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3 days ago

Check out Modern Dad on the latest All About Android podcast!

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Phil joins the gang at All About Android for their latest episode!

Our very own Phil Nickinson, AKA Modern Dad, was the featured guest on the latest episode of All About Android. Hosted by Jason Howell and Ron Richards, this week's episodes covers topics include Google's upcoming ad blocker, multi-user support for Google Home, a hands-on with the larger Samsung Galaxy S8+ and revised Gear VR. You can watch the show right up there check out the stream on TWiT.

While we have your attention, make sure you're subscribed to Modern Dad on Youtube, and be sure to turn on notifications so you'll be among the first to know when a new Modern Dad video goes live.

Subscribe to Modern Dad on YouTube!

In other housekeeping news, you only have a few more days to enter to win a Huawei P10 phone from the Modern Dad website. It's the white model with 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM and it's FREE.

All you gotta do is head on over to the contests pages on ModernDad.com and use the widget to enter. There are four ways to enter and you can enter multiple times so get on it! The contest closes April 28.

Enter to win a Huawei P10 from Modern Dad!

Modern Dad

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3 days ago

Your unlimited plan is probably ripping you off: How much data Americans actually use

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The numbers are in and you probably don't need an expensive unlimited data plan.

Unlimited data plans are back. Here's some insight into why that happened as well as a look at how much data we really use every month.

We've recently seen all four major U.S. carriers introduce or revamp their unlimited LTE data plans. Multiple times. For some of us, this is great news: The folks who use upwards of 10GB of data on a line they pay for themselves found plenty of creative ways to hold on to older unlimited data plans, and sometimes that could be a hassle. Now they are available with a click of the mouse.

Unlimited plans coming back to AT&T and Verizon are a direct result of tough competition in the industry.

This wasn't unexpected, really. Companies like T-Mobile and StraightTalk made people notice the cost vs. value proposition of a cell phone data plan. AT&T and Verizon enjoyed a consumer mindset that they offered something superior when for many, alternatives could be just as good. When people started to take notice of that, it was time for a small shake-up.

People who will utilize an unlimited data plan and get their money's worth are outliers. Everyone can have a month where they are traveling or otherwise away from Wi-Fi and use a good chunk of data, but when you look at the numbers telling how much data is used per person on average, you see that most people would be better served with a cheaper plan that offers a capped data allotment.

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The numbers back this up. According to NPD Connected Intelligence, one of the groups that your carrier and the people who made your phone use for insight into growth and planning, in 2015 the average amount of data used per person per month was about 3.5GB. During the same time period, customers on T-Mobile used an average of 5GB per month and Sprint customers used about 4GB per month; and both carriers offered unlimited data plans to any post-paid customer.

Why this is important

These are average numbers. That means that some people will be wildly outside the average on both ends: You might use 100GB of data per month but someone who uses 0.1GB per month offsets your input towards the average. An average can't predict the highest amounts of data being used (or the lowest) but it is a great way to determine how much data the average person uses each month. There's a lot of ways this data can be used and of course multiple ways it can be interpreted. For example, the average data a customer with access to an unlimited data plan uses isn't dramatically different from the amount someone without access to unlimited data is using.

People talking about new unlimited data plans means that they are doing what they were meant to do: Hype.

This means that the average person, regardless of network, doesn't need to pay for an expensive unlimited data plan. Unlimited plans are hypefests that get everyone talking about something as mundane and boring as a cellular provider. The hope is that you'll decide you need to sign up for one even though you don't need one. Sure, you might use a little more each month knowing that you have an unlimited plan, but generally, people who weren't using a large amount of data before aren't going to be using a lot of data after they switch. Old habits and all that.

None of this matters to the phone company. It has one goal: to make money. That's how business work. Every decision, every promotion, every marketing campaign and everything else is a way to try and make more money. A company won't be around for long if they aren't trying to bank a profit. And sometimes, how that profit can be shown on a quarterly earnings report matters as much as the amount that goes into the bank.

The ARPU

ARPU (Average Revenue Per Unit or User) is the total revenue coming in from the service divided by the number of subscribers. It's also a pretty big deal in shareholder's reports and earning's calls.

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ARPU is a number that translates into the amount of money a single line of service brings in over a set time. There can be a monthly ARPU or quarterly or yearly. This number includes all the money you pay to your carrier minus tax and regulatory fees. That means things like extras you may be paying for (international calling or live TV for mobile devices) are included as well as your normal contract or monthly price. The ARPU is an easy way for a company to track its income and growth over time, and each customer who pays for an expensive unlimited data plan brings this average up in a way that's statistically significant.

There is more than one way to count money.

Your carrier wants you to be excited about, and ultimately sign up for, an unlimited data plan because of how it affects the bottom line as well as how much.

Another way your phone company looks at their finances is with an eye towards profit instead of just income. The profit from a customer can be more important than the overall income generated from one. A company can be healthy and profitable even with a low customer count, or vice versa. We see this in action when companies give earnings results.

Income and profit are always two different numbers.

