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Everything you need to know about the OnePlus 8, 8 Lite, and 8 Pro!

A trio of flagship killers is on the way.

In just a handful of years, OnePlus has established itself as one of the most exciting players in the U.S. smartphone market. 2019’s OnePlus 7 Pro and 7T stand out as two of our favorite phones of the entire year, and for 2020, it looks like OnePlus is getting ready to wow us yet again.

There’s a lot of talk and buzz regarding the upcoming OnePlus 8, and based on what we know so far, it’s shaping up to be one heck of a phone. From a 120Hz display to wireless charging, there’s a lot in the pipeline.

Whether you’re interested in specs, design, or how much the OnePlus 8 will end up costing you, here’s everything you need to know!

Killer flagship

OnePlus 7T

$599 at OnePlus

Still one of the best deals around

Even with the new OnePlus 8 lineup looming on the horizon, the OnePlus 7T continues to be one heck of an Android phone. Between its 90Hz AMOLED display, Snapdragon 855+ processor, and triple camera setup, the 7T delivers an insane amount of value at a price you just can’t argue with.

There will be three models — regular, Lite, and Pro

Typically, OnePlus releases one phone at a time — one in the first half of the year and another in the second half. Last year, the company shook things up by releasing the OnePlus 7 and 7 Pro at the same time. This year, we’re expecting a OnePlus 8, OnePlus 8 Lite, and OnePlus 8 Pro.

As the names suggest, there’s a pretty clear order of how these phones will coexist with each other.

The OnePlus 8 is expected to be the middle child, offering the flagship OnePlus experience while cutting a feature or two from the highest-end OnePlus 8 Pro to keep costs low. Then, with the OnePlus 8 Lite, we’ll get a slightly lower-end smartphone in favor of the smallest possible price.

This is a strategy we’ve seen from the likes of Samsung and Apple with great success, so it makes sense for OnePlus to also follow suit. That said, if OnePlus is committing to this three-phone release, it’ll be interesting to see if we still get three more OnePlus 8T devices in the second half of 2020.

Here’s what the phones look like

Now that we’ve talked about OnePlus’s release strategy for the OnePlus 8, let’s take a look at the designs we’re expecting for all three phones — starting first with the OnePlus 8 Lite.

On the front of the 8 Lite, we’re met with a flat display (similar to the 7T) that has a centered hole-punch cutout at the top for the single front-facing camera. Flipping the phone over, the left-mounted camera bump houses two lenses and an LED flash. There’s also a time-of-flight sensor next to it.

The display of the OnePlus 8 Lite is said to be between 6.4 and 6.5-inches, there’s a USB-C port on the bottom, and OnePlus’s iconic alert slider remains. Unsurprisingly, there’s no 3.5mm headphone jack.

Moving over to the OnePlus 8, we step up to a display with curved edges and a triple-camera setup on the back (though it appears to lack the 8 Lite’s ToF sensor). The hole-punch cutout has also moved to the top-left of the display, and the camera housing is centered.

Lastly, the OnePlus 8 Pro looks virtually identical to the OnePlus 8. It has the same curved display, left-mounted hole-punch cutout, and triple-camera system. However, the 8 Pro does benefit from an additional time-of-flight sensor.

The renders for the 8 Pro make it look like the phone has a thicker top bezel than the regular OnePlus 8, but we aren’t sure if this is legit or just the way the render was created.

Speaking of the 8 Pro, January 20 is when a hands-on image of the phone leaked, revealing a design that lines up exactly with the render above.

Along with confirming the OnePlus 8 Pro’s design, the picture also reveals the various screen refresh rate settings that’ll be available on the phone. In addition to the 120Hz option we’ll talk more about below, the 8 Pro will also let you switch to 90Hz and 60Hz if you want to conserve battery life.

Flagship specs are expected

If there’s one thing that’s consistent with OnePlus phones, it’s that they’re equipped with top-of-the-line specs. This is something OnePlus has done year after year, and it’s something we’re expecting once again for the OnePlus 8 lineup.

Spec details are still pretty light, with this being about all we’ve been able to piece together so far.

Category OnePlus 8 Lite OnePlus 8 OnePlus 8 Pro
Operating System Android 10
OxygenOS
Android 10
OxygenOS
Android 10
OxygenOS
Display 6.4 or 6.5-inch
90Hz or 120Hz
6.5-inch
120Hz
6.5-inch
120Hz
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
Dimensions 159.2 x 74 x 8.6mm 160.2 x 72.9 x 8.1mm 165.3 x 74.4 x 8.8mm

The jump to a 120Hz refresh rate is quite exciting, and something that OnePlus CEO Pete Lau has confirmed for the OnePlus 8. We assume this means it’s also coming to the 8 Pro, but it remains unclear if the 8 Lite will pick up the faster refresh rate or stick with 90Hz.

On January 15, Lau took to Twitter to share a side-by-side comparison of a 60Hz display and the new OnePlus 120Hz Fluid Display — showing just how much smoother and more fluid the increased refresh rate is.

