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Thursday, January 12, 2017

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Camera comparison: Google Pixel vs Moto Z Force Droid w/ Hasselblad True Zoom

Posted: 12 Jan 2017 02:24 PM PST

Photography has become an essential part of the way in which humans use smartphones. Our mobile phones have grown to take the place of dedicated cameras and have introduced new ways of capturing and sharing our lives. Whether the shot is set to be deleted after six seconds or shared permanently, the quality matters.

Manufacturers are pulling out all of the stops for mobile photography and with the help of Verizon, we decided to pit two hot Android flagships against one another. Google boasts that the Pixel has the highest rated smartphone camera ever, with a record-breaking DxOMark Mobile score of 89. Motorola is using its innovative Moto Mod system to open up new possibilities for the camera. Pairing the Moto Z Force Droid with Hasselblad's True Zoom Mod makes for a powerful camera indeed.

Take a look through each device's respective Flickr album below before we move on to our conclusions from testing.

Google Pixel Sample Images

Moto Z Force Droid w/ Hasselblad True Zoom Sample Images

Though both devices excel, we have to hand it to the Google Pixel. The device truly captures stunning photos in any situation. All sample photos in our testing are raw and unedited, and even in challenging lighting situations, the Pixel offers excellent contrast, color balance, and sharpness. More over, its results are typically more natural looking, as the Moto Z Force Droid has a tendency to exaggerate certain colors tones, such as magentas and blues.

That being said, the Moto Z Force Droid has two key advantages with the Hasselblad True Zoom Moto Mod. The first is zoom. While the Pixel relies on short, grainy digital zoom, the True Zoom Mod gives users up to 10x optical zoom. The second advantage is in flash. Though the Pixel's LED flash produces a natural light, the xenon flash found in the True Zoom Mod is far more powerful, flooding an area with light.

In terms of speed, both devices are quick to start, focus and capture. The Moto Z Force holds a slight advantage, only due to the design of the True Zoom Mod, which includes a dedicated camera start button. The Mod also includes a camera grip and a traditional physical shutter button, which is a tad more comfortable to use than the volume button or an on-screen shutter button of the Pixel.

At the end of the day, the Google Pixel wins out. The device produces photos that are technically great and pleasing to the eye, while still remaining true to life. Though the Moto Z Force Droid offers greater zoom, a brighter flash, and improved ergonomics, it does so with the cost of extra bulk and a high price, while still falling short of the photos produced by the Pixel.

Sorry Motorola, but the Pixel wins this camera comparison.

Special thanks to Verizon for providing both devices for this camera comparison. Check out the Google Pixel and Moto Z Force Droid from Verizon now, and keep an eye out for great deals!

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Google Maps update improves ride services view, lets you book an Uber from within the app

Posted: 12 Jan 2017 12:34 PM PST

Google Maps users, a new update is now coming your way.

Google today announced a Google Maps update that's focused on ride services. There's a new look for the ride services tab that looks way better than the old one. You can compare the old (left) with the new (right) in the images below.


As you can see, the new ride services tab includes a map with cars near your location, the different types of rides that you can choose from, and tabs for different services like Uber and Lyft. You can also see promos and special offers in this view.

Today's update also brings deeper Uber integration. Specifically, you can now hail an Uber and pay for your ride, all within the Google Maps app. This feature even works if you don't have the Uber app installed on your phone, which can help to save space on your device if you've got a limited amount of space. This feature also lets you view info about your destination, like its hours and menu, during your Uber ride.

This new Google Maps update is now rolling out on Android and iOS, so keep an eye out for it.

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Gmail v7.1 prepares to add Inbox-style snoozing and tasks [APK Teardown]

Posted: 12 Jan 2017 12:12 PM PST


The latest major update to Gmail is beginning to roll out to users and this one looks like it might be huge. We're still looking for features in the live interface, but it's the things that show up in a teardown that are really exciting. We can look forward to a couple of the most popular Inbox features making an appearance in Gmail. As usual, we've got a download link at the bottom so you don't have to wait for the apk to roll out to your devices organically.

