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2 days ago

How to get Android 7.0 Nougat on your Nexus right now

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How do I get Android 7.0 Nougat on your Nexus phone right now?

Android 7.0 Nougat is officially available for the Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus 9, Nexus Player and Pixel C (and the General Mobile 4G Android One), but your phone may not get the OTA (over-the-air) update for another couple of weeks. If you don't have a Nexus, you can get a feel for when (or if) your phone will get Nougat based on our expectations.

If you know your way around a command line, you can skip the waiting game by downloading the factory image for your particular device and flashing it on top of your software. But there are some caveats you need to know about when flashing a factory image, so read on to find out what you need to know.

Updated on August 26 with new information and latest links to OTA files.

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2 days ago

Best clear cases for OnePlus 3

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Best clear cases for OnePlus 3

What's the best clear case for OnePlus 3? Here are our favorites!

The OnePlus 3 might be a budget phone option, but that doesn't mean you don't want to protect your investment.

Its aluminum body is beautifully designed and if you love your OnePlus 3 naked but know you should protect it, go with a clear case!

Here are a few to get you started.

TUDIA Ultra Slim

TUDIA Ultra Slim

TUDIA's clear cases are some of the best money can buy, and that's because they fit very well and stand up to short drops, bumps, and scratches quite valiantly.

The Ultra Slim is made of clear TPU, which is soft and flexible, but not so smooth that your OnePlus 3 will fall out of your hand. Quite the opposite, actually – it has a grippy textured that makes it feel solid in your hand.

The raised bezel on the front and back keep your screen and camera safe from scratches and all ports and buttons are precisely cut out, so there's no need to take it on and off to charge.

If you're after a well-fitting, great-feeling clear case for your OnePlus 3, then check out the TUDIA Ultra Slim.

See at Amazon

Love Ying Ultra Slim

Love Ying

Love Ying makes some great minimalist cases that show off your OnePlus 3 in style, since you can opt for the completely clear version or you can go for translucent mint, pink, or purple.

No matter what color you choose, you'll get a great-feeling case made of soft TPU, which is excellent for shock absorption and its flexibility makes it easy to put on and take off.

All the necessary buttons and ports are cut out, so there's no hassle when it comes to usage and its ultra slim design means that there's little to no bulk or weight added to your OnePlus 3. It's like one of those flesh-colored body suits – for your phone! (Also it's clear).

See at Amazon

Ringke Fusion

Ringke Fusion

The Ringke Fusion is the perfect blend of solid bump and scratch protection and flexible shock absorption. It's made of hard polycarbonate, but all around the edges of your OnePlus 3 is soft TPU. Having your corners covered in TPU is paramount, since we all know what happens to a phone when it's dropped on its corner (if you don't, Google it and weep along with the owners).

You can opt for the Crystal View version, which features a totally clear TPU bumper, or you can go with the Smoke Black version, which has a translucent black bumper, for a bit of added flair.

The neat thing about the Ringke Fusion is that you're sent a DIY template for dressing up the back of your case. It's basically a piece of cardboard that's the perfect size so that you can cut out photos, trim them, and stick them in your case. Change the look of your case every day if you want or just keep it clear.

The Ringke Fusion is the perfect blend of minimalism and protection and the option to customize the back is just gravy!

See at Amazon

Cruzerlite Bugdroid Circuit

Cruzerlite Bugdroid Circuit

Cruzerlite's Bugdroid Circuit case is a must-have for any Android superfan. The case is clear with a circuit pattern and the Bugdroid logo featured on the back. So, if you want a case that shows off your OnePlus 3 but still want a bit of a design and something to spruce it up, it's perfect.

You don't have to go with totally clear, if that's not your jam. The Bugdroid Circuit case comes in eight translucent colors, from black to bright teal, so take your pick or buy a few, since they're only about $10.

These cases aren't just pretty faces for your OnePlus 3; they're made of durable TPU that absorbs falls and keeps scratches at bay.

If you're up for a clear case but want something with a little more oomph, then check out Cruzerlite's Bugdroid Circuit.

See at Amazon

Orzly Fusion

Orzly Fusion

Orzly's version of the Fusion features a hard, totally clear polycarbonate back and a reinforced rubber bumper all around the edge of your OnePlus 3 that really takes the cake for shock absorption.

Instead of being cut out, the buttons are covered and raised, which makes pressing them – especially while in your pocket – that much easier. The cutouts for the ports are precise and do not impact function whatsoever.

The rubber bumper around the case gives your OnePlus 3 a solid, grippy feel that's secure in your hand and that reinforced rubber adds a teeny bit of weight, but it's a good, strong-feeling weight.

