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31
Mar

Fitbit ships more than 1 million each of its Blaze and Alta trackers in first month of availability


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Fitbit has announced that it shipped 1 million of its Blaze fitness-focused smartwatches in its first month of availability. The company also shipped 1 million of its Alta fitness trackers since its debut on March 9.

The Fitbit Blaze is a smartwatch that focuses first on motivating you to be more healthy. It features PurePulse, which continually monitors your heart rate through your wrist, along with SmartTrack, which automatically recognizes when you’re exercising. As for the Alta, the slim wristband, also features SmartTrack, along with reminders to get moving after periods of inactivity.

You can find both devices on Amazon. The Alta is available for $129.95, while the Blaze can be had for $199.95.

Press release:

Fitbit Ships More Than 1 Million Fitbit Blaze and 1 Million Fitbit Alta Devices in First Month of Availability

Fitbit’s Newest Devices Debut as Top Sellers on Amazon

March 31, 2016 09:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Following 18 awards at CES, Fitbit (NYSE:FIT) announced it has shipped more than one million Fitbit Blaze™ devices in its first month of availability, exceeding internal Fitbit sales forecasts. During this time, Fitbit Blaze has captured the ranking of #1 bestselling device in both the smart watch and heart monitor categories on Amazon.

Fitbit also announced that more than one million Fitbit Alta™ devices have shipped since U.S. retail availability began on March 9. Fitbit Alta is also currently one of the top selling devices in the fitness tracker and pedometer categories on Amazon.

Highlights of the consumer response to Fitbit Blaze:

  • More than one million units of Fitbit Blaze have shipped in the first month of retail availability.
  • Fitbit Blaze has earned more than 1,200 customer reviews on Amazon in the last month, with 83% giving Fitbit Blaze a 4- or 5-star rating.

Highlights of the consumer response to Fitbit Alta include:

  • More than one million units of Fitbit Alta have shipped in the first three weeks of retail availability.
  • Fitbit Alta is one of the top selling devices in the fitness tracker and pedometer categories on Amazon.com. Nearly 78% of customer reviews on Amazon give Alta a 4- or 5-star rating.

“At Fitbit, we continue to focus on developing innovative and motivating fitness-first products that our customers love and that help them achieve their health and fitness goals,” said Woody Scal, Chief Business Officer of Fitbit. “The positive response we’ve received to Blaze and Alta demonstrates our continued ability to innovate and drive strong demand for Fitbit® products, which is what has made and kept us the leader in the global wearables category.”

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31
Mar

AT&T will give Galaxy S7 or S7 edge buyers a free 48-inch Samsung TV with DirecTV signup


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AT&T is using its recent acquisition of DirecTV to offer customers a new deal for buying a Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge. Starting April 1, those buyers can get a free Samsung 48-inch TV if they also buy a subscription to the DirecTV satellite television service.

According to AT&T, buyers who purchase a Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 edge on AT&T Next and then add either a new AT&T wireless plan or a new DirecTV plan (at least one must be new) can then go to the free TV promotion website and submit their order form and receipt to claim their free TV. This promotion will end on April 30 and buyers have 60 days to register on the site.

Check out the free Samsung TV offer with AT&T’s Galaxy S7 or S7 edge

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge

  • Galaxy S7 review
  • Galaxy S7 edge review
  • Galaxy S7 edge with Exynos: A Canadian perspective
  • Here are all four Galaxy S7 colors
  • Details on the Galaxy S7’s camera
  • The SD card is back on the GS7
  • Join our Galaxy S7 forums

AT&T Sprint T-Mobile Verizon

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31
Mar

Use caution when changing the Galaxy S7’s default calendar sync settings


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We don’t blame you for not liking Samsung’s Calendar app — but you should just let it be.

One of the best parts of Android is being able to install apps from Google Play that replace default apps on the phone. And in the case of the Galaxy S7, you may find yourself downloading a new calendar app to replace Samsung’s Calendar. That’s all fine and good to do so — but we have a word of warning about turning off sync inside the stock Calendar app.

