A new version of Android 7 Nougat is rolling out now!

Update, January 31: According to several commenters and sources on social media, Google has begun rolling out Android 7.1.2 through an OTA update to those who have signed up through the Android beta program! The build versions are NPG05D and NPG05E, depending on the device. Go get it!

Android 7.1.2 is rolling out to Nexus and Pixel devices through Google’s beta channel, according to a post on the company’s developer blog.

Called “the next maintenance release” for Android 7.x Nougat, Google says that “refinements,” including “bugfixes and optimizations, along with a small number of enhancements for carriers and users.”

Google says the beta, like all previous versions, is compatible with Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 5X, Nexus Player, and Pixel C devices, with an update forthcoming for the Nexus 6P. The final version of Android 7.1.2 will roll out to the same devices when it is ready “in just a couple of months.”

How to enrol in the Android Beta Program




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This could be the end of the line for two of 2014′s Nexus devices.

With the release of a small maintenance release, Android 7.1.2, in beta yesterday, speculation kicked up around the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 missing from the list after being included on previous beta releases. At the same time, the Nexus 6P was missing but explicitly mentioned as having an update coming soon. With no mention of either the Nexus 6 or 9, it seems as though these phones have received their final platform update — and it shouldn’t be surprising.

The Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 launched together in October 2014, meaning we’re comfortably beyond two years of software support for the phone and tablet. With the launch of the new Pixel and Pixel XL, the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 were the next two to drop off of the update pile, and we’re simply getting a bit of an earlier glimpse now that the Android Beta Program exists.

We still have nearly a year of security patches to look forward to.

Though the major platform updates have stopped for the phone and tablet, Google’s official commitment to Nexus devices includes a total of three years of security patches, meaning we should see monthly security updates arrive for the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 until at least October 2017. That gives owners a bit of extra time knowing their devices are secure while they consider their options for a new phone or tablet.

The massive Nexus 6 was hardly the mainstream device that Google had hoped it would be launching in 2014, and the Nexus 9 had its own slate of problems that meant it never really took off. Still, they were both solid devices for their time and the Nexus 6 in particular aged quite well through the transition into Android 7.0 Nougat. There will no doubt still be a good number of people using both throughout 2017, even as Google moves on.




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Google is rebooting Android Wear, and that’s exciting!

Despite repeated reports that smartwatches are dead, we know for a fact that Android Wear is about to get a massive refresh. Rolling out alongside Google’s Wear 2.0 update are two new watches meant to act almost like the Nexus program of old, and we know several manufacturers will be following up quickly with new hardware of their own. With new hardware and new software, Android Wear as we know it is being rebooted.

The big questions now lie in our expectations. What do we as Wear users want from this new generation of watches? Here’s a lap around the Editor’s table with all of our thoughts!

Andrew

Android Wear has a bit of an identity crisis, and I hope that the launch of Android Wear 2.0 helps spur manufacturers to lock in and put out some compelling hardware that can meet a variety of needs. Though external case designs of Android Wear watches have differed, they’re all basically the same: a too-big watch with clunky bands and very little feature differentiation.

Going forward I hope companies can bring in some variety with smaller, thinner watches, as well as mid-sized watches that skip out on trying to do everything to focus in on the core features people use these watches for. This new era will hopefully introduce a better variety of offerings to fit more needs and styles, though I know the business models of these companies may not be compatible with hitting niches inside of an already small market.

Jen

While I’m really excited to have longer battery life and Assistant on my watch, what I really want to see are smaller watches. I am a teensy human, and having a watch that actually properly fits me without looking like a child playing dress up would be amazing.

I’m also pretty stoked about the activity trackers. I’m terrible at remembering to open up my activity apps before I start working out, [and if what we saw at Google I/O is true](http://www.androidcentral.com/android-wear-20-brings-new-features-fitness, this won’t be a problem for me anymore.

Jerry

I want to see watches that look better and feel better while I’m wearing them.

I have been in situations where being able to discreetly check notifications was a plus. I think we all probably have. But in general, I’ve found that there isn’t much reason for me to wear a smartwatch. I have my phone in my pocket no matter where I am, and when I wear a watch it’s because I like the way it looks on my wrist. And I don’t mean it looks better than other options like my Huawei Watch does. I mean I like the way it looks. Everyone wants things that look good, right?

