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2 weeks ago

Best Android Phones 5.7 inches And Over

Huawei Mate 9

If you're looking for a phone with a huge screen, you've come to the right place.

Best Overall

Huawei Mate 9

Huawei Mate 9

See at Jet

Huawei has made great progress over the past year, and its latest flagship, the Mate 9, stands out as the best big phone for buyers outside the United States. That's largely thanks to Huawei's much improved EMUI 5 software experience, based on Android Nougat. But the Mate 9 also benefits from a massive 5.9-inch 1080p screen in a body the same size as last year's 5.7-inch Nexus 6P.

Beyond its size and software, the Mate 9 nails the fundamentals of a great Android experience, with quick performance, an ample 64GB of storage as standard, plus microSD expansion, and a capable dual camera setup. Unlike LG, Huawei combines two cameras with the same focal length, but with one OIS (optical image stabilization) 12MP camera capturing colors, and the other, a 20MP monochrome sensor, picking up fine detail. The result is a camera setup that often goes toe-to-toe with the best out there, and can produce some interesting creative effects thanks to its second sensor.

Bottom line: Huawei's much-improved software — together with great build quality, performance and dependable cameras — makes for a fantastic big-screened experience.

One more thing: The Huawei Mate 9 isn't currently available through any U.S. carriers — instead you'll have to buy the unlocked version, which works on T-Mobile and AT&T (and their MVNOs), as well as just about every global LTE network.

Why the Huawei Mate 9 is the best

A big screen in a small package, epic battery life and Android Nougat.

With the cancellation of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, the Huawei Mate 9 has taken the crown as the best Android phone with a big screen. But it's more than just a winner by default — Huawei offers fantastic longevity thanks to an enormous 4,000mAh battery, along with a pared back UI, complemented by the latest version of Android. This is a beast of a phone.

The second-generation Leica-branded dual-camera setup also ups the stakes when it comes to imaging. It isn't necessarily the simplest smartphone shooter to use, but the Huawei/Leica camera app offers neat features like surprisingly realistic depth effects, and a highly capable manual shooting mode.

Best for Photography

LG V20

LG V20

See at AT&T See at Verizon See at Sprint See at T-Mobile See at B&H Photo

LG needed to raise its game after the modular mess that was the G5, and that's exactly what Samsung's local rival did with the V20. LG's 5.7-incher gets you the same guts as the G5, without any of the modular nonsense, and with much improved build quality and some unique features thanks to the second display. As before, you can use the secondary ticker above the main screen to see app shortcuts, show a personal message or view notifications.

And the removable battery option is back, with the V20's 3,200mAh swappable cell living behind a metal back panel, which pops off when you hit the release switch.

On the camera side —where the phone really shines — the V20 is every bit as good as the G5, with a main 16-megapixel sensor behind an f/1.8 lens, and a secondary wide-angle camera for fitting in more detail. LG's also packed in new autofocus and stabilization technologies not present in that phone for even smoother video.

The V20 represents a significant milestone in the Android world too — it's the first phone to ship with Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box, though you're still looking at LG's UX as opposed to a the cleaner Android UI you'd get on a Nexus.

Bottom line: The V20 is easily LG's best phone ever. You get the proven cameras of the G5, along with Android Nougat and a solid metal chassis, plus the rarity of a removable battery.

One more thing: LG hasn't announced any plans to range the V20 in Europe, so don't hold your breath for an official way to buy the phone in that part of the world.

Best for less

Samsung Galaxy Note 5

Galaxy Note 5

See at Verizon See at T-Mobile See at Amazon

For all the fuss about this year's Galaxy Note, last year's stylus-toting offering, the Note 5, has aged remarkably well. Across the board, you're looking at a similar feature set to the now-cancelled Note 7, just a little less barnstorming across the board. A slightly older Exynos processor, and a 16-megapixel (optically stabilized) camera that doesn't quite match the Note 7's in low light, but is still damn good in its own right.

And the Android 6.0 Marshmallow update that landed earlier this year has given the Note 5 new life, porting over many of the features from the Galaxy S7. What's more, Samsung has largely kept on top of rolling out Android's important monthly security updates for the phone.

Bottom line: The Note 5 is still a fantastic phone, even by the standards of late 2016. In fact, it gives some of the lesser flagships of this year a run for their money. (And you'll be able to use it on an airplane, too!)

