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2 months ago

Best Android reading apps for kids

3

Best overall

Hooked on Phonics

See at Play Store

When it comes to teaching children to read, one particular program has been doing a great job for two decades: Hooked on Phonics. This curriculum is now available on your phone or tablet, and it comes with its traditions in tact. These include ebooks, games, and reading lessons.

There are 24 progressive learning lessons. They start with easier concepts like learning vowels, simple compound words, and and two syllable words. Each lesson ends with a specific story that uses the words your child just learned, ensuring that they have properly absorbed the lesson in front of them.

Bottom line: Hooked on Phonics delivers an excellent system right to your smartphone, giving your child all the tools to being a proficient and confident reader.

One more thing: Great for kids 3-7, but Hooked on Phonics does focus on the basics of learning to read.

Why Hooked on Phonics best

Hooked on Phonics delivers an excellent all-round system for teach your child how to read.

Hooked on Phonics is stellar at what it does, in part because of how much it has to offer. From learning the sounds of the alphabet and sight reading, to being able to confidently read complicated sentences. Everything is broken down into bite-sized chunks that make it easy for them to stay involved, without getting frustrated as they learn.

While the full version of the app requires a subscription, you do get access to the first three lessons, and the first story involving the concepts in those lessons. While paying for a subscription isn't ideal for everyone, by trying it out first you can check to be sure that it works for your child before purchasing the full version.

Hooked on Phonics also takes into account the fact that your children's school has certain standard. Their program syncs up to Federal and State reading proficiencies for 1st grade. It can also be used on multiple devices, and with multiple accounts so that each of your children can enjoy it separately.

Best Free

Sight Words and Reading

See at Play Store

An integral part of learning to read confidently is being able to identify words and sounds. This definitely includes learning vowels as early as possible. Sight Words and Reading is made for pre-K and Kindergarten children who are still learning their sounds, identifying letters, and mastering simple sentences.

All of the learning in Sight Words is in a game format, making it engaging for your child for any stretch of time. The colors and illustrations are bright to help draw in and keep the attention of your tot as well. During the course of the games in the app, children are introduced to 300 common words helping to expand their vocabulary.

Bottom line: Sight Words and Reading is an awesome process to get your child excited and engaged at a variety of fun games, all while learning to read. There are a variety of games, and a great vocabulary to get them ready for the rest of their lives.

One more thing: The developers of this app provide a variety of other apps that can help your child to build on the foundation created with this app.

Best for vowel sounds

Starfall Learn to Read

See at Play Store

Learning to read is easier with a friend, and in this case it's Zac the Rat. He takes your child on a reading adventure that is built up of several different kinds of games created to keep your child motivated. These include games that require children to recognize items when given a word, helps them to learn to spell, and plenty more.

Starfall Learn to Read takes special consideration to help your child learn their vowel sounds. Since vowels can be tricky, especially for kids, they provide examples of words with short and long vowels. By focusing on these primary concepts, they are then able to easily master later concepts.

Bottom line: Starfall Learn to Read makes sure that your child masters the fundamental concepts of reading. This includes a variety of games to keep them engaged, and emphasis on learning the vowel sounds required to master the English language.

One more thing: This app was created by Starfall, a charity that believes in motivation children through exploration, positive reinforcement, and play.

Conclusion

There are plenty of amazing apps that can help your child to become a strong and confident reader. However, the best all around system is still Hooked on Phonics. It offers the largest variety of exercises to help your child master reading in English while making things fun and keeping them engaged.

While it does require a subscription to access the full system of lessons, if your child has been struggling with the basics this is a great way to help them catch up to their peers in school. Making learning fun is integral to their system and it ensures that they'll want to keep coming back to the app to keep learning.

Best overall

Hooked on Phonics

See at Store

When it comes to teaching children to read, one particular program has been doing a great job for two decades: Hooked on Phonics. This curriculum is now available on your phone or tablet, and it comes with its traditions in tact. These include ebooks, games, and reading lessons.

There are 24 progressive learning lessons. They start with easier concepts like learning vowels, simple compound words, and and two syllable words. Each lesson ends with a specific story that uses the words your child just learned, ensuring that they have properly absorbed the lesson in front of them.

Bottom line: Hooked on Phonics delivers an excellent system right to your smartphone, giving your child all the tools to being a proficient and confident reader.

One more thing: Great for kids 3-7, but Hooked on Phonics does focus on the basics of learning to read.

