2 weeks ago

Google Play Games to lose Google+ requirement, gain auto sign-in

Google Play games

Some changes are coming to Google Play Games this year, and they'll affect both users and developers. As announced on the Android Developer Blog, the changes are intended "to reduce sign-in friction and unnecessary permission requests for players by moving the Games APIs to a new model."

Here's the deal:

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2 weeks ago

From the Editor's Desk: Understanding EMUI


There's a method to Huawei's UI madness, even if you're not a fan of it.

I've become a pretty decent fan of Huawei's phones over the past year or so. It started with a brief look at the Honor 6 Plus. I didn't really get it at the time. Interesting hardware, weird software, and this was a pure China model, full of features I'll never understand. Months later, in Berlin, I snagged and reviewed a Mate S. It may be my favorite design since the HTC One M7. (Erm, for somewhat obvious reasons.)

And not too long after that we got the Nexus 6P, which remains atop our list of the best Android phones you can buy. Then there's the Mate 8, a big beast that goes all day but takes some work to get the software where it's usable. And now we have the budget-friendly Honor 5X. Again, decent hardware, but software that leaves us trying to figure things out.

But I've decided it's just not that complicated.

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2 weeks ago

You can save up to 50 percent on various in-app purchases on Google Play


Google Play is currently hosting a sale which saves you up to 50 percent on in-app purchases of select apps. There are around 60 apps currently participating in the deal, from titles like Mobile Strike, Agar.io, Sim City Buildit and many others. The games here are all free to play, but they have in-app purchases to allow you to unlock additional content or help you move through the levels faster.

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2 weeks ago

What do you want to see from the LG G5?


Mobile World Congress cometh. And with it we're expecting a new flagship smartphone from from LG — in all likelihood it'll be called the LG G5. And that in and of itself is pretty exciting, given that the LG G4 was an excellent (though, yes, imperfect) smartphone. The display. The camera. The sleek lines. The removable battery and expandable storage. There was a whole lot to like.

And making things even more interesting was the late-2015 launch of the LG V10, bringing beefier construction, a manual mode for the video camera — and even more possibilities for what we might see in 2016.

So let's open the floor for questions. What is it you want to see in the LG G5? Should that manual video recording make its way to the G line? Will we really see some sort of crazy interchangeable modular thing? Or do we really just want to see better software? Sound off in the comments below!

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2 weeks ago

Use your phone to unlock a better rental experience with Silvercar

Silvercar Audi A4

Your Android or iPhone plays a cursory role in renting one of Silvercar's Audi A4s, but the experience is great nonetheless.

"Uber for xxxxx" is still a pretty popular marketing crutch these days. Think of it as shorthand for "on-demand something or other." And you can (roughly) call Silvercar "Uber for rental cars." I recently gave it a shot on a personal trip with my family. (Read: Silvercar didn't give us anything for this review. It came out of my pocket, personally.)

The gist is simple. You book a car through the Silvercar app (Android or iOS). When you arrive at your destination airport, you text Silvercar (the app helps with this) to let them know you've arrived. They arrive with a Audi A4. In silver. (You guessed that part, right?)

"Another startup-type company trying to disrupt things?" you ask? Sure. But my initial experience in Fort Lauderdale left me pretty excited.

Here's why.

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2 weeks ago

Samsung Galaxy S7 rumored launch in the U.S. on March 11


According to a new leak, it appears as though March 11 is possibly the date when the Samsung Galaxy S7 will release in the U.S. The information comes from Evan Blass (evleaks), a source who has a mixed track record when it comes to leaked information. Beyond the date of March 11, no additional details were provided.

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2 weeks ago

Better battery life leads our Galaxy S7 wish list

Samsung logo

We recently asked what you fine folks want to see in the Samsung Galaxy S7, which we're expecting to see in the coming weeks, quite possibly at Mobile World Congress. (Though nothing has been announced, and anything is possible.) And your responses were as realistic as they were ... aspirational.

Well, we've got our own ideas about what Samsung needs to do with the Galaxy S7. And a few ideas of things we simply want Samsung to do with the GS7. Some of them might even happen.

But for the most part we've all centered on a few key details.

So without further ado, here's what the editors of Android Central are hoping to find once the Galaxy S7 is officially official.

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2 weeks ago

Best Buy is offering a free Gear VR with the purchase of a new Samsung Galaxy smartphone


Best Buy is running a promotion today which gets you a free Gear VR headset with the purchase of a new Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 edge, S6 edge+ or Note 5. Should you find yourself looking to upgrade your phone to one of Samsung's latest, you may want to do so at Best Buy to score the $100 Gear VR headset for free. The promotion ends at midnight on January 23, and you can order it online if you are unable to make it into a local Best Buy store.