Another exciting tidbit is talk of the OnePlus 8 picking up wireless charging. This is a feature that’s been sorely missing from all prior OnePlus phones, so we’d be thrilled to see it finally make its way with the 8 lineup.

An announcement should be coming soon

For the past two years, OnePlus has announced its first phone releases in May. The OnePlus 7 and 7 Pro were unveiled on May 14, with the OnePlus 6 getting its big announcement on May 16.

Based on that and the detail in which the OnePlus 8 lineup has leaked so far, we’d anticipate another May announcement this year.

OnePlus also tends to open sales for its phones just a few days after taking the wraps off of them, so we should get both in just a few short months.

More price points than ever before

Next, let’s talk about price. One of the main draws to OnePlus phones has traditionally been the insanely low prices, but year after year, OnePlus had had a tendency to increase the cost of its phones.

  • OnePlus 5 starting price — $479
  • OnePlus 6 starting price — $529
  • OnePlus 7 Pro starting price — $669

See what we mean?

We expect the OnePlus 8 Pro to cost around $700, with the 8 and 8 Lite being more affordable. Having three price tiers for customers to choose from should lessen the sting of another price hike for the 8 Pro, but it remains to be seen if OnePlus will sell all three models in the U.S. or not.

The only thing we’ve heard along these lines so far is that the regular OnePlus 8 will be sold on Verizon with support for the carrier’s 5G network.

The OnePlus 7T is still a great buy

We’re undeniably excited to learn more about the entire OnePlus 8 lineup, but that doesn’t mean the OnePlus 7T is irrelevant. In fact, if you’re shopping for a new Android phone right now, the 7T continues to be one of the best ones you can get.

The 7T has a fantastic 90Hz AMOLED display, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855+ processor, and a triple-rear camera system that works quite well. There’s also a healthy 8GB of RAM, 128GB of internal storage, and a reliable 3,800 mAh battery with OnePlus’s excellent 30W fast charging.

Sure, you could wait a bit longer to see how the OnePlus 8, 8 Lite, and 8 Pro turn out, but you can also pick up a 7T right now and rest assured it’ll be a reliable phone for years to come.

Killer flagship

OnePlus 7T

$599 at OnePlus

Still one of the best deals around

Even with the new OnePlus 8 lineup looming on the horizon, the OnePlus 7T continues to be one heck of an Android phone. Between its 90Hz AMOLED display, Snapdragon 855+ processor, and triple camera setup, the 7T delivers an insane amount of value at a price you just can’t argue with.

from Android Central – Android Forums, News, Reviews, Help and Android Wallpapers www.androidcentral.com/oneplus-8
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Essential episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars to watch before Season 7

Here are the most important episodes to watch to get caught up.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (available on Disney+) is one of the longest-running and criticially successful Star Wars series ever made, and much to the delight of fans, it’s returning for a seventh and final season in February. However, a lot of folks either haven’t seen the show or don’t remember what happens in it that well. If that’s you, don’t worry, for we have compiled a definitive list of every essential episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars that fans should watch before Season 7 arrives.

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$7/month at Disney

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From The Mandalorian and Star Wars: The Clone Wars to classic Disney/Pixar movies and hundreds of Disney Channel shows, there’s something on Disney+ for everyone.

S3E1: Clone Cadets

We’re kicking things off with the first episode of Season 3, which is a prequel episode that occurs before the rest of the show chronologically. It follows “Domino Squad,” a group of clone cadets in training, and the episode is a great introduction to the clone troopers in general. The troopers the story focuses on are important later in the show, so keep them in mind.

S1E5: Rookies

This installment picks up where the first episode left off, further developing Domino Squad and introducing one of the new battle droids that will appear throughout the show.

S1E9: Cloak of Darkness

This episode serves as an excellent introduction to Asajj Ventress, an agent of Count Dooku that will grow into a nuanced character down the line. It’s also a great introduction to Ahsoka Tano (Anakin’s Padawan learner) if you chose to not watch the original Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie (we don’t blame you, it isn’t good).

S1E10: Lair of Grievous

This is an intriguing episode that fleshes out General Grievous, one of the show’s recurring villains.

S1E11-12: Dooku Captured and The Gungan General

This wacky arc features Count Dooku, Anakin, and Obi-Wan all being captured by a pirate named Hondo Ohnaka. As Jar-Jar Binks attempts to rescue the Jedi, chaos ensues. This arc is worth watching since it provides some genuinely funny moments, and also because Hondo returns later down the line.

S1E19-21: Storm over Ryloth, Innocents of Ryloth, and Liberty on Ryloth

This three-episode arc further develops the clone troopers while also tackling the themes of freedom and liberty. It’s a great story arc that highlights what the Republic is fighting for in the Clone Wars.

S2E1-3: Holocron Heist, Cargo of Doom, and Children of the Force

This arc is primarily centered around the bounty hunter Cad Bane. Aside from offering an eye-opening look at some of the schemes of Darth Sidious, this arc also helps the audience get to know Ahsoka better.

