Sales and Production of the Galaxy Note7 Halted Permanently

The long, painful and expensive saga of the Galaxy Note7 is over.  Samsung today has halted all sales and production of the beleaguered device, citing safe concerns over batteries catching fire.  The Korean manufacture has requested all consumers power down the devices and return them to the retailer or carrier from which it was purchased for a refund or exchange for another device.  The news comes just a day after all the major carriers here in the United States along with retailer Best Buy announcing they were no longer selling the phablet.

Download The Goggle Pixel Stock Wallpaper

As is often the case with new phones, the question is always “how can I get that wallpaper?”.  The Google Pixel and Pixel XL are no exception to this question and now you can get it.  Thanks to some engineering folks who have extracted it from the phone’s ROM, you can now download it and put it on your current device.

The wallpaper measures 2154 x 2560 so you can use it on your current Android phone or tablet and likely on most laptops without much pixelization.  I have added to below the break for those interested and you can download it along with hundreds of other wallpapers on the Wallpaper page here on the site.

Major US Carriers Stop Galaxy Note7 Sales Indefinitely

Amid reports of replacement units catching fire, AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon have all stopped selling the Samsung Galaxy Note7.  The carriers are all offering their customers either refunds or the option to select another phone from their lineup.  The news comes at the same time as reports have surfaced that Samsung themselves are “adjusting” the production of the Note7 with some suggested it has been stopped outright.

While it may not be clear what Samsung will do with the Note7, what is clear is that the device and to a lesser extent Samsung themselves are tainted and have lost an amount of trust with consumers.

Google Publishes Supported Apps for Google Home

Earlier this week when Google Home was announced, we got a small sample of the apps and services that it will support in the event. It was pretty clear from the demos that Google Calendar, YouTube and Google Play Music would be supported, as well as some smart home solutions, but it wasn’t fully outlined.  Now that has been solved thanks to a posting in the Google Support pages.  The page outlines everything that is going to be supported by the Google Assistant-driven smart speaker when it starts shipping next month but you can bet this list is going to be changing as time goes on.

As for music, here is what is supported:

  • Google Play Music
  • YouTube Music
  • Spotify
  • Pandora
  • TuneIn App Updated With Improved Menus

For those who have the app installed, there is an update coming your way.  I pushed version 6.0.4 to the Play Store earlier today which has several improvements and fixes in it.  Most notably from a visual perspective, the menu is a lot cleaner and a bit easier to navigate than in the previous build.  I’ve also updated the API level of the app which means it will no longer work on devices running anything lower than Android KitKat at this point.  Based on statistics I don’t think this will impact anyone with the app installed, but be aware if you are on an older device.

Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe Now Available for Pre-Order Unlocked

Asus has opened up pre-orders on the new ZenFone 3 Deluxe on their website.  The 5.5″ phone with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage is $399 and it is unlocked.  That means it will work with any GSM carrier here in the United States.  According to the website, the phone will start shipping on October 12, 2017.  The ZenFone 3 Deluxe is just one of a series of phone that Asus announced late this summer and is certainly one of the more affordable with a lot of bang for your buck.  It is powered by the Snapdragon 625 octa-core processor running at 2 GHz, it has 4GB of RAM and 64GB of Storage which can be expanded up to an additional 2TB thanks to the Micro SD slot.  The ZF3 is also a dual-SIM phone and it has a 5.5″ display that renders Full HD and is protected by Gorilla Glass 4.

Prisma Update Brings Offline Support

Prisma has become one of the most popular Android and iOS apps out there.  The AI-driven photo manipulating app allows you to quickly and effortlessly turn a photo into a work of art and can produce some amazing results.  The only real drawback to the app, however, has been that in order for you to use it, you had to be online.  With the latest update to the app, which is rolling out to the Google Play Store now, that changes.  You can now use the app offline to do your art creation and even better, you only really need to be online when you are downloading Prisma styles.

