Today’s Deal – Essential Phone Down to $599 on Amazon

Essential Phone - Black

Today’s Deal is on the Essential Phone, the PH-1.  As readers will know, this is the first phone from Andy Rubin’s company and after a few software updates that have come out for it, the PH-1 has proven to be a solid performer.  Right now you can pick on up for $599 on Amazon, a savings of $100.  That price is for either the Black Moon or Pure White colors.

The Essential Phone has a titanium body with a ceramic back, a 5.7″ 2560 x 1320 Quad-HD display, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage built-in.  It is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor.  This octa-core processor has four cores running at 2.45GHz and the remaining four clocked at 1.9GHz.

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An updated version of the site app for Android is now rolling out to the Google Play Store.  The update, version 10.05 for those keeping score at home, brings mostly behind-the-scene changes to improve the overall feel and function of the app.

One new feature in this build is the ability to pull down on your device’s screen to refresh the news feed.  This was something that has been needed for a while and now you don’t have to exit the app or wait for the app to refresh itself using background services.  In order to work with Oreo better, this feature needed to be added.

The overall look of the app has been tweaked with a new color scheme and font changes that should make it more readable on smaller devices.

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Google Pixel SMS Issue To Be Resolved in November

Google Pixel XL

Google as a general rule has done a good job of getting fixes out to their devices in a timely manner.  This time however, they failed.

A small subset of Google Pixel owners have been experiencing not receiving SMS messages after upgrading to Android Oreo on their Pixel or Pixel XL.  The problem seems somewhat isolated to Verizon customers but users on other carriers have been impacted too.  The bug first popped up a couple of weeks ago and there is a long thread about the issue in the Google Product Forums.  It appears that it took a while for Google to pinpoint exactly what the issue was but now are stating they have gotten to the bottom of it.

We want to let you all know that we have been able to identify and implement a fix for this issue. Thank you to those that sent over bug reports and for including detailed information here on this thread.

There was an issue introduced in the release of Android Oreo that affects text message (SMS) delivery for a subset of Pixel (not Pixel 2) users.This issue was only seen on a small number of carriers. Unfortunately this has resulted in devices getting into a state where they do not receive messages.

The problem is that users who are impacted by this issue will have to wait until the November Android Security Update to get the fix.  That’s right, you get to live with it for at least another 2 weeks.

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Google Assistant Now Supports HBO NOW Account Linking

HBO Now Support in Google Assistant

Google has quietly made a background update to Google Assistant that allows you to link your HBO NOW account to it.  That means that you can stream content from the service to your Chromecast devices simply by asking Assistant to do so via your phone or Google Home.

HBO NOW is the stand alone streaming service from the premium movie service.  It is $14.99 per month and is for cable cutters who do not have a cable or satellite subscription.  For those that do have HBO as part of their cable package, the app to stream content on your Android device is HBO GO but that cannot be connected to Google Assistant.

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Samsung Galaxy S8 Lineup Seeing October Android Security Update

Samsung Galaxy S8

Good news this morning for those of you who have the Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8 Plus.  The company has begun rolling out an update that brings the October Android Security Update to the devices.  Software version G955FXXU1AQI9 is rolling out to unlocked variants of the phone and along with the security fixes, there are some other improvements to be found.  The update is 479MB in size so it is advised that you be connected to WiFi when you download it to install.

The biggest thing with the October update is a fix for Bluetooth issues that impacted all Android devices.  There are, of course, a wide range of other fixes and security updates too.

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Google Drops In-App Commission to 15% Starting Next Year

Google Play Store

In a move that is similar to the cut Apple made for iOS developers, Google has announced that they will be dropping the percentage they keep on in-app purchases.  Starting January 1, 2018, in-app purchases will have a 15% commission rate to the Mountain View company, a drop of 50% from the previous 30% rate.

For developers, this means that they will be able to keep more money when you make an in-app purchase in their app.  Ultimately it is good for developers who will be able to stay funded to further development.  For Google, that means having top-shelf apps in the Play Store.

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Android Pay Supported by 34 More Banks in The US

Android Pay

Android Pay support has been increased yet again, the second time this month, with the addition of 34 financial institutions today.  That brings the total number of banks, credit unions and other financial houses up to nearly 1,100 supported here in the United States.

As has been the case for most of 2017, the new financial institutions tend to be more on the regional or local bank side but there is a big name in this round, Charles Schwab Bank.  This was one of the last big-bank holdouts in supporting the tap-to-pay service.

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