Tag Archive | "phone"

Google adds video calling through your Phone, Contacts, and Android Messages apps

As someone who uses an iPhone on a daily basis – no need for the torches and pitchforks – one of the things I appreciate is the ability to make video calls without leaving the Phone or Messages app. That is why I am happy to see Google integrate the same feature into the Phone, Contacts, and Android Messages apps.

Google accomplished this by incorporating its own Duo video calling service and the ViLTE standard, the latter of which is an extension of the existing VoLTE that focuses on increased video call quality over an LTE network. By default, video calls will be routed through ViLTE, but Duo is the fall-back if your carrier does not support the standard.

There are a few things to keep in mind, the first being that you and the person you’re calling must have Duo installed and activated if ViLTE isn’t used. Next up, you must also have the latest versions of the Phone, Contacts, Android Messages, and Duo apps installed.

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Google also mentioned that it will add the ability to upgrade a voice call to a video call later this year, a small, but appreciable, feature should you or the other person feel the need to have a video chat mid-conversation.

Duo integration

Finally, integrated video calling is rolling out to first-generation Pixel, Nexus, and Android One devices, with the Pixel 2 phones also including the feature out of the box. Google said it is working with carriers and device manufacturers to have integrated video calling across a wider variety of devices.

With the feature, it is clear that Google really wants to push video calling further, but the company might also benefit from sorting out its wide assortment of messaging, calling, and video services as well.

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This is Motorola’s first Android One phone, likely coming to the US

The next manufacturer to join the Android One program could be Motorola, according to a leak from Evan Blass.

Blass just shared a render of an Android One-branded Motorola device. The phone looks identical to the mid-range Moto X4, which Motorola introduced during IFA earlier this month, except for the Android One badge at the bottom of the device. Blass didn’t reveal any other details about the phone, but previous reports suggest we might be looking at the first Android One phone for the United States.

Pieces of the puzzle

Back in January, The Information reported that Google is working with unspecified OEMs to launch Android One in the United States. One potential partner was LG, according to a person familiar to the matter, though The Information stopped short from naming any companies. According to the report, Google was aiming at a $ 200-$ 300 price range, with a release by the middle of the year. That didn’t pan out, obviously.

In April, 9to5Google shared several “rumor tidbits” regarding the US launch of Android One, including the name of the two candidate devices for the initial release: Moto X (2017) and a mysterious HTC E37. The publication pointed at a higher price range ($ 300- $ 400) and a release around October-November.

Could this be the One?

Back to the present, and we now have palpable evidence that Motorola is part of the Android One project. The Moto X4 will be landing in Europe this month for €399, which somewhat matches 9to5Google’s rumor of a $ 300-$ 400 price tag in the US. Phone makers often price devices in Europe at the same nominal price as in the US, just swapping the currency symbol; i.e. €399 >> $ 399.

It’s possible that the Android One Moto X4 will be launched along the new Pixels, but we wouldn’t be surprised if Google and Motorola would want to put some distance between their devices.

It’s worth noting that The Information said that more OEMs could be allowed to release Android One phones in the US after the initial launch (Google seems selective about who gets to participate). As already mentioned, LG and HTC may be interested.

On a – probably – unrelated note, HTC is said to be in advanced talks with Google for a sale or strategic investment.

Mi A1 for the West

The Moto leak comes just days after Xiaomi introduced its own very attractive Android One device, the Mi A1. I called the Mi A1 the most exciting Android device of the moment, thanks to its excellent value for money and potential to bring better software updates to the masses.

Read: Xiaomi Mi A1 first impressions – How’s stock Android on Xiaomi hardware?

The Mi A1 will be sold in 40 countries, but none of these markets are in Western Europe, US, or Canada. It’s possible that the Android One Moto X4 will be the Mi A1’s counterpart in the West, albeit at a higher price.

Regardless of region, it’s clear that there’s a still a huge appetite for affordable, solid devices that stick close to Google’s vision of what Android should be. It could be a great autumn for budget-minded Android fans.

