Award winning Stardew Valley is finally coming to Android, pre-registration now open

If sim-like games are something that you are interested in, there’s a good chance you might have heard (or even played) ConcernedApe’s Stardew Valley. For those unfamiliar, this is a cute 8-bit style farming sim that some have likened to Harvest Moon, where the goal is to just keep farming, grow your farm, get married, and have kids. Hey, that’s kind of like real life!

The game has since found its way to pretty much every conceivable platform there is out there, whether it be PC or console or even mobile, where last year the game was launched for iOS devices. The good news is that its developer has not forgotten about Android because pre-registration for the game is now open.

By pre-registering the game, it means that users will be notified when the game is available for download. You will not be pre-purchasing it, it is simply a notification tool, but the fact that pre-registration is open means that a launch is probably close at hand. The game is a paid-for game and the iOS version is priced at $7.99, so we imagine that the Android version should be priced similarly as well.

There are no in-game purchases and players will get access to all of the game’s contents and future updates free of charge (which is how it should be). The game has been extremely well-received on pretty much every platform that it has launched on, so if you’ve never played it before or would prefer a more mobile version of the game, then head on over to its Play Store listing to pre-register for it.

Source: Android Police

10 reasons why I’m not excited about the Samsung Galaxy S10

Samsung Unpacked is only a few days away where the company will reveal the Galaxy S10 to the world. There has been no shortage of leaks over the past few weeks to a point where almost every detail about the device is already known. So much so, that before it’s announced, Samsung is letting people pre-order the S10.

Despite the inevitable hype that surrounds a Galaxy release, I’m left underwhelmed at what I know about the S10 and here are ten reasons why the S10 will be the first time in four years that I don’t buy the latest Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

1. That hole-punch

In 2018, OEM’s pushed the boundaries of screen real-estate by reducing bezels to a point where there was nowhere left to house the front-facing camera and sensors. It wasn’t a problem the S9 or Note 9 had since Samsung retained a small bezel at the top of the device. Most other Android smartphones cut a notch into the display – a lazy but effective solution. This created an unnecessary problem that saw the manufacturers scramble for an answer; while some chose sliding mechanisms, Samsung decided to build a display with a hole-punch. Called the Infinity-O display, it is a full-screen edge-to-edge display with a hole cut out of the top right of the device for the camera.

Unlike the waterdrop notch on the OnePlus 6T, which can be hidden, lost in the wallpaper, or easily ignored or designed around, the hole-punch cannot be unseen. Not only has Samsung not kept the distance from the top and right bezel equal, but it now also hides elements of the Android software. At least with a notch, it was centralized and placed in a position covering a section of the status bar that was unused. The hole-punch, however, covers where the battery and time typically sit. It is a step in the wrong direction to eliminate the problem of using a notch.

2. In-display fingerprint sensor

Samsung isn’t the first company to put a fingerprint sensor within the display of a smartphone. We’ve seen the implementation successfully done on the OnePlus 6T and Huawei Mate 20 Pro, as well as many others. Typically the in-display fingerprint sensor uses optical sensors to read your fingerprint through pixels in the display. If the rumors are to be believed, Samsung will be adopting the Qualcomm mechanism that uses ultrasound. This new mechanism would be faster and more secure, but would also require the finger to be in contact directly with the display, which presumably renders the use of a screen-protector incompatible. There was nothing wrong with the rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, assuming Samsung placed it in an ergonomically pleasing place (unlike the Note 8), so it seems the use of the in-display sensor is more of a case to show that Samsung can, rather than should.

3. Software updates

While not confined to the Galaxy S10, it is a problem the new devices will inherit. Samsung has been notoriously bad at rolling out timely updates to its devices. The situation was helped when monthly security updates became a thing, and Samsung has done a pretty good job at keeping up with these, but still hasn’t been able to get major versions of Android out quickly. For example, my Galaxy Note 9 only received the Android 9.0 Pie release last month, while my wife’s Pixel 3 has had Pie since last year.

