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1 week ago

Note 7 owner sues Samsung, saying phone exploded in his pocket

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Galaxy Note 7

Florida resident Jonathan Strobel suffered a "deep second-degree burn, roughly the size of the phone," his lawyer says.

A Florida man has sued Samsung after his Galaxy Note 7 allegedly exploded in his pocket, causing second-degree burns. Reuters reports that Jonathan Strobel was in a Costco store in Palm Beach Gardens on September 9 when the handset caught fire.

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1 week ago

Best accessories for Samsung Gear VR

23
Samsung Gear VR

Make the most of your Samsung Gear VR experience with these accessories.

The Samsung Gear VR is currently the most affordable entry point for people interested in exploring virtual reality. As more and more developers start working within this emerging tech space, the hope is that you'll have plenty of reasons to pick up and use your Gear VR more often for more applications.

As your usage increases, you'll want to invest in some essential accessories to get the most out of your Samsung Gear VR. Here are a few recommendations to get your on your way.

Gamepad

Not every game for the Gear VR requires a ganmepad, but most of the best games are made even better by not having to tough the pad on the side of your headset. Enhance your gaming experience on the Gear VR with what we call the best gamepad for this headset.

SteelSeries Stratus XL

SteelSeries Stratus XL Bluetooth Controller

As mentioned above, SteelSeries makes a quality controller. So while the SteelSeries Free has been priced out of consideration, the Stratus XL is arguably your best bet — as long as it's bigger size isn't an issue.

The Stratus XL similar in size and feel to an Xbox One controller with analog sticks laid out similar to Sony's DualShock controllers. It's a great compromise between the two leading console gaming standards and will instantly feel familiar the moment you pick it up. This Bluetooth controller is compatible with Android devices and Windows 10.

See at Amazon

Headphones

A fully-immersive VR experience is only possible with the right pair of headphones. Whether you prefer the over-the-ear variety or in-ear buds, we've picked out some prime options that pair well with the Gear VR headset so you can block out reality as you delve into your favorite VR games and apps.

Over-the-ear headphones

Bose QuietComfort 25

Bose QuietComfort 25

If you are looking for the best audio experience with your Gear VR, this is where you start. The Bose QuietComfort 25 feature active noise cancellation, which will certainly come in handy when you're trying to block out the noise of the world and get immersed into your VR headspace. These are quality wired headphones that are highly functional in any environment, but will really take you to another world when you slide the Gear VR on.

See at Amazon

One more thing: If you're looking to go wireless, check out MrMobile's review of the Bose QC 35 headphones!

In-ear headphones

Panasonic ErgoFit In-Ear Earbuds

Samsung ErgoFit TCM125 If you're looking for simple, straightforward in-ear headphones, Panasonic has what you need. They're pretty basic in-ear headphones, which include a mic and a pause/play button built into the main cord, but they'll deliver great sound comfortably at a great price. With three different pad sizes available, you should be able to find the right fit for your ears, and they should stay in as you move about wearing your Gear VR

ErgoFit buds are available in a variety of colors, but they've also been lumped in with a few other Panasonic in-ear options — drops360 and drops360 Luxe. If you're switching around the colors and suddenly see the price jump up, it's because Amazon is showing you one of those higher-end models instead. And you might be inclined to spend a bit more for the better drivers, which provide better bass and build quality, if that's important to you.

Otherwise, the ErgoFit earbuds come with a 90-day warranty and should be more than serviceable — especially at such a low price point.

See at Amazon

Want something nicer? Check out our Samsung Level In headphone review!

Microfiber cloths

AmazonBasics microfiber cloths

Another thing that might distract from your VR experience with your Samsung Gear VR is dust or smudges on your device or the VR headset lenses. To prevent that problem, it's a good idea to have some microfiber cloths around to give things a good (but gentle) cleaning.

AmazonBasics offers a 24-pack of microfiber cleaning cloths for under $10 — that's less than $.50 a cloth. Better yet, they're machine washer safe, so you'll be able to keep your gear clean for months and months with this small, one-time investment. And of course you'll also have microfiber cloths on hand for cleaning all your other devices. Also available in packs of 36, 48, and 144 — which may essentially constitute a lifetime supply.

See on Amazon

microSD cards

Samsung EVO Plus 128GB

This is a must-have accessory, especially if you're using a Samsung Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 edge — the only current Gear VR-compatible mobile devices with microSD slots. Loading up your favorite movies, tv shows, apps and other media onto the microSD card allows you to use your Gear VR to its full potential without clogging up your phone's internal storage, or continually cycling through content.

We've broken down a list of the best microSD cards to use with your Galaxy S7, but to save you a bit of time, we'll recommend the Samsung EVO Plus 128GB, which is sure to provide you with more than enough storage for hours upon hours of VR entertainment.

See at Amazon

What do you use?

If you own a Samsung Gear VR, we're curious to know what your must-have accessories are. Anything we've omitted on our list? Let us know in the comments!

Samsung Gear VR

Amazon

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1 week ago

Android and chill: All in with Chromebooks

74

Google has another really good operating system, and we need to talk more about it.

Writing and talking about Android for a living is fun. Every time you hear one of us here at AC sound agitated or complaining about something, know that they still probably love their job. I have a good feeling the people doing what we do at other places feel mostly the same way. Even when you're not doing something fun it's still mostly fun, if you know what I mean. And my job is about to get even better because I'll get to write more about something I really love that I've been wanting to write about — Chrome and Chromebooks.

