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1 week ago

These are the accessories your PlayStation VR needs right now!

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There's more to owning a PlayStation VR than being Batman.

As gaming VR systems go, PlayStation VR has been a hit so far. The initial launch left many hunting for games that were out of stock for days and controllers that were out of stock for longer, but now that things have settled down and you've started pushing through the lineup of launch titles, it's time to take a look at what you need to enjoy this headset long term. Outside of a fresh controller and the new PlayStation Camera, this is what you need to fully enjoy your PlayStation VR!

Read more at VR Heads!

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2 weeks ago

Will my phone get updated to Android 7.x Nougat?

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Jerry looks into his crystal ball and asks: Will your phone get an Android 7.x update?

It's time for a new version of Android, and that means I also get to make my yearly predictions about updates. Fun times!

Now, to be sure, unless a manufacturer has already committed to updating an existing phone, these are simply (mostly) educated guesses. We base them on a company's track record, the capabilities of the phone itself, and the number of phones a company makes. It's sort of like a blogger version of reading tea leaves and calling the bookmakers. And it's fun. Even when we get it wrong it's fun.

Since we're here because we are interested in Android, and most of us like to have a little fun, let's jump right in and answer the million dollar question — will my phone get updated to Android 7.x Nougat?

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2 weeks ago

Linksys sets sights on Google Wifi with the Velop mesh router

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The Velop is a mesh router that connects to Amazon Alexa.

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Over the course of the last year, we've seen mesh networking gain momentum thanks to the likes of Eero and Luma. Google also joined the fray with the Google Wifi, and now Linksys has launched its own mesh networking solution called the Velop. The modular system is made up of invidiaual nodes that you'll have to place around your house to maximize coverage.

Each Velop node is a tri-band AC2200 class device with 2x2 802.11ac Wave 2 MU-MIMO and three Wi-Fi radios that can cover up to 2,000 square feet, but you'll ideally need more than one to get coverage throughout your house. Standalone nodes can function in four modes — router, range extender, access point, and bridge — and can be configured through Linksys' Android app.

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2 weeks ago

Google Home Wish List 2017

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Here's how I'd like to see Google Home improve.

Google Home is quickly growing more capable as a connected home accessory. New features are being added at a steady pace, and now that third-party developers are able to extend their services onto the platform we're going to see an exciting ramp-up in capability moving into the next year. I'm excited to see what third-party teams bring to Google Home, but I'd also like to see Google add some unique features of their own to really help this platform stand out.

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2 weeks ago

What to do if you're locked out of your phone after resetting it

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While it's for our own good, Factory Reset Protection can trip you up when you reset your phone. These tips can help.

Getting stuck when trying to reset your phone seems to be a fairly common thing. The reasons for it are good — Google has methods in place to try and cut back on phone theft — but when it's your phone and your data, it can be frustrating if you can't use it. Here are a few pointers that can help if it happens to you, as well as what you can do to prevent it from happening.

Why do I need to know the old account information?

In recent versions of Android, once a phone has been tied to a Google account you need to use the same account and password to "unlock" it if you reset it. It's called FRP (Factory Reset Protection), and it's done to make stolen phones less valuable; if you steal my phone you can't unlock the screen to use it, and if you reset it you need my Google account information to set it up again. If you can't use my phone, you're less likely to steal it. Or if you've found a phone and can't use it you'll be more likely to turn it over to the police. Every company that makes phones with access to Google Play is using this feature and some also have their own version that can do the same thing through their accounts.

Even a great idea seems bad when it keeps you from using your phone.

The problem is that if you reset your own phone, or buy a used phone that still has FRP active you might need to know the account username and password that was last used on the phone to sync with Google's servers. Resetting the phone through the settings should remove the account before it erases the data, but it very often doesn't. Sometimes we forget those details, or if we bought a phone from someone else we might not be able to get them. While people are always looking for exploits to work around the FRP lock, once found they quickly get patched. (Though sometimes those patches take a while to work their way through manufacturers and carriers, so it's always worth a Google search.)

