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Monday, October 24, 2016

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Google Pixel phones not water resistant due to time constraints

Posted: 24 Oct 2016 03:43 PM PDT

Many flagship devices these days feature some sort of water resistance. The latest Galaxy devices are IP68-rated, which is fantastic and better than many other devices. Even the iPhone is water resistant now!

Unfortunately, Google's two Pixel phones are not water resistant. Their rating is IP53, which is essentially not water resistant. The device has been shown to handle being underwater for extended periods of time, but not without sustaining some damage.

Now we've found out that Google was planning on adding water resistance to the Pixels but ran out of time. The company had nine months to build the Pixels once its in-house manufacturing plan was scrapped, which didn't leave enough time to include water resistance. It's unfortunate, but that's one of the downsides of rushing a product.

The Pixel and Pixel XL aren't necessarily worse for everyday use without water resistance, but the absence of that feature disappointing nonetheless. Will you still be picking up a Pixel?


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Google Pixel survives being underwater for an hour, but not without problems

Posted: 24 Oct 2016 02:43 PM PDT

The Google Pixel lineup is not water resistant, unlike most flagships these days. The phones are IP53-rated, and with the second digit denoting water resistance, a rating of 3 pretty much means nothing.

However, that doesn't mean that the Pixel can't stand up to a bit of water. Jonathan Morrison decided to toss a Pixel into a bowl of water for an hour and film the whole thing. Surprisingly, the phone came out working!

However, it did suffer a bit of a problem. The speakers ended up extremely muffled, meaning they were probably damaged by water. The camera, touchscreen, and everything else worked fine without any noticeable water intrusion, though.

So if your Pixel gets in some water, you shouldn't worry too much. Don't go and dunk it into water, but if it's in the rain, it shouldn't be hurt.


Android Match

PSA: You can disable the recommended articles on Chrome 54's New Tab page

Posted: 24 Oct 2016 01:53 PM PDT

chrome-54-new-tab

The recent Chrome 54 release brought an updated New Tab screen, which replaces the Bookmarks and Recent tabs buttons at the bottom with an 'Articles for you' section. I was not a fan of that change, and judging by some of the comments on that post, neither were most of you. Thankfully, tipster Matt informed us that this can be easily disabled.

To turn off this feature, simply set the two flags below to Disabled.

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PSA: You can disable the recommended articles on Chrome 54's New Tab page was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Huawei Honor 8 review

Posted: 24 Oct 2016 01:43 PM PDT

The Honor series is still quite new to the US market, but Huawei is pushing hard for the devices to take off. The Honor 8 is an off-contract device offering high-end hardware at an affordable price. And with the popularity of no-contract plans growing in the US, unlocked devices are quickly becoming popular.

Hardware

The Honor 8 features some pretty high-end specs. It has a 5.2-inch 1080p display, an octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 950 processor (Huawei's in-house processor brand), 4GB of RAM, 32 or 64GB of storage with a microSD slot, dual 12MP camera sensors with laser autofocus, an 8MP front-facing camera, a 3,000mAh battery, and Android 6.0 Marshmallow with Emotion UI on top. The device also features a fingerprint sensor, NFC, VoLTE support, a USB Type-C port, and an IR blaster.

The screen may not be AMOLED or 1440p, but it's truly stunning. The colors are vivid, the blacks are dark and show far less light bleed than most LCD panels, and the viewing angles are great. Having a lower resolution than most flagships doesn't impact the display at all, as it's fairly small and remains really sharp. Seriously, the display is unexpectedly gorgeous.

Huawei Honor 8 2

The fingerprint sensor is a highlight of the phone. As with many other Android phones, the Honor 8′s fingerprint reader is on the back and doesn't require the screen to be on to unlock. Tap your finger on it and the phone will unlock almost instantly. Huawei claims a 0.4-second unlock time, and that seems about right. It's well positioned, it's extremely fast, and it's very accurate. It very rarely fails to register my finger, and that includes using it at odd angles and with dirty fingers. The only time it doesn't work is when your fingers are wet.

