Sling TV expands its Cloud DVR ‘First Look’ to Apple TV

Sling TV is adding more devices to its ‘First Look’ for the new Cloud DVR feature. Sling TV subscribers with an Apple TV can now try the beta service for $5 per month, which gets you 50 hours of Cloud DVR storage.

Cloud DVR first showed up as an invite-only beta last December on Roku devices and select Smart TVs. At the time our general impression was that it was a nice feature, but still a work in progress.

Several months later, in March, Sling TV began selling the ‘First Look’ version of Cloud DVR to Amazon device owners. Then earlier in April, the ‘First Look’ rolled out to Roku and regular Android devices.

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Now, it’s Apple TV’s turn. For an extra $5 monthly on top of a Sling TV subscription, the ‘First Look’ Cloud DVR lets you watch recorded broadcasts on all currently supported devices. The feature includes what Sling calls “conflict-free recording,” which means you can record multiple programs at the same time. There’s no specific limit on how many programs you can record at one time.

Sling TV also lets you keep your Cloud DVR recordings as long as you want, similar to many set-top DVRs. Other services, such as PlayStation Vue, let you keep recorded programs only for a limited time. However, by default Sling TV will automatically delete older recordings to make room for new ones once you get close to the 50-hour limit.

The impact on you at home: Cloud DVR is a great addition for Sling TV subscribers, but one glaring problem still remains with the service. Namely, certain channels do not work with Cloud DVR. In December, that list included FX, FS1, FS2, FXX, National Geographic, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, Freeform, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, and Disney XD.

That means no ESPN or FS1 sporting events can be recorded, and popular TV shows like The Americans, Fargo, and Star Wars: Rebels are also out. We’re checking with Sling TV to see if the list of restricted channels has changed at all. Regardless, any channel restrictions on DVR recordings are the biggest drawback to using the new feature.

Xiaomi might release a Mi phone in the U.S., but not until 2019

When Xiaomi unveiled the Mi6 last week, notably absent was any mention of a U.S. release. While the China-based company launched its first stateside product late last year, the Android TV-based Mi Box, it has yet to debut a handset for the U.S. market. But Xiaomi isn’t giving up on the dream.

Xiaomi’s senior vice president of strategic cooperation Wang Xiang said in an interview with CNet that the company is taking its time with its global expansion, despite recent hints that it was looking to break into the U.S. sooner than later. He told the publication that Xiaomi is looking to launch its first handset “in two years, if not sooner,” so it looks like U.S. buyers will have to wait until the Mi8.

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Xiaomi’s former global head, Hugo Barra, had teased a more ambitious plan for the company’s expansion, but after a splashy event at CES this year, Xiaomi still found itself on the outside of the U.S. market looking in. Other Chinese companies such as Huawei and ZTE have had limited success with U.S. releases, but partnering with carriers has proven to be a big barrier to availability.

However, Xiaomi may be further along than they are letting on. Last year, Barra suggested that the Mi5 was already being tested on U.S. networks, but it’s unclear how official they were. Overseas phones operate on a different band than U.S. carriers, so manufacturers need to pass a series of lab tests before they can be offered for sale through AT&T or T-Mobile stores.

At any rate, Xiaomi is clearly interested in becoming a larger player in the increasingly crowded smartphone game. As Wang said, “We don’t want to make a random decision, oh say, here’s the Mi 6, let’s try the US market, if it doesn’t work let’s just leave,” Wang said. “No, we want to be well prepared and make a boom in those markets.”

Xiaomi, don’t tell me: The U.S. market is the toughest nut to crack for China-based phone makers, so we won’t be surprised if we never see a Xiaomi handset. While the company is taking the right approach by biding its time and exploring all options, the fact remains that none of its mainland competitors have been able to hit on a winning formula for success, especially for higher-end handsets. Part of it is the tremendous competition from Apple and Samsung, but there’s also the carrier compliance. Unlocked phones may be nice, but if they aren’t being sold by the major carriers, adoption is that much more difficult. Still, we’d love to see a Xiaomi phone work on U.S. networks, even if we have to wait until the Mi8.

This story, “Xiaomi might release a Mi phone in the U.S., but not until 2019” was originally published by Greenbot.

Android Nougat May Soon Get a Navigation Bar Customiser

As per information provided by tipsters, Google seems to be working on a navigation bar customiser (or navbar customiser), which will enable you to apply certain tweaks to the current on-screen navigation buttons with Home, Back and Recent options. The feature is expected to be currently hidden inside the code of Android 7.0 Nougat.

The code for navigation bar customiser was introduced to Android as a code commit on January 22, but then removed more than a month later on February 24 as the feature was not ready, as per the updates mentioned on code repository site GitHub.

Android Nougat May Soon Get a Navigation Bar Customiser

The customisation option is expected to be added to Google’s System UI Tuner, which was introduced with Android 6.0 Marshmallow’s early build. System UI Tuner has essentially provided developers with various tweak options over the time like removing various icons from status bar to help them take screenshots or videos of their apps.

A tipster for Android Police managed to re-enable the navigation bar customiser by modding the SystemUI, and has sent website the screenshots and a description of each navigation bar modifier. According to the information provided by the tipster, “all the standard buttons on the navbar are removable, and new ones can be added at will.”

As per the tipster, the new items available for use include a clipboard button, a button to which any keyboard function can be assigned, a spacer, and a switch button for menu/keyboard. Further there are icons like double-headed arrow, a cross and an icon with two horizontal lines. These icons resize, delete and move the icons on navigation bar.

The clipboard option reportedly doesn’t work as of now and it is not clear if these options have anything to do with the fancy home-button linked with Google Assistant, the company’s upcoming virtual assistant, or the rumoured Nexus Launcher, which was leaked earlier. Therefore, nothing can be said with certainty. However, if the company does launch this feature eventually with an Android Nougat update, it will give an a interesting customisation option that is likely to be cherished by many.

Notably, the tipster has also uploaded a flashable zip file on XDA Developers for those who want to try out the feature on a Nexus 6P running Android 7.0 Nougat. If you intend to try it out, bear in mind you’ll need a custom recovery option, and should ideally backup your data in case something goes wrong.