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2 months ago

Uber is bringing its food delivery service to India

1

Uber's on-demand online food delivery service is coming to India.

Uber has announced that its standalone food delivery app UberEATS will be making its debut in India shortly. The service is currently available in 58 cities around the world, and will launch in at least six cities across India.

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2 months ago

Google Calendar: Ultimate Guide

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Everything you need to know about Google Calendar.

Google Calendar is an amazing and useful app because it's more than that — it's a cross-platform service that is as elegant as it is versatile.

It starts by being pre-loaded on your Android phone, tablet or Chromebook, and it goes from there. It's on the web, and it's on iOS. You can use it by yourself or share it with others. You can even subscribe to public calendars that are separate but perfectly integrated into your own. And the best part is that it syncs seamlessly in the Google Cloud, so you never have to worry that you've lost something.

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2 months ago

Best Android apps for your Chromebook

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An injection of over 1,000,000 Android apps does a great job filling in the holes in Chrome.

A few Chromebooks already have Android apps through Google Play. More are scheduled to get them, and most new Chromebooks will ship with the Play store working from day one. Android app support has also been announced for several Chromeboxes and the Chromebit. It's a slow process, but it is happening.

Android apps will change how you use your Chromebook. They have already changed things like how much storage is enough or how useful a touchscreen is on a small laptop. They fill a void that many people needed to be filled before they would purchase a Chromebook because they needed support for a particular app or just wanted a bigger selection. Android apps also help when developers who have a Chrome app aren't offering all the features with it and the Android app has them. They'll also expose more people to Chrome OS which will make native Chrome apps even better because developers need to pay more attention to it. Android apps on Chrome are good no matter how you look at it.

Of course, some apps fill that void better than others. Here is the best of the best when it comes to Android apps for your Chromebook.

Slack

You might not use Slack, but you probably should be. It's a cross-platform service where you can chat with friends or co-workers with necessary features like private chats (including private group chats) and voice/video calls. You can even program bots for your channel(s). We use it here at Mobile Nations as our primary way to communicate.

And the Android version of the Slack App is great! It's far better than the native Chrome offering and runs flawlessly in its own resizable window on your desktop. It's also integrated perfectly and notifications come in the same way all your Chrome notifications do. Slack is the first icon I click when I open the lid on my Chromebook.

See at Google Play

Pocketcasts

There are ways to manage your podcast feeds via the web or through Chrome, but none of them are half as good as Pocketcasts.

Pocketcasts is one of the best ways to download and listen to the latest episodes from all of your podcasts on Android, and it works the same way on your Chromebook. You can let your list play in the background while you're doing anything else, and a click in the notification tray brings up media controls if you need to skip ahead or backward. It's also a good bit cheaper than the web version, though it's worth just as much.

See at Google Play

Unclouded

Now that you can use the Unclouded app for Android you have a way to access all your stuff in the cloud.

Chromebooks work really well with Google Drive. With a fast connection, it's just like working in an office where folders are on a central server but integrated into your files, too. If you use Google Drive for all your stuff you're set. But most of us use other services, too. Unclouded will put Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, Box and Mega into its file explorer and you can open, download, upload and whatever just like you were working on a PC with an app from the company.

Just be careful you don't download everything if you have a Chromebook with limited storage.

See at Google Play

Firefox

You can't install another browser built to run on Chrome OS, but you can install one built to run on Android.

You can sync with other devices running Firefox, have the same privacy settings that you have on any other version of Firefox and can use the same extensions across every installation. You can Run the Android version of Firefox full-screen and set things to always serve the desktop page instead of mobile.

Chrome is a great browser. But it's not the only great browser.

See at Google Play

Microsoft Office

Microsoft may be struggling in mobile, but they rule the roost when it comes to the basic productivity tools we call an office suite.

Google Docs works great for most people. But Microsoft's offerings for Android do, too. You can install Word, Powerpoint, and Excel for Android on your Chromebook and get the same app you would have on a full-sized Android tablet. Which means they are pretty darn good. In fact, it's better using them on your Chromebook because you have a keyboard every time you open them. They still backup your documents to the cloud so your files are available from anywhere, and they're hundreds of dollars less than the versions for Windows or Mac — free.

Almost every app in Google Play will run on a Chromebook that has the Play store enabled. Be sure to tell everyone what apps you're using on your Chromebook that fill your app gap so we all can check them out!

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2 months ago

The problem with Android permissions is too much information and not enough information all at once

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People freaking out over an Android app's permissions again was overdue.

It's a regular happening in the tech press. An app has questionable permissions and people freak out about it. Sometimes it's warranted, but most of the time it's because the people freaking out don't understand the Android permission model or haven't taken the time to see what reasons an app might have to need those seemingly sketchy permissions. And it's Google's fault. Sorry, Google, we love you, but this is all yours.

There are two ways to handle letting the user (that's you and me) know what an app needs to do or needs to see in order to function. One way is to plainly state everything up front before that user installs it so they know exactly what can be done and seen. In other words, the Android way (mostly). Another way is to carefully screen each and every app and have the user trust your screening process and know that the app isn't doing anything out of the ordinary. This is the Apple way. Both are good in some ways and bad in some ways.

