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1 week ago

Best Phone For Gamers

Update: As of February 2017, the Samsung Galaxy S7 is still the best phone for gamers. Moto Z Play is still the best for battery life, and the HTC 10 still has the best touch responsiveness.

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy S7

See at Amazon   See at AT&T   See at Sprint  See at T-Mobile   See at Verizon

Samsung's 2016 flagship isn't just a great gaming phone right now, it's a stepping stone to being a great gaming platform in the future.

Featuring a brilliant 5.5-inch AMOLED display powered by a Snapdragon 820 chipset and 4GB of RAM, the S7 will have your games looking great and running smooth as butter no matter how much of a resource hog they happen to be. With 64GB of on-board storage and a dedicated microSD slot you should easily be able to load up all your favorite games. Not only will current games run will on this phone, but Samsung's decision to jump ahead of Google in supporting Vulkan APIs for higher quality gameplay means your phone will be among the first to user in a new wave of graphically superior mobile games.

On top of all the standard features that make the S7 an outstanding device, Samsung's software has built-in features that make gaming both fun and social. If you're a serious gamer, you'll definitely want to dive into the advanced settings and turn on the Game Launcher and Game Tools. They help to optimize the phone for gaming so you never feel bogged down or distracted from your game, and let you share that game with others through live streaming.

Bottom line: The Samsung Galaxy S7 was seemingly designed to be a gamer's best friend, from the top-tier hardware to its convenient software tools for gaming.

One more thing: The Samsung Galaxy S7 recently won our smartphone camera showdown, which means it's also amazing for Augmented Reality games!

Why the Samsung Galaxy S7 is the best

Gamer mode is a real gamechanger.

As we already mentioned, the Samsung Galaxy S7 has all physical components required to handle pretty much any game you toss at it. It delivers exactly what you'd expect from a top-of-the-line flagship device in 2016.

But what really separates the S7 from the rest of the pack is Samsung's two gaming features: Game Launcher and Game Tools.

Game Launcher compiles all the games on your phone into one place, allowing you to keep your home screen uncluttered while still having all your favorite games just a tap away. Admittedly it's nothing too earth-shattering, but it does include options for optimizing battery life and turning off distracting alerts during your game.

But the real hero is Game Tools, a discreet floating icon that pops up every time you launch a game. A quick tap of the Game Tools icon pops up with a host of important settings to improve your gaming session. Getting annoyed by all your notifications? You can quickly toggle a do not disturb mode that blocks all alerts for as long as you're in the game. Sick of accidentally touching the Back or Recent keys and being taken out of your game? You get a quick option to disable the Recent and Back keys. You're also able to use the menu to minimize the game, which keeps a floating icon on your screen so you can quickly check your messages or other notifications while your game stays running in the background.

If you're the type that likes to stream as you game, you get built-in screen recorder tools, which even allow you to use the front-facing camera and record commentary as you play, so you can share your favorite moments like a pro.

Best for battery life

Moto Z Play

See at Motorola

We've also dealt with the battery drain of extended gaming sessions when you're gaming on the go. There's nothing worse than getting all caught up in the heat of the action, only to have a low battery warning ruin things. If you suffer from battery anxiety when gaming off charger, the Moto Z Play Droid is the perfect device to alleviate that stress.

The latest in Motorola's modular lineup, the Moto Z Play comes with a massive 3,510 mAh battery that's optimized by a more efficient processor and a lower-resolution display. Granted this your display won't get quite as bright as other UHD displays, but the color calibration and viewing angles remain great. You'll definitely enjoy the outstanding extended battery life you'll get in exchange. When it's time to top up, you'll be able to give your phone up to 9 hours of charge in just 15 minutes with Motorola's TurboPower wall charger.

Still not enough power? Take advantage of the Moto Z Play's modular design and slap on the Incipio offGRID Power Pack and add an extra 2,260 mAh battery to your phone, along with charging efficiency and the added ability to wirelessly charge both the pack and your phone.

