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Samsung might soon sell refurbished high-end phones at a discount

Samsung is reportedly developing a recycling program of sorts in which it would sell refurbished, used versions of its high-end smartphones.

According to Reuters, which spoke to a person “with direct knowledge of the matter”, the company wants to revive its mobile profits and maximise its cost efficiency, so it’s looking to launch a program that will involve refurbishing premium phones returned by users who are part of its upgrade programs in countries such as the US and South Korea. The new program should launch as early as next year (2017).

Once the phones are refurbished, Samsung would resell them at a lower price, though it’s not yet clear how much of a discount they would get, where they would be sold, nor how many refurbished devices Samsung plans to sell. It’s also unclear how exactly they will be refurbished, but one can assume the company is ready to fit them with new parts like casings or batteries.

Keep in mind refurbished phones could help Samsung in emerging markets, such as India, where high-end devices that cost $800 each are too expensive. Apple, for instance, already sells refurbished phones in some markets, including the US, and it is trying to do so in India, where Reuters said the average smartphone costs less than $90. This new program would help Samsung compete against not only Apple but also Chinese rivals.

Samsung’s market share is being eroded by cheaper handset makers coming out of China. Examples include Huawei, Lenovo, Oppo, and others. By selling used phones, Samsung could free up capital to invest elsewhere, and if more consumers start to buy refurbished, used premium models instead budget brands, it’ll be able to cannibalise sales of new devices coming from those cheaper handset makers.

Refurbished phones might also lure enterprise clients who want Samsung’s security, software, and hardware for a fraction of the price. The only obvious downside Samsung could face is the cannibalisation of its own mid-tier devices.


Android 7.0 Nougat release: Everything you need to know

Android 7.0 has carved an unusual path through its pre-release. Often reserved for developers, the big change with the Nougat release is that Google has been very open and sharing about it.

Google has confirmed the roll-out of Android 7.0 Nougat has now started. To keep things simple, we’ve broken it down for you, so you can get to exactly the information you need. 

Android 7.0 Nougat: Release date

On 22 August 2016, Google confirmed the roll-out of the final release version of Android 7.0 Nougat.

There’s no official dates or timeframe for the roll-out to Nexus devices, but Google has said that updates will be pushed over the “coming weeks.”

Google also hasn’t specified when the factory images will be released, but they are often made available for those who want to manually flash devices in advance of over the air updates.

Android 7.0 Nougat: What Nexus devices are supported?

Android Nougat will be available on the following devices as an over the air update. 

  • Nexus 6
  • Nexus 5X
  • Nexus 6P
  • Nexus 9
  • Nexus Player
  • Pixel C
  • General Mobile 4G (Android One)

If you have any of those devices, you’ll be able to sit back and relax and wait for the update to arrive.

Android 7.0 Nougat: What happens to Beta Program users?

Google has confirmed that anyone on the Beta Program will be also receive the final version of Android 7.0. 

Whether this will include those using the Sony Xperia Z3 as a preview device isn’t yet confirmed.

Android 7.0 Nougat: What about new Nexus launches?

What about indeed. Google has made no mention of new Nexus devices. Normally a new version of Android launches on a new handset and this year things appear to be a little different. 

We’ve been following the rumours surrounding the Nexus Marlin and Nexus Sailfish devices, so we can only assume that they will be releasing closer to normal Nexus update schedule at the end of September.

Android 7.0 Nougat: What about the LG V20?

LG announced that the LG V20 – due to be released in early September – would be the first new device to run Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box.

This has been confirmed by Google, who says that it will indeed be the first new phone to offer Android’s latest software. Just as HTC managed to launch the HTC One A9 on Marshmallow soon after launch, it now looks like it’s LG’s turn.

Android 7.0 Nougat: What new features are there?

Android Nougat adds a whole host of new features, sticking very much to the foundation that Marshmallow laid down visually, by making it easier to get to a lot more information. There’s tweaks to notifications, to Doze, to the settings menu and quick settings options, as well as native support for Daydream VR. 

Android 7.0 Nougat: Want to know more?

  • We’ve been tracking the changes through the Android N Beta Program, so you can read our preview of the software experience right here.
  • Intrigued by the talk of split-screen working? You can watch it in action right here, as we give you a walk-through of one of Android Nougat’s biggest new features.
  • The roll-out of Android Nougat to other Android devices – e.g. Samsung or HTC – will come over the next few months. Head over to our upgrade guide to see when you’ll be getting Android 7.0 Nougat.
  • Want a quick rundown of Android Nougat’s new features? We’ve rounded up 7 Nougat features for you to get excited about.
  • HTC is rumoured to be manufacturing two new Nexus devices, codenamed Marlin and Sailfish. Catch up on all the rumours and see exactly what Google has in store.

Android 7.0 Nougat: 7 new features to get excited about

There are a lot of changes coming in Android 7.0 Nougat, which Google has confirmed will be rolling-out from 22 August.

Here’s a run down of some of the things to get excited about.