Consider a hypothetical that's not too far removed from actuality. T-Mobile keeps pulling more and more customers away from Verizon. But Verizon is making more money and has a higher value. That means Verizon is making more profit per customer than T-Mobile.

Calculating profit is pretty simple. The service an account uses is tallied then compared to the amount of income that account generates each month. If you sign up for an unlimited data plan and still only use 3-5GB of data per month, you help improve profit margins. All accounts are profitable, but some will be more profitable than others.

Don't hate the players

We're not trying to say your carrier is bad or unethical here. This is just how business works when it comes to a service provider.

Your phone company is supposed to make money if everyone is doing their job.

They need to offer you something that you feel is worth the monthly cost. If that means an unlimited data plan sounds like a good idea to you, one is available for you. With the U.S. telco market becoming more and more competitive it was a given that all companies would offer a fixed service that included unlimited data for a fixed cost. Users who needed such a plan would sign on and help improve that income per customer metric and users who didn't need an unlimited plan but signed up for other reasons helped improve the profit per user metric. This is how smart business works and the people in charge at your carrier are smart business persons.

The one thing to take away here is asking yourself how much data you need every month. No one answer fits everyone, but there is an answer that fits you. Compare how much you need to how much you're paying for, and then check out what's available. A final metric that's harder to measure is how happy a customer is because happy customers are loyal customers. Make sure you're using a service that works best for you and makes you be that happy customer.

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3 days ago

Best Accessories for the LG G6

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Get the most out of your LG G6 with these great accessories!

Update April 26: Added new charging accessories and case options.

The LG G6 is a compelling flagship for 2017. Featuring a premium build design and a generous 5.7-inch screen, the LG G6 is a very beautiful and capable phone that you can enhance with the right accessories.

We'll start off with some cases and screen protectors to keep your phone safe, then move on to some great charging options to make sure you never run out of battery during the day.

Spigen Rugged Armor

Spigen's Rugged Armor case is always a great option to protect your new phone, so of course we're going to recommend it for your LG G6.

This one-piece case offers great protection for your phone while keeping a mostly sleek and slim profile. Made of flexible and durable TPU material that makes it easy to install, it's got a premium look to it with carbon fiber textures at the top and bottom on the back. Featuring cutouts around the camera and fingerprint scanner on the back, and with tactile buttons for the volume control on the side, this case feels natural in hand while ensuring all your phone's functionality remains intact.

For a stylish case that offers quality protection, get the Spigen Rugged Armor case for your G6.

See at Amazon

SUPCASE Full body Rugged Holster Case for LG G6

If keeping your new investment in good condition is important, you'll want to slap a rugged case on your phone. SUPCASE provides some of the sturdiest cases you'll find for smartphones, so you can buy with confidence here.

SUPCASE offers full protection for your phone, with a front plate that includes a built-in screen protector and port covers for the headphone jack and charging port. Made from a combination of TPU and polycarbonate materials, your phone will be protected from anything life throws your way.

Ideal for heavy use and outdoorsmen, it also ships with a 360-degree swiveling belt clip holster so your phone is always within arms reach.

See at Amazon

Trianium Clarium Series Case

A clear case offer great protection for your LG G6 while providing a mostly unobstructed view of the LG G6

Trianium's Clarium Series cases are sleek and as minimalist as it gets, so if those are important features in a case for you, you'll definitely want to check it out. Your phone will get the all-around protection you want from this slim case that also perfectly preserves the look of your LG G6. It's thin enough to work with wireless charging pads no problem, and should also work with charging docks as well.

See at Amazon

For more great case options for your LG G6:

The best cases for LG G6


Tronsmart Dual USB Car Charger w/ Quick Charge 3.0 technology

Tronsmart's car charger with a built-in USB-C cable is a great option for keeping your LG G6 juiced while on the road.

The built-in USB-C cable is convenient, since you'll never need to remember your cable each time you drive. The included USB Type-A port is handy for charging another device at the same time via Quick Charge 2.0 or 3.0.

If you need a car charger that to keep your LG G6 charged when you're on the go, check out the Tronsmart 33W dual USB charger.

See at Amazon

Spigen Tempered Glass Screen Protector

Spigen's tempered glass screen protectors are available in a very affordable two-pack, which will let you keep that brand new LG G6 screen protected right out of the box.

This screen protector will cover the entirety of the screen while still remaining case friendly. This is a dry install screen protector with everything you need for a clean, dust-free installation on your first attempt included in the package. You can buy with confidence knowing that Spigen offers a lifetime warranty for any product defects.

See at Amazon

Samsung EVO+ 256GB microSD card

The LG G6 offers storage expansion up to 2TB via microSD. While a 2TB microSD card doesn't yet exist, it's good to know that this phone is virtually future-proof when it comes to storage.

For now, your best bet for expanding your phone's storage is Samsung's 256GB EVO+ microSD card. Featuring read speeds of up to 95MB/sec and write speeds up to 90MB/sec, this card is plenty fast enough to handle storing all the photos and videos you take with your G6, while also letting you load up all your favorite media so you have your favorite music and movies with you on the go.

