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3 weeks ago

Russian Hackers used Android malware to track Ukrainian artillery

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More proof that you need to be extra careful downloading apps online.

Android software is everywhere these days, even finding use on modern battlefields. And just like the apps on your smartphone, downloading potentially compromised .APKs from unofficial sources can lead to unforeseen consequences.

A new report from American cybersecurity technology company CrowdStrike found that a hacker group known as Fancy Bear embedded a malware implant known as X-Agent into an Android app used by the Ukranian military. The group is thought to have ties to Russian authorities who supported rebel forces in Ukraine, and had previously been linked to the DNC email leaks in another report published by CrowdStrike.

From the CrowdStrike blog:

Late in the summer of 2016, CrowdStrike Intelligence analysts began investigating a curious Android Package (APK) named 'Попр-Д30.apk' (MD5: 6f7523d3019fa190499f327211e01fcb) which contained a number of Russian language artifacts that were military in nature. Initial research identified that the filename suggested a relationship to the D-30 122mm towed howitzer, an artillery weapon first manufactured in the Soviet Union in the 1960s but still in use today. In-depth reverse engineering revealed the APK contained an Android variant of X-Agent, the command and control protocol was closely linked to observed Windows variants of X-Agent, and utilized a cryptographic algorithm called RC4 with a very similar 50 byte base key.

The filename 'Попр-Д30.apk' was linked to a legitimate application which was initially developed domestically within Ukraine by an officer of the 55th Artillery Brigade named Yaroslav Sherstuk. In media interviews Mr. Sherstuk claims that the application, which had some 9000 users, reduced the time to fire the D-30 from minutes to seconds. No evidence of the application has been observed on the Android app store, making it unlikely that the app was distributed via that platform.

The report goes on to say that if the X-Agent malware was successfully deployed within the application, it would have allowed for accurate reconnaissance for rebel troops on the location of Ukrainian artillery positions. CrowdStrike found through open source reporting that "Ukrainian artillery forces have lost over 50% of their weapons in the 2 years of conflict and over 80% of D-30 howitzers, the highest percentage of loss of any other artillery pieces in Ukraine's arsenal." You can read the full report from CrowdStrike here.

This case is obviously a fairly extreme example of the damage hacked apps can do, but let this serve as a stern reminder to all of us about just how easy it can be to download malicious Android apps from the internet.

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4 weeks ago

Encrypted chat app Signal adds domain fronting to bypass censorship in the Middle East

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Signal is now routing its traffic through Google's CDNs.

Open Whisper Systems — makers of the encrypted chat app Signal — found out that the Egyptian government had blocked access to the app earlier this week. The company has now rolled out an update to Signal that circumvents government censorship through a technique called domain fronting.

Signal is now routing its traffic through Google's CDNs (content delivery networks), so all messages sent on the platform now look like requests to Google services. Essentially, this means that for a country to block access to Signal, they'd also have to switch off connectivity to all of Google's services.

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4 weeks ago

5 Great Starter Apps for Daydream VR

To dream is to use Daydream.

I know what I'm planning to do on Christmas Day: Get my family believing in the dream that is Google's Daydream.

I've been having tons of fun exploring the different virtual reality apps offered in the Play Store and there are a surprising number of ready-to-go games and movies available. If you're like me and you're planning to evangelize wonder of virtual reality at the holiday dinner time, here are five apps to load up on your smartphone before you start the showcase.

Read more at VR Heads!

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1 month ago

Best adult apps for Android

In an ocean of adult apps done poorly, these rise to the top.

If you're reading this, chances are you have an awesome pocket computer running Android at your disposal. Today's Android phones and tablets can pretty much do anything, and that includes things of an adult nature. We want to help you find and see that content the best way possible.

Android After Dark

It's a big world out there, and it's not all Rated G. Welcome to Android Central's NSFW section — home to sex, booze and other stories of an adult nature. It's not for everyone — especially if you're underage —and that's OK. Be adult. Be respectful. And be responsible.