It's Serenity and crew's job at iMore to tackle iOS issues on this front if it needs tackling— they're more knowledgeable about them than I am — but we really need to talk about Android permissions here and why they need some attention from big G.

I'm going to pick on our own Android Central app here because I can look through the code or build it myself and know exactly what it does, what it can do, and why. Let's start with what makes people freak out because there is a good example right in the picture above — prevent device from sleeping.

Why in the hell does an app to read a blog need to keep your phone locked awake? I don't blame you at all if this is the first thing you think. In fact, I want it to be the first thing everyone thinks because we all need to be a little skeptical when it comes to software that we install on our phones. But our app has no intention of keeping your phone running all the time, and unless there's a bug somewhere it doesn't. We need that permission so that the screen doesn't shut off while you're reading this.

Tell us what those permissions mean and we'll freak out less.

There are two very big issues here that Google can fix. One is hard but the other is easy, Like delicious pie easy. The hard one is to continue building out the APIs until we have one that can only keep the screen on. Let background data and everything else sleep until it's used and keep the CPU idling unless it needs to ramp up for something else a user is doing. That's all we're using the prevent device from sleeping permission for anyway. If Google makes that API, we'll switch to it. Until then, we need permission to keep your whole phone up and running even when we're not doing anything in the background.

The second and easier thing that needs to be done is to give more information here. Once you decide that you're going to give the user all the info about which permissions an app needs, you need to go a step further when you list them. What we have right now is either too much information or not enough information.

I am a nerd. I don't even try to hide it. Plenty of the people reading this will also be nerds. What we see now on Google Play when permissions are shown was written by nerds for nerds. I understand it, my fellow nerds understand it, but a normal person who just wants to install a cool new app might not. Consider this:

  • Prevent your device from sleeping. This application needs to keep your phone from going into a sleep state. This can only happen while the app is running and shown on your screen and may not be processor intensive. If you have any questions you should ask the developer using the contact information at the bottom of the page.

That took me like 30 seconds to bang out on my keyboard. (And 20 more to fix the typos because I think I can type really fast without looking at my keyboard but I actually can't.) It's not the greatest explanation of what this permission might mean, but it's a metric shitload better that what we have now. The people at Google are way smarter about Android than I am (but I challenge any and all comers to test my knowledge on Dunmer lore) and could do this even better. If they did, it would help people who actually bother to read the permissions when they see Twitter melting about an app needing GPS data because it's a free ad-driven app that needs GPS to show you those "relevant" Target ads when you're in the Target parking lot.

The Android permission model needs to be refined and explained. And not by nerds.

This isn't a new problem. Since Android became popular people have seen too much information about needed permissions without enough information about those permissions and what they mean. Then they (rightfully) freak out about it. I enjoy those freakouts. I get to sit back and watch people actually care about mobile security and their precious personal data for a day or two. But the app developers surely aren't very happy when it happens to them, and they are the reason Android is as popular as it is.

So how 'bout it Google? Can you make a change to give us everything we need to know when we actually look at an app's permissions without going to the Android Developer site and reading a bunch of documentation about them? We'll love you more.

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2 months ago

Meitu — What you need to know about privacy and the filtering app

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[record scratch] [freeze frame] [shot of Phil in Meitu app]

Yep, that's me. You're probably wondering how I ended up here ...

Every now and then we get hit with an app that seems to just take over. The latest — and god help me, I'm about to talk about selfies — is called Meitu. There's almost no way that you haven't seen it — or at least the results from it — in the past week or so.

It's one of those apps that takes your pictures and filters the hell out of them until you get something that looks like you, but not you. ln this case, you get a sort of China doll thing. It's available for iOS (in the App Store) and Android (on Google Play), and there's a good chance you've already seen it being shared all over Facebook and Instagram.

But you might want to think twice before you install it.

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So here's the gist. You take a picture either with the Meitu app, or use one you've already snapped. The app then makeups the hell out of you in a LOT of different ways. The kids love this stuff. The cool new feature everyone's talking about, though, is the "hand-drawn" filter. It'll take a shot of you — or someone else — and change you up.

And that's great. It's a lot of fun. I feel pretty already.

But there's also a reason why you might not want to install Meitu.

Apps that are loaded up with tracking code — analytics — aren't anything new. Pretty much every single app (or website) you've ever used has had some sort of analytics tracking built in. Developers need to know how their products are being used. But questions have been raised about the way they're implemented in Meitu, and rightly so. Particularly because it harvests your phone's unique IMEI number. There are better and less-sensitive ways to identify a device.

For its part, Meitu has said that the red flags are because the app originally was coded for use in China, which has to do things behind a government-controlled firewall. Fair enough. But that doesn't mean that's the right way to code things for the rest of the world. Ultimately, you're giving access to a lot of your data just slap some makeup on your mug. Choose wisely, and stay vigilant.

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2 months ago

Best Chromebook apps

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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

Skype

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

Any.do

Any.do 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 Any.do 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. Any.do 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

StreamDor

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

Mighty Text

If you're still waiting for Android apps on your Chromebook, or you just don't want to install everything from Google Play, Mighty Text is a great way to get all your notifications.

Don't let the name fool you. Might Text is awesome and lets you read, reply and send SMS messages using your regular phone number. But it can also forward any notification from your phone right to your Chromebook screen. Folks who use an app like this will tell you how cool this is, and once you try it you'll be doing the same. It's one of those apps you'll wish you had tried earlier.

