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1 week ago

AC editors' apps of the week:, Google I/O, and more


It's Appday Sunday and that means we're back with more of our favorites to share. Every week we bring a handful of great apps to the table and share them with everyone. Sometimes they are new apps, sometimes old standards, but every time they are apps we love to use.

Give these a look and then take a minute to tell us all about the apps you are using and love so we can give them a try. We all find some of our favorites right in the comments on these posts!

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1 week ago

Best portable Bluetooth Speakers

Best portable Bluetooth Speakers

Take your music with you with a portable Bluetooth Speaker.

Portable Bluetooth speakers are one of the best ways to take those awesome audio waves with you everywhere. Compatible with virtually any Bluetooth-enabled device, Bluetooth speakers will make sure that, as long as your phone, tablet, or laptop is around, your music is loud!

We've rounded up some of the best portable Bluetooth speakers that you can take with you just about anywhere!

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1 week ago

From the Editor's Desk: The dark side of selling an app

Storm clouds

Use Dark Sky, or don't use Dark Sky. But don't tell me it's somehow not worth $3 a year. The math doesn't lie.

Here we go again. A long-awaited app finally comes to Android — and the developer has the gall to ask for $3 a year to use the really good parts of it. Instead of, ya know, mucking the whole thing up with ads, or charging more money a single time, or ...

Yes, we're going to have this discussion again.

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1 week ago

4G in India: Everything you need to know


4G is finally going mainstream in India.

India's mobile market has seen a meteoric rise in the last few years, and it doesn't look like the growth will abate anytime soon. The country has witnessed a 23% increase in phone sales in Q1 2016, and it is estimated that over a billion phones will be sold by 2020. A key part of that vision is 4G connectivity, which has been rolling out in phases since 2012.

In addition to increasing phone sales, an estimated nine crore (90,000,000) subscribers will use 4G services in India by 2018, and as such there's a huge potential for carriers to upgrade their infrastructure to support 4G. With Reliance Jio set to enter the market with its pan-India 4G license, the segment is slated for its largest expansion yet this year.

4G bands and frequencies

When compared to 3G, 4G offers greater bandwidth at a lower latency, with downloads quoted in the vicinity of 45Mbps. However, receiving those speeds is entirely reliant on network connectivity and congestion, which was a major issue during the 3G rollout. Carriers often saw a high amount of congestion on their networks, which meant that most customers never saw the claimed download speeds. This time around, carriers are looking to mitigate the issue of congestion by investing heavily in infrastructure. That said, there's still no guarantee that you'll actually see the claimed download seeds. For instance, although Airtel offers 4G in Hyderabad, the bandwidth is only marginally higher than what you get on 3G.

If you're looking to buy a 4G phone in India, look for Bands 3, 5, and 40.

Indian carriers are leveraging both TDD-LTE and FDD-LTE standards to offer 4G connectivity in the country. The government auctions spectrum to the carriers for a duration of twenty years, with the most recent auction netting over $16 billion in revenue. There is an auction slated for later this year, where the government will make additional spectrum in the 700MHz frequency. The low-frequency band is attracting attention from carriers, as it offers a wider range and is unaffected by buildings, whereas higher frequency bands such as 2300MHz can transfer more bandwidth over a smaller area.

Band 3 (1800MHz) is primarily used for 4G coverage in India, as the spectrum was already in use during the 2G era. Carriers that offer 4G on Band 3 include Aircel, Airtel, Idea, Reliance Communications, Reliance Jio, Telenor, Vodafone, and Videocon.

Band 40 (2300MHz) is the second frequency on which carriers offer 4G connectivity. The government had auctioned airwaves in this spectrum to Aircel, Airtel, Reliance Jio, and Tikona in 2010. Reliance's pan-India network will primarily rely on the 2300MHz frequency for cellular coverage.

Band 5 (850MHz) will be used by Reliance Jio and Reliance Communications in ten circles. If you're interested in purchasing a handset to access 4G connectivity, make sure the phone supports Bands 3, 5, and 40.