When this happens on your own account and you have access from another phone (or tablet or computer) first instinct is to have the password you forgot reset so you can move forward. But that only locks the phone setup completely for at least 24 hours because another security feature stops you from adding access to your Google account on the phone right after a password change or other "suspicious" activity. On phones running Lollipop, this might be 72 hours — Google changed it in May 2016 and some phones need a software update for it to take effect. Every time you try starts the 24-hour clock new, and we all would keep trying over and over out of frustration.

So what should I do?

There are three ways to get in. The first, using the Google account recovery tool, will only work if you took the time to set up a backup phone (and can swap your SIM card with another phone to get a text) or second email account. We'll go over how to do that in the next section, but if you already did it you can click this link to start the recovery process. Make sure your phone is charged and turned on, and make sure you have access to a phone using the recovery number or the recovery account email. If you're using two-factor authentication, you'll need a way to authorize your account. If that would usually be the phone you're trying to unlock, the recovery tool will walk you through the steps to disable 2FA or use a CAPTCHA code.

The next step is to reset your account password from another device, then wait 24 (or 72 — see above) hours before trying to set it up. You can leave the phone powered on or shut it off, just don't try to do anything with it while you're waiting or you may reset the countdown. Waiting a full day (or three) really sucks, but it's better than not having any access to your account and not being able to use your phone ever again.

If you bought used, you'll need to contact the original owner for some help.

The third option is for advanced users, and may not work on your particular model. You can try to wipe the phone's data and cache partitions through the device recovery. This used to work on some models, never worked on others, and even triggered a dialog asking for the same account details as setup does on others. But if you're into fiddling with things, this is pretty easy to try. The other thing to try is to reflash the operating system. Using whatever tools are needed on a computer (Fastboot, Odin, LG Flash Tool, etc.) and the correct factory image to completely erase the phone and start from scratch. This too isn't 100%. Rooted users can try ADB through recovery and then remove specific files from the settings database — search your particular model for more on this.

If none of these solutions work you can try filling out this form or calling 650-253-0000 to work through the Google Accounts customer service menu. You can also try checking with the company you bought the phone from, as they may have experience solving the issue.

If you aren't the original owner and don't have access to a way to recover the account, you'll need to contact whoever you bought it from.

Account recovery options

Save yourself some headache and set up your account recovery options. Visit your Google account settings page and run the "Security Checkup" you'll find in the left column. You can tell Google how to send you a token to get into your account if you're locked out and select recovery questions as part of the first step. We recommend you provide all the detail you can here. Just because the FRP "issue" hasn't hit you yet doesn't mean it never will.

With password managers and 2FA settings, the days of just remembering a simple account password are over for a lot of us. Don't think that you'll never be locked out of your own phone and your own account! Take a few minutes and make sure Google can help you get in if you need them to.

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2 weeks ago

Lenovo's making a prettier Amazon Echo and a smarter home NAS

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Alexa, show me Lenovo's new stuff.

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In addition to a slew of new PCs, Lenovo's bringing a slew of new connected home accessories to CES 2017. Chief among them are a new smart home network drive, their take on an Amazon Echo-style device, and a handheld keyboard that includes the most sensitive of keys.

Lenovo Smart Assistant

What if you could make a fancier-looking Amazon Echo? That must be the question that Lenovo's engineers asked themselves when cooking up the "Lenovo Smart Assistant with Amazon Alexa". This cylindrical connected smart speaker is an Echo clone if we've ever seen one; it's the fruit of a Lenovo-Amazon partnership, and there's anything wrong with that. It even bakes in the same Amazon Alexa software, includes eight far-field noise-cancelling microphones, and a pair of speakers — a 5W tweeter and a 10W woofer.

Looks-wise, it's like a fancier Echo, with a fabric speaker grill below a solid upper half, plus a raised control surface on the top ringed by a chrome volume ring. That fabric grill comes in multiple color options, though they aren't removable (a la Google Home). You'll have your choice of a white upper half with grills in light gray, green, or orange, or an all-black Harman Edition model that includes an additional 2-inch acoustic sound cavity for enhanced audio performance.

