The v34 update has a new folder animation, better adaptive icon support, and more.

A little less than a month ago, Action Launcher v33 was released with a highlight feature called “AdaptiveZoom.” AdaptiveZoom is a new app-opening animation that gradually fills your phone’s screen with the background color of each app icon, and with v34, there’s a new zoom animation that perfectly compliments it.

The new zoom animation features the same gradual zoom of AdaptiveZoom to reveal all of the apps present in a given folder, and when used alongside AdpativeZoom for opening individual apps, the end result looks darn good.

In other AdaptiveZoom news, the v34 update also introduces a new API to give developers more control over how their apps work with this. AdaptiveZoom can look a little messy if an app already features a branded launch screen, and with the API, developers will be able to ensure a much smoother and cleaner animation for folks using AdaptiveZoom.

Action Launcher v34′s new folder animation.

Sticking with the whole adaptive theme, Action Launcher v34 introduces a couple new tools for its AdaptivePack companion app. First off, a new “AdaptivePack Fallback” can be used on phones running Android Oreo. This will tell Action Launcher to prioritize an application’s native icon if it’s adaptive, but if it’s not, a themed version will be used. Additionally, if an icon doesn’t have a first-party adaptive icon and isn’t supported by AdaptivePack, a “faux adaptive icon” will be used to ensure you’ve got adaptive icons no matter which apps you have.

Rounding all of this out, you’ll also see Oreo’s drag animation when moving apps around on your home screen, Action’s Launcher’s calendar icons are now adaptive, app boot time has been reduced, and the launcher as a whole is more stable to use.

Action Launcher: Everything you need to know!




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Last year was a rough one for YouTube, and it plans on fixing a lot in 2018.

Whether you’re a creator or just an occasional viewer, you probably heard a thing or two about YouTube having a rough 2017. Between multiple Ad-apocalypses, the whole Logan Paul debacle, and stricter partnership requirements for smaller channels, there was no shortage of events and controversial decisions that made last year one of YouTube’s roughest.

CEO Susan Wojcicki recently took to the YouTube Creator Blog to share her top five priorities for the site for 2018, and while it remains to be seen how these words will be turned into actions, it sounds like YouTube is on the right path.

Starting first with the elephant in the room, it’s said that YouTube is working on new policies to better handle bad behavior from the site’s biggest names.

Wojcicki says:

We’re also currently developing policies that would lead to consequences if a creator does something egregious that causes significant harm to our community as a whole. While these instances are rare, they can damage the reputation and revenue of your fellow creators, so we want to make sure we have policies in place that allow us to respond appropriately.

On a similar note, Wojcicki also reiterates the fact that YouTube will be increasing its number of human employees to 10,000 for manually reviewing content, in addition to further improving its machine learning system that’s had a tendency to demonize videos and entire channels that weren’t actually deserving of it.

More humans for (hopefully) less unnecessary demonitizations.

Improvements here are important and need to happen, but in an effort to help creators continue to make money even without advertisements, YouTube Red will expand to additional markets alongside “a revamped YouTube Music experience.”

Communication has also been a weak point for YouTube, but changes are coming here, too. YouTube will supposedly start making better use of its @YTCreators and @TeamYouTube Twitter accounts to be more engaged and active with community questions/concerns, and emails will be sent out for any major news or updates.

Lastly, YouTube will also use 2018 as a year to invest more in its educational content. More specifically –

That includes working with our educational creators to bring more of their content to the platform as well as expert organizations like Goodwill to provide and feature even more high-quality job skills videos on YouTube.

No matter if you’re a creator or viewer, what are your thoughts on this update? Do you think these changes are enough, or is there more you think that needs to be addressed? Sound off in the comments below.

Some YouTube ads forced users’ computers to mine cryptocurrency




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If you’re looking for a simple case that truly doesn’t take away from the phone’s design, this is it.

Admission: I’m not a case guy. That partially comes with having used too many phones over the years. But it also has to do with the fact that phones are so damn big these days, and most cases just make them bigger.