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;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

We're not here to condone or condemn anyone or anything — and by all means let's keep things legal — but we feel that adults using their Androids to peruse adult content is just fine and dandy. We bet a good number of you guys and gals feel the same way.

If you don't agree, that's cool, too. We also are firm believers in the "live and let live" philosophy, and fully respect your opinion and support your right to have it. We also advise you to not click through the break if you think you might be offended. We love you regardless.

Don't worry, we're not trying to push any boundaries or limits (too terribly far), we just want to share a list of the best ways to find and browse adult content on Android. And do it in an adult way.

Namaste my friend. Namaste.

Article updated December 2016

There are countless ways to see adult content on your Android out there, covering a broad range of subject matter. This is our list of the best of the best, and ones we feel confident to recommend. Be sure to tell us in the comments if you know another we should have a look at. Sorting through apps is a tough job, and we always love hearing input about the great stuff we need to check out.

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1 month ago

With FotoSwipe 3.0, sharing files, pictures, videos (even apps) has never been easier #BYEBYEBLUETOOTH

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If you're looking for an easy way to transfer your files, pictures, folders — WHATEVER — check out FotoSwipe!

For those of you that have been reading Android Central for a while, you might remember us posting about FotoSwipe way back in 2014 and 2015.

Together, with the help of our awesome community, we helped the FotoSwipe team launch their app in iTunes and Google Play, and we've been super pumped about their progress. Check out some of the wicked new updates!

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1 month ago

Facebook Messenger now offers group video chat, says it was the "most requested Messenger feature ever"

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More ways to stay in touch with family and friends.

Just in time for the holidays, Facebook Messenger is rolling out a new update that introduces group video calling for up to 50 people at once. This expands on the group calling feature which was added back in April, and is the latest feature added to the popular messaging platform since games were added last month.

You'll be able to see six people in the group video call at one time, but other folks on the call will be able to listen or chime in with their voice. Once more than six people are connected via video, the dominant speaker will be shown to all participants. A feature not unlike Snapchat's live filters — called 3D Masks — will be immediately available for iOS users and eventually rolled out for the Android app. As you would expect, calls are free over Wi-Fi, and can also be made using your carrier data.

We're still waiting to see a new app update pushed through the Google Play Store, but you can check out the new feature on the desktop version of Messenger.

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1 month ago

Why you shouldn't download paid Android apps for free

138

Everyone likes free stuff. I love free stuff. But nothing in life is really free.

We're not your mom, and we're not going to get into the middle of a morals debate on software piracy and if it's really stealing. But we can give you a couple of really good reasons not to download a pirated copy of a paid app.

It's a good way to get malware

Yup. Malware. Most of what you hear about malware on Android phones is sensationalism designed to make you click a link. Much of it is proof-of-concept work that never will see the wild. Finding an exploit and distributing that exploit are two very different things. But it does happen, and almost all of it happens to people who download apps that didn't come from Google Play.

Taking an Android app and opening it up so you can edit things — like removing a license check — is simple and the tools are readily available. So are countless tutorials about using those tools. That makes it easy for almost anyone to drop other code into an app. But almost anything you could do to an app will make Google Play's Bouncer — an automated tool that checks the integrity of every app in Google Play and can tell if bad things are inside — trigger and block the app so nobody can see it or download it. That's what keeps Google Play the safest place to get Android apps.

Google's Bouncer will keep you safe almost all the time. Is "almost" good enough for you?

Bouncer will also scan apps on your phone you didn't download from Google Play if you let it — you'll see it ask you the first time you sideload something. This keeps almost all the malware you read about in check and away from your phone. But the whole thing is a game of cat and mouse between Bouncer and some really smart people who want to do things they shouldn't be doing to your phone. All these people need is for you to download the altered apps and the easiest way to do it is to entice you with something you can't have or something that you're getting for free instead of paying 99-cents for. Everyone likes free stuff.

Smart people at Google are at war with smart people who want to put malware on your phone and neither side can ever win.

