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Thursday, June 9, 2016

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Facebook adding support for 360-degree photos tomorrow

Posted: 09 Jun 2016 02:43 PM PDT

360-degree photos are nothing new. Google introduced Photo Spheres quite a long time ago, though the stitching method was never great. However, we're seeing the proliferation of dedicated 360-degree cameras lately, and 360-degree photos are getting more popular.

Starting tomorrow, Facebook is adding support for 360-degree photos. Though many users will never upload them because 360-degree cameras are a bit niche, the possibilities for businesses, bands and celebrities are endless. Some of the first 360-degree photos to be posted by Paul McCartney and NASA.

The feature will roll out across Android, iOS and desktop and will even support virtual reality headsets like the Gear VR. It'll be cool to see what people start posting when this feature rolls out.

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Lenovo announces Moto Z and Moto Z Force, temporarily exclusive to Verizon

Posted: 09 Jun 2016 01:35 PM PDT

Lenovo has finally announced the latest line of Motorola devices. Sorry folks, no RAZR device here. However, the devices announced are definitely interesting ones, with some awesome features and some major drawbacks.

The Moto Z is a new device with some flagship specs. It features a 5.5-inch 2560×1440 AMOLED display, Snapdragon 820, 4GB of RAM, 32/64GB of memory with a microSD card, 13MP camera, and a 2,600mAh battery, all in a crazy-thin 5.19mm body. The Moto Z Force ups the battery to 3,500 mAh and the camera to 21MP, and it also adds the rugged "Shattershield" display tech.

The biggest draw of these devices are the MotoMods, which snap onto the back of the devices using strong magnets and communicate via the pins on the back. Lenovo has announced a few so far, including JBL speakers, a pico projector, and an Incipio power pack. Unlike with the LG G5, these accessories can be hot swapped without turning the device off. There will also be leather, wood, and other types of aesthetic covers to fit over the back.

Unfortunately, there are some downsides to this device. The standard Moto Z has a small 2,600mAh battery, which is tough to swallow for a flagship. Both devices lack a 3.5mm headphone jack, but you'll need to use the included USB Type-C adapter (no more charging and using the headphone jack). Also, Lenovo decided to launch the DROID variants on Verizon sometime this summer, delaying the unlocked Moto Z until the fall. So Verizon customers will be able to buy the new Motos this summer, but everyone else will have to wait. Pretty ridiculous.

This announcement is a series of ups and downs, but the devices and MotoMods look pretty awesome. Maybe LG will learn how to do modules from Motorola. What do you guys think of these devices? Leave a comment!

Source: Motorola(2), (3)

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Sony removes Small Apps feature from Xperia X series

Posted: 09 Jun 2016 01:35 PM PDT

Sony's Small Apps was a feature that allowed select few apps to float above the current app, much like Samsung has done on some of its devices. This allowed you to use some functions, like a calculator, on the fly. Unfortunately, it seems that the feature is no more.

The new Sony Xperia X series lacks this feature entirely, and Sony has confirmed that this is not a mistake. The company is blaming it on Google, though there are no details given on how it's Google's fault in any way.

Maybe Google's rules for Marshmallow don't allow for the Small Apps feature to function exactly as it did before, and Sony was too busy or lazy to rework the feature. The same thing happened to STAMINA mode, which made a return eventually. Maybe Small Apps will do the same. How many of you used this feature regularly? Do you want to see it make a comeback? Leave a comment!

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Lenovo’s PHAB2 family of devices includes the first Tango-enabled smartphone

Posted: 09 Jun 2016 12:47 PM PDT

Today at Lenovo Tech World in San Francisco, Lenovo announced its new PHAB2 family of devices. This family includes the PHAB2, PHAB2 Plus and the highlight of them all, the PHAB 2 Pro, which is the world's first smartphone to be powered by Google's Tango technology. Let's take a look at these new devices and see what the excitement is all about.


