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8
Jun

Snapchat Expanding Bitmoji ‘Friendmojis’ to Apple’s Messages App for First Time


Snapchat is expanding the use of its Bitmoji characters — specifically “Friendmojis” — for iOS users in the coming days. With the update, iPhone and iPad users will be able to send personalized Friendmojis, or Bitmoji stickers that include both you and your friend, directly in Apple’s Messages app.

Currently, Bitmoji is available as a keyboard extension and a Messages app so users can send Bitmoji in Messages, but the new update marks the first time combo Friendmojis can be sent outside of the main Snapchat app. Anyone who has their Bitmoji and Snapchat accounts linked together will be able to send Friendmojis in Messages.

To send a Friendmoji, a new “Friend” icon will appear in the upper-right corner of the Bitmoji keyboard extension, which can be added to trusted keyboards in the iOS Settings app. From there users will see a list of Snapchat friends they can tap on to generate customized Friendmojis featuring their own Bitmoji and their friend’s character.

Friendmojis have numerous themes and celebratory messages, from simple “Good Morning” messages to more specific stickers for birthdays, holidays, major events, apologies, and more. Snapchat acquired Bitmoji in the summer of 2016, heavily integrating the sticker characters into its app over the years. In 2018, Snapchat now uses Bitmojis as the main form of identifying friends in the app.

Since Bitmojis popularized the creation of personalized animated characters, many companies have now unveiled interest in the space, most recently Apple with its own “Memoji” coming in iOS 12 on iPhone X. With Memojis, users can create customized animated characters that look like themselves, and then use the iPhone X’s True Depth camera system to replicate movements made by the mouth, eyes, eyebrows, and tongue.

Memoji messages can be sent through Messages as stickers and video clips, and can be attached to the user’s face in a video clip. Memojis are an evolution of Animoji, which take traditional emoji characters and turn them into full 3D emojis that follow the face movements of the user. Of course, the main difference between Apple’s efforts and Bitmoji is Bitmoji’s focus on full-body customization, while Apple’s animated characters are only floating heads.

Tag: Snapchat
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8
Jun

Apple Music Rolling Out Update With ‘Coming Soon’ Section, Album Launch Dates, and New Artist Profiles


Apple appears to be rolling out a series of updates for Apple Music today, including a small but useful new section called “Coming Soon,” which allows subscribers to check out new albums about to be released over the next few weeks. On iOS and macOS, the hub is located in the Browse tab > New Music > scroll down to find Coming Soon > tap “See All.” Music Videos were previously the last thing to see here, but now Apple has introduced Coming Soon as well.

The hub lists artists from a variety of different genres, with impending albums from Panic! At The Disco (“Pray For the Wicked”, June 22), Florence + The Machine (“High As Hope”, June 29), Interpol (“Marauder”, August 24), and more. With only about 10 albums listed, Coming Soon isn’t an entirely definitive source of every upcoming album on Apple Music, but albums have been added to the section throughout the morning so it appears Apple will be continuously expanding this area.

On macOS, there is a drop down menu for sorting options, but it only has a “Recent Bestsellers” option at this point. Apple could update this to make it even easier to sort upcoming albums by release dates, genres, and more. On iOS, however, there is no sorting option at this time.

Coming Soon on macOS
In another addition, Apple is now making it possible to easily see album launch dates on their respective pages on iOS and macOS. In the Editors’ Notes section, following the traditional encouragement to add the pre-release album to your library, there’s a new line that begins “Album expected…” followed by the album’s specific release date. Some albums not listed in Coming Soon still have a release date specified on their pages, so this update appears to be a bit more wide-ranging.

Lastly, another rollout appears to be happening today in regards to artist profiles, showing up as of now only in iTunes on macOS. These profiles have a slightly tweaked layout with artist portraits in circular bubbles, and a “Featured Release” that includes release dates.


There’s also a “Play” button next to the artist’s name, which was first noticed by iOS 12 beta testers and appears to be launching now for all Apple Music users, although as of writing MacRumors has only seen profile updates on a computer running macOS 10.13.4 and not on iOS. This button shuffles all of an artist’s music at once.

The Coming Soon tab and release dates have appeared for multiple users on iOS 11.4, as well as on macOS 10.13.4. Apple didn’t mention Apple Music during its WWDC keynote and at this time doesn’t appear to be planning a major update to the app this fall. Besides the updated artist profiles, iOS 12 beta testers have discovered that subscribers will be able to perform searches for music via lyric snippets.

(Thanks, Ram K and Jack!)

