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1 month ago

Vine to shut down app 'in the coming months'


Vine is nearing its final loop.

Twitter-owned video sharing app Vine has announced it will be shutting down "in the coming months." The social network built entirely on sharing and viewing auto-looping 6-second videos has been around since 2013, coming in and out of popularity independently of Twitter.

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1 month ago

Google Play Music: The Ultimate Guide


There is more music than you can imagine right at your fingertips.

There are plenty of different apps out there that deliver all the streaming music you'll ever need. Not all music apps are created equal though, and Google Play Music manages to do a great job. It lets you stream music, buy new music, and even upload music from you personal collection so that they can be listened to no matter where you happen to be. There is a lot going on, but we've got all the details for you here.

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1 month ago

Video calls are now live on WhatsApp beta!


The beta client for WhatsApp picked up an update to 2.16.318, bringing the ability to make video calls. When you tap the call icon, you now have the option of choosing between a voice call or video call. The interface itself is similar to what we've seen with the voice calls. You can start a new call from the Calls tab, or from within a conversation window by selecting the call icon.

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1 month ago

Android Pay links up with Visa Checkout and Masterpass for quicker online payments


Google just loves making it even simpler to buy things online.

Alongside Google's initiative to have Android Pay be a standalone mobile payment solution for e-commerce sites, it has also today announced a partnership that will let Android Pay users use their payment methods anywhere that Visa Checkout and Mastercard Masterpass are accepted. That means any site that has integrated with Visa Checkout or Masterpass is now available for you to pay via Android Pay on your phone once you link your accounts.

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1 month ago

Here's a great read about embedded AOSP to get your geek juices flowing


A start to finish primer on embedded Android from people who do it professionally is a must read for anyone who likes to roll up their sleeves and dig into things.

Android was designed for mobile devices, but it's pretty scalable and actually not very difficult to get it to run on a long list of mobile and non-mobile embedded things. Of course, the difficulty is relative so you'll need to be familiar with a few things. That's where this great document from the folks at Stanfy comes into the picture.

Stanfy is a group of mobile software developers. They build and design software for iOS and Android, but the also develop custom Android firmware. Mixed in amongst their showcase of apps for phones and wearables, they've built a really nice document about embedded Android. They explain what it is, what it isn't, how it can be used and how to get started. They even go the extra mile and have a tutorial for building AOSP from start to finish.

The guide does a great job of breaking down some pretty technical lingo into language for most everyone. If you're a complete novice you'll need to use the power of Google a time or two to understand everything, but if you're familiar with it all you'll still be able to learn something. I've been monkeying around with the Android source code since 2009 and I still got a lot out of it. I'm a step closer to bringing my Nexus Q back to life!

It's a great Sunday read, so go have a look.

Stanfy's Embeded Android Guide

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1 month ago

Best Chromebook apps


Make the most of your Chromebook with these apps.

Your Chromebook is a safe, inexpensive, and simple portal the internet but it can do so much more. Whether you want to get productive, have a little fun or keep in touch you'll find an app to help do it in the Chrome Web Store. Here's the short — and ever-changing — list of ones we think you have to try.

Polarr Photo Editor

One area where Chromebooks have traditionally been lacking is media creation tools. Photoshop for Chrome is a real thing, but it requires you to have an Adobe education license for Creative Cloud and live in North America. If you meet these qualifications you should definitely have a look, but for the rest of us, there is Polarr Photo Editor.

Polarr is beautifully done, filled with features and is extremely lightweight. It's an offline app so you can work without an internet connection and it's the best way to edit photographs on your Chromebook. Whether you need to turn RAW files into great photos or just touch up something before you share it on Facebook, Polarr Photo Editor can handle the job.

See at the Chrome Web Store


We're cheating a little bit here, but access to Skype is important enough to allow it.

Skype on the web now supports text chat and phones calls using standard internet communication protocols — that means it works on your Chromebook.

There are many different communication apps available — including Google's own Hangouts — but for many Skype is the de facto standard. Using your Skype account and Microsoft's official website, all you need to do is log and start Skyping.

For those who want it, there are also several launchers at the Chrome Web Store that let you launch the Skype site in its own window through an icon, but we think a bookmark is just as good.

Skype Online is one of the best ways to stay organized. It's a task manager, reminder list, calendar, and organizer all in one and it syncs across all your devices. It's also quite the looker!