All this battery life business would be pointless if the Moto Z Play was a pain to use, but fortunately that's not the case. As AC's Daniel Bader wrote in his Moto Z Play preview, if you're a fan of the Motorola's past offerings — including their handy gesture and voice controls — you'll be happy to know they're all present in the Moto Z Play:

For anyone who has used a Motorola phone over the past three years, the software experience is a known quantity. [...] I like it because it's fast and fluid all the time, even with 3GB of RAM and a low-cost processor, and has truly useful add-ons that improve my life.

Bottom line: Starting at just over $400, the Moto Z Play is the perfect companion for the mobile gamer with battery anxiety.

One more thing: Other awesome Moto Mods available for the Moto Z Play include a JBL Soundboost speaker, Hassleblad True Zoom camera mod and the Moto InstaShare Projector.

Best for touch responsiveness

HTC 10

See at HTC

Serious gamers know that input lag is simply unacceptable. Any amount of lag can have a devastating effect whether it's a coming down to a photo finish, or a frantic deathmatch shootout. While traditional gaming allows for full controller customization (whether we're talking keyboard and mouse or controller), mobile gaming on a touch screen ultimately relies on the touch responsiveness of the sensors on the phone.

In that regard, there's no better phone than the HTC 10. With their 2016 flagship, HTC boasts the 10 has the lowest touch latency of any smartphone on the market — iPhones included. While that's not typically a frequently touted spec in 2016, it does make a difference for gaming.

Beyond touch responsiveness, as mentioned in our official review the HTC 10 is a fairly impressive phone that features outstanding high-definition audio output, a capable 12 megapixel camera, and fast performance thanks to the Quad-core 2.2 GHz Snapdragon 820 processor and 4GB RAM. It's all wrapped up in an aluminum unibody design with a curved back that's ergonomically designed to fit comfortably in your hand.

Bottom line: Never blame your poor performances on lag again with the super responsive HTC 10.

One more thing: The beautifully designed HTC 10 is available in three stylish colours: Carbon Gray, Glacier Silver, and Topaz Gold.

Conclusion

For the best Android gaming experience, look no further than the Galaxy S7. It's got all the top-end specs you need to any game in the Google Play Store at the highest settings, and that's not going to change anytime soon. If battery life is your biggest concern, the Moto Z Play is your best bet, especially with an optional Moto Mod to expand that battery life further. If you think lag is a real drag, the HTC 10's touch responsiveness is what you want.

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy S7

See at Amazon   See at AT&T   See at Sprint  See at T-Mobile   See at Verizon

Samsung's 2016 flagship isn't just a great gaming phone right now, it's a stepping stone to being a great gaming platform in the future.

Featuring a brilliant 5.5-inch AMOLED display powered by a Snapdragon 820 chipset and 4GB of RAM, the S7 will have your games looking great and running smooth as butter no matter how much of a resource hog they happen to be. With 64GB of on-board storage and a dedicated microSD slot you should easily be able to load up all your favorite games. Not only will current games run will on this phone, but Samsung's decision to jump ahead of Google in supporting Vulkan APIs for higher quality gameplay means your phone will be among the first to user in a new wave of graphically superior mobile games.

On top of all the standard features that make the S7 an outstanding device, Samsung's software has built-in features that make gaming both fun and social. If you're a serious gamer, you'll definitely want to dive into the advanced settings and turn on the Game Launcher and Game Tools. They help to optimize the phone for gaming so you never feel bogged down or distracted from your game, and let you share that game with others through live streaming.

Bottom line: The Samsung Galaxy S7 was seemingly designed to be a gamer's best friend, from the top-tier hardware to its convenient software tools for gaming.

One more thing: The Samsung Galaxy S7 recently won our smartphone camera showdown, which means it's also amazing for Augmented Reality games!

Android Gaming

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1 week ago

Android Wear 2.0 has me itching to spend money on an LG smartwatch

78

New software and some shiny new watches from LG make Android Wear a little more interesting.

