Recent Articles | Android Central

Order Samsung Galaxy S8: AT&T | Verizon | T-Mobile | Sprint

Headlines

3 days ago

Best Car Mounts for Google Pixel

73

What's the best car mount for Google Pixel?

Update April 22: Added the Spigen Style Ring to the list!

The Google Pixel and Pixel XL are gorgeous and you're going to want to hold onto them all the time, but that's just plain unsafe when you're driving — and depending where you live, it's often illegal! You need to pick up a great car mount, and we have some favorites to share with you!

Read more and comment

 
4 days ago

Get a lifetime subscription to premium web development courses for $50

0

A career in web development is a career well-invested in in today's marketplace. Many companies are moving to an entirely online business model, and if you're looking for job security, you'll want to get in on the development side if you're at all interested. Or maybe you're already a developer, but you have been for 20 years and haven't really kept up with current technology and trends.

Update your web dev skills for $50 Learn more

Going back to school can be costly and probably isn't the most efficient way to use your time, especially if you're already in a full-time career. You need online courses that you can access from anywhere, at any time, on your own time. But those can be expensive as well, so where do you look?

Look at Android Central Digital Offers and look at the SitePoint Premium Courses Lifetime Subscription. You'll gain access to over 80 ebooks, 70 courses, and 300 tutorials, covering everything from coding in CSS, HTML, JavaScript, and more to key coding frameworks and libraries, like jQuery, Node, TypeScript, and more. You get a lifetime subscription to all of this content for $49.99. These courses and ebooks together generally retail for $450, but at Android Central Digital Offers, you save 88%.

The best part of this bundle is that new content is uploaded monthly, and you'll get unlimited downloads for all the ebooks, courses, and tutorials that come out. Learning all these new skills is imperative if you want to keep competitive in today's business world, so you'll also learn about Google Maps API and how to manipulate HTML5 video with JavaScript, as well as a host of other new techniques. And, of course, you'll be educated on the essentials, like WordPress, Git, project management, and more.

Update your web dev skills for $50 Learn more

If you want to stay relevant in the web development world, you need to update your skills and learn the latest techniques. Check out SitePoint Premium Courses, but don't check them out for $450. Check out a lifetime subscription at Android Central Digital Offers for $49.99.

Read more and comment

 
4 days ago

How to back up your music files to your computer or online storage

How to back up your music files to your computer or online storage

How do I transfer music from my Android phone to my computer?

Updated April 2017: This post was updated to make sure it has the best ways to transfer your music from your Android.

If you have all your beloved music on your Android phone, then it's probably a good idea to back it up, especially if you plan on buying a new phone. You can choose to back up your music to a computer or you can back it up to the cloud so that you can access it from virtually any device (pun intended).

We have a few apps that we like to use to make backing up music easier. Here's how to backup your music (just in case).

How to back up your music files to online storage

Backing up your music to the cloud is the first logical step if you want to make sure that if your phone craps out, your music doesn't go down the toilet with it. There are two awesome apps you can use that your music files can follow you wherever you go.

Google Drive

Google Drive

Google Drive is where it's at when it comes to file storage. You get 15GB of free storage space! Depending on file sizes, 15GB is nearly 4,000 songs. Just like Dropbox, Google Drive is ubiquitous; if you have a device with an internet connection, you can access your Google Drive, thanks to the cloud. If you have a Gmail account, then you have Google Drive.

You can listen to the music you upload right in Google Drive or you can download it for offline listening and you bet your sweet patoot that you can share anything and everything via a link to that file or folder, even with non-Google users (the heathens!).

If your Android phone didn't come with Google Drive, it's a free download on the Google Play Store.

To set it up, you just sign in with your Gmail address and password. From there, you just tap the big ol' + button to upload files or folders. To upload music, just choose Audio from the list of options. You can upload as many songs as you'd like (or your 15GB limit will allow). If your Google Drive starts to fill up, just download files to your computer and transfer them to an external hard drive, if that's your fancy.

To access Google Drive on your computer, just hit up drive.google.com and sign in. You'll walked through a simple setup process and then you'll be ready to go. Google Drive is seamless, so you can enjoy your favorite music on just about any device.

Dropbox

Dropbox

A basic Dropbox account is free and comes with 2GB of storage. All you need to sign up is an email address and a pocket full of dreams (pocket full of dreams is optional). Visit Dropbox.com, enter your name, email and a password and you're on your way.

2GB isn't exactly a ton of storage, so you may want to download music to your computer as you transfer more into your Dropbox folder.

Here's how to intstall Dropbox on your computer:

  1. Launch your web browser on your computer.
  2. Navigate to Dropbox.com.
  3. Click create an account.
  4. Enter your first name, last name, and email address into the fields. You can also choose to Sign up with Google.
  5. Click the checkbox to agree to the terms and conditions.

