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3 days ago

Reigns selected as big winner at Google Play Indie Games final

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Long live the King!

The first ever Google Play Indie Games contest has wrapped up with UK developers Nerial winning twice over for their outstanding game Reigns. This comes as little surprise to us: Reigns is a fantastic game and one of our favorites of 2016.

On top of winning the overall prize, Reigns also won the Unity prize, which provides Nerial with a 12-month subscription to Unity's professional game development platform.

We took another look at Reigns, as well the runner ups, The Battle of Polytopia and Causality. You can find the full list of finalists here.

Reigns

Reigns is a game all about making the right decisions to keep your kingdom prosperous and secure. You start out as a young king taking over control of his kingdom in the first year of his reign. Advisers, citizens and animals appear as cards, coming to you with issues and questions that require a ruling — swipe right for yes, swipe left for no.

The decisions you make will affect the four aspects of your kingdom: the church, the people, the army or the treasury. Each is tracked at the top of the screen by the meter, and your duty as king is to monitor them and make sure that no meter becomes entirely full or empty — if that happens, your fate is sealed and the heir to the crown rises and becomes the new King.

It's an absolutely unique title that will hook you in with it's dark sense of humor, stylish design, simple game-play and intriguing storytelling. Check out our beginner's guide for more information on how to play the games and some tips to help you start your reign out right.

Download: Reigns ($2.99)

The Battle of Polytopia

Fans of turn-based strategy games like the Civilization series will absolutely want to check out The Battle of Polytopia. Developed by Midjiwan AB from Sweden, this stylish game packs in a deceiving amount of strategy and fun. Explore the world around you and build up your kingdom by investing in new technology and troops as you capture villages and expand your empire.

It's easy to see why this game made Google Play's top three — with multiple game modes including the rarely seen pass-and-play option for playing against friends and 20 tribes to unlock and play as, this feels like a full-fledged strategy game packaged with cartoony graphics and scaled down perfectly for playing on a mobile device. The turn-based game-play against the AI is brisk and you can add more opponents or up the difficulty level if you're in need of a bigger challenge. Best of all, it's a free download from the Google Play Store! This games feels perfect for your daily commute on public transit, or really any time you got time to kill — If you start a Domination game (last tribe standing wins), you can save and resume your game at a later time as needed.

Download: The Battle of Polytopia (Free)

Causality

Causality will absolutely blow your mind. This is just a brilliant game where you control time and make adjustments to the level and alter the sequence in such a way that you help your stranded astronauts reach their goals.

Set in simplistic-yet-beautiful alien landscapes, this stylish game will have you wracking your brain as you try to figure out how to guide each astronaut to their color-coded exit within the time frame. Of course, you have full control over the timeline, and can jump to any point in time and change an aspect of the level. There are 60 mind-bending puzzles to unlock and complete in this outstandingly polished and challenging game.

Download: Causality ($1.99)

Android Gaming

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3 days ago

What do I need to jump from Big Four to an alternative carrier?

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Making the change to an alternative carrier can save you money and give you better service, but you need to know a few things before you do it.

When you port out your number and switch away from one of the Big Four to a carrier that might work better for you, nothing is hard. You either click a few buttons online and enter a few details or make a phone call from someone else's phone and a person on the other end clicks their buttons. But it's not something you want to go in blind and learn from regretful mistakes. Trust us, we've been there.

The good news is that you already know what you need to do and only need to ask yourself the right questions. We can help. Here's a list of the things you need to get sorted before you make the jump.

A phone

Some alternative carriers will sell you a new phone, but most likely you don't need one. The phone you're using now will probably work!

You need to know what type of network and what frequencies your phone supports. That information might be on the box or papers that came with it, but if you don't have those Google will help. If you don't understand what you're seeing there, a quick question in our forums will get you squared away.

Take that information and check it against the network details for the carrier you want to use. You'll find those online at their website or you can give them a quick call. If things match, you're golden.

If you love the phone you have now you can find a compnay that gives you the right service for it.

You might need to get your phone unlocked if you bought it from the phone company you're using now. That's something they will do for you as long as you've met certain requirements like paying the bill for a set number of months. If you've paid the phone off or finished the contract, they'll help you. If for some reason they can't or won't, there are literally hundreds of third-party phone unlocking services online. Check the reviews and pick one and you'll be good to go in short order.