I know it’s hard to pack everything into a watch to make it smart, then put a big enough battery in it to keep it running. I’m hoping new processors and smarter software that is easier on battery life means someone can make a smartwatch that doesn’t look like a smart watch. Samsung got very close with the Gear S3 Classic (it’s not necessarily a size thing), so I have hope.

Flo

Someone give me a reason to wear Android Wear. It’s been a few years since they’ve come into existence, but I’m still struggling to find a reason to take my Asus ZenWatch 2 out of its drawer.

Here’s the problem with Android Wear: Google and its partners have failed to convince me, the consumer, that it’s worth buying one for any reason other than it’s a way of showing allegiance to the Android brand. I want seamless interconnectivity between my phone and my watch, but I also want a watch that doesn’t try too hard to cram everything my smartphone does into a 1.5-inch display. Features like Google Assistant and Android Pay are certainly worth looking forward to, but they fail to solve the problem of why I’d wear a computerized wristwatch in the first place.

Alex

My first wish is for the watchmakers themselves, not Google. Just as Android Wear has adopted some of Samsung’s Gear features in the 2.0 release, manufacturers should steal Samsung’s rotating bezel idea for rotating through notifications and menus. It’s more convenient than blocking the screen as you swipe and would allow for some neat design flourishes.

From a purely software perspective, I’ve already written at length about how I think smartwatches, including Android Wear, need to do fewer things and then do them better. Focus on the essentials, make notifications awesome, and everything else can just be gravy.

Russell

Bring on the watches that last me more than a single day! With the new Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor and denser batteries, we should see thinner watches with one day of life and thicker watches offering two full days. I want to leave the charger at home, especially if the charger is one of those ridiculous pin things.

I’m also looking forward to Assistant on my wrist, but only if it’s available without needing to press a button. I’d even be happy with a gesture to activate Assistant if an always-on mic isn’t good for power consumption.

Ara

I’m more than ready for Assistant on my wrist, but more than anything, I want Android Pay on my wrist. I’ve had an OG Moto 360 that’s been bootlooping intermittently for the last six months, and the only reason I refuse to upgrade yet is the lack of tap-and-pay. We’ve seen NFC in a number of watches, including in leaks of 2.0 devices, and Apple and Samsung already have tap and pay on their wearable platforms. It’s time for Android Wear to catch up.

Beyond that, I’m hoping that with full-fledged watch apps comes more finessed controls for media apps. Even before Android Wear, even before I was an Android nerd, I had a singular vision for wearables: controlling my music. I could fast-forward and rewind my iPod Video’s click wheel inside a folio case in my pocket with frankly disquieting consistency and accuracy. When I came to Android and Google Play Music, I had to give that up. Now, to fast-forward through 90 seconds of a 25-minute show or rewind 30 seconds to replay the sweet bridge that my coworker interrupted, I have to wake my phone, unlock my phone, open the music app, and seek as desired. I want a click wheel on my wrist. Or at the very least, I want a button in Android Wear that can let me rewind and fast forward in 30-second intervals.

Daniel

More than anything, Android Wear 2.0 has to show me things I didn’t know I needed. I think it’s a given that the platform will integrate Google Assistant, but what I really enjoyed about Android Wear’s early forms was its occasional perfectly timed Google Now card. Give me that experience more consistently, and use the new watch’s GPS and/or cellular connection to show me more accurate location data — and the contextual information around it — without having to rely on the slow Bluetooth connection from my phone.

I typically find that, aside from the push notifications mirrored from my phone, smartwatches are no better than phones at doing most things, and even as a companion to my phone, don’t excel at anything particularly well. So start to use AI and machine learning to adapt what’s shown at any particular time in a way that, because your smartphone is turned off in your pocket for most of the day, only a smartwatch can do. Google is well-positioned to offer a solution like this, but it really has to bring all of its separate pieces together.

Your turn!

Got some thoughts on what you want from the next wave of Android Wear? Share it with us in the comments!




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ZTE continues to trip over its own proverbial feet by assuming that a crowd knows what it wants.

