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[Deal] Amazon offering $5 credit when installing the Prime Instant Video app


Getting a $5 credit to rent movies and television shows from Amazon could not be any easier. Now through June 14, the online retailer will reward people with a $5 Instant Video credit when downloading the Prime Instant Video app. The Prime Instant Video app comes as an external download from the Amazon app. So it’s not actually as quick as it may seem.

Here is Amazon’s email to customers:

Dear Justin Herrick,

For a limited time, you’ll receive a $5 credit to use on eligible Amazon Instant Video rentals and purchases when you download the Prime Instant Video App from the Amazon App for Android Phones by 11:59 p.m. PST on June 14, 2015. Terms and conditions apply. See details. Within 7 days of downloading the app, you will receive an email with a claim code and instructions on how to redeem your Amazon Instant Video credit.

With the Prime Instant Video app, Amazon customers can rent or purchase and instantly watch new release movies including Interstellar, Into The Woods and Gone Girl as well as the entire Star Wars saga, along with shows like The Walking Dead, Scandal and Better Call Saul.

Prime Members can instantly watch tens of thousands of great titles available at no additional cost to their membership. Some of the great titles available to watch as part of the Prime membership include the Golden Globe-winning Amazon Original series Transparent, the hour-long cop drama Bosch and the Emmy-winning kids animated series Tumble Leaf, along with hit network shows including Downton Abbey, The White Queen, Falling Skies, Orphan Black, The Americans, Under the Dome and Veronica Mars and blockbuster movies such as Noah, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Star Trek Into Darkness and The Captive, among others.

Click on the “Download now” button below from your Android phone. If you already have the Amazon App for Android Phones installed on your phone, you will be taken directly to the page to download the Prime Instant Video app. If not, you will first have to download the Amazon App for Android Phones. Once the download is complete, open the Amazon app and navigate to the apps and games tab and search for “Prime Instant Video” and download the Prime Instant Video app.

[Download now]

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Google’s Hiroshi Lockheimer on the present and future of Android and Chrome OS

Google's Hiroshi Lockheimer on the present and future of Android and Chrome OS

In 2005, software engineer Hiroshi Lockheimer got a call from Andy Rubin, his former boss at Danger Research, the creator of the Sidekick (aka Hiptop), the first truly web-savvy smartphone. Rubin was now at Google, which had recently acquired his new startup. Lockheimer was working on Internet TV software for Microsoft, after stops at Palm and Good Technology.

Hiroshi Lockheimer

“He knew my interest in consumer devices, and specifically wireless devices,” Lockheimer remembers. “He called me up and said, ‘Hey, you know, we’re doing this thing at Google now, we got acquired. I can’t really tell you what we’re doing, but I think you’re really going to be excited about it. You should come talk to us.’”

Lockheimer did talk to Rubin, and ended up joining Google in January 2006 to contribute to a new mobile operating system. It didn’t ship on a phone for nearly two years. But Lockheimer is still working on Android today as a Google VP of engineering, a position that includes oversight of both it and Chrome OS, the operating system that powers Chromebooks such as Google’s own Pixel.

Android as it appeared in 2007, long before the first Android phone shipped

On the eve of Google’s annual I/O developer conference, I visited Lockheimer at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. to talk about the current state of Android and Chrome OS-and why Google thinks it’s logical, rather than inefficient, to have two operating systems.

A Billion Phones A Year, And More

The mystery project that Lockheimer joined Google to work on in 2006 is now by far the world’s dominant mobile operating system in terms of market share. Android shipped on more than a billion smartphones in 2014-and powers much of Google’s ever-expanding ambitions when it comes to consumer electronics of all sorts.

“I had no idea that this is where we would be nine-plus years later,” he says. “Maybe we should have been dreaming bigger dreams, but this has far exceeded my expectations, and it’s kind of really humbling, actually. I’m wearing a watch that’s running Android now. I have a TV set at home that’s running Android. I’m trying out cars that have Android running in them.”

Android TV running on a Sony HDTV

Even though Android still feels like it has plenty of new frontiers ahead of it, it’s also feeling increasingly mature: At this point, it’s an operating system without much in the way of glaring flaws or major missing features. You can see that in the slowing pace of big updates. The Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, and Honeycomb versions were released at breakneck speed over a total period of less than two years between 2009-2011. Today’s Android upgrades can still be substantial-last year’s Lollipop version introduced an extremely ambitious aesthetic makeover called Material Design-but they arrive at an iOS-like annual pace.