One more thing: Samsung never officially released the Galaxy Note 5 in Europe, so if you're importing and using it on European networks, be sure to check that the model you're buying will work with your carrier's cellular bands.

Conclusion

The Huawei Mate 9 is one of the year's best Android phones, a huge improvement upon Huawei's earlier efforts, and the best big-screened Android handset. If you want a phone with dependable battery life, strong performance and a big, attractive screen in a surprisingly small chassis, look no further.

Best Overall

Huawei Mate 9

Huawei Mate 9

See at Jet

Huawei has made great progress over the past year, and its latest flagship, the Mate 9, stands out as the best big phone for buyers outside the United States. That's largely thanks to Huawei's much improved EMUI 5 software experience, based on Android Nougat. But the Mate 9 also benefits from a massive 5.9-inch 1080p screen in a body the same size as last year's 5.7-inch Nexus 6P.

Beyond its size and software, the Mate 9 nails the fundamentals of a great Android experience, with quick performance, an ample 64GB of storage as standard, plus microSD expansion, and a capable dual camera setup. Unlike LG, Huawei combines two cameras with the same focal length, but with one OIS (optical image stabilization) 12MP camera capturing colors, and the other, a 20MP monochrome sensor, picking up fine detail. The result is a camera setup that often goes toe-to-toe with the best out there, and can produce some interesting creative effects thanks to its second sensor.

Bottom line: Huawei's much-improved software — together with great build quality, performance and dependable cameras — makes for a fantastic big-screened experience.

One more thing: The Huawei Mate 9 isn't currently available through any U.S. carriers — instead you'll have to buy the unlocked version, which works on T-Mobile and AT&T (and their MVNOs), as well as just about every global LTE network.

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2 weeks ago

How to change display scaling on the Huawei Mate 9

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Huawei Mate 9

The Huawei Mate 9 has a great big screen. Make the most of it by seeing more at once.

Being able to change display scaling (also known as DPI scaling) is a standard feature in Android 7.0 Nougat, and the Huawei Mate 9 lets you choose between three different scaling options. On a big-screened phone like the Mate 9, this "View Mode" option is a great way to choose between seeing more on-screen, or getting a larger view of what's going on.

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2 weeks ago

The CES comedown and the coming onslaught

21

That's a wrap on CES 2017!

*/ /*-->*/

I didn't attend Las Vegas this year, but having to oversee CES coverage from the same seat that I regularly do my job gave me a top-down perspective on how alternately tenuous and vacuous the whole thing seems.

Some years, a particular trend stood out — 3D, or curved, or the reclaimed vestiges of old operating systems — but in 2017, what emerged was a pervasive vagueness.

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2 weeks ago

Everything is smart: AI is officially the new cool thing

25

This weapon will be powerful, versatile and indestructible. It will feel no pain. No pity. No remorse. No fear. It will have only one purpose: to return to the present and prevent the future. This weapon will be called the Terminator.

I love Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, and everything that makes computers smarter. Let me qualify that and say I love the idea of it all. It's something Sci-Fi writers have been talking about for over a half-century and has created some pretty compelling fantasies about a future where machines are alive and do everything. I geek out on that. I also think the industrial applications of machine learning and AI that already exist are pretty great and love to pore through diagrams and read about their capabilities. Actually using it in everyday life isn't nearly as polished — it can get downright awkward at times. But what I think or what you think doesn't matter. AI is the new cool tech that we're all supposed to want.

On our phones, what started out as a simple set of voice commands has blossomed into a thing with personality who can do a little bit of thinking (magic?) and get it right most of the time. Developers can create skills and actions for their service or product and companies will create more physical things that can work with these assistants. Little by little it looks like Alexa and Siri and Google Assistant (and others yet to come) will allow to live the dream and be served by robots. And hope they don't get too smart and kill us all.

The folks making the things we love to buy see an opening here. And they're taking full advantage of it. Alexa is everywhere from your headset to your refrigerator to the Huawei Mate 9. Google Assistant is now on your phone, in your living room, and on your TV — and soon to be plugged in like an air freshener in your bathroom. The ASUS Zenfone AR has been able to package AR, VR, and Facebook into a normal-sized phone. Eventually, anyway. It's becoming lucrative to build smarter devices.

Amazon and Google may be how we interface with all these smart things right now, but the two big names in mobile will stake their claim with their own take on a phone that's more than just a phone. Rumors and news stories have spelled out that the next Galaxy S line of phones is going to have a Samsung assistant that's not tied to Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. Probably a really good one, too. They're using technology they purchased that was polished enough to be presented to Apple. That, along with the things they have been working on in-house will try to make sure what we see as their first generation product won't feel like a first generation product.