If you're up for some excellently solid protection, then check out the Orzly Fusion.

See at Amazon

HOTCOOL Ultra Thin

HOTCOOL Ultra Thin

If you really want to go for the absolutely naked look, then the HOTCOOL Ultra Thin is your best choice by far. It's incredibly thin, weighs less than 2 ounces, and honestly looks like it's not even there.

It's made from soft, flexible TPU, which is better for shock absorption than hard cases. It covers the power and volume buttons and raises them slightly so that you can be more accurate when your OnePlus 3 is in your pocket, but they won't feel obtrusive with your phone in your hand.

The best part of this case is just how minimalist it is. A great phone feels great in your hand and this case is about as close as you'll get to that naked feeling without compromising protection. That being said, the thinner the case, the less protection you'll receive, so understand that the HOTCOOL Ultra Thin is best-suited to protecting from scratches, light bumps, and short falls – it is by no means rugged.

If you don't want to go for clear, it also comes in translucent black, gold, mint, and pink.

See at Amazon

What's on your phone?

Are you using an awesome clear case on your OnePlus 3 that I neglected to mention? Let me know what you recommend in the comments below!

OnePlus 3

OnePlus

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2 days ago

How to capture amazing video on your Galaxy phone

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How do I capture better video on my Galaxy phone? With a little help from these tools!

Almost anyone, regardless of age or skill level, can play around with experimenting and shooting video on their Galaxy device.

With the help from some tools, a couple of simple tips, and some editing apps, you can turn your phone videos into some beautiful, memorable visual masterpieces. Plus, shooting video with your Galaxy is a blast because of its wide selection of toys and gear, room for creativity, and overall ease.

Shooting professional-looking video with your Galaxy phone is better than you think, so here's what you need to get started on your next mobile Hollywood blockbuster!

Gear

Just like someone who shoots professionally, you need some decent gear to capture the best quality video. However, because we aren't shooting anything too terribly intense, there's no need to break the bank or purchase crazy expensive equipment (unless you really really want to).

There are many inexpensive options available out there to bump up your overall Galaxy video quality, and the best part is you can choose to use one piece of gear, or all of them at once!

These are a few pieces of video equipment to consider using while shooting with your Galaxy phone.

External Lenses

External Lenses

Similar to a DSLR camera, switching up your lenses can change what your videos look like, how they feel, and the overall quality of your clips.

With the help of an external lens, it's easy to get creative and shoot your subject at different angles. You'll be more likely to do something unique with a fisheye, wide-angle, macro, or any other external piece rather than just your standard Galaxy camera. All you have to do is attach the lens, aim, and start recording.

Depending on the type of lens you're looking at shooting with, the prices can vary. Some can cost as little as a couple of dollars online (with decidedly low quality), while others can go up to $500+ for more serious phone videographers.

At the end of the day, the way you shoot will also influence the type lenses you buy. If you're looking to shoot more still, calmer videos, then magnetized or clamp-based lenses may be a great idea; if you're looking to shoot video that's a bit more fast-paced and intense, then you'll have to spring for a set of lenses that attach with a case (or even maybe find one that's waterproof).

Check out the XENVO Premium Lens Kit as a high-quality, reliable first lens option that won't leave you bankrupt.

See at Amazon

Tripod

Tripod

If you're looking to keep your shots steady and even, then using a tripod with your Galaxy is a must.

It doesn't matter if you're trying to capture a time lapse video, or attempting to get the perfect angle for your Instagram post, a tripod keeps your footage looking crisp and clean, taking your video from "Obviously shot on a Smartphone" to "Woah!"

Tripod types vary depending on the size of camera it's meant to mount, so it's unnecessary to spend a ton of money on something that specifically holds a larger DSLR or a video camera.

Smaller, less rigid tripods that move, twist, and bend in all directions work extremely well in tight spaces and weird positions, making them the best for shooting with your Galaxy phone as you can get the most creative results. You can pick up something like the JOBY GripTight GorillaPod to get the intended result.

As a bonus, smaller tripods that bend are also easier for storage, so it's great for shooting video on the go.

See at Amazon

External light source

External light source

Whether you're taking video of a friend's party, shooting action-packed skateboarding stunts, getting a timelapse at the lake, or anything in between, there's probably going to be room for an external light source to amp up your video quality.

Even though your Galaxy phone's flash produces quite a bit of light, it may not work while recording video. And although you can use the recording option in tandem with some flashlight apps, this can unfortunately oversaturate the image and wash-out the video if you don't have control over how much light is let in.