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2 months ago

Awesome cooking apps to make your Super Bowl snacks amazing

1

Best overall

Yummly Recipe & Shopping List

See at Play Store

Yummly is easily the best cooking app out there, especially when it comes to finding something great for Super Bowl Sunday. Filled to the brim with recipes, Yummly really shines by giving you tons of options for searching for recipes, including vegetarian-only options and the ability to filter recipes based on your dietary restrictions.

After you search and find that perfect recipe it delivers all the details, from what the ingredients you'll need to step by step instructions on how to make it, to pictures of the finished product. Another huge perk of using Yummly is that it helps you organize your shopping needs based on the recipes you plan to make. From the recipe page you can save all of the ingredients to a shopping list, which is synced across all your devices provided you are signed into Yummly, and also organizes your shopping list so it's quick and easy to grab what you need when you stop at the supermarket on the way home from work.

Bottom line: Yummly gives you the power to find the exact type of recipe you are looking for, and helps to make sure that you never forget a single ingredient when you are at the market.

One more thing: There are dozens of recipes uploaded by other users specifically for the Super Bowl.

Why Yummly is the best

Yummly delivers a great system that lets you filter and find the perfect recipe, as well as making sure you have a shopping list with each ingredient on it.

While there are plenty of apps out there that can help you find a great snack for the Super Bowl, few do it nearly as well as Yummly does. Their selection of recipes is seriously impressive with over one million recipes, and handy options for filtering your search to meet your needs. You can filter each search by dietary preferences, nutrition, tastes, techniques, prep time and more. You can also search for recipes related to events — right now there are over 11 thousand Super Bowl recipes available for you to browse through.

When you find the recipe that you never knew you needed, you also have the ability to save it. You can save as many recipes as you'd like, and separate them into collections. This makes it easy to save recipes for later and then easily find them when you're ready to prepare them.

If you're already prepared to head out to the grocery store, then you can add the items you need for a recipe to a shopping list. Yummly automatically separates every ingredient on the list by type or aisle, so that your trip to the store is as stress free as possible.

Best for the last minute

Allrecipes Dinner Spinner

See at Play Store

Let's face it: life is busy and full of distractions, and small catastrophes can throw all of your plans out of whack. If you're panicking that the Super Bowl is only days away and you don't think you'll have time for a proper trip to the grocery store, that's the exact situation Allrecipes Dinner Spinner was designed for.

While Dinner Spinner gives you access to the massive library of recipes found at Allrecipes.com, it can also help you discover recipes using only the ingredients already in your kitchen. Usd the Dinner Spinner feature in the app to find recipes using specific ingredients, cooking time, or the type of dish you're looking for. It isn't perfect, but it is a great way to get ideas for something you can throw together in a pinch, without having to spend much time searching through recipes.

Bottom line: Allrecipes Dinner Spinner is handy for finding a brand new recipe, or just figuring out what you can do with ingredients that you already have on hand.

One more thing: When you find the recipes that you can't bear to lose, then just favorite them. There on out, they will live in your favorites folder and are easy to find in a pinch.

Best for sharing

Cookpad

See at Play Store

Social media and sharing every aspect of our lives has become ingrained behavior for many people. If you're the type who likes to share recipes already, or you're looking for recipes with a more personal touch, then Cookpad is where it's at. While Cookpad has a sizeable library of recipes with plenty of options to filter searches, it's way more than that.

Cookpad actually functions as it's own social media platform, revolving entirely around food. You can share your own recipes, see what your friends are experimenting with, and discover recipes that don't seem as manufactured as those found elsewhere. There is even a location feature that allows you to see what people in your area are cooking up for themselves. You can even search out recipes for specific occasions — and that definitely includes the Super Bowl.

There is even a chat function, which allows you to privately chat with other users or create a group. If you've decided to roll with a potluck Super Bowl, the chat is a great way to easily discuss what everyone is bringing to the game. Especially since you can swipe between searching out the recipe you're looking for and your conversation.

Bottom line: Cookpad offers a full social experience for your culinary adventures, with plenty of features, and occasion specific recipes.

One more thing: Cookpad is available in 8 different languages making it accessible for anyone who does not read English.

Best from TV

Food Network in the Kitchen

See at Play Store

There are plenty of folks out there that find new recipes or improve their skills in the kitchen by watching the Food Network on TV. If you missed part of an episode, or you're trying to find a specific recipe you saw made on a show, then their app is most definitely the place to check out.