1. Revamped quick settings

The quick settings have been refreshed, giving you the opportunity to change the order that they appear, as well as add and remove those you don’t want.

2. Settings menu refresh

The Settings menu has had a thorough overhaul in Android 7.0. More information has been bubbled up, so it’s easier to see information at a glance and save you constantly tapping through. The settings menu will also give you notifications and suggestions to help you get more from your device.

3. Split-screen apps

At last Android is going to be supporting split-screen natively. Offered by companies like Samsung for some time, the Google solution is similar, letting you pop an app into the top of the display and open a second. You can change the sizes too, helping you get the most from your apps and display. The recent apps button now has a new lease of live. 

4. Quick switching between apps

We’ve all got used to hitting the recent apps button and selecting a different app from the deck. But with Android Nougat, a double tap on the recent apps button will let you switch between your two most often-used apps. Want to play Pokemon Go and keep that WhatsApp conversation going? It’s now much simpler.

5. Save more power

Android Marshmallow introduced Doze, a system feature that will let your device go to sleep and save power when it’s not being used – it really works, but your phone needed to be still for it to work. In Nougat this has now been super-charged, letting you save power when on the move. Doze in Nougat won’t need your phone to be still.

6. Designed for Daydream

Love Google Cardboard? Get ready to scrap it as Google changes gear on VR. The new Daydream platform will be designed with specific hardware in mind to ensure a better mobile VR experience. The good news is that Daydream support is natively baked into Nougat, and ready to roll. 

7. Notifications are more informative

Android is notifications and it offers the best mobile notifications you’ll find. In Nougat, notifications are richer, with more information. Direct reply is also going mainstream. Messenger and WhatsApp have allowed direct replying without opening the app and this will be widespread across more Android apps in the future.


Analogue’s beautiful, aluminum NES gets a smaller spin-off

The NES Classic is equal parts neat and limited — after all, it has the correct look, but can’t be expanded beyond the 30 games built into it and won’t play nice with existing NES controllers. Cheap? Sure, though it’s maybe not the tiny retro machine fans have been hoping for. That’s where the makers of the custom-built Analogue Nt come in: they’ve built a smaller, less expensive version of the console called the Nt mini that’s set to ship in January 2017.

The Nt mini will set you back $479, which, yes, isn’t much cheaper than the $500 price tag the original Analogue Nt had stuck to it. You’ll get a little more bang for your buck, though: it comes with one of 8bitdo’s wireless NES30 controllers and can upscale your NES games’ video and output it through HDMI or RGB right out of the box. All told, the folks at Analogue Interactive say the Mini model is about $200 cheaper than a comparably kitted-out original (though good luck finding one for close to that on eBay right now). And as always, the Nt mini is meant to play your aging carts just as well as your toaster or top loader did back in the day — there’s no emulation here, like you’d see on machines like the Retron 5.

Throw all of that into an aluminum body that’s about 20 percent smaller than the original and we’ve got the makings of another sure-fire seller. It’s a little weird that Analogue is throwing shade at the NES Classic on its website since the mini’s price tag and reference-quality ambitions make it a discerning collectors’ item, but whatever — you can pre-order yours starting today.


Sony receiver lowers the costs of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay

It’s not easy to add smartphone-based infotainment to your existing car, especially if you prefer Android Auto. Many aftermarket head units are either devoted solely to Apple CarPlay (like Pioneer’s AppRadio 4) or mind-numbingly expensive (such as the $1,400 AVIC-8200NEX). Sony is aiming to fix that. It just unveiled the XAV-AX100, a receiver that offers both Android Auto and CarPlay for a reasonable $500 — even the relatively frugal AppRadio 4 costs $600.

This isn’t the most elaborate receiver (it handles 55W x 4 channels and produces virtual sound stages). However, it does have its own device-independent interface with Bluetooth and USB audio, as well as rear camera support. The biggest obstacle may simply be the wait. You won’t see the AX100 until late November, so it won’t help you navigate your end-of-summer vacation.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Sony


The slim PS4 is looking realer every day

When photos of a purported slim PS4 redesign emerged, you could hear the skeptics’ cries from a mile away: fake! Photoshopped! However, it looks like this new console is very much real. Eurogamer visited the person who bought the unreleased console from a Gumtree listing, and has posted video (below) proving that this is a real, working game system. You’ll have to wait until later for more details, but what you saw before holds true: it’s smaller, rounder and more utilitarian than the original.

Also, there’s further support for beliefs that this is a new basic model, not the 4K-ready Neo. Wall Street Journal sources understand that there will be a “new PlayStation 4 standard model” alongside the Neo at Sony’s September 7th event. While the tip is shy on details (there’s no price or ship date), analysts suspect that it’ll be less expensive than the $350 system you can buy today. Frankly, that’s only logical. The slim PS4 certainly looks like it was subject to some cost-cutting, and Sony likely wants to close the price gap with the $300 Xbox One S as quickly as possible.