When Google picks up on one way of doing things, those bad people start using another. It almost sounds like a James Bond villain at work, but when you consider that about a gazillion people downloaded pirated software last year (and will this year) it's not hard to see why this can be lucrative for the right ones.

There's one easy way to keep your phone from being part of some malware statistic you hear about online — download your apps from Google Play. If you're supposed to pay for an app or a chest of 100 gold coins, pay for them. Chances are that the 99-cents you're paying are a lot less than your bill would be with midnight text messages to a country you've never been to and don't know anyone in.

App piracy on Android has real-life repercussions

App piracy makes baby Mario cry and Nintendo publish for the iPhone first.

Deserving or not, the Android platform and its users has a bad reputation with many developers and software publishers. Take Nintendo, which has this to say about Super Mario Run:

For us, we view our software as being a very important asset for us. And also for consumers who are purchasing the game, we want to make sure that we're able to offer it to them in a way that the software is secure, and that they're able to play it in a stable environment.

We wanted to be able to leverage that network connection with all three of the Super Mario Run modes to keep all of the modes functioning together and offering the game in a way that keeps the software secure. This is something that we want to continue to work on as we continue to develop the game.

But actually, the security element is one of the reasons that we decided to go with iPhone and iOS first. So this is just — based on the current development environment — a requirement that's been built into the game to support security and the fact that the three different modes are connecting to the network and interacting with one another.

The emphasis there (in bold) is mine.

In that slew of words, one of the things they are saying is that iOS is safer for them because on Android their game would be yanked off of phones that can use it and passed around to everyone with Nintendo having no say in its distribution. And they are 100% correct. It's getting passed around on iPhones, too, but it's not nearly as easy to do on iOS so the piracy numbers are tiny compared to what will happen when they release it for Android. They know this, I know this, and you know this. Any software that arrives or update that comes is available to everyone about an hour after it's been released. Even if it's free software, that's piracy. And it doesn't matter that most people aren't doing it because millions and millions of people are.

Developers fight piracy on all platforms, but some make it easier to do than others.

This isn't a new thing. A long time ago it was hard to find an Android device that could install Netflix unless you pirated it. A casual conversation with a developer on the project told me why — because the same day they released a Netflix app for Android as a test with known hardware, the app was available for everyone to sideload. That wrecked their methods of testing for best performance and soured them on the entire platform. Spending a lot of time and money then seeing it all go to crap because we had to have something right now and had the means to pirate it can do that. Those developers didn't blame you if you pirated Netflix. They blamed Google for not caring and giving them tools to protect their "property" like Apple does and locking Android down.

Every time you pirate a paid app, you make this problem worse. You don't have to care, you won't ever get into trouble and you can get in the comments of this post and act all indignant about it. That doesn't change anything.

One person can't change a statistic but we all can still do our part to fix a serious problem for Android app developers: Piracy.

If you're ever in a room full of mobile app developers, ask them. Find out how much money they make from their Android apps and if piracy is a problem. They'll tell you. And most of them would also tell you they wish Android was more locked up like iOS because of it. Since that probably isn't going to happen in any meaningful way, they will just stay discouraged. They aren't as discouraged with piracy on iOS and can make more money coding apps for iOS. You do the math there and figure out what that means when it's time to build the next great app.

You and me not pirating one app isn't going to change anything. But it means we're not part of the problem. The same thing goes if 10,000 of us stop doing it or 100,000 of us. There are a lot of Android users. But it has to start somewhere, right?

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1 month ago

Nova Launcher Prime is once again down to just $0.99 on the Play Store

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Grab Nova Launcher Prime for just 99 cents.

Nova Launcher is one of the most customizable third-party launchers available for Android, and the premium version is now on sale for just $0.99 on the Play Store, a massive $4.00 discount.

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1 month ago

Best Road Trip Apps

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Load these apps onto your phone before you hit the road!

There are few things better than hitting the open road on a cross country road trip. Whether you're heading out with your best buds, or loading the kids into the car to visit relatives a few states over a little app prep will make sure the trip goes as smooth as is possible.