Chrome is an important part of Google's internet strategy. And now they run Android.

You've probably noticed that there are more Chrome posts lately, as well as posts about other stuff that isn't an Android phone. This isn't an accident. For starters, we all have things we want to write about that aren't phones or updates or the stupid thing one of the companies who make Android phones did this week. Some of those things — like Chromebooks — are of interest to enough people who use Android to make them worth writing about here at AC. Other things like fishing are not, unfortunately. (I would write the hell out of anything fishing.) When those two worlds meet talking about it is good for all of us. And Android and Chrome are about to meet in a big way with the Google Play store for Chrome in testing right now.

I'm not going to quit writing and talking about Android. It's still a really kick ass way to earn a living and something I'd want to do even if I didn't have this job. Our little family has grown enough (and in the right way with the right people) so that the best person for the job can be the person doing the job. When it comes to how all this stuff works, or how badly broken something is or Google's role in all of this, I'm that person. I'm also great at making red squiggly lines appear under the words I type. And I'm also that guy who has been using Chromebooks forever and has a ton of stuff to talk about.

Enough about me and my feats of mediocracy. Stuff happened this week that I want to talk more about.

  • Speaking of Chromebooks, prepare to see more things being written that you might already know about. You can fuss at me in the comments (seriously, I think that's your right and responsibility as long as you stay inside the proper boundaries) or you can move past those posts. Ideally, you'd use all the things you already know to help someone in the comments, but no matter what they are going to continue because people still need them and ask for them. Al Gore didn't invent the internet just for you.
  • I'm tired of telling people to give their Note 7 back to whoever they bought it from. Anyone who was going to listen to (what I think is) reasonable advice from someone who actually understands how it works has already listened. Hearing that less than 15% of the people who bought one listened to Samsung and returned it has made me give up. Do whatever you want to do, just stay the hell away from me and mine if you're doing something stupid.
  • I'll still say Samsung moving forward with their own recall instead of waiting on the government was the right call. We found out that the CPSC was notified before Samsung's initial September 2 announcement, and it took the better part of two weeks for them to do anything about it.
  • Even with Samsung taking the reigns to try and get people to stop using the Note 7, there were 81 reported instances of people or property being harmed (26 reports of burn incidents and 55 cases of property damage) by the issue. If Samsung, knowing this, had done nothing we would crucify them. And rightly so.
  • If this is right, why is this so wrong? Or vice-versa? Both exist to create a reaction. Both succeeded. Under the face of it all, they are the same.
  • Jim Balsillie. Tech Entrepreneur extraordinaire, Hockey enthusiast and ... the man who planned an expedition that found sunken treasure. This is really cool, though. Also, Terror Bay. What the hell, Canada?
  • I still love Canada though. At least the Montreal parts and the Vancouver parts. They can keep the Saskatoon in January and the Terror parts.

And we're ending on that high note. Which is better then Balsillie managed to do with BlackBerry. Be good to each other!

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1 week ago

How to add events and reminders to Google Calendar for Android

29

How do I add events and reminders to Google Calendar?

Google Calendar allows you to easily keep track of your busy schedule. With events and reminders, you can ensure that you never forget the important days, no matter how busy you get. We're here to show you how to do it all the right way.

How to add an event to Google Calendar

  1. Open Google Calendar.
  2. Tap the red plus icon in the bottom right corner.
  3. Tap on the red event icon.
  4. Enter a title
  5. Enter a location
  6. Add people who are coming with you
  7. Add a time and date for your event
  8. Add a notification to remind you when the event is getting close to starting
  9. Choose a color for the event in your calendar
  10. Add notes to your event
  11. Add attachments to your event
  12. Save your event.

It's important to remember you don't need to enter notifications, change the color of your event, attach notes or have attachments in your event. These are just the options that Google has given you to make sure all the information that you need is included within your event.

How to add a reminder to Google Calendar

  1. Open Google Calendar
  2. Tap the red plus icon on the bottom right of your screen
  3. Tap the blue reminder icon
  4. Enter what you need to be reminded of. Google will give you tons of options from making a call to making reservations for a trip.
  5. Enter when you need to be reminded
  6. Enter whether this reminder needs to be repeated
  7. Save your reminder

You can make reminders for just about anything, and this includes upcoming events. By using the two together, you can make sure that you not only have a reminder of when an important event is coming up, but have easy access to it at a tap.

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1 week ago

Xiaomi Redmi 3S review: Redefining the budget segment all over again

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Xiaomi Redmi 3S review

The Redmi 3S proves that $100 phones don't have to be terrible.

Quick take:

Xiaomi redefined the entry-level segment in 2014 with the Redmi 1S. Two years later, the brand is at it once again with the Redmi 3S. The phone offers a metal chassis, Snapdragon 430, and a massive 4100mAh battery that will last at least two days on a full charge. Combine all of the above with a price that's nearly half of that of the budget Moto G4, and you get an inkling of what Xiaomi is trying to achieve with the Redmi 3S.

The good

  • Excellent performance
  • Class-leading battery life
  • Metal chassis
  • Great value for money

The bad

  • Software niggles
  • Camera strictly average
  • Availability issues

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1 week ago

Evening brief: Samsung apologizes, Xperia X Compact ready for ROMs, and cows deserve privacy

20
Lloyd

All the news that's fit for your eyes to wrap up the week.

