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2 weeks ago

LG Watch Style review: Fashionable, not future-proof 

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With a smaller display and Android Wear 2.0, the LG Watch Style would have been nearly perfect if it just had wireless payment abilities.

It's 2017 and we're still talking about smartwatches like they're this untapped element, waiting to be unearthed. The reality is that many of the companies making the wearable devices have failed to answer the question of why I'd need to sport one of these things in the first place. What's the point? Is it to be fashion forward, or to have all the functionality of a smartphone on my wrist? And why can't I have both? 

The LG Watch Style has only made this conundrum worse. On the one hand, this is the first Android Wear smartwatch I've been able to wear for prolonged periods of time. And as a result, it made me want to use Android Wear: to remember to strap it on before I leave the house; to turn my wrist over to check on notifications; to take more walks so I could hit those steps. It's the first time that an Android Wear watch truly felt like a necessary accessory. But on the other hand, the LG Watch Style is missing a key feature that would have made it a worthy bragging point against my pals sporting Apple Watches, and there's where I'm struggling to justify its hefty $250 price tag.

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2 weeks ago

Google announces LG Watch Sport and LG Watch Style with Android Wear 2.0, on sale Feb 10

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LG Watch Sport and Watch Style

Welcome to a new era of Android Wear smartwatches.

Google is ready to launch its newest revision of Android Wear, version 2.0, and it has paired up with LG for two new smartwatches to showcase the latest software. The LG Watch Sport and LG Watch Style are launching in tandem to show both sides of what Android Wear can be — big and powerful, but also slim and beautiful.

Both watches are cut from 316L stainless steel, and have resistance from the elements (IP68 for the Sport, IP67 for the Style). They have Gorilla Glass 3-covered circular P-OLED displays with ambient brightness sensors (even without a "flat tire"), as well as new Snapdragon Wear 2100 processors and rotating crowns for a new form of input. Beyond those shared basics, they couldn't be more different.

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2 weeks ago

LG Watch Style specs: 1.2-inch display, swappable straps, no heart rate sensor

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LG Watch Style

This small watch has the basics covered.

Looking at the previous crop of Android Wear watches, many wanted something that was a bit smaller, thinner and easier to manage on an average wrist. LG answered with its LG Watch Style, which comes in with a smaller display, compact case and subtle thickness. Inside that case you get all of the basic specs, though, and simply miss out on some of the fringe features.

Here's everything you can find inside the LG Watch Style.

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2 weeks ago

LG Watch Sport specs: 1.4-inch display, LTE and Android Pay

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LG Watch Sport

If you like bells and whistles, you get them on the LG Watch Sport.

On the opposite end of the spectrum from the LG Watch Style, we also have the big and brawny LG Watch Sport. The name gives it away — this is a sport-focused watch that includes some nice features. Its big circular display offers ambient brightness sensing, and the thick case gives you a speaker, LTE, a top-notch heart rate sensor and standalone GPS for fitness tracking.

There's a lot going on in this watch — here's the full LG Watch Sport spec sheet.

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2 weeks ago

Android Wear 2.0 review: A massive upgrade for the wrist

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Android Wear 2.0 on the LG Watch Sport

Everything you know about Android Wear has changed, and what happens next is up to you.

Are smartwatches dead? Are smartwatches the future? Is my sock drawer full of smartwatches? Over the last year, we've seen a lot of hand wringing and hot takes about the future of wrist computers. It doesn't really matter who the manufacturer is or what operating system is running on it, you can find opposing opinions on the future of this tech category. For Google's part, smartwatches started out as an extension of a larger wearables strategy. Android Wear wasn't going to just be for watches, it was going to be on anything connected that you wore. Why, Google Glass may one day be considered part of Android Wear.

For Google's part, smartwatches started out as an extension of a larger wearables strategy.