If you want to buy a new phone, you want to buy one that's unlocked and has the right network frequencies and bands. The people selling you the phone can help or a quick online search has the answer. We've got a few suggestions ourselves.

More: The best unlocked phones

Check the coverage

What works well for me might not work well for you. Every carrier has a map that shows their network footprint. Find it and give it a skeptical look.

Be cautious if you're on the fringe of coverage or there are any fancy modifiers like carrier-partner or anything but the words LTE or 4G when you're looking at the map. And be sure you're looking at the data coverage map, not the voice calling coverage map.

If you're in the middle of coverage with no big gaps on the map, you're probably good. If not, don't be afraid to look at a different carrier.

How much data will you use and how many minutes do you need?

An independent alternative carrier will have more options when it comes to buying service. That's how they can be profitable — they buy a LOT and break it into chunks to resell to us.

Look at your last couple of phone bills and see how many calling minutes you used and how much data you used. Give yourself a little slack and pick a plan that gives you what you need and doesn't have you paying for stuff you're not using.

If you end up not buying enough, you can always add more at any time and adjust for next month. If you choose too much, you can choose less next month. That flexibility is one of the benefits of moving away from the big companies.

You need a little bit of tech-fu

Don't worry, you don't need a lot of tech knowledge, but you will need to know a couple things about your phone.

You'll need to know what size SIM card you need and how to change it. Your manual has all this information or Google does. Your new phone company will be happy to sell you the correct size SIM card as long as you let them know what you need.

Programming the network on your phone is easier than you think so don't be intimidated.

You'll also need to know how to program the new network into your phone. Things might work when you insert a new SIM card but most times not everything works correctly. This is because you need to set what's called an APN.

APN's for the bigger carriers are already set, and the phone will pick the one that's the closest match to your new service. But to get things like MMS or full speed LTE up and running usually requires you to enter a few lines through the settings. It's easy if you have a little guidance, which you'll find at your phone company website. If in doubt, hit our forums for help.

Make sure you have a fallback plan

It might be tempting to pay the last bill from your old carrier with a wheelbarrow of pennies while letting the world know what a rip-off they are, or even thinking they can stuff it and stiffing them on that last payment. But don't do it.

You can't go back if you burn the bridge. You never know how new service from a new company will be until you try it. If it's unacceptable, you'll want to switch back while you explore other options so you're not without a phone.

That's hard to do if you went out in a blaze of glory. Anyways, the people working at the store aren't the people who are ripping you off every month so be nice. Tell them how they can save money by switching!

Changes can be turbulent soemtimes, but with a little thought switching phone companies doesn't have to be!

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3 days ago

Shoot the bad guys and save the planet with Battle Planet!

Defuse the bombs, defeat your enemies, and try to survive.

Dropped onto a planet where my ancestors once dwelled, I'm armed only with a single gun, a jetpack, and the knowledge that my ride should be back in roughly a year. The place is mostly deserted, so it seems like it might be an actual cake walk. Well, until you factor in Tyranid spaceships launching bombs at ancient burial sites, subterranean worms, and bounty hunters all after me at once. Thankfully, the more I shoot, the nastier I am to my enemies and I have a job to do. It's time to clear the planet that my Ancestors are interred in. This is Battle Planet.

Read more at VRHeads.com

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3 days ago

Best Clear Cases for Moto G4 + Moto G4 Plus

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Best clear cases for Moto G4

Your phone doesn't have to be an expression of your true self. You can cover it up with something clear from this list.

You bought the Moto G4 or Moto G4 Plus in your favorite color. You shouldn't have to hide it behind a colored or patterened case. Choose a clear case to show off your hardware and protect it from the elements.

Orzly FlexiCase

Orzly FlexiCase

It's slim, it's cheap, and it'll protect your Moto G4 or G4 Plus from dirt and scratches. The Orzly FlexiCase is laser cut, so it fits snuggly on your device, and offers access to all ports, buttons, and cameras. It's made of non-slip, flexible plastic that's resistant to scratches. It's display covers are affordable and protective, too, so be sure to add one of those in tow for extra protection.

See at Amazon

Cimo Wave Slim protective case

Cimo Wave Slim protective case

The Cimo Slim Protective Case is worth adding to your Amazon cart of stuff. The case is made of flexible plastic and features a slight wave design on the backside for some added flair. It's available in four different tints, including a light teal and neon pink. If you're feeling attracted to more than one type of case from the available selection, it's affordable enough that you could probably purchase all four to start yourself a little collection of coverings for your Moto G4 or G4 Plus.

See at Amazon

Poetic Affinity Protective Bumper case

Poetic Infinity Protective Bumper Case

Just because you didn't pay a fortune for the Moto G4 or G4 Plus in your hand, doesn't mean that the phone has to suffer when it falls. Give it a bit of a buffer between its frame and the ground with the Poetic Affinity Protective Bumper Case, which offers protective protrusions on either sides of the chassis to help the G4 absorb any impact. It's available in three clear varieties and features raised edges so that it's never touching the surface it's laying on.

See at Amazon

Ringke Fusion

Ringke Fusion

Prefer a hard shell clear case? The Ringke Fusion is a sure bet. It's shock absorbant and offers certified military grade drop protection. It's got a sightly raised design, so when you lay the phone down it's never touching a surface. It also features the appropriate cut-outs for all the ports and cameras of the Moto G4 and G4 Plus. And if you'd prefer it, this particular case comes in a smokey black color.

See at Amazon

A clear choice

Are you currently sporting a clear case on your Moto G4 or G4 Plus? Tell us about it.

Moto G4 and G4 Plus

Moto G4:

Amazon Motorola

Moto G4 Plus:

Amazon Motorola

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3 days ago

Google pledges to help initiate criminal justice reform

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The company has committed to doubling its investment in organizations working to help solve the issue of mass incarceration.

As a company, Google isn't one to shy away from political topics. It's come out in support of gender equality, immigrants, and now it's taking a stance against mass incarceration.

Google.org, in particular, has pledged to donate $11.5 million in grants to organizations across the country working on reforming the criminal justice system. From the official blog post:

We believe better data can be can be part of the solution [against mass incarceration], which is why we're investing in organizations using data and evidence to reduce racial disparities in the criminal justice system. We're giving $5 million to support the Center for Policing Equity (CPE), which partners with police agencies and communities by bringing together data science, trainings and policy reforms to address racial disparity. This intersection gives CPE a unique opportunity to both identify the cause of problems, and propose concrete solutions. CPE's National Justice Database is the first in the nation to track national statistics on police behavior, including stops and use of force, and standardizes data collection across many of the country's police departments. Soon, Google engineers will be volunteering their time and skills with CPE to help build and improve this platform.

Google plans to dole out the grants to ten different organizations. "The goal of these efforts is a society where everyone, regardless of race, is ensured an equal outcome under the law," writes Justin Steele, Principal at Google.Org. "We hope that our grants will provide resources and support to bring about this much-needed change."

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3 days ago

Introducing Mint SIM, the perfect way to get cheap data in the U.S.

An introduction to alternate mobile service providers in the U.S., and to the awesomeness that is Mint SIM.

Mobile Nations and Mint SIM have partnered to bring you the best new way to get connected to high-speed LTE in the U.S.

Favorite phone, favorite speaker, favorite Chromebook — While it's relatively easy to list off the benefits of products you can hold in your hand, it's less easy to recommend mobile carriers.

There are so many factors that go into deciding which carrier to sign up for — location, budget, and individual needs. In the U.S, four carriers dominate the industry, and the airwaves — T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon — but thankfully there are alternatives, many of which are built on the foundations of those incumbents.

One such alternative is Mint SIM, which uses T-Mobile's growing 4G LTE network to do something wonderful: eliminate the overhead, the confusion, and in many cases the "loudness," of the network it connects to. But to talk about Mint SIM, we have to talk about its place in the U.S. market, and how such a company came to be. To do that, we have to use a term that we'll quickly leave behind: MVNO, or Mobile Virtual Network Operator.

What is an MVNO?

The idea behind an MVNO is simple: instead of spending the billions of dollars building an entirely new nationwide network, companies enter into deals with the incumbent providers in a particular country — in the U.S., that's T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint — to resell access to their networks. These often come in the form of contracts, where the smaller companies will buy space on the network — voice, messaging and, of course, data — at a heavily discounted, bulk rate, and sell it to you, the customer, for a profit.

