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Hands-on with the HTC U Play and U Ultra: I am confUsed

Last week at CES, I had a chance to spend some time with the new phones from HTC, the U Play and U Ultra. You already know the details on these phones (check out our post here), so I'm more interested in the question of what, if anything, makes them worthy of your attention.

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Samsung is now officially rolling Android 7.0 Nougat out to the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge

Samsung isn't well-known in the Android community for delivering quick updates, but with the Galaxy S7-series of phones and Android 7.0 Nougat, the company hasn't done too poorly. Following a beta program that began in November, some models of the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge are now receiving official, non-beta builds of Nougat over the air.

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The HTC U Ultra and U Play showcase a new design direction, both launching in early 2017

HTC has been lagging behind its competitors for years, despite some fantastic hardware and critical acclaim. So for 2017 the company is going in a completely new design direction, dumping the aluminum unibody phones it's become known for and shifting to a more generic glass front and back. The first products displaying this new direction are the HTC U Ultra, the new flagship phone, and the U Play, a mid-range model. They'll both go on sale later this year.

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New FCC documents show photos of the SHIELD Portable 2, release still seems iffy

NVIDIA seems committed to a set-top box format and Android TV platform for its SHIELD brand, revealing a slightly tweaked model of the device at CES as the first major hardware revision in a year and a half. But fans of the original SHIELD, the somewhat goofy and crazy-powerful Android portable console, have been clamoring for a new device for even longer than that. The last we heard about follow-up from NVIDIA was almost two years ago, but it looks like someone at the company has been busy between now and then.

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[Update: Fifth Third Bank] 46 new banks get Android Pay support including Scottrade and Bremer

Just a year ago it was rare to have support for Android Pay at your bank, but things are much better now. It's getting to the point that even small banks have support for Android Pay. Case in point: 45 new banks have been added to the supported list for Android Pay, and you probably haven't heard of most of them.

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Photos on Google+ receive the machine learning treatment to help save on bandwidth usage

Machine learning is such a buzzword, or words, these days. Perhaps one of the biggest advocates of this technology, the almighty Google has been applying it to many of its services over the past few months. Now photographs on Google+ are getting some love with the addition of RAISR, which allows for low-resolution images to receive massive bumps in quality while saving on bandwidth.

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[Update: 2018 release more likely] Samsung may reveal production-ready smartphones with foldable screens in Q3 2017

Bendable screens sound great in theory; they allow you to choose between two different form factors, on demand. We've seen them on quite a few concept devices over the years, but according to a recent report out of South Korea, Samsung may be the first to make them a reality.

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Android Wear 2.0 is launching in early February

Google was supposed to release Android Wear 2.0 last fall, but there were... issues. Specifically, feedback for the developer preview was quite negative. Google decided to reassess and pushed the release to early 2017. After a few more dev previews, here we are. Google has notified developers that Wear 2.0 is coming in a few weeks, so they had better get their apps ready.

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Gboard update rolling out with bug fixes for freezing and inconsistent glide typing

Google finally brought Gboard to Android last month after releasing it on iOS a while back. Of course, it was technically an update to Google Keyboard, but it was a significant one. The Gboard transition was not without its problems. An update is rolling out now to address some of the bugs with that first release.

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Google brings On Tap's screenshot feature to Assistant on the Pixel

Google got in a habit of dumping all sorts of features and incomplete ideas into Google Now on Tap. With the move away from On Tap, Assistant focused more on voice control and connected services. However, some of the useful features of On Tap were left behind too. In the case of screenshots, it looks like Google is bringing it back in Assistant.

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