make its way to the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus through a software update this summer. Google did not provide more specific information, but it was enough to get folks excited. After all, the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus are the most well-known faces of Android to the general public, and having the phones support Daydream VR could make the platform more popular.

There was a bit of a waiting period, but about a week ago, Verizon rolled out an update to Samsung’s pair of flagships to support Google’s VR platform. Other carriers rolled out similar updates, though it was dependent on Google to issue server-side support.

Because of that, however, it might take a bit for the Daydream app to function as advertised on your Galaxy S8 or Galaxy S8 Plus. Either way, the waiting period should not be that long, since no further software update is required.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Unlocked Samsung Galaxy S8 Deal: Get $300 Off with Trade-In

Samsung is chopping $300 off the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ with a qualifying trade in for a limited time.  This deal includes a $150 discount for all shoppers, plus an additional $150 off for those willing to trade in an old iPhone or Android phone.

The unlocked Galaxy S8 has a $724.99 MSRP, which means the discount drops the price down to just $424.99.  If you don’t have the cash to pay for the entire phone up front, Samsung allows buyers to finance the Galaxy S8 for just $17.71 per month. The deal includes 0% APR, which means you won’t pay any additional fees for financing the Galaxy S8.

The Galaxy S8+, which has a larger display, is $524.99 after the $300 in total savings. Those choosing to finance the Galaxy S8+ can do so at $21.87 per month.

While there are plenty of Galaxy S8 deals through carriers, buying an unlocked phone directly from Samsung means that you’ll have the flexibility to switch carriers at any time. Unlocked phones are especially useful for those who like to switch carriers to take advantage of new promotions. Unlocked phones also offer more flexibility to people that travel overseas, where they can buy a local SIM card rather than paying steep roaming fees.

Samsung just started selling the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ in Coral Blue in the United States. If you want your phone to stand out from the crowd a bit, you should opt for it.

To take full advantage of this deal, you will have to turn in a working smartphone. The $150 credit is a flat rate, which means you’ll get a better deal if you turn in an older iPhone or Android phone, such as the iPhone 5 or Galaxy S6. The returned phones can show normal wear and tear, but the displays must be in good shape. The phones also have to hold a charge.

You can visit to get this deal.

Action Launcher gets Google Now integration and Android O features

With the latest update, you get full Google Now integration as well as several Android O features like Notification Dots and Notification Previews.

It looks like Action Launcher will be the latest third-party launcher to support full Google Now integration. As you may know, Google doesn’t provide an official API for third party developers to integrate Google Now into their apps, so developers often end up having to leave it out completely or resort to creative means. That’s why with the latest update, you do have access to Google’s pane with a simple swipe on your home screen, but you have to download the Google Now Plugin as a separate APK first. You can download the file via APKMirror or directly.

You have to download the Google Now Plugin as a separate APK first.

And there is more: Action Launcher v26 brings several Android O inspired features including notification tweaks as well as Notification Dots, Notification Previews, and a brand-new App Shortcuts panel. You can see the full changelog below:

  • NEW: Google Now integration for all! Requires installation of the Action Launcher Google Plugin application.

  • NEW: Full Notification Dots support!

  • NEW: Long-pressing a shortcut will display a preview of app’s notifications and allow notifications to be dismissed ala Android O. Available when using either Notification Dots or Unread Count.

  • NEW: Unread Count support extended to all apps that have a current notification.

  • NEW: Android O style App Shortcuts panel.

  • NEW: Allow granular control as to which apps display Notification Dots/Unread Count.

  • NEW: Android O style widget picker, which displays all relevant widgets for a given shortcut.

  • NEW: Directly engage Action Launcher’s Quickedit panel via a shortcut’s long-press popup UI.

  • NEW: Dedicated “Icons & App Shortcuts” settings page, which is home to all icon related settings.

  • NEW: When Google Pill widget is on the left screen edge and Google Now integration is enabled, display a tinted edge background as per Pixel Launcher.

  • NEW: Option to adjust the scale of icon indicators.

  • NEW: Revamped interface for selecting the apps that are hidden from app drawers.

You can download Action launcher for free in the Play Store by clicking the button below, but you’ll have to pay in order to unlock all the advanced features.

Greater control over a website’s notifications coming to Google Chrome in Android O

best android browsers featured image

One of the more significant changes within Android O involves what Google’s upcoming update has done relative to notifications. From notification dots to how they are presented in general, notifications received plenty of attention from the search giant. Google’s work on that front is not done, however, since it will update Chrome to give websites their own notification channels.

To be clear, this feature is not available in any current version of Chrome, which all currently offer five notification channels: Browser, Downloads, Incognito, Media, and Sites. With these channels, you can set the level of importance and tell Android how you would like the different types of notifications to be handled.