At over $150, it might be too pricey for some, and that's ok. Check out our other MicroSD card recommendations for your Android phone.

See at Amazon

Anker Micro-USB to USB-C adapter (2-pack)

If the LG G6 is your first Android phone that relies on USB-C charging cables, chances are you've got a stockpile of Micro-USB cables laying around that are about to become fairly obsolete. If you want to be able to use your old Micro-USB cables with the G6, you'll want to pick up this two-pack of Anker adapters. They're cheap and will get the job done, especially if you've got chargers or devices that have integrated cables you can't easily swap out.

See at Amazon

Anker PowerPort Qi 10 Wireless Charging Pad

The U.S. variant of the LG G6 is the only model that supports Qi wireless charging. If you want to take advantage of this exclusive feature, you'll need a wireless charging pad.

The Anker PowerPort Qi 10 wireless charging pad is your best bet. It's simple to use with a premium design that features breathing LEDs to indicate your devices' charging status. The non-slip pad keeps your phone secure while it your phone takes advantage of Fast Charge Mode, which delivers 10W charging to your LG G6. All this comes with the advanced safety features you demand to ensure your phone doesn't overheat and is protected from short-circuits and electrical surges.

You will need to supply your own wall charger, (of course, Anker recommends their own for guaranteed compatibility) but if you've got a couple spares already kicking around they should work just fine.

See at Amazon

Dretal Desktop Charging Dock

Looking to incorporate your phone into your workspace set up while simultaneously keeping it fully charged when it's time to go? You need a desktop charging dock.

This charging dock from Dretal will keep your LG G6 topped up and propped up, helping to eliminate stray cables on your workspace and declutter your desk. The dock lets you watch videos or control your music while providing a good viewing angle for keeping tabs on any incoming calls or messages as you work. Also works great as a nightstand charger.

The design makes it incompatible with most cases, but it will work with slim cases like the Spigen Thin Fit. Simply pop it onto the USB-C connector at the base and you're good to go. It's available in five different color options, so you can pick one to match your phone or your desk color scheme.

See at Amazon

What are your favorite accessories?

Got any opinions on the products we've highlighted here? Anything we missed? Let us know in the comments!

LG G6

Verizon Sprint T-Mobile AT&T B&H

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3 days ago

Google Home hoping to improve the kitchen with 'start cooking' command

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We could all use an extra kitchen helper.

Google Home already had independent cooking and recipe integrations available, but is now trying to roll things up into a single place with the launch of a "start cooking" command. You simply pick a recipe from several sources on your phone via Google Assistant, select "Send to Google Home" and it'll be waiting there whenever you are ready to start cooking.

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3 days ago

Amazon's $199 Echo Look wants to watch you get dressed in your bedroom

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This really doesn't seem like a good idea.

Amazon's Echo platform is surely considered a success at this point, but Amazon is clearly interested in pushing on to new form factors and use cases with its artificial intelligence. The latest iteration is an altogether new type of gadget: a camera-enabled device called "Echo Look" that's specifically targeting those who aim to leave the house dressed fashionably.

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3 days ago

The five things you MUST do with your phone

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You know someone who treats their phone poorly, don't you. It's OK. ... We can fix that!

It's that time of year when we start to get all the hot new phones. (And our kids start asking when they're going to get one. Thanks, TV ads ...) So I'm going to take a look at the best of the best. Or the least best of the best. Or maybe just some weird stuff. We'll see. More on that in the coming days.

First, though: Five things that all folks need to do with their phones. For a lot of you reading this, they'll be old hat. But I'm always surprised at how many folks don't use No. 3. ... And you can't walk down the street without running into someone who has never thought to do No. 5. (Hell, there's a chance you're living with someone like that, too!)

Next: ICYMI, I'm giving away a Huawei P10, and you still have a few days left to enter!

Finally: Be sure to subscribe!

Modern Dad

img { width: 100%; height: auto; } .devicebox ul { display: table; margin: 0 0 10px; width: 100%; } .devicebox ul li { background: #f7f7f7; margin: 2px 0; padding: 4px 15px; } .devicebox ul li:hover { background: #fff; } .devicebox ul li:before { display: none; } .devicebox p ~ p { line-height: 1.25; } .devicebox p:first-of-type + p { padding: 15px; } .devicebox a.buy-link { border-radius: 5px; display: inline-block; font: 14px/31px "Proxima Nova Extrabld",Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; text-align: center; } .devicebox a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:link, .devicebox a.buy-link:active, .devicebox a.buy-link:visited { background: #37B5D7; color: #FFF; } .devicebox a.buy-link:hover { background: #2694B2; text-decoration: none; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { content: "\e61e"; font: 40px/0 "ac_iconset" !important; margin: 0 3px 0 -8px; vertical-align: middle; } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { /* div:not(.columns-3) excludes help menu content */ .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p img, .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 660px) { .devicebox h3 { text-align: center; } .devicebox ul, .devicebox p { display: block; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox p img, .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 661px), all and (max-width: 500px) { /* 2x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(even) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) { width: 100%; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 659px) and (min-width: 501px) { /* 3x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(100%/3 - 10px/3); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n):not(:nth-last-of-type(2)) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:only-child { width: 100%; margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(odd) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } } @media all and (max-width: 500px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { display: none; } } .page-admin .devicebox {max-width: 350px;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe {position: relative; height: 0; padding-bottom: 56.9%;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe iframe {width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

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3 days ago

Galaxy S8 security: Which unlocking method should you use?