Plans change, and Android Wear has since become an OS for many different manufacturers to explore what people want in a wrist computer. It turns out there isn't one answer. Some of us want a thin, svelte notification portal to occasionally glance at. Some of us want a standalone phone on our wrist with Android Pay, storage for music, and a full fitness tracking experience. Some of us want to leave our phones in the water-tight box and use our watch as a fish finder. The point is, it became clear there was never going to be a single hardware design and feature set for everyone, and while Android Wear had made this diversity clear over the last two years in terms hardware, the software hasn't kept up.

Welcome to Android Wear 2.0, an almost-modular watch operating system built to make it easier to build a unique software experience on top of the hardware of your choice. But does that make this the watch OS for everyone... or for no one?

Hungry for more?

Android Wear 2.0 is a complete overhaul of Google's wearable platform, but the hardware is just as important. Check out what LG and Google have done together with two new watches built specifically for Android Wear 2.0!

Read our complete LG Watch Sport review here!

Read our complete LG Watch Style review here!

About this review

I'm writing this review after months of using Android Wear 2.0 in its Developer Preview form, with particular focus on the final build of the preview for two weeks. This review was written alongside the release of the LG Watch Sport and LG Watch Style, the first watches made with Google specifically for Wear 2.0.

Read more: These are the watches being updated to Android Wear 2.0

Android Wear 2.0

Assistant and Passwords and Play Store and More

Android Wear 2.0 Initial setup

In most situations, Android Wear is still very much a tethered platform. You connect it to your phone via Bluetooth, and through that connection the phone serves information to and receives instructions from the watch. In previous versions of Android Wear this relationship was always primary-secondary; the watch did nothing without information from the phone. Android Wear 2.0 changes this relationship quite a bit, turning the watch into a largely standalone platform that relies on the phone for a data connection to process instructions entirely on its own.

The initial pairing process for Android Wear hasn't changed much, but it is now step one in a much larger process. Your phone pairs to the watch, checks for software updates, and now asks you for your Google Account as though you were logging in to a new phone. You can move multiple accounts to the watch if you have more than one on your phone, allowing you to switch between work and personal if desired, and when the data is transferred you get a resting notification on your phone letting you know that a Google account was sent over. You know, just in case someone moved your account to a watch in order to steal your data.

Android Wear 2.0

Unlike previous versions of Android Wear, you're far from done. No app icons have been moved from your phone to the watch, because apps don't exist simply as secondary access terminals to the app on your phone anymore. Android Wear apps are separate from Android phone apps, installed and in many cases used independently of the phone. This is great for keeping your watch free of a long list of icons you may never use, but it also means Google's staple apps aren't yet on your watch. If you want Hangouts or Google Maps, for example, you need to install them from the Play Store on the watch, or from the web straight to your watch.

If you want Hangouts or Google Maps, you need to install them from the Play Store on the watch.

Activating the Play Store and installing apps is simple enough, but now you need to enable any other features you may want to use on your watch before you're fully set up. Want to use Google Assistant from your wrist? You need to enable the feature on the watch, then go back to your phone and confirm on your phone you want Google Assistant on your watch. Android Pay, if your watch supports it, has a similar setup. You can only enable it on the watch if you have a lock screen set up on your wrist — yeah, you read that right — and then you can confirm on your phone you want Android Pay.

Android Wear Pattern Lock

Android Wear security is just like Android security now. You can use pin unlock, password unlock, or pattern unlock. When this security measure is in place, you're asked to "unlock" your watch any time it leaves your wrist thanks to the heart rate monitor. Neither of these unlock mechanisms on your wrist is particularly convenient, but the pattern lock allows you to unlock your phone without using a keyboard on a 1.3-inch display. If you aren't using Android Pay, it's not a requirement to have the feature enabled.

The one great part about this setup process is the lack of prompts. After the setup tutorial to show you how to swipe notifications and choose watch faces, you don't have to to enable any of this. If all you want is a way to see notifications on your wrist and respond with your voice when you can, you never have to worry. If you do want these features, it means setting up an Android Wear 2.0 watch is considerably more complicated than it has been in the past. But it can also do much more.