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2 weeks ago

Last chance: Enter to win one of three Honor 5X!

Honor 5X

This is it. The clock is ticking. Time is running out. Act now, while supplies last. This offer won't be around forever.

We've got three Honor 5X to give away, and just a couple days left to do so. So now would be an excellent time to enter, if you haven't done so already. And if you have already entered, go outside. Grab someone off the street, and tell them why they should enter. Because who doesn't want a free phone, right?

Of course, there are details. And those details are:

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2 weeks ago

Google agrees to pay £130 million in back taxes in the UK


Google has agreed to a deal with UK tax officials to pay £130 million in back taxes while pledging to pay more in taxes going forward.

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2 weeks ago

What is Marvel: Contest of Champions, and why is it so popular?


Your one stop shop for all things Marvel: Contest of Champions

How many time have you gotten into the argument between which Marvel characters were superior over others, or gotten into hour long conversations over your dream team of Marvel characters? If either of these things sound familiar in the least, or you're a long time fan of fighting games, then you've definitely gotta take a look at Marvel: Contest of Champions.

This game implements some very diverse elements to bring a really fun fighting game to your smartphone. Level up and unlock heroes to build an elite fighting team that can move forward and save the universe. Join an Alliance to access special quests, or build your own with friends. Collect crystals to unlock better heroes, and in game items by completing quests and challenges.

This is a mobile fighting game that puts you in charge of building a team of Heroes — and Villains, to protect the galaxy. At it's core it's a straight up fighting game. Characters fight one on one using a collection of light, medium, heavy, and special attacks to knock each other out. The game is far more nuanced than just tapping, and swiping though. You'll need to cultivate heroes with different strengths in order to open up side paths, make decisions on who should be leveled up using crystals you find, and completing Versus or Special quests to grab crystals of a different kind.

To help you get started, we've put together a top down guide to saving the galaxy.

Modes of Play

When it comes to saving the galaxy, there are four ways to play. You can go on Story and Event Quests, challenge other players in the Versus arena, and help put teammates by completing Alliance Quests. Each mode has different perks to it and works a little bit differently. Not all of them will be open when you first start playing, but as you level up they'll become available.

Story Quests are where you'll find the main mode of play. It's broken out into four Acts, and each Act has multiple chapters, each of which has 6 maps. Before starting a map, you'll select your team of Champions before the level opens up. Each Map has multiple steps, with icons for the enemies you'll face along your way. You'll also see items like potions, and chests that can be picked up during your run through each map. To move forward you'll expend energy, one energy for each movement forward. When you come across an enemy, you'll choose which of your Champions will fight against them gauging Class bonus', health, and attack to get yourself as many advantages as possible.

Event Quests work the same as Story Quests, but are only available for a specific period of time. Some of them will help you pick up certain in-game items like crystal shards, or better catalysts for use in ranking up your Champions. There are also quests which revolve around certain Champions — for example there is Arachnid Action with Spider Man, Miles Morales, and Spider Gwen. Alliance mode lets you get points for your Alliance while doing things like using items from your inventory, leveling up Champions, or fighting in the PvP Arena.

Versus is the PvP arena, where you can play in 1v1 or special 3v3 matches. Neither of these require energy, although after a match the Champion you choose will have to cool down before you can use them again. In this mode you'll pick up special battle crystals which will unlock specific in game items that you can't get elsewhere. Many of the 3v3 arenas require specific Champions to access, and are only available for a limited time before they are no longer accessible, so checking in every day is a good idea.

Questing can become difficult if you run low on health potions, or don't have adequately leveled Champions in your roster. You can purchase more items, or crystals using units — these are acquired by completing quests in game. If you don't have enough credits, you can purchase more using real money. The in-app purchases using real money only pop up if you don't have enough credits, and will let you purchase items, energy, crystals, and other in-game items.

Champions, Crystals, ISO-8 and Catalysts

As soon as you start rolling through Quests you'll notice that you acquire crystals and ISO-8 which can be used to level up your Champions. Trust us, keeping your stable of Champions filled with high level heroes of multiple classes is always a good choice. Each Champion has a specific class that gives them a bonus against a specific class, as well as a detriment with another. To begin with you'll only be able to bring two Champions into each battle, but this number increases as you level up.