“As we’ve grown as a platform, we realize that to some extent predictability is important for the whole industry: developers, manufacturers, operators, and consumers, frankly,” Lockheimer explains. “So we’ve landed with sort of a yearly cadence of big releases, so, for instance, one year we release J, the next year we release K, and then the year after that L, and then this year we’ll launch M, and so you can predict what will happen next year.”

Android Wear in action

But he pushes back against any notion that it’s getting harder for Google to figure out how to improve Android. And its evolution isn’t just about putting it on new types of devices. “The trick is not to think about them in isolation,” Lockheimer says. “It’s really about thinking about these different screens, if you will, holistically. How do they work with each other? A watch, and a phone, and a TV, and a car, and a tablet, how can they coordinate, and how can they actually enrich our lives, and make things that were harder before more useful?”

He provides an example: “Before you get in your car, maybe you’re planning your trip, you’re planning whatever restaurant you’re going to, and you do this on your computer, at your home or at your office. Then you get into your car, and then you have to do that search all over again to find the address, and put it into your car.”

“Well, shouldn’t your car know that you just looked this thing up, and guess that that’s probably where you’re going to want to go? These are things that we can now enable by having a common platform.”

A Less Fractured Operating System

Android’s defining characteristic-as conveyed in its “Be together. Not the same” ad campaign-is that it’s available on a multitude of devices from hardware makers who can tweak it to their liking. For years, most of them did a lot of tweaking, not always to the operating system’s benefit. Recently, though, major phones such as Samsung’s Galaxy S6 have used it in something closer to its unvarnished state. I asked Lockheimer for his thoughts on this trend away from customization for customization’s sake.

Samsung’s Galaxy S6

“As part of my job, I do meet with many of our partners, including manufacturers and operators and so on, and silicon vendors and the whole stack,” he told me. “And I have noticed the same thing, which is that the manufacturers seem to have reached a new type of equilibrium around the customization that they do on top of Android. One of the core principles of Android has been, it’s open source, and amenable for manufacturer differentiation. We didn’t want to build an operating system where the manufacturers just didn’t have a way to differentiate, because we didn’t think that would help adoption. I’m talking about 10 years ago, nine years ago.”

Material Design-a defining aesthetic not just for Android but for Google products in general-has left hardware makers less inclined to put their own stamp on Android, Lockheimer says. “Manufacturers realize that design has a name, and it has a name because it’s a big, huge investment from Google and the developer ecosystem rallying around this one design guideline. We’ve worked very closely with their design teams and update them on roadmaps and take their feedback, so that they’re a part of the process, so that they feel invested in it. I think it’s been a huge success for us.”

New Bosses, New Responsibilities

Lockheimer was once part of a triumvirate that ran Android, along with Rubin and Hugo Barra. It was dissolved in 2013, when Rubin stepped down as the operating system’s chief and Barra left Google for Chinese smartphone kingpin Xiaomi. Now the OS falls into the large percentage of Google operations reporting to senior VP Sundar Pichai, along with search, Gmail, Chrome, Apps, Maps, Google+, and more.

When I asked Lockheimer about his working relationship with Pichai, he didn’t explicitly contrast it with the Rubin era. But he did describe an organization that isn’t siloed off from other Google offerings and corporate goals. “We don’t really talk about org charts, per se,” he says. “We talk about what are the products that we want to build, and then we get into the details-‘Okay, what is the best way in which to build those products’-but it always starts with the first principle, which is great user experiences.”

In October of last year, another round of reorganization put Lockheimer in charge of Chrome OS as well as Android, bringing Google’s operating systems closer together than ever before. The move led some observers to wonder if Google intended some sort of unification of the two OSes. Lockheimer, not surprisingly, isn’t talking about any such plan-which, with Android devices selling by the billion and Chromebooks doing well in niches such as K-12 education, doesn’t feel like an urgent matter in any case.

