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5 days ago

Should you install Android O developer preview on your Pixel or Nexus?

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Android O is now available to download as a developer preview. But that doesn't mean you should do it.

The day that Google releases a new version of Android is one of the most exciting of the year, especially for early adopters like us who want to play with all the new features and see what's in store for the final release.

But unlike last year, when Google released its Android N preview alongside an easy-to-install beta program, the company is going decidedly old school with this one, reverting back to the tried-and-true method of factory images that require an unlocked bootloader and some knowledge of terminal commands. This isn't a surprise — Google has been doing this for both developer previews and final releases for years — but delaying an easy-for-consumers-to-install Android O version until later in the year speaks to the early nature of Android O right now. In other words...

You shouldn't install the Android O developer preview on any phone you need to use on a daily basis.

Things are going to be broken

We say this every year, but things are definitely going to be broken with the Android O developer preview. There are going to be lots and lots of bugs, and core features of the phone, from making calls to connecting to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices, may be incomplete or completely not working.

Moreover, many of Google's own apps will not have been updated to take advantage of the new system APIs — things like Font Resources, Adaptive Icons, and Picture-in-Picture — potentially limiting its usefulness.

Third-party apps are not going to be compatible

Google doesn't usually allow developers to release public versions of their apps with support for the latest Android APIs until a few weeks before the final public release. In this case, that means we'll likely have to wait until late August or even into September — months after Google I/O — for anything resembling an interesting set of user interactions.

In the meantime, the Android O dev preview will likely have been updated at least three times with new versions that fix bugs and overcome some of the more core functionality issues we're seeing in the initial release. For something like Picture-in-Picture, for instance, you're not going to see a working version of YouTube — probably the most important app to support the feature — until close to the final release.

It's a pain in the butt to install

Finally, it's not easy to install the Android O developer preview, especially if you're not familiar with the commands that require you to unlock your bootloader and flash a system image.

Worse, even if you get there, you will have to factory reset your phone at some point in the process — when you unlock your bootloader in the first place, or when you flash your phone back to Nougat.

But we're not going to stop you

Obviously, if you want to install Android O on your phone or tablet, we can't stop you. So if you're going to do it, at least read up on the procedure, and know what you're getting yourself into.

How to get Android O on your Pixel or Nexus

There's lots more to come

Google promises that it will talk lots more about Android O at Google I/O in May, and that there will eventually be an easy-to-install beta, just like there was with the Android N beta in 2016. This is good news — the updates will likely come fast and furious — and we'd recommend waiting until then to install Android O on any phone or tablet you actually want to use on a daily basis.

Android O

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5 days ago

Google announces Android O, Developer Preview image now available

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Android O

Start getting ready for the latest version of Android.

Google is continuing its transparency of pre-releasing early builds of new versions of Android with the announcement of the Android O Developer Preview. As always, the Developer Preview is designed to give developers an early look at what's coming in Android O so they can start to make their apps compatible with the new APIs and design guidelines. It does, of course, give all of us fans of Android an early look at what Google has up its sleeve in terms of new features as well.

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5 days ago

What's New in Android O?

57

See what the latest and greatest version of Android has in store for you!

Android O brings several changes to existing features as well as all new features. Since it first arrived in 2008, Android has been a very fluid bit of software. The mobile space is always evolving and Android has evolved along with it so it could meet the needs of people like us who use it every day.

With the first developer preview of Android O, we get a glimpse of some of the new features we can expect when it's released later this year. Google also tells us that this is just a few of the things we can expect with the next version of Android.

How to get Android O on your Pixel or Nexus (and how to roll back to Nougat)

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5 days ago

Pre-register now for Galaxy on Fire 3: Manticore, the latest sci-fi epic launching on Android

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Can you save the world from impending destruction?

Fans of epic space battles rejoice — you can now pre-register to be informed of the official release of Galaxy on Fire 3: Manticore, the latest sci-fi epic released by Deep Silver FISHLABS. You can sign up for pre-registration here to be notified once the game is available on select Android devices.

Check out the trailer below:

The game is a sequel to the well-recieved Galaxy on Fire 2 HD, which has been downloaded millions of times from the Google Play Store while maintaining a solid 4.4 user rating. You should certainly check it out if you haven't already.

