Using a phone as an Android TV game controller

So you want to play games on your Android TV set, but you'd rather not shell out for a gamepad? You might not have to in the near future. Google has revealed that an upcoming update to Google Play Services will let you use your Android mobile devices as controllers for Android TV games. If you want to start a four-way race or shooting match, you'll only have to ask friends to pull their phones out of their pockets. You'll have to wait for developers to use the technology before you can start playing, but that patience could pay off if it spares you from buying controllers that will likely spend most of their life gathering dust.

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Huawei MediaPad X2

While its first Android Wear smartwatch might be grabbing the headlines, Huawei also has a new phablet on display at MWC this year. The MediaPad X2 is the sequel to last year's X1, which, depending on which way you look at it, was either a small tablet or an enormous phone. There's not a lot new to look at here -- aesthetically it's very similar to the X1 -- but internally there are a few changes.

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PayPal is no stranger to mobile payment solutions, but at Mobile World Congress, the company is making a useful upgrade to its Here card reader. In addition to being able to handle payments from those chip-and-PIN credit/debit cards, the new version of PayPal's transaction tech will also support NFC. This means that not only will the latest version of Here wrangle touchless payments from the aforementioned cards, but it'll also allow retailers to accept funds from mobile devices. It's said to work just like terminals in retail stores, except this add-on connects with a separate mobile device to power the whole thing. That's good news for the PayPal faithful as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay all leverage NFC to transfer funds. There's no word on pricing just yet, but the new version of Here will hit the UK and Australia this summer, with a US debut slated for later this year.

Don't miss out on all the latest news, photos and liveblogs from MWC 2015. Follow along at our events page.

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MWC technically starts today, but that doesn't stop some of the industry's biggest players trying to get a head start on the fun on Sunday. Besides the big launches, there are a couple of pre-show shows for those off-beat things that don't need an auditorium to themselves. This means the preceding Sunday is actually one of the busiest days for big announcements. Here's the pick of the bunch this year, just head to the gallery below.

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Samsung's Galaxy Unpacked 2015 event

Did you sleep in on Sunday, only to realize that you'd missed Samsung's big Galaxy Unpacked event? Relax -- you can still watch the show as if it were fresh. As is its custom, the Korean tech giant has helpfully posted both a replay of the full event and a quick recap. The focus of the presentation is no longer all that surprising (spoiler: It was about the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge), but it's worth checking out if you want to see Samsung explore every nook and cranny of its latest smartphones.

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We dig this slim smartphone from China, but it won't be cheap

This wouldn't be the first time that Gionee's released a slim, 5.5mm-thick phone. Following the aptly named Elife S5.5, the Chinese company is back with an LTE refresh model that's confusingly dubbed the Elife S7, which manages to retain the same slimness (read: not 7mm thick), the standard headphone jack and a lighter weight of just 126.5g, while packing some nice upgrades. First of all, you get a slightly bigger 5.2-inch 1080p AMOLED screen, along with a similar 1.7GHz octa-core MediaTek chipset with 2GB of RAM, but enhanced with 64-bit computing, multi-mode LTE radio and dual micro-SIM slots. And yes, the phone runs on Android Lollipop with Gionee's customized UI. There's also a more generous 2,750mAh battery -- a notable jump from the S5.5's 2,300mAh cell that had us frustrated.

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Apple Pay in action

A mobile payment system is only as secure as its weakest link... and in the case of Apple Pay, it's the banks' ability to verify who you are. The Guardian has learned that thieves are setting up iPhones with stolen IDs and taking advantage of lackadaisical identity checks (often just a part of the social security number) to provision victims' cards for Apple Pay. After that, it's open season -- crooks just have to claim that the legitimate card owner is on a trip to go on a shopping spree.

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Intel's been slow to transform itself for the new mobile world, but with its latest family of Atom chips, it may finally be able to go toe to toe with Qualcomm. The chip giant announced the Atom X3, X5 and X7 processors at Mobile World Congress today, giving it an arsenal that can fit into both budget and high-end devices (and everything in between). Specifically, Intel's targeting the new X3 chip at devices under $75, while the X5 and X7 are aimed at gadgets priced at $119 or more. The X3 also marks the first time it's been able to integrate a modem into a system-on-a-chip (it's available in both 3G and LTE variants). While Intel's still struggling to become a player among Android devices, these new chips offer something that Qualcomm doesn't: full Windows support. They put Intel in a prime spot to cash in as device makers start designing their Windows 10 wares (which will include everything from phones to high-end desktops).