An external light is a great piece of equipment for recording video because there are plenty of options to pick from depending on the type of video you want to shoot. For example, the Universal Dimmable cell phone light is a great option if you're looking to brighten up your photos without jumping through any hoops.

There are more durable ones for action-packed videos, or simple LED lights for interviews, and with lights like these you can typically adjust and control the flood of light that you let into frame so nothing looks too washed-out.

See at Amazon

Microphone

Microphone

If you're just looking to film fun little montages or music videos, a microphone isn't a necessary piece of gear to have — your phone's mic will do just fine. But if you're looking to talk to people on camera and have every syllable picked up on audio, or record crystal-clear ambient sound, then looking into a portable microphone for your Galaxy phone might be a great option to consider.

Microphones can give some incredible sound quality to videos, even if the footage isn't 100% top-of-the-line: people watching videos can't stand barely-intelligible audio. Even though most modern Android phones have numerous microphones, having something like a case attached, or even the way you hold the phone, can cover the holes, severely distort the sound quality.

While microphones for video and DSLR cameras can be a few hundred dollars, you can find some compatible microphones for your Galaxy online that won't be too terribly expensive. The Rode Videomicro Compact microphone is under a hundred dollars and makes sound clear as crystal!

Keep in mind that while you're shooting video, the microphone will add some weight to your phone, so shooting with a tripod or a stabilizer might be a great option to keep your footage steady and pro-looking.

See at Amazon

Gear bag

Gear bag

Keeping your items stored can make sure that none of your gear gets damaged as you're moving around and shooting. Whether you're spending a lot or a little on video equipment, you want it to be working properly when you find the perfect shot.

You can either opt for a large, bulkier gear bag, or something a bit smaller depending on what you use to shoot.

If you're just shooting with external lenses, then a smaller roll-like bag, like the Photojojo Photographer's Pouch, could be good at keeping everything separated and neat, but if you're shooting with various tripods and lights, you might want something a bit bigger.

There are tons of options to pick from, but the key is to find something compartmentalized. Keep in mind that all this gear isn't as gigantic as DSLR gear, so even using DSLR bags designed for lenses that have multiple sections may be a good idea for hauling you Galaxy video equipment.

See at Photojojo

Shooting Tips

The ability to capture decent video is something most smartphones are capable of nowadays.

The difference between a cool video and an amazing video usually has way more to do with the person holding the camera, and the cool thing about people is they don't require a software update.

With that in mind, here's a couple of quick tips for shooting video on Android.

Vertical Videos

There's no nice way to say this, so I'll just come out and say it: if you're holding your phone vertically while recording video, you're doing it wrong.

The video you capture in portrait looks terrible to anyone watching the video, because the video doesn't fill the screen and makes enjoying the video you captured much more difficult. Any chance you have to turn your phone landscape to record video, you should absolutely do so. The resulting video will look much better, especially if you upload to services like YouTube for the world to see.

It's also worth pointing out that if you start recording a video vertically and rotate your phone to horizontal in the middle of recording, the video will not rotate with you. Instead you'll get something that is entirely unwatchable, because not only will the video be vertical but it will also be sideways.

Know when to use 4K

Lots of modern Android smartphones let you crank up the video resolution to 4K, and while this is an incredibly cool way to future-proof your videos by making sure the quality stands up to the test of time there's a few things about 4K that can cause problems for you.

Not only is recording 4K video incredibly expensive as far as processing power and local storage goes, but most of the first and second generation 4K-capable Android phones sacrifice things like video smoothing and stability for that higher resolution. This means 4K recording by someone with shaky hands or an attempt to capture something moving especially fast can actually wind up looking worse when recording in this higher resolution mode.

The best way to be sure your videos are going to be the best is to test out things like 4K before you go to capture something important, and be aware of the limitations found in whatever device you are recording with.

Be quiet

Whether you're running after something to catch a video of it, or you're just a loud breather all the time, it's important to be aware of how the sounds you make affect the video you are recording.

Shouting at someone on the other side of a Baseball field while holding a camera three feet from your face, for example, is a sure-fire way to cause everyone watching your video to cringe. It's not just shouting, in fact when you record something in a quiet place your Android camera could easily pick up on the sound of you breathing and focus on that instead of whatever you are recording.

It's not an easy problem to solve unless you are aware it is happening, and the easiest way to do that is to just pay attention to the sounds you are making and your proximity to the camera.

Settings

Every Android manufacturer does things just a little differently, and on top of that there are plenty of apps out there to take things even further with photos and videos. Being aware of what your app is capable of sets you up to record even better videos, as well as new kinds of videos that you never thought would be fun to capture.

