Google is reportedly buying Lytro for no more than $40 million

Lytro was valued at $360 million in 2017.

According to a new report from TechCrunch, Lytro is the latest company that Google will acquire. Lytro was initially founded in 2006, and its first product – the Lytro Light Field Camera – received a lot of attention in 2012 thanks to its unique design and ability to change the focus of images after they were captured.

Google's apparently seeking an "asset sale" with this deal, meaning that Google would obtain Lytro's 59 different patents that all relate to digital and Light Field photography (the tech that made products like the Light Field Camera and Illum from 2014 so noteworthy).

While one source says that Google will purchase Lytro for $40 million, another claims that the sale could be as low as $25 million. For a company that raised more than $200 million in funding and had a reported value of $360 million once its last round of funding was completed in 2017, that's incredibly low.

Along with this, TechCrunch also notes –

A third source tells us that not all employees are coming over with the company's technology: some have already received severance and parted ways with the company, and others have simply left.

Following the release of its Illum camera, Lytro shifted its focus to virtual reality in 2015 with the launch of Lytro Immerge – something the company describes as "the world's first professional Light Field solution for cinematic VR, providing true presence for live action VR through six degrees of freedom."

That Light Field technology is the same system found in Lytro's previous two cameras, and in addition to letting users change the focus on images, it captures light in a way that allows you basically create a 3D scene with data on the distance between objects in the frame. This has the potential for all sorts of tricks, and it allows for much more control over photos compared to more traditional cameras.

Assuming this deal goes through, it'll be interesting to see how Google integrates Lytro's tech into its products. Will we see Light Field tech make its way into Daydream VR? What about future Pixel phones? A lot of this is still unknown, but the potential of what could come out of this is exciting nonetheless.

HTC's Vive Focus VR headset is super cool, but you can't have one

Should you install an SSD in your PlayStation 4?

Before you buy an SSD for your PlayStation here are some things to consider.

Many of us have been there before. You are getting tired of trying to decide which games to delete from your hard drive in order to make room for something new. You have come to the conclusion that you need to install a new hard drive in your PlayStation 4. However, you aren't entirely sure whether you should get a solid state drive or a mechanical drive. Have no fear! We are here to give you some insight in order to make an informed decision.

Move your PS4 to a solid state?

In general, an SSD (or solid state drive) is a faster animal. Mechanical drives have moving parts whereas an SSD does not. The easiest way to think of it is that an SSD is like a larger memory stick. In recent years SSD's have become far more affordable than they have been in the past. That being said, they are still pricier than their mechanical counterparts.

But is an SSD worth buying and installing in your PS4? In general terms, no. Unfortunately, the hardware of the PS4 is not capable of taking advantage of the superior speeds of an SSD. Even on the PlayStation Pro, the SATA interface just does not provide the speed which would make the purchase of an SSD worthwhile. You may see some slightly faster load times on some games, but you are only going to be looking at an improvement measured in one or two seconds. In my opinion, it's just not worth the premium you would pay for an SSD.

Maybe a hard drive that's mechanically inclined.

As it stands right now, the best bang for your buck when it comes to expanding the storage space on your PS4, still lies with a mechanical drive. While they still aren't quite as fast as an SSD on paper, the difference you will see on your PS4 is negligible. The difference you will see is in your pocketbook. Mechanical drives still offer marked savings as compared to solid state. In addition, now that the PS4 offers support of external drives you don't have to crack your case open in order to expand your storage.

When it comes right down to it the benefits of an SSD on your PS4 just aren't worth the money. My best suggestion would be to pick up the fastest and most reasonably priced mechanical external drive you can find. You will get all the extra space you desire and you will see a bump in load times as compared to the stock PS4 drive.

Check out our favorite external hard drives for more storage in your console!

Have you expanded the storage on your PS4?

Have you slapped a new drive in your PlayStation 4? I would love to hear about your experiences, both good and bad.