    Click create an account, enter your information, click to agree to the terms and conditions

  6. Click Create an account.
  7. Click the Free Download button to install Dropbox on your computer.

    Click Create an account, click Free Download

Next, you'll want to install and set up Dropbox on your Android phone if it isn't already. Here's how:

  1. Download the Dropbox app from the Google Play Store.
  2. Launch Dropbox from your home screen or the app drawer.
  3. Tap Sign in.
  4. Enter your email address and password.
  5. Tap Sign in.

    Tap Sign in, enter your email address and password, tap Sign in

You can tap Not Now through the "Set up Dropbox on your computer" stuff, since you've already done that.

Now when you want to upload files, create folders, take photos to upload, and a lot more, you just press the big + button. To add your music to your Dropbox folder, just select Audio from the list of options that pops up.

Once your music is in the cloud, you'll be able to access it from any device that has Dropbox on it and, even better, you'll be able to share it all with friends, even those without Dropbox! They'll simply receive a link and will have full access to the music you've shared.

Dropbox isn't just for music; you can upload video, photos, text files, and just about everything in between. It certainly beats the hell out of having to connect a USB cable from your computer to your phone and you can easily make files available offline by downloading them from your Dropbox folder.

How to back up your music files to your computer

You can use a USB cable and transfer your music from your phone to the hard drive on your computer. This works like any other MTP device (like a media player or camera) and the only limiting factor is hard drive space. it's also pretty easy to do.

Android File Transfer

Android File Transfer

If you're a Mac user you need a special utility to transfer music (or any type of file) from your Android phone onto your computer: Android File Transfer. It's not the greatest app in the world, but it gets the job done.

There isn't much to the setup process; you just download it, install it, and that's it. When you connect your Android phone to your Mac via USB, Android File Transfer will open automatically. You may have to tap Allow on your phone before you're able to access its contents on your Mac.

Once you do have access, you'll be able to access all of the files that are stored on your Android phone, as well as any that are stored on your microSD card, if you use one. From there, you can just drag and drop music at will into folders on your computer. The best part is that you can drag out entire folders into a Finder window, instead of having to tap, hold, and select all, like you do on your phone.

One caveat: do not try to move too much music at once. One of the reasons Android File Transfer isn't so great is that it seems to just crap out if you overload it. When transferring music, do so in smaller batches under 1GB. Otherwise, you might get halfway through transferring a batch and it'll just stop and you'll have to dig around and figure out exactly where it stopped and where to start again.

It may be a bit of a pain in the hiney, but if you want music from your Android phone on your Mac without using a cloud-based service, then it's the only way.

Windows users have it even easier

If you're using a computer running Microsoft Windows (version 7 or later) all you need to do is plug in your phone to a USB port using the supplied cable. A regular Windows Explorer window will open with your phone's contents right there for the taking. Just drag and drop to the place you want to store your music and let it copy things over.

When it's finished you can "eject" the phone from the taskbar icon like any other USB device.

The first time you plug your phone in Windows might need to install and setup some things. Just wait until it's finished and you'll be ready to go.

The bottom line

Using a cloud-based service to transfer music from your Android phone to your computer is easy, and you can access your music from just about any device with an internet connection. You can also download your tunes for offline listening to a computer or another Android from the cloud service.

The sharing feature is also a great reason to use Google Drive or Dropbox since most songs are too large to email normally and the folks you share with can choose to download the music you send or play it right there in the Google Drive or Dropbox link.

If you would rather skip the cloud, using a USB cable to transfer files directly to a computer is easy, too. Android File Transfer can get finicky from time to time if you're a Mac user, but in the end everything is just drag and drop.

Read more and comment

 
4 days ago

The EFF calls out Google for privacy issues in the EDU sector but the school districts need educated, too

21

Chromebooks for education is an excellent program, but it looks like the educators need a little more teaching when it comes to getting started.

The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) has renewed their charge against Google, Microsoft, and Apple for the way student privacy is handled in their respective educational markets. They say "Students and their families are backed into a corner."

As students across the United States are handed school-issued laptops and signed up for educational cloud services, the way the educational system treats the privacy of students is undergoing profound changes—often without their parents' notice or consent, and usually without a real choice to opt out of privacy-invading technology.

We should want the EFF to act as a watchdog when it comes to our privacy. Or our kids' privacy.

This is a serious problem, and we should want the EFF to keep pushing and pushing until they can't find anything to push. With about three-quarters of the education market, Google will certainly be looking out for its own bests interests as will Apple and Microsoft who still find the education sector a pretty lucrative peach. Online privacy for children — especially young children under the age of 13 — is a thing we should all care about and everyone needs to advocate.