Google’s Chromebook Pixel

Instead, he emphasizes the value of having different platforms for different sorts of devices. “At some very base level, an operating system is an operating system,” he says. “There’s silicon and there’s software, and those two things need to talk to each other. But where they do start to diverge-or maybe specialize is a better word-is as you get closer and closer to the user experience.” Laptop-style Chromebooks, for instance, have always paid attention to keyboard shortcuts; touchscreen-oriented Android devices, not so much.

Still, with the OSes under joint management, it’s easier to share knowledge-which is helpful even in the case of keyboard shortcuts, now that more people are using Android tablets with Bluetooth keyboards. Implementing support for technology standards can be done with both Android and Chrome OS in mind: As Lockheimer puts it, “Wi-Fi is Wi-Fi.” And bringing the teams closer makes it easier to implement cross-platform features such as the ability to use an Android phone to unlock a Chromebook.

Toward the end of our conversation, I asked Lockheimer how much time he spent thinking about Android’s and Chrome OS’s future past the next release or two, and what they might look like a few years from now. I thought I was giving him an opportunity to wax eloquent on pie-in-the-sky stuff. Instead, he stayed practical, and said that developing operating systems can’t be done in isolation from the components they use and the devices they’ll run on. Running engineering for these two operating systems requires him to think about everything from chips to merchandising.

“It’s not just the technology,” he told me. “It’s about the go-to-market. It’s about the retail. It’s about the manufacturing. It’s about the chipsets. What are the capabilities of a display two years from now? Maybe there are new technologies that are in the roadmap for a display company, and maybe we can incorporate those things.”

“It’s a very wide view that we need to take, and I try my best to do that.”

Filed under: Software, Google



Intel Compute Stick review: nothing more than a prototype for now

Intel Compute Stick review: nothing more than a prototype for now

Intel’s new Compute Stick isn’t that hard to grasp: It’s a computer… on a stick! Using one of its Atom processors, Intel managed to cram everything a fully functional PC needs in something the size of a few packs of gum for just $150. All you need to get going is to plug it into a display with an HDMI port, connect it to power and attach your accessories. It heralds a new era of computing, one where you can turn any display into a pseudo-desktop in a few minutes. It could change the way IT workers manage computer labs, kiosks and digital signage forever. And it’s something you should avoid buying at all costs. While the Compute Stick gives us a glimpse at a tantalizing future, it’s basically a beta product. It’s only meant for the brave and geeky — not most consumers.


Intel clearly didn’t spend much time on the Compute Stick’s design. It’s a plastic, rectangular black stick that’s simply boring. Aside from a plain, white Intel logo, the only bit of style its got are vents for some of the tiniest computer fans I’ve ever seen. Beyond that, you’ve got one full-sized USB port for your accessories (a USB hub is pretty much required); a micro-USB port that connects to the AC adapter; a micro SD card slot (for up to 128GB more storage); and a power button with a lone blue power LED. While it’s small, it’s not exactly svelte — it’s about the size of four typical USB sticks joined together. The Compute Stick is purely utilitarian, although its lack of flash probably won’t matter much since it’s mainly going to be stuck behind a TV or monitor. There might be some slight cosmetic changes once it hits retail, but I wouldn’t count on anything drastic.

For the most part, the Compute Stick is a device that proves it’s possible to build a tiny computer in stick form, but it leaves the door open for others to refine that concept. I’d imagine plenty of third-party computer makers would like to take a stab at making a more stylish version, perhaps one that’s thinner and made out of metal instead of plastic. It’s also a market that Google is getting into with its Chromebit, which is basically the Chrome OS version of the Compute Stick.

Aside from the device itself, Intel gives you a few accessories to get started: a short USB cable and AC adapter for power, a handful of plug attachments for the AC adapter and an HDMI extension cord (for when you can’t fit the Compute Stick directly into an HDMI port).

Setup and performance

If you’re paying close attention, you’d realize by now that there’s one major flaw with the Compute Stick’s design: It only has one USB port! Intel assumes you’ll plug in your own USB hub to get your keyboard, mouse and other accessories connected. But if you don’t have one handy, it can really throw a wrench into the entire setup process. Sure, if you’re buying the Compute Stick, you’ve probably got a hub around, but having a single USB port still isn’t very user-friendly.

