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1 week ago

The Big Android Dev Interview: Jolanda Verhoef

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From the Big Android BBQ Europe: Blendle dev Jolanda Verhoef on getting into Android development, current challenges, and where it's all going.

The Big Android BBQ Europe, held in Amsterdam, Netherlands recently, brings together some of Europe's top Android developers, enthusiasts and other community members in a celebration of Android, code and cooked meat. A spin-off from the U.S.-based Big Android BBQ, the European event is now in its second year.

In addition to the actual BBQ part, it's also host to two days of talks from Android developers, and this year's keynote was presented by Blendle's Jolanda Verhoef. We caught up with Jolanda during the event to talk Android, mobile development, the past and the future.

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1 week ago

Google Keep: Ultimate guide

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Create lists, transcribe recordings, doodle, collaborate on to-do lists, and so much more with Google Keep.

Google Keep isn't your average note-taking client. While the app sports a minimal interface and is very easy to use, it offers a set of powerful tools that make it an effective task management utility. From creating collaborative to-do lists to transcribing voice notes and saving bookmarks, the app does it all. The best part about Keep is that all changes are synced automatically, giving you quick access to your notes across all your devices, and on the web.

Here's what you need to know to get started with Google Keep.

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1 week ago

Android Central 302: An Honor and a Nexus privilege

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Audio-only stream below

New Nexus phones are on their way, but before that we're sure to get a public release of Android 7.0 Nougat. When will your phone get Nougat?

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1 week ago

Samsung's Milk Music service ends for U.S. customers on Sept 22

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Fans and customers of the Milk Music service from Samsung have some bad news coming. As rumored, the service will be ended for customers in the U.S. on September 22, 2016.

A press release from Samsung's Newsroom says that the company has changed direction and has a plan to provide "the best music services available" across their Galaxy line.

We have made the strategic decision to invest in a partner model focused on seamlessly integrating the best music services available today into our family of Galaxy devices. We believe that working with partners will accelerate innovation, enhance device sales and provide amazing new experiences for our customers.

No word on what exactly Samsung is planning or what services may be incorporated into a new music platform, as Samsung says it has no additional details to share at this time. With IFA right around the corner, a great venue to unveil a new service is already in place. We're there, and eyes are always on Samsung during IFA. We'll make sure you know if any announcement is made.

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1 week ago

Deus Ex GO review

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 Deus Ex GO

Deus Ex GO's futuristic puzzles are challenging — but sometimes, so is just trying to get the game to work.

The Google Play Store is overflowing with puzzle games, so it really takes a special game to rise above the noise and demand attention. Deus Ex GO has potential to be one of those games, but it wasn't an entirely smooth experience out of the gate.

Deus Ex GO is the latest mobile release from Montreal-based developer Square Enix. It's the third title in their "GO" franchise, which jumps into an established action-adventure franchise (see: Hitman GO and Lara Croft GO) and spins off a challenging turn-based action-puzzle adventure.

For those unfamiliar with the Deus Ex franchise, the story takes place in the not-too-distant future — set against a cyberpunk dystopian backdrop — where humans and computers have become one thanks to augmentation technology. You play as Adam Jensen, a mechanically augmented security agent on a mission to hunt down terrorists.

Deus Ex GO

And that's exactly where the game begins, with Jensen breaching the walls of a compound under terrorist attack. Stylistically, the game does a great job from start to finish of keeping with the Deus Ex futuristic, hacker motif. The graphics are sharp; Square Enix blends their simplified "GO" art style with the Deus Ex digital themes to create a fully immersive experience. The kill animations are both varied and smooth, leading to some very satisfying moments when you finally figure out how to take out that guard and progress through to the next level. The story is simple yet intriguing, and unfolds as you play via popup dialog boxes.

Square Enix blends its simplified 'GO' art style with the Deus Ex digital themes to create a fully immersive experience.