You can filter your recipes search for recipes by celebrity chef, type, event and even cooking difficulty to find something new. If you're looking for something from a specific chef or show, you can also find recipes that way. Some of them may have video accompaniment, and there are new recipes added each month.

Bottom line: Food Network in the Kitchen delivers tons of great recipes from your favorite cooking shows. They also deliver tons of unique recipes you would have never considered, which will help you to deliver excellent food for guests at your Super Bowl party.

One more thing: If you aren't a pro, don't be worried. Each recipe comes with a difficulty level so that you can be prepared for whatever dish you are cooking up and don't bite off more than you can chew.

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2 months ago

AmpMe brings Spotify integration to its neat stereo music app

2

The app uses other devices and Bluetooth-enabled speakers to amplify music, so you can theoretically have a dance party anywhere.

Picture it: You and two of your friends jovially walking, with arms linked, towards the neighborhood bar. One of your friends starts whistling the piano intro to Cheers. You start singing, "Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got..." Your other friend whips out her phone, quickly queues up the song on Spotify, and starts blasting it at full volume. If only you could have this moment in stereo.

Well, now you can, as long as you and your pals all have AmpMe installed. Today, the team behind the app announced Spotify integration so that you and your friends can play the same song, at the same time, from your respective devices. The app actually uses the secondary devices to initiate the "stereo sound." It's not only a neat trick, but a great way to immerse yourself in the music without having to invest in a lofty, expensive stereo setup.

And yes — the phrase "social media party" is admittedly a bit nauseating when uttered out loud, but it is quite a bit of fun when you simply allow yourself to feel the rhythm. AmpMe also lets you create playlists, so you can keep the party going for more than one song. In addition to Spotify, it works with YouTube, Google Play Music, and locally-stored music files.

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2 months ago

Get pumped for the big game with our Super Bowl themes!

5

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALLLLLLL?????!!!!!!!

The parties are prepped. The commercials are cued. The fans have completely taken Houston — as an Austinite, you can have it, by the by. Super Bowl LI is Sunday, and that means it's time to give the teams their theming due. Only one team may walk outta Texas with a ring, but both teams and their fans can deck their phones in these simple, sporty themes on their Android phones.

So, I say again: are you ready for some football?

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2 months ago

Android users will have to wait a while longer for Outlook Mobile's add-ins

13

It's too bad that Android users weren't prioritized for an update that brings native Evernote, Giphy, and Trello integration.

Microsoft is celebrating two years of Outlook mobile with a new feature. Unfortunately, it's only for your iPhone-using friends for now, but at the very least, here's a preview of what's to come in three concise GIFs.

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2 months ago

Best Math Apps for Kids

3

Best overall

Math games, Mathematics

See at Play Store

While many of the math apps available are specifically directed towards a certain age group, Math games, Mathematics aims to help you sharpen your mental math skills with timed math games that steadily ups the difficulty as you show improvement. They cover addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, exponentials, and plenty more. Everything is offered up in a way that is fun and easy to learn and use — but it's definitely an app for kids who have already learned the basics.

Everything offered up in the app is part of a game, which often makes math much more palatable for kids. There are sixteen different levels that can be unlocked and each one covers a different set of math skills. If a younger child is playing you can set them at a lower level to make sure they can understand what is going on.

There is also a study mode, specifically for multiplication. Not only can your child practice their multiplication tables, but there is also an exam mode to simulate a test. Multiplication is often where many kids stumble with math, and extra practice can make sure the facts are cemented into their little brains.

Bottom line: Math games, Mathematics aims to make math fun and help your child to learn and master different concepts of mathematics.

One more thing: This app is available in 7 different languages, which makes it awesome for those who don't speak or read English.

Why Math games is the Best

Math games combines tricks for mastering math with fun games that help your child master a variety of mathematical concepts

The charm of Math games, Mathematics is that it delivers a solid all-around tool that can be used by children just learning to add all the way up through Elementary school. The app features four ways to learn; Workout, Multiplication Table, Math Tricks and Manual. Each of these sections works together to teach your child the rules of math, easy ways to solve problems, and then delivers the problems themselves.

The Workouts begin with addition and move through different functions all the way up and through finding percentages. Each concept is it's own mini-game, making it perfect for kids who need practice in order to get the processes down. Parents who are concerned about their children's progress will also find graphs that chart progression and how well each mathematical concept is being grasped.

