1 month ago

Android Central's back to school guide


It's time to go back to school, and we'll make sure you're well-equipped.

For many students, it's time to hit the books again. Whether you're loading up for your first day at high school, finding your stride in college, or you're making the long haul in university graduate programs, we've got the best tech for back to school season right here.

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1 month ago

The Nova Material Watch Face keeps it simple


Finding a Watch Face that gives you the info that you need to know, while keeping it simple aren't always easy to find. Many get you that info, but wind up looking cluttered, others have a clean and simple look, but you don't get the details you need at a glance. If that's the case then the Nova Material Watch face for Android Wear might have you covered.

The Nova Material Watch Face has a clean, understated look to it. It's got a fresh, minimalistic appeal while still getting you the information that you want out of your watch. Lets take a look.

The top of your screen has two indicators for notifications. On the top left is a small speech bubble, accompanied to the right by an envelope. Otherwise known as messages, and emails. If your inboxes are full of nothing but read messages, then you'll just see the icons themselves. On the other hand if you have unread messages, then a small colored bubble will appear with a number within it; the number of unread messages you have waiting.

The middle of your screen is where most of your information is waiting. In the middle of the screen is a 12 hour digital readout of the time. Just above it, is the current date, along with which day of the week it is. To the left of these you'll see a weather indicator to give you a clue about what to expect if you venture outside.

At the bottom of the screen you'll find your last two indicators. One is a wristwatch, and the other a smartphone, and both are surrounded by a small colored ring. The ring fills dependent upon the battery life of your Smartwatch, and Smartphone, along with a digital readout just below the icons.

If you're looking for clean, simple, and informative, Nova Material Watch Face could be the right fit.

Most of this watch face is black on white, with a few splashes of color. Unfortunately, if green isn't your color of choice you'll need to purchase the premium version of this watch face for $1.04. It isn't just minimalist in it's look either, there are no settings or options to fool with if you're rocking the free version. The paid version of Nova Material Watch Face only unlocks the ability to change the accent color — and there are a ton of colors to choose from.

If you're looking for clean, simple, and informative, Nova Material Watch Face could be the right fit. While it doesn't concern itself with giving you options to customize, it does give you the information you need most to plan your day. At the great price of free, it's certainly worth taking a look.

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1 month ago

Samsung Pay launching in Korea on Aug. 20, in the U.S. on Sept. 28


Samsung Pay, Samsung's answer to mobile payments, is officially launching on August 20th in South Korea and on September 28th in the United States. Unlike other systems that depend on NFC or barcode scanning, Samsung Pay emulates the magnetic stripe of a credit card (in addition to including NFC for contactless payments support).

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1 month ago

How the Moto G 2015 handles hard-core heavy apps


Some days, I love my job.

I've spent more than a few hours playing games on the new Moto G 2015. Not just any games, mind you, but games that are known to be pretty rough on the hardware inside an Android, and take it to its breaking point. 3D intensive games that turn your phone into a space heater. The fun games.

The good news is that I didn't melt anything or have to call any type of emergency services (this time). The little Moto G 2015 actually did better than I thought it would, though it isn't on par with the newest and thrice as pricey gear from Samsung or LG.

Here's how I spent my day.

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1 month ago

Bubble Cloud Widget + Wear brings a stylish launcher to your Smartwatch


Convenience is the name of the game when it comes to Smartwatches, but at times getting to the app you need quickly can be a hassle in Android Wear. Bubble Cloud Widgets + Wear is a launcher that brings you gorgeous icons for all of your apps within swiping range. You've also got tons of options, and choices to personalize how everything looks and behaves.

If you haven't seen it yet, check it out below.

Bubble Cloud Widgets + Wear for Android Wear is available for free on the Google Play Store, with an option to purchase the premium version of the app for $2.49. When it first opens up on your watch, you'll see all of your apps arrayed with an icon for each in a colored bubble. You'll also see indicators for the date, battery power on both your phone and watch, and current internet signal. In the middle of all of this, is a clock.

If you swipe to the left, you'll get a second screen. This is dominated by a yellow bubble, which when tapped will bring you into settings. It's surrounded by more of your apps, depending on how many you have installed.

While you can access your settings via the watch, some options can also be found by using your phone. The options on your phone menu, are categorized between the App Launcher, and the Watch Faces. In App Launcher you'll see that you can change your background, adjust the size variance, freeze sizes, and access the Bubble Cloud Editor. There are also 3 options for the look of the bubbles in the launcher.

If nothing else, Bubble Cloud is a nice change of pace for your wrist.

Watch Faces contains all of the options pertaining to — you guessed it — the watch face. There are options for ambient mode, enabling reduced touch sensitivity, peek card options. There are also 3 faces available for Ambient Mode.

