Android Police

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Google is testing a new layout for hints and search shortcuts

There's always a Google A/B test going on in the background to figure out what could get users to better discover options or take them to what they're looking for faster. One of these tests was a series of search shortcuts that had a very distinct circle design in the Google Now (now known as Feed) page right below the search bar. That interface didn't spread to a wider user base, but it appears that Google is still toying with the idea, albeit in a different look.

Below are a couple of screenshots from two different users who are seeing these shortcuts or hints below the search bar.

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Alexa skills get full Amazon.com pages with direct links and better discoverability

Amazon's Alexa voice control system has taken off very well thanks to the Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Tap, as well as an open platform that lets developers implement any and all skills they want and let users access them. The problem, as we've pointed out before, is discoverability. With thousands of skills available, users had to dip into the Alexa mobile app (or the Alexa website), and either search for a keyword or browse by category. The app (and the site) were slow, you couldn't filter by 3 or 4 star rated skills only, searching for keywords in the skill's review was impossible, and most importantly, you had to be signed in to Alexa to know what skills were available.

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Brutal YouTube tester JerryRigEverything finds a lot of plastic in Sony's 'premium' Xperia XZ

If you haven't at least glanced at YouTube gadget aficionado JerryRigEverything (whose real name is Zack), you should close this tab and go do that. He puts new phones through excruciating damage tests for "entertainment purposes only" - it's the kind of thing that we're not really supposed to do in our standard reviews (unless the phone dares us to kill it). In a breakdown of the Xperia XZ, Sony's current premium flagship which retails for $700, Zack found a surprising amount of materials that were less than premium.

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Editorial: Fact-checking the latest video rant from T-Mobile CEO John Legere

As mobile bloggers, watching national carriers with revenue in the billions snip at each other like gossiping high school students is the closest thing we have to a spectator sport. Between Sprint hiring Verizon's old spokesman, T-Mobile continuing its cloying David-versus-Goliath narrative, and Verizon using textbook straw man attacks against both of them in all those Jaime Foxx spots, we can hardly make the popcorn fast enough.

Every couple of months or so, T-Mobile CEO John Legere emerges from his fortress of solitude to directly address mobile consumers with a rant against his competitors. This time he's addressing specific points from Verizon's latest ad campaign.

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Google Home: First impressions and thoughts

Google Home preorders have started arriving and interested consumers can head down to certain brick & mortar stores to pick one up starting today. I've been messing with Home for a little while and I feel like there's already quite a bit to say about it.

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Samsung will push OTA with 60% charge limit to all US Note7s in the coming days

Samsung is pulling out the big guns to encourage Note7 holdouts to turn in their phones. In the coming days, it will send out an OTA to all Note7s in the US that limits the battery to a 60% charge. So, it's not just T-Mobile. The new software will also nag you incessantly about returning the phone.

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You can use "Hey Google" instead of "OK Google" with Google Home, but it does a bad job letting you know that

All of Google's products have adopted the "OK Google" hotword in recent years, but Google Home presents an interesting challenge. What if you have another device around with OK Google enabled? It can be a mess, so now there's also "Hey Google."

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Talking out of your bass: Madman mods Big Mouth Billy Bass to speak using Alexa API (video)

When I was but a sarcastic teenager full of promise snide commentary (no, I really haven't grown up), I would spend a week or two at my grandmother's house every summer when school was out. One thing that 13-year-old-me found endlessly fascinating yet profoundly annoying was her Big Mouth Billy Bass, which I can only assume was purchased via QVC. Her Big Mouth Billy Bass never went on to be more than a wall fixture, though, unlike one Brian Kane's, who has suffered a fate that is both awesome and slightly terrifying.

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Xiaomi announces the Redmi 4A, Redmi 4 Standard, and Redmi 4 Pro

Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi unveiled three new devices today: the Redmi 4A, Redmi 4 Standard Edition, and Redmi 4 Pro Edition. These enter the very popular Redmi family of mid-range affordable phones. All three bring metal constructions, 5" screens, and Marshmallow for astoundingly amazing price points. 

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T-Mobile will issue Note7 update that limits battery to 60% starting tomorrow (11/5)

T-Mobile is planning to release an over-the-air update to T-Mobile-branded Galaxy Note7 devices tomorrow that will limit their maximum battery capacity to 60%. The OTA will be released beginning at 12:01AM (time zone unclear) tomorrow, November 5th. It is unclear if T-Mobile or Samsung are utilizing any features to "force" the OTA to install without explicit user authorization, but the rollout at midnight when most owners would be asleep and their phones charging would be about the best time to try something like that. An internal memo, below, details just how the update will work.

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