Tag: Apple Music
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8
Jun

Style and protect your phone with the best LG V35 ThinQ cases


With cutting-edge hardware, A.I. smarts, and a refined design, there are plenty of reasons to snag a new LG V35 ThinQ. This expensive piece of tech is packed with tricks, but the design is a thin aluminum frame sandwiched by glass — and that spells danger. Drop this phone and you could end up with unsightly cracks or scratches. The smart play is to buy a case to protect it from harm.

Luckily, there’s plenty of choices because the LG V35 ThinQ is a lot like the LG V30 on the outside, so much so that the same cases will fit the LG V35. Imprint your own style and get some protection with one of the best LG V35 ThinQ cases.

Incipio Beaded Floral Case ($25)

This is part of Incipio’s Design Series, which aims to bring a touch of fashion to the smartphone world by embedding eye-catching, metallic foil designs into protective, translucent cases. The clear, hard back cover is scratch-resistant and there’s a flexible frame designed to take the sting out of any impact. You’ll find accurate cutouts for the ports, as well as the fingerprint sensor and camera on the back. There are also button covers for the volume controls on the side. If you’re not keen on the floral design, there is a cosmic alternative with stars and crescent moons.

Buy one now from:

Amazon Incipio

Spigen Rugged Armor Case ($13)

If you want a decent level of protection and a touch of carbon fiber style, then this offering from Spigen should suit you. It’s a standard TPU case that’s flexible enough to absorb shock from falls and bumps. The matte black finish enhances your grip slightly and shrugs off greasy fingerprints. There’s a lip top and bottom to keep the screen from touching down on surfaces, though it doesn’t extend around the sides. You’ll also find accurate openings for the ports and camera and a recessed cutout for the fingerprint sensor. The carbon fiber-style panels and gloss highlights add some visual flair.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Speck Presidio Grip Case ($45)

For any butterfingers out there who can’t seem to stop dropping their phone, the Speck Presidio Grip is here to help. Special rubbery ridges give this hard, protective case a unique look, but they also make it far easier to grip your phone. If you do happen to drop it, this tough case can handle falls of up to 10 feet, ensuring your LG V35 stays safe and in perfect condition. It’s a bit chunkier than some other cases, but you get the extra benefit in drop protection. The recessed cutouts are all exactly where they should be and the button covers for the volume are well-defined. This case also has a raised bezel that goes all the way around the screen.

Buy one now from:

Speck

Tech21 Evo Check Case ($45)

This is one of the most reliable, protective LG V35 cases on the market. It’s a lightweight, translucent case with a check pattern on the back. You’ll find a ridged, highly protective bumper goes around the outside of your phone to guard against potential drop damage. Fully tested for falls of up to 10 feet, you can be confident when your phone is wearing this case. The cutouts are in the right places and there’s some extra room around the headphone jack for wider plugs.

Buy one now from:

Tech21

Ringke Fusion Case ($11)

With a combination of hard, clear polycarbonate on the back and a flexible TPU bumper that comes in a variety of shades, the Ringke Fusion offers a decent level of protection and complements your LG V35’s style. The openings for the headphone jack and charging port have plugs to keep dirt and dust out. The case extends a little around the screen to prevent it from coming into contact with surfaces if you place it facedown, or if it lands that way after a fall. This isn’t a really rugged case, but it should be enough to safeguard your LG V35 from a typical pocket-height drop.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Editors’ Recommendations

  • The best LG G7 ThinQ cases to keep your LG phone looking new
  • LG V35 ThinQ hands-on review
  • LG V35 ThinQ vs. LG V30: Is the newer model worth the extra cash?
  • LG G7 ThinQ vs. Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus: Clash for the heavyweight title
  • LG G7 ThinQ vs. Google Pixel 2 XL: A brains-versus-brawn comparison


8
Jun

Your Bitmoji sticker can now include a friend with Friendmojis for iOS


Is your Bitmoji feeling lonely? Well, with Bitmoji’s latest update it no longer has to. Using the new Friendmojis feature, you can send stickers that combine your own Bitmoji with your friends’ creations.

Originally available in the Snapchat app, users will now have access to Friendmojis within the iOS Bitmoji keyboard. Rather than only being able to send the stickers through Snapchat message, you will now be able to send it through iMessage conversations as well.

To start, you have to make sure your Bitmoji is created through the Bitmoji app. Once you’re done, link your avatar to your Snapchat account by tapping on the Profile icon in the top left corner of the Snapchat app. You will then see the option to add your Bitmoji.

In order to use the feature, you have to make sure you’re always logged into Bitmoji with Snapchat. Friendmojis specifically use your Snapchat network in order to combine the stickers depending on who you’re talking to in iMessage. That means you also have to add that person as a friend on Snapchat beforehand — if you’re not friends on the app already.