It’s completely reasonable to think that if you’re not using the Samsung Calendar app that you should disable syncing in the app — it definitely seems duplicative to keep it syncing all of your calendars if you’re never going to look at it. But with the way that Samsung has made its default apps part of the system, making changes in the Samsung Calendar app actually has a wide-reaching effect on the system-level syncing of your accounts.

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Though it looks innocuous at first to toggle off all of your calendars in the Calendar app, what you’re actually doing when you turn these off is turning off the system-level calendar syncing for your accounts. For example if you use your Google Account for calendar syncing, toggling off that calendar in the stock Calendar app will turn off Google calendar syncing for the entire phone. So even if you install the Google Calendar app, for example, it won’t be able to sync because you’ve already turned off calendar syncing for your accounts in the system.

Unfortunately, Samsung doesn’t actually explain this in the Calendar app. The ambiguous “on” or “off” toggle next to each calendar doesn’t really give you the information needed to know that you’re actually turning off calendar sync for the whole phone, and you really only find out when your events aren’t staying up to date.

So what’s the fix? Well, it’s pretty easy: if you don’t want to use the Samsung Calendar app in any way, just head into its settings and turn off event notifications — but leave all of the calendars set to “on.” The app will simply sit in the background doing nothing, and the system will keep syncing your calendars for use with other apps.

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge

  • Galaxy S7 review
  • Galaxy S7 edge review
  • Galaxy S7 edge with Exynos: A Canadian perspective
  • Here are all four Galaxy S7 colors
  • Details on the Galaxy S7’s camera
  • The SD card is back on the GS7
  • Join our Galaxy S7 forums

AT&T Sprint T-Mobile Verizon

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31
Mar

AT&T has made its bloatware even worse on the LG G5


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There’s no point in pretending to be surprised about this.

Here we go again. If you caught the saga of AT&T’s Galaxy S7, you probably know what’s coming. Fire up the operator’s version of the LG G5 and marvel in the amount of bloatware packed into a single phone.

Let’s take a look at what you’ll find, out of the box:

  • myAT&T: For keeping tabs on your account.
  • DIRECTV: Can’t tell you what it does, because the version of the app that’s on the phone is out of date and needs to be updated from the “Android Market.” (Which hasn’t been called that since 2012.)
  • Quick Remote: For DIRECTV (seriously, enough with all caps), and is just a stub for the Google Play listing. (By the way, I don’t have DIRECTV.)
  • AT&T Navigator: Because you might not want to use Google Maps, for some reason.
  • Smart Limits: AT&T’s “family smartphone manager” for setting controls on calls, data, texts and more. I’ll withhold judgment there, being a parent of two young ones. But still.
  • AT&T Smart W-Fi: Another stub app for automatically connecting you to approved Wi-Fi hotspots. Or not.
  • AT&T Protect Plus: For cloud backups, device location and “Pro Tech support.” Good if you need it, I guess. But easily replicated by Google and Android itself.
  • AT&T Family Map: Stub app, again. Let’s you know where your family members are for free. For 30 days. After that it’s $9.99 a month for two family members. Or up to 5 for $14.99. Ridiculous.
  • Lookout: The popular virus-scanning app that you don’t need, which also includes backup and device location features that0 Google (and AT&T) already do. Oh, and look at that. Another premium plan.
  • AT&T Locker: More cloud storage in the cloud.
  • WildTangent Games: Hope you read the full EULA and permissions before following through on this stub app — and I’m not entirely sure from where it downloads its update.
  • Uber: Whether you want it, or not.
  • YP: Did you know there used to be things called “telephone books,” and that those books contained business listings in yellow pages, which later became Yellow Pages, which is now YP and preloaded on the phone as a stub app?
  • Plenti: One (more) rewards program to rule them all. And another stub app.
  • DriveMode: It’s bloatware, but smart bloatware, even if most folks won’t use it and will probably hate it if they do. It keeps things from working if you’re moving more than 15 mph, silences calls and can send auto replies. Or you can just be a responsible adult and not use your freaking phone while you’re driving.