More: The best phone car mounts for any phone!

Android Auto

If your car doesn't have Android Auto functionality built into its stereo system, it's worth checking out Google's app for staying connected in your car. It's now available on any Android phone, so you don't need to buy a brand new car or upgrade your car stereo to take advantage of the convenience — it'll just run right on your phone.

Android Auto makes it easier to use apps from your phone while you're on the road, and the latest update adds "OK Google" wake word compatibility, so you don't need to touch the screen to activate voice commands. Navigate with Google Maps, listen to playlists or podcasts from your favorite apps, send messages via voice, and more.

Download: Android Auto (Free)

Waze

While Google Maps remains the most popular navigation app for Android (largely due to its inclusion as a stock app on most Android devices), Waze is a great option to consider for all your GPS navigation needs.

Waze users get the benefit of all the information gleaned from other Waze users on the road, from real-time traffic information including accident reports, police traps and other hazards seen on the road. You're also encouraged to add your own updates and contribute to your local Waze community as well. Using all that data, Waze will automatically reroute you to avoid any upcoming hazards, and also has really smart features for finding the cheapest gas stations along the way as well as ways of keeping family and friends in the loop on your ETA.

Download: Waze (Free)

Google Trips

Google Trips is a great travel planning app that helps with some of the mundane aspects of travelling like keeping track of your reservations, while also helping to plan out your days in a new city by suggesting cool things to do based on your interests and available time.

If you're planning to make a pitstop on your way to your final destination, plug the city into the app and see what it generates! It's also available offline, so if you planned out your pit stops ahead of time you can keep in the know even if your phone's data konks out.

Download: Google Trips (Free)

Yelp

When you're exploring a new city trying to figure out what's worth checking out, you're best off checking in with the locals. Yelp is one of the most popular apps for reviewing restaurants and businesses with over 100 million reviews posted by users just like you.

When you're in a pinch for a roadside bite and need to know what's good, Yelp will help you find the perfect restaurant to fuel up and get back on the road.

Download: Yelp (Free)

GasBuddy

Fuelling up is often one of the biggest expenses you'll incur on a road trip. GasBuddy helps you find the cheapest places to fill up along the way. Not only is this an app that you'll want to use on a road trip, but you might end up becoming an everyday user once you see the savings for yourself.

All the data is user generated, so if you see a cheaper gas price not listed in the app, you can report the price in the app and contribute to the GasBuddy community.

Download: GasBuddy (Free)

Google Play Music

What's a road trip without some kick ass driving music? Or maybe a podcast is more your speed? Regardless of what you prefer to listen to on your long distance drives, Google Play Music is your best bet.

With a subscription, you get streaming access to over 40 million tracks along with curated playlists, so the music won't ever stop, even on the longest of drives. Google Play Music is also home to all your favorite podcasts, and it incorporates right into Android Auto for hands-free control of all your music while you're on the road. That is, unless your co-pilot has already claimed the role of in-car DJ…

Download: Google Play Music (Free)

Netflix

With it's latest update allowing for offline viewing on mobile devices, Netflix suddenly became the go-to app for parents hoping to distract the young ones in the back without having to worry about all that data.

There's a large amount of kid-friendly content available to be downloaded for offline viewing, which should help keep the shouts of "are we there yet?" to a minimum. Load up a phone or tablet with your kids' favorites and look forward to the quietest road trip you've ever enjoyed. It's also a great option for keeping adults quiet, too. A subscription is required, of course, but if you don't already have one you for sure know someone who does.

Download: Netflix (Free)

Where are you headed?

How do you plan for your road trips? Any apps that we missed? Let us know in the comments!

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1 month ago

Best Android games with no in-app purchases

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Best Android games without in-app purchases

What are the best games with no in-app purchases?

There's something refreshing and low-stress about playing a mobile game without in-app purchases. Knowing that you're spending a couple of dollars to get an entire game that you can actually finish from beginning to end without being hounded to buy coins or gems or some other sort of in-app currency really makes the experience better.