The video settings menu for your camera app is your friend, and through it you could find yourself capturing 4K videos with laser focus, slow motion videos of your friend getting thrown in the pool, or even HRD video when you're in a place with questionable lighting.

The end result is better videos for every occasion, which isn't a big deal until you pull your phone out to capture that perfect moment. Use your settings, and have fun with your video!

Editing Apps

After shooting video on your phone, you'll want to be able to edit together your footage without exporting it to a computer.

Some editing programs are quite expensive, but you can edit creatively straight from your Galaxy phone screen without much hassle as long as you have the right apps to work with.

Here are a couple of editing apps that go hand-in-hand with shooting video on your Galaxy!

FilmoraGo

FilmoraGo is one the best option you have for smoothly editing through the footage you've captured with your Galaxy. One, because it's easy to follow along and understand the app's instructions, two, because the app has an incredible amount of creative options, and three, because it's just a great, overall video-editing tool!

After selecting the video clips you would like to string together, Filmora will give you little tips as your go throughout your editing process. If you think this is annoying, you can turn the option off when you first start compiling your video.

The variety of themes within the app give the user a ton of fun creative control, and if you didn't want to waste your time doing step-by-step editing, popping on a theme is a great alternative. You can pick from themes like fashion, 80's, winter, Chaplain, and much more.

With FilmoraGo, you can also get a bit more detailed with your video editing, adding in colored filters, titles, overlays, and more, all while editing the speed, the volume, and the length of specific clips.

Overall, FilmoraGo is a really fantastic, easy to use app that makes editing from your phone not only simple and headache-free, but also super fun! You'll soon be playing around with your settings, finding weird ways to splice clips together, and figuring out all the ways to turn your Galaxy videos into true Hollywood blockbusters.

Download: FilmoraGo (free)

VivaVideo

Slap a filter on it, add some music, and edit to your hearts content with VivaVideo, an unique Instagram-like video editor for your Galaxy phone!

The theme option is particularly great if you want some flashing editing and transition effects along with a couple of colored filters and some funky music. The great thing about VivaVideo is the wide variety of options that come along with the app, including themes that cater to country life, romance, pop art, retro, and more.

You can also add music to your Galaxy videos, or choose to keep the music going underneath your video from the theme you pick. With VivaVideo, you can even add special effects to your video, along with transitions, text, filters, and stickers to make your final product truly unique.

The worst part about VivaVideo? The watermark in the lower right corner. While the app is free to download, it costs $2.99 to be able to export your video without a watermark, and $3.99 to remove the watermark, remove the video duration limit, and get rid of all those pestering ads on the app.

Download: VivaVideo (free)

Triller

Sometimes you want to shoot great interviews or more serious moments with your Galaxy device, but other times you want to have a little fun and make montages and music videos.

Triller is a really nifty video editing app worth checking out that combines social media with video-making creativity!

After picking out a song from your library or the recommended music from Triller, you get to throw a filter on your video and customize the look of your clip. Then just angle and begin shooting to record your mini music video. The music will begin playing out loud so you know exactly what lyrics and music to follow along to.

While Triller seems a bit barren compared to other video editing apps for your Galaxy device, the thing that makes it truly unique is the social media and sharing aspect. Like apps like Vine and Instagram, you can post your video straight to your feed to have it seen by others around the world. You can also view other people's videos and get inspiration for creative storytelling ideas from them.

Download: Triller (free)

What do you recommend?

Is there a tool, tip, or app that we missed that can make shooting pro video with your Galaxy phone easier? Let us know what you use to shoot in the comments below.

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2 days ago

Charge three devices at once with this $9 wall charger

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Aukey is currently offering its 3-port desktop charger for just $9 with coupon code 24UOYEHW, a savings of $7. One of the three ports is Quick Charge 2.0 compatible, allowing you to charge your device up to 75% quicker. The other two ports are just standard chargers, meaning they won't be as quick but they can all be used at the same time. This small unit is perfect carry around with you while traveling or on the go. It is a small piece that plugs into the wall and allows you to charge up to three devices at the same time.

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2 days ago

Huawei phones to come with Truecaller pre-installed, starting with the Honor 8

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Truecaller has announced that its dialer app will be pre-installed on all Huawei phones. The Honor 8 will be the first phone to offer the dialer app, following which Truecaller integration will be rolled out to all Huawei handsets sold in America, Middle East and North Africa, Southeast Asia, and India.

