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Verizon releases Droid Maxx in two new color options, quietly cuts storage to 16GB

Verizon releases Droid Maxx in two new color options, quietly cuts storage to 16GB

$99 on-contract gets you a couple cool color options for a great phone on Verizon.

The Motorola Droid Maxx is getting slightly old at this point, and in order to freshen things up a bit Verizon is releasing two new color options of the device. Alongside the previous black model, you'll now have the choice of a bright glossy red (which looks similar to the Droid Ultra) or black with chrome accents if you're looking to stand out from the crowd. Here's the catch: You can only get the two new colors with 16GB of storage, with the old black model offering 32GB of storage for $50 more on-contract or $100 more off-contract.

Aside from that, this is the Droid Maxx we know from before it has some seriously impressive battery life along with all of the great new features recent Motorola phones are known for such as Touchless Control and Active Display. You'll just have to decide whether the lower price and new colors are worth the 16GB reduction in storage for you.

Verizon's online store is already listing the new Droid Maxx colors for sale, and you can pick them up right here for $99 on-contract, or $499 off-contract.

Source: Verizon


Via: Verizon releases Droid Maxx in two new color options, quietly cuts storage to 16GB

Quick tip: "OK Google" works just fine on the Samsung Galaxy S5

Quick tip: "OK Google" works just fine on the Samsung Galaxy S5

OK Google on the Galaxy S5

A little tip worth pointing out for new Samsung Galaxy S5 owners, that the "OK Google" hotword works out of the box in the new Touchwiz launcher. It may seem obvious to some, but having spoken to a few people in the past couple of days that didn't know about it, it's worth highlighting.

So, without any additional downloads, once you fire up your Galaxy S5 just say "OK Google" while on the main homescreen. From there take advantage of the voice activated benefits it brings with it such as setting alarms, set some music off playing and, well, searching the web. Piece of cake!

OK Google isn't supported everywhere just yet, but if you're in a country that does you shouldn't have any problems putting it to use on the Galaxy S5.


Via: Quick tip: "OK Google" works just fine on the Samsung Galaxy S5

Cloud Raiders gets clan support on Android

Cloud Raiders gets clan support on Android

Many genres spring from a single popular game. The casual strategy genre owes its popularity to Clash of Clans, for instance. And once a game reaches that level of fame, other developers inevitably release their own games that draw inspiration from it. Cloud Raiders is Game Insights take on Clash of Clans.

Although a first-class effort, Cloud Raiders has lacked one key element since its release in February: clans! You cant take on Clash of Clans without clans. Today Game Insight released a major update to Cloud Raiders that corrects this oversight and adds a proper clan system. Read on to learn about how clans affect the game and how to join Android Centrals own clan!

Cloud Raiders version 2.0 release notes

  • CLANS in 2.00! This feature will roll out through the next week to all players.
  • Now it's easier to find buildings that are available to build.
  • Dozens of improvements and fixes including performance improvements.
  • Friendly fire damage fixes for turrets.

Clantastic

Cloud Raiders gets clan support Android

After installing the update, youll notice a new voice bubble icon at the right side of the screen - the clan button. Before players can access the clan features it brings, they must restore the Clan Dock. The Dock is a little building that sat unused until now. It costs a little gold to fix it up, but at least it has a speedy 30 minute completion time.

Cloud Raiders gets clan support Android

Having completed the Clan Docks renovations, youll then be able to join or create a clan. The process of creation is quite simple. Just come up with a cool name, decide whether to require an invitation to get in, set a minimum valor (PvP) stat for members, and design a clan emblem. I wish there were more emblem pieces to choose from, but the current offering works well enough to start with.

Cloud Raiders gets clan support Android

Once youre in a clan you can chat with other members, giving players something to do during the downtime between raids. Clan members can also request troops from their clan mates. I havent tested this yet, but it seems that friendly troops actually increase the maximum size of your raiding party. That should come in handy!

Looking for a clan to join? Try the official Android Central clan. Post your Cloud Raiders username here and Ill send you an invite. You must have at least 250 valor to join, and it helps to be an active player. Sign up and well storm some forts together!

Cloud Raiders

Cloud Raiders gets clan support Android

Cloud Raiders takes place in a world of floating islands, not unlike Activisions Skylanders series. At the outset, players become stranded on one of those islands by evil sky pirates. Theyll then have to build a base in order to keep those pirates at bay and take back some loot in the process.

In order to defend your base, youll need to recruit various types of soldiers and house them in bunkers. They can then be deployed when invading ships reach the island. Enemy forces often come in larger numbers, though. Thats where cannons come in. Place them strategically so they can fire upon the invaders who hack away at your buildings. A large cannon can be aimed at specific targets as well, but it takes time to recharge between shots and only works on AI invaders.