The issue is with the “Sites” channel, which treats every website the same. Furthermore, though you can go into Chrome’s settings to control an individual website’s notifications, you are not given granular options – you can only select yes or no. As such, you cannot tell a website what sort of notifications you want from it – either you get all of them or none at all.

With the upcoming work being done, however, each website will get its own separate notification channel within Chrome’s notifications. Secondly, when you select a website’s notification permissions when you visit Chrome’s settings, you get sent to that site’s notification channel.

Within these new settings, you can also pick whether to block all notifications, a website notification’s level of importance, default notification sound, whether your phone vibrates to a notification, whether a badge icon is assigned, and whether notifications can overrride your device’s Do Not Disturb.

In short, since each website will receive its own notification channel, you now have more control over how a site’s notifications are received on your device.

There is no word on when this feature will pop up in an upcoming version of Chrome, but with Android O’s launch right around the corner, we expect it to be sooner than later.

Absolution Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare DLC 3 Release Date, Time, Maps & Details

This is what you need to know about Absolution and the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare DLC 3 release date, time and other important details. The Absolution Infinite Warfare DLC 3 release date on Xbox One and PC is coming in early August likely at 12:01 AM in the first 10 days of the month.

The Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare DLC 3 map pack four new maps and a new Zombies experience that brings us closer to the end of this round of Call of Duty. This is what you need to know about the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Absolution release date, time, maps, zombies and other key details.

Activision skipped any major announcement in June at E3, but shared new details about the third DLC map pack for Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare in July, which should help tide gamers over until the Call of Duty: WWII release date in November.

Our team couldn’t be more thrilled to introduce another wild, twisted zombies experience in Attack of the Radioactive Thing!, which continues the story and adds some awesome new gameplay,” said Dave Stohl, Studio Head of Infinity Ward. “For our multiplayer fans, we’re delivering four diverse maps that reward the different gameplay styles our community has embraced since the game launched last year. We can’t wait.”

The Absolution DLC is $14.99 standalone and it is available as part of the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare season pass that allows you save $10 overall if you plan to buy all of the Infinite Warfare DLC. With the third map pack out, you have a very good idea of what you are going to get. While there aren’t many Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare season pass deals, if you haven’t invested in it yet and want to play the DLC, it’s probably a good idea to go with that method.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Google Play Music to merge with YouTube Red for brand new service

During a panel session at the New Music Seminar conference in New York, YouTube’s head of music, Lyor Cohen, announced some changes that the company is making to its major streaming platforms. Cohen said that Google Play Music will merge with YouTube Red to create a new service. He also added that the reason behind the change is to bring in more subscribers.

In a statement given to The Verge, Google later said:

Music is very important to Google and we’re evaluating how to bring together our music offerings to deliver the best possible product for our users, music partners, and artists. Nothing will change for users today and we’ll provide plenty of notice before any changes are made. – Google

As you may know, Google Play Music gives you access to a library of over 40 million songs, while a YouTube Red subscription removes ads from YouTube videos and lets you download them to watch offline. In a way, the merger of the two won’t be a major change for users, however, as if you’re subscribed to one service you get the other one for free already (in countries that support both services). Offering the two under one brand could mean, if nothing else, that the package is more easily understood.

Google Play Music is currently available in 64 countries around the world, while YouTube Red can only be used in five. By uniting them, it’s likely that Google is expanding YouTube Red in other countries around the world too, although this hasn’t been confirmed.

iPhone 8 vs. Galaxy Note 8: 5 Things to Know Right Now

The iPhone 8 and Samsung Galaxy Note 8 are ready for a fall showdown and our guide takes buyers through the key differences between the two devices as we approach their respective launch dates.

If you’re in the hunt for a new smartphone it would be wise to have the rumored iPhone 8 and Samsung Galaxy Note 8 near the top of your shopping list.

Samsung might just have the one phone up its sleeve but Apple is rumored to have three new iPhone models on tap including a high-end iPhone 8.

As we approach the fall, Galaxy Note 8 and iPhone 8 rumors are starting to firm up and today we want to outline what we know, and what we think we know, about these two flagships.

This walkthrough compares their rumored release dates, specs, and pricing and it will help prospective buyers get comfortable with the two devices as we approach their official launch dates.

Launch Dates

If you’re in the hunt for a new smartphone you probably want to know when the next iPhone and the next Galaxy Note will make their debuts.

Samsung recently confirmed the Galaxy Note 8 launch date and the company will officially show off the device in New York City on August 23rd.

The company will stream the event live on its website and those of you remotely interested in making the Galaxy Note 8 your next phone would be wise to tune in.

As for the iPhone 8, we don’t have a confirmed launch date but we do know it will probably debut on stage sometime this fall. Here’s why:

  • iOS 11 is confirmed for the fall. New iPhones always run new iOS software.