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The Galaxy S8 comes with several different ways to lock your phone. But they aren't all equal when it comes to keeping snooping eyes out of your stuff.

We think everyone should lock their phone and be sure to enable a find my phone feature that can erase it if it gets lost or stolen. This is the best way to make sure someone can't just pick it up and rifle through all your stuff. The Galaxy S8 has a handful of different ways to do it and they are a great balance of convenience versus security. We're here to help you pick the best method for you.

Passwords and PINs

This is always the best way to make sure only you can unlock your phone, but they are also the least convenient method and require you to type your passcode every time you need to look at the screen if your phone was locked.

If you use your phone for business or just have stuff on it that you think is worth protecting the best way you can, you'll want to use a password. Always use a strong password and follow a few basic steps:

  • Don't use a single word no matter how obscure you think it is.
  • Choose a password that's a minimum of eight characters.
  • Use numbers, special characters and both upper and lower case letters.
  • If you need to write it down just in case, don't write it on something you carry with you. Phones and backpacks get stolen, unfortunately.

You can use a password generator if you want something completely random. A strong password on an encrypted phone is a tough nut to crack even for law enforcement, so it's also difficult for you to bypass it. Do what you need to do so you remember it.

Your birthday makes a horrible PIN so don't use it.

If a company issued your phone to you they might have specific requirements or give you a password. Treat it the same way and don't write it down on a slip of paper in your wallet or purse.

For most practical purposes a 6-digit PIN is almost as good as a full-on password but has the bonus of being easier to remember. Just don't pick any number attached to you like a birthdate or numbers from another ID.

Biometrics

Samsung introduced the iris scanner with the Note 7 and improved it for the Galaxy S8. For the most part, it's a secure way to unlock your phone.

The mix of convenience and security makes fingerprints or your iris a good choice for locking your phone.

More testing needs to be done but it seems like it's difficult to "fake" your phone into unlocking with a photo of your eye. The iris scanner uses more than just photo matching here. In any case, the chances someone else would have a high-resolution photo of your eye to use and unlock your phone is pretty slim, so even if it can be done it probably won't happen in the real world. Plenty of people love the ease and speed of unlocking their Galaxy S8 using their eyes so you definitely need to give it a try.

The fingerprint scanner is still there, but it's been moved to the back. It works the same way fingerprint sensors work on most high-end phones and provided you take the time to set it up carefully it's a convenient way to unlock the screen without having to type anything.

One thing to know about both of these methods is that in some places law enforcement can force you to unlock your phone using a fingerprint or iris. Regardless of how you feel about this issue, you need to know that it's possible.

How to set up the fingerprint scanner on the Galaxy S8

Because they offer a nice mix of convenience and security, we think using your iris or fingerprint is one of the best ways to secure your lock screen.

Face unlock: convenience above all

You can also use your face or a pattern to unlock your phone. Just know that Google and Samsung both acknowledge that these methods are fairly easy to bypass.

Face unlock can be fooled, but only by someone who already has a high-resolution photo of your face.

Face unlock on the Galaxy S8 has been refined over the way it's done in stock Android, but it's still pretty easy to get around. This is because it's simply matching certain features and areas of your face that it has stored during setup with what it sees in the camera. A high-resolution photo is good enough to fool face unlocking. One thing that doesn't get mentioned when people talk about bypassing face unlock is that chances are someone who finds or steals your phone won't have a high-resolution full-size photo of your head. While it's not very secure, not having access to that photo makes that a moot point.

Pattern unlock isn't insecure by nature. Drawing a pattern between nine random dots has plenty of combinations and isn't going to be easy to guess without special equipment. But your fingers make it pretty easy: they leave a trail of grease.

Your skin secretes natural oils to keep it from turning into leather. We've all seen how a phone screen can be smudgy and icky from fingerprints, and when you are tracing the same pattern to unlock your phone all day that leaves a nice trail for someone to follow with their finger. It's not easy to do, but you can do it on your friend's phone if you try a couple of times. And you can bet that thieves know to look for the tell tail smudge lines when they nab an Android phone.

Smart Lock

Smart Lock is the easiest of all ways to unlock your phone because it's automatic.

Smart Lock works for anyone when it's within range.

Using your location or a Bluetooth device like a key fob or wearable, you can set your phone to stay unlocked under certain conditions. When you want to use it the power button takes you right to your home screen or a swipe to unlock screen.

Smart Lock is a great way to unlock for people who have a smartwatch or a Fitbit. It's accurate and doesn't drain the battery very much. Just remember that anyone with your watch or within Bluetooth range can unlock your phone.