See at the Chrome Web Store

Your best?

Everyone has favorites. Jump in the comments and tell us what your best Chrome apps are! Sometimes jewels are easy to overlook when you have so many choices so you're helping everyone when you tell us what apps we need to check out.

This post was updated in January 2017 to stay current and list the best Chrome apps.

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2 months ago

Best apps for learning a language

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Rosetta Stone delivers a solid foundation for learning a new language.

Best overall

Learn languages: Rosetta Stone

See at Store

Rosetta Stone is already well known as a great way to begin learning a new language, but you may not have realized that it was available on your phone. With access to 28 different languages, a slow and steady pace that is great for building up your confidence, and optional live-tutoring, there is a reason that Rosetta Stone is king when it comes to language learning apps. Whether you're aiming to learn for fun, or you want to become fluent, this is a great place to start. This program will let you learn how to speak, write and read in a new language, with an emphasis on building confidence in pronunciation and the ability to sync progress across your desktop or mobile device.

Bottom line: Rosetta Stone delivers an excellent foundation for learning a new language with a program that focuses on practical conversational skills. With the addition of teaching you how to read, write, and listen for a rounded experience.

One more thing: While you do have to pay for the full version, you can access the first module of any language for free to try it out.

Why Rosetta Stone is the best

Rosetta Stone makes sure that the fundamentals are pounded into your head and offers features that make sure you're confident about what you're hearing, saying, and writing.

When it comes to language apps, Rosetta Stone may already be the first software you think of. There's good reason for that too. For years Rosetta Stone has dominated language learning on PC and it's mobile version is just as solid. While getting access to the full program is a bit pricy, if you'll motivated to really learn a new language it's worth the hit to your wallet in the long run.

Jill Duffy of PCMag gave it high marks for a foundation in a new language.

"Rosetta Stone is a wonderful, polished, and technically competent language-learning program, especially for beginners who are looking to build a foundation of knowledge on their own time."

While Rosetta Stone does have it's limitations, for those without a background in the language they're trying to learn, this is the most solid all around program. While it can be repetitive, that's to make sure that your new vocabulary sticks in your brain. At higher levels you'll also be able to read to the program while it listens to your pronunciation. Additionally it employs games likes bingo to help your association between individual words and their meanings.

One of the biggest perks to Rosetta Stone is how they introduce everything. Immersion is the key to learning with Rosetta Stone, combined with deductive reasoning. At time you'll need to guess a new word, but it's made easier by giving you choices of other words that you've already learned.

Best free

Duolingo

See at Store

While price isn't an option for some people, if you're looking for the best way to begin learning a new language on a budget then Duolingo is definitely the best bet. This free app has access to 20 different languages to learn from Vietnamese and Irish to Spanish and German. Unlike most other programs, Duolingo employs XP and leaderboards so that you can learn with your friends and turns language into a game to be played.

Each language is a little bit different, and the more popular languages do have access to far more module lessons. Each one starts out the same though. You'll deal with the basics before moving on to phrases and language specific lessons. The leaderboards will show you which friends on facebook use the app and will let you compete against each other. By completing modules you'll also earn EXP and Lingots which you can use to purchase extra modules. If you're learning with friends, you can also start clubs which allows you to turn learning a language into a group activity.

Bottom line: Duolingo makes learning a language fun, and with it's social aspects it's easy to learn a language with friends. Absolutely free, you never need to pay a penny in order to learn everything it has to offer.

One more thing: Duolingo also allows people coming back to a language to test past the basics and jump right back into learning new content.

Best for the rest

Babbel

See at Store

If you're looking for a solid middle of the road option for learning a new language, then Babbel ought to be your go to. It offers a subscription for access to the full catalog, but it isn't nearly as expensive as picking up a copy of Rosetta Stone. Each language is made up of a variety of courses from beginning vocabulary to grammar and writing in the language you are learning.

Each lesson must be downloaded to your phone, but they only take a moment or two and then you can properly jump in. Those lessons are also fairly short, making them easy to rock through when you're sitting on the train during your commute. There are currently 14 languages in the Babbel arsenal, from Spanish to Brazilian Portugese.

Bottom line: Babbel offers an affordable middle of the road option for learning a new language. There are 14 different languages available, with plenty of courses to get you working towards fluency in a new language.

One more thing: Each language must be downloaded as a different app, which can be a bit bulky if you download more than one at a time.

Best overall

Learn languages: Rosetta Stone

See at Store

Rosetta Stone is already well known as a great way to begin learning a new language, but you may not have realized that it was available on your phone. With access to 28 different languages, a slow and steady pace that is great for building up your confidence, and optional live-tutoring, there is a reason that Rosetta Stone is king when it comes to language learning apps. Whether you're aiming to learn for fun, or you want to become fluent, this is a great place to start. This program will let you learn how to speak, write and read in a new language, with an emphasis on building confidence in pronunciation and the ability to sync progress across your desktop or mobile device.

Bottom line: Rosetta Stone delivers an excellent foundation for learning a new language with a program that focuses on practical conversational skills. With the addition of teaching you how to read, write, and listen for a rounded experience.