Android Wear 2.0

Hope you like buttons and knobs

Android Wear 2.0 Interface

By the time you get to the end of setting up Android Wear 2.0, something about the user interface becomes abundantly clear — you're going to be doing a lot of scrolling. Previous iterations of Android Wear avoided interfaces that were more than a single swipe, unless it was an email or some other form of message. The interface itself was largely contained to single "cards", and that experience is now almost entirely gone.

Android Wear 2.0

Every app scrolls; the app launcher scrolls; and of course your messages still scroll. The amount of swiping in Android Wear is significant, unless of course your watch has a rotating button on the side to scroll as you turn. It's clear from this design change Google anticipates a lot of future watches to include Gear S3-style rotating bezels or LG Watch Sport and Style rotating side buttons.

In an attempt to prepare for the future of Android Wear, there's some weirdness in using a hardware scrolling mechanism right now. As far as the OS is concerned, this rotating piece of hardware can be programmed to do multiple things. In most menus it scrolls up and down. In Google Maps it zooms in and out. Developers have the freedom to make this piece of hardware do whatever they want, and because not every app has been updated to support Android Wear 2.0 sometimes the thing you can do with the rotating hardware is nothing at all. It's a little confusing to spin the crown on the LG Watch Sport and, in some apps, have nothing at all happen, but this is likely to be a temporary frustration.

Developers have the freedom to make the rotating piece of hardware do whatever they want.

Perhaps more important than directly encouraging users to turn a button on the side of the watch is how much more frequently you'll be pressing them. In the past, the button on the side of your Android Wear watch was used to return you to the watch face or back out of a menu. The interface was a single large cascading menu for you to interact with, but with Google Assistant replacing Google Now, and your App Drawer living behind a button press, the physical button on the watch is now the primary interaction mechanism, which is significant.

Android Wear 2.0

From the watch face, you can swipe down for quick settings, swipe up to see unread notifications, and swipe left and right to swap watch faces to whatever is stored on the watch. The button on the side accesses your app drawer, an alphabetical list of apps you have installed with the most recently used app at the top. Each app is standalone now, so you navigate to the app you want just like you would on your phone. If your Android Wear watch has multiple buttons on the body, these buttons can be programmed to launch specific apps so you're not stuck frequently swiping through the app drawer to get to them.

Notifications for Android Wear 2.0 are one of the best reflections of how Google's visual design has changed over the last two years. As a user, you are no longer sorting through a stack of digital cards as you triage notifications from your phone. Instead you have flat panels with muted colors and bright text filling the display. This new design increases information density, ensures the cards are easier to read in just about every environment, and there's some improved control over notification priority that has been desperately needed for a long time. Status notifications, like uploading something to Facebook, are sent to the bottom of the stack to disappear instead of placed on top to show you the thing you're already doing on your phone.

Overall, Android Wear 2.0 is a great deal simpler to navigate than its predecessors.

Quick Settings exists mostly to replace the features you lose on the watch button by moving the App Drawer and Google Assistant there. You can no longer double-click the button in order to activate Theater Mode, so instead you swipe down and tap on the sun in your Quick Settings. You can no longer triple-click to access the brightest mode the screen has to offer, so you swipe sown and tap the sun icon again. This section is a little more useful if you're able to turn cellular on and off on watches with LTE support, or if you regularly use the watch to control notifications in Do Not Disturb, but that's about it. It's a quick alternative, not really any better or worse than what was there before.

Overall, Android Wear 2.0 is a great deal simpler to navigate than its predecessors. You're unlikely to ever get lost in this interface, because everything is a direct action. If you're using apps, you press the button and go there. If you're checking notifications, they're always right in front of you. Gesture controls still work exactly the same as they always have, and the number of actions you take to complete most tasks is limited to one or two taps. This design can become as complicated as you choose depending on how many apps you use on a daily basis, but the overall design approaches simplicity from a new position and it works well.

