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1 month ago

Google Photos adds a couple new album tools, custom photo description editing

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Updates to the Google Photos app and website today have added a couple new ways of adding to and tweaking albums. In version 1.2 of the app, when viewing an individual photo you'll now see a new "Add to album" option in the overflow menu, which will let you create a new album with just that photo or add to a previously-created one. While you've always been able to do this from the main gallery view — even when you had multiple photos selected — it's just as useful when viewing a single photo. For quicker multi-photo selecting, you can now long-press on a date header in the gallery view to instantly select all photos from that day as well.

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1 month ago

Yahoo brings its News Digest app to Android tablets

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Yahoo has brought its News Digest app to Android tablets, allowing you to read news from around the world on a bigger screen. Offering the same, twice daily, news digest that the phone version did, the only change is here is the size of the screen you can read it on. For those not familiar with Yahoo News Digest, it offers news updates twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening, keeping you informed about what is happening around the world.

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1 month ago

Google Photos teases 'PayWithAPhoto' ahead of July 29 reveal

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The recent launch of Google Photos is apparently just the beginning. New teasers on the Google Photos YouTube and Twitter accounts show that there will be a big announcement on July 29, and it involves some kind of payment system or perhaps a Google Photos promotion.

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1 month ago

A look at the One M9, S6 edge, LG G4, and Droid Turbo through the Flir One

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M9 and S6 and G4 and Turbo

It should be no surprise to anyone that phones get hot when we use them in different ways. These portable computers are capable of an incredible amount, and things like processors and wireless radios and batteries generate heat when used. (Whether a phone gets too hot is another thing altogether.) We also live in a world where smartphones are being made of more unique things every day, with parts on the inside assembled just a little differently each time, and that means those phones all handle heat a little differently.

Since we've been playing with the new Flir One this week, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to perform some relatively unscientific tests on some of the more popular phones out there today with this thermal camera pointed at them. Here are the results.

Here's a snapshot of each phone side by side doing absolutely nothing. They are all Verizon Wireless devices, all powered on, and all running as close to the same apps as we could reasonably manage. The warmest-appearing phone when doing essentially nothing was the Galaxy S6 edge, which clocked in at 88.6 degrees. You wouldn't know this phone was the warmest by looking at it or holding it — in fact had I guessed before setting these devices under the camera I'd have said the Droid Turbo was the warmest by holding it.

To get a feel for how these phones get warm, we installed the AnTuTu Benchmark app on each phone and ran them side by side. This app pushes the processor further than most apps in such a short time span, but offered as close to a uniform expectation of heat against performance as you could expect without including the warmth and insulation of a human hand. The benchmarks were initialized and the phones were flipped over, and through the Flir camera we could see the temperatures increase almost immediately.

The G4 was the first to go from purple (cooler) to yellow (hotter), but only in the top third of the phone. The warmest spot, to the left of the camera, became bright yellow on the screen as the other phones started to glow orange. The Galaxy S6 edge quickly became the warmest phone on the table as the benchmark reached its conclusion, while the M9 and Droid Turbo stayed within a degree of one another through the test.

We'd come this far, why not start the benchmark while the phones are already warm and see what happens when you really push things? As you can see in the photos every phone but the G4 became what most would consider uncomfortably warm, but the bottom two thirds of the G4 stay relatively cool even towards the end of the second benchmark. The all-metal M9 and carbon fiber Droid Turbo spread the heat just about everywhere to try and dissipate as quickly as possible, while the Galaxy S6 edge reached over 120 degrees right next to the power button.

A lot of what you're seeing here has to do with how the different materials used in the exterior construction handle heat. The M9 and Droid Turbo are going to be warm all over, but never get as warm as the G4 or the S6 in localized areas. It's a little strange that Samsung and LG both created devices that get hottest right next to the most commonly used physical button on a smartphone, but the way LG handles heat seems like the best for someone holding and using a phone that is currently doing quite a bit — the hottest area is far from your hand.

It's also worth pointing out that most tasks won't get your phone anywhere near this hot. You'd have to be playing an impressive 3D game for an extended period of time or doing something crazy like transcoding video to get your processor to work as hard as we pushed these phones. I wouldn't go so far as to say any of these phones have any heat problems based on this information, but it is interesting to see how these phones get hot and which can be used comfortably under intense situations.

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1 month ago

The Wear Mini Launcher makes getting to your apps easier than ever

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Smartwatches have brought the ease and accessibility of modern technology to our wrists, but even with the most recent Android Wear update being able to get to the app you need in a pinch can take longer than you'd prefer. Wear Mini Launcher has been solving this problem since the early days of Android Wear, and has continued to remain relevant as the platform evolves.

Wear Mini Launcher for Android Wear is opened by swiping from the upper left corner of your screen. You'll get a column with all of your currently installed apps in a list, similar to the current stock setup in Wear 5.1. Just tap the one you need and it'll open up for you without any issues. If you swipe from the top left a second time, you'll get access to all of your smartwatch settings. Instead of manually going into the settings you can use the launcher to easily adjust your screen brightness, turn on Wifi, check your phone and smart watch battery life, and more.

Like most things in the Android world, things start getting interesting when you customize the experience to your own preferences. While there aren't any options for customization from your smartwatch, if you open the app on your phone you'll see there is plenty you can tweak to your preferences. There are four tabs — Behavior, Customization, Tools, and Other, and each has it's own array of options. The Behavior tab has options like how you access the Wear Mini Launcher, how apps are organized in the launcher, and whether there are apps you don't want to appear in the launcher at all.