Why are we talking PlayStation 4 on Android Central? Let us explain.

Sharp Aquos S3 Mini Smartphone Announced with FHD+ display & 6GB RAM

Sharp has announced a new device in China called Aquos S3 Mini and we are not sure if the rumored Aquos S3 will be launched. This handset will come in Black, Blue, and Gold color variants and is priced at 1599 Yuan (Approx US$ 252) in China via Sharp has also included a fingerprint sensor on the rear to enhance the security levels. Apart from these, the front camera on this device comes with AI portrait selfies and also has face unlocking feature that can unlock the handset in just 0.1 seconds.

Coming to the device, the Sharp Aquos S3 Mini sports a 5.5-inch (1080 x 2040 pixels) FHD+ LCD display with 2.5D  curved glass on top and with 550 nits brightness, 135% sRGB color coverage. Under the hood, there is an Octa-Core Snapdragon 630 14nm SoC coupled with 3GB of RAM and either Adreno 508 GPU / Adreno 512 GPU. The onboard storage is limited to 64GB which can be further extended up to a maximum of 128GB via microSD card slot which also be used to insert secondary SIM slot.

The handset supports Hybrid Dual SIM card and also has other options like 4G VoLTE, GPS, A-GPS and few more. On the camera front, there is a 16MP rear-facing camera with LED flash, PDAF, f/2.0 aperture which will be accompanied with 20MP selfie camera with F/2.0 aperture size. It will come out of the box with Android 7.1.1 Nougat operating system with Smile Ux on top and is also expected to get further updates.

The Aquos S3 Mini measures 142.7 x 73 x 7.8 mm and weighs 140 grams. There is a 3020mAh battery on the back to power this handset that comes with USB Type-C port. Are you planning to get this device from Aquos? Comment in the section below if you have any queries on the same and stay tuned to Android Advices for more news and updates.

LG V30 update tracker (Update: Sprint rolling out Oreo)

Update (03/21): Sprint has now joined Verizon in rolling out Android 8.0 Oreo to LG V30 users in the US. The carrier has yet to officially confirm the rollout, but users are reporting signs of the 1.7 GB update which also includes the March Android security patches.

No word on AT&T or T-Mobile just yet, but it shouldn’t be too long now.

Welcome to the LG V30 Android update tracker page. This page covers all major U.S. carriers with a quick reference table for each and a log with links to further details. It will be regularly updated with the latest LG V30 update information, but it won’t include general security patches on their own.

We recommend you bookmark this page so you can stay up to date with the very latest updates.

LG V30 Android Nougat update

The LG V30 arrived to the US on October 5, but unlike its predecessor, it was not the launch device for the latest version of Android (Oreo). Instead, the LG V30 shipped with Android Nougat, like the V20 a year earlier. Despite this, the LG V30 should be among the first LG devices to receive the update to Oreo, as it’s unlikely to release another flagship until the LG G7 next year.

LG was reasonably nippy with its Nougat update rollouts last year, updating the LG G5 in November. With that in mind, we might only have a few weeks to wait for the Oreo update to hit the V30.

LG V30 update US

LG V30 updates USAndroid 7.1.2 NougatAndroid 8.0

AT&T LG V30 update (H931):

  • The LG V30 is yet to receive any noteworthy updates from AT&T.

Verizon LG V30 update (VS996):

  • March 13, Verizon begins rolling out Android 8.0 Oreo for LG V3o users. The 1.7 GB download also includes a new settings app and changes to the notifications window.

T-Mobile LG V30 update (H932):

  • The LG V30 is yet to receive any noteworthy updates from T-Mobile.

Sprint LG V30+ update (LS998, 128 GB model):

  • March 21, Sprint starts rolling out Android 8.0 Oreo for LG V30 users. Update also includes March Android security patches.

International LG V30 update (H930/H933):

  • December 26, 2017, LG releases stable Android 8.0 Oreo update for V30 users in South Korea.