As the first consumer smartphone to feature Tango capabilities, the PHAB2 Pro is quite special in its own right. The device features an array of sensors and cameras to enable the hardware side of Tango. Combined with Google's software and a Tango-optimized octa-core Snapdragon 652 processor, the device is able to make over 250,000 measurements per second. The core features of Tango are motion tracking, depth perception and area learning, which come together to allow the technology to understand its environment and use it for augmented reality purposes.

Lenovo has outlined the potential uses for this technology, ranging from gaming to education to home improvement. The company also took time to highlight Lowe's Vision, Lowe's new home improvement feature that's designed to utilize Tango technology. Lowe's Vision allows customers to use their Tango-enabled device to measure spaces and explore how different changes would appear in the room. This tech has been attempted before, but the environmental understanding that Tango provides opens up a new level of depth for companies to utilize.

Aside from its Tango capabilities, the PHAB2 Pro features specs that are akin to other flagship smartphones. These include a massive 6.4-inch QHD display, Tango-optimized octa-core Snapdragon 652 processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage plus a microSD card slot, 16-megapixel rear camera with 4K video recording, 8-megapixel front-facing camera, 4050mAh battery with fast charging capabilities and Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The device also has three microphones and spatial audio capture to enable Dolby Audio Capture 5.1, allowing customers to capture the moments of their life with 5.1 surround sound.

The PHAB2 Pro will be priced at $499 and will be available globally at the beginning of September. In the US, it will be sold online, at Best Buy and at select Lowe's stores. Two color options of Champagne Gold and Gunmetal Gray will be offered.

Click to view slideshow.

PHAB2 Plus

The PHAB2 Plus is all about the camera and is packed with dual 13-megapixel rear cameras that feature instant laser focus, f/2.0 apertures and a Fujitsu Milbeaut image processor that's notably used to power certain Leica cameras. Software-wise, Lenovo notes that the PHAB2 Plus will feature full manual controls, allowing enthusiasts to capture the perfect shot.

Other specs include a 6.4-inch 1080p display, octa-core MediaTek processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage plus a microSD card slot, 8-megapixel front-facing camera, 4050mAh battery and Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

The PHAB2 Plus will be priced at $299 and will be available globally at the beginning of September. Two color options of Champagne Gold and Gunmetal Gray will be offered.

Click to view slideshow.


The PHAB2 is the base model of the bunch. Lenovo has outfitted the device with a 6.4-inch 720p display, quad-core MediaTek processor, 3GB of RAM, 16GB of storage plus a microSD card slot, 13-megapixel rear camera, 5-megapixel front-facing camera, 4050mAh battery and Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Software-wise, the PHAB2 features basic augmented reality features that are mostly used for adding effects or characters to images.

The PHAB2 will be priced at $199 and will be available globally at the beginning of September. Two color options of Champagne Gold and Gunmetal Gray will be offered.

Click to view slideshow.

Lenovo has been making a larger push into smartphones in recent times. The company acquired Motorola, leveraging the brand to expand into countries where Lenovo isn't known for its smartphones. Not long ago, company executives said that Lenovo would be expanding globally with smartphones under its own brand. The PHAB2 family could be the beginning of that expansion. Whether or not it will be successful remains to be seen, as Tango may prove to be a niche feature rather than a mass market attraction.

What are your thoughts on Tango technology?

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Moto Z Play, Moto Z Style and Moto Z Force Official Specs Leaked Before Launch Event

Posted: 09 Jun 2016 11:02 AM PDT


Well well well, look what we have here. It looks like Motorola's upcoming flagship smartphone launch event has just been spoiled.


According to a post on a Chinese social media site Weibo, names and specifications for the Moto Z lineup have been leaked ahead of the launch event later today. The lineup will consist of three phones: Moto Z Play, Moto Z Style and Moto Z Force.

First off, the Moto Z Play (successor to the Moto X Play) is set to come with a 5.5-inch 1080p display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC with 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, 16 MP rear + 5 MP front camera, 3600 mAh battery with a thickness of 5.9mm.

