While most of our newer flagships are just now beginning to receive Android 7.0 Google is continuing to move along with Android. They have just started the rollout of their latest and greatest build Android 7.1.2 Beta 2. This update is currently rolling out the the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel C, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, and Nexus Player. For most of the devices the build is a minor update providing bug fixes, however for the Nexus 6P and Pixel C there are a few pretty big changes.
The Nexus 6P gets Fingerprint Scanner Gestures with the update. With the update on the 6P you will be able to pull down the notification bar with a swipe down on your fingerprint scanner. We saw this feature first in stock Android on the Pixel and Pixel XL. The Nexus 5X and now the Nexus 6P finally have the gesture feature.
The Pixel C will see the biggest change with this update. It brings an all new UI for multitasking as well as a new launcher and new navigation bar. You now get a large card view for your recents page. Opening a window can be achieved by dragging one of these cards to one side of the screen. The Pixel C also gets the Pixel launcher with this update. The Nav Bar icons are also now the same as what you get on the Pixel and Pixel XL. Any eligible device that is signed up for the Beta program will receive the OTA update.
Earlier today a video which happens to be the clearest video we have had so far of the Galaxy S8 has hit the web. This video clearly shows the always on display with home button and notification the lockscreen with a notification, as well as the lockscreen with notification and shortcuts. Once the phone is unlocked you can clearly see the new launcher which lacks an app drawer. The recents, home, and back button are shown in their traditional Samsung layout. A scroll to the right reveals a page full of apps, and then he flips the phone over and you can see the camera layout and fingerprint scanner on the back of the device. This looks to be the shiny black version of the phone and you can see what appears to be a silver Samsung logo beneath the camera. These videos have all been split second fast. This is likely due to the fact that it is highly likely that anyone caught videoing or taking pictures of the device could lose their job or face fines and penalties. It is nice to see these leaks ahead of launch. I'm not sure I would take these kind of risks to leak the device. You will find the leaked video at the weibo link below.
Many of you here have reported that you have had extensive issues with bootlooping on LG devices that you have owned in the past. You have even gone as far as to say that these issues were so troublesom that you would never buy an LG device again which is reasonable. These bootlooping issues were prevalent enough to have warranted a proposed class-action lawsuit. The lawsuit is been lodged in a California federal court against LG for bootloop issues specifically concerning the LG G4 and LG V10. LG actually acknowledged the issue last year and stated that it was a hardware issue stemming from a poor contact between components. LG did offer warranty replacements, but even though this was a manufacture defect they did not honor replacements on any devices outside of warranty. The lawsuit goes as far as to claim that LG continued to manufacture LG phones with the defect even after announcing the defect in January 2016. The suit is seeking damages in an amount to be determined at trial. Will you be taking part in this class action lawsuit?
The HTC U Ultra was a bit of a let down. It featured last year specs and had many problems for most. The youtube tech community pretty much slaughtered the device. It's top selling point has to be the camera setup. It actually has a pretty great rear and front facing camera, and the phone has a beautiful slim and glossy design. However it is missing a headphone jack which pretty much no one can stomach on phones at this point. It has a tiny 3000 mah battery for a phone as large as it is. The fingerprint reader is too small and the capacitive buttons that flank the fingerprint reader have too small a contact touch zone making the back and recent buttons difficult to use. This phone also has a steep price tag at $750.
With all the let downs that came with the U Ultra you can see why there was so much excitement surrounding the announcement that we would see a surprise from HTC on March 20th. Some outlets foolishly reported that we may see a new flagship a mere weeks after the U Ultra was announced. Now that the date is here we see that HTC is surprising us with a Sapphire version of the U Ultra. This is actually pretty big news. This will be the first big flagship device to feature a full front display covered in sapphire glass. Sapphire glass is currently the hardest type of glass used on smartphones, and is the most scratch resistant.
The leaks have turned out to be real! Samsung has just officially announced the date of their Unpacked event for March 29, 2017 via a short teaser clip uploaded to their main website. You can view the event from anywhere as it will be live streamed at Samsung.com/galaxy. The teaser clip shows several scenes with an old style phone and the slogan "This is a phone" it then shows the slogan "This was a phone", then transitions to a silhouette of the S8. Then it gives the event details. Mark your calendars and clear your schedule this should quite the epic phone launch!