If you’ve received an update we’ve missed, hit the comments below or Tip Us!

Samsung Galaxy S9+ vs. Galaxy S7 edge: Should you upgrade?

It's a tougher question than it seems.

The Galaxy S8 changed a lot about Samsung's design language, but looking back on it, it wasn't as fundamental a change over the Galaxy S7 as it initially appeared to be. The Galaxy S7 series — and especially its curved edge variant — was the culmination of many years of maturation on Samsung's design, engineering, and software teams, and proved to be among the best smartphones released in 2016.

Now that the GS9 is out, it's worth deciding whether the Galaxy S7 — specifically, the Galaxy S7 edge — is worth swapping out for this year's model. We're going to be comparing apples to apples as much as possible in this piece, so we're going to focus on the larger GS9+, but many of the arguments apply to both the smaller and larger variants.

What a difference two years makes

The Galaxy S7 edge, while certainly not Samsung's first foray into curved glass displays, showed Samsung settling into a nice groove of differentiation. By then, after the tech demo that was the Galaxy Note Edge and the quiet success of the Galaxy S6 edge (and later that year, the strange and superfluous Galaxy S6 edge+), Samsung seemed to understand its audience, and applied its focus to blending aesthetics with functionality.

The Galaxy S7 series re-introduced many fan-favorite features that the S6 lost, like waterproofing, expandable storage, and a sufficiently sized battery, while further refining the software experience that alienated far fewer people than in years past.


Category Samsung Galaxy S9+ Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
Operating System Android 8.0 Android 7.0 Nougat
Display 6.2-inch AMOLED
2960x1440 (18.5:9)
5.5-inch 2560x1440
Dual edge screen
Processor Snapdragon 845
or Samsung Exynos 9810
Snapdragon 820
or Samsung Exynos 8
Storage 64GB 32GB
Expandable microSD up to 400GB microSD up to 200GB
Rear Camera 12MP Super Speed Dual Pixel
OIS, f/1.5 or f/2.4
12MP f/1.7
1.4-micron pixels
Secondary rear camera 12MP, f/2.4 N/A
Front Camera 8MP, f/1.7, auto focus 5MP f/1.7
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11ac MIMO
1.2 Gbps (Cat-18) LTE, Bluetooth 5.0 LE
ANT+, NFC, GPS, Glonass
Wi-Fi 802.11 ac MIMO
Bluetooth v4.2 LE
ANT+, USB 2.0, NFC
Audio Stereo speakers
Dolby Atmos
3.5mm headphone
Mono bottom speaker
3.5mm headphone
Charging USB-C
Fast Wireless Charging
Fast wireless charging
Battery 3500 mAh 3600 mAh
Water resistance IP68 rating IP68 rating
Security Fingerprint sensor
Iris scanning
Face unlock
Samsung KNOX
One-touch fingerprint sensor
Samsung KNOX
Dimensions 158.1 x 73.8 x 8.5 mm 150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7 mm
Weight 189g 157g

But when you look at the Galaxy S7 edge today it shows its age, largely thanks to the bezels atop and bottom the 16:9 Super AMOLED display and the physical home button that was such a mainstay of Samsung phones until 2017. I still have a fondness for Samsung's mechanical mastery, especially since it didn't preclude unlocking the phone as it lay on a table, but it's difficult to argue that the company made the wrong decision moving the fingerprint sensor to the back in exchange for additional screen real estate. The Galaxy S7 edge also forced users to accept Samsung's traditional navigation button scheme, which placed the back button to the right of the home, and given their permanent status, could sometimes pose a problem when accidentally tapped in landscape mode.

The Galaxy S7 edge was also the final year of the Micro-USB port. Even though USB-C was around in 2016 when the GS7 series was launched, in retrospect, given the unreliability of the standard at the time, Samsung made the right decision holding onto the reliable-but-ungainly legacy port another year.