The bigger problem is that the teachers and administrators running these programs on the local level aren't informing students or their parents or even other teachers about the things they should know. And that something Google (and their industry rivals) needs to fix, too.

Teachers love Chromebooks. Students love Chromebooks. The people in the school districts who pay the bills love Chromebooks. But it takes more than love to manage a school system where students are working through the cloud. There needs to be better support and training because sometimes the people running the program and who have control aren't sure how to use it.

We all had teachers we remember fondly. Mr. Aquisto taught me how to weld when I was 10 and I'll never forget that. Or him. Teachers don't make enough money to be doing what they do just to get rich and retire. They care about their students and want to prepare them for life as an adult. But most of them aren't IT professionals or security researchers. The love of teaching isn't going to be helpful when it comes to getting a student set up to use a Chromebook with their own Google account while being aware of the potential privacy issues.

Even the best science teacher can need help rolling out Chromebooks while minding student privacy.

Some of the bad practices the EFF points out are admins creating accounts and filling in the personal details for faculty and students without any advance notice, not allowing students or their parents finish the setup process themselves and read the privacy policy and terms of use, allowing children under 13 to get set up with a Google Account without parental consent, and not offering an alternative method of learning for children whose parents would opt-out if given the choice. We expect Google to try and collect data using every legal method available, but the idea that these sort of things are happening is worrisome. And avoidable.

Let's be clear: None of these problems is Google's fault. The Chromebook for Education platform is a very good thing that needs a group like the EFF to constantly police it so Google doesn't go too far. Google offers support for the setup and administration of all the hardware and the admin software, and they aren't obligated to do more. But they should want to.

The money spent to outfit a school district with Chromebooks may be less that it would be to use iPads or Surfaces, but it's still a whole lot of money. It needs to come with a real live human being to train faculty members during the initial rollout and a way to contact them in person while the schools are participating. Something needs to change so teachers and school administrators aren't following very bad procedures because they don't know any better.

Google doesn't have to offer more or better training for their EDU partners, but they should want to.

Using Chromebooks in a properly supervised education environment is a great way to prepare children of all ages for the future. The program needs to expand until every child in every school has access to the technology they need to learn as much as they can. But not at the expense of their privacy, and certainly not because the undertrained staff isn't sure how to guard that privacy. I think part of "Don't Be Evil" is educating your customers about the best ways to deploy and use the equipment they are buying.

Read more and comment

 
4 days ago

How to fix one eye displaying darker than the other in VR

A lingering issue plenty of users have reported in VR is one displaying darker than other.

As the technology for VR grows and develop, there are going to be small problems that crop up. One of the lingering problems that's been cropping up as far back as 2014 and has appeared on Daydream, Gear VR, and even Oculus Rift, is one eye displaying darker visually on the screen than the other.

Read More at VR Heads!

Read more and comment

 
4 days ago

Make the Bixby button great again: BixRemap will open Google Now instead

67

If Bixby isn't your thing, here's how to replace it with Google Now.

The Galaxy S8 has been mostly well received by everyone. Blogger and users who have scored their phones already are saying really good things, and even the naysayers are impressed with the hardware. It just seems like a damn good phone so far. But there is one thing a lot of folks are saying they would like to change: The Bixby button.

Bixby seems like a cool robot friend AI thing. Unless you're on Verizon or in Europe, that is. I won't dismiss it outright until I've tried it long enough to know if I like it or not.

But other people feel differently and want the convenience and familiarity that comes with Google Now and hate that the button is hard-programmed to open Bixby when pressed. Earlier methods to bypass this have been patched by Samsung as they "exploited" services that they didn't need to access in order to gain control over the button. But because Android developers are crafty and awesome, we have a new app that will save the day.

Developer Dave Bennett is using his own service (you'll need to enable it when you first run the app) that overrides the Bixby behavior. When you press the button, Bixby opens but is quickly backgrounded while Google Now opens. Ha! Awesome, Dave.

You can grab the app (it's free) from the Play Store link above. We don't know if Samsung will find this app not to their liking and patch it away, but it works today so live in the moment and show Bixby who is the boss.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint

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;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

Read more and comment

 
4 days ago

Open up in this weekend's comments thread

44

Sit back, relax and chat about stuff because it's the weekend!

The weekend is finally here. The five days between them sometimes feel like they take forever, but this week was pretty cool with all the Galaxy S8 stuff. Flo and Daniel have to be especially grateful that the calendar says Saturday this week. Be sure to have a look at the reviews (some things need more than one) they wrote for the Galaxy S8 and S8+ if you haven't already.