The fingerprint sensor is also a button that can be programmed to do three things: you can click, double click, and hold it. This is far more useful than it sounds. I have a click set to flashlight, which I use all the time, a double click to open the camera, and a long press to open Google Now. It's a feature I've been missing ever since Google changed the home button gesture from Now to Now on Tap. You can also swipe up and down on the fingerprint sensor to raise and lower the notification shade, and you can swipe between photos, too. Opening the notification shade with the fingerprint sensor feels like a feature I can't live without anymore.

Huawei Honor 8 8

Behind the speaker grill is a notification LED. The main earpiece is quite good and loud, but the loudspeaker is not very loud and very tinny. It could be a lot better. There's also an NFC antenna by the rear cameras and an IR blaster on top.

The Honor 8′s SIM tray slides out of its left side with a pin tool much like iPhones, Motorola devices, and others. There's a SIM slot and a microSD slot, but the microSD slot also doubles as a second SIM slot. Yep, this is a dual SIM device.

Build quality

This is where the Honor 8 truly shines. The front and rear both feature 2.5D glass with curved edges. The frame is metal and has a smooth chamfer to meet the glass. The phone feels impeccable, with nary a creak or bend to any part of it. There are also color matched lines in the frame for the antennas. The holes all around are smoothly cut into the metal and the buttons are clicky and solid.

The front is a slab of glass that's only interrupted by the earpiece, sensors, and a silver Honor logo at the bottom (and its removal wouldn't improve the aesthetics much). The rear of the phone has two cameras, the fingerprint sensor button, and a bit of silver text at the bottom. There are no FCC, IMEI, and text prints here. Just a small branding and model name.

Huawei Honor 8 5 camera

The rear of the Honor 8 has this beautiful effect where every light source that hits it creates a glowing line across the device. The more lights around, the better it looks. And even better, light brings out some amazing colors in the blue model. Colors are usually not so popular, and I've only owned black phones, but the blue Honor 8 is absolutely stunning and shouldn't be passed up.

My only issue with the build is the tiny gap between the metal and the glass. This gap is immeasurably small, but lint likes to get stuck in it once in a while, but it can be removed fairly easily with a fingernail.

Another issue with the glass is that the Honor 8 slides around every chance it gets. Put it on any incline, even on a fabric couch, and it's immediately sliding off. Be careful or throw on a case.

This device definitely feels like a flagship, and better than many flagships on the market. If you're looking for a phone that feels luxurious and high-end, this is it.

Software

The Honor 8 runs Huawei's Emotion UI 4.1 on top of Android 6.0. This is a heavy skin that's been greatly improved in the last few years. Previously, it felt like an iOS ripoff to the core. Now it's far more Android-like, though you will see iOS inspirations all over.

Overall, the software is a pleasant experience despite not being AOSP. The added features are useful, the software looks very good, and things are generally designed very well. A few changes, like the custom notifications, do break some app notifications, but it's nothing that causes usability issues. Some apps, like Weather, are downright pretty.

Every stock replacement app is well-made and very usable. While many will replace things like the messaging app, I find every stock app to be perfectly adequate. The stock launcher is like iOS in that there is no app drawer, but its behavior otherwise is fairly like the stock Android launcher.

There are a ton of extra apps included, like a flashlight, voice recorder, mirror, compass, IR blaster controller, file browser, and more. This seems to be the norm for foreign unlocked phones.

Huawei's software supports themes, and there's even a stock Android theme for it on the Play Store.

There are also features included like knuckle sharing. Certain gestures with a knuckle will trigger apps, screenshots, and even screen video. I struggled to get these to work unfortunately. There is also an eye protection mode that adds a yellow tint to the screen, though this isn't automatic (which is strange).

Huawei promises 24 months of support for the Honor 8, with an update every three months for the first year. This includes both security fixes and new versions of Android. An update to Nougat is already in the works, and it should be paired with a better version of EMUI. Since launch, there have already been two updates pushed to the Honor 8.

Performance

With a reasonably powerful HiSilicon Kirin 950 and 4GB of RAM, the performance of the Honor 8 is great. There aren't any slowdowns or major lag to be found. Even with the heavy software layer, the phone remains smooth. In fact, it's smoother than some devices that are much more expensive. This is one of the smoothest devices I've ever used.