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Buy your dad a new phone from T-Mobile this Father’s Day and get another for free

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T-Mobile is running a sweet BOGO deal to celebrate Father’s Day: buy a new Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8 Plus, LG G6, or LG V20, and you get another for free.

See also:

Deal: Amazon Echo and Kindle devices see huge discounts for Father’s Day (Update: live now)

6 days ago

Yes, it’s that time of the month: scrolling up and down Amazon and Googling frantically to figure out what to get your pop for Father’s Day. T-Mobile wants to help make that decision a bit easier by offering a pretty sweet BOGO deal on the latest flagships from Samsung and LG. Whether you are with T-Mobile right now or not, when you pick up a new Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8 Plus, LG G6, or LG V20 on T-Mobile’s no-interest Equipment Installment Plan with an unlimited data plan, the Un-carrier will give you a mail-in rebate for another one.

The promo will end on June 22, so if you were looking to surprise your dad or if you just wanted two new phones for whatever reason, this is your chance.

Given that this is specifically for Father’s Day, the promo will end on June 22, so if you were looking to surprise your dad with a special gift or if you just wanted two new phones for whatever reason, this is your chance. Of course, there are terms and conditions you must fulfill to take advantage of the deal: for instance, both phones must be activated on T-Mobile’s ONE plan, meaning you cannot just buy the first outright and expect a second phone for free. Also, if you choose to cancel your cell service, you will have to pay the remaining balance.

However, if you’re a fan of T-Mobile and use a lot of data, getting two flagship phones for the price of one isn’t too bad. After all, Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus will usually set you back $ 750 and $ 790 respectively, and LG’s G6 and V20 both cost around $ 500. If this is something you might be interested in, you can head on over to T-Mobile’s Deals Hub to find out more about it.

Do you think this is a good deal? Will you be getting your dad a brand-new phone from T-Mobile this Father’s Day? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

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Is your Android phone rooted? [Poll of the Week]

Last week’s poll summary: Out of over 14,300 total votes, 45% of our readers said they need at least 64 GB of on-board storage in their smartphones. 29.4% said they’d be okay with just 32 GB, and 15.7% said they need a massive 128 GB of local storage in their phones. Only 5.5% of our readers said they can get by with 16 GB, and 2.6% said they’d be okay with only 8 GB of storage space.

Rooting may not be as popular in the Android world as it once was, but there are still a number of great reasons to go down this path. With a rooted Android phone, you can get rid of carrier bloatware, create backups, overclock or underclock your device, and much more. There are also device-specific reasons for rooting your Android device, such as remapping your Galaxy S8’s Bixby button to open Google Assistant without the need for a separate app.

See also:

Benefits of rooting your Android phone or tablet

March 7, 2017

But as the Android operating system progresses over time, many would argue there’s much less reason to root. Google and other OEMs have been doing a good job at bringing what used to be root-only features to Android. For instance, many people used to root their devices to get more customization options out of the phone’s software, but now manufacturers are including built-in theming engines in with their Android skins. Plus, rooting your Android device opens up a number of compatibility issues, especially when it comes to mobile payment and banking apps.

So, is your Android phone rooted? Why or why not? Be sure to cast your vote in the poll attached below, and let us know your thoughts on rooting in the comment section. We look forward to hearing what you have to say!

Next: Android Miracles: when seeing is believing

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Google Phone 9.0 teardown reveals upcoming features – notification channels, picture messaging and more

A Google Phone update doesn’t usually offer too much to talk about. Last week’s version 9.0 rollout apparently had nothing for us to write about, but a teardown has uncovered a few gems within the code. There is evidence of at least a handful of new features present in this new update.

For starters, notification channels are a hot Android O topic, and Google looks to be getting its Phone app ready to take advantage of these. This new feature will allow applications to group notifications into categories. Sounds, vibrations and notification lights could then react differently to each.

See also:

Everything new in Android O: features and changes

March 22, 2017

Plenty of phones have the option to send a prewritten text message when one can’t answer a call, but what about the caller? It’s common to send a message to the recipient, letting him know what the call was about, or its level of urgency. There is code in this APK file regarding “post-call messages”, which would be just what their moniker entails. There aren’t many details on how this will be implemented, but it sure sounds like a helpful tool is in the works.