I'm sure they weren't the only ones working long hours to get things done. But that's all behind us and it's time to enjoy life two days at a time.

Part of the way we relax is on the couch with a phone surfing the internet. When you're doing that it's always fun to talk about things with other internet surfing relaxed folks. Here's an open space where you can do just that. Talk about anything with anyone (but be kind to each other and don't go too far). Phone stuff is cool, but so is car stuff or lawnmower stuff or the best way to make a Mint Julip stuff.

Here's my random thought to get things started:

I got to play with a PS4 Pro, Xbox One and a Gaming PC all hooked to the same fancy ASUS ROG monitor and all playing the same titles earlier in the week. Anyone who says a console looks and plays as nice as a PC isn't being honest with themselves or you. And not just a little bit — when you see things side by side it's a little crazy how much difference is between good (console) and great (PC). A PlayStation or Xbox is still awesome for playing games on the couch, but try not to compare either to a PC the way I did because you'll never unsee it. I was happier before I did it. Now it's your turn. Tell us all something cool!

Read more and comment

 
4 days ago

Best Shower Speakers

47
Best shower speakers of 2016

Sing along with your favorite tunes in the shower with these great speakers.

Updated April, 2017: Added UE's latest speaker, the Wonderboom.

If you're sick of belting out your favorite tunes in the shower a cappella you may want to consider getting a speaker to use in the shower.

We've compiled a list of the best shower speakers you can find to help you sing like nobody's listening.

UE Wonderboom

UE Wonderboom

UE's latest water-resistant Bluetooth speaker is cute as a button! The Wonderboom is a compact Bluetooth speaker with big sound, a lovely design, and an IPX7 rating, meaning it can be submerged in up to 1 meter of water for 30 minutes — it's perfect for the shower. I've been testing this speaker and have been very impressed with its low end. The bass is surprisingly warm for such a small unit, and its size, again, is perfect for the shower.

Given its size, the Wonderboom does have a bit of trouble at higher volumes, with clarity capping out around the halfway mark on my phone's volume. That being said, half my phone's volume is plenty loud outside the shower and almost too much in it, so you don't need to crank it at all.

It comes in six fun colors, and we'll just hope the price comes down below its current $100 to make it a bit more competitive.

See at Amazon

Polk Audio BOOM Swimmer

Polk Audio BOOM Swimmer

This tadpole-looking device was conceived by the folks at Polk Audio to be as versatile as possible. The tail-end of the speaker is bendable, making it easy to wrap around shower curtain rods or even your shower head pipe, meaning there is always a convenient place to put it.

The Swimmer's waterproof rating is even greater than it needs to be for use in the shower. It can be submerged in up to 3 feet of water for half an hour without suffering any damage, meaning it can even fall into the tub when you're taking a bath.

The sound quality is not bad; although, there is very little bass, which isn't a surprise when you're talking about something this small.

See at Amazon

Photive Hydra

Photive Hydra

The Photive Hydra is perfect for people that want a shower speaker and are more concerned about sound quality than convenience. Sporting a passive subwoofer and two 40mm drivers, the Hydra delivers a fuller sounding low-end, while still providing pleasing, clear treble.

Its IP66 rating won't allow the speaker to be submerged, but it can handle water jets and splashing just fine, making it more than durable enough to withstand your daily shower.

The Hydra is a little bulkier and bigger than most of the other speakers on the list, but it's still compact enough to fit on the edge of your tub or on your shower caddy.

See at Amazon

SoundBot SB510

SoundBot SB510

The SoundBot SB510 is perfect for people who want an easier way to control their music while they are listening in the shower.

The simple interface on the front of SoundBot will let you control playback or adjust volume with just a tap of its buttons, meaning you don't need to get out of the shower and touch your phone to change songs. Plus, there is even a speaker and microphone for taking calls, so you won't miss anything important just because you're bathing.

Its water-resistant rating only protects the SoundBot from splashing; however, It installs super easily with a suction cup that is attached to the back of the speaker, so you should have no problem finding a place for it that's out of harm's way.

See at Amazon

UE Roll/UE Roll 2

UE Roll/UE Roll 2

The Ultimate Ears Roll has an IPX7 rating, meaning submerging it in up to 3 feet of water for about half an hour won't cause any damage, so your daily showers won't affect it at all. Plus, on the back, it comes with a bungee cord loop, making it easy to wrap or tie the speaker around your curtain rod or shower head, so it stays out of your way while you're headbanging in the shower.

The UE Roll 2 does come with a couple of improvements over its predecessor model. It has better sound, regarding both volume and quality, than its predecessor, and it also has an increased Bluetooth range of 100 feet, meaning your phone or tablet doesn't even have to be in the hot, steamy bathroom while you're getting clean.