From your Smartwatch you can also bring up some additional settings not found on your phone, along with several you've already seen. All of the settings available from your Smartwatch are on a single vertically scrolling screen, you can navigate by swiping up or down. From here you can enable an app tray if you've got enough apps to require a second screen, choose between an analog and digital watch face, you can reduce screen sensitivity, stop the animation from apps launching, and access ambient mode options.

There are also quite a few options that get added if you purchase the premium edition of the Bubble Cloud Widget + Wear. It allows you to save contacts to your phone in an easy to reach place, send emails from your watch, and allows you to have multiple extra screens for your apps. That last one becomes particularly handy, if you end up having a lot of apps on your Smartwatch. It will also auto populate app bubbles, filling them with all the apps that fall into a specific category.

Bubble Cloud Widget + Wear is a fantastic launcher. It's got a nice clean interface, plenty of options, and unless you need those premium features it's absolutely free. If nothing else, it's a nice change of pace for your wrist.

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1 month ago

Twitter begins removing 140-character limit from Direct Messages


After originally planning to do so in July, Twitter has finally removed the 140-character limit for Direct Messages on its service. Rolling out today, Twitter users will be able to send DMs with as many characters as they wish, another step for the company to make private communications on its service even better. Everyday, millions of tweets are sent about the news, sports and many other topics, which often times spark private conversations.

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1 month ago

Weather Time for Wear gives you the weather and all the options you might need


Out of all the watch faces that you can currently find in the Google Play Store for your Android Wear device, weather apps are some of the most helpful at a glance. There are plenty of them out there right now, and one to take a look at is Weather Time for Wear.

It's free with in-app purchase options that unlock the good stuff, but mostly gets the job done well. Lets take a look.

Weather Time for Android Wear definitely has the design aspect of things down. The default screen is a blue sky with fluffy white clouds — even when that is not at all what it looks like outside — and all your information overlaid onto it. At the top of the screen you'll see the time, underneath that there is the date, and at the bottom of the screen you'll see the temperature along with an icon for weather conditions.

The free version of Weather Time for Wear gives you access to some options, but to get the full experience you'll need to drop $2.00. All of your options are available on your phone and they are all divided up into one of several categories; Weather Settings, Look and Feel, Notification Settings, Touch Event Settings, and General Settings.

Each category is named so that you can easily find the options you're looking for in a pinch. In Weather your options include one of three weather providers, as well as the location you want information for. You can use either your current location, or one you set manually. You can also adjust the units for your Temperature, Wind Speed and Pressure. With premium you can see far more than just the temperature, you can also see condition, location, step count, wind speed and several more.

Look and Feel is where you can adjust your background, ambient mode backgrounds, clock settings, date settings and battery indicator settings. There is plenty to play with here, even if you don't pick up the paid version. You have 12 or 24 hour settings for your clock, including the option to include seconds. You can also adjust the format and font of where everything sits on your watch face. While you need premium to grab the other weather screens, you can still change yours to a color of your choice.

Notification settings let you decide when and how cards show up on your smartwatch. There are vibrate settings for things like the temperature changing, or your phone disconnecting, but they are for the premium version. There is also a handy 'do not disturb' function, which disables those vibrations during selected hours. Touch event settings is a premium only option. It allows you to enact some extra nifty features. These include opening the current forecast when you tap the weather icon, opening your agenda when the calendar icon is tapped, and opening the agenda when the date is tapped.

Your last category is General Settings. This one has far fewer options, in that there are only 3 of them. You can adjust the 'Ok, Google' placement, change where the status bar sits, or show a system indicator shadow.

Weather Time for Wear does a great job of getting you the weather info you need to plan your day, while also giving you plenty of options. Considering everything you get with the free version of this app, the upgrade is very much a personal preference. Does this seem like the weather app for you, or have you already found one that works well?

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1 month ago

365 Body Workout brings fitness to your Android TV


Fitness apps are all over the Google Play Store, for both your phone and your smartwatch. Now you can add Android TV to that list, with 365 Body Workout. Bringing fitness to your living room becomes a breeze with this app, where you can track your workouts, integrate with Google Fit, and personalize your workouts.

If you haven't seen this one yet, you can check it out right here with us.

When you open 365 Body Workout on your TV you'll see all of your options arrayed at the bottom of the screen; Quick Workout, Calendar, My Workouts, Exercises, Settings and Unlock.. Each one covers pretty much precisely what it says, and we'll go over each one so you know what you're getting into. The menu and navigation is all very clean which makes it easy to get what you need to without any issues.

Quick Workouts gives you a choice between a 2, 5, or 12 minute workout. After you choose a duration, then you'll see a preview of your workout. This preview includes slides for each workout with the name, number of sets, and number of reps for each exercise. After you start, the screen will give you a counter, along with a simulation of what the exercise being performed correctly looks like.