So, we've got a significant platform update for Android Wear and two carefully created watches to showcase it. It's overdue. Most anyone who is familiar will tell you that Android Wear was getting a little stale and needed a watchOS-level update to freshen things up. And I think that describes the new update pretty well — what was lacking in software was addressed and delivered without going overboard and trying something that just isn't ready. The new Google has grown up a bit and no longer throws everything into the air and later collects what works to keep.

Android Wear needed a refresh with the right features — not all the features.

Of course, the watches themselves dominate the stage because they are required to have everything the new update offers right now. That will change and we'll see fully working builds of Wear 2.0 come to last year's hardware, and some of them will even work well with it. Others will have the software shoehorned in and we'll wish they had never been updated at all. That's how this whole Android thing works, though to a much lesser extent on watches than phones. We'll worry about that when it happens, but for now, I want to talk about the LG Watch Style and LG Watch Sport.

Like most of you, I haven't been able to actually use either. That means there are going to be plenty of things I can't say because I don't know. But I did have the luxury of spending a week talking with Flo and Andrew and peppering them with questions and off-the-wall requests to build a mental checklist and see how they measured up to my wants — and to see if I even cared at all. I just could never find a reason to love Android Wear, and the few times it did make my life better wasn't enough to justify having one more thing here that needed to be charged every night.

That's changed, and I'm interested again. And not in the watch you think I would be interested in, and not for the reasons you might think, either. I'm really digging the LG Watch Style because to me, it looks good the way a watch should look good.

LG delivered exactly what they needed to deliver with the Watch Sport. It screams Wear 2.0.

I don't hate the Sport. In fact, I want to talk about it first. Google did exactly what so many people wanted them to do with Wear 2.0 and added standalone functionality and payment processing to the platform. Then LG looked over at Samsung and built it in the shape of a Galaxy Gear. There is zero shame in that. There are no unique ideas left and Samsung looked at countless Casio and Timex watches to make the Gear S2 and S3. I'm sure someone at Timex looked at something when they built the first Ironman watch. This is how a thing we like gets refined with each new model and, if left to continue, everything will look exactly the same. People clamoring for a round Apple Watch with a sweet sporty rubber strap don't want one because it would look like a Gear S3. They want one because they think it would be better for them. They'll probably get one eventually.

Feature-wise, the Sport ticks the right boxes, too. Standalone everything so you can set it up once then just be you and use it forever is what many of us were demanding. Use your GPS to find a Jamba Juice so you can pay for delicious drinks with your watch, then answer a phone call from your wrist so you can annoy everyone around you by yelling at your arm while they are trying to chill and slurp on a smoothie. We asked. LG delivered. And if you're not into it all, you don't have to use any of it (and can grab your smoothie and find somewhere else to drink it).

The Sport should be a successful product for LG. One they didn't lose money on and one we remember as being pretty good a couple years from now. And really, that's the best any company can hope for at this point.

But that Style. I think I'm going to get a Style.

It's not hard to figure out why, because I already said the one thing I wanted to see from all this new stuff — something that looks good. And the Style looks good to me. Titanium and black with an antique bell-style crown matches a couple watches I already have. With the right watch face — I'll make my own if I have to because Android Studio makes it so damn easy now — it will be something I want to wear on my wrist. Yeah, shallow, I know. I don't care and I like shiny things sometimes.

The LG Watch Style does what I want a watch to do and looks good while doing it.

I really do not care about the things the Style is missing. I'm sure I'm not the only one. I'll never go anywhere without my phone and everything I need is on my phone, including Android Pay. My watch really only needs to do two things — remind me what day of the week it is and tell the time. Both things my phone can also do, but reasons to justify buying a new watch that costs too much only because I like the way it looks. Wouldn't be the first time, as my wife would be quick to point out.

Again, this is first impression, off-the-cuff thinking. There's a good chance I'll get a Style and not like it or see something that makes me wish I had gone with something else or just not bought anything right now. That would also not be a first. I might even change my mind if I roll into a Best Buy and rub all over one. I'm in the same boat as most everyone else here.

And to be honest, it's kind of fun.

Android Wear

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1 week ago

Playing Elite: Dangerous on HTC Vive vs Oculus Rift

Upgrade your Elite: Dangerous experience with VR.