The 2016 flagship is also significantly smaller than this year's equivalent: at 5.5 inches, the usable real estate pales next to the S9+'s 6.2-inch surface, though the difference is entirely vertical; the two phones are practically the same width. Still, the S9+ is a much taller phone, which makes it more difficult to use in one hand, something that I've partially solved by using a case (which, unfortunately, increases the phone's overall volume and weight even further).

And while the S9+ is a bit more monolithic in design, featuring a sparser front and symmetrical body due to its also-curved back, in picking up the 2016 flagship it's clear the two phones are of the same engineering lineage. In other words, the S7 edge is still a beautiful, functional piece of hardware, even by today's standards.

The more things change, the more they stay the same

Given the two years between them, you'd expect the Galaxy S9+ to trounce the S7 edge in terms of specs, and you'd be right. There are two generations of improvements to system-on-a-chip speed and efficiency, and the Snapdragon 845 handily beats the S7's Snapdragon 820 in both aspects. The S7 edge features 4GB of RAM to the S9+'s 6GB, and the latter also comes with 64GB of storage standard compared to 32GB, a nice bump in out-of-box usability. Both devices sport fast wireless charging, IP68 water and dust resistance, headphone jacks, and expandable storage, but the S7 edge lacks the facial biometrics (that are of questionable utility) of its younger sibling.

There's also a decided lack of Bixby anywhere to be seen on the Galaxy S7 edge, which is more of a feature than a bug, in my opinion.

Lest we forget, the S7 edge's 3600mAh battery is actually larger than the S9+'s 3500mAh cell, though the additional efficiency of the Snapdragon 845/Exynos 9810 means battery life should be better on the newer model. And then there are the stereo speakers on the Galaxy S9+, which are nice-to-haves but certainly not essential.

Galaxy S9+ (left) | Galaxy S7 edge (right)

The main difference between the two phones, however, is in the rear cameras. While the S7 edge introduced Samsung's 12MP sensor and f/1.7 lens combo that it maintained in the Galaxy S8, the S9+ takes things to another level by introducing a second sensor with a telephoto lens and a brighter f/1.5 lens on the main 12MP sensor. While the brighter lens mainly helps in low light situations, Samsung has learned a thing or two over the years, and I find the S9+ to take better photos in almost every situation, regardless of condition. If you're serious about mobile photography, the camera improvements alone are worth the upgrade to the Galaxy S9+.

At the same time, you can tell by the shots above that in ideal conditions, both indoors and out, the two phones are largely a wash, with white balance and HDR the only differentiating factors. Not bad for a two-year-old phone.

On the software side, the Galaxy S7 edge is still running Samsung version of Android 7.0 Nougat, which we just left behind on the GS8 and GS9. The differences between the two are minor, but if you want the latest and greatest Android version (for now) you're going to want a newer device. Samsung has said that it will bring Oreo to the Galaxy S7 series, but we'll likely be waiting until the summer for it.

Should you upgrade? Probably

The obvious answer is yes, of course you should upgrade to the Galaxy S9+ if you're still using a Galaxy S7 edge. That is, if you're looking to upgrade at all.

See, the Galaxy S7 edge is still a heck of a phone. Despite its aging design, there are still reasons to love its front-facing home button and fingerprint combo, and the software and camera experience is nothing to sneeze at. It may lack Bixby (hah!) and a few niceties like face scanning and stereo speakers, but unless you absolutely need to upgrade your phone right now, I'd be tempted to wait until we see what Samsung unveils later this year with the Note 9, or even until 2019 with the next-gen Galaxy S (if it's called that at all).

The Galaxy S7 edge has a bit of life left in it, and that speaks to Samsung's achievements in design, manufacturing, software and, of course, camera. If you can't wait, and don't want to spend so much on a new phone, the Galaxy S8 gives you most of the newest generation at just over half the cost.

See at Samsung

What do you think? If you're using a Galaxy S7 edge, are you planning to upgrade to the Galaxy S9+? Let us know in the comments!