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5
Dec

DU Battery Saver – Power Saver: Minimal gains with a lot of intrusive ads (review)


The mobile phone industry faces few “technological” limitations it cannot overcome, yet battery technology continues to plague our mobile devices. While we have not developed a new technology to replace our current battery tech, there have been huge strides in software and hardware optimization to make sure our devices are as efficient as possible. DU Battery Saver – Power Saver is one piece of software that you can download on the Google Play Store that claims to offer such optimizations.

Review Usage:

This entire review took place on the 128GB Google Pixel XL. I took usage statistics with my device for about a week before installing and using the DU Battery Saver – Power Saver for five days. While daily usage was not identical day to day, I did not add or remove any apps during the testing cycle since background app usage may skew results significantly.

Installation and Usage

The DU Battery Saver – Power Saver is easy to install, and the interface is simple yet deceitful. The large Optimize button will allow you to “optimize” you device for better battery life, and the Mode button will turn many of your settings off or down like screen brightness, screen timeout, vibrate, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Sync, and the haptic feedback while also restricting phone calls and messages. I found this to be the most useful part of the app. I was able to create unique modes with custom settings to maximize battery life. Take note though that I was creating these modes as I found the preconfigured modes to be far too aggressive for everyday use.

DU Battery SaverOther than Mode and Optimize, the rest of the UI exists to sell users DU coin, advertise, and give you information your phone can already tell you. We will start with the Smart Tab that appears to give users fine control over schedules, lock screen apps, and other settings, but they all turn out to be useless to users before purchasing these features with DU Coins. Du Battery SaverNext, there is the Phone Cooler button. On multiple occasions after extended gameplay and TV show binges, I tried to use this feature to see what it was about, but I received nothing but ads. The Charge button lets you know if your phone is fast charging, trickle charging, or full. Monitor is a less detailed version of your battery settings panel, and Boost is just a button you hit when you want to see yet another ad.

After playing with the app a bit, I felt very cheated by the interface. I understand that the app industry is a business and that the ad revenue produced by people viewing and clicking on ads is what keeps the free app industry afloat, but DU APPS STUDIO, the creators of DU Batter Saver – Power Saver, were extremely deceitful with the layout of the app, using the allure of additional functionality to generate revenue.

Battery life improvement

While the interface may not be annoying, many would be willing to forgive this if the app did what it said and users phones saw significant battery improvement. In my experience, my results showed there was little to no improvement with one day, in particular, seeing rather poor battery life.

This is a screenshot from the second day I had DU Battery Saver installed on my Pixel XL. Note the similarity in Screen on Time and difference in remaining battery lifeThis is a screenshot from the second day I had DU Battery Saver installed on my Pixel XL. Note the similarity in screen on time and difference in remaining battery life

To establish how effective/ineffective the DU Battery Saver is, I will look at the average screen on time throughout the two weeks when I reached the 10% battery mark (I was always within 3% points). I will then break it down into day-to-day usage. Just a note, this is not the most definitive way to test the effectiveness of this app, but it is a way that will provide satisfactory results while staying within the testing time frame I have set. To more effectively evaluate this app’s ability, it would require more data over a longer period with much more rigid controls in place.

  • Pixel XL screen on times (Without DU Battery Saver)

    • 5h 42m
    • 5h 50m
    • 5h 31m
    • 5h 38m
    • 5h 41m
    • Average screen on time: 5h 40m
  • Pixel XL screen on times (With DU Battery Saver installed)

    • 5h 58m
    • 5h 9m
    • 5h 55m
    • 5h 52m
    • 5h 47m
    • Average screen on time: 5h 44m (5h 53m if you exclude the score in red)

After my two week test period, the numbers yielded about a thirteen-minute difference between my screen on times (excluding the outlying data in red). Without allowing the app to shut off my phone calls, messages, or other basic features that make my phone useful to me, I saw a 13 minute gain and spent my week squinting at a very dark screen due to lack of backlight.

Conclusion

After testing the DU Battery Saver – Power Saver, the app does little in the way improving battery life unless you are willing to sacrifice basic functionality. Combine the lack of battery improvement with abundant ads and I imagine users will find there is little offered by this app. For those looking to give it a shot, you can grab DU Speed Booster for free in the Play Store.

