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editorial

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The slow, uninteresting death of Android tablets is unfolding, and it is no one's fault (opinion)

Android tablets are dying. There are signals that bear this out: sales estimates, web traffic, an utter absence of meaningful innovation or even competitive products in the segment. We've watched Android tablets struggle from day one: when Samsung's Galaxy Tab was utterly panned for its subpar performance and pricing, to the years of Honeycomb suffering under the yoke of underpowered chipsets and endless bugs, and finally to the unspoken abandonment of Android tablets by Google's own app teams over the past few years. Android tablets have never been particularly lively, but in 2016, I think we've finally watched the market's pulse near flat-line.

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[Editorial] Why I'm thankful for Android Police, a story of sad and happy coincidences

What you are about to read is unlike anything I have ever written for Android Police before. There are no coupon codes, reviews, leaks, specs, or APKs in this article. Instead, this is a story that I have wanted to share with you, our readers, for quite some time. Today, as I reflected on the things I am grateful for in my life, I made the decision to sit down and write the story of one of the most random, timely, and wondrous things that have ever happened to me, all because I was an Android Police reader. If you have a few minutes to read a story, then sit down, and I'll tell you one.

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Verizon's 'unlimited' PopData scheme is all kinds of bullshit

Sprint has unlimited data. T-Mobile has unlimited data. AT&T has unlimited data. True, all of these offerings have limits on unlimited, like T-Mo's extra charges for HD video and tethering and how AT&T will only give you unlimited data if you also pay for a bloated DirecTV contract. But Verizon's staunch refusal to allow customers access to the unlimited data spigot, not to mention pushing grandfathered unlimited data customers away, has been a big point in favor of its competitors. Verizon feels so insecure about its lack of unlimited plans that its advertising tries to tell customers why unlimited data sucks.

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It's time to talk about Google, the Pixel phones, and feelings of abandonment

First, I'd like to invite everyone to take a deep, calming breath. I mean that sincerely, not sarcastically: Google's Pixel phones have proven rather literally to be an emotional topic in the tech community over the last few days. In looking over Android Police's comments, the sentiment around these phones has been a veritable tidal wave of negativity - and not all of it is unwarranted. There are clear and legitimate reasons to find Google's new smartphones uncompelling as a consumer.

But much of the anger, the frustration, the rage seems directed not at the Pixel phones themselves. And of that which is, is often through the lens of Nexus, not of the Pixel phones as products in their own right.

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Editorial: Google Allo looks a lot like WhatsApp, not Hangouts, and that's not necessarily a bad thing

... and a lot like Telegram. And Facebook Messenger. And plenty of other messaging apps too. But enumerating those would make for a very long title so I had to restrict it to the most popular messenger out there.

Google Allo, unlike its sister app, Duo, has its work cut out for it. While Duo doesn't have a clear competitor in the simple one-on-one mobile messaging field, especially on Android, Allo faces a roadblock of established opponents that have had years to develop their featureset, userbase, and public image. On the one hand, this gives Allo the opportunity to start fresh without any unnecessary remnants that other apps and services carry because of their older origins and the room to learn from what has and hasn't worked for them, but on the other hand, it also puts Allo at the very bottom of a very steep hill.

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The 2016 Nexus "Sailfish" may have a "recycled" design, but does it even matter?

Making the rounds now is a GIF by Android Police alumnus Ron Amadeo. In it, Ron uses our leaked photo of the 2016 "Sailfish" Nexus device and frames it against a perspective-shifted image of the HTC One A9. The comparison has absolute merit: there is clearly some relationship between the front panels and overall proportions of these two devices.

But there are now claims that Sailfish has simply "recycled" the HTC One A9's design. In short: the growing sentiment is that Google phoned it in with Sailfish. But I would argue strongly that, aside from proportional similarities, dismissively calling Sailfish a reworked 2015 HTC phone is doing an unreleased handset a complete disservice and ignoring a vast, gaping chasm of nuance in favor of tired arguments about Nexus phones just being OEM leftovers that have persisted for years.

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Opinion: The bottom navigation section in the Material guidelines is not license to port an iOS navigation model

Bottom nav bars. Between the time of Gingerbread and Marshmallow, they seemed to become significantly less prevalent on Android (or maybe I was just able to avoid more of them), with many developers and designers going for other navigation models. But those other nav models - specifically the hamburger menu - aren't always ideal. Often, teams worry that items in the drawer are "hidden" from users. Sometimes immediate visibility and total obscurity seem like the only two realistic options.

To be fair, it's true that ensuring users see these options each and every time they open the app tends to increase usage. And while the situation isn't so dire, it makes sense to have official guidance on popular navigation patterns.

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Sympathy for the PR agent, or: Someone is trying to sell a battery with a rubber band for fifty bucks

In this job I work with a lot of public relations people. Their task is similar to mine, but in the opposite direction: while the responsibility of tech journalists is to present consumers with information that helps them make buying decisions, PR agents are generally instructed to drive sales by getting the news out. There's nothing wrong with the profession itself, and I've known great PR agents and those who are not so great. But I often look across the professional aisle and feel profound sympathy for my counterparts on the corporate side of tech media.

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The Galaxy Note is no longer Samsung's "enthusiast" smartphone series (opinion)

When the Galaxy Note was introduced in September 2011, it was a revelation - to some. (I, personally, did not get it, much to my disappointment in hindsight.) It was big. It was bold. It was aggressively powerful. Put side by side with Samsung's earlier Galaxy S (i9000) phone, the Galaxy Note was borderline overkill. A screen a full 1.3" larger. Twice the CPU cores, RAM, and storage. A 1280x800 resolution - scarcely believable on a smartphone at the time. The Note was, as many remember, openly ridiculed for being too much - too big, too expensive, too niche. How wrong we were.

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Has the "affordable" smartphone let us down? (opinion)

I consider myself an advocate of the affordable smartphone. 2015, and the years before it, seemed to paint a picture of promise for the mid and low-end smartphone, a noble future as the no-frills alternative to the $800 wonder-brick. I cannot help but feel we have failed to watch that potential emerge in a way that we can really say has served consumers well.

Who’s to blame for the promising ZenFone turning into a bloatware-ridden pile of bugs languishing on Lollipop, seven-plus months since Marshmallow was released? What’s the reason Alcatel’s relatively unbloated Idol 3 took nearly as long to get Marshmallow itself (mine still doesn't have it)?

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