Google Play Pass could offer ‘hundreds of dollars’ worth of paid apps for a monthly fee

Google Play Pass

  • Google may be planning to introduce a Play Store app subscription service.
  • The service could deliver loads of paid apps and games for a monthly fee.
  • It could be tricky for Google to implement such a service, however.

Google could be planning an app subscription service for the Play Store, according to some compelling evidence gathered by XDA Developers.

The first sign of the service was when prominent developer Kieron Quinn found a potential feature called Play Pass in a Play Store APK teardown back in June. At the time, Quinn suggested that the feature could be a subscription service.

This week, one of Quinn’s friends tipped him off to a Google survey about a subscription service for apps (see the screenshot below). The survey asked how well they thought the name “Pass” described a service that offers hundreds of dollars worth of paid apps and games for a monthly fee.

Google Play Pass XDA Developers

This evidence is certainly not a confirmation that Google will introduce an app subscription service. However, taken together, it does suggest that Google is at least thinking about introducing one.

Why would Google introduce a Play Pass?

Despite recording billions of app downloads every quarter, the Play Store has long stood behind the Apple App Store when it comes to the amount of money actually spent on apps. A subscription service could potentially encourage more users to part with their money.

Furthermore, while some popular apps do rake in a lot of money directly from the Play Store, only a very small percentage of the overall number of apps make a lot of money this way. A subscription service would likely encourage people to use more apps and, therefore, spread the profits around a bit.

If developers begin to make more money from apps, it could reduce their dependence on advertising and spammy in-app purchases. This would be a big benefit to consumers and it could help raise the perceived value of apps in general.

Last year, only 1,697 apps made more than $1 million from the Google Play Store.

There are plenty of hurdles Google would have to overcome before introducing such a service, however.

Perhaps the biggest one would be ensuring the terms and conditions of the service are attractive to a wide range of developers. There are millions of apps available on the Play Store with many different developers and publishers. It will likely be a major challenge for Google to come up with a service that keeps all these people happy.

Additionally, a subscription service would only have real value if some of the most popular apps are available. However, many of these apps already make a lot of money. Unless Google can guarantee a much higher number of users, it seems unlikely that these apps would make as much money from a Google subscription service as they would by going it alone.

Editor’s Pick

A subscription service wouldn’t be the first change to the Play Store that appears to be aimed at encouraging people to spend more on apps.

Google recently introduced a Google Play Points reward scheme in Japan whereby users receive points for making purchases on the Play Store. Meanwhile, in August it introduced a way for users to try paid games before they buy them.

However, a subscription service would potentially be a much bigger change than either of these schemes.

Up next: 10 facts about Google Play to celebrate 10 years of downloads

Xiaomi reveals list of phones to receive Android Oreo or Pie in Q4 2018

The Xiaomi Redmi 5A.

  • Xiaomi has revealed a list of phones that will receive updates in Q4 2018.
  • These system updates will be beta releases at the very least.
  • The company is delivering a mix of Android Oreo and Android Pie updates.

It’s been several months since Android Pie first launched, so we’re happy to see Xiaomi reveal a list of phones that will receive the update in some capacity in Q4 2018.

The company used its Chinese-language forum (h/t: GSMArena and MyDrivers) to publish a table of devices that have either received Android Oreo and Pie, or shall receive a beta update at the very least during Q4 2018. Naturally, we’re more interested in devices set to receive the updates…

A table, showing Xiaomi's updates for Q4 2018. Xiaomi

The table shows that the Redmi 5, Redmi 5A, Redmi 5 Plus, and Mi 5X are all set to receive a bump to Oreo. It’s disappointing that these phones aren’t being upgraded to Pie, but hopefully the brand skips Pie when Android Q is launched…

Meanwhile, devices set to receive a Pie-based update this quarter are the Mi 8 Screen Fingerprint Edition (known as the Pro model outside China), Mi 8 SE, and the Mi Max 3.

Xiaomi’s table also notes that the Mi 5S Plus’s Oreo update was suspended due to an unspecified issue. Don’t see your phone on the list though? Well, the forum post cautions that old phones and devices that have already received two updates are unlikely to receive another update.

Up next: MIUI info hub — Everything you should know about Xiaomi’s Android skin

Dual-screen Nubia X might support charging over Wi-Fi, retail for over $1400

The Nubia Z18S, complete with rear display. Slashleaks

  • Nubia has listed several features for its dual-screen Nubia X smartphone.
  • The company has listed “Wi-Fi wireless charge technology” as well.
  • Nubia has mooted a 10,000 yuan price, which would be more expensive than big-name flagships.