In Multiplication tables, your child is able to both practice and test to show their knowledge of multiplication. This goes from 2 up to 12, making sure that this concept is solid. If they are having issues getting their tables down, or even with addition, then you'll want to check out the Math Tricks section.

Math Tricks shows off clever ways of getting the correct answer without confusing yourself. It shows you exactly how to find the answer, with a diagram of an equation. This is particularly helpful for students who are having issues grasping how to solve certain problems. There are tricks for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

Best for Preschool

Preschool Math Games for Kids

See at Play Store

When your child is in Preschool learning their numbers and letters, they are building the foundation for their entire education. The importance of math can't be overstated, so if you're looking for a good game for your preschooler to have fun with math, this is definitely the one to check out.

Preschool Math Games for Kids is exactly what it sounds like. It's games cover reading and recognizing numbers, properly forming numbers by tracing them on the screen, addition and subtraction, plus plenty more to boot. It was made specifically with this age range in mind, and it's absolutely free to play.

Bottom line: Preschool Math Games for Kids is a great way for your little tyke to continue learning math in a fun way that lets them enjoy what they are learning.

One more thing: The art style here is very bubbly, bright, and kid friendly, making it fun and engaging for children to play with math.

Best for Elementary school

Math Run

See at Play Store

Math Run is perfect for kids who need something bright, fun and engaging to keep them interested in learning math. You play as one of four cute fuzzy animals running down a path and dodging to grab coins. However, every so often you'll run into math quizzes which must be correctly answered in order to continue on your quest.

When you get started you'll be playing a baby panda, and learning basic arithmetic. As your child rocks through the first few levels they'll start to unlock the other four animals they can play as. Each one has it's own math speciality for them to master by gaming.

Bottom line: With addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, Math Run reinforces the concepts that students are learning by getting them to play a game.

One more thing: Math Run is in line with Common Core standards, making it an excellent way to reinforce what kids are learning in the classroom.

Best for Fundamentals

Math Training for Kids

See at Play Store

Not everyone picks up new concepts at the same speed, and some of us definitely needed some extra help as kids. If your child needs to work on their fundamentals in a way that is still fun, then Math Training for Kids may be a great option to check out. It separates the problems by concept, as well as letting you choose between easy, medium, and difficult questions.

Each set of levels gives you a time limit and a number of lives. Each time a question is correctly answered, it resurrects a flower, and if incorrect you lose a life. It's got a fun, simple design that focuses more on the math than anything else. It does still deliver a bright format to grab the eyes of the child in your life.

Bottom line: Math Training for Kids focuses on giving kids goals in a game in order to master each basic mathematical concept.

One more thing: Parents, you can check the statistics to see what concepts your child is working on. This also includes how long they played, and their number of correctly answered questions.

Best overall

Math games, Mathematics

See at Play Store

While many of the math apps available are specifically directed towards a certain age group, Math games, Mathematics aims to help you sharpen your mental math skills with timed math games that steadily ups the difficulty as you show improvement. They cover addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, exponentials, and plenty more. Everything is offered up in a way that is fun and easy to learn and use — but it's definitely an app for kids who have already learned the basics.

Everything offered up in the app is part of a game, which often makes math much more palatable for kids. There are sixteen different levels that can be unlocked and each one covers a different set of math skills. If a younger child is playing you can set them at a lower level to make sure they can understand what is going on.

There is also a study mode, specifically for multiplication. Not only can your child practice their multiplication tables, but there is also an exam mode to simulate a test. Multiplication is often where many kids stumble with math, and extra practice can make sure the facts are cemented into their little brains.

Bottom line: Math games, Mathematics aims to make math fun and help your child to learn and master different concepts of mathematics.

One more thing: This app is available in 7 different languages, which makes it awesome for those who don't speak or read English.

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2 months ago

Best lock screen replacements for Android

48
Best Android lock screen and lock screen replacement apps

Updated 1 February 2017 We took another look at alternate lock screen apps, and narrowed our list down to the best of the best.

Best Overall

ZUI Locker-Elegant Lock Screen

ZUI Locker

See at Google Play Store

ZUI locker manages to outdo all of its competitors with a combination of customization options and features all in one place. Being able to easily see your notifications without hassle, along with changing what is displayed when your phone is locked, doesn't seem like much but ZUI does it. And does it really well.