To start sharing Friendmojis within conversations, tap on the friend icon located in the upper-right corner of the Bitmoji keyboard. You will then be able to select or search from a list of Snapchat friends to choose from, which will then provide you with combined sticker choices based on who you choose.

In Snapchat, Friendmojis are more of a hidden feature — since it’s only available to those who both have their Bitmojis set up and linked to their accounts. A few months back, Snapchat also added 3D Friendmojis which allows you to turn you and a friend into an augmented reality filter.

To use the feature while on Snapchat, all you need to do is open a chat and access the camera — but make sure it’s on the rear-facing option. Then, tap on the screen to open Lens carousel where you’ll be able to find your Bitmoji and your friends’. You’ll then be able to position the Bitmoji wherever you want them within your surroundings.

As for Friendmojis, the new feature will be available for all iOS users soon. The feature is slowly rolling out in the coming days.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • How to create, customize, and use Memoji on iOS 12
  • How to send a text message from a computer
  • How to get iMessages in Android
  • How to use Instagram
  • GBoard’s beta update now includes GIF creator for Android


8
Jun

Chromebook vs Laptop in 2018: Can it replace your Windows Computer?


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Chromebooks are better and more productive than ever, but can one replace your current laptop?

More people than ever use a smartphone as their only computer. That makes sense; you have the web, apps for any service you want, entertainment via music and video, and it’s all shown on a reasonably large screen. All in your pocket, all the time.

But a lot of people still need or want a laptop. Maybe a smartphone isn’t ideal for typing out long emails or you need to get some work done that wouldn’t be fun or easy to do on a phone. There are a lot of reasons people want or need a bigger device with a full keyboard. With Chromebooks becoming more powerful as Chrome OS finds its place as a mobile operating system, it’s time once again to see if a Chromebook can replace your laptop this year.

It’s what you do

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The best place to start when this topic gets discussed is to mention the things a Chromebook won’t be able to do that a Windows laptop can, then talk about what a Chromebook can do that a Windows laptop can’t. Most everything here isn’t going to be a one-size-fits-all affair because we all do different things.

Chromebooks can play plenty of games but not the AAA titles you see on Windows.

Your Chromebook won’t be able to play most of the games you play on a Windows machine. With Linux app support coming to Chrome, gaming platforms like Steam are close to being a reality, but even there the list of titles that are available pales in comparison to Windows. This goes double if your current machine has a discrete GPU because Chromebooks all use an embedded GPU, at least for now. Though if you use a laptop with a separate graphics adapter, you already know this.

More: These are the Chromebooks that can run Android apps and Linux programs

Your Chromebook won’t be able to use the same titles for productivity apps that a Windows laptop does. Android support means Chromebooks can use a million or so apps, and the recent Linux support adds another set of even more powerful apps, but some products just aren’t made for any operating system other than Windows. You can find an equivalent for almost any program that works on a Chromebook — Google Docs for offline office programs, Polarr editor as an image editing and processing tool, or Power Director for video editing are just a few examples.

Chromebooks don’t have the wide range of enterprise-grade apps that Windows does.

Where the biggest deficiency lies is with “enterprise” grade programs. Adobe does have a full version of Photoshop for Chromebooks, but you have to be an education partner to use it. Microsoft does have office applications for Chrome, but they are online versions built as Android apps. And any specialized programs you might need in a lab or on the job probably aren’t going to be available for Chrome. Again, Linux programs will help because you will have access to enterprise software titles (often more powerful than a Windows version and the preferred title for a task!) but chances are they won’t be the same titles. Even if they are better suited for a task, it’s tough moving from an application you know to something new.

It’s how you do it

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Chromebooks are mobile devices. They look like a laptop and act like a laptop, but everything about the software was designed for an always-connected mobile world. Windows is moving in this direction, but still has a long way to go. That doesn’t mean you can’t use either operating system offline or at home, but features and settings are going to be designed for an always-connected environment.

You can crash a Chromebook if you try hard. Very hard.

Where Chromebooks shine is when your usage is more internet-focused. The Chrome browser on even a cheap Chromebook is remarkably more fluid and less resource-hungry than it is on most any Windows laptop because of the operating system’s overhead, or lack of it. And Chrome the operating system uses the same type of sandboxing the browser does, so any app you might use can’t access the data from any other unless you give it express permission. Applications designed for Chrome tend to be feature-rich and easy on resources, so the entire experience is speedy and fluid. You can crash a Chromebook or push it to a full-blown lag fest, but it’s not easy and won’t happen unless you try to do it.

