ASUS hasn’t given up on Android tablets — its latest ZenPad looks like a decent metal-clad slate, though you’ll need have to contend with the company’s typically odd software UI.

Once upon a time it seemed like everyone wanted to release a cheap, small Android tablet. But unspectacular tablet sales — in part fuelled by the rise of larger phones — has cooled enthusiasm for the form factor among device makers. Nevertheless, Taiwanese manufacturer ASUS continues to push out Android tablets; its latest, the ZenPad 8s 8.0, wasn’t included in its glitzy Computex press conference, but it was on display on the show floor in Taipei this week.

The physical hardware of ASUS’s new ZenPad draws inspiration from the company’s Android phones, with a slim (6.9mm) aluminum unibody accented by diamond-cut chamfers. Up top there’s a glossy cutout around the camera module — otherwise, it’s all-metal, with pleasantly curved side walls.

ASUS knows how to make pretty metal gadgets.

The ZenPad’s button setup takes its layout from the ASUS ZenFone line, which is to say it borrows it (vicariously) from Samsung’s 2014-2016 Android phones, with capacitive back and recent apps keys flanking a physical home button. The home key was a little stiff on the demo units I played with, perhaps a consequence of the pre-production hardware on show at Computex.

The display itself looks great, though — it’s a 2K panel that looks sharp, and provides ample pixel density at a 7.9-inch form factor. The only downside, it seems, is the tablet runs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 chip as opposedo something with a little more oomph, and UI performance wasn’t exactly fluid on the units I played with. The 625 is a fine chip, with an Adreno 510 GPU at its disposal, but it feels out of its depth running a 2K panel.

An Android experience more fitting of a device from 2013.

On top of that, you’ll have to deal with ASUS’s hodgepodge ZenUI, which is feature-rich, but inconsistent. It manages to copy parts of Samsung’s older Android UIs, but overall remains a mess of different visual styles. Combined with the ample lag I experienced, it’s not a great look — which is a shame considering how nice the physical hardware is.

(A side note on software: The spec sheet on the show floor lists Android 7.1, however the units themselves were running version 7.0. Make of that what you will; obviously everything’s still pre-production here.)

ASUS ZenPad 3s 8.0 specs

Category Specification
Operating System Android 7.1 (currently 7.0)
ZenUI 3.5
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 625
RAM 3GB/4GB
Storage 32GB/64GB
Battery 4,680mAh
Main Camera 13MP f/2.0, 5-part lens, LED flash
Front Camera 5MP ASUS PixelMaster
Audio DTS headphone: X 7.1 channel surround
5-magnet dual speaker / Smart Amplifier technology
Display 7.9-inch 2K LCD with ASUS VisualMaster
Chassis 6.9mm aluminum unibody

At least battery life should be solid, with a respectable 4,680mAh cell inside the ZenPad’s svelte body. Given the Snapdragon 625′s reputation for efficiency, you’re likely going to be looking at multiple days between charges, particularly if you’re mostly using it for streaming and web browsing.

So the hardware is nice, the software is weird, and on the latter point, ASUS is still its own worst enemy with a bewildering loadout of branded custom technologies and features like VisualMaster and PixelMaster. Hopefully future versions of ZenUI will show more polish and restraint.

The ZenPad 3s 8.0 isn’t going to be a major release for ASUS — after all, it didn’t even get so much as a mention in the company’s Computex press releases. What we have here is another commodity Android slate that’ll probably sell for a fairly cheap price, before being largely forgotten. That’s a shame, because with the right software and perhaps a little more horsepower, this could’ve been a promising little gadget.




Go to Source

 | Posted by | Categories: Android |

Workout detection and post-workout feedback are getting better on Samsung’s fitness wearable.

Samsung has just pushed out an update to the Gear Fit 2 right around a year after launch that makes a few solid upgrades to its tracking — because, after all, that is what it’s designed to do. Building on the Gear Fit 2‘s automatic fitness tracking that auto-starts workouts when it detects certain sustained movement, Samsung says it has improved its ability to detect workouts.

For runners, you can now set custom pace targets for runs or set certain time or distance goals in Samsung Health to let the app build an appropriate workout for you. After your run is done, the Fit 2 will now give you a detailed color-coded graph of how long you spent in each heart rate zone over the duration. You’ll also get more accurate information on a map of where you ran, right on the Fit 2′s display.