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Gmail v7.1 prepares to add Inbox-style snoozing and tasks [APK Teardown] was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Samsung begins pushing Android 7.0 Nougat to Galaxy S7, S7 edge

Posted: 12 Jan 2017 11:34 AM PST

After a period of testing, Samsung has begun updating its Galaxy S7 and S7 edge devices to Android 7.0 Nougat. The company is first rolling out the update to those who participated in the beta testing of the software. Users who did not participate will receive the update shortly thereafter. The update weighs in at 215 MB in size, so users will need to ensure that they have suitable space available before beginning the update.

Android 7.0 Nougat brings in a bundle of new features for Samsung users, as the company has added its own improvements on top of the usual changes. Some of these include Samsung Pass for saving passwords to instead use a fingerprint, a Blue Light filter for reduced eye strain and manual sleep mode for individual apps to improve battery life. These come into addition to usual Nougat changes, such as an improved notification shade, native multi-window support, and Doze On The Go for better battery performance.

The update is now rolling out in select regions to unlocked users. Global and carrier availability should be announced in the near future.

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Flickr app updated with option to sign up without a Yahoo account

Posted: 12 Jan 2017 11:32 AM PST

Yahoo is going through some changes right now. Not necessarily the good kind, either. Verizon is buying a chink of the company, and the rest is changing its name to Altaba. So, there are some changes in the Flickr app, which Yahoo has been accused of neglecting in recent years. For the first time in several years, you can sign into Flickr without a Yahoo account.

Here's the full changelog of the latest Flickr app update.

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Flickr app updated with option to sign up without a Yahoo account was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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YouTube Super Chat allows users to pay to get more exposure in live comment streams

Posted: 12 Jan 2017 11:22 AM PST

YouTube live streams are generally pretty good, but getting noticed in the live comment stream is tricky, especially when they're thousands or even hundreds of thousands watching or commenting. To combat this, YouTube has introduced Super Chat, a way for commenters to get more noticed by their favorite content creators by paying to pin comments to the top.

The way SuperChat works is by allowing individual users to pay to promote their comment for a temporary period of time (up to 5 hours).

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YouTube Super Chat allows users to pay to get more exposure in live comment streams was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Manage paid orders and payments settings from the Google Play Developer Console

Posted: 12 Jan 2017 11:11 AM PST

Posted by Suzanne van Tienen, Product Manager, Google Play

Today we are simplifying and improving the merchant experience for developers who have paid apps, in-app purchases, or subscriptions based on the feedback we've heard from the community.

First, we're moving order management from the Google Payments Center to the Google Play Developer Console and adding some improved features. Second, payments settings will now be accessible from the Developer Console in addition to continuing to be available on payments.google.com. The new features come with appropriate access control settings so you can be sure users only have access to the tools they need.

The new order management tab in the Google Play Developer Console

You can perform the same tasks in the Developer Console which you previously would have performed in the Google Payments Center. We've also made some improvements:
  • Bulk refunds: You can now select multiple orders for simultaneous refund, instead of issuing them individually.
  • Subscription cancellations: You can now refund and revoke subscriptions directly from the order management tab (without going to a separate UI).
  • Permissions: We've added a new user access permission to the Developer Console called "Manage orders". This permission will allow a user to find orders, issue refunds, and cancel subscriptions. Other features will be read-only for these users and financial reports will be hidden (only users with "View financial reports" can see financial data). Payments settings are restricted to the account owner when accessed from Developer Console.