Source: Eurogamer (YouTube), Wall Street Journal


The best tech for college freshmen

Starting college is expensive. In addition to, you know, the tuition, you and the parentals will probably be making a large shopping trip to buy all manner of sweaters, snacks and extra-long twin sheets to round out your dorm room. And that’s not counting all the gear you’ll need to actually get work done. In addition to a few laptop recommendations (the XPS 13 is our reigning favorite), we have suggestions on things like cloud storage, backpacks and peripherals like travel mice and backup batteries. Check out the gallery below for all our first-year picks (think of it as a college starter kit), and be sure to read the rest of Engadget’s back-to-school guide here.

Source: Engadget’s 2016 Back-to-School Guide


Microsoft’s latest acquisition hints at AI scheduling in Office

Hate the song and dance involved in finding just the right time to hold a meeting? Microsoft does too. It’s acquiring Genee, whose centerpiece is an AI-powered virtual assistant that helps you schedule events in sync with your itinerary. Email both a client and Genee while you’re arranging a lunch meeting, for instance, and it’ll let your contact know when you can make it. Just what Genee will do isn’t clear, but it’ll “accelerate intelligent experiences” in Office 365 — as elsewhere, Microsoft wants to make AI a key part of your workday.

It’s not so hot news if you’re one of Genee’s users. The company’s founders note that the Genee service will shut down on September 1st. Your existing appointments will stay put, but you can’t create new ones or get reminders after that date. The move isn’t shocking, but we wouldn’t count on Genee’s integrations with Gmail or iCloud surviving the transition to Microsoft.

Source: Official Microsoft Blog, Genee


PlayStation Plus membership prices rise in September

PlayStation Plus memberships will cost more starting on September 22nd. On that date, a one-year membership in the US will rise from $50 to $60, while three-month memberships will rise from $18 to $25. The price of a monthly plan will remain the same in the US ($10). Existing members will not have to pay the increased amount until their plans renew on or after September 22nd.

Sony announced the change in an update to its July 27th PlayStation Plus blog post, where the company notes that this is the first time it’s raised Plus prices since launching the service in 2010.

“The new pricing reflects the current market conditions while enabling us to continue providing exceptional value to our members,” Sony writes. “As a member, you will continue to enjoy the benefits and features that enable shared experiences, such as online multiplayer, free games and exclusive discounts. You will also continue to get exclusive benefits such as online game save storage and discounts across the PlayStation digital services.”

Any current subscribers who want to ditch Plus before the new prices take effect, turn off auto-renewal in your account settings before September 22nd.

An important update for all our PlayStation Plus members:

— PlayStation (@PlayStation) August 22, 2016

Source: PlayStation Blog


Android 7.0 Nougat arrives today

Typically, Google releases new versions of Android alongside new Nexus hardware, but the company is breaking with tradition this year. Android 7.0 Nougat is rolling out as an over the air update starting today. The update is available to anyone using the Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X and Nexus 6 phones as well as the Nexus 9 and Pixel C tablets. It’s also coming to the Nexus Player set-top box and the General Mobile 4G Android One smartphone.

If you’ve been using the Android 7.0 open beta, you won’t notice a ton of differences here. Google rolled out a very stable version of that beta software back at I/O in May, and it has served as a solid template for the final version coming out today.

The new features of Android Nougat aren’t exactly a surprise at this point, but they’re worth reviewing as the OS rolls out more widely. Probably the two biggest user-facing changes are new notifications and a multi-tasking mode. Notifications are now grouped by app in the notification shade; you can pull down on any app’s alerts to get the full list. You can also reply directly from notifications, something that iOS has actually had for longer than Android.

Multi-window multitasking lets you run two apps side-by-side, just like you can on the iPad when running iOS 9. This multitasking mode will probably be most useful on tablets like the Pixel C, but it works on smartphones as well — and the experience is a lot better than we originally expected.

Nougat also has a bunch of small tweaks that make getting around the OS generally and more personalized to you. The quick settings menu can now be customized to include the things you access the most, and double-tapping the multitasking button switches you between the two more recent apps you’ve used.

Doze mode, a battery-saving measure introduced last year in Android Marshmallow, has also been tweaked. Previously, Doze would put your phone into a lower-energy mode when the screen was off and the phone wasn’t moving, but now it’s smart enough to stay in low-power mode even when you’re moving around (say, if your phone is tucked in your pocket or backpack).

Perhaps less immediately useful but no less significant is how Android Nougat will handle software updates. If you’re running a “new” Android device with Nougat, software updates will install in the background and be present when you reboot your phone — there’s no more waiting with your phone totally locked up while new software installs. But it looks like only devices released from this point forward will have this feature. Current Nexus devices will benefit from much faster software updates, but it’ll still be in the old fashion where your phone reboots and is unable to be used during installation.

Most significantly, there are 72 new emoji available in Nougat. Get to texting. There are a lot more new features to be found in Nougat, but these are the ones that most users will want to use as soon as the update hits their phones. Unfortunately, it might be a little bit before that happens — in classic Google fashion, the update will be rolling out “in the coming weeks.”

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