Android Authority https://www.androidauthority.com Android News, Reviews, How To Sat, 24 Feb 2018 16:55:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 54cc39 https://www.androidauthority.com/wp-content/uploads/feed/aa-mascot-192x192.png?v=1.0.1 https://www.androidauthority.com/wp-content/uploads/feed/aa_icon_feed.svg?v=1.0.1 Google Home Max review: Smart Sound makes the world go ’round https://www.androidauthority.com/google-home-max-review-839235/ https://www.androidauthority.com/google-home-max-review-839235/#respond Sat, 24 Feb 2018 16:55:25 +0000 https://www.androidauthority.com/?p=839235

The personal assistant you have in your phone isn’t going to live there forever. Companies like Amazon, Apple, and Google are increasingly looking to place that assistant strategically throughout your life so you’ll always have access to it.

That all starts with the home.

It didn’t take long after the launch of the Amazon Echo for Google to release its Google Home smart speaker. Then in September, Google announced two new Home devices — the affordable Home Mini and high-end Home Max. The Google Home Max is the most interesting of the two devices though, as it brings high-quality sound at a price that’s comparable to that of Apple’s HomePod.

Is it worth the $399 price tag? Let’s find out.

The setup process is easy. Once you plug it in, you’ll be prompted to download the Google Home app to complete the setup. From there, you can name the speaker to designate it to a certain area of the house. We’ll dig into the Google Home app later. For now, let’s address the hardware.

This is a big speaker, measuring 13.2 x 7.4 x 6.0 inches. It obviously isn’t something you’re going to want to move very often. At 11.7 pounds, it isn’t that big of a deal if you need to move it into another room, but bringing it to a friends house might be a bit of an issue.

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The housing is made of the same plastic that you’ll find on the original Google Home and the smaller Home Mini, so it’s smooth to the touch and isn’t prone to fingerprints. However, the fabric on the front of the Google Home Max is unique — it’s what Google calls “acoustically transparent,” so it supposedly won’t hinder the way your music sounds. It also feels great, almost like a nice felt fabric compared to the slightly plastic-feeling bottom of the original Google Home. Behind the fabric is where you’ll find dual 4.5-inch woofers for pushing air along with two tweeters.

The parallelogram(ish) shape of the speaker means it can be vertically or horizontally oriented. You’ll need to make sure to throw on the little bass pad included in the box to avoid scratching the bottom. This bass pad also helps absorb some of the rumble from the woofers so you won’t accidentally rumble your phone off the table.

Although you can physically rest the speaker on any of its four sides, there are only two correct orientations because of the touch sensitive controls. If you place the speaker vertically with the touch sensitive controls along the left side, or horizontally with the touch-sensitive controls on the bottom, you’ll get a warning message telling you that the speaker is upside down.

The overall design being very modern and minimal so that it fits in any part of the house.

Along the back of the speaker sits the mute switch, a power input, USB Type-C input, and a 3.5 mm input. It’s clear Google paid attention to the speaker’s aesthetics, with the overall design being very modern and minimal so that it fits in any part of the house. Whether I have the speaker in my living room or the kitchen, it perfectly blends into its surroundings. I’m reviewing the white model, but you can get an even more discreet look by opting for the all-black color.

Up top is a touch-sensitive section for controlling music playback, and it’s perfectly responsive whether I tap to pause/play music or swipe left/right to adjust volume. Unfortunately, there’s no skipping between songs or returning to a previous song unless you ask the Google Assistant.

The Google Home Max has Bluetooth 4.2 and Chromecast built-in so you can stream your music to it easily, but the main way to interact with the speaker is with your voice. Using the hotword “Okay Google” or “Hey Google” lets you take advantage of the Google Assistant to control your music, but you can also ask it questions or control compatible smart home devices if you have any. Digging further into the Google Home setup you can customize your preferences, such as your preferred music streaming service, or even what kind of news stories you want to hear at the beginning of the day.