The latest entry in the franchise promises to be bigger than ever, with even better graphics than the previous titles and a variety of missions to unlock.The game will feature next-gen Vulkan graphics standard along with the legacy Open GL ES graphics standard to ensure the game is available across a wider range of devices. Reviews on Metacritic of the iOS version have been somewhat mixed, with some reviewers disappointed with the changes the developers made to some of the core gameplay elements compared to GoF2.

We'll just have to wait and see for ourselves. In the meantime, Galaxy on Fire 2 HD is a free download from the Google Play Store, with in-app purchases available to unlock the two story add-ons Valkyrie and Supernova.

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5 days ago

Amazon Echo vs. Google Home: Which works best with Philips Hue

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Making the lights dim when you proclaim "It's movie time" to everyone in your house is kinda awesome.

There are a lot of fantastic things you can do with smart lighting, from subtle adjustments to mood and awareness to crazy color raves when you want to freak the dog out. It's a convenience for most, but it's becoming less expensive to set up in your home every day and well-worth checking out if you can.

A big part of that smarter experience can be control with your voice, and while Google Home and Amazon Echo both support the ability to control lights with your voice, the details are very different. Here's what you need to know!

Set up

Philips Hue bulbs, which are my favorite of the connected bulbs, offer an API for just about any app to reach in and give commands to your lights once you've given approval. As a result, both Google Home and Amazon Echo offer similar initial connection steps. You use the app on your phone to connect to the Hue bridge, which involves tapping the little button on the box near your router, and moments later you can control individual Hue lights through these services.

Once you've made that connection, things are wildly different. Amazon has its own system in the Alexa app for organizing smart home hardware into individual rooms, so you can say things like "turn off the bedroom lights" and have everything assigned to that room turn off. This isn't a huge deal, unless you have a lot of Hue lights and have already organized your bulbs by room in the Hue app. None of that information is imported by Alexa, so you have to basically set all of your lights up a second time.

Google Home, on the other hand, imports your room selections from the Hue app and adds them to the Home app. It also offers a simple tool from within the app for quickly moving lights to other rooms, instead of just a set of register/unregister check boxes. It's a great deal more user-friendly, especially if you've already spent a lot of time setting up your lights and exploring how you want those lights to work in your home.

Using your voice

Google and Amazon both earn high marks for performance when it comes to actually controlling the lights. There's no performance drop when compared to using the Hue app, and voice recognition on both Echo and Home is exceptional, so misfires are rare. That having been said, it's clear Google Home is a great deal more integrated with Hue than Echo is right now.

If you want to control whole rooms for brightness and darkness, the experiences between these two connected speakers is essentially identical. If you want to control individual bulbs and you've assigned personal names to those bulbs, you'll find Google Home is much better at finding the right single bulb and adjusting it as you see fit. The same goes for color changing; Google Home will quickly turn your lights whichever color you ask, where as Amazon Echo is really only built for on and off and dimming right now.

Neither connected speaker can replicate every single feature in the Philips Hue app, but through IFTTT, Google Home gets a great deal closer. The IFTTT channel for Google Home lets you create multiple phrases for individual commands, so you can be very flexible and occasionally downright silly with the things you want to do with these speakers.

On Google Home, I can say "OK Google, get those kids out of bed!" and have IFTTT start a multicolor light show in their rooms. With an Echo, I'd have to say "Alexa, trigger get those kids out of bed!" to accomplish the same. One is clearly not as natural as the other.

Which is better? Google Home

Google Home

If your goal is to add natural language commands to your Philips Hue bulbs with as little compromise as possible on features, it couldn't be more clear Google Home is what you want right now. It's just plain better for multiple users in a house full of Hue bulbs right now.

See at Best Buy

Amazon Echo

That having been said, if you're new to smart lighting or you only really want to control rooms with your voice, Alexa gets the job done. Amazon has also demonstrated an ability to rapidly improve Alexa when necessary, so it's possible these issues won't be around for very long.

See at Amazon

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5 days ago

The best streaming video box for most people is a Roku

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Sure, we tend to prefer Android TV around here. But beyond that, the best all-around streaming video box for most people absolutely is the Roku.