With the iPhone launching and it being a Friday, it was a relatively slow day in terms of Android news. The one funny bit that took over social media today was the BBC report of a cow having its face blurred by Google after being caught in a Street View scene — nice catch! (But seriously cows deserve privacy, too, right?)

In more on-topic news, LG teamed up with Boost Mobile to launch a small phone with a massive 4100 mAh battery, Sony's new Xperia X Compact was added to its AOSP program and SanDisk updated one of its most popular apps. In the ongoing Samsung Note 7 recall saga, we got an official apology for the incident from Tim Baxter, President of Samsung America. Here's all of the day's news!

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1 week ago

Best weather app for Android

238

Accuweather is a feature-rich simple to navigate weather app that has great support and incredibly detailed local data thanks to its weather station network.

Best overall

Accuweather

$2.99

Accuweather

See on Google Play

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.

Bottom-line: Accuweather is the forecasting brains behind many a weather app, but its own app is simple, stable, and gets the job done in style.

One more thing: Accuweather's Minutecast is a marvel and while it's easy to find and read on the main app, it's omitted from its Android Wear app, where it really would do the most good.

Why Accuweather is the best

AccuWeather is one of the more established weather sites out there today, and it has a sizable Android following not only because of a simple yet feature-rich app, but also because AccuWeather powers a plethora of widgets and third-party weather apps. AccuWeather's first-party app is a bright affair, with the simple white (or black) background broken up with big pictures, charts, and ads, though those can be removed by upgrading to AccuWeather Platinum.

The detailed charts for both hourly and daily temperatures also scored big, making it easy for users to judge coming conditions more quickly and easily than reading a slew of numbers. AccuWeather also has regional video forecasts a la The Weather Channel and support for Android Wear, putting the forecast and conditions on your wrist for your convenience.

Best for widget users

1Weather

$1.99

1Weather

See on Google Play

1Weather got a big update at the beginning of September, bringing the app at last to Material Design. 1Weather has always been a beautiful weather app, featuring one of the best dark themes we have encountered… but that dark theme is now broken up with Material Design's bland white cards. These cards aren't themeable like the rest of the app, as you can change the background theme, you can change the icon set from white to black, and you can theme the widgets a multitude of ways… but we can't switch the cards from white back to that beautiful black.

Functionally, there are very few flaws we've found in our extended use of 1Weather, and most of them can be attributed to the horizontal, tabbed layout 1Weather uses, such as the disconnect between reaching the map and interacting with it, as you have to tap an expand button before you can zoom or move the map. There are ads in 1Weather that can be removed with a one-time in-app purchase. It even has Android Wear support, though rather than an app it comes in the form of three-card notifications for current conditions and immediate forecast and one-card notifications for alerts, each with customized background images.

Bottom-line: 1Weather is a beautiful weather app with a layout to match, featuring the best weather widgets for anywhere in the world that isn't Walt Disney World.

One more thing: If you have a child that's interested in what the weather terms we often look at mean, 1Weather is an app that can help teach them a bit more about the weather. When you tap on any of the stats on the bottom of the main page, it will give you explanations of that term and some helpful hints as to what they mean — for instance, that when barometric pressure is dropping there's a good chance a storm is coming.

Best for visual weather

Yahoo Weather

Free

Yahoo Weather

See on Google Play

Yahoo takes the honor in this humble writer's eyes for being the prettiest weather app, but when it comes to weather apps, pretty can't be all it has. Yahoo Weather is powered by Weather Underground, so it's forecasts and data have the accuracy of its nationwide network of personal weather stations.

The background images for the app are pulled from Flickr, Yahoo's picture service, so if you're looking at picturesque locations like New York City or Walt Disney World, you're likely to get a new and beautiful image every time to go into the app. If you're in a more remote location, those pictures will be more generic. The layout for Yahoo Weather is nice if you like to check multiple locations quickly, as you scroll up and down for the data about one location, then scroll side to side to switch between locations.

Bottom-line: Beautiful and backed by WeatherUnderground's robust network of weather stations, Yahoo is a visual marvel and great for users looking to check weather in multiple places quickly.

One more thing: Yahoo doesn't allow you to get rid of ads, but there are at least not that many of them, with a single ad between the forecast and radar and then a list of Yahoo's many Android apps in the menu shade between your locations and settings.

Best Layout

Dark Sky

$2.99/year

Dark Sky

See on Google Play

Dark Sky is one of the most popular weather apps for ... that other platform ... and it finally came to Android earlier this year. Dark Sky's claim to fame is that its "hyperlocal" accuracy can tell you within minutes of when it's actually going to rain. In addition to that it's got your basic weather information — current temperature, highs and lows, what it actually feels like, etc. You also get precipitation information, windspeed, humidity and UV index.

You can get detailed information on the week ahead, hour by hour. A handy map feature shows you where the rain (and snow) is, worldwide, at any given time. And you've got a wealth of notification options, including a daily summary, next-hour precipitation, severe weather alerts, and custom alerts based off your own variables. Also, Dark Sky features a dedicated do-not-disturb mode so you won't be bothered in the middle of the night (but as someone living in Tornado Alley, I highly advise against it).

