When it comes to strapping a camera to something and doing something crazy, GoPro is usually the first gadget that comes to mind nowadays. The company has worked hard to put its hardware in the hands of some of the most extreme activities mankind has dreamed up, including Google's new Jump program, and as a result its the new Qi charger product offers nearly first-person view of what it's like to do those things from the safety of your couch.
As cool as it is to watch those videos, GoPro cameras can be used for a whole lot more than diving off of something or spinning around someone in spectacular fashion. The sheer number of options you have available to you with one of these little cameras is impressive, but accessing those settings from the camera itself is more than a little obnoxious. If you're in an environment where it is convenient, the GoPro app for Android is a much better idea.
Support for paid content within Google Play Newsstand has been expanded to Android users in the Philippines, Poland, Taiwan, and Ukraine. Customers in these areas will now be able to purchase magazines and newspapers from their Android phones and tablets. Currently, only 22 countries have access to the paid content, while the free content is available everywhere.
We've spent three months with the Galaxy S6, and it's time to reflect on time with Samsung's best of 2015.
When Samsung announces a new high-end phone, it makes a splash. That was particularly true with the Galaxy S6, as the launch brought with it an entirely new hardware design, and a change in a few different philosophies that have historically drawn users to its phones. We lost the ability to remove the battery and SD card, but gained a magnificent camera and some nice new materials to hold onto.
There are first impressions and reviews to give an early take on what a phone is like, but only after a few months of using it can you really build a feeling for what it's all about. We've done just that, spending plenty of time with a Galaxy S6 and S6 edge, and comparing it to other leading devices along the way for some extra perspective.
Three Android Central editors — Phil Nickinson, Andrew Martonik and Russell Holly — are here to chime in, joined by Managing Editor of Mobile Nations Derek Kessler and Editor in Chief of Windows Central Daniel Rubino. Read on for our impressions of the Galaxy S6, after three months with the phone.
Big or small, there's something to be enjoyed about a well-maintained garden. Whether you're the one getting your hands dirty or you're just passing by someone else's work, a nice garden is worth stopping and snapping a few photos of. In this latest photo contest we're asking you to do just that, and we can't wait to see what you capture.
Two winners will be selected in this contest, with each taking home a Moto 360!
HTC's already using the 'cooler' version of Qualcomm's latest chip — and so, apparently, is just about everyone else.
As the ongoing drama over Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 processor continues, new information from one manufacturer sheds light on exactly which handsets are using the latest (and supposedly coolest) version 2.1 of the chip.
We tried to keep this latest photo contest on the rails, looking for your best shots of railroads with your Android. We received dozens of fantastic entries in the forums, and in the end had to narrow it down to just the three winners that will take home prizes.
There's no doubt that Google's Chromecast has become quite the popular little dongle. In a new blog post, Google says that 17 million Chromecasts have already been sold, and users have tapped the cast button over 1.5 billion times. The company also talked about some of the success developers have had after integrating casting into their apps.
Classic rocker Neil Young doesn't like how his songs sound on streaming services like Spotify, Google Play Music and others. That's the reason why he has made the decision to remove his song library from those services.
With no Google Play edition variants from HTC or Samsung this year, users who crave the unique hardware experiences offered by these companies are once again left wondering what the best way to make their phone feel more like a Nexus could be. One big thing HTC and Samsung have in common this generation is their new theme engines. While the theme systems deployed by HTC and Samsung aren't exactly the same, there's been no shortage of theme creators trying their hand at releasing Material Design themes into both stores.
How do these themes stand up to the real thing? Glad you asked. Let's take a look.
The Nexus Experience
Google's Nexus hardware gets updated with all the latest goodies before everything else, which includes the guidelines for Google's shiny new design language. Material Design is all about adding depth and life to the user experience, which means cards and layers and clean, crisp fonts and icons. It's a clutter-free experience that tucks menu items off to the left and right, with the Roboto font sitting front and center.
Google's guidelines for Material Design couldn't be more clear, and it's the language we'll eventually see across all of Google's web and mobile experiences, which is why the company is working so hard to make sure developers have the tools necessary to offer similar experiences in their own apps and services.
We also know that Google is, at the very least, playing with the notion that offering a dark theme in the next version of Android is a good idea. There are a lot of folks out there who aren't huge fans of the flat white look to a lot of the Material experience right now, and a dark theme would help with that quite a bit. We'll most likely see more on this when Android M reaches an official release, but in the meantime it's a fun thing to play with if you're still on the first build of the Developer Preview. (The theming was pulled in the first update.)
Material Design is simple, clean, and everything you need to implement this experience, right down to the font, is out there for you to take advantage of, for free.
Material themes in the HTC store
One of the coolest things about the new HTC theme engine is how modular and flexible the experience is. Anyone can publish a theme to the HTC store, and can even charge money if they so choose. We live in the golden age of icon packs and themes for third party variants of Android, but surprisingly few themes in the HTC store dubbed "Material" offer something that looks similar to the Nexus experience. The above theme, which is called Material Flat in the HTC Store, includes a neat looking Material-ish wallpaper, and that's about the only thing you can say is Material about the experience. The icons, while cool looking, aren't anything like the Nexus Material icons.
This next theme wasn't clearly labeled Material Design, but it managed to be closer than most. This is the AOSP Dark theme, and it features icons that are similar to the Nexus icon pack, as well as a nice wallpaper and a reasonable color palette given how dark this is supposed to be. While all HTC themes are going to offer the elements of Sense UI you expect to find in an HTC phone, this is a nice blend of Material and Sense. It's probably as close as you can get to a dark theme that looks almost like it could be on a Nexus at first glance.