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2 days ago

How to fix Google Now Launcher on the Galaxy Note 7 after using Secure Folder

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How to fix Google Now Launcher on the Galaxy Note 7

Samsung's Secure Folder gets in the way of Google's launcher.

Google Now Launcher is one of the most popular third-party launchers out there, but it unfortunately doesn't always play nicely with the Galaxy Note 7. It turns out that Samsung's KNOX security platform causes issues with Google Now Launcher when both are in use. That actually shouldn't be a surprise if you've used the Galaxy S7, Note 5 or S6, either — this longstanding issue has annoyed plenty of people over multiple generations of phones.

We have a couple of tips to hopefully get them both working together, though. Let us show you what you can do about it.

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2 days ago

You can now play solitaire and tic-tac-toe directly in Google search results

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Goodbye productivity.

You can now play solitaire or tic-tac-toe directly in Google's search results. Just search for solitaire or tic-tac-toe in the search engine on the web or from your phone, and you'll get a playable version of either game above the search results.

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2 days ago

HTC's A9 15-day update pledge goes out the window

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Travel back to October 2015, when the HTC A9 was shiny and new. Amid the controversy about the price and availability — too much and too little — or how it was just a copy of the iPhone that was just a copy of the HTC M9, there was a small glowing nugget of sunshine. A promise of software updates within 15 days of Google's official phones.

At the time, I was skeptical and took this to mean monthly updates (which didn't happen either) because of the way Android is developed in the Google vacuum instead of out in the public like a proper open-source thing. There would be too many things to go wrong, and when they all went wrong there was no way Google was going to hold off updating a phone because HTC needed more time. In any case, none of it matters now.

HTC tweeted a small and generic update schedule for the phones they are planning to update to Android 7.0, and we're going to be waiting to see anything for the A9 until sometime after the HTC 10 gets updated in Q4 (October, November, or December) of 2016. I'm not a smart man, but I know what love is and I can count to 15. HTC was able to give us a statement when we asked about the discrepancy.

With the excitement around Android Nougat, we're aligning engineering resources around our most popular flagship products where the most customers will benefit.

This doesn't matter. Waiting for an update never hurt anyone, and even if they wait until the very last day in 2016 the A9 will get updated long before many other phones. But HTC has been in this game long enough to know that when they put a number or a date on anything, the internet will roast them when they miss it.

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3 days ago

Best Galaxy S7 cases

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What's the best case for Galaxy S7? These should do the trick!

Unless you're planning on rocking your new Samsung Galaxy S7 without any protection, you'll want a worthy case to help keep the phone safe from wear and tear. Even this early on, there are some excellent cases for the Galaxy S7 that are available to purchase and pre-order. Popular manufacturers such as LifeProof, Speck, Spigen, Obliq, Ringke, and Supcase all make the list with suitable options for protecting the Galaxy S7. Let's dive in and look at the best Galaxy S7 cases.

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3 days ago

How to take better photos with your Android phone

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How to take better photos with your Android phone

Take your Android photography to the next level with these tips and tricks for capturing masterpieces with your smartphone.

Many Android phones come with a high-quality camera designed to capture your subject's tiniest details and features, and while they're not technically on the same level as a DSLR camera, you can still take the perfect picture with just your phone if you know how to use it. Even if you're a beginner, you can quickly learn how to capture amazing photos with your Android phone (and if you actually are a beginner, be sure to check out our top 10 Android photography tips for beginners!)

Here are some helpful tricks to help you take better photos with your Android device!

Explore your camera settings

Get acquainted with your phone and all the camera settings before you start shooting, and you'll feel a lot more comfortable capturing your shots!

While shooting from your phone's stock camera is great for 99.9% of pictures — especially if you've got a recent Samsung, LG or HTC phone — playing around with the various modes and settings can really allow you to experiment and get creative.

Make sure your lens is clean

While this may seem like an obvious one, cleaning your phone lens can be a lot harder to remember than cleaning your DSLR lens. After all, there's no lens cap protecting your Android phone's camera from dirt and scratches like professional cameras have.

Carrying around a small lens cleaning cloth, or even having small micro fiber lens cleaning patches stitched to the inside of your purse or your jacket are simple ways to remind you to clean your phone lens and screen, so you're always ready to take the clearest shots with your phone.

Or just use your shirt.

Don't forget to clean your front lens, too! We break down how important cleaning your lenses can be in our top 8 tips to make you an Android photography expert.

Forget the flash: use external lighting

When it's dark outside, it's a knee-jerk reaction to turn on the flash to light up your photos, but it's not always the best for picture quality. In fact, we'll go one further: Don't bother using your flash. Nearly ever.