Order management migration to the Developer Console

Order management is now available in the Developer Console. Starting January 23, order management will cease being available in Payments Center. User permissions are not automatically carried over from the Payments Center so, as the account owner, you will need to add all users who need access to refunds and any other order management features to your Developer Console account with the new 'Manage orders' permission by January 22 for them to have continued access.
Here's how you can add new users to your Developer Console account:
  1. Log on to Google Payments Center and review all existing users.
  2. Sign in to your Developer Console and add one or both of the following permissions for all users that need access to Order Management in the Developer Console.
    1. View financial reports: Gives the right to access and view financial reports.
    2. Manage orders: Gives the right to view and refund orders but not to view aggregate financial statistics or download sales & payout reports.
  3. Let your users know about the new location for order management.

How useful did you find this blogpost?

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Google Maps 9.43.2 has added 100% native Uber integration, and it looks awesome

Posted: 12 Jan 2017 09:52 AM PST


As part of an update to the Maps app today, Google is adding fully native integration with Uber. You can set a destination, pick an Uber type, book it, monitor its location, and call the driver - all directly from Google Maps. This is excellent. While I did see an update to Maps on my phone today, the feature doesn't appear to be live for me just yet, so there's probably a server-side switch on this.

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Google Maps 9.43.2 has added 100% native Uber integration, and it looks awesome was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Top 10 New Android Games This Week: Towanga, Cog!

Posted: 12 Jan 2017 09:29 AM PST

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.

Astral Stairways

DescriptionTravel through the rift of time! Save the 800 worlds! With the power of summoning mighty followers, the hero will save the 800 worlds! Under the guidance of Goddess Kala, explore the worlds and defeat the greatest evil force!



DescriptionZ-Exemplar is a side-scrolling shooter in the tradition of R-Type, Gradius, Nemesis and other classic arcade games from the past. Borrowing its aesthetic from the computers of yesteryear (specifically the Sinclair ZX Spectrum) Z-Exemplar combines bright, bold, 8-bit pixel art with frantic action and an epic mission to conquer a galaxy of almost 1000 planets.


The Hacker 2.0

DescriptionIn The Hacker 2.0 you will use different hacking functions to complete missions in a clever way. Features: More than 80 levels. Unlock and customize hacking functions. Unlock different player avatars. Earn credits. Hack terminals.


Star Wars™: Force Arena

Description: In Star Wars™: Force Arena you will lead a powerful team of iconic Star Wars™ characters, including new favorites from Rogue One™: A Star Wars™ Story, into real-time, adrenaline-fueled battles against other players from around the globe!


Journey of HaHa

DescriptionJourney with "Haha" as she ascends a deadly tower. Face new challenges in each room, including new obstacles, enemies and traps. Don't rely on your speed or strength to get you through this; only your smarts can help you reach the top.


Bang Bang Tennis

Description: Take on the world's best and become the Bang Bang Grand Champion in this fast paced Bash and Smash Tennis game. Bang Bang tennis, a new kind of tennis, with barriers to stop the ball from going out, the goal is simple, smash the ball past your opponent.



DescriptionLeap your way to the top of the clock tower. Elegant design and music make for a soothing experience. Play in either portrait or landscape – we're flexible. Compete against players on our global leaderboards. Unlock badges to share with your friends.


Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links

Description: Take on global Duelists in real-time and while on the go with "Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links"! Star-studded lineup includes: Yugi, Kaiba, Joey, Mai and more! Voices from the anime heighten the Dueling experience! Intuitive controls for beginners! Depth to satisfy "Yu-Gi-Oh!" veterans! Signature monsters feature stunning 3D animations!


Samurai Saga

DescriptionSamurai Saga combines old-school platformer charm with fluid physics to create an intensely satisfying enemy-stomping experience. Play a sword-slashing shuriken-slinging samurai on an epic quest. Unlock and master legendary skills to counter your many foes.



Description"It has been foretold that a masked being would stand atop the legendary Towaga Temple, dwelling among shadows to fulfil The Black Moon Ritual."
Explore, fight, exorcise… survive! But The Ancients warn you: your journey won't be easy. Prove yourself worthy and the light shall reward your sacrifice." We hope you'll have as much fun discovering the game as we had making it!