  • Analysts agree that Apple will use the September-October window to launch the iPhone 8.

  • Apple typically hosts its iPhone event in September. The last fall Apple event took place the Wednesday after Labor Day.

Apple hasn’t sent out media invites yet but one thing is clear: The Galaxy Note 8 and iPhone 8 will almost certainly launch within a few weeks of each other. And that’s great news for those of you trying to decide between the two.

Release Dates

You’re also probably wondering when Samsung and Apple will officially release the Galaxy Note 8 and the iPhone 8 on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, or your favorite carrier.

Neither company is talking about specific release dates yet but we can use rumors and previous Galaxy Note and iPhone releases to provide an early look at what to expect.

The Galaxy Note 8 will arrive in August but there’s a good chance it’ll arrive in the United States and other major markets in September.

Some rumors point to an arrival in late September but Samsung typically releases the Galaxy Note two weeks after the launch concludes. In the case of the Galaxy Note 8, this could mean a release in some regions in and around September 6th or September 9th.

Apple’s release protocol, like Samsung’s, is fairly predictable. The company typically releases its new iPhone within two weeks of the launch date.

In the case of the iPhone 8, there’s chatter about launches in both September and October but the general consensus is that we’ll see it arrive in September with stock shortages into 2018.

Specs & Size

The Galaxy Note 8 is part of the Note series which means it will come with a big screen and an S Pen stylus. We don’t have any official dimensions but we do know the device could have 6.3 or 6.4-inch display packed into a body that’s not much bigger than Samsung’s Galaxy S8+.

We could see the iPhone 8 color options include a silver or black mirror finish.
We could see the iPhone 8 color options include a silver or black mirror finish.

The iPhone 8 might have the biggest iPhone screen ever but the device actually might be smaller than Apple’s rumored iPhone 7s Plus.

Thanks to rumors and part leaks, we have a solid read on the dimensions of Apple’s three rumored iPhone models. Here’s how they stack up at this point:

  • iPhone 8 – 5.62 x 2.79 inches with a 5.8-inch display

  • iPhone 7s – 5.44 x 2.64 inches with a 4.7-inch display

  • iPhone 7s Plus – 6.23 x 3.07 inches with a 5.5-inch display

Rumors indicate Apple will incorporate an OLED display into the iPhone 8. If this pans out, it should be on par with the Galaxy S8’s Infinity Display and the Galaxy Note 8’s rumored AMOLED screen. Here’s a look at the rest of the specs on board these devices:

Galaxy Note 8 Specs

  • 6.3-inch 2960 x 1440 Quad-HD AMOLED Infinity Display

  • Snapdragon 835/836 or Samsung Exynos 8895 Processor

  • 6GB of RAM

  • 64/128GB of storage (microSD slot for storage expansion)

  • Dual 12MP rear f/1.7 aperture cameras, 3X optical zoom

  • 8MP front-facing camera

  • Dual stereo speakers tuned by AKG

  • 3,500 mAh battery

  • Improved S-Pen stylus with vibration motor

  • IP68 dust and water resistant design

  • Wireless charging

  • USB Type-C port, 3.5mm headphone jack, heart rate sensor, Iris Eye Scanner, fingerprint sensor

iPhone 8 Specs

  • 5.8-inch 2436 x 1125 OLED Display

  • Apple A11 processor

  • 3GB of RAM

  • 64GB/128GB/256GB of storage

  • Dual camera setup with 3D sensors for Augmented Reality

  • 2,700 mAh battery

  • IP68 dust and water resistant design

  • Potential for Wireless Charing for the first time in an iPhone

  • USB-Type C power delivery with Lightning Port and fast charging capabilities


Samsung is reportedly testing Android Nougat on the Galaxy Note 8. Rumors indicate it could be the first Samsung phone to launch with a newer version of Nougat, Galaxy phones and tablets currently run Android 7.0, but that’s unconfirmed.

If the Galaxy Note 8 launches with Android Nougat, the device will almost certainly be one of the first in line for Google’s Android O update.

Google’s Android 8.0 software is currently in beta ahead of a release in Q3. The company recently released the fourth and final preview which means an official release could be right around the corner.

Samsung hasn’t confirmed any Android 8.0 updates but we expect the Galaxy Note 8 to be first in line to the update and an Android O beta.

The Galaxy Note 8 is expected to include Samsung’s Bixby AI with a dedicated button and a vibration motor on the S-Pen stylus so that owners can use a new “Find My S-Pen” app to locate a missing stylus.

The iPhone 8 will likely run Apple’s upcoming iOS 11 operating system with a few wrinkles that haven’t appeared in the iOS 11 beta.