That’s 15 bullet points — five more than we noted in our AT&T Galaxy S7 bloatware report. And that in and of itself would be impressive if it weren’t for the following:

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After you do your first boot and go through the setup process and pull down the notification shade for the first time, you’re greeted by prompts to download that damned DIRECTV Quick Remote app, Discover your FREE Games and protect your phone and privacy with a free lock and erase app. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

And that’s after you’ve already been prompted by AT&T to use its restore feature — which followed Google’s excellent restore feature.

Derek Kessler summed it up well in his previous piece:

We get it, AT&T, you spent a lot of money on DirecTV and want to make sure that your customers that have it get a good experience with the [insert your phone here], and those that don’t know that it’s an option. But this is a bit over the top — an ad should not be pushing notifications down past the upper half of the screen by default. And that’s not even mentioning the janky AT&T Protect Plus notification prompt in there at launch too.

And to reiterate — the main DIRECTV app that’s on the phone is already out of date and requires an update on Day 1 of the phone being available.

We’re not surprised to see any of this in the GS7, or in the G5, or in whatever phone is next. It’s the way things have been for years. And it’s the way things will be until someone forces the operators to change their ways.

Our suggestion is and remains to vote with your wallet.

LG G5

  • LG G5 hands-on
  • LG G5 complete specs
  • LG G5 CAM Plus module
  • LG G5 B&O Hi-Fi audio module
  • The G5 has an always-on display
  • LG G5 keeps the SD card, shuns adoptable storage
  • Join the LG G5 discussion

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31
Mar

Oculus Rift teardown dives into its dual displays, head tracking, and more


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The folks over at iFixit have given the teardown treatment to the consumer version of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. As usual, the teardown goes into great detail, examining every component of the headset, including the two 1080p OLED displays, its accelerometer and gyroscope, and more.

iFixit used an infrared camera to take a look at the Rift’s head tracking system, known as Constellation. The system uses a series of infrared LEDs on the headset, coupled with an IR camera, to track head movement.

It was also found that while Oculus Rift developer kits used smartphone 1080p display panels, the consumer product is something else entirely. The Rift now features dual 1080p displays, mounted directly into the lenses.

Be sure to check out the whole teardown over at iFixit.

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31
Mar

Samsung+ gains live support, tips and tricks, on-demand answers and more


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Samsung is aiming to offer even better customer support by adding a number of big new features to its Samsung+ app. With these new features, you’ll have access to live support, tips and tricks, on-demand answers and more. For new device owners that have questions about their new phones, or existing owners who are confused by a feature, their questions can now be answered with a few taps on their screen.

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Beyond adding new support options, Samsung has also added access to exclusive content and rewards. The app will now deliver personalized offers, discounts on various Samsung products and even ticket giveaways for big events. You can grab the latest version of the Samsung+ app, version 3.0, from Google Play.

Press release:

Samsung Ups the Ante on Customer Support with New Version of Samsung+ App

Update Brings New Features including Remote Customer Support Via “Samsung Assist”

NEW YORK CITY, March 31, 2016 – Today, Samsung will release a new and improved version of the Samsung+ app (version 3.0), a one-stop destination for empowering people to get the most from their Samsung products, with additional features to further Samsung’s customer support offerings and deliver a more supported ownership experience.

