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3 months ago

Google's most successful social network is going away

44

So long, Map Maker.

No, Google isn't shutting down Google+ (unfortunately). Instead, the company has announced that Map Maker, its standalone tool for editing, updating, and peer-reviewing maps around the world, will be fully integrated into Google Maps by March, 2017.

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3 months ago

Android 7.0 Nougat update hitting LG G5 starting today in South Korea, global rollout to follow

20

G5 owners will soon have access to the same improved software we see on the V20.

LG will start rolling out its Android 7.0 Nougat update to LG G5 owners in its home country of South Korea today, kicking off a process that will eventually update all G5s around the world in the coming weeks. The announcement comes the same day that Google's numbers show just 0.3% of Android devices have Nougat, and Samsung's beta program for testing Nougat on the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge was announced.

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3 months ago

Partial Screenshot mode from Google's Pixel C headed to phones (sort of)

7

This sure would be handy.

Grabbing a screenshot and cropping it is no big deal, but how cool would it be to just screenshot what you needed on your phone and not bother with the editing? A little-known feature on Google's Pixel C does exactly that, but you can only access it with the keyboard attached. Pressing Control+Search+Shift+S on the keyboard makes the screen go dark, and when you drag your finger across part of the screen you see it light up and then go away when you lift your finger. That captures a partial screenshot, which is pretty handy on a screen that size.

For some reason, Google decided phones didn't need that feature and the commit was never made an official part of Nougat on phones. Do you think that stopped people from enabling the feature in custom ROMs though? Of course not.

What you see there is a manual edit that enabled this feature on a phone, and it works almost exactly the same as it does on the Pixel C. There's no keyboard attached, of course, but you get the idea. This may have been something Google decided wasn't quite polished enough to make its way to Nougat without a clear way to activate it, but you can expect some version of it to be all over the ROM world for the foreseeable future.

What about you? Do you want this feature on your phone?

Android Nougat

img { width: 100%; height: auto; } .devicebox ul { display: table; margin: 0 0 10px; width: 100%; } .devicebox ul li { background: #f7f7f7; margin: 2px 0; padding: 4px 15px; } .devicebox ul li:hover { background: #fff; } .devicebox ul li:before { display: none; } .devicebox p ~ p { line-height: 1.25; } .devicebox p:first-of-type + p { padding: 15px; } .devicebox a.buy-link { border-radius: 5px; display: inline-block; font: 14px/31px "Proxima Nova Extrabld",Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; text-align: center; } .devicebox a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:link, .devicebox a.buy-link:active, .devicebox a.buy-link:visited { background: #37B5D7; color: #FFF; } .devicebox a.buy-link:hover { background: #2694B2; text-decoration: none; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { content: "\e61e"; font: 40px/0 "ac_iconset" !important; margin: 0 3px 0 -8px; vertical-align: middle; } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { /* div:not(.columns-3) excludes help menu content */ .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p img, .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 660px) { .devicebox h3 { text-align: center; } .devicebox ul, .devicebox p { display: block; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox p img, .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 661px), all and (max-width: 500px) { /* 2x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(even) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) { width: 100%; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 659px) and (min-width: 501px) { /* 3x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(100%/3 - 10px/3); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n):not(:nth-last-of-type(2)) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:only-child { width: 100%; margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(odd) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } } @media all and (max-width: 500px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { display: none; } } .page-admin .devicebox {max-width: 350px;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe {position: relative; height: 0; padding-bottom: 56.9%;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe iframe {width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

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3 months ago

Best apps to follow the 2016 U.S. election!

38

Are you ready to anxiously refresh results pages every minute of the day?

You may or may not have noticed the 18-month roller coaster we've been lovingly referring to as the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, but it's (probably) coming to a close at some point on November 8th. At least, that's the best case scenario. Goodness only knows what reality will have in store for us.

If you'd like to spend the day constantly refreshing election results pages to see who will be our next Commander-in-Chief, we've got a few apps and site shortcuts for you to install. If you're still not sure where you're vote is being cast, we've got something for you as well. If you're hoping for a grand election-themed escape, we've got something in mind for you as well.