For Mint SIM, it's about price and simplicity.

This benefits everyone in the equation: the incumbent gets a bunch of money upfront to invest back into its business, or give to shareholders in the form of dividends; the alternate provider gets to sell access to the network at a lower cost to the incumbent while still making a profit; and you, the user, gets to purchase access to a high-quality, fast and reliable network at prices lower than those incumbents.

Such a market only works when there is robust competition in the wireless market, which exists in the U.S., and is extremely common across Europe, where the market was built with alternative providers in mind.

Why would you go with an alternate wireless carrier over an incumbent?

That's the question we mean to talk about, and why a company like Mint SIM is so interesting.

On the site, we've mainly limited our conversation around these alternative brands to Project Fi, which is owned and operated by Google, a company that many readers of Android Central know and trust. But Google doesn't actually own any wireless spectrum, nor any towers, nor any service centers. Everything it does is, as the "V" in MVNO suggests, virtual. It buys access to networks and packages them up in an innovative way. For Google, it's about convenience and transparency.

For Mint SIM, it's about price and simplicity.

Why you should think about switching to Mint SIM

Mint SIM is interesting for a number of reasons. It's no-frills, which means that you don't have to contend with any of T-Mobile's extensive terms and conditions caveats — because even without contracts, you're still locked in to a service deal in exchange for a phone purchased on financing.

You're getting T-Mobile's best-in-class 4G LTE network with none of the overhead or confusion.

Mint SIM doesn't worry about that because it doesn't need to. It sells unlimited talk and text with every package, along with a monthly allotment of data in 2GB, 5GB and 10GB bundles. That's not unusual, right? But what is is the way it's sold: in order to provide epic discounts, Mint SIM sells service in three, six, and 12 month chunks; the more you pay for in advance, the cheaper the monthly service.

And right now, they have an insanely good deal where you can 10GB of data for $20 per month when you sign up for three months of service.

This is the same service as you'd get from T-Mobile, just cheaper. It's like going to Costco and picking up more of something you need — paper towel, or replacement toothbrushes — in bulk because you know you're eventually going to use them. That's the same with Mint SIM. You're getting T-Mobile's best-in-class 4G LTE network with none of the overhead, none of the confusion (and none of the annoying emails from John Legere) that works in practically any unlocked phone you can think of.

So what's the deal with the data? Is it worse than T-Mobile?

Don't do this anymore.

Let's go back to the Costco metaphor. You need pain medicine, and the Tylenol brand costs $20 per bottle while the generic Acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol) costs $14 for then same number of pills. The effect is the same in either bottle; you're just paying for Johnson & Johnson's branding.

It's the same thing with Mint SIM. You order a SIM card with your service from the company's website, put it in your unlocked phone, and immediately experience the benefits of T-Mobile's network.

Data is a commodity. As long as it's fast and reliable, it shouldn't matter where it comes from.

That's the beauty of a company like Mint SIM, and of alternative mobile providers in general. You get all the benefits with none of the downsides, and as long as you know your way through an unlocked phone, you're good to go.

These days, it's also easier to recommend Mint SIM given that it's running on T-Mobile's network: the incumbent was just co-crowned the fastest in the U.S. alongside Verizon, which is an enormous gain from just a year ago.

T-Mobile's network > T-Mobile's ads

According to OpenSignal, T-Mobile's network is both fast and widely-available, with over 86% availability of LTE across the U.S. Mint SIM customers get that speed and access without having to figure out whether T-Mobile's expensive unlimited plans are actually unlimited.

To us, that's Mint SIM's biggest draw: you pay for access to the network, and nothing more, and you do so in a way that lets you skip all the contortions that T-Mobile does to make its unlimited plans seem like they're good for you.

More on alternative providers soon

We'll have lots more about Mint SIM, and alternative mobile networks, in the coming months. We're excited about this, because as great as the Big Four networks are, they're expensive, and many people — you, reading this — don't need all that extra stuff. They just need unlimited calls and text and cheap data.

See at Mint SIM

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3 days ago

Exploring portability with room-scale VR

Does a laptop make your VR rig portable?