Yesterday well known leakster Evan Blass tweeted out a Galaxy S8 Press Render which features 3 of the Galaxy S8 colors. The colors will be called Black Sky, Orchid Grey, and Arctic Silver. As you can see there is no mention of the violet color that had been rumored a few weeks ago. That color may not exists as Samsung may have decided to go with these colors instead or that color may simply be releasing to the Korean market only.
In a separate tweet Evan mentioned the pricing of the S8 release lineup. It looks like the S8 will release in Europe for €799 while the Galaxy S8 Plus will release for €899. That translates to $859 for the S8 and $966 for the S8 Plus in the US. Although you can't rely on these US equivalent prices as different markets generally get different pricing schemes. In the same tweet the pricing for the DeX docking station was revealed to be €129 while the new Gear 360 is set at €229. The S8 will be a revolutionary new phone when it comes to design and will likely be the first to release with the new Snapdragon 835, but do you think this device is worth the hefty base model $859 price tag? Are you throwing this much money at your screen right now?
We have been hearing rumors for the past several months that the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S8 would include a new artificial intelligence assistant at release called Bixby. Samsung has just officially announced bixby, but it looks like it will be available for more than just the Galaxy S8. According to Samsung we will see Bixby on smartphones first, and then it will be gradually added to our appliances. We will be able to eventually use Bixby to control our TVs and even the air conditioner. Bixby will be implemented in the cloud so anything connected to wifi that has circuitry for voice input can be controlled by the ai assistant. This may end up being a total alexa/google home competitor.
Samsung says they are developing Bixby as an answer to the ever growing complication of smartphones and other technology. Instead of users having to learn new technology the technology should learn from and adapt to the human. According to Samsung Bixby will offer a deeper experience that other voice agents or assistants. The main difference will be thanks to it's proficiency in three areas.
The LG G6 is the first device in a while to basically receive praise universally from those who had a chance to preview the device. The few weeks that I had with the phone were rather enjoyable. I think LG has done a great job with the design of the device and they have finally provided the features that we have all been asking for with IP68 water resistance and wireless charging capabilities in the US.
The LG G6 is now available for pre-order in the US with a shipment date of March 30th. It can be ordered right now on Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile. The G6 is available at Verizon for $672 or 24 payments of $28 per month. T-Mobile has the G6 for just $650 or 24 payments of $26 with a down payment of $26. AT&T has the device for 30 payments of $24 making it the most expensive option at $720 when all your payments are complete. Is anyone picking up this device?
Samsung Pay is now becoming widely used by Galaxy owners. I use the service quite often. It is one of the reasons I tend to stray from rooting my Samsung devices these days. Samsung is always looking to make mobile payments more secure. They may be adding a facial recognition feature for payments with the S8. We are already hearing reports that the device will include an advanced facial recognition feature which can unlock a device in merely 0.01 seconds.
It is expected that the device will use a combination of fingerprint, iris scan, and facial recognition to make Samsung Payments super secure. The report states,"Samsung is already working with banks to help them embrace facial recognition systems in coming months.". The Galaxy S8 just continues to look better and better. I am most excited that the facial recognition may help the iris scanner to become more seamless. Unlocking the Note 7 with the iris scanner took several steps. You needed to first wake the device, then swipe up, then the iris scanner would activate and unlock the phone. Hopefully the S8 will be able to unlock justy by raising the phone to your face.
Over the past few days there have been many complaints that Google Home is injecting Beauty And The Best ads into normal search results. If you ask it for the weather it will give you your normal weather report and then ad at the end "By the way, Beauty and The Beast opens in theaters today". Some Android users reported hearing this from their normal Google Assistant app as well. Google has responded saying this was not intended to be an ad, rather it is simply a part of the "My Day" feature which attempts to incorporate relevant and timely content after giving you your usual helpful information. According to Google this is just an attempt to provide "unique" content to their users. In an age where we encounter ads everywhere we look it is clear that folks are ad fatigued. Anything that looks like an ad in a place it wasn't expected can trigger the mildest of people. Google will have to be careful going forward injecting ad like content. If Google's Assistant remains a free service forever do you think it is fair for them to eventually inject ads as a way to monetize the assistant? Would normal ads in your information deter you from using the service?