The many themes you can download include widgets for time and weather, along with stock themes that are already available from within the app. The Control Panel feature even allows you to easily access your must-used settings without actually unlocking your phone all the way.

Bottom line: ZUI delivers a great experience with plenty of ways to customize, and a setup that makes accessing regular settings fantastically easy.

One more thing: You can also quick launch apps from Control Panel, by customizing what is displayed in it.

Why ZUI Locker is the best

A winning combination of functionality, versatility, and customization make ZUI Locker the best lock screen replacement app.

There are a fair number of screen lock apps that are currently available on Google Play, but it ought to be telling that ZUI Locker has over 240,000 5-star reviews. There's good reasons for that too.

It comes with a handful of stock themes, but that definitely isn't everything you have access to. Whether you want to look at pre-built themes, or use a personal photo on your lock screen, you've got the ability to roll with it. You can even ensure that widgets with the weather, time, and more are available.

The feature that really brings ZUI to the head of the pack is the Control Panel. By swiping up from the bottom of your screen, you can access your most-used settings, and quickly launch favorite apps. The perk here is that doing this doesn't unlock your phone in the process.

You can manage Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, control brightness, turn on your flashlight, and even enable Airplane Mode without unlocking your phone. If there are certain apps or games that you want quick access to, you can also add them to the control panel so that they are available with a swipe.

Best for Simplicity

AcDisplay

AcDisplay

See at Play Store

For some people customization and bright colors can be swapped out for a more simple and elegant look to your lock screen. If that's the case for you, then AcDisplay is where to set your sights.

This is the best option for people who want a minimalist look for their lock screen, but aren't actually that concerned with securing their phone. That's because AcDisplay doesn't really work as a lock screen and can be opened with a swipe. In order for it to be active, you'll also need to make sure the app is open and running. (The app requires administrator access to full function.)

The lock screen itself is a perfect black, with the date, and time displayed. That's it. When you get notifications, they'll pop up as icons. This means it's easy to glance and see what a notification is without having to actually get distracted when they come in. It's a bit Moto Display, a bit Pixel Ambient Display. All awesome.

Bottom line: AcDisplay will deliver a stunningly simple screen, just remember that it can be unlocked with a swipe.

One more thing: Remember that AcDisplay will only work if you have it open and running on your phone.

Best for prioritizing

Echo Notification Lockscreen

Echo Notification

See at Play Store

Phones can be a serious distraction, especially if you're working towards a deadline or trying to juggle an already busy day. It can be tempting to open up your phone for each notification, and that's what Echo Notification Lockscreen aims to stop.

It automatically prioritizes your notifications into two categories: Priority and Social. This means it's easy to see the important stuff at a glance, and know without opening your phone if it's worth stopping what you are doing.

Now, not everyone has the same kind of priorities. That's fine, because you can easily finetune which apps send notifications to prioritize. So if Facebook and Gmail are the only notifications you want to pay attention to, there is an easy solution.

When you download the app there are only three stock wallpapers available, which is a bit unfortunate. It's easy to swap them with photos or background pictures you've saved to your phone, though.

Bottom line: Echo Screen delivers a great experience if you're looking for a way to sort your notifications, but aren't concerned with many other bells and whistles.

One more thing: Echo works with swipe, pattern or PIN security. It's also very stable, so you shouldn't expect the crashes notorious with lock screen apps.

Best for Customization

Locker Master

Locker Master

See at Play Store

Let's be honest, one of the best part of using an Android phone is the sheer amount of customization that's possible. If you like your phone looking exactly the way you want, down to font size, then Locker Master is definitely your best bet.

Locker Master has a huge catalog of free wallpapers for download, and its perks all revolve around being able to customize your lock screen. You can adjust the layout, font, wallpaper, and even what information is shown. There are also options to add widgets, and those are customizable as well.

The possibilities with Locker Master are nearly unlimited, giving you access to tons of free features that you can tweak until looks absolutely perfect.

Bottom line: Locker Master offers the greatest amount of customization, letting you play with your lock screen until every aspect is absolutely the way you'd dreamed.

One more thing: Locker Master can be a bit buggy at times, but that isn't uncommon with lock screen apps.

Best Overall

ZUI Locker-Elegant Lock Screen

ZUI Locker

See at Google Play Store

ZUI locker manages to outdo all of its competitors with a combination of customization options and features all in one place. Being able to easily see your notifications without hassle, along with changing what is displayed when your phone is locked, doesn't seem like much but ZUI does it. And does it really well.