We all know of Android's problems with staying fast. Many devices perform great at first but then start to slow down, and you'll notice slight delays and lags. Huawei battled this in a few ways. The Honor 8 comes with an app that scans the efficiency of the device, clears the cache, trashes data and shows you how you can optimize it. This helps, as the cache is usually a problem from my experience. Huawei also claims it uses a smart file system that reduces fragmentation and stutters.

All this results in very fast performance with nary a slowdown or problem. The Honor 8 is quick and reliable and games run great on it.

Camera

Huawei Honor 8 6 camera

You get two 12MP sensors on the back coupled with laser autofocus and a dual tone LED flash. The two sensors are identical, except that one is monochrome and the other is color. The monochrome one is more sensitive to light, which results in photos with much better low light detail, contrast, and vibrancy.

It sounds a bit gimmicky, but it works like a charm. In fact, this camera is one of the most impressive parts of the phone. It can take beautiful, detailed photos with very little light. There's no blur, minimal noise, and no blotchy colors that plague other devices in low light. In fact, even in the near absence of light, photos remain remarkably clear and mostly grain-free (if dark).

In the daylight, the contrast of photos is much better. It's like HDR is always active, but you don't get the fake-looking effect of HDR. Everything is well-exposed and looks fairly natural. Detail is impeccable as well.

The dual sensors mean that on top of contrast and laser autofocus, you also get depth-focusing. The Honor 8 focuses pretty quickly and very accurately. The dual sensors also allow for very accurate depth of field which can be adjusted before and after the photo is taken. The depth data is put to good use and looks fantastic for the most part.

There are many modes in the camera app. You get modes for beauty, food, panorama, HDR, night mode (which takes up to 60-second exposures suited for a tripod), light painting, time lapse, slow mo, watermark, and document scan. The last one automatically takes photos of documents, crops them, adjusts the perspective, and gives you a clear image that's almost like a scan.

Huawei Honor 8 9

There's also a pro mode which allows you to adjust exposure compensation, exposure mode, shutter speed, ISO, autofocus (and even manual focus), and white balance. The Honor 8 doesn't shoot in RAW, but it definitely gives you tons of control.

Video can be captured at 1080p60, so there's no 4K here. The video that's recorded is very clear, smooth, and good-looking.

The Honor 8′s front-facing camera is an 8MP sensor with 1.4 micron pixels, and it takes great photos in low light as well, though you can use the display as a flash to help with light. The photos are very high quality, so you can be sure your selfie game will remain on point.

Both front and rear cameras are fantastic, though the rear cameras exceed expectations. We're talking about flagship-level photos. Take a look at these samples!

Huawei Honor 8 Photo Samples

Battery life

The Honor 8 features a 3,000mAh battery, which is quite good for the phone's size and price point. Coupled with Huawei's software, the Honor 8 gives you surprisingly good battery life. It'll easily last a day with medium or even heavy use.

Things like music playback don't drain the battery all that quick thanks to a dedicated co-processor. Even Google Maps, an app that drains my Moto X ridiculously quickly, isn't a huge burden on the Honor 8. I would do a two-hour round trip commute while streaming Google Play Music over Bluetooth without charging the device and it would still survive a full day.

Huawei Honor 8 3

The Honor 8 also features 9V/2A fast charging, though this isn't Quick Charge, and it only works with the included wall charger. With other chargers, you're looking at regular charging over the USB Type-C port.

Huawei's software helps to keep battery usage down, and this is both good and bad. Emotion UI kills running apps when the screen shuts off, preventing huge battery drain. The problem is that you want your apps running in the background! You have to manually white list instant messaging apps, Reddit clients, and more. Many apps are auto whitelisted, but I was left wondering why apps like Timehop weren't sending notifications. This is a pain, but it's in pursuit of great battery life. Once you set up a whitelist, it's a great feature. However, most people won't know what to do here, so this can be seen as a huge downside. Good for the power user, awful for the everyday user. Be warned!

Also available is the ROG power savings mode, which drops resolution down to 720p. And if you need the Honor 8 to last for a long time, the ultra power saving mode will shut down everything but essentials like calls and messages. This should double the Honor 8′s battery life.