Apple’s iOS 11 update is currently in testing and beta testers have discovered a wide range of features including major changes to Apple Maps, Apple Music, Control Center, and Siri.

On top of the features Apple’s already confirmed, the iPhone 8’s version of iOS 11 could include new augmented reality functions that could leverage the device’s new 3D camera.


The Galaxy Note 8 and iPhone 8 could command top dollar this fall.

The Galaxy Note 8 price point is up in the air though rumors indicate it could cost around €1,000. By comparison, the unlocked Galaxy S8+ retails for €899.

The iPhone 8 probably won’t be any cheaper. Rumors suggest that a new unlocked iPhone 8 could be $1000 or more depending on the storage options.

For those planning to pay for the device in monthly installments, this translates to $45 or so per month. If you were to buy an iPhone 7 from AT&T right now, you could pay as little as $21.67 per month.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Google might bring auto-playing videos to search results


It’s all about videos these days, and the tragic news is that Google is testing auto-playing videos in search results related to TV shows and movies.

Some love auto-playing videos, but most hate them. I personally think it works well with certain platforms like Instagram, but with others… well, not so much. If you are on Facebook, for instance, you probably know how annoying these auto-playing videos can be. Unfortunately, tech giants seem to think that auto-playing videos are an indispensable component in making their websites more “video-centric,” and worse yet, Google seems to be one of them.

Tech giants seem to think that auto-playing videos are an indispensable component in making their websites more “video-centric,” and worse yet, Google seems to be one of them.

According to The SEM Post, Google has been testing auto-playing videos with search results related to music videos, TV shows, and movies. Essentially, for some users, search queries like “Justice League movie release date” or “Game of Thrones” would bring up an auto-playing video right inside the Knowledge Panel on the right side. As is the case with Instagram and Facebook, these auto-playing videos play with the sound off (thank God), and they don’t play on a loop (again, thank God).

The SEM Post

Curiously enough, however, some of these videos aren’t official clips from official sources. Google is only testing this feature after all, so it may just need some further polishing, but this could be a sign that Google is looking to expand its paid search promotion service, AdWords. For example, you could pay Google to have your video auto-play for related search queries. That might be my worst nightmare.

The online publication reached out the search giant, and it looks like while Google is testing auto-playing videos, we won’t be seeing an official announcement anytime soon:

We are constantly experimenting with ways to improve the Search experience for our users, but have no plans to announce at this time.

These auto-playing videos only show up only for desktop search results, and although they’re very annoying, some adblocking tools can disable auto-playing videos online. So if you are one of the unfortunate ones to have been selected for Google’s new experiment, you might want to invest in a good adblocker.

Do you see auto-playing videos on your desktop search results? What are your thoughts on Google’s new experiment? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

How to Limit Volume on iPhone and Android

This guide will show you how to limit the volume on mobile devices like the iPhone, iPad, and Android. We’ll also go over why you may want to limit the sound on your kid’s phone to protect their hearing. Or on any device for that matter.

A recent study suggested that nearly 50 percent of teens and young adults get exposed to unsafe volume levels from mobile devices. And 40% of that is potentially damaging levels of sound. That’s over 1 billion people at risk, which is why setting a volume limit is probably a good idea.

Read: How to Equalize Volume on Mac

In my house, there’s always a battle for sound. Everyone is constantly turning up the volume to compete with other TV’s, smartphones, or tablets in use. Sound familiar? This is a recipe for disaster, especially when my daughter cranks her tablet to 100% to hear it over the TV, even if it’s only a few inches away.

While one instance of high-noise exposure can cause damage to our ears, repeated use of electronic devices is just as threatening. Thankfully, there are settings on iOS and Android to set volume limits. There are even apps you can use to lock these in place behind a password or pin.

Additionally, setting a volume limit on mobile devices is helpful for an array of reasons at home. Of course, the main reason is to prevent hearing loss or damage. It’s also a good way to control the overall noise in your living room and limit how loud your children watch videos and YouTube.

We recommend setting volume limits and practicing safe viewing habits, but not everyone thinks about that. Whether you want to control your kid’s device so you can hear yourself think, or want to protect their hearing, here’s how.

How to Limit the Volume on iPhone & iPad

On all Apple devices like the iPhone, iPod, or iPad there’s a setting for choosing a volume limit. This allows you to select a limit for the max volume allowed on any device.


  • Navigate to and select the gear-shaped Settings button

  • In Settings find and tap Music

  • Scroll down to the bottom menu called Playback

  • Select Volume Limit

  • Choose a level on the max volume slider (we recommend 75%)

It’s worth noting that making this adjustment with a pair of headphones you or your child uses most often is helpful. Choose a level that is audible and will offer a good experience, but that is still safe. If it’s too low, kids will instantly try to turn it back up.

Another option is headphones designed to offer a safe listening experience for kids. Additionally, look for closed-back headphones that block out external noise. As those will offer more sound without increasing the volume to unsafe levels.


One problem on Apple devices is that there’s no password or pin to lock the volume limit in place. That’s where restrictions come in, an area of parental controls for Apple devices. Once you’ve set the max volume limit per our instructions above, use restrictions to lock the device. This way no one can change any settings, and that includes the max volume limit.

To start, navigate to Settings > General > Restrictions > Enable Restrictions. Now add a pin to lock the restriction, then scroll down the “Allow Changes” section. Find volume limit and select “Don’t Allow Changes”. Now the volume is at a safe level, and kids can’t change it.

As a last resort try downloading apps like Volume Sanity from the App Store. This limits volume across the board on an app level.

How to Limit the Volume on Android

Next, we’ll go over the different options to set a volume limit on Android smartphones and tablets. Not all Android devices have a volume limit option, and if not, you’ll need to use one of the many apps we’ve outlined below.

Android Apps to Limit Volume

There are several apps that can limit the volume on Android devices. Most have more than one option, quick toggles to turn it on and off, and even a password lock so kids can’t change it later. These are a few we recommend.

Limit volume is full of useful settings. You can set a limit for each sound individually, toggle them on or off easily, and even hide the notification at the top of the screen. That way kids don’t find out something is limiting the sound. If they do, you can lock it behind a password or pin for total control.

Limit Volume on Samsung Devices

Most recent smartphones from Samsung (Galaxy S6, Galaxy S7, Galaxy S8, Note 5) have a limit volume option. One where you can set the max level and lock it with a password. These same steps apply to most Android phones and tablets, but not all.


  • Navigate to and select the gear-shaped Settings button

  • In Settings find and tap Sound, or Sounds & Notifications

  • Select Volume

  • Tap the 3-dots “more options” button near the top right of the screen

  • Turn ON Media Volume Limiter and adjust the slider to a safe level

Again, we recommend using a pair of headphones while setting limits to make sure it’s a reasonable level of volume. Be sure and turn up the headphone volume (if available) to full volume while you test to make sure it’s not too loud or too quiet.

Additionally, once you set a limit Samsung allows for a volume limit PIN to lock the setting in place as shown above. This feature is on most Samsung smartphones running Android 7.0 or later. Select devices from LG, HTC and Motorola may offer something similar. If not, try the apps mentioned above.

Other Details

Of course, we also recommend investing in quality headphones or headphones approved for use by children. Another idea is to look into similar settings for a PC or laptop, your TV, or any other media device being used in your home.

That’s all there is to it. Now you can rest easy knowing your kids are listening to music or videos at safe levels. Or get your sanity back because they’re not watching YouTube while turning the volume to 11.

Google will no longer automatically populate search results as you type

Google will no longer automatically populate search results as you type because it just doesn’t work on mobile devices, and mobile devices are where most Google searches happen these days. Indeed, Instant Search is dead at last.

Remember when Google first introduced what it calls Instant Search all the way back in 2010? The search giant claimed that it would save users millions of seconds per hour by giving them instant search results as they typed away. Some loved it, but others – including myself – hated it. Developed and rolled out under the guidance of Marissa Mayer, who was the company’s vice president of search and user experience then, Instant Search may have saved me a few seconds, but the lag it brought along ended up costing me even more time.

Instant Search was even worse on mobile devices: it was counterintuitive and inconvenient for the page to continuously update itself based on what was being typed on such a small screen – especially a few years ago when smartphone hardware was way inferior to regular computing devices. I remember I had to switch it off because the onscreen keyboard would freeze or lag too frequently.

Google says that the feature was removed to provide a better experience for mobile users and to make Google consistent across platforms.

Nowadays, of course, most Google searches actually happen on mobile devices, and that’s why the search giant has finally decided to get rid of its Instant Search feature. Speaking to Search Engine Land, a Google spokesperson said that the feature was removed to provide a better experience for mobile users and to make Google consistent across platforms:

We launched Google Instant back in 2010 with the goal to provide users with the information they need as quickly as possible, even as they typed their searches on desktop devices. Since then, many more of our searches happen on mobile, with very different input and interaction and screen constraints. With this in mind, we have decided to remove Google Instant, so we can focus on ways to make Search even faster and more fluid on all devices.

So there you have it – you no longer have to go into settings to turn off Instant Search. From now on, you can just type away, and Google will give you a few suggestions without automatically populating the search results.

Are you sad to see it go? Do you think Instant Search was useful? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

'Close Encounters' returns to theaters with a 4K remaster September 1st

A little over two weeks later on September 19th, The Hollywood Reporter writes that you’ll be able to bring a portion of that experience home on both HD Blu-ray and UHD Blu-ray. The first time the 1977 movie graced HD home video was back in 2007 for its 30th anniversary.

