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20
Oct

Google Maps now makes pit stops easier, also adds gas pricing


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There’s a lot to love about Google Maps, but one feature it has long been missing is the ability to add pit stops to your final destination. In the past, if you need to head to a gas station or grab a bite to eat, you had to cancel everything, input the gas station as a new destination and when done put back in your original destination. But no longer!

Starting today, Google Maps v9.16 is making its way to Google Play, making the ability to add secondary destinations a cinch. Basically, all you have to do is tap on the magnifying glass found in the top right corner of the display while in navigation mode. A drop down will appear with several options such as gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants and more. There’s even an option that lets you type or voice search your own custom pit stop by address or name.

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What’s interesting is that if you add a gas station to the stop, you’ll also be given pricing information, helping you pick out the one with the lowest price. The same prices will also be found now when searching for a gas station in regular search results.

The latest version of Google Maps is technically a minor update, but the addition of ‘pit stops’ is a feature that I personally am super excited for and one of the few things I ever complained about when it comes to Google Maps. As you’d expect, the update will be rolling out slowly over the next several weeks. If any of our readers have the APK and can share a link with us and other readers, we’d greatly appreciate it.

What do you think of the new Maps feature? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

20
Oct

HTC One A9 to get impeccably fast Android updates


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HTC today revealed its next flagship device, the One A9. There’re some mixed feelings around the device so far, but one thing HTC isn’t skimping on is high promises. If you buy an unlocked HTC One A9, the Taiwanese-based company claims that you’ll have future Android versions just 15 days after they hit Nexus devices.

That’s some very good news, for sure. Motorola in the past has promised fast updates to the latest version of Android, but has failed to deliver the “fast” part of that promise. They’ve already outlined their Android 6.0 rollout, but it’s still nowhere near as fast as HTC’s 15 day claim.

One thing’s for sure, promising all of the latest updates in a timely manner is an attractive selling point. But is it enough to break HTC out of its bleak future?

source: HTC (Twitter)

Come comment on this article: HTC One A9 to get impeccably fast Android updates

20
Oct

HTC unveils the One A9, a premium package for $399


The moment HTC fans have been waiting for has come. What would later be dubbed the One A9, HTC’s next “Hero” device has been on our minds since the company announced an upcoming strong contender following poor sales of the One M9.

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So how does HTC think the One A9 will grab the market’s attention? Let’s go over the new approach the OEM has undertaken to convince consumers that this one is better than what the competition offers.

Firstly, the leaks over the phone’s design were accurate. Love it or not, the bezel is here to stay. There will be a great deal of complaining that the A9 resembles the iPhone too much, which is justified. But let’s not forget that the iPhone 6 resembled the One M7.

The One A9 was announced with four color options: Opal Silver, Topaz Gold, Carbon Gray, and Deep Garnet

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The display has undergone a few updates from HTC’s previous flagship. While the screen size is still 5″, we now have an AMOLED panel (instead of the typical S-LCD panel that HTC has been using for years). You won’t find a pixel-stuffed QHD screen here as HTC has opted for 1080P. But being only a 5″ screen, this should be sufficient.

As is the story with premium phones, the display reaches to the edges on the sides and the glass has a 2.5D curvature into the metal frame. The screen is protected by latest from Corning, Gorilla Glass 4.

There’s a fingerprint scanner this time around, which sticks out like a sore thumb towards the bottom on the front. HTC is focusing on keeping up with the latest offerings from Google (Android Pay, Doze, Google Now on Tap). Therefore, the A9 will not only ship with Marshmallow out of the box, but it also has the promise of receiving Android OS updates within only 15 days from Google pushing them to the Nexus devices. That’s a pretty bold claim.