Using Smart Lock on the Galaxy S8: Everything you need to know

Your choice

Locks were invented to keep honest people out of things. We can never depend on a lock screen to guard our privacy alone, but it is part of the basics and something everyone should be doing. Just remember that there is always someone working on bypassing any security feature and we don't have to make it easy for the bad guys. Or sneaky little brothers or roomies.

How do you lock your phone? Are you digging the iris scanner or improved face unlock on the Galaxy S8? Holler in the comments and let us know!

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint

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3 days ago

Google-branded headphones pass through the FCC, and they're ... uninspiring

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Google could be expanding its accessory lineup, but these don't fill us with confidence.

Fun stuff pops up at the FCC from time to time while it's being certified for use in the U.S., and the latest bit of hardware is Google-branded over-the-ear headphones. The grey-and-black cans have a little Google branding flare and appear to have a touch-sensitive area for at least power. Around the sides you see a pretty standard arrangements of ports and buttons ... but yes there's a Micro-USB port there, which is odd.

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3 days ago

Give yourself a digital green thumb with these garden wallpapers!

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Gardens are gorgeous.

Gardens have long been a critical part of society. Gardening was one of the first domestic tasks that early humans used to break out of the hunter-gatherer routine, to cultivate food and enable them to settle in one place with a stable supply of food. Even though most people do not need to garden for survival anymore, gardens are an activity that millions around the world still do for a variety of reasons.

Many people find gardening calming. Some consider it an investment in their home's beauty. Some just want fresh tomatoes for making salads and salsas and covering every freaking counter in the house with a bumper crop. Some of us just want something green and natural in our lives, and even if you can't have a glorious, glorious garden, you can get some of that beauty in your life with a garden-fresh wallpaper.

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3 days ago

Grab three of these USB-C adapters for just $7 right now!

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Our friends at Thrifter are back again, this time with a deal to make your transition to USB-C even easier!

Aukey is currently offering a three-pack of its Micro-USB to USB-C adapters for just $7 with coupon code AUKUSBC6, a savings of $3. With these adapters, you can turn those old cables you have laying around into something that can charge your new Samsung Galaxy S8, LG G6, Google Pixel or other compatible phone. The adapters are quite small so you could easily fit them in your pocket or maybe even your wallet, and always have one with you so you are never without a cable to charge up with.

Odds are this deal won't hang around too long, so be sure to act quickly if you are interested. Don't get stuck with only old cables around and a dead battery! Grab these adapters now and thank yourself later. Be sure to also check out Aukey's Quick Charge 2.0 wall charger for just $6 with coupon code YCRIFFDN for a great way to charge multiple devices quickly from a single outlet!

See at Amazon

For more great deals on tech, gadgets, home goods and more, be sure to check out our friends at Thrifter now!

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3 days ago

Best Wall Outlets with Charging Ports

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Best Wall Outlets with Charging Ports

What's the best wall outlet with USB ports?

At this point, most households have some sort of portable device that requires charging, whether it's a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or vape (AKA douche flute). Sometimes you have to negotiate between leaving a lamp and TV plugged in or having a charged phone. You can save yourself the annoyance by picking up a wall outlet with USB ports. That way you can charge your devices while leaving all the appliances and other electronics plugged in.

Here are the best wall outlets with charging ports.

Topgreener TU21548A Smart Dual USB Charger Outlet

Topgreener TU21548A Smart Dual USB Charger Outlet

Topgreener's USB wall outlet is The Wirecutter's number one pick and one of the best-reviewed USB outlets on Amazon. This 4.8A/5V, 24W outlet features two USB-A ports that are able to read the power needs of your devices and maximize charging accordingly in order to charge them as quickly as possible (up to Quick Charge C 3.0 speeds).

Each power outlet is tamper-resistant, preventing objects from being jammed inside, meeting safety standards. As a bonus, these outlets come with three click-on colored faceplates in black, white, and almond.

See at Amazon


Leviton T5632-W

Leviton T5632-W

Leviton's USB outlets are available in seven colors and offer 3.6A of charging power from each USB port. These ports recognize device and optimize charging speeds accordingly. The Leviton T5632-W is easy to install, thanks to its back and side wiring, and you can buy them individually, in a two-pack, or in an eight-pack.

See at Amazon


Sunco Lighting USB charger and duplex receptacle

Sunco lighting

Sunco's outlets push 3.1A (not quite Quick Charge 3.0 speeds), allowing you to charge two devices at the same time. They're back- and side-wired for easy installation and come with a five-year warranty. The main power outlets are tamper-resistant, so young'uns won't be able to shove forks in.

Sunco outlets come in packs of 2, 4, 6, and 10.

See at Amazon


Seckatech LD-U001

Seckatech LD-U001

Seckatech's outlets offer 4.2A at 5V (up to Quick Charge 3.0 speeds) from the USB ports, offering optimal charging conditions for Quick Charge and regular devices, thanks to their ability to read charging needs from each device. The 15A power outlets are tamper-resistant and Seckatech provides you with free wall plates. A two-year warranty is included should anything go awry.