5
Dec

Win a Samsung Galaxy S7 edge prize pack from iOttie and Android Central!


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Such a good contest!

We’re always looking for products that make our lives easier, and iOttie has just released two new accessories that do just that! The iON Wireless Charging Pad provides power to Qi Compatible smartphones without all the unnecessary cords. Charging your device is as easy as setting it down!! The iOttie PowerPack External Battery is perfect for keeping your devices charged on the go!

The Galaxy S7 edge is Samsung’s best phone available now. It’s topped many of our Best Of lists this year, and for good reason! Combine it with some killer accessories from iOttie, and you have an amazing package. So we’ve teamed up with iOttie to give away a Galaxy S7 and wireless charging accessories to one of our readers, and wireless charging accessory packages to nine additional winners! Keep reading for all the details!

THE PRIZES: Ten Android Central readers will be taking home a prize!

  • ONE Grand Prize winner – Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, iON Wireless Charging Pad, PowerPack, and Easy One Touch Wireless Car Mount
  • FOUR 2nd place winners – iON Wireless Charging Pad and PowerPack
  • FIVE 3rd place winners – Easy One Touch Wireless Car Mount

THE GIVEAWAY: Head down to the widget at the bottom of this page. There are multiple ways to enter, each with varying point values. Complete all of the tasks for maximum entries and your best shot at winning! Keep in mind that all winning entries are verified and if the task was not completed or cannot be verified, a new winner will be chosen. The giveaway is open until December 19th, and the winner will be announced right here shortly after the close date. Good luck!

Win a Samsung Galaxy S7 edge from iOttie and Android Central!

5
Dec

Google Pixel update on Verizon fixes Bluetooth issues and improves security


Updates fixes voicemail issues and includes latest Android security patches.

Pixel users on Verizon should check for the new software update being rolled out today. On top of offering the latest Android security patches, the update also fixes issues some users have had with voicemail and call features on the Pixel.

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Here’s the full breakdown of what’s new, straight from Verizon:

This update fixes these issues:

  • Customers couldn’t retrieve their Visual Voicemail messages and were getting an error 9999 in some areas.
  • Voicemail icon notification was not displaying when a new voicemail message was received.
  • Device stopped playing voicemail messages over Bluetooth® after the screen timed out.
  • Device occasionally went to blue screen during an inbound call.
  • Email font was too small.
  • Text was garbled on the call screen/dialer and the text was corrupted on the Recent Calls and contact list screens.

This update improves:

  • You can now choose Cellular or Wi-Fi as your preferred way of calling while roaming internationally.
  • Latest Android™ security patches.

As always, before downloading and installing the software update, you’ll want to connect via Wi-Fi or ensure you’ve got a strong connection to the Verizon network, and also make sure your device is plugged in or fully charged so there isn’t any issues during the update.

Google Pixel + Pixel XL

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  • Google Pixel XL review: A U.S. perspective
  • Google Pixel FAQ: Should you upgrade?
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  • Understanding Android 7.1 Nougat
  • Join the discussion in the forums!

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5
Dec

Galaxy S8: 5 things the GS7’s Nougat update reveals about Samsung’s next flagship


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We don’t yet know for sure what Samsung’s next big thing will look like — but the Galaxy S7’s Nougat beta gives us a few important clues.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 Android 7.0 Nougat update is currently in beta, being tested by users around the world. In addition to new Android OS features, Samsung is giving beta testers an early look at its updated TouchWiz UI, which builds on the early work we saw in the Note 7.

With finalized Nougat updates for the GS7 and S7 edge likely to start rolling out in the next month or so, the current beta provides a useful window into what to expect from Samsung’s next big thing. Just as 2015’s GS6 Marshmallow beta foreshadowed the UI we would eventually see on the Galaxy S7 at launch, the GS7 Nougat beta gives us a few clues about what to expect from the Korean company’s 2017 flagship.

1. A new, lighter UI

gs7n-ui.jpg

The most obvious visual change in Samsung’s latest UI is the move away from blues, teals and greys of older versions, in favor of brighter whites. The rounded settings icons are also gone, replaced with colored icons for options like Wi-Fi, sound and display.