The first VR-Ready laptops barely deserved to be named as such. The hulking desktop replacements were difficult to take with you anywhere and didn't really have the battery life necessary to enjoy the experience. Times have changed, and now several manufacturers have thin, light laptops that can easily travel with you and handle VR with no problem.

This leaves a lot of people planning their VR playspaces with a fun new question — how easy is it to pack up and take your VR setup somewhere new? Can a VR setup become the center of a party when it's not at your house?

Read more at VR Heads!

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3 days ago

Everything you need to know about Sprint's Unlimited Freedom plan

16

A complete breakdown of Sprint's Unlimited Freedom plan and everything else you can get when you sign up for service.

In the United States, there are a lot of companies that can get you and your phone online, but most people use one of the four biggest: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon. Choosing between them can be difficult. Your first priority should be what service works best in the places you spend your time. It's not worth saving $10 a month if the service is bad. Once you have that sorted, you can look at what each company has to offer and the prices they charge for it.

More: Which unlimited plan should you buy?

Let's take a look at Sprint to see what they can give you and what it will cost.

Note: The details of this plan are current as of February 20, 2017.

Sprint Unlimited Freedom plan details

  • Unlimited talk, text, and data (with certain restrictions)
  • Unlimited data for streaming video up to 1080p
  • Unlimited data for gaming up to 8Mbps
  • Unlimited data for streaming music up to 1.5Mbps
  • 10GB high-speed mobile hotspot with VPN and P2P support
  • Add a tablet with unlimited data for $25 per month

Note: These features apply only to new accounts.

Sprint's definition of Unlimited Data means that after you use 23 GB in a single month, your service can be slowed down if you're in a congested area. You'll hear the word throttled used here but you need to know that it's only a temporary deprioritization of your data connection when you're in a busy area. It may not happen at all depending on how many other customers are using the same towers.

Buying a phone and getting exactly the data plan and extras you want is far easier on Sprint than every other company we've tried.

Sprint's Unlimited Freedom plan applies only to new customers who are also buying (outright purchases or financing) or leasing phones from Sprint at the time of purchase, and credit approval is required. There is an activation fee of up to $30 per line and the Unlimited Freedom Plan requires eBilling. Current customers can call 1-866-275-1411 with questions about changing their plan.

Sprint offers a 14-day satisfaction guarantee and devices purchased on installments are subject to a $350 early termination fee.

Additional lines can be added to a Sprint Unlimited Freedom plan. Every line has the same benefits outlined above and requires an equipment purchase. Here is a pricing breakdown.

  • One line of service is $50
  • Two lines of service is $90
  • Three lines of service is $90
  • Four lines of service is $90

Sprint Unlimited Freedom plan add-ons

Sprint's Unlimited Freedom plan is a no-frills option at a low price. There are few extras and add-ons available if you want international options or a few extra features.

  • Free Sprint Open World Winter Promo: Free calls, texts and high-speed data from Canada, Mexico and 25 other countries in Latin America until March 31, 2017
  • Mexico-Canada Plus: Unlimited calls and texts from the U.S. to Mexico and Canada, unlimited messaging to 180 countries and discounted international calling rates from the U.S. for $5 per month
  • Upgrade your phone every 12 months with a $5 monthly charge

Sprint also offers trials and discounts on some premium services for new customers. Spotify Premium has a 30-day trial available, as does Lookout and Sprint Family Locator. After the trial period, normal monthly rates apply.

Sprint also will offer "unlimited access to exclusive artist content not available anywhere else" now that the company has bought one-third of Tidal, though exact details on this aren't yet available.

See at Sprint

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3 days ago

Bose QC35: Wireless, noise-canceling, and near-perfect

14

If you fly a lot — or maybe even just a little — you need a good pair of noice-canceling headphones. My new go-to cans absolutely are the Bose QC35.

First Serenity Caldwell, then MrMobile, and now Modern Dad. At this point I think it's safe to say the Bose QC35 wireless noise-canceling headphones have reached a trifecta here.

Subscribe to Modern Dad!

I've been using Bose buds on planes for years. I've burned through two sets of the QC20 earbuds. They're great, too. But I wanted something wireless. And I wanted something more comfortable for those REALLY long flights.