Carriers and their circles

India's 29 states and seven union territories are broken down into 22 telecom circles, which are largely defined by state boundaries. Moving between circles incurs roaming charges for calls and texts, which is a main reason why phones with two SIM card slots are preferred in the country. Having two SIM slots available makes it that much more convenient for those traveling between two circles to cut down on charges. Here's the breakdown of the telecom circles in India:

  • Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
  • Assam
  • Bihar & Jharkhand
  • Delhi
  • Gujarat and Daman and Diu
  • Haryana
  • Himachal Pradesh
  • Jammu and Kashmir
  • Karnataka
  • Kerala and Lakshadweep
  • Kolkata
  • Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh
  • Maharashtra and Goa
  • Mumbai
  • Odisha
  • Punjab
  • North East (Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura)
  • Rajasthan
  • Tamil Nadu
  • Uttar Pradesh (East)
  • Uttar Pradesh (West) and Uttarakhand
  • West Bengal


Airtel was the first to offer 4G services in India all the way back in 2012. Dubbed the "widest 4G network" in India, Airtel is offering 4G in over 350 cities across 15 circles. The carrier operates on the 2300MHz frequency and has access to 20MHz of bandwidth, along with a license to offer data on the 1800MHz frequency in six circles. Being the first to launch 4G has led to Airtel netting a userbase of over 2.5 million subscribers as of the first quarter of 2016. The carrier has extended its 4G network 15 kilometers off the coastline at the behest of the Indian Navy.

On the 2300MHz frequency, Airtel has a license in eight out of 22 circles in India (Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Haryana, Kerala, and Punjab) and has recently acquired access to Aircel's spectrum in eight additional circles: Tamil Nadu (including Chennai), Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal, Assam, North East, Andhra Pradesh, and Odisha. The move puts Airtel in a much better position to face the imminent arrival of Reliance Jio.

As an introductory offer, Airtel is offering 4G connectivity at 3G tariffs. If you're using the carrier's 3G data plans, you can make the switch to a 4G SIM and continue using your existing plan. To know more about getting your 4G SIM, head to Airtel's microsite.

Airtel also offers its own suite of music, movie, and game streaming apps on Android and iOS, dubbed Wynk. You can choose to subscribe to Wynk separately for ₹99 a month, or buy a bundled plan that offers these services for free. For instance, 1GB of 4G data combined with a 28-day subscription to Wynk Music (including unlimited song downloads) currently costs ₹279, whereas a standalone data plan costs ₹259. In essence, you're getting Wynk Music for just ₹20.

If you're looking to make the switch to Airtel's 4G network, head down to the link below to see the coverage and tariff for your locale.

See at Airtel

Reliance Jio

Reliance Jio has the most amount of liberalized spectrum among Indian carriers, with a nationwide license on the 2300MHz frequency, along with airwaves in the 1800MHz band and 10MHz spectrum in the 850MHz frequency that's purchased from RCOM in ten circles: Assam, Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Mumbai, North East, Odisha, and Uttar Pradesh (East). The carrier is looking to create an integrated 4G network that leverages all three frequencies to provide seamless connectivity.

The carrier was slated to launch its 4G network last year, but was met with constant delays. In December 2015, Reliance Jio commenced a soft launch where it made the service accessible to its 100,000 employees. The carrier will is now testing its network capabilities in an invite-only trial, with a full launch planned for December 2016. During the trial, Jio is offering three months of unlimited data, but the caveat is that you have to purchase one of the phones in the vendor's Lyf series to be eligible to use its 4G network.

One of the key differentiators with Jio's network is VoLTE, which allows for high-definition voice calls to be placed over the data network. Reliance is also looking to the upcoming 700MHz auction to bolster its voice-based offerings. Using a lower frequency band for VoLTE has significant cost benefits as it reduces the need to install a lot of base towers. Coverage on the 700MHz band is twice that of the 1800MHz band, and four times as much as what you get on the 2300MHz frequency.

Reliance Jio is also investing in its app ecosystem, and is slated to offer digital content services that include streaming music, video-on-demand, and a digital payments solution. Jio has a multi-service operator license, which allows it to introduce live TV as well as television-on-demand services on its network.


Idea may turn out to be the underdog in this segment, as the carrier is now offering 4G in over 575 cities and towns in 10 circles, installing up to 14,000 4G base stations in the process. In terms of userbase, Idea is the third largest carrier in the country, coming behind Airtel and Reliance. As of Q1 2016, the carrier has 680,000 users actively using its 4G services, with over 2.7 million subscribers owning a 4G-compatible handset. The carrier is aggressively increasing its coverage, and plans to have 4G available in 750 towns across the country by June 2016.