Samsung has also improved its sleep tracking to give more details on how well you slept through the night, and changed activity reminders to give you some options for light activity instead of simply telling you to stand up. Finally, the Gear Fit 2 now has an “SOS” function that can be activated with a triple press of the home button to send your location and a message to specified contacts.

The update is available now through the Gear Manager app on the phone you have paired to the Gear Fit 2. Just visit the “About Gear” section to download the update, which comes in at a 47MB.




Go to Source

 | Posted by | Categories: Android |

There aren’t many out there, but the free apps on Playstation VR are nothing to scoff at.

Sony launched PlayStation VR with a bang, including a ton of amazing games from nearly every genre. If you haven’t spent any time lurking through the PlayStation store since setting up your PlayStation VR, then you might not realize that there are a handful of free apps available for download right now. At the moment, the pickings are a bit slim, but that’s to be expected since we’re only a few short days past launch day. Well, don’t worry about searching through the PlayStation store because we’ve got the details on the best free apps on PlayStation VR.

Read more at VR Heads




Go to Source

 | Posted by | Categories: Android |

Sometimes you just have to trust that the company selling you a phone has done its homework.

The U11 is arguably the best flagship phone HTC has ever made, and it properly competes with the other great phones released in the first half of 2017. But in coinciding with HTC’s general decline in the U.S. market, its partnerships to put phones in carrier stores have dwindled, leaving us with a single carrier “partner” here: Sprint.

That means if you want to use the HTC U11 on any other carrier, you’ll have to buy it unlocked — both Amazon and HTC will sell it to you directly without any carrier shackles for $649. That’s great for discerning consumers, but it has also led to questions — primarily, does the phone support our favorite giant carrier, Verizon? Well, yes, it does — HTC says so on its website. Confusion has set in, though, as we all dig through the specs and realize it doesn’t have a CDMA radio.

Not having CDMA isn’t the end of the world, nor does it preclude HTC from legitimately stating that the U11 is compatible with the Verizon network — let me explain.

Verizon’s upcoming CDMA sunset

Verizon doesn’t want to use its CDMA network anymore. It has confirmed that it hopes to effectively shut down the old network by the end of 2019. Once it does so, the remaining spectrum and towers currently in use for CDMA (which have been dramatically scaled back in recent years already) can be repurposed for other uses as Verizon turns LTE into its baseline network and moves on to 5G deployment.

Verizon doesn’t want people using its CDMA network anymore, and you probably already don’t.

For most people using Verizon today, CDMA might as well not exist. Its LTE network covers 98% of the country. As of Q1 2016, 92% of its network traffic was traveling over LTE — and remember that includes some legacy devices that only use CDMA. So there’s a dramatically small (and decreasing) number of places without LTE coverage, and surprisingly close to 100% of network traffic by LTE-capable devices is running on the modern network.

Even if your phone has a CDMA radio, chances are you don’t actually use it anymore. When your phone has an LTE connection available, it will use it for both data and calls across Verizon’s network — other times, you may be using Wi-Fi calling. In 2017, CDMA offers a suboptimal experience — only to be relied upon when there is no other option. Yes those places where CDMA is the only option do still exist, but Verizon clearly doesn’t think they’ll be around much longer.

Reason says that it won’t be long, then, before Verizon itself stops selling smartphones that have CDMA radios in them. Including the old technology for a network that won’t exist in the reasonable lifespan of the phone (roughly two years from sale) doesn’t make sense from multiple perspectives. Having a CDMA radio requires extra licenses and technology (read: money spent) in smartphones, and just continues to sustain a user base of people who will have a device capable of using a network that will soon no longer be available.

HTC did the necessary work

HTC isn’t hiding the fact that the U11 doesn’t support Verizon’s CDMA network. Every radio, band and network the U.S. unlocked U11 supports is listed right on HTC’s website — including LTE band 2, 4, 5 and 13 for Verizon. But this is still confusing to some because HTC says it supports Verizon while also not having CDMA — and for some people, that doesn’t mean “full” support.

