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Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick update will expand Universal Search, add Alexa voice control for Amazon Video, more

Amazon's hardware ventures weren't all quite popular (remember the Fire Phone?!), but beside the Kindles and Fire tablets, and obviously the Echo, the Fire TV is easily counted one of the company's success stories. It has become one of the best streaming and gaming solutions, battling Roku, Apple TV, and Android TV for a spot on every TV's HDMI port.

That's also thanks to continuous updates and improvements from Amazon who keeps adding features to its products. In the latest update to the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick rolling out now (or very soon), Amazon is adding more apps and channels to Universal Search so you have fewer and fewer reasons to open apps individually to do a search in them.

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Moto G4 Play comes to the US on September 15th in standard and Amazon Prime variants

The third member of Amazon's Moto G4 family will be coming to the US after all—the Moto G4 Play launches on September 15th, and you can pre-order it today. You've got some choices to make, though. The regular phone will be on sale via various retail outlets, but there's also going to be a cheaper Amazon Prime version with ads.

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Huawei Honor 8 Review: A bargain of a phone - if you can live with it

Huawei’s budget sub-brand Honor is the subject of increasing chatter in phone geek circles of late. In January, the Honor 5X introduced the “company” (insofar as they operate as a separate business unit) to a Western audience with a very affordable, metal-bodied phone.

The device, though, seemed to land on deaf ears, at least among enthusiasts. I can’t speak to how the Honor 5X did in US sales channels, but initial launch buzz quickly wore off once reviews went to press, and the phone itself really was pretty mediocre in retrospect. Its dazzle, its allure really came from looking the part of a $300-400 phone while costing much less.

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OnePlus will merge Oxygen OS and the China-only Hydrogen OS for faster updates

OnePlus phone owners can probably agree that the company needs to work on faster OS updates. (It's a safe bet: pretty much everyone can agree on that, including Nexus owners.) OnePlus is trying. To that end, the company has announced that its two disparate Android software builds will be merged into one: Oxygen OS and Hydrogen OS. I'll pause for a moment to allow the chemistry nerds to make an H2O joke before we continue.

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Weekend poll: Has the Note7 recall made you less likely to consider a Samsung smartphone?

Samsung has officially initiated a global recall of its Note7 smartphone due to a tiny number of devices that may have defective batteries that could cause the device to self-immolate. The Note7 is a hugely prominent smartphone around the world, and part of a franchise well-loved by enthusiasts and regular consumers alike. Samsung's larger solution in the recall is to replace customers' smartphones with new ones - a costly fix indeed - and would generally make consumers whole in the process. As responses go, Samsung has been swift and cautious, and I'm not sure much more could be asked of them in this scenario.

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[Deal Alert] Get an Xperia X for $449.99 with a 128GB microSD at BuyDig ($100 off)

Let's be honest: the Xperia X was kind of a ripoff at its MSRP of $549.99. It's a solid mid-ranger, but that much dough for a non-flagship? Come on. A few months back, this Sony smartphone got a price drop of $50 to $499.99. Now, numerous official retailers have dropped their prices to an even more palatable $449.99, and BuyDig is also throwing in a Lexar Class 10 128GB microSD card.

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JifiCal is Samsung's attempt to make a voice control calendar app

Does a calendar app need a voice control function? Samsung seems to think that it does. That's the premise behind JifiCal, the company's latest published app in the Play Store. It's essentially a voice control add-on for a phone's built-in calendar. So what makes it better than, say, Google Now's voice control system (especially since the actual voice recognition in JifiCal is using Google's own servers)? According to the app description, the special sauce here is the natural language processing.

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Samsung opens a Play Store beta program for the S Note app

S Note is the included app for Samsung's Note series that enables, well, notation. It's designed to be used with the S Pen stylus for a variety of quick notes and drawings. It features most of the things that you'd expect from a notation tool, but since it's such a signature part of the differentiating hardware, Samsung seems interested in making a beta version of the app available to its users. The beta app is up on the Play Store now - head to this address to opt-in to the program, then this address to download it.

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InBrief
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[Update: rewards through PayPal] Google Opinion Rewards now available in France

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Verizon releases Galaxy Note5 and S6 edge+ updates, adds Barcode Beaming Service support and other fixes

Hot on the heels of a recent update to the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, Verizon has released one for the Galaxy Note5 and S6 edge+. Like the S7/S7 edge update, this adds support for a barcode scanning app called Barcode Beaming Service. Unfortunately, Note5 and S6 edge+ owners will not receive the FM radio capability that S7 and S7 edge owners just did. Fixes for Verizon's Advanced Calling are included as well.

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