One more thing: While you do have to pay for the full version, you can access the first module of any language for free to try it out.

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2 months ago

The Best Android Apps

117

Looking for the absolute best Android apps, utilities, and games, the Play Store has to offer? You've come to the right place!

There are a lot of Android apps out there, and we've rounded up the very best across each of the Play Store's major categories. Keep in mind that these are our subjective choices, and are always welcome to hear about what you're digging in the comments, so don't be shy!

Best book & reference app for Android: Kindle

Amazon's Kindle remains the de facto standard for e-reading and offers the widest marketplace for books and reference materials. The app includes a wide range of features, including definition look-up, text scaling, contrast adjustment, and location memory. You can even load Mobi and PDF files to be read in the Kindle app (though not ePub).

Download: Kindle (Free w/ IAPS)


Best business app for Android: Splashtop

Splashtop is a remote desktop access app that allows users to get access to everything they need on your home or work PC. So long as your computer is on, the desktop client is running, and you have an active subscription, you can use your Android device to click around your desktop, open applications, browse files, and make use of touch shortcuts to get more done faster. Encryption is enabled for business customers concerned about security.

Download: Splashtop (Free w/ subscription)


Best comics app for Android: Comixology

In no uncertain terms, Comixology made comics on mobile popular. Issues are made available to purchase the same day they're out on print. There are a bunch of free issues available, and the selection spans major publishers like Marvel, DC, IDW, and Disney. You'll also find related news and podcasts tucked away in there.

Download: Comixology (Free w/ IAPs)


Best education app for Android: Lynda.com

Lynda remains a top source for current, high-quality instructional videos. Though the bulk of the service relies on a hefty $25/month subscription fee, there are a lot of free videos available. Many of the areas of subject matter are technical and surround certain types of software, but you'll also find photography, music, art, and other major topics covered.

Download: Lynda.com (Monthly subscription required)


Best entertainment app for Android: IMDb

IMDb is an invaluable tool for figuring out which films and shows actors are from, digging up obscure quotes, and seeing which shows are topping the charts. After watching an HD trailer, you can find showtimes at theatres near you, or mark it on your watchlist to catch it later. Between the full photo galleries, recent news, and information on every movie under the sun, IMDb is insanely useful.

Download: IMDb (Free)


Best finance app for Android: Mint.com Personal Finance

Mint.com is an outstanding organizational app to stay on top of your budget. It plugs directly into your existing bank accounts and identifies transactions across broad categories so it can visualize the information in helpful way. You can set monthly budget limits for different types of activities, and manually add in transactions that aren't using any of your bank cards. Investment totals made through your bank are displayed here as well.

Download: Mint (Free)


Best health & fitness app for Android: Endomondo Sports Tracker

Endomondo is still one of the best all-around fitness trackers available on Android. You can track speed, distance, and time for running, walking, cycling, or any other overland activity and share the results to your friends on Facebook. If you're willing to go with the pro version, you're able to enjoy goal setting features, an audio coach, and view detailed graphs for your progress throughout a workout. You'll also find that a wide range of popular fitness bands and accessories will feed data into Endomondo.

Download: Endomondo (Free w/ IAPs, or $4.99 for Pro version


Best lifestyle app for Android: Tinder

Tinder is a hugely popular location-based dating app. Users log in with their Facebook credentials, which populates a Tinder profile with all of their interests and a profile image. You're then presented with a stream of potential matches based on those nearby and with overlapping interests and common Facebook friends. With a swipe, users anonymously decide if they like someone or not, and they get a notification when someone they picked has picked them as well. Then it's just a matter of using the chat system to taking things from there.

Download Tinder (Free)


Best media & video app for Android: Plex

Plex is a widely-respected media-sharing app that helps you get content on your Android device from your PC. Just run the media server software on your computer, and you can access music, video, and pictures from anywhere. Extra features, like Chromecast support and cloud saving, are available with a PlexPass subscription.

Download: Plex (Free w/subscription)


Best medical app for Android: Medscape

Medscape is a rich medical reference library that allows users to pour over thousands of procedures, drugs, and news articles. Specialities can be tagged so that relevant information can be made more prominent. The data is pulled in through WebMD, which is highly reputable in the sphere. One of the more useful sections for everyday users is a drug database and cross-referencing for potential interactions. For those really into medicine, there's an educational section where you can read up on the latest research and catch embedded videos going over the content.

Download: Medscape (Free)


Best music & audio app for Android: Spotify

Spotify is arguably the best music streaming service out there, featuring a massive library of tracks, as well as a station generator and some curated, mood and genre based offerings if you don't feel like making a playlist yourself.

There's also a social emphasis with Spotify, giving users the option to share and play friend's playlists to help them discover music and share what they're listening to on social media sites. You can stream shuffled music for free (with ads) or subscribe for unlimited access to everything Spotify offers.

Download: Spotify (Free, $9.99/month for premium)

Best news & magazine app for Android: Flipboard

Flipboard has become the new way people take in web content on their phone. Users build up a list of subscriptions, and content is fed into a beautiful interface. Swipes cause each page to turn smoothly, and a single tap on the header image takes you into the full text of an article. Though reading through your favorite sites is great, you can build your own magazines built from web content and share them with the Flipboard community at large.