There's one big difference between an Amazon Echo and the Lenovo Smart Assistant: price. The standard Smart Assistant starts at $129.99, while the Harman Edition version will run $179.99 (the retail price of Amazon's Echo). Both versions are expect to be available in May 2017.

Lenovo Smart Storage

There are standard NAS devices, and then there's this. You could call the Lenovo Smart Storage device the next generation of the Network Attached Storage unit, and that's essentially what it is: a smart NAS. Packed inside the compact pinched white box you'll find 2TB or 6TB of hard drive storage, a dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac antenna, and a dual-core 1.6GHz Intel Celeron processor.

More than just a mere hard drive with Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity, the Lenovo Smart Storage is packed with software to make it, well, smart. Auto Sync will help to automatically back up your files, it includes DLNA so you can stream movies on it to your TV, and even facial recognition software to scan and organize your photo library by people. There's also a USB port on the back — plug in your drive, press a button on the Smart Storage, and it'll back up everything on the drive.

If that piques your interest, you'll be able to grab one in May 2017, with the a starting price for the 2TB version of $139.99.

Lenovo 500 Multimedia Controller

There's a user interface flaw in most smart TVs: if you want to search for anything, or log into any installed apps, you're either clicking around an on-screen keyboard with a remote control or dictating into a microphone and hoping it understood you correctly. While plenty of TVs offer Bluetooth support so you can connect a keyboard, who wants to keep a big slab of a keyboard in the living room, let alone try and balance it on their laps? Enter the Lenovo 500 Multimedia Controller, a compact keyboard that fits into your hands and has a trick up its sleeve.

At first glance it looks like a standard, but compact, albeit it with an advertised 66-foot range to the 2.4GHz USB receiver (twice the range of a typical Bluetooth device). It's designed to fit comfortably in both hands so you can type with your thumbs — it's roughly the size as the on-screen keyboard of a 7-to-8-inch tablet in portrait orientation. But there's more: the entire keyboard is also touch sensitive — swipe across them and they're a trackpad to move the cursor on the screen along with left/right mouse buttons below the keys. Pair it with a Windows 10 PC (perhaps a Stick PC plugged into your TV) and it even supports multi-finger gestures.

The Lenovo 500 Multimedia Controller is expected to be available in March 2017 for a reasonable $54.99.

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2 weeks ago

New BlackBerry with hardware keyboard to launch during CES

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A new BlackBerry is coming.

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We knew it was coming, but BlackBerry's long-awaited 'Mercury' handset is set to be announced at CES.

A teaser of the keyboard-sporting BlackBerry handset, which is now designed, overseen and built by TCL, Alcatel's parent company, was shown by Steve Cistulli, President of TCL, prior to the start of CES.

In mid-December, BlackBerry and TCL formalized their relationship, officially making the Canadian outfit a software company. TCL will still release BlackBerry-branded handsets, for which the former telecom giant will build the Android software.

According to previous rumors, the new keyboarded "Mercury" will feature an unusual 1620x1080 resolution with a 420 ppi pixel density, which works out to a 4.63-inch display size. There's also expected to be a Snapdragon processor of some sort (perhaps the 625), 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of internal storage.

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2 weeks ago

Best Cases for LG V20

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What are the best cases for the LG V20?

Life is full of unfortunate surprises, which is why you want to be prepared in case you drop your sparkling clean LG V20 onto the ground. Protect your new smartphone with one of these affordable insurance plans.

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2 weeks ago

A Bluetooth controller fixes everything wrong with the NES Classic

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The NES Classic ships with a wired controller — and with a rather short cable, at that. The NES30 Bluetooth gamepad fixes that.

For everything that's great about the NES Classic — and there's a lot that is really fun here — one glaring black mark remains.

Wired controllers suck. And more than that, the wired controller that comes with the NES Classic is ridiculously short. Maybe not for 1987, but this ain't gonna cut it by 2017's standards.

And so we turn to Bluetooth.