Here’s the thing: HTC lists the U11 as being compatible with Verizon because it truly means it. The U11 will work just fine on Verizon’s network, without any unreasonable hang-ups. Considering nearly all of your data and voice traffic is already going over LTE on your current Verizon phone, you won’t likely notice a difference on the U11.

More important than simply having a CDMA radio inside, HTC has gone through the process with Verizon to certify the U11 for use on its network — and that’s why it’s confident enough to list Verizon compatibility. It has done the same sort of testing for AT&T and T-Mobile as well; there are no guessing games here, the unlocked U11 does what HTC says it will do. That means your U.S. unlocked U11 will support VoLTE (aka HD Voice), Wi-Fi calling and Carrier Aggregation on the four major U.S. networks. HTC even goes on to list popular prepaid carriers like Cricket, MetroPCS, NET 10, Straight Talk and WalMart Family Mobile as fully compatible.

Read: Our complete HTC U11 review

Not having CDMA is no longer a problem, folks.

Some people just won’t buy a phone for use on Verizon that doesn’t have a CDMA radio in it — there’s no convincing them otherwise, even though the information on the impending death of CDMA is clear. But this is where we’re headed, and at a rapid pace. There’s a good chance the HTC U11 won’t be the only phone released this year — and certainly not in the next 12 months — certified for use on Verizon without a CDMA radio. At some point, we’re going to have to let this go as a requirement for buying a phone to use on Verizon.

For the average person who wants an HTC U11 and has Verizon as their carrier, they will buy the phone, pop in their SIM and use it fully without knowing the details — and they shouldn’t have to. This is the future we’ve wanted for so long and continually complained about in relation to using phones on Verizon. Now that it’s finally here, let’s enjoy it.




Go to Source

 | Posted by | Categories: Android |

New details on the Essential Phone emerge — and they look positive.

Essential is getting a whole lot of attention after it finally announced the Essential Phone with its pretty excellent-looking hardware and unique features. The only issue for those excited about it is that it still isn’t actually for sale — there’s a “reserve” system in which you can sign up to drop the required $699 for when they finally ship, with no actual guarantee of when that’ll be. We also have a limited number of details on how the software works.

Thankfully for us, the company’s founder Andy Rubin gave some great hints as to how Essential plans to sell phones in the near future, and what his vision is for the Phone’s software in his interview at the Code Conference on May 30 (embedded below).

First off, Rubin says that the plan is to ship out reservations “within 30 days” — now he didn’t put his foot down in saying that they will ship out by the end of June, but that’s the goal at least. If he is able to accomplish this, that’d be a pretty good sign that Essential can actually make and ship its first hardware in short order. Many phone startups have run into issues with shipping at scale, though, so we won’t jump for joy until boxes are actually hitting doorsteps.

‘I’m going to try as hard as I can to have a pro-consumer product where you get to decide what’s on your phone.’

After being pressed by the interviewer Walt Mossberg, Rubin also expanded on his plans for Essential to move beyond online-only sales and into the typical carrier and retail channels by which roughly two-thirds of smartphones are sold in the U.S. The goal, Rubin says, is to move into carrier and retail partnerships “soon.” Though he naturally wasn’t able to provide a proper timeline as we can assume negotiations are ongoing, it’s still interesting to see Rubin seeing carriers and established retailers as an important part of the Essential Phone’s sales. Many other small hardware companies are content — or limited — to just sell directly to consumers online.

As we all know, when you start to get involved with the U.S. carriers that also means conceding some control over your software, and Rubin was ready to fight on that point. His goal with bringing the Essential Phone to carriers is to “try as hard as I can to have a pro-consumer product where you get to decide what’s on your phone” — that is, hopefully fight the carriers every lasts bit to keep bloatware (or even hardware) changes from happening as a consolation for the carriers selling the phone.

Essential is aiming to do as little customization as possible to stock Android.

Further to the point of customizing software, Rubin indicated that Essential is aiming to do as little customization as possible to stock Android for the Essential Phone. Outside of “the same amount of Google stuff” other phones have, he sees little value in changing the interface or adding a bunch of apps. We’ve yet to see exactly what’s changed in terms of the software, but it’s not entirely surprising that the creator of Android is a fan of shipping a phone with near-stock Android on it.