The Nubia X (formerly known as the Nubia Z18S) has one of the more interesting designs of the year. Featuring an LCD screen on the front and an OLED display on the back, it certainly stands out from traditional flagships.

Now, Nubia has published an infographic on Weibo (h/t: GSMArena), purportedly detailing a few Nubia X features ahead of its launch. Unfortunately, the infographic isn’t available in English, but the Google Translate mobile app should come in handy…

Read: The one thing Android OEMs can learn from iPhone XR

We say “should” because the translations are still very murky. Nevertheless, we’re able to make out eye comfort mode, “Wi-Fi wireless charge technology,” and a high screen/body ratio. We also see references to notches (the dual screen design could mean no display cutout is needed on the front), flexible displays/designs, and PUBG.

The eye comfort mode, high screen/body ratio, and notch references are mostly self-explanatory. But the references to Wi-Fi wireless charge technology and flexible designs give us pause for thought.

Editor’s Pick

It’s more likely that we’re looking at standard Qi wireless charging rather than charging via Wi-Fi, but I’d gladly take the latter in the event that it’s on the phone (and works well). In fact, at least two companies were reportedly aiming to have Wi-Fi charging solutions ready in 2018. One of the companies, Energous, already received FCC certification in December 2017, going on to reveal smart underwear. So the technology is clearly more than just a pipe dream at the moment.

Meanwhile, the references to flexibility might not mean much, as it could merely suggest they’re using a curved OLED screen. These screens could deliver curved sides or even a G Flex 2-style fully curved display.

Finally, the infographic suggests a 10,000 yuan (~$1441) price tag, which would make it more expensive than the Galaxy Note 9 and LG V40 ThinQ. If the phone indeed has Wi-Fi charging, it might be worth it for the cool factor. But much like in-display fingerprint sensors, you could probably wait a while for others to adopt the tech.

Up next: Xiaomi Black Shark Helo announced, serving up to 10GB of RAM

OnePlus says it will launch a 5G phone next year, hopes to be part of first wave

OnePlus-6-Camera-Review-1

  • Carl Pei has confirmed OnePlus will release a 5G phone next year.
  • The executive says OnePlus will be among the first companies to release a 5G device.
  • This suggests the phone will be released early in the year.

OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei has confirmed the company will release a 5G phone next year. Speaking at the Qualcomm 4G/5G Summit in Hong Kong, Pei said he expects OnePlus to be either the first or one of the first companies to release a 5G device, reports Engadget.

This comes soon after Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon reportedly said he expects at least two major flagships to arrive with Qualcomm’s 5G radio next year: one in the first half of the year, and one in the holiday season.

At the moment, it is thought OEMs will begin to release 5G devices in early 2019.

In recent years, OnePlus has launched phones in May or June and October or November. Should the company stick to its twice-yearly release schedule and still be one of the first to release a 5G phone, it is likely that the May release would have to be the one that includes a version with 5G support.

Alternatively, the company could be working on a separate 5G model. This would allow it to release a 5G device even earlier in the year while sticking to May and November for its regular releases.

Editor’s Pick

The list of manufacturers thought to be working on 5G devices appears to be growing by the day. LG has confirmed it will release a device with Sprint, while Huawei has said it is working on a foldable phone with 5G support.

ZTE and Samsung are also thought to be working on devices that will be released next year, while Xiaomi has said it will launch the Mi Mix 3 with 5G support on October 25.

Next up: 5G: When will your smartphone get it?

Deal: Xiaomi Mi Box S and Google Home Mini for $85 ($24-off)

It might not be the best Android TV box available, but the Xiaomi Mi Box S is still one of the better options available. Pair that with the Google Home Mini, and you actually have an affordable way to use your voice to play movies and TV shows. You can spend even less if you look at Walmart, where the Mi Box S and Home Mini are currently going for $85.

That is a $24 discount compared to the $109 you would normally pay if you bought the Mi Box S and Home Mini separately. It might not sound like a significant amount, but you can put the $24 toward a Chromecast or even a second Home Mini.

You can pick up the Home Mini in either Charcoal or Chalk, but the Coral option is currently unavailable. We do not know when the promotion will end.

Editor’s Pick

Announced earlier in October, the Mi Box S is an updated version of the original Mi Box that debuted back in 2016. The Mi Box S lets you stream content in 4K and runs the latest version of Android TV that is based on Android 8.1 Oreo. The remote features a dedicated Google Assistant button that gives you quick access to voice commands. The remote also features dedicated Netflix and live TV buttons.