Next up is the Moto Z Style (successor to the Moto X Style/Pure) which will sport a 5.5-inch QHD display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 SoC with 3GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage with a 13 MP rear + 5 MP camera.

Unfortunately, it looks like the battery capacity has decreased to only 2600 mAh however it does come with Turbo charger support so you'll regain that juice in no time. At the cost of battery capacity, the Moto Z Style will be the thinnest device at 5.2mm.

Lastly we have the Moto Z Force which is looking like the real star of the show. It is confirmed to be coming with the same 5.5-inch QHD display, 3GB/4GB of RAM (depending on the model), 32GB of internal storage, 21 MP rear + 5 MP front camera with USB 3.0.

This model will sport the highest battery capacity at 3650 mAh with Turbo charger support and will be slightly thicker at 6.9mm.

Stay tuned as we get closer to the launch event later today.


The post Moto Z Play, Moto Z Style and Moto Z Force Official Specs Leaked Before Launch Event appeared first on Android in Canada Blog.

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Google’s new Nearby feature wants to help you discover new things

Posted: 09 Jun 2016 10:41 AM PDT

Apps have come a long way, and now they're even aware of where you are, as long as you've provided the necessary permissions. Most of those apps in the Play Store can even add to an experience, like giving you an audio tour of a museum that you're walking around in. Google is rolling out a new feature called Nearby, which will let users get notified when an app can somehow enhance an experience based on your location.

Google shares a few examples, like when you're at the airport and waiting for your United Airlines flight to takeoff, the app can give you some entertainment while you wait. If you find yourself in a CVS Pharmacy, the app can let you know you can print your photos stored on your smartphone while you're roaming around. The Mobile Passport can help you skip the customs line, and while you're visiting the University of Notre Dame you can get an app to help you explore the historical landmarks around the area.

Google Nearby Google Cast

The new feature works on Android 4.4 and newer handsets, and it will even help you easily set up to a Google Cast device or an Android Wear smartwatch.

Nearby has already begun rolling out.

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June is audio month at Verizon; deals on headphones and speakers abound

Posted: 09 Jun 2016 09:39 AM PDT

While I have to admit that a wireless carrier isn't the first place I think of when buying accessories, Verizon has some solid audio deals on offer this month if you've been looking at picking up a Bluetooth speaker or a new pair of headphones for the summer.

If you happen to be purchasing a new Verizon smartphone or tablet this month, you'll save 10% off any audio product (except Bose). Really, you should only look to this if it's a recently released device that isn't seeing discounts yet. And if Bose is your thing, the Soundlink Mini II, Soundlink III and Soundlink Color are all 10% off anyway.

If you are looking for something that can offer stereo or multi-room playback, you can buy one UE Boom 2 at regular price ($199) and pick up a second at 50% off. For two, that matches the lowest price per unit we've seen on these well-reviewed speakers.

Beyond those month-long deals, there are a few limited time offers. Starting June 11th and ending June 19th, you can save $20 on a JBL Flip 3, $50 on a JBL Pulse 2 and $20 on the LG Tone Platinum.

So again, while I wouldn't rush out to buy a smartphone or tablet just to to nab that 10% off, the limited time offers and UE Boom 2 deal are all hitting at or near all-time lows for the respective devices and are definitely worth a look.

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Introducing Nearby: A new way to discover the things around you

Posted: 09 Jun 2016 09:21 AM PDT

The Play Store offers over one million apps - many of which are created to be used in specific locations or situations. The right app at the right moment lets you get more done. For example, at a store, you may want a barcode scanner to check prices and reviews for an item. Or when you're at a museum, an audio tour would enhance the experience as you make your way around the exhibits.

But, getting the right apps at the right time can be tough if you don't already know about them. So, we're introducing a new Android feature called Nearby, which notifies you of of things that can be helpful near you.

For example:

Select Google devices, including Google Cast and Android Wear watches, will also let you set them up simply by tapping a notification when you're near them.

Earlier this year, we started experimenting with surfacing websites relevant to a place in Chrome through the Physical Web project. In addition to displaying relevant apps, Nearby will surface these websites directly from Android. To deploy your own beacons that work with Nearby, check out our developer blog post.