The crowdsourced, crowdfunded ZTE Hawkeye, which in just under three weeks has raised only $35,000, has come under fire for ostensibly thinking that its potential audience would be willing to concede to a mid-range spec sheet after lobbying for the device to be a pie-in-the-sky project from the get-go.

Despite the fact that two features — eye-tracking and an adhesive back — won out over the rest of the votes, ZTE’s naivety in not anticipating the backlash exposes the company’s biggest flaw when it comes to attempting to expand further into the U.S. market: it just doesn’t compare to the rest of the world.

“We are already fourth in terms of market share [in North America],” said Jeff Yee, Vice President of Technology Partnerships and Planning for ZTE North America, in an interview with Android Central. “We sold 18 million devices, and many of those were by connecting directly with consumers.”

“We’ve heard lots of negative things from consumers after receiving direct feedback. We honestly didn’t foresee this happening.”

In 2017, the company aims to continue that momentum, according to Yee, by “moving upmarket with flagships” that people truly care about. Project CSX, or Crowd Source X, is ZTE’s first attempt to appeal democratically to an audience that, cumulatively, would have a final say in how a phone turns out.

But Project CSX, or Hawkeye in its finished form — another questionable crowdsourced decision — has been met with almost no response by a buying public that traditionally falls all over itself for such things. The Nextbit Robin, for instance, raised over $1.3 million back in late 2015 on the promise of a well-designed phone with a few gimmicks.

“The whole Hawkeye process was interactive — it was designed to be,” said Yee. “We were committed to not just source the idea, but also the branding, material choices and colors. This information has been invaluable.” ZTE subsequently issued an apology for minimizing the importance of what, in retrospect, was one of the device’s most important decisions, the choice of SoC, offering to change the Snapdragon 625 to a Snapdragon 835 at the risk of delaying the phone’s release date and significantly increasing its $199 price.

“We’ve heard lots of negative things from consumers after receiving direct feedback. We honestly didn’t foresee this happening.” The team behind CSX thought that it could create a single SKU (version of the phone) that would appeal to a worldwide audience. That’s how they settled on a device running a light version of Android with a spec sheet that wouldn’t have been out of place in the early months of 2016. But for a phone shipping in late 2017, even with a $199 price tag, those looking for a high-end device — one that had their actual input in the heart and soul of the finished product — were sure to be disappointed.

Yee says that ZTE is more than willing to change some of the fundamentals of the phone if it will lead to increased sales — the Kickstarter campaign of $500,000 has largely stalled at just under $40,000 — but he and his team are committed to bringing the phone to market in some form. “We would definitely make some changes in response to a majority vote. If everyone wanted a Snapdragon 835, we would definitely try to make that happen. If everyone wanted a removable battery, we’d try to make that happen.”

ZTE has acknowledged that the Hawkeye Kickstarter campaign isn’t working.

But Yee understands that there were mistakes made in the initial voting process that led to a diffusion in the actual decisions made. “The challenge with running some of these polls is that we get so much feedback, it doesn’t allow us to do line-item voting. If we could restructure some of the polls from the beginning, we would have broken it down to more specifics: Do you want a Snapdragon 625 or 835. Do you want a fingerprint sensor on the front or the back? We’d also have been able to tell people, when voting, your decision will have this impact on price.”

Yee also acknowledges that the Kickstarter campaign isn’t working. “We’re already rethinking our strategy around selling the device, and Kickstarter just wasn’t the right place to sell this phone. We’re reconsidering the platform on how it goes out.” There’s also the possibility that Hawkeye will be canceled entirely, and though Yee says ZTE is committed to bringing the two core tenets of the phone — eye-tracking and rear adhesion — to market, they may instead be integrated into a future Axon flagship.

“This whole process has been a learning experience for us and because it is an industry first, we’ve learned so much from the program. If we choose to do it again, we now know how to break it down and learn from our past — and learn from our mistakes.”

Yee also says that the next time around, he would try to find a way to give royalties to those who submitted ideas. He says that some people remarked on how they refused to disclose their Project CSX proposals because ZTE has no mechanism for compensating individuals.

