Tag: android

Google compensates Pixel 2 buyers who overpaid at pop-up stores

If you rushed out to buy a Pixel 2 at one of Google's pop-up stores on October 19th, you probably got a rude surprise: the Verizon reseller handling your purchase, Victra, was charging customers an extra $30 on top of the normal price. Unless you knew enough to haggle it back down, you paid a premium to walk out of the shop with a phone in hand. However, Google isn't having any of it. The company informed The Verge that it's reimbursing the difference for customers who overpaid for the device, and it'll contact you if you haven't already heard back. "This is an error, which is now fixed," a spokesperson said.

Victra was willing to price match for shoppers who drew attention to the discrepancy, but that just underscores the arbitrary nature of the price hike -- it had no connection to the actual price of the phone. This wasn't meant to cover activation fees, taxes or the other usual charges, either.

The remedy is coming quickly, but the incident underscores the risks of tech giants running stores where they don't have full control. Google may have given the impression that it was the one charging extra, which would undoubtedly have left a bad taste in your mouth. As it stands: if you're ever worried about the possibility of price gouging, it's usually wise to buy either online or from a carrier's official stores.

Source: The Verge

Facebook Messenger lets you send cash to friends with PayPal

Messenger started making it easier to pay your friends for dinner back in 2015 when it introduced the option to transfer money in-app with a credit or debit card. If PayPal has always been more convenient, though, you'll love this collaboration: Facebook and the payment service have teamed up to give you a new way to split the bill. You can access the feature the same way you'd pay with a card. Simply tap the blue plus icon and then tap the green Payments button to bring up the two existing options.

If you'd previously set up the feature to pay using your card, just tap the Change button and choose Paypal to connect your account with Messenger. The feature is now live on iOS and will soon be available on Android. Unfortunately, you can only use it if you're in the US -- everyone else will just have to find other ways to spend their PayPal balance.

Google Play lets you test drive Android apps before installing them

Google's Instant Apps are available in a few places for curious Android users, but they've been conspicuously absent in one place: the Play Store. Wouldn't you want to check out an app before committing to it? You can now. Google is now building Instant Apps into the store through a "Try It Now" button on app pages. Tap it and you can find out if an app is your cup of tea without the usual rigamarole of downloading it first. Only a handful of apps are explicitly labeled as Instant Apps-ready (the New York Times' crossword game is one example), but we'd expect that list to grow before long.

There are other important tweaks to the store, too. There's a revamped games area (shown above) with trailers and sections for new and "premium" paid games. Also, the redone Editor's Choice area is now up and running in 17 countries.

Google has also implemented some behind-the-scenes changes that could improve your chances of seeing your favorite subscription service on Android. In a parallel to Apple's App Store reforms, Google will reduce its cut of subscription apps from 30 percent to 15 percent if a user remains with the service for more than a year. This won't take effect until January 1st, 2018, but it could make all the difference for services that previously balked at giving away nearly a third of their revenue no matter how long you stayed aboard. And that's particularly relevant on Android -- as you don't have to offer apps through Google's store, some creators have skipped the shop altogether to ensure they get all the money. They'll still lose some income if they bring their apps to the Play Store after January 1st, but it'll be much more tolerable if you stick with their service for the long haul.

Via: TechCrunch, The Verge

Source: Android Developers Blog, Google Play

Google will ‘fix’ the Pixel 2’s hidden menu button

Looks like the Pixel 2's "secret" menu button was just leftover code, after all. Google has confirmed to CNET that this was a bug, not a feature, and that it'll be patched out in the future. If you're still enjoying that new phone smell, open up the settings menu and double tap in the lower right while you still can.

Source: CNET

Google considers ‘fixing’ the Pixel 2 XL’s display colors

While Google's Pixel 2 XL has generally been well-received, there have been some complaints about its LG-made P-OLED screen. It's supposed to reflect "natural" colors, but many see it as downright dull after years of seeing extra-punchy OLED displays from Samsung and other phone makers. What if you want that explosion of color? You might just get it. A Google spokesperson tells 9to5Google that it's considering adding color options to the Pixel 2 XL beyond the "vivid colors" toggle you see today. It knows that some users want more saturation, and it's open to software updates to add that "if that makes the product better." There's nothing set in stone, then, but it's promising.