So what about specs? If you were expecting mid-end internals, you’d be mostly right. Here’s the breakdown:

  • SoC: Snapdragon 617 (octa-core CPU, Adreno 405 GPU, 3GB of RAM)
  • Display: 5″ 1080P AMOLED panel
  • Cameras: 13MP rear (OIS, f/2.0 lens, sapphire glass cover) and front Ultrapixel camera (assuming at 4MP as previously)
  • Storage: 16 or 32GB, expandable via microSD up to 2TB
  • Battery: 2,150mAh
  • OS: Android 6.0 with Sense UI

The main camera has a couple tricks. Firstly, HTC finally brought OIS back (which was absent after the One M7). Focusing is done via Phase-Detection Autofocusing (there’s no laser autofocus to assist with that). You’ll have access to the RAW image files from the A9. HTC has also built-in Hyperlapse capturing, which allows to quickly play through a lengthy video recording.

Audio output was also a focus with the A9, something not many smartphone OEM’s are doing. The headphone output has a strong amp, which HTC says will be able to run more difficultly driven headphones. We will also have HiFi audio quality. The digital-to-audio converter (DAC) within the A9 will upscale 16-bit audio to 24-bit and 192KHz. However, fans of the external BoomSound speakers will be sad to know that they were a sacrifice.

So when will you be able to get your hands on the new One A9? Fortunately, pretty soon. HTC said that it will be available in the first week of November across the world. With regard to the US, you’ll be able to find the A9 at major carriers. However, the company is putting an emphasis on the unlocked model.

HTC said that it’s against bloat and inhibiting consumer freedom. Therefore, the unlocked variant of the A9 will come SIM unlocked, bloat-free, and will have an unlocked bootloader straight out of the box (with no voided warranty). That’s a great incentive for folks who like to tinker with their phones, HTC has your back now.

The Uh Oh phone replacement service will continue, giving you peace of mind over the first year of owning the phone. HTC will replace it if it’s damaged, with no deductible. With the A9, there is also an offer to test drive the phone, for up to 30-days for free.

The unlocked A9 can be pre-ordered right now (on HTC.com) for $399, putting it in line with the budget phone competition.

HTC seems to be betting a lot on the One A9, do you think it’s the right direction?

The post HTC unveils the One A9, a premium package for $399 appeared first on AndroidGuys.

20
Oct

Google’s plan to improve your battery life and why you should want Android 6.0


For most Android users, and all mobile users alike, long battery life is near the top of “must have” features. After a many generations of Android, Google has finally improved battery life significantly using Doze and App Standby. When Google announced Android 6.0  in early October, they mentioned battery life was a major focus for areas of improvement. I must admit that I was a skeptic as I have been hearing that for years now.

Only until I got my hands on the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X did I realize that Google actually delivered on their promise with improved battery life. Let me explain how they did it below.

What is Doze and how does it affect battery life?

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines the word doze as: 1a. to sleep lightly 1b. to fall into a light sleep – usually used with off 2. to be in a dull or stupefied condition. How Google implemented into Android 6.0 followed that definition. Quoting their developer webpage,

“If a user leaves a device unplugged and stationary for a period of time, with the screen off, the device enters Doze mode. In Doze mode, the system attempts to conserve battery by restricting apps’ access to network and CPU-intensive services. It also prevents apps from accessing the network and defers their jobs, syncs, and standard alarms.

Periodically, the system exits Doze for a brief time to let apps complete their deferred activities. During this maintenance window, the system runs all pending syncs, jobs, and alarms, and lets apps access the network.”

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Basically what this means is your device, running Android Marshmallow, will go into “Doze” mode, or essentially fall into a light sleep and shut down. It will turn off network access, defer jobs, syncs, and alarms which preserves battery life. Since Doze is just a “light sleep” it will wake up from time to time and will run through its checklist of things to do, like sync your email, check the time for your alarm and also let those battery draining apps access the network. Over time, as your phone learns more about your activities, it will schedule those maintenance windows less and less frequently leading to even better battery life.

As soon as you are ready to get back to using your phone, as soon as you pick it up, turn on the display or connect it to a charger, Android will exit Doze and return to its normal activity.

In essence your phone “dozes off” while you are away. After using the Nexus 6P and 5X for the past few days, with 100% certainty I can tell you Doze is a feature I cannot live without moving forward. I will no longer accept a device that loses excessive battery life if I forget to plug it in.

