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2 days ago

The Pixel is selling out because Google finally got its ads right


The Pixel is off to a good, if not great, start.

Google's Pixels made up 12.3% of activations at Verizon stores during the holiday quarter, a number that should make both companies very happy in the quest to unseat the dominance of Samsung and Apple.

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2 days ago

The Best Android Apps


Looking for the absolute best Android apps, utilities, and games, the Play Store has to offer? You've come to the right place!

There are a lot of Android apps out there, and we've rounded up the very best across each of the Play Store's major categories. Keep in mind that these are our subjective choices, and are always welcome to hear about what you're digging in the comments, so don't be shy!

Best book & reference app for Android: Kindle

Amazon's Kindle remains the de facto standard for e-reading and offers the widest marketplace for books and reference materials. The app includes a wide range of features, including definition look-up, text scaling, contrast adjustment, and location memory. You can even load Mobi and PDF files to be read in the Kindle app (though not ePub).

Download: Kindle (Free w/ IAPS)

Best business app for Android: Splashtop

Splashtop is a remote desktop access app that allows users to get access to everything they need on your home or work PC. So long as your computer is on, the desktop client is running, and you have an active subscription, you can use your Android device to click around your desktop, open applications, browse files, and make use of touch shortcuts to get more done faster. Encryption is enabled for business customers concerned about security.

Download: Splashtop (Free w/ subscription)

Best comics app for Android: Comixology

In no uncertain terms, Comixology made comics on mobile popular. Issues are made available to purchase the same day they're out on print. There are a bunch of free issues available, and the selection spans major publishers like Marvel, DC, IDW, and Disney. You'll also find related news and podcasts tucked away in there.

Download: Comixology (Free w/ IAPs)

Best education app for Android:

Lynda remains a top source for current, high-quality instructional videos. Though the bulk of the service relies on a hefty $25/month subscription fee, there are a lot of free videos available. Many of the areas of subject matter are technical and surround certain types of software, but you'll also find photography, music, art, and other major topics covered.

Download: (Monthly subscription required)

Best entertainment app for Android: IMDb

IMDb is an invaluable tool for figuring out which films and shows actors are from, digging up obscure quotes, and seeing which shows are topping the charts. After watching an HD trailer, you can find showtimes at theatres near you, or mark it on your watchlist to catch it later. Between the full photo galleries, recent news, and information on every movie under the sun, IMDb is insanely useful.

Download: IMDb (Free)

Best finance app for Android: Personal Finance is an outstanding organizational app to stay on top of your budget. It plugs directly into your existing bank accounts and identifies transactions across broad categories so it can visualize the information in helpful way. You can set monthly budget limits for different types of activities, and manually add in transactions that aren't using any of your bank cards. Investment totals made through your bank are displayed here as well.

Download: Mint (Free)

Best health & fitness app for Android: Endomondo Sports Tracker

Endomondo is still one of the best all-around fitness trackers available on Android. You can track speed, distance, and time for running, walking, cycling, or any other overland activity and share the results to your friends on Facebook. If you're willing to go with the pro version, you're able to enjoy goal setting features, an audio coach, and view detailed graphs for your progress throughout a workout. You'll also find that a wide range of popular fitness bands and accessories will feed data into Endomondo.

Download: Endomondo (Free w/ IAPs, or $4.99 for Pro version

Best lifestyle app for Android: Tinder

Tinder is a hugely popular location-based dating app. Users log in with their Facebook credentials, which populates a Tinder profile with all of their interests and a profile image. You're then presented with a stream of potential matches based on those nearby and with overlapping interests and common Facebook friends. With a swipe, users anonymously decide if they like someone or not, and they get a notification when someone they picked has picked them as well. Then it's just a matter of using the chat system to taking things from there.

Download Tinder (Free)

Best media & video app for Android: Plex

Plex is a widely-respected media-sharing app that helps you get content on your Android device from your PC. Just run the media server software on your computer, and you can access music, video, and pictures from anywhere. Extra features, like Chromecast support and cloud saving, are available with a PlexPass subscription.

Download: Plex (Free w/subscription)

Best medical app for Android: Medscape

Medscape is a rich medical reference library that allows users to pour over thousands of procedures, drugs, and news articles. Specialities can be tagged so that relevant information can be made more prominent. The data is pulled in through WebMD, which is highly reputable in the sphere. One of the more useful sections for everyday users is a drug database and cross-referencing for potential interactions. For those really into medicine, there's an educational section where you can read up on the latest research and catch embedded videos going over the content.

Download: Medscape (Free)

Best music & audio app for Android: Spotify

Spotify is arguably the best music streaming service out there, featuring a massive library of tracks, as well as a station generator and some curated, mood and genre based offerings if you don't feel like making a playlist yourself.

There's also a social emphasis with Spotify, giving users the option to share and play friend's playlists to help them discover music and share what they're listening to on social media sites. You can stream shuffled music for free (with ads) or subscribe for unlimited access to everything Spotify offers.

Download: Spotify (Free, $9.99/month for premium)

Best news & magazine app for Android: Flipboard

Flipboard has become the new way people take in web content on their phone. Users build up a list of subscriptions, and content is fed into a beautiful interface. Swipes cause each page to turn smoothly, and a single tap on the header image takes you into the full text of an article. Though reading through your favorite sites is great, you can build your own magazines built from web content and share them with the Flipboard community at large.