Most cases. That’s not Peel, though.

No. This is the sort of case you put on a phone if you want to protect the finish but not worry so much about breakage. It’s a plastic case, just 0.35mm thick. While it’ll vary a little by phone (they have cases for the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S8, along with the Pixel 2 and original Pixel line), I’ve found that extra little bit of thickness actually can make the phone feel a little bit better in the hand. Sort of like how some phones feel too thin naked by fit just right with clothes. (Stick with me here.) That was true of my original Pixel, and it’s true of my Pixel 2 XL.

The matte finish also means things aren’t quite as slippery as they might otherwise be. And the case is semi-transparent, so you can still see the G of the Google Logo poking through. (Pro tip: Don’t bother trying to go all “panda” here. It just doesn’t work. If you’ve got a black Pixel, get a black case. White on white.)

The cutouts are all in the right places, of course. And even just this little bit of extra thickness means the phone doesn’t rock anymore (the Pixel 2 XL doesn’t do this nearly as bad as, say, the iPhone X, but it’s still a thing) when it’s laying flat on a table.

And it doesn’t really change the overall look and feel of the phone. The Pixel 2 XL is still the Pixel 2 XL, just as the designers intended. It doesn’t take away from what few curves this phone has.

That’s the good stuff. The bad? You’re definitely going to get dust and crumbs and stuff up under the edges. While the case isn’t going anywhere, it’s also not exactly hermetically sealed. You’ll want to remove the phone every now and then and hose things off.

That’s a small price to pay, though. Really, it’s just simple. Simple design, simple protection.

See at Peel




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Google made a heap of cash in 2017.

Google is huge, and as you’d expect, pulls in money from a lot of different sources. The company just shared its latest financial report that showcases numbers for its performance in Q4 and all of 2017, and there’s a mixture of growth and loss.

Looking at Google’s total revenue in 2017, the company generated $110.9 billion – an increase of 23% compared to its total earnings in 2016. As for Q4 alone, revenues of $32.3 billion allowed for a year-over-year increase of 24% compared to Q4 2016. Also, of that $32.3 billion in quarterly revenue, a whopping $27.27 billion came from ad revenue. But due to a one-time $9.9 billion (yes, billion) tax charge on foreign earnings resulting from the recent tax bill in the U.S., the company actually lost just over $3 billion in the quarter.

Google hardware sales and Play Store revenue are way up year-over-year.

Google’s hardware sales – such as the Pixel 2 and 2 XL, Home Mini, etc. – are grouped under a category called “Other Revenues.” Along with hardware, this also includes sales from the Play Store and Google’s enterprise ventures. Google reported revenue of $4.69 billion, which was up 38% compared to a year earlier. Google didn’t share the number of phones it sold, but Google in its earnings call, CEO Sundar Pichai said device shipments more than doubled year-over-year. It also sold “tens of millions” of Chromecasts, Chromebooks, and Google Home speakers.

On the hardware front, 2018 should be an interesting year for Google. With the company’s purchase of HTC’s top hardware talent now completed, expectations are high for the Pixel 3 and whatever other gadgets we end up getting.

Elsewhere in the earnings announcement, Alphabet announced that John L. Hennessy will be the new Chair of the Board at Alphabet, replacing Eric Schmidt, who announced his change of role at the end of December 2017. The Board also announced that Alphabet will be buying back over $8.5 billion in Class C stock, effectively increasing the value of remaining shares for those who hold them.




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Netflix hasn’t altered its pricing structure for the Indian market, and it’s losing ground as a result.

Just over two years ago, Netflix announced that it would be vastly expanding its service globally, becoming available in 130 new markets. India was one of those markets, and with the service available in the country for well over 24 months, it’s time to see what has worked (and what hasn’t).

At the time, Netflix was the first major paid video streaming service to make its debut in India. There were local streaming platforms, but none had Netflix’s scale nor content library. Netflix’s basic tier — which allowed for 480p streaming on one device — cost ₹500 ($7.80) a month, with the two-screen HD plan costing ₹650 ($10) and the 4K package coming in at ₹800 ($12.50) a month.