Bottom-line: Dark Sky is a bright, brainy weather app that can go beyond how the weather looks by the numbers and tell you how it feels.

One more thing: Dark Sky is free, but some of the more up-to-the-minute options will require a $2.99-a-year (that's $3 every 365 days) subscription. When the app launched on Android, this model drew quite a lot ire, but detailed weather information and a well-supported weather app all year for the price of a large cup of coffee is a bargain.

Best Simple App

The Weather Channel

Free

The Weather Channel

See on Google Play

The Weather Channel app has undergone some changes in recent times, and most of them have improved the app greatly. The layout is much slicker and simpler than before, having ditched its previous UI for one big, long continuous scroll.

As you scroll you get to more detailed information, like daily forecasts, radar, even social options and what the weather is like in some ski resorts. The Weather Channel is one of the most well known sources of forecast information on the planet, and their latest Android app takes out the complicated and makes it ultra simple to see what you need to see.

Bottom-line: The Weather Channel is one of the most recognized and trusted names in weather, and their app is simple without skimping on details.

One more thing: Like Yahoo, The Weather Channel has no paid/premium version to get rid of the ads. Unlike Yahoo, The Weather Channel slips in ad after ad as you scroll.

Best overall

Accuweather

$2.99

Accuweather

See on Google Play

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.

Bottom-line: Accuweather is the forecasting brains behind many a weather app, but its own app is simple, stable, and gets the job done in style.

One more thing: Accuweather's Minutecast is a marvel and while it's easy to find and read on the main app, it's omitted from its Android Wear app, where it really would do the most good.

*/

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1 week ago

Best free Android games of 2016

88
Best free Android games

Here's our roundup of the very best free Android games available in the Google Play Store right now.

Have some time to kill and only your trusty Android phone to keep you company? Take a gander at some of the most exciting, engaging, and free games that you can download from the Google Play Store. We have a healthy mix including shooters, puzzle games, racing, and lots more.

If you're itching for something new and you're able to stomach a few in-app purchase prompts, read on!

Ancestor

Ancestor

Ancestor is a fast-paced puzzler mixed with a side-scrolling action runner. You'll need sharp reflexes and quick thinking if you have any hopes of getting far in this game.

You play as a cloaked hero who must traverse dangerous lands filled with traps and enemies — all with the help of a mysterious orb that shoots lasers. Clear the path ahead by solving quick puzzles and shooting down enemies — including boss battles — as the game adapts to your skills and ups the difficulty as you go. It's a free game with in-app purchase available to customize your character and the laser orb, but you can also unlock all items by collecting the in-app currency during gameplay.

Download: Ancestor (Free, IAPs)

Pokémon Go

Pokemon GoPokemon GoPokemon Go

Pokémon Go Is easily the hottest and most hyped game of the year, so chances are you're already out there exploring your city and attempting to catch 'em all.

If you've been living under a rock, Pokémon Go is a game developed by Niantic that lets you find and catch Pokémon all around you using augmented-reality. It's based on the Ingress platform, Niantic's first breakthrough game (which, coincidentally, was previously featured on this very list), Pokémon Go is built on a nearly identical game engine. It forces you to get out and explore your neighborhood as you search for wild Pokémon to catch and PokéStops to stock up on crucial items like Pokéballs.

Once your trainer reaches Level 5, Gyms are opened up to you and you're able join one of three teams — Valor (red), Mystic (blue) or Instinct (yellow) — which is when the game really ramps up and turns into a truly social experience. Meet up with your friends and search for some rarer Pokémon, or team up to take down an enemy-controlled PokéGym.

Pokémon Go has quickly become a cultural phenomenon, so don't miss out!

Download: Pokémon Go (Free, IAPs)

Vainglory

VaingloryVainglory

Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games have been blowing up the PC gaming world recent years — think League of Legends or DOTA2. If you're looking for a quality MOBA game for your moble device, one game has risen to the top: Vainglory.

This game is the complete package, featuring all the frantic MOBA action fans of the genre have come to expect — jump into a quick match with random teammates and opponents, create your own party of friends and take on all comers, or chill offline and practise your strategies against bots. There are five hero classes featuring a total of 25 unique heroes to unlock, upgrade and take into battle. The touch controls are smooth and easy to pick up, so you'll be able to jump right into the heat of the battle instantly. As you fight your way down the lane, there's a significant upgrade system that branches out, allowing you to react and counter your enemies more effectively.

If you're new to the MOBA genre, no worries! After introducing you to the gameplay fundamentals on first launch, Vainglory also features the Academy, an extensive tutorial section that will help you bolster your skills and abilities in the game. There's also a ton of things to unlock, live events to participate in, and a bustling online community on Twitch, Jump in!

Vainglory is a free download in the Google Play Store with optional in-app purchases available.

Download: Vainglory (Free, IAPs)

Asphalt 8

Asphalt 8: Airborne is easily one of the top racing games on mobile right now. It skips all pretensions of realism and provides an over-the-top, high-octane experience with all the fixings. Players can work their way through career mode, can unlock new rides, can upgrade the ones they have, or can take the competition online in multiplayer. The usual race modes are there, plus a new Infected mode where players have to tag other racers before succumbing to an explosive virus.

The incredibly polished graphics and outstanding soundtrack make Asphalt 8 an adrenaline trip you won't soon forget.