Samsung can make anything. That means they can make it all work with each other through their AI platform.

Look for the Samsung Galaxy ecosystem to branch into appliances and home control because Samsung knows a lot about both. Samsung has the ability to integrate the smart voice you interact with on your next phone into your life in ways Google and Amazon can only dream about.

Apple is being Apple. Watching. Saying nothing, And furiously working behind closed doors to bring Siri a major overhaul. They're into the project far enough that they didn't need to buy a great start-up and a working technical model that was offered to them. When you have billions laying around you buy the things you need when you can. When they do release it, New Siri will be smarter, funnier, better looking and more fun to use than anything else out there. Siri and HomeKit can make for a nice ecosystem, too.

By then we'll have seen something from everyone else. LG, HTC, Motorola and the rest will follow suit because the market demands it (A.K.A. Samsung has it and they are the market when you say Android). Whether you wanted it or not, your next expensive phone will probably be a smart assistant that learns from you and helps you do everything from making a dinner reservation to controlling your lights and temperature and garage door and window blinds. But will we actually use it?

That's the big question. There's money it in — both real clinky shiny gold coin money as well as paying with your data money — so it had to come to our phones eventually, but how do we benefit is a better question. Being able to tell a little robot voice to do things is fun. It's also expensive when compared to doing things the old "dumb" way. But that's just the novelty side of all this right now. how these smart servers in the sky can integrate into our lives when we need them to is the big picture.

Smart computers will need a lot of time to get everything wrong while they're learning.

Your life's agenda in the hands of a hunk of wires will be filled with problems and hiccups for the foreseeable future while the various factions duke it out and developers figure out how it can work so they can make it work. Missed appointments or getting the wrong pizza are things early adopters will be faced with if it ever goes that far. The tech isn't ready to fill these sort of expectations just yet, even if some of us want it to be. And even if it gets there, some of us just won't want to use it for one reason or another.

I don't know if the tech is ready to actually be useful, or if we're ready for actually useful "smart" machines. But I do know that watching it all unfold is going to be interesting.

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2 weeks ago

Casio WSD-F20 hands-on: Android Wear 2.0 that can go anywhere

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Casio WSD-F20

Casio is one of a few watchmakers sticking with Android Wear for the time being.

*/ /*-->*/

Casio's second Android Wear watch is just as huge, feature-packed and ostentatious as the last, and it's running Android Wear 2.0. It's the not-so-smoothly named WSD-F20, a follow-up to the F10, and just as the brand name and a single glance at the watch would lead you to believe it's a perfect match for those with an active lifestyle.

Just as before we're looking at a huge, hulking watch that will dwarf most wrists and even put my lowly Gear S3 Frontier to shame. The new watch has a bigger bezel than its predecessor with some extra wording to accompany its bevy of screws, knobs and buttons. The 1.32-inch display honestly doesn't look as great as others out there (plus, yes, there's a "flat tire"), but then again this watch is built for strength.

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2 weeks ago

Best Accessories For Huawei Watch

11

Huawei watch accessories represent!

Whether you want a different watch band to wear with your Huawei Watch or you need to replace your charging cradle, there's an accessory for the Huawei Watch out there for you.

Update January 2017: These are still our top picks of accessories for your Huawei Watch.

Motong tempered glass screen protector

You paid good money for your Huawei Watch. Protect your investment with a tempered glass screen protector.

Motong's tempered glass screen protector melds closely with your watch's screen so that there aren't any gaps where dust can accumulate or that might get damaged.

At 0.3mm, the glass overlay is very thin and is therefore hardly noticeable. Better still, since it is designed with touchscreens in mind, it doesn't interfere at all with the screen's sensitivity.

Although thin, it is quite strong with a hardness level of 9H, just under the hardness rating for diamonds.

See at Amazon

Yesoo magnetic Milanese stainless steel strap for Huawei watch

If you're looking for style and that rich, upper-crust feeling, then look no further than Yesoo's magnetic Milanese watch strap.

Yesoo blends elegance and durability together with this watch band. Made of stainless steel, its beautiful Milanese loop pattern won't look out of place at a black-tie event.

Forget fumbling and struggling with buckles to get your watch strapped on. Yesoo's magnetic clasp clicks into place with little effort and stays closed until you decide to take your watch off.

