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1 week ago

Why the $49 Amazon Fire tablet is a great buy this holiday

In the past we've steered people clear of really cheap Android tablets at holiday time. Not this year.

The Amazon Fire Tablet is both really cheap and Android, though perhaps not the Android you're used to. There's no Google to be found, which means no Play Store or Google Apps of any kind.

But if you go for the 7-inch Fire you're only going to be asked to part with $49 of your hard-earned cash. Or as is often the way, even less than that, thanks to frequent sales like Black Friday just gone. I've been using one for some time and people keep asking me if it's worth buying?

The answer is yes.

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1 week ago

Google On app gets revamped ahead of Google Wifi release

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New UI update, name change coincides with release of Google Wifi.

Google is preparing for the imminent release of its new router — Google Wifi — by updating the Google On app that was released alongside the OnHub routers manufactured in partnerships with T-Link and ASUS. Say goodbye to Google On, and hello to its shiny new successor, Google Wifi, as obtained by Android Police.

Photo credit: Android Police

One of the biggest changes to the app UI is the inclusion of three tabs at the top, which should make things smoother for navigating around to access the app's different functions. Whether you want to review which devices are connected to your network, prioritize a specific device for faster speeds when streaming high-quality video, or set up a guest Wi-Fi network, it's all the easier within the new app.

The Google Wifi app also adds support for the new Family Wi-Fi Pause feature, which allows you to temporarily disable internet access on certain devices to make time for genuine family time without the distractions of screens. It's a great feature for parents struggling to limit their kids tech time around the dinner time or at bedtime.

The update is still rolling out through the Google Play Store, but if you're eager to see the changes for yourself you can download the APK from APK Mirror and go from there.

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1 week ago

These are the best free apps for PlayStation VR

There aren't many out there, but the free apps on Playstation VR are nothing to scoff at.

Sony launched PlayStation VR with a bang, including a ton of amazing games from nearly every genre. If you haven't spent any time lurking through the PlayStation store since setting up your PlayStation VR, then you might not realize that there are a handful of free apps available for download right now. At the moment, the pickings are a bit slim, but that's to be expected since we're only a few short days past launch day. Well, don't worry about searching through the PlayStation store because we've got the details on the best free apps on PlayStation VR.

Read more at VR Heads

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1 week ago

Telltale announces Guardians of the Galaxy series for 2017

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Guardians of the Galaxy the latest franchise to get the Telltale treatment.

2017 is shaping up to be a banner year for fans of Star-Lord, Rocket and the rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Telltale has announced Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series, a five-part episodic series of games to be released on Android, as well as PC, console, and iOS in early 2017. Check out the preview trailer:

As with previous Telltale series, episodes will be released periodically and bought individually or all together with a season pass. Previous franchises that Telltale has tackled include Batman, Minecraft, The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. This is their first attempt at developing a game for a Marvel property.

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy was a surprise late-summer hit in 2015, with a sequel due to hit screens next spring. While nothing is currently know about the story or the release schedule for the Telltale episodes, logically it would make sense to expect the first episode to launch in early 2017, to build hype leading up to the film's release in early May.

Android Gaming

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1 week ago

For less than $100, you can start taking 360-degree photos with LG 360 CAM

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If you're interested in giving 360-degree photography a go, this deal on the LG 360 CAM will let you get started for just under $100.

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1 week ago

First look: Android 7.0 Nougat on OnePlus 3 + 3T

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OnePlus 3 Nougat

Android 7.0 + OxygenOS 4.0 update adds software tweaks from the OnePlus 3T, along with small visual refresh and new Nougat features.

OnePlus recently released its first Android 7.0 beta build for the OnePlus 3, bringing the phone up to the latest (stable) version of the Android, while also including features from OxygenOS 3.5 on the OnePlus 3T. Because the OnePlus 3 and 3T are set to remain on the same software track going forwards, the experience on the OnePlus 3T should be the same when the update arrives for both phones later this month.

So what's new? If you've already been using OxygenOS 3.5 — either in community build form on the 3, or as a stable build on the 3T, many features will already be familiar. (For example, the redesigned home screen launcher and updated widget shelf.)

But there are also plenty of other changes, both big and small.

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1 week ago

USB-C is changing the world for the better, but it's still not safe enough

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There's still a lot to do in order to ensure USB-C is safe for everyone.

For the most part, techy folks seem to have figured out USB-C. They mostly know you can't just order the cheapest thing on sale at Amazon, are reasonably aware of the dangers associated with using bad cables, and there are consumer advocates out there pushing every day for better cables and more awareness. The beginnings of a safe ecosystem of cables is something that could potentially happen with this level of awareness, and that's great. It sucks that we have collectively suffered through over a year of accidentally damaged hardware through potentially life-threatening cables — even one made by Apple — to get there, but forward momentum is always a good thing.

So what happens next? With Lenovo's Moto Z, Google's Pixel, and Apple's MacBooks being scooped up all around the world right now there are orders of magnitude more people using USB-C cables every week. That means people who aren't the knowledgeable techy few are browsing Amazon for spare or replacement cables, which requires some real solutions very soon.

