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Thursday, September 15, 2016

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Samsung announces availability of replacement Galaxy Note 7s, tool to check if your device is recalled

Posted: 15 Sep 2016 03:47 PM PDT

In the wake of the official Galaxy Note 7 recall, Samsung has a serious problem on its hands. The Galaxy Note 7 has significant battery issues that have lead to fires and explosions in some cases, and Samsung is recalling all devices sold so far.

Thankfully, replacement stock will be arriving at retailers soon. Samsung has announced that new Galaxy Note 7s will be available at most retail locations by September 21. Considering the amount of devices recalled and the amount of new devices needed to be manufactured, that's not a slow turnaround.

Samsung has also released a tool that will let you check if you have a defective Note 7 using its IMEI. The IMEI is available in Settings and on the box the device came in. Head over here to check out if your device needs to be replaced.

If you do need to replace it, please don't hesitate to turn the device off and contact Samsung. Battery explosions are dangerous and the risk isn't worth it.


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Distil Union Stanley stand review

Posted: 15 Sep 2016 03:47 PM PDT

Picking up your smartphone to check notifications and answer them is a hassle when you're at your desk. Especially for those who spend lots of time at their desks, it's great to have a view of your smartphone to make sure you're not missing anything important.

The Distil Union Stanley stand is a high end take on a phone stand, opting for elegance and customization to hold your phone up comfortably while also looking good on any desk. It shows in the price, which is a whopping $50. The exterior is made out of soft leather with stitching around the edges, while the inside area is covered in felt. The end result is a gorgeous stand that adds class to your desk when a phone isn't on it.

Beneath the nice exterior is heavy steel, giving the stand a hefty weight. There are flexible areas at each joint, allowing you to bend it to any pose you want. You can make it balance for almost any phone (and even tablets under 8″!).

Distil Union Stanley stand 2

The rear features a hole to hold a cable, and below the phone is a hole for the cable so you can charge the device while it's cradled. It also comes with a six foot USB extension. It's a pretty red braided cable that you plug into your computer/charger and plug your regular cable into, so it'll work with whatever cable you want; micro USB, Type-C, or even Lightning.

So how does the stand hold phones? Well, it really depends on the phone, but the chances are good you'll have no trouble. It wouldn't hold my Moto X Pure Edition due to the device being large and very top heavy. It would constantly fall backwards, though it befuddled me why the device is so top heavy. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has the same size display as the Moto X yet the Stanley stand held the Note 4 without a problem. It also holds the Honor 8 flawlessly.

I also tried a few 7-inch tablets on this small stand, not expecting much. Fortunately, all were held in place perfectly, even in portrait orientation.

Distil Union Stanley9 / 10

Distil Union Stanley stand 4

If you're looking for a classy, beautiful stand, this is it. The leather and felt come together to make something truly unique looking. Yes, you can find stands much cheaper flooding Amazon. But you can't beat the feel of leather and felt.

Those that I've asked have been split between thinking $50 is a lot for a stand and thinking $50 is a great price for a stand that looks so great. If you can stomach the $50 price tag, you'll get a fantastic product.

If you want to pick one up, head over to Distil Union's site or Amazon!


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SwiftKey updated with neural nets from SwiftKey Neural in US and UK English

Posted: 15 Sep 2016 03:47 PM PDT

SwiftKey keyboard is greatly loved by many, and many of us here at Android and Me use it daily. And it's about to get better with a big update that launched today.

SwiftKey Neural Alpha was an alpha branch of SwiftKey that utilized neural network technology to improve word prediction, inspired by the structure of the human brain. It really worked, too.

The regular SwiftKey keyboard is now being updated with the same neural networks, though no longer in alpha, for everyone using US English or UK English. More languages will be getting the neural net treatment soon.

Head over to the Play Store to update the app and let us know how you like the new prediction engine!

Show Press Release
San Francisco, CA, September 15, 2016 – Today leading keyboard app company SwiftKey, is bringing to market the world's first smartphone keyboard that uses an artificial neural network to predict and correct language. In the most significant update to its core technology since launching flagship app SwiftKey Keyboard for Android in 2010, the completely rebuilt prediction engine will offer users smarter, more accurate and more human predictions, making it faster and easier to type than ever before. The app is available to download for free from Google Play today.

Neural network technology is a subfield of artificial intelligence inspired by the structure and operation of the human brain. SwiftKey was the first to implement this technology on a smartphone keyboard, originally debuting on SwiftKey Neural Alpha in October 2015.