This watch band is 18mm wide and adjusts to fit wrists that measure 12.5mm to 17.5mm in circumference.

For more watch bands, head on over here.

See at Amazon

Huawei Watch charging cradle

If you've misplaced the charging cradle for your Huawei Watch — or if you just want a spare one for the office or your travel bag — you're in luck because the Google Store sells a replacement.

Made of brushless stainless steel, the cradle is attractive and strong.

See at The Google Store

Swiss Watch International 24-slot watch strap storage case

There are so many different watch bands available for your Huawei Watch — so many in fact, that you need a place to keep all of them

This storage case from Swiss Watch International is perfect for all your watch band storage needs. The exterior is made out of durable synthetic leather while the interior is covered with soft black velvet that's perfect for protecting your watch straps

It holds up to 24 straps that measure up to 22mm wide. Each watch strap slides onto a holder though the loop in the band.

See at Amazon

Mudder 5 piece watchmakers screwdriver set

If you frequently replace your watch band, then you might like to have a watchmaker's screwdriver set. These small tools make removing those tiny watch screws a simple matter.

Mudder's watchmaker tool-set has five pieces:

  • 0.80mm screwdriver
  • 1.00mm screwdriver
  • 1.20mm screwdriver
  • 1.40mm screwdriver
  • 1.60mm screwdriver

Each screwdriver is color-coded so that you can easily find the size you need, and replacement tips are included, too.

See at Amazon

MODE Bands

If you are tired of watch band pins and the tiny tools you need install them MODE bands could be for you! Google has now released their MODE bands and they might just be the easiest watch bands to install ever! If you take a look at the neat video on the MODE site, you can see just how easy these bands can attach to your Huawei Watch.

All you have to do is replace the original pin that is on your Huawei Watch add the MODE pin. The it's just a simple matter of sliding your MODE band over the pin, and locking it shut!

Hadley Roma is currently the only manufacturer making the MODE bands, and they start around $50. Remember, in order for this to work with your Huawei Band you need to get the the 18 mm band so it fits properly.

See at Amazon

Do you use accessories for your Huawei Watch?

Tell us in the comments which accessories you like to use, and which are your favorites!

See Huawei Watch at Amazon

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2 weeks ago

Your original NVIDIA Shield Android TV isn't being left behind

25
NVIDIA Shield Android TV

NVIDIA is keeping the first Shield Android TV in tip-top shape for the foreseeable future.

*/ /*-->*/

With a ton of attention being paid to the new Shield Android TV, some of the biggest questions surrounded how the new model compares to the original. More importantly, everyone wants to know how many of the features of the new model can come back to the old Shield Android TV, and where all of the new peripherals stand in terms of backwards compatibility.

Thankfully we have good news: all is well on the original Shield Android TV front, and you won't be left behind as the new model hits store shelves. Here's what's happening with the original box.

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2 weeks ago

Avoid motion sickness in VR with comfort ratings!

Here's how to avoid motion sickness in VR before buying!

Although many developers are trying their hardest to avoid motion sickness, it's still a huge problem for virtual reality. Even with accurate head-tracking, fully body experiences and specially designed games, some experiences just don't work out for those prone to motion sickness.

If you're one of the many who suffers from motion sickness, finding games that work for you is half of the problem. Here's how to find suitable games on your virtual reality platform!

Read more at VR Heads!

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2 weeks ago

Nokia's first Android smartphone is now official in China

116

HMD Global isn't waiting until MWC to launch its first Android phone.

In a low-key affair, HMD Global — the Finnish company that snagged exclusive rights to Nokia's branding — has launched its first Android smartphone. Dubbed the Nokia 6, the phone will be exclusively offered on China's JD.com for ¥1,699 ($245).

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2 weeks ago

Samsung brings iOS compatibility to the latest Gear devices

21

The new Samsung Gear S app is available today in the Apple App Store.

Samsung has announced that they have extended iOS compatibility to the latest Gear family of devices including the Gear S3, Gear S2, and Gear Fit2. You'll need to have an iPhone 5 or newer and be running iOS 9 or higher on it to use the new app, so most iPhones out there should be compatible.

Starting today, users can download the Samsung Gear S app for the Gear S2 and Gear S3 or the Samsung Gear Fit app for the Gear Fit2 on compatible iOS devices from the Apple App Store. Once the appropriate app is downloaded, users will be guided through steps to complete pairing with the user's compatible Samsung wearable device.