The road so far

Most people don't fully understand why USB-C is so dangerous compared to the previous iterations of phone and tablet charging cables, and it's not hard to guess why. Micro-USB cables can be purchased in bulk for basically nothing, and users are conditioned to "just throw it out and grab a new one" when a cable doesn't behave. Take a look at any technical support guide for connecting something to your PC via USB and close to the top of every troubleshooting list is something about trying another cable. We've been conditioned to accept that sometimes bad cables happen in a batch, so you just grab another one.

It's not just bad cables, some of the companies making our phones aren't playing by the rules either.

USB-C is capable of transmitting significantly more data and several times more power than your average Micro-USB or Lightning cable, and that's where we run into problems. A shoddy USB-C cable can destroy equipment in an instant, because they're designed to be a lot more complicated. These are supposed to be cables with tiny computers inside to help regulate things like power and data transfer, but in the early days several manufacturers were caught taking their regular Micro-USB cable design and just swapping the tip out for that new oval port design. With nothing to tell the brick plugged in to your wall how much power to send, everything can go wrong.

It's not just bad cables; some of the companies making our phones aren't playing by the rules, either. USB-C has its own form of rapid charging capabilities, which makes it possible to boost laptops and phones quickly. Proprietary charging methods, like Qualcomm's Quick Charge system, aren't compatible with the USB-C spec that exists right now. That hasn't stopped Qualcomm or their phone making partners from doing their own thing in order to make USB-C and Quick Charge both happen on the same phone, which has the potential to cause very serious problems for users buying those bargain cables online. Instead of following the guidelines for USB-C, these third parties would rather boast a feature that isn't actually better than what you already get with USB-C rapid charging. This should change with the next version of the spec, but many people will be left in the lurch.

We have several manufacturers now who have either developed a reputation for quality cables or corrected their cables after being called out for not meeting spec, and that's great. Unfortunately, virtually none of these companies are testing every cable they manufacture, so the potential for a flawed product to reach a user is higher than it should be. In most of these cases, the worst that could happen is that the phone doesn't charge or send data as quickly as it could. In more extreme cases, phones and laptops could be in very real danger of permanent damage.

What should happen next?

There are several ways USB-C could move forward to become something safe for everyone to use, but it's going to require some changes on behalf of cable manufacturers and users alike. Since asking users to consult their closest electrical engineer to ensure a cable they found in the clearance bin at Wal-Mart isn't a viable option, most of what happens first is going to be on the cable manufacturers or the people that allow them to sell. It's not safe for manufacturers to deliver USB-C cables the same way Micro-USB cables have been sold over the last 10 years. It's important, too, for consumers to know that each cable is as capable as the last, that it can power your laptop and quickly move 4K video from your phone. These cables are doing more than any single cable like it has done before, and with that extra work comes the need for extra care in their manufacturing.

A lot of this comes down to testing at the factory level, and until recently there wasn't a great way to do that at scale. Recently, I spoke with Gil Ben-Dov, CEO of Total Phase, whose Advanced Cable Tester is designed to address a lot of the per-cable concerns consumers are faced with today. The testing unit is designed to test for continuity, shorts, E-Marker accuracy, signal integrity, with results achieved in less than 15 seconds. This kind of testing unit gives manufacturers the ability to rapidly ensure entire batches of cables are safe and functional in ways most cables aren't ever tested before being shipped out to consumers.

Gil had some other ideas for how consumers might move forward. One possible way to address this is through certification, some kind of governing body willing to say "these cables are the ones to buy" after a set of guidelines have been met by the manufacturer. Those guidelines would need to be more rigid than what currently exists from UL, but the same basic idea could apply. A branding or sticker that let consumers know these are worthy, all-purpose USB-C cables that work in every environment.

The safety branding also needs to be enforced by retailers, which is a problem that has led to several serious issues over the last couple of years. It can't be enough for a company to show Amazon a picture of the UL logo stamped on a battery casing, because it turns out there's no magic involved in creating those markings. Any shady company can claim certification for their product and sell a quick batch of something for what appears to be next to nothing and make a profit. Retailers need to know they are selling cables that work as well.

And so, we wait...

If every part of this process is focused on delivering something that is safe for consumers, it's possible a standard format could emerge quickly that becomes the default way USB-C is handled for the future. This isn't just good for consumers, according to Gil Ben-Dov: manufacturers are eager for a solution that decreases return requests. Many cable manufacturers are looking for a way to step away from the potential brand damage associated with having USB-C cables fail spectacularly, and a certification that claims their hardware is safe can give early adopters an important bump in a crowded market.

It wasn't all that long ago I referred to USB-C as the Wild West, and in a lot of ways it could still be seen that way. The potential for harm to your hardware isn't likely to ever be completely removed, but there are tools in place that didn't exist even six months ago to help make this the stable ecosystem it probably should have been before these ports were put in things and sold to everyone.

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1 week ago

Best Kid-proof Cases for Amazon Fire Tablets

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Best Kid-proof Cases for Amazon Fire Tablets

What's the best Amazon Fire case for kids? The one that keeps it in one piece!

Tablets are basically half glass, and the Amazon Fire is our top pick for kids. But you'll still want to protect it properly so that the little ones can use it to their heart's content without constantly worrying about them destroying it.

Here are some of the best kid-proof cases for your Amazon Fire tablet.

Fintie Casebot Honey Comb Series

Fintie Casebot Honey Comb

Bouncy, durable, flexible silicone is totally the way to go if you have kids who can't wