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2 weeks ago

For or against, this is the one net neutrality video you should probably watch

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Three years ago, John Oliver of Last Week Tonight made an impassioned plea for people to throw their support behind a movement that would eventually enshrine U.S. net neutrality rules under so-called Title II protections, which would classify internet service providers as public utilities and regulate them accordingly.

Now that Ajit Pai, the new chairman of the FCC, has made clear his own intention to repeal Title II and roll back many of the protections afforded consumers from ISP malfeasance, Last Week Tonight is back with another entreaty to get people involved in the process all over again, while educating everyone on what net neutrality is, and isn't.

If nothing else, the 20-minute video provides a fairly well-rounded recap of what's happened in the world of internet regulation over the last three years, and why now more than ever it's important to keep the open internet actually open.

Oliver has also purchased the domain gofccyourself.com that forwards to a form you can fill out to show your support for Title II.

After the rallying cry, the FCC claimed that its had been subject to a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, which brought down the website and prevented people from submitting their thoughts about the open internet proposal.

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2 weeks ago

How to make a backup of any app installed on your phone

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Finding old versions of apps can be tough, but backing them up yourself isn't!

While most of the time we're all looking for the best ways to back up the data from our apps and games, it can be pretty handy to back up the app itself, too.

Unless an app is pulled for security reasons, when you download an app from Google Play you'll always be able to download the latest version from the store. It doesn't matter if the app is abandoned or even if the developer made it unavailable; you always have access to the newest version if you ever downloaded it. For example, if you installed the original Flappy Bird game from Google play, you'll find it under the library tab in the My Apps section of Google Play, but a search doesn't show it and if an account that never installed it follows the link, they're told it's unavailable.

If an app is always going to be available through Google Play, you might be asking why anyone would bother to back it up. You'll find the answer in just about every Google Play review — because Android runs on so many different devices and has so many versions in use, it's not uncommon to see something about the "latest update not working". It's frustrating to update an app you use all the time and have the update not work as well as the previous version, then not being able to downgrade it because the Play Store only has the latest version. If you have the previous version of the app on your SD card (for example) it's easy to go back. That sure beats not being able to use the app while you wait for another update.

The best part of it all is that this is a lot easier than you think. You don't need any cables or to type anything at all. You just need a file manager app.

Not every file manager app will have the app backup feature, but several very popular ones do. I use the ambiguously named File Manager (it used to be Clean File Manager if you remember trying it) and I know ES File Explorer and Astro File Manager also have the feature, so if your favorite doesn't, you can just pick one of these to check it out.

More: Best file manager app for Android

If you dig into the tools part of the settings, you'll see an entry for backing up apps. Different file managers may use different terminology, but they all work the same way. You tap the listing, then pick an app from the file window that appears, then tell the file manager app where to copy a backup. This works for any app you downloaded and installed yourself, no matter where you downloaded it from.

It might not work for pre-installed apps. The short version is that it depends on which folder the app was installed to and how it was installed. If you see the app in the list the file manager gives you, you can make a copy of it.

Reinstalling an old app

This is super easy, too. Just open the file manager (any file manager works for this part) and tap the icon of the app. The installer window will open and ask you to enable unknown sources if you haven't already so you'll need to do that, then it installs it as normal. Sometimes you'll need to uninstall the existing version first (which will erase your data for the app, so look into backing it up) then install from your SD card or phone storage.

A few things to remember when you do this:

  • Don't expect support from the developers. You need to be using the latest version if you need the devs to help you.
  • Some online features can be broken. An update may have changed the way the app talks to the cloud so things might not work the way they used to.
  • You're not supposed to be sharing it. Even free apps are usually licensed to you in a way that says you're not allowed to share it with anyone else.

Hopefully, you won;t have to do this very often, but when you need to it's great that it's so easy!

Questions?

Let us know in the comments below or ask Jerry in the forums!

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2 weeks ago

Google Assistant inside Allo can now converse in French and Spanish

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Google Assistant is learning new languages.

Just a week after adding a few new features, Google's smart chat app Allo is also picking up new language skills. You can now talk to Google Assistant inside Allo in French and Spanish, and it will respond in that language along with all of the smarts you expect from the Assistant.