LG Watch Sport

Okay, so we're doing this

Android Wear 2.0 Features

Visually, the face of Android Wear is going to appear very similar. Watch faces are available by the truckload in the Play Store, and that's not going to go away anytime soon. What you will start to see is an effort to make those watch faces a great deal more customizable, and useful, than we've seen in the past, thanks to Google's new Complications API.

This setup has been cribbed right from the Moto 360, and it's fantastic. Watch face creators can now designate areas on the face for users to plug in information from all over the watch. Any app that supports complications can feed data to the face, and users get to choose how that information fits. We're already seeing several watch face creators moving to implement this API in the Developer Preview, which means tons of new options for the already massive list of watch faces.

The biggest feature changes in Android Wear 2.0 fall into place when you go to use the watch as though your phone is just there to serve data. Some of this sounds downright silly when you say it out loud — replying to emoji by drawing on the screen, swiping on a teeny tiny virtual keyboard when voice alone is insufficient, or scrolling through the Play Store on your wrist in search of new apps.

Existing Android Wear owners may frown on these kinds of interactions, due to the size of the display and the kind of latency expected with these experience, and in some cases they'll probably be right. But Android Wear 2.0 does not exist for a single kind of user. If you're someone who has no interest in keyboards and emoji, there's never a situation where you're forced to use it. Everywhere you find handwriting and emoji writing, you'll also find voice and quick replies.

Android Wear features

The same can be said for Google Assistant. You can choose to have your watch always listening for the Assistant launch phrase, but it's frequently not as fast to launch as your phone or Google Home. Being able to say "OK Google" while your phone sits on the table or in the cupholder of your car is not the same as pressing and holding the button on your watch until the four colorful orbs show up, either. The important thing about Assistant being on your wrist is that it's there just in case. It's a way to fill the gap for some interactions, and for others it could very well become the default way to use the service.

Android Wear 2.0 does not exist for a single kind of user.

In the quest to create individual Googles for everyone, Assistant needs to be everywhere and work identically. The biggest challenge associated with Assistant on the wrist right now is lag. If Assistant isn't immediately available, like it is elsewhere, it's simply less useful on the wrist. It's likely this will be where we see older Android Wear watches running the 2.0 update appear less optimized.

Google's big shift in Android Wear with the 2.0 update is apps. Being able to install apps on your watch and have them run entirely independently of your phone is significant. People who almost never use Google Keep on their phone but love having lists on their wrists can accomplish this without cluttering up the primary app drawer. Fitness apps can be built specifically for Wear that require no phone at all. This is how Google creates the same Android Wear experience regardless of the phone platform you're using. If the app is on the Play Store, and the Play Store is on the wrist, it won't matter that you have an iPhone connected.

Android Wear Play Store

But there are things missing from this isolated experience that complicates Wear in ways that aren't entirely necessary. Play on Android Wear is slow, often taking anywhere from 3-5 seconds to fully load. The auto-update feature that is enabled by default doesn't tell you when an app has been updated or why, and choosing to do so manually is tedious. You also can't really tell from the watch how much data you're using in any meaningful way, which means you have to check with your phone.

This is by far the most complete feeling version of Android Wear to date.

An important part of any OS that doesn't get nearly as much attention as it deserved most of the time is the Accessibility section, and the biggest addition to Android Wear in this particular category is that it now actually has an Accessibility section. Magnification gestures allow you to triple tap on the screen and zoom in, text-to-speech and TalkBack modes use the speaker to read content to you, Select to Speak will call out menu options, and you can even set the power button to end a call.

These features combined make it clear Google is thinking about watches as more than just luxury items. This now becomes an emergency communication tool for the elderly, an assistive device for the blind, and a functional alternative to a large phone when that simply isn't an option for someone.

