New Verizon deals include Pixel 2 bundle, half off flagship smartphones

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Google Pixel 2 XL hands-on

If you’re a Verizon customer or you’re interested in becoming one, you may want to check out a couple of Verizon promos that are going live later this week.

Starting April 5, customers can trade in an eligible phone and get up to 50 percent off a Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL as well as 2 free months of YouTube TV, a Google Chromecast, and Google Home Mini. Customers who don’t have a phone to trade in can buy a Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL at full price and still get the bundle of Google goodies.

Additionally, customers can get up to 50 percent off a flagship smartphone when they trade in an eligible smartphone. The devices that are available for a 50 percent discount include the iPhone X, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, Google Pixel 2, Google Pixel 2 XL, Samsung Galaxy S9, Samsung Galaxy S9+, Samsung Galaxy Note 8, Moto Z2 Force, and LG V30.

This deal is available to new and existing customers, and your trade-in crecits will be spread out over 24 months.

Here are the devices that are eligible for trade-in along with their values:

50 percent off iPhone 8, Samsung Galaxy S9, Google Pixel 2, or Moto Z2 Force

  • iPhone 8, 8 Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 6S Plus, Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, GS8, GS8+, Note 8, Google Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, LG G6, LG V30, Moto Z2 Force, Moto Z Force

35 percent off

  • Apple iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S, Samsung GS7, Note 5, GS6, GS6 Edge, Gs6 Edge+, LG G5, LG V20, Moto Z Droid, Moto Z2 Play, HTC 10

25 percent off

  • Apple iPhone SE, Samsung Galaxy Note 4, GS5, Note Edge, LG G4, LG V10, Moto Z Play, Moto Turbo 2, HTC M9, M9+

50 percent off iPhone 8 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S9+, Google Pixel 2 XL, or LG V30

  • Apple iPhone X, iPhone 8, 8 Plus, 7, 7 Plus, Samsung GS8, GS8+ Note 8, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, LG V30, Moto Z2 Force

35 percent off

  • iPhone 6S, 6S+, Samsung GS7/Edge, Note 5, Google Pixel, Pixel XL, LG G6, LG V20, Moto Z2 Play, Moto Z Force, HTC 10

25 percent off

  • Apple iPhone 6/6 Plus, SE, Samsung GS6/Edge/Edge+, Note 4, LG G5, LG V10, Moto Z Droid, Moto Z Play, Turbo 2, HTC M9, M9+

50 percent off iPhone X or Samsung Galaxy Note 8

  • iPhone X, 8 Plus, GS8+, Note 8

35 percent off

  • iPhone 7, 7 Plus, iPhone 8, Samsung GS8, Google Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, LG V30

25 percent off

  • iPhone 6/6 Plus, 6S/6S Plus, Samsung GS7/Edge, Note 5, Google Pixel/XL, LG G6, LG V20, Moto Z2 Force,  Z2 Play, Z Force

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Apple hires John Giannandrea, who previously worked on search and AI on Google

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Apple Siri iPhone 6 Plus

Apple’s Siri assistant has caught a lot of flak lately for not performing nearly as well as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, but the company may have just made a huge move to change that.

Apple has hired John Giannandrea to run its “machine learning and AI strategy,” according to a report from The New York Times. Giannandrea previously spent 10 years at Google working on search and AI, and news that he was leaving Google came out just yesterday.

“Our technology must be infused with the values we all hold dear,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an internal email about this hiring. “John shares our commitment to privacy and our thoughtful approach as we make computers even smarter and more personal.” Giannandrea will report directly to Cook.

Apple has offered Siri in iOS for years now, but it hasn’t been improving at nearly the same rate as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. While Siri can handle functions like answering questions, setting timers and reminders, and telling you sports scores and the weather, it’s considered by many to be quite a bit less accurate and powerful than its digital assistant counterparts.

We’ll have to wait and see if Giannandrea can help make Siri better so that it’s more competitive with Google and Amazon’s assistants, but his hiring is certainly exciting news for iOS users.

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Google Search update makes searching for movie showtimes better

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Google Search update movie showtimes

If you ever use Google to search for information on movies in theaters, then you’re going to be excited about an update that Google is pushing right now.

Google has announced that its rolling out improvements to Google Search that’ll help you pick a movie when you’re thinking about going to the theater. With it, you can quickly compare movies by factors like ratings, showtimes, theater location, and more, all in the same view. You can also buy tickets by clicking on a showtime, just like before.

If you have a certain theater that you prefer to visit, you can see what’s playing and narrow your search with filters.