Download: Flipboard (Free)

Best personalization app for Android: Action Launcher 3

Action Launcher brings a ton of thoughtful features plus lots of additional tweaks that you expect from a custom launcher. Replace the traditional app drawer with a slide-in Quickdrawer, maximize on-screen real estate with Shutters and tweak the home screen search bar with the customizable Quickbar. Beyond that, Action Launcher also offers theming options, suggestions for app icon replacements and a beta feature to normalize icon sizes.

The best features of Action Launcher 3 require a paid upgrade to the Plus version, but it's worth every penny.

Download: Action Launcher 3 (Free)

Best photography app for Android: Snapseed

Snapseed is a highly polished photo editing app built smartly for touch input. Tapping navigation buttons along the bottom allow users to switch between tools, such as rotating, cropping, color correction, and filters. Then, swiping up and down on the picture lets you select the type of adjustment, and going left and right changes the amount of adjustment. It's a great interface for smaller screens, and provides all the major editing you might need to do.

Download: Snapseed (Free)

Best productivity app for Android: Trello

Trello is a task app the can scale as large as company-wide project handing, to as small as grocery lists. Set reminders, add labels, organize in collections called boards, assign other members, attach pictures and documents, and much more. Trello has a very good-looking web client too, making it easy to manage your tasks by PC as well.

Download Trello (Free)

Best shopping app for Android: Amazon Shopping

Amazon is the granddaddy of online retail. If you're shopping for anything at all, it's worth checking out to see what Amazon's offering. They have crazy deals all the time, just about every physical object you could possibly want to acquire, and with Prime, you'll get it on your doorstep lickety-split. A separate price check app can help by scanning barcodes of physical products and seeing if you can get it any cheaper on Amazon.

Download Amazon (Free)

Best social app for Android: Facebook

Like it or not, Facebook is the most ubiquitous social network out there. Everybody's on it, sharing everything they do. With the Android app, you can quickly post status updates, share links through the browser, upload and tag pictures, send instant messages, and leave likes on your friends' status updates. On many devices, Facebook information is tied to your address book, ensuring that their information is up-to-date and the image is their latest profile pic.

Download: Facebook (Free)

Best sports app for Android: theScore

theScore remains a high-quality, broad-field sports app that helps you get all the news you could possibly want. NFL, NBA, NHL, EPL, UFC, and more are covered with news, scores, pictures, and video clips. Users can mark teams or players as favorites so they can track what's up more easily.

Download: theScore (Free)

Best tool app for Android: Tasker

Tasker lets you set up a wide range of tasks to execute automatically given certain circumstances. You can set antenna to go off when you leave a certain location, turn on an app after tapping an NFC tag, or mute your ringer after connecting to a specific Wi-Fi network. With the help of third parties plugging into Tasker, you have a ton of options for if/then statements here.

Download: Tasker ($2.99)

Best transport app for Android: Uber

Uber has become such a force in the sphere of transportation that it has displaced the entire taxi industry in many major cities. Uber acts as the go-between for pedestrians looking for a ride and a legion of private drivers. Uber drivers are vouched for by users to ensure security, and thanks to GPS, you can find the closest one easily. Prices are dictated by supply of drivers, which means you can get some very reasonable fares, though there are occasionally surges in pricing during busy periods. Payments are made through Uber, so there's no need for cash at any stage. If you're lucky enough to be in a city with Uber service, this is hands-down the way to get around.

Download: Uber (Free, plus fare)

Best travel & local app for Android: TripIt

TripIt lets you store all of your travel plans, including information about your itinerary, hotel, and car rental bookings in one convenient location. It can import this information direct from your email box, and you can easily share your travel plans with your family and friends. It'll even add your trips to your calendar.

TripIt is a free app and service for a basic set of features, but the real benefits come in when you subscribe to TripIt Pro for $49 per year. You get updates on any changes to your flights such as delays or gate changes, and it will also inform you when a better flight becomes available and will let you change your flight plans in-app.

Download: TripIt (Free or $49.99/year subscription)

Best weather app for Android: Accuweather

You might be using Accuweather right now on your Android, whether you know it or not. The longtime weather service powers the weather data on many apps and widgets, including those pre-loaded on many handsets by manufacturers. They use Accuweather for a reason: it's dependable and damn accurate.

And why should you use Accuweather? That accuracy here is combined with a clean, concise app that is easy to navigate and easy to understand.

Download: Accuweather (Free, or $2.99 for premium)

Best widget for Android: Beautiful Widgets

Beautiful Widgets is a full complement of home screen widgets, including weather, time, and battery. Though Android includes many of those natively, the real selling point with is that Beautiful Widgets has a whole store full of styles to chose from. Combination widgets which include multiple data types, such as weather and clock, can use different themes together to create a really unique look.

Download: Beautiful Widgets ($2.69)

Best live wallpaper for Android: Muzei

Muzei is a simple, gorgeous way of livening up your wallpaper rotation. By default, the background is blurred, and with a double-tap, it leaps into focus. You can set how long it takes for a new wallpaper to come in, or decide to leave the wallpaper permanently in focus. An open framework allows other extension apps to find and pick wallpapers for you, either based on your location, social network, cloud collection, and many other sources.

Download: Muzei (Free)

Best keyboard for Android: Gboard

Google originally designed the Gboard for the iPhone, and they took their time making it available for Android. The wait was worth it, as Google Keyboard has been rebranded and updated with great new features including integrated web search. The Gboard is completely free, supports gesture typing for both individual words and entire sentences, a bounty of languages, and a modest choice of themes.