See at Amazon


Topgreener TU21548AC

Topgreener TU21548AC

If you'd like an outlet with a USB-C port, then go with Topgreener's TU21548AC. It features one USB-C port and a USB-A port, each capable of charging at up to 4.8A/5V (up to Quick Charge 3.0 speeds), as well as two 15A/125V power outlets. Each USB port is able to discern the charging needs of each device you plug in, and Topgreener even provides you with a free 3.3-foot USB-C to USB-C cable.

See at Amazon


Cable Matters 6-outlet wall mount

Cable Matters 6-outlet wall mount

If you don't want to replace your in-wall sockets and just want something you can plug in on the fly, check out Cable Matters' 6-outlet wall mount, which features six power outlets and two USB-A ports, which provide up to 2.4A (up to Quick Charge 2.0 speeds) and are protected by a surge suppressor. All outlets are powered by a single connection to your wall outlet, and you get a two-pack of Micro-USB cables for free.

See at Amazon


Belkin BSV300ttCW

Belkin BSV300ttCW

Belkin's plug-in outlet features three power outlets and two USB-A ports, which can charge at 2.4A (up to Quick Charge 2.0 speeds). You can charge two devices simultaneously, and you can rest one on top of the outlet in the built-in groove, so you don't have to awkwardly prop your phone up against the wall or leave it precariously on the floor.

You can also choose one power outlets, two outlets, or six.

See at Amazon

Do you have wall outlets with USB ports in them?

Which ones? Let us know in the comments below.

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3 days ago

How to fix Audio Sync issues on your Gear VR!

Audio issues can make games and experiences much less enjoyable but there are ways to deal with it.

The point of VR is to be able to completely immerse yourself in an experience, right? Whether you're gunning down enemies in Gunjack, or enjoying some 360 degree videos, audio is an integral part of the package. So what do you do when the audio isn't syncing up correctly with video inside of your Gear VR? Have no fear, we've got you covered.

Read more at VRHeads.com

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3 days ago

Best sports games for Android

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Get your game on — even in the offseason — with the best sports games available for Android.

Update April 26: Our list has been updated for 2017 with the latest and greatest sports games!

After a few golden years of fantastic entries, it seems that sports games, too, have all but succumbed to the freemium model. There's far too few quality sports games out there that just let you jump into the game without having to deal with player cards, upgrades or waiting for 'stamina meters' to refill. Nearly all the top mobile sports game franchises have switched over to a team building system that requires you to unlock (or buy) card packs to upgrade your team.

But there are still great games to be played! We're covering the five major North American sports here — football, basketball, baseball, hockey, and, ahem, soccer — with two options for each. The first will typically be more sim-based for the hardcore sports fan, while the second is a more arcade-like option for casual players.

Madden NFL Mobile

Football fans know that Madden is king on consoles, and despite the freemium, card-collecting gameplay at the core of the Android version, Madden NFL Mobile still reigns supreme on the mobile gridiron as well.

Yes, you're stuck building your team through opening card packs, which can be bought with in-game coins or purchased with real cash. Fortunately, there's a number of ways to earn in-game currency: Head-to-head match-ups against other users where you exchange offensive drives, a single-player season mode where you play out through a full season against CPU opponents, and multiple daily live events to test your skills. The live events offer some nice nostalgia for those who remember the mini camp drills from Madden 2004. On the field, the touch controls are on point and while the graphics are understandably a far cry from those found on the latest PlayStation and Xbox editions, they're more than serviceable for the bite-sized football action Madden NFL Mobile provides.

Madden NFL Mobile provides good fun whether during halftime or break time at work — as long as you don't mind being slightly bogged down by the collectibles aspect.

Download: Madden NFL Mobile (Free, with IAPs)

Football Heroes Pro 2017

Football Heroes Pro 2017 is a full-fledged arcade football game, licensed by the NFLPA. Unlike the more realistic sim-style of Madden, it provides a casual football experience (think Tecmo Bowl) in your down time when you're all caught up with the real games. Players build and train their own team with their favorite real-life players and unlock new plays by opening card packs. Premium currency can be used to buy card packs, though you're also able to buy packs with coins earned from winning and by leveling up your players. Gameplay-wise, this one features a lot of button mashing for tackling and breaking tackles.

For those looking for a casual football game to kill time during commercial breaks, Football Heroes Pro 2017 has plenty to offer.

Download: Football Heros Pro 2017 (Free, with IAPs)

FIFA Mobile Soccer

The FIFA games for mobile used to stand out as one of the best investments available in the paid app section of the Google Play Store, with FIFA 13 remaining one of the best mobile games I've ever played. Sadly, EA has shifted to a freemium model with the entire focus of the game being on building your own Ultimate Team.

