Welcome to leak season

Welcome to leak season. Enjoy the ride.

It’s the end of the year, which means cold weather in North America, hangovers for the festivity-goers, and beginning of what we inside the baseball diamond refer to as “leak season.” It’s slippery during leak season, so bring some salt.

There’s a cycle in tech media that resolves in an arc: the early inklings of a story that, initially vapor, builds and eventually coalesces into something tangible. We hear rumors that begin in an ephemeral state, eventually casting themselves in prescient rays of light that you can see but not touch. Over the months, the light hardens and becomes more coherent — photos, videos, specs — as the thing’s release date approaches.

The early inklings of a story that, initially vapor, builds and eventually coalesces into something tangible.

Given that CES begins in just a few days, it’s the perfect time to remind you that leak season is in full swing and, like snowfalls in the northern hemisphere, the severity ebbs and flows as we approach spring. Over the past few days, we’ve seen (and reported on) various aspects of phones that will likely be released in 2017: the Galaxy S8, the LG G6, the HTC whatever. We take leaks seriously, and, internally, debate the credulity of each one before reporting. We also judge the reliability of the source, too, the past success of which also dictates whether we follow the story down the proverbial rabbit hole.

At the same time, we also receive leaks, and have to decide whether or not, in the interest of protecting our sources, we publish the information. Of course, there’s a business benefit to posting leaks, since the intensity of public interest in pre-release hardware often outweighs (at times dramatically) the equivalent once it has been announced. This is doubly true of devices from manufacturers like Motorola, HTC, Sony and others that have small, loyal followings: the discourse is often hopeful and the communities disproportionately loud, which tends to die down in the weeks and months following availability.

The main issue I see around leaks today is that there are no consequences for getting it wrong. Many publications weave snippets or glances of an outer casing or a spec sheet into a cohesive narrative, large swaths of which is incorrect. But once the product is announced, and gets into people’s hands, all is forgiven and forgotten, and we move onto the next cycle. This is nothing new, but it’s worth keeping these points in mind as we move into leak season in earnest.

Be skeptical of what you see. Much of what you see out there is either partially or entirely incorrect, and while we’re not going to point at individual leaks or sources, I’d encourage you to maintain a healthy amount of skepticism while you enjoy what should be, for all intents and purposes, a piece of entertainment.

Have a happy and healthy new year, and we’ll see you in 2017!

Daniel Bader #AndroidCentral #Android #News #Google #Alphabet

Keep your phone safe in the car with this $10 magnetic car mount!

One of your resolutions for 2017 should definitely be to keep your phone out of your hands when you are driving, and this awesome magnetic car mount makes that so much easier. Anker’s magnetic car mount is a simple way to keep your phone out of your hands but still in view so you can use it for navigation, music streaming and more. The strong magnet allows it to work universally with just about any phone, so it won’t matter how often you switch you can use it with any device you have with you that day.

This $20 discount isn’t likely to last very long, so you’re going to want to pick one up sooner than later. Something like this makes for a great investment for each car you own, so be sure to grab a couple to keep your loved ones safe on the road.

See at Amazon

Jared DiPane #AndroidCentral #Android #News #Google #Alphabet

How to celebrate New Year’s in VR

Celebrate the new year from inside VR!

The end of 2016 is upon us, which means parties full of friends, watching the ball drop, and washing your hands of this year in preparation for 2017. If you don’t yet have plans for the big night, then don’t worry! There are a few awesome ways that you can experience the New Year’s party in London, or New York City, all with the aid of your VR headset. Whether you’re hoping to enjoy the feel of NYC from the relative comfort of your couch, or you couldn’t get tickets to see the fireworks over London, we’ve got you totally covered.

Read More at VRHeads

Jen Karner #AndroidCentral #Android #News #Google #Alphabet

Best PlayStation 4 Games

Want to know what to get for your PlayStation 4? Start with these, the best games you can buy!

The PS4 has a ton of great titles available, but we all have a limited amount of time (and money) so we can’t just aimlessly pick games. That’s why we have a list of fantastic choices for you to check out if you’re looking for something new to play on your PlayStation 4.

1. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

It’s impossible to talk PS4 games and not recommend Uncharted as a must buy. A Thief’s End is the first outing for infamous adventurer, Nathan Drake, on the current generation console and takes place three years along from the end of Uncharted 3.

Drake has given up the life of old, but gets dragged back into action when his brother come’s calling. Uncharted has never looked or played better than it does in a Thief’s End and it cements the series’ legacy as one of the best you can play on any platform.

See at Amazon

2. The Witcher 3

The Witcher 3 is one of the most acclaimed games ever made, taking place in a huge open-world densely packed with incentives to explore, secrets to uncover and stories to unravel. It’s as action-packed as they come, interweaved with a darkly mature plot, choice and consequences, and a virtual world teeming with life.

The game has been continuously updated and refined since its launch, adding new features for free in addition to large expansions that heap value on top of its solid foundation. The Witcher 3 is completely unmissable.

See at Amazon

3. Grand Theft Auto V

The legendary franchise initially missed the launch of the PlayStation 4, instead remaining exclusive to the PS3 and Xbox 360. Eventually that changed and with its arrival on the PS4 came much improved graphics and an optional first-person view that brings a whole new dimension to the GTA world.

What GTA V does best is what it’s always done. Thrown a huge open world map onto your console with a lengthy, compelling campaign and an abundance of side missions. And with GTA Online in for good measure, the action never stops.

See at Amazon

4: Overwatch

Blizzard’s first FPS game has literally taken the world by storm, and for good reason. There’s no single player campaign, which is perhaps all some might be able to criticize it for. But your average shooter this is not.

Overwatch has a big variety in its characters with different abilities and weapons for each one of them. The gameplay is objective based and just getting the most kills is no longer good enough. Throw in a unique look and some terrifically designed maps and Overwatch is one that will have you coming back for much, much more.

See at Amazon

5: Battlefield 1

In a world of futuristic sci-fi shooters, DICE and EA went back in time to World War 1 for the latest Battlefield game. Battlefield 1 is about as far from the likes of Call of Duty as you’ll find, and it’s all the better for it.

It looks gorgeous, or as gorgeous as the muddy fields of Northern Europe could look, and the campaign is something that just has to be played. It’s an emotional rollercoaster packed with historical gunplay, tanks and more besides. The multiplayer is ambitious, and has support for 64 players at once on a gigantic map.

See at Amazon

6: Doom

DOOM is a reboot of the classic series developed by id Software. After many delays, DOOM emerged from the depths of development hell and took everybody by surprise, delivering the possibly greatest shooter campaign of this generation so far.

Unashamedly violent and gory, DOOM riffs on the classic, fast-paced formula, atop some modern flare, a nightmarish art direction, and a fist-poundingly awesome soundtrack. DOOM has a sense of purity often lost in modern shooters.

See at Amazon

7: Rise of the Tomb Raider

PlayStation fans had to wait a whole year to get their hands on Lara Croft’s latest adventure and it comes in the form of the 20-year celebration pack that also includes a free PlayStation VR experience to boot. It sees Lara get back to her roots; raiding tombs, heading first to the freezing wilderness of Siberia.

It looks fantastic and feels just like the Tomb Raiders of old, which is in no way a bad thing. Lara may have grown up and got a little darker in places, but Rise of the Tomb Raider is one for fans and newcomers alike.

See at Amazon

8. Fallout 4

Fallout 4 is the latest installment in Bethesda’s post-apocalyptic RPG series, and is one of the finest open-world games around. This time Fallout heads to Boston and Vault 111, the hole in the ground from which you emerge in a future destroyed by nuclear weapons.

With its rich RPG systems, improved shooting mechanics, deep settlement construction engine and console-exclusive Xbox One mods, you’ll struggle to see everything Fallout 4 has to offer.

See at Amazon

9. Inside

INSIDE is among the most critically acclaimed games of 2016 for its meticulously polished gameplay, ravenously dark plot and fiendish puzzles that are just as likely to warp your mind as the game’s shocking ending.

INSIDE is from the creators of LIMBO, and is every bit as haunting. It’s not expensive and it’s one everyone should experience.

See at PlayStation

10. Journey

That this is a remaster of a PlayStation 3 game makes it no less rewarding to play. If anything it makes it more worthwhile because the game art looks better than ever and the higher frame rates mean its more polished, too.