Download: Flipboard (Free)


Best personalization app for Android: Action Launcher 3

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.

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

Download: Action Launcher 3 (Free)


Best photography app for Android: Snapseed

Snapseed is a highly polished photo editing app built smartly for touch input. Tapping navigation buttons along the bottom allow users to switch between tools, such as rotating, cropping, color correction, and filters. Then, swiping up and down on the picture lets you select the type of adjustment, and going left and right changes the amount of adjustment. It's a great interface for smaller screens, and provides all the major editing you might need to do.

Download: Snapseed (Free)


Best productivity app for Android: Trello

Trello is a task app the can scale as large as company-wide project handing, to as small as grocery lists. Set reminders, add labels, organize in collections called boards, assign other members, attach pictures and documents, and much more. Trello has a very good-looking web client too, making it easy to manage your tasks by PC as well.

Download Trello (Free)


Best shopping app for Android: Amazon Shopping

Amazon is the granddaddy of online retail. If you're shopping for anything at all, it's worth checking out to see what Amazon's offering. They have crazy deals all the time, just about every physical object you could possibly want to acquire, and with Prime, you'll get it on your doorstep lickety-split. A separate price check app can help by scanning barcodes of physical products and seeing if you can get it any cheaper on Amazon.

Download Amazon (Free)


Best social app for Android: Facebook

Like it or not, Facebook is the most ubiquitous social network out there. Everybody's on it, sharing everything they do. With the Android app, you can quickly post status updates, share links through the browser, upload and tag pictures, send instant messages, and leave likes on your friends' status updates. On many devices, Facebook information is tied to your address book, ensuring that their information is up-to-date and the image is their latest profile pic.

Download: Facebook (Free)


Best sports app for Android: theScore

theScore remains a high-quality, broad-field sports app that helps you get all the news you could possibly want. NFL, NBA, NHL, EPL, UFC, and more are covered with news, scores, pictures, and video clips. Users can mark teams or players as favorites so they can track what's up more easily.

Download: theScore (Free)


Best tool app for Android: Tasker

Tasker lets you set up a wide range of tasks to execute automatically given certain circumstances. You can set antenna to go off when you leave a certain location, turn on an app after tapping an NFC tag, or mute your ringer after connecting to a specific Wi-Fi network. With the help of third parties plugging into Tasker, you have a ton of options for if/then statements here.

Download: Tasker ($2.99)


Best transport app for Android: Uber

Uber has become such a force in the sphere of transportation that it has displaced the entire taxi industry in many major cities. Uber acts as the go-between for pedestrians looking for a ride and a legion of private drivers. Uber drivers are vouched for by users to ensure security, and thanks to GPS, you can find the closest one easily. Prices are dictated by supply of drivers, which means you can get some very reasonable fares, though there are occasionally surges in pricing during busy periods. Payments are made through Uber, so there's no need for cash at any stage. If you're lucky enough to be in a city with Uber service, this is hands-down the way to get around.

Download: Uber (Free, plus fare)


Best travel & local app for Android: TripIt

TripIt lets you store all of your travel plans, including information about your itinerary, hotel, and car rental bookings in one convenient location. It can import this information direct from your email box, and you can easily share your travel plans with your family and friends. It'll even add your trips to your calendar.

TripIt is a free app and service for a basic set of features, but the real benefits come in when you subscribe to TripIt Pro for $49 per year. You get updates on any changes to your flights such as delays or gate changes, and it will also inform you when a better flight becomes available and will let you change your flight plans in-app.

Download: TripIt (Free or $49.99/year subscription)


Best weather app for Android: Accuweather

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.

Download: Accuweather (Free, or $2.99 for premium)


Best widget for Android: Beautiful Widgets

Beautiful Widgets is a full complement of home screen widgets, including weather, time, and battery. Though Android includes many of those natively, the real selling point with is that Beautiful Widgets has a whole store full of styles to chose from. Combination widgets which include multiple data types, such as weather and clock, can use different themes together to create a really unique look.

Download: Beautiful Widgets ($2.69)


Best live wallpaper for Android: Muzei

Muzei is a simple, gorgeous way of livening up your wallpaper rotation. By default, the background is blurred, and with a double-tap, it leaps into focus. You can set how long it takes for a new wallpaper to come in, or decide to leave the wallpaper permanently in focus. An open framework allows other extension apps to find and pick wallpapers for you, either based on your location, social network, cloud collection, and many other sources.

Download: Muzei (Free)


Best keyboard for Android: Gboard

Google originally designed the Gboard for the iPhone, and they took their time making it available for Android. The wait was worth it, as Google Keyboard has been rebranded and updated with great new features including integrated web search. The Gboard is completely free, supports gesture typing for both individual words and entire sentences, a bounty of languages, and a modest choice of themes.

Download: GBoard (Free)


Best podcast app for Android: Pocket Casts

Pocket Casts does what any good podcast player should do: it loads quickly, has great discovery tools, has effects for cutting down on silences, and it looks great doing it. Shifty Jelly, the company behind Pocket Casts, has put a lot of love into making the app as full-featured as possible without alienating beginners just looking for an easy-to-use podcast app.

With tablet support, Chromecast output, and easy ways to store content on microSD cards, Pocket Casts is our pick for the best podcast app on Android.