S2E5-6: Landing at Point Rain and Weapons Factory

This two-episode arc takes place on Geonosis, as the Republic is forced to invade it again after the Separatists took it back from them following the events of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Landing at Point Rain is one of the most action-packed episodes in the whole show, and Weapons Factory introduces Barriss Offee, a Jedi Padawan that develops a friendship with Ahsoka and becomes significantly more important later in the series.

S2E12-14: The Mandalore Plot, Voyage of Temptation, and Duchess of Mandalore

This story arc introduces Mandalore and the different Mandalorian political factions to fans. This arc is important since the showw will return to Mandalore later, and fans of The Mandalorian in particular should definitely check these episodes out.

S2E20-22: Death Trap, R2 Come Home, and Lethal Trackdown

This three-parter focuses on Boba Fett and how he worked with bounty hunters to try and get revenge on Mace Windu for killing his father. It’s a good story to watch to understand where Boba is during the Clone Wars after Attack of the Clones, and he’ll pop up later down the line, too.

S3E2: ARC Troopers

This episode returns us to the men of Domino Squad as they participate in defending against a Separatist invasion of Kamino, led by both Asajj Ventress and General Grievous.

S3E10-11: Heroes on Both Sides and Pursuit of Peace

This pair of episodes are Padme-focused and delves into the more political side of the Clone Wars. Sickened by the prolonged fighting between the Separatists and Republic, she attempts to find a way to broker peace between the two groups.

S3E12-14: Nightsisters, Monster, and Witches of the Mist

This arc primarily focuses on further developing Asajj Ventress’ character beyond just being one of Count Dooku’s pawns. It also introduces a special Dathomirian Nightbrother that will return soon.

S3E18-20: The Citadel, Counter Attack, and Citadel Rescue

This three-parter sees members of Domino Squad team up with Anakin, Obi-Wan, and more to pull off a high-stakes rescue at a Separatist prison. Tarkin, a famous character from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, also meets Anakin here for the first time.

S4E7-10: Darkness on Umbara, The General, Plan of Dissent, and Carnage of Krell

This four-part story encompasses the Republic’s invasion of Umbara. It’s one of the darkest tales in the series, but raises important points about the value of a soldier’s life. It also happens to have some of the best animation in the whole show, making this arc an absolute must-watch.

S4E14: A Friend In Need

This installment has Ahsoka encounter the Mandalorian Death Watch organization, further developing the Mandalore plot and introducing the audience to Bo-Katan Kyrze, an important Mandalorian that returns later in the show, as well as in Star Wars: Rebels.

S4E19-20: Massacre and Bounty

This pair of episodes returns Asajj Ventress to the spotlight, continuing the character development begun in her last arc and thus, seeing her search for a new identity.

S4E21-22: Brothers and Revenge

Darth Maul returns in these episodes, and together with his powerful brother, he tries to exact revenge on Obi-Wan. However, things don’t go as planned.

S5E2-5: A War on Two Fronts, Front Runners, The Soft War, and Tipping Points

Saw Gerrera, a notable character from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order gets an origin story here. He, alongside his sister Steela Gerrera and their comrades, rebel against the droid armies occupying their homeworld of Onderon.

S5E1 and 14-16: Revival, Eminence, Shades of Reason, and The Lawless

After retreating and gathering their strength, Darth Maul and his brother make their move to capitalize on the fractured state of Mandalore and attempt to take it for their own. This arc is extremely important to see, as the new season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars is confirmed to be following up on it.

S5E17-20: Sabotage, The Jedi Who Knew Too Much, To Catch a Jedi, and The Wrong Jedi

This emotional four-parter sees the Jedi Order make a grave mistake regarding judgement of Ahsoka, leading to some of the show’s saddest moments.

S6E1-4: The Unknown, The Conspiracy, Fugitive, and Orders

This intense story arc follows Domino Squad member Fives as he attempts to uncover the reason behind why his comrade, Tup, killed a Jedi in the middle of combat. This arc does a good job of explaining how Order 66 eventually came to be.

S6E11-13: Voices, Destiny, and Sacrifice

The final arc on our list features Yoda going on a personal adventure to investigate dark visions he sees in the Force, hoping to get answers to his many questions.

Your thoughts

What do you think of our list of essential Star Wars: The Clone Wars episodes? Are there any that you think we missed? Which episode is your favorite? Let us know.

The seventh season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars is slated to kick off on February 17 on Disney+.

A new galaxy of content

Disney+

$7/month at Disney

Watch all your Star Wars favorites and much more

From The Mandalorian and Star Wars: The Clone Wars to classic Disney/Pixar movies and hundreds of Disney Channel shows, there’s something on Disney+ for everyone.

from Android Central – Android Forums, News, Reviews, Help and Android Wallpapers www.androidcentral.com/these-are-absolute-essential-episodes-star-wars-clone-wars-watch-season-7-arrives
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Do you regret updating to Android 10?

Chatting with the AC forums.

Getting a new Android update is usually an exciting time. From new features, better battery life, and more, Google’s yearly OS updates are always worth looking forward to.