There are many ways you can make Elite: Dangerous a more compelling, immersive game. A solid HOTAS controller, great audio hardware, and a decent high quality display will improve your experience substantially, but there's still more you can do. Adding a VR headset to this game puts you in the Captain's Chair in the most literal way possible. Being able to turn your head and see the menus on your dashboard light up while you grip the throttle and joystick is amazing, but which headset is going to offer you the best experience?

Here's a quick look at the merits of using an HTC Vive versus an Oculus Rift to play Elite: Dangerous!

Read more at VR Heads!

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1 week ago

Pick up a Chromecast Ultra for $10 off at select retailers right now

3

If you've had your eyes on the Chromecast Ultra but have been waiting for it to drop in price a bit, you won't want to miss out on this. Right now select retailers are offering $10 off the streaming media player, dropping the price down to just $59. With the Chromecast Ultra you can stream Netflix, YouTube and other media in 4K on a compatible TV set, something that previous generations were not able to do. If your wireless connection isn't the greatest and may not be able to handle 4K video properly, you can also use the built-in Ethernet port to get a more stable connection.

You can pick one up from Best Buy, the Google Store, B&H Photo, and Target for the discounted prices right now. You'll need a 4K TV to take advantage of all the benefits, and if you don't already have one you can pick up a great set for around $500 these days.

Everything you need to know about streaming 4K on the Chromecast Ultra

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

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1 week ago

Best microSD Cards to Expand Storage on Honor 6X

4

Get more space in your Honor 6X with a quality microSD.

The Huawei Honor 6X is a great budget phone that doesn't feel like a budget phone. It features a solid aluminum build, two quality cameras, and an impressive 3,340mAh battery that should carry you through most days.

The only spec that's lacking is the 32GB of internal storage. Huawei has mitigated that by including a microSD slot with compatibility for cards up to 128GB. That's more than enough room to load all your favorite media onto your phone or snap and store an endless stream of photos.

We've curated the best microSD card options, so you can get the most out of your Honor 6X.

Samsung EVO+ 128GB

Samsung makes some of the best microSD cards you can buy. The 128GB EVO+ is water, temperature, X-ray, and magnet-proof — A.K.A. virtually indestructible — and also features speedy read/write speeds of 90MB/s.

See at Amazon


PNY Elite 128GB

If you're looking to maximize your phone's storage at a budget price, the PNY Elite is your best bet. It'll max out your Honor 6X's storage without maxing out your credit card. It features a read speed of up to 85MB/s, so you'll have no problem accessing your media files on the card.

Since this product is fulfilled by Amazon, if you have any issue with it or think you might have been sold a counterfeit product (as some Amazon reviewers have alleged) you should be able to return or exchange it with little hassle.

See at Amazon

Lexar Professional 1000X 64GB

If 64GB of extra space seems like more than enough for you, consider getting the Lexar Professional 1000X. It comes with Lexar's super fast USB card adapter featuring UHS-II technology for read transfer speeds of up to 150MB/s. It also comes with a free downloadable copy of image recovery software in case you erase the wrong file or the card is corrupted.

The 64GB card is currently just over $30. There's a 128GB option available here, too, if you want to double up.

See at Amazon

SanDisk Extreme PLUS 64GB

SanDisk also makes a quality microSD card, although they're also the priciest option on this list. The 64GB card is available for just over $50, with the 128GB card checking in at $90 before shipping and handling.

However, if you've used and trusted SanDisk for your storage needs in the past, you can buy with confidence knowing you'll get a durable card with reads speeds of up to 95MB/s and write speeds of up to 90MB/s.

See at Amazon

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1 week ago

LG G6 hint suggests Pixels will be the only premium phones without waterproofing

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You probably shouldn't use water for that burn, Google.

The folks at LG are really going crazy with the daily hints leading up to the official announcement of the G6. In the past we've seen shadowed devices with blurbs, but this year we get brightly colored cards sent to each major tech blog willing to play this silly game with them.

The folks at PocketNow are the latest to get a card from LG, and while it may not seem super obvious at first this card is probably a direct shot at Google's Pixel phones.