The NES30 Classic Edition Wireless Controller Set from 8Bitdo was one of the first out of the gate. (At least that I initially found on Amazon.) And it's the first one we're taking a look at.

The obvious differences: No wire. That's a big one. But almost as big is that you get more buttons. It's really more of a hybrid — Super Nintendo layout in the original NES form. So that's taken my brain a little getting used to.

Pairing was simple enough. Turn off the NES Classic, plug in the receiver (I recommend using Port 1 for this, otherwise you won't be able to navigate the NES Classic menu system). Next, hold down the Start button on the controller for 3 seconds, then press the orange button on the receiver to initiate pairing. It shouldn't take too long at all. You'll see the blue LED on the controller and the blue LED on the receiver stop blinking once they're paired. (The second LED on the controller is to show when it's fully charged — there's a very short microUSB cable in the box to help with that.)

And ... That's that. The controller isn't quite the same shade of gray as the one that comes with the NES Classic, and that's a shame. But it's also a small price to pay to get rid of the wires.

See at Amazon

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2 weeks ago

Best To-Do App

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Todoist is the best to-do app that you can get right now. It offers tons of features, as well as access across PC and mobile devices.

Best overall

Todoist: To-Do List

 To-Do ListSee at Google Play

Of the many to-do apps that are available, Todoist easily rises to the top. It uses Material Design to deliver an intuitive and easy to navigate UI that offers plenty of options for your tasks. You can separate your lists out by project and use filters to only see the lists that you need access to in a pinch.

It also delivers a calendar that lets you see your tasks for the upcoming week, as well as a daily tab. It even delivers a profile that allows you to take a look at the tasks you have completed recently, which can help to keep you on task and track your progress towards goals. If you choose to upgrade to a premium membership, which will run you $28.99 a year, it gives you expanded access to your history, and delivers new features like the ability to tag your lists. With premium you can also access your lists across your phone, Android Wear smartwatch, and PC so that you always have access to your to-do list.

Bottom line: Between the features they deliver, and the ease of use, Todoist is easily the best app for for keeping track of everything you need to do. It's easy to use, and gives you options that let you take charge of your lists.

One more thing: Todoist Premium even gives you the ability to look back and see everything that you've gotten done, and which tasks you missed.

Why Todoist is the best

Todoist delivers a great experience that allows you to access your lists almost anywhere, and tag and filter them so that everything you need is right at your fingertips.

Being able to easily check your phone to see what you have left to do makes staying on top of everything in your busy life so much easier. Todoist will send you notifications both when a task you have listed is due, and with your task list for the day. It's a small thing, but it just makes things so much easier to deal with. Instead of having to remember to go through the app, it's right there waiting for you when you slide down your notification tray.

Part of Todoist's charm comes from how easy it is to add things to lists. Thanks to Material Design, the add button is right at the bottom of your screen. From right there you can date, tag, and filter your new list item all at once. Premium members get the option to tag people and further customize their list items as well.

Best for less

Google Keep

Google KeepSee at Google Play

Google Keep is primarily a note keeping app, but it does have pretty awesome to-do features baked right into it. It should be no surprise that it's well designed, and easy to use, since it is Google's own product. This also means that you may have it installed on your phone already and not even realize it.

You can easily create new lists from the add menu at the bottom of your screen, but to edit existing lists you'll need to find them within the app. Once you've completed a task on your list you can cross it off by editing the list, and tapping that item. It will then appear with a slash through it. This makes it easy to keep an eye both on what needs to be done, and what you have already completed.

If there is a list that has priority tasks on it, you can pin it. This will ensure that you can easily find and edit the list while you are out and about. In addition to typing in items for your list you can also add media. If you have a photo for a project, you can add it to your list to make it easier to find when you need it.

Bottom line: Google Keep offers great accessibility and ease of use. While it doesn't have tons of options for your to-do lists it can get the job done, and might even be installed on your phone already.

One more thing: To set a date for lists in Google Keep, you'll need to set a reminder with a time from within the list itself.