Light grey borders break things up, and each app has its own subtle accent color — green for the Phone app, for instance, and orange for the Messages app. And in addition to Samsung’s standard font, the status bar, Settings app and a number of other applications now use a narrower, more condensed typeface.

No more blues and teals.

In addition to looking dramatically different to the TouchWiz UI that shipped on the Galaxy S6 and S7, we’re now several generations removed from the overblown, aggressively colorful UX of some of Samsung’s older phones. By the standards of the Galaxy S4 or S5, Samsung’s latest interface is positively reserved.

By default, app icons are contained within rounded rectangular borders (or “squircles” as we like to call them). It’s unclear whether this will carry over to the final release — Samsung went back and forth on this in the run up to the Galaxy S7’s release. In any case, it’s easy to disable icon borders in the Settings app.

Samsung gave us our first look at the Galaxy S7’s UI during the Galaxy S6 Marshmallow beta program, so it stands to reason that most of the design decisions in this Nougat beta UI will carry over to Samsung’s next major release. Whatever whizbang features are along for the ride, the basic interface probably won’t change too much from what we see here.

2. Resolution scaling for a 4K display

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The late Galaxy Note 7 (RIP) had resolution downscaling as a battery-saving option; the Galaxy S7 on Nougat introduces it as a regular option under Display settings. In fact, the default resolution for the GS7 on Nougat is Full HD (1080p), not the panel’s native res of Quad HD (1440p).

That’s an interesting decision in itself. The difference between 1080p and 1440p isn’t that noticeable in a handheld device, and scaling down lets you save some battery power, and potentially improve performance at the same time.

One obvious application of this would be in a 4K-equipped Galaxy S8. The GS8 is rumored to feature a 4K display, but it surely wouldn’t be a great idea to enable 4K mode all of the time. Instead, a similar display scaling option on the upcoming phone might let power-conscious users run their 2160p phone in 1440p or 1080p mode, with the full resolution being saved for VR or fullscreen video applications.

3. A more intelligent Galaxy

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Samsung’s acquisition of Viv Labs has fuelled speculation that AI will feature prominently in its next-generation Galaxy phone. And it’s easy to see why — Apple’s Siri is getting smarter all the time, and Google is pushing forwards with its Assistant platform.

There’s no built-in AI in the Galaxy S7 Nougat beta, but there are signs that Samsung’s trying to make its UI smarter. Each area of the Settings menu has a “Looking for something else?” section down below, linking you to related options.

At the same time, Samsung has integrated search into more of its apps, complete with voice search integration. It’s easy to see how this could be extended to support a wider variety of voice commands across the board.

For what it’s worth, S Voice — Samsung’s existing voice-controlled app — is included in the GS7 Nougat beta, but it’s buried in the “Samsung” folder in the app drawer where most users are likely to ignore it.

4. More control over performance and battery

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Continuing a trend we’ve been seeing in Android phones for some time, Nougat on the Galaxy S7 gives users a number of different performance and battery-saving modes to choose from.

Performance Mode gives lets you tune screen resolution, brightness, audio quality and game preferences for best results in day-to-day use (normal), games, entertainment (i.e. photos and videos) and “high performance,” which currently sets the screen to Quad HD and maxes out the brightness.

At the other end of the spectrum, battery saving mode is now split into three tiers — off, “mid” and “max.” The latter is your standard Ultra Power Saving Mode, which disables all but the most basic functions of the phone. “Mid” lets you limit background operations and CPU speed, as well as cutting the screen resolution to 1080p, in order to save a modest amount of power.

And individual apps can now be “put to sleep” if they’re causing problems. Long pressing on most apps in the stock launcher now gives you the option to disable background functionality without wading through menus.

All of this points to Samsung using software in order to claw back battery life in its upcoming handsets. If, as rumored, we’re looking at the first 4K devices from the phone maker, it’ll be important to ensure that a session of 4K VR gameplay is offset by efficient battery performance in other areas.

5. Search everywhere

gs7n-search.jpg?itok=uAnPwYzg

Just as Google moves away from the omnipresent search bar, Samsung’s bringing it back. In the app drawer, Phone app, Messages app, Gallery app, Calendar app and File Manager, to name but a few, the translucent search bar is either found at the top of the screen, or is just a single click away.