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Nexus 6 Users Complain of Speakerphone Bug After Android 7.1.1 Nougat Update

Posted: 12 Jan 2017 09:18 AM PST

Google started updating its Nexus devices to Android 7.1.1 Nougat back in December. Like other Nexus owners, Nexus 6 users were very excited.

However, their enthusiasm lessened considerably after they noticed their phone now had a faulty speakerphone. Annoyed users have been taking to the Google Forums to complain about the problems, which has been blamed on the Android 7.1.1 Nougat update.

The issue boils down to this – when using the device's speakerphone, the other person on the phone will hear an echo plus other weird noises. On their part, Nexus 6 owners have no problem.

A solution has been suggested until Google does something about it. Try muting your mic while you're on a phone call, says one user on the forums.

Why is the problem blamed on the latest update? Well some users have downgraded back to Android 7.0 Nougat and the issue disappeared. However, it returned once the Nexus 6 was updated to Android 7.1.1 Nougat again.

The good news is that Google already acknowledged the problem and passed it along to its development team. Hopefully a fix will be coming soon.

Until then, if you have a Nexus 6 and you haven't upgraded to the latest Android build, we suggest you hold off until the speakerphone woes are behind us.

[Google Forums / (2)]


The post Nexus 6 Users Complain of Speakerphone Bug After Android 7.1.1 Nougat Update appeared first on Android in Canada Blog.

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Samsung Galaxy S7 Finally Getting Android 7.0 Nougat, Canadians Have to Wait

Posted: 12 Jan 2017 09:13 AM PST

The Android 7.0 Nougat beta program for the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge has been available for a few months. Now after weeks of testing it seems the official update is finally rolling out to select users in Europe who were previously enrolled in the beta program. However, regular users should see it arrive soon enough.

The Samsung beta team has previously confirmed the new built is due out on January 17. But it seems some of us are getting it ahead of schedule, which is super good news.

The new build weighs 215MB and bumps the device's software to Android 7.0, not Android 7.1.1 Nougat as it was previously expected.

The roll-out will soon be expanded to include territories outside Europe, so hopefully Canadian users will soon receive the much awaited Android 7.0 Nougat treatment. Note the update is currently going to unlocked models, but carrier versions will follow suit.

Other Android OEMs have beaten Samsung to the punch when it comes to delivering the Android 7.0 Nougat update. For example, the LG G5 and Motorola Moto Z have already been updated to Android latest and greatest in Canada.

The update will bestow a slew of new features on the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge like the Galaxy Note7 specific "Secure Folder" option.

[Sam Mobile]

The post Samsung Galaxy S7 Finally Getting Android 7.0 Nougat, Canadians Have to Wait appeared first on Android in Canada Blog.

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HTC U Ultra Unveiled with Secondary Display, Sense Companion AI Feature

Posted: 12 Jan 2017 09:13 AM PST

HTC gracefully skipped CES 2017 and opted to host a separate media event a few days after the Las Vegas tradeshow ended. Today, the struggling Taiwanese device maker unveiled the all new HTC U Ultra, which the company hopes will make the HTC name great again.

The HTC U Ultra is certainly an interesting device. For starters, HTC revamped its flagship design language and released a super glossy and sleek phablet under the "Liquid Surface" banner, which comes in four different color variants including Sapphire blue, Cosmetic Pink, Brilliant Black and Ice White.

Now the other thing that you notice off the bat is the presence of the secondary mini-display on top which resembles the one present in the LG V20. The additional screen can be used to display extra information like notifications and reminders.

Anyway, the HTC U Ultra features a main 5.7-inch display with the standard premium QHD resolution. On the computing front, the phone takes advantage of a Snapdragon 821 chipset with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internals storage (microSD card slot included) – oddly similar to the Google Pixel.

Speaking of the Pixel, remember the 12MP camera onboard the phone? It's also onboard of the HTC U Ultra with some (UltraPixel) modifications. For example, HTC has added optical image stabilization and an improved phase-detect autofocus. As for the selfie camera, the company added a chunky 16MP snapper so you can take all the self-portraits you want. There's also an "UltraPixel mode" available which boosts light sensitivity.