On the functionality side, Samsung mentions that features will vary by device, the Gear S3's built-in GPS, altimeter, barometer and speedometer apps are supported as well fitness tracking by monitoring distance and route traveled, running pace, calories burned and heart rate.

Samsung making their smart watches available to more users is a smart move — especially iOS users. Research shows that iPhone owners tend to have the most disposable income to buy luxury products with, and the design of the latest additions to the Gear family stand out in the sea of wearables. We're not sure how many iPhone users wanted to use something like a Gear S3, but now every one of them can.

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2 weeks ago

What we love and hate about CES

16

The good and bad of everyone's favorite technology-focused dog-and-pony show.

*/ /*-->*/

Our CES badges this year helpfully reminded us of how many years we'd walked the padded paths laid out in the Las Vegas Convention Center. As a six year veteran myself, I feel led to share some of the good and bad elements of the world's largest technology trade show.

The Good

Surprisingly worth-it little gadgets

Trade shows like CES help us discover those niche gadgets we may not have otherwise considered having in our lives. For me, one of those particular gadgets was the Lofelt Basslet, essentially a subwoofer for your wrist. I like the idea of feelin' my beats and the vibrahaptic abilities of the tiny little motor inside the wearable has more potential than the company lets on. I was also keen on the idea of the Withings-powered Kerastase smart hairbrush, though the current implementation is too proprietary, as well as the Tiny 1, an Android-powered astronomy camera discovered by our own Russell Holly.

Charismatic characters

CES is just as much as the cast of characters who show up as it is about the technology. This year included mega-celebrities like Michael Phelps, Nick Offerman, and Octavia Spencer, as well as tech-lebrities like Hugo Barra and John Legere.

So many booths!

I like walking by the various booths to witness how each of the major technology companies attempt to identify themselves to the public. For instance, Intel's booth is typically a blanket of blue, while LG's booth is always strung together by all of its best-looking OLED displays. There is always something fun going on, too, like demonstrations, celebrity appearances, and even engaging talks. But the absolute best part of any booth is the way that companies express themselves through the little details. This "ball of phones" I found at the ZTE booth is a true work of art despite its relative simplicity.

Innovation

Razer's three-screened laptop. Self-driving cars. Robots powered by Amazon Alexa. There are a plethora of technologies that come to life during the week of CES and this year was no different. Even some of the more subdued product launches and announcements pointed to a bigger shift in various industries, like the way Samsung's Chromebook Pro and Chromebook Plus both utilize a digitized stylus — who knew a Chromebook could become such a productivity machine? — and the quiet proliferation of Android TV in set-top boxes.

Weird demonstrations

There are so, so very many booths in various places around Las Vegas. I didn't get a chance to roam the show floor in all of its capacity as much as the rest of my colleagues, but I did run into this strange demonstration for the Beam wheeled robot, which "fills in" for you at work when you can't physically be there. In this particular situation, there were actual people on standby at various locales around the country remotely wheeling these things around and freaking out passersby. I stopped a second to check the messages on my phone and one of them rolled up to me. I felt uncomfortable and immediately took off, but I also thought it a clever way to show off the effectiveness of a product.

The Las Vegas sunset

I was walking through the halls like a tired zombie when I caught a glimpse of the Vegas sunset outside the window of the convention center. I took a second to pull over, put my bag down, and admire the sky bursting with reds, oranges, and yellows. I particularly love the way the sun's dimmed rays peer through the strip's skyline. It's the little things in life.

The Bad

Hoverboards

Are we really still doing this? Hoverbords are unsafe and they're rude to ride on the sidewalk.

Too many accessories

CES would require fewer hallways and less shuffling around of people if it would simply stop accepting applications for vendors attempting to merely sell things. Much of what is offered on the show floor — including phone cases, charging cords, and Bluetooth speakers in funny shapes — can be easily ordered in a pinch on Amazon, NewEgg, and MonoPrice, or purchased directly from the manufacturers themselves on Aliexpress. I would much rather see more attempts at innovative technology than row after row of copycat accessories.

The gimmicks

There is no CES without a few weird gimmicks and questionable technologies rising up through the ranks. I'm talking about things like Uber helicopter rides and levitating speakers. Those are just the obvious. The real gimmick is when a major type of technology takes off in a rampant manner, where it essentially spreads as quickly as cockroaches can multiply. In this particular instance, I'm thinking exclusively about the Internet of Things, which has managed to find its way into every thing without the consideration of whether it really is entirely necessary. Like, is it really necessary to don a pair of vibrating jeans to help you find your car? Hell no.