Resistance under pressure, when talking about phones, means water resistance. It's something the LG G5 didn't have because the whole bottom of the phone could be removed, and it looks like LG is making sure everyone knows this is going to be a feature moving forward.

The current Android champion for water resistance is Samsung, with their IP68 rating as a standard across their premium lineup right now. That means a Galaxy S7 can go into 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes and still be functional when you rescue it. We don't know if LG plans to meet or exceed this rating with the G6, but if the company is willing to hint about it as a feature you can bet it's going to compare the G6 rating to other premium phones.

Read more: Everything you need to know about IP ratings

That, of course, is where Google is going to be a little embarrassed. The IP53 rating on Google's Pixel and Pixel XL has been a talking point from day one, but if LG releases a significantly water resistant G6 it's going to mean these pixels will be the only phones treated as premium experiences that lack the feature. It likely also means Pixels are the most expensive phones on the market to lack water resistance, which is not going to help sales as we move into the next Flagship season.

This hint may not be enough to get everyone drooling over the G6 just yet, but for those that are it's nice knowing such excitement won't damage this phone when it's in your hands.

LG G6

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1 week ago

Nest Cam update literally shows you the door

5

An update to the Nest app for Android makes some big improvements to notifications using machine learning.

It sounds like a bad joke, but thanks to advancements in machine learning, Nest is now able to automatically add "activity zones" for doors, something that had to be done manually before now.

The company announced the software update for its Nest Cam line, which includes the excellent Nest Outdoor Cam, along with a number of notification improvements to its Android app.

When you get an alert from Nest Cam, there's a thumbnail image that shows you what's going on at a glance. Nest Aware subscribers using Android 7 or iOS 10 can even see an animated preview of the Nest Cam video clip – without having to open the app.

We're also improving the alerts that Nest Cam owners get from Nest Protect. Now, if Nest Protect warns you of smoke or dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, you'll automatically see live video from all your Nest Cams. It's just another way Nest products work better together.

The company also revealed that Nest's app now supports App Shortcuts on devices running Android 7.1 Nougat — a small number for now, but it's great that the Google-owned company is paying attention to the market.

Do you own a Nest Cam? Do you use activity zones?

See at Amazon

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1 week ago

Best apps for advanced math

6

Best overall

Mathway

See at Play Store

Mathway delivers a great all-around experience for anyone who needs help to pump up their math skills. Whether you need help just finding the solution to homework problems, or you need the step-by-step directions to solve for X, it's got you covered. At its simplest, you'll get the solution to any math problem that you enter into the app, but that definitely isn't everything this app is capable of.

Mathway covers math problems from basic math to linear algebra and graphing. That makes it excellent for students from high school up and through college. It's especially handy for students who tend to struggle with math in class and need more hands-on help in order to understand advanced mathematical concepts.

When you jump into the app you'll first need to choose the type of math problem that you are solving. From there all you need to do is take a photo of the problem or type it in manually. Mathway will automatically solve the equation for you right there. If your answer differs from the correct one, then you can view the problem step by step to see where you went wrong. This includes an explanation of how to find the correct answer and in some cases even a graph to give you the full answer.

Bottom line: Mathway is an excellent aid for anyone who wants to check their answers or who need more in-depth help to master advanced math. It covers everything from simple concepts to advanced problems and can even break everything down step by step to make sure you have a solid grasp on what you are doing.

One more thing: In order to access everything Mathway has to offer, specifically step-by-step instructions for solving problems, you'll need to upgrade to the full version of the app for $19.99 a month or $79.99 for the full year.

Why Mathway is the Best

Mathway works like a tutor helping you to master even complicated concepts without wanting to bang your head against a wall.

Not everyone can look at math and pick it up without a problem. For some people —myself included— math can seem daunting and confusing. Trying to schedule time with a tutor can be difficult when you are working and going to school, and many teachers and professors don't have the time to devote to helping a student succeed. Mathway is able to fill in those gaps for you.