What is App Standby and how does it improve battery life?

App Standby  is the other main area Google focused on to improve battery life in Android Marshmallow. It basically does as the name implies, just like Doze, where it puts apps into standby once the system has determined the user is no longer using that app after a set amount of time, and none of the conditions below apply:

  • The user explicitly launches the app.
  • The app has a process currently in the foreground (either as an activity or foreground service, or in use by another activity or foreground service).
  • The app generates a notification that users see on the lock screen or in the notification tray.

What this means is when you are actively using an app, turning it on, or have it running in the foreground, the system will leave the app alone and let it work. But when you aren’t using the app, that’s when the system takes over and prevents it from hogging useful power. This only applies to your device running Android M when it is not plugged into a charger. Once it is connected to a power supply the system releases apps from the standby state and lets the apply run freely.

Again, the two Nexus devices I have been using over the past two days more than proves Google has been backed up their word this go around and you can read my initial impressions on the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P to confirm it.

Google is requiring all developers to adhere to these power-saving modes

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Nexus 5X disconnected from charger just before 9am on 10/17 and had 73% battery remaining over 24 hours later.

In Google’s Android 6.0 Compatibility Definition Guide for developers, they are now requiring all developers adhere to these new rules. That is something we all need to appreciate, because battery life is something we need more and more as we become ever-so dependant on our mobile devices. Even though Android 6.0 looks very similar to Android 5.0, the battery performance upgrades are reason enough to upgrade to Android M if battery life is an important feature to you. The Nexus 6P rated for 440 hours on standby while the Nexus 5X is rated at 420 hours on standby which equates to 18 full days. Give us 22 more days and we might be able to outlast 40 days and 40 nights of constant rain!

Doze and App Standby are two incredibly well thought out power-saving features that will help us stay disconnected from a power source. Google realizes they have developed something great here and are making everyone else adhere to these rules whether they like it or not.

 

The post Google’s plan to improve your battery life and why you should want Android 6.0 appeared first on AndroidGuys.

20
Oct

New DROID teaser released by Verizon on Twitter


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Yesterday Star Wars fans were treated to a new trailer for the next installment in the franchise coming this December. Verizon hopes the fictional “droids” from a galaxy far, far away are not the only ones people are looking for as the carrier plans to release new DROID models from Motorola on October 27th. We have already seen some leaked promotional materials for the new devices and now Verizon has released a teaser video through their Twitter account.

One of the new features that Verizon and Motorola will extol when the new DROID devices are announced next week will be the first “shatterproof” screen on the DROID Turbo 2. That feature is the key to the 11 second video posted by Verizon announcing “The new Droid is dropping soon.” after showing a Motorola smartphone falling in slow motion to a stone walkway.

Is anyone out there looking for these new DROID smartphones?

http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

source: Verizon (Twitter)

Come comment on this article: New DROID teaser released by Verizon on Twitter

20
Oct

Check out all that’s new on HTC’s One A9 handset in these advertisements


HTC-One-A9-press-heroFollowing the announcement of HTC’s hot One A9 handset, the company posted a slew of videos showing off all the new features.

HTC’s YouTube account has been on fire in the past few hours. The company is taking the launch of its One A9 a lot more serious than it did with its One M9 earlier this year. The handset will be the first on the market other than Google’s stock Nexus devices to include Android 6.0 pre-installed. To see all the new features, color options and updated specifications, check out the variety of advertisements HTC uploaded via its YouTube account down below.

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Come comment on this article: Check out all that’s new on HTC’s One A9 handset in these advertisements

20
Oct

Where (and when) you can buy the HTC One A9 in the U.S.


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An unlocked variant of the new HTC One A9 can already be pre-ordered following the handset’s announcement earlier today. The company is selling the One A9 at a “promotional price” of $399 set to last for a limited time. That price also applies to the carrier variants that operate on AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint’s networks. And each of them, with the exception of Sprint skipping Deep Garnet color, will have the One A9 in Carbon Gray, Opal Silver, and Deep Garnet.