As you can see, these are pretty far from what you see on a Nexus device. In most cases, the so-called Material themes in the HTC store are little more than a nice wallpaper. In fact, in our browsing, there were two that seemed to offer the Nexus 5 default wallpaper as the "Material" offering to the theme. A lot more can be done here, especially with the flexibility HTC offers, so maybe we'll see more (and better) options in the future.
Samsung's Material-ish offerings
Samsung's theme engine isn't nearly as flexible or user-guided as HTC's, but the tradeoff is you get a significantly less chaotic browsing experience with more complete themes and a generally more professional feel to the ecosystem. Samsung has approves several themes that call themselves Material, and like the one above you can see the biggest changes are the wallpaper and the icons. There's an honest attempt to make the folders more Material-ish with a shaded circle in the background to offer depth, but it doesn't always show. You'll also notice the Quick Settings panel is a little different, but given the current design for TouchWiz there's not much more to be done here.
The next best offering in the Samsung theme store is the Material Dark theme. As the name suggests it is a whole lot of dark, even in places where a splash of color really wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. While the Android M dark theme is far from complete, this color palette is probably a lot closer to what most folks who say they want a dark theme have in mind. This isn't the most popular Material theme on the Samsung store right now, but it's also relatively new compared to some of the others. It's not exactly what most would call Material, but the designer clearly deserves points for trying.
Samsung places a lot of limitations on the things that can be themed, so it's unlikely we'll ever see Material themes that offer much more than what you see here. If these are enough to scratch that Nexus itch for you, it's likely these will be your default theme for quite a while.
Kenwood has a couple of Android Auto-compatible head units available for purchase. The DDX9902S and DDX9702S are compatible with Android Auto as well as Apple CarPlay. In addition to Android Auto, both come with HD Radio, CD/DVD, and are compatible with Miracast, Mirrorlink, Sirius/XM Radio and a bevy of streaming apps like Pandora and iHeartRadio.
The units share most of the same specs, with the DDX9902S supporting the aptX codec for Bluetooth audio streaming. Pricing across sites and stores has been pretty consistent — you'll find the DDX9702S for $700 and the DDX9902S for $750. Be mindful: many outlets have taken to stocking only one model or the other.
Google has officially unveiled "Purchases on Google," a new feature that it will be testing that will allow customers to purchase items directly from mobile search results. Google will also mark ads for items that are currently available in stores near the customer.
T-Mobile will begin carrying the HTC Desire 626s, Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime, and Galaxy Core Prime on July 22. These three new affordable smartphones come before the back to school rush, and offer a great value.
Interested in adding some custom lighting to your home for those special occasions? The PLAYBULB Rainbow is definitely one to consider.
Aside from typical smart lighting that kicks on when I'm hitting the loo in the middle of the night, I haven't experimented with a smart bulb like the MiPow PLAYBULB Rainbow that has the ability to switch to dozens of custom colors and effects from my Android. It seems I've been missing out on a world of intelligent lighting that's perfect for parties, movies, or even bedside use.
The entire light measures about 4.6-inches in length and fits any standard E26/E27 light socket. Inside is an LED bulb that puts out 280 lumens and is capable of a RGB lighting scheme. The PLAYBULB Rainbow utilizes Bluetooth v4.0 and has a wireless range of around 30 feet, given there aren't many walls between your device and the light. At only 5W per bulb, your electric bill certainly won't have much to say about your new lighting setup.
After screwing in the smart bulb, you'll need to jump on the Play Store and download the PLAYBULB X app (also available for iOS if it's a divided household). Once installed, make sure your PLAYBULB is turned on and you should see it listed under "Devices". Tap Connect and you're ready to start experimenting with colors, effects and more.
You'll definitely want to go into the app preferences and switch on "Auto reconnect" to keep things quick and simple each time. The main light control screen features a color wheel that you can select from, also providing a color saturation adjustment if you want to keep things a bit dimmer than normal. If you really want to shake things up, toggle the Shake switch and go nuts with your device, whether it's to match the beat of a tune or to irritate your significant other. Pop into the Effects window to get even more customization options including flashing, pulse, candle effect, and a rainbow fade. Most of these effects have specific colors to choose from as well as speed settings.
Also available is a built-in music player which doesn't seem to serve much of a purpose as far as the lighting goes, but rather a quick way to select songs you've downloaded onto your device. There are options for beats and EQ here, but neither are active nor allow access — at least on my Galaxy S6 edge. Finally, the Scenes window gives you the ability to add a photo from your device and use an eye dropper tool to select a specific color from the image. Don't expect very accurate results here, though.
If you have more than one PLAYBULB you can easily set up a group, and control them simultaneously for a more impressive light show. Additional settings allow you to setup elaborate timers for a switch of colors, and when to put the PLAYBULB to sleep. The security settings feature options for start and end times, too.
Having just one of these LED smart bulbs around the house is a pretty cool addition and worth using for a variety of occasions. To really make an impression, you could add a handful to your screened porch or lanai and mix it up with some drinks and good friends. Their app leaves a lot to be desired with certain features that simply don't work, but the basics are still there. You can grab a single PLAYBULB Rainbow for around $37, or go all-in with a 3 pack which runs $87.
T-Mobile's prepaid subsidiary, MetroPCS, has just launched a new Mexico Unlimited plan, joining T-Mobile with an affordable way to use your mobile phone across the border. With this plan, MetroPCS customers will be able to use their phones in Mexico without any extra fees.
We've got a new entry into the Android market — Axon Mobile — which has just announced a new smartphone in New York City. It's part of the new crop of smartphones that manages to bring compelling design and decent specs — without spilling all the money from your wallet. It's got a dual-lens camera for all that defocusing fun, high-fidelity sound and a sleek design. You're definitely going to want to take a look at this phone.
And we're going to help you out there, because Android Central is teaming up with Axon to give you all a shot at winning one of these beauties for your very own.
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