The 2 XL has reignited a long-running debate in the mobile world: is it better to have color-accurate screen, or an exaggerated but potentially more pleasing screen? They both have merits. Bold colors will make photos and videos pop, but accuracy is better if you want to be sure that your snapshots reflect what you really saw. There's a concern that some people are so used to punched-up colors that the 2 XL's more accurate display seems lifeless -- and without many options to tweak that display, prospective buyers either have to accept Google's current approach or find another phone.

As it is, any options won't completely address concerns about the P-OLED panel. It also produces a bluish tint when you look at the screen off-angle, and that's clearly due to hardware alone. While it's not going to wreck the experience (you do tend to look at a phone head-on while you're using it), you don't see this in many other OLED screens. Google and LG took a bit of a gamble on the larger Pixel's visuals, and it's not entirely clear that this bet paid off.

Source: 9to5Google

Facebook’s news subscription service will debut on Android, not iOS

Back in June, we reported that Facebook was working on a subscription deal with The Wall Street Journal. Then in July, we learned that the social platform was launching a news subscription service which would layer a paywall above Instant Articles. Now, TechCrunch reports that Facebook is, in fact, in testing mode for subscriptions for Instant Articles.

Facebook is offering publishers two options. The first is to allow a certain number of articles for free and restrict users once free articles have been used up. The other is to lock certain articles only. It's debuting with the following ten publishers: Bild, The Boston Globe, The Economist, Hearst (The Houston Chronicle and The San Francisco Chronicle), La Repubblica, Le Parisien, Spiegel, The Telegraph, tronc (The Baltimore Sun, The Los Angeles Times and The San Diego Union-Tribune) and The Washington Post. Interestingly, The Wall Street Journal is not on that list, though Facebook was reportedly in discussions with the publisher News Corp.

The most interesting part of this news is the subscription model. Facebook will allow users to sign up for subscriptions through their app, but they will be redirected to the publisher's site to actually pay for it. This means that Facebook won't be keeping a chunk of that revenue, a very attractive proposition for publishers. Users will be able to activate subscriptions on Facebook as well, granting them access to articles if they already subscribe.

However, the revenue model also the reason that this feature will be launching on Android devices only, and not Apple, according to Recode. Android has no restrictions on how subscriptions can be sold in apps, but Apple takes up to 30 percent of the price of all subscriptions sold within its apps. Facebook and Apple were unable to come to terms on this despite months of negotiations, so for now, this feature will roll out across Android devices only over the next few weeks.

Source: Recode, TechCrunch

Samsung’s phone-as-desktop concept now runs Linux

Samsung's DeX is a clever way to turn your phone into a desktop computer. However, there's one overriding problem: you probably don't have a good reason to use it instead of a PC. And Samsung is trying to fix that. It's unveiling Linux on Galaxy, an app-based offering that (surprise) lets you run Linux distributions on your phone. Ostensibly, it's aimed at developers who want to bring their work environment with them wherever they go. You could dock at a remote office knowing that your setup will be the same as usual.

It's not quite the same as your typical Ubuntu or Debian install. Linux on Galaxy launches through an app, and it's using the same kernel as Android itself in order to maintain performance. And it almost goes without saying that you'll really want a DeX setup, since most Linux apps are expecting a large screen, mouse and keyboard.

As it stands, you'll have to be patient. Linux on Galaxy isn't available right now -- you can sign up for alerts, but it's not ready for public consumption. Even so, this is good evidence that Samsung thinks of DeX as considerably more than a novelty feature. It may be a long, long while (if ever) before many people are using their phones as desktops, but Samsung is willing to gradually build up its ecosystem and eventually give you an incentive to take a second look.