Always try to find a natural light source when you're shooting your photos. If you're at a restaurant and want to snap a picture of your meal, try to get a seat by a window, so you can capture all the meal's details with the perfect lighting. If you're looking to take a selfie, try posing in front of a big window. This won't only make your face and features light up – even on a cloudy day – but it will darken the background and make you the center of attention.

If it's absolutely impossible to capture your picture without natural lighting (and sometimes that's the case), try your best to find another external light source, like a lamp or even a candle. While it may seem silly, almost any other lighting will look better than the flash, especially since you then have more control of what you choose to light and highlight in your photographs.

Crop, don't zoom

Just like your Android phone's flash, zoom is another readily available option for phoneographers that should be avoided like the photographic plague.

Zoom can lower the quality of your pictures, and you might actually be cutting out something you didn't notice in the photo that you may find amazing when you glance at the picture during editing.

It's hard to remember when you're shooting, but your Android device is not the same as a DSLR camera: you can't just zoom in on something and have the quality stay virtually the same. A lot of professional photographers avoid the zoom altogether and prefer to crop strategically in the editing process afterwards, so they don't miss out on anything they captured in the picture.

If you really need to get in close with your subject, pick yourself up and physically move closer to it rather than using your zoom. This is the best way to get creative control over your photo subject without using zoom to mess up the picture's overall quality.

Burst first, ask questions later

Bursting may seem like a lazy way to take pictures, but it's probably the most efficient way to capture your perfect shot!

Whether it be selfies, landscapes, or a masterpiece of a meal, using burst is a great way to take a bunch of photos without stress: just hold down the shutter button and your phone will take rapid-fire shots that you can browse through later to find the perfect one.

While a bunch of the pictures you take with burst will be terrible and totally unusable, there are bound to be a few gems hiding in there. Take the time to go through your burst shots and pick out the best ones, and always remember to delete the bad burst photos so they don't take up space on your phone.

Find a favorite photography editing app

After you're done shooting, you're going to want to up your photo game by editing your pictures with your favorite editing app.

There are plenty of photo editing apps to choose from out there, and all of them do their own unique things like overlay certain filters, allow you to edit brightness and contrast, and even add text or stickers to your photos.

Photo editing apps are also a great tool to have if you're not confident with the photos you've taken. You can even salvage some photographs through a little bit of editing and tweaking if you're worried about quality.

Follow your favorite photographers on social media

Sometimes taking the best pictures with your Android phone doesn't start with your camera app; it starts with a quick visit to social media to get motivated from Android phone photographers who are already taking beautiful pictures!

Following some of your favorite photographers on social media is an amazing way to get ideas, see what kind of art other people are creating, and get motivated to go out and start shooting. Some may even respond in the comments if you ask them how they shot a certain subject in a certain style or how they managed to edit a specific photograph to look a certain way.

Creep around the discover page on Instagram and see what other Android phone photographers have shot. Start by mimicking a style you're fond of, and it will eventually evolve into your own.

Some photographers on social media even share their own tips and tricks for shooting, so be sure to check out a bunch of different profiles for inspiration.

Your turn

Are there any tips and tricks for shooting amazing photos with your Android phone that we may have missed? Let us know in the comments below.

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3 days ago

SwiftKey says sync errors fixed in latest update

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The now Microsoft-owned keyboard app for Android is still going through some growing pains.

SwiftKey had an issue arise in July with some users getting the predictions of other people, including names and email addresses. Today, SwiftKey has pushed out an update claiming the "sync service is fixed."

SwiftKey disabled a number of syncing and prediction features in late July while they worked to fix the issue. While some features appear to be working again with the most recent update, it appears the sync service is still throwing errors at the moment. SwiftKey also acknowledges in the change log that email and number predictions are still turned off, so we're not out of the woods just yet.

But we're another step closer. If you account was affected, are you seeing your old library yet? Are you still seeing any extra languages? Tell us in the comments below!

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3 days ago

Your phone may never get Android 7.0, but does it really matter?

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Unless you bought a phone from Google, it's going to take a while to see Nougat — if you ever see it at all. But that doesn't matter as much as you might think.

Android and updates seem like a mystery to many of us. If you're not familiar with the way a big open-source software distribution works, it can get a little confusing trying to sort out who gets what version and when. Reading the things you see online often make it worse, too — we're all talking about how Android 7.0 is here, and when phones will be updated, or if they will be at all. Then the obligatory comparisons to Apple's iOS or Microsoft Windows (which are both a thing that is built and distributed as a whole) start and more confusion just happens. It's nobody's fault: most of us think about Android as a thing on its own, but it's not. Since it's the time of year for a whole new version, we get to start the process all over again.