One thing unique to the Max is the ability to connect two of them together for stereo sound.

These are all features offered in every Google Home, but one thing unique to the Max is the ability to connect two of them together for stereo sound. If you’re able to buy two, this is definitely the way to go. If you’re looking for a multi-room audio solution, you can of course create groups that sync up a number of Google Home speakers together to play simultaneously.

Google Assistant is great at some things, but not so great at others.

Google Assistant is great at some things, but not so great at others. I’m not sure if it’s something in the way that I have my speakers set up, but when I tell the Home Max to put a song on repeat it lies to me. I get the confirmation message that the song will repeat, but when it’s over it moves right on to the next song. As the center of the smart home, you can tell it to stream Netflix or YouTube to a Chromecast or turn your light on or off (if you have compatible smart lights), but it’s a tad slow. Also when I wake up and ask Google about my day, it’ll tell me the weather and jump right into the podcasts that I picked out in the app no problem. But when I ask it when my next flight is, it can’t find one even though the event is clearly in my calendar app.

It might be the smartest smart speaker, but that’s a pretty low bar to clear right now. Luckily, the Assistant (and therefore the usefulness of it in a speaker) is getting better every day as Google adds functionality to it.

The biggest issue I have with the Google Home speakers is that after playing music and pushing the volume to a certain point, the microphones aren’t able to pick up my voice at all. I wanted to find out exactly how much of an issue this was, so I tested it in a semi-unconventional way. I put a post-it note on the floor every five feet. I then recorded myself saying “Hey Google” and played that from a speaker at five foot intervals: 5 feet, 10 feet, 15 feet, and 20 feet away, all while the speaker was playing the song “Havana” by Camila Cabello (my guilty pleasure) at four different volumes: 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100%. If the speaker registered my voice, it passed and got a check. If it didn’t, it got an X. You can see by the graphic that the Google Home Max definitely needs to do a better job at picking up voices so you’re not stuck yelling at the top of your lungs like I was.

After pushing the volume to a certain point, the microphones aren't able to pick up my voice at all.

On the bright side, the Home Max’s sound quality is great compared to other smart- and non-smart speakers. Because of its large size the speaker is able to push some air to add some bump to the bass, and though it isn’t what I would call “bass-heavy”, it’s definitely noticeable. In the song “Moon River” by Frank Ocean the low E string is a little too strong for my taste, but it gives the song some grittiness and never gets in the way of his vocals in the midrange, which is what counts.

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The bass pad also keeps the rumbling of the speaker from disturbing anything around it, and the Google Home Max also uses six internal microphones to detect in real time how much of its sound waves are being reflected off nearby surfaces, and it corrects for that. You won’t need to go into any EQ settings because the Google algorithm does it for you. Now, whether that lack of control is a good or a bad thing is up to you (since you can’t tweak it unless you go deep into the Google Home app), but I find it to at least be consistent. Wherever I put the speaker the lows aren’t affected.

The slight emphasis in the lower frequencies will probably be a positive for most people because of its subtlety. It doesn’t overpower the mids at all and when paired with how loud this thing can get, so it’s perfect for powering your parties. That said, it sounded good even at low volumes and I ended up using it to play music in the background throughout the day as well.

Vocals in the song “Generator ^ Second Floor” by Freelance whales were till plainly audible even with all of the other instruments joining in the during the chorus at around the 2:17 mark which includes plenty of thumping drums and bells ringing throughout.

Speaking of the bells, one of my only issues regarding sound quality has to do with the high frequencies. It sounds like Google played it safe here and didn’t give them the same kind of emphasis as it did with the lows, which is understandable. When was the last time you heard someone say “Drop the bells”? There isn’t much noticeable distortion at max volume, but there also isn’t a ton of reverb to hi-hats and cymbals which can really help with the soundstage of your music.