Gameplay starts off simple — move here, take out unsuspecting guard, progress to finish — but as you progress, the game slowly layers on new mechanics. Hacking stations, marked in yellow, allow you to activate certain floor tiles and control enemy turrets. Augmentation powerups are strategically scattered throughout, giving you the ability to slip past enemies or, in later stages, control hacking stations at a distance. With no punishment for failure and typically only one correct path through each level, the game rewards trial-and-error gameplay. When you feel you're truly stumped, you have the option of using a solution, which walk you through the level move-by-move. You are given three solutions at the start of the Story Mode with a menu available for buying via in-app purchases — but where's the fun in that?

Deus Ex GO

If you've played the previous "GO" titles and are fearful that Deus Ex Go is more of the same, fear not. Square Enix has shifted from the square grid pattern found in Hitman GO and Lara Croft GO, opting for a hexagonal grid here that adds another dimension to the puzzles and also just seems like a natural fit with the game's theme. The puzzles are challenging but not impossible — the few times I did use a solution to get past a level, I felt stupid learning I was only off by one move.

Beyond the Story Mode (which features 54 challenging levels), Deus Ex GO also includes Weekly Challenges. Considering the relatively short length of the campaign, this is a great feature to justify the $4.99 price. The promised addition of a Puzzle Maker mode in a future update should also greatly up the value and replayability.

The game ended up crashing and forcing my phone (Nexus 6P) to reboot four times. FOUR TIMES.

But for all the great things I have to say about this game, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the issues I battled with trying to complete it. Having bought and downloaded the game from the Google Play Store, the game ended up crashing and forcing my phone (Nexus 6P) to reboot four times. FOUR TIMES. Progress was always saved, and it may well have been a issue related to my hardware. Regardless, I'm here to report my experiences, and it caused my frustration to grow every time it happened.

Often times a new level would load but not allow me to move, forcing me to back out to the level-select screen and restart the level. These glitches were annoying, but never dissuaded me from continuing the campaign. I'll chalk them up to first-release technical issues that should hopefully be addressed in future updates.

Overall, I had a lot of fun playing Deus Ex GO, despite it's relatively short Story Mode and the times where the game started bugging out. I would recommend it to both fans of Deus Ex, and puzzle gamers alike.

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1 week ago

Buying the best smartphone power pack — MrMobile explains

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Proclaiming one external battery charger to be the "best power pack" for all people is a daunting challenge – and it misses the point.

The reality is that, as with smartphones, different power banks work well for different users. But I've collected between twenty and thirty external battery pack accessories in my time reviewing technology, and I've found that the secret to making the search a little less daunting is to focus on three key areas: safety, capacity, and speed.

This video includes products that excel in each field, and some even marry the benefits of all three with that all-important bonus: novelty. Join me for the MrMobile Portable Power Pack roundup!

And don't forget to be social!

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1 week ago

Google sunsetting Chrome apps for Windows, Mac and Linux

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Google has announced that Chrome packaged apps and hosted apps will be phased out of Chrome for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

The Chrome desktop browser has had application support for a while now, and during that time Google found that only 1% of desktop users were actively running Chrome apps, so support will be removed by 2018.

Today, approximately 1% of users on Windows, Mac and Linux actively use Chrome packaged apps, and most hosted apps are already implemented as regular web apps. We will be removing support for packaged and hosted apps from Chrome on Windows, Mac, and Linux over the next two years.

Starting in late 2016, any newly-published apps will only be available for Chrome OS. Existing apps will still be available and developers can still send updates to users. In the second half of 2017, the Chrome Web Store will no longer list Chrome apps on Windows, Mac or Linux and will only show themes and extensions. In early 2018, Chrome for Windows, Mac and Linux will no longer be able to install packaged or hosted Chrome apps.

Your extensions aren't going anywhere, and no changes were announced for Chromebook users — who the majority of actual apps are targeted towards.

Google encourages developers to migrate apps designed for Desktops into web-based apps or progressive web pages using the latest APIs and features available.

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1 week ago

How to take a screenshot on the Samsung Galaxy Note 7

How to take a screenshot on the Galaxy Note 7

How do I take a screenshot on the Galaxy Note 7?

Taking a screenshot on your phone is one of its most basic functions, but the Galaxy Note 7 follows previous Notes by giving you several ways to capture your screen. Though you still have two simple ways to take a regular full-screen screenshot to share or keep for yourself, there's also an option to take a so-called "scrolling screenshot" to capture even more. You can also use your S Pen to draw on and manipulate screenshots with Screen Write.