Source: Samsung, Linux on Galaxy

Motorola’s newest mod puts an Alexa speaker on your phone

Ever wanted to have an Amazon Echo speaker with you wherever you are, rather than relying on your phone's built-in voice assistant? Motorola is betting you do. As promised, it's releasing an Alexa-powered Moto Mod (the Moto Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa, to be exact) that slaps an Echo-like device on the back of compatible phones like the Moto Z2 Force or Z Play. The key, as you might guess, is that it delivers that across-the-room voice control in a way your phone can't by itself.

The large dedicated speaker is clearly one advantage, but there are also four mics to make sure it picks up your voice in relatively noisy environments. And with a 15-hour built-in battery, you won't kill your phone if you're constantly asking questions. The mod also has a clever dock design that's intended for use on your nightstand.

If there's an obstacle, it's the cost. The Alexa speaker will be available for $150 US (£99 in the UK) when it ships in November to those countries where Alexa has official support. At that price, you'll have to really like the idea of a truly portable Echo speaker that fits in your pocket; this might be excessive if you just want another Echo for the office.

Source: Motorola Blog

Google’s Pixel 2 is hiding an old-school menu button

Google has a bit of a throwback tucked away in the Pixel 2. Depending on the app, you can access the old-school Android menu button by tapping in the lower righthand corner of the screen, as spotted by Android Police. As you'll see in the video embedded below, it doesn't seem to do much, but hey, it exists. Android Police says that to access it, you need a Pixel 2 running the stock software and an app that targets Android Honeycomb or an earlier version of the OS. As of now, it'll appear in the settings menu, along with Google Maps and Inbox.

We've confirmed it exists, using Engadget's Pixel 2 review unit. It seems unlikely that Google will power it on via a firmware update a la the handset's custom imaging processor, and there's also potential for it to get killed off with a future patch. If you're unboxing your Pixel 2 today or tomorrow, now you've got one more thing to try out.

Via: 9to5 Google

Source: Android Police

DxO’s snap-on smartphone camera is coming to Android

DxO, the company best known for its lens and camera scores, is also behind one of the nicer smartphone-attached cameras out there, the $499 DxO One. Up until now, it has only supported the iPhone and iPad, but the company has revealed that it will soon release the DxO One Android via an early access program. It didn't give many details, other than saying it will attach to type-C USB connectors, so it'll likely only work with newer Android devices.

It should function much the same as it does on an iPhone, turning your smartphone into a display for the camera and letting you choose the f/stop, shutter speed, ISO and other settings. With a one-inch, 20-megapixel sensor similar to the one on the high-end Sony RX100 V compact, it'll generally give you nicer images than even the iPhone 8 Plus, Galaxy Note 8, Pixel 2 and other top-shelf smartphone cameras.

The company says version 1.0 of the DxO One Android camera app will arrive "in the coming weeks" as part of the Early Access program. You can sign up now to get in line, and the company has promised more details on November 2nd.

In other DxO news, there are new accessories for its current iPhone DxO One, too. For better selfies, there's a new tilt stand (above, right) that lets you set different angles for hands-free use, along with an external battery pack (left) that doubles its runtime. The latter also includes the "Outdoor Shell," a weather-resistant case. The tilt stand is included with new DxO One cameras (the company didn't mention if current owners can buy it separately) and the battery pack is $60.

Via the latest version 3.0 iOS update, the DxO One now supports Facebook Live streaming with multi-camera shoots, using both the DxO One and your phone's own camera. That could be helpful for folks who do a lot of live streaming, as an extra camera angle can make your shows more interesting.

It bears mentioning that you could buy a used Sony RX100 Mark III or IV for around the same price, and then just pair it with your smartphone. The DxO one is smaller, though, and more convenient if you share a lot of photos or edit them on your phone. Also, camera makers are not known for their great smartphone apps, and Sony's PlayMemories app is no exception. As mentioned, the DxO One is $499 at DxO's store.

Source: DxO One