In addition to opening up possibilities in terms of AI-driven search, the move sees Samsung emphasizing finding stuff within apps through one central location, via on-device search. We’ve already seen this through the S Finder app on older Samsung phones; now the difference is that Samsung’s taking an app-centric approach.

What do you want to see in the Samsung Galaxy S8? Let us know down in the comments!

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge

  • Galaxy S7 review
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Android Nougat

  • Android 7.0 Nougat: Everything you need to know
  • Will my phone get Android Nougat?
  • Google Pixel + Pixel XL review
  • All Android Nougat news
  • How to manually update your Nexus or Pixel
  • Join the Discussion

5
Dec

Android 7.1.1 is here for the Pixel and some Nexus devices


Sideload or wait for the update? That’s the question.

Android 7.1.1 is slowly rolling out to the Google Pixel and select Nexus devices, with Google updating its factory images and over-the-air (OTA) pages to reflect the new builds.

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Unified under the NMF26x brand, the build numbers vary per device — the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel C, Nexus 9, Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X and Nexus Player are getting Android 7.1.1 at the same time — but the release should contain largely the same content, upgrading the Nexus line with many of the same improvements seen on the Pixel when it shipped with Android 7.1. The Nexus 6 is, unfortunately, still on Android 7.0, but it received the first version of Nougat considerably after the rest.

How to get Android 7.1.1 Nougat on your Nexus or Pixel right now

The improvements may seem minor — official support for app shortcuts, round icons, and image keyboards, among others — but it’s great that, but for a few exclusive features like Assistant and certain Moves gestures, the most recent Nexus phones are now feature complete next to the Pixels.

The NMF26 builds also bring into question why some Canadian Pixel owners received an update in late November to build NPF26J which, though it included new Moves gestures, kept the build on Android 7.1. It looks increasingly like the apparent test build was issued to a larger subset of users than initially intended, or that the OTA files, which were made widely available, were meant to stay private. Either way, the NMF26x builds should bundle those two new Moves gestures and a number of bug fixes into a more universal release.

Have you received the Android 7.1.1 update, or sideloaded it onto your Pixel or Nexus device? Let us know in the comments!

Android Nougat

  • Android 7.0 Nougat: Everything you need to know
  • Will my phone get Android Nougat?
  • Google Pixel + Pixel XL review
  • All Android Nougat news
  • How to manually update your Nexus or Pixel
  • Join the Discussion

Google Pixel + Pixel XL

  • Google Pixel and Pixel XL review
  • Google Pixel XL review: A U.S. perspective
  • Google Pixel FAQ: Should you upgrade?
  • Pixel + Pixel XL specs
  • Understanding Android 7.1 Nougat
  • Join the discussion in the forums!

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5
Dec

Quartz ‘texts’ you the news with new app


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Quartz app gives you the latest news in conversational tone.

It can be hard to stay on top of what’s happening in the news throughout the day. Quartz is trying to keep things conversational with its new news app that delivers you the headlines as if you’re having a text chat with your best friend who just happens to also be a knowledgeable journalist.

If you ever feel overwhelmed when you check out other news sites or apps by the wall of sensationalized headlines vying for your clicks, you definitely need to check out Quartz. It pulls headlines and news stories from their own news site, along with other reputable news sources including The New York Times, The Guardian, and the BBC, delivering them one at a time.

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If a headline is relevant to your interests, you tap the response to read more about the story. If you’re not interested, tap “next” or “anything else” to move onto the next story. Headlines are occasionally coupled with semi-relevant animated GIFs (because it’s 2016, so of course there’s GIFs), and if a story requires a deep dive, you can always tap to go out to the original source.

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There’s some amount of customization you can do by swiping right. By default, the app will send you notifications for “really, really big news”, as well as for any news items might be worth your notice along with a few daily pokes when there’s a queue of things to read in the app. If you’d prefer a notification-free experience, it’s easy to hit the switches on those features.

For a more chill way of staying on top of the day’s biggest news, check out the Quartz news app from the Google Play Store.

The best news apps for Android

5
Dec

Save $80 when buying an Amazon Tap and Fire tablet together


Best Buy is currently offering an $80 savings when you purchase the Amazon Tap and 7-inch Fire tablet together. To get the offer all you need to do is add both items to your cart, and then the $80 will be subtracted. With the savings, it is essentially like getting the Fire tablet (normally $69) for free and $10 off the Amazon Tap (normally $129). With the Tap, you’ll be able to use your voice to order Amazon items, check the weather and much more with Alexa, and the tablet is great for browsing the web, watching videos and playing some games.

