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    SamSung S6 - accessories smartphone
     
    At first glance, the new S6 and S6 Edge appear to be less cluttered, but you'll actually find some 56 applications pre-installed. That's 6 more than the 50 you'll find on the Galaxy Note 4! Between the Google Apps you'll find on every phone (Play Newstand? Come on), Samsung's apps like S Voice and S Health, the new Microsoft apps like OneDrive (intended to soften the blow of no microSD slot), assorted social apps like Whatsapp and Instagram, and carrier apps (6 on T-Mobile), there's a ton of cruft. A Moto G I have hanging around—which runs near stock Android—starts with just 33.
     
    And despite statements from Samsung that "Samsung has allowed users to remove the pre-installed applications on Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge," the most severe action you can take is "disabling" them. This removes them from the app drawer and the homescreen, but not from the phone entirely. You're basically opting instead to put them in a sort of stasis, out of sight but not out of storage.
     
    So what is different from last time around, software-wise? Not much. The new Lollipop version of Samsung's TouchWiz Android skin makes it slightly less painful to disable apps in rapid succession. You can disable the calculator on the S6, which you couldn't on the Note 4. But that's about it. Minor, minor stuff. This is, for the most part, the same old bloat despite all our wild hopes.
     
    Samsung made the following tweaks to its statement when I asked for a little clarification:
     
    Simplicity is critical for usability and functionality, so Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge offer a refined and optimized user experience and the offering of core and preloaded apps has been streamlined. Some apps can be uninstalled while some can be disabled, and this varies by region and carrier. Further, 40% of the features and steps have been deleted compared to previous models.
    Weaaaaaak.
     
    That's not to say there aren't improvements, though. The newest version of TouchWiz is slimmer and slicker and prettier than it's ever been. The extras Samsung puts around the actual operating system are less intrusive than ever, and in some ways actually make Android better. Samsung surfaces things like a media volume slider, which stock Android inexplicably buries.
     
    The annoying new-phone chore of disabling all the bloatware apps is also at least slightly simpler than it has been in the past. The new UI makes it a four or five minute task as opposed to a seven or eight minute one if you're going so far as to disable the apps and dive into settings to delete all their stored data. Even if you don't, the bloatware doesn't take up that much room; not more than 100 MB or so as far as I can tell. That's a whole ton in the 32GB-at-minimum (but-more-like-24GB-once-you account-for-system-files-and-whatnot) scheme of things.
     
    But we were hoping the S6 might be a close-to-stock dream come true, and having to deal with any of this cruft at all is a pain in the ass that makes Samsung's sweet new redesigned phone seem like a budget offering, crammed with excess software to help keep the price down. That's a terrific way to make a great phone feel gross right out of the box.
     
     
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  • "We're here to talk about the future."
     
    That's how Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer introduced his second-day keynote presentation at this week's F8 conference, where he revealed cutting-edge products like high-flying drones and artificial intelligence that can learn, and gave a real explanation for where the Oculus Rift fits into the social network.
     
    Schroepfer laid out three core priorities for the company over the next several years: 
     
    Virtual reality: Schroepfer demonstrated how far virtual reality has come, comparing Battlezone for the Atari 2600 from 1980 with a demo of EVE Valkyrie, an intense spaceship simulator coming to the Oculus Rift.
     
    "What the heck does this have to do with Facebook?" Schroepfer asked himself, voicing the question that's been on everybody's mind since Facebook bought Oculus back in early 2014. 
     
    But for Facebook, he says, virtual reality is just another way to connect with people. Sometimes, you're across the country from loved ones. Sometimes, parents can't be with your kids. Sometimes, friends can't make it for a birthday party. 
     
    "I wish everybody could have been teleported to this moment," Schroepfer said. 
     
     
    Connectivity: Getting people online is really hard, Schroepfer said. Telecommunications companies amortize the costs over years of contracted services, eventually making back the money they spent getting people on the grid in the first place. In the developing world, there just isn't enough return on investment to warrant their coming in and laying down cable.
     
    "This basically mean going to the sky," Schroepfer says. 
     
    He showed off the Aquila, an Internet-connected unmanned drone with the wingspan of a 737 and the "mass of a small car." It would fly over regions of the developing world, sprinkling Internet access like so much rain. Schroepfer said the company will have more information to share on Aquila later this year. 
     
    Artificial intelligence: As for those better interfaces, Schroepfer said that the company's issue is that there's just so much new digital picture and video content in the world, with more and more coming every single day. 
     
    Artificial intelligence is generally accepted as the way forward, helping companies like Facebook index and archive all of that data in a way that a human would find useful.
     
    "You can start to build a deeper understanding of what's in the content," Schroepfer says. 
     
    The problem is that a computer still isn't as a good at identifying what's in a picture as Schroepfer's three-year-old son.
     
    Facebook researchers are hard at work building new AI systems that can really learn and be trained and solve basic logical problems, all with the end of helping keep track of this deluge of videos and content. 
     
    So there you have it. Facebook has a lot on its plate, with lots of really advanced science going on behind the scenes.
     
    "That's our goal over the next 10 years," Schroepfer concluded. "I think it's going to be fun."
     
     
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