French and Spanish join English, Hindi, Portuguese and Japanese as supported languages in Allo, which is a nice group that continues to grow. While users are surely taking advantage of many of Allo's features in more languages than that, now having the big selling point of the Google Assistant in the chats is a big improvement.

The updated languages are rolling out now, and may take a few days to arrive for everyone in the Allo app.

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2 weeks ago

Gear VR Protip: How to watch Netflix laying down

Watching Netflix laying down is an easy process.

Netflix on Gear VR allows you to binge away, all within the confines of your Gear VR headset. Many folx enjoy catching their shows just before bed, and you don't have to change up that pattern just because you are watching your favorites while in VR. Being able to lay out in bed, and go ahead and watch away might seem like a pipe dream, but it's entirely doable, and shouldn't take more than just a minute or two.

Read more at VRHeads.com{..cta .large}

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2 weeks ago

Workout in style with these Jaybird headphones on sale for $100

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Our friends at Thrifter are back with a pair of great deals on Jaybird Bluetooth headphones.

The Jaybird X3 and Jaybird Freedom F5 wireless headphones are both on sale for the same $100 price right now. That price matches the lowest drop for both headphones. It's the first time since December the Freedom F5 have seen a price drop and only the third time in the X3's history that it has dropped at all. Both deals are great and it really comes down to what you need out of your headphones.

The Freedom F5 headphones distinguish themselves from the X3 with a battery clip that adds extra charging time. The clip is detachable if you don't need it for a quick run, but it's a way to add a few extra hours of charge time if you're going to be out for a while.

The X3 is the follow-up to the highly praised Jaybird X2 and has earned a few great reviews itself, like 4 stars from CNET. Both the X3 and the Freedom F5 have access to the MySound app, which lets you customize the sound from each device.

You can also find this same deal price for the X3 and Freedom F5 at Best Buy.

For more great deals be sure to check out our friends at Thrifter now!

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2 weeks ago

Amazon unveils free calling and messaging with Alexa Calling

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Hands-free voice calls and messages are coming to Amazon Echo speakers.

Amazon continues to make big splashes this week, unveiling a game-changing new feature called Alexa Calling that will be made available across all its Amazon Echo devices, including smartphones running the Alexa app. Alexa Calling will allow Amazon's Alexa-enable devices to send and receive hands-free calls and voice messages to anyone with an Echo speaker or the Alexa app installed on their phone, at no cost. Amazon has outlined the new features on its website, but there is no specific release date as to when we'll see it roll out.

The service will be free to use and will be built into Alexa's voice controls so that you can place or answer calls without stopping what you're doing around the home. Messaging works similarly, allowing you to easily send and receive short voice messages via your Echo devices.

This news is paired with Amazon officially unveiling the latest Echo device, the Echo Show which features a 7-inch touchscreen and will retail for $229. The Show will make use of the free calling and messaging features of course, and will use its camera and screen to provide video calling features. One interesting/creepy video calling feature Amazon will be including with the Echo Show is called "Drop In", which will allow approved people — your closest family and friends — to instantly connect with you via video chat. This is a bit similar to Google Duo's "Knock Knock" option, except that it's on a stationary object that's likely pointed into your living room or bedroom.

Amazon hasn't come out and explained exactly how these video calling features will work, but we're sure to find out more as we get closer to the Echo Show's June 28 launch date. This isn't the first time Amazon has waded into the wireless communication business — long-time readers will remember the ill-fated Amazon Fire Phone which was discontinued just over a year after it was launched.

It's also worth noting that adding Alexa Calling to the Alexa app suddenly gives it way more standalone functionality than ever before — it was previously used as a support app for Echo owners, but appears to be pivoting to be an app that may be worth downloading even if you don't yet own an Echo speaker.

What do you think of Amazon adding free calling features to its line of Echo smart speakers? Are you ready for regular "drop ins" from the relatives via video chat on the Echo Show? Let us know in the comments!

Amazon Echo

Amazon

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2 weeks ago

OnePlus 5 rumor roundup

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Everything we know about the OnePlus 5.

OnePlus has had a pretty good year, what with the success of its OnePlus 3 and 3T phones and some massive overhauls internally that, against all odds, led to improvements to its Oxygen OS software, with more frequent updates.