To use Nearby, just turn on Bluetooth and Location, and we'll show you a notification if a nearby app or website is available. Once you've opted-in, tapping on a notification takes you straight into the intended experience. If you're not interested, just swipe it away to give us a clear signal.

Nearby has started rolling out to users as part of the upcoming Google Play Services release and will work on Android 4.4 (KitKat) and above.

Posted by Akshay Kannan, Product Manager, Nearby

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SMS Returns In Lastest Facebook Messenger Beta

Posted: 09 Jun 2016 09:14 AM PDT


A few months ago, it appeared SMS support was being tested in the Facebook Messenger app, with some sporadically seeing SMS show up in the settings, allowing them to turn it on. It seemingly disappeared, though, with no trace left for many people. Now, however, it's back in the latest beta for Messenger.

The implementation is a little different compared to before. To enable SMS, you don't go through Messenger's settings but Android's settings (I assume the process will be different on anything less than Marshmallow, but I don't know how).

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SMS Returns In Lastest Facebook Messenger Beta was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Motorola Releases Camera Tuning App For Moto G4 In The Play Store

Posted: 09 Jun 2016 08:53 AM PDT


Most phones require a few software tweaks after being released, which are delivered as OTA updates. One of the main things being improved is the camera performance, but Motorola won't have to do that with the new Moto G. There's a new "Camera tuner" app in the Play Store that can handle that in lieu of a full OTA.

As far as we can tell, this app doesn't have any user-facing settings or interface.

Read More

Motorola Releases Camera Tuning App For Moto G4 In The Play Store was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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NVIDIA Shield just became the best Plex solution for most people

Posted: 09 Jun 2016 08:37 AM PDT

NVIDIA Shield has been my favorite Android TV device since it launched just over a year ago, and NVIDIA has never really taken its foot off the gas with it. There have been 10 updates to the Shield since launch, including getting Marshmallow before many smartphones.

The gaming prowess of the device was to be expected from NVIDIA and they certainly have delivered there. Exclusive Android titles, GameStream to play your PC games through your Shield and, of course, the GeForce Now to play PC titles without the need for a PC. What has perhaps come as a surprise is how dedicated NVIDIA has been to making the Shield the best streaming media player on the market.

Thanks in no small part to its powerhouse hardware, the Shield is simply capable of more than many of the other streaming boxes on the market, and today's announcement is a perfect example of that power paying off. While the Plex Android TV app is a great way to stream from an existing Plex Media Server, today Plex and NVIDIA have announced that with the SHIELD's 3.2 update coming later this month, it will be able to function as a Plex Media Server all on its own.

And it isn't a stripped down version; it will be running the full Plex Media Server with hardware-accelerated transcoding and multiple 1080p streams simultaneously. No more need for a separate PC or NAS device, although if you do have a NAS, just plug it into the Shield and you can have the best of both worlds with huge NAS storage and the hardware-accelerated transcoding from the Shield.

The Plex Media Server is the highlight of the forthcoming update, but that's not all that's being added. The Netflix app will be getting both HDR support and in-app voice search, so no more pecking around the on-screen keyboard with your remote anymore. For audio fans, the Shield will now support Dolby Atmos pass-through.

As a heavy Plex user and Shield owner, I'm thrilled with this update, but I'd be curious to hear if this is enough to sway anyone that hasn't picked up a Shield already.

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Verizon begins updating the Galaxy Note Edge to Marshmallow

Posted: 09 Jun 2016 07:37 AM PDT

Verizon has been pumping out Marshmallow updates for the past few weeks and today brings in yet another device ready to receive the update treatment. The Big Red carrier is now pushing Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow to the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge. The update includes a fair amount of new features, so let's take a look at what's all included.