There is also some code in Google Phone 9.0 that hints at more convenient picture messaging. Here’s the thing: if you’ve ever wanted to quickly send an image during a call, you’d normally need to exit the phone app, open your messaging app of choice, then go about sending your photo. Google Phone 9.0 contains a few different notifications relating to picture messaging, including “Received a photo” and “Sent a photo”.

Lastly, there’s some code relating to dialer codes, too. Not familiar with dialer codes? The idea is that you can dial a series of characters to display information or perform certain actions. Now it seems like the Google Phone app will be able to take advantage of these.

Plenty of codes show up in the teardown, but we don’t know what they do just yet. And while some have been used in the past, we advise that you don’t test your luck. That is, unless you know what you are doing and realize using these could potentially damage your phone and/or void your warranty. Hit the source link to see the codes.

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Samsung Marshmallow offers parental controls and teaches proper phone usage

Marshmallow is not a rare topic here at Android Authority, but it is usually the Android version we refer to when we speak of this sweet treat. Now we have a new Samsung service named after the same dessert – Samsung Marshmallow.

This is a parental control app, but Sammy wants us to look at it as something more than just that. The application is not made to simply enforce rules, it is also designed to teach children proper smartphone usage habits.

It’s easy to set bedtimes, limit internet time, block apps and more. The app also takes things a step further by enticing your kids to be better smart device users. There is a reward system in place, too – kids can earn points with good online behavior, while being naughty will cause a loss in points. After getting enough points, the child can ask parents for a card to use in the gift shot.

The bad news? This is a Samsung exclusive, which means only the company’s own devices will support the app. Here is a list of supported handsets: Galaxy S8 / S8 Plus / S7 / S7 Edge / S6 / S6 Edge / S6 Edge Plus / S5 / Note 5 / Note 4 / A5 / A7 / A8 / A9 / J3 / J5 / J7.

Those interested and carrying a supported device can go ahead and download the app straight from the Google Play Store. Hit the comments to let us know how you like it!

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Samsung Display ad shows a phone that resembles Galaxy S8 rumors

The Internet rumors and speculation about the Samsung Galaxy S8 appear to be never ending at this point. However, the latest twist on the company’s rumored smartphone may have come from Samsung itself, or at least from one of its other related divisions.

The source of these latest reports are two YouTube videos posted by Samsung Display, to promote its AMOLED smartphone screens that it provides to other companies, as well as for its own devices. Both of the videos show what appears to be a smartphone with a display that only has small bezels on the top and bottom. It also lacks a physical home button. Both of these features have been rumored for the Galaxy S8.

So did Samsung actually leak out the look of the Galaxy S8 in these clips? Well, most likely the answer is “No”. Both of these videos were shown as examples of the company’s overall smartphone display technology and are probably not directly linked to what the Galaxy smartphone team has in mind for its next flagship device.

Having said that, the videos are likely a clue as to what the display technology will be like inside the Galaxy S8, even if the design shown in the video might not match up to the actual product.

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The Alcatel A3 XL is a big 6-inch Android Nougat phone

As part of CES 2017, Alcatel has just announced a new, and pretty big,  smartphone. The Alcatel A3 XL has a 6-inch display, but inside the hardware is not quite as impressive.

See also:

Alcatel Idol 4s review

July 22, 2016

The display will only have a resolution of 720×1280 and the MediaTek processor is a quad-core chip running at just 1.1GHz. The phone will only have 1GB of RAM and just 8GB of onboard storage, with a microSD card for adding up to 32GB of more storage. Other specs include an 8MP rear camera, a 5MP front-facing camera, a fingerprint sensor on the back and a 3000mAh battery.

It’s clear that this device is not targeting the hardcore hardware Android fans but rather a larger audience who might want to get a big phone at a cheaper price. There’s also the added bonus of a “vibrant range of colors and 3D patterns” that will help further set the model apart.

The Alcatel A3 XL will be sold first in Asia Pacific, Middle East, Africa and Latin America sometime in the first quarter of 2017 and later in Europe during the second quarter. So far, Alcatel has not announced plans to sell the phone in North America.  Official pricing has not been announced but the company indicated it will sell somewhere around $ 200.