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1 week ago

HTC is now selling the gold and red HTC 10 in the U.S.

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HTC is now accepting preorders of both the red and gold variants of the HTC 10 in the U.S. There are limited quantities of both colors available, and the company is still offering $100 off the phone or you can get the free JBL headphones while supplies last. Aside from the colors, nothing is different here. You can pick up an unlocked version, or one on the carrier of your choice.

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1 week ago

What color Note 7 did you buy?

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All four colors look great, but most of us are only buying one. Which color caught your eye?

Most phones come in any color you want, as long as that color is black. That's a trend that's changing, and the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 comes in four colors, three of which we can buy in the U.S. (sorry gold fans.)

And they're pretty nifty colors, too. Even the Black version isn't just black. It's black front and back, and the sides are matte black, too. That makes a big difference when you're used to seeing black phones with silver-ish faux chrome side rails. This phone can act presidential.

Not to be outdone, the Coral Blue model is pretty amazing. It has a cornflower (I had my wife tell me which color it is, and cornflower is much better than "kinda-light-blue-and-sorta-gray-mixed-in-maybe-I-dunno-it's-nice") gloss look, but only when it's still and you're looking straight at it. It picks up colors from the surroundings because of its reflective surface and the color looks like it's always changing. It's pretty wild. You need to see it in person so you know I'm not crazy.

That blue is hot, but I'd have to go with black on black on black.

The Silver version uses the same color as the Galaxy S7 (and the S7 edge in Silver is the prettiest phone of all time). That means while it's technically silver, it's really more like a mirror. Fully polished and fingerprint-free it looks nice. Very nice. If the Black model is the stoic and serious model, Silver is the elegant one.

Then there's Gold. Gold looks really good. It's a different gold than we've seen from Samsung before, and it looks nothing like the pink gold from Apple. It's a soft color that also does a good job picking up other colors from your surroundings, though not to the extent it's Blue Chameleon sibling does. It's very slick. It's also not coming to North America because we deserve to be punished for some reason. At least for now.

I had a look at them the other evening, and even got to see the gold model. I fell in love with the blue (like many of you likely did) but in the end that murdered-out black would be my pick if I were buying. What about you? Which color did you grab? Hit the poll and let us know.

Which color Note 7 did you buy?

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1 week ago

In photos: The evolution of the Samsung Gear VR

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It all started with the Galaxy Note 4.

Samsung's NYC unveiling of the Galaxy Note 4 was unusual for a couple of reasons. From the half-baked introduction to the Galaxy Note Edge to awkwardly rushing Adam Levine and James Valentine on and off the stage for the ill-fated Milk Music, the presentation was just kinda odd. Towards the end of the presentation, everyone was invited to check out a unique partnership with Oculus. The Samsung Gear VR was announced as an accessory that would eventually be available for the Note 4, and it would be all about bringing high quality VR to the world.

Fast forward to this week. Samsung has shipped tens of thousands of Gear VR headsets all around the world, and a new matte black version with a removable USB-C port and several other significant changes to the headset that add up to a significantly improved experience. To really get a feel for how the Gear VR has improved over time, we're going to take a look at all three headsets side by side and appreciate the differences.

At their core, all of the Gears VR are designed to function the same way. You pop the phone in the back, look through the lenses, and interact with the touch pad on the side. The core design is a step above Google Cardboard for three reasons. First, there's extra tracking sensors in the headset that work with the phone for a smoother motion-based experience. Second, the headset's touch sensor opens the doors to different types of interaction, like swiping back and forth for action in a game. Finally, there's a USB port on each headset to run power from outside of the headset to the phone. This was less exciting in the Note 4 days with overheating problems, but with the Note 7 it not only works well for charging but Samsung also wants to see some accessories use this port for data someday.

Connecting the phone is a small part of the experience, but the change over time is significant. The Note 4's proprietary microUSB port meant nothing but the Note 4 would ever use the original Gear VR. This was fixed with the release of the Galaxy S6 and the updated Gear VR, which now supports all Samsung phones up to the Note 7.