When you pull your Chromebook out of your bag, it turns on in seconds, goes back to where you were when you stopped using it (this can be changed in the settings), and acts as if you never stopped using it. It will always be up-to-date, always be malware-free, and always check everything to make sure you stay that way. A Chromebook is not immune to malware or viruses; no computing platform is. But Chrome OS has a string of checks in place that makes it almost impossible for any unwanted software to stay in place with nothing more than a power cycle. Microsoft has come a long way in this area and Windows 10 is the company’s most secure version yet, but it can’t come close to Chrome’s layered approach to protecting your privacy and security.

Chrome was built to protect against the internet’s huge library of crapware that wants to live in your computer.

This plays a big part in the Chromebook’s simplicity and security features mentioned in the previous paragraphs. A mobile device has to be prepared to be ready at a moment’s notice and has to stay vigilant when it comes to privacy or security threats because the internet is rife with them. Dodgy websites with shady downloads are something we all know about, but even legitimate sites that use legitimate advertisement services can have malware creep in through a random ad or get you locked into pop-up hell asking for money to remove malware. Even if you face an encounter like this with your Chromebook, anything bad software would try to do is erased when you power your Chromebook off.

If you would rather sit comfortably at a desk or table and use peripherals like a big monitor or a full 104-key keyboard and mouse, both Chromebooks and Windows laptops are simple to use. You’ll see very little difference when you use a Chromebook this way, with the exceptions begin Android apps that expect input through the touchscreen. Windows apps designed primarily for touch input will act the same; using a mouse pointer to perform touch actions gets clunky on either platform. The big difference here is that you’ll find more applications built for touch on a Chromebook than you would on Windows.

You probably can

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Put the groupthink that Chromebooks are just expensive web browses aside, because it’s nonsense. There is a very good chance you can switch to a Chromebook and never miss a beat in 2018.

Chromebooks aren’t for everyone, but they probably are for you.

Android apps made a remarkable difference in what a Chromebook can do and for most people they mean a Chromebook can do everything you currently do on your laptop running Windows. This might not apply if you use a laptop as a portable office (that depends on what office software your company uses — at Mobile Nations, I can use a Chromebook for every task, every day) or if you have a very expensive gaming laptop or have specific programs and tools you need to connect in a specialized environment. But do you need a laptop to do any of these things, or are you using it for simple everyday tasks like shopping, communicating, finances, and all the other “normal” stuff we all do most every day?

If you are, a Chromebook will serve you well. You’ll spend less money, be more secure while connected, and enjoy a more simple experience that focuses on what you’re doing instead of all the software that keeps a laptop running so you can do it.

Chromebooks

  • The best Chromebooks
  • Chromebooks in education: Everything you need to know
  • Should you buy a Chromebook?
  • Chromebook Buyers Guide
  • Google Pixelbook review
  • Join our Chromebook forums

8
Jun

How are you liking Android P Developer Preview 3?


Google’s next version of Android gets even better.

Earlier this week, Android P Developer Preview 3 / Beta 2 started rolling out to users across the globe. This iteration of Android P aims to fix a lot of the quirks found in Developer Preview 2 while also adding a few small features here and there.

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Some of our AC forum users have already started playing around with the update, and so far, first impressions are quite positive.

Here’s what they’re saying.

avatar2997472_1.gifNauga
06-06-2018 02:56 PM

Man, my 2 XL took about a solid 15 minutes to install the OTA. I was biting my nails hoping it wouldn’t bork.

On the plus side, though, my fps seems a lot snappier now. Ironic given the complaints I’ve read about the June O update. And I’ve finally got the weather icon on my lockscreen! Sweet.

Wait. I take some of that back. DP3 must’ve turned the AOD on. So much for an fps fix.

Reply

avatar339830_4.gifcbreze
06-06-2018 05:03 PM

Running nice and smooth for me so far, no issues I can see. The brightness was off from the beginning. Adjusted that. Previously 40% was fine but now 85 is needed to be the equivalent it seems. Hope this doesn’t affect battery.

Reply

avatar2909240_1.gifKirstein Gourlay
06-06-2018 09:22 PM

Things I have noticed. My LBC radio app now works as intended. Yippee!! And despite Barclays Bank claiming not to support beta software, I can now login to my bank account using the Barclays app!! So already winning with this update. Seems stable so far.

Reply

avatar1311146_1.gifJoltcola1234
06-07-2018 09:55 PM

I really like the gestures with Android P but I don’t understand why they’ve kept the back button still this long. why haven’t they implemented a left swipe from the home pill to go back in apps? the back button looks awkward in apps as well. is it a technical limitation that won’t allow the swipe to go back? can’t understand the decision not implement the swipe to go back.

Reply

Now, we want you to chime in — How are you liking Android P Developer Preview 3

Join the conversation in the forums!