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What challenges does the ZTE Axon Phone face?

ZTE Axon Phone Swerve

The Axon Phone hasn’t been officially launched yet, but has already managed to develop significant interest, particularly after we and others realized it was a device manufactured by ZTEBeginning last month with unofficial confirmed origins, speculation immediately began. Not soon after, we learned that the rumors linking the phone to Chinese manufacturer ZTE were in fact true. It is largely believed that ZTE has deliberately chosen – at face value – to distance itself from the product in an attempt to get American consumers to consider the Axon without any pre-existing bias. This is seemingly of great importance given their marketing suggests the phone will be a high end device, and therefore put it squarely against veteran established players.

What we know

Surprisingly little, actually, even with a recent update to the official website. We know the Axon Phone will include 4GB of RAM. It will have dual rear-facing cameras (of an unspecified resolution) that can shoot 4K HD videos, “incredibly fast auto-focus”, and post-processing to allow for bokeh. The front camera will allow you to take selfies simply by smiling. ZTE is claiming it will be “the first true high-fidelity phone available in the US” with “amazing high-fidelity sound playback” and includes a dual-microphone design for high fidelity sound recording.

Finally, it will contain a “lightning-fast processor, 4GB memory and a large battery for all-around high performance under the hood” while running on a “super-simplified Android interface” (gallery below) and be housed in a metallic body of which there will be three different color variants available: blue, gold, and silver.

What we don’t

Given the pending July 14th press event that Axon is lining up, unknown quantities of specifics will soon be of a known consistency. With that said however, some rather essential patches of details have been left out, namely which SoC will be on-board, what type of display panel and what size/resolution, exactly how large the battery is, what resolution the cameras will be, will microSD be supported, how much on-board storage will be available, what build of Android will be used, and of course, how much the smartphone will actually cost, not to mention how customers will be able to buy it (Directly? Carriers? Unlocked?).

For the collective public at-large, this product is no more relevant than any number of Kickstarter vaporware projects

Without a doubt, these questions are absolutely critical to the future of not only the phone, but of the very product line that ZTE /Axon is seeking to establish in bringing the Axon Phone to market in the manner it has chosen to.

The Axon Phone’s various variables for success


While it would be easy to simply state “top specs” are all it takes to be successful, in this day and age that’s no longer the case. Let’s take a quick look at some of the more major points:


Cost has become a major factor as smartphones have essentially become a commodity, and it will be instrumental in determining the success of this product, especially as an unknown quantity. Whereas at least ZTE is an established brand, the absence of any “brand” whatsoever means that mainstream consumers will be taking this product at face value. That is both good and bad, however should be cost prohibitive then the Axon may fall victim to legacy OEMs such as Samsung, HTC, LG, or Motorola. If the phone is sold unlocked, it will intrinsically have a higher price tag. If the phone is sold directly, it will be bereft of any carrier-sponsored in-store marketing and pricing structures. If the phone is carrier exclusive then it will inherently reach a limited audience, not unlike Amazon’s Fire Phone.


Depending on jut how high-end this device will be, competition will be fierce. If it’s going to compete with flagships sold by Samsung, HTC, or LG, the Axon will definitely need to be significantly cheaper, especially on an off-contract price. If the Axon contains the controversial Snapdragon 810 it may be criticized, yet paradoxically, if it goes for the 808 it might be viewed as not having the “best” Qualcomm SoC. If it uses another brand entirely (MediaTek for example) some might deem it inferior on the whole. Cellular bands will also play a major role in the product’s future, as potential customers won’t be able to use a product that won’t work on their network.


With the Samsung Galaxy S6 and its lack of a removable battery and support for microSD, some more vocal criticism has surfaced about the lack of either, and by the looks of it the Axon Phone won’t support either feature. A deal breaker? Hardly, but there are some looking for a premium product and expect at least microSD, something that will become a larger factor if the device lacks expandable memory and only has 16GB of on-board storage. Likewise, if there is a 64 or 128GB model, the price then becomes a larger factor.