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3 months ago

Google posts latest Pixel and Nexus factory images with November security patch

15

Those getting antsy for the latest software can now apply the latest Google software updates manually.

Factory images with the latest November security patch built on Android 7.1 for the both the Pixel and Pixel XL are now available, as are the images with the same security patch with Android 7.0 for the Pixel C and latest Nexuses (6P, 5X, 6, 9, 9 (LTE) and Player). For those who don't need the full factory image and would prefer a simple OTA file, those are available with the same software patches as well.

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3 months ago

Samsung Pay now available in Canada with 'select' CIBC credit cards

19

Last week, Android Central told you, and Samsung confirmed, that it would roll out Samsung Pay in Canada during the first week of November, and it looks like the service has gone live for some early adopter CIBC customers.

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3 months ago

Best News Apps for Android

143

Extra, Extra, read all about it with these great Android apps.

Keeping informed on the go is one of the many things that our smartphones are incredible tools for. During the everyday hustle and bustle it's easy to ignore the world around you, but the news is everywhere. Including on your phone.

Android has a plethora of great apps to choose from thanks to the massive selection in the Google Play Store. But if you're looking to get your daily news fix, we recommend you check out this little lot.

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3 months ago

Pick between four great lifetime VPN subscriptions with huge savings

With how much of our life is online these days security is something that you need to be focused on. Ensuring that your connection is secure when you are entering your banking details or composing those private emails should be something that you think about each time you connect to the internet. Unfortunately, you can't always connect to your home Wi-Fi, but using a VPN can get you a much safer connection, but that comes at a cost.

VPN subscriptions can get pricey, but not all of them have to be. There are a number of great options out there, some of which you can pay for by the year, but there are also some that come with a one-time lifetime fee. If you are looking to take advantage of a lifetime license, you can do some pretty afforadably right now. Here are some of the best deals you can get on a lifetime VPN subscription.

HotSpot Shield

  • Regular Price: $99.95
  • Deal Price & Savings: $49.99 (49% off)
  • Key feature: Best Connection Speeds

Of the variety of VPN services that are out there, HotSpot Shield offers some of the best connection speeds available. You can connect to 20 different virtual networks around the world to keep your browsing secure, bypass local censorship to view additional content and much more with it. You can take your public Wi-Fi sessions private in just one click and much more with HotSpot Shield VPN.

See at Android Central Offers

Windscribe VPN

  • Regular Price: $900
  • Deal Price & Savings: $49.99 (94% off)
  • Key feature: Browser Extension

Ease of use is definitely one of the strong points for Windscribe VPN, and the browser extension is a big part of that. In just a few clicks you can be connected to a secure network on which you can block most ads and not leave a trace of what you've been up to. You can use Windscribe VPN on all your devices at the same time, so you never have to sacrifice your security to browse on a different device.

See at Android Central Offers

VPN Unlimited

  • Regular Price: $499.99
  • Deal Price & Savings: $20 (94% off)
  • Key feature: The Price

You simply can not go wrong with the price of VPN Unlimited at just $20. With servers in 53 different locations, which span accross 39 countries, you'll be able to quickly and easily switch between servers while on the go. Securing your browsing sessions is super simple, and you have unlimited bandwith and unlimited high speed connectivity. For less than a nice dinner out on the town you could have a lifetime of access to a great VPN service.

See at Android Central Offers

VPNSecure: Lifetime Subscription

  • Regular Price: $450
  • Deal Price & Savings: $39 (91% off)
  • Key feature: Anti-Logging Policy

One of the biggest things that sets VPNSecure apart from the competition is its anti-logging policy, meaning that nothing you do will be logged and tracked. You can connect up to five devices at the same time, so you don't have to worry about ending a session on one device to start on another, and you also have unlimited bandwith. You'll also have access to servers in more than 46 countries, a hidden IP address and more with VPNSecure.

See at Android Central Offers

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3 months ago

Netflix may finally roll out offline playback, but not in the U.S.

21

Offline playback is coming to Netflix. Just not in the U.S.