Key features of Samsung+ 3.0 app include:

Customer Support:

  • Live Support: With a variety of support options to meet customers’ needs, the Samsung+ app provides live support via video chat with the option to text, or phone support with a Samsung representative 7 days a week.
  • Samsung Assist Feature: Brand new for Samsung+ 3.0, “Samsung Assist” feature brings users hands-on support, direct to their screens wherever they are. Samsung owners can access “Samsung Assist” feature to allow a support representative to remotely operate and troubleshoot their device. “Samsung Assist” feature can be activated once a consumer grants permission, during a video chat or phone call with a support representative. This feature is currently available on the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge. Other Galaxy devices and tablets will receive the “Samsung Assist” feature through carrier updates over the coming weeks.
  • On Demand Answers: Understanding that some customers prefer self-guided support, Samsung+ app offers On Demand Answers, which include FAQs troubleshooting tips for users to solve issues on their own.
  • Device Diagnostics: The app’s Diagnostics feature keeps tabs on your device’s battery health as well as data and security. Simple tools pair with diagnostics to quickly optimize battery life and streamline storage.
  • Tips & Tricks: Samsung+ app provides a library of tips and tricks and personalized support to help you do more and get more from your device. The release of Samsung+ 3.0 makes tips and tricks available for Samsung home appliances and consumer electronics, in addition to mobile devices.
  • Community: With version 3.0, Samsung adds community across Samsung+ and online at samsung.com. Content will continue to be added on a rolling basis and we are excited to see this evolve as a valuable future resource for customers.

Exclusive Access to Content and Rewards

  • Galaxy Life: Samsung+ app treats owners like true VIPs, providing insider access to the latest Samsung innovations, plus personalized offers, discounts on the latest Samsung products, and even ticket giveaways for big events, which most recently occurred at SXSW.

Availability:

The 3.0 version of Samsung+ app will be available starting today on Google Play.

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31
Mar

Google expands 25% developer discount on the Pixel C to Canada, China, and more


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Google has expanded its offer of a 25% discount on its Pixel C tablet to more countries. The new territories include Canada, Germany, Austria, Hong Kong, France, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, and China.

From Android Developers on Twitter:

25% Pixel C Dev. Discount is now available in CA, DE, AT, HK, FR, ES, BE, NL and CH. Test your apps for Android N! https://t.co/XtqfrfeXA4

— Android Developers (@AndroidDev) March 31, 2016

Google is encouraging developers to take advantage of this offer to get started with testing apps for Android N. As we originally noted, the discount applies to both the 32GB and 64GB versions of the tablet, though it does not extend to the tablet’s keyboard accessory.

Get the discounted Pixel C here

Pixel C

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  • Check out the latest Pixel C news
  • First things to know about the Pixel C
  • These are the Pixel C keyboards
  • Google’s newest tablet: the Pixel C
  • Pixel C specs
  • Join our Pixel C forum

Google Store

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31
Mar

HTC has started charging for Vive pre-orders, and fraud declines are happening


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One step closer to shipping, unless your charge was declined.

HTC is now one step closer to putting Vive headsets on the faces of early adopters around the world. Users the world over are seeing the $800+ charge for the Vive hit their payment method of choice today, and that’s causing a not-so-unique problem for some financial institutions. In some cases those charges are being immediately declined by fraud protection systems, and that means you’re going to have to call HTC and sort it out.

Users who have had their Vive charge declined are being advised to call HTC at 888.216.4736 to sort out the miscommunication. Several users who have called already are warning that wait times are significant due to volume, but this looks like the most direct route to deal with the problem.

If you are a Vive early adopter who pre-ordered on day one, check your account and make sure you were actually charged for the equipment. Shipping is expected to start next week, and making sure HTC knows you’d still like to pay for yours is the only way to guarantee it gets to you on time.

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31
Mar

Lookout everybody, things are about to get awesome! Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is now available on your Shield TV


Because you can never get enough Claptrap.

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Gearbox Software, 2K Games and NVIDIA have brought Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel to the Shield Android TV. And it’s every bit as marvelous as you might be thinking.

For those of us who haven’t been exposed to the Borderlands series, think of a fast paced action shooter, complete with a bit of RPG character building and loads of irreverent and top notch dialog. And loot. So much loot.