Unless ZTE can nail the 4Ps of Marketing, the Axon is likely to take a downwards dive.


As was touched upon in the pricing section, how ZTE plans to promote this device will be crucial for its success by way of public exposure. While the Axon Phone made some waves last week, it was seemingly due to the then-unconfirmed connection between it and ZTE given the lack of knowledge about the specs and functions. Since then, we’ve basically heard nothing, unlike potential rival (in theory perhaps, not so much as in practice) the OnePlus 2, whose manufacturer has been on a teaser tirade as of late. If ZTE wants this phone to be truly successful, and one might imagine it does given the removal of its brand name and calculated decision to launch this in the USA, it needs to get as many people talking about it as possible. This just won’t happen if the phone is relegated to online-only sales, and therefore carrier commitment to carry is critical.

Poor Premonition: ZTE’s Sordid Strategy

By all accounts, the Axon Phone is going to be a major powerhouse. That, in-and-of itself should be cause to rejoice were this 2013. Unfortunately, in 2015 the smartphone market has become inundated with flagship devices to the point where they aren’t even meeting sales expectations despite promising build-up and initial performance. These devices have become so powerful that, save for the most spec-crazed consumer, there really is no need to run out and buy the latest and greatest just because. If anything, consumers are starting to pick up “back up” phones like the Moto G in the off chance something happens. Likewise, with so many budget-friendly products now available with specs that aren’t half-bad, the need for a halo smartphone isn’t warranted either.

Herein lies the major fault in ZTE’s strategy: Instead of relying on its established company name and pedigree of products, ZTE chose to deliberately hide the very identity that it paradoxically wants the Axon to have: a relevant one. Let’s take a look at the marketing efforts thus-far:

1. Axon makes a post on Instagram and push on Snapfluence. This would have worked wonders had it been published on an official, established account (like ZTE’s) wherein it could have drawn upon its entire collective of followers and potentially attracted many more. In addition, it would have attracted even more people to ZTE itself, and its products – both current and future – which would have done quite a lot of good for the company’s brand recognition in a country that knows very little about it.

Axon Phone Contest

2. Axon has a bizarre contest going that is, essentially, asking users to leave pictures of anything. The winner receives $ 10,000. This contest is of an utterly random nature that has little connection with the product itself. Will the winning idea be used in the Axon? Will it be featured in a future one? Does it have to be a politically correct one? This kind of irresponsible marketing is along the same lines as that which got OnePlus in trouble last year with its misogynistic campaign.

3. We know nothing about the phone. As the preceding elements of this piece should make clear-as-crystal, we don’t have any solid details on any of the phone’s specs. This would be passable if ZTE itself were selling the phone, as the company’s own brand might hold enough weight to garner a continued interest in following the product to market. Instead, for the collective public at-large, this product is no more relevant than any number of Kickstarter vaporware projects that have been long since discredited and removed from existence. At the very least LG and OnePlus have worked with solid details in their pre-launch doings.

Instead of relying on its brand name, ZTE chose to deliberately hide the very identity it paradoxically wants the Axon to have: a relevant one.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume the Axon Phone has specs that are equal to those of the Galaxy S6 or LG G4. It would be, by default, an absolute titan of a flagship product. Let’s assume it will be cheaper than either device. Imagine the sales potential of such a product (OnePlus sure did last year) were it to be significantly more affordable than the competition. By releasing core specs, ZTE could have forced customers to defer purchasing a new device until its product launch. As it stands now, it’s fair to say mainstream consumers looking for halo products have probably already bought one, or else are waiting for the next big thing.

ZTE has miscalculated the potential of the Axon Phone, and these three poorly executed marketing strategies are inevitably going to come at quite a cost as, quite frankly, no one cares about this product. Literally.


As the above Google Trends data reflects, the Axon Phone isn’t even a blip on the radar when compared with other smaller brands, including ZTE itself which has appeared in news headlines 48 times more than Axon’s sole offering. It’s often said that no news is good news, but when it comes to launching a brand new product line and selling it to the public, you want to be in prime location screaming from a megaphone.