Calendar gives you a running calendar for each month. It's primarily there to help organize your workouts by letting you know where your rest days are located. It's designed very well, one month rolling seamlessly into the next.

My Workouts is where you can build and customize your workout experience. Each workout requires a minimum of 2 exercises, but you can keep adding on past that as well. In the menu of exercises, you'll see there are dozens of them, but most have been locked. We'll get to unlocking them in just a minute here. You can save, reset, and name your workouts here as well.

Exercises brings up the same menu of exercises that you saw when adding specific exercises in My Workouts. Here you can take a closer look at each exercise, as well as seeing it performed with proper form. Considering how easy it is to hurt yourself when working out using bad form, this is a really handy way to double check before rolling into a full workout.

Settings only gives you access to three things — Trainer, Music and Google Fit. In Trainer you can adjust the settings for the audio trainer that pops up during your workouts. This ends up being options like the gender of the trainer. You can turn the included music on or off during workouts, as well as integrating 365 Body Workout with Google Fit.

The final option from your main menu is Unlock. As we mentioned earlier, many of the exercises in the app are locked. There is only one way to unlock them, and that's via an in-app purchase of the $2 Premium edition. Considering how many exercises you unlock, it's definitely a purchase worth considering.

365 Body Workout is a great app for anyone who prefers working out at home, to sweating in the gym. With it's personalization touches, integration with google fit, and catalog of exercises it works extremely well. With the added benefit of being able to clearly see how each exercise is performed on your tv, you can even avoid some unnecessary injuries. Just don't accidentally tumble into your television.

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1 month ago

Pushbullet adds end-to-end encryption for SMS, notification mirroring and more


Pushbullet, the app which allows you to reply to notifications and messages on your phone from your computer, now offers end-to-end encryption for added security. With this, the information that is being transferred between your phone and computer is fully encrypted until it is received on the other end.

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1 month ago

LastPass goes free on mobile devices, still requires subscription for cross-platform syncing


LastPass, a popular password management app, has made its app free to use on mobile phones and tablets, but still requires a $12 annual fee to sync that information with a computer. Previously, the company offered its services for free on computers, but required the fee for mobile users, and that has now changed.

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1 month ago

Tweetings for Twitter on Android Wear makes staying up to date much easier


More than many other social networks, or apps out there today, Twitter is all about the moment. The funny joke, shocking headline, and liveblog of The Walking Dead all show up right next to each other. Sometimes you come up with something brilliant, but you lose it before you can tweet because your phone isn't quite within your grasp. Tweetings for Twitter has you covered, especially with Android Wear support.

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1 month ago

Google Voice users will get group SMS support thanks to Hangouts 4.0


Along with its new design, and speed improvements, Hangouts 4.0 will bring along with it the ability for Google Voice users to participate in group SMS (sometimes referred to as group MMS) conversations. While there are a few catches, this is a huge step in the right direction for Google Voice users.

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1 month ago

Flir One update adds panorama and time lapse support


Flir has been making great strides in the world of small and relatively inexpensive thermal cameras, and a big part of that experience has been software. An update to the Flir One Android app rolling out today improves that experience with new camera and video modes, as well as a new OTA update mechanism that lets the Flir One app update the firmware on the camera directly.

The plug and plan Flir One camera is a lot of fun if you've got the $250 to spend, especially if you've got a handful of phones nearby and you want to see which one gets hotter, but it's also got some serious industrial and service applications. Today's update adds a new Panorama Mode to the Flir One camera mode, an a new Time Lapse Mode to the Flir One video mode. These new camera modes are in line with the other camera modes, and plays nice with all of the thermal filter color modes you have access to when capturing. The only problem you run into with a thermal panorama is capturing something with extremes. Something well over 300 degrees for example makes everything around it seem much cooler in a thermal image, and if you're stitching a large image that can cause some color distortion.

The update should be rolling out to everyone today, though when you connect your Flir One again there will be an additional prompt to install a new firmware update to the camera. It should only take a minute, after which you'll be ready to enjoy the new features.

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1 month ago

Hangouts 4.0 brings a new interface and speed improvements


Google is finally pushing Hangouts 4.0 for Android phones and tablets, bringing along with it the long-awaited new design. After first rolling out for the iPhone, Google is now bringing the new design and speed enhancements to Android.

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1 month ago

AC editors' apps of the week: My Fios, Player FM, Vrse and more

Apps of the week

Our weekly app picks

It's Appday Sunday and that means we're back with more of our favorites to share. Every week we bring a handful of great apps to the table and share them with everyone. Sometimes they are new apps, sometimes old standards, but every time they are apps we love to use.

Give these a look and then take a minute to tell us all about the apps you are using and love so we can give them a try. We all find some of our favorites right in the comments on these posts!

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