So you're cutting the cable TV cord. Good for you. And we've already established that the NVIDIA Shield TV is the best Android TV box. But what if you don't want to dive that far into Android? (Crazy, I know.) Which streaming box is the best? Easy answer. For most folks, Roku is going to be the best bang for your buck.

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First: Why a Roku? It pretty much has every streaming service available. (Everything except Apple content because Apple is why we can't have nice things.) It's got PlayStation Vue. Sling. Amazon. Google. Netflix. Chromecast. YouTube. So many different "channels" that for as long as I've had a Roku I feel like I've barely scratched the surface. (DirecTV Now is listed as coming eventually.)

Why a Roku Ultra, though, when there are sticks for a third of the cost? You get what you pay for. Yeah, the stick is cheap and can do a decent job, but if you want 4K resolution and HDR and USB media and a better remote and private listening and ... Basically it's way more future proof, and tended to handle the streams for me better. If you just want a test of how all this works, fine. A stick will do. But if you're serious about it, it's worth spending the extra money.

See at Amazon

Modern Dad

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5 days ago

Best accessories for the LG G6

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Purchase accessories for your LG G6 today so you're ready to go on day one!

The LG G6 doesn't officially ship until April 7, but that doesn't mean you can't start stocking up on great accessories for your phone. Case manufacturers get early access to the latest devices so they can perfectly craft their products to fit a phone's dimensions, so you can buy with confidence knowing these cases were specifically designed for your new phone.

We've also included a few other essential accessories you should definitely consider.

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

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

LG G6

Verizon Sprint T-Mobile AT&T B&H

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5 days ago

Win a Galaxy S8 from Android Central! Enter now!

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The Samsung Galaxy S8 will be revealed soon, so now is the perfect time to give one away to an Android Central reader.

Samsung ended its Mobile World Congress presentation with envelopes telling everyone to come to NYC on March 29th for the unveiling of the Galaxy S8. That date is just around the corner now so what better time to hold a contest and give Android Central readers a chance to win the new S8? Let's get to it!

THE PRIZE: One Android Central reader will be taking home a brand new Samsung Galaxy S8, when it's released!

THE GIVEAWAY: Head down to the widget at the bottom of this page. There are multiple ways to enter, each with varying point values. Complete all of the tasks for maximum entries and your best shot at winning! Keep in mind that all winning entries are verified and if the task was not completed or cannot be verified, a new winner will be chosen. The prize does not include service, and we cannot guarantee that the device will work on all carriers. International winners will be responsible for any customs fees incurred during shipping.

The giveaway is open until April 4th, and the winner will be announced right here shortly after the close date. Good luck!

Android Central is giving away a Samsung Galaxy S8! Enter now!

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

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5 days ago

You can now buy the HTC Ultra in Canada for a cool grand

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The HTC U Ultra has come to Canada at a steep price.

There were a number of beautiful photos of the HTC U Ultra I could have chosen for this post, because the phone is very nicely made. Its reflective glass shimmers in the light in a way that no other does. It's also $749 USD.

Now, Canadians can get in on the fun, with the U Ultra available unlocked through HTC's website for a cool grand. That's $999 CAD.

Available in three choice colors — blue, white, and black — the phone has all the makings of a great flagship, but as Andrew Martonik points out in his review, there just aren't many reasons to buy one over the many cheaper and better alternatives:

HTC continues to get the basics right with flagships. The U Ultra has a great screen, amazing build quality and stunning design. You get just about every spec inside you'd expect, and the day-to-day performance as a result is fantastic with a super-smooth software experience. Unfortunately, HTC's camera performance once again lags behind the pack, its secondary display is all but useless and there's no headphone jack or waterproofing — all in a phone that's charging a premium price of $999 CAD.

If you can get over those things, the HTC U Ultra is still a great device with some awesome HTC-built software.

See at HTC

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5 days ago

Google makes searching on Android better with new Shortcuts feature

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Google has introduced yet another way to search on Android.