Select carriers have committed to selling the One A9 online and in retail stores, too.

Sprint:

Sprint will have the One A9 available to its customers for purchase on November 6. The carrier is also running a promotion through January 7 of next year that allows customers to take HTC’s newest device home for $20 per month for twenty-four months. Customers will also get two monthly service credits of $20 each after activating a new One A9 with their carrier.

AT&T:

The folks over at AT&T did not provide too much regarding the One A9’s availability, simply mentioning that it will be “in retail stores nationwide and online at http://www.att.com” with pricing and a release date to follow at a later time.

T-Mobile:

T-Mobile has not yet commented on selling the One A9.

Verizon:

Verizon has not yet commented on selling the One A9. However, PC Mag reports that this is the first non-CDMA phone to work on Verizon’s network.

Come comment on this article: Where (and when) you can buy the HTC One A9 in the U.S.

20
Oct

Verizon’s now rolling the Lollipop update for the Xperia Z2 Tablet


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Verizon has at last begun rolling out the long-awaited Lollipop update to all its carrier-branded variants of the Xperia Z2 Tablet located in the United States. In terms of added functionality, this upgrade brings the latest version of the Android operating system to the slate, together with a multitude of much-needed bug fixes and stability improvements.

Hit the break for the full changelog.

  • Material Design: You will quickly notice a whole new colorful look and feel to your device – from fluid animations to new application and system themes, colors and widgets.
  • Notifications UI & Priorities: In order to alert you to the mosttimely and relevant information, the format and behavior of notifications have evolved:
    • notifications will appear on the lock screen and are intelligently ranked by type and who sent them.
    • you double-tap to open one, swipe left or right to clear one, or clear all notifications from the bottom of the list.
    • you can set the priority and privacy of notifications for each application.
    • very high priority notifications will pop up briefly over other applications so that you can take action.
    • when you dismiss a notification on one device it will be dismissed on your other Android devices, if they are connected to the Internet.
    • you can further tailor how notifications behave with the new Downtime and Ambient Display settings (see below).
  • New Interruptions & Downtime Settings: You can tailor how interruptions behave, choosing to allow all, none, or only priority interruptions.  You can personalize what counts as a priority interruption (reminders, events, calls, messages) and even tailor them to be from only contacts you specify.  The Downtime setting will allow only priority interruptions during the times and days that you specify.  e.g. allow only priority interruptions on the weekend.
  • Recent Apps (Multi-tasking): The redesigned Overview space (formerly called Recents) will include both applications and separate activities within those applications.  For instance, each open tab in Chrome will also appear here along with recent applications; both your Gmail Inbox and a draft email message will appear as separate cards.  This provides a consistent way to switch amongst tasks.
  • Flashlight: Lollipop includes a new flashlight option as part of Quick settings (swipe down with two fingers from the status bar to see it).
  • Pin a view/app: Screen pinning allows you to keep a specific app or screen in view. For example, you can ‘pin’ a game and your child will not be able to navigate anywhere else on your phone.
  • Battery: The Battery settings panel now shows an estimated projection for how much time you have left while discharging or charging.  You can also enable a new battery saver mode that will save power by reducing performance and most background data operations to extend your battery life.
  • Smarter Internet Connections: With Android Lollipop, your phone will not connect to a Wi-Fi access point unless there is a verified Internet connection. This feature improves hand-offs between Wi-Fi and cellular connections, helping to maintain your video chat or voice-over-IP (VoIP) call as you switch.
  • Performance: Your phone now uses the new Android Runtime to help optimize application performance.  After upgrading to Lollipop, your applications will undergo a one-time optimization process.  Note that the optimization for ART requires more space.
  • Security: Encryption can now use a stronger 256-bit key to help protect your data.  Note that the stronger key willonly be used after you perform a factory reset on Android Lollipop.  Otherwise encryption will continue to use 128-bit key.  You can turn on encryption in the Security settings menu.