SwiftKey Product Manager, Ben Leavett, said, "This next generation of our prediction engine inserts some more human elements into SwiftKey's understanding of what you type. SwiftKey now offers the most accurate predictions and autocorrection to date thanks to an improved grasp of context and the ability to better understand the similarity between interchangeable words. This is just the beginning of our exploration of neural networks for touchscreen keyboards, but we're incredibly excited about the potential this new technology has for the years to come."

With this update SwiftKey is now able to meaningfully capture the relationship and similarity between words. For example, having previously seen the phrase "Let's meet at the airport", the technology is able to infer that "office" or "hotel" are similar words which could also be appropriate predictions in place of "airport". Further, it understands that "Let's meet at the airport" has a similar sentence structure to "Let's chat at the office". This intelligence allows SwiftKey to offer you the most appropriate prediction or autocorrection based on the sentence being typed.

SwiftKey Keyboard replaces a mobile device's keyboard with one that understands language and learns your personal writing style. These insights improve typing with more accurate autocorrect, prediction of your next word and other innovations like the ability for multilingual users to type in up to three languages simultaneously. SwiftKey's original technology revolutionized touchscreen typing with the introduction of a row of next-word predictions – a feature that has since become the industry standard.

SwiftKey Keyboard for Android, powered by neural networks, is available to update to or download today for free in US English and UK English, with more languages to follow soon.


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US Consumer Product Safety Commission makes Galaxy Note 7 recall official

Posted: 15 Sep 2016 03:12 PM PDT

Samsung is facing a nightmare with its recall of the Galaxy Note 7, working night and day to keep the situation under control. While the company has handled things remarkably well thus far, it's still got a long road ahead as it clears up the situation and works to reestablish its name. In the meantime, things have just been elevated to a new level. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has formally recalled the device, on top of Samsung's own recall.

Per the CPSC, Samsung has received 92 reports of batteries overheating within the US, with 26 injuries and 55 reports of property damage. The agency is essentially telling customers the same thing that Samsung is, which is that customers should immediately power down their devices and follow one of the designated recall routes, such as going to Samsung's website, calling the toll-free number, or taking it back to the carrier or retail outlet where it was purchased. Any of these routes can provide a replacement device or refund.

What are your thoughts on the recall and Samsung's handling of it?


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Chrome 54 Beta adds an updated New Tab Page, background video playback, and more [APK Download]

Posted: 15 Sep 2016 02:49 PM PDT

chrome54beta

Chrome 54 Beta is now available on the Google Play Store, for you adventurous beta testers out there. This beta brings some very useful new features to Chrome, so let's dive right in!

New Tab page

Chrome 54 brings a redesigned New Tab page, and honestly, I'm not sure I'm a fan. The changed New Tab page still maintains the Google logo and the search bar, but does away with the Bookmarks or Recent Tabs buttons.

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Chrome 54 Beta adds an updated New Tab Page, background video playback, and more [APK Download] was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Nova Launcher 5.0 beta integrates new Pixel-style UI options

Posted: 15 Sep 2016 11:19 AM PDT

novaNova Launcher remains the go-to alternative launcher for power users, customization fanatics, and plain old everyday Android fans. The developer continues to iterate the app with a ton of new features and options, and the full version bump to 5.0 is all about emulating the look of Google's official (and so far unannounced) Pixel launcher. It's available in beta form now from the Play Store program, but the developer also makes the updated APK available as a direct download.

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Nova Launcher 5.0 beta integrates new Pixel-style UI options was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Pandora announces Pandora Plus, a $4.99 a month streaming service with skips, repeats, and offline listening

Posted: 15 Sep 2016 11:09 AM PDT

pandora-logo-large

I've never quite understood the appeal of Pandora - I want to be able to control what I'm listening to, not be tied to a radio that I can't choose what song to play. While Pandora is massively popular, the company must have realized this too - it's just announced Pandora Plus, which lets you skip or repeat songs playing on the radio station you've selected an unlimited amount of times.

This isn't full control like Spotify or Play Music, but that's not what Pandora is aiming for.

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Pandora announces Pandora Plus, a $4.99 a month streaming service with skips, repeats, and offline listening was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Pandora Plus offers no ads, more skips and predictive offline listening

Posted: 15 Sep 2016 10:57 AM PDT

Pandora pioneered the realm of ad-supported music stations, creating a free way for many to get their music fix. As the service has aged, it's evolved to meet a changing marketplace and new demands from customers. The company introduced Pandora One, which offered users the option to pay a monthly fee in order to opt out of ads. The next evolution of the service has arrived and is branded as Pandora Plus.

Pandora Plus switches up certain aspects while still keeping the integral parts of Pandora One. The listening experience is still ad-free, and Pandora is offering users more skips and replays. Also included is predictive offline listening. When your device loses signal, Pandora will instantly detect it and switch to one of your stations that's been saved for offline listening, without the effort and annoyance of manually switching stations when you lose signal.