Using the app for Chrome gives you the same tools and features as the client for your phone (Android and iOS) does plus the ability to drag and drop attachments, notes, and tasks using your Chromebook's trackpad. is scalable and great for keeping track of a few reminders or as a complete organization tool for your entire team.

See at the Chrome Web Store

Office Online

Your Chromebook gives you access to everything Google Docs has to offer. While that's more than enough productivity for some of us, if you work in a Microsoft environment Office Online is a must-have.

Using the same subscription you hold for the full version of Office for Windows or Mac, you get access to all the tools and features using your Microsoft account. You can view, edit and create files in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Sway right from your Chromebook and synchronization with your OneDrive account means they are accessible anywhere. You can also work locally when you're not connected to the internet.

If you're a Microsoft Office user, Office Online is a no-brainer.

See at the Chrome Web Store


No list of great Chrome apps would be complete without StreamDor.

The internet is huge, and it's filled with awesome content if you know where to find it. StreamDor is a list of 20,000 movies that you can stream for free. Everything is legal and above the board, and there's no funny stuff going on.

The list is refreshed daily and you'll find old favorites as well as recent hits at high quality from sites like YouTube or Vimeo. While StreamDor doesn't serve any content themselves, the app is the perfect way to find it all in one place. It's free and a great way to relax during some down time.

See at the Chrome Web Store

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1 month ago

Android Pay no longer works if you unlock your bootloader, and that's a good thing

Android Pay

Yes, Google has blocked Android Pay if you unlock your bootloader. My biggest question about it all is 'why did it take so long?'

Quietly and without any fanfare, Google disabled the ability for Android Pay to make payments on phones with unlocked bootloaders; landing in line with its previously held policy of not allowing rooted phones to access the payment system. It's frustrating to some, but it's the right move and it's in line with Google's vision for the security of its platform and services.

Android, as built by Google and not modified or having native security features disabled, is really secure. Security chief Adrian Ludwig speculates that one day we'll see U.S. presidents use Android (thanks, Obama) because it's safe and you have complete control over where and how your data is shared. But all that goes away once you start changing settings, enable USB communication or unlock your bootloader.

An unlocked bootloader is not secure, and when money is involved security is paramount.

It can be frustrating for a power user or enthusiast, but it's time we realize that Android is not built just for us. It's built for everyone — including people who may have unlocked their bootloader without understanding the implications of it all. These are the people who need to be protected from something on their phone that might be able to get access to their bank account or credit card information.

This doesn't just protect the person with the unlocked bootloader, either. When a bank or card issuer has to eat the cost of a fraudulent charge, it doesn't happily consider it a fact of doing business — it wants to limit these instances as much as possible. Interest rates and service fees are how the banks and card issuers make money from us, and raising one or the other (or both) is what happens when the expenditures column get's bigger due to fraudulent charges from insecure systems. In some cases, the banks and card issuers just skip payment methods like Android Pay altogether before they get to that point. By keeping Android Pay from running on potentially compromised phones, it helps Google get more companies on board. For example, Chase took forever to join Android Pay — and there are plenty of other banks yet to join. Not doing everything possible to make the service secure would be a great way to scare them off and keep it from happening.

Thankfully, you don't have to unlock your bootloader to manually update your phone since you can sideload update packages if you're impatient. Maybe one day developers will make use of Android's native app data backup service so we won't have to use Titanium or something similar to keep our app data in place. In the meantime, if we unlock the bootloader we lose Android Pay. It's that simple.

Google's not trying to stop anyone from unlocking their phone's bootloader, nor is it trying to turn Android into something that's not "hacker friendly" (the good kind of hacker). We can still unlock the bootloader to root or to run a different version of Android or just because we want to, but we can't use Android Pay — a service owned by Google and never intended to be open — if we do it.

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1 month ago

Digital Offer: Learn coding, design and more with a lifetime subscription to Stone River Academy for $89!

 Learn coding, design, animation and more with a lifetime subscription to Stone River Academy for only $89!

Choosing a specific career in the field of app development, web design, and 3D-animation can be tough — each is a growing field with high demand for specialists, and you have many interests. What if you want to learn them all? How can you afford the education needed for each career, and where will you find the time to go back to school?