Now we're seeing the first signs that a sequel is in the company's future and that OnePlus is skipping the "4" name altogether and readying flagship successor, the OnePlus 5. Here's everything we know so far.

What will it be called?

The one thing we know without a doubt is the phone's name: OnePlus confirmed to Android Central that its next phone will be called OnePlus 5. We've also seen a promotional photo (above) from the company's CEO, Pete Lau, teasing the name.

Why would OnePlus skip the OnePlus 4 name? Because in Chinese culture, the number four is considered bad luck when attached to a product — and besides, the OnePlus 3T is sort of a fourth OnePlus, so there's that angle, too.

When will it be available?

The OnePlus 5 will be available some time in the "early summer", according to the company, which confirmed that approximate timeframe to Android Central. While that could mean as early as late May, we're thinking it's likely going to be closer to early to mid-June, which would align with last year's June 14th OnePlus 3 announcement.

OnePlus, because it doesn't have much overhead, selling the majority of its devices through its e-commerce store, may put the OnePlus 5 on sale the same day it is announced, which would give its early adopters something to look forward to.

What are the specs?

The specs of the OnePlus 5 aren't clear just yet, but there are a few elements we know and a couple others, based on leaks, we can pretty accurately guess.

Here's what we know so far:

Category spec Operating System Oxygen OS based on Android 7.1.2 Display 5.5-inch AMOLED
2560x1440 pixel Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
Adreno 540 GPU RAM 6GB LPDDR4 (8GB in some markets) Storage 64GB storage (128GB in some markets) Expandable No Rear Camera Dual 12MP camera sensors Front Camera TBD Audio 3.5 mm headphone Battery ~3600 mAh
Non-removable Charging USB-C
Dash Charge Water resistance TBD (probably not) Wireless charging TBD (probably not) Security Front fingerprint sensor Dimensions TBD Weight TBD

I wouldn't be so sure about an 8GB version for North America.

Breaking it down a little more, there are a few variables to keep in mind. We know that the phone will launch with a Snapdragon 835 processor, because of course it will. OnePlus has launched all four of its flagships with that year's canonical Qualcomm SoC, and this year will likely be no exception. The OnePlus 3 had 6GB of RAM, so you can expect that same number in the OnePlus 5; it also came standard with 64GB of internal storage, so you can expect that, too. I wouldn't put too much credence in the idea that it will ship with 128GB standard, nor that it will come with 8GB of RAM. We're not there yet, and OnePlus gains little from offering those in a base configuration.

We've heard that there may be an 8GB/128GB variant of the OnePlus 5 for China, specifically, which makes a lot of sense since that country is obsessed with maxing out what's possible in a phone, but I wouldn't count on it coming to North America. It's possible OnePlus will, instead, offer a 6GB/128GB or even a 6GB/256GB model in North America for $50 or so more.

On the screen front, we're hearing that OnePlus will keep its 5.5-inch display size and that, while the screen will do away with as much of the top and bottom bezels as possible, it will keep the front fingerprint sensor, and may also maintain the OnePlus 3 series' 1080p resolution. From a battery-saving perspective, it would make sense to keep the OnePlus 5 at 1080p, especially if the AMOLED panel used is of very high quality — even devices like the Huawei Mate 9 have fantastic screens despite relatively low pixel densities — but given that most competing phones have upgraded to 2560x1440 or an equivalent QHD resolution at various aspect ratios, it would make sense for OnePlus to do the same.

A dual camera setup on the OnePlus 5 could be its most exciting feature.

At either resolution, we'll likely see the OnePlus 5 support Google's Daydream VR platform, which will make for another popular handset in the category.

The camera on the OnePlus 5 is expected to be cameras. OnePlus is rumored to be adopting the popular dual camera trend, with two identical 12-megapixel rear sensors. It's unclear at this point whether the lenses will be of different focal lengths, but either way you can expect some cool camera tricks and an overall improved photo taking experience. What would be cool is to see a OnePlus 5 with the same wide-angle lens as the LG G6, since I think a lot more people would be interested in that than the "telephoto" distance of something like the iPhone 7 Plus. An improved front-facing camera, likely with autofocus, is also in the cards.