In Samsung’s defense, its software overlay that provides much of the added functionality that makes a Samsung device what it is requires extensive testing before being distributed to the masses. I’m just saying – OnePlus seemed to do it ok with OxygenOS. In fact, OnePlus was one of a few companies involved with the Android Pie Beta. With the price that Samsung commands for its devices, it needs to do better.

4. Glass design

Every Samsung device that I have owned has been a fragile slab of two pieces of glass sandwiching together internals. The Galaxy S10 is not likely to change that so the device will need to be wrapped in a case to protect it from, well, everything. With the resale price of Android pretty bad as is (Pixels aside), any slight damage snowballs the value of your device.

I have always admired and been drawn to the design of Samsung’s devices, but I like to show that design off and not have to protect it with a case amid fear that one tiny slip and it will be game over.

5. Screen-protector support

A victim of the new technology used in the Qualcomm in-display fingerprint sensor, the feedback accompanying the leaked images of the S10 is that because the sensor needs contact with your fingerprint to detect it, screen-protectors will not work. Early images to workaround this has seen a cutout where the fingerprint sensor resides, which just looks ugly and will likely result in a poor user experience.

As I said above – if this is the solution, the S10 should have just left the fingerprint reader on the rear.

6. The price

We can thank Apple for the new normal of smartphone pricing to exceed $1000. However, the Galaxy S9 started at $720, with the S9 Plus set at $840. This was similar pricing to the Galaxy S8 the previous year so has avoided the push towards the $1000 mark but prices are expected to be bumped this year with the S10. The ceramic Galaxy S10+, for example, is expected to be well above $1000 thanks to its premium material. At this price, it’s hard to justify an upgrade each year without losing a ton of money. Samsung does offer the Upgrade Program, which is a great way to get the latest Samsung device each year but does lock you into the manufacturer.

7. 5G

The emergence of 5G will begin to take off in 2019 and Samsung is set to lead the way with compatible handsets. The company is expected to launch an S10 model with 5G support outside of the devices unveiled at Samsung Unpacked. So if you want to test out the latest and greatest 5G connectivity, then you’ll need to skip the initial S10 range that launches next week.

8. Battery life

With larger displays comes a bigger drain on the battery. The 3000mAh battery wasn’t big enough in the S10, which made a single charge for a full day of use a challenge. The S10 is expected to get a bump in the battery department to 3500mAh, which is a sizable improvement, but still won’t see it compete with the likes of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro and its 4200mAh capacity.

9. One UI

While Samsung has toned down the custom skin it applied on Android over the years and rebranded to One UI, it is still a far departure from a stock Android experience. The level of customization, while offering some good features, is still too far in the wrong direction.

10. Foldable Galaxy

Samsung has made no secret that it plans on revealing a foldable Galaxy smartphone at Samsung Unpacked. If executed correctly, it could be a game changer and will see the S10 pale into insignificance in comparison. It’ll likely have a few flaws that will need to be dealt with, but the Samsung Galaxy S10 will likely not be Samsung’s “it” product for 2019.

We’re sure some of you agree with some of the points highlighted here, but we know there is a huge audience that will still be buying a Galaxy S10 when the new phones hit the market in the coming weeks. We’re curious if you’ll be picking up a new Glaaxy S10 this year or if you’ll be passing like I am.

Samsung Galaxy S10+ spotted in the wild

Samsung has done a terrible job of keeping the S10 under wraps. Almost every aspect of the device has publicly leaked to a point where the company is letting people pre-order it early.

Even with the numerous leaks, it doesn’t make new appearances of the unreleased device any less pleasing. The latest leak appeared on Reddit by a now deleted user, showing off the Galaxy S10+ in the wild. The image doesn’t show anything we don’t already know but does give a good look at the size of the device in comparison relative to a hand as well as another look at the dual front-facing camera.