We know that Google is still working with developers to do more with Wear as 2.0 is adopted by more manufacturers as well. The ability to launch apps based on behavior — fitness apps launching when the watch detects a significant amount of movement — is something we'll see a lot more of in the coming year. In previous versions of Android Wear it felt like Google had created a lot of options and then waited for developers to wander in and create things for users. Android Wear 2.0 is a lot more focused on letting users build their own experience, which allows developers to help users adjust that experience as the need arises. It's a big shift, and it requires a little more work on behalf of the user than previous attempts at wearables, but this is by far the most complete feeling version of Android Wear to date as a result.

Android Wear

Go make it your own

Android Wear 2.0 Bottom line

So what is this new version of Android Wear, exactly? Is it an attempt to put a phone on your wrist? Could this be a way to sneak the Play Store onto the wrists of iPhone users? Is this an attempt to fight off stagnation by stuffing in every feature your relatively small user base demands? In a way, it's probably all of these things. But in the process, it's actually none of these things.

Android Wear 2.0 is the perfect encapsulation of "Be Together, Not the Same" in hardware form. Google was already ahead of the pack with personalization in the form of watch faces, and by enabling hardware manufacturers to offer more unique watches there's a lot of potential for this platform moving forward. No two people are going to have the exact same experience, but at the same time there's a consistency that can be appreciated by anyone interested in having a computer on their wrist that also tells time.

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2 weeks ago

For a limited time you can grab the Fire Tablet for just $39

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Right now you can pick up Amazon's Fire Tablet for just $39, a savings of $10 from its regular price. Even at $49 this thing is an incredible value, so being able to save an additional $10 on it makes it an even easier purchase. The tablet features a 7-inch IPS display, a 1.3GHz processor and now works with Amazon's Alexa cloud-based voice service. There are tons of great apps, games and more that are completely free through Amazon Underground, so you won't have any shortage of content here.

Storage in these tends to fill up fast, so you may want to check out some of the best microSD cards to add so you don't find yourself running low. This pricing won't last long, so be sure to pick one up before it is too late!

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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2 weeks ago

10 Amazon Echo Commands You Must Try

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Speak, Alexa, and Enter.

The big feature with every connected speaker is the ability to speak and get something interesting in response. Right now, the connected speaker with the most spoken word features is without a doubt Amazon Echo. The Alexa platform is full of amazing skills and features just waiting for you to enable and test, but that list is considerably longer than most people have time to sort through.

Here's a look at my favorites, the Amazon Echo commands everyone should try!

Control Time

Alarms are a big part of how I use Amazon Echo. "Alexa, set an alarm for 6am" is right up there with "Alexa, set a timer for 45 minutes" when I tell my kids it is time for quiet reading time. You can set quick alarms and timers for anything, and as long as you're within earshot of the system, the timer on it can be a lifesaver.

Buy Stuff

Your Amazon Echo can order just about anything available on Amazon, and sometimes you'll find there are actually sales that are only available by ordering through your Echo. The best part is that Alexa looks at your previous orders, so when you say "Alexa, order more toilet paper" it will confirm you want more of the brand you most recently purchased.

Echo can also be used to track existing orders, so you know whether the FedEx truck is going to be there for you today.

Drinks on Me

Alcohol and Amazon go surprisingly well together. Wine drinkers can call upon the MySomm Skill and say "Alexa, ask Wine Gal to recommend a wine for tacos" and get some thoughts on what you should buy.

Not into wine? The Bartender lets you say "Alexa, ask the bartender, what's in a Moscow Mule?" and get everything you need in return.

Kitchen Control

Your Echo is the perfect kitchen companion. It will answer any question you have about measurement conversions when you're trying to tweak a recipe, and if you're not sure what to make you can ask Trending Recipes for the best new things.

Just say "Alexa, ask Trending Recipes for a recent recipe" and you'll get a detailed breakdown of something new to make!