Earlier this year, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said that he was "open-minded" about bringing offline playback to the service. In an interview with CNBC, Netflix COO Ted Sarandos said that the company is "looking at" enabling the feature, with initial rollout expected in countries with limited internet availability:

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3 months ago

Best Transit App

4

Best overall

Citymapper

See at Google Play

Citymapper is the best transit app that you can use on your Android phone, as long as you are in a supported city. When you need help traversing larger cities, like New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle or any number of international cities, that is where Citymapper comes in. The app can factor in buses, trains, subways, bikes and cabs, removing the daunting task of figuring out how to get from point A to B in the fastest or least stressful way possible.

Citymapper pulls all of this information into one place so you can check out the available options and see which is best for you. From directions that use the bus, subway, rail and even bikes, Citymapper will help you find the best place to get on the transportation method nearest you, and which stop you will want to get off. If you are one to travel into smaller cities, you may find that Citymapper doesn't yet offer support for it. Luckily, Citymapper is always looking to expand the areas that it supports and you can easily suggest a new location to be added.

Citymapper is a free app, but you are at the mercy of the locations that they pick to support.

Bottom line: If you often find yourself in big cities that you don't know your way around, you'll want to make sure that Citymapper is installed on your phone and ready to go.

One more thing: As of now the number of cities that are fully supported are somewhat limited, but if you are traveling to big cities this app will serve you well.

Why Citymapper is the best

A powerful app that brings all your local transit options to one place.

Citymapper is your best bet for getting around a new city, as long as it is one of the supported cities by the app. Whether you are looking to take a train to the other side of town, or take a bus to a different section, Citymapper pulls all the data into one place. You can easily see on the map how long it will take you to get somewhere with each transportation method, allowing you to easily pick the one that best meets your needs.

PCMag put some of the transit apps head to head and said:

For New York, Citymapper gave by far the best routes. It tells you which section of the train to get on for the easiest transfers, and even offers "rain safe" routes which are underground as much as possible. It had all of the oddball non-NYC Transit options in the New York metro area. Its bikeshare option (shown at left) clearly shows how many bikes are available and where to drop them off. It's only available in 30 cities, but I found it the clearest and best routing engine for most point-to-point routes.

The beauty of Citymapper is in its simplicity: you only need to open the app from your location and tell it where you want to go, and the extensive database will take into account the various means of getting somewhere — bus, subway, tram, even walking — to determine the ideal route. It's even smart enough to tell you when to leave to get there at a particular time, or which door to exit from to emerge from a subway closest to your location. The app is well-designed and extremely intuitive, and it functions as a replacement for Google Maps in every way but for driving directions.

Best for all locations

Google Maps

See at Google Play

If you are looking for options in the most places possible, Google Maps is likely your best bet. While the other apps specialize in particular cities, Google is a bit more generic. This can be a good and bad thing at the same time. Sure, you'll have more information at your fingertips with Google Maps, but the overall density of information may not be as high.

Once you find your location on the map, you'll be able to pick between driving, taking a bus, train routes, walking directions and more. From the settings you'll be able to set a time you want to leave or arrive so that you can see accurate commute options for that trip.

Bottom line: If versatility is what you are looking for, Google Maps may be your best bet. It won't offer all the options that other apps will, but you will have support in the most cities.

One more thing: Be sure to turn the traffic option on so you are able to see where you will hit delays on your journey.

Best for offline

Transit

See at Google Play

Transit offers support in more than 120 cities already both in and out of the U.S. From an easy way to grab step-by-step directions to get you around a new city to real-time predictions of when the next train or bus may arrive, Transit is quite powerful. The built-in map will show you where your train is, notifications of when to get off at your stop and more so you won't get lost in that new city.

Whether you have an internet connection or not you'll be able to view the schedule for upcoming departures, check estimated time of arrivals (ETAs) and even request an Uber if no other method of transportation meets your needs. It has support for nearly all methods of transportation, including ferry, Uber, bus, rail, train, bike, car2go and others.

Transit is a great alternative to Citymapper and a great addition to Google Maps for those times you may need more in-depth information about getting around where you are.

Bottom line: Transit offers support for more cities than Citymapper does, but its feature set isn't quiet as extensive.

One more thing: You'll have great support for a list of U.S. cities, and you can also use it in many cities in Canada, Europe, and Australia.