Download: GBoard (Free)

Best podcast app for Android: Pocket Casts

Pocket Casts does what any good podcast player should do: it loads quickly, has great discovery tools, has effects for cutting down on silences, and it looks great doing it. Shifty Jelly, the company behind Pocket Casts, has put a lot of love into making the app as full-featured as possible without alienating beginners just looking for an easy-to-use podcast app.

With tablet support, Chromecast output, and easy ways to store content on microSD cards, Pocket Casts is our pick for the best podcast app on Android.

Download: Pocket Casts ($3.99)

Best arcade game for Android: PinOut

PinOut is a brilliant reimagining of the classic pinball action we're all familiar with into an endless arcade format, created by the award-winning developers behind Smash Hit. The game features sharp, futuristic graphics and smooth controls as it pits you in a race against the clock to see how far you can make it on one ball.

PinOut is a free download from the Google Play Store, but you might want to spend $2.99 on the one-time upgrade to premium to unlock the ability to start from previous checkpoints you've reached.

Download: PinOut (Free w/ IAPs)

Best action game for Android: Sky Force: Reloaded

Sky Force Reloaded is, simply, one of the finest games on Android. Featuring frantic gameplay, dazzling graphics, and a deep upgrade system it will have you coming back and playing for hours on end.

The story picks up after the events of Sky Force 2014 with General Mantis' daughter picking up the cause of her fallen father. Most stages feature an epic boss battle with her in a massive warship, but first you have to shoot and navigate your way through intense waves of laser-blasting tanks, turrets, and helicopters. New missions are unlocked by collecting medals, which are earned by saving all the humans, destroying all enemies, and staying untouched through a mission.

Download: Sky Force: Reloaded (Free)

Best cards and casino game for Android: PokerStars Poker: Texas Hold'Em

Fans of Texas Hold 'em will be familiar with PokerStars. It stacked with features you'll love: millions of online players, frequent tournaments, multiple game styles to choose from and in-game table chat. Actual gambling apps aren't available through the Google Play Store, so you're playing with play money here — which you can buy through in-app purchases, or you can hold out for a free spin at the slots to get some starting funds once you're out.

Download: PokerStars Poker: Texas Hold'em (Free w/ IAPs)

Best racing game for Android: Asphalt 8

Asphalt 8 is an over-the-top, white-knuckled racing game for Android. Power-ups litter the fantastic courses set in real-world locations, which can help you launch off ramps for amazing (and physically unlikely) stunts. Hopefully in the process you can trash some of the competition in explosively cinematic crashes. Some freemium elements are employed, such as purchasable currency and premium power-ups, but on the whole, the game is entirely playable without spending a cent.

Download: Asphalt 8: Airborne (Free, IAPs)

Best sports game for Android: FIFA Mobile

FIFA Mobile offers all of the excitement of a live footie match to your Android device. There are four game modes to choose from: you start out with Live Events and Attack Mode, and unlock Leagues and Season once your profile reaches level five. Controls include the standard virtual button and joystick layout, or you can try out some great finger-friendly gesture controls. No doubt soccer fans will appreciate the top-notch graphics and real player models.

Download: FIFA Mobile (Free, IAPs)

Your favorite Android apps?

Those are our picks for the very best apps for Android, but there are a lot of apps out there and new ones are coming out all the time. Leave a comment with your favorites!

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2 days ago

Save 50% on Scrivener for Windows for a limited time!

Ever try creating a really long document in Microsoft Word or an online notepad? It's not ideal, and odds are it isn't something you will want to do more than once. There has to be a better way to do it right? One with more features aimed at those writing in longer form? Well, there is.

Meet Scrivener for Windows, the great long-form writing app that comes packed with features. It allows you to view and edit different sections by themselves or switch to a storyboard to view and arrange your project. Sounds expensive, huh? Well, right now you can save 50% on the purchase!

Some of the other great features include:

  • View & edit different sections of your writing in isolation or as a whole
  • Take a "snapshot" of a document, then edit & rewrite knowing you can restore an earlier revision at any time
  • Easily storyboard & rearrange your project
  • Utilize the fully-featured outliner to take control of the structure of your work
  • Switch to scriptwriting mode for automatic or custom formatting—then export to a dedicated scriptwriting program such as Final Draft
  • Use the name generator to create pseudonyms for interviewees or names for fictional characters
  • Automatically back up your projects as zip files each time you open or close them

Save 50% right now! Learn More

Normally this would all set you back $40, but right now you can save half of that. At just $20 this is a hard program to pass up. You may think your current workflow is just fine, but once you invest a bit of money and try this out, you won't want to turn back!

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2 days ago

Samsung Gear VR vs Google Daydream View: Which should you buy?

Which is better, Samsung Gear VR or Google Daydream View?

Discovering that your phone can act as the brain for a VR headset is pretty great. You drop the phone into a headset, strap that headset to your face, and suddenly you have access to hundreds of apps and videos all uniquely built for virtual reality. Transforming your phone into a pocket theater on the Moon, an arcade full of unique games, and a portal to see just about every part of the world as though you're actually standing there is both incredible and surprisingly affordable.

If your current phone doesn't support the best VR experiences available right now, there's a good chance your next phone will. The big question you need to answer for yourself is which VR platform you want to be a part of, the Oculus-powered experiences in the Samsung Gear VR or the Google-built platform inside Daydream View. It's not an easy question to answer, but here's everything you need to know about making this decision!