See UE Roll 2 at Amazon

Braven Mira

Braven Mira

The first thing you will notice about the Braven Mira is the impressive sound quality for such a small device. It manages to stuff two drivers and a passive radiator into its small protective housing, giving the Mira the ability to sound full and provide some decent bass.

The hook on the back of the speaker allows it to hang easily from your shower head or it can even be used as a kickstand, allowing it to sit nicely in the corner of your tub. Plus, the battery lasts for up to 12 hours of playback, so even the longest shower takers should get more than enough time between charges.

Its waterproof rating is IPX5, meaning it can handle being hit by the stream from your shower head, which is more than enough protection for the average user.

See at Amazon


Fugoo Sport

Fugoo Sport

Although it's another speaker you will need to rest on a shelf or the side of your tub, the Fugoo Sport is an awesome device.

The thing that stands out the most is its 40-hour battery life. If you are truly using this in just the shower, you could probably go for weeks without needing a charge. With a waterproof rating of IP67, not only can you submerge the speaker in 3 feet of water for 30 minutes, but it's also dust-proof, meaning dirt and other particulates won't cause you any problems.

On top of it all, the sound quality is very good. The Fugoo Sport has six drivers that are spread out across all four sides, giving you clear, well-balanced 360 degree sound.

See at Amazon

UE Boom 2

Taking the UE Boom 2 into your shower is absolutely no problem as it has a very high water-resistant rating, allowing it to be submerged in 3 feet of water for 30 minutes. It's also protected against dirt and mud, but you can hand-wash the speaker with warm, soapy water just in case it gets messy.

UE Boom 2's battery will last you approximately 15 hours of playing time, which should amount to a lot of time in the tub, and has a Bluetooth range of 100 feet, making sure your phone, tablet, or PC doesn't have to be anywhere near the water. Plus, if you truly want the Boom 2 to live up to its onomatopoeic name, you have the option to set up another one to make a stereo pair and really raise the roof.

See at Amazon

What's your favorite?

Are you a shower singer? Let us know your favorite speaker to take into the shower with you by leaving us a comment below!

Read more and comment

 
4 days ago

Destroy the world one rock at a time in King Oddball! [Best games from the AC community]

117

We want to know what games you're playing!

Update April 22: We've highlighted a couple of "odd" game recommendations this week: Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath and King Oddball.

What games are you playing on your Android phones or tablets? We want to know!

We've started a thread in the AC Forums as a place to share your opinions on games you think more people should be playing. Look out for posts by me (Marc Lagace) and say hello! You can also comment below!

Submit your gaming reviews and opinions!

King Oddball

King Oddball manages to walk the fine line between being outlandish and bizarre, and yet with gameplay that feels instantly familiar. It's been out for a while, but you may have easily missed it.

Recommended in the comments by JazMac, this is a great time waster that feels and plays like a matured version of the Angry Birds format… except replace the cute and colorful birds with the floating head of a King that swings boulders at tanks, helicopters, soldiers, and structures as he tries to destroy the world. Still with us? Good!

Part of what makes this game so enjoyable is the physics — boulders have the right amount of weight to them and are affected by explosions so you quickly learn how to effectively use your boulders. There are over 120 levels to play through, which are spread over a map of "the world" which you concur one square at a time. Just like Angry Birds, later levels will require you to use your boulders strategically as you get three to use for each level!

This is a free game with frequent ads to contend with, which can be turned off with a one-time in-app purchase.

Download: King Oddball (Free w/IAPs)

Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath

If you're looking for something a little more substantial, you should check out Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath. First released back in 2005 for the original Xbox, this game has been remastered and released for multiple platforms since and came to Android back in 2014.

Recommended by mannyc5 in the comments, this is a fully fledged game that mixes third-person platforming and first-person shooting for a really unique gaming experience on Android. You play as the Stranger, a mysterious bounty hunter who is on a mission to rid the undeveloped wastelands of Western Mudos of murderous outlaws wrecking havoc on the townsfolk.

This game really has been optimized for mobile, with features that allow you to shake your phone to shake off enemy damage, however the touchscreen controls are admittedly a bit spotty. Fortunately, the developers have included support for bluetooth controllers which is key. This game looks great and runs so well on my Pixel, but if you've got an older phone you may notice some performance issues. If you need to scale back the display performance to keep things running smoothly, you can do so in the settings at any time. Check the Google Play entry for more details on recommended phone specs.

This is a paid app, so there's no in-app purchases or ads to deal with which is always nice. Whether you've never played an Oddworld game before or are looking to reminisce with a great port of a fun game from over a decade ago (crazy!), check out Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath.