Before any decisions are made about the future of Project CSX, the company’s current flagship, the Axon 7, is poised to get updated to Android 7.0 Nougat in early February. Yee says that Google has received the final Nougat build, which includes long-awaited Daydream support, and is going through the process of certifying the release for public use. That process should wrap up in the coming days, and users of the sold-unlocked device can look forward to an update in the next two weeks or so.

Good news for a company that hasn’t been in the news much over the past few months, overshadowed by the release of the Huawei Mate 9 in the U.S. and Xiaomi’s ultra-modern Mi Mix in China. But ZTE appears to have big plans for 2017, and even if Hawkeye never makes it to market in its currently-proposed form, there are plenty of good ideas left — both crowdsourced and otherwise.




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What are the best games to play on the NVIDIA Shield TV from the Google Play Store?

As NVIDIA proclaims in every ad, their new Shield Android TV box is “the streamer for gamers”. So which games are worth checking out?

Well, for starters we’re not going to dive into NVIDIA’s GeForce Now subscription service, or NVIDIA Gamestream. We’ll touch on those services later.

For now, we’re just going to highlight some of the best games available via the Google Play Store, specifically adapted to play on the NVIDIA Shield TV. So let’s dive right in!

The Witness

If you consider yourself a hardcore puzzle gamer, you owe it to yourself to check out The Witness, one of the most beautifully crafted and challenging puzzle games ever conceived. At first glance, this appears to be a rather standard puzzle adventure game, where you wander around a mysterious island solving grid puzzles all the live long day, things become quite layered as you start to unravel the true nature of the island and just how deep the puzzle theme extends.

I’ll keep the description vague and cryptic, because it’s really one of those games you want to experience for yourself.

Download: The Witness ($19.99)

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

The Borderlands franchise is a gloriously unique first-person shooter, mixing genre elements from action, RPG, and FPS into an addictive experience, topped off with the beautiful cel-shaded graphics and a storyline featuring razor-sharp wit.

The Pre-Sequel was originally released in 2014 for the major consoles, and fits in story wise between the first and second Borderland games. As such, it largely uses the game mechanics from Borderlands 2, while adding in some new weapons and elements. The game also supports co-op play, though sadly no split-screen co-op is available at this time.

Still, Borderlands: TPS plays like a dream on the NVIDIA Shield and should provide hours of fun.

Download: Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel ($14.99)

Ultimate Chicken Horse

Ultimate Chicken Horse is a rather unique party platformer that’ll have you and your friends gathering around the TV like it was 1998 again. The concept is that up to four friends collaborate to build out a challenging level — based on the different platforms and traps, made available to the group. Then, everyone simultaneously tries to complete the level.

Equal parts strategic and stupid, this game is great fun to get a few friends together and have at it (if you’ve got the right number of Shield controllers to accommodate the crew — third-party Bluetooth controller support is lacking). The goal is to set enough traps to sabotage your opponents while leaving a clean route for yourself to make it through the level and reach the goal. Everything is packaged in a fun, cartoony art style, with a host of farm animals as your disposal as playable characters.

Download: Ultimate Chicken Horse ($11.99)

GoNNER

GoNNER was my personal favorite game I played on the NVIDIA Shield TV in 2016, and it’s a real treat for folks looking for a challenging shooter-platformer. Levels are generated procedurally, meaning that you’ll never play the exact same level twice. The game seems to adapt the level difficulty to your skill and playing ability as you work your way through the multiple worlds.

But it’s worth noting that this game is tough. Like really tough. Before you head out to play, you choose your head and gun — you unlock more of both as you explore levels throughout the game — and then you’re tasked with dispatching the enemies as fast and efficiently as possible to continue to collect ammo for your weapons, and purple tiles which are used to heal up and upgrade weapons before boss battles, or save them to “delay” a game over screen.

I specifically chose the word delay because, again, this game is really hard. Are you up for the challenge?

Download: GoNNER ($9.99)

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

Right off the hop, for those wondering this game is nothing like the stealth action found in Metal Gear Solid, the crown jewel of the Metal Gear franchise. Instead, this is a slick-looking hack-and-slash action spin-off title starring Raiden, whom fans will remember best from Metal Gear Solid 2.

In Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, players assume control of Raiden, a katana-wielding cyborg. Set in the far-off year of… 2018… the story revolves around conflicts between rival Private Military Companies, with some corporations actively looking to court chaos to keep the war economy chugging along. We won’t dive too much into the plot specifics, but just want to reiterate that this is nothing like the gameplay found in Metal Gear Solid games. Another thing worth noting is the file size — a whopping 5.5GB! If you just have the 16GB console, you’ll definitely want to look into expandable storage options for your Shield TV, or start clearing out some room before installing.

Download: Metal Gear Rising Revengeance ($14.99)

Portal

When making a list of best games, and Portal is one of the options, you always got to plug arguably one of the most fun and inventive games of all time. If you’ve never played Portal before, I’m actually jealous because it means you get to experience this outstanding game fresh for the first time.

This game is celebrated justly for its brilliantly subtle storyline, mind bending puzzles, and one of the most celebrated video game villains of recent time. And it’s been ported beautifully over to the NVIDIA Shield TV via the Google Play Store.

Anyone who’s played this knows exactly why this game deserves every award it’s ever won. If you haven’t played it yet, spend the $10 and enjoy.

Download: Portal ($9.99)

Real Racing 3

So far every game on this list has been a paid title. Real Racing 3 bucks that trend. It’s already arguably the best looking racing game available for Android phones, and it looks just as pretty on the big screen playing through the NVIDIA Shield TV.

Jump behind the wheel of one of over 140 intensely detailed vehicles based on real cars, and hit the track in over 4,000 events including Cup races, Eliminations and Endurance challenges on 17 race tracks based off of iconic circuits from around the world, including Silverstone, Hockenheimring, Le Mans, Dubai Autodrome and many more.

If you’re a racing fan and looking for a good title for your Shield TV, give Real Racing 3 a try.

Real Racing 3 (Free)

What are your favorite titles for the NVIDIA Shield TV?

These are the games that piqued our interest, but what are your favorite games for the NVIDIA Shield TV? Got any opinions on the games that made our list? Let us know in the comments!




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There’s more to tech than conflict, and there’s more to life than tech.

When I was nine years old, I was sitting on the sill in my kitchen talking to my mother, and as I looked out on to the driveway a man sprinted through the front gates towards me, holding a gun that looked, to my young eyes, the size of a bazooka. He motioned for us to be quiet as he hid behind my father’s truck, and as I sat there, paralyzed, my mom picked me up and sprinted to the other side of the house.

If Google’s CEO issues a memo to his employees citing the “personal cost of [President Trump's] executive order on [his] colleagues,” we are going to mention it.

What I learned later is that the man was trying to break into the heavily-fortified compound of a neighbor a few houses down, and as he fled to seek shelter behind my father’s truck, more than a dozen police officers were setting up a perimeter. Once established, a group of six stormed the driveway from each side, cutting off the would-be burglar and arresting him. I learned of this, and many similar incidents, in the months and years since emigrating from Johannesburg to Toronto, where I have now lived for over 20 years.

I’ve long taken for granted that Canada is my home, and that I am relatively safe from persecution just by being a citizen of this particular nation. Back in the early 90s, during Apartheid South Africa, I was a bit too young and sheltered to realize what my country’s government was doing, and had done for 40 years, to systemically reduce the rights of a majority of its population — but my parents weren’t. They were keenly aware of the system of imbalance that kept people poor and desperate, and that enormous change was necessary — and imminent — in that beautiful country. Change came, and kept coming, and for many reasons we left for a nation that proudly codified its constitution around inclusiveness and stability. And though I miss South Africa intensely, I understand and empathize with my parents’ decision to leave a precarious situation.

We at AC are often told, when reporting on topics outside the immediate tech sphere, to pare back, to focus on “what we’re good at,” to resist the temptation to politicize our rhetoric or inflame the readership. As much as I like the idea that Android Central is a soothing balm, a respite from the divisive nature of political discourse in early 2017, the reality is that we are just as inextricably linked to the decisions of elected officials as the rest, and to avoid it entirely would be a disservice to our readership.

Respect and listen to one another this week, folks.

If Google’s CEO issues a memo to his employees citing the “personal cost of [President Trump's] executive order on [his] colleagues,” we are going to mention it, even as we continue to recommend great products and report on rumors of this year’s flagships.