These changes are now rolling out in Google Search on mobile browsers as well as in the Google app for Android. It’s available in the U.S. and India in English and Hindi. The features will roll out to the Google app for iOS soon.

When you’re looking for a movie to see, it can be difficult to quickly compare showtimes or even decide which movie you want to see. These Google Search changes should make both of those things much easier, so the next time that you’re thinking about going to see a movie, give Google Search and these features a try.

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Samsung Gear Fit2, Gear Fit2 Pro updated with new features and widgets

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Samsung Gear Fit2 update Weight Management

One week after updating the Gear S2 with new features, Samsung has begun pushing a significant software update to two more of its wearables.

Samsung is now updating its Gear Fit2 and Gear Fit2 Pro. The update connects the new Weight Management (three images above left) and Fitness Program (above right) features to the Samsung Health app on phones. Weight Management will show info like your daily exercise and calorie count, while Fitness Program will connect your wearable with your TV and smartphone as you view exercise content.

Also included in this update is an improved Workout Screen (below left) that’s been made easier to read by showing three pieces of workout data at a time. You can customize which data is shown, such as distance traveled, calories burned, heart rate, and exercise duration.

Samsung Gear Fit2 update Workout Screen widget

Additionally, a new Multi-workouts widget (above center) will give you faster access to workouts, while a Health Summary widget (above right) will show your total exercise for the day at a glance.

The Gear Fit2 and Gear Fit2 Pro launched late last year as Samsung’s newest fitness-focused wearables. It’s good to see Samsung show the devices some more love with an update that not only adds new features, but also makes them easier to use.

If you’ve got a Gear Fit2 or Gear Fit2 Pro, you can download this update using the Samung Gear app on your phone.

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OnePlus 6 confirmed to have Snapdragon 845, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage

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OnePlus One logo large

One day after kicking off its OnePlus 6 teaser campaign, OnePlus has confirmed a few more spec details of its upcoming flagship.

OnePlus CEO Pete Lau has confirmed that the OnePlus 6 will include a Snapdragon 845 processor as well as up to 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. “We believe a truly ‘burdenless user experience’ can transcend the current norm,” Lau said. “In experiential terms this means the phone functions just the way you expect it to, without lag or disturbance. In design terms, a focus on beauty in simplicity, with no unnecessary features added.”

“Through this process, we have realized that a truly fast and smooth user experience can realize a burdenless experience,” the CEO explained.

Rumors have suggested that the OnePlus 6 could have a Snapdragon 845, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage, so it’s nice to have these features officially confirmed by OnePlus. The company has long focused on making its flagship phones competitive with other flagships on the market, and it’s starting to look like the OnePlus 6 will be no different.

OnePlus has said that it’s aiming to launch the OnePlus 6 in late Q2 2018, so expect a few more teasers and spec drops like this in the coming weeks.

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Verizon now offering open enrollment for Total Mobile Protection insurance

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Verizon logo new

Are you a Verizon customer who passed on insurance when you first bought your new smartphone? If so, you’re now getting a second chance at enrolling.

Verizon is now offering open enrollment for its Total Mobile Protection insurance program. Typically you can only enroll within 30 days of buying a new device, but between April 2 and May 31, 2018, anyone can sign up.

Total Mobile Protection costs $ 13 per month for smartphones and smartwatches, $ 10 per month for basic phones and tablets, or $ 39 per month for TMP Multi-Device, which gives you protection for any 3 devices on your account. Additional devices can be added to TMP Multi-Device for an additional $ 9 per month.

As for what you get with Total Mobile Protection, you can get a cracked screen repair as soon as the same day. You can choose if you’d like to have a repair technician come to you, if you’d like to go to a repair location, or if you want to mail your device in.

Total Mobile Protection also includes coverage for loss, theft, and damage, including water damage; coverage for post-warranty defects; next-day devliery and 24/7 claims service; quick reimbursement for cracked screen repair when travelling internationally; and a Tech Coach that can answer questions about your device and the products that it connects to.

Do you have insurance for your smartphone?

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Google may launch its own smart display device

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Lenovo Smart Display official

Google has released a few smart speaker Google Home devices to date, but we haven’t seen any Google Home models with a screen. Instead, Google has opted to partner with companies like Sony and Lenovo to create smart display products. That doesn’t mean that Google won’t ever make its own smart display, though.

Google has not ruled out launching its own smart display, according to Google VP Rishi Chandra. “It’s an emerging category,” Chandra told Variety. “I’m not saying we are not going to do it.”