Download: Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath ($2.99)

What are you playing?

We want to know what Android games you're playing — even if you're still addicted to Candy Crush or Clash of Clans. Let us know in the comments below or you can join the conversation in our recently revamped forums!

Submit your gaming reviews and opinions!

Android Gaming

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;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

Read more and comment

 
5 days ago

Seven Rickdiculous things you can do in Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality

If you aren't playing Rick and Morty in VR, you are wrong.

The folks behind Job Simulator, arguably the most popular game in VR today, have teamed up with Adult Swim Games to release Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality. As the name suggests, it's a Rick and Morty adventure with a unique VR twist. You play a clone of Morty, built to handle things at home while the real Morty goes on adventures with Rick. Don't worry though, there's plenty of shenanigans for you to get into at home. Also, with Rick's portal tech laying around, you're not going to be "at home" for very long!

We're not going to spoil the actual story for you, but instead show you some of the silliness you can expect while roaming Rick's legendary garage.

Read more at VR Heads!

Read more and comment

 
5 days ago

Get a lifetime of unlimited mobile backup for $20

At this point, your whole life is on your phone and it would absolutely suck if it died and you lost all of that valuable information. Your best option is to create an online backup of your device since a backup on your computer is still a physical backup and hey, if your Android phone dies and your computer dies, you're gonna have a bad time.

Save big on a lifetime license! Learn More

iDrive is an online backup service that you can use to store all the information on your phone, like you photos, videos, texts, emails, and tons more. With an iDrive lifetime subscription, you get:

  • Online backup of up to 5 devices
  • 256-bit AES encryption with an optional user defined key
  • Back up an Android device and restore it to an iPhone and vice versa
  • Access backed up files from any mobile device, or through the web
  • Share your files with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, and email
  • iDrive features Facebook & Instagram backup

Online backup services can be very expensive (especially for something intangible), and if you go through iDrive directly, you could end up spending a mint.

That's where Android Central comes in. Right now, through Android Central Digital Offers, you can get a lifetime subscription to iDrive Unlimited Mobile Backup for only $19.99. No, that's not a joke. Unlimited backup. If you want just 250GB from iDrive directly, you'd pay upwards of $75.

So, you can back up your phone data over and over and over and keep backing it up to iDrive, FOR LIFE, for a one-time payment of $19.99. And you don't need to worry about your information being kept safe; iDrive uses 256-bit AES encryption, which is virtually uncrackable.

Keep your stuff backed up! Learn More

You can also access your backed up files from any mobile device or on the web, share your files via social media and email, and you'll even be able to back up your Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Your phone is a treasure trove of valuable information and memories. Don't get caught with a bricked phone and nothing to show for it. Get a lifetime subscription to iDrive Unlimited Mobile Backup for only $19.99 at Android Central Digital Offers!

Read more and comment

 
5 days ago

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

77

The Galaxy S8's fingerprint sensor placement has some people in a tizzy. Here's how to avoid using it and still keep your device safe.

The Galaxy S8 is a great phone with a lot of ways to unlock the screen. That stems from the fact that Samsung relocated the fingerprint sensor from the front below the screen, which is easy to reach, to the back next to the camera, which is considerably harder. Then it added two new ways to unlock the phone with one's face, but neither of them are as easy and seamless (though they're pretty darn close) than a fingerprint sensor below the screen.

So what's a person to do? How do you overcome this? Well, you could just adapt and learn to live with it, but that's no fun, right? We like to complain and then find better ways to do the same thing! If that describes you to a tee, then let's talk about Fitbit.

Fitbit? Daniel, you crazy

Hear me out. Samsung has included a popular Android feature called Smart Lock that uses an idea called persistent authentication to temporarily disable the phone's lock screen for a period of time. The idea behind persistent auth is that once you prove to the phone that you are you, you shouldn't necessarily have to continue doing so as long as that cycle of trust isn't broken.

You can wear a Fitbit, or any Bluetooth wearable, to safely bypass the lock screen at any time.

So Google figured out a way to do this, and integrated it into Google Play Services a couple of years ago. It's not necessarily the most popular Android feature, which is why it's often overlooked, and perfect for a phone that makes it just a bit too difficult to quickly unlock using a biometric passcode.

While wearing a Fitbit, or any other Bluetooth-enabled device that has a persistent Low Energy (LE) connection to the Galaxy S8, Smart Lock allows users to bypass the unlock process entirely. This makes it easy just to push the invisible home button on the front of the Galaxy S8 (it's always on, even when there's nothing on the screen) to get to the home screen, or press the home button after quick-launching the camera without having to wait for the phone to unlock.