At the time, it was the best version available, but it still had some warts. There’s a lot of really aggressive noise in the transfer, for instance. As you can see in the trailer above, that looks like it’s been all but eliminated. With how good the recent Jaws remaster looks and sounds, I’ve got my fingers crossed the same will happen here. Oh, and a totally revamped Jurassic Park wouldn’t be bad either — especially when the picture and sound quality of Spielberg’s shark movie trounce that of his first Blu-ray dino adventure.

Other details are scant, but we should have more information ahead of September.

Moto Z2 Force hands on

Motorola announced the much anticipated Moto Z2 Force yesterday in New York City, bringing next gen specs and a few other minor changes to its modular formula. This time around, Motorola’s new flagship will be available on all four major U.S. carriers from day one. In another shift from its predecessor, there’s also no Droid branding and there’s no Moto Z2, just the Force edition (and the previously announced Z2 Play).

The Moto Z2 Force is a solid upgrade from the original Z Force, but should it be your next phone? While we won’t be able to fully answer that question until we get our hands on it for an in-depth review, for now let’s jump in and take a closer look at what’s new.

The Moto Z2 Force looks a lot like last year’s device and while there are a few changes, a lot remains the same. The display is the same 5.5-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED panel found on the Moto Z Force and comes with Motorola’s patented shatter-proof display technology, which essentially means it should handle any drops you throw at it. If you know are prone to breaking your smartphone’s screen, the Moto Z2 Force could be a perfect fit for you.

Under the hood, the Moto Z2 Force is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 CPU with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage, which can be expanded up to 2TB. This is pretty standard fare for a flagship Android smartphone in 2017, though the Z2 Force isn’t without a few tricks up its sleeves. For starters, the Moto Z2 Force comes with Gigabit LTE support on all the major U.S. carriers thanks to its 4x4MIMO chipset.

Moto Z2 Force

One thing worth noting is that each carrier has a slightly different standard when it comes to Gigabit support. This means that Motorola will offer different SKUs for each US carrier, and even if you buy the unlocked handset on, you’ll be asked to pick a carrier. Of course the unlocked model will still technically support all the major carriers, its just that it will only get Gigabit LTE speeds on the specific network your variant was designed for.

Moto Z2 Force

On the back we see the return of the magnetic pins that power Motorola’s Moto Mods. For those that aren’t in the know, the “Moto Mod” modular system was first introduced with last year’s Moto Z and Z Force, allowing users to quickly swap out special accessories like battery packs, vehicle mounts, a JBL speaker system that brought enhanced sound, and more. The good news is that the Z2 Force uses the exact same design as you’ll find on Motorola’s entire Moto Z range, meaning that all existing and future Moto Mods will work with the Moto Z2 Force (and its past, current, and future Moto Z brothers).

While others have tried and failed to introduce modular tech, the Moto Mod lineup continues to grow. In fact, yesterday the company showed off two new mods, in addition to those revealed earlier this year alongside the Moto Z2 Play. The first of the new mods is designed with gamers in mind, bringing users a controller setup that is similar to what you’d find with a portable game system like the Playstation Vita. This mod also comes with a large embedded battery and Motorola says that the controller makes a direct connection with the device – without relying on wireless protocols such as Bluetooth – so there is no lag or latency when gaming.

The second new mod is a new 360° camera, which allows you to capture 360° video or 150° stills and selfies. Once captured, these can all be edited directly on your phone before being shared. The camera is also capable of live streaming 360° video to various social networks, which should work quite flawlessly thanks to the phone’s Gigabit LTE support.

Moving past the mods, the back of the Moto Z2 Force introduces a pretty significant change in the form of a dual camera combo, similar to what we’ve seen on most of 2017’s flagships so far. Unlike OnePlus and LG, Motorola has adopted a similar approach to Huawei with a color sensor backed by a monochrome sensor. Both sensors are 12MP snappers with f/2.0 aperture but, unlike last year, neither sensor comes equipped with Optical Image Stabilisation.

On paper at least, this suggests that the low light performance will struggle, especially compared to the f/1.8 aperture on last year’s Moto Z Force. The Z2 Force does come with what Motorola is touting as next generation laser autofocus, which is able to focus on objects up to 5 metres away, even in lowlight conditions, but it remains to be seen whether this can make up for the hardware deficiencies in the Moto Z2 Force’s camera. There’s also a new True B&W photo mode, which essentially just uses the monochrome sensor for shooting and it works as well as you might expect.