Pandora Plus launches today and costs $4.99/month, just like Pandora One. The new service will roll out to Android and iOS within the coming months and as that rollout occurs, existing Pandora One users will be seamlessly transitioned to Pandora Plus.

Pandora is also making a change to its free version that will give you more skips and replays in exchange for watching a video ad.

For more information, follow the source link below.


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Android apps can now easily access Google's harmful website database

Posted: 15 Sep 2016 10:50 AM PDT

warning

Google's Safe Browsing feature has been around since 2007, and has protected millions of people from harmful threats on the internet. It's a blacklist of harmful websites, such as those distributing malware and phishing scams, that Google actively updates every day. The database is used by Chrome, Firefox, and even Safari to ensure users can be as safe as possible online.

Back at Google I/O, Google announced they would make an official API for applications to check a given website in the Safe Browsing database.

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Android apps can now easily access Google's harmful website database was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Samsung Could Release Galaxy S8 Earlier Because Of Note 7 Recall

Posted: 15 Sep 2016 10:08 AM PDT

samsung_Edge

Samsung is in quite a pickle after the mandatory Note 7 recall and reports of the phone exploding. It would make sense for a company of this size to try and recoup both the financial and PR damage from this by releasing the next generation of their flagship smartphone a bit earlier.

And it looks like that may actually end up happening according to the Korean Herald's sources. Analysts tell them that the Galaxy S8 is considered being launched earlier to prevent more profit losses for the mobile division of the company. Analyst Kim Sang-pyo states "…Regardless of the sales resumption, an earlier launch of a new quality flagship model seems to be the most realistic solution to dealing with the current recall crisis…"

Galaxy S8

They are also reporting that Samsung is still securing its curved edge AMOLED displays for use with the Galaxy S8 as previous reports and rumours suggested the company will ditch the flat version entirely.

[The Korean Herald]

The post Samsung Could Release Galaxy S8 Earlier Because Of Note 7 Recall appeared first on Android in Canada Blog.


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[APK Download] Samsung releases Samsung Focus, an all-in-one productivity app

Posted: 15 Sep 2016 09:55 AM PDT

samsungfocusWhen the BlackBerry Priv arrived last year, one of the built-in applications was the BlackBerry Hub. It merged your emails, notifications from supported social networks, and calendars all in one place. It was a pretty good idea, and Samsung has just released a similar application, Samsung Focus.

Focus is much more oriented towards business users than the average Joe the BlackBerry Hub aims to please. Samsung Focus supports syncing your emails, contacts and calendars, memos, tasks, and more.

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[APK Download] Samsung releases Samsung Focus, an all-in-one productivity app was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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SwiftKey adds neural network predictions to the stable version of its keyboard

Posted: 15 Sep 2016 09:55 AM PDT

neural-comparison-2-1-1

SwiftKey released an early experimental version of its neural network-powered keyboard as a standalone alpha app late last year. At the time, we were pretty impressed with the quality of the predictions. Now, the company (which has since been acquired by Microsoft) has updated the main app with updated neural network features.

A neural network is a system inspired by the functionality of biological brains. These systems consist of multiple layers that gather data from a large number of inputs and use those to generate likely outputs, often with much higher accuracy that you get from traditional rule-based programming.

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SwiftKey adds neural network predictions to the stable version of its keyboard was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Koush announces final pricing for Mirror, leaves Inkwire free for non-commercial use

Posted: 15 Sep 2016 08:36 AM PDT

koush

Noted Android developer Koush has decided how much you should pay for two of his apps, and technically that amount is zero dollars. You can continue to use the new app Inkwire and the much older Mirror screen recorder for free. However, all of Mirror's new features are only free if you don't mind watermarks on all your stuff.

Inkwire was just made available in the Play Store just a few weeks ago, but it was "unreleased" until today.

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Koush announces final pricing for Mirror, leaves Inkwire free for non-commercial use was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Top 10 new Android games this week: Disco Dave, Hopstars

Posted: 15 Sep 2016 07:42 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.

Chromasy

DescriptionChromasy is a fast paced colour matching game where to win, you must launch the coloured light in the middle at the matching coloured part of the circle. With 6 difficulty levels, this game is simple to learn but difficult to master.

 

Surfy Wave

DescriptionHit the waves as the Surfin' Bird. Dodge the coral, jump the sharks and don't smash into the rocks. Collect coins to unlock new characters. Beautiful voxel graphics. Over 20 different boards and 10 different characters to collect!