If you were hoping to be able to adjust the color of your background or foreground, then you just need to hop into the Customization tab. This is also where you can edit how many columns your apps appear in within the launcher, and the size of the app icons. Tools lets you adjust notifications if you go out of range of your phone, whether music will be played through your watch, and whether the brightness slider appears when you open the second launcher screen. The Other tab allows you to send anonymous crash info, and check out the app licenses.

With more customization options than you can shake a stick at, along with an easy interface that you can make your own, Wear Mini Launcher is a great addition to your app line up for Android Wear. Whether you use it to get to all of your apps easily, or to tweak and adjust your smart watch settings, this is a solid app with plenty of use in your day to day. Have you used the Wear Mini Launcher, or are you more partial to a different experience? Let us know below!

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1 month ago

Poll: What's your favorite Android music player?

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Android Music Player

We talk a lot about streaming music and the services available for our Androids, but this time we want to talk about music player apps.

You have music you have stored on your phone, possibly in a high-quality format, and you need a way to play it. And it's not just folks who don't want to use data to stream music, some of us just want to hear our most favorite of favorites on a nice pair of headphones from a nice-sounding player. My wife calls me a hipster, but that's the only way I want to hear my Emerson Lake and Palmer library. Therefore, hipster I will be. I've been called worse.

Anyhoo, there are plenty of options available for just listening. Chances are one or more came on your phone when you bought it. If not, Google Play has you covered several times over. We gathered the popular choices and tossed them into a poll, and now it's your job to vote. If your favorite isn't listed, be sure to vote "other" and drop a comment so we can be sure to look at it. We're on a mission to find the best music players, and you fine folks can help.

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1 month ago

Nova Launcher may be the best thing that ever happened for Android

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Nova Launcher

Android is built in a way that allows "core" portions of the operating system to be replaced with applications written by a third party. That is, someone not the manufacturer, or Google itself. Nowhere is this more evident than the various Launcher (or Home) apps you'll find in Google Play. The user-facing portion of the operating system — the home pages, the widgets, the application drawer and the icons — can be replaced in one fell swoop.

This is a good thing because chances are once you get a few Android fans together, you'll likely see a big difference in the way they want their phones and tablets to look, act and feel. Inevitably, Nova Launcher gets mentioned.

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1 month ago

Opera Max update gives you more control of what uses your data

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Opera Max, the data management tool from Opera Software, will now make it even easier to control what is using your data. The previous update enhanced Wi-Fi performance on shared networks, and the most recent one lets you do more with your data in a split-savings level setting.

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1 month ago

Microsoft updates Skype to look even more gorgeous

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Skype has been updated by Microsoft, introducing a refreshed design for users of the popular communication service to enjoy. The company has implemented a number of visual refreshers to make Skype that much more gorgeous to use on your mobile phone. Version 5.6 should be hitting your hardware at some point today.

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1 month ago

Google offers more details on the closure of Google+ Photos

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Following Google's announcement earlier this week that it would shut down Google+ Photos in favor of the new Google Photos service, head of Google Photos Anil Sabharwal clarified the changes taking place.

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1 month ago

Dell Venue 8 7840 snags Android 5.1 update

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Android 5.1 has started rolling out to the Dell Venue 8 7840, bringing along minor tweaks and improvements to the tablet, along with added improvements from Dell.

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1 month ago

Sony begins Android 5.1 rollout to Xperia Z2 and Z3 series smartphones and tablets

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If you own a Sony Xperia Z2 or Z3 series smartphone or tablet, you're in for a sweet treat. Sony has announced that it has begun rolling out Android 5.1 to its Xperia Z3 and Z2 series of smartphones and tablets, bringing some tweaks and enhancements along for the ride.

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1 month ago

The NOW Watchface brings futuristic style to your smart watch

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If you've been craving a futuristic, sci-fi inspired watchface for that awesome new smartwatch, then we've got you covered. The NOW Watchface gives you all the info you crave at a glance, and does it with style and plenty of customization options to boot. If you aren't familiar with this Android Wear watchface, NOW is the time — and the watch face — to do it with.

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1 month ago

Google Maps' new timeline feature puts location history at your fingertips [Update]

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If you've ever wanted a convenient way to keep track of your stops on your latest trip with Google Maps for Android, you may be in luck. Google appears to be quietly rolling out a new "Timeline" feature which allows you to take a look at your location history in detail.

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1 month ago

Goodnight Lad — an augmented reality bedtime story

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Goodnight Lad

I don't usually bring my smartphone in for a bedtime story, but a recent Kickstarter reward I received gave me reason to consider it. Goodnight Lad is a young children's story where every page is extended through the use of augmented reality. You install the app, point your phone at the page, and the main character and his friends spring to life for your child.

It's a clever use of AR, not because it's a kids story, but because the experience is so complete. Each page can be read to your child through the app, and the Kickstarter included outfit changes and cards to extend the story and share with friends. The app itself is nice and easy to use, and it locks on to the AR targets on the page nice and fast. It's by far the most compelling and enjoyable AR experience I've seen in a while, right down to the interactive menu on the first page.

The book is now available for $20, though currently the extra cards from the Kickstarter don't appear to be available. There's a demo in the app if you're not quite sold on the idea yet, which you can check out through the Google Play Store. I wouldn't go so far as to call this the next big thing in bedtime stories, but for $20 it's a nice way to shake things up and have some fun while reading a book.

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