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2 weeks ago

Google Home: What's fit for the web isn't always something that should be read aloud

57

Reading something is very different from hearing it spoken by a creepy robot.

I've been thinking about something Phil showed me a while back. If you have a Google Home, ask it "What do sea otters do to baby seals?" and listen to the reply — but not with kids in the room.

The family room means family friendly and not all families are the same.

You get a long drawn out answer about how they drown them by trying to mate with them. Using words that can't (or shouldn't, anyway) be applied to animals that aren't human. A discussion of rape that is simply not fit for every living room.

I know why it says what it says — because it's working as intended. If you enter the same search at Google on the web or from your phone, you'll find that the featured snippet at the top of the page is an excerpt from an article at IFLScience titled Animals can be Jerks which reads exactly as described by the title. It's an interesting article, and probably something a teacher of appropriately aged children would appreciate even with the bit of anthropomorphism they include. The key is the appropriate age part.

Now imagine it coming from a speaker in the middle of your living room with a 4-year old child listening.

That's not something every parent would approve of, and probably enough for some families to pull the cord, put it back in the box and return it or let it collect dust in the closet. I can't blame those parents — descriptions of violent behavior is something a parent should be able to protect their child from in the way they think is appropriate. I'm not sure how I would have reacted if my kids were still very young, but I know I wouldn't think it was very cool for Google to just do that out loud with no warning since they probably know the ages of my kids based on my email or web history.

While you have to be age appropriate to sign into Google Home and use it, everyone within earshot can hear it. It's the responsibility of the owner to use Google Home properly in all situations, but come on — were you really expecting what you heard when you asked that question? I wasn't. I'm sure even worse featured snippets are out there if someone really wanted to look.

There has to be a new middle ground between private and public for a product like Google Home.

The proper way to address this according to Google is to report the featured snippet as inappropriate. The problem is that it's not inappropriate on a website that doesn't read it aloud. I don't think the search is made better by removing an interesting result featured at the top as long as a creepy female robotic voice isn't reading it out loud to the kids. And Google Home is designed to be out in the open in front of everyone doing its thing. It's no longer private once it comes out of the speaker.

I don't know what needs to be done. That's OK, there are people who are paid to know what to do. I just think that Google needs to do something to give everyone a way to make sure that the things being spoken by Google Home are appropriate for everyone who can hear it. Add it to the rest of the settings as an option and people who don't care won't even know it's there. The only solution I can come up with right now is to consider Google Home as not family friendly in all situations, which isn't very good for something designed for the living room.

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2 weeks ago

ASUS ZenFone AR hands-on: It will probably be great once it works

4

This is where my ZenFone AR hands on would be, if that were possible.

ASUS hopped on stage and announced two thin, light, and beautiful new phones for everyone to enjoy. We've spent some time with the ZenFone Zoom and look forward to seeing what that new camera and snappy new software can do in the real world, but the ZenFone AR isn't quite as ready to be used as its sibling. That makes some sense when you consider this phone isn't coming to market until much later than the ZenFone Zoom, but it also means most of the really cool things this phone is supposed to be capable of aren't quite ready for evaluation.

We've got some photos for you to look at, and some thoughts on the design of the exterior, but it'll be a little while before we can fully appreciate everything this phone is capable of.

The outside

A lot of the exterior of this phone is not exactly standard for ASUS. The back of the phone is a textured material that feels somewhere in between faux leather and plastic, which is a good thing. It doesn't seem likely to get scuffed up like Moto leather, and there's no squish to take away from how solid the phone feels. The aluminum band around the outside is polished smooth and helps the phone feel thinner than it is, with a plastic rim in between the glass front and the bezel so you're not setting the phone on anything that could scratch the display when you set it face down.

ASUS built all of the Tango functionality on Android 6.0, and when the upgrade to 7.0 happened none of those AR-related features survived.

The things that are most interesting about this phone, as the name suggests, are on the inside. This is the first phone with a Snapdragon 821 processor that has been optimized to handle Google Tango, complete with a camera array that differs wildly from Google's first Tango partner, Lenovo. As the first phone that can handle both Daydream and Tango, there's a lot of testing to be done to see how well all of this comes together. Unfortunately, none of the Tango stuff is available to try out yet. ASUS built all of the Tango functionality on Android 6.0, and when the upgrade to 7.0 happened none of those AR-related features survived. It'll be a while before that changes.