 

 Animation Throwdown: TQFC

DescriptionFor the first time ever, five of your favorite animated shows are together in one amazing collectible card game. FAMILY GUY! BOB'S BURGERS! FUTURAMA! AMERICAN DAD! KING OF THE HILL! It's Animation Throwdown: The Quest for Cards!

 

Disco Dave

DescriptionSwipe, jump and show off your dancing skills in fab combos towards the highest score. And what's a dance show without a cheering audience and groovy neon lights? Score high points with combos and unlock new characters with far out style and animations! Will you survive?

 

MineColony

DescriptionMineColony is the sandbox game you have always dreamed of. Sink into procedurally generated world, gather resources, mine, craft and build colony of your dreams block by block. If you miss the good old days when pixels ruled the gaming world then MineColony is for YOU! I had great fun in creating this game and I wish you the same.

 

Prison Run and Gun

Description: Prison Run and Gun is a retro puzzle platformer with modern gameplay and mechanics. The recent events in a state prison, involving Jake from Hot Guns Team was a perfect moment for some prisoners to escape – you are one of them.

 

Hopstars

DescriptionControl the environment in your favor! Jump, slide, run and shoot your way through the endless levels with enemies and destructable platforms. Harness elements to slay your way through a parkour-like extreme sport. Hopstars is an amazing 2D side-scrolling endless runner with many new features never seen before!

 

Disney Enchanted Tales

DescriptionWith the wave of a magic wand, your wish is granted to create your very own enchanted kingdoms. Connect with beloved characters like Belle from Beauty and the Beast, Elsa from Frozen, and Rapunzel from Tangled!

 

Bulb Boy

DescriptionOne gloomy night, Bulb Boy wakes suddenly from a frightening nightmare to discover that evil has overshadowed the Bulbhouse. His family has disappeared and there are horrid monsters lurking in the shadows. Gather the courage and use his glass head to save everything he loves. Find light in yourself!

 

makenines

Descriptionmakenines' requires careful thought and is solved using process of elimination similar to world-renowned puzzle game Sudoku. Think you're good with numbers? Think you're great at solving puzzles? Put your brain-skills to the test! 

 


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[Update: Video drawing too] WhatsApp Beta adds image drawing and stickers, bigger emojis, front-facing flash, one-finger video zoom

Posted: 15 Sep 2016 07:09 AM PDT

  • In version 2.16.269 beta of WhatsApp, the ability to draw and add stickers has been added to videos as well. Record a video with WhatsApp's built-in camera (again, this is

whatsapp-image-drawing

WhatsApp's developers suffer from a bit of a delay when it comes to updating their changelogs on the Play Store. Yesterday, they pushed version 2.16.262 (followed by 2.16.263) to the beta channel on the Play Store, but the changelog mentioned features we've seen in v2.16.230 like forwarding to multiple contacts and frequent chats, but didn't say anything about the new feature that was really newly implemented in 2.16.262: image drawing, nor did it say anything about the big emojis we've been seeing since 2.16.256.

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[Update: Video drawing too] WhatsApp Beta adds image drawing and stickers, bigger emojis, front-facing flash, one-finger video zoom was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Lenovo Moto G4 quick review

Posted: 15 Sep 2016 06:42 AM PDT

You don't know what you got until it's gone.

This year, 2016, Motorola has what is arguably its most complete portfolio of smartphones ever. From the high end to the low, they now have:

From top to bottom, there is a solid offering for just about every budget, with over $600 separating the best from the, well, not quite so best. In the past several months, we've sung the praises of the the Z Force, Z, Z Play, G4 Plus and G4. So what about the G4 Play? What does taking another $50 off the G4 get you, and is the sacrifice worth it?

Before we go any further, let's look at the specs of the G4 Play:

  • 5-inch 720 display
  • Snapdragon 410 with Adreno 306
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 16GB of expandable storage
  • 8MP rear camera
  • 5MP front-facing camera
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • 2800mAh battery
  • Water repellent coating

From the next phone up, the Moto G4, you are seeing a drop in almost every single notable area. The only real similarity is the 2GB of ram both devices share. It's easy to take the mid-range specs of the Moto G4 for granted until you lose them in the G4 Play.

The screen is considerably worse, animations and noticeably stuttery, the cameras are lackluster at best and it's slow as molasses to charge next to the Turbo Power on the regular G4. The battery really does last all day, and stock Android with Moto Display is still a major selling point at this price level, but in order to really assess the G4 Play, you have to see where it fits in with similar handsets.