Read more at VR Heads!

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2 days ago

Google Pixel, three months later: Still going strong, still the best

Google Pixel

Oh my, how time flies.

Somehow it has already been three months since we published our Google Pixel and Pixel XL review. Not only has time simply passed since we wrote that review, but I've also been actively using the Pixel as a primary phone since the review period. That gives a ton of extra perspective on a phone that's at the top of people's minds nowadays, regardless of whether they're enthusiasts or just casual buyers.

Even three months after it became commercially available the Pixel (and XL in particular) is often still out of stock or not available in all configurations, showing that demand is at least strong enough to force supply constraints through some combination of factors. Google's first in-house designed and sold phones are popular, it seems.

And as we know, companies don't just sell phones in the first quarter after introduction — they count on sales throughout a full year after release. So now with the Pixel hitting its stride for the period that should bring the most rapid sales over its life, does it still stand up in the same way it did when it we first reviewed it? Here are some of my thoughts after three months using the Google Pixel.

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2 days ago

Photo editing app Meitu says it needs permissions for analytics, denies selling user data


Meitu details why it needs all those permissions.

Chinese photo editing app Meitu made landfall in the U.S. recently, with the free app shooting up the Play Store rankings over the course of the week. The app adds anime-style filters to photos, and the final results end up being equal parts wonderful and weird.

The app has been popular in China and Hong Kong for several years now, but its entry into the U.S. was fraught with privacy issues. The app asks for twenty-three permissions in total, which include access to your phone's device ID, storage, Wi-Fi, network settings, local IP, location details, carrier information, the ability to run at startup, and more.

In a statement to the media, Meitu said that it collects all that data to optimize the app's performance, and get a better understanding of how customers engage with its ads. The company denied that it sells any of the user data it collects, going into further detail as to why it needs so many permissions.

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2 days ago

How to change the default launcher on the Huawei Mate 9 and EMUI 5.0


How do I get rid of the launcher on my EMUI 5.0 phone? Easily!

The Huawei Mate 9 comes with its own pretty good launcher — though it helps to add an app drawer — but if you prefer something different, as many people do, it's easy to change.

The phone ships with EMUI 5.0, which is a big update over what shipped on older Huawei devices, but there are still too many menus. In particular, it's still too difficult to change the default launcher. But with these steps, you can do it in a snap.

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2 days ago

Tips for surviving Inauguration Weekend


Okay, so we're doing this.

America is inaugurating its 45th President this weekend, and that means a number of important things. People have traveled from all over the U.S. to experience the event, either in support or in protest, and historically that influx of people means a dramatic increase in strain on the cellular networks. Each of the major carriers claim to have beefed up their service in preparation, but there's a lot more to the Internet than just that connection. In a situation where anything can happen and likely everything you're imagining will happen to some degree, it's important to be prepared.

Here are some quick tips for getting through Inauguration weekend with your sanity, and hopefully also your phone, intact.

If you're in Washington DC

Whether you're a DC native or you've travelled in from far away, there are some tools you're going to want handy.

Amazon Prime Now is your friend

Before you head out to any of the events this weekend, make sure you have everything you need for a safe trip. Multiple payment methods on hand, a direct walking path to and from the event so you don't get lost, and a good rugged case for your phone. If you're not the phone case type, or you're rocking a slim folio, upgrade immediately. You're going to be surrounded by hundreds of people with arms that aren't likely to know exactly where you are holding your phone to get that perfect video. Fortunately, Prime Now works well in DC, so you can have a case or a glass screen protector delivered to you before you head out.

Check out Amazon Prime Now

Don't rely on Wi-Fi

Someone else's wireless network is not your friend this weekend. It's way too easy to walk around with the equipment necessary to create hotspots built specifically for snooping your data and stealing your passwords. Crowded events like this are an incredibly common way to have your data stolen and your credit cards used before you even know what happened. Stay on your cellular network, unless you're using a service like Project Fi that secures your connection with a safe VPN.

Record, don't broadcast

As much fun as Facebook Live and Periscope can be, don't bother trying them this weekend. Your network connection is never going to be good enough to establish a high quality stream surrounded by all of these people with their phones trying to rapid fire tweets from the events in DC. If you want to capture something, record it through normal photos and video. If you're concerned about losing that recording, turn on Google Photos and set it to automatically back up photos and video so you can access it from anywhere later.

There are so many apps

The volume of information at your disposal for these events in incredible, but here's a quick list of apps you'll want installed on your phone to help you through the event.

  • Twitter: The Trump Inaugural account on Twitter is going to keep you updated and includes quick glances at details like where the entrances and exits are.

  • DC Metro and Bus: Navigating Washington DC without a map of the mass transit system can be a little intimidating, so keep this handy.

  • Uber: You could also skip the mass transit system in DC and just go Uber, though at the peak of traffic it's likely surge pricing will be in effect.

  • Mobile Justice: DC: The ACLU app for DC makes it easy to record and report events that aren't exactly legal.

  • Trusted Contacts: Make sure people know where you are. Check in regularly, and stay safe.

If you're catching the events from elsewhere

Whether you're interested in viewing the festivities or avoiding them entirely, there are some tools for you.

YouTube Live Stream

The Inauguration and its partner events will be live streamed on YouTube, which means it can be casted to your television with a Chromecast and you can watch all weekend.

