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Android Auto finally gets ‘OK Google’ hotword detection


No more reaching for that microphone icon — just say “OK Google” and do your thing.

Google has announced that the “OK Google” hotword now — finally — works in Android Auto. The staple Google feature, long absent from the company’s automotive interface, should be available whether you’re using Android Auto on a phone or directly on a head unit.

It’s a big deal because until now drivers have had to tap a microphone icon before interacting with their Android Auto setup. Today’s news means it’ll be easier — and safer — to give Auto voice commands, as you’ll no longer have to take your hand off the wheel. And it means all the commands available through voice — like checking the weather, navigation or changing music tracks — can be triggered just by speaking. A great early Christmas gift from the Android Auto team.

More: What it’s like to use Android Auto on a phone

All About Android Auto

  • Getting started with Android Auto in your car
  • Using Android Auto natively on your phone
  • Android Auto news
  • Apps that work with Android Auto
  • Join the Android Auto discussion!


Everything you need to troubleshoot Google Daydream


Dealing with issues in VR can be frustrating, but we’ve got the fixes you’re looking for.

There isn’t a lot that can go wrong with Google Daydream. Like Cardboard before it, this platform is designed to be as simple as possible so you can just go and enjoy great games and videos. That said, occasionally something can go wrong and we’re here to help. Consider this everything you need to have a successful Daydream experience every time!

Read more at VR Heads!


Google Home can now order you pizza (and do other, lesser things)


More than 30 organizations — including Domino’s Pizza, WebMD and Tripadvisor — bring new functionality to Google’s smart speaker.

Hot on the heels of its latest feature expansion, which brought Netflix and Google Photos integration, Google Home can now order you pizza.

OK, that’s not all it can do. VentureBeat reports that more than 30 organizations, both big and small, have today launched new actions for Google Home. In addition to sending pies directly to your door via Domino’s Pizza, you could ask WebMD exactly how much pizza you should be eating, and use And Chill to recommend the perfect Netflix movie for the night.

Here’s a sampling of the new Google Home services we’re seeing today.


The list is only going to keep growing as more developers adopt Actions on Google, which lets them develop tools and bots for Google Home.

If you’re a Google Home owner, let us know which new actions you’re using down in the comments!

Google Home

  • Google Home review
  • These services work with Google Home
  • Google Home vs. Amazon Echo
  • Join our Google Home forums!

Google Store Best Buy Target


Samsung Gear S3 vs. Gear S2: Which should you buy?


Samsung’s wearable lineup is getting bigger, creating some interesting questions about which Gear is right for you.

With the launch of the new Gear S3 Frontier and Classic, Samsung has decided to keep its year-old Gear S2 and S2 Classic around as viable options with lower prices, smaller sizes and similar functionality thanks to software updates. It’s always tempting to just buy the latest version of whatever product you’re looking for, but in this case there are some viable reasons to choose last year’s models.

If you want a smartwatch from Samsung, you have a couple choices. Let us help you make the decision between the new Gear S3 and last year’s Gear S2.

Design and size considerations


Between the Gear S3 and S2, you effectively have three designs to choose from depending on your style. The biggest and boldest of the bunch is the Gear S3 Frontier, which has a strong black on black finish, large gnarled bezel and textured side buttons — it definitely stands out. Then you have the standard Gear S2, which has a slick and almost sport-like look, with smooth metal and a sculpted band that flows right into the watch face to give the appearance of a single piece. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Gear S3 Classic and Gear S2 Classic have very similar designs — two-tone mirrored metal finishes are accented by more “classic” design elements like a simpler bezel and understated buttons, finished off with a leather strap.

The new models are huge, so if you want compact you have to go Gear S2.

Exterior design cues don’t tell the whole story, though: you also have to consider the size of these watches. The new Gear S3s are significantly larger than last year’s watches, with cases that are 46 mm across and 12.9 mm thick, attaching to 22 mm straps. The Gear S2 is just 42 mm across and 11.4 mm thick, whille the Gear S2 Classic is only 40 mm across; both have 20 mm straps. There’s also a matter of weight, with the Gear S3 Frontier coming in at a hefty 62 grams and the S3 Classic at 57 grams, much heavier than the 47 and 42 grams of the Gear S2 and S2 Classic, respectively.

More: Samsung Gear S3 review

Obviously when we’re talking about millimeters and grams it’s tough to conceptualize how much these differences matter, but remember that this is something being worn — and if it is cumbersome or doesn’t fit right, it won’t be enjoyable. The Gear S3 Frontier and Classic are really large by analog watch standards, particularly in thickness, and just won’t be comfortable for many even with average wrists. This fact alone may push many to consider last year’s Gear S2 and S2 Classic, which are far more svelte.