Finally, another big upgrade is to the battery. While the OnePlus 3T already saw an improved capacity, from 3,000mAh to 3,400mAh, the OnePlus 5 is expected to pack a 3,580 to 3,600mAh cell. That could translate, along with the more-efficient Snapdragon 835, to much better battery life.

A few odds and ends

  • Despite rumors to the contrary, there's no reason to think that OnePlus will drop the headphone jack from this year's unit.
  • We haven't heard whether OnePlus will add waterproofing to this year's flagship, but the company would be doing itself a huge disservice by going another year without it.
  • Wireless charging? Not likely, especially if the metal design from the OnePlus 3 series shows up again, which we think it will.
  • There's no reason to think that the mute switch will disappear, given that it's become a sort-of OnePlus signature, and it has a lot of very loyal fans.
  • Dual speakers? Not this year.
  • Removable battery? gtfo

What will it look like?

As mentioned above, the OnePlus 5 is probably not going to look too different from its predecessor — don't expect the same jump that we saw from the OnePlus 2 to the OnePlus 3. Instead, you can be sure that OP is going to go out of its way to shrink the phone as much as possible without sacrificing usability. Front-facing fingerprint sensor? Sure, but you'll probably see space-savings elsewhere on the device.

You can probably take for granted that the popular Midnight Black color will make a return with the OnePlus 5, even though it may not be offered as a launch color.

What about the software?

Expect another iteration of Oxygen OS on the OnePlus 5, launched with a slightly updated version of what we currently have on the OnePlus 3 and 3T, running Android 7.1.2. The phone will launch long before Android O is public.

Oxygen OS has turned into quite the capable piece of Android software, and while it's unclear whether the OnePlus 5 will have any distinctive hardware elements that change up the software experience, what is clear is the company's desire to keep Android as simple and fast as possible, while relegating the gimmicks to the background.

What about software updates?

OnePlus doesn't have a great track record of maintaining updates for longer than a year or so — the OnePlus 2 still doesn't have Nougat despite a number of promises — but the OnePlus 3 and 3T are still getting regular updates well into their lifespans, and after a somewhat close call on a promise to get Android 7.0 by the end of 2016, the phones are now seeing new software regularly.

In other words, we don't know. Hopefully, OnePlus will keep the OnePlus 5 updated long into its lifespan, but we have more confidence in its ability to do just that than we did a year ago.

What will it cost?

Judging from the minor price bump between the OnePlus 3 and 3T, coupled with rising component costs throughout the world, the OnePlus 5 may cost somewhere between $449 and $469, which puts it creepingly close, but still far below, the flagships that it's competing against. At $399, the OnePlus 3 was a serious contender for "amazingly cheap"; at $439, the OnePlus 3T is just "inexpensive". A OnePlus 5 at $469 would be close to "Should I spend the extra money on another phone?" Still approachable, and maybe even affordable, but losing its pricing edge.

Anything else?

We'll have lots more on the OnePlus 5 when it's unveiled in "early summer," which is getting here sooner than later! In the meantime, check out our OnePlus 3T coverage and let us know what you want in OnePlus's new flagship!

OnePlus is doing everything right lately

OnePlus 3T and OnePlus 3

OnePlus Amazon

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2 weeks ago

This coupon saves you $100 when buying two of Amazon's brand new Alexa-powered Echo Show

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Our friends at Thrifter are back again, this time with a deal on the brand new Echo Show!

Amazon has just officially unveiled the Echo Show, its latest Alexa-powered device, and the company is already offering a discount if you buy two of them. You can save $100 when using the coupon SHOW2PACK, dropping the price down to just $359.98. With the ability to make video calls, monitor your front door and more from the Echo Show, odds are you're going to want more than just one of these anyway. This discount makes it more cost effective to splurge and buy them one with yours.