Twitter Filters

Not interested in the opinions of others this weekend? Filter them out with Open Tweet Filter. It only works on the web, so you're on your own if you open the app on your phone, but this will either keep the Inauguration out of your feed entirely or keep you completely focused on the events at hand.

Go find something to do

Quoting Patton Oswalt:

Leave your TV tuned to a channel like Turner Classic Movies or National Geographic or any channel that will have zero inaugural coverage. Then turn off your phone. Then shut down your computer. And then -- IF you can afford it -- go find a struggling theater company and pay to see whatever play they're putting on. Or a struggling art gallery or music club or museum. Leave 'em money and see what they're about.

Go see an indie film that's got stellar reviews and no audience. Or a new restaurant or other small business that needs friends and customers. Download a new band. Go to an independent bookstore and buy something from a small press. Go to an open mike. Or see any comedian. Tip your barista or barkeep a little extra.

In other words, do all of the cultural and aesthetic things that Trump thinks are worthless. Make a whole big chunk of existence suddenly spike in importance. And then keep doing that, if you can.

Above all, be safe!

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3 days ago

How to stop Google Play from automatically adding new icons to your home screen

Turn it off.

App shortcuts are great, but can quickly overwhelm your home screens.

There's nothing worse than getting overwhelmed on a new device, but thanks to one pesky setting in Google Play Store, while you're installing all your apps on your new Android phone you might go into Google Play with an empty home screen and come out to find it completely covered with apps. It's a bit annoying if you're not the type to put every app you use on the home screen — but don't worry! The setting is called "Add icon to Home screen" and it's really easy to turn off.

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3 days ago

Star Wars: Force Arena Tips and Tricks


How to dominate your opponents in Star Wars: Force Arena.

So you've got the game, you've read through our Beginner's Guide, and you're working to upgrading your favorite cards. Now it's time to talk a little strategy!

We've got some tips and tricks that will help you to go from a young Padawan to a legendary Jedi Master — or a Sith Lord if that's more your thing.

It all starts with picking the right Leader

Each Deck you build is based around a Leader, so it's important to pick ones that fit the play style you're most comfortable with. At the most basic level, you'll be choosing between a Leader that focuses on melee attacks or one with a ranged weapon. Whichever you choose will greatly affect how you build your deck and plan your attacks.

Leaders like Luke Skywalker, Ezra Bridger, Darth Vader, and The Grand Inquisitor all use a lightsaber as a weapon, meaning you'll need to be right in the fray to use them effectively on offence. To balance that out, they also have higher health than most other leaders, making them great for taking the enemy's focus and absorbing some damage while your troops work on the turrets. Once they get in close, these melee leaders can deal out some serious damage quick, making them ideal for rushing in to take out a damaged turret for the win.

Meanwhile, Leaders like Princess Leia, Han Solo, Boba Fett, and Dengar are better for players who would rather sit back behind their wave of troops and deal out damage with ranged attacks. Ideally when attacking a turret, you'll want to send in some troops to take the turret's (and any defending troops') attention, then come in and deal damage from afar with your leader.

You'll also want to consider each Leader's special ability and skill. A special ability typically gives the Leader a stat boost in certain game scenarios — for example, Emperor Palpatine gets a 15% power boost for 14 seconds whenever an enemy or ally Leader is defeated, which can be a decisive edge in a 2 vs. 2 match. Other special abilities might affect troop cards such as Captain Cassian Andor, who increases the attack range of his ranged troops.

Unique cards make the difference

As you progress through the Tiers and continue to unlock and open card packs, you'll start to unlock Unique cards. These are super-charged troops that are linked to a specific leader, meaning that if you want to use them, you'll need to have and use the Leader they're associated with.

Not only are they total game-changers when you've got them in your deck, but on the flip-side if you don't have one in your deck and your opponent does, you're in for a bad time. Having said that, once you get into Tier 3, you're absolutely going to need to roll with a Leader with a Unique card linked to it. Unique cards have higher health and typically deal out much more damage in more ways than your average troop, so you'll also want to play them strategically as part of a larger attack rather than potentially wasting them by throwing them down a lane all by themselves.

Managing your energy

Just like other PvP card casting games like Clash Royale, finding success in Force Arena is all about spending your energy wisely. This starts with building balanced deck that keep the average energy cost relatively low. It's always important to have a couple low-cost cards in your deck so that you can both throw something down if you need a quick counter, or are looking to cycle through your deck to find the perfect card for the situation you're in.

When you're in the heat of the battle, you'll also want to avoid foolishly burning energy such as wasting an X-Wing or Tie Fighter attack to take out only a couple of low-level troops that would have been taken out by your turret anyways. Also, if your opponent is overwhelming you with powerful troops, resist the urge to spam out as many low-level troops before your Leader is defeated. All that will do is temporarily slow down your opponent.

Instead, take your lumps, let your Leader fall, and use the cool-down period to build up more energy so you can come back fresh with a full energy bar and ready to mount a proper counter.

Sneak attacks with a long-range troop

This one is just a classic strategy that can be absolutely devastating for your opponent when executed to perfection.

The idea here is to draw all of your opponent's attention to one lane by mounting an all-out assault on their turret ... while sneakily placing a long-range troop on the other lane to quietly deal damage to their other lane turret. This strategy works best while playing as the Empire with the Rocket Stormtrooper, as they can make short work of a turret if left unnoticed.

Ideally, you're going to want to wait until you've got an army of troops working away at the first turret. Once your opponent has been alerted that their turret is taking damage, they'll likely rush over to counter your attack. That's when you spring the trap and place your Rocket Stormtrooper (or Dressellian Sniper if you're fighting for the Rebels) just outside the range of the other turret. Now you can actually let up a bit and let your opponent counter and push down towards your turret, as long as they keep their focus on you and away from the other lane.

This is a frequently used strategy, and the best counter for it is to make a habit of checking the map in the top-right corner. If you see a solitary red dot working its way up the opposite turret, you'll want to drop a troop to counter, or run over their yourself to cut them off before too much damage is dealt.

Steal your opponent's health when the opportunity arises

This might be categorized as a dick move, but all is fair in love and Star Wars. Health boosts are located behind turrets on both sides of the arena, and can be grabbed by either player in the heat of the battle. When you've got momentum on your side and have taken down one of your opponents lane turrets and are moving on towards their base, take a quick detour and take their health boost. They take forever to respawn and stealing them will make it harder for your opponent to fight back as you make your final push.

It's even more effective if the base turret's focus is already locked onto another one of your troops, as you'll actually replenish your own health, but grabbing the health while taking a hit from one turret is still a net-gain.

What are your best strategies?

Hit us up in the comments with your own tips and tricks. Also, if you're looking for a guild, you're welcome to join ours! Search for AndroidCentral.

Android Gaming

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3 days ago

TAG Heuer CEO hints at new high-end Android Wear piece for 2017


TAG Heuer CEO says the company will release a new smartwatch in May.

If the smartwatch is supposedly a dying product, someone forgot to tell TAG Heuer CEO Jean-Claude Biver. In an interview with Swiss paper Neue Zürcher Zeitung (brought to our attention from TechCrunch), Biver shares his positive outlook on the future for smartwatches and says the Swiss timepiece manufacturer plans to release a follow up to the $1,500 TAG Connected, announcing they hope to release the new smartwatch in May.

Biver's confidence in smartwatches comes mainly from his company's success with its first attempt at creating a high-end smartwatch. He states that TAG Heuer saw strong sales for the pricy wrist piece, selling 56,000 units over the past 14 months — well exceeding the company's initial goal of 20,000 units. But he also cited optimism from a Reuters interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook, in which Cook boasted about the Apple Watch's strong holiday sale numbers. Biver says he still considers smartwatch technology to be in "the Stone Age" (if we're to trust Google Translate), with plenty of future potential just waiting to be tapped.

The timing for a new high-end smartwatch couldn't be better, with Google set to release Android Wear 2.0 in early February alongside a pair of new watches they've been developing in partnership with LG.

While Biver made no direct reference to Android Wear 2.0, he did outline some specs to expect from the new TAG Connected, including better GPS (accurate to within one meter), longer battery life, and a more powerful display. TAG Heuer also plans to leverage it's strengths as a traditional watchmaker by offering more sizes and colors to accommodate the variety of styles and wrist sizes found in the different markets it services.

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3 days ago

What color Daydream View headset should I buy?


Which color is the best for Daydream?

It may seem a little odd to be picky about the color of your VR headset, but the truth is you're wearing this thing on your face for extended periods of time so you might as well choose the one that works best for you. Google's Daydream comes in Slate Grey, Crimson Red, and Snow White. Perhaps more important than the names of the sweatpants-like fabric that covers the headset is the accent materials found where you rest your face.

Pick something that looks nice, but be aware of what this headset is going to look like after a few dozen uses.

The inner fabric

Each Daydream View headset has inner padding to cushion your face so there's less discomfort over time. It works well, but also means this fabric is up against your skin while you binge watch something on Netflix and excitedly slash away at monsters. That means either you or someone you share the headset with is likely to sweat.

The Snow variant of Daydream includes a much lighter inner fabric than the dark grey that comes with Slate or the black that comes with Crimson. That means it's more likely to show things like sweat stains easily, which can quickly make the headset visually unappealing.

The good news is this inner fabric is held in place with velcro, which means it can be removed and washed with relative ease. Either way, you're going to want to make sure you chose your color wisely.

Read more: How to clean Daydream View

The outer material

The texture for each of these colors is exactly the same, and the color of your Daydream controller is exactly the same, so no matter which color you choose the feel and gameplay are going to be the same. That having been said, there's a few style notes to consider:

  • The plastic parts that hold the phone look nicest on the Snow and Slate versions, as they mostly blend in with the fabric.
  • Slate will be the most commonly found publicly, as it was the first available.
  • Crimson is going to stand out the most, which could be important if you frequently misplace things.

Which is your choice?

Is the color of your VR headset important to you? Are you more likely to ask someone to try their VR headset if you see the Crimson or Snow versions in public? Do you wish there was a different color available for you to buy? Let us know what you think!

See at Google Store

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3 days ago

Android One in the U.S. could signal the rebirth of 'Nexus'

Nexus 5X

Glitzier mid-range Android One phones for the U.S. might be 'Nexuses' in all but name.

Android One is supposedly coming to the U.S. this summer, according to a report from The Information. On the face of it, that doesn't seem all too exciting. Android One — the range of low-cost phones from less-known brands, aimed at emerging markets — hasn't been a huge success. So who cares about a handful of low-specced, plasticky, entirely forgettable telephones arriving on U.S. shores, even if they do run stock Android and come with fast updates and do other nerdy things.