HTC has also taken an interest in AI, so it has bundled the phone with something it calls Sense Companion. Through machine learning, the handset can suggest things like grabbing an extra sweater on a chilly day or that it's time to toggle battery saving mode.

Like the HTC Bolt before it, the HTC U Ultra runs Android 7.0 Nougat and comes without a 3.5mm headphone jack. Instead the company will offer a pair of USonic USB-C earbuds.

Interested customers can place a pre-order for the HTC U Ultra today at HTC.com for $1,039 CAD a pop.


The post HTC U Ultra Unveiled with Secondary Display, Sense Companion AI Feature appeared first on Android in Canada Blog.

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Samsung’s Foldable Smartphone Might Actually Be A 7-inch Tablet

Posted: 12 Jan 2017 09:13 AM PST

Samsung's foldable smartphone design have been in the rumour mill since forever. Well it finally seems that the first models featuring such a flexible display will actually make it out on the market this year.

According to Asian media, Samsung is likely to unveil a foldable phone in Q3 2017. Now let's talk a bit about this futuristic device. After working for years on a fold-in bendable devices, Samsung noticed how inconvenient it was to unfurl the prototypes every time you wanted to check something on the display. And let's face it we check our phones' displays a LOT.

So Samsung switch to a fold-out design instead, which means the screen stays on the inside making easier for users to glimpse at the display whenever they feel like it.

Now the current report says Samsung actually has to decide whether it will launch the device or not, but with the advent of concept phones (think Xiaomi MI MIX or Huawei Honor Magic) we don't see why not, even if in limited quantities.

The Investor also revealed a piece of information we never heard before. Apparently Samsung's foldable phone will actually be a 7-inch tablet in its unfolded state – a mode of use which should come in handy when you're trying to watch video or browse pictures from last year's trip.

Samsung's foldable design sounds pretty intriguing, so we surely hope the Korean tech giant will at least decide to showcase it to the world in 2017 if not start selling it.

[The Investor]

The post Samsung's Foldable Smartphone Might Actually Be A 7-inch Tablet appeared first on Android in Canada Blog.

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Chrooma Keyboard 4 adds GIF search, colored navbar, emoji suggestions, word blacklist, more

Posted: 12 Jan 2017 08:32 AM PST

Chrooma Keyboard is one of those keyboards I can always recommend to people who like the Google Keyboard but want something more out of the experience. I have been using it on and off since it got updated to v3 in June and I love its adaptive colors that fit with whatever app you're using, extensive gestures, multilingual support, and customizable action row. But since some of these features were already added to GBoard recently, there were fewer reasons to use Chrooma...

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Chrooma Keyboard 4 adds GIF search, colored navbar, emoji suggestions, word blacklist, more was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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HTC announces U Ultra with two displays, 12MP camera, Sense Companion

Posted: 12 Jan 2017 08:29 AM PST

HTC teased January 12 as a big reveal date, and sure enough, today the company has just unveiled two new smartphones.

HTC has announced the U Ultra, its newest flagship. The handset features a secondary, two-inch display over the main panel which will serve up app shortcuts, event notifications, and quick access to your favorite contacts. The main display measures in at 5.7 inches and has a resolution of 2560×1440 (513 pixels per inch).

HTC U Ultra2

Under the hood, there's a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor clocked at 2.15GHz, with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of built-in storage. It does offer support for a miroSD cards as well. On the back there's a 12MP camera with phase detection autofocus, optical image stabilization, dual-tone LED flash, and f/1.8 aperture. There's a 16MP front-facing camera on the other side.

The U Ultra is running Android 7.0 Nougat under HTC's proprietary Sense UI. This time around, though, HTC is including Sense Companion, which is an AI assistant that can learn from your daily habits. It will inform you when you should dress warmly if it's going to snow or bring an umbrella if it's going to rain. The assistant will even let you know that you should bring a battery back if it believes you'll need to charge the phone's 3000mAh battery while on the go.