Stone River Academy might be the answer you're looking for; they've put together what can be likened to a complete tech-education bundle. Courses for all levels of knowledge are available, and you can learn at your own pace; course availability stays open indefinitely thanks to a lifetime subscription. Master app development, web design, 3D-animation, coding languages, and more. You have the ambition and you can squeeze time into your busy schedule, but how can this be affordable?

Enter Android Central Digital Offers. Right now, we're offering this lifetime subscription with over 110 courses and over 2000 hours of content for only $89. That's no mistake — that's a 93% discount off the regular $1445. You're essentially paying a one-time fee to be enrolled for life. No matter what comes in the future, you'll be already set up to tackle it. Talk about a head start.

There are a ton of courses to choose from, but each course is broken down into a comprehensive curriculum to help keep things sorted. Learn programming languages like Java, Python, and CSS, as well as the ins and outs of game development tools like Unity 3D. Not only will you learn development, design, and programming, you'll also acquire the skills needed to carve a career in the tech industry.

Do you want to always keep on top of current tech trends? With a lifetime subscription to Stone River Academy, you'll always have access to the latest courses — yes, new content is added all the time. Thanks to the broad range of content available, you might even discover a hidden interest. Imagine the possibilities available to you for only $89. The need for all sorts of specialists in the tech industry is high — why not get started today on a new career?

See at Android Central Digital Offers

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1 month ago

Best Music Streaming Services


Which streaming music service is right for you? Here's a look at some of the top options.

Over the last several years, music streaming has become arguably the most common way people choose to listen to their favorite tunes. Alongside that rise, a number of services have popped up from major and minor players alike, all competing for your subscription dollars. While many of these services no doubt share a lot in common, there are some differences that give each its own personality.

If you're trying to choose the right music streaming platform for you, here's a rundown of some of the more popular options in no particular order.


At more than 100 million users (40 million of which are paid subscribers), Spotify is the current king of the music streaming space — and it's not hard to see why. The service is available on a wide variety of platforms with quality apps, and its free tier acts as an effective way for new users to see what Spotify is all about. If you want to remove ads, Spotify offers a $10 per month individual plan or $15 family plan.

Spotify offers a unique way of helping users sift through its catalog of more than 30 million songs as well, thanks to its weekly Discover playlist. As the name suggests, the playlist is refreshed weekly with new tunes Spotify thinks you might like based on your listening history. While other services have also thrown their hat in on curated suggestions, Spotify's Discover Weekly playlist has earned consistent praise from those who like the adventure of finding new artists and songs to check out.

Sign up for Spotify


As one of the first names in the streaming music game, Pandora is probably already familiar to many. Pandora operates as a streaming radio service, allowing users to start a radio station based around a particular artist or genre. You can then personalize each station by giving a thumbs up or thumbs down to each song played, allowing Pandora to further hone in on your tastes.

Pandora has also introduced Pandora Plus, a $4.99 per month subscription option that allows you to replay past songs, take your music offline, and skip as many tracks as you want. While this is a slightly tamer version of the unlimited, play-what-you-want offerings of other services, it's also cheaper and should work just fine for those who enjoy Pandora's streaming radio stations.

Sign up for Pandora

Google Play Music

As far as its catalog is concerned, Google Play Music can go toe-to-toe with every other service on this list. While the service is restricted to a web browser or an app for iPhone and Android, you should be able to find almost anything you're looking for — with the exception of certain exclusives. At $10 per month for individuals or $15 for families, the pricing is right too. Add in the service's quick access to playlists sorted by mood or activity, and things start to get interesting.

Where Google Play Music really shines, however, is its tie-in with another Google-owned property: YouTube. Included in your subscription is also a subscription to YouTube Red, which removes ads from YouTube and gives you access to some exclusive content. If you already watch a lot of YouTube, that definitely makes Google Play Music an attractive option.

Sign up for Google Play Music

Apple Music

Apple is a relative newcomer to the streaming music scene, but it's already making quite a name for itself. Available via iTunes, as well as on iPhone and Android, Apple Music serves up catalog of music that's just as compelling as other options on this list. Apple has also shown a knack for securing exclusive content, including from big names like Taylor Swift and Chance the Rapper.