The real fun in Cloud Raiders is player versus player combat. After building up a sizable raiding party, players can attack random settlements and attempt to steal their resources. Win the battle and youll gain valor and the envy of other players. Just watch out, because invaded players can take revenge with attacks of their own.

Cloud Raiders is free to play with surprisingly fair in-app purchases. Well go into more detail in our upcoming review.


Via: Cloud Raiders gets clan support on Android

You'll need an invite to purchase a OnePlus One at launch

You'll need an invite to purchase a OnePlus One at launch

OnePlus

Pick up your invite from contests, forums and friends who already bought the phone

In the true spirit of riding the hype train, OnePlus has announced that you'll need an invite to buy its flagship OnePlus One phone when it launches. Taking to a forum post to explain, OnePlus says that an invite-only system dubbed the "OnePlus Invite System" is the best way to bridge the gap between supply and demand right at launch.

Rather than do a more standard reservation or pre-order system for the limited number of devices, OnePlus will offer up invites to purchase the phone via its forums, contests and from other OnePlus One buyers. The thinking is that there will only be invites made available for precisely the number of phones that are made and ready to be purchased though it seems a bit exclusionary to make people go looking for an invite rather than having a simple online store where you can place an order and be backordered if no stock is readily available.

OnePlus isn't offering up any invites right now, and says that more information on how the initial wave of invitations will roll out when the phone is finally launched. As time goes on, the invites to purchase a OnePlus One will be easier to obtain until presumably at some point you'll be able to just buy one like every other phone.

Source: OnePlus


Via: You'll need an invite to purchase a OnePlus One at launch

The Samsung Galaxy S5 S-View Flip Case

The Samsung Galaxy S5 S-View Flip Case

It's expensive, but highly functional so long as you can keep the window clean

The Samsung Galaxy S5 S-View Flip Case is an expensive way to protect your phone. But, damn, does it ever look nice. We first got a glimpse of this guy at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and it's now available for purchase, along with the phone.

For the newcomers out there, this is a case that replaces the back cover of your Galaxy S5. It has the same rubber gasket as the stock back, so you retain the IP67 rating for dust and moisture an important thing to look for with any Galaxy S5 accessory, but admittedly less of a concern with Samsung's own products. The inside of the back cover is nearly identical to the back it's replacing. But the external look and feel are completely changed, replaced by a leather-like cover. It looks great. It feels great. (And if you're like us and putting a black cover on a white phone, the contrast is quite striking.)

The design of this case can't be understated.

Samsung Galaxy S5 S-View Case

Again, it's expensive, but it's really well done, from the stitching to the edges where the camera pokes through, to the roundabout way it makes room for the 3.5mm headphone jack, USB port and the phone's front home button. The case's corners take away a bit of the roundness of the phone, but that's not a huge deal.

The spine of the case is nicely rounded and has little markings for the volume up and down buttons. And that brings us to the highlight of this accessory the fact that it's extremely functional. There's the transparent window on the front that measures at 6.25 square inches. Hit the power button and you get a peek at the time and date and any relevant notifications. And from there you can open up the camera app and take pictures without having to open the case. One quirk with that, however, is that the images are shot at a 1:1 aspect ratio and 2,976 x 2,976 resolution. That fits the case's window quite nicely but looks weird later. You can choose focal points while you're shooting, though, and whether you want to use flash.

The only real options for the S-View Case on the software side are to show weather information and pedometer stats if you've got that turned on in S Health.

Phone call comes in? Answer or reject it by swiping on the window no having to open the case first. Nice. But you'll want to keep some sort of cleaning cloth handy, though, as the window tends to gunk up pretty easily, either from whatever's floating around your pockets, or from fingerprints, quickly turning an otherwise stunning accessory into something that doesn't look nearly so pristine.

And, yes, the display turns on when you open the flip cover. That's it, really. No slots for credit cards. No wireless charging yet, as a Qi version of this case is still expected. Just a solid, stylish flip cover, available in a number of colors, including black, white, green, pink and rose gold.

The case will run you around $50 retail ShopAndroid.com currently has it on sale.

For more Galaxy S5 cases, visit ShopAndroid.com


Via: The Samsung Galaxy S5 S-View Flip Case

Battle of the Blur winner, and a look at how the cameras get it done

Battle of the Blur winner, and a look at how the cameras get it done

Your winner may surprise you ...

Earlier this week we posted up a few pictures using the various background blur techniques from four different phones. We also asked you guys to vote on which you thought was the best image, without telling you which phone it came from. No bias, no manufacturer loyalty, just your opinion from seeing a picture. The result is probably going to be surprising.