The many themes you can download include widgets for time and weather, along with stock themes that are already available from within the app. The Control Panel feature even allows you to easily access your must-used settings without actually unlocking your phone all the way.

Bottom line: ZUI delivers a great experience with plenty of ways to customize, and a setup that makes accessing regular settings fantastically easy.

One more thing: You can also quick launch apps from Control Panel, by customizing what is displayed in it.

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2 months ago

Google boosts Snapseed by adding a Curves tool and fixing Face detection

4

It's as if Google finally realized that a real photo-editing app has Curves.

Snapseed is getting its first major update of the year. The photo-editing app, which Google purchased from Nik Software back in 2012, finally features a Curves tool, which helps provide precise control over the brightness levels and varying colors of the picture you're editing. And with smartphones becoming almost as capable as the some of DSLRs, this is a welcome feature for those who may not want to carry laptop with them just to edit photos on the road.

Google has also improved Snapseed's face detection feature. If Snapseed fails to detect a face, for instance, you can essentially ask it to "try harder." And if you're hoping to get a bit kooky with your captions, the Text tool now lets you choose where to wrap lines.

You can read all the details of the Snapseed update at the official Google Plus post on the matter. Or you can wait for the app update to hit your device.

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2 months ago

Plex has acquired newscast aggregator Watchup because people are watching news again

3

Plex has acquired a new app that helps people stream traditional news broadcasts.

Plex, the well-known U.S.-based consolidator of all things media, has acquired newscast aggregator Watchup, which brings together video from news channels around the world in an Android (and iOS) app, for an undisclosed amount.

Watchup was launched in 2012 on the iPad but later spread to Android and various set-top boxes, including Amazon Fire TV, Xbox and PS4, as Americans cut cords and began to find most of their news online. The company has aggregation deals with many of the top U.S. media companies, including CBS, PBS, CNN, Fox News and WSJ, as well as international sources like Euronews, Sky, Financial Times and others.

Plex plans to make Watchup part of its media portal, which is increasingly relying on external streaming sources rather than its more traditional focus on local media consolidation. Plex says that the Watchup deal is perfectly timed given the resurgence of video news as part of people's daily routines.

Watchup makes watching news easy by using suggested categories and themes to learn what people want to watch and, like Stitcher in the audio space, creates a continuous playlist of content that people can peruse during a commute, meal or workout.

Download Watchup (free)

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2 months ago

How to save what you're reading on your phone for later

10

Sometimes, there is no time to finish that article. Stow it away for later with these helpful apps and services.

Smartphones are mobile, so naturally, you're using your mobile device to get a bulk of your reading done throughout the day. I know I do — even if my tablet is nearby, I'm still reading the news, perusing Twitter, and delving into articles with the device that's already in my hand.

But you can't stay glued to the screen all day, which is where those "read it later" apps come in handy. Here's what I like to use to keep track of what's interesting on the internet, even when I don't have time to digest it.

Pocket

I'd argue that this is one of the most suggested apps for saving articles to read later. It's called Pocket (it used to be called Read It Later) and I've been using it for so long that my reading list is essentially an archive of what used to get me riled up. You can use Pocket to file away those articles you'll merely skim through or longer narratives that require an afternoon accompanied by a cup of tea.

I like Pocket because you can easily use Android's built-in sharing functionality to file articles for later. You can then go into the app and tag articles to organize them by categories of your choice. After you've been reading for a while, Pocket will start to email you a weekly summary of other worthy reads based on what you've already stored away. There's also a social networking element to the app where you can follow friends with their own Pocket accounts to see what they're reading when they can get to it.

Download Pocket (Free)


Instapaper

Instapaper is the other popular app for reading stuff later. I don't use it daily, but that's because Instapaper is more focused on the interface environment you're reading around rather than the content. Its layout is simplistic and designed to appear newspaper-esque. Whereas Pocket is a fan of embedding images and media, Instapaper will keep those hidden so that you can more easily digest the diction.

Instapaper also offers myriad settings for customizing themes, fonts, and text size to your liking. And like Pocket, it offers a bookmarklet for pinning articles from Google Chrome.

Download Instapaper (Free)


Facebook Save

I see you scrolling through your Facebook feed during work hours. I get it: I don't want to miss out on what my friends and family are talking about it either. I've curated my social network so that I want to engage in daily dialogue with my pals and a few others who enjoy the banter. But I also have a bad habit of getting into it when I should be working. (Sorry, editors!) Thankfully, there's a feature that lets me save articles for later. I just tap on the more button of the post I'm interested in and select Save link. The article is then archived to my Facebook account, where only I can see the articles I've deemed worth reading later.