(If you don't mind some in-app purchases, you should check out our roundup of the best Android games of the year!)

Here are the best Android games without those pesky IAPs!

Last updated December 15, 2016: Added Downwell, Reigns and The Room series to the list!

Downwell

Grab your gun boots and jump down the well in Downwell. This retro-styled roguelike game is extremely challenging, featuring a pretty steep learning curve as you learn how to defeat the enemies and figure out which weapon upgrades work best for your play style (Hint: it's the Noppy).

Since your character is falling, enemies and shops come from the bottom-up, so you need to be strategic in your freefall do you don't accidentally land on an enemy and lose a heart. There are a number of different 'styles' you unlock through repeated play, which give you different numbers of hearts at the start, changes the way end of level upgrades work, and slightly alters the way your sprite falls down the well.

The goal is to survive as you fall deeper and deeper down the well. There's no in-app purchases, save points, or continues, so when you die you must start at the entrance of the well again.

Download: Downwell ($0.99)

Reigns

If you've always dreamt of being king for a day, you'll definitely want to check out Reigns. It's a stylish game with simple gameplay mechanics and razor sharp wit, wherein you try to keep your kingdom running smoothly by interacting with advisors, citizens, witches and other characters in your kingdom. It's best described as one of those 'Choose Your Own Adventure' books, except instead of flipping to some page, you simply swipe left or right.

Each decision you make has an effect on four resources you must manage: religion, citizens, the army and your kingdom's treasury. Balancing these resources is key, as if any meter maxes out or reaches zero, your reign is over. But the game doesn't end — instead you become your successor and try to last longer in your reign than the king before you.

It's the perfect pick-up-and-play game for killing some time, and you'll definitely enjoy the dark humor found throughout.

Download: Reigns ($2.99)

The Room series

The Room is perhaps the best puzzle franchise on Android. In each game, you are tasked with solving a series of three-dimensional puzzles set up by the mysterious Craftsman.

There are three games in the series and the first two are available for a great price — The Room is available for just $0.99, The Room 2 is only $1.99. The third in the series was released in 2016, and builds on the challenging 3D puzzles that fans love. There's cloud saving so you can access your progress across multiple devices and the graphics are stunning — very reminiscent of the Myst series. We don't want to spoil anything, but just be sure to be thorough as you check around for anything that might contain a clue to help you progress through this dark and mysterious series.

Download: The Room Three ($3.99)

Crashlands

This futuristic, story-driven crafting RPG is big on laughs, thoughtful gameplay, and FUN. Honestly, watch the trailer: it might just be the greatest of all time.

You play as Flux Dabes, a space-trucker who becomes stranded on an alien planet thanks to a jerk of an alien criminal called Hewgodooko. As you try to survive on this alien world, a plan for world domination slowly rears its ugly head and you become embroiled in the race to save the planet, all while trying to just retrieve your missing cargo and get your job done.

The crafting element comes into play as you defeat local wildlife, using their parts to create weaponry, furniture, health packs, and tons more. There are upwards of 468 different recipes for you to try, including a stem cell pack for replenishing your health (not even joking).

If you love a great RPG, and love to laugh even more, then Crashlands should be on the top of your list. It's worth the money. From a developer called Butterscotch Shenanigans, you really can't expect anything less.

Download: Crashlands ($4.99)

Leo's Fortune

Leo's FortuneLeo's Fortune

Who doesn't love an awesome platformer? Better yet, who doesn't love an awesome platformer with incredible graphics? Nobody, silly. Leo's Fortune is one of the most stunning platformers to ever grace Android.

You play as cute, mustachioed, green puffball Leopold on his quest to retrieve the gold that was so wrongfully stolen from him.

As you track down the cunning thief, you get to traverse gorgeous forests, barren deserts, pirate cities, and mountains, while solving physics-based puzzles and surviving terrible traps. As you follow the trail of gold, you unlock the mystery behind Leo's stolen riches.