The QC35 fit that bill. They're wireless with Bluetooth for use with your phone. They've got a cable and airplane adapter for when you want to use them for in-flight movies. And I've yet to kill the battery at an inopportune time. (20 hours is more than enough to get me from one end of the world to another.)

There's a companion Android app that you might be tempted to skip — but don't. Bose is using this to push firmware updates. They take a few minutes — like, 20 — to download and apply. But it's great to see a product like this get some fairly regular upkeep.

The only real negative I have here is that my ears can get a little sweaty after a couple hours inside the cans. Is that the headphones' fault, or poor design of the user? Pick your poison.

See at Amazon

Modern Dad

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4 days ago

LG G5 review re-do: The worst Android flagship of 2016 isn't that bad

37

MWC is just beginning, and LG is slated to show off the G6. Since we're just about to look ahead, I'm taking a look back at the LG G5. This phone was a flop, but now that the price has dropped, it's worth taking a look at again. Well, not too close a look.

I'm Michael Fisher, better known to the wider world as MrMobile, and if I had to recommend a good camera phone for under $400, I've got a new contender. Watch this video and revisit the good (just the camera, which is really good), and what was not (pretty much everything else).

Featured Products

Stay social, my friends

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4 days ago

Best Google Pixel Cases

Google's new phones are beautiful ... but can be fragile.

Not everyone uses a case on their phone, and those who do may not even use a case every day. But one thing is certain: your Google Pixel or Pixel XL is a very expensive piece of hardware, and that means you should consider the options for protecting it.

We're not just talking about a drop from shoulder height onto concrete. There are also just little bits of daily life that can leave your phone looking less than pristine after a few months or a year. Now that the Pixels have been out for a while you have plenty of great case options that can help you keep your phone looking great for longer. Here are a few of our favorites.

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4 days ago

These are the exclusive games for PlayStation VR

These are the exclusive games for PlayStation VR

Which games are exclusive to PlayStation VR?

PlayStation VR is here and its library of games continues to grow. We love that a lot of our favorite titles from other platforms are also available on PSVR, but the real meat lies in the exclusive stuff.

What are the exclusive games, you ask? Here are all the titles that you'll only be able to play if you own a PS4!

Read more at VR Heads!

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4 days ago

Best podcast app for Android

106

Best overall

Pocket Casts

$3.99

See on Google Play

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.

Bottom-line: Pocket Casts offers not only an amazing discovery and listening experience, but its synchronization system lets you listen to your favorite shows on iOS, Windows and the web.

One more thing: Themes! Pocket Casts has an amazing dark mode that looks great on AMOLED displays, or when you're browsing at night.

Why Pocket Casts is the best

Easy to use, powerful for pros.

Pocket Casts is one of the first apps I download on a new Android device, and one of my most-used apps. Even as other popular music streaming apps like Google Play Music and Spotify have added podcast support, I go back to Pocket Casts for its useful tools, intuitive features and navigation, and ability to create on-the-fly playlists using the Up Next feature.

Chris Welch of The Verge had this to say about Pocket Casts for Android:

Above just being a vehicle for your podcasts, the standout aspect of Pocket Casts is definitely its design. It's a tremendous showcase for Google's Material Design, with fluid animations and color schemes that shift colors based on a podcast's artwork. Your subscriptions are arranged in a tiled screen with big, beautiful artwork for every show, and Pocket Casts has a seemingly endless array of preferences, playlist filters, and auto-download settings, so you can tailor it fully to your liking.

One of the main virtues of Pocket Casts is its synchronization system: after purchasing the app for $3.99, you can create a free account and have it sync with the iOS, Windows and web versions. Not only is the podcast artwork beautifully shown in high-resolution, but it's easy to subscribe and add certain episodes to playlists once you have subscribed to a particular show.

Small things, like a dedicated In Progress category, details the episodes you've only half-finished, while an amazing discovery network based on category, location, or podcast network makes it super simple to find the best content on the internet.

Finally, Pocket Casts can cut down the length of a show by removing silences or speeding up the playback up to three times, which is incredible useful if, like me, you subscribe to way too many shows and need to get through them as soon as possible every week.