Rules Czar

Family Board Game Night is a lot of fun, right until you're playing the family version of Monopoly with no paper rules and everyone has a different idea of how things work.

Board Game Answers lets you step in and say "Alexa, ask board games how much money everyone starts with in Monopoly" and you'll get started smoothly.

Find my Phone

When tearing your living room apart looking for the phone you are absolutely sure you set down a few minutes ago, Where's My Phone is a little closer than your computer.

Just say "Alexa, ask Where's My Phone to find my phone" and it'll start ringing for you in a couple of seconds.

Shut Up!

Sometimes all you really want from your Amazon Echo is silence. If loud music is playing or Alexa is in the middle of a lengthy explanation you don't want to hear, just say "Alexa, Shut Up!" and you'll get some silence in return. Or, if you just want some background noise, say "Alexa, volume one" and get back to work.

See at Amazon

Amazon Echo

Amazon

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2 weeks ago

When to enable smooth turning on your PlayStation VR

Should I enable smooth turning in my VR games?

Full body motion in VR is hard. When your eyes see the world moving around you, but your body can't feel a matching sensation for movement, the end result is frequently called Cue Correction or Sim Sickness. Your brain tries to compensate for not being able to feel the things the eyes are seeing, maybe by leaning in one direction or crouching, and it quickly makes some people nauseated. This is why many VR games put you inside of a vehicle or let you walk around with your body instead of using a button to move.

Some games, usually faster-paced action games, rely on thumb sticks for movement in VR. To compensate for the potential of Cue Correction, most of these games don't let you turn around very quickly. Some games limit you to a 30-degree turn at a time, or make the turns slow enough to decrease the potential for sickness. In most cases, these games also have a comfort setting you can adjust in order to turn faster. Here's how to use that feature without getting sick.

Read more at VR Heads

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2 weeks ago

Facebook makes it easier to help your neighbors during a crisis

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Facebook wants you to reach out, or be easier to find, in times of a crisis.

Facebook is rolling out an update to its Safety Check platform that leverages the huge numbers of people and data in its database to make it easier to actual give people help.

Called Community Help, the feature is "available for natural and accidental incidents, such as an earthquake or building fire," and is "starting in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and Saudi Arabia for the first couple of weeks."

The idea is that after checking in to let your followers know you're OK during a difficult time or state of emergency, you can now "find and give help, and message others directly to connect after a crisis."

The goal is a noble one, built out of necessity given Facebook's reach and daily activity numbers. The company says it will expand into more countries and categories in the coming weeks.

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2 weeks ago

The latest version of Android is now on 1.2% of devices

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One percent of a billion isn't nothing, but Nougat is still frustratingly hard to come by.

Android 7.x Nougat is now on 1.2% of active Android phones, according to the latest numbers from Google. That's up 0.5% from last month, which may not seem like a lot but it's the biggest one-month jump since the platform was made official last August. That's thanks to big-name updates from companies like Huawei, Samsung, LG and more.

But older versions like Marshmallow, at 30.7%, are still far more ubiquitous — it even increased 1.1% over last month! Other versions, like Lollipop, KitKat and most flavors of Jelly Bean, are all down from January, but not enough to make any significant difference. The reality is that fragmentation is still very much a thing on Android, and that 35.2% of devices are still running software from 2013 or earlier.

With the Galaxy S7 expected to receive Nougat in volume this quarter, that number of Android 7.x-based phones should shoot up again in March, but it will be a long time before it approaches anything close to what we're seeing from holdouts like Jelly Bean and KitKat.

Android Nougat

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2 weeks ago

How to deal with a green haze in your PlayStation VR

You aren't imagining it, there's a green haze in your PlayStation VR.

Nothing pulls you out of an immersive experience quite like being reminded you're wearing a headset. For some VR owners, that reminder happens when light comes into the headset and reflects off the lenses. PlayStation VR owners don't have that problem, but some have noticed a green smear out of the corner of their eye when playing particularly dark games. It's a distracting, temporary effect every PlayStation VR owners needs to deal with, but if you know how there's a way to avoid it most of the time. Here's what you need to know!