Whether you're taking a remedial algebra class or you're diving into trigonometry, the app can make sure you find the solution to your problems. With PRO, you're even able to see every step of a problem while working towards a solution. If the free version is more suited to your budget, you still get plenty of help.

Mathway will solve your problem automatically. It will also tell you the rule for solving a specific problem. While it isn't quite as awesome as getting every step along the way, it does help you to figure your way through complicated problems.

Best for Algebra

College Algebra Prep, Practice

See at Store

Algebra is ostensibly the beginning of college-level math. Whether you've matriculated or you're returning after years of being away, it's a fair bet that algebra will be on your course list. College Algebra aims to work as your own personal tutor while you are working your way through the semester.

This app is fully stocked with tons of resources to reduce your anxiety while in math class. There are 56 practice tests to help you prep for test day, and you can take extra time by studying specific concepts, with access to concept-specific flashcards. If you need more specific one-on-one help, you can even find a tutor by inputting your zip code and subject of choice.

Bottom line: College Algebra aims to be your very own pocket tutor while you are working your way through Algebra 1 and Algebra 2. It delivers a great way to find a tutor, practice specific concepts, and even prep yourself for test day.

One more thing: College Algebra is just one of many apps that Varsity Tutors Llc offers. If you like the experience, you can find more apps to help you with other math courses in the future.

Best for Graphing

Desmos Graphing Calculator

See at Store

The days of needing a dedicated graphing calculator in order to properly graph out certain math problems are gone. Now instead of having to drop $80 on a calculator, you can download an app to get the job done, and Desmos Graphing Calculator does an excellent job of it. You can plot out equations, and sliders will allow you how to demonstrate function transformations.

Desmos Graphing Calculator is chock full of features to make sure you have the ability to fulfill your every graphing need. You can plot out polar, cartesian, and parametric graphs with an unlimited number of expressions for each graph. You can see statistics, crate tables, zoom to scale axes, plot inequalities, and plenty more to boot. Best of all, you never need access to the internet in order to use all of the features.

Bottom line: Desmos Graphing Calculator gives you access to everything that you need in order to successfully graph out any problem you need to solve. It's got tons of features to make sure that you don't need to purchase a dedicated graphing calculator, because it has everything you need to be successful in math class.

One more thing: By creating an account, you can save your graphs, making them easy to pull up later if necessary.

Conclusion

There are plenty of excellent advanced math apps that are floating around the internet. What we've collected are the best apps to make sure that you are successful at what you do in math class. From graphing calculators to practising advanced concepts to having the ability to practise varying math concepts, these apps will help to make sure you grasp even the advanced stuff.

While there are other apps that can get the job done, none of them do it quite as well as the apps we've listed here. Out of all of them, Mathway does the best job of delivering everything that you need in order to become a serious math whiz and ace your next test.

Best overall

Mathway

See at Play Store

Mathway delivers a great all-around experience for anyone who needs help to pump up their math skills. Whether you need help just finding the solution to homework problems, or you need the step-by-step directions to solve for X, it's got you covered. At its simplest, you'll get the solution to any math problem that you enter into the app, but that definitely isn't everything this app is capable of.

Mathway covers math problems from basic math to linear algebra and graphing. That makes it excellent for students from high school up and through college. It's especially handy for students who tend to struggle with math in class and need more hands-on help in order to understand advanced mathematical concepts.

When you jump into the app you'll first need to choose the type of math problem that you are solving. From there all you need to do is take a photo of the problem or type it in manually. Mathway will automatically solve the equation for you right there. If your answer differs from the correct one, then you can view the problem step by step to see where you went wrong. This includes an explanation of how to find the correct answer and in some cases even a graph to give you the full answer.

Bottom line: Mathway is an excellent aid for anyone who wants to check their answers or who need more in-depth help to master advanced math. It covers everything from simple concepts to advanced problems and can even break everything down step by step to make sure you have a solid grasp on what you are doing.

One more thing: In order to access everything Mathway has to offer, specifically step-by-step instructions for solving problems, you'll need to upgrade to the full version of the app for $19.99 a month or $79.99 for the full year.