Under the hood is a quad-core CPU, 2GB of RAM, and 8GB of expandable storage. The back of the Mi Box S features one HDMI 2.0A port, one audio-out port, and one USB 2.0 port. Finally, the Mi Box S is notable for being one of the few Xiaomi products officially sold in the U.S.

You can either have the Mi Box S and Home Mini shipped to your or your closest Walmart store. You can grab the deal at the link below.

First OnePlus 6T camera sample appears via CEO: Is it a low-light champ?

OnePlus 6T teaser Twitter

  • OnePlus CEO Pete Lau has posted a photo taken with the OnePlus 6T.
  • The photo shows a city at dusk, but it’s unclear if this was taken in auto or night mode.
  • Little else is known about the camera experience, but we’ll find out more on October 29.

The Oneplus 6T launch event is around the corner, and we already have a good idea of what to expect from the phone. How its camera will handle is less certain, but OnePlus CEO Pete Lau has dished out a tantalizing glimpse of its capabilities on social media.

The executive published a photo sample on Weibo (h/t: GSMArena), showing a city at dusk/night. We don’t know if the photo was edited, while EXIF information isn’t available either. Nevertheless, the clouds and buildings seem well-realized. The sky isn’t noise-free though but, all in all, it seems like a good low-light snap. Check it out below (we’ve resized the image to fit the page):

A OnePlus 6T camera sample by Pete Lau. weibo.com/liuzuohu

It’s unclear whether this is the phone’s normal mode or a night mode as seen on the likes of Huawei‘s phones. In Huawei’s case, the night mode intelligently stacks and aligns multiple frames in order to reduce noise and simulate a long shutter speed. If this were taken via a normal/auto mode, however, it would make for a great demonstration of the setup’s light-gathering capabilities. But we won’t complain if this photo is the result of a night mode.

Editor’s Pick

The OnePlus 6T is set for an October 29 reveal, and we already have a few confirmed details. The new phone will ship with Android Pie and an in-display fingerprint sensor, but will lack a headphone jack. Other expected features include a Snapdragon 845 chipset, dual-camera setup, and an OLED screen with a tiny notch.

The new phone would also mark the latest device to arrive in October, following in the footsteps of the LG V40 ThinQ, Google Pixel 3, Huawei Mate 20, and Razer Phone 2.

What do you think of the sample snap? Give us your thoughts in the comments.

NEXT: Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro hands-on — Cameras, cubed

Gboard’s new floating keyboard is a blessing for multitasking

Gboard floating keyboard

  • The latest Gboard update sees the addition of a floating keyboard feature.
  • This can be useful when multitasking or typing with one hand.
  • Gboard isn’t the first keyboard to get this feature.

Google has introduced a floating keyboard to Gboard and it makes multitasking significantly more convenient. Google added the feature to Gboard version 7.6 and it went live on October 19, according to 9to5 Google.

You can find the new feature by tapping on Gboard’s Google icon and then tapping the overflow menu. From here, you can turn the floating keyboard on and off or, if you think you will use it a lot, add it to Gboard’s easy access bar.

Once the floating keyboard is enabled, you can drag it around your screen and resize it as you see fit. Exiting the mode is achieved in exactly the same way as turning it on.

Multitasking without Gboard floating keyboard
Multitasking with Gboard floating keyboard

This is particularly useful for split-screen multitasking. Before the update, when you had two windows open and wanted to type something, the keyboard would show up in its usual place at the bottom of the screen. This would either cover up most of the bottom window or — as in the picture above — push the bottom window into the top window.

Both scenarios could be pretty annoying if you wanted to copy some information from one window into another. For example, when typing bank details into a payments app. The new floating keyboard means you can instead position the keyboard as you see fit, ensuring you can see the important info.

Editor’s Pick

As well as multitasking, the floating keyboard could make one-handed typing much easier as you can make the keyboard smaller and position it in a way that is comfortable for you.

Gboard isn’t the first keyboard to implement a floating feature. SwiftKey has offered the feature for years now. However, the Gboard addition is likely to be welcomed by users who want to use the floating feature without having to switch keyboards.

Next up: 10 best Android keyboards

There are a lot of big phones out there, but which is right for you?

Let’s face it: big phones are here to stay. Samsung first made people want them with the original Galaxy Note, and we have not looked back since. Even companies like Apple, which stuck to smaller smartphones for years, eventually followed the trend with the iPhone 6 Plus in 2014.