The Moto Z2 Force is available to pre-order now from $30 per month and will be available in-store on August 10 at all major carriers, Best Buy and To buy it outright will cost between $720 and $850, depending on the carrier you choose, while pre-orders and purchases before September 10th will receive last year’s projector mod included for free. The 360° camera will also be available in-store on August 10 at a cost of $299, while the Motorola GamePad Moto Mod will be available this summer at a cost of $79.99.

So what do we think of Motorola’s latest? The Moto Z2 Force is definitely nice in the hand and at 6mm thin, it’s one of the thinnest and lightest flagships on the market. Unfortunately, that thin profile comes with a big sacrifice, as the Moto Z2 Force battery is 22% smaller at 2,730mAh compared to the 3,500mAh cell in the Moto Z Force. Overall, we really like the Moto Z2 Force, based on initial impressions at least, though we have to question some of the design decisions when it comes to battery life and the removal of OIS on the camera.

What do you think of the Moto Z2 Force and do you plan to buy one? What would you change about it? Vote in our poll and let us know your views in the comments below!

7 Things to Know About the iPad iOS 11 Beta

Already running iOS 11 beta on the iPad? Thinking about trying it? Our guide will take you through everything you need to know about the iPad iOS 11 beta including a look at its performance on the iPad Air.

The iOS 11 update will be a big upgrade for Apple’s tablet. The upcoming operating system will deliver a tremendous number of changes including, but not limited to, a Files app, a brand new dock for your apps, improved multitasking, improvements to Apple Pencil, and drag and drop functionality.

The company’s iOS 11 update for iPad is so exciting that we, and many others, are taking the pre-release version of iOS 11 for a spin ahead of the official release in the fall.

Thanks to the iOS 11 beta, anyone with a working Apple ID can try the software out right now. There’s a lot to like about the iPad’s version of iOS 11 but the beta isn’t perfect. Far from it actually.

iOS 11 beta problems are plaguing iPad users and we’ve seen some frustrating issues emerge while testing the latest beta software.

This guide goes over some of the problems we’ve faced, some of the problems others have faced, some ways to fix those problems, and some of the other key things to know about the iPad’s iOS 11 beta before you try it.

Nova Launcher to offer even more ways to customize your device with new shortcuts

We all love the Android 7.1 Nougat shortcuts. Everything that saves time these days is welcome functionality, especially when it comes to multitasking on our smartphones. That being said, many users would like to do more with shortcuts, but are limited by what Google provides.

This is now changing, however, at least if you’re a Nova Launcher user willing to install the latest beta (version 5.4). Nova has partnered with a couple of developers, known as Sesame crew, to bring their Sesame Shortcuts app features to its launcher. The app provides users with a huge number of preset shortcuts and the means to build and customize their own.

Want a quick way to search for the latest Orange is the New Black episodes on Netflix? No problem — once you’ve created the shortcut, just hold the Netflix icon and it should pop up. Tap it, and you’ll be taken straight to the Netflix search results. This is just one of many uses for Sesame Shortcuts.

Better yet, it looks like these shortcuts are going to be available to users running Android 5.0 or above (the standalone Sesame Shortcuts app is compatible with Android 4.4 KitKat and above, but it lists integration with Nova Launcher App Search from Android 5.0 — it’s possible that this is true for the dedicated shortcuts too).

The app also revamps Nova’s app search. Now, it will show results from inside the app itself. For example, if you search Mom, it will display options for a call, email, message, WhatsApp, and every other supported app that you can use to get in touch with your mom.

In theory, this sounds like an awesome addition to Nova Launcher. Who doesn’t want to get more done faster? However, what we’ve seen from Sesame Shortcuts does look a bit unwieldy. In the GIF demo Nova provided, searching for “by” returned results from the contact list, WhatsApp, Google Maps, YouTube, and even Spotify. So, we guess that users will have to be quite specific in their search terms, or finding what they actually need could be cumbersome.

Additionally, a lot of users seem to be experiencing issues with the new functionality. The biggest problem seems to be that once a shortcut is created, it cannot be deleted. Shortcuts can be deactivated, but they will remain in the list forever (or at least until the developers provide a way to delete them), resulting in unnecessary clutter.

Another problem is that once the app search is open, the keyboard appears for a fraction of the second and disappears immediately after. Tapping on the search field does bring it back up, but considering Sesame Shortcuts is meant to reduce tapping around UI elements, this proves to be an annoying, if minor, bug.

Thankfully, both of these issues will be resolved soon, according to Nova and Sesame.

So, have you installed the latest Nova Launcher beta yet? If yes, how do you like the new shortcuts? Let us know in the comments.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Weekly Plan Spotlight: Free first month from Tello

We’re back with this week’s mobile plan spotlight! This week we’ve snagged a pretty sweet deal from Tello, which is offering converts their first month free. Here’s the full scoop!