Free as in beer

Nobody "owns" Android, and that's why everything is so different. Android is, for all intents and purposes, a Linux distribution like Ubuntu. Google maintains the source code but they don't turn it into a piece of software and hand it out. They get patches and additions from a bunch of qualified folks and make sure everything works as intended, then let anyone and everyone take it to do whatever they like with it. It's important to understand what Android is, and how it gets distributed, when we think about the software on our phones.

You have two choices when it comes to operating system version updates — buy phones direct from Google, or waiting.

Two kinds of updates

Updates are important, but so is understanding how they work for Android. The important updates aren't the ones you hear about on a stage somewhere, no matter what someone else wants you to believe. The ones that get put out every month by the Android team at Google or the Knox team at Samsung or whoever is in control of releasing maintenance and security patches for the Android distribution they custom-built for your phone are the important ones. These are the patches that make sure your phone does exactly what it was promised to do when you bought it and does it securely.

The small monthly updates are the important ones.

Google does a pretty good job and keeping Android versions up to date. They may do a lot of other things poorly, but they are still pumping out software fixes as far back as Ice Cream Sandwich. They also make it easy to see what was patched, and how, in case you want to build it yourself on your customized version. That's where the folks who make your phone come into the picture.

Google takes these patches and puts them into the version of Android they make for their own phones. Remember, even phones like the Nexus 6P need their own version of Android built. Samsung and HTC and Huawei and everyone else is free to do the same and build a small patch for the phone in your hands. Carriers can and will try to ruin the process, but with them out of the picture it really is this simple. Once you get it, you install it and there is absolutely nothing wrong with your Lollipop phone, or even with your KitKat phone. It works as advertised, and you're generally safe from the nasty things you hear about malware unless you do something silly like trust people you shouldn't when installing software from outside of Google Play.

New features

The other kind of update gets all the press and all the attention. They usually bring new features or change how things work, and people like me take the time to write about them. They are great updates (once they work the way they should) and they're worth talking about. But those low-key monthly updates are far more important. You don't buy a refrigerator or a golf cart because of the great things that will come next year, so you shouldn't buy a phone for the great things that come next year. The things it does this year need to still work.

Because of the way Android is distributed, Google knows that 100 different phones may be running 100 different operating systems, but they all will be fully Android compatible — running Android at the core if you want to think of it that way. That means they can all run the same apps and access the same services, and if they use Google Play they are even more compatible with Android apps and services. While Google builds a custom version for their own phones, they also focus on making apps run better and do more of the things we usually think of as system features. Android is and always has been about apps and online services. It always will be.

You have two choices when it comes to Android version updates — phones direct from Google or waiting.

Enter Google Play Services. It's a horrible solution for keeping more versions of Android compatible with each other when it comes to running apps, but it's also the best solution. Google can not force any company to update a phone they built — Android is free to use, and as long as the phone met the standards required to run Google Play when it was built, it can run Google Play. Thinking Google can (or even wants to) yank permission to use their apps and store away from a manufacturer is silly. Stop thinking it. Instead, Google Play Services handles much of the behind-the-scenes stuff an app needs to run. Things like location services or security. Google can do whatever it takes to make Play Services compatible with most versions and update it independently from the operating system, and that's exactly what they do. When you see Play Services eating up your battery, that's because so many apps are using it.

Te reiterate — if your phone runs Lollipop and has the latest version of Play Services (and you would know if it doesn't because you changed it yourself) do you really need Nougat? Your phone still does all the things it was supposed to do and can run almost every app available. Most app-based security is handled by Play Services as well. Combined with the latest Security Patch for the core system itself, your phone is fine and you should be happy using it.

Is Android N important?

Yep. Android 7.0 Nougat is a major update, even if the user-facing features don't reflect it. Changes to the ways apps can run in the background, changes to the way updates are handled and changes to the overall security model are a major shift from what we have with Lollipop. Eventually, these changes will be required to run apps and use Google's services. Think of it as Android's Windows 7 moment — things look familiar, but everything you can't see has been improved.

I want Nougat. That's why I have a Nexus 6P. But I also know that any other phone on my desk that is current for its version of Android is still a fine phone and does what I need it to do. I'm fine waiting on Nougat for phones like my HTC 10 or my Galaxy S7 edge, as long as the monthly patches — the important updates — keep coming.

Android 7.0 Nougat

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3 days ago

Best OBD2 car readers for Android

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Best OBD2 car readers for Android

What's the best OBDII reader for Android? Here's a few to get you started!