As if these three points aren’t damaging enough, ZTE must also deal with the fact that, as an “original” brand, neither investors nor consumers actually know what’s going on here. Will the Axon Phone be the start of an all-new brand for America? Will it be supported past the launch window? Does it indicate that ZTE has major ambitions in the American smartphone market? Will ZTE attempt similar doings in other territories as well? This piece has raised so many questions, and it is that very uncertainty and lack of information that turns people off and ushers them onto the next thing.

Wrap Up

ZTE Nubia Z9-24

How will the Axon Phone ultimately compare to other ZTE devices like the Nubia Z9 (pictured here)?

The Axon Phone is an exciting device to be sure. It has a definitive look, it has potentially powerful hardware inside, it is “free” from any pre-existing bias about maker ZTE, and it’s launching at a time when established players have already released their flagships for the first half of the year. At the same time, ZTE has arguably made a major mistake in seeking to hide its brand name from the new product it seeks to sell: there is nothing to fall back on and consumers know nothing about it. We don’t even know what kind of consumer it will actually appeal to.

Be sure to check back on the 14th after the official launch, but in the meanwhile, feel free to take the survey below or leave us your thoughts on this curious new entry into the smartphone war. Ultimately only time will tell just how successful the Axon Phone is, but patience is in short supply.

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Amazon wants you to unlock your phone with your ear – does that even make sense?


Keeping smartphones secure has been a key concern since mobile devices became more than just calling and texting machines. These pieces of technology now hold information that could literally ruin our lives if they fall on the wrong hands.

This is why we have all kinds of techniques for keeping our data private. There’s usual patterns, PIN numbers and passwords, but things have been getting a bit more complex. Just as the industry keeps making technology more powerful and convenient, they are also adopting more advanced ways of keeping your private data secure.

These methods include bio-metric techniques like finger-print reading, voice recognition and even eye reading (as we have seen on the ZTE Blade S6). Now we are finding out Amazon is also getting creative and just got granted a patent for ear scanning technology.


The idea is that our ears are just as unique as our fingerprints, so allowing your smartphone to take a picture of this body part (or at least part of it) would help it identify whether it is being handled by its owner or not. The phone could then unlock and allow you to answer your calls.

Does this even make sense?!

So, like all other gimmicks, this sounds like one very cool feature you could really show off at parties. It even seems convenient for a minute, but the hype dies down after you start thinking of possible use case scenarios. Then  you realize it doesn’t even make sense!

We can all agree the best use for this would be to allow users to unlock their phones while answering a call, right? I mean, it’s the only reason why you would ever put your phone anywhere close to your ear.

My main issue is that there is no real reason why you would want to unlock your phone when answering a call. Voice calls are pretty much the only function that bypasses security in all phones… as it should be. You don’t want to have to unlock your phone every single time you answer a call! By the time you unlock your device, the other person may have hung up already.

amazon fire phone press (3)

Now, there is one function that could be useful about this technology. It could identify the distance between the speaker and your ear, allowing the device to adjust volume accordingly. Aside from that, it’s pretty much for people who REALLY don’t want others answering their calls.

Will Amazon do anything with this technology?

Now, the real question: will we ever see this technology coming to the market? Regardless of whether it’s a good idea or not, we are not sure Amazon will ever use this patent. The patent was just passed, but Amazon filed for it back in 2011. The online retailer may very well have slashed whatever plans they had for it by now.

Not to mention, this feature would be for phones. It makes no sense to put it on Amazon tablets (or any tablet, for that matter). The Amazon Fire Phone did horrible, and even though Jeff Bezos swears more iterations are coming, we don’t know how much risk they are willing to take with it.

amazon fire phone commercial


Amazon has been known to be quite adventurous about these bio-metric features, though. The Amazon Fire Phone did have head tracking technology, after all. I am just not sure it’s what they need in order to bring the Fire Phone brand out of its grave.

They need something game-changing and awesome. While it’s cool, ear reading won’t make me buy an Amazon smartphone. But tell us, guys. What do you think? Maybe I am just being cynical and you would actually love something like this.

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