I also feel a personal obligation to stand up for the rights of immigrants, for the millions of good people whose decisions to move between nations often comes at enormous personal and financial risk. That I am an editor at an Android-related website is a privilege that I may not have been able to achieve without the personal and financial risk taken by my parents 22 years ago.

A few notes from the week:

  • The Note 7 saga is over, and while I wasn’t thrilled with the results, I appreciate Samsung’s thoroughness, and I expect that outcome to be positive for the entire industry.
  • The Galaxy S8 is shaping up to be one hell of a follow-up.
  • So is the LG G6, but will it have enough to really differentiate itself from the high-end competition?
  • I received Nougat on my OnePlus 3 and HTC 10, and now I can’t decide which implementation I like better.
  • Both, however — all phones upgraded to Nougat, in fact, are enormously improved. This is the most significant “minor” Android update I’ve ever used.
  • I was quite amazed as how far-reaching Alex’s investigation on which Android phone Trump uses went. It was picked up by Vanity Fair, Fox News, Vice, The Telegraph, Quartz, Yahoo Finance, Politico, Daring Fireball, The Guardian, Der Standard, El Mundo and many more news outlets.
  • Had a blast playing and writing about Myst, which came to Android this week.
  • Also having a blast reading through the first week of Ask Jerry. Join us in the forums if you haven’t already!

Respect and listen to one another this week, folks.

-Daniel




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Sluggish Q4 performance leads to layoffs at Fitbit.

Wearable manufacturer Fitbit could lay off 5% to 10% of its workforce, with the decision impacting 80 to 160 workers. According to The Information, Fitbit will report disappointing fourth quarter earnings tomorrow, and undertake a reorganization to save up to $200 million in operating costs.

The lacklustre financial results are blamed on a sluggish market, with the overall wearable segment seeing waning interest from consumers. Fitbit acquired Pebble at the end of last year for its IP, and it looks like the company will focus on diversifying into software.

Fitbit also acquired Coin’s payment platform last year to integrate payment options into its products. The company is planning to launch its own wearable app store with support for third-party apps later this year, and is likely to introduce a smartwatch to showcase the software capabilities. We’ll know more about Fitbit’s upcoming plans later today.




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Who really owns your phone?

29 January 2017

Ownership isn’t a clear concept when it comes to a smartphone.

Phones are no longer just a thing you use to call people or text them. The days of playing Snake because it’s the coolest thing your phone can do are long past. Today, they’re more like your computer that they are the Nokias and Motorolas of the past. Because they are computers, software licensing starts to matter more.

I’ve been thinking about this since the Note 7 started getting forced updates to disable the things that make people want to keep it. A company you didn’t actually buy your phone from reaching in with slinky OTA updates to take away things you paid for is a pretty bold thing to do. Granted, in Samsung’s opinion, they need to do everything they can do to get every Note 7 sent back for whatever recycling project they have set up. For them, this is 50% a safety issue and 50% a public relations let’s-get-people-to-forget-it-ever-existed issue. But for you, it’s someone else taking things away.

Samsung details the Note 7 safety issues

And there’s not much we can do about it. Forget about the Note 7 for a minute. Any phone — your S7 edge or HTC 10 or anything else — that has Android (and iOS and any other operating system still hanging on) is subject to the rules of the software license you agreed to. And in case you’ve never looked at them, you need to know that software licenses suck.

Samsung had a good reason to alter the software in the Note 7, but they didn’t have to have one.

It doesn’t spell it out, but the thing you probably didn’t read when you set up your phone says that you don’t own the software on it, you didn’t buy it and you only get to use it because they people who did create it are letting you. And that they have the rights to change stuff. And that you can’t do much about it at all. The plastic and glass and metal that are used to make the thing are yours once you’ve paid for it in full, but anything that happens after you turn it on isn’t.

This is why Samsung can send an update that makes your phone stop working. They have a program in place so that you can get a refund — they don’t expect to get anything back without paying us back the money we spent — and they want your Note 7 back in their hands.

It’s also why they could send out an update that makes Knox bark at you if you tamper with the bootloader on some of their phones. Or HTC was able to add carrier spyware to any phone they wanted to with an update. Or Google could send an update that makes Android not only very bright and with circular icons, but it could also have glowing pink accents if they wanted it to. You still have a phone that works in accordance with the license you agreed to when you first used it.