If you’re a new customer, then Tello currently has an offer that will let you snag any of their plans over $10 with the first month completely pro bono. This applies to all data options from 200MB to 5GB.

How this deal works:

  • Offer is for new customers only

  • Add a cell phone plan with mixed minutes, texts & data of $10 or more in any combination – that means you can even get a plan with text or minutes only, and still enjoy the free data offering

  • Use coupon code 1DATAMIX and get any data option free of charge, from 200MB to 5GB

  • Enjoy this limited promo for your first month with Tello

To check out up this sweet deal, head over here:

A few notes about Tello for those who may not be familiar:

  • build your own plan by choosing the amount of talk, text and 4G LTE data that suits your needs.

  • you can update your plan anytime for free, and the change is instant

  • all incoming calls and texts are charged

  • unused balances roll over the next 30 days.

  • No contracts or data overages, speeds are slowed when you reach your data allotment until the next billing cycle.

Click the button to check out this offer!

Plastic OLED is about to come back in a big way


Who remembers the phone pictured above? It’s the LG G Flex 2, the second and last phone in LG’s experimental Flex range, which offered an interesting ergonomic curved display design and a self-healing back. Although the average consumer is now probably quite familiar with Samsung’s edge AMOLED display, LG was ahead of the curve with the Flex series, which made its debut in 2013 around the same time as Samsung’s now little-remembered Galaxy Round.

The technology enabling the Flex’s unique look is called Plastic OLED (POLED), and as the name implies, the flexible nature of the panels comes from the use of a plastic rather than glass substrate. One of the benefits being that plastic is thinner and more flexible than glass, allowing for a wider range of form factors. Unfortunately since the G Flex 2 in 2014, very few devices have made use of this interesting panel technology. Its malleable properties have seen it put to use in a few smartwatches since, but that’s about it.

Within the next two years, LG Display says that will have the capacity to produce 120 million 6-inch POLED smartphone displays per year.

However, plastic OLED looks set to make a major comeback, as LG Display is investing heavily in additional production capabilities that will come online in the next two years. According to LG Display’s latest earnings report, the company states that it is expanding POLED production capacity by 30,000 input sheets per month, giving the company a total capacity of 65,000 using its 6th generation lines in Paju and Gumi.

The company’s Gen 4.5 line in Paju is currently producing 22,000 sheets per month, which will be followed by the start of its Gen 6 (1,500 mm x 1,8500 mm) Gumi plant sometime in Q3 2017 for a further 15,000 per month. The Gen 6 line in Paju is then expected to come online in H2 2018, adding a further 15,000 per month. LG Display calculates that this will be enough capacity to churn out 120 million 6-inch smartphone displays per year, enough to cater for a very popular handset range.


The use of a plastic TFT layers means that POLED can be thinner than regular glass OLED.

When we spoke to LG Display during a media tour in Paju, the company stressed that its technology has been ready for quite some time, and is as good as competing products on the market already. However, sales have been held back by a lack of client demand and production capabilities. With LG Display expecting the market to demand some 120 million POLED units in 2017 and 370 million by 2020, the company is investing KRW 5 trillion into its 6th generation line in Paju, which follows KRW 7.8 trillion of other recent investments into OLED.

With that in mind, LG Display’s roadmap could cater for a OLED V30 launch in Q3, but perhaps a G7 launch next year would give the company more time to build up stock for a major global release. Rumors that LG OLED panels are being bought up for the iPhone 8 and possibly Google’s Pixel 2 would complicate LG’s own smartphone plans though. LG Display won’t be running at full capacity until late 2018 and so is unlikely to fill orders for three separate flagship launch windows so soon, even if Apple buys most of its panels elsewhere.

The V30, iPhone 8, and Pixel 2 are all rumored to feature OLED, but LG Display’s production capabilities are only just ramping up. Will there be enough panels?

While LG Display obviously backs its latest mobile panel technology, and LG’s OLED is proving very impressive in the TV space, the company’s early flexible mobile displays didn’t quite attract the same praise.

One of the criticisms leveled at the G Flex series was its low display resolution at the time. LG’s plastic OLED panels sported 720p and then 1080p resolutions at a time when other flagship phones were moving on to 1080p and then QHD respectively. This made the phones a hard sell, even though the displays themselves looked pretty good (notwithstanding the original G Flex’s ghosting issues).

During our tour at Paju, we came across some plastic OLED smartphone and smartwatch prototype displays in the showroom. These models showed off a design that was much closer to Samsung’s edge display technology than the G Flex curve. More importantly though, these panels were boasting 1080p and QHD display resolutions, meaning that LG now appears to be able to manufacture higher resolution POLED panels without issue. This is certainly good news for the flagship market and suggests that Samsung may soon have some serious OLED competition on its hands.


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