Honor 89.5 / 10

The Honor 8′s software is something to keep in mind. EMUI is definitely odd, and the feature that stops apps from running in the background can be a disaster if you don't know how to set it up. Huawei promises that many fixes are coming with its Nougat update, so we'll have to see if these usability issues are improved.

The Honor 8 is a fantastic bang-for-your-buck smartphone. Almost every aspect of it is exceptional and flagship-level, though some of the specs show where things had to be scaled back to meet a price point. Despite this, the overall package is exemplary and a joy to use.

If you need a phone on a budget, the Honor 8 is at the top of my list.


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Niantic updates Pokémon GO to v0.43.3 with minor tweaks and teases Halloween event

Posted: 24 Oct 2016 12:43 PM PDT

pokemon-go-halloween-169-en

I suspect many of you have stopped playing Pokémon GO. Not only is it getting chilly in many areas, but there just isn't a lot to do once you've caught all the common Pokémon. You might be tempted to fire up the game again soon. A new update is rolling out with some welcome improvements, and there's a special Halloween event coming up soon.

The update to v0.43.3 isn't a huge one, but you can still grab the update from APK Mirror rather than wait for the Play Store to spit it out.

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Niantic updates Pokémon GO to v0.43.3 with minor tweaks and teases Halloween event was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Samsung Rush to Resolve Initial Galaxy Note7 Issues Might Have Caused Its Demise

Posted: 24 Oct 2016 11:49 AM PDT

samung-galaxy-note-7-had-to-be-killed

All eyes continue to be on Samsung in the wake of the Galaxy Note7's passing. Now the world expects the company to come out and disclosure of the real reason behind the phablet overheating and occasionally catching fire. Samsung is working on it, but so far it has not zeroed in on a definitive answer.

While we wait for the official explanation, a new report coming out from The Wall Street Journal citing industry experts and sources familiar with Samsung operations indicates that one fatal mistake is to blame for the fate of the Galaxy Note7.

According to the information, after the initial reports of overheating phablets started appearing, Samsung performed a few X-ray and CT scans on the batteries, which showcased a pronounced bulge of unknown origins. Unlike the Samsung SDI manufactured batteries , batteries provided by another supplier didn't have the same bulge.

The report goes on to explain that Samsung executives were quite unsure of what to do, but with complaints coming from consumers and carriers piling up, the Korean tech giant had to act fast. Company chief D.J. Koh reasoned the company had enough info on the matter, so he ordered a recall.

Two weeks later, Samsung started handing users new Galaxy Note7 bundled with batteries from a different provider. But we all know how that went – replacement units overheated as well.

The report now claims that Samsung's decision to launch its own recall, bypassing the formal process imposed by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, might have been the fatal mistake behind the Note7 fiasco. It is stipulated that the haste behind the company's will to resolve things, might have prevented regulators from getting at the bottom of the situation and identifying the root issue causing the phablet to overheat.

[WSJ]

The post Samsung Rush to Resolve Initial Galaxy Note7 Issues Might Have Caused Its Demise appeared first on Android in Canada Blog.


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Android Pay teams up with Masterpass and Visa Checkout to make online shopping easier

Posted: 24 Oct 2016 11:44 AM PDT

Android Pay is gaining a couple of partners to help make buying things online a bit easier.

Google officially announced today that it is partnering with Visa and MasterCard to enable Android Pay when checking out at websites that support Visa Checkout and MasterCard's Masterpass. It's as simple as linking an account to Android Pay and then checking out like normal.

Once everything is linked up and good to go, you'll be able to authenticate a purchase made through Visa Checkout or Masterpass with your fingerprint, or whichever way you prefer to authenticate Android Pay purchases.

Google says the integration will begin to rollout sometime in the beginning of 2017, but no specific date has been confirmed just yet.

Is this a partnership that intrigues you?


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Samsung Offers Note7 Users the Galaxy S8 or Note8 For 50% Off

Posted: 24 Oct 2016 11:19 AM PDT

samsung-galaxy-note-7-looking-pretty

Samsung is worried that customers are going to abandon its products after the Galaxy Note7 fiasco and turn to other mobile phone makers instead. So the company has just rolled out a new program in South Korea meant to keep customers invested in Samsung.