It’s been a few months since Android 10 started rolling out to users, now being widely available on phones from Google, Samsung, OnePlus, and others. It’s a fantastic update with plenty to like, but taking a look through the AC forums, not everyone is a fan of it.

waqqas31
01-23-2020 02:12 AM

I’ve been putting together a list since I got Android 10 on January 14th.

Rants:
1. Clunkier animations.
2. Freezes/pauses a lot.
3. Multiple touches required at times to register.
4. Apps visibly crash a lot more often Google Docs).
5. DND will turn on at the scheduled time, but will not turn off at the scheduled time if it is toggled manually sometime in between.
6. Good Lock…

Reply

bhatech
01-23-2020 02:44 AM

Never ever I wish to go back to an older version

Need the update day one asap and always have loved new updates (it’s like candy for kids). Till now not regretted updates on any of my phones for over a decade

Reply

me just saying
01-23-2020 05:44 AM

no differences for me. use smart launcher and don’t use gestures. guess I really did not need the update.

Reply

sweetypie31
01-23-2020 08:04 AM

I’m good on Android 10. My phone is working well . All I need is my good lock back and everything will be straight.

Reply

What about you? Do you regret updating to Android 10?

Join the conversation in the forums!

from Android Central – Android Forums, News, Reviews, Help and Android Wallpapers www.androidcentral.com/do-you-regret-updating-android-10
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Samsung’s cameras needed a major upgrade — the Galaxy S20 brings it

Samsung’s cameras have fallen behind, but there’s plenty to get excited about for 2020.

I just finished writing up a re-review of the Galaxy S10+ after one year, and one of the biggest things that struck me is that the camera is a true weak point of that phone. Everything else in the hardware, specs, display, features and even software feel modern and good — the camera is, frankly, a disappointment by the latest standards. In a world where the Pixel 4 exists, the bar is so high for phone cameras, and Samsung just wasn’t advanced enough when the S10 series came out to really hang with the pack as other 2019 phones launched.

Thankfully for Samsung, it once again has first-mover advantage in 2020 with the Galaxy S20 series launching in February. And indications are, based on the extensive leaks, that Samsung got the camera setup right this year after a couple years of coming up short of wowing us.

Samsung used basically the same camera setup for the past three generations of Galaxy S and Note phones, which is just far too long. The supporting cast of sensors and and features changed, but the main shooter was so similar — and in turn, the camera quality was basically the same. Samsung’s cameras definitely have a look, and an appealing one at that, but the fundamentals of the shots just don’t hold up to what we expect from top-end smartphone cameras today. And that’s painfully clear in particular when you look at the competition’s low-light cameras compared to what Samsung’s been rolling out the last few years.

Samsung’s going to stop messing around with silly gimmicks like dual apertures, and focus on what matters: a better sensor. Its old 12MP sensor is stepping aside for a yet-to-be-released Sony IMX 555 sensor with the same 12MP resolution, but crucially with a much larger 1.8-micron pixel size (versus 1.4). If Samsung can pair that with appropriately improved processing, its low-light photos stand to make a major improvement. The bigger pixels should help with Samsung’s biggest weakness, low-light shots, but is generally useful in all situations.

A new main sensor, and a new telephoto lens, will pair up to make much-needed improvements.

Just as importantly, Samsung is leaning way in on optical zoom this generation. The 2X lens it had been using was good when it first debuted, when optical zoom was a novel idea, but not super useful as it aged, providing minimal improvement over good digital zoom systems while also using an inferior lens that wasn’t good in low light. Now we’re getting a new 64MP sensor and 3X optical zoom; bumping up to 3X optical is a big improvement, and when paired with good digital zoom on the high-megapixel sensor puts it right back up into the top tier of what we expect from a telephoto camera.

That’s already an intriguing camera story for the Galaxy S20, but what makes this all extra interesting is that Samsung is apparently going with a completely different set of cameras for the Galaxy S20 “Ultra.” This bucks another trend where it typically kept the sensors and lenses the same across its flagship lineup (Galaxy S and Note included) in any given year.

If that wasn’t enough, the S20 Ultra should take things another step up with even better specs.

A crazy large 108MP main camera will likely pixel-bin down to 27 or 13.5MP photos with an effectively larger pixel size, as is the latest trend. With all of that extra data, once again if Samsung can process it properly, we could see a notable step up in quality. Next to that main sensor, the telephoto camera is apparently going all the way up to a 10X optical zoom, which is just crazy — if Samsung figured out how to properly stabilize that lens, and keep it optically clear, it’ll be a real standout.

The biggest theme of the S20 series is that Samsung clearly isn’t going to sit still for another generation of cameras, and it’s also not going to be conservative. Outside of offering ultra-wide and telephoto cameras, there’s nothing about this setup that’s familiar or building on what Samsung already offers. This is a re-think and a seemingly impressive improvement to the camera system across the board. And I can’t wait to try it out to see how it performs in the real world.

from Android Central – Android Forums, News, Reviews, Help and Android Wallpapers www.androidcentral.com/it-looks-samsung-got-camera-right-galaxy-s20
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How Google’s backup encryption works – the good, the bad, and the ugly

Backing up your data is easy and secure on Android. But there are some issues with the service that Google needs to sort out.