There is no shortage of ways to find things on an Android device. If you've bought a phone in the last couple of years, it's more than likely you have a Google search bar on your main homescreen — Google requires it as part of its certification process — and some phones, including its Nexus and Pixel line, have the Artist Formerly Known As Google Now, now known merely as the Feed, to the left of the main homescreen.

Well, Google still thinks searching for specific topics is too difficult, because it's introducing a new Shortcuts menu within the Feed that's meant to simplify the process of getting in-depth information.

Getting up-to-the-minute info is as easy as a single tap. With shortcuts right on the home screen, you now have access to in-depth experiences across sports, eat & drink, entertainment and weather. Need to know whether to bring a raincoat tomorrow? Want the score to last night's basketball game? Looking for what's on TV tonight or who's nominated for best supporting actress? Shortcuts on Google will get you there.

Android users will find dozens of other useful shortcuts too—translate, nearby attractions, flights, hotels, internet speed test, currency converter, and more. Plus, if you're looking for fun, there are shortcuts like tic-tac-toe, roll a die, animal sounds, solitaire, and always a Google favorite: I'm feeling curious.

What's interesting about this is that Shortcuts presumably makes it easier to get sports scores, movie times and other pieces of information people often search for. But it's also putting web apps like Google Translate and Google Trips — experiences that are available as native apps on Android — front and center in the experience.

The feature is rolling out first to Android, iOS and mobile web users U.S., with more countries expected to come in the next few months.

What do you think of Shortcuts? Is it useful, or just another set of icons cluttering up the Feed?

Android Nougat

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5 days ago

U.S. bans laptops and tablets on flights from eight Middle East countries

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Travelers from eight Muslim-majority countries are prohibited from carrying devices larger than a smartphone onboard U.S.-bound flights.

The Department of Homeland Security is rolling out new restrictions for carry-on items for U.S.-bound flights from eight Middle East countries. Electronic devices larger than a smartphone are prohibited from being carried onboard flights from nine airlines operating out of 10 airports in eight countries. People flying from these airports will have to stow laptops, e-readers, portable gaming devices, and cameras in their check-in baggage.

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5 days ago

Nintendo and Cyanogen almost partnered for the Switch

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Nintendo was flirting with Android again, but it looks like Cyanogen didn't pick up.

You know that massively successful new console Nintendo can't keep in stores? The one that smashed Nintendo's own sales records and caused the company to dramatically ramp up production to meet demand? Apparently the OS for that console was almost based largely on Android, but Cyanogen's Kirt McMaster put a stop to that according to his Twitter feed.

From a fun, nerdy perspective, it would have been kind of cool to know the Switch was based on Android. And, knowing some of the nice performance enhancement things Cyanogen projects had been capable of, it's not impossible to imagine a Switch that was even more capable as a result of that custom OS. But that's what it would have been, a custom closed down version of Android that didn't look anything like the OS you see on tablets and phones. It would have been an entirely unique and locked down thing, which was very much the opposite of what Cyanogen was all about as a company.

Lots of folks in the Android bubble hear the name Cyanogen and immediately think of CEO Kirt McMaster very publicly saying a lot of very silly things about how successful the company was going to be. With the company dismantled and its core features picking up steam as the community-led LineageOS, you may find yourself wondering how he feels about passing up something like opportunity to work on the Nintendo Switch.

Hindsight is always 20/20, but it looks like he'd be a little more "open" to the idea if it were to come back around. Given the complete lack of reputation these days, that second chance is a little more than unlikely.

Check out more of our Nintendo Switch coverage over on iMore!

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5 days ago

Samsung's Galaxy S8 Korean teaser hints at a world of possibilities

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Samsung starts hyping up the Galaxy S8 ahead of its official unveil on March 29.

Samsung has released a 15-second trailer for the Galaxy S8 in South Korea, showcasing little of the phone itself, a refreshing change in pace from the litany of leaks, rumors, and renders we've seen of the device in recent weeks.

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5 days ago

The first five things you need to know about Mass Effect: Andromeda

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There is plenty to do in Mass Effect: Andromeda, so be ready to dive in.

The Mass Effect franchise has officially returned with the fourth installment in the series, and everything here is very shiny and new. A new galaxy, new set of characters, and plenty of new content to delve into. Don't be worried if you're a returning fan though, there are plenty of nods to the original trilogy, and this includes the alien races you know and love.