Once you beat the game, you can unlock Hardcore Mode, wherein you attempt to beat the entire game without dying. You can also compete with friends in speed runs.

If you're into gorgeous-looking games with a fun story and consistently active gameplay, the award-winning Leo's Fortune is totally for you.

Download: Leo's Fortune ($4.99)

Grand Theft Auto

Grand Theft AutoGrand Theft Auto

If you're a console or PC fan of the Grand Theft Auto franchise, then why not extend your fandom to Android?

Rockstar Games has five great GTA titles for you to choose from and you really can't go wrong with any of them. Play through Liberty City Stories, San Andreas, Vice City, GTA III, and Chinatown Wars and get your shoot-'em-up, blow-'em-up, car-stealing fix on mobile!

Chinatown is your classic top-down GTA, while the other three are the third-person-shooters we've all come to love. On that note, these games are NOT for kids. The Mature rating in the Google Play Store isn't lying.

So, if you want full Grand Theft Auto games right on your phone, hit up the Google Play Store and go to town. Just remember that, since these are the full games you now and love, they will occupy a ton of space on your device.

Download: Grand Theft Auto ($4.99-$6.99)

Dumb Ways to Die

Dumb Ways to DieDumb Ways to Die

The title pretty much says it all, but whether it's the way each character dies or just the characters that are dumb is up to you entirely.

This game will frustrate you to no end, but in a fun, quirky, and always-entertaining fashion. You get to play 15 goofy mini-games, hoping to unlock all the characters and the ridiculous music video that started it all.

You'll have to contend with piranhas, snakes, platforms, bombs, and much more as you just try to keep some idiots alive (parents, you feel me?).

The best part of Dumb Ways to Die? It's FREE! Better yet, it's free and there aren't any in-app purchases. Download it now and prepare to be frustrated but laughing all the way through!

Parents, take note that this game is rated T for Teen, since it does contain some crude humor and blood.

Download: Dumb Ways to Die (Free)

Super Hexagon

Super HexagonSuper Hexagon

If you like a challenge, and I do mean an incredibly frustrating challenge, then give Super Hexagon a whirl and see just how patient you really are.

Gameplay is like every closing-door scene in an action movie where the opening gets smaller and smaller as the protagonists rush to escape, á la Indiana Jones.

Players have to navigate a triangle through a geometric maze of sorts that's spinning and continually collapsing into itself. If you hit a wall, that's the end; you have to start all over again.

The soundtrack is excellent and the three stages will keep you more than busy, especially as you unlock the near-impossible versions of each stage as you reach certain goals.

Download: Super Hexagon ($2.99)

Machinarium

MachinariumMachinarium

Enter a world set in a beautifully rendered, futuristic steampunk dystopia, where you play as Josef the robot, on a quest to save his girlfriend.

You'll have to solve a series of puzzles at each point in the game in order to advance to another part of the city, and you can even uncover easter egg back story scenes when you idle in certain areas.

As Josef, you tap items to solve the puzzles and brain teasers, but in an interesting twist on the genre, you can only tap whatever's in Josef's reach.

There is no dialogue and aside from the odd tutorial, everything is devoid of language. Instead, pictographic thought bubbles let you know what's on Josef's mind to help you work your way through the game.

If you like a great adventure game with a fun story and great graphics, Machinarium should be your dystopic go-to.

Download: Machinarium ($4.99)

Freja and the Sequel

Freja and the SequelFreja and the Sequel

If you're into some out-there humor and a quirky interactive story game, Freja and the Sequel might be just what you're looking for. It's your classic point-and-click adventure turned upside down by "humor, horror, and surrealism."

Freja, a computer nerd, is forced, at gunpoint, to develop a sequel to a popular video game and as she creates it, she becomes more absorbed in her work until reality itself comes into question and things start to get hella weird.

Throughout the game, you'll meet weird characters while solving some pretty tough puzzles, all while being stalked by a shadowy creature that resembles Freja.

