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Android apps on Chrome OS: hands-on and initial thoughts

The Play Store is officially on Chrome OS! Sort of. It’s out for one device - the ASUS Chromebook Flip - and only on the developer release channel, which means bugs. But I’ve been playing with it since last night and thought I’d share some of my thoughts and general experience with Android apps on Chrome as they’ve launched.

First, in response to your inevitable question “Does <app here> work?” let me lay out a simple set of preemptive answers.

  • Does it require telephony (SMS/phone)? Then no.
  • Does it require GPS? Then no.
  • Does it require a rear camera? Then no.
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[Update: Fixed in Dev Preview 5] WiFi and Bluetooth notification toggles in dev preview 4 now open the connection list, and no one is happy about it

Android N is making some changes to the notification shade, not least among them the addition of settings toggles at the top of the screen without opening quick settings. In previous preview builds these were toggles as you'd expect, but DP4 changes it up. Now, the WiFi and Bluetooth buttons open the full modal connection list screen. The response from users has not been positive.

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Google changes the Allo and Duo icons in the Play Store

When Google announced its new communication apps Allo and Duo at I/O 2016, it said that they were coming this summer. With June 21 nearly upon us, the countdown until the quarter of the release is starting in most of our heads. And right on queue, Google seems to be getting ready too. Since the app listings are available on the Play Store, but only under pre-order, all we can keep an eye on is the description, screenshots, and app icons.

The latter have changed for both apps from when you first saw them. When Allo was demo'ed at I/O, it had a red icon with white letters (as seen here), but once it made it onto the Play Store, it switched to a light grey background with red letters (see here).

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[Deal Alert] New but open box GSM unlocked Galaxy S7 is $429.99 on eBay

So you're not interested in that Nexus 5X deal on B&H and you want something more powerful and maybe less Nexus-y. I'm not going to let you down and I have a deal just for you. A highly rated (99.2% positive feedback on more than 100k ratings) eBay seller is offering the Galaxy S7 for $429.99 now.

There's a catch though. This is a Sprint device originally, but the box has been opened and the S7 has been unlocked to work on GSM carriers. So it's compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile — the LTE bands are mostly a match for both of them.

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[Deal Alert] Grab an unlocked Nexus 5X 16GB for $229.95 today on B&H with 2 free screen protectors

You know what's better than a Nexus phone? A cheap new Nexus phone. This is what we're here to talk about today. You should be familiar with the Nexus 5X by now. It's the lower-end of the two Nexus phones that were announced last year, but it's still quite a capable device. At launch, the 16GB version was priced at $379, but it has since fallen to $349 and we frequently see price drops here and there. However, it has very rarely gone as low as $229.

But today it is, at least on B&H. The seller is offering the new, unlocked, US variant of the phone for $229.95 as part of its DealZone deals.

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Chrome Developer channel 53 rolling out to ASUS Chromebook Flip now, Play Store in tow

Have a Chromebook Flip? Get it on the developer channel ASAP - the Play Store update is rolling out now. I've had very little chance to mess with it, but the apps I have used (Hangouts, Maps, Search, the Play Store) all seem to run pretty well. Funnily, the Play Store still allowed to install Google Now Launcher... but you can't change the launcher, since the launcher is the windowed app mode.

I haven't tried any games yet, and a number of apps you might want - like Google+ or Talon for Twitter - are marked incompatible at this time. The developers will likely need to account for the hardware capabilities of the Flip and other Chromebooks (specifically, the things it lacks) and be sure to tailor their apps to devices without certain features down the road.

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Google paid out $550k for Android Security Reward bounties in the last year, is upping bounty amounts

A year ago today Google announced Android Security Rewards, an expansion of its Vulnerability Rewards Program. Find a vulnerability, tell Google about it, help them fix the issue, and take home money. That's the concept, and it's a common one in the tech industry.

Google handed out over half a million bucks to 82 individuals over the past year. This averaged out to $2,200 per reward. Researchers averaged higher payouts, at $6,700. One, @heisecode, received $75,750 for 26 vulnerability reports. 15 researchers received $10,000 or more.

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Samsung's rumored Smart Glow feature could completely revamp the notification LED [update: confirmed]

I love a good notification LED - really. When I had my Nexus One back in the day, I absolutely adored my multi-color trackball. I had it decked out with custom colors and pulse speeds using a third party app, and I could tell from across the room if the notification I'd just received was an SMS or a Facebook message just by glancing at the color of that pulsating little trackball.

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Hands-on and first impressions of the OnePlus 3

OnePlus likes to talk a big game, but sometimes the company fails to live up to expectations. The OnePlus One offered solid specs at a low price, but it was hurt by scarce invites and the collapse of the Cyanogen partnership. The OnePlus 2 struggled with hardware and software issues throughout its life as well. In fact, that phone just got Marshmallow a week ago. That brings us to the OnePlus 3. Again, OP is making big promises, but at least it's not threatening to kill other phones this time. This is a big departure for OnePlus in terms of design, and for once you don't need an invite to buy it. I've been using the OnePlus 3 for a day, and I have some initial thoughts to offer.

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Jide announces Remix Pro tablet and a new Remix mini PC, plus an Acer laptop and AOC all-in-one running Remix OS, but only for China

Jide's Remix OS, the open-source version of Android that's been reconfigured into a desktop-style operating system, has been getting some serious attention lately. The original Remix tablet was little more than an Android-flavored version of the Surface, and the Remix mini PC had some seriously underpowered hardware, but both showed promise. That promise bears fruit today, as Remix announces new versions of both the tablet and mini PC, plus a strategic partnership with Acer to bring Remix OS to even more hardware.

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