While I personally feel like the change in format is a disservice to players, the game itself still plays like a dream and will surely keep any footy fans addicted for some time. There are four game modes to choose from: you start out with Live Events and Attack Mode, and unlock Leagues and Season once your profile reaches level 5. Live Events throw you into different drills and game situations where you can unlock coins, XP, and specific card packs. Attack Mode pits you against other players around the world in turn-based gameplay where you're each given time on offence to rack up as many goals as you can (hence the name). The newest addition is Leagues, which lets you start or join your own global league consisting of other players. It's both competitive and cooperative, as you can either compete in a league tournament or collectively challenge another league. Season mode is the single-player mode you've come to expect, but you'll need to maintain an internet connection to play FIFA Mobile, even in single player mode.

While FIFA Mobile is missing the freedom to play as you like from previous editions, it's still the best footy game you can play on Android.

Download: FIFA Mobile (Free, with IAPs)

Score! Hero

For something a little different, look no further than Score! Hero. Instead of putting you in charge of building a team, you create your own player and work your way through a professional career from rookie to legend.

Another difference from other games is the way you control the action. Instead of the free-flowing action found elsewhere, you only take over once your team has control of the ball. Play freezes, waiting for you to swipe at the ball to take your shot or pass to a teammate. It's an interesting dynamic that really highlights the strategic elements of soccer and a nice change of pace. Each level sets up the game situation and gives you your mission for completing it, but if the defending team intercepts or otherwise gains control of the ball, you're forced to restart the level or spends some of your in-app funds to use a rewind to redo your last kick. Sometimes your mission involves scoring back-to-back goals which make those rewinds extra tempting, but you'll want to avoid relying on them unless you're intending on dropping real cash into the game. All told, Score! Hero features 420 levels to play through. Can you beat them all?

Download: Score! Hero (Free, with IAPs)

NBA Live Mobile

Another sport, another EA Sports title. If you're a fan of NBA Live on consoles, or even the NBA 2K franchise, you'll likely dig the mobile offering. Again, with every other sports title offered by EA this year around, there's the unavoidable emphasis on card collecting to unlock players. If your sensibilities are offended by that, you'll want to look elsewhere.

Otherwise, what you get here is a pretty solid. Dive into daily live events, or challenge other players around the world to a head-to-head challenge where you go back and forth playing one quarter at a time. Season mode lets you play a full NBA season with your team, all the way through to the NBA Championships. Once you've reached level 5, you unlock Leagues, which lets you start up a league for you and all your friends, or join a random league. They operate similar to clans and allow for friendly matches between other league members, or for interleague showdowns. Another neat feature of leagues is if someone in your league makes an in-app purchase, everyone in the league gets a free gift — essentially an added incentive to engage in that freemium model.

Download: NBA Live Mobile (Free, with IAPs)

NBA Jam

NBA Jam has been available on Android since October 2010, and yet it still remains as one of the most polished and fun sports games you can play on the platform.

This remake of the 90s classic features all the fast-paced two-on-two action you remember from back in the day, with upgraded graphics including hilarious big head animations for every player in the game. Touch controls are simple and responsive, making it super easy to set up an epic alley-oop, or sink three shots in a row and hear Tim Kitzrow — the original NBA JAM commentator — yell his infamous line, "HE'S ON FIRE!"

There are four modes of play and no in-app purchases or currencies to deal with, so you can jump into a game right away. On top of quick matches and a Classic Campaign where you can unlock legendary players and other goodies, you can play online (but good luck finding a random opponent) or with a friend over local Wi-Fi.

If you're an NBA fan or a fan of the original game, NBA Jam should be a mainstay on your Android device.

Download: NBA Jam ($4.99)

MLB Nine Innings 2017

The 9 Innings franchise has been a very popular game on Android over the years, and the latest edition might be the best yet. The game features all 30 MLB ballparks and over 800 players, which have been carefully rendered in 3D for a very authentic gameplay experience.

There's a number of ways to play depending on how much free time you have. You can jump into an exhibition game or play your way through a full season with options to play bat/pitch only or take control of both sides of the game. The game also features a unique "Live Player System", which will accurately reflect the real-life performance and value of MLB players throughout the season.

You're also tasked with collecting your favorite players and building your dream team which, coupled with the free-to-play model, means you're going to have to deal with in-app purchases. If you can get past that, you should have a great time playing this game throughout the season.

Download: MLB Nine Innings 2017 (Free w/IAPs)

R.B.I. Baseball 17

If you're looking to play full baseball games on your Android device without being pestered with in-app purchase offers, R.B.I. Baseball 17 is your best bet. This paid app was developed by the MLB and is also available on PS4 and Xbox One.

While the game might feel a little lacking on the consoles, it looks and plays quite nicely on Android, featuring beautifully rendered stadiums and all 30 MLB teams available with regularly updated rosters. Choose your preferred game mode and play a quick exhibition game, take your favorite team through a full season, or jump right into the heat of the post-season.

This game is fairly optimized for mobile gaming, allowing you to play a full nine-inning game in under 20 minutes with intuitive two-button on-screen controls. Keep in mind that all those pretty graphics requires a fairly modern phone to play it, which means R.B.I. Baseball 17 only supports devices with memory/processor comparable to the Samsung Galaxy S5 and up.

This game will set you back $4.99 in the app store but in exchange, you won't have to deal with clunky free-to-play game mechanics.