Apple matches the pricing of its competitors, coming in at $10 for individuals and $15 for families. One of Apple Music's more interesting offerings, its Beats 1 radio station, is available for anyone to stream for free, and includes interesting shows and interviews from celebrity DJs like Elton John and Josh Homme. Otherwise, subscribers will find plenty of on-demand music, along with some pretty compelling curated playlists in the service's "For You" section.

Sign up for Apple Music

Groove Music

Microsoft's latest shot at a music streaming service is called Groove Music, and, like the others, includes a pretty large catalog of music for $10 per month. The service is widely available on multiple platforms, including Windows 10 PC and Mobile, iPhone and Android. Groove is even available on Xbox, letting you stream your favorite tunes from your console.

Like others on this list, Groove Music offers up its take on curated playlists and suggestions in its "Your Groove" section. There, you'll find relatively nuanced suggestions centered around mood, genre or other parameters based on tracks you've listened to in the past. Another of Groove's unique features is its tie-in with Microsoft's cloud storage service, OneDrive. Simply upload your own tracks to your OneDrive storage, and they'll be accessible from your Groove library across all of your devices.

Sign up for Groove Music

Amazon Prime Music and Music Unlimited

Amazon curiously has a few different offerings on the table when it comes to music streaming. For Amazon Prime subscribers, you automatically get access to Amazon Prime music, which includes a comparatively paltry selection of songs that Amazon says come in at over a million. If you're looking to step things up, however, the company now offers unlimited streaming of a much larger catalog that includes "tens of millions of songs" at $8 per month for Prime subscribers, or $10 for everyone else.

Like the others, Amazon Music Unlimited is ad-free, and includes on-demand music and curated playlists based on mood and genre. Where things get interesting is if you own an Amazon Echo, for which Amazon is offering a cheaper $4 per month Echo-only option. With Echo, you can do things like play a song based on lyrics you remember if you happen to forget its title.

Sign up for Amazon Music Unlimited


If you're looking to venture away from the mainstream a bit, SoundCloud is worth a look. As opposed to the other services on this list, SoundCloud made its name on remixes and indie artists, and includes a ton of that content for free.

SoundCloud does offer a subscription option at $10 per month, which includes offline playback, ad-free listening, and access to its full catalog of music. You'll be limited to streaming either through the SoundCloud website, or via the service's Android and iPhone apps, but there's no substitute if you're looking for a wealth of indie artists and remix tracks.

Sign up for SoundCloud Go

What's your pick?

What's your go-to streaming music service? Let us know your pick in the comments!

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1 month ago

Google Keep update lets you pin notes


Google Keep is a minimalist note-taking app that comes with a slew of features. The app is very straightforward to use, allowing you to easily create collaborative to-do lists, voice notes, and so much more. Keep seamlessly syncs between the web client, Android and iOS apps, and there's even a Chrome extension that lets you quickly jot down a note.

An update rolling out to the service now lets you pin notes at the top, giving you quick access to your important notes. Pinning a note is easy: just long press anywhere on a note to access the menu options, and tap the pin icon. All pinned notes show up in a separate section at the top of the screen.

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1 month ago

Google announces the 2016 Material Design Award winners


Google recognizes best-in-class apps design and the people who develop them with the 2016 Material Design Awards.

Google introduced the Material Design Award in 2015 to showcase applications that embrace and embody Android's design principles better than any others. At Google I/O 2016, the app Robinhood won the Google Play Award for Best Use of Material Design, and today they are announcing the category winners for 2016.

The awards are broken into categories that highlight how developers can build apps that are not only great to use but perfectly express their brand using the application design guidelines provided by Google. Material Design first debuted in 2014 and over several iterations of Android has been refined into what we see today. These award-winning apps have taken the design language and style to new heights and deserve the accolades and awards they are being given.

The apps and the folks who developed them will be honored at the SPAN 2016 conference in Los Angeles in late October. Meanwhile, here are the winners in each category.

If you're looking for an app that is functionally beautiful, this list would be a great place to start. Android Central congratulates all the winners and we look forward to seeing what's in store for 2017 and beyond — great work, everyone!

You can read more about each category and why the winners were chosen at Google's Material Design Awards 2016 site.

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1 month ago

Google releases Pixel's awesome Wallpaper app for all Android devices


Well, that's one less Pixel-exclusive feature.