Car repair can be costly (DUH) and that Check Engine light could mean myriad issues with your car. Or, it could be a simple fix that you could do yourself – so why take it to your dealer or mechanic without knowing the problem first? Some places will charge you $100 or more just for the scan.

Don't get swindled again. Get yourself your very own Bluetooth OBDII reader/scanner and figure out what's wrong with your car, right on your phone or tablet!

BAFX Products 34t5

BAFX Product 34t5

The BAFX Products 34t5 claims to work on all vehicles in the U.S. from 1996 or later, so chances are that if you're driving, this will work with your vehicle. All you need is a third-party app (which range from free to rather expensive paid apps), and you can connect the 34t5 to your Android phone or tablet to read out diagnostic information.

While reading out diagnostic codes, you can even clear them out at will, thus turning off your check engine light – even for manufacturer-specific codes!

Depending on the third-party app your choose, you can get real-time sensor information right on your phone, life speed, balance rates, RPM, O2 readings, and lots more.

If you feel the need for speed, this reader will even send you ⅛, ¼, ½, and 1 mile times.

Don't spend $100 just for someone to scan your car; spend about $22, read it yourself, and maybe you'll even be able to fix it on your own!

See at Amazon

Panlong Car Diagnostic scanner

Panlong

Panlong's small OBDII scanner is perfect for the do-it-yourselfer on a budget – you can find these on Amazon for around $13.

This reader will work on any car sold in the U.S. from 1996 or later – it just might not work with some hybrids. All you need is a third-party app, like Torque or DashCommand and you'll be able to read and clear trouble codes, while receiving real-time data readings – and you'll be able to turn off that damn Check Engine light!

If inexpensively is the way you like to maintain your vehicle (who doesn't?), then opt for the Veepeak Mini scanner.

See at Amazon

ScanTool OBDLink LX

OBDLink LX

The ScanTool OBDLink LX is a professional-grade OBDII reader that features its own app, which allows you to scan, read, and clear trouble codes in all cars sold in the U.S. since 1996 (except hybrid or electric vehicles).

All you have to do is plug it in, pair it with your phone, open the app, and you'll see real-time diagnostic data, as well as information about performance.

You can even use your Windows PC to access and compile your information without ever having to see a mechanic. Fix the stuff you can fix yourself and only take it in when absolutely necessary.

Being a professional tool, the OBDLink LX claims to service a wider range of vehicles, given more complex algorithms, and the Amazon reviews seem to agree.

It may be about $50, but if you love your car and worry that the cheaper readers might not actually do the trick, then check out the OBDLink LX. $50 is better than the $100 the dealers will charge you!

See at Amazon

iSaddle Super Mini

iSaddle

The iSaddle Super Mini supports all OBDII protocols and works on just about every car sold in the U.S. since 1996 (except hybrid and electric), allowing you to diagnose what ails your vehicle to help determine whether or not it really needs a trip to the shop.

For Android users, iSaddle works exclusively with the Torque app feeding you diagnostics and performance data via Bluetooth.

If you're unsure about the DYI approach to car repair, the iSaddle's only about $12, so you really have nothing to lose if you want to try it out yourself. If you can fix the problem yourself, go for it, but you still have the option of taking it to your dealer or mechanic if you're out of your element.

See at Amazon

What do you use?

Do you read your car or truck's trouble codes with another scanner that we didn't mention? Do you read your own codes or just take your car to the shop whenever the Check Engine light comes on?

Let us know in the comments below!

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3 days ago

Where to buy the Honor 8 in the UK

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Honor 8

A whole lot of phone for £369.

It's official: the Honor 8 is coming to the UK, with a £369.99 SIM-free price tag. It's launching first, unlocked and SIM-free, on Amazon, as well as Huawei's vMall platform, along with free bundled goodies.

As for other retailers and carriers, we've got the first details on UK availability down below. It's worth noting that for now, the only model available in the UK is the 32GB Honor 8, as opposed to the more expensive 64GB variant.

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3 days ago

Samsung launches 'Pink Gold' Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, exclusive to Best Buy in the U.S.

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You're sure to stand out if you go with this color.

Update: Samsung has confirmed that T-Mobile will not be a carrier option for the Pink Gold Galaxy S7 and S7 edge.

Original story: Looking for a little bump in sales as the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge have been out for several months now, Samsung has partnered up with Best Buy in the U.S. to launch an exclusive new "Pink Gold" color option of the phones. The new color will be available for Verizon, Sprint and AT&T.

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