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1 week ago

Try out Google's Chrome VR partners with Daydream

Google is bringing Chrome to VR, one experience at a time.

News that Google was enabling VR support inside of Chrome left a lot of people thinking the browser would be the next app added to the ever-expanding portfolio of Daydream apps, but for now that's not the case. Instead, Google has built parts of the Daydream experience into Chrome itself so you can enjoy Chrome VR with or without a headset.

Here's how you get started!

Read more at VR Heads

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1 week ago

The Raspberry Pi Zero makes a great, super cheap Kodi box

19
Raspberry Pi Zero

The Raspberry Pi 3 isn't the only cheap Kodi box you can make yourself.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has another insanely affordable computer that you can make things with. The Pi Zero costs a ridiculously low $5 and is every bit as accessible, if a little more limited, than its bigger brother.

Just as we did with the Raspberry Pi 3, we made a little Kodi box out of the Pi Zero and frankly, it's amazing something this cheap can do such a thing at all.

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1 week ago

How to configure the hardware shortcut buttons on Android Wear 2.0

2
LG Watch Sport

Watches are all about personalization — yes, even the hardware buttons.

Android Wear 2.0 opens up new hardware possibilities for wearable makers, including the inclusion of extra hardware shortcut buttons on the case. These buttons typically land above and below the power button on the side of the watch, and can be customized to launch any app that you have installed.

So if you have a watch with extra buttons running Android Wear 2.0 — like the LG Watch Sport — know that you don't have to stick with their default configuration. Here's how you can customize those hardware shortcut buttons.

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1 week ago

Vernee Apollo 2 with 10-core CPU and 8GB RAM will be unveiled at MWC

10

Get ready for a phone with a deca-core CPU and 8GB of RAM.

Chinese handset manufacturer Vernee is all set to unveil a smartphone with a 10-core CPU along with 8GB of RAM at MWC. The successor to last year's Apollo, the Apollo 2 will be powered by MediaTek's Helio X30 SoC, which offers a tri-cluster CPU design with four Cortex-A73 cores clocked at 2.8GHz, four Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 2.2GHz, and two Cortex-A35 cores clocked at 2.0GHz.

The X30 is built on TSMC's 10nm architecture, and comes with a quad-core PowerVR 7XT GPU, Category 12 LTE with 3x carrier aggregation, and a DSP that can support dual cameras up to 24MP.

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1 week ago

Why you should look forward to Apple 'inventing' wireless charging

166

Apple is reportedly adding Qi wireless charging to its next iPhone. You may not care, but your next phone may benefit.

You'll be hearing a lot about wireless charging in the next few weeks, and that's because Apple just joined the Wireless Power Consortium, a group of like-minded companies with the goal of furthering a single standard for charging devices sans wires.

But Apple has taken its time making overtures towards wireless charging, choosing to forgo the innovative feature until the introduction of the Apple Watch in early 2015. But even that product doesn't adhere to the Qi standard overseen by the WPC, going against the trend of the rest of the phone industry in the process.

Wireless charging is not new. It's been around in some form since 2008, and products supporting Qi emerged in 2011. On Android, the first product of note to support it was the Nexus 4, and every Nexus device until the 6P supported it, too. Then the Galaxy S line began supporting it natively in 2015 with the Galaxy S6, and that's that.

These Android phones support wireless charging

But Google has since dropped wireless charging from its product lineup — the metal-clad Pixel and Pixel XL lack the feature, as did their predecessors, the Nexus 6P and 5X — and despite supporting it in its flagships Samsung doesn't really emphasize it anymore. So what's the deal?

At one point, it was supposed to be the ultimate convenience, but now it's just kind of cool.

At one point, it was supposed to be the ultimate convenience, a natural way to place a device somewhere — usually a puck or stand on a desk — but now, in light of ultra-fast charging standards like Quick Charge 3.0 and VOOC, the convenience of topping up sans wires has been largely upstaged by the mere act of juicing. Add to that fact the proliferation of the much more convenient USB-C standard, and it's understandable why wireless charging hasn't taken off the way many thought it would a few years ago.