Idea uses the 1800MHz for 4G coverage, holding spectrum in ten key circles which culminate to over 60% of the carrier's revenues: Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala and Lakshadweep, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Goa, North East, Odisha, Punjab, and Tamil Nadu and Chennai.

The carrier's coverage indicator offers a city-wise breakdown of where the 4G service is available. If you're an existing subscriber, you can check out if your location has 4G services by heading to the link below.

See at Idea

Vodafone, Reliance Communications, and BSNL

Vodafone has its 4G services available on the 1800MHz frequency in Kerala, Karnataka, Mumbai, Delhi & NCR, and Kolkata. The carrier is content with playing the waiting game and seeing the demand for 4G before investing in the remaining 17 circles. International roaming is available for Vodafone's 4G customers when they travel abroad to the U.K., Romania, Spain, and the Netherlands. The carrier has mentioned that more countries will be added to the list shortly.

Reliance Communications — a different entity from Reliance Jio — has signed an agreement with Jio to let the latter use its 850MHz frequency in ten circles: Assam, Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Mumbai, North East, Odisha, and Uttar Pradesh (East). The carrier will switch its CDMA customers to 4G once the network goes live.

State-run BSNL is also getting into the action, and has announced that it will offer 4G in 14 circles. The network holds 20MHz liberalized broadband wireless access (BWA) spectrum in the 2500MHz band.

VoLTE is coming too

As we've already mentioned, VoLTE is a key component of Reliance Jio's 4G service. The carrier partnered with Nokia last year to roll out VoLTE across the country on its network in a deal worth over $100 million, and has mentioned that over 35 phones currently available in the Indian market are eligible to use its VoLTE service.

With voice call quality becoming a significant issue in recent months, carriers will be looking to switch to VoLTE to ensure better service. While there's no official confirmation, it is being rumored that Airtel, Vodafone, and Idea are also in talks with Nokia over VoLTE.

Airtel will leverage its 4G network for VoLTE, offering the service in areas where it has 4G coverage. The carrier will fall back on 3G and 3G voice-based services in locations where it does not yet offer 4G.

What about phones?

The momentum is not limited to carriers, but has also made its way to the handset ecosystem. Most phones sold in India now offer LTE as standard, even in the budget segment. There are a slew of phones available for as low as ₹4,500 that allow you to connect to 4G networks. The budget segment will be the key for 4G proliferation, as that is where a majority of sales occur.

The aggressive expansion by Airtel and Idea means that 4G services are no longer limited to a few cities in the country. And with Jio set to enter the segment with its pan-India coverage, 2016 is the year when 4G becomes mainstream.

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1 week ago

Mobile Nations Weekly: Looking, planning, and debugging ahead

Google I/O 2015

This week is brought to you by the future.

The whole Android world is looking ahead for Google I/O 2016. Google's already unveiled and released a preview of Android N, so it's anybody's guess what exactly they'll have on tap. VR? Smart speakers? Self-driving dirigibles? Tune in next week to find out!

As for Apple, there was a brouhaha over a supposed Apple Music bug that was deleting locally-stored music, but Apple says that is an iTunes bug, but they're not even sure that it's actually a bug. But, to discuss things like that and everything else in Apple's business, iMore has a brand new podcast: Apple Talk. Joining hosts Michael Gartenberg, Serenity Caldwell, and Rene Ritchie for the first episode: none other than John Gruber of Daring Fireball.

Microsoft has released yet another update to the Windows 10 Anniversary Update Developer Preview, this time building out support for Ink and pulling a few lesser-used features at the same time. Also, be sure to check out Windows Central's reviews of Superhot for Xbox and Hitman Episode 2

After losing two senior executives, Tesla's made a big hire: bringing on the Audi exec in charge of the A4, A5, and Q5 as the new Tesla VP of Vehicle Production — he has a huge challenge in ramping up for the Model 3. And despite what you might have read on Facebook, lithium extraction is much cleaner than oil sands.

All of that and much much more inside this edition of Mobile Nations Weekly!

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1 week ago

What we're hoping to see at Google I/O 2016

Google I/O

It's good to set expectations before a show, but it's also okay to dream a little bit.

Google I/O is nearly here. Just days away. And while it's important to remember that I/O is, first and foremost, a developer event, those of us who don't code for a living have a few thoughts on what we'd like to see come out of this year's conference.

There's a lot to cover in three days. Android. Chrome. Chrome on Android. And, of course, virtual reality, maybe some stuff on connected homes, automotive, wearables — and who knows, maybe Google will surprise us with something nobody thought of.

There's going to be a world of stuff to absorb over three days in in Mountain View. We've already heard about what you want to see. Now it's our turn. This is just a smattering of what we're hoping to find at Google I/O, as told by the Mobile Nations folks who will be there this year.

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1 week ago

Best accessories for the Galaxy Note 5


Bump up the functionality and the awesomeness of your Note 5 with some sweet accessories!

Beautiful, functional, and fun to use, Samsung's Galaxy Note 5 has a lot going for it. But there are a lot of ways you can bump up that functionality and fun-factor to astronomical levels.

We've done some looking, and we've put together this roundup of amazing accessories for your Galaxy Note 5.

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1 week ago

HTC Desire 820 Marshmallow update brings Sense 7.0 and more


Should you still be rocking the HTC Desire 820, you'll be thrilled to see that the Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow update is now rolling out for it. In addition to bringing it to the latest version of Android, it also bumps it up to HTC's Sense 7.0.

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1 week ago

Some Ring Doorbell Pro users could temporarily see other people's houses


Be careful out there, especially with your smart doorbells.

A big part of using any kind of connected security system is trusting the company you're paying to keep your information private, and a handful of Ring Doorbell Pro owners recently found that trust had been compromised. Notifications started coming from other Ring Doorbell Pro owners, with video feeds attached that were not from the right house.

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1 week ago

Best cheap cases for the Galaxy S7

Best cheap cases for Galaxy S7

Protect your phone while protecting your wallet.

Now, it's no secret that buying a really cheap case probably won't offer you the best degree of protection or the nicest look, but not all cases need to break the bank. So, for all you dollar-wise budget beaters, we've rounded up some of the cheapest cases we could find that still have something to offer.


EasyAcc's clear case is as simple as you can get and, while it's nothing special to look at, this case is made out of TPU, which is extremely flexible and feels super grippy.

This case is not only completely transparent, allowing you to enjoy the natural beauty of your Galaxy S7, but also totally seamless. The edges of EasyAcc's case are slightly raised to help prevent damage to the screen if you drop your phone on a flat surface.

Just beware of stretching and yellowing of the plastic. The TPU will absorb light super easily, which is what causes the discoloration.

This case is super cheap, starting around $2.60.

See at Amazon

Tekcoo Tbaron series

The Tbaron series from Tekcoo is surprisingly rugged for only starting around $7.99. It's a two-layer system that consists of a silicone skin that your phone sits in and a back plastic cover that clips on over the silicone shell. Even with both layers, all the buttons and ports of the Galaxy S7 are easy to access.

The case looks and feels very similar to Otterbox's Commuter series except with one major difference: that hard plastic back cover feels pretty slippery, which means it will be great for sliding in and out of your pocket. However, slipping out of your hands could happen, so tread carefully with this one.

Coming in a wide variety of vibrant and bright colors is an added bonus of the Tekcoo Tbaron series. If you're looking for a cheap case that adds some bulk and some flash to your S7, this could be the case for you.

See at Amazon

Spigen Exact-Fit

It's a simple and unassuming-looking hard polycarbonate shell that easily fits around the Galaxy S7 and will protect your phone from minor scratches to its back and sides. It does have a bit of a lip above the screen; however, it's not quite enough for us to say laying it down screen-first is 100 percent worry-free.The case does get a little thicker around the camera at the back to protect the lens from getting scratched. Even so, it still manages to feel pretty light.

The sides of the Galaxy S7 are a little more exposed that some of your average cases, especially around the headphone jack and charging port located at the bottom of the phone. So it probably would be wise to use this case if you expect to be bumping the sides of your phone on objects.

All-in-all if you are looking for a pretty simple case that is also highly functional and only around $9.99, look no further than Spigen's Exact-Fit.