Android P

  • Android P: Everything you need to know
  • Android P Beta hands-on: The best and worst features
  • All the big Android announcements from Google I/O 2018
  • Will my phone get Android P?
  • How to manually update your Pixel to Android P
  • Join the Discussion

8
Jun

How to set up your Oculus Go


Do it right the first time, and you’ll be much happier with your Oculus Go experience!

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From the moment you take an Oculus Go out of the box, it invites you to immediately put it on your head and start having fun. And in theory, you could do exactly that. If you want the best possible experience from the headset, however, you’ll take a few and configure it the right way.

Here’s a quick look at how that works.

Don’t have an Oculus Go? Check out your options!

Out of the box

The first thing you need to do with your Oculus Go is take everything out of the box. Lifting the lid reveals the headset and controller right away, but there are a few things you need to do before powering this system up.

Remove the stickers

Your lenses are covered by a protective plastic coating, which needs to be removed or else everything will look blurry in the headset. There are also stickers on the body of the headset. Peel these stickers off, and you’re good to go.

After this point, your lenses are exposed. Keep the lenses from direct sunlight in order to keep your display safe, and keep the lenses away from anything that could scratch the glass. You may consider keeping a microfiber cloth nearby in case you ever need to wipe a smudge from the headset in the future. Amazon has a few for $ if you don’t have one handy.

See at Amazon

Battery in the controller

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Your Oculus Go controller runs on a single AA battery, which is included in the box. While you’re putting the battery in, it’s a perfect time to add the wrist strap as well.

Pull down on the bottom half of the controller to remove the casing
Insert the AA battery, so the flat part is pointed toward the trigger on the controller
Fish the end of the wrist strap without the knot through the hole in the plastic casing and wrap the end around the hook on the bottom of the controller
Push the plastic casing back into place on the controller

This controller has no lights to confirm it has power, so the only way you know for sure is through the Oculus Go headset once you put it on. This battery is expected to last through at least six months of constant use, so it should not need to be replaced frequently.

Fit Oculus Go to your head

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Your VR headset has three adjustment straps to ensure a comfortable fit on your head. The two side straps connect across the back of your head, while the top strap slides into the back strap and can be adjusted separately. To get the best fit on this headset:

Pull the velcro on all three straps until they are fully open
Place the Oculus Go headset up to your eyes and pull the strap over your head
Pull on both side velcro straps at the same time until snug, then press the straps against the side of the headset to secure them
Pull on the top strap near the headset until you feel the bottom of the headset lift from your head just slightly, then press the velcro side down to secure
Grab the headset with both hands and slowly move it until the image on the screen is clear

An ideal fit for this headset had the two parts of the back strap wrapped around the knot in the back of your head (it’s called the occipital bone) while the top strap is tight between the front and back of the headset.

Setting up the software

To fully set up your Oculus Go, you need the Oculus app installed on your phone. It is available in the Google Play Store here if you haven’t installed it already. Once you have the app installed, you will be walked through the process of setting up your Oculus Go.

If you’ve used the Gear VR in the past, you’ll still have to download the app linked above. All of your purchases and download history are saved so you won’t have to buy anything a second time.

Inside the app

Once you are in the app, Oculus will ask you to log in. There’s a big Facebook button so you can log in with your Facebook account, but if you do not have a Facebook account or would prefer to use your existing Oculus account, you can find those options in much smaller text at the bottom of the login screen.

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If you have chosen to log in with Facebook, or if your Oculus account has a Facebook account attached, you’ll be asked to confirm your privacy settings inside of Oculus. This is a multi-step process, but it looks like there’s only one button to say yes and move on. Actually, each one of the four sections above that blue button are separate privacy settings for you Oculus account.

This includes a Real Name Policy, how you can be discovered to add as a friend in Oculus, whether your friends can see what you are doing with your headset, and who can see your friends list. It is very important you take a look at each of these options and confirm they are set up the way you want before you press the blue Continue button.

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Once your privacy settings have been confirmed, you’ll be asked to turn on Bluetooth so your phone can find the headset. Make sure your headset is close to the phone, especially if there is more than one Oculus Go in the room at the time. Once the Oculus Go has been found, you need to plug the Oculus Go headset in and turn it on using the oval power button on the front of the headset.

Once you have confirmed whether you are left or right handed, you’ll be shown a brief safety video on your phone and then invited to put the Oculus Go headset on for the first time.

Adding a payment method

If you’re going to install apps, chances are you need to pay for them. Oculus lets you add a payment method from within the Oculus Go app, and then create a pin number for rapid checkout when making purchases. To add a card:

Tap the Settings tab on the bottom of the Oculus Go app
Swipe down and tap on Payment Methods when you find it
Tap Add Payment Method

Once you have added a payment method, you will be asked to create a four-digit pin. This pin can be entered on the app or in the headset for making purchases, instead of entering in your credit card information.