While the hole-punch design isn’t something I think will stick around, with the right wallpaper it’s not as noticeable as the various renders suggest. What does stand out is just how much Samsung has managed to reduce the top and bottom bezel of the device, which provides a truly edge-to-edge display.

The wild Galaxy S10+ seems to be running a demo mode with the leaker’s email address watermarked, so this one looks pretty solid. If anyone is interested in grabbing the wallpaper in the above image, you can get it via this link.

Drop a comment below and let us know what you think of the S10+ outside of the leaked renders.

OnePlus integrates Google Duo into OxygenOS Phone app

OnePlus has done a fantastic job of keeping its devices as close to the stock experience as possible with some added features as part of its OxygenOS layer. In the latest update to OxygenOS, OnePlus has added deeper integration of Google Duo into the Phone app.

Google added integration to the Pixel dialer way back in 2017, but since OnePlus uses a different app, the company has decided to add similar functionality to OxygenOS. As of OxygenOS 9.0.12 on the OnePlus 6T, and OxygenOS 9.0.4 for the OnePlus 6, 5, and 5T, you’ll notice a video button alongside names in your contacts and call log. OnePlus has also promised the functionality will roll out to the OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T with the upcoming Android Pie update. 

“Earlier in 2018, we conducted a research study with OnePlus users in India on video calling capability,” OnePlus product manager Szymon K. wrote in a forum post. “Here, Google Duo ranked the highest in terms of call quality. Following this, we’re now introducing Google Duo as a native function for video calls on our devices and are providing enhanced video calling quality for all OnePlus users.”

Users will also be able to access the traditional carrier video calling option (currently available on the latest Open Beta builds for the OnePlus 6 and 6T) by selecting the option “Contact > Select contact > See all > Choose video call.”

Although a small change, it removes a step to interact with your contacts by utilizing Google Duo to make it seem more native, rather than having to launch another app separately.

Source: OnePlus Forums Via: Android Police

A Pixel Watch from Google may change its fortunes in wearables

It was an up and down week for fans of Wear OS with the news that Google may launch the oft-rumored Pixel Watch later this year, followed by the NPD report that Wear OS had probably at best a 10% smartwatch market share in the US last year. But, if you are a glass (Oops, probably shouldn’t mention Glass in a Google wearables post.) is half full sort of person, that doesn’t sound that bad considering the lack of hardware support from Qualcomm and the horrendous misstep that was Android Wear 2.0 in early 2017.

With those factors in mind, it seems frankly astounding that Wear OS has managed to maintain that kind of market share and it’s hard not to imagine that barring Google abandoning the platform entirely, the only way to go is up. Assuming that Google isn’t going to simply drop Wear OS like a messaging app and take a look at how, or if, Google can turn things around.

We can look at the Pixel line of smartphones and conclude with reasonable certainty that a Pixel Watch offering from Google is unlikely to single-handedly turn around the fortunes of Wear OS. Even if it proves to be a singularly phenomenal smartwatch, like the original Nexus program, it could serve as a blueprint for others. And winning other manufacturers back is certainly key to righting the slowly sinking Wear OS ship with former partners like Samsung and Huawei disembarking in favor of their own wearable operating systems.

While it is understandably the part that people want to focus on, the hardware basically can’t be the story of the Pixel Watch, as Ron Amadeo from Ars Technica thoroughly drove home in his article raining on everyone’s parade following the Fossil deal in January. The lack of a truly modern SoC to power the Pixel Watch means that it is fighting the Apple Watch and Samsung wearables with one-hand tied behind its back. So unless Google has a secret source for SoCs that has escaped everyone’s notice (the new gChip rumor could do the trick), what the Pixel Watch and Wear OS in general need to do to succeed is to acknowledge and operate within the hardware confines that exist for it.