The potential

While Tango isn't ready to be tested, there are some interesting software decisions being made that are worth talking about. For example, ASUS has a separate notification setting for when you're using VR that switches over immediately when Daydream is launched. This is a huge deal if you've ever had a standard Android notification drop down and totally disorient you when you're in the middle of a Daydream app, and like any other notification setting it can be set to allow specific users to interrupt if they're really needed.

It'll be a little while before we're able to see if a phone really needs 8GB of RAM.

It'll be a little while before we're able to see if a phone really needs 8GB of RAM and how well a phone so much thinner than the Lenovo PHAB 2 Pro handles Tango before things like heat become a problem. Despite that, ASUS set out to make a Tango phone you'd actually want to carry around and use as your personal phone, and that's a massive step forward for Tango. Where other Tango have been clearly purpose built for specific use cases, the ZenFone AR is shaping up to be a decent phone that also does cool VR and AR things. Assuming the performance really does work out, this could be a fantastic phone to own.

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2 weeks ago

Best Micro-USB cables

45
Best Micro-USB cable

Wherein we help you pick a great Micro-USB cable.

Whether you have a smartphone, tablet or wearable, odds are that you've got a Micro-USB cable (or three) laying around. They're ubiquitous. Just in case you don't, here are some of our favorites.

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2 weeks ago

How to make a fitness app part of your daily routine

32

Technology is transforming fitness.

It used to be that fitness apps were primarily used to count calories, and check in after workouts. That's no longer the case. There are dozens of fantastic apps out there, and they cater to what you are specifically looking for. Whether you're always looking for a new fun app to help motivate you along, or you've never been inclined to look into them at all, fitness apps can help make your average day healthier.

Keeping fit is easier than ever

Most of us get some amount of exercise every day, just by living our lives. We walk around, in some cases all day long. Plenty of fitness apps will track this and let you know what your activity level is like each day, including the number of steps taken and calories burned based off of your height and weight. There are apps which do this without ever even needing to be opened after you initially set them up.

Fitness doesn't have to be a chore, at least not with these apps.

If you're just starting a fitness routine, there are apps that can help build workout plans, count calories, give you videos so you can workout at home and much more. It might seem a little strange at first to have an app tracking your fitness level. By integrating these apps into your day you can see how active you already are, without ever having to hit the gym. That isn't to say that all fitness apps are made for that purpose. They've branched out, and the abundance of choice lets you determine what you need out of a fitness app.

More: 4 interactive apps that will keep you entertained

If you're looking for something that turns fitness into a game there is Zombies, Run!, The Walk, or even Pokémon Go. Nexercise is an app that turn fitness into an actual game, letting you earn experience points, level up, add friends and win prizes. Charity Miles donates money to a charity of your choice for the distance you run. Fitness doesn't have to be a chore, at least not with these apps. They take what you're already doing, and put a spin on it to make it fun and encourage you to do more.

One size fits all fitness is a thing of the past

Even if you aren't particularly fitness-minded, integrating an app into your life can be a benefit. With unobtrusive tracking apps, you can see your daily activity levels. While that might not seem like much, if you're a city dweller you could be walking miles every day without ever realizing it. These apps can help with your health as well, outlining when you have more energy for activity, or what your stamina is like. Some games even have fitness benefits that are purely accidental, like Ingress where walking around to capture portals is a game mechanic. Apps like Aqualert can even help to make sure you're drinking enough water. Fitness apps are no longer just for the people who live and breathe getting, and staying in shape. They're built now to be friendly to everyone no matter what your level of motivation might be.

With the ways that fitness apps have diversified, there really is something out there for absolutely everyone.

These aren't the apps from years ago which were tailored for a specific type of person to use. Rather, they have spread their influence and tried to find new niches for people who might not usually use a fitness app. The analytics and data can be fantastic if you're a fan of graphs and charts, but even better is the fact that using these apps can actually help you to live a healthier life. We only get one body, so why not treat it right with the help of technology?

It doesn't matter what your activity level is like on a day to day basis. Everyone can benefit from having a fitness app in their life. It can be something small like simply tracking your activity levels, or detailed down to your caloric intake and workout intensity. No matter where you sit on the fitness spectrum, there is an app for you. So are you using any of these apps, or is there a fitness app that you stand by already? Tell us all about it in the comments!

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