It also hasn't helped that, despite its dominance and perceived "victory," Qi is not the only wireless charging game in town. In 2015, the smaller Power Matters Alliance merged with the even more obscure Alliance for Wireless Power to form AirFuel, of which AT&T, Samsung and Starbucks are members (though the two former are also members of WPC, for what it's worth), and the newly-formed entity is still trying to convince people that its solution is better. It's not, though it has been experimenting with resonance-based wireless charging, which opens up devices to the coveted idea of "spatial freedom."

Ikea added Qi wireless charging to some of its furniture, but the line never took off.

Indeed, wireless charging likely won't find significant support until solutions are in place to facilitate "long-distance" charging — the idea that someone can place his or her phone anywhere on a surface and have it begin charging, even slowly. Right now, solutions from either WPC or AirFuel are constrained to precise placements.

Today, Samsung is the only game in town when it comes to wireless charging. LG may add it to its upcoming G6 flagship, but it's the Galaxy S7 series (and the now-deceased Galaxy Note 7) that have maintained demand. One reason for the tech's limited adoption is its material requirement: specifically, it's much more difficult to design a phone with wireless charging when its backplate is made of metal, since the material interferes with the magnetic field created by the inductive coils that produce the energy necessary to transfer electricity from the charger to the phone.

Today, Samsung is the only game in town when it comes to wireless charging, but that could soon change.

Samsung has designed around this problem by producing phones with glass backs, which have their own sets of problems, but the real solution to this is to develop wireless charging methods that are material-neutral. WPC and AirFuel have both spent years researching exactly that, but have yet to overcome the extra heat caused by the increased power necessary to overcome the metal's conductive nature. In 2015, Qualcomm announced a solution that would use AirFuel's Rezence standard to allow for charging through metal by physically connecting the power source to the phone casing itself, but so far no devices have incorporated it.

The other thing to think about is that, aside from the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5, wireless charging has largely been relegated to expensive flagships. Its growth depends on it going mainstream, which means cutting out confusion — a settling of the two standards will help — and getting it into as many mid-range devices as possible.

Circling back to Apple, its joining the Wireless Power Consortium, and potentially releasing an iPhone that supports Qi wireless charging, may have positive implications for the Android industry in general: greater interest in wireless charging from the public at large, which could lead to additional Android devices with it built in and accelerated development of solutions with that aforementioned spatial freedom. It may take credit for pushing the idea into the mainstream, but Android users shouldn't care: Qi is an open standard, and any "invention" from Apple will be adapted and improved upon by the industry as a whole.

Even AirFuel released a statement to that effect after it was revealed Apple aligned itself with the competition:

We're encouraged by the news that Apple is looking at wireless charging for their upcoming devices. Consumers not only want wireless charging, they want it to be second-nature, available when and where they need it.

This is one of the many reasons AirFuel Alliance continues to support all wireless charging technologies, from inductive to resonant to RF. Whichever wireless charging technologies Apple ultimately considers incorporating into its next-gen phones, this is great news for consumers and for the industry as a whole. We welcome Apple to the wireless charging table.

For fans of wireless charging, regardless of which side of the platform aisle you stand, this is good news.

Wireless charging explained in plain English

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1 week ago

OnePlus' #LickOfLove Valentine's Day video will definitely make you cringe

19

OnePlus shows off the "world's most lickable smartphones."

OnePlus has a history of making questionable ads. The company's earlier efforts were downright sexist and understandably caught a lot of flak, following which the brand turned its attention to videos that at least showcased its products.

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1 week ago

Amazon takes on Skype and Hangouts with its own video conferencing solution

4

Chime is an easy-to-use video conferencing tool powered by Amazon's cloud platform.

Amazon Web Services has launched Chime, a cloud-based video conferencing service aimed at businesses. Available on Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac, Chime allows users to quickly set up meetings, offering VoIP and video calling, instant messaging, and screen sharing. The feature-set is similar to that of Hangouts, and Amazon is also targeting Skype for Business — which runs on Microsoft's own cloud-based Azure ecosystem — with its video conferencing software.

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