The lesson that Apple learned rapidly with its flailing initial efforts with the Apple Watch, seems to have only hit home for Google almost 5 years on. Apple thought it was going to launch a fashion device that was almost as capable as a smartphone, neither of those notions proved true. The fashion aspirations all but died and the product shifted focus almost entirely to fitness, notifications and more recently payments. While there are unquestionably other use cases for a smartwatch, Google Assistant is a perfect example and unlike Siri it actually works. In reality, a handful of core experiences like fitness, notifications and payments are the sort of things that are useful day in and day out and serve as a constant reminder of the product’s utility both for owners and prospective buyers seeing the devices in action.

Wear OS 2.0 in many ways seemed to be Google coming to this realization with a return of some of the simplicity that was lost with Android Wear 2.0. This more than anything gives me hope for the Pixel Watch and Wear OS, Google has seen the direction that it needs to take this platform. The Wear OS site today focuses on Google Assistant, Productivity, Notifications, Fitness, Music and Style. While I’d quibble about the order that they are putting those in, for the most part they finally seem to have their priorities straight and if they can now manage to apply their ability to get more out of less with the smartwatch hardware, as they do with the Pixel smartphones, Google may finally be able to change its fortunes in wearables.

A foldable-display smartphone belongs on your wrist, not in your pocket

We’ve all seen movies and TV shows where spies communicate with their handlers through a phone built into their watch. To a certain extent that future is sort of here, where our smartwatches these days are gaining the ability to make and answer phone calls. The only downside is that usually, they need to be tethered to our smartphone.

ZTE’s Nubia brand thinks that they might have the solution to that, and that is to create a smartphone that can be worn on the wrist. This seems to be what the company is hinting at in an invite that is being sent out to the press whereas you can see in the image below, the company is teasing their plans for a device that can “flex”.

This is actually not the first time that the company has teased a device that could sport a flexible display. A few days ago, they released a poster for their MWC event with a caption that reads, “Flex your life”, but what’s interesting about this teaser is that according to GSMArena, it highlights the silhouette of a device that resembles a smartphone/smartwatch hybrid concept that Nubia unveiled back at IFA in 2018.

This has led to speculation that the device in question that could be shown off at MWC could be a smartphone that can be worn on the wrist. This would undoubtedly be a very interesting device and would challenge the sea of foldable smartphones that we expect will flood the market this year.

Admittedly at this point in time, such a concept seems more novel than functional, but we’ll have to wait and see. Nubia has scheduled their event for the 25th of February, so do check back with us then for the details.

Source: FoneArena (via GSMArena)

OPPO F11 Pro teaser confirms the notch is dead, reveals full-screen display, popup camera

The notch design isn’t a permanent solution as we’re sure that eventually, companies will figure out a way to hide the front-facing cameras and sensors underneath the display. Until that happens, it seems that we can expect to see companies starting to get creative with how they go about side-stepping that design faux pas.

OPPO has in the past released smartphones that have done away with the notch by utilizing a pop-up camera, and that tradition continues to persist in the company’s upcoming OPPO F11 Pro, or at least that’s what they are teasing on Twitter. The company is boasting that their upcoming smartphone will feature what they’re calling a “panoramic screen”, and a YouTube video showing the ad for the phone also confirms that the phone will be featuring a popup camera as well.

The end result is a screen that stretches nearly to the edge of the smartphone and because it does not have a notch, there is no awkward break in the middle of the display. This results in a very sleek-looking handset. That being said, not everyone hates the notch, with some claiming that it doesn’t really get in the way and that eventually, users will learn to just ignore it.

This has not stopped companies from exploring various ways around it, such as Samsung who has decided to go with a hole-in display for their upcoming Galaxy S10 handsets. The company has also explored the idea of possibly hiding the camera in the S Pen stylus, thus eliminating the notch, a hole-in display, and a popup camera entirely.

In any case more details about OPPO’s upcoming smartphone should be revealed at MWC 2019 in the coming weeks, so do check back with us then for the details.

Source: Twitter

Google Voice going incognito: will soon allow users to mask their caller ID

These days with privacy being such a hot topic, and with social media platforms playing hard and loose with our personal information for their own gain, there is a greater emphasis placed on protecting our privacy more so than ever. The good news is that if you use Google Voice, Google will be giving users the option to help mask their caller ID.