See at Amazon

Cimo heavy duty shock absorbing hybrid

Who says cheap can't mean fun? Cimo's heavy-duty shock-absorbent hybrid case is great for anyone looking to make a statement, especially if that statement is "I like pink!" And, although this case may cause your eyes to catch fire with it's brightness, it actually has some decent features.

It's a one-piece case that is both a mix of hard polycarbonate and silicone that adds a little bit of bulk, making you feel like the phone is safe in your hand. The back of the phone has a pleasant texture that isn't slippery at all, and it's thick enough around the camera to protect the lens from scratches.

Of course, the funky colors and embedded rhinestones aren't really going to make this case for everyone. However, we should mention that it does also come in non-eye-assaulting colors such as black, so for the low price of around $7.98, it's worth checking out.

See at Amazon

ArtMine window view wallet case

This wallet case has one card slot so you can always have your bank account at the ready, and the flip cover will protect most of your phone screen. It does have a big square hole in the front cover, which is a good way to always be able to see the time whenever you want. This case is also very thin and won't make your Galaxy S7 seem bulky at all which is kind of rare for a wallet case.

Now, this case is probably best for people who are looking for a wallet case that won't break the break. After all, it starts around $8.90 which is pretty good for a case that has some screen protection built-in.

See at Amazon

What do you use?

Have you found a super-cheap case that you think should be added to our list? Sound off in the comments below and let us know why you think it's the best!

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge

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1 week ago

Android Central 287: Google I/O 2016 preview!


Audio-only stream below

It's time. Again. For that Google I/O thing Google does so well.

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1 week ago

Verizon pushes small security update to the original Droid Turbo


Droid Turbo owners, you've got a fresh update on its way courtesy of Verizon.

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1 week ago

Android Pay could be headed to the UK soon


Android Pay could be on its way to the UK quite soon, at least according to one fast food chain. Pret A Manger is now advertising that it accepts the contactless payment service on its payment terminals at its London locations, suggesting that Android Pay will arrive in the country shortly.

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1 week ago

All-new Hungry Shark World chomps into action [Hot Game!]

Hungry Shark World

Become the apex predator in Ubisoft's latest trending game for Android — Hungry Shark World.

Hungry Shark World dropped into Android and iOS app stores on May 7, amassing over 10 million downloads in less than a week. Developed by Ubisoft Entertainment, it has quickly risen to the top of the free app charts — and for good reason!

The game is incredibly fun to dive into. You play a free-roaming shark with an insatiable appetite in an colorful, cartoony ocean full of delectable fish, swimmers, deep-sea divers, and other goodies. The goal is to eat as much as you can while surviving for as long as you can, which means avoiding bigger, meaner sharks when you're just starting out and learning which things are good to eat and which will hurt you. Here's a quick tip for rookies: avoid jellyfish, floating garbage, and especially naval mines.

The controls are pretty simple: swipe with one thumb to use the floating digital d-pad and tap with your other thumb to use boost. You're able to switch the controls between thumbs on the fly as needed.

There's a plethora of challenges available to you, including daily chests, golden fish, and letters. Spell out H-U-N-G-R-Y and go on an absolute feeding frenzy. Explore shipwrecks and underground volcanos and sneak into swimming pools and much more as you eat your way to the top of the food chain.

You start out as a Black-Tipped Reef Shark, the smallest shark in the game. As you progress, you'll be able to upgrade your shark's speed, bite, and boost, as well as buy and equip all sorts of funky accessories to personalize your shark. There are 15 sharks to unlock — with the Great White being the granddaddy of them all — and a total of three ocean worlds to unlock and explore.

As mentioned above, this game is free to download and play, with a bunch of in-app purchases available for gold and gems (if you're the type who likes to pay their way to the top). You also have the option to sync the game with your Facebook account, which gives you free gems for every friend who starts playing and allows you to save your game data to the cloud.

We're set to dive right in! If you've been one of the millions of early adopters, tell us how far you've progressed in the comments below and share some tips! They might appear in a future Hungry Shark World game guide.

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1 week ago

Amazon's latest Dash Button can be programmed for any task you want


While Amazon's Dash Buttons are certainly a cool way to re-order commonly used products, the online retailer apparently also sees a use for the clever little buttons in the larger "Internet of Things" space.

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