The Galaxy Upgrade program will allow ex-Note7 owners to get the upcoming Galaxy S8 or Note8 at half the price. Yes, basically Samsung just announced it won't be abandoning the Note brand and a new phablet will be released next year.

Anyway, the initiative applies to ex-Note7 users who have exchanged their phone and got a Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 edge in return or those who are planning to do so. The program allows those customers to pay only half the price of the Galaxy S7, before exchanging it for a Galaxy S8 or Note8.

Interested parties are to be enrolled in a two-year contract and pay the monthly fee for 12 months before getting their hands on the new phone.

The Galaxy Upgrade program also offers a fast track service for after-sales and 50% off display repairs twice, in the vein of the Galaxy Club exchange program.

The deadline to join for the program is November 30. Take into consideration that the Galaxy Upgrade program will only be available in South Korea for the time being, but Samsung will probably make it available across the pond too, in Canada and the US.

[Samsung]

The post Samsung Offers Note7 Users the Galaxy S8 or Note8 For 50% Off appeared first on Android in Canada Blog.


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Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 with S Pen launches in the U.S. on October 28

Posted: 24 Oct 2016 10:38 AM PDT

Samsung has a new tablet coming to the United States soon. It's called the Galaxy Tab A 10.1 and it offers a 10.1-inch display that is 1.7 times denser than its predecessor, which should make it easier to read for extended periods of time. That display packs a 1920×1200 resolution, and Samsung included a blue light filter to reduce eye strain as well.

The other notable addition to this year's Galaxy Tab A 10.1 is the S Pen, which Samsung is including in the box. With it, owners can create GIFs, draw and paint on photos, and much more. The S Pen has been a focal point for Samsung with its Galaxy Note lineup, so it's good to see the stylus making the jump to other products.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1

As far as other specifications go, the Galaxy Tab A 10.1 features an octa-core Exynos 7870 processor under the hood, with 3GB of RAM and 16GB of built-in storage. There is a microSD card slot that supports cards up to 256GB. It's running Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box, the battery is measured in at 7300mAh, and Samsung says that will run for 13 hours of video playback.

There is an 8-megapixel camera with autofocus on the back, and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera on the other side. It will be available in black and white, and it will cost $349.99 when it arrives on October 28.

What do you think of the Galaxy Tab A 10.1?


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Joaomgcd's new app AutoTools extends Tasker functionality, is basically Tasker Plus

Posted: 24 Oct 2016 10:33 AM PDT

autotools

You can do a lot of stuff with Tasker - the possibilities are almost endless. Because they were almost endless, developer joaomgcd has gone and filled in the gaps, creating AutoTools, a new Tasker plugin. Joao calls this 'Tasker Plus,' namely because it can do everything Tasker cannot do.

Instead of being a new app, AutoTools hooks into Tasker and extends it, giving the latter new functionality. This is hugely powerful: you can, for example, set dialogs to appear for a reason of your choosing, or change the animation speed with a quick settings tile.

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Joaomgcd's new app AutoTools extends Tasker functionality, is basically Tasker Plus was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Android Pay partners with Visa and Mastercard to bring simple checkout to more places online

Posted: 24 Oct 2016 10:15 AM PDT

Google Cast app gets promised update to make it Google Home [APK Download]

Posted: 24 Oct 2016 09:30 AM PDT

cast-home

The era of the Google Cast app has come to an end—long live Google Home. An update is rolling out right now in the Play Store that includes the Home rebranding. It still does the same things, but the layout has changed. You can also expect some features for the Google Home hardware in this app as soon as the device ships.

The Cast app had three tabs for What's On, Devices, and Get Apps.

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Google Cast app gets promised update to make it Google Home [APK Download] was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Galaxy Note 7 owners in South Korea will be able to upgrade to Note 8 or Galaxy S8 for half price

Posted: 24 Oct 2016 08:39 AM PDT

South Korea-based Samsung wants to show some extra attention to customers in its backyard following the global recall and discontinuation of the Galaxy Note 7.