Thankfully, the people who make the phones and write the software aren’t crazy and want us to like their products. The Note 7 probably needed to be wrecked in order to get more people to turn them in. Samsung needed to address Knox so people who need Knox could tell that something tried to mess with their phone. Sending patches to make bootloaders super-encrypted and booby trapped is 100% a security measure. And any Android update that included glowing pink neon menu highlights would go out so slowly none of us would ever get it on the phones we paid for now. We’re Gucci and don’t have to worry about it.

But I like to think in what-ifs. What if the people who make our phone decided that they just wanted to drastically change things in ways that we think are bad? Some phones can be unlocked and modified with a different operating system but the software you use to start up the hardware and load that operating system is software you can’t change and you don’t have control over. That’s “legal” because we’re allowed to jailbreak and root and unlock our phones if we can. But that doesn’t change who really controls the software you can’t get rid of. Someone else decides how you get to use that software, and if you use it in a way they don’t approve of you lose your license for it.

The people who made your phone want you to like it and aren’t going to try and change that.

No phone police are going to come and snatch away your Android because someone doesn’t like the way you use the software. I’m pretty sure most companies don’t even care how we use the software on our phones because they are too busy working on the next model. But they still own all the software and only let us use it.

When/if Samsung has to turn it up to 11 and do something more to the Note 7, remember that there isn’t anything we can do about it except try and block it from installing1. They are acting in good faith to serve your best interests and theirs. We don’t know if this is going to happen or if Samsung will decide they have done everything they could. But we do know that it’s all up to them because you own the screen and the S Pen and all the rest of the parts, but they own the software that makes those parts do anything.

1To be clear, we think you should send your Note 7 back to Samsung instead of trying to block any updates intended to cripple it.




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Memo from CEO Sundar Pichai says over 100 employees are affected by Friday’s presidential order.

Google’s Sundar Pichai has sent a memo to all staff working overseas — get back home now.

This is in response to an Executive Order signed Friday by U.S. president Trump denying entry into the U.S. for people from seven Muslim countries. A copy of this memo was given to Bloomberg and in it, Pichai states over 100 employees are affected and laments the personal pain that comes with the move for many.

It’s painful to see the personal cost of this executive order on our colleagues. We’ve always made our view on immigration issues known publicly and will continue to do so.

Friday’s order prohibits entry by people from seven Muslim nations for 90 days. Citizens of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, and Libya are denied entry, including persons with valid green cards and H-1B visas who have previously gone through the approved immigration process. Google employs people all over the world with many taking positions in their U.S. offices.

Pichai’s memo says that employees who normally live and work in the U.S. but were abroad before the order was signed should reach out Google’s security, travel, and immigration teams for help. The New York Daily News reports that green card and visa holders from the seven named countries are being actively blocked and denied entry back into the U.S. by Homeland Security.

This report follows an attachment to a securities filing from Microsoft that warns investors that these restrictions will inhibit their ability to staff current research and development efforts.

When we combine the effect this will have with rumors that Chinese companies are set to significantly raise prices to offset any trade restrictions put in place by the current administration, we see a troubling future for the electronics sector as a whole. How this will affect your next Android purchase is unclear, but it’s hard to see any positive outcome for affected companies, the people who work for them, or consumers in general.




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The final game of the NFL season is nearly upon us. Here, now, is your Dad Guide to making the most of it.

Super Bowl LI (which, uh, explains why I call it Super Bowly) is coming Feb. 5 (at 6:30 p.m. on Fox). And if you’re as excited as I am to see the Atlanta Falcons humiliate the New England Patriots (it could happen), then you’ll of course be glued to the game. But for those of us who have cut the cable cord, there are questions!!!

Like, how can you watch the Super Bowl without cable? Is anyone streaming it? Should I buy a new TV? Will Tom Brady cheat again? And can I see Phil talk into a dirty oven?

We answer all those questions — and more — in Modern Dad’s Guide to Super Bowl LI! Here are some handy links to everything I talk about in this vid.

Subscribe to Modern Dad on Youtube!




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