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Google announces Android 7.1.2 Beta, includes Pixels, Nexus 5X, Player, 6P, and Pixel C [update: images]

Google has just announced Android 7.1.2, a maintenance release focused on fixing bugs and improving performance. The initial devices eligible for the update are the Nexus 5X, Nexus Player, Pixel C, and both Pixel phone models. The Nexus 6P will be eligible, but not yet, with Google saying they expect the 7.1.2 beta will be "released soon."

Factory images don't yet appear to be live. Factory images are live here. Be sure to enroll your device in the beta program if you want to receive the OTA, which Google says will start rolling out soon.

As for what's changed? Google doesn't really say beyond a cryptic reference to "enhancements for carriers and users," whatever that means.

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JerryRigEverything inflicts pain on the Moto G4, finds it to be surprisingly durable

Breaking your shiny new phone is a bummer, but YouTuber JerryRigEverything is on a mission to break phones so you don't have to. He gets phones, bends 'em, burns 'em, and films the whole ordeal so you can know which phones can take the most punishment. In the latest installment, he's gone after the Moto G4.

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PSA: The new NVIDIA SHIELD Pro still ships with the old remote

The new SHIELD TV makes a few changes to the formula that earned the original a spot as the uncontested king of Android TV. It's smaller, simpler, and comes with new accessories. The "updated" SHIELD Pro is a bit less evolved. It's still the same size as the original, and it's shipping with the old SHIELD Remote. That could be a plus or minus, depending on your perspective.

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Meizu Pro 6 Plus review: Another solid phone with some really strange software decisions

Hardware design is a tricky subject. Some companies take risks to define their own aesthetic, while others borrow, in varying degrees, the design languages of more popular brands. What I have in my hands is the latter; the Meizu Pro 6 Plus borrows heavily from Apple's style, especially when viewed from the front. Its software is also an attempt to mimic iOS, for better or for worse.

Overall, however, I find that this phone is the classic story with a twist. The Pro 6 Plus has some actually nice hardware, but the native Flyme OS is a mixed bag. I am not sure if this is a case of Stockholm syndrome or what, but I found that I could tolerate the software for the most part.

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[Update: Better shots] Google's LG-built Android Wear 2.0 watches appear to have leaked in low-res form

We're just a few weeks away from the release of Android Wear 2.0, and along with that we expect Google's new watches to arrive. Google has confirmed it's working on these devices, but little else. Following a spec-heavy report last week from VentureBeat, there's now a new piece of the puzzle. An image has leaked that purports to show the two watches, and they look very much like we'd expect them to look.

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Is your Google Pixel's rapid charging feeling less rapid lately?

I put out a question on Twitter a few minutes ago asking if anyone else was feeling like their Pixel was charging more slowly lately. The response was mixed, but some definitely concurred with me: For whatever reason, the Pixel's (and/or Pixel XL) rapid charging definitely isn't feeling so rapid sometimes.

I've consistently noticed when putting my Pixel on the official Google rapid charger (the one in the box) that it's taking much longer to charge than it should, regardless of whatever the indicated battery level is. At very low levels, I've seen the phone take nearly three hours to reach peak charge, which is well above what should be happening based on what we know about the charging speed.

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Google Opinion Rewards update adds a hamburger menu and notification sounds

Google Opinion Rewards has been around for a while, allowing Android users to answer various surveys to receive Play Store credit. Now Google has updated the Opinion Rewards app to version '20170119,' adding a hamburger menu and new notification options.

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Huawei Mate 9 review: Turning a corner

Huawei has become one of the largest phone makers on the planet, and it's done so without too much help from the US market. The company has dabbled mostly with mid-range phones here, including some from the Honor sub-brand. The Mate 9 is the first phone Huawei has brought to the US that isn't explicitly going after the budget crowd. It's running the latest version of Huawei's in-house Kirin SoC, has an all metal housing, and the Leica-branded cameras are present too.

The hardware side hasn't been Huawei's problem in western markets. It's the software. I've always had trouble using Huawei phones for very long because of the many, many annoyances present in the EMUI Android skin.

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PSA: Google Assistant can remember things, on Allo, Pixel, and Home

We've often lamented the rather lacklustre approach Google has taken with Google Assistant, but it can do one thing: remember stuff. On all three things which use Assistant - that's Allo, Pixel, and Home - it can recall things it's been asked to remember. As Assistant is cross-platform, this works across all three devices; telling it to remember something on Home and then asking on Pixel does indeed work.

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[Hands-On] Google Contacts web rolls out a better looking Material Design interface to everyone

Google started testing a Preview redesign of Google Contacts' web interface back in March of 2015. At the time, you could access it by going to contacts.google.com/preview and it looked nicer than the old Gmail-like Contacts page. As time passed, Material Design evolved even further and that redesign itself was getting stale. A slightly updated version was rolled out to G Suite users in March of 2016, but the biggest redesign is happening now and it's affecting everyone.

If you head over to contacts.google.com, no /preview at the end, you will see a brand new Contacts interface that takes the Material redesign to a new level.

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