There are now more options than ever when looking for a smartphone with a big displays — it’s easy to get overwhelmed. This is especially true right now, as the fall has brought a ton of new phones, many packing large screens.

Whether you are undecided or simply want a second opinion, here is our list of the best big phones available right now. 


Best all-around: Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is one of the best big phones you can buy

Want a big 6.3-inch AMOLED display and equally-large 4,000mAh battery? They’re here. Looking for at least 6GB of RAM and at least 128GB of expandable storage? Look no further. Hate notches? There isn’t one in sight. The Note 9 even comes with the series’ characteristic S Pen, which now adds tons of extra functionality via Bluetooth. The phone has no peer when it comes to its sheer number of features.

Why you should buy

  • The bright and large display is the best on the market,
  • If you can think of a software feature, it probably has it.
  • The S Pen brings features that no other phone has.

Why you might want to pass

  • The phone starts at $1,000.
  • Bixby continues to not be particularly good and its button cannot be officially remapped.
  • Based on precedent, software updates will be slow to arrive.

Learn more about the Galaxy Note 9


Best Galaxy Note 9 alternative: LG V40 ThinQ

LG V40 ThinQ in hand showing home screen

The story of the LG V40 ThinQ starts and ends with its five cameras — three around back and two up front — something no other phone’s done. Even though we were not very kind to the V40 ThinQ, the phone has potential options not seen in other phones.

Why you should buy

  • The phone can take regular, wide-angle, and telephoto shots.
  • The 32-bit Quad DAC pumps out great audio through the headphone jack.
  • The Google Assistant button is actually useful.

Why you might want to pass

  • The images do not live up to the hype.
  • The features do not justify its almost-$1,000 price tag.
  • Based on precedent, software updates will be extremely slow.

Learn more about the LG V40 ThinQ


Best big phone with stock Android: Google Pixel 3 XL

Pixel 3 XL - best big phone for stock fans

It might not have the bells and whistles of the Galaxy Note 9 and V40 ThinQ, but the Pixel 3 XL focuses on speed, ease of use, and being helpful. We didn’t call the Pixel 3 XL the Android iPhone for “the clicks” or lulz, but because it is the Android phone designed to appeal to everyone else. Its value is more than just specs on paper.

Why you should buy

  • The software is extremely fluid and gets updates directly from Google.
  • The single rear camera delivers an excellent and consistent photo-taking experience.
  • The learning curve is one of the smallest we have seen from an Android phone.

Why you might want to pass

  • You do not want to spend $899 on a smartphone.
  • Most of its headlining software features will trickle down to existing Pixels.
  • There is a lack of widespread availability.

Learn more about the Google Pixel 3 XL


Best big phone on the cheap: Honor 8X

It’s not as flashy as the Galaxy Note 9 or as fluid as the Pixel 3 XL, but the Honor 8X one of the best mid-tier smartphones and one of the best affordable big phones you can buy. This is a supersized phablet that comes in at under 300 euros (~$345), yet it delivers snappy performance and a stunning design. Look no further than the Honor 8X if you want a smartphone to make your wallet happy.

Why should you buy

  • The 3,750mAh battery has no problem surviving two days of use.
  • The premium design, performance, and storage options are a cut above your typical mid-tier smartphone.
  • You can buy four Honor 8Xs for the price of one Galaxy Note 9.

Why you might want to pass

  • The camera performance is hit or miss.
  • Dated hardware choices, such as a Micro-USB port and single bottom-firing speaker.
  • There is no IP rating.

Learn more about the Honor 8X


Best non-Android: iPhone XS Max

In any discussion of big phones, the iPhone XS Max is the elephant in the room. Notch haters will gravitate to the top, but everyone else will focus on the smooth performance, fantastic display, and great cameras. It may be cliche, but the iPhone XS Max is what happens when hardware and software meet in the middle as equals. Also, you really don’t have many other options for non-Android these days, with Windows Mobile pretty much dead.

Why you should buy

  • The A12 Bionic and iOS 12 optimizations deliver excellent performance.
  • The display rivals the Galaxy Note 9.
  • The phone slots in nicely with the rest of Apple’s ecosystem.

Why you might want to pass

  • The phone starts at $1,099.
  • The software does not make proper use of the large display.
  • Reports of phones not charging and antenna problems.

Learn more about the iPhone XS Max


We will continually update this list as manufacturers release more phones. You should also look out for the Huawei Mate 20 Pro and Mate 20 X, though we haven’t had enough time to fully review them. Perhaps one or both will make the list soon!