Features and software


Since the Gear S2 and S2 Classic are still officially on sale, Samsung is updating the older watches with the same software experience you’ll find on the Gear S3. The changes aren’t all that major to start with, actually, but knowing that you’re getting the same software no matter which watch you choose is important.

The differentiators here are a speaker, GPS and full Samsung Pay.

Considering the (within reason) identical software, the thing to consider here is what you can’t change: the hardware. The new Gear S3s have the same processor, storage, screen resolution and IP68 water resistance, but have larger 1.3-inch displays (versus 1.2-inch before) and 768MB of RAM to the Gear S2’s 512MB. The battery is also now much larger, a full 380 mAh compared to last year’s 250 mAh, though battery life doesn’t take as considerable a jump in most cases.

Beyond just the specs, the Gear S3 has standardized on including a speaker across models — useful for notifications and voice calls, if you wish — whereas you could only get one from the ceullar-connected Gear S2 Classic before. You also get GPS in both Gear S3s to keep track of your runs, which was again exclusive to the 3G-connected model last year. Samsung Pay makes a return in the Gear S3, but it’s beefed up to let you pay at just about any payment terminal — like those you normally swipe a card in — thanks to new MST technology.

Price and value


Many folks will make their buying decision based on price alone, and there’s enough of a gap between models to make this an interesting decision.

The Gear S3, whether you want the Frontier or Classic, will set you back $349. For the older Gear S2 models, you’ll pay $249 for the Classic and just $229 for the standard model, which is a considerable drop in price for what are still very capable (and preferably sized) watches for most people. Yes you lose out on some updated specs, GPS and a speaker, but for most people those things aren’t nearly as important as a $100+ savings on something that’s still just an accessory for their phone.

If you’re looking to save even more money and still get a bit of that smartwatch experience, you can consider a Gear Fit 2 instead. It offers excellent fitness tracking and many of the basic smartwatch features people are looking for, and costs just $145.

See Gear S3 at Amazon


Huawei Mate 9 video review

Gone are the days when using a Huawei phone meant living with an unfortunate compromise between great hardware and lousy software. The company’s latest big-screened flagship, the Mate 9, comes with Nougat-based software that feels more like Android and less like a weird clone of iOS. And it’s matched by impressive hardware specs, a unique dual camera setup — not to mention an enormous 5.9-inch screen and ample 4,000mAh battery.

Check out our in-depth video review below, and be sure to hit up our Mate 9 written review for more on the new Huawei flagship.

More from Android Central

  • Our Huawei Mate 9 full review
  • Android Central on YouTube


Star Trek Combadge: Is This The One To Beam Up?

Bluetooth. The final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship MrMobile. It’s continuing mission: to explore strange new tech, to seek out new devices and new iterations, to boldly go looking for super neat things.

We couldn’t resist. But is this bluetooth Star Trek combadge is worth your hard-earned latinum? Watch Michael Fisher bring it all down to Engineering and figure out if this will make you look and feel like the Grand Nagus, or if you’re really taking a spin on the Dabo wheel with this one.

Beam up to these sites and get more MrMobile

  • YouTube 
  • Le web
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Snapchat
  • Instagram


Google Contributor is being unceremoniously shut down

This whole thing sounds really weird.

Google Contributor, the service that let you pay fractions of pennies to remove Google-served ads from websites, is being shut down in mid-January 2017. In an email set to Contributor subscribers, Google says that there are “important changes” coming to Contributor … mainly, that it’s being shut down.


The full email:

Thank you for being a part of Google Contributor, a service that helps readers enjoy fewer ads while funding the sites they love.

Early next year we are launching a new and improved Contributor — your input throughout testing has been invaluable! As we build this new service, we will discontinue the current version of Contributor.

What this means for you

Starting in mid-January 2017, you will no longer see Contributor ad replacements as you browse the web and you will be unable to access your Contributor account.

About payments and billing

You will no longer be billed for the Contributor service starting mid-January 2017, and we will refund your remaining account balance to your credit or debit card on file.

Since launching in late 2014, Google Contributor has gone through a few different iterations of how it removes ads and charges users. The most recent (and user-friendly) model was to simply charge a flat rate of $6.99 per month and calculate the cost of the ads you removed, refunding you any money that wasn’t put toward ads. It meant you never overpaid, and also didn’t really feel the effect of being charged for every single ad that was removed.

Contributor needed improving, but shutting it down altogether is odd.

While Google says that a new and improved version of Contributor will be launching next year, it’s odd to see that its process for doing so involves completely shutting down the current version of Contributor and locking everyone’s account. Considering how it’s being handled, we could be in store for a pretty dramatic change to Contributor (including the name, perhaps).