There are plenty of Bluetooth speakers you can choose from if you want something portable — many of them are good enough for home use as well. But the Google Home Max is different. I own the original Google Home and two Google Home Minis (thank you Black Friday deals), but besides setting timers while cooking, asking it basic math when I’m lazy, or setting alarms, Home speakers are not particularly useful. I definitely don’t use them to listen to music since the quality isn’t great.

Whether it's just for background music while I work or listening to podcasts, the Home Max has woven itself into my life in a way no other Home products have.

Still, I find myself constantly using the Google Home Max. Whether it’s just for background music while I work, streaming the latest apps video to my TV, or listening to podcasts, the Home Max has woven itself into my life in a way no other Home products have. Even though it sucks at hearing my voice, I have no problem saying that anyone who wants a smart speaker will love the Google Home Max. At $399 you’re getting a speaker that not only sounds good, but also gives you everything god that the Google Assistant has to offer. Just try not to yell at it too loudly.

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More than half of smartphones sold online in India are via Flipkart: Counterpoint Research https://www.androidauthority.com/half-smartphones-sold-online-india-via-flipkart-counterpoint-research-840329/ https://www.androidauthority.com/half-smartphones-sold-online-india-via-flipkart-counterpoint-research-840329/#respond Sat, 24 Feb 2018 15:31:28 +0000 https://www.androidauthority.com/?p=840329

According to a report from Counterpoint Research, India’s overall online smartphone shipments grew 23% annually in 2017. In India, online channel contributes to more than one-third of the total smartphones shipped, which is the highest in the world.

Seasonal sales events like Flipkart’s ‘Big Billion Days’ and Amazon’s ‘Great Indian Sale’, aggressive promotions, and value for money offerings from Chinese brands drove the demand for the online channel which grew faster than the overall smartphone market in 2017.

Flipkart led the online smartphone channel capturing more than half of the market in both volume and value terms maintaining its lead with Amazon. Amazon too though was able to grow its share capturing almost one-third of the market in volume and value terms.

The online market in India has become a duopoly with Flipkart and Amazon capturing a combined 84% of the total volume and 87% of the total value. Both retailers together launched close to 100 exclusive model SKUs throughout the year and these online exclusive smartphones were the main contributors to the online sale.

The high-spec but low-cost, value for money smartphone models exclusively available only on online platforms were instrumental in successfully creating unprecedented demand throughout the year.

– Karn Chauhan, Research Analyst, Counterpoint Research

Mi.com, Xiaomi’s own store, at number three is interesting and reflects the big smartphone share that the company was able to garner in the country. With smartphones and accessories, as well as smart home products, Mi.com is an e-commerce store in its own right, really.

While Paytm witnessed modest growth in 2017, most of this coming from the huge discounts offered on high-ASP smartphones like iPhone. This might not be a sustainable long-term strategy though.

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The report estimates that the share of online channel will remain flat in 2018 as brands are adopting hybrid channel (online + offline) strategy to extend their reach throughout the country.

In terms of the online smartphone brands, Xiaomi, Lenovo (together with Motorola), and Samsung were the top three brands. Xiaomi led the online smartphone market with 44% share, which is expected since the company’s rise as the number one smartphone brand in the country.

While the budget segment portfolio from Motorola – Moto C and Moto E – and the mid-segment Moto G helped Lenovo to maintain its second position, Huawei’s renewed focus on the online channel has helped its growth. With Honor 9 lite, Honor 7X, and others, Huawei will aim to gain more share this year. Micromax was the only Indian brand among the top five ranking mostly driven by Canvas Infinity sales.

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Hell freezes over: built-in dark mode finally coming to Android (Update: nope) https://www.androidauthority.com/dark-mode-finally-coming-android-840125/ https://www.androidauthority.com/dark-mode-finally-coming-android-840125/#comments Sat, 24 Feb 2018 08:56:37 +0000 https://www.androidauthority.com/?p=840125

 

Update (02/24): Google added a post in the Issue Tracker stating there was a miscommunication with the team that handles AOSP issues. It doesn’t look like we’re getting native night mode in Android anytime soon.