I love seeing headlines about encryption hit a news cycle. Anything that gets a person more aware of their options when it comes to making sure that they are the only person with access to their data is important. So important, in fact, that Google does it by default with your backed-up data.

Mostly. Google does offer a complete end-to-end encryption service and the company uses it for the data in its own Android apps and your phone settings since Android 9 Pie. It’s on by default, you don’t have to do anything except check the box that you want to use the service when you set up or restore a phone.

But no service is perfect, and Google’s backup does leave a lot to be desired.

What is end-to-end encryption?

End-to-end encryption means that only the person who created the data and the person who is supposed to receive the data (which can both be the same person) can supply the credentials to access encrypted data.

Sometimes, that means a password. Sometimes it means an app you have authorized to decrypt data received on your behalf. Sometimes it means a secure lock screen. But it always means that no person or server or company in the chain has access. Only the sender and the receiver.

Only the person at each end has the key, thus end-to-end.

In the case of Google’s backup service, it means that you have a secure lock screen and have used it to unlock your phone. While your phone is unlocked you can create and send data as well as receive encrypted data. Most every Android phone has some sort of secure element that allows actual hardware to encrypt and decrypt on the fly using a token generated by a combination of your Google account password and your lock screen security.

On Google hardware — that means both Pixel phones and servers that hold the data — it’s called the Titan Security Module. You feed it the information it needs to make sure that you are really you and your data is backed up and can be retrieved, but only through the Titan module. Google nor the Titan module itself know any password to decrypt your data, only you do.

More: Apple may have ditched encrypted backups, but Google hasn’t

How does it work with Android?

When you’re setting up a new phone running Android Pie or later, you come to a section during setup about data backups. It reads:

Easily restore your data or switch phones at any time. Your backup includes apps, app data, call history, contacts, device settings (including Wi-Fi passwords and permissions), and SMS.

Your backups are uploaded to Google and encrypted using your Google Account password. For some data, your device’s screen lock PIN, pattern, or password is also used for encryption.

App data can be any data that an app has saved (based on developer settings), including data such as contacts, messages, and photos.

Backup data will not count toward your Drive Storage quota.

You can turn this service off in Settings.

If you choose to enable this (and you should since even Google has no access to it), at least once per day all your preferences and associated application data is packaged up, encrypted with a backup key, and stored in a hidden area of your Google Drive account.

New data can overwrite older data, and in some cases, it’s not necessary to back everything up. Google Calendar is a good example; your preferences and settings are backed up but the actual calendar data is stored in the cloud and won’t be included in the backup package.

Backed up data is saved to a hidden spot in your Google Drive account.

For other things like your SMS messages, any new data from new messages is appended to the existing data, and your preferences and settings are still saved.

Basically, everything needed to make a brand new phone work just like your old phone is saved in your Drive space. But only if the developer included it in their app.

Where things need to get better

Google wants everyone to use Android. That means it can be pretty lax when it comes to enforcing “best practices.” We see it happen with companies making phones, companies who are data service providers, and with app developers. There is a right way, but Google doesn’t force anyone to always do the right thing.

That means that your backup probably won’t be as complete as you would like.

When you restore from a backup, all of your apps are automatically downloaded (because the Google Play app and the device settings are correctly backed up) and then any backed up data for those apps is put in the right place. But if an app never backed up its data in the first place it will be like it was when you first downloaded it.

Developers aren’t forced to employ Google’s Android Backup service.

We’ve all seen this with games. Some games use Google’s backup service and you can reinstall them and pick up right where you left off. Others don’t and you have to start fresh. Third-party messaging clients can be the same way. And these two cases are the ones we want backed-up the most.

While iCloud backups aren’t end-to-end encrypted, at least backing up preferences and data is mandatory. If you want your app in Apple’s App Store, you follow all the rules. Google could do the same, especially since it has made things super-easy to implement the backup service. Audit Google Play and force developers to make sure all their apps use it, and we benefit.

There also needs to be a way to opt-out of end-to-end encryption. Right now, if you turn the backup service off everything is gone. It will all go back in place if you turn it on again, but there is only one option — yes to end-to-end encrypted backups or no to them.

Some people need a safety net. Google should provide the option.

There needs to be an option where Google does hold a key to decrypt your backups if you choose to let it have one. Yes, that means the FBI and other three-letter agencies could get a court order for Google to hand over your data but it also means you can retrieve it if you forgot your Google account password.

I’d never use such a setting nor would I recommend it to anyone. But I’m not you and you may rather have the safety net of getting your data back in case of user error. That’s one place where we are all the same; we make lots of errors. Google should expand the service and present the option in a way that informs the user of the drawbacks and benefits, then let us opt-in if we choose.

Finally, you can’t use data from a newer version of Android to restore a phone running an older version. That means when the Pixel 5 comes out running Android 11 this Autumn, you can’t use it and then decide you like the Galaxy S20 better and restore your data to it until it gets updated early next year. there are certainly technical reasons for this, but Google has smart people who have figured out tougher problems.