Download: R.B.I. Baseball 17 ($4.99)

Matt Duchene Hockey Classic

For whatever reason, EA Sports' has not ported their celebrated NHL franchise for consoles over to mobile platforms. It's a shame, but Matt Duchene Hockey Classic might be the next best thing.

The latest in a line of games attached to rising NHL players (previously Patrick Kane), Matt Duchene Hockey Classic is free to try but you only get Team Finland and Team Sweden when you download it from the Google Play Store. Fortunately, you'll need to pay a very reasonable price to unlock the full game, which includes 60 teams and a plethora of game modes including playoffs, outdoor games and "Hockey Giants", which is essentially big head mode. As you might have noticed from the title, this game isn't officially licensed by the NHL, so while, for instance, the team from Boston wears black and yellow jerseys there are no logos nor are there any active rosters. It's also a bit of a resource hog. You'll definitely notice some sluggish moments if you play on an older device. But considering the lack of options for full-featured hockey games on Android, Matt Duchene Hockey Classic delivers as well as you'd expect.

Download: Matt Duchene Hockey Classic (Free, with IAP to unlock full game)

Hockey Hero

Hockey Hero is an outlier on this list, as it's not exactly a traditional sports game — more a sports-themed entry if anything. However, with its charming retro graphics, simple gameplay, and minimal ads, it's a great break from the rest of the titles on this list.

The concept is both wacky and simple — tap and hold to control the hockey hero, who must deftly deke past wave after wave of opposing players who are looking for a fight. If you lift your finger off, time slows down allowing you to determine the clear path between defenders. You move on an endless sheet of ice comprised of multiple hockey rinks attached end-to-end so that once you've skated to the end of one rink and scored, you immediately skate on towards the next rink. It's a silly and fun concept for an endless runner style and is a great game you can just pick up and play whenever you have some free time. As you progress further, you unlock different jerseys for your hockey hero, giving you goals to work towards.

Hockey Hero is far from a traditional sports title, but with its simple controls and fun concept, it's definitely worth checking out.

Download: Hockey Hero (Free, with IAPs)

Golf Star

Hit the links in Golf Star, the best golf game for Android!

This game features great graphics and easy controls. Customize your golfer and jump into Career Mode and hone your skills. It's going to take you a bit of time to figure out the intricacies of the physics and how to properly read the greens and aim your putts, but you'll pick it up in no time.

Beyond the single-player Career Mode, there are a couple of different ways to play against friends and other online opponents. Tournament Mode lets you compete in one-on-one competitions against live opponents. More game modes are unlocked as you progress your character from beginner to amateur — all the way until you achieve pro status.

Win and you'll earn rewards, which can also be bought via in-app purchases. Golf Star also requires you to spend a certain amount of hearts each time you play, which you'll need to wait to regenerate. If you're alright with dealing with those free-to-play mechanics, you're sure to enjoy Golf Star for Android.

Download: Golf Star (Free w/IAPs)

What did we miss?

There's a ton of sports games in the Google Play Store but if we're completely honest, most of them aren't worth your time. If you think we missed one that should absolutely be on our list, let us know in the comments!

Android Gaming

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3 days ago

Galaxy Note 8 could be T-Mobile's coverage secret weapon this fall

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Samsung and T-Mobile are scheming to promote the company's upcoming coverage boost.

The Galaxy Note 8 will likely be the first phone to feature an upgraded version of the modem inside Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 platform boasting support for the 600MHz spectrum that T-Mobile just spent $8 billion to acquire.

During its first quarter earnings call this week, the company's CTO Neville Ray revealed that the first 600MHz-supported handsets will be available "before the end of the year," and the Samsung will be the first out of the gate. Other manufacturers like LG, with its V30, will also likely support the new technology.

The net benefit for T-Mobile, as it steals more customers from Verizon and AT&T, is the ability to reach customers in more rural areas, since airwaves over 600MHz travel further. Until now, most low-band spectrum has been largely held by Verizon and AT&T, so T-Mobile is understandably excited about the prospect of taking on its biggest rivals in parts of the U.S. where its coverage has been either weak or non-existent.

T-Mobile is also launching service in the unlicensed spectrum space, which allows the company to aggregate traditionally non-cellular spectrum in the 5GHz space with licensed spectrum in lower bands for much faster speeds. The company is already testing LTE-U in certain parts of the country, and plans to experiment with another unlicensed standard called LAA, or Licensed-Assisted Access, with the intention of rolling it out more substantively in 2018 and 2019. The Galaxy S8 is the first phone in the U.S. to support LTE-U on T-Mobile's network.

Going back to the Galaxy Note 8, though — even if it's released later than it was last year, pushed up by the Galaxy S8's debut, it would likely still be out in September, which would give T-Mobile plenty of marketing opportunities to promote its improved rural coverage (and better nationwide coverage overall) for the all-important holiday season. T-Mobile added over a million new customers this past quarter, mainly at the expense of AT&T and Verizon, so it will be interesting to see whether, when it can truly compete on a network level, the momentum can be maintained.

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3 days ago

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