Chandra added that Google has both parterned with other companies on devices and also released its own version of those devices in the past, and so with smart displays, it may have just made more sense to announce its partnerships first.

The Lenovo Smart Display (shown above) is a device that runs Android Things and offers the Google Assistant and comes in 8-inch and 10-inch screen sizes. The smaller model has an 8-inch 1280×800 display, 5MP wide angle camera, and a 1.75-inch 10W speaker, while the other model has a 10-inch 1920×1200 screen with 5MP wide angle camera and 2-inch 10W speaker.

A smart display could be a useful addition to someone’s home, letting them easily watch videos in the kitchen, view info like the weather and timers at a glance, and conduct video calls. A smart display seems especially useful in the kitchen, where you could watch recipe videos or view text while also getting a visual timer. 

We’ll have to wait and see if Google ever does end up release a Home-style smart display, but it seems like a product that Google could easily try at least once, especially since Amazon already offers two smart display products. Would you be interested in a smart display from Google?

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First OnePlus 6 teaser is here

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OnePlus 6 teaser official

The OnePlus 6 hype machine has officially started up.

OnePlus today posted a short video to its official Twitter account that appears to be teasing its next flagship Android phone. The video briefly flashes the words “The speed you need” along with the number 6. OnePlus also included the words “6et Ready” in its tweet.

OnePlus has already confirmed that the OnePlus 6 will have a display notch and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Rumors have suggested that the device could also include a Snapdragon 845 processor and 8GB of RAM, which are presumably the features that OnePlus is hinting at in this video teaser.

Other rumored features of the OnePlus 6 include a dual rear camera setup with 16MP and 20MP sensors, 256GB of storage, a 6.2-inch display, and a rear fingerprint reader.

OnePlus has consistently put out high-end flagships, and so while the OnePlus 6’s specs are still a rumor for now, it wouldn’t be a shock if they turned out to be accurate. The company has said that it’s aiming to launch the OnePlus 6 in late Q2 2018, which is May or June, so we’re likely going to see a few more teasers for the device in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.

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Verizon comes out on top in latest report on U.S. carrier speeds

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We regularly see different groups test the four major U.S. carriers to compare what speeds they can put up. Today another such report has come out.

Wirefly has released the results of its latest Speed Test, which compares the download and uploads speeds of AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. These tests cover Q4 2017 and Q1 2018.

The carrier with the fastest overall speeds in the U.S. in Wirefly’s Speed Test is Verizon, which posted an average overall speed of 19.92Mbps. AT&T came in second with 18.26Mbps, T-Mobile in third with 17.29Mbps, and Sprint in fourth with 14.77Mbps. This differs from the 1H 2017 report, which saw T-Mo in first, Verizon in second, AT&T in third, and Sprint in fourth.

Wirefly U.S. carrier speed test Q1 2018

Those speeds are based on Wirefly’s Overall Speed Capability, which gives a carrier’s download speed a 90 percent weight while the upload speed gets a 10 percent weight. 

Looking specifically at download speeds, Verizon came out on top with an average download speed of 20.44Mbps, AT&T in second at 19.11Mbps, T-Mobile in third at 18.08Mbps, and Sprint in fourth at 15.60Mbps. Verizon also posted the fastest upload speed, with an average of 15.26Mbps.

Which carrier are you on? What are your download and upload speeds like?

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ESPN+ sports streaming service will launch on April 12 for $4.99 per month

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ESPN+ logo sports streaming service

Remember ESPN+? We first learned of the upcoming streaming service a couple of months ago, and today ESPN has finally revealed its launch plans.

ESPN+ will be available starting April 12. The service will cost $ 4.99 per month or $ 49.99 per year and will be integrated into the main ESPN app.

Baseball fans will also be able to purchase the MLB.TV out of market package for an additional $ 24.99 per month and watch those games in the ESPN app. NHL fans will be able to purchase the entire NHL.TV out of market package during the 2018-2019 season.

ESPN+ will offer a multitude of sports streaming options. More than 180 MLB and more than 180 NHL games will be shown, with a game from each sport being shown every day. Also included is a year-round boxing schedule; more than 250 MLS games; college sports including baseball, softball, football, volleyball, basketball, and wrestling; PGA golf; Grand Slam tennis; rugby; and cricket.

While ESPN+ may not be interesting for more casual sports fans, the streaming service could be a good option for hardcore sports fans that always have Sportscenter and other ESPN shows on their TV. This will give them even more sports streaming options, including sports that don’t often get a lot of mainstream attention.

Are you thinking about signing up for ESPN+?

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