If you feel like we left something out or believe we nailed it, let us know in the comments below!

We asked, you told us: The Note 9 is for power users, but the Mate 20 Pro is a close second

Huawei Mate 20 fingerprint reader

With the release of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, there’s finally an Android smartphone made for power users that competes against the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. With that said, we decided to ask all of you if you would rather buy the Mate 20 Pro or the Galaxy Note 9.

Spec-for-spec, the two handsets are almost identical. Both feature QHD+ displays that are over six-inches in size, high-quality CPUs, and 6GB of RAM — although the 512GB Note 9 model comes with 8GB. Other than the software experience that either manufacturer installs on its phones, the only significant differences is the inclusion of the headphones jack and S Pen found with the Galaxy Note 9.

Which is the better power user phone: Huawei Mate 20 Pro or Galaxy Note 9?

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Results

As you can see from the four polls that we ran, the Galaxy Note 9 barely beat out the Mate 20 Pro. Coming in with an average of 55 percent of the votes, Samsung’s flagship keeps it power user Android smartphone crown.

Unsurprisingly, it appears that the deciding factor for a majority of the voters came down to the standout features found in each device. For Galaxy Note 9 voters, they stated that they preferred the Samsung Experience, S Pen, the high-quality display, and the headphone jack. Mate 20 Pro voters overwhelmingly commented most about the larger 4,200mAh battery and how power users required the longer battery life.

Noteworthy comments

Here are some of the comments from across the polls – many stern in their vote for the Galaxy Note 9 or Mate 20 Pro:

  • Huawei mate 20 Pro is better for power user because of its new Kirin 980 processor based on 7nm manufacturing process.
  • the note 9 at least it’s doesn’t have that god dammed fugly notch!
  • How can you possibly consider the Note 9 a power user’s phone? Samsung Experience is awful, and is way too locked down to actually do anything.
  • though the mate 20 pro is a beast,it still can’t match the smartness of a bluetooth s pen ;that’s why we call it note
  • Mate by far. Samsung devices have terrible battery life and they always lag. Hell I’d put my Mate 10 Pro up against the Note 9 in the battery department.
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 9 for me, personally. Mainly due to the fact that it and every future Samsung Note device most likely will be available here in the USA on my current carrier, Verizon Wireless.

And then there’s those that voted based on the fact that they never used a Huawei phone before:

  • My vote is kind of flawed because I own a Note 9, currently using it, and I’ve never used a Huawei; any Huawei.

That’s it for this week, everyone. As always, thanks for voting, thanks for the comments, and don’t forget to let us know what you thought of the results below.

UK Deals of the Week: Huawei Mate 20 Pro with free Huawei Watch GT, wireless charger

Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro

Welcome to your weekly round-up of the best U.K. deals of the week for Android phones, network plans, accessories, smart home tech, and a little of whatever else is on offer in the world of mobile!

Editor’s Pick

This week’s deals include a killer bundle on the brand new Huawei Mate 20 Pro, a heavy discount on a refurbished Google Pixel 2 XL, a huge saving on Sennheiser headphones, and much more.

""Amazon Prime Day 2018: Deals, dates, and everything else you should know

Below are the most enticing deals we’ve seen this week hand-picked with a little help from the folks over at HotUKDeals – the U.K.’s biggest deal-sharing community.

Phones

Huawei Mate 20 Pro (SIM Free, 128GB) w/ free Huawei Watch GT and Wireless Charger (worth £259) – £899 @ Various

Google Pixel 2 XL (Refurbished, SIM Free, 64GB) – £389 (was £464) @ Envirofone

LG V30 (SIM Free, 64GB) – £459 (was £559) @ Carphone Warehouse

Sony Xperia XA2 (SIM Free, 32GB) – £199 (was £249) @ Carphone Warehouse

Accessories

Lenovo HX03F Smart Watch – £15 (was £28) w/code DLN6CK90 @ Dresslily

Sennheiser Momentum-on 2.0 headphones – £69 (was £169) @ HMV

Qi certified RavPower 10W wireless fast charging pad – £7.49 Prime / £11.98 non-Prime w/code HDGAQQDW @ Amazon (Sunvalleytek-UK)

Tech

Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote – £34.99 (was £39.99)

Xiaomi Indoor Temperature and Humidity Monitor – £7 (was £22) w/code DLSOHOT20 @ Dresslily

More UK content:

Have you seen any amazing deals this week? Be sure to share your finds in the comments.