  • Now On Tap: the contextual version of Google Now
  • Doze: a battery-saving feature for when your phone isn't in use
  • Individual app permission controls: grant specific permissions and refuse others
  • Wi-Fi Calling
  • Updated TouchWiz UI
  • Ultra High Quality Audio
  • Android for Work support

Android 6.0 Marshmallow isn't the most major of Android updates, but it includes a fair amount of changes on the backend. Now On Tap is a particularly great feature, with improvements being added every day. Just recently, Google added tap-to-select text to allow for more detailed search results.

The update is currently rolling out, so Galaxy Note Edge owners on Verizon should soon see the update. Drop a comment down below when you receive the update!

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Top 10 new Android games this week: Sparky, metaBall

Posted: 09 Jun 2016 06:36 AM PDT

Welcome back to Android Gaming Weekly, our weekly recap of new game releases. We still plan to cover upcoming releases and games we're playing, but this column is dedicated to new games that you can start playing right now. Check out our top picks and let us know in the comments section if you have any suggestions for next week's post.


DescriptionSparky is a casual fireworks-themed game that will keep you challenged with unique gameplay and unpredictable levels. Simply draw loops around like-colored sparks to capture them. But watch out, some might try to escape!


Minecraft: Story Mode

Description:  Episode 6: A Portal to Mystery is now available to download via in-app. Continue your adventures with the New Order of the Stone by purchasing the Adventure Pass (via in-app), which includes access to download episodes six, seven, and eight, as they become available, starting in Summer 2016.


Seven Guardians

DescriptionAmass the mightiest Alliance and command them to victory against the Undead in an action-strategy adventure. Clash in battle utilizing individually unique skilled seven heroes; Warrior, Rogue, Archer, Defender, Wizard, Golem and Warlord.


Block Havoc

DescriptionTwist and turn two balls to avoid getting hit by an onslaught of incoming blocks. Experience one of the most intense and brutally difficult games you will ever come across. With several modes to unlock, patterns to master, and the constant desire to achieve a higher score, Block Havoc provides an endless amount of entertainment. 


Nonstop Knight

DescriptionPlayable with one thumb and designed to instantly pick up and enjoy – the never-ending quest of Nonstop Knight awaits! Tackle the adventure at your own pace and earn rewards even while taking a break!


Heroes of Loot 2

Description: After their job, of keeping the dungeons in balance, was done, our heroes needed a new job. Roaming the lands they found a call for heroes, a castle in need, possible even a damsel in distress?



DescriptionThe illegitimate love child of Marble Madness and Q*Bert. This is metaBall, Hardline Studios second game! A fresh and unique twist on the generic ball rolling genre. Carefully control your ball and move it over tiles in order to flip them from one state to another. 


Combo Clash

DescriptionDelve into fantastic, furious fun with Combo Clash, the most unique mobile Action-RPG yet! Assemble your strike force, and defeat countless foes in a fast paced combat system. Redefine mobile gaming by honing your skill and choosing from various exciting battle modes.


War Tortoise

Description Take control of the mighty War Tortoise, a heavy tank armed to the teeth with powerful weapons and automated turrets! Equip weapons, recruit units, build defenses, collect resources, and ultimately defend against a huge onslaught of enemy forces.


Cat Knight Story

DescriptionSay hello to a BRAND NEW and exciting action platformer Cat Knight Story ! Push your skills to the limit as you jump, fly and flip your way through dangerous traps and monsters. Better hurry. You don't want to keep a princess waiting.


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Google Play Music Contextual Playlists Go Live In Poland, Czech Republic, Ukraine, South Africa, Possibly More Countries

Posted: 08 Jun 2016 08:11 PM PDT


Google Play Music's Songza-powered contextual playlists first went live way back in October of 2014, but at the time, it was only in the US and Canada. A larger, international rollout has apparently been on Google's "to-do" list since (the UK did get them shortly after, though), and it appears that in the last few days users in a handful of countries have seen the feature pop up. Right now, we're aware of contextual playlists for Play Music going live in Poland, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, and South Africa - but there are quite possibly more countries that should be in the list or will be added soon.