There is no dialog, no real instruction, but you’re in a uniquely stunning world going on a journey. Get it? It’s quite short, but intense and emotionally involving. Not to be missed.

See at PlayStation

If you’re looking for the very best games you can find for PlayStation VR, then head on over and visit our buddies at VR Heads who’ll walk you through the best games for your headset!

Why is there PlayStation stuff here?

PlayStation on Android Central?!? We use our Android phones to interact with the PlayStation 4 — especially if you have a Sony Xperia phone. We’re also talking a lot more about VR, and PlayStation VR is just as big a part of that conversation. It stretches things outside of Android a little, but it’s also going to be a lot of fun. Enjoy!

Gaming with Second Screen apps

Hands-on with PlayStation VR

Specs comparison: Playstation VR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Gear VR

Richard Devine #AndroidCentral #Android #News #Google #Alphabet

The best virtual reality apps for meditation

“Om” your way through life with the help of these meditation apps.

There’s no hippie mumbo jumbo here. Meditation is often encouraged by medical professionals as a way to decompress when life might be moving too quickly for you to catch up. On a physical level, meditation can be particularly helpful with lowering blood pressure, reducing anxiety attacks, helping insomnia, increasing serotonin production, and simply gaining clarity and peace of mind.

I’ve personally reaped the benefits of consistent meditation throughout my life. I practice yoga, so meditation is a part of it, but sometimes I don’t have the room or the time to get into a physical flow. So what do I do? I pop on a pair of headphones and the Daydream View to get going. I’ve found this method to be particularly effective in helping me drown out the noise around me, whether that’s my inner voice crowding around everything else I’m worrying about, or the cat yowling for a bowl of food. Virtual reality has helped me efficiently reach that state of “nothingness.” Here are some of the apps that I’ve found to be particularly effective in aiding my own meditative practice.

Read more at VR Heads!

Florence Ion #AndroidCentral #Android #News #Google #Alphabet

Android Central Offers is giving away a Pixel XL, and it could be yours!

Update: This is your last chance to enter! One lucky reader will score themselves a brand new Google Pixel XL, and it could be you!

Looking to get your hands on a Google Pixel XL but don’t have the money available to purchase one for yourself right now? Well, Android Central Offers is hooking up one lucky person with a Pixel XL, and it could be you. All you have to do is sign up for the offer, which is completely free, to be entered for a chance to win it.

Sounds simple, right? That’s because it is, and there is very little reason you shouldn’t click through and enter for your chance now. The only way to know you won’t win is not to enter, so don’t do that to yourself.

See at Android Central Offers

Jared DiPane #AndroidCentral #Android #News #Google #Alphabet

How to fix push notifications in MIUI 8

Not getting push notifications in MIUI 8? Here’s how to fix it.

MIUI 8 offers a ton of new features, including a power-saving mode that automatically extends battery life by killing background apps, adjusting system apps’ performance, and limiting apps that drain the battery.

However, one of MIUI’s most common bugs — one that affects push notifications — is still prevalent in the latest version of the operating system, and it seems to inexplicably affect a few Xiaomi handsets. I had the issue earlier this year on the MIUI 7-based Redmi Note 3 wherein the phone never displayed Gmail or WhatsApp notifications, although enabling priority notifications for both apps fixed the issue. At the same time, the Mi 5 delivered push notifications without me having to tweak any settings.

At least in the case of MIUI 8, the issue seems to be tied to the OS’ aggressive battery management, which kills background apps and sync services when your phone is idling. To negate it, you’ll have to prioritize notifications and enable autostart for apps that aren’t showing notifications.

The problem isn’t as exacerbated as before, but if you’re unable to receive push notifications on your Xiaomi phone, there are a few things that you can do. Here’s how to fix push notifications in MIUI 8.

Prioritize notifications

Open Settings from the home screen.

Navigate to Notifications & status bar.

Select App notifications.

Select the app you want to prioritize.

Ensure Floating notifications, Lock screen notifications, and App icon badge are enabled.

Toggle Priority.

Prioritizing an app should fix issues with push notifications. If you’re still not seeing alerts for incoming messages, you should enable autostart.

Enable autostart

Open Settings from the home screen.