Contributor was certainly an interesting idea and one that aimed to counteract the high usage of ad blockers on the web, but I find it hard to believe that there was any substantial number of users actively paying Contributor to remove ads. For as good of an idea as it is in its current form, Contributor needs a restructuring if it’s going to catch on at the scale of any other Google service.


This virtual assistant looks like an anime girl trapped in a coffee pot

Gatebox AI is an unusual virtual assistant that involves a projected CGI character kind-of trapped in a jar — with voice controls! The sales pitch is that this virtual assistant will give the sensation of living with a fictional character, or according to how creator Vinclu Inc. words it, “your heroes”. Which is fine, if your hero is a non-spectacular CGI anime character with blue hair and excessively submissive temperament. Behind the virtual idol/slave gloss, Gatebox AI’s assistant functions approach a bare-bones Amazon Echo.

According to the preorder site, Gatebox’s debut character Hikari has the “ultimate healing voice” (uh huh) and the J-Pop AI will adjust to your daily rhythms, welcoming you home or sensing when you get up. According to the demo video, the CGI “dimension traveller” will be able to switch on your lights and other home appliances based on your movement or orders. The device includes infrared tech, meaning it should be able to talk to not-so-smart home appliances that aren’t WiFi-connected. (Of course, there’s WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity for anything smart you do own.)

The character is made up of a two-dimensional rear projected image, and you’ll be able to play other videos if you hook-up a PC to its HDMI port. When it comes to interacting with users, the Gatebox has a camera and other (unspecified) sensors to detect movement and even the owner’s face.

Unlike the Echo (or even Siri), you’ll have to physically press the mic button on the Gatebox to talk to your rear-projected idol; the device won’t just pick up your oral commands. The company admits there’s only limited conversation interactions anyhow, although there’s a text message-based Chatbot for Hikari if you’re also not much of a talker. You’ll be able to text the her, even though she isn’t real. She’ll get lonely if you come home late, apparently, but again, she is not real.

There’s a limited run of 300 Gearboxes, on preorder til mid January 2017, with delivery currently penned for December 2017. You’ll have to really like the idea of a tiny trapped anime character of your own: preorders cost 298,000 yen — which is roughly $2500. Hit up the creepy source links for more details. (She likes donuts.)

Source: Gatebox AI


Samsung is working on a new Gear VR and AR tech

If you’re waiting on Samsung to unveil a new version of its Gear VR headset, you might get your wish soon enough. At the Virtual Reality Summit in San Diego this week, Samsung vice president Sung-Hoon Hong revealed that the company is not only working on a new virtual reality headset, but that it has plans for an augmented reality device as well. Hong explained that Samsung plans to improve upon existing tech like Microsoft HoloLens and Magic Leap when it comes to AR.

The next version of the Gear VR “will be presented in a short time” according to Hong, so we may see that headset debut at Mobile World Congress in February. Samsung typically makes some big announcements at that show. The company just refreshed the Gear VR in August and Hong didn’t offer any details as to what we can expect from the upcoming model.

One thing we do know about the company’s plains for Barcelona is that it’s planning to show off its AR work. Hong said the team at Samsung is developing a “light field engine” that makes for more realistic holograms.

“Samsung’s hologram technology is really, really realistic,” he said. “It looks really touchable.”

Hong also explained that Samsung’s augmented reality aspirations are more focused on businesses than consumers. HoloLens is priced at $3,000, after all. Samsung is also looking for possible collaborators for the project, including a potential tie-up with Magic Leap. Just last week, a report from The Information reported that Magic Leap is having trouble getting its plans for mixed reality off the ground, including issues making its technology mobile.

Via: The Verge

Source: Wearable Zone


Stop pretending to be in Singapore on Instagram

If you were looking to juice your Instagram metrics, then changing your (digital) location as Singapore was a nifty shortcut. According to the Telegraph, the photo-sharing network’s algorithm was more likely to put you on the Explore page if you were in the country. Unfortunately, the Facebook-owned company has now spotted the problem and squashed it, so you’ll have to stop trying to pretend your bathroom selfies were taken on the island.

A few days back, Mic. spoke to various high-profile names on the service who found that they saw spikes in likes and comments when they lied about their location. According to one anonymous source, they would tag their images as Singapore, Singapore, or Sentosa, Singapore. That data would be left up for the first 12 hours before the creators would amend it back to its authentic locale.

Nobody’s sure as to what caused the bug in the first place, although there’s a theory that the company’s slow-rollout of its algorithm-based feeds caused it. We’ll probably never know for sure, but you can stop lying about where you are for popularity. Instead, you’ll have to go back to exaggerating every other facet of your lives on social media in the hope that people slam their hand on that heart button.

Source: Telegraph

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