In the latest version of Google Voice for Android, it has been discovered that within the code of the app, there contain strings which references the ability for users to enable “Anonymous Caller ID” and “Hide your caller ID on outgoing calls”. This suggests that users will be able to turn this feature on and hide their caller IDs when making outgoing phone calls.

Now the ability to mask your caller ID using Google Voice (or other carriers) isn’t exactly a new feature as all users need to do is append *67 in front of a number. However with this new feature, users will be able to continuously mask their caller ID when making calls using Google Voice, plus it will be a nifty feature for users who weren’t aware of the *67 feature before that either.

While this will help mask your caller ID, there is a downside to doing so and that is there are some people who refuse to answer calls from anonymous callers or numbers they don’t know, so that’s something to take into consideration if you are planning on using this feature.

Source: 9to5Google

Samsung Tab S5e unveiled, easily the best looking Android tablet we’ve ever seen

If Samsung wasn’t busy enough preparing for the release of the Galaxy S10, S10+, and S10e, the company has just unveiled the successor to the Galaxy Tab S4.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e has today been released for those in the market for a new Android tablet if those people still exist. The tablet is priced at $400, which is substantially less than the previous Tab S4. The price tag suggests that the Tab S5e is as an affordable alternative to the $650 10.5-inch iPad Pro. And thanks to its thin bezels around the display, it’s one of the most stylish Android tablets we’ve ever laid eyes on.

With a lower price tag than the S4, it isn’t apparent at first glance what has been left off the S5e to hit that lower price point. The tablet still has the same 10.5-inch OLED display at 2560 x 1600 resolution and slims down the bezels even further. It weighs 399 grams and is only 5.5mm thick, but does have a slightly smaller battery as a result of 7040mAh versus the 7300mAh of the Tab S4.

Internally, the Tab S5e has sacrificed the Snapdragon 835 found in its predecessor for a Snapdragon 670, which does make it a generation older and giving up some performance, especially in the graphics department. Unless you’re doing heavy gaming, the S5e will perform just fine for most real-world tasks with the added benefit of the price saving. There is no S Pen support for Samsung’s new tablet, which may play into the purchasing decision if you intend on using it for drawing. The Tab S5e will be available in various configurations – 4GB of RAM with 64GB of storage or 6GB of RAM with 128GB of storage.

While the S5e won’t be responsible for taking vast chunks of the tablet market from Apple and the iPad Pro, it does provide an affordable (and probably the best) option currently available for an Android tablet.


Vivo’s iQOO tosses their hat into the ring with a foldable phone of their own

Chinese companies such as Huawei and OPPO have hinted at plans to launch foldable smartphones of their own, presumably to take on the likes of Samsung who has been working on such a device for the past few years. This is why it doesn’t really come as a complete surprise to learn that Vivo might want to get in on the action as well.

A recent post on Weibo has revealed that Vivo’s subbrand iQOO could be working on a foldable smartphone as renders of the device have found their way online, giving us a glimpse as to what we might be able to expect. For the most part, it seems like standard fare, where the fold of the phone will be down the middle and the device can transform from a phone to a tablet and back again.

It is unclear if the images are a concept or if it could actually be the device that iQOO might be launching. The post also claims that the device might be priced around the $1,000 mark. This is quite pricey as far as Chinese smartphones are concerned, but with foldable display tech still being new, it’s not surprising. There is also no word on when the device in question will be launched, but chances are if and when it does, it might not be seeing a launch outside of China or Asia.

Foldable phones are currently on track to be the next smartphone trend, but whether or not it will be able to set a new standard for smartphones or if it will end up being a novelty like 3D phones remains to be seen. In the meantime, we have also heard that other companies such as LG and Motorola could also be exploring foldable devices of their own.

Source: Weibo (via Pocketnow)