It’s still great to see

Though it has a few issues that Google really needs to sort out, Android backup is a great thing to see. With no universal desktop client that can create a 1:1 backup image of your phone, Android depends on the cloud to do it all. Google is doing the right thing by having a free end-to-end encrypted backup service in place for developers to use and we benefit from it greatly.

Even with imperfections, Android backup is a great service to see.

No service will ever be perfect, and Google is often accused of releasing them long before they are ready. But in this case, Android backup is a complete package that has been independently audited and found to be pretty bulletproof. The only changes that need to happen are some of the policies about how it’s used.

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from Android Central – Android Forums, News, Reviews, Help and Android Wallpapers www.androidcentral.com/how-googles-backup-encryption-works-good-bad-and-ugly
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Project xCloud on the NVIDIA Shield is almost like playing a regular Xbox

The only Android TV box worth buying is already part games console, and xCloud takes that even further.

Microsoft’s xCloud Xbox Game Streaming being available on Android gives us a certain amount of flexibility to play around and see what we can make it do. Whether that’s testing every controller under the sun or, in this case, sideloading it onto the only Android TV box that’s ever really been worth buying, the NVIDIA Shield.

Unlike the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, which left me disappointed when trying this same thing, the NVIDIA Shield has a lot more going for it. It’s absurdly powerful for a device like this, so much so that there are native Android versions of games like Tomb Raider and Half-Life 2 built to play on it. It also supports NVIDIA’s GeForce Now streaming service and Steam Link, so already things are looking more promising.

And while the same applies to the Fire TV Stick 4K in so much as it’s not officially supported and requires sideloading, but it does work. And it works pretty damn well.

Sideloading and caveats

This article isn’t a tutorial on how to sideload xCloud onto an NVIDIA Shield. There are plenty of ways and means and lots of resources around the internet to do such a thing. The most important thing to remember is that sideloading apps from outside of the Google Play Store is done entirely at your own risk and could lead to trouble.

In my case, I extracted the APK from one of my Android phones (there are plenty of apps for that) and put it onto a USB flash drive which I then inserted into the Shield since I have the larger, older model. Still, a microSD would work as well, and that would also work on the newer cylinder-shaped Shield.

There’s also one other thing you have to deal with on the Shield when sideloading apps: You won’t be able to see it anywhere. This is just a thing Android TV does, and you have a couple of options. You could use a third-party launcher or you could use the NVIDIA Shield app for iOS or Android which allows you to launch apps from your phone. I took the latter option.

Almost like the real thing

Where the Fire TV Stick 4K is a massive letdown beyond being able to install the app (which is easier to do than on the Shield), the NVIDIA Shield absolutely monsters through gameplay. It’s so good that when paired with a decent network connection and an Xbox One controller, you’d be hard-pressed to tell it apart from an Xbox One S.

Pairing the Xbox One controller is precisely as easy as it is pairing to any Android phone over Bluetooth, and when you’re not gaming, you can use it to navigate the Shield interface, too. But where my experience on the Fire TV Stick 4K was extremely sluggish, the Shield plays the games from xCloud as if they were native.

If you’ve been impressed with xCloud on an Android phone, it’s just as good on the Shield, but with the benefit of being connected to your TV. Latency feels fine, the sound and video are in perfect sync, and it’s just an enjoyable experience.

Mostly, at least. Since the app hasn’t been optimized for use on Android TV, there’s one big niggle beyond not being able to see the app without a third-party launcher. The guide button on the controller doubles as a home button for Android TV, so getting out of a game and into another one is a little awkward and usually involves forcing the app to close and starting from scratch again. Again, not optimized, not supported, can’t really complain.

A future I can get behind

I’m still not 100% sold on cloud-based gaming, and Google’s somewhat botched Stadia launch certainly hasn’t helped. But I do feel like Microsoft is doing it the right way with Project xCloud. It’s clearly not ready for prime time yet, despite being pretty polished already. I wouldn’t recommend you rush out and buy a Shield just for this, though, given the price you’re probably better off with an Xbox still. But if you have a Shield, or you’re getting one, it’s a neat little project.

Playing around with it on something like the NVIDIA Shield also opens up my eyes to what could lie ahead with Microsoft’s support. Not just boxes like the Shield, but could you imagine if Xbox and Samsung got together and offered a version of the app on Samsung’s smart TVs?

There’s a definite space for cloud gaming like this if done right. From this little exercise, it was almost as good as just having an Xbox; the only letdown continues to be my home network. But I’d very much like to see Android TV be a part of the xCloud future.

Streaming Heavyweight

NVIDIA Shield TV 2019

Still the only Android TV box to buy.

The NVIDIA Shield is everything you need to have a great streaming and gaming experience, in a handy tube you can hide pretty much anywhere, and perfectly capable of handling xCloud.

$150 at Amazon

from Android Central – Android Forums, News, Reviews, Help and Android Wallpapers www.androidcentral.com/project-xcloud-xbox-game-streaming-nvidia-shield-tv-almost-good-real-thing
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POCO F1 successor confirmed to launch in India this quarter

The POCO F1 successor will not be sold in markets outside India, at least initially.