As is the norm, the update is being pushed out in stages. To see if it’s ready for your device head into Settings, scroll to the bottom and tap on “About Device”, hit “System Updates”, then select “Check for updates”.

Come comment on this article: Verizon’s now rolling the Lollipop update for the Xperia Z2 Tablet

20
Oct

Virgin Mobile launches giving campaign when Canadians buy new goods


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Virgin Mobile announced today a new fundraiser connected to Canadian sales of the Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime smartphone and the Universal Power Bank. The Galaxy Grand Prime has been named the next RE*Generation phone available from the carrier. With that status, for every device sold Virgin Mobile will donate $5 to help at-risk and homeless youth.

Recent statistics show there are around 225,000 Canadian youth who are not working and not in school and thus are considered at-risk. Of those, over 6,000 are homeless and sleep on the streets. The Virgin Mobile RE*Generation program provides funds to a variety of charities throughout Canada who help connect these youth with training and other opportunities to secure meaningful jobs and breakout of their current status. According to Joseph Ottorino, managing director for Virgin Mobile Canada,

“By providing young people with the experience and training they need to get a stable and meaningful job, we can help break the cycle of youth homelessness. We’re excited to be partnering with Samsung, a company that shares our passion for linking youth with the skills, connections and opportunities they need to succeed.”

In addition to the proceeds for phone and charger sales, Canadians on Virgin Mobile can elect to participate in the Change for a Dollar program that adds $1 per month to their bill to be donated to the Virgin Mobile RE*Generation program. All Canadians can text REGEN to 30333 to make a one-time $5 donation.

You can read the full press release below.

Virgin Mobile asks Canadians to get the goods that do some good

Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime revealed as next RE*Generation Phone

TORONTO, Oct. 20, 2015 /CNW/ – Starting today, $5 from the sale of every Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime and Universal Power Bank purchased from Virgin Mobile will help connect at-risk and homeless youth with the training, skills and opportunities they need to secure meaningful jobs and emerge from the cycle of homelessness.

A recent Virgin Mobile study found that 1 in 3 Canadians know someone who has been homeless. Virgin Mobile RE*Generation was created to give Members and Canadians a chance to help at-risk and homeless youth gain skills to get jobs. Currently, there are approximately 225,000 Canadian youth out of work or not in school, and more than 6,000 of them sleep on the streets on any given night. Donations to Virgin Mobile RE*Generation, through programs like the RE*Generation phone campaign, support charities across Canada that train youth to develop the in-demand skills employers are looking for.

“By providing young people with the experience and training they need to get a stable and meaningful job, we can help break the cycle of youth homelessness,” said Joseph Ottorino, managing director, Virgin Mobile Canada. “We’re excited to be partnering with Samsung, a company that shares our passion for linking youth with the skills, connections and opportunities they need to succeed.”

Canadians can purchase the RE*Generation phone at Virgin Mobile retail and online locations. The Universal Power Bank ($24.99) is available at Virgin Mobile Stores across Canada. Virgin Mobile Members can also help at-risk youth get jobs by adding Change for a Dollar to their monthly phone bill to donate$1/month to Virgin Mobile RE*Generation. Members and all Canadians can also text the word REGEN to 30333 to donate $5 to the cause.

“We’re proud to team up with Virgin Mobile and its RE*Generation program to once again provide a smartphone that leads to smart social change,” said Paul Brannen, Senior VP, Enterprise and Mobile Solutions, Samsung Electronics Canada. “By picking up the Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime through Virgin Mobile, Canadians can make a real difference in the lives of at-risk and homeless youth.” 

Samsung supports the RE*Generation phone program through Samsung Hope for Children, the company’s philanthropic initiative to address children’s issues in the areas of education, health, and environmental sustainability.