Download: Pocket Casts ($3.99)


Best arcade game for Android: PinOut

PinOut is a brilliant reimagining of the classic pinball action we're all familiar with into an endless arcade format, created by the award-winning developers behind Smash Hit. The game features sharp, futuristic graphics and smooth controls as it pits you in a race against the clock to see how far you can make it on one ball.

PinOut is a free download from the Google Play Store, but you might want to spend $2.99 on the one-time upgrade to premium to unlock the ability to start from previous checkpoints you've reached.

Download: PinOut (Free w/ IAPs)


Best action game for Android: Sky Force: Reloaded

Sky Force Reloaded is, simply, one of the finest games on Android. Featuring frantic gameplay, dazzling graphics, and a deep upgrade system it will have you coming back and playing for hours on end.

The story picks up after the events of Sky Force 2014 with General Mantis' daughter picking up the cause of her fallen father. Most stages feature an epic boss battle with her in a massive warship, but first you have to shoot and navigate your way through intense waves of laser-blasting tanks, turrets, and helicopters. New missions are unlocked by collecting medals, which are earned by saving all the humans, destroying all enemies, and staying untouched through a mission.

Download: Sky Force: Reloaded (Free)


Best cards and casino game for Android: PokerStars Poker: Texas Hold'Em

Fans of Texas Hold 'em will be familiar with PokerStars. It stacked with features you'll love: millions of online players, frequent tournaments, multiple game styles to choose from and in-game table chat. Actual gambling apps aren't available through the Google Play Store, so you're playing with play money here — which you can buy through in-app purchases, or you can hold out for a free spin at the slots to get some starting funds once you're out.

Download: PokerStars Poker: Texas Hold'em (Free w/ IAPs)


Best racing game for Android: Asphalt 8

Asphalt 8 is an over-the-top, white-knuckled racing game for Android. Power-ups litter the fantastic courses set in real-world locations, which can help you launch off ramps for amazing (and physically unlikely) stunts. Hopefully in the process you can trash some of the competition in explosively cinematic crashes. Some freemium elements are employed, such as purchasable currency and premium power-ups, but on the whole, the game is entirely playable without spending a cent.

Download: Asphalt 8: Airborne (Free, IAPs)


Best sports game for Android: FIFA Mobile

FIFA Mobile offers all of the excitement of a live footie match to your Android device. There are four game modes to choose from: you start out with Live Events and Attack Mode, and unlock Leagues and Season once your profile reaches level five. Controls include the standard virtual button and joystick layout, or you can try out some great finger-friendly gesture controls. No doubt soccer fans will appreciate the top-notch graphics and real player models.

Download: FIFA Mobile (Free, IAPs)


Your favorite Android apps?

Those are our picks for the very best apps for Android, but there are a lot of apps out there and new ones are coming out all the time. Leave a comment with your favorites!

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2 months ago

Save 50% on Scrivener for Windows for a limited time!

Ever try creating a really long document in Microsoft Word or an online notepad? It's not ideal, and odds are it isn't something you will want to do more than once. There has to be a better way to do it right? One with more features aimed at those writing in longer form? Well, there is.

Meet Scrivener for Windows, the great long-form writing app that comes packed with features. It allows you to view and edit different sections by themselves or switch to a storyboard to view and arrange your project. Sounds expensive, huh? Well, right now you can save 50% on the purchase!

Some of the other great features include:

  • View & edit different sections of your writing in isolation or as a whole
  • Take a "snapshot" of a document, then edit & rewrite knowing you can restore an earlier revision at any time
  • Easily storyboard & rearrange your project
  • Utilize the fully-featured outliner to take control of the structure of your work
  • Switch to scriptwriting mode for automatic or custom formatting—then export to a dedicated scriptwriting program such as Final Draft
  • Use the name generator to create pseudonyms for interviewees or names for fictional characters
  • Automatically back up your projects as zip files each time you open or close them

Save 50% right now! Learn More

Normally this would all set you back $40, but right now you can save half of that. At just $20 this is a hard program to pass up. You may think your current workflow is just fine, but once you invest a bit of money and try this out, you won't want to turn back!

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2 months ago

Photo editing app Meitu says it needs permissions for analytics, denies selling user data

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Meitu details why it needs all those permissions.

Chinese photo editing app Meitu made landfall in the U.S. recently, with the free app shooting up the Play Store rankings over the course of the week. The app adds anime-style filters to photos, and the final results end up being equal parts wonderful and weird.

The app has been popular in China and Hong Kong for several years now, but its entry into the U.S. was fraught with privacy issues. The app asks for twenty-three permissions in total, which include access to your phone's device ID, storage, Wi-Fi, network settings, local IP, location details, carrier information, the ability to run at startup, and more.

In a statement to the media, Meitu said that it collects all that data to optimize the app's performance, and get a better understanding of how customers engage with its ads. The company denied that it sells any of the user data it collects, going into further detail as to why it needs so many permissions.

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2 months ago

How to stop Google Play from automatically adding new icons to your home screen

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Turn it off.

App shortcuts are great, but can quickly overwhelm your home screens.

There's nothing worse than getting overwhelmed on a new device, but thanks to one pesky setting in Google Play Store, while you're installing all your apps on your new Android phone you might go into Google Play with an empty home screen and come out to find it completely covered with apps. It's a bit annoying if you're not the type to put every app you use on the home screen — but don't worry! The setting is called "Add icon to Home screen" and it's really easy to turn off.