The Pre-Sequel take things a bit further. It takes place on a low-gravity zero-oxygen moon, which adds to both the fun and the challenge of shooting every thing that moves and blowing up as much stuff as you can. It’s my opinion that there are only a few games as enjoyable, and two of them are also part of the Borderlands series.

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Beyond the fun factor — or possibly increasing it — the version for the Shield Android TV is every bit as good as the original releases for the computer or your favorite console. I’ve been playing a pre-release version for a few days and as a Borderlands fan as well as a tech blogger, I’m happy and impressed. The gameplay is smooth and fantastic, and as far as I can tell it wasn’t necessary to cut anything out of the Android TV version. Everything is there — the co-op gameplay, character skins, a bazillion side quests and a mountain of weapons to use. You’ll be able to hate Claptrap just as much as millions of PC and console players have been doing on the same set top box that you watch Play Movies and TV on. Or you can choose to play as him like some sort of masochist. It feels and acts like a perfect 1:1 version when compared to the same game on my PlayStation. Or Steam. Did I mention that I’m a huge Borderlands fan?

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is rated Mature 17+ in Google Play, and with good reason.

One major addition for the Android TV version is Google Play Games integration. And that’s done well, too. Besides achievements, matchmaking and leaderboards, cloud saves are built into Play Games so you’ll only ever have to fight Deadlift at level 5 with horrible weapons once. I’m quick to call out game developers who refuse to enable some sort of cloud saving in their games, and I’m always happy when I don’t have to. Using Google Play Games for cloud saves is as seamless as one would experience through PlayStation or the Xbox. It happens automatically when it should, and you can force a save when you need to quit between missions or checkpoints to save your items and character progression. For a game like Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, this is a must. And they nailed it.

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We already knew that the Shield Android TV has plenty of horsepower to do things like play console-quality — and make no mistake, this is bonafide console gaming — under it’s hood. Combined with it’s well-thought out controller, the package is perfect for gaming on the biggest screen in your house as well as video consumption. This is why we love Android TV, and the Shield Android TV in particular.

One thing you’ll need to know before you run over to Google Play and grab a copy is that Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is not for gamers of all ages. The game is rated Mature 17+ in Google Play, and with good reason. As one might expect from a game centered around bandits and anarchy, the publishers warn that it contains drug references, violence, blood and gore, suggestive themes, partial nudity, use of alcohol, strong language, crude humor, and simulated gambling. And they really mean it — there’s no lack of mature content here, and there is no way to filter it out. This is something to keep in mind if you have little ones about, or if you find that sort of thing offensive.

With that out of the way, you can download Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel for your Shield Android TV through Google Play. The price is about the same as you would pay through Steam or a console’s marketplace at $14.99. Have a lovely afternoon, and thank you for using Hyperion Robot Services.

Download Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel from Google Play($14.99)

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31
Mar

Verizon set to add new $20 charge to smartphone upgrades [Update]


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Update: In a statement to Droid Life, Verizon confirmed the move, saying:

“The upgrade fee helps cover our increased support costs associated with customers switching devices. Customers can pay the charge when they upgrade, bill it to their account or trade in an old device to offset the cost. The fee for upgrading on device payment is still half of the two-year contract upgrade fee.”

Original story: Verizon is reportedly preparing to implement a new upgrade fee for most of its customers. While customers on two-year contracts currently pay $40 to upgrade their device, the carrier will apparently implement a new $20 charge for upgrades on device payment plans, as well as those upgrades purchased for their full retail price, beginning Monday, April 4.

A supposed Verizon memo, obtained by Apple rumor site MacRumors, outlines the changes.

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As noted in the memo, Verizon claims that the charge is necessitated by “increasing support costs associated with customers switching their devices.” The only groups not seeing the new fee are those on two-year contracts, who already pay one, and those that bring their own devices to the carrier.

Both AT&T and Sprint charge similar activation and upgrade fees, with AT&T charging both for upgrades through its Next program, as well as for when you bring your own device. Sprint’s upgrade and activation fees can go as high as $36.

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