I was able to get both my wireless keyboard and mouse connected to the Compute Stick with a single USB receiver, luckily enough. I also learned the hard way that you really need to connect the USB power cable to the AC adapter to properly boot the Compute Stick. I spent days trying to get it up and running by plugging it into one of my TV’s USB ports (though, oddly enough, some testers have managed to get it working on their USB ports).

Once you’ve sorted the power and input situation, using the Compute Stick is pretty much exactly the same as every other Windows 8 computer. If you’re connecting it to a monitor on your desk, you probably won’t be too wowed — it simply feels normal. The real magic behind the Compute Stick occurs when you connect it to other displays. I first tested it out on my HDTV, and it was a bit trippy navigating Windows on a 50-inch screen with a keyboard and mouse on my coffee table. (Yes, I know this is normal to you HTPC nerds out there.) The more displays I plugged the Compute Stick into, the more amorphous the very idea of a PC became — and really, that’s exactly what Intel wants.

PCMark7 3DMark06 3DMark11 ATTO (top disk speeds)
Intel Compute Stick (1.3GHz Atom Z3735F, Intel HD Graphics) 2,320 1,544 E266 / P173 77 MB/s (reads); 175 MB/s (writes)
Microsoft Surface 3 (1.6GHz Atom x7-Z8700, Intel HD Graphics) 2,839 3,920 E941 / P552 163 MB/s (reads); 39.2 MB/s (writes)
HP Stream 11 (2.16Ghz Intel Celeron N2840, Intel HD Graphics) 2,607 N/A E374 168 MB/s (reads); 72 MB/s (writes)

Given the Compute Stick’s specs — a 1.3GHz Atom Z3735F (with burst speeds up to 1.8GHz), 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage — I didn’t really expect it to be a strong performer. And, sad to say, my testing pretty much confirmed that. It was fine for light web browsing and basic productivity tasks, but it slowed down quickly once I started piling on browser tabs and opening up multiple applications. I was constantly fighting with memory-hungry Chrome; all it took was one rogue video ad or Flash embed to bring things to a halt. It’s pretty much netbook-level performance — usable, but you have to be very careful about overloading it.

The Compute Stick handled my basic daily workflow — browsing the web, chatting with coworkers and friends on Slack and other IM clients and editing images occasionally — but everything felt too slow for comfort. This isn’t something that you can use as a secondary computer very easily. And you can forget about running games, as the benchmarks above make clear. 3DMark11, a five-year-old 3D benchmark, was pretty much a slideshow on the Compute Stick. It could barely even muster running Hotline Miami, a fairly simple 2D game.

But really, the Compute Stick isn’t truly meant for heavy usage, or for playing games. And that’s partially why I’m not recommending it for now. It’s a proof of concept through and through. And even when Intel and its partners deliver better versions, they’ll still have a very limited purpose. It’s a perfect form factor for computer labs and kiosks, since you can carry dozens of them in your pockets instead of lugging desktops around. But unless future Compute Sticks get a lot cheaper, you’ll probably be better off with a cheap laptop or tablet.

As disappointing as it is for most uses, the Compute Stick might be useful if you’re simply looking for a slim media computer for your living room. It can access network shares easily just like any PC, and it managed to play 1080p MKV files and YouTube streams easily (as long as you don’t have too many other things open). Still, you can probably find small home theater PCs for around $200 that can do a lot more.

Configuration options and the competition

In addition to the $150 Windows 8 Compute Stick is a $110 model with just 8GB of storage and 1GB RAM running Ubuntu Linux. That’s going to be less useful for most people, but the lower price makes it a much more palatable test device for some hardware geeks (though you won’t be installing Windows on 8GB of storage). Intel says it’s not publishing an official retail price for these devices, so there’s a good chance they’ll be available for much less over the next few months.

The Compute Stick has a few competitors like the MeeGoPad T01 and the (seemingly discontinued) FXI Cotton Candy stick, but in terms of hardware from companies you’d actually know, Google’s recently announced Chromebit is its main foe. That device costs only $100 and runs Chrome OS on a Rockchip CPU and 2GB of RAM. If you’re just looking for a simple web-browsing dongle, the Chromebit might just be enough. And since most people don’t expect Chrome OS to do everything a full Windows computer can, the fact that it’s relatively underpowered probably won’t be too noticeable. Google also put a lot more effort into the Chromebit’s design — it’s significantly thinner than Intel’s entry and it also swivels up around the HDMI part so it’s not a huge eyesore sticking out of your TV or monitor.