Results as of 12:00am ET, Thursday, April 17, 2014

Results

Figure out which was which yet? They're all listed below, but number four, your winner, was the LG Nexus 5. Who'd have thunk it? For the record, my choice was the LG G Pro 2. Yes, it's over-exposed, but the "blur" is consistent and subtle. The M8 took the best picture, but the defocused area feels overprocessed, and it missed the inside of the coffee mug handle. Ditto for the S5 - too much processing in the background, and none at all inside the cup handle ring. In this instance, I think the Nexus 5 was the worst picture of all.

I was sure the HTC One M8 would win this particular test, until I saw the pictures. That's why we decided to go with the blind poll here.

Now let's see which camera was which.

The LG G Pro 2

G Pro 2

Called Magic Focus on the G Pro 2, things work a bit differently from the rest. You take a series of pictures, each with a different focal point, and after some software tweaking, you can pick the one that looks the best. We like the fact that you have a bit of a selection to choose from, but we also have to admit the effect isn't as strong as the rest. But maybe that's not a bad thing, because if your eyes go to the blurry portion first instead of the subject in focus, it kind of defeats the whole purpose.

The Samsung Galaxy S5

GS5

The Galaxy S5 has a tool called Selective Focus which is sort of a middle ground between the way the G Pro 2 does things and the way the M8 and Nexus 5 do it. You do take multiple images, and after the software does it's magic you can choose from near focus, far focus and pan focus which brings the whole image into focus if you've changed your mind. It's very easy to use which is the most important factor in what's "best" but the software does compress the image a little more than we would like sometimes. There is a very defined area of focus compared to the G Pro 2, and the effect is far more dramatic if drama is what you're looking for.

The HTC One M8

M8

HTC calls their effect Ufocus on the M8, and they have a second lens to drive the effect. Alex does it a great service here, but in a nutshell it grabs multiple focal points, measures the distance, and lets you choose what distance the subject is in. The rest of the picture gets blurred by software. The extra focal plane from a second lens gives the M8 a leg up on paper from the others, but in practice it's still a little iffy especially where the is no well defined edge, or where object placement confuses the software. Like the inside of the coffee mug handle above. It also has a larger field of view, which is why we see the Galaxy Note box in it's picture.

The Nexus 5

Nexus 5

The Nexus 5's potato camera got one hell of an update earlier today, when Google released an all-new camera app. Take some time and read Andrew's primer on all the new features here, but for now we're focused (see what I did there) on Lens Blur. Google is using software and movement to do what HTC does with two lenses. Take your shot, and you're prompted to slowly move your camera up while the software gathers focal data. Once finished and processed, you can choose the focal point and strength of the blur. The effect can be subtle or dramatic, but the camera clarity still plays an important role. The app installs on any KitKat phone, so results are going to vary based on which device you're using.


Via: Battle of the Blur winner, and a look at how the cameras get it done

Amazon adds Hulu Plus, Crackle and Showtime to their lineup of Fire TV voice search partners

Amazon adds Hulu Plus, Crackle and Showtime to their lineup of Fire TV voice search partners

If you're like Gary Busey and enjoy talking to things such as your Amazon Fire TV, you'll be pleased to know Amazon has added new voice search partners to their still fresh set-top box. Hulu Plus, Crackle, and Showtime Anytime are joining VEVO in integrating their full catalogs into Fire TVs unified voice search.

Were excited and energized by the momentum were seeing with Fire TV, said Dave Limp, Vice President, Amazon Devices. Customers are telling us they love it, developers are building for it, and were working hard to expand existing features and build new ones. Were thrilled to have Hulu Plus, Crackle, and SHOWTIME integrating their full selection of movies and TV shows into Fire TVs unified voice search.

On top of that, Amazon took the time to note a few other things that are coming for the Fire TV as well. Game selection will be expanding and soon, you will be able to play touch-enabled games with the upcoming Fire TV app for your phone or tablet. Amazon FreeTime and Amazon MP3 integration is coming as part of a free, over-the-air software update and finally, Prime browse will make it even easier to discover movies and TV shows that are included in Prime Instant Video.

We've already ran through a full review of the Fire TV and one pain point we had with it was that the universal search wasn't as good as it could be, so it's nice to see Amazon is still improving that. Aside from all that, it seems Amazon didn't give up all the goods on release either. This announcement shows they're still looking to add more in hopes to make their set-top box the only one you need. The new additions will start rolling out this summer.

Source: Amazon


Via: Amazon adds Hulu Plus, Crackle and Showtime to their lineup of Fire TV voice search partners