However, Google is adding a toggle in Developer Mode that will allow developers to create and test apps that implement night mode. You can find the full post below:

Hi folks, you may remember me from the last three releases where it looked like Dark Mode was being added. Unfortunately, this bug was closed prematurely due to a miscommunication with the team that handles AOSP issues.

What we *have* added in a future Android release is a developer-facing setting (via Developer Options) to toggle the -night UI mode qualifier, which will make it easier for developers to create and test apps that implement night mode. This qualifier has been in the platform since Froyo (SDK 8) and globally modifiable via UiModeManager since Marshmallow (SDK 23); however, there was never an explicit toggle made available anywhere in Settings.

If it’s any consolation, we will also not be adding Hot Dog Mode (where all UI elements are yellow and red).


Original article (02/23): Dark mode is one of the most popular features Android doesn’t have. There are apps that do it, there are custom ROMs that bake it into Android’s code, and even OEM skinned versions of Android make it a standard feature (and then take it away). But the one place you won’t find a dark/night mode is in stock Android itself.

That will change in a future version of the operating system, confirmed by the Google Issue Tracker. A developer marked the feature request for a dark mode as “fixed” and “will be available in a future Android release.”

Does that mean that Android 9.0 P, the next version of Android will get the feature? Possibly. Until Google makes an official announcement on the matter, we can only speculate. However, the news that a dark mode will come baked right into the operating system is surely good news.

Editor's Pick

What’s interesting about Google and dark modes is that the custom launcher available on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL featured an automatic dark theme, dependent on the phone’s wallpaper. Later, Google made the feature available to all devices running Android 8.1 Oreo. Why did it take so long for Google to understand that this is one of the most requested Android features?

Since all we have to go on is Google Issue Tracker’s note that a dark mode feature will show up in a future Android version, we have no idea if the future dark mode will be the same or similar to the one initially available on the Pixel 2, or be something more akin to what custom ROMs offer. In many Android ROMs, a “full” dark mode is given as a choice in the system settings that changes almost everything on the device to a white text/black background scheme.

With this being Android’s first step into dark mode, it probably won’t be that drastic. But get excited, dark mode enthusiasts: you’re about to have one less app on your stock device.

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The Archos Hello is a smart display that strangely runs Android Oreo https://www.androidauthority.com/archos-hello-smart-display-android-oreo-840031/ https://www.androidauthority.com/archos-hello-smart-display-android-oreo-840031/#respond Fri, 23 Feb 2018 23:31:20 +0000 https://www.androidauthority.com/?p=840031

  • French manufacturer Archos introduced the Hello, the company’s first smart display.
  • The Hello comes in 7-inch and 8.4-inch flavors, with both models running Android Oreo.
  • The Hello will go on sale this summer for at least $160.


Amazon entered the smart display market with its Echo Show, while Google showed us during CES 2018 that it plans to do the same with Google Assistant and device manufacturers. This time around, French manufacturer Archos launched the Hello, its first smart display that is reminiscent of Lenovo’s pair of Smart Displays.

That is thanks to the Hello’s wood back covering and its ability to be positioned either vertically or horizontally. Around front is either a 7-inch HD or an 8.4-inch Full HD display, though both models also feature a speaker that almost takes up half of the front. Both models also feature a 5 MP camera for video calls.

Under the hood are an unnamed quad-core processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of onboard storage. The 4,000 mAh battery lets you move the Hello around the house, though the microUSB port that is used to charge the battery should not exist and be replaced with a USB Type-C port.

The bigger quirk is the software, since the Hello runs Android Oreo out of the box. That the software is up to date is nice and all, but why did Archos not opt for Google Assistant’s smart display software? Better yet, is Google Assistant even available on the Hello?

Editor's Pick

Archos said the Hello can control smart home accessories and answer voice commands, but did not say what virtual assistant is used. Archos also did not say whether it will use a smart display-friendly skin on top of Android Oreo, but the company’s use of a mobile-centric operating system leaves us baffled.