Smart Lock isn't a perfect fix to your Galaxy S8 biometrics troubles, of course: for security reasons, you're forced to re-enter a lock pattern or PIN after four hours of inactivity; and it doesn't always detect the Bluetooth device, even when it's right next to the phone. I wore a Fitbit Alta HR the entire time I reviewed the Galaxy S8 and only had this happen a couple of times, but it was annoying when it did.

Of course, you don't have to use a Fitbit, or even a wearable, to engage in Smart Lock's Trusted Devices feature. It can be any Bluetooth device, including a speaker, selfie stick, or something else entirely. As long as it is connected to your phone, it will work. I just recommend a wearable because, well, it's generally attached to you and harder to steal than a selfie stick or a speaker. It would also be great if Trusted Devices worked with biometric persistent authentication, so it would automatically disconnect not with the Bluetooth connection but with the cessation of a readable heart rate.

See Fitbit Alta HR at Amazon

Other ways to Smart (un)Lock

Trusted Devices aren't the only way to bypass Samsung's lock screen hell. Google has incorporated three other methods, too, and all can work for you.

  • On-body detection keeps the phone unlocked when the proximity sensor is engaged. The idea is that the phone is in your pocket, so Google trusts it's you who has possession. Once you remove the phone from your pocket, you have a few seconds of freedom before the lock mechanism springs back into place. This doesn't always work consistently with every phone, but it's done a good job on the Galaxy S8.
  • Trusted voice is a way to unlock your Galaxy S8 with your voice by saying "OK Google", and it works well, but the screen has to be turned on (but still locked) for the feature to engage, which isn't as useful.
  • Trusted location puts a geofence around an area — your house, your work — where the phone will stay unlocked (for four hours, at least) when you're there. Because it uses an approximate location to save power, Trusted Location isn't a particularly secure method for maintaining authentication, but it's convenient. Only use this when you're sure your device is safe.

How to enable Smart Lock on your Galaxy S8

Want this on your phone? Here are the steps to enable Smart Lock.

  1. Swipe down from the notification shade on your home screen.
  2. Tap on Settings icon (cog shape).
  3. Tap on Lock screen and security.
  4. Tap on Smart Lock.
  5. Enter your unlock code.

  6. Select On-body detection, Trusted places, Trusted device, or Trusted voice.
  7. Configure your Smart Lock settings.

No cure for the common outrage

None of these methods are complete solutions for your Galaxy S8 unlock vitriol. If you can't overcome your absolute hatred for the placement of the fingerprint sensor or the perceived slowness of the iris scanner, you probably shouldn't buy the phone.

But I can assure you that, after using both the Galaxy S8 and the S8+ for a number of weeks, the combination of fingerprint, facial and Google's own Smart Lock procedures is a recipe for certain success. Even without Smart Lock, I've found a fairly good rhythm just using a combo of face unlock and the fingerprint sensor, but the addition of a trusted device like the Fitbit Alta HR improved that process immensely.

What do you think? Would something like Smart Lock be enough to overcome your hesitation in buying a Galaxy S8? Let us know in the comments!

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint

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;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

Read more and comment

 
5 days ago

Caseology is offering a variety of its Galaxy S8 and S8+ cases for as little as $6

11

Our friends at Thrifter are back again, this time with cases for the Galaxy S8 and S8+ for great prices!

The Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ are the hottest smartphone releases of the year. Whether you've already placed your order or are about to, odds are that you'll want a case. With the shrinking bezels, the increased screen size, and the all-glass back of the phone, protection is key if you want it to look great for the long term. Luckily, you don't have to hide the beauty of the phone with an ugly case because you don't want to spend a ton of money on one.

Right now you can pick up a variety of cases from Caseology for as little as $5.99, which means you'll probably want to grab a couple of the different styles. From clear to colored cases, there is something here that just about everyone will like. In order for the coupons to work, you may need to select the non-Prime, fulfilled by merchant option. If you try and use the coupon on the Prime listing and it gives you an error, try changing the seller under the "Other Sellers on Amazon" option on the right side of the page.

Galaxy S8

Galaxy S8+

Note: Each coupon code has a limited number of uses. If you see one that you want, be sure to grab it before the codes expire.

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

Read more and comment

 
5 days ago

Jelly smartphone review: So tiny

37

The company that built Jelly doesn't claim it's the smallest smartphone in the world. (That honor might instead belong to its predecessor, the Posh Micro X.) Rather, Jelly is touted as the world's smallest smartphone that also includes 4G. Toss in Android 7.0, dual SIMs, a replaceable battery and a full-size headphone jack, and you start to wonder if maybe a phone that fits in your coin pocket is worth making a few sacrifices – like re-learning how to type on a keyboard the size of a matchbook. And that's not even taking into account the bargain-basement price.