Two years on, the pricing has remained the same, but what has changed is the arrival of Amazon Prime Video and local streaming service Hotstar. Both platforms have managed to make significant inroads in the country through a combination of aggressive pricing and strong content libraries.

Hotstar, for instance, has the digital rights to HBO shows in the country, and streams Game of Thrones episodes the same day they air in the U.S. That’s obviously a huge pull, as is the fact that Hotstar has exclusive rights to stream cricket and football games in the country.

Then there’s the issue of pricing: the base tier of Hotstar is free (albeit with ads), and there’s a single premium tier that costs ₹199 a month ($3). For that price, you get access to over 40 HBO shows, which in itself is a pretty great deal. The service serves over 200 U.S.-based shows in total, not to mention a dizzying array of regional programming.

Netflix costs three times as much as Hotstar and eight times as much as Prime Video.

As for Amazon, the retailer has invested over $2 billion in India over the last two years as it seeks to overthrow homegrown Flipkart. One way to attract customers is with deep discounts, and no one does it better than the Seattle-based company. Amazon continually holds sales events where it significantly marks down hundreds of thousands of products, and its Prime membership in India is the best bargain you’ll find on an e-commerce site.

While a yearly subscription to Prime is $99 in the U.S., it costs just ₹999 ($15.60) in India. That’s the new price, after Amazon doubled it at the end of last year. For the first two years, Prime cost just ₹499 ($7.50) in the country, an unbelievable offer considering what the retailer gave away with the subscription.

A Prime subscription in India doesn’t have all the benefits as its U.S. equivalent — Prime Reading isn’t available here — but you do get free one-day delivery on hundreds of thousands of items, access to deals ahead of everyone else, and unlimited streaming with Prime Video. To put things into context, a yearly Prime subscription costs about the same as two months’ worth of Netflix, and you get much more value for your money.

In a country where piracy is seen as a right, competitive pricing is the only way to get customers to switch over to legitimate streaming services. That sentiment is shared not only by Amazon and Hotstar, but also by Google and Apple. Play Music All Access launched in India last year, and the music subscription service costs just ₹99 ($1.50) per month. Similarly, Apple Music costs ₹120 ($1.90) a month in the country.

Although it costs significantly more than other streaming services, pricing isn’t my main problem with Netflix in India. In the U.S., Netflix offers a wide selection of TV shows that includes Friends, The West Wing, The X-Files, Lost, Twin Peaks, and several others. Netflix India doesn’t have any of those, and its movie catalog is also similarly diminished.

Netflix’s main problem in India is its vastly diminished content library.

Even big-ticket shows like How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory — which draw huge audiences on cable — are unavailable for streaming on the platform. With Hotstar offering cricket and football matches along with a wider selection of regional content as well as more U.S.-based TV shows for a third of the cost, Netflix is facing a gargantuan challenge in India.

For what it’s worth, Netflix’s original programming is available in its entirety in the country. Shows like Stranger Things, BoJack Horseman, and House of Cards are clear favorites, but it’s a tough sell to convince Indian users to pony up solely based on the strengths of the service’s original content.

Netflix’s barrier to entry is too high for most Indians, and it’s unlikely it will ever gain mainstream acceptance. To drive home the point even further, we’ll need to look at cellular data availability. The arrival of Jio has revolutionized the way Indians consume data, with the carrier essentially giving away unlimited data for the first year of its existence. As such, India has some of the most affordable 4G plans in the world.

Airtel is the largest carrier with over 300 million subscribers, and its unlimited 4G plan — with unlimited calls, texts, and 1.4GB of 4G data per day — costs ₹509 ($8) for three months. That’s about the same as a monthly subscription to Netflix.

It’s obviously early days for streaming services in India, and with initiatives like Android Go set to bring down the cost of smartphone ownership, there’s huge potential in this segment in the coming years. For Netflix to even have a chance against Prime Video and Hostar, it needs to rethink its India strategy, and do it fast.




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