Navigate to Permissions.

Tap Autostart.

Select the apps you want to start automatically.

Turning on autostart ensures that the app isn’t affected by the operating system’s battery management. If you don’t see a specific app listed in the menu (I cannot autostart Gmail), then try disabling battery saver.

Disable battery saver mode

Open Settings from the home screen.

Select Battery & performance.

Tap Manage apps battery usage.

In Power saving modes, select Off.

Disabling battery saver mode allows apps to continue running unrestricted in the background. Doing so didn’t affect the battery life on the three phones I’m currently using — the Redmi Note 3, Mi 5s, and the Mi Note 2. If none of the methods listed above work, you should consider re-installing the global MIUI ROM afresh.

Were you able to get push notifications fixed in MIUI 8? Let us know in the comments below.

Harish Jonnalagadda #AndroidCentral #Android #News #Google #Alphabet

OnePlus 3T Nougat beta now available as company misses stable update deadline

First OxygenOS 4.0 beta for OnePlus 3T suggests manufacturer will fail to deliver promised stable update by year’s end.

OnePlus has apparently fumbled its promise of a stable Android 7.0 Nougat release for the OnePlus 3 and 3T by the end of 2016, with today’s announcement on its forums of the first OxygenOS 4.0 (Android 7.0) beta build for the OnePlus 3T. The release puts the 3T in line with the OnePlus 3, which has been receiving beta builds since late November, the most recent one just a few days ago.

On November 30, a OnePlus spokesperson told AC: (Emphasis ours)

We will continue to update [the OnePlus 3 and 3T] separately until we bring Android Nougat to the OnePlus 3T and OnePlus 3 by the end of the year. After the Nougat update, both these devices will be on the same update schedule.

Similar announcements were made elsewhere, and most of us took this to mean a stable, not beta release would land by the end of the year on both phones.

Indeed, the OnePlus 3T was originally supposed to go straight from OxygenOS 3.5 (on Marshmallow) to 4.0 (on Nougat) without being involved in the beta process at all. Thus today’s beta release suggests things aren’t going exactly as planned, and that more time is needed. There’s no word on the OnePlus 3’s prospects of a Nougat stable OTA by the end of the day, but the fact that the most recent beta build dropped just a couple days back casts doubt on this.

Today’s development is disappointing for OnePlus 3 and 3T owners hoping for an official update in time for the new year — as is the radio silence from OnePlus’s official channels on the end-of-year deadline. In the meantime, a beta release for eager upgraders is better than nothing.

We’ve reached out to OnePlus for clarification on the status of stable Nougat updates for its phones, and will update this post with its response.

More: First look at Nougat on the OnePlus 3 + 3T

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

OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T

OnePlus 3 review: Finally, all grown up

The OnePlus 3T is official

OnePlus 3 specs

OnePlus 3T vs. OnePlus 3: What’s the difference?

Latest OnePlus 3 news

Discuss OnePlus 3 in the forums


Alex Dobie #AndroidCentral #Android #News #Google #Alphabet

11 Things You Can Do with the MacBook’s Force Touch Trackpad

The new Force Touch trackpad on Apple’s MacBooks is similar to the 3D Touch display on the iPhone 6s and 7, allowing you to press down harder to perform a different task or bring up secondary options. Here are some cool things you can do with the MacBook’s Force Touch trackpad.

Click Here to Continue Reading

by Craig Lloyd #HowToGeek

Apple’s AirPods may be the best Bluetooth earbuds for Android

Can you use the AirPods with an Android phone?

I picked up a pair of AirPods last week, and have been using them with my iPhone, Mac= and other Apple devices. The experience is fantastic — seamless, even — and the sound isn’t half bad, either. When you first open the dental floss-like lid and place an iPhone nearby, the two gadgets talk to one another, and a little window pops up on the iPhone’s screen to begin pairing.

But, not being an active iPhone user, the experience was short-lived. I turned to my LG V20 and asked, “Are you willing to behave the same way?” I placed the AirPods nearby, opened the dental floss lid, and nada. (Strain your credulity for just a moment, please.) But unlike the vast majority of Apple’s Lightning-specific accessories, the AirPods use a common standard, Bluetooth, to actually pair with devices and play music on them. So, knowing that this was a possibility on Android, I set out to test the universality of Apple’s latest sales phenom.