The Samsung Gear VR was all about bringing high quality VR to the world

With the update to USB-C on the Note 7, a Gear VR with an interchangeable port was necessary and appreciated. More than that, Samsung stopped using spring-loaded switches on the latest Gear VR phone connector. This makes it a lot easier to remove and add phones, and makes swapping the port out a lot simpler.

The most significant update to the Gear VR over time has been size. The physical space where you put your eyes has grown with every generation, and with good reason. The larger opening supports more users with prescription lenses, which is a big deal on a headset where you can only slightly adjust the distance of the lenses from your eyes. That adjustment wheel, locates at the top of each Gear VR, has also seen some improvement over the years.

With each release the wheel becomes smoother and more convenient to use, without losing its position over time if you move around a bit.

That increased face hole has not meant an appreciably larger front to the Gears VR, which makes sense when you look at phone size over time. The Galaxy S7 edge is not only narrower but thinner than the Note 4, and packs a better display and lacks the overheating issues found in the aging predecessor when enjoying VR.

The only real change to the part your phone lays on in the Gear VR has been the lenses, which now support a field of view of 101-degrees instead of the original 96. You can see the different plastic patterns used over time to work with the lenses and displays that have changed over time as well.

Finally, the touchpad. Samsung has switched this around a bit over time, but has now settled on a slightly indented touch area with a little bump for the touch area.

This is way better than the current D-Pad set up for playing games, and it turns out doesn't make a huge difference when it comes to navigation for apps that are not games. We've also got a bigger touch surface on the newest version of the Gear VR, which is nice.

Samsung's efforts in improving the Gear VR are subtle, but incredibly important. The most recent version of this headset is a clear mashup of the things that have been done up this point, and all of those ideas come through as improvements. It's going to be very interesting to see what Samsung does to improve the Gear VR from this point, and rest assured we'll be the ones watching!

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

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1 week ago

8 things to know about the Galaxy Note 7's SD card slot

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Galaxy Note 7 SD card slot

Samsung brought the SD card slot back to the Note line — now it's time to reacquaint yourself with it.

Note buyers have spoken: they wanted an SD card slot back in their phone. Samsung listened, and the Galaxy Note 7 brought back the SD card slot just like the Galaxy S7 did — hiding right in there next to the SIM card.

Things mostly pick up right where they left off with the SD card slot on the Note 4, though the software and capabilities have changed a bit. If you have a Note 7 or are getting ready to pick one up, these are the things you should know about expanding the storage in your phone.

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1 week ago

Essential accessories for Galaxy Note 7

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What are the best accessories to pick up for the Galaxy Note 7? Well, there are a bunch, so let's take a look.

Whether you want to make sure that your new Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is protected, able to be charged everywhere you are, or has enough storage for your local media, there are a number of accessories you can add to enhance the experience. Samsung will be offering a wide variety of its own official accessories for the new phone, but there are also going to be a ton from other brands. With the move to USB-C from Micro-USB, you may need some new cables, and the addition of the microSD slot may prompt you to buy a new card.

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1 week ago

Where to buy the Galaxy Note 7 in Canada

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Where can I buy the Galaxy Note 7 in Canada?

The Galaxy Note 7 is a big, beautiful phone, and Samsung Canada knows it. That's why it is offered at almost every possible carrier, along with the company's four retail locations spaced out across the country.

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1 week ago

Best heavy duty cases for Galaxy Note 7

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What are the best cases for keeping my Galaxy Note 7 fully protected?

The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is a marvel of smartphone design. Resistant to dust and water, the Galaxy Note 7 is also the first phone to feature Gorilla Glass 5 on the front and back of the phone, making it the most durable smartphone you can buy and use right out of the box.

But despite all its ruggedness, as with any other piece of technology, it's not impervious to scratches or drop damage. However, you can greatly increase it's chance of surviving the nastiest of falls with a heavy duty case.

OtterBox Defender Series

OtterBox Defender Series

One of the most trusted names in phone cases, OtterBox's Defender Series line has been protecting phones for years. Their Defender Series case for the Galaxy Note 7 includes 3-layer protection — high-impact internal polycarbonate shell, silicone slipcover and a built-in screen protector — so your phone will be fully protected.