Read more at VR Heads!

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2 weeks ago

Here's how you can become an ethical hacker

As the cyber world grows, so does the requirement for security personnel. One of the best ways to test security is to breach it — it's often hard to find a hole until something passes through it. The people who do this type of work are known as ethical hackers, and they are in high demand. Companies would rather have someone on their side breaching their security, rather than someone unknown or hostile. Maybe you've always fancied yourself a tech guru, or maybe you're just starting out. Either way, you're probably wondering how to get started down the path of cyber security.

Save big on this new skill Learn More

Right now, Android Central Offers has a fantastic deal on lifetime access to nearly 90 courses and 16 hours of information to get you ready. This package ultimately delivers training you'll need to fast track your career. The best part? It's going to set you back only $49 rather than the regular $700. No, that's not a typo; that's a 92% discount.

Being at the cutting edge of progress is never a bad idea, especially when it comes to your career. As job availability decreases and automation ramps up, individuals with specialized careers will be patting themselves on the back. One thing that doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon is the need for tech security, so why not get started on this course today? Some of the highlights include:

  • Access 89 lectures & 16 hours of content 24/7
  • Understand how to bypass different security layers after getting proper approval
  • Learn how to compromise computers, crack passwords, crash systems & compromise applications
  • Run a buffer overflow from scratch
  • Stride towards a career in this fast-growing IT profession

Become an ethical hacker now! Learn More

Sick of your dead-end job? Want to make a ton of money and help a lot of people stay safe? Get in at the ground level and make the tech industry work for you, not against you. This is a lot of education for a very low price — check it out today before the offer ends.

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2 weeks ago

Google Pixel's speaker problems have been fixed — probably

36

The Pixel's audio problems are mostly over. What a sweet sound.

The Google Pixel has issues. It's still the best phone out there, but it's not perfect, and one such issue consistently been reported is the phone's single downward-facing speaker tending to distort at high volumes. What was initially thought of as a hardware malfunction appears to have been resolved (or is resolvable) using software.

According to a number of people who downloaded the February 2017 security update onto their Google Pixel this week, the sound issues appear to have been fixed — at least for some. Two commits to AOSP in January — one from Google and the other from HTC — tell the story of a company looking to both its internal software team and its manufacturing partner to figure out exactly what has been happening.

What does this mean? Well, as Russell Holly pointed out, it's very difficult to make speakers act identically inside a phone, since there are always going to be variances in temperature, humidity and slight alterations to the size and shape of the cavity itself. What Google can do is resolve the issue for the largest number of people through a software calibration, which it appears to be doing here.

Common Google Pixel problems and how to fix them

If you're using a Google Pixel with the latest security update, has it resolved your audio problems? Or did you not have one in the first place? Or have you still been unable to buy one?

Google Pixel + Pixel XL

Google Store Verizon

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2 weeks ago

Android Security Bulletin: Everything you need to know

25

Fixing the latest bugs and exploits in Android every month.

Google has detailed the latest Android Security Bulletin and released the fixes for Nexus and Pixel devices.

These are exploits and other security concerns that affect Android as a whole. Issues with the operating system, kernel patches, and driver updates may not affect any particular device, but these need to be fixed in the Android base by the folks maintaining the operating system code. That means Google, and they've detailed the things they have improved for this month.

Updated factory images for Pixel and Nexus devices that are supported are available, and over-the-air updates are rolling out to users. If you don't want to wait, you can download and flash the factory image or OTA update file manually, and here are some handy instructions to get you started.

How to manually update your Nexus or Pixel

The company who made your phone uses these patches to send an update out to you.

These changes have been released to the people making Android phones for at least 30 days, but Google can't force anyone to deliver them to you. If you're using a phone from Samsung, LG, or anyone besides Google, you'll need to wait for them to send an update and shouldn't try to flash any of the above files.