Go to your Facebook Reading List


Save to Inbox

Did you know that you can save links to your Gmail account? It's true, and I'm glad for it considering I'm constantly emailing links to my best friend on the other side of the country.

If you're already an Inbox user, you can file away links you read in your email or on Google Chrome to read later by using Android's built-in sharing mechanism. You'll immediately get a notification that there's an email waiting for you — that's the article you filed away! And the best part is that if you find the article you've read worth sharing with the world, you can easily forward it on with a few taps.

Download Inbox


Watch it later

I love watching YouTube and catching up on web shows, but I try to avoid going anywhere near that site during work hours. Unfortunately, that's a difficult dance, but I've figured out a way to save the videos without getting sucked into watching them. When a pal forwards a video link with a persuasive headline, I'll open it up on my phone and queue it up for later by adding it to my Watch it Later playlist. Simple as that!

Go to your WatchLater playlist


How do you save?

Do you use an app to save your reading for later? Which one do you use and why do you love or hate it? Let us know in the comments below.

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2 months ago

Best Messaging Apps for Android

99

Which apps are worth using to stay in touch? We've got the scoop.

Best Overall

WhatsApp

See at Google Play

There is almost no contest. WhatsApp is an all-inclusive messaging app that's all you need for staying in touch, no matter where you are in the world. WhatsApp merely relies on whether your phone has an Internet connection — whether that's through cellular or Wi-Fi — so it's great if you're frequently traveling between regions. You can use WhatsApp to send and receive photos, videos, documents, and voice messages. It also supports group chats and voice calls.

Bottom Line: If you're looking for a formidable, all-in-one messaging that's packed with more features than some of Google's offerings, WhatsApp is the second most-popular messaging app available.

One More Thing: Both parties have to be using the WhatsApp app to communicate, though all it requires to register is your phone number.

Why WhatsApp is the best

Google has yet to settle on the one best messaging app. As a result, Android users have had to resign themselves to simply switching off between applications when necessary. It's not the most user-friendly solution, but it's the reality until Google lands on a cohesive messaging strategy.

WhatsApp is worth adding to your arsenal — and possibly switching over to for primary communication. In addition to being able to send and receive photos, videos, documents, and voice messages, WhatsApp lets you place free VoIP calls as long as you're on a strong Wi-Fi signal. That's especially helpful when you're traveling overseas.

Additionally, WhatsApp works well on 2G networks, which is fantastic if you're roaming the countryside with the faintest signal available, and it offers end-to-end encrypted messaging. And since it was the first messaging app of its kind, there were so many early adopters that you'd be hard pressed not to find your friends already have an account. (Even I was surprised at how many of my friends and family members were already users!)

Best for Google users

Google Hangouts

See at Google Play

Text messages, video chat, group chats — it's all there in Google Hangouts. We still don't know where Google is taking its once heralded messaging app, but for now, we're still using it to chat. Use it to easily multitask between conversations with your friends, family, and colleagues between your different Google accounts. You can even use Hangouts to make phone calls with your Google Voice number or download the Hangouts Dialer to make free Wi-Fi calls.

Bottom line: For now, Hangouts is basically a required app if you're planning to stay connected in the Google-verse. We're not sure where Google is taking it (some are expecting it to see it become the next prized messaging app of the enterprise), but there are definitely more people using it than Allo or Duo.

One more thing: Why isn't this Google's primary messaging app again?

Best for texting

Messenger from Google

See at Google Play

You're already a Google user, so you might as well stay with the family when it comes to text messaging. Messenger from Google lets you receive SMS and MMS messages — simple as that! Messenger supports RCS messaging, audio messaging, emoji, location sharing, colored text threads, and message archiving. It even comes with its own batch of stickers!

Bottom Line: Messenger from Google is the messenger for your Google phone.

One More Thing: If you're thinking I really don't want anymore Google, Textra is the next best text messaging app. It doesn't support RCS, but it does have Giphy integration, and offers full compatibility with Pushbullet, MightyText, Android Wear, and Android Auto for enhanced notifications and quick replies.