Best for beginners

Google Play Music

Free

See on Google Play

Play Music is relatively new to the podcast scene (weird, right?), but Google's streaming music service integrated podcasts with aplomb — especially since it fits right into the existing user interface you're already accustomed to. Some of Play Music's podcast prowess is derived from the app's simplicity: a great discovery portal, and lots of choice, without overburdening the user with features. Plus, there's great Chromecast and Android Auto support built in because, well, it's Google!

Bottom-line: For the simplest experience to get started with, Google Play Music is the ideal place to listen to your podcasts. And because it's already installed on your phone — there's very little setup required!

One more thing: Play Music syncs your podcast subscriptions across devices and platforms, so if you subscribe to a bunch of great shows on your Android phone, those shows will be there when you log in through the web.

Best for bingers

Stitcher

Free

See on Google Play

It seems that Stitcher has been around forever, and on Android that is just about true. But the app has gone through some major revisions over the years, and has emerged as one of the best places to queue up a bunch of audio content for those long trips or head-down work sessions.

Even as podcasts have grown mainstream, and many apps, like Pocket Casts, have emerged to take on that burgeoning market, Stitcher still fulfils its promise of making it super easy to "stitch" a whole bunch of episodes together. The interface may not be as slick as Pocket Casts or GPM, but there's no better app for discovering new and weird shows and sitting back to listen to them.

Bottom-line: If you're looking to discover new and interesting shows and podcasts, Stitcher is still unrivalled. It has a huge database of content and, after subscribing to a few shows, Stitcher knows what you like, and will recommend some great stuff you've likely never heard.

One more thing: Stitcher isn't just about podcasts: it works with notable brands like NPR, CNN, Fox News, ESPN, and BBC to push breaking news alerts throughout the day, just like a live radio program.

Best overall

Pocket Casts

$3.99

See on Google Play

Pocket Casts for Android is, simply, worth the price. It's got one of the best interfaces for playing and discovering new shows, and Shifty Jelly, the developer, is always adding new and useful features to its new versions. Plus, those change logs are hilarious! While it does cost some money up front, you'll be happy to chose to bring your subscriptions over to Pocket Casts.

Bottom-line: Pocket Casts offers not only an amazing discovery and listening experience, but its synchronization system lets you listen to your favorite shows on iOS, Windows and the web.

One more thing: Shifty Jelly, developers of Pocket Casts, are very receptive to feedback, and are always looking to make the app as good as it can be. That's another reason to purchase Pocket Casts: it promises to receive the best and most relevant features as soon as they come out.

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4 days ago

At just $23 you won't be afraid to try some tricks with this mini drone

13

Update: This popular deal is back again with a new coupon code. Be sure to use code HEBVQMG4 at checkout for the savings!

Right now you can pick up Aukey's mini-drone for just $23 at Amazon with coupon code HEBVQMG4, a savings of $6. You can control this drone with your smartphone, allowing you to fly it just about anywhere, and once you get good at flying it you can even start performing some tricks as well. It takes off and lands easily with just a single tap, and the controls are super responsive so you won't have to worry about delays. It comes with two extra sets of propellers, just in case you happen to crash and break one.

Being so small you can pack in just about any bag so you can keep it with you at all times. Remember to use coupon code HEBVQMG4 for the full savings. Will you be learning to fly with Aukey's drone? Let us know in the comments!

See at Amazon

For more great deals on tech, gadgets, home goods and more, be sure to check out our friends at Thrifter now!

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4 days ago

Qualcomm announces Snapdragon 835 VR dev kit, Leap Motion integration

0

Qualcomm rolls out a VR dev kit, teams up with Leap Motion to bring natural interaction to mobile VR.

The Snapdragon 835 will be powering this year's flagship phones, but Qualcomm is increasingly looking to virtual reality as a growth driver. To that effect, Qualcomm included several features in the Snapdragon 835 that make it an ideal platform for mobile VR, including 15ms motion-to-photon latency and six-degrees-of-freedom for precise motion tracking.

The company has now introduced a VR development kit, which has a head mounted display (HMD) powered by the Snapdragon 835 and an upgraded VR software development kit. The reference design headset allows users to experience virtual reality untethered, offering a 2560x1440 AMOLED display split between both eyes, six-degrees of freedom (6DoF) motion tracking via two monochromatic cameras with fish-eye lenses, two monochromatic VGA global shutter cameras with depth sensing, and a host of sensors.

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