Author Archives: Chris Davies

Writing for R3 Media since 2006, Chris Davies is currently executive editor for SlashGear and Android Community. Based in San Francisco, he's responsible for SlashGear's editorial decisions and covers all forms of consumer technology. You can follow him on Twitter.

This is VW’s plan for semi-autonomous, smartphone-friendly driving

This is VW’s plan for semi-autonomous, smartphone-friendly driving

Volkswagen is embracing CarPlay and Android Auto, revamping its whole infotainment line-up while injecting some smart semi-autonomous tech to its 2016 cars. I spent some time with VW's new Driver Assist semi-autonomous features, along with the Discover Pro on the e-Golf SEL Premium, the top-spec MIB-II model in VW's new range. It's a noticeable improvement over the old infotainment platform, pairing a sizable 8-inch capacitive touchscreen with easily stabbed and grabbed shortcut buttons and knobs.

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These VW Android Auto and CarPlay cars are in showrooms now

These VW Android Auto and CarPlay cars are in showrooms now

Volkswagen has launched its new Modular Infotainment Platform, MIB-II, with the first cars with the new touchscreen head-units arriving in dealerships complete with Android Auto and CarPlay. The new technology, announced at CES 2015, switches to a more modular approach, as well as baking in more apps and wearables. It's an ambitious roll-out, too, with VW planning to put MIB-II into all but a handful of its 2016 models.

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OnePlus 2 hands-on – The Android wild-card

OnePlus 2 hands-on – The Android wild-card

Seldom are the life-lessons so clear when you launch a follow-up product, like the new OnePlus 2 Android smartphone. Born of a desire to cater to the whims of the Android enthusiast, the requests were simple: they wanted power, they wanted affordability, and they wanted it right now. The original OnePlus One succeeded on the first two of those counts but notoriously botched the third. Now, still bearing a near-astonishing SIM-free, unlocked price tag - starting at $329 - but brought up to speed with 2015's finest, the OnePlus 2 is aiming for the hat trick. I caught up with OnePlus to see what's new.

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Baidu’s Android apps go green for better battery life

Baidu’s Android apps go green for better battery life

We’ve all been there: the excitement of getting a new smartphone, the fun of loading it up with your favorite apps, and then the frustration when your handset starts getting weighed-down and your battery runs flat. DU Battery Saver and DU Speed Booster, products from China’s biggest search engine company Baidu, admittedly can’t satiate your upgrade lust for the latest Android flagship. Instead, they promise something perhaps even more useful: the ability to squeeze more performance out of your existing phone and postpone the need to buy a new one. But for the app developers, those benefits are secondary to an even more ambitious goal: helping the environment. If you’re upgrading your phone less frequently, you’re reducing your e-waste footprint and energy usage and putting less strain on the planet.

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SlashGear is now on SmartNews for super-fast reading

SlashGear is now on SmartNews for super-fast reading

With more and more people reaching for their phone to get the latest news, we're excited to announce that you can now find a SlashGear channel in SmartNews. We've been big fans of the app for some time now: not only is it clean and east to read, it's fast too, something that's important when you're on the move. It's available for both iPhone and Android.

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Record $105m fine for Fiat Chrysler over recalls

Record $105m fine for Fiat Chrysler over recalls

Fiat-Chrysler will buy back as many as 500,000 trucks in a hugely costly settlement with the NHTSA that also includes a penalty that could reach $105m. News of the buy-back comes after the beleaguered manufacturer agreed to recall a whopping 1.5m cars, SUVs, and trucks late last week, with today's record fine coming after the firm failed to convince the US safety regulator that it handled a total of 23 recalls affecting in excess of 11m vehicles effectively over the past few years.

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2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata First Drive – Roadster Reborn

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata First Drive – Roadster Reborn

It's close to being a miracle that the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata exists. As the cars around it get bigger, more luxurious, and more insulated from the road beneath them, and as semi-autonomous technologies become more and more mainstream, a tiny, purist roadster seems all the more an outlier. Surely Mazda's accountants and its "brand strategists" will weigh in and, for this fourth-generation, dilute the MX-5 with demands for practicality? Read on, because I have good news.

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Here’s what Honda’s new R&D hub in the Valley is working on

Here’s what Honda’s new R&D hub in the Valley is working on

You're nobody in automotive these days without a flashy R&D center in Silicon Valley, and Honda is stepping up its game as it cooks up new semi-autonomous driving, green engine, and smart car technologies. While it's not Honda's first footprint in the Valley - that happened back in 2000 - it's certainly the biggest play from the firm, with the new facility the company's largest research & development site outside of Japan. The fruits of the new center will eventually trickle down to production cars, but Honda gave us a sneak peek of what it's been working on.

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2016 Honda Accord revealed with CarPlay and Android Auto

2016 Honda Accord revealed with CarPlay and Android Auto

Honda will launch Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on the 2016 Accord, the upcoming refresh of its full-sized sedan. The iPhone and Android connectivity systems will be an option with Honda's 7-inch Display Audio touchscreen infotainment system, offered on EX trim cars and above. As we've seen with other so-equipped head units, Honda's implementation will allow Android and iOS devices to take over the dashboard display for apps, streaming media, and navigation. However, Honda says that we can expect a bigger-than-average impact from its involvement.

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Plantronics BackBeat SENSE Review – Smarter Bluetooth headphones

Plantronics BackBeat SENSE Review – Smarter Bluetooth headphones

You’re spoiled for choice right now with wireless headphones, but Plantronics is hoping the new BackBeat SENSE can slot in with a mixture of clever tech and everyday flexibility. Lightweight and quietly handsome, they may not have in-your-face branding of some rivals, but they come from a company with a solid track-record both in audio and in wireless devices. Bluetooth offers more than just cutting the cord, mind, and Plantronics claims to be doing more than most with its smart wireless system.

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Instagram adds web search

Instagram adds web search

Instagram has rolled out its boosted search support to the browser, having improved the Discovery tab of its mobile apps last month. The updated search now hunts through hashtags, users' accounts, and general terms for those times you'd rather go browsing on the desktop rather than fiddling with your phone. However, it's not quite so full-featured as what the mobile app offers.

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This futuristic exoskeleton convinced me to take aging seriously

This futuristic exoskeleton convinced me to take aging seriously

One day you will die, but, before then - and assuming all goes to plan - you’ll be trapped in an old body. Failing eyesight, hearing plagued with tinnitus, and limbs progressively seizing until just getting up from your chair is a challenge too great: death may be considered the biggest taboo, but aging is arguably a more uncomfortable one. With all that to look forward to, it’s no surprise that nobody wants to talk about getting old. Could a futuristic exoskeleton kick-start that conversation?

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