With a game as expansive as Mass Effect: Andromeda, knowing what to keep an eye out for early is a good call. That's why we've got 5 tips to help you get started exploring the Andromeda galaxy.

Scan all the things

You have a handy little scanner right on your arm which can be activated by dressing the down button on the directional pad. This allows you to scan your surroundings and see if there is anything hiding from your view. Do this. Do it often, and do it everytime that you enter a new area. Even during the initial planetside mission there is tons to see and explore. While you won't be able to access everything at the get go, you can still tag it for your eventual return.

Scanning the environment is such a small thing, but it really does make a difference. Since unscanned items pop up in bright orange, it makes it easier to find important items or alien technology you might otherwise miss. You can also use it to scan enemies whether they are alive or dead, which can be particularly handy when you're just getting started. Scanning unfamiliar tech and aliens will also net you research points which are used to unlock technologies in the game, and you want those technologies.

Cover is your friend

There are some games where you can stride around like a tank, blowing the face off of anything you come across without paying a price for that audacity. This, is not one of those games. Cover is important, you will need cover, or you will die. Repeatedly. I would know, because I learned this lesson the hard way. Taking cover will allow you to heal from your wounds, flank an enemy while they can't see you, and get a better read on what you are dealing with.

To break it down further, humans are not a dominant species in the Andromeda galaxy. There are more of them than there are of you, and sprinting around shooting sounds fun until you die three times in a row because there are seven aliens shooting at you simultaneously. Use cover if you want to survive.

Keep an eye out for containers

You shouldn't be surprised, but there are plenty of loot containers to be found scattered through the worlds you'll be exploring. Be sure to keep an eye out for them, because not all loot containers are made equal and some of them have some lucky items in store for you. The loot containers will have items that relate directly to the race that left it behind. This means on an Angaran world, you're going to find Angara loot of one kind or another. What you find is also randomized, using a dynamic loot generation, so you won't get the same result if you die and return to a specific box.

Salvage containers look like boxes left behind, and alien orbs scattered about. Generally they look a little bit broken, or mussed up, and are filled with salvage only usable for trading to merchants for credits. The boxes you really want are the normal containers, which look like boxes. More or less. Depending on the rarity, you can find anything from components for weapons to the weapon itself. By grabbing every container you see, you can ensure that you have a solid stock for selling to merchants, and using later for crafting.

Stay aware of your surroundings

While the planets you'll be exploring are the hope of a future for mankind, they are still a bit hostile at times and if you aren't paying attention to what is going on it's very easy to wind up dead. This is because the planets are covered in various hazards of varying severity. While the level 1 hazards can damage your health and be a nuisance, level 3 and 4 hazards can kill you quite quickly. It is worth mentioning high level hazards are usually indicative of an area that is currently off limits until you have progressed further.

For the most part, hazards are pretty easy to see. Green smoky haze, fire, ice, geysers, and lava are all examples of hazards that you will run into during your exploration. To avoid being wounded by the hazard, just avoid the hazard. The hazard level is also shown at the bottom left of your HUD, so that you are aware when you are entering a dangerous area unwittingly.

What are your tips?

There is tons to do, and plenty to explore within Mass Effect: Andromeda, but these tips should help you to get a running start when it comes to exploring the Andromeda galaxy. Find rare items, get the perks you need, and remember that you are in hostile territory and you should have the hang of things in no time flat. Just remember that this is just the beginning, and there will be plenty more to explore and discover. Do you have a tip for those just starting Mass Effect: Andromeda? Be sure to drop us a line in the comments below and let us know.

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5 days ago

Galaxy S8 pre-orders may ship as early as Apr 18

19
Galaxy S8

Expect a big pre-order push in Samsung's home market.

As it looks to draw a line under last year's Note 7 unpleasantness, Samsung is reportedly betting big on Galaxy S8 pre-orders. South Korean outlet The Investor reports that subsidized deals for the new flagship will be unveiled from April 7, with pre-orders shipping out to customers as soon as April 18. It's worth noting that this likely refers to Korea, not necessarily other parts of the world, where an April 28 ship date has been rumored.

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