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So, for $119 plus tax you can get both of these great items, which is a pretty awesome deal. This offer is only good for today, December 5, so don’t wait long to place your order.

See at Best Buy

5
Dec

Runkeeper uses Apple Watch GPS to keep track of your route


Apple Watch Series 2 arrived with two notable updates: waterproofing and built-in GPS. Even though the popular jogging app has been letting users run without their iPhone since last fall, Runkeeper now tasks the wearable’s own GPS for better tracking of your routes. An update to the company’s Apple Watch software takes advantage of the built-in feature for “richer stats” and a detailed map you can view on your phone.

Runkeeper’s Apple Watch app also gains a customizable activity screen so you can choose what’s on the wearable’s display during your workout. One of those stats is a new heart-rate graph that shows your BPM over the last five minutes. There’s also a target pace graph that plots out a five-minute snapshot of your run compared to a speed goal you input before you get started.

For updates during your run, the app will alert you with a vibration each time to you log a mile. To give the latest version of Runkeeper a go, download it from the App Store and lace up your sneakers. Keep in mind that in order to take advantage of the added GPS abilities, you’ll need to have an Apple Watch Series 2.

Source: RunKeeper

5
Dec

VW’s new company aims for on-demand self-driving cars


Like other automakers, Volkswagen sees the writing on the wall: it knows that there won’t be as much of a reason to own a car in the future between ridesharing (like that of its partner, Gett) and self-driving cars. Accordingly, it’s creating a company to prepare for that future. Moia (Sanskrit for “magic”) is a new, stand-alone mobility firm that will offer services in between mass transit and personal car ownership. Conventional ridesharing is the “first step,” VW says, but definitely not the only one.

One of its first major goals is to develop on-demand commuter services based around small, electric shuttles. Think UberPool or Lyft Line, but with dedicated vehicles and more space for passengers. Gett and other ridesharing companies would pick you up if you’re the only one headed in a given direction. Ultimately, though, the plan is to offer autonomous on-demand transport. You wouldn’t have to worry about getting around town when there’s always a robotic ride just a few minutes away.

VW has high hopes: it wants Moia to have a “leading position” in the mobility service field by 2025, and it believes that the first pilot projects for self-driving services could arrive earlier than the commonly-cited 2021 goal. It’s too soon to say how realistic those targets are, but the very creation of Moia is notable. It’s an acknowledgment that VW’s existing business model isn’t guaranteed to last, and that it needs a team which won’t feel pressured to prop up car sales. Also, it’s another step in VW’s bid to reinvent its image following its emissions cheating scandal — it shows that the company is not only willing to embrace EVs, but reduce car ownership as a whole.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Volkswagen

5
Dec

Leap Motion will bring your hands into mobile VR


Leap Motion has been working on making your interactions in VR as realistic as possible, but it’s only been available to desktop or console systems. Now, the company has expanded its scope to mobile devices with its new Mobile Platform, designed for “untethered, battery-powered virtual and augmented reality devices.” It has built a reference system of its new sensor and platform on top of a Gear VR, that it says it is shipping to headset makers around the world. Leap Motion is also bringing demos of its Interaction Engine (for natural hand gestures) in this portable medium to major VR events this month.

To enable hand-tracking for such devices, Leap Motion had to make a sensor that performed better but consumed less power. It also expanded the supported field of view from 140 x 120 degrees on a PC system to 180 x 180 degrees. This means it’ll track your hands basically anywhere, as long as they are in front of your face (or the sensor). The sensor is also tilted slightly downward, according to The Verge, so it points at where your hands would normally be (below you, not in front of your face).

Since the reference design just began shipping to headset makers, we’re not expecting to see the new sensor show up in actual devices until at least a few months from now. Meanwhile, other companies have been integrating futuristic tech, such as eye-tracking, into their headsets to make exploring the virtual world as natural as possible. Hopefully, this means 2017’s crop of VR goggles will be better equipped for realistic interactions with digital environments.

Via: The Verge

Source: Leap Motion

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