With precise cutouts around the USB-C port, headphone jack, and cutouts in the screen protector around the earpiece and fingerprint scanner, your Galaxy Note 7 is protected yet accessible. Along with the speaker and microphone, the S-Pen is the only port not protected by a silicone cover, which ensures it's always available at a finger's press. The Defender Series also includes an optional belt-clip holster that doubles as a kickstand for easy hands-free media viewing and is available in three color options.

See at Amazon

MoKo Premium Full Body Rugged Cover

MoKo Premium Full Body Rugged Cover

If you want heavy-duty protection for a low price, the Moko Premium Full Body Rugged Cover delivers in spades.

This two-piece case features a shock absorbing silicone inner sleeve and an impact-resistant polycarbonate shell that also provides added protection around the camera. The S-Pen, buttons, and ports are always accessible thanks to precise cutouts with no protective flaps to deal with. The case also comes with a 180-degree rotatable belt clip holster. It's quick to mount and dismount from the holster, which is lined with microfiber material to ensure your screen is always protected.

And in terms of keeping your screen protected, this case is compatible with screen protectors — even the thicker tempered glass options — so you can fully protect your Galaxy Note 7 and always keep it in like-new condition. Whether you go with the classic black, or opt for the blue or red accent options, the MoKo case is available for under $10.

See at Amazon

Spigen Tough Armor

Spigen Tough Armor

Looking for a heavy duty case that tries to preserve the sleek look and feel of your Galaxy Note 7? Spigen's Tough Armor case offers a good compromise between rugged protection and stylish presentation. Tested to meet U.S. Military-grade drop protection standards, this two-piece case consists of a flexible TPU sleeve that features shock-absorbing webbing along its interior, and a hard polycarbonate shell — available in your choice of Gunmetal Grey, Champagne Gold, or Blue Coral — adds a second level of toughness.

The buttons are designed to be flush along the edge of the case via the TPU sleeve, providing the tactile responsiveness you require, and precise cutouts along the bottom of the phone keep all the ports, speakers, and the S-Pen fully accessible. Both the screen and rear camera are well protected with a 1.4mm bezel around the screen and a 4mm lip around the camera on the back so you can confidently place your phone down however you prefer. And then there's the included kickstand, which lets you set your phone up for hands-free media viewing at an ideal 60-degree viewing angle. For solid, all-round protection and presentation, Spigen is a fantastic option for protecting your Galaxy Note 7.

See at Amazon

CoverON Atomic Series Hybrid Armor

CoverON Atomic Series Hybrid Armor

If your biggest fear is your slick Galaxy Note 7 slipping out from your grip and smashing on the ground, perhaps you're best off getting a case with tactile features along its exterior. In that regard, CoverOn's Atomic Series Hybrid Armor is your best bet.

Featuring a shockproof soft TPU rubber inner layer along with a rigid polycarbonate backplate, perhaps the most striking detail of this phone at a glance is its gridwork of raised plastic along the back, which will give your fingertips plenty of spots to anchor in — because the best way to protect your phone from drops is to avoid dropping it in the first place.

Beyond the protection this case provides, there's a built-in kickstand on the back for gaming or watching videos. Available in four color options, this case is also extremely affordable priced under $10.

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VRS Design High Pro Shield

VRS Design High Pro Shield

A sleek option for protecting your Galaxy Note 7 while keeping with the phone's slim, minimalist design is VRS Design's High Pro Shield.

Featuring the industry-standard two-part design, this case features a tough polycarbonate bumper around the edges, with precise cutouts along the bottom for easy access to the ports and S-Pen. The majority of the protection comes from the impact-resistant TPU sleeve that forms tight to the phone and features a brushed metal design on the back for a stylish appearance. This case has received military-grade certification for protection so your phone will be well protected while still looking stylish with four color options available.

Built into the bottom end of the bumper is a metal kickstand, perfect for hands-free media viewing. If you'd rather not compromise style for protection, the VRS Design High Pro Shield is a great option for your Galaxy Note 7.

See at Amazon

How will you keep your Galaxy Note 7 protected?

Got any thoughts on the cases we've recommended above? Did we miss your favorite? Let us know in the comments!

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