AT&T Starts Pre-Orders of the LG V20

AT&T has begun pre-orders of the LG flagship Android phone, the LG V20.  The 5.7″ phone that is powered by the Snapdragon 820 and 4GB of RAM will start out at an eye watering $829 putting it higher than the Google Pixel XL and nearly as much as the iPhone 7 Plus.  If you do place a pre-order, it will be shipping out to you at the end of this month and you aren’t actually charged until the phone ships so you do have some time to think about it.

Fortunately AT&T is offering a few promotions to help ease the cost pain.  First, you can pay out the phone interest free for 30 months.  That will cost you $27.67 per month.  If you opt for the 24 month plan, which will allow you to trade the phone in come October 2017, that plan is $34.59 per month.

Sprint Letting Galaxy Note7 Customers Exchange for Any Device

[Update 2] – T-Mobile and Verizon are now allowing customers to return their replacement Galaxy Note7’s.  That makes all four major carriers in the US.

[Update] – AT&T now allowing customers to return their replacement Galaxy Note7’s too

Sprint has taken a big forward step in the sage with the Galaxy Note7 from Samsung.  While they and other carriers have been offering replacement devices or returns, Sprint has now gone a step further and told their Note7 customers they can replace it with any device.  This change comes after what appears to have been an updated replacement Note7 catching fire on a Southwest Airlines flight this week.  While the FAA and Consumer Product Safety Commission investigate, Recode has talked to Sprint and they are replacing devices out of customer desires for safety.

“If a Sprint customer with a replacement Note 7 has any concerns regarding their device, we will exchange it for any other device at any Sprint retail store during the investigation window,” the Sprint representative said.

This comes after T-Mobile started selling the updated Note7 in their stores and online this week (Wednesday ironically).

Runtastic Now Provides Music from Google Play Music

Runtastic and Google Play Music have teamed up to provide you curated playlists to listen to within the app.  Now when you are within the Runstatic app and chose the music tab, you can chose different playlists to help keep you motivated during that exercise routine.

Keep pace with Today’s Running Hits featuring songs that are all over 130 beats per minute, embark on a Sweaty EDM Workout, or kick it up a notch with someHigh-Energy Hard Rock; the choice is yours. This new app feature is available in more than 60 countries around the world where Google Play Music is available.

This new feature means that you won’t have to leave Runtastic to start playing your music which saves time but also prevents accidental stops or pauses of your exercise tracking.

iClever Portable Bluetooth Speaker – Great Performance and Design

Portable Bluetooth speakers are widely available in a wide range of prices.  With some you are buying the brand while others you are buying the audio performance but the two are not mutually exclusive.  iClever has been around for a few years now and have been making accessories for Android and iOS devices ranging from charging options to said Bluetooth speakers.  Their latest speaker option, the BTS04, is arguably one of the better values out there for this type of accessory.  The problem with many of these types of devices is that you end up with poor bass quality or poor treble quality.  Neither is the case in this affordably priced speaker and to top that, it looks nice and is even splash resistant.  That means you should have no worries about taking it out by the pool on a summer day.

Recently the team over at iClever sent me the BTS04 to review and I have to say I’m not disappointed.  While I do find the button combination of short presses and long presses a little confusing, overall I can’t fault the performance, size and sound quality from the speaker.  Here is my review.

Initial Impressions – The Sony Xperia X Compact

If you equate the power and performance of an Android phone based on the screen size and device size, you need to stop.  Now.  The reason is that the recently announced Sony Xperia X Compact destroys your paradigm.  This 4.6″ device is a powerhouse with a phenomenal display and dare I say unbelievable camera.  Seriously, it rivals a digital SLR in image quality and color correctness.  I’ve been using the X Compact the last few days as my main phone and while getting use to the smaller size compared to my Nexus 6P was a bit tricky at first, the performance and design of this phone is exceptional.  I’ll be doing a full review of the phone over the course of the next few weeks but here are my initial thoughts on the Xperia X Compact.