Is Jelly worth braving the hazards of Kickstarter and MediaTek processors? Is "world's smallest smartphone" really a title anyone should be chasing? Just how bad can a smartphone camera get, anyway? Hit the MrMobile video above and see if Jelly is a fit for the smartphone lightweight in your life (or a good second phone for the days you need to travel light)

Stay social, my friends

Read more and comment

 
5 days ago

Logitech Harmony paired with Android is the ultimate universal remote

21

If you spend a lot of time in the living room with a lot of entertainment devices, the Logitech Harmony system is a worthy investment.

I once owned a universal remote that I'm pretty sure was the size of a shoebox. That's how I remember it, anyway — a definite two-hander with a large screen (for the time) and very few physical buttons. Something like this.

It was awful. Awful setup and not much better to use. But it still was better than needing to have three remotes by my side at any given time.

Fast forward some 15 years (I can't believe it's been that long) and we get to what I have today. Last fall I splurged on new Harmony remotes from Logitech, and they're probably one of the more important purchases I've made. They work, they work well, and they were pretty simply to set up.

Let's rap.

The basics

Here's the gist of the whole Harmony thing: It's first and foremost a universal remote. But gone are the days of looking up codes and hoping the remote would support your device. Also gone are the days of connecting the remote to a computer to sync things up.

These work with (require, actually) the Harmony app on Android or on iOS. You set up the remotes through the apps, they sync over Wi-Fi, then you go about your business.

First you add your devices (either manually or auto-detected over Wi-Fi), and then you use those devices to fill out "activities", like "Watch TV", or "Play Xbox". Harmony does a good job recommending activities, or you can start from scratch. It's highly flexible, highly customizable, and pretty much just works. My only real complaint is that it can be a little slow to sync, but it's not like you have to do that too often.

As with everything else these days, Harmony works with Amazon Alexa and Google Home, as well as with Philips Hue and other connected devices.

And with that, on to the goodies.

In the bedroom: Logitech Harmony Companion

I'm dead serious when I think the best-designed device in my home is this remote. We talk about curvy phones all the time now, but my wife catches me fondling this remote all the time and gives me a good dirty look for it. It's that good.

Harmony Companion good, and the Companion nails that benchmark.

Beyond that, it's a fairly standard remote. It's got buttons — lots of them — a non-rechargeable CR2032 battery, and that's it. No newfangled touchscreens. It's easy to learn where things are by feel, which is another must-have in any remote. (And why I refuse to use phone-based remotes except for in a pinch — or when I want to lower the volume on whatever my kids are watching without getting yelled at.)

The real bonus in the bedroom with the Companion is the addition of the home control buttons. They look like lightbulbs and outlets and do exactly what you think they do — they control connected lights and outlets. That's a great feature in the bedroom, where I'll do anything I can to stay in bed just a little bit longer. (Yes, in this case that includes spending more money.) You connect Philips Hue to Harmony, set the button, and you're turning things on and off (or dimming) right from the remote. No voice control necessary (not something you want to deal with when someone's sleeping next to you), and no having to get up.

The Companion isn't what I'd call a "cheap" remote. But for me it's been worth every penny in look, feel, and function. (If you want something a little less expensive, you can get the Harmony Smart remote, which basically is the same thing minus the home control buttons.)

Harmony Companion at Amazon

In the living room

I splurged (quite) a bit in the living room. But this is where I'm watching TV most of the time, right? It's also where I have the most devices. TV. A streaming box. (Or two or three, depending on the month.) Game console. A lot goes on out there, and more important, a lot of people tend to use remotes in common areas. So I wanted something really good.

Harmony eliteAs an added bonus, it gives access to "favorites" for some devices and activities, making things even quicker and easier. If I know what channel I want to go to on Roku or a specific station on Sonos, I just hit the favorite on the touchscreen.

Unlike the Harmony Companion, the Elite is rechargeable and comes with a Micro-USB-powered stand. It keeps the remote vertical while it's juicing up. That keeps it conspicuous, which is a good thing because it means folks generally won't be hunting for the remote. It's also just a very nicely designed charging stand and a definite improvement over the old Harmony One I used to use.

This is a serious remote that pretty much has all the bells and whistles: IR, RF, backlit keys, haptics, 15 devices controlled at once — the works. And the price reflects as much. But it also should be pretty well future-proof. If you want mostly the same features minus RF capability and some of those other bells and whistles, check out the Harmony 950. Otherwise, the Elite is the way to go.

Harmony Elite at Amazon

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;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

Read more and comment

 
Show More Headlines

Pages

g