Some of the other features include:

  • Echo Show brings you everything you love about Alexa, and now she can show you things. Watch video flash briefings and YouTube, see music lyrics, security cameras, photos, weather forecasts, to-do and shopping lists, and more. All hands-free—just ask.
  • Introducing a new way to be together. Talk to family and friends who have an Echo or the Alexa App.
  • See lyrics on-screen with Amazon Music. Just ask to play a song, artist or genre, and stream over Wi-Fi. Also, stream music on Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and more.
  • Powerful, room-filling speakers with Dolby processing for crisp vocals and extended bass response
  • Ask Alexa to show you the front door or monitor the baby's room with compatible cameras from Ring and Arlo. Turn on lights, control thermostats and more with WeMo, Philips Hue, ecobee, and other compatible smart home devices.
  • With eight microphones, beam-forming technology, and noise cancellation, Echo Show hears you from any direction—even while music is playing Always getting smarter and adding new features, plus thousands of skills like Uber, Jeopardy!, Allrecipes, CNN, and more

If you're going to give the Echo Show a try, be sure to pick two of them up with this discount so you can get the most out of it. Not interested in the Echo Show? Right now you can pick up the original Echo for $30 off!

See at Amazon

For more great deals be sure to check out our friends at Thrifter now!

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2 weeks ago

Best External Battery Packs for Google Pixel

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Finding a battery pack that's optimized to charge the Google Pixel isn't as simple as you'd think.

Looking for a battery pack for your Google Pixel? Great! But before you do, you need to keep a lookout for a few things.

For starters, forget about Quick Charge 3.0. Qualcomm's fast-charging technology doesn't work over USB-C — instead, the Pixel uses USB-PD, a new standard for charging devices via USB-C. That's not to say that you can't use a battery pack with Quick Charge technology; you just won't get any use of the rapid charging features.

Ideally, you're going to want to find battery packs that let you use USB-C to USB-C cables and make mention of USB-PD compatibility. Fortunately, there's been a ton of great discussion on the topic which pointed us towards this great Google spreadsheet that's color-coded with charging accessories you should buy and those which you should avoid.

We've broken down some of your best options below and have ordered them base on battery size!

Nomad Powerpack 9,000mAh backup battery

At only 9,000mAh, the Nomad Powerpack is the smallest battery pack on this list, but it makes up for that shortcoming with its rugged casing and integrated Bluetooth tracking by Tile.

This battery pack features USB-C ports for input (charging the power pack) and output (charging your Pixel), along with a USB-A port for charging any other devices you may have kicking around. It's definitely on the pricier side, but if you like the idea of keeping a battery pack in your bag, the fact that this one doubles as a Bluetooth tracker may be especially appealing to some.

This battery ships with a USB-A to USB-C cable, but if you want to get the fastest charge you'll want to use a USB-C to USB-C cable like the one that came with the Pixel.

See at Nomad

ORICO 10,000mAh portable battery

ORICO's battery pack features a USB-C port that appears to be USB-PD compatible, but you'll once again need to supply your own USB-C-to-USB-C cable to get the most out of it.

This battery pack is made with a stylish aluminum alloy casing for an upscale and durable look. There's LED indicators that show you the remaining battery life and includes all the protection features you require, including voltage and current surges, over-charging, and more. Orico also offers an 18-month warranty on its battery packs, along with lifetime technical support. It's also one of the cheaper options on this list.

See at Amazon

Kanex GoPower 15,000mAh portable battery

The Kanex GoPower battery was designed to charge the new MacBook Pro on the go but will also work just as well for Android phones that use USB-C — including the Pixel.

Featuring a sleek, aluminum build with 15,000mAh of battery capacity, this should theoretically charge your Pixel five times. Two cables are included with this battery pack, including a USB-C to USB-C cable, and the battery allows for pass-through charging, so you can charge your phone and the battery at the same time.

See at Kanex

Jackery Titan S 20,100mAh battery pack

The Jackery Titan S is a beefy option for keeping your Pixel topped up. With a generous 20,100mAh battery capacity, this battery features a USB-C port that supports 5V/3A.

It also has a USB-A port that supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 for those devices, but it most importantly comes with a USB-C cable for charging your pixel.

This battery pack is Wirecutter's top pick for USB-C-compatible portable batteries, so you can buy with confidence knowing this is a highly recommended battery pack.

See at Amazon

RAVPower 26,800mAh external battery

Last but certainly not least is the massive RAVPower 26,800mAh external battery, which is optimized for USB-PD devices such as the Pixel.