What you need to know

  • Poco India General Manager C Manmohan has confirmed that the Poco F1 successor will be launched before the end of the current quarter.
  • The phone is expected to be called the POCO X2.
  • Like its predecessor, the POCO X2 will be powered by a “top-end SoC” and offer fantastic value for money.

POCO, which was born in 2018 as a Xiaomi sub-brand, was recently spun off from its parent company as a standalone brand. Earlier this week, the company began teasing the launch of its next phone, which is expected to be a successor to the incredibly popular POCO F1. POCO India General Manager C Manmohan has now confirmed that the company’s second smartphone will indeed be launched soon.

In an interview given to Gadgets360, Manmohan revealed that the company is planning to launch its next flagship phone “as early as this quarter.” While he did not confirm the name of the phone, a teaser video posted by the company on Twitter yesterday suggests the POCO F1 successor may actually be called POCO X2 instead of POCO F2.

Manmohan also mentioned that the upcoming device will offer a similar value-for-money proposition as the POCO F1. This means you can expect the POCO X2 to be powered by a “top-end” chipset, paired with a “large amount of RAM.” On the software front, Manmohan confirmed that the company’s upcoming phones would continue to use “MIUI for POCO”, which is a tweaked version of Xiaomi’s popular Android skin.

According to Manmohan, the POCO brand will initially focus only on the Indian market. The company is still undecided regarding its global launch plans.

POCO F1

₹16,999 at Flipkart

Even though it was launched in August 2018, the POCO F1 is still a great option to consider in 2020. It offers impressive performance, fantastic battery life, and has a highly durable design.

from Android Central – Android Forums, News, Reviews, Help and Android Wallpapers www.androidcentral.com/poco-confirms-its-next-phone-will-launch-india-quarter
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TikTok signs deal with Merlin to license music from independent labels

The deal will cover music in its videos and its new Resso streaming service!

What you need to know

  • A report claims that TikTok is set to announce a deal with global licensing agency Merlin.
  • It will allow Tiktok to use music from tens of thousands of independent music labels in its videos.
  • It will also pave the way for TikTok’s new music subscription service, Resso.

TikTok has announced a deal with Merlin that will allow it to use music from tens of thousands of independent labels in its videos, as well as on its new music streaming service Resso.

According to TechCrunch:

TikTok, the fast-growing user-generated video app from China’s Bytedance, has been building a new music streaming service to compete against the likes of Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music. And today it’s announcing a deal that helps pave the way for a global launch of it. It has inked a licensing deal with Merlin, the global agency that represents tens of thousands of independent music labels and hundreds of thousands of artists, for the use of music from those labels to be used legally on the TikTok platform anywhere that the app is available.

The news is significant because this is the first major music licensing deal signed by the company as part of its wider efforts in the music industry. That includes both its mainstay short-form videos — where music plays a key role (the app, before it was acquired by Bytedance, was even called ‘Musically’) — as well as new music streaming services.

The report further states that a source has confirmed the deal will cover TikTok’s upcoming music subscription service, Resso. It was reported back in December that TikTok owner ByteDance is testing a new music app in pursuit of its next big hit, and in a bid to diversify its income away from ad revenue.

In a statement Ole Obermann, global head of music for Bytedance and TikTok said:

“Independent artists and labels are such a crucial part of music creation and consumption on TikTok… We’re excited to partner with Merlin to bring their family of labels to the TikTok community. The breadth and diversity of the catalogue presents our users with an even larger canvas from which to create, while giving independent artists the opportunity to connect with TikTok’s diverse community.”

TikTok hasn’t signed deals with any major labels such as Sony Music or Universal, however, the report suggests that “there are signs that more such licensing agreements will be around the corner.” Merlin CEO Jeremy Sirota described the partnership as “very significant” and heralded a new generation of music services and music-related consumption:

“This partnership with TikTok is very significant for us… We are seeing a new generation of music services and a new era of music-related consumption, much of it driven by the global demand for independent music. Merlin members are increasingly using TikTok for their marketing campaigns, and today’s partnership ensures that they and their artists can also build new and incremental revenue streams.”

Whilst the deal covers Resso, there is no indication as to when we might see the new streaming service hit the market.

from Android Central – Android Forums, News, Reviews, Help and Android Wallpapers www.androidcentral.com/tiktok-signs-deal-merlin-license-music-independent-labels
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TikTok signs deal with Merlin to license music from independent labels

The deal will cover music in its videos and its new Resso streaming service!

What you need to know

  • A report claims that TikTok is set to announce a deal with global licensing agency Merlin.
  • It will allow Tiktok to use music from tens of thousands of independent music labels in its videos.
  • It will also pave the way for TikTok’s new music subscription service, Resso.

TikTok has announced a deal with Merlin that will allow it to use music from tens of thousands of independent labels in its videos, as well as on its new music streaming service Resso.

According to TechCrunch:

TikTok, the fast-growing user-generated video app from China’s Bytedance, has been building a new music streaming service to compete against the likes of Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music. And today it’s announcing a deal that helps pave the way for a global launch of it. It has inked a licensing deal with Merlin, the global agency that represents tens of thousands of independent music labels and hundreds of thousands of artists, for the use of music from those labels to be used legally on the TikTok platform anywhere that the app is available.

The news is significant because this is the first major music licensing deal signed by the company as part of its wider efforts in the music industry. That includes both its mainstay short-form videos — where music plays a key role (the app, before it was acquired by Bytedance, was even called ‘Musically’) — as well as new music streaming services.

The report further states that a source has confirmed the deal will cover TikTok’s upcoming music subscription service, Resso. It was reported back in December that TikTok owner ByteDance is testing a new music app in pursuit of its next big hit, and in a bid to diversify its income away from ad revenue.

In a statement Ole Obermann, global head of music for Bytedance and TikTok said:

“Independent artists and labels are such a crucial part of music creation and consumption on TikTok… We’re excited to partner with Merlin to bring their family of labels to the TikTok community. The breadth and diversity of the catalogue presents our users with an even larger canvas from which to create, while giving independent artists the opportunity to connect with TikTok’s diverse community.”

TikTok hasn’t signed deals with any major labels such as Sony Music or Universal, however, the report suggests that “there are signs that more such licensing agreements will be around the corner.” Merlin CEO Jeremy Sirota described the partnership as “very significant” and heralded a new generation of music services and music-related consumption:

“This partnership with TikTok is very significant for us… We are seeing a new generation of music services and a new era of music-related consumption, much of it driven by the global demand for independent music. Merlin members are increasingly using TikTok for their marketing campaigns, and today’s partnership ensures that they and their artists can also build new and incremental revenue streams.”

Whilst the deal covers Resso, there is no indication as to when we might see the new streaming service hit the market.

from Android Central – Android Forums, News, Reviews, Help and Android Wallpapers www.androidcentral.com/tiktok-signs-deal-merlin-license-music-independent-labels
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Here’s how to sign up for game betas in the Google Play Store

Get the chance to play the game early and provide feedback.

Beta testing is a beneficial process for both gamers and developers alike. Beta testers feel like the special chosen ones who get the inside scoop on a new game before the rest of the public, while developers get free help testing out their unreleased games and earning valuable feedback and bug reports. We’ll break down the different ways you can gain early access to Android games ahead of their official release.

The difference between a closed beta and “early access” open beta

We should first clear up the differences between participating in a closed beta and downloading an “early access” game in open beta on the Google Play Store.

Closed betas are usually invite-only and typically only available to the public though some form of direct contact with the development studio or PR team. Opportunities to sign up to be a beta tester are commonly announced through Twitter or other communication channels like Facebook or Discord. These are designed to be perks for long-time fans of the studio or game franchise. For example, last year Feral Games tweeted out multiple opportunities to beta test online multiplayer for GRID Autosport, wherein all you needed to do was fill out a Google Form and wait for the invite email to hit your inbox.

Gaining access to a game’s closed beta may depend on the country you live in and the smartphone or tablet you intend to play on. Keep in mind your access can also be revoked at any time if you do anything that violates the terms and conditions for joining the beta (that can include sharing screenshots or video of the game online). You are given the privilege of playing an unfinished game ahead of its release, so along with not sharing the details of the game, you’re typically expected to report any bugs you encounter and offer general feedback to help the developers improve the game.

There’s another way to play Android games still in beta, and it can be found in the “early access” section in the Google Play Store. Other apps might allow you to join a beta program to help test out new features before they go live as part of an official update. Early access is like a beta, except it’s open to the public and you typically have to pay to be one of the first to play.

How to download Early Access games from the Google Play Store

  1. Launch the Google Play Store on your phone
  2. Scroll down to find the Be the first to play section. Tap the arrow to expand the whole section.
  3. Here you will find all the game in open beta that are available to download.

Downloading an early access game is the exact same process as downloading any other app from the Play Store. The major difference being that early access games will appear in the beta tab if you go to the “My apps & games” section of the Play Store.

How to join the beta program for certain apps

Occasionally, app developers will offer beta programs for regular users willing to test out new features before they get included in an official app update. To find out if an app you use has a beta program to join, you’ll need to know where to look on its Play Store listing.

  1. Scroll down on an app listing in the Play Store to see if there’s an option to Join the beta.
  2. Tap Join.

Beta testers beware

This should go without saying, but we’ll say it anyways: beta software can be unstable and full of bugs. You should expect to run into some weird glitches and may experience app crashes.

Having said that, it can also be quite rewarding to be among the first to play an exciting new game,and you do get the unique opportunity to provide feedback and opinions directly to the developer. The game developers want to know about the issues you run into and your thought on the game, so if you aren’t prepared to leave feedback you probably shouldn’t even bother with signing up to participate in a beta in the first place.

from Android Central – Android Forums, News, Reviews, Help and Android Wallpapers www.androidcentral.com/how-sign-app-beta-google-play-store
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