As these new details about availability, carrier partners and software emerge, it gives us a much better view of what the Essential Phone will be like — and yes, we may even be getting a little more excited to try it for ourselves.




Go to Source

 | Posted by | Categories: Android |

One of the pioneers of the smartphone revolution brings us up to speed with his vision for the future of computing.

Andy Rubin’s new company Essential has finally opened up for everyone to see what it’s been up to, dropping details on both the Essential Phone and Essential Home. Coinciding with the product launches, Rubin was on stage for an interview with Walt Mossberg at the Code Conference to bring everyone up to speed with more details on his company.

Of course Rubin’s new company Essential was top of mind for the interview, but he also provided more background on what he’s been doing since he left Google, including starting his other company Playground Global.

The whole interview runs about an hour, and is well worth a watch if you want to learn more about the Essential Phone.




Go to Source

 | Posted by | Categories: Android |

A classier Android Wear 2.0 option.

Huawei’s higher-end Android Wear 2.0-powered Watch 2 Classic is now widely available in the U.S. from retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, B&H and more. This is the nicer, classier, metal version of the Huawei Watch 2, which had numerous design and quality shortcomings. The Watch 2 Classic is much better looking and feeling on your wrist, though it isn’t exactly a successor to the original Huawei Watch in terms of design.

The all metal case and leather bands feel much nicer than the plastic and cheap rubber of the standard Watch 2, and those bands are replaceable with any standard watch band. Functionally, though, things are identical to the Watch 2: a 1.2-inch display, Android Wear 2.0, the standard slate of internal specs and a 420mAh battery. The Watch 2 was good for two full days in our time with it, and this should be no different.

If you’re going to go with Huawei, this is the one you want.

The only internal differentiator between the two models is the Watch 2 Classic lacks an LTE option. For most people that won’t be an issue — especially considering the Watch 2 Classic retains GPS and NFC even without the LTE connection.

The product listings for the Watch 2 Classic can actually be a little difficult to find at first, as Huawei simply lists the product name as “Huawei Smartwatch for Universal/Smartphones” … only to list the real name further down in the description. You can hit the links below to go straight to the product pages.

See at Amazon
See at Best Buy

Press release:

HUAWEI WATCH 2 CLASSIC MAKES THE RIGHT STATEMENT

Premium Hybrid Leather Strap Takes the Watch from Workplace to Workout with Ease

PLANO, TX – May 30, 2017 – Huawei is setting a new standard for premium watch adaptability. The company announced today that the second model in its second-generation smartwatch line, HUAWEI WATCH 2 CLASSIC, is now available in the U.S.

What separates HUAWEI WATCH 2 CLASSIC from other premium smartwatches is the ease with which it fits in, no matter the occasion. The sweat resistant hybrid leather/rubber band is fashionable enough for a business meeting, and functional enough for the gym, ensuring comfort throughout the day.

“We specifically designed HUAWEI WATCH 2 to feature cutting-edge technology while being stylish,” commented Robin Zhu, President of Huawei Device USA. “Now, with the introduction of HUAWEI WATCH 2 CLASSIC, we have added versatility to the mix and offering consumers a watch that is equally suited to professional and recreational settings.”

HUAWEI WATCH 2 CLASSIC features a stainless steel casing and ceramic bezel with a classic watch aesthetic. It has a high-definition AMOLED display with a 390×390 resolution, and a 45-mm (1.8″) diameter and ratio, the same as a traditional wristwatch. Thoughtful details such as the dual-crown design and highly integrated antennae (GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth) make it practical and premium.

In addition to its versatility and adaptability, HUAWEI WATCH 2 CLASSIC integrates fitness guidance and scientific health-management functions to help consumers proactively improve their lifestyles. It provides consumers with all of the tools they need for connected well-being.

HUAWEI WATCH 2 CLASSIC measures daily activities through three key indicators: number of steps, duration of medium and high-intensity exercise, and stand-up times. It closely monitors the user’s activity and sends smart reminders to stand up or begin exercising, and will remind users of their daily fitness targets when sedentary.