The U Ultra also features a USB Type-C Port, no 3.5mm headphone jack, and a fingerprint reader.

HTC has opened pre-orders for the U Ultra, but the device won't launch until sometime in March. It retails for $749, and the unlocked model supports both AT&T and T-Mobile in the United States. It'll be available in white, blue, pink, and black.

HTC U Play

HTC also unveiled the U Play, which is a bit more toned down. There's no dual display on this model, for instance, and the display is a 5.2-inch 1080p HD panel. It does feature a 16MP camera on the back, with f/2.0 aperture, autofocus, and dual-tone LED flash.

There are two variants of the U Play: 32GB of built-in storage with 3GB of RAM, or 64GB of built-in storage with 4GB of RAM, both of which support microSD cards for expandable storage. It's powered by an octa-core MediaTek Helio P10 processor and has a USB-C port but no 3.5mm headphone jack. The U Play also supports HTC's the Sense Companion and has the same "Liquid Surface" glass body as the U Ultra. The battery measures in at 2500mAh.

There's no word on pricing or release date for the U Play yet. It'll be available in white, blue, pink, and black when it launches.

What do you think of HTC's latest devices?

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Google releases Toontastic 3D, a digital puppet theater for kids to create and animate their own stories

Posted: 12 Jan 2017 07:32 AM PST

LaunchPad Toys, an educational content app developer, was acquired by Google back in February of 2015, and one result of that acquisition is Toontastic 3D, a more animated version of the developer's loved and applauded Toontastic (check those Common Sense ratings).

The app is described by Google as a "digital puppet theater," but that's only scratching the surface. Kids can grab one of the many characters and settings provided, move them around, add a song, record their voice for dialogue, and generate a 3D video to keep and re-watch on their phone.

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Google releases Toontastic 3D, a digital puppet theater for kids to create and animate their own stories was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Star Wars: Force Arena launches officially on the Play Store after limited beta

Posted: 12 Jan 2017 06:32 AM PST

I haven't seen a single Star Wars movie (that's probably one of the worst things to admit to a techie/nerdy audience, so I'll see myself out by the end of this post and work on fixing that situation pronto) but I feel like I know most of the story and characters because of how much the franchise has been played out in pop culture, online, in real life discussions, toy stores, and everywhere else really.

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Star Wars: Force Arena launches officially on the Play Store after limited beta was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Action shooter Towaga from the makers of The Firm is visually stunning

Posted: 12 Jan 2017 05:47 AM PST

Sunnyside Games haven't released many titles so far. Their only mobile game is The Firm, a twitch arcade designed in an 8-bit style that is also available on iOS. They also have an Oculus title, Anshar Wars 2, but that was all of it until recently. Towaga is the studio's third title and it is stunningly designed.

Gone are the 8-bit designs of The Firm and instead you'll see high definition graphics and beautiful elements.

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Action shooter Towaga from the makers of The Firm is visually stunning was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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New LG G6 teaser hints at features like waterproofing and a smaller body

Posted: 11 Jan 2017 09:39 PM PST

The LG G6 may not make its official debut for another month and a half or so, but that hasn't stopped LG from teasing the upcoming device's features.

LG Mobile Global today posted a YouTube video titled "Wish list for the ideal smartphone." In it, several people name new features that they'd like in their perfect phone, including a big screen, smaller body for one-handed use, waterproofing, the ability to "capture it all at once," and reliability.

The description for the video reads "Your wishes for the ideal smartphone will come to life. Stay tuned for its arrival in February 2017."


This whole thing looks like a teaser for the LG G6 and its features. We already know that the G6 will have a big and tall screen, and the "capture it all at once" hints at some special camera features. And then there's waterproofing, which is becoming a must-have feature on flagships.

The LG G6 is currently expected to debut at Mobile World Congress at the end of February.

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