Then again, Archos introduced an Android-powered electric scooter, so anything apparently goes over there.

The Hello will go on sale this summer for €129.99 ($160) for the 7-inch model and €179.99 ($222) for the 8.4-inch model.

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Weekly Plan Spotlight: 74% off Galaxy S8 or Note8 https://www.androidauthority.com/weekly-plan-spotlight-74-off-galaxy-s8-note8-839847/ https://www.androidauthority.com/weekly-plan-spotlight-74-off-galaxy-s8-note8-839847/#comments Fri, 23 Feb 2018 22:08:11 +0000 https://www.androidauthority.com/?p=839847

We’re back with the Weekly Plan Spotlight! Today Sprint is offering massive discounts off the lease prices of the Galaxy Note8, S8, and S8+.

If you’ve been in the market for the latest in Samsung’s Galaxy lineup, and aren’t too worried about them ceasing to be the absolute latest in the coming weeks (what with the S9 slated to be unveiled at MWC) then this is the deal for you.

Reasons for these discounts are clear. Sprint is certainly trying to shift out inventory to make room for the next round of Samsung handsets. Their need for warehouse space could be your gain.

Gimme them deets

Here’s the full rundown of the discounts from the mouth of Sprint:

Galaxy Note 8

  • Full Price: $960
  • Reg Sprint Flex Monthly Lease: $40
  • Discount Sprint Flex Monthly Lease: $18

Galaxy S8+

  • Full Price: $850
  • Reg Sprint Flex Monthly Lease: $35.42
  • Discount Sprint Flex Monthly Lease: $12

Galaxy S8

  • Full Price: $750
  • Reg Sprint Flex Monthly Lease: $31.25
  • Discount Sprint Flex Monthly Lease: $8

Okay, there’s gotta be some fine print

There certainly is! Once again, straight from Sprint:

  • This deal requires a new line of service activation and an 18-month lease. Well-qualified customers are eligible.
  • At the end of the 18-month lease, you have the option to buy your device. You’ll pay the balance between the full price and what you’ve paid so far.
  • There are taxes on any device you go with and you’ll have to pay that up front regardless.
  • If you cancel your service, the remaining device balance will become due.


What plan is this on?

Why, Sprint’s Unlimited Freedom Plan!

If you’re looking to pair up your new phone with a plan, Sprint’s Unlimited Freedom is one of the cheapest on the market with 4 lines for $25/mo per line and 5th line free (until 03/31/19), with autopay. Plus Hulu is now included!

Sprint Unlimited Freedom comes with:

  • Unlimited talk, text and data. Once you’ve reached 23GB of data, your speeds may temporarily slow down during times of high network congestion.
  • HD video, 1080p
  • 10GB of 4G mobile hotspot

Ready to grab your Galaxy device for a fraction of what others are paying for it? Choose your preferred phone below to secure yours today!

The AAPicks team writes about things we think you’ll like, and we may see a share of revenue from any purchases made through affiliate links.


Compare Phones and Plans with the Android Authority Plan Tool:

Is this plan not quite right for you? Head over to our Compare Phones & Plans tool to fully customize your mobile experience and painlessly transition from one carrier to another!
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Huawei P20 is the official name, but it won’t be at MWC 2018 https://www.androidauthority.com/huawei-p20-official-name-wont-mwc-2018-840153/ https://www.androidauthority.com/huawei-p20-official-name-wont-mwc-2018-840153/#comments Fri, 23 Feb 2018 21:15:13 +0000 https://www.androidauthority.com/?p=840153 Huawei p20 video teaser Huawei

  • Today, Huawei finally officially confirmed that the follow-up phones to the P10 and P10 Plus are the P20 and P20 Plus.
  • The phones are unlikely to show up at MWC 2018, instead to be revealed at a separate Paris event in March.
  • The teaser video that sources this information is seven seconds long, but does throw in another hint towards three camera lenses.