Installing apps on Oculus Go

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Your Oculus Go has access to basically ever app the Gear VR had access to, which is well over 1,000 apps. The Oculus Store is how you access those apps. You can access those apps from the store in the headset, or you can use the Oculus App on your phone. The purchase process for both is the same:

Tap on the app you want to install
Tap the blue purchase button to buy
Confirm your purchase with your Oculus Pin
Tap the blue Install button to send the app to your headset

If you have used Oculus apps before, either from a different Oculus Go on your account or a Samsung Gear VR, you can install your previous purchased only from inside the Oculus Go headset to find and install these games:

Click on the Library tab from the bottom navigation
Click on Not Installed from the Store navigation on the left
Click the app you want from this list to start the download

And that’s it! Your Oculus Go is now fully set up and ready for you to explore. Enjoy!

This article has been updated to clarify that you need to download the Oculus app even if you’ve already setup the Gear VR on your phone. Additionally, it has been updated with details on how to get started.

Oculus Go

Oculus Go

  • A parent’s guide to Oculus Go
  • Oculus Go vs. Lenovo Mirage Solo
  • Best Gamepad for Oculus Go
  • Best Battery Backup for Oculus Go

Oculus Go 32GB
Oculus Go 64GB

8
Jun

Google Pixel 3: News, Rumors, Release Date, Specs, and more!


Everything we know about what’ll likely be one of the year’s best phones.

Google first introduced its Pixel series in 2016, and since then, has been hard at work to establish itself as a serious player in the smartphone market. Google may be one of the most powerful and iconic companies in the world, but when it comes to hardware, is still very much a newcomer.

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We saw vast improvements with the Pixel 2 compared to the original Pixel line, and we’re expecting to get that again with the Pixel 3. Google’s quickly learning what it takes to compete with the likes of Samsung and Apple, and seeing as how the Pixel 2 was one of 2017’s best phones, there’s a lot riding on this year’s entry.

Ladies and gentlemen, here’s everything we know so far about the Google Pixel 3.

The latest Pixel 3 news

June 8, 2018 — Pixel 3 XL shown off in six more hands-on pictures

Less than a day after those first two hands-on photos of the Pixel 3 XL surfaced, six more have appeared.

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These additional photos showcase the Pixel 3 XL from every possible angle, and when XDA Developers reached out to their forum member that shared them, they were able to confirm that the phone has a full glass back. In other words, it’s possible this year’s Pixel line may finally adopt wireless charging.

pixel-3-xl-right.jpg?itok=mBjPqQegpixel-3-xl-left.jpg?itok=FbJ45a7Cpixel-3-xl-bottom.jpg?itok=F1UvAtDI

The front and back photos are pretty similar compared to what we saw yesterday, but the other images showcase a reflective glass frame around the phone, volume rocker and power/lock button on the right side, and a USB-C port and SIM slot on the bottom.

Also, as 9to5Google pointed out, that mysterious logo on the back of the Pixel 3 XL was used previously with old Pixel 2 prototypes.

June 7, 2018 — Hands-on photos apparently showcase a Pixel 3 XL prototype

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Out of the blue, XDA Senior Member meraz9000 shared two photos on the XDA Forums showing what’s supposed to be a prototype of the Pixel 3 XL. There’s obviously no way we can confirm whether or not this is the real deal, but it sure does line up with the display panels that were leaked last month.

The photos show the Pixel 3 XL from both the front and back, with the front reiterating the point that the 3 XL will more than likely have a notch in its screen. For what it’s worth, it does look like we’ll be getting two front-facing cameras and a chin at the bottom to retain stereo front-facing speakers.

Around back, this Pixel 3 XL prototype looks nearly identical to that of the Pixel 2 XL. The glass panel seems to be ever-so-slightly smaller, but that could just be the way the photo was taken.

In any case, what do you think about how the Pixel 3 XL is shaping up?

When will the Pixel 3 be released?

In 2016 and 2017, Google held its hardware event on October 4. We don’t have a concrete date for this year’s event quite yet, but there’s no reason to believe Google will deter from this pattern.

Another October 4 event isn’t out of the question seeing as how that falls on a Thursday this year, but at the very least, we should be looking at some point in early October.

Pre-orders for the Pixel 3 will likely open shortly after it’s announced that same day with shipments going out at least a couple of weeks later.

How much will the Pixel 3 cost?