With a powerful 1.2 GHz Quad Core processor and slim design (only 8.6 millimeters thick), the Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime combines stylish sophistication with fast multi-tasking performance. The Galaxy Grand Prime also offers a long-lasting 2,600 mAh battery and a 5 MP front camera with an ultra-wide view angle of 85 degrees. In addition, Virgin Mobile’s Universal Power Bank allows you to charge your smartphone and tablet anytime, anywhere (USB & MicroUSB charging cable included).

To read about how your donations make an impact in the lives of at-risk and homeless youth head to our Members Lounge blog. For more about Virgin Mobile RE*Generation, head to http://www.virginmobile.ca/regen.

ABOUT VIRGIN MOBILE RE*GENERATION
In 2008, Virgin Mobile RE*Generation was created to empower a generation to help its own and support at-risk and homeless youth. This initiative gives Virgin Mobile Members and Canadians a chance to help at-risk and homeless youth gain skills to get jobs. Donations are invested in training programs run by leading youth-serving charities across the country. The goal is to help 450 youth get jobs by 2017 and that’s just the start.

Join Virgin Mobile RE*Generation to help youth emerge from the cycle of homelessness. Visit http://www.virginmobile.ca/regen for more information.

ABOUT VIRGIN MOBILE CANADA
At Virgin Mobile, you’re not a customer, you’re a Member and “Members Get” exclusive deals from awesome brands, a shot at VIP access and one-of-a-kind experiences to events in Canada and around the world. That’s on top of super-hot smartphones on ridiculously-fast LTE speeds and plans with loads of extras built right in! Virgin Mobile Members and Canadians can do some good in their local communities by helping at-risk and homeless youth in Canada gain skills to get jobs with Virgin Mobile RE*Generation.

Wanna hook up? There are loads of ways: head online or call 1-888-999-2321 to get in the know. Get personal with Virgin Mobile Canada on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.

ABOUT SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS CANADA
Samsung Electronics Canada inspires the world and shapes the future with transformative ideas and technologies, redefining the worlds of TVs, smartphones, wearable devices, tablets, cameras, digital appliances and printers. Samsung is a leader in the Internet of Things space through, among others, our Smart Home initiatives. In 2014, Samsung was ranked one of the top 10 most influential brands in Canada, based on a study by Ipsos Reid. Committed to making a difference in communities across Canada, its Samsung Hope for Children corporate giving program supports children’s education, sustainability and health-related issues. Globally, Samsung employs 319,000 people across 84 countries with annual sales of $196 billion.

To discover more, please visit www.samsung.com.

Come comment on this article: Virgin Mobile launches giving campaign when Canadians buy new goods

20
Oct

Leica’s SL full-frame camera features an impressive high-res EVF


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Fresh off of its Q release this past summer, Leica is back with another full-frame camera: the SL Typ-601. The new shooter, which Leica says is geared toward professional photographers, comes with a 24-megapixel CMOS sensor, Maestro II processor, an ISO range of up to 50,000, WiFi for remote access and image sharing and a weather-sealed body. Leica’s latest SL also features an 11 fps continuous shooting mode and max mechanical shutter speeds of 1/8,000 — the company says an electronic option will be available at a later point. Video-wise, you’ll have access to both 1080p and 4K (3,840 x 2,160), with the latter capable of handling 24 and 30 fps. While the SL is stacked with all of the aforementioned specs, Leica wants people to focus on the new, round 4.4-megapixel (60 fps) electric viewfinder; it is the highest resolution EVF on the market, according to the German manufacturer.Slideshow-323042

Although I did have the chance to shoot briefly with the SL Typ-601, I wasn’t allowed to extract any sample images out of the camera. But let me tell you: The moment you pick this thing up, you’re able to feel the prowess of Leica’s top-of-the-line build materials. It has a beautiful design, too, thanks to a black frame that’s made from a solid block of aluminum. The camera arrives on November 16th for $7,450 body-only, and there will be lens adapters to make it compatible with current and legacy Leica lenses. While the Leica SL does pack a punch, you could buy a similarly specced product for a lot less money — such as Sony’s wonderful A7R II, which costs about $3,200. That said, the company does know there are brand enthusiasts who won’t mind paying the premium.

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