Mobile World Congress is synonymous with one word: Samsung. The South Korean company has unveiled over half of the Samsung Galaxy S line of smartphones at the electronics conference. Since the Galaxy S series is hands-down the reigning king of flagship Android smartphones, it’s hard for any other company to dominate MWC when Samsung is around.

Maybe that’s why today, only a few days before MWC 2018 is set to begin, Huawei officially confirmed that the successors to the highly-rated Huawei P10 and P10 Plus are called the Huawei P20 and P20 Plus.

In a very, very brief teaser video (coming in at all of seven seconds), Huawei shows a photo of Paris with an overlayed date of “27-03-2018.” The name of the device appears, and then another hint that the phone will have three cameras. Then that’s it, it’s all over:

Really, this video confirms what we’ve known for a while now: the next Huawei flagship is the P20, and the company will unveil it in Paris on March 27.

Editor's Pick

The three cameras rumor is curious, though, as we got our hands on what we were told is a prototype Huawei P20, and there were definitely only two camera lenses on the device. Granted, the phone could be an early prototype model created before the decision was made to add in a third lens, so your guess is as good as ours at this point.

As far as specs go, we are almost certain that the Kirin 970 chipset will control the P20 and P20 Plus, which means both phones should have AI features on board. We also expect to see a choice between 6 or 8 GB of RAM, a microSD slot, Android Oreo, and a massive battery, possibly as large as 4,000 mAh. Of course, this is all speculation, and nothing will be confirmed until March 27.

For all the latest rumors on the Huawei P20 and P20 Plus, check out our rumor roundup.

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Businesses can now send certain Android users RCS texts https://www.androidauthority.com/businesses-send-android-rcs-texts-840080/ https://www.androidauthority.com/businesses-send-android-rcs-texts-840080/#respond Fri, 23 Feb 2018 19:13:36 +0000 https://www.androidauthority.com/?p=840080

  • Google announced that it has partnered with popular brands to bring RCS communications directly to customers.
  • Right now only certain Android users who meet specific qualifications will be able to get those messages.
  • Google promises more RCS news for Android at Mobile World Congress 2018.


Two weeks ago, we talked about how Android users might finally be able to send text messages from their computers without having to use a third-party app. The hint of this possibility appeared in new code for Android Messages that points to RCS (rich communication standard) capabilities. Now, Google is giving businesses the ability to use RCS texting to communicate directly with customers.

You can read more about what RCS is and what is possible with the protocol here, but as far as businesses are concerned, it’s the ability to richly interact with consumers in ways that just aren’t possible with standard texting.

One of Google’s early partners with this new business program is Booking.com. With regular texting, Booking.com can send customers text and some hyperlinks, and that’s it. But with RCS messaging, Booking.com can send a photo, formatted text, and even buttons to add the customer’s booked trip to their calendar:

Google

If you’re excited about what this means as far as RCS texting getting a broader rollout to all Android users, it’s unfortunately not that simple. Right now, Google only has a handful of companies on board for the business-to-consumer connections, and for the system to work correctly, users need to be on specific devices, using specific apps, on specific networks. If any one of those criteria isn’t met, the RCS message defaults back to a regular text message.

Editor's Pick

Google has been trying for years to get other companies on board for a universal standard that everyone adheres to so that RCS messaging can be used across all of Android. But getting that many factors to all line up has been a struggle, to say the least.

As it stands right now, for the select business partners Google is working with to communicate via RCS, the customers they are trying to connect to must be running an updated version of Android Messages as their default SMS app, and their devices must be on the Sprint network. And, of course, those people must be customers of 1-800-Contacts, 1-800-Flowers.com, Booking.com, SnapTravel, and Subway, and opt-in to receive messages from those companies.

So, in other words, a relatively small number of people in the Android world.

Still, any expansion of RCS in Android is exciting, as it points to the death of the clunky and outdated SMS/MMS service we unfortunately still rely on.