Other HUAWEI WATCH 2 CLASSIC features:

  • Android Wear 2.0 and is iOS compatible
  • Updates to Google wearables OS are available, including Google Assistant
  • Ability to add both offline and online music through Google Play™ Music app
  • IP68 water-resistant classification
  • Optimized 420mAh battery lasts up to two days with regular use, up to 10 hours in training mode with the heart-rate sensor and GPS on, and up to three weeks in watch mode with the pedometer function on
  • Fast-charging technology powers up the watch from zero to 100% in less than an hour

Pricing and Availability

HUAWEI WATCH 2 CLASSIC will be available in Titanium Grey at a MSRP of $369.99. It is available now in more than 600 Best Buy stores and on BestBuy.com, as well as e-retailers Amazon (www.amazon.com), Newegg (www.newegg.com), B&H (www.bhphotovideo.com), Jet (www.jet.com) and Kohl’s (www.kohls.com).




Go to Source

 | Posted by | Categories: Android |

HTC needs a new and exciting phone to compete with the Samsung Galaxy S8, and the just-launched flagship could be just what the Taiwanese manufacturer needs. After the disappointment of the U Ultra, the HTC U11 refines the metal-and-glass build seen earlier in the year, adding water resistance, improved audio, significant spec upgrades and gorgeous new color options.

In our video review, Andrew Martonik takes a look at the phone that’ll carry HTC’s hopes for the rest of 2017. The U11 is a Snapdragon 835-powered beast with a refreshed 12-megapixel “UltraPixel 3″ camera, and new squeeze-sensitive Edge Sense features. HTC’s new phone can be squeezed to launch Google Assistant, jump into the camera app, or configured to whatever function you choose. There’s a lot of new stuff to get to grips with here, before we even address the question of whether HTC’s latest handset can compete in an increasingly tough high-end marketplace.

Check out the video above to find out if the U11 is worth your time and money.




Go to Source

 | Posted by | Categories: Android |

What are the best GPS trackers for kids?

Updated May 2017: We’ve removed the KOREX Waterproof Babysitter Smartwatch from our list because it has been discontinued.

It can be difficult to keep track of your children, and it can also be hard to gauge when it’s appropriate to get them a cell phone or something a bit more mature in order to keep in contact with them.

GPS trackers are fantastic, potentially life-saving tools that help keep track of your little ones, so you won’t have to worry about where they are. Just have them wear their GPS tracker like a watch, and the rest is up to your watchful eyes.

Here are a few great options to check out if you’re looking for the best GPS trackers for your kids!

Tinitell

Stylish looking with a simple, modern design, the Tinitell GPS tracker is an innovative new smartband that worked effortlessly with an app from your smartphone.

Tinitell isn’t only an interesting-looking, modern device, it’s also an incredibly durable and resilient GPS tracker. Tinitell is designed to take some abuse, including splashing water and dirt (although the device itself isn’t 100% waterproof by any means).

With your smartphone, you can connect and monitor your child with a precise GPS tracker, and you can even call your child using the Tinitell app. The smartband can have up to 12 contacts listed, so they never have to worry about being stranded without anyone to reach out to if they’re in trouble. To make a call, all they have to do is press the front of the band, say the name of the person they’d like to contact, and that’s it!

The Tinitell comes in four different, vibrant colors, including aqua, coral, charcoal, and indigo. You can use a Ting SIM card with your Tinitell for around $12 a month.

See at Tinitell

GBD-GPS Tracker Kids Smartwatch

With all-day tracking, three-way positioning, and even an additional fitness tracker element, the GBD-GPS Tracker Kids Smartwatch aims to make monitoring your children as effortless (and as accurate!) as possible.

Using a micro-SIM card, the GBD-GPS tracker is not only able to make two-way calls, but also immediate SOS emergency calls if your child comes in contact with unexpected danger. While some GPS tracking devices use one or two ways of triangulating your child’s location, the GBD-GPS uses GPS, AGPS, and LBS positioning to paint a more accurate picture of where your child may be.

The GBD tracker allows parents to erect an Electric Fence, giving your child boundaries that will set off an alarm on your smartphone if crossed. If need be, parents can also call their child on their smartwatch for easy two-way talking, and can even use the app to set remote alarms and reminders for their children.

The GBD-GPS comes in three neon colors, including blue, green, and bright pink, so there’s a color option to match almost every child’s favorites.