RAVPower claims you'll be able to recharge this battery pack in a fraction of the usual time, just four to five hours compared to the standard 14 hours. For charging your Pixel, you'll want to use the USB-C port along with the included USB-C cable, but you also have two standard USB-A ports for charging other devices, which include iSmart 2.0 technology which intelligently detects and adjusts the charging current to obtain the fastest charging for your device.

See at Amazon

Got any battery packs you've tried and tested?

Have you tried any of the battery packs on our list? Got one that's been working great for you? Let us know in the comments!

Google Pixel + Pixel XL

Google Store Verizon

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2 weeks ago

Amazon launches Echo Show with video chat

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Your relationship with Alexa just got a lot more personal.

Amazon just launched its latest gadget in the personal assistant line. The Echo Show is a $230 stand-alone touch screen device that is designed exclusively for Alexa. Now, when you ask Alexa to order that doll house, you'll see what it looks like first.

The Show, which houses a 7-inch touch sensitive screen and two Dolby front-facing speakers, as well as eight microphones, can hear your query from across the room, even while you're listening to Bruno Mars.

You can also make video calls to others that have the Show using the front-facing 5 megapixel camera. Just say, "Call mom," and you'll be able to talk, face-to-face with you dear mother. If she doesn't have her own Echo Show (you should get her one for Mother's Day), she can video chat with you via the Alexa app.

You can connect the Show to supported smart home devices, like the Ring front door camera or the Arlo security camera, and monitor goings-on without having to take your phone out of your pocket. Just ask Alexa to show you the baby's room and you'll be watching your bundle of joy resting peacefully.

The Echo Show can turn on the lights, turn down the heat, and activate all other Alexa-compatible smart home gadgets.

It also works with all of your other Alexa Skills, like Ted Talks, news flash briefings, and checking your calendar. Only now, you can actually see the results you're asking for, instead of just hearing Alexa chatter on.

Amazon is offering deep discounts on a number of Echo-related gadgets right now. The Arlo Security camera is down $72 at $147, which is a 33 percent discount. The Wemo Smart WiFi Plug is $5 off. If you buy two Echo Show devices, you can get $100 off with promo code SHOW2PACK. So you can get one for yourself and one for mom!

If you're ready to go all-in and have Alexa in every room, you can grab the standard Echo speaker for just $150 right now, which is $30 off the normal price.

You can pre-order the Echo Show today for $229.99 and it will arrive on your doorstep June 28.

See at Amazon

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2 weeks ago

Grab Aukey's car charger with two Quick Charge 3.0 ports for just $9

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Our friends at Thrifter are back again, this time with a dual-port Quick Charge 3.0 car charger for under $10!

Update: You can also grab this Aukey QC3 Wall Charger for $7 (down from $13) with the promotional code D57ZM75P.

Right now you can pick up Aukey's car charger with two Quick Charge 3.0 ports for just $8.99 at Amazon with coupon code GZJ2ZJ58. This $11 savings will help you prepare for the future and ensure that you get the fastest charge possible, whether you have five minutes in the car or five hours. You'll be able to charge compatible devices up to four times faster with Quick Charge 3.0, and you can use both ports at the same time.

Remember to use coupon code GZJ2ZJ58 for the full savings. This deal likely won't stick around long, so be sure to grab one for each of your vehicles now!

See at Amazon

For more great deals be sure to check out our friends at Thrifter now!

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2 weeks ago

Using your phone on the job site: 5 apps for the hard worker

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Work smarter with these five apps designed for the job site.

Android appeals to people from all walks of life. Your butcher, the young person at the register at Taco Bell, and all sorts of people you meet every day have an Android phone. That's because a modern phone is totally a multi-tool and there's an Android phone to fit everyone.

There are apps to fit everyone, too. We're going to have a look at five of them that can make your work day easier!

Safesite

Keeping yourself and the rest of the crew safe is the single most important part of everyone's job no matter where they work, but this rings especially true for work like construction, mining, or in a refinery. We all know that things don't give much of a warning when they go wrong, so catching and fixing safety issues is a must. And Safesite is great for doing it.