Download: Asphalt 8: Airborne (Free, IAPs)

Disney Crossy Road

Disney Crossy RoadsDisney Crossy RoadsDisney Crossy Roads

If you've played the original Crossy Road, you know just how addictively fun it is dodging trains and traffic as a chicken or any of the other characters you were able to unlock. It became a huge hit for the developers at Hipster Whale, which lead to Disney Crossy Road.

All the free fun of Crossy Road is now available with your favorite Disney characters! From classics like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck to the heroes from the latest Disney flick, "Zootopia" — they're all here! It's the perfect game for kids, but it's also tons of fun for anyone who appreciates Disney films, given all the little details they include with specific characters. It's fantastic!

Disney Crossy Road is the perfect pick-up-and-play casual game for all ages.

Download: Disney Crossy Road (Free, IAPs)

Hearthstone

Hearthstone is a free, turn-based card game that follows a familiar formula: players summon creature cards and cast spell cards based on the Warcraft universe in an effort to defeat online opponents. Every one of the nine heroes has their own unique special ability as well as a sizable batch of collectible and craftable cards. Casual online games, ranked matches, wacky weekly Tavern Brawls, and grueling Arena games appeal to varying levels of commitment.

Hearthstone is without a doubt the best free card game to come to Android to date.

Download: Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft (Free, IAPs)

Smash Hit

Smash Hit is a minimalist target practice game where players tap the screen to toss a marble and shatter glass obstacles. If you bump into something you lose marbles. Lose all your marbles and it's game over. Every section is littered with power-ups and fresh batches of marbles to keep you going. If you manage to keep hitting the marble refill crystals without missing, you can fire off two, three, or five marbles at once.

Though it's a simple, on-rails shooter, Smash Hit's polished physics make for a massively accessible and compelling experience.

Download: Smash Hit (Free, pro upgrade)

Alto's Adventure

Alto's AdventureAlto's Adventure

If you haven't checked out Alto's Adventure, what are you waiting for?

It's a beautiful game with simple controls and endless replayability. You play as Alto, who must snowboard down the side of a mountain to collect all of his runaway llamas, dodging boulders and jumping over chasms as he goes. You can pull off epic stunts, pick up power-ups, and work to complete challenges to level up. Sick of the challenges? Simply swipe over to Zen mode and just enjoy the endless relaxation of sliding down the mountainside.

It's definitely one of the best games released for Android in 2016, and best of all — it's FREE!

Download: Alto's Adventure (Free, IAPs)

Modern Combat 5

Modern Combat 5 offers some of the greatest shooting action you'll find on Android. Dive into an action-packed, single-player campaign, and once you're comfortable with the myriad of classes, weapons, and attachments, dive into a variety of multiplayer modes. Challenges invite players to really test their skill in short, specialized scenarios. For those that are really serious, Modern Combat 5 supports hardware controllers for the real FPS experience.

Modern Combat 5 is perfect for hardcore gamers.

Download: Modern Combat 5: Blackout (Free, IAPs)

Clash Royale

Clash RoyaleClash RoyaleClash Royale

If you've grown tired of Clash of Clans gameplay but still love the characters and world that the folks at Supercell have created, you should definitely check out Clash Royale. Unlock and upgrade troops, build your battle deck, and take on real-life opponents in real-time battles.

Join or create a clan and share cards and strategies with friends from around the world. You'll need to employ quick thinking and genuine strategy to win, so you'll be compelled to keep tweaking your decks by working in new cards. In-app purchases will be tempting and are essentially required to reach the upper echelons of the leaderboards, but there's still tons of fun to be had playing Clash Royale without spending a dime.

Download: Clash Royale (Free, IAPs)

Sky Force Reloaded

Sky Force ReloadedSky Force ReloadedSky Force Reloaded

Fans of vertical scrolling shoot-em-ups rejoice! The new Sky Force Reloaded is on Android and is better than ever!

Blast your way through nine action-packed missions as you take down enemies while dodging the attacks they send back your way. Collect stars and upgrade your ships as you try to earn all medals on each mission at each difficulty level. It's a well-polished game from a storied and celebrated franchise, making Sky Force Reloaded an absolute must-play.

Download: Sky Force Reloaded (Free, IAPs)

UltraFlow 2

UltraFlow 2UltraFlow2UltraFlow2

Looking for an extremely casual yet challenging game that you can pick up and play whenever you've got a few minutes to kill? UltraFlow 2 will fill that void nicely.

The gameplay mechanic is somewhere between shuffleboard and miniature golf, where your goal is to launch the puck to the goal with a limited number of bounces. As you advance through the game, the stages get more complex and puzzling, but there's no penalty for failure. You're free to play around and tweak your shot until you figure it out. It's a free game, with an in-app purchase to upgrade and remove ads. The ads aren't intrusive, and only pop up when you're moving onto a new section of levels. Plus, if you love UltraFlow 2, you can always double back and play the first UltraFlow which is also free.

Download: UltraFlow 2 (Free, IAPs)

Your favorite free Android games?

Nobody made us the Fun Police. Shout out in the comments with your favorite free Android games, as we're constantly on the lookout for the next great time-waster.

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1 week ago

Talking about everything Android adjacent

44

There's a lot more to Android than the OS.