The G4 Play sits firmly between the Moto G4 and the $60 Blu R1 HD. All three devices come with Amazon Prime ads, all three separated by around $50 each. For the $40 jump from the Blu to the Moto G4 Play, it's mostly worth it. The cameras, battery life and multitasking are all a bit better on the G4 Play, and we prefer it's more durable feeling rounded plastic body with replaceable battery and back covers. But we aren't sure if the overall experience is that much better.

For the extra $50 above the G4 Play, at $90 more than the Blu, the G4 is well, well worth the upgrade. Almost every single aspect of the device, from top to bottom, is dramatically improved. Which is exactly the problem the G4 Play will face.

At $60 with ads, it would have been a no brainer against the competition. Even at $80, we could easily say spend the extra $20, you won't regret it. But every dollar at this price bracket matters. An extra $40 is almost another Blue R1 HD over again. Really. And if you afford the extra $40 for a few improvements and totally stock Android (the Blu is very close, BTW), why not save an extra $50 for a much, much better device in the G4 itself?

If we were to buy a phone at under $200 today, the G4 is the easy, obvious choice. At $99 and under, it gets a little tougher. For us, the Moto G4 Play edges out the competition, for things like battery life, water repellent coating, the promise of future updates and a name you can trust. If those things don't matter to you, at $99 and under, you may find yourself looking elsewhere.

Buy the Moto G4 on Amazon with ads or on Moto's website. A Verizon prepaid model is coming soon.

View camera samples from the Moto G4 Play.

moto-g4-play-featuredmoto-g4-play-bottommoto-g4-play-cameramoto-g4-play-frontmoto-g4-play-in-handmoto-g4-play-side


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Beautiful 2D puzzler Pavilion makes its way to the SHIELD TV for $10

Posted: 15 Sep 2016 05:19 AM PDT

image (5)There are a lot of PC and console games that have made their way to NVIDIA's SHIELD set-top box, but I believe that Pavilion is the first to get an exclusive launch on the platform before making its way elsewhere. The 2D puzzle-adventure game from Visiontrick, which mixes elements of old point-and-click adventure games with more modern fare like Monument Valley, is now on the Play Store for ten bucks. It'll make its way to the PS4, Vita, Steam, and Humble stores later this month.

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Beautiful 2D puzzler Pavilion makes its way to the SHIELD TV for $10 was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Google+ v8.7 now opens image comments in a full screen viewer like any other image [APK Download]

Posted: 15 Sep 2016 03:59 AM PDT

googleplus

Google+ wasn't the first first social network to allow users to embed images directly into comments, but it's supported now and most of us seem pretty happy about it. The only problem with image comments was that a few features were missing from that first implementation. A couple of weeks have passed and we're now looking at a brand new update that fills in most of the gaps: enabling users to open images in full screen, save them locally, and more.

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Google+ v8.7 now opens image comments in a full screen viewer like any other image [APK Download] was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Facebook Messenger beta gains Direct Share on Marshmallow and above

Posted: 15 Sep 2016 03:39 AM PDT

fbmessengerhero

Facebook Messenger, mostly just referred to as Messenger these days, (or "I'll send you a link on Facebook") has improved at a rate of knots over the last year or so. It's had a material overhaul, nicknames and color functions added, group calling, games, new emojis, SMS support, and probably a lot more. Today a new feature is coming to the beta version of Messenger, especially for Android: Direct Share.

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Facebook Messenger beta gains Direct Share on Marshmallow and above was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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MX Player gets update that adds Android 7.0 multi-window support and more

Posted: 14 Sep 2016 05:44 PM PDT

screenshot_20160914-202636

There are numerous video players available on the Play Store, each with its own strengths. MX Player, one of the more popular ones, has just received an update that adds a few great features, such as multi-window support for devices running Android 7.0 Nougat, a new decoder, and screen-off playback.

What's New

  • Added alternative HW+ decoder for Android 5.0 and above which will be used automatically on Android 7, HTC devices and CyanogenMod.
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MX Player gets update that adds Android 7.0 multi-window support and more was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Google Photos v2.0 enables permanent sorting options for albums [APK Download]

Posted: 14 Sep 2016 05:14 PM PDT

photos

Google Photos just made the jump to v2.0. Hurray! Oddly, it doesn't look like very much has changed, but there is one feature people have been looking forward to for a long time: permanent sorting for the contents of an album. That isn't the only different we've seen, but most of the other details would be more easily described as fit-and-finish changes – basically polishing up the interface. However, the Photos team posted a changelog for the iOS version last week that also describes the addition of Live Photo support (which should exclusive to iOS since the movies are shared in another format) and the ability to change the thumbnail for detected faces.

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Google Photos v2.0 enables permanent sorting options for albums [APK Download] was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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