Of course, Google has safety checks in place to prevent any problems on your phone because of any security exploits. Verify Apps and SafetyNet are at work any time you add an app to your phone, and seamless updates to Google Play Services will keep them up to date regardless of any hold-up from a manufacturer or carrier. Details and incident numbers can be found in the yearly Android Security Review (.pdf file).

Highlights for February 2017

February 2017's update comes with two patch dates: 02/01/2017 and 02/05/2017.

  • Qualcomm and MediaTek have issued updates that prevent a malicious app from gaining elevated privileges by executing code in the kernel space. The code for these patches is not publicly available, but updated binary files are available at the Google Developer site. Devices running Android 7.0 or higher were not affected.
  • The AOSP Messaging and Mail apps have been patched to address a vulnerability that could enable another app to bypass Android's system-level protections and see data it shouldn't be able to access.
  • The Bionic DNS function (Bionic is Android's standard C library) has been patched to prevent a specific Denial of Service attack that would cause a device to freeze or reboot.
  • Updated firmware binaries to address hardware-specific vulnerabilities were received from Broadcom, HTC, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, Realtek, and Synaptics. Any of these binaries that are applicable to Nexus or Pixel devices are available at the Google Developer site.

If you get an update with a patch date of 02/05/2017, you also have every issue addressed by the 02/01/2017 update in place.

Previous bulletin highlights

Here are summaries and highlights of recent patches from the monthly Android Security Bulletin. As with the current bulletin, these issues were also mitigated by Google's Verify Apps, Safety Net, and seamless updates to Google Play Services.

January 2017

January 2017's update comes with two patch dates: 01/01/2017 and 01/05/2017.

  • Qualcomm has fully patched the various exploits that were collectively called quadrooter. All phones with a patch date of 01/05/16 or later are patched. Qualcomm additionally assisted in patching less severe exploits in the camera and bootloader of some phones.
  • The multimedia server and support drivers for audio and video components continue to be updated to prevent exploits such as last year's Stagefright issues. Google made a promise to continuously monitor and patch the multimedia system to prevent a repeat and have so far delivered on it.

If you get an update with a patch date of 01/05/2017, you also have every issue addressed by the 01/01/2017 update in place.

December 2016

December 2016's update comes with two patch dates: 12/01/2016 and 12/05/2016.

  • Fixes in the 12/01 update cover Android in general and address issues with the Android operating system itself. The most serious exploit addressed was in the CURL library (software used to transfer data that covers most transfer protocols and security certificates), where a man-in-the-middle attack could be performed by someone with a spoofed security certificate. Other patches for Smart Lock, the telephony system, and comm stack are also included.
  • The 12/05 patch date covers issues with the kernel or drivers. These aren't part of Android, but Google is the central maintainer and assembles updated code and resources from the folks making the hardware components. This time we see fixes for serious exploits from Qualcomm, MediaTek, and NVIDIA — so chances are your phone needs these. Samsung's Exynos chips are covered outside of the Android Security Bulletin and are patched by Samsung themselves.

If you received an update with a patch date of 12/05 you also have every issue addressed by the 12/01 update in place.

See the Android Security website for details on all bulletins

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2 weeks ago

Logitech's M720 Triathlon is my new favorite mouse

7

The Logitech M720 Triathlon Mouse is the best wireless mouse I've ever used.

I don't think it's weird to have a favorite mouse. It's a tool but it's also an extension of your hand and eyes. I think most people who make a living sitting in front of a computer have a favorite mouse, and even people who don't stare at a screen all day appreciate a mouse that works just right for them.

I'm also one of those people who would rather not use the trackpad on their laptop. Even a very good trackpad doesn't work for me the way a mouse works, and whenever I'm using my Chromebook or even my MacBook Pro I'll use a mouse if I can get away with it. I just prefer it. A lot of people do.

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