Samsung has officially announce that Galaxy Note 7 owners can join the Galaxy Upgrade program and get a deal on the Galaxy S8 or Galaxy Note 8 when those devices launch next year. The Upgrade Program will allow customers to trade in their Galaxy Note 7 for a Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 edge, pay for half of that device, and then upgrade to the S8 or Note 8 at no additional cost.

Samsung did note that customers that have already traded in their Galaxy Note 7 are still eligible for this deal. It will be available until November 30, and it looks like it's currently only available in South Korea, with no word that it will be expanding to other regions.

Samsung obviously wants customers to stick with Samsung-branded phones, and making a future flagship device effectively half the cost is one way to achieve that goal.

Also: Galaxy Note 8 confirmed!


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Top 5 most popular Android apps from last week: Flychat, Wallpapers

Posted: 24 Oct 2016 06:48 AM PDT

Every week we cover new Android apps with Fresh Meat on Wednesday, followed by Android Gaming on Thursday and Top 10 App Updates on Friday. When Monday rolls around, we look back to see which apps were the most appealing to our audience. Read on for the five most popular Android apps from last week. These apps are ones that are most likely new and haven't appeared in the top five list more than three times.

1. Wallpapers

Wallpapers

App info: Make the most of your display with beautiful wallpapers and advanced features. Choose one of your own photos, an image from the Google Earth collection, a scenic landscape from Google+, and more. Change it as often as you like, so your phone always represents your style.

 

2. Chrome Canary

Chrome Canary

App info: Welcome to Chrome Canary for Android. This release has not been tested. It may be unstable or fail to run at times. Recommended for developers and advanced users only. 

 

3 . Photobooth

Photobooth

App info: Photobooth is a utility for joining multiple photos together into a single image for easy sharing online. You can import photos from the gallery or capture new pictures directly from the camera to create a custom photostrip in just seconds.

 

4. Flychat

Flychat

App info: Flychat offers a revolutionary way to read messages of your favourite messengers. It overlays every other app and you can reply from anywhere you want.

 

5. Messenger Lite

Messenger Lite

App info: Instantly reach the people in your life for free with Messenger Lite. This lightweight version of Messenger is faster, uses less data and works in all network conditions.

 

Note:  To ensure that all apps receive a fair chance to make the list, we will retire any app that has made the list for three consecutive weeks.


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Solitaire: Decked Out is a delightfully designed, free, and ad-free take on the solitaire game

Posted: 24 Oct 2016 06:18 AM PDT

solitaire-decked-out-2

You would be hard-pressed to find a game as worn out as Solitaire. It's been the default time-waster of Windows users for decades and the topic of many an assistant and receptionist joke. But there's merit to be had in bringing a fresh coat of paint to a done, redone, and overdone concept. That's where Solitaire: Decked Out shines.

It's another take on Solitaire with the same Klondike rules you've grown to know, a 1 or 3-card draw, some achievements for a little bit of competition, pause and resume, unlimited hints and undos, an offline mode, and both landscape and portrait orientations.

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Solitaire: Decked Out is a delightfully designed, free, and ad-free take on the solitaire game was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Google Photos now has albums included in search results

Posted: 24 Oct 2016 03:06 AM PDT

photosalbumsearchhero

Google Photos is great (speaking personally, it's one of my favorite Google products), but there's always been one thing wrong with it: albums were not included in search results. Say I search for "cats" (I have a lot of photos of my cats). The photos in the albums would be included, as well as items found by object recognition, but the album with my cat photos would not be included. Google has now fixed this anomaly, causing the album itself to be included.

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Google Photos now has albums included in search results was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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GoPro's Passenger app allows you to control nearby Karma drones and see what they're seeing

Posted: 23 Oct 2016 09:26 PM PDT

go

The competition in the world of drones is getting fierce these days, and to edge ahead, companies need to come out with innovative features. To compete with the DJI Mavic Pro's stunning abilities, GoPro announced an app called Passenger, which allows one person other than the pilot to see what the drone's onboard GoPro is seeing and control the camera. Now, Passenger is available for download in the Google Play Store.

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GoPro's Passenger app allows you to control nearby Karma drones and see what they're seeing was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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