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Google Play Music Contextual Playlists Go Live In Poland, Czech Republic, Ukraine, South Africa, Possibly More Countries was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Latest Street View Update Adds Blur Tool To Photospheres And Reveals Plans To Add Features For Professional Photographers [APK Download + Teardown]

Posted: 08 Jun 2016 05:58 PM PDT


For many of us, the Street View name is linked to a convenient way to look around at places we haven't been, whether it's just an address we're about to drive to or one of the world's greatest mountains. We don't usually associate it with making money, but a lot of businesses have started investing in virtual tours to attract more customers. For a few years, Google has been working to help businesses pair up with independent photographers and agencies to capture scenery for potential visitors.

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Latest Street View Update Adds Blur Tool To Photospheres And Reveals Plans To Add Features For Professional Photographers [APK Download + Teardown] was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Sony Finally Announces Release Dates For Xperia X In Canada

Posted: 08 Jun 2016 05:43 PM PDT


Sony unveiled the successor to the Xperia Z5 early this year with the Xperia X series and it includes the Xperia X, X Performance, XA and finally the XA Ultra. The only thing that was missing was whether or not it would come to Canada and when. However now Sony Canada has finally announced the release dates for several Canadian carriers.

Bell is going to carry the Xperia X Performance and XA models (Black/White) on June 23rd.

Rogers is only going to carry the Xperia X Performance in Black, and it will be available for reservations on June 23rd with a release date of July 14th.

Videotron will only carry the Xperia X in Black and it will be released on June 29th.

Virgin Mobile will only carry the Xperia XA (Black/White) and will be available on June 23rd.

And finally, WIND Mobile will also be carrying the Xperia X, XA and XA Ultra (exclusive) in Black on July 14th.

It's worth mentioning that all the models sold with be locked to each respective carrier and the company has not yet given a date when they will sell the unlocked models directly.


The post Sony Finally Announces Release Dates For Xperia X In Canada appeared first on Android in Canada Blog.

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Motorola dismisses our dreams of a classic RAZR comeback

Posted: 08 Jun 2016 05:05 PM PDT

When Motorola released a video looking back to the days of everyone using RAZR flip phones, we were hit with a pang of nostalgia. Back in the day, the RAZR was the phone to have. If you didn't have one, you simply weren't cool. At least, if you didn't have a Sidekick.

The video was a huge throwback, but it also teased a date of June 9. We thought that Motorola would be re-releasing the RAZR phone in some classic form in that date, but unfortunately, this won't be the case. A Motorola spokesperson denied that the RAZR will make a comeback.

The RAZR was one of the most iconic phones ever designed and redefined how stylish a mobile phone can be. While Moto is not re-releasing the RAZR, we will transform mobile again on June 9.

Of course, this is a big disappointment. We loved the RAZR, and Motorola releasing something nostalgic yet unique would have been a big deal. But we'll have to wait and see what will be announced on June 9. It's hard to keep faith in Motorola lately, but we might be surprised.

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Google Reportedly Plans To One-Up Apple's New Subscription Revenue Sharing With Even More Generous Terms

Posted: 08 Jun 2016 04:01 PM PDT

play store

Apple announced a new revenue sharing policy in the App Store earlier today. The company said it would change the subscription revenue split from 70/30 to a more generous 85/15 after those subscriptions have been active for a year or more. We were wondering if Google would follow suit, and it didn't take long. Recode is reporting that Google will be doing just that, but it's actually an even better deal for developers.

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Google Reportedly Plans To One-Up Apple's New Subscription Revenue Sharing With Even More Generous Terms was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Opera Invites US Users To Test Its Concept 'News & Search' Browser

Posted: 08 Jun 2016 03:21 PM PDT


Opera already has a handful of browsers in the Play Store, and today you can add one more to the list. The new Opera browser has a focus on news and social media, along with a revamped interface. You can try it right now, but it's only officially available in the US Play Store. We've got the APK below, of course.

The home page of the new Opera browser is a list of suggested articles.

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Opera Invites US Users To Test Its Concept 'News & Search' Browser was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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