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Grace Digital CastDock X2 quick review: A weird little nook for your Chromecast Audio

As a kinda, sorta well-known technology journalist, I get a lot of pitches for hardware to review. More often than not, I just ignore these emails (sorry PR people) because I simply get too many of them. On occasion, someone pitches an interesting thing, and I'll take a closer look at it. Such was the case with the Grace Digital CastDock X2. I thought at first it was a Cast enabled speaker, and I bet that's what you thought just now too. Well, it's not. This is literally a dock for your Chromecast Audio, and that makes it just weird enough to warrant a quick hands-on here.

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Moto Z Play review: The best 'modular' phone you can get, for whatever that's worth

Motorola is going all-in on modular accessories this year, and Verizon is right there with it. The Moto Z Play was announced recently, and it's a Verizon exclusive for a few weeks before it ships unlocked in October. This device works with all the same Moto Mods as the other Moto Z variants, but it's much less spendy at around $400 on Verizon. That's a big advantage when you're pushing Mods that cost as much as $300. Are the trade-offs worth it? Is this finally the phone that makes modular smartphones viable? Let's find out.

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Google now allows any site to contribute reviews to Google Search

Google Search has shown reviews of places, movies, TV shows, and more for a while now. The reviews displayed in Search results were always limited to a few select websites, but no longer. Google will now aggregate reviews from up to three sites for any given place (and movies/TV shows/books/etc), as long as the sites implement Google's snippet markup and follow its guidelines. Reviews can either be from the site itself, or from user-created reviews submitted to the site (like Facebook).

In addition to normal reviews, qualifying publishers can also add their critic reviews to Search results. As seen in the right screenshot above, these are larger cards with an embedded summary. Critic reviews are supported for local businesses, movies, as well as books.

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Quick review: Motorola's Hasselblad True Zoom Moto Mod camera

Motorola launched the Moto Z on Verizon a few weeks back with three optional Mods—a battery, speaker, and pico-projector. Before that was all announced, there were rumors of a camera Mod with optical zoom. It wasn't available at launch, but now the Hasselblad True Zoom Mod is official, and it costs $300. I've been snapping photos with the Hasselblad Mod for a few days, and here are a whole bunch of them. Spoiler: they're kind of disappointing.

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Google Maps v9.36.0 beta adds voice commands to avoid tolls, ferries, and highways, adds custom lists for saved places, and more [APK Teardown + Download]

A new Google Maps update is rolling out today. For most people, this version might not have a big impact quite yet, but it's introducing a new feature for some high-level members of the Local Guides program. Those that qualify will be able to create custom lists of saved places. For the rest of us, there's a new notification for local traffic and voice commands to avoid toll roads, highways, and ferries. There are also a few new things to check out in a teardown, including integration with another service, another tease about ordering food, and more.

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Samsung Galaxy Note7 Review: A great (very expensive) phone

A few years ago, Samsung was not known for making phones that looked nice. Oh, Samsung made popular phones, but no one swooned over them. That started to change after the sour reception Samsung got with the Galaxy S5. It began taking risks with materials and designs, and it made some bad phones in the process. However, here we are with the Galaxy Note7, a device that represents the culmination of Samsung's design refinements over the years. Samsung is clearly proud of what it has on offer with this phone, but you'll pay handsomely to get your hands on it. Can a phone be good enough to justify an $850 price tag in 2016?

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Google testing Top Features and other changes in reviews section of Play Store app

 

Less than a week after we reported that Play Store reviews no longer require a Google+ account, it seems that Google has begun testing another change in the same arena - Top Features, a new element that aims to make determining what functionality an app has easier. In addition, the reviewing process has been tweaked. As of now, these changes do not appear to be rolling out to all devices; while I have the feature on my Nexus 6, it's nowhere to be seen on my HTC 10 that is running the same version of the Play Store.

Screenshot_20160814-114503 Screenshot_20160814-114440 (2)

Top Features' scrollable bar

Top Features is situated above Review Highlights and contains user feedback about certain abilities of the reviewed app.

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Google+ profiles may not be needed to post Play Store reviews anymore

According to several tips from Android Police readers, the Google Play Store may not require you to have a Google+ account to write reviews anymore. This news comes hot on the heels of reports that the +1 button is disappearing from the Play Store (which Artem is still devastated about, by the way). In fact, the two situations are very likely related.

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ZTE Axon 7 review: Mostly good hardware, but bad software

ZTE has long been known as a purveyor of inexpensive devices—you might even call them cheap. Many phones manufactured by ZTE in past years didn't even have the company's name on them. Last year, it started going after the premium device market with the Axon Pro. ZTE is back in 2016 with another Axon—the Axon 7. This $400 phone seems to target potential OnePlus 3 buyers with similar specs and a few notable improvements, at least on paper. Does the Axon 7 mark ZTE's arrival in the budget flagship space or does OnePlus still own it?

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Moto Z and Moto Z Force review: A modular miss

Motorola is trying something new—it's like a whole new company with new owners, new phones, and a new approach to making money on said phones. The Moto Z and Z Force (currently only available as Verizon exclusives) are "modular" phones with a series of snap-on rear panel accessories. They're also very thin and lacking a headphone jack. There are certainly reasons to be skeptical of these devices, but they're also very interesting in an industry that has had trouble innovating beyond the standard black slab.

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