This is definitely not a game for kids, since it contains quite a bit of swearing, some horror elements, drug references, and some perverse humor.

If you're looking for a break from the run-of-the-mill mobile games you're used to, then check out Freja and the Sequel and prepare to be pleasantly weirded out.

Download: Freja and the Sequel (Free)

Five Nights at Freddy's 4

Five Night's at Freddy's 4Five Night's at Freddy's 4

The horror masterpiece Five Nights at Freddy's is on Android and it's ready to scare your pants off and back on and then off again. The fourth instalment of the wildly popular franchise is very involved and will keep you on your toes as you try not to be mauled by horribly disfigured animatronics come to life.

You play as a child whose role in the saga is only discovered at the end of the game. You must defend your bedroom from Freddy Fazbear, Chica, Bonnie, Foxy, and worse, as you just try to survive until morning.

You have to keep track of both bedroom doors, your bed behind you, and your closet, where Foxy likes to hide, jump out of, and murder you.

With just your flashlight to protect you, clench your butt through six in-game hours of torment and terror. If you startle easily, this isn't the game for you.

Download: Five Nights at Freddy's 4 ($2.99)

Prune

PrunePrunePrune

If you've just been playing the horror-fest that is Five Nights at Freddy's 4, then you'll need a palate cleanser of the relaxing variety. Enter: Prune. This isn't your typical mobile game in a big way; this is a tribute to the beauty of trees and a calming lesson in the art of cultivation.

To start, you draw a line from the base, then your tree starts to sprout from that line. As time goes on, you have to trim certain branches off, which causes other parts of your tree to grow bigger and in other directions. At times, the sunlight will change and you'll have to shape your tree so that its branches can touch the golden rays.

This is just about as soothing as it gets for mobile gaming, bringing nature and technology together in a beautifully synergistic experience. Bask in zen and find your inner horticulturist while you gently grow your precious tree, branch by branch.

If you're looking for a calming experience to take you out of your world for a little while, then download Prune and chill out, man.

Download: Prune ($3.99)

Did we miss any great games devoid of IAPs?

Let us know if you've got any recommendations of your own in the comments below.

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1 month ago

Evernote has changed its mind, won't actually read your notes

21

Thanks, but no thanks.

Evernote has backtracked on a controversial update to its privacy policy that would have, in the name of machine learning, allow select employees to read small portions of user content. From the company's corporate blog:

In the coming months we will be revising our existing Privacy Policy to address our customers' concerns, reinforce that their data remains private by default, and confirm the trust they have placed in Evernote is well founded. In addition, we will make machine learning technologies available to our users, but no employees will be reading note content as part of this process unless users opt in. We will invite Evernote customers to help us build a better product by joining the program.

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1 month ago

Google Keyboard becomes Gboard, separates itself even further from SwiftKey

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Google Gboard keyboard

Beyond just a name change, the new Gboard offers even more features.

Following the launch of the "Gboard" keyboard for iOS earlier this year, Google is now rebranding Google Keyboard on Android to the same Gboard moniker. At the same time, Google is adding several new features to both match Gboard on iOS and also offer more customization choices for Android users. The move comes not as a separate app, but simply as the version 6.0 update to the Google Keyboard app in the Play Store.

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1 month ago

The best apps for dog owners

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Apps can bring you and your dog closer than ever.

Technology is amazing. And while there is no substitute for spending quality time with your pupper, the right app can help you do more in that time — or, if you're away, find someone else to do it for you. If you've got a dog, these apps may make your life easier and your time with that fluffy friend even better.

Walk for a Dog

You're probably aware of the overcrowding issues in animal shelters and pet rescue organizations. With hundreds of animals looking for forever homes, these facilities are often run on shoestring budgets and rely on donations and fundraisers to keep their doors open. While donating might be feasible for some people, you can actually hep out these organizations by doing something as simple as walking your dog, with the Walk for a Dog app.