Google has released a new app to the Play Store for all Android users running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and above. The app, simply called Wallpaper, offers almost the same functionality as the built-in wallpaper switcher on the Google Pixel, minus the array of interesting and unique Live Wallpapers that we covered in our review.

The upside is that now everyone has access to dozens of beautiful wallpapers curated by Google from Google Earth, Google+, and 500px's extensive selection of photos taken in the following categories:

  • Earth
  • Landscape
  • Cityscapes
  • Life
  • Textures

Each of these has what I would consider the most interesting feature of the app itself: a Daily wallpaper toggle that downloads a new image every 24 hours. Many of the pre-loaded options are stunning high-resolution shots of everyday things, elevated to a new form thanks to professional post-processing and framing.

Those running Android 7.0 Nougat can also choose to apply a single wallpaper to both the lock screen and home screen at the same time, or apply two different images separately. Those running Jelly Bean to Marshmallow only have the option of changing the home screen through the app.

What do you think of the new Wallpaper app? Will it replace Muzei or another third-party option you're currently using? Let us know in the comments below!

Google Pixel + Pixel XL

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1 month ago

Chrome's bleeding edge Canary channel makes its way to Android


Chrome is available in four builds: the Stable channel is the main public client, the Beta channel has a few bugs but gets new features roughly a month before the Stable build, and the Dev channel is for developers looking to test out the latest features. Then there's the Canary channel, an untested build that gets updated every weekday with the latest codebase as soon as it's built.

The Canary channel was limited to desktop versions of Chrome on Windows and Mac, but is now making its way to Android. Considering the nature of the build, the Canary channel uses a separate profile and can be installed alongside the stable build.

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1 month ago

You can now book an Uber directly from Google search results


Google Maps picked up integration for ride-hailing services earlier this year, allowing customers to see fare estimates and pickup times for Uber, myTaxi, Ola, Gett, and other services from within the Maps interface.

The company is now rolling out the feature to its search results. Just enter your intended destination in the Google Search app or in Chrome, and you'll see fare estimates and pickup times for ride services within the search results.

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1 month ago

Wikileaf app helps you find the (legal) herb you're looking for


Apps that help save time and money while you're shopping are awesome. Buying weed shouldn't be any different.

Buying weed can be a chore. No matter if you're a medical patient or a recreational user, finding the right weed at the right price is one of those things that depends on luck or some other karmic superpower stuff. The new Wikileaf app can help change that.

OK, we know that marijuana isn't legal everywhere. We're not condoning or advising anyone to go looking for a street dealer and buying something that's illegal. We're talking strictly about states and places in the U.S. where medical or recreational cannabis is available for adults. We're not here to fuel any arguments about the morality or the details of marijuana legalization, we're only here to talk about an Android app that makes it easier for folks to buy weed where it's legal to do so.

The Wikileaf app has a couple different features, each broken into its own section. You can find information about various strains of marijuana and learn about the effects each may have, as well as a recommendation about the best time of day to use it. Nobody wants to be up all night from some spicy Vietnamese Sativa because they had no idea that it would have that effect. Willie Nelson seems like a chill guy so who could have guessed, right? Wikileaf can help take the guessing out of the equation.

The app is location-aware (or you can manually search a location if you would rather) and also gives you information about the dispensaries and shops around you. Because marijuana isn't available legally everywhere, you'll find listings for dispensaries and shops for cities in Arizona, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington. I quickly noticed that Washington, DC wasn't on the list but a quick search of the Wikileaf website let me know that this is because of the weird restrictions for recreational sales forced by an inactive federal government.

Willie Nelson seems like a chill guy, right?

Disillusion from a non-functional legislative body aside, one of the best features of the Wikileaf app is the at-a-glace price map. Pull up a Google map of the area you're searching, and you can see a pin for each business in the right spot labeled with the lowest priced goods they're offering. You can search prices this way by the gram, eighth ounce, quarter ounce, half ounce or ounce. A quick tap on any of the pins opens a pop-up that you can use to give the business a call, write a review, get directions or open a page with a full list of what they're selling and information or photos from both the business and other Wikileaf users.

If weed is legal where you are and you're partaking, having an app that makes shopping easier only makes sense. Wikileaf isn't the first app of its kind in Google Play, and it won't be the last, but it looks like a great option that will be able to help you save time and money. Those are two things everyone can appreciate.

Download: Wikileaf (free)

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