The U.S. market, though, is nothing like the countries Google has targeted with Android One thus far. India, for instance, is much more price-conscious, with dual-SIM and FM Radio seen as a necessity. The U.S. is less focused on super, super-cheap handsets, and to move phones in any meaningful number, you need to play within the carrier system and back it up with marketing money. (You'd also imagine Project Fi would range the phones, since Google will eventually need something less expensive to replace the Nexus 5X/6P in that lineup.)

The U.S. market, though, is nothing like the countries Google has targeted with Android One thus far.

According to The Information's report, Google is indeed planning to spend serious dough selling Android One when it arrives in the U.S. Like existing Android One devices, the U.S.-bound models will almost certainly be co-branded (LG is a rumored partner), even if Google has final say on internal hardware and control over the software.

So what do we have so far, then...

  • A co-branded phone from Google and a manufacturer partner.
  • Stock Android, with updates straight from Google.
  • Prices likely to be "affordable" for the U.S. market — so perhaps between $250-400 outright.
  • Probably some kind of limited carrier tie-in, complementing direct sales via the Google Store and Project Fi.

Well toast my marshmallows if that doesn't sound an awful lot like a Nexus.

That's not to say Google will resurrect the moribund (but fondly remembered) brand name. Android chief Hiroshi Lockheimer himself said there were no plans for any new Nexus devices, in interviews given around the time of the Pixel announcement. Let's assume that's still the case — these new phones could still turn out to be Nexuses in all but name.

With LG rumored to be involved, a mid-range Android One phone could emerge as a modern successor to the Nexus 5X.

They wouldn't necessarily be Nexus 6P-level "Nexuses" — or even anything high-end enough to tread on the toes of the Pixel range. Instead, imagine a series led by modern re-interpretation of the Nexus 5 or 5X, perhaps powered by one of the promising mid-level Qualcomm chips like the 625, or the rumored 660. That could be complemented by Moto G/Honor 6X-level competitors at a lower price point.

This kind of approach would have a few important benefits for Google. Just as it used the Nexus series to guide the Android ecosystem, it could use Android One to influence the (currently rather sorry) state of mid-to-entry-level Android phones, as sold through carrier stores. If it's willing to spend the effort and money required to get Android One phones on store shelves alongside — let's just pick one at random herethe LG X Power, it could nudge everyone in this "affordable" segment towards doing a better job on software.

That's how Google will cater Android One to the U.S. market, not by selling dirt-cheap Android phones directly to consumers. (As an aside, you also don't spend serious marketing money, as Google will reportedly do, on phones like the current crop of low, low end Android One devices. Android One phones for the U.S. will have to be different.)

Not a Nexus 6P mini

Huawei would be a natural Android One partner for the U.S.

I also want to mention Huawei here, because I'm almost certain the Chinese manufacturer will be an important player in Android One in the United States. In fact, I'll just go and call it: I predict Huawei will release an Android One phone in the U.S. before the end of 2017.

Huawei, if you remember, was originally in talks to build the Pixels, before it found out there'd be no co-branding opportunity. That opportunity would surely exist for an Android One handset, and Huawei is still desperate for an inroad into the U.S. market. (Sure, it's released the Mate 9 SIM-free and unlocked, but it lacks the carrier partners necessary to shift the phone in large numbers.) Through Google and Android One, Huawei could get Huawei phones on carrier store shelves — which could be the key to the brand establishing an American foothold.

And look no further than the Honor 6X and Nova for examples of Huawei making compelling hardware at less expensive price points.

Whatever brand name the resulting phones bear, the core experience will have a lot in common with Nexus. At one time, that series of phones was all about affordability and a clean, fast software experience. By bringing Android One to the U.S., Google and LG (or Huawei) will be able to push for mass market sales via carrier stores, while also providing a less expensive upgrade path for folks using a Nexus 5 or 5X.

Will any of that actually happen? Stay tuned in the months ahead!

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3 days ago

Essential accessories for Moto Z Force

Essential accessories for the Moto Z Force Droid

What are the essential accessories for the Moto Z Force?

Now that you've got your shiny new Moto Z Force, it's time to shop around for the must-have accessories to match it. Not to worry — we've done the digging, and we have a rundown of the absolute essentials for your Moto Z Force!

Moto Mods

Motorola wins the mod game with the first three Moto Mods that are available for the Moto Z Force. Using powerful magnets, they snap right onto the back of the phone and then snap off when you want to attach the next one. Get one or get them all!

Incipio offGRID Power Pack

Incipio offGRID Power Pack

This slim power pack will add to the battery life of your Moto Z Force – up to 20 additional hours before the phone's internal battery needs to kick in.

It also adds a little bit of weight and protection to the back of your phone, which is helpful since it's a slim and slightly slippery fella. Keep it nearby for those long days (that turn into long nights) when you know you'll be using your Moto Z Force nowhere near an outlet or computer.

See at Amazon

JBL SoundBoost

JBL SoundBoost speaker

Forget about having to pair a portable Bluetooth speaker to your Moto Z Force; the JBL SoundBoost is a powerful speaker that's automatically recognized by your phone when you snap it into place.

It has up to 10 hours of independent battery life, so the party can go on and on. The built-in kickstand lets the speaker have its full sound range without you placing your Moto Z Force face-down. It's also great for speakerphone conference calls with multiple listeners in the room.