In Google’s blog post on the matter, the company promises that RCS will have a presence at Mobile World Congress 2018, which officially begins on Monday.

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More features coming to Google Assistant, including support for over 30 languages https://www.androidauthority.com/features-coming-google-assistant-including-support-30-languages-840113/ https://www.androidauthority.com/features-coming-google-assistant-including-support-30-languages-840113/#respond Fri, 23 Feb 2018 18:23:28 +0000 https://www.androidauthority.com/?p=840113

  • In a new blog entry, Google discussed future capabilities of its Google Assistant, including support for over 30 languages before the end of the year.
  • Google also committed to working with carriers and OEM’s to better integrate Assistant into their products and services.
  • Expect Assistant to have a huge presence at MWC 2018, just at CES 2018.


About a week ago, information leaked in a slideshow presentation in Amsterdam that Google would allegedly be adding many more new languages to Google Assistant in 2018 and bringing Google Home products to many more countries. We were skeptical of the leak for a variety of reasons, but now it looks like Google’s confirmed at least part of the leak was true.

Today, Google Vice President of Product Nick Fox posted an entry to Google’s blog giving an update on Google Assistant’s future. In the post, Fox stated Google Assistant will understand voice commands in “more than 30 languages” by the end of 2018. Currently, Assistant only works with eight languages: English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Editor's Pick

Not only will the number of understood languages quadruple this year, but Assistant will also be bilingual. For example, if you speak English at work but German at home, Assistant will automatically swap languages appropriately. The bilingual feature will first be made available to speakers of English, French, and German, with support for other languages to come later.

Google also reaffirmed its commitment to working with OEM’s to better integrate Assistant in phones. This includes device-specific settings and functions, as well as being able to activate Assistant while the phone’s screen is off.

Carriers are also on board to make Assistant work with their services. Google’s vision is for wireless customers to gain information about their plan or communicate with carrier support directly through the Assistant. This most likely means you could say something like, “Hey Google, how’s my data usage this month?” and Assistant would answer after checking your plan.

Finally, Fox also said Google is committed to better integrating the Assistant on your phone with the Assistant in Google Home devices. Soon, you will be able to request location-based reminders using a Google Home product, and the reminder will notify you via your phone when you are at the required location.

No mention was made of the leak’s claim Google Home would appear in 52 countries by the end of the year.

You can read the full blog entry here. Expect Google Assistant to have an enormous presence at Mobile World Congress 2018, just like it did at CES in January.

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IPVanish VPN turns 6; celebrates with all-time-low prices https://www.androidauthority.com/ipvanish-turns-6-840111/ https://www.androidauthority.com/ipvanish-turns-6-840111/#comments Fri, 23 Feb 2018 18:05:50 +0000 https://www.androidauthority.com/?p=840111 This post contains affiliate links.

  • IPVanish VPN turns 6 years old this weekend
  • Get a 2 year subscription for $3.33/mo (72% off)
  • Offer ends Sunday night (2/25/18)


IPVanish is one of the world’s leading Virtual Private Network services. For us, it’s been a long-time internal debate between IPVanish and ExpressVPN (the argument rages on). But this weekend, IPVanish is running a promotion in celebration of their 6th birthday that blows all competition out of the water in sheer bang-for-buck capacity.

This weekend only, you can get 2 years of IPVanish for $3.33 per month.

We’ve seen VPNs go for cheaper, but those are usually sketchy, log-keeping VPNs looking to make a quick buck. We don’t think we’ve ever seen a top tier VPN service offer a deal quite this sweet.

Normally, 2 years of IPVanish would run you $287.76. However, if you spring on this birthday celebration by the end of day Sunday, you get the exact same service for a grand total of $79.99. That’s a 72% discount.