Best to customize

Transit Directions by Moovit

See at Google Play

Transit Directions by Moovit offers support for more than 1,200 cities around the world, which is far more than many of the other apps out there. Just because it supports more cities doesn't mean it's the best though. The interface is a bit different than others, and some may find that it works for them and others will be turned off and go back to another option.

The features within the app are great, though. With live directions that notify you when to get off at your stop, real-time arrival information, a favorites screen to quickly access places you frequently visit and more, there is no shortage of information in the app. The Moovit widget will help you keep an eye on your favorite destinations and travel lines to make sure things are operating as normal, and you can receive a notifications for service alerts when things aren't running as usual.

Bottom line: If the other options haven't met your needs, Moovit may be able to slide in with the assist. It offers similar features to the others, but with support for more cities.

One more thing: Service alerts will help keep you on top of your travel, even when you aren't looking at it with notifications of delays or other issues that will affect your travel.

Conclusion

Depending where you live or where you will be visiting, one app may work better than the others. If you are in a supported city, Citymapper is the way to go. If you aren't in one of them, you should suggest for it to be the next supported city, and then check out one of the other options. Don't want to have multiple apps installed to do this for you? Google Maps may be the way to go, but you may not see all your available routes this way.

Best overall

Citymapper

See at Google Play

Citymapper is the best transit app that you can use on your Android phone, as long as you are in a supported city. When you need help traversing larger cities, like New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle or any number of international cities, that is where Citymapper comes in. The app can factor in buses, trains, subways, bikes and cabs, removing the daunting task of figuring out how to get from point A to B in the fastest or least stressful way possible.

Citymapper pulls all of this information into one place so you can check out the available options and see which is best for you. From directions that use the bus, subway, rail and even bikes, Citymapper will help you find the best place to get on the transportation method nearest you, and which stop you will want to get off. If you are one to travel into smaller cities, you may find that Citymapper doesn't yet offer support for it. Luckily, Citymapper is always looking to expand the areas that it supports and you can easily suggest a new location to be added.

Citymapper is a free app, but you are at the mercy of the locations that they pick to support.

Bottom line: If you often find yourself in big cities that you don't know your way around, you'll want to make sure that Citymapper is installed on your phone and ready to go.

One more thing: As of now the number of cities that are fully supported are somewhat limited, but if you are traveling to big cities this app will serve you well.

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3 months ago

Pokémon Go to bring daily and weekly bonuses for active users

27

Niantic has posted news about an upcoming update for the Pokémon Go app, and a big feature of it will be daily bonuses for catching the lil' buggers. The bonuses will get better each consecutive day, and look to be an easy way to score experience points, Stardust and additional items from PokéStop visits.

We want to provide you a detailed look at a new feature coming soon to Pokémon GO - Daily bonuses! Trainers will soon be able to receive a bonus for certain daily activities, including catching a Pokémon or visiting a PokéStop once a day. You'll earn a larger bonus if you do this seven days in a row!

Catching a Pokémon every day will earn the following bonus:

  • 500 XP
  • 600 Stardust

Catching a Pokémon every day for 7 days straight will earn the following larger bonus:

  • 2,000 XP
  • 2,400 Stardust

Visiting a PokéStop and spinning the Photo Disc every day will earn the following bonus:

  • 500 XP
  • A number of additional items

Visiting a PokéStop every day for 7 days straight will earn the following larger bonus:

  • 2,000 XP
  • A greater number of additional items

If you catch a Pokémon at any time on Tuesday local time, you'll be eligible for the next daily bonus on Wednesday at 12 AM local time.

While the huge numbers of new daily players of Pokémon Go don't match the initial release numbers, the game is still extremely popular and making money for Niantic. Frequent updates and additional features and rewards are part of the reason. Love Pokémon or hate Pokémon, there's no denying that Niantic knows how to make a great app that plenty of people love. Updates like this show they also have a plan to keep them interested.

No word from Niantic about when we'll see the update other than coming soon. We'll take a look when it gets here.