It's an app for your Android in the field and a program for the computers back in the office. When you're on-site and see anything that needs attention, you can record all the details, complete with photos and incident reports, and share them instantly with the person who can get them fixed. You can also perform safety audits with the built-in checklist feature (OSHA, ISO, VPP, and SHARP-compliant) and the desktop program can build an overview so keeping track of problem areas is easy. The app is free and so is a demo of the desktop service. More information is available at Safesite

Download: Safesite (free demo)

Construction Master Pro

Without a doubt, Construction Manager Pro is the best $25 you'll ever spend on an app if you need to measure or calculate anything on a regular basis. The app is a feature for feature clone of Calculated Industries' desktop software and includes both the standard calculator and its Trig calculator.

Eyeballing doesn't cut it a lot of the time. When you're doing anything that needs to follow the "measure twice, cut once" rule you'll find everything you need to calculate simple and complex projects so you save money and do a better job. It's 2017 and writing on a napkin isn't the answer. $25 sounds like a lot for an app, but buying material twice because something didn't get measured correctly can be a lot more.

Download: Construction Manager Pro ($25)

Zoho Invoice & Time Tracking

Sometimes the hardest part of the job is writing up the invoice, but it's a necessary evil if you want to get paid. With Zoho's invoice and time tracking app, it not only gets a lot easier to fill out and send an invoice, but they also look professional. And best of all, the invoice and billing service is free for small contractors with 5 employees or less.

Zoho is an online service that can connect to your Google Apps account and provides invoice and billing as well as the ability to get online payments. You fill out the particulars and costs and the app does all the accounting then send the invoice to your customer on the spot. Extras, like the WePay service, add the ability for your customers to pay online and you're notified right away when they do. It's perfect for people who don't want to fool with a card-reader. And no desktop program is required — you can do everything from a phone or tablet.

Download: Zoho Invoice & Time Tracking (free, in-app purchases)

PlanGrid

I know from experience that checking blueprints on some job sites can be a royal you know what. Between the dirt, the dust, and the coffee stain rings, they get ratty and can be tough to read, and it never fails that you'll have to unroll them all to find the one you need.

The PlanGrid service is a cheap and easy way to get those prints sent to the cloud instead of the printer, where they're easy for everyone to view or edit. The mobile app is fully functional and the version control system keeps track of revisions so everyone is seeing the right thing, i.e. the same thing.

Download: PlanGrid (free, requires a PlanGrid subscription)

Fieldwire

There's a little bit of overlap here because Fieldwire has a really nice built-in plan reader, but the reason it's on our list is because it's a great communication platform for the entire team.

The task manager has built-in scheduling and notifications and can track everything you need to fill out an invoice or write a productivity report. You can add photos and annotate them, create and export pdf files for printing or sending by email to someone outside the team, and the built-in inspection tool makes building a punch list simple. And because the app synchronizes through Google Drive or Dropbox, everyone is on the same page.

The service is completely free for small teams and you can request a demo if you need a license for more users.

Download: Fieldwire (free for small teams)

Got a favorite?

Do you have a favorite worksite app? Let us know in the comments below.

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2 weeks ago

You can now order an unlocked Galaxy S8 in the U.S.

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Get an unlocked Galaxy S8... for a lot of money.

Samsung has opened pre-orders for the unlocked versions of the Galaxy S8 and S8+, just days after the unlocked GS7 received its much-anticipated Nougat update.

Samsung had previously confirmed around the time of the S8's launch in April that it would eventually offer an unlocked model in the U.S., and now we have specific details.

  • It will cost $724.99 and $824.99 for the S8 and S8+, respectively.
  • They're available with 0% financing, with similar terms to what you'd get at a carrier.
  • They're only available in Midnight Black, which is a bit unfortunate.
  • Each order from Samsung.com comes with a Samsung Entertainment Package, which includes a Clear View standing case, a 64GB microSD card, and a 6-month Netflix subscription.
  • Devices ship by May 30.
  • They're also available at Best Buy.

While Samsung doesn't have a great track record for keeping its unlocked phones up-to-date, the company has said that it will do better this time around. It's unlikely the carrier and unlocked versions will receive updates at the same time, or the latter with as much frequency, but at least there's hope. And buying the unlocked model does ensure there's no carrier bloatware, which is nice.

Are you planning to pick up an unlocked Galaxy S8? Let us know in the comments below!