IPVanish Breakdown

  • Zero traffic logs
  • User-friendly apps
  • Access to the world’s fastest VPN
  • VPN servers in 60+ countries
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Unlimited P2P traffic
  • Unlimited access to websites, apps, and streaming services
  • OpenVPN and L2TP/IPsec VPN protocols
  • 5 simultaneous connections on multiple devices
  • 24/7 customer support
  • 7-day money-back guarantee


IPVanish is also taking this celebratory opportunity to throw shade on some of their competitors, many of which have been involved in scandals or caught misrepresenting themselves over the years.

Some of these accusations are easily backed up by news coverage and public debacles, but others are a bit harder to prove. We’ve used NordVPN quite a bit, for instance, and didn’t notice unusually slow connectivity.

The big draw for us is the 7-day money-back guarantee.

With IPVanish, you get the peace of mind that fully anonymous browsing without logs brings. Your private and financial information are secure when using public wifi hotspots, and you can access regionally locked content the world over. You can even get local flight prices if you’re a savvy traveller.

But even if you spring for all these perks and still feel “meh” about your experience, you have a week to try it out and pass it back with no questions asked.

This weekend only, you can get 2 years of IPVanish for $3.33 per month.

If you’re ready to start browsing the internet without having it browse you, click the button below to check out IPVanish’s birthday bash. At just over $3 per month, we’ve never seen a VPN deal quite like this one.

It’s probably worth at least giving a spin. Let us know in the comments what you think about IPVanish and what they say about their competitors. Is this a service you would pay $3 a month for?

Remember, this offer ends Sunday night!

 

 

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FCC paying billions for 10 Mbps LTE in rural U.S. areas https://www.androidauthority.com/fcc-billions-for-10-mbps-lte-rural-areas-840043/ https://www.androidauthority.com/fcc-billions-for-10-mbps-lte-rural-areas-840043/#comments Fri, 23 Feb 2018 17:18:10 +0000 https://www.androidauthority.com/?p=840043 WhistleOut

  • Certain areas of the United States get little or no coverage from either of the four major carriers.
  • The FCC is paying the carriers $4.5 billion over the next ten years to get 10/1 Mbps LTE speeds to those neglected spots.
  • The 10/1 Mbps speed is what the FCC decided is the national median, which counters T-Mobile’s offer of 5/1 Mbps.


As part of its Mobility Fund Phase II auction, the FCC has agreed to pay out over $4.5 billion over a ten-year period to the four major U.S. wireless carriers. The intention is for AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile, to use the cash to expand their wireless service in rural areas of the United States that currently get spotty service, or sometimes no service at all.

If you look at a map of the coverage offered by the major carriers, there are certain places that all four companies just don’t cover. As it stands now, people who live in specific areas of Montana, Wyoming, Nevada, and Washington, have zero coverage. Granted, these areas are sparsely populated, so carriers haven’t been too keen on spending the money to expand their services to those locations. Look at the maps above for a clearer idea.

The FCC had this to say about its hopes for those neglected areas:

“The Commission seeks to ensure that the performance of broadband service in rural and high-cost areas is reasonably comparable to that in urban areas, and the Commission’s own analysis at the time the MF-II Report & Order was adopted indicated that customers of nationwide carriers were receiving data at median speeds of around 10/1 Mbps or faster.”

Editor's Pick

The median speed of 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload is at odds with T-Mobile’s suggestion that the goal speed for these “high-cost areas” be 5 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload. In fact, the FCC statement calls T-Mobile out directly:

“We are not persuaded that the minimum baseline performance requirement for median data speeds should be reduced to 5/1 Mbps, as T-Mobile urges.”

Ouch. It seems like T-Mobile was pushing hard to give these neglected areas some bare-minimum service and the FCC wasn’t having it.

Even though these rural areas of the United States are sparsely populated, the FCC estimates that 3 million Americans have spotty or no LTE coverage, and Mobility Fund Phase II aims to change that.

It’s good that the FCC is giving the carriers a specific benchmark minimum they have to meet in exchange for the billions of dollars they are about to receive. However, it will all be for naught if the rural residents can’t afford the service because there are no net neutrality regulations to prevent the companies charging them exorbitant fees.

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