The launch of the HTC G1 was significant for two reasons. First and foremost, this phone was weird because it was Google's effort "against" Apple and their iPhone and somehow it might actually compete well. Second, and in my mind the most important, Android was positioned from day one as a platform where third-party apps could be submitted and people could choose whatever apps they wanted. It took Apple a little while to catch on, but in the next revision of iOS they did.

Now, apps are everything and everything has an app. The second part of that sentence is significant, because it's a big part of what I am passionate about. Android phones are exciting to me because they are pocket-sized hubs to everything, and I'm going to spend a lot of time talking about that experience.

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1 week ago

Best Unlocked Phone

Best unlocked phones

When buying unlocked, our top pick doesn't change — the Galaxy S7 is still the best phone to buy.

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy S7

Samsung Galaxy S7

See at Amazon

The Galaxy S7 is the complete package. All of the hardware features you could ask for, inside a beautifully designed metal-and-glass frame with a wonderful screen. There's something refreshing about the compact body on a 5.1-inch phone, and Samsung has executed it perfectly here, while also filling it with top-end internals.

Samsung's software gets better with every iteration, and everything you do with the phone just flies. The 12MP camera leads the industry, as does its display fingerprint sensor. Even though it's over six months old, the Galaxy S7 is still the pinnacle of Android right now.

Bottom line: The unlocked Galaxy S7 is expensive, but it's worth it.

One more thing: Even though it's unlocked, this Galaxy S7 does work on the U.S. carriers — yes, even Verizon.

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1 week ago

10 essential Chromebook keyboard shortcuts you need to know

10

Getting to know your Chromebook's keyboard can save time and make you more productive.

If you're one of those people who want to keep their hands on the keyboard when they're sitting in front of a computer — I know I am — then you need to check out the keyboard shortcuts built into your Chromebook.

There are over 100 different things you can do with the keys alone. You can access menus, start apps, switch between things, check your notifications and do just about anything you would ever need in the browser using a combination of the modifier keys (Control, Alt, and Shift) combined with other keys. Some of them you already know because they are universal across most things with a keyboard, like copying text with the Control + v key combo. Others you might not know — like switching languages with Control + Shift + spacebar. Even shortcuts you should never need to use, like Alt + Search for CAPS LOCK are there. Please be careful with caps lock.

Of course very few of us will memorize all the different things we can do through our Chromebook keyboard or which keys we need to press to do them. But I do have a few I use every day, and I think you'll benefit from knowing my top ten. Here they are, in no specific order.

  • See all the shortcuts with Control + Alt + / (see a full keyboard overlay with Control + Alt + ?)
  • Open the file manager with Alt + Shift + m
  • Launch an app from your shelf with Alt + 1 through 8
  • Open the browser menu with Alt + e
  • Snap open windows with Alt + [ (snap to the left side) and Alt + ] (snap to the right side)
  • Turn a word into a URL by typing it into the Ominbar then pressing Control + Enter
  • Move the cursor by the word instead of the letter in a text field with Control + right/left arrows (highlight each word as you move through them with Control + Shift + right/left arrow)
  • Open your notifications with Control + Alt + n
  • Switch tabs with Control + 1 through 8 (open the last tab on the right with Control + 9)
  • Reopen the last tab you closed with Control + Shift + T

Protip: If you use the same tab(s) day in and day out, drop it in the number one (furthest left) spot. I keep three tabs I always have open in positions one, two, and three. And none of them are Android Central because it stays at the very end at all times. With my pinky finger on the Control key, I can get to them without ever moving the cursor.

These are the ones I know by heart — my brain just can't hold any more of them in memory — my RAM is full. I know there are shortcuts for changing screen zoom (Control + and - because I just looked. Again.) but I can never remember them when I need them. Instead, I know Alt + e opens the menu where I can click the tiny button to do it. Thankfully, you can bookmark a page that has them all at Google's Chromebook Help center or just memorize the first one in my list.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who gets plenty of mileage from my keyboard. If you have any shortcuts you use every day, let us know in the comments!

Chromebooks

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1 week ago

Best Android Phone Under $100

It's possible to get a decent Android experience, even on a shoestring — and unsurprisingly Motorola dominates this field.

Best overall

Moto G Play (with ads)

See at Amazon

The Amazon-exclusive Moto G Play is a $150 phone reduced to $100. The catch? You'll get ads and offers from the retail giant on your lock screen, which may or may not be a deal-breaker depending on how you like to use your phone. (We've got a good breakdown of what it means here).

Otherwise, you're getting a decent entry-level Android phone for not a lot of money at all. The Moto G Play (a.k.a. Moto G4 Play) packs the same soft-touch polycarbonate body as its big brother, the Moto G4, and runs a Snapdragon 410 processor, which has plenty of power to run [Android 6.0 Marshmallow](/./marshmallow on a 5-inch 720p display. There's a reasonable 16GB of storage, expandable via microSD, and an 8-megapixel camera that handles the basics well.

Bottom line: Putting up with lock screen ads allows you to get a $150 phone for $100. It's not perfect, but it's a lot better than you'd otherwise get for the cash.

One more thing: It's unlocked, so you can use it on any carrier of your choice. And if you know where to look, there are some places on the Internet that'll help you take care of those pesky ads.

Why the Moto G Play is best

Amazon plugs the price gap with offers on your lock screen.