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2 months ago

Best apps for starting a meditation habit

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Because life is crazy and we should all take a little time to settle down.

Meditation is not just something that flower children do. You can do it, too, and you don't have to go to a yoga studio or spend a weekend at an ashram to get started. All you have to do is download an app to your smartphone.

Meditation offers plenty of benefits. A consistent meditation practice can help reduce stress, improve concentration, and encourage a healthy lifestyle by virtue of requiring routine. It's also the practice of self-awareness, which can admittedly be a tad overwhelming for those who may have quite a bit they're contending with internally. As a person with an inconsistent meditation practice, I can say that when I have stuck to the program, I've never felt better.

If you're hoping to get started with a meditation practice of you own, here are several apps worth trying out.

Insight Timer

Insight Timer is one of the more worthy meditation apps that appeals to both newcomers and season meditators. If you're new, you can select from one of 3,500 different guided meditations led by well-known meditation teachers, and if you're already a pro, you can set a timer and choose from the library of ambient background sounds. There are also helpful interface elements, like the ability to bookmark your favorite guided meditations for later use, and there's a social networking aspect so that you can see who else is meditating alongside you.

Insight Timer does have a few drawbacks. It's free, but you'll have to fork over some cash for different bell sounds. You'll also have to maintain a separate login to keep your data synced. At the very least, that data can be easily backed up and carried over to other devices.

Download Insight Timer (Free, IAP)

Stop, Breathe, and Think

Stop, Breathe, and Think has been gaining quite a bit of traction since its debut in the Play Store. Whereas most apps require you to sort of know what kind of meditation you're into, this app asks you about how you're feeling before offering up the appropriate program for the day. Stop, Breathe, and Think also employs a sticker system for accolades, in case you need that extra push to make it to your mat each day, as well as the ability to share your progress with friends.

Be forewarned that Stop, Breathe, and Think requires quite a bit of commitment, including logging in daily to maintain your streak and actually paying to unlock longer meditation sessions.

Download Stop, Breathe, and Think (Free, IAP)

Headspace

Whether you're already seasoned at meditations, or merely a bashful beginner, Headspace is one of the most popular meditation apps precisely because it's so effective. One major catch, however, is that you'll have to pay monthly for full access to the app, which includes over a hundred hours of content, a buddy system for you and your pals, and special meditation packages. Think of Headspace as a class on meditation; if you're hoping to really commit to the practice, this is a great place to start if you don't mind figuratively having your hand held for a bit in the beginning.

Download Headspace (Free, IAP)

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2 months ago

Best Streaming Music App for Android

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Spotify

Spotify is the best streaming music app that you can download for Android. With an impressively large catalog, radio stations, playlists and the ability to listen to a single song or a full album, it offers the best listening experience no matter what you are looking for.

Best overall

Spotify Music

See at Play Store

Spotify Music pulls to the head of the pack with its huge collection of music and the wide variety of features that it employs. The biggest perk is the wide variety of ways that you can find new music while exploring the app. You've got genre and mood stations that are great if you're throwing a party and want to turn on music to play for a while. It's also easy to build playlists or listen to an entire album from beginning to end. With the emphasis on social connection, you can even share your music to your favorite social network, or browse the music that your friends are listening to.

Bottom line: Spotify Music delivers an awesome experience, with all tons of features to make listening to music fun and easy.

One more thing: Spotify has Chromecast support, which means that you cast your music to make sure everyone can hear what is going on.

Why Spotify Music is the best

A massive catalog and emphasis on social connection, and great features to make your listening experiences amazing.

Having an adaptable music service that gets me access to whatever I want to listen to is kind of a big deal for me. I still have over 50GB of music saved on my PC. Spotify manages to win out through the sheer size of its music catalog — updated regularly —and the number of features it delivers.

You get all of the features that various different services offer in one place. Whether you like to find new music, have great playlists for parties, listen to entire albums, or have something great to work out to, Spotify has you covered. It's constantly evolving the way that you find and experience music, and even brings a social aspect in by letting you browse the music of people you are friends with.

Sarah Mitroff of CNET calls Spotify "The King of streaming music":

"On the surface, Spotify is just another app that lets you play millions of songs you don't own for a monthly fee. But look deeper and you see a constantly evolving service that seeks to reinvent how we find and play music."

To get access to everything Spotify has to offer you will need to pony up for a $9.99 monthly subscription. The price tag is well worth it though. You'll remove ads, get unlimited skips, and be able to download your playlists to listen to them even when you aren't connected to the internet. In a nutshell, it's well worth the extra money for the access to the full toolbox of features. There is also the ability to set up a family account which can hold 6 individual accounts for just $14.99 a month.

Best Free

Pandora Radio

Pandora

See at Play Store

If you're looking for the best option for streaming music on a budget, then you need look no further then Pandora Radio. Pandora was one of the first streaming music platforms, and it's still popular for a good reason. You can create a station for a song or artist and then you'll get music that is related. By liking or disliking the music that plays you can curate stations so that you only hear the music that you enjoy.