See at Samsung

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2 weeks ago

What the world needs now are more progressive web apps

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I'm embarrassed by all the apps I have installed. Do I really need a majority of them if there's a web app for that?

Have you had a second to check out the latest Android Central roundtable? A few of us shared how many apps we each have installed on our daily drivers. Frankly, I was embarrassed by my number. I take such pride in the curation of the apps that I have installed. But there are 127 apps installed on my 32GB Pixel XL, and only about 20 of those are apps that I use regularly.

This entire experience has made me yearn for more progressive web apps — not to mention the full launch of Instant Apps, which could negate the need for installing any app at all. I don't like having an app installed for the different airlines, transit systems, and minor little services that I use from time to time. And how wonderful would it be if I could easily log into the Lyft app with my account credentials through the Chrome browser to hail a car? Or for the VSCO app to offer its hipster photo filters online? Progressive web apps are not only (pardon the cliché) the apps of the future, but they're going to make for an interesting app market, where only the worthy will merit an install.

Progressive apps I use now to get through life

Progressive web apps are, essentially, apps that contain all the functionality you need within their base code on the web so that when you visit the website through a mobile browser, everything is there! Probably one of the most popular progressive web apps is Facebook, which you can access through m.facbook.com to log in. There's even a trick if you need Facebook Messenger: tap on the option while the link is open in Chrome, and then ask the browser to request the desktop mode.

Here's another "hack": If you'd rather not have Twitter installed — a great idea for those of you constantly distracted by its content — you can simply head to mobile.twitter.com and log in through Twitter Lite. You'll have access to all the same abilities as the full-sized mobile application, and you'll save roughly 141 MB on storage space versus the 1MB used to pump the web stuff.

FandangoTwitterDuolingo

A few shining examples of progressive web apps.

I also appreciate the fact that Duolingo works fully through Chrome. I've been freshening up on the Romanian language myself and not only can I quickly access my lesson with just a bookmark, but Duolingo also notifies me through Chrome if I miss a day. It's wild to think that you can now learn an entirely new language with just the browser on your phone — what a boon for those looking to learn another language in countries where low-end, low-capacity phones rule the market.

There are still plenty of outdated web apps out there that aren't actually friendly to use and thus require that you have an app to do a simple little thing. For instance, I don't ride the San Francisco Bay Area's BART transit system as often as I used to, but I'm still required to have the BART Runner app installed for when I'm rushing over to the nearest station. It would also be nice to have some heavy duty photo apps run solely off the web, like Snapseed, since I only ever really use something like that for editing and filtering when I'm on a trip.

Instant Apps are coming, too, and they'll be even better and more functional than progressive web apps.

Instant Apps, which are currently undergoing a limited testing phase, will also play a major role in negating the need for full apps. You'll be able to find them through Google search results. They don't rely on web optimization or HTML5, like web apps do. Instead, instant apps install a tiny bit of data locally, and it's only the most necessary functionality. We're hoping to hear about more compatibility at Google I/O 2017.

Save the best stuff for the install

I simply appreciate PWAs as a way to cut down on all the bloat.

I think I seriously need to take a step back from my phone and reassess what it is that I have installed. I prefer to save what little storage space I have (I'm not the only one who skimps out this way!) for photos, videos, and Allo sticker packs. I need to take some time to look at which apps have similar progressive web app counterparts and whether or not there are any other tricks I can utilize to become less dependent on the full-size version of other apps like Facebook.

One thing's for certain: the world of apps is going to change the more that people catch on to PWAs. The original idea for progressive web apps was for Google to help establish its unified vision for apps and services. But I simply appreciate them as a way to cut down on all the bloat.

Do you use progressive web apps?

Do you save storage space on your phone by using progressive web apps? Which are your favorites? Would you like to see more of them? Let us know in the comments below!

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2 weeks ago

How to add live TV channels to NVIDIA Shield TV

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Live Channels

With the right hardware, your NVIDIA Shield can show you live, over the air TV. Here's how.

If you have an Android TV set, then obviously live television is built right in; otherwise, it'd be a pretty poor product. But if you're picking up a set-top box like the NVIDIA Shield, you're not left out in the cold. With some additional hardware and a few spare minutes, you can have the same experience on any TV.

Here's what you need to know.

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