With ads from Amazon, or without ads from Verizon, the Moto G Play gets you a great core Android experience — fast software, thanks to Motorola's hands-off approach towards customization, and decent specs all-round.

It's not the flashiest or showiest smartphone, with a relatively generic design, but you don't expect pizzaz when you're paying less than a Benjamin for a full-featured smartphone. Same deal with bonus features like water resistance and swappable backs, like you might get from last year's Moto G (third generation).

Instead, the Moto G Play is just a solid all-round phone for not a lot of cash.

Best ad-free

Moto E LTE

See at Amazon

The unlocked Moto E LTE can be used on any supported network, and doesn't come with any of the bloatware you'd expect from the U.S. carriers. And better still, it's only $81. It's powered by the same Snapdragon 410 chip that's inside the Moto G Play, however you do lose a few important features compared to that phone — a smaller 4.5-inch screen with a less impressive qHD (960x540) display. And there's only 8GB of storage, so an SD card will be an essential purchase.

Bottom line: You're getting less phone than a Moto G Play, but also at a lower price without bloatware, carrier locks or ads.

One more thing: You'll definitely want to snap up a microSD card.

Best on Verizon

Moto G Play Droid

See at Verizon

If you're settled on Verizon as your carrier of choice, you can get the Moto G Play (Droid) for $85 without the need to see any ads on your lock screen. Droid branding aside, this is the same phone as the Amazon version, just running on Verizon's network with the expected loadout of pre-installed bloatware apps. On paper it's close to last year's third-gen Moto G, with a Snapdragon 410 processor, a 5-inch 720p display and 16GB of storage.

The main trade-offs between last year's G: Lack of water resistance and a less spectacular camera. The Moto G Play is splash-resistant however, which means you won't need to worry about using it out in the rain.

Bottom line: Trading ads for bloatware gets you Moto's best super-cheap phone for less — if you're on Verizon.

One more thing: Don't expect software updates to be as quick as the unlocked version.

Best on AT&T

Samsung Galaxy Express Prime (GoPhone)

See at AT&T

In AT&T's GoPhone range, the somewhat ridiculously named Samsung Galaxy Express Prime stands out as offering the best bang for your buck. You'll get Android 6.0 Marshmallow and the latest version of Samsung's TouchWiz UI on a 5-inch 720p SuperAMOLED display, powered by Samsung's own Exynos quad-core processor. And an ample 2,600mAh battery should be enough to see you through the day.

The Galaxy Express Prime also looks a little more eye-catching than other devices in this range, appearing like a shrunken-down Galaxy S5. Other specs aren't the greatest — only 1.5GB of RAM and a mere 5-megapixel camera, but at least there's a reasonable 16GB of internal storage, expandable via microSD.

Bottom line: Probably the best Samsung phone you're gonna find for under a hundred bucks.

One more thing: Don't expect an update to Android Nougat anytime soon, if ever.

Best on T-Mobile

Samsung Galaxy On5

See at T-Mobile

A distant cousin of the AT&T Express Prime, T-Mobile's Galaxy On5 packs in the essentials for a good deal less than $100. Once again you're dealing with Samsung's own Exynos 3475 Quad processor and 1.5GB of RAM and a similar style of chassis.

The biggest difference is the network — if you're in a great location for T-Mobile coverage, you'll get largely the same experience as the AT&T GoPhone offering, only for less cash on a network that might suit you better.

Bottom line: The Galaxy On5 is about a year old at this point, but still a decent buy for the money.

One more thing: You'll need to buy a refill pack to get the On5 for this price, which nudges the price a little over $100 in total.

Best on Sprint

Virgin Mobile Moto G (third gen.)

See at Virgin Mobile

The third-generation Moto G is getting a bit long in the tooth, but it's still a fantastic budget phone, and for under $100 on Virgin Mobile, well worth considering. For starters, it's the only phone on this list boasting water resistance, and Motorola's swappable back covers let you easily add some flair to the device.

On the inside, you're looking at a Snapdragon 410 processor and 2GB of RAM, along with 16GB of storage — all standard entry-level stuff. The display is a passable but not spectacular 5-inch 720p panel, while around the back you've got a surprisingly good 13-megapixel shooter.

Storage-wise, there's 16GB internally, with the option to expand via microSD.

Bottom line: The Moto G has aged well, runs great on Marshmallow and is definitely worth a hundred bucks, even in late 2016.

One more thing: The Moto G is now more than a year old, so don't hold out for timely updates to future Android versions.

Conclusion

You'll need to put up with the occasional ad, but Amazon's offer of a Moto G Play for under $100 is really hard to beat.

Best overall

Moto G Play

See at Amazon

The Amazon-exclusive Moto G Play is a $150 phone reduced to $100. The catch? You'll get ads and offers from the retail giant on your lock screen, which may or may not be a deal-breaker depending on how you like to use your phone. (We've got a good breakdown of what it means here).

Otherwise, you're getting a decent entry-level Android phone for not a lot of money at all. The Moto G Play (a.k.a. Moto G4 Play) packs the same soft-touch polycarbonate body as its big brother, the Moto G4, and runs a Snapdragon 410 processor, which has plenty of power to run Android 6.0 Marshmallow on a 5-inch 720p display. There's a reasonable 16GB of storage, expandable via microSD, and an 8-megapixel camera that handles the basics well.