Over the past couple years, pricing for Google’s Pixel phones has remained mostly the same. The MSRP for the Pixel and Pixel 2 series is as follows:

  • Pixel w/ 32GB — $649
  • Pixel w/ 128GB — $749
  • Pixel 2 w/ 64GB — $649
  • Pixel 2 w/ 128GB — $749
  • Pixel XL w/ 32GB — $769
  • Pixel XL w/ 128GB — $869
  • Pixel 2 XL w/ 64GB —$849
  • Pixel 2 XL w/ 128GB — $949

I imagine we’ll see similar numbers with the Pixel 3, but don’t be too surprised if we get a Pixel 3 XL variant that crosses the $1000 threshold.

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

  • Pixel 2 FAQ: Everything you need to know!
  • Google Pixel 2 and 2 XL review: The new standard
  • Google Pixel 2 specs
  • Google Pixel 2 vs. Pixel 2 XL: What’s the difference?
  • Join our Pixel 2 forums

Best Buy
Verizon
Google Store
Project Fi

8
Jun

U.S. government reportedly unhappy about Google’s relationship with Huawei [Update]


The U.S. is targeting Huawei again? Shocker.

Updated June 8, 2018: After being called out by Congress about its relationship with Huawei, a Google spokesperson responded with the following statement: “We look forward to answering these questions. Like many US companies, we have agreements with dozens of OEMs around the world, including Huawei. We do not provide special access to Google user data as part of these agreements, and our agreements include privacy and security protections for user data.”

Huawei has been in the United States’ crosshairs pretty much since the beginning of the year, resulting in a completely botched launch of its Mate 10 Pro flagship on U.S. carriers.

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Now, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Congress is giving Google a hard time over its continued relationship with the Chinese company.

WSJ reports that Congress is unhappy with Google continuing to license the Android OS to Huawei and that:

Some members of Congress also plan to voice displeasure over Google’s continued partnership with Huawei in light of its more recent decision not to renew a Department of Defense contract, according to these people.

That “Department of Defense contract” is referencing Google’s decision to cease working on Project Maven with the Pentagon once its current contract expires in 2019.

In addition to using Android on phones and tablets, Google and Huawei furthered their relationship even more this January when Huawei announced it would start using Android Messages as its default texting app to help Google push forward in replacing SMS with RCS.

ZTE has also been receiving a lot of heat from the U.S. throughout the year, with things going as far to put ZTE out of business for a few weeks thanks to a Denial Order from the Commerce Department. A deal has reportedly been made between ZTE and the United States, but it’s unclear at this time if a similar agreement will be made with Huawei to ease tensions here, too.

These are all the Huawei/Honor phones coming out in 2018

8
Jun

Best Android Camera of 2018


  • Best overall
  • Best runner-up
  • Also great
  • Also great

Best overall

Google Pixel 2 XL

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See at Best Buy

Google’s Pixel 2 XL doesn’t have best-in-class camera hardware, but still manage to take amazing photos in almost every situation thanks to its “HDR+” processing. This after-capture processing creates photos that have amazing colors and dynamic range, akin to what you’d find by applying a good editing pass to photos from any other phone.

You don’t get a ton of settings to tweak, which is kind of the point — Google wants to keep things simple. But when you see the photos that come out of the phone, you won’t be looking to tweak anything — you’ll just enjoy looking at beautiful images. The one area where the Pixel 2 XL has been somewhat beaten is in low light, where it just can’t cut down and clean up noise in the same way the Galaxy S9+ can. That’s certainly a trade-off at this point.

The Pixel 2 XL also has amazing video stabilization that settles down and smooths out even the shakiest of handheld capture.

Bottom line: For a fantastic “point and shoot” experience that also generates amazing photos, the Pixel 2 XL is the one to get.

One more thing: If you want the same experience as the Pixel 2 XL in a smaller package, the Pixel 2 enjoys the same camera.

Why the Google Pixel 2 XL is the best

Back when Google released its original Pixels in 2016, no one expected them to have the best cameras in the Android ecosystem. In 2017, the legacy was already established, and no one had any doubt: the Pixel 2 series has an amazing camera. Here’s what the Pixel 2 XL offers: incredible photo quality in any lighting condition; bullet-fast shutter speeds; amazing video stabilization; and fun features, like Portrait Mode and Motion Photos.

Many other phones can take fundamentally good photos, and the new Galaxy S9 and S9+ do that particularly well, but nothing touches the amazing colors and dynamic range the Pixel 2 XL can provide. It produces photos that look like you took a shot with another phone, and applied a set of tasteful edits to bring out all of the best parts of the scene — but it happens automatically every time you press the shutter button.

The Pixel 2’s camera app doesn’t have the same breadth of features as many of its competitors — there’s no manual mode at all — but much of the magic happens behind the scenes. Google has also added a new piece of hardware to the mix, the Pixel Visual Core, to allow third party apps to access the machine learning prowess of the Pixel 2’s camera.