In this price range I’d also recommend looking at inexpensive Windows laptops like the $200 HP Stream . It can also connect to displays over HDMI, and — gasp! — it’s also a fully functional laptop.


After testing out the Compute Stick for a few weeks, I was reminded of Intel’s first foray into mobile processors. For years it showed off ugly prototype phones at CES and other tech conventions that nobody in their right mind would buy. They were just meant to prove that Intel could actually make mobile processors. The Compute Stick shows that Intel can build an entirely new form of computing device, but it fails to prove why anyone would want one.

Filed under: Desktops, Displays, Misc, Intel



Possible prototype of the Galaxy S6 mini leaks out with Snapdragon 808


The Samsung Galaxy S6 mini might have possibly been leaked out courtesy of GFXBench. The smartphone with the model number SM-G9198 is shown here and is carrying a Snapdragon 808 chipset as well, indicating that this could be a legitimate leak and a variant of the Galaxy S6.

Other features of this mystery smartphone include 16GB of native storage as well as 2GB of RAM, so it might not be as high end as we were expecting. In the camera department, this device is shown to be packing a 16-megapixel rear camera as well as a 5-megapixel front camera, so there could be something here for the camera enthusiasts.

Android 5.1.1 is running by default, so all the bases seem to be covered here. We’re waiting for a detailed word on the smartphone, so it’s too early to jump to conclusions at this point.

Source: GFXBench
Via: Phone Arena

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Ross Ulbricht verdict dismisses the idea of Silk Road as a safe place

Drug Website Shutdown

Ross Ulbricht is going away for life. The prosecution urged judge Katherine Forrest to send a strong message to anyone who might be tempted to go the Silk Road way, and she did. In addition to maximum time, the judge ordered $183 million, the estimated total sales from Silk Road, to be paid as restitution. When the 31-year-old mastermind was convicted on seven charges (including distributing narcotics over the internet, money laundering, engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, and conspiracies related to those crimes) earlier this year, it was clear that he would spend a significant chunk of his life in prison. But over the past few weeks, his parents rallied support on social media and the defense made every attempt to highlight a different side of the drug market and its creator. They claimed Silk Road actually reduced harm, and that users were safer buying drugs through the site than on the streets.

They brought in declarations from a number of experts to validate that claim. “The site created a place where people who chose to purchase drugs could do so without the risk of street-based violence and reducing the risk of harm to the end user [with] quality control and accountability features,” Tim Bingham, an Irish harm reduction researcher who filed a statement to support Ulbricht’s defense told Engadget.

Based on the two years that he spent engaging with users on the site, he talks about a forum that was dedicated to people looking to reduce their drug use. “It was a very active thread,” he says. “There were people supporting each other through the process. As opposed to other sites on the main web, people felt safer here.” The site wasn’t all about psychoactive substances. He points out that there were people with mental health issues looking for support in those forums. It was a place where they weren’t stigmatized.

He believes the verdict is disproportionate, even unnecessary. “In the current environment of drug prohibition this sentence will not halt the continued growth of both the clear web and dark web online drugs markets,” says Bingham. “If the sentence is intended to serve as a warning to others, I don’t envisage it will have much of an effect.”


Instead of squashing potential drug markets, shutting down Silk Road has only made room for many others. He believes it’s created a more fragmented landscape of illicit drug use. “We can see how many market places have sprung up since Silk Road,” he says. “I would argue it’s made it a lot harder from a research perspective. I think it’s made it worse even for the law enforcement. Silk Road was purely drugs, a lot of these other sites are selling drugs and weapons – they’re one-stop shops. They’re introducing people to other areas of criminality that they may not have been involved in before.”

As is the case with any crackdown on a drug racket, whether it’s online or out on the streets, prosecutors tend to believe going after suppliers will put an end to drug use. “That’s not a reasonable conclusion to make,” says Stefanie Jones, nightlife community engagement manager at Drug Policy Alliance. “That decision is regrettable in the same way that all drug prosecutions are regrettable. They might be guilty of what they’re charged with, but it’s not going to have any impact on the overall human desire for substances that alter consciousness nor the market side of things where people will find ways to supply their substances.”