Pokémon Go

img { width: 100%; height: auto; } .devicebox ul { display: table; margin: 0 0 10px; width: 100%; } .devicebox ul li { background: #f7f7f7; margin: 2px 0; padding: 4px 15px; } .devicebox ul li:hover { background: #fff; } .devicebox ul li:before { display: none; } .devicebox p ~ p { line-height: 1.25; } .devicebox p:first-of-type + p { padding: 15px; } .devicebox a.buy-link { border-radius: 5px; display: inline-block; font: 14px/31px "Proxima Nova Extrabld",Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; text-align: center; } .devicebox a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:link, .devicebox a.buy-link:active, .devicebox a.buy-link:visited { background: #37B5D7; color: #FFF; } .devicebox a.buy-link:hover { background: #2694B2; text-decoration: none; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { content: "\e61e"; font: 40px/0 "ac_iconset" !important; margin: 0 3px 0 -8px; vertical-align: middle; } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { /* div:not(.columns-3) excludes help menu content */ .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p img, .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 660px) { .devicebox h3 { text-align: center; } .devicebox ul, .devicebox p { display: block; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox p img, .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 661px), all and (max-width: 500px) { /* 2x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(even) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) { width: 100%; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 659px) and (min-width: 501px) { /* 3x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(100%/3 - 10px/3); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n):not(:nth-last-of-type(2)) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:only-child { width: 100%; margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(odd) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } } @media all and (max-width: 500px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { display: none; } } .page-admin .devicebox {max-width: 350px;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe {position: relative; height: 0; padding-bottom: 56.9%;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe iframe {width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

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3 months ago

Best Android Launchers

590
Action Launcher 3 on the LG V20

For the most customization, slickest features and latest Google design influences, Action Launcher 3 is the best launcher available.

Andrew Martonik Andrew has been a mobile enthusiast since the Windows Mobile days, and covering all things Android-related with a unique perspective at Android Central since 2012. For suggestions and updates, you can reach him at andrew.martonik@androidcentral.com or on Twitter at @andrewmartonik.

*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

Best overall

Action Launcher 3

Action Launcher

See at Google Play

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

At the same time, Action Launcher regularly incorporates the latest design and features from Google's own launcher, meaning you don't have to loose that Google feel when you get all of these extra features. For example those using Action Launcher on Android 7.1 today can already access to new app shortcut features from the home screen.

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

Bottom line: If you're feeling bored with your phone's launcher and want a feature-packed replacement, Action Launcher has you covered.

One more thing: You don't have to pay for Action Launcher's Plus features, but you really should if you plan to use it full-time.

Why Action Launcher 3 is the best

A super powerful launcher with plenty of slick customization options.

Action Launcher can be as simple or as feature-packed as you want it to be, depending on how you set it up. All of the tools are there to keep your home screens looking minimalistic while providing tons of features and options to make the most of the available space. Shutters and Quickcuts turn your app icons into so much more, while the customizable Quickbar takes what other launchers use as dead space and turns it into exactly what you want.

If you want co change the entire theme of your phone but don't want to fiddle around finding all of the pieces yourself, Action Launcher's theme engine helps you customize things so it all looks neat and tidy — including custom app icons — without all of the legwork. But if you don't mess with themes, you know you're getting a great Material Design look with inspiration from the latest Pixel phones, even if you haven't updated to Nougat just yet.

For just $4.99 you can unlock all of Action Launcher 3's features, and you really should give it a look if your current launcher is leaving a bit to be desired.

Best clean look

Google Now Launcher

Google Now Launcher

See at Google Play

If you want the clean, simple home screen experience just as Google intended, you'll want to use the Google Now Launcher. This is the launcher that's pre-installed on Nexus phones, and it's all about giving you a basic but extremely quick experience with access to your apps and widgets — and of course Google Now is just a single swipe away.

You don't get advanced options for extra gestures or themes, but some people prefer a simple layout and Google Now Launcher absolutely delivers in that respect. It's updated regularly by Google as well, though the future is uncertain with the Pixel phones now shipping with their own different launcher.

Bottom line: Use the Google Now launcher if you're looking for high stability and a consistent Android experience. Pair it with the Google Keyboard for the full experience.

One more thing: Things are a bit in flux right now in terms of the launcher on Nexuses versus Pixels — this launcher may soon take on a new look in the future.