See at Amazon

LG GizmoGadget

If you’re a Verizon Wireless customer and are looking for a tracker that will allow your child to use text and voice to check in with you, then the LG GizmoGadget is an excellent option.

The GizmoGadget sports a 1.3-inch touch screen display, but in order for your child to make a call, they will have to press the physical button, and then use the touch screen to choose a contact. The GizmoGadget also allows you to pre-program up to 9 different texts messages that your child can send to 10 whitelisted numbers.

PC Mag rated the LG GizmoGadget 4.5 out of 5 stars.

“The LG GizmoGadget is an excellent smartwatch for primary schoolers who need to stay in touch with their caregivers via voice and text.”

The wearable also has a handful of other useful functions, including an activity tracker, a stopwatch, and a timer.

See at Verizon

dokiWatch

Though the dokiWatch is designed for children 6 to 12, its sleek and modern looking design, high-quality, reliability, and wide range of color options make it a stylish (and incredibly practical) GPS tracker for people of all ages.

The dokiWatch claims that it’s the world’s most advanced 3G smartwatch for kids, and there’s a lot to support that statement. The dokiWatch combines precise GPS, GSM, and Wi-Fi tracking technology with video call capabilities, voice calling, one-way text messages, fitness tracking, and so much more.

The smartwatch automatically uploads location data directly to your smartphone, meaning you’ll never have to guess where your child is. Video and voice calling is almost instantaneous, while parents can remotely schedule their child’s appointments and reminders from the dokiWatch’s compatible app.

With the dokiWatch, children can send out SOS alerts if they’re in immediate danger to their preset contacts, including their location and a recording of their surroundings. Parents can even enable Class Mode which will remove the distraction of the device while their child is in class by deactivating it at specific times.

See at Doki

What’s your favorite?

Is there a GPS tracker you’ve been using that you’re extremely happy with? Please let us know which model is your favorite in the comments and we’ll be sure to check it out!




Go to Source

 | Posted by | Categories: Android |

Bluetooth problems have been plaguing a few Galaxy S8 owners, but a fix is reportedly on the way.

The Galaxy S8, like any popular phone, has its share of problems. While its most visible issue, a red tint on some of its SuperAMOLED displays, has been dealt with in a widely-released software update, another chorus of people are making noise about a less publicized issue: Bluetooth instability.

According to a number of forum posts, both on Samsung’s official forums and here at Android Central, some Galaxy S8 owners are having a difficult time maintaining a smooth connection to their Bluetooth speakers, head units and headphones.

In fact, one forum member is switching back to his iPhone because of the problem:

dejanh
05-28-2017 10:33 AM

I have enjoyed many things abouty S8+ so far, but one issue has been plaguing me and many others since day one – Bluetooth connectivity. I am often facing disconnects with my Gear S3, something that was never an issue on multiple S7 Edge devices or my Note devices. Also, the S8+ almost never automatically reconnects to my vehicle Bluetooth for music steaming, further contributing to an…

Reply

People in the official Samsung forums are having similar problems, and are working with someone on the moderating team to get an ETA on a fix, but no one from Samsung has been forthcoming (we reached out to Samsung but haven’t heard back. Will update when we do).

Plenty of Bluetooth issues here as well with the S8 Plus. My Gear S3 Classic randomly loses connection. Definitely a phone problem as the same Gear S3 has no issues with my S7 Edge or even my iPhone. Also, Bluetooth connection in the car for media playback is unstable. It either refuses to connect, or sometimes drop out. AgaIn, no such issues with the S7 Edge or iPhone. Hardware is not faulty. Clearly a software/firmware problem. Samsung needs to step up and address this issue urgently. I got fed up and switched back to my iPhone 7 Plus until Samsung releases an update that fixes this myriad of Bluetooth issues.

The good news is that Samsung reportedly has a fix in the works. An update that purports to fix “Bluetooth connectivity and stability” has begun rolling out to Galaxy S8 customers in the United Arab Emirates, and it should hit other, larger markets in the coming weeks.

Are you experiencing Bluetooth issues with your Galaxy S8?

Join the discussion in our forums!




Go to Source

 | Posted by | Categories: Android |