This app will let you choose from one of more than 6000 facilities, and each time that you open the app and take your pooch for a walk, it will donate money to the charity you've chosen. The app operate similar to Charity Miles, and donates a certain amount of money per distance walked. It's a great way to help out local shelters, and spend some time with your furry best friend in the process.

Download Walk with a Dog (free)

DogVacay

While you might want to spend as much time with your pet as possible, there are always things that eventually get in the way. From work to a weekend conference trip, there are times when you just can't bring that fluffy ball of love with you. While there are plenty of great kennels and doggie day care facilities across the U.S and Canada, you might be hoping to find a dog sitter that can provide a more personal experience for your pooch.

That's where DogVacay comes in. This app connects you to hundreds of pet sitters in your city that will watch your dog for a few hours, or let them stay overnight for a few days. You can have them watch your dog at your own home, or theirs, and you won't find any kennels with cramped quarters. They even offer dog walking services, or dog taxi services if your schedule makes vet visits difficult. For anyone looking to make sure their dog is well taken care of even when you're out of town, DogVacay has you covered.

Download DogVacay (free)

Whistle

Integration between wearable technology and your phone isn't new, but did you know that there's a way to track your dog using something like a Fitbit? Whistle offers you wearable tech that attaches to your dog's collar, that will send you notifications if your dog wanders away from the safe zone.

Whistle requires you to pick up the Whistle GPS collar, which is available for $49.99 on their website. After you've got the collar you'll be able to get live GPS tracking of your dog, along with email and text alerts. If you enter any of your pet's medications into the app, you'll also get notifications about when to give them to your pup. For anyone with a dog who has a tendency to wander, or who you want to keep an eye on Whistle is a great way to do it.

Download Whistle (free)

DoggyDatez

Dogs are primarily pack animals, which means that they really do enjoy playing with other dogs. However finding a good playmate for your dog, or finding people nearby with dogs of their own, can be a pesky process. That's where DoggyDatez comes in.

It allows you to set an area of 200 metres and will notify you when other users of the app are around. You can also search for other users by dog breed or name. It's a great way to find new friends for both you and your dog, all without having to spend hours by yourself in the dog park.

Download DoggyDatez (free)

Pet First Aid

Everyone does their best to make sure that Man's Best Friend is properly taken care of. There's vet appointments and medications, sure, but every once in a while your dog will eat something it shouldn't. While knowing what is dangerous to a human is pretty easy to suss out, doing the same with your dog can be an issue. That's where Pet First Aid comes in.

The app comes with plenty of options to make sure that even in an emergency your pet is getting the best possible care. You can input your vet's phone number for those serious emergencies, but the other features can help you out before things get to that point. This includes checking your dog's health, the best way to deal with small issues, and even lets you program vet appointments into the app. For anyone who wants to make sure that their dog is always getting the best care, Pet First Aid has you covered.

Download Pet First Aid (free)

Your turn

For many people, their dogs are a member of the family. The apps we've found here will help to make sure your dog never gets lost, what to do in case of an emergency, find a competent dog sitter and plenty more. Each one has their own strategy on how to make your dogs life as awesome as possible. Did we miss an awesome app? Have you used any of these before? Be sure to drop us a line in the comments and tell us all about it!

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1 month ago

Nova Launcher 5.0 brings Pixel-y goodness to all, new gesture options

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Happy Birthday, Nova Launcher!

Nova Launcher, one of the best third-party launchers and possibly the best thing to ever happen to Android, turned 5 years old this week. Huzzah! As with most anniversaries this one comes with gifts, in the form a big 5.0 update that rolls out many beta features to the rest of us and bring a few useful tools for those us who are just discovering (or rediscovering) this awesome launcher.

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1 month ago

OnePlus 3T software update now arriving, and no it isn't Nougat

29

As we all wait for Nougat, there's a quick update to Marshmallow with welcomed fixes.

The OnePlus 3T's latest software update isn't a substantial one — coming in at just 24MB — but I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. The update is beginning an "incremental" roll-out starting today, and should be available to all OnePlus 3T owners shortly.

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