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Opinion: Google AMP is still confusing, and it's not getting any better

The mobile web can be frustrating. Smartphones and tablets are becoming faster every year, but modern sites usually outpace them by becoming more complicated. While there are efforts to improve site load times, smartphones have to deal with other obstacles as well. Cellular network connections can become congested, especially in densely-populated areas, and budget phones often aren't speedy enough for a good browsing experience.

There have been many different products and technologies designed to speed up mobile browsing. Some browsers, like Opera Mini and Amazon Silk, render most of the page on a server and send the result to the user's device.

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[Update: Rolling to more users] Google testing a colorless shapeless Play Store redesign with large Install button

You know those beautiful bold colors that were supposed to make out Material Design? Yup, we've been kissing them goodbye for a long time now and it looks like they might be stripped away from one more app on your phone: the Play Store.

A couple of users have started seeing a new Play Store interface that takes away the green title and notification bar, replaces them with a white one.

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New US ban against ZTE means there might not be an Axon 8

Back in 2016, ZTE was accused of dodging United States sanctions on Iran. Even though ZTE is based in China, it was selling technology from the United States to Iran using multiple shell companies. The US Department of Commerce threatened to cut off ZTE from all its supply chain partners in the US, which ZTE avoided by paying nearly a billion dollars in fines.

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Uber rentals to combine comfort of being in stranger's car, joy of finding parking

Residents of San Francisco will soon see something new in the Uber app: the option to rent a car. Uber Rent will allow users to rent nearby cars from established car sharing service Getaround right from the Uber app, the companies announced today in a press release.

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LG confirms the G7 ThinQ will be announced on May 2nd, 2018

The last 3 or 4 years in LG's history have been nothing but baffling to me. I have difficulty understanding how the company that caught my heart with its G2 and G3 smartphones fell so badly in the me-too camp, trying to emulate what has worked for others (mostly Samsung) and hoping that would be a recipe for success. The latest ThinQ brand and push is one more symptom of the same ailment: LG saw that AI was everywhere and wanted to get it on the game. Forget about useful AI, it's another "we have smart things for the sake of smart things" gimmick. Sigh.

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MoviePass makes deal to acquire Moviefone

MoviePass has acquired Moviefone in a deal between the two services' parent companies, according to a press release. Moviefone got its start in the pre-internet days of 1989, providing information about movies and their showtimes via a toll-free phone number. The dial-in service was shuttered in 2014, but Moviefone has continued to provide showtime and ticket services via its mobile app and website.

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[Update: Samsung responds] Some Galaxy S9 and S9+ units have large dead zones on the touchscreen

The touchscreen on your phone is the primary way you interact with it, so it absolutely needs to work. That makes problems like so-called "dead zones" or ignored/unregistered inputs among the most annoying out there. Based on reports, many are running into those types of touchscreen input problems with Samsung's Galaxy S9+.

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Google Pay branding is starting to replace Android Pay in the app and on the web

Alternate title: Android Pay is dead, long live Google Pay

Since mentions of 'Google Pay' and 'G Pay' started popping up at the turn of the year, we knew some changes were likely afoot. Then the new marks started rolling out more widely, as Google officially announced that it was unifying its payment branding.

Today seems to be the day we say goodbye to Android Pay for good, as the website is now redirecting to the Google Pay site, four new YouTube videos have been released, and the Android Pay and Google Wallet apps are getting rebranded.

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Nokia puts its Digital Health business, formerly Withings, under strategic review

Back in 2016, Nokia announced it wanted to acquire French wearables and health company Withings. One year and two months later, in June of 2017, the acquisition and assimilation was complete and Withings became Nokia Health and started releasing some more products, the last of which was Nokia Sleep which was introduced at this year's CES. Now Nokia has announced that it has initiated a strategic review for this Digital Health business.

The division is famous for its Steel and Steel HR hybrid smart watches, which seem to be well loved thanks to their long battery life, as well as its smart scales (I reviewed the original Withings Body Cardio and was left impressed), and caters to both consumers and enterprise partners.

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The ZTE Axon 7 has an Oreo beta program, but the requirements to join are steep

Over the past couple of months, more and more phones have begun receiving Android 8.0 Oreo. Despite being about six months old now, Oreo is still rolling out to several devices, slowly contributing to its 1% marketshare. Just recently, Samsung started (and then stopped) the official rollout of Oreo to the Galaxy S8 and S8+, and now ZTE is joining the club by announcing its Axon 7 A2017U Oreo Preview Program.

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