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This is what HTC's Vive VR headset looks like in real life. It's not a dummy model; those sensors are fully functional. It's on my actual head. The first thing you may notice (if you don't, check the gallery below), is that it looks a little bigger than the Oculus Rift. Or at least, thanks to the height of the sensor-housing faceplate, it feels that way. Those sensors are also exposed, a bit like they were on Oculus' Crystal Cove prototype at CES 2014. Take a look around the headset from different angles, and you'll see that HTC may not have deviated from the current virtual reality design script too far, but at the same time, it doesn't feel entirely derivative. Can this thing blow our minds like we hope it will? Is the VR race now officially on (given, you know who's newest headset has just debuted too)? We'll let you know once HTC finally pours its Valve-powered VR content into our eyes later this week.

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Google SVP Sundar Pichai

It's shaping up to be a big year for mobile payments, what with Apple Pay enjoying rapid adoption and Samsung finally getting in the game too. Google also has a presence, but it's only very recently decided to ramp up its efforts in this space. Last week, we saw the company team up with AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile to preload its Wallet mobile payment app on new Android phones, and now it's creating a new framework to power payments across its OS.

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Google's aerial ambitions continue unabated. Need proof? Just talk to Sundar Pichai -- just before he sat down for a Q&A with Bloomberg's Brad Stone at MWC, the Google SVP confirmed the company's internet-beaming Titan drones would take their flight in the coming months, and that its Project Loon balloons now stay afloat for "six months at a time." The last time Google decided to speak publicly about its fleet of internet-beaming Project Loon balloons, they could languidly hang in the atmosphere for about 100 days. That's not a bad stretch considering these things can now deliver LTE data speeds to devices on the ground, but Google's got these things running even better than before.

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Google has just confirmed a rumor at Mobile World Congress that many thought unlikely: It'll launch its own "white label" MVNO cell network. That means it'll carry or resell wireless services from larger operators in one way or another, not unlike, say, Boost Mobile. However, Android head Sundar Pichai stressed that the service wouldn't operate on a large scale or compete head to head against carriers like AT&T or Verizon. Instead, he likened it to Google's Nexus devices, calling it a way to drive new technology in order to make cellular and WiFi services work together in a "seamless" fashion.

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Dropbox plus Vodafone equals...

Dropbox just scored a huge deal that will not only put its cloud storage in front of a lot of people, but help you safeguard your smartphone's data. The company has forged a partnership with Vodafone that both gives the carrier's Android and iPhone users 25GB of free space for a year and integrates Dropbox into Vodafone's new Backup+ service. Rather than depend on a specialized backup space, you simply save your valuable files to Dropbox -- you can restore content on other devices and share it with friends without having to use two services or limit the kind of data you protect. The Backup+ app will be available as soon as the end of March, although the service itself will take a few months to reach "most" Vodafone areas.

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When Jolla launched its tablet on Indiegogo, it was an instant success. Today that tablet is being shown to the media for the first time at MWC. But, that's not all that the plucky mobile startup has to reveal. With the new tablet comes the second version of Jolla's Sailfish OS. Version 2.0 brings not only some features you'd expect (like easy scaling between phones and tablets -- to accommodate its new hardware), but also some new, bigger-picture additions like support for Intel's Atom x3 chipset, a new push into licensing with OEM hardware and a couple of direct swipes at Android, and how it gathers your data.

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Silent Circle, the outfit behind the security-oriented Blackphone, has just revealed two new handsets and "the world's first enterprise privacy platform." The first Blackphone was unveiled last year for (understandably) paranoid entrepreneurs. It was a response to revelations of mass data collection, and the latest devices build on that. Last year's phone was made by Spanish outfit GeeksPhone, but since then, Silent Circle has wrestled control of the brand, and this is its first homemade device. The Blackphone 2 carries similar privacy features, but actually gives you a better phone, with an octa-core CPU, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a bigger battery and a 5.5-inch 1080p display. Meanwhile, the Blackphone+ (briefly mentioned by Silent Circle's co-founder earlier) is a privacy-focused tablet coming later in 2015. So far, there are no exact specs on the tablet (it's not ready for prime time), and there's no price on either device. Both are slated to arrive in the second half of this year, though.

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