See at Amazon

Moto Insta-Share Projector

Moto Insta-Share Projector

Why crowd around your phone screen to watch a video when you can turn your Moto Z Force into a stellar projector? The Moto Insta-Share Projector will do just that in any space.

The integrated kickstand means you can watch videos hands-free and this tiny projector will make any flat surface into a flat screen that can measure up to 70 inches; hang a sheet in the backyard or use that blank wall space in the living room for a massive movie night anytime you like. It also adds up to an hour of projection time beyond your phone's battery life.

See at Amazon

Vinsic USB-C car charger

Vinsic USB-C car charger

Always in the car and concerned about keeping a strong battery charge? Not to worry; the Vinsic USB-C car charger has you covered.

It features over-voltage and short circuit protection, so you have very little (if anything) to be concerned about. It also has 5V/3A output, so your Moto Z Force will charge quickly while you're on the go. The additional USB-A port allows you charge a second device while you're at it and it's small enough to tuck into the glove compartment when it's done.

See at Amazon

APLUS desktop charging cradle

APLUS desktop charging cradle

Keep your desktop organized and your Moto Z Force always in your sights with the APLUS desktop charging cradle, designed especially for your new phone.

This USB-C dock charges your Moto Z Force and makes it easy to sync the phone to your computer. How's that for multitasking? It also keeps your phone at an ideal angle for viewing and hands-free usage, whether it's charging, or you just want to use it as a hands-free helper and safe place to put your phone so you don't misplace it.

See at Amazon

Cambond 6.6-foot USB-C to USB-C cable

Cambond USBC cable

An extra cable is always a good idea, and whether you just need another one around the house because you can never seem to find one, or you'd like to have a spare at the office, the Cambond 6.6 foot USB-C to USB-C cable is a great choice.

The cord is wrapped in nylon fiber, which helps to prevent fraying over time. It's also a little longer than some standard cables, so you don't have to feel stuck while your Moto Z Force is plugged in.

See at Amazon


You have a couple of options when it comes to headphones for the Moto Z Force. You can opt for Bluetooth connectivity, or you can use the headphone jack adapter for a wired pair. You choose, and we've got an excellent pick from each category.

Jaybird X2 Sport wireless Bluetooth headphones

Jaybird X2 Sport Bluetooth headphones

There's much to love about the Jaybird X2 Sport wireless Bluetooth headphones. Let's start with the lifetime sweatproof warranty; that's a great feature by itself, but we're not going to stop there.

These headphones give you up to eight hours of music and talk time with your choice of over-or-under ear fit. They ship with a variety of in-ear tips so you're virtually guaranteed to find a comfortable fit. They also come in a wide range of colors that will be as subtle or stand out as you like.

See at Amazon

Ghostek Turbine Series wired earbuds

Ghostek Turbine Series earbuds

If you prefer a wired headphone option, have a look at the Ghostek Turbine Series earbuds. They're available in either black or white (so they match everything) and they come with a one-year warranty.

The built-in microphone and remote controls mean you don't have to go fishing around in your bag for your Moto Z Force to take a call or bump up the volume. They come with several variations of in-ear comfort tips so that you find the fit that works for you, and they're made of a durable ceramic material that gives them a solid, well-constructed feel.

See at Amazon

PLESON ultra slim crystal clear case

PLESON ultra slim clear case

Show off the original hardware of the Moto Z Force with PLESON's ultra slim crystal clear case. The flexible TPU case is anti-watermark and anti-fingerprint, so say goodbye to that foggy, muddy look your last clear case had.

This case offers some extra grip and drop protection for the slender Moto Z Force. The precise cutouts give you access to buttons and ports while protecting the camera lens and and screen edges.

See at Amazon

For more case options, including the Moto Style Shells, take a look at our rundown of the best cases for your Moto Z Force.

IQ Shield LiQuid Skin

IQ Shield LiQuid Skin

No matter how hard you try to keep it pristine, your phone's screen is going to acquire a scratch or two. Even constantly pulling it out of your jeans pocket can eventually cause tiny scratches. A good screen protector can be difficult to find, especially for the Moto Z Force, which is why I recommend the IQ Shield LiQuid Skin protector, which is a self-healing film, capable of smoothing over small scratches and dings.

The wet-install method used to apply this screen protector is optimal, since it makes the protector flimsy all the way through, allowing it to fully bond with your phone's screen for perfect application and 100% touch functionality.

If you're worried about your screen getting marked up, then invest in a screen protector like IQ Shield.

See at Amazon

How do you accessorize?

What do you consider an essential accessory for your Moto Z Force? Already a fan of some of our picks? Tell us all about it in the comments below!

Moto Z, Moto Z Force and Moto Z Play

Motorola Verizon

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3 days ago

Tilt Brush creations can now be exported to other projects


Now what you make in virtual reality can be exported into real life.

Google announced that it's released the Tilt Brush Toolkit, an open source library that lets you bring those Title Brush creations over to other projects.

Tilt Brush is one of the more creative apps available for the HTC Vive — after all, it essentially allows you to paint your world. The toolkit comes equipped with Python scripts and a Unity SDK that enable you to turn those creations into movies, interactive stories, games, music videos, or whatever else you can think up with the apps and services in your arsenal.

The brush shaders, audio code, and file format conversion utilities are all a part of the package so that you have a relatively stress-free transition over to a new project. Now get to painting! Virtually, that is.

Watch a man virtually recreate a car from memory using Tilt Brush

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