Best to customize

Nova Launcher

Nova Launcher

See at Google Play

Nova is a massively popular launcher that offers a whole bunch of animation options, folder views and home screen behaviors. One particularly cool addition is swipe actions, which allow app icons to act as a folder with a swipe, or a standard app launch with a tap, similar to Action Launcher's feature.

Theming Nova with custom icons and custom wallpapers is easy, especially with the Google Drive integration. You can back up your Nova layouts and themes directly to the cloud service of your choice, and restore backups directly from the cloud, too, which can make setting up a new phone a great deal easier than putting everything back how you like it manually.

Nova is a highly functional launcher that can be as subtle or as loud as you like, making it completely unique if you spend the time tweaking it.

Bottom line: If you're willing to tweak things a bit, and are going for an exact look, Nova Launcher could be the one for you.

One more thing: Consider the $4.99 in-app purchase to unlock its more advanced features with the "Prime" upgrade.

Conclusion

Home Screen launchers are heavily influenced by personal taste, and while not everyone wants the same things from their launcher the robust feature set of Action Launcher can be the best choice for most people. It offers great features, lots of customization choices and integrates the latest design guidelines from Google.

Best overall

Action Launcher 3

Action Launcher

See at Google Play

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

At the same time, Action Launcher regularly incorporates the latest design and features from Google's own launcher, meaning you don't have to loose that Google feel when you get all of these extra features. For example those using Action Launcher on Android 7.1 today can already access to new app shortcut features from the home screen.

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

Bottom line: If you're feeling bored with your phone's launcher and want a feature-packed replacement, Action Launcher has you covered.

One more thing: You don't have to pay for Action Launcher's Plus features, but you really should if you plan to use it full-time.

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3 months ago

Google is officially cracking down on Play Store fraud

42

Integrity is a loaded word, but it's one that Google takes particularly seriously given the skeptics who have questioned the reliability of Android's Play Store.

Google has announced that it's rolling out improved detection and filtering systems to help rid the visibility of less-than-stellar applications in Android's app marketplace. This includes apps from developers who may have attempted to manipulate the placement of their apps through illegitimate means such as fraudulent installs, fake reviews, and even incentivized ratings. As written in the Android Developers Blog:

These attempts not only violate the Google Play Developer Policy but also harm our community of developers by hindering their chances of being discovered or recommended through our systems. Ultimately, they put the end users at risk of making wrong decisions based on inaccurate, unauthentic information.

As a user, you won't have to worry about much on your end. If there's an app in the Play Store that's engaging in unethical practices, Google's systems will detect it and filter it out of your search results. Developers will also be fine as long as they continue to abide by the Google Play Developer Policy. Google also asks that developers take caution with third-party marketing agencies that promote apps to ensure that they also follow the rules.

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3 months ago

Best weather app for Android

280

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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3 months ago

Become a CompTIA certified IT professional with hundreds off this comprehensive training bundle

10

Getting started in the IT field can be difficult at the beginning. There is so much that you should know, so many certifications that you will want to have, and it can get quite expensive in a short amount of time. You could spend lots of money and time to learn the basics and get started, or you could do it in your free time at an affordable price.

For just $60 you can get started with this bundle that offers all the information you need to get a bunch of certifications under your belt. Many spend that $60 each month on things like coffee, fast food, and other frivolous stuff, so why not put it towards getting these five certifications?

With this bundle you can train for these certificates:

  • CompTIA A+ certification is widely in demand globally, as it offers the initial momentum to get into the technology vertical
  • CompTIA Network+ certification accelerates professionals to leap high in the technology vertical
  • CompTIA Security+ SYO-401 will accelerate professionals even further
  • CompTIA Cloud Essentials, Cloud + certification is a globally recognized certification in IT service management
  • CompTIA Cloud Essentials Professional certification demonstrates one's knowledge on cloud from a business & technical perspective

Normally priced at over $4000, this huge 98% savings is something you won't want to pass up. You'll have the materials you need to get tons of certifications and jump start your IT career. The information can be accessed online or on your phone, and it will be available for two years, so you can study at your own leisure.

If you are seriously considering a change in careers, you'll want to grab this bundle at just $60 instead of its regular $4100 price tag.

See at Android Central Digital Offers

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