Bottom line: Putting up with lock screen ads allows you to get a $150 phone for $100. It's not perfect, but it's a lot better than you'd otherwise get for the cash.

One more thing: It's unlocked, so you can use it on any carrier of your choice. And if you know where to look, there are some places on the Internet that'll help you take care of those pesky ads.

*/

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1 week ago

Wrath of Loki review: Stop Ragnarok before it's too late!

It's time to find the pieces to save the world.

When your father Odin comes to you and tells you that your brother Loki is on the warpath — you know, again — you don't argue. That's because when Loki is on the warpath, Ragnarok — aka the end of the world as we know it — is nigh. Let's face it, even the Norse gods don't want to see that go down. So it's up to you to stop the chaos, and make sure that humans can go on living their lives.

Read more at VR Heads!

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1 week ago

Best Heavy Duty Cases For OnePlus 3

6

What are the best heavy duty cases for protecting your OnePlus 3?

The OnePlus 3 is a stylish and capable smartphone featuring a unibody design carved out of aluminum, with its AMOLED display protected by Gorilla Glass 4.

OnePlus offers a collection of stylish protective cases options when you purchase through their site. Alas, if you're feeling like it could use some added protection from drops and other accidental damage, there are rugged case options available to give you better peace of mind.

Otterbox OnePlus 3 case

Otterbox is one of the most trusted names in smartphone cases. Their case for the OnePlus 3 is featured prominently right on the OnePlus website, which should tell you that the manufacturers themselves trust this case to keep your device protected.

Featuring a hard shell outer layer to defends against drops and scratches and a coupled with a shock-absorbing silicone layer designed to stay snug to your phone. All this comes in a slim package that doesn't add too much bulk to your phone, and available in three color schemes — Dark Matter, Saharan White and Cardinal Red.

See at OnePlus


Spigen Rugged Armor

Looking for a rugged case that doesn't sacrifice your phone's sleek design too much? Look no further than the Spigen Rugged Armor case.

This one-piece case is made of flexible TPU, and features a spider-web pattern on the inside that helps distribute the shock from drops along the entirety of the case. There's raised lips to protect the screen and back camera, Spigen's air cushion technology in the corners, and a glossy finish with carbon fiber features on the back to complete this stylish, protective case.

See at Amazon


TUDIA Ultra Tough Hybrid

Looking for a case that provides full protection from all angles? The TUDIA Ultra Tough Hybrid case will keep your OnePlus 3 protected from front to back.

It features a polycarbonate outer shell — available in four colors — with an inner sleeve made of TPU to protect against the shock from drops. along with a polycarbonate front plate with a built-in protector to keep your screen free from scratches. This also means that your tempered glass protector won't fit with this case, but unlike other cases that have this issue, at least TUDIA provides its own layer. Rounding out the protection are covers for the charging port and headphone jack to keep out dust and pocket lint.

See at Amazon


OEAGO Tough Rugged Protective Case

The OEAGO Tough Rugged Protective Case is the most rugged-looking case on this list by far. The soft TUP inner sleeve helps with shock absorption, and is covered by a polycarbonate shell, featuring a tactile gridwork to help you maintain a good grip on your phone at all times. The outer shell also features a built-in kickstand, which is convenient for hands-free movie watching, and the inner shell is available in eight different colors so you can find the one to fit your style.

Best part? It's currently available for under $10. You can't beat that value!

See at Amazon


Tell us your favorite!

How do you keep your OnePlus 3 protected? Got a case recommendation that didn't make our list? Let us know in the comments below!

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1 week ago

Digital Offers: Secure your internet connection for $79

15
PureVPN lifetime subscription

How secure is your internet connection? When you're travelling or using a public network, can you guarantee that your private information will be safe from hackers and other sketchy types? Most of us jump onto public networks and never stop to think about the access we might be granting to total strangers. That includes not only your passwords, but your messages and photos, too. Add to that the fact that, depending on where you're travelling, public networks may not even allow you full access to the internet you're used to; blocking certain sites isn't uncommon. How are you supposed to keep up and stay safe when you're travelling, or even just out and about in your own city, when you're spending all of your time worrying and getting frustrated?

What you need is a VPN, or Virtual Private Network. It allows you to become the authorized user of a network that is encrypted, meaning your data remains safer than if you just use a regular public Wi-Fi network. PureVPN is a trusted provider, with well over one million users worldwide, giving you a secure network connection even when your only choice is a public network.

You can get a lifetime subscription to PureVPN through Android Central Digital Offers for just $79, which is 86% off the original price of $597! PureVPN is supported by over 500 servers in 141 countries, so whether you're overseas on business or just down the street from your place, you'll have a secure internet connection and access to everything you need. Your subscription:

  • Keeps your web history completely out of view of potential hackers, protecting your passwords and usernames from becoming public information
  • Is ideal for travel in places where you may find sites have been blocked for some reason; you can now work around those blocks and get access to the sites you need
  • Is compatible with nearly any Smart device you may use at home or when you're away. The subscription also includes five multi logins so that you can access a server from multiple devices at once
  • Includes unlimited data transfer so you can download, browse, stream, and share as much as you like
  • Prevents unauthorized access to your messages, photos, videos, and more

Lifetime subscriptions to anything are expensive, but right now you can get one for PureVPN for 86% off and never have to worry about secure networks or internet roadblocks again. Get yours now!

See at Android Central Digital Offers

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