The fact that the minimum mandatory sentence of 20 years would’ve been a sigh of relief for Ulbricht and his family is indicative of the magnitude of this case. But, life without the possibility of parole “is the worst possible outcome, not just for [him] personally, but also in the disdain for harm reduction shown by the prosecution and the judge,” says Jones. “They are sharply out of step with all those who recognize exactly what it means to prioritize safety in an environment of drug prohibition. That’s what Silk Road did to the extent that it was possible, and the Drug Policy Alliance will continue to support harm reduction wherever it arises.”

[Image credit: (top) Associated Press, (middle) AFP/Getty]

Filed under: Internet



A farewell tour of Google I/O 2015

After two furious days of news — both expected and not — Google I/O has finally come to a close. We’re still summing up our thoughts about the show and what Google’s new future looks like, but we wanted to take you on one last stroll through Moscone West as I/O wound down to see what it’s like being in a playground for some of the smartest, craziest people in the world. Join us, won’t you?

Roberto Baldwin contributed to this story.

Filed under: Mobile



14 ingenious hacks for problems you didn’t know you had

People can be crazy, yo. But where there’s a will, there’s a way that can lead to all sorts of fantastic oddities in the gadget world. Today’s community of hackers, makers and DIY fanatics oftentimes work together to find solutions to problems we didn’t know we had. They develop innovative products (without all that Kickstarter/Indiegogo hoopla) and often provide open-source instructions for anyone with more can-do attitude than cash. In honor of these ambitious gadget hackers, we’ve highlighted a few of the more interesting projects from over the years, ranging from the practical to the party starter.

[Image: Ruiz Brothers via Adafruit]

Filed under: , , , ,



Micromax Unite 2 getting the Android 5.0 update in India


One of India’s top manufacturers, Micromax has started rolling out the Android 5.0 update for the Unite 2 A106 smartphone in the region. This comes as good news for the customers of the budget handset who were supposedly promised the update when the device was first launched.

Given that it’s a budget device, the Lollipop update will certainly breath a life of fresh air on the handset. There won’t be a completely stock Android UI on board, so users will have to make do with OEM customization. Although you can find the standard set of performance enhancements underneath, so usability should be blazing fast post the update.

The update is said to be nearly 412.94MB in size, so make sure you’re on an unlimited network connection before proceeding with the download. It should pop up on your device as an OTA update, but you can also check the settings if you haven’t seen the notification yet.

Via: Fone Arena

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The Oppo R7 is now available to pre-order in the UK


Following its unveiling in Beijing last week, the brand new Oppo R7 is now up for pre-order in the UK from Amazon for £259 ($396) and is due to start shipping on Tuesday, July 21.

In case you missed it, the R7 is a very attractive, budget-friendly high end smartphone packing a 5-inch Full HD display, a 64-bit Snapdragon 615 processor, 3GB of RAM, a 13MP rear-facing camera and an 8MP front-facing shooter.

Straight out of its box, the handset will run the latest build of Android 5.1 Lollipop skinned with Oppo’s very own custom user interface, which the Chinese manufacturer claims provides you with “easy access to the applications you use on a daily basis.

If you’re based in the UK, like the sound of the Oppo R7 and want to pre-order one on Amazon — hit the source link below.

Source: Amazon

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Huawei and Volkswagen partnering for connected cars effort

huawei logo mwc 2015 3

This week at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Shanghai, notable Chinese smartphone maker Huawei announced a partnership with Volkswagen to bring connectivity to cars. Together they showed off a suite of apps that will allow users of Huawei phones to safely link their devices to infotainment systems mounted in select Volkswagen vehicles. Included in this suite are apps to aid navigation, text messaging, music, and phone calls.

To manage all of this information in real-time, Huawei has utilised MirrorLink to seamlessly connect devices. MirrorLink is an open technology standard designed to bring instant information to the car screen. It has gained ground abroad, but has not  been introduced to the US.

Android Auto has also began rollout in the US, and Google has also created a partnership with Volkswagen, so it is unclear about how much ground MirrorLink will gain in the US, if any. Currently, only the Volkswagen Lamando and Golf 7 are running MirrorLink with Huawei’s suite of vehicle safety apps, and both are locally produced in China. Still, it’s good to see more manufacturers taking smartphone/automobile connectivity seriously.

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