The pairing process

AirPods pair to an Android phone like any other Bluetooth device: relatively clumsily, and through the settings. Opening the lid and holding down on the earbud case’s single button, the system is placed into pairing mode when the LED turns white. It should then show up in the phone’s Bluetooth menu.

I did this reliably — more so than with most other Bluetooth headphones — a dozen or so times with various Android products, from phones to tablets, and the AirPods were found and connected quickly every time. It’s unclear how much juice Apple’s W1 chip gives to non-iDevices, but if nothing else it seems to be pointing things in the right direction.

Using them

Say what you will about the AirPods’ design, but you really shouldn’t dismiss them until you have them in your ears, jamming away untethered while you walk around the house or run errands. I’ve had the displeasure of using Bluetooth headphones that had one or more damning flaws, from discomfort to poor battery life, and the only thing I’d say about the AirPods is that they look a little funny, and take some time getting used to.

Once paired to any Android phone the experience was superb.

But once paired to any Android phone — I mainly used them with the LG V20 and Google Pixel — the experience was superb. Pairing, as said, was reliable, and I have yet to experience a lost connection. Even better, I’ve found them to be far more trustworthy over long distances than most other Bluetooth headphones; I’ve climbed stairs, closed doors, and even gone outside, all with my phone sitting two or more dozen feet away with no skips. Your mileage may vary, but these are the most problem-free Bluetooth headphones I’ve used to date, and if Apple’s name wasn’t on the box it would be a must-buy for many Android users.

The accelerometer in each of the AirPods also works as a gesture tool on Android. When paired with the iPhone, a double-tap on the side of either earbud activates Siri; on Android, the gesture functions as a play/pause button which, I’d argue, is far more useful. And it works, every time. (Not unlike how the Samsung Gear IconX earbuds work, in fact.)

The AirPods’ case provides around 24-hours of additional battery life to the five hours inside the AirPods themselves. And though it may seem annoying having to carry around a second thing to keep the earbuds going, in practice it means they last longer, and are more easily charged, than any Micro-USB-based Bluetooth headphones I’ve owned to date. That you can pop them into the case for 10 minutes and gain an extra couple of hours of uptime is an added bonus. And while the case itself charges using Lightning, if you have an iPhone or iPad in your house, you can easily charge these, and there’s an extra cable in the box. All you need is a USB-A port.

Sound quality

Here’s where things get a bit muddy, for lack of a better pun. AirPods sound a lot like EarPods, Apple’s in-the-box wired headphones. And while there’s a bit more oomph to the bass line and a slightly more even sound at the high-end, this is by no means an audiophile experience. That Apple discourages the use of seal-tightening ear tips makes it even harder to find an ideal placement, and while I have been lucky enough to find a position where the AirPods fit nicely and sound full, other people may not be as lucky.

Is this $160 sound? Definitely not. At best, it’s $100 sound. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth buying.

Should you buy AirPods with an Android phone?

Yes, you pay an Apple tax, and I too balked at the $159 price, but even as an Android user I feel comfortable recommending them.

There are plenty of great Android-compatible Bluetooth headphones that are both cheaper and sound better than the Apple AirPods. But there are none that I want to walk around in my ears with as consistently, and that leads to me listening to more music for longer. Unlike other in-ear Bluetooth earphones, AirPods are comfortable enough for me to wear for hours with no discomfort, and sound good enough that I’m happy to do so. They’re great for phone calls, too, and I’ve yet to receive complaints about sound quality from people on the other end of the line.

Yes, you pay an Apple tax, and I too balked at the $159 price, but even as an Android user I feel comfortable recommending them. AirPods are even more useful if you use a Mac, since the included W1 chip — the thing that makes it super easy to pair with an iPhone — also works with Apple’s laptops, so it’s easy to switch between phone and computer in a snap, if necessary.

I don’t imagine I’ll have much luck convincing the hardcore Android stalwart to buy a pair of AirPods — the product exudes “Appleness” in every atom — but Apple did so many things right with this product that I have to try.

See at Apple

Daniel Bader #AndroidCentral #Android #News #Google #Alphabet