Best runner-up

Huawei P20 Pro

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See at Amazon

Huawei’s Mate 10 Pro has a great camera. The P20 Pro has an amazing camera. The first phone with three camera sensors on the back, the main one is 40MP, and is comparatively enormous for a phone. It uses all that size to shoot tremendously crisp daylight shots and incredibly detailed low-light photos. The AI-assisted Night Mode is even more amazing, though you need some patience and luck to get perfect results. The other two cameras are for black-and-white and distance — there third one has a lens with 3x optical zoom, perfect for those tourist shots.

While the Pixel 2 takes great photos more effortlessly, the P20 Pro can take better photos overall, and that makes it extremely compelling.

Bottom line: The Huawei P20 Pro is probably the most versatile phone camera ever created.

One more thing: You probably can’t buy the P20 Pro in the U.S., at least not officially, but it might be worth importing.

Also great

Samsung Galaxy S9+

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See at Amazon

The Galaxy S9+ has a pair of rear cameras and a crazy switching aperture on its main lens that can adjust to give you the best possible shots in a variety of lighting. In the daytime the GS9+ takes sharp, accurate photos with just a subtle bump of saturation but doesn’t go overboard with HDR processing.

At night, the GS9+ is arguably the best smartphone camera available today. Its f/1.5 lens lets in a ton of light, and the sensor captures amazingly sharp images with almost no noise and colors that are mostly accurate to the scene.

This one is close, but the Galaxy S9+ comes up short of the Pixel 2 and 2 XL simply because it lacks the amazing colors and dynamic range found in Google’s phones. But when you add in all of the GS9+’s other camera features, like an advanced Pro mode, 960 fps slow motion video and other shooting modes, it may tip you over in its direction.

Bottom line: The Galaxy S9+ is a great overall camera that excels particularly in low-light conditions. It also piles on the features and really only comes up short in daylight shots.

One more thing: If you opt for the smaller Galaxy S9, you don’t get a secondary camera, meaning you miss out on portrait mode and lossless 2X zooming.

Also great

LG G7

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See at B&H

LG was a pioneer of the dual camera movement, and it has stuck with the same formula: a solid primary camera, and a wide-angle secondary shooter that provides a neat new perspective. The LG G7’s main camera is very good, despite having small pixels — LG’s processing is great, and having OIS and an f/1.6 lens doesn’t hurt.

That secondary camera isn’t quite as wide as on the LG G6, but unlike previous generations it has the exact same sensor as the primary camera. And with every other phone manufacturer going with a telephoto secondary camera, it’s truly unique at the flagship level.

Bottom line: The LG G7 offers the best camera experience for anyone who wants a wide-angle secondary camera.

One more thing: You won’t be able to get the phone in every region or from every carrier, so check availability before you get too attached to it.

Conclusion

The Pixel 2 XL is still the best Android cameras available, based on its amazing ability to capture beautiful photos in every situation without any tweaking, guessing with settings or edits after capture. The Huawei P20 Pro is more powerful and versatile than the Pixel 2 XL, and can take better photos, but it’s a bit more complicated, and may turn off novices. The Galaxy S9+ gets close as an overall package, offering more features and arguably better low-light shots, but comes up short enough in colors and dynamic range that it isn’t quite as good as the Pixel 2 XL.

Best overall

Google Pixel 2 XL

google-pixel-2-xl-black-full-back.jpg?it

See at Best Buy

Google’s Pixel 2 XL doesn’t have best-in-class camera hardware, but still manage to take amazing photos in almost every situation thanks to its “HDR+” processing. This after-capture processing creates photos that have amazing colors and dynamic range, akin to what you’d find by applying a good editing pass to photos from any other phone.

You don’t get a ton of settings to tweak, which is kind of the point — Google wants to keep things simple. But when you see the photos that come out of the phone, you won’t be looking to tweak anything — you’ll just enjoy looking at beautiful images. The one area where the Pixel 2 XL has been somewhat beaten is in low light, where it just can’t cut down and clean up noise in the same way the Galaxy S9+ can. That’s certainly a trade-off at this point.

The Pixel 2 XL also has amazing video stabilization that settles down and smooths out even the shakiest of handheld capture.

Bottom line: For a fantastic “point and shoot” experience that also generates amazing photos, the Pixel 2 XL is the one to get.

One more thing: If you want the same experience as the Pixel 2 XL in a smaller package, the Pixel 2 enjoys the same camera.

Updated June 2018: The Pixel 2 XL remains at the top of our list, but the Galaxy S9+ has arrived to replace the Note 8. The LG G6 has been removed as it aged, and is replaced by the great all-around Mate 10 Pro.

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