Best "everyone is using it"

Facebook Messenger

See at Google Play

Chances are, you've got an overwhelming list of friends and family who've become suddenly available on Facebook. Keep up with them all by downloading Facebook Messenger. The app supports messaging from both your Facebook account and phone number. You don't have to use the SMS feature if you don't want to, but it could be helpful if you find yourself constantly jumping between apps.

Facebook Messenger is one of the more dynamic messaging apps. It offers a hefty number of sticker packs, not to mention stellar video chat functionality. The app also supports group chats — including group voice chats — audio messaging, read receipts, and location sharing services. You can even use Facebook Messenger to swap cash with friends.

Bottom line: You've come this far at accepting Facebook as a part of your life. You might as well adopt the feature-filled Messenger app into your life, too.

One more thing: Not only are there stickers, but you can play games with your Facebook friends from Messenger, too!

Best Overall

WhatsApp

See at Google Play

There is almost no contest. WhatsApp is an all-inclusive messaging app that's all you need for staying in touch, no matter where you are in the world. WhatsApp merely relies on whether your phone has an Internet connection — whether that's through cellular or Wi-Fi — so it's great if you're frequently traveling between regions. You can use WhatsApp to send and receive photos, videos, documents, and voice messages. It also supports group chats and voice calls.

Bottom Line: If you're looking for a formidable, all-in-one messaging that's packed with more features than some of Google's offerings, WhatsApp is the second most-popular messaging app available.

One More Thing: Both parties have to be using the WhatsApp app to communicate, though all it requires to register is your phone number.

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2 months ago

Best icon packs for Android

42

Without icon packs, we are left with chaos.

App icons are different shapes, different sizes, different color schemes and follow different design guidelines. Samsung's icons look different than Google's icons, which look different from Microsoft's icons, which look different from every other developer's icons. They are messy. They are awkward. They need to be brought under control. And that's where icon packs come in.

Icon packs bring control. Icon packs bring consistency. Icon packs bring class. Even if you're not into big involved themes, you should use an icon pack. A good icon pack can help you find your apps more quickly, can help make your phone look and feel less cluttered, and they just look better. And whether you want an icon pack that stands out or blends in, we have the best icon packs right here for your pleasure and consideration.

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2 months ago

Your smartphone is the key to democracy

Get involved and stay informed. The device that's already in your pocket is all you need.

Here's the deal: You won't enact change by simply posting news articles to Facebook and arguing with people on Twitter. That's a waste of time. Instead, your best bet is to stay informed and encourage others to do the same. That's incredibly easy to do with the smartphone you're already equipped with.

It doesn't matter which way you lean. The technology in your hand is constantly connected, so unless you're living life in Airplane Mode, get yourself set up with the apps mentioned here and start paying attention to what's happening to the world you live in.

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3 months ago

Swype gets its biggest update in a long time but it's still not as good as Gboard

46

It may not have the influence it once did, but Swype's new update brings it back into focus.

In the early days of Android, Swype was basically unparalleled when it came to gesture keyboards. It was fast, reliable and intelligent. But its dominance was slowly eroded by competitors like SwiftKey and Google's own first-party Google Keyboard, which is now known as Gboard, and the company behind the app, Nuance, slowed its development to a crawl.

The app has come out of hibernation for now with version 3.0, offering a number of new features, some improvements to the text engine, and emoji predictions, which seems to be table stakes for an Android keyboard these days.

There's also an optional number row available for people who don't want to switch to a secondary panel, along with support for the following:

  • Handwriting Improvements
  • Chinese Handwriting Multiple Character Recognition
  • Uyghur keyboard
  • Kashmiri Devanagari predictive language database
  • Russian KDB for Russian and Kirghyz languages
  • Improvements to Thai, Lao, Khmer

The trial version offers a full experience for 30 days, after which it forces you to buy the full version, on sale for $0.99 — a great deal for a very good keyboard. It's still not as good as Gboard, nor as versatile as SwiftKey, but it's close — and for someone who exclusively uses gesture typing over pecking at the screen, it could very well be preferred.

The best Android keyboards

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3 months ago

Is sideloading APK files considered piracy?

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Is sideloading an Android app considered piracy? Yes. No. Maybe. It depends.

Recently, we got a question from someone new to Android about sideloading apps. For the most part, this isn't something you do (or can do) on iOS and seeing people in the comments of articles here and elsewhere about getting APK files online and sideloading them was a little confusing. Along with some confirmation about the hows and the whys, the meat of the question centered around piracy.

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