Pandora Radio includes not only music, but also some audio you might not expect like Epic Rap Battles from YouTube and stand-up comedy sets. On top of creating and curating stations you can also browse stations by genre or mood. As you like music you'll also get access to Thumbprint radio, a station filled with only the songs that you have liked on other stations.

While you are limited to a specific number of song skips with the free version of Pandora, once you have curated your stations this shouldn't be a real issue. You can have as many stations as you like, and it's easy to add variety to an existing station if you want to hear something new.

Bottom line: Pandora offers a massive collection of music that you can explore by browsing pre-made stations, or by creating and curating your own music stations.

One more thing: While you are limited to the number of songs you can skip, you can go around this by just switching stations.

Best for Podcasts

Google Play Music

Google Play MusicSee at Play Store

Google Play Music has an impressive catalog when it comes to music, and may actually come installed when you get a new phone. While it does many things very well, (especially since Songza was added to the mix) Google Play Music really shines for those of you that also enjoy listening to podcasts. From Nightvale to The Joe Rogan Experience, Google Play Music has a full section available for podcasts built in. This means that you can search by charts, category, or by specifically looking up your favorite podcast. You can easily add podcasts to a favorite list to make them easy to find again. You're also able to manage your subscribed podcasts by auto downloading or receiving notifications about new episodes, as well as choosing the order that episodes are displayed in.

Bottom line: Google Play Music's gigantic collection extends out to dozens of podcasts for you to enjoy. With features that let you customize your listening experience.

One more thing: When you find an awesome new podcast, it's easy to share with friends on social media right from the podcast page.

Best for Audiophiles

Tidal

Tidal

See at Play Store

In terms of streaming music services, Tidal is still one of the younger players on the block. Don't let that trick you, though. On top of their catalog of exclusive music like Beyonce's Lemonade, or Prince's full album list, they are also hands-down the absolute best experience for audiophiles.

Tidal delivers high fidelity sound on both its songs and its music videos. While they don't have quite as large of a catalog as some other services, the 40 million tracks that they do have are top notch in quality. Tidal also boasts a ton of great music that is exclusive to the service.

Bottom line: Tidal offers a great selection of music, makes it easy to find new favorites, and best of delivers a superior listening experience with High Fidelity audio.

One more thing: It's easy to find great new music with the curated recommendations of albums and playlists.

Best for Playlists

Apple Music

Apple Music

See at Play Store

Apple Music might not sound like it should belong on an Android phone, and that's where you would be so very, very, wrong. Apple Music has a solid collection of music with 30 million tracks, but it's their playlists that should get you intrigued. Building personal playlists can be fun, but there are times you just want to find awesome music with as little work as possible.

Apple Music brings you thousands of different playlists that have been curated for pretty much every genre or activity on the planet. As you find and listen to music, you'll also get special playlist recommendations that can help you to discover entirely new music.

Bottom line: Apple Music delivers a superior experience when it comes to playlists. You can easily find great playlists by searching, or delve into your recommendations to find the best new music you've never heard of.

One more thing: In order to access those awesome playlists, you will need to pony up for a monthly subscription.

Best overall

Spotify Music

See at Play Store

Spotify Music pulls to the head of the pack with its huge collection of music and the wide variety of features that it employs. The biggest perk is the wide variety of ways that you can find new music while exploring the app. You've got genre and mood stations that are great if you're throwing a party and want to turn on music to play for a while. It's also easy to build playlists or listen to an entire album from beginning to end. With the emphasis on social connection, you can even share your music to your favorite social network, or browse the music that your friends are listening to.

Bottom line: Spotify Music delivers an awesome experience, with all tons of features to make listening to music fun and easy.

One more thing: Spotify has Chromecast support, which means that you cast your music to make sure everyone can hear what is going on.

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2 months ago

ComiXology is getting an exclusive Adventure Time comic

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Wield that axe, Marshall Lee.

Fans of the Adventure Time universe are about to find themselves needing ComiXology in their lives, as one of its alternate universe characters gets his own three-part story. In a continued effort to promote their new push for original content, Amazon has a year of exclusive comics planned for ComiXology and Kindle owners.

At the top of their publishing list is Adventure Time: Marshall Lee Spectacular, a three story comic all about the alternate version of Marceline the Vampire Queen from the perspective of Ice King's fan fiction. If you're unfamiliar with the series, it really doesn't get less confusing from here.

This three-part series includes an original song performed by Marshall Lee, and is available as either a $3.99 one-time purchase or free to ComiXology Unlimited subscribers. If you're not a part of the $5.99/month subscription service, Amazon offers a 30 day free trial so you can see what's going on. For those who would rather not bother with ComiXology at all, the comic is also available directly from Amazon for the Kindle app.

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2 months ago

Best Chrome extensions you didn't know about but should be using

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10 Chrome extensions you didn't know existed but should be using

What are the best Chrome extensions I should be using?

Update 24 March 2017: We've refreshed this list to ensure you're kept up to the latest when it comes to the best Chrome extensions you should be using.

The amount of time most people spend browsing the internet continues to rise each year, and Google's Chrome browser attempts to be the most comfortable and versatile browser out there. To aid in its quest, Google allows for developers to market small software extensions that modify and (in most cases) ameliorate your browsing experience. Here are 10 Chrome extensions you didn't know about but should be using.

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