There are several different types of crystals that you'll find as you play through the game. Some can only be acquired in specific arenas, like the battle crystals which are available through Versus mode. Each crystal can unlock specific in game items. Sometimes it will be energy, or a new Champion, other times it might be crystal shard that let you save up to buy better crystals. These are an integral part of gameplay, since you need crystals to continue leveling up your stable. One of the handiest things that crystals will unlock, are ISO-8.

ISO-8 is what you use to level up your Champions. There are different strengths to this element, and it's the only way you'll be able to strengthen your Champions. Each time they go up in level, you'll see a difference in their hit points as well as their attack power. When you have fully leveled your heroes you can then rank them up. This requires a catalyst, and opens up a new tier of levels. The only trick with this is that each Champion has a max rank. A one star Champion can only rank up twice, but Champions with a higher base star rating can be ranked up multiple times. If you run low on ISO-8

You'll need to grind through Quests to grather up more crystals and ISO-8 to get your Champions to a point where they can knock out any enemy they come across during a Quest. While this might sound a bit discouraging, there is a silver lining here. Many Quests, both Story Quests and Event Quests have multiple paths you can take. This means that going back to replay a particular map for in-game items can also get you prizes for fully exploring a map by following a path you ignored initially.

Social Aspects

Like many games on mobile there is a huge social piece of this game, and it shows up with Alliances. You can certainly choose not to join an Alliance, but even if you pick one out at random it gets you some great boosts. Helping out your Alliance is the only way to pick up Alliance crystals, and you can ask them for help once every 24 hours if you're having issues in the Versus arena or on a Quest Map. It's also very easy to start your own Alliance and it fill it with nothing but friends who are also playing the game.

Even if you opt out of an Alliance — and miss out on specific missions and crystals in doing so, there is still a chat scroll that goes along at the bottom of your screen nonstop. Generally it's just random chatter; folks looking for people to join their alliances, trying to find people to play with, or looking for folks who have specific Champions they can fight against in the Versus arena. While you can definitely get by with playing by yourself, with minimal interaction, this is a game that is definitely a lot more fun with people to fight with.

Where to play

Marvel: Contest of Champions is available for free on Google Play and runs well on either tablet or your smartphone. Where you play isn't really decided by which devices this game is available on, since you're only limited by what kind of tech you have at your disposable. Instead it's decided by how you conserve battery strength, and how well you want to see this very pretty game.

Marvel:Contest of Champions is a game that is going to eat your battery alive. If you're playing on a smartphone with a decent battery — we could easily get several hours of gameplay in using the Nexus 5X before needing to plug in and charge again. It was slightly less noticeable using a tablet, but the drain was still there. It's not surprising either, there is a lot going on with this game, and as we mentioned it's quite pretty.

While you can easily get by using your phone, the difference the larger screen makes is striking.

If you want the best experience playing Marvel: Contest of Champions, you should definitely play for a while using a tablet. The bigger screen lets you clearly see everything that is going on. While you can easily get by using your phone, the difference the larger screen makes is striking. It also translates when you are in the middle of a fight. Blocking, and attacking both are a fair bit easier on the tablet since you have more room to work with. Happily you can sync your account across devices, so you can switch between using your phone and a tablet at your leisure.

Marvel: Contest of Champions is a fun mobile twist on fighting games, that brings you plenty of different options to make the game as much fun as possible. With multiple modes of play you're sure to be coming back for more each time there is a lull and you need to amuse yourself. The game is still actively evolving, and there is sure to be more excellent content coming soon for those of us that have been playing a bit obsessively. If you've been wondering whether Marvel Contest of Champions is worth a look, it definitely is and now is a great time to start.

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2 weeks ago

Xiaomi Mi 5 may launch on February 24


Those looking forward to the impending launch of Xiaomi's highly anticipated Mi 5 flagship may now have a date to look forward to: February 24.

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2 weeks ago

Android Central 271: Pimp my phone


Audio-only stream below

This is the single-most important Android podcast we'll have on our front page today!

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2 weeks ago

Amazon Echo now helps you plan a trip to the movies


Once again, Amazon has updated its Echo speaker with some new features, this time focused on going to the movies. You can ask Alexa about show times for a specific film, or just ask about information about that movie. You can also ask which movies are playing right now, or narrow it down with questions like "What romantic comedies are playing right now?"

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2 weeks ago

HTC America President Jason Mackenzie promoted to global Executive Vice President


HTC has promoted Jason Mackenzie, President of HTC America, to the position of global Executive Vice President. André Lönne will take over as President of HTC America.

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