Best for Windows users

Wunderlist: To-Do list and Tasks

 To-Do list and TasksSee at Google Play

Wunderlist is a great app that is built specifically for to-do lists. It allows you to easily make customized lists which can be edited with just a few taps. In addition when you create new lists, you can also add other people to the list which lets you easily collaborate on projects with colleagues.

From within each list you can set dates and reminders, add subtasks for each item in a list, and add notes or files. This allows you to really customize your to-do lists and make sure that every step is listed out for you to check at a glance. If you add any of these to an item in a list, small icons will pop up next to it from the list view. This means you can tell when there are extra items involved in a task, before you just tap it to mark it as completed.

Wunderlist also offers a premium version of the app. The premium version allows you to upload larger files to your to-do lists, assign tasks in a to-do list to a specific person, and includes unlimited subtasks on list items for $4.99 a month. Because Microsoft owns Wunderlist, it is well integrated into the company's services, including Outlook.

Bottom line: Wunderlist lets you easily build and customize to-do lists with plenty of features to make getting everything done easy. It gives you the ability to easily collaborate, break big tasks into manageable chunks, and even upload files pertinent to specific tasks.

One more thing: You can talk to your collaborators from within the app by commenting in a shared list. This makes communicating with colleagues on a project simple and self contained.

Best for speed

Any.do

To-Do list, Task List-Any.doSee at Google Play

Any.do is an app that aims to keep you organized through to-do lists, and delivers a beautiful experience while doing just that. You can build multiple lists, and customize each one with the tasks you need to complete. Any.do will also link up with your Google Calendar if you sign up using your Google Account, which means everything is in one place.

When you add items to a list within Any.do, you get access to a range of features that are handy no matter what you're doing. You can add subtasks to list items, move task items between lists, add reminders, add notes with media attachments, and share list items with colleagues and collaborators. All of this together lets you have real power over everything in your to-do list. Clearing items when you finish a task is easy as well. All you have to do is swipe right across your screen to strike through completed items.

There is also the option to upgrade to a premium membership. You get perks like location based notifications, allowing more attachments to your lists, customizable colors, and access to a daily planner called Any.do moments.

Bottom line: Any.do gives you access to a well designed app with plenty of lists to help keep track of every item on your to-do list. With free features like collaboration, and Google account integration it can become an organizational hub for your schedule.

One more thing: Any.do moment will give you a breakdown of your tasks for the day, and it's just one of the perks of going all in with a premium membership.

Conclusion

There are plenty of apps out there that can help keep you on track with your to-do list. Not all of them are created equal though, and this was a collection of the best to-do apps available on Android. Each one has its own pros and cons, but there is one app that rises to the top as the star. Todoist is easily the best app for getting everything on your to-do list completed.

Best overall

Todoist: To-Do List

 To-Do ListSee at Google Play

Of the many to-do apps that are available, Todoist easily rises to the top. It uses Material Design to deliver an intuitive and easy to navigate UI that offers plenty of options for your tasks. You can separate your lists out by project and use filters to only see the lists that you need access to in a pinch.

It also delivers a calendar that lets you see your tasks for the upcoming week, as well as a daily tab. It even delivers a profile that allows you to take a look at the tasks you have completed recently, which can help to keep you on task and track your progress towards goals. If you choose to upgrade to a premium membership, which will run you $28.99 a year, it gives you expanded access to your history, and delivers new features like the ability to tag your lists. With premium you can also access your lists across your phone, Android Wear smartwatch, and PC so that you always have access to your to-do list.

Bottom line: Between the features they deliver, and the ease of use, Todoist is easily the best app for for keeping track of everything you need to do. It's easy to use, and gives you options that let you take charge of your lists.

One more thing: Todoist Premium even gives you the ability to look back and see everything that you've gotten done, and which tasks you missed.

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2 weeks ago

Stop blaming smartwatches for your terrible habits

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Your notification habits are terrible.

When left unchecked, phones are horrible distraction machines. Every vibration or ding must be checked and addressed, either by dismissal or by response, as soon as it happens. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Email, and your three favorite games are desperately trying to grab your attention as frequently as possible because the people building those apps know you can't help but check your phone as soon as the notification comes in. We're even using notifications occasionally in the Android Central app now, because it works every single time.

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2 weeks ago

Make tracking your weight in 2017 easier with 40% off this Withings Wi-Fi scale!

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Right now you can save 40% on the Withings Wi-Fi connected scale, dropping the price down to just $78. This scale is a great way to easily track your weight loss or gains and help you stay on track to hit those 2017 goals you set for yourself. Normally priced at $130, you won't want to miss out on this $52 savings on the scale that can track your weight, BMI, body fat, muscle, bone mass and more.

If you are looking for a great way to track your progress and keep yourself motivated, be sure to pick one of these up now! Odds are it won't last long at this price, so be sure to act quick!

See at Amazon

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2 weeks ago

Best microSD Cards for Amazon Fire Tablet

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The Amazon Fire Tablet is a great investment, but it tends to run out of space quickly. Here are some ways to expand it without breaking the bank.

Whether you got a Fire Tablet for yourself or your kids, you've probably noticed that the internal storage doesn't go very far. You can easily fill it up with some games, a few apps and media, which is a bit disappointing. Instead of trying to figure out what to delete, and how to better manage the storage, why not make things easier and add a microSD card so it can hold more?

There are tons of great microSD cards out there, and not all of them are expensive. Depending on your needs you can get cards with as little as 8GB or as much as 200GB. Picking the right card can be difficult, but here are some great options you will want to consider.

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2 weeks ago

CES 2017: What to expect from the year's biggest tech show

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What to expect from CES 2017

CES is here to excite, entice ... and sometimes disappoint.

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This is the biggest trade show of the year, taking place in over 2 million square feet of exhibition space across multiple convention centers in Las Vegas and welcoming over 150,000 industry members and media. CES starts off the year with a bang and floods us with more technology than any single person can manage to see.

Though there is a huge media component to the show and many companies use it as a launch point for new products, its importance for many of the biggest companies in the mobile world has faded. Long gone are the days of seeing five or 10 different high-end phones and tablets launched in the span of four days — instead the big names we know are more interested in releasing mid-range devices to save the big ones for independent events.

Sure you won't see the all of 2017's greatest phones unveiled at CES, but there's still a whole lot to get excited about in the mobile world and beyond. Here's what you can expect from CES 2017.

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2 weeks ago

Learn coding, design and more with a lifetime subscription to Stone River Academy for $89!

Choosing a specific career in the field of app development, web design, and 3D-animation can be tough — each is a growing field with high demand for specialists, and you have many interests. What if you want to learn them all? How can you afford the education needed for each career, and where will you find the time to go back to school?

Stone River Academy might be the answer you're looking for; they've put together what can be likened to a complete tech-education bundle. Courses for all levels of knowledge are available, and you can learn at your own pace; course availability stays open indefinitely thanks to a lifetime subscription. Master app development, web design, 3D-animation, coding languages, and more. You have the ambition and you can squeeze time into your busy schedule, but how can this be affordable?

Enter Android Central Digital Offers. Right now, we're offering this lifetime subscription with over 110 courses and over 2000 hours of content for only $89. That's no mistake — that's a 93% discount off the regular $1445. You're essentially paying a one-time fee to be enrolled for life. No matter what comes in the future, you'll be already set up to tackle it. Talk about a head start.

Don't miss this awesome 93% savings! Learn More

There are a ton of courses to choose from, but each course is broken down into a comprehensive curriculum to help keep things sorted. Learn programming languages like Java, Python, and CSS, as well as the ins and outs of game development tools like Unity 3D. Not only will you learn development, design, and programming, you'll also acquire the skills needed to carve a career in the tech industry.

Do you want to always keep on top of current tech trends? With a lifetime subscription to Stone River Academy, you'll always have access to the latest courses — yes, new content is added all the time. Thanks to the broad range of content available, you might even discover a hidden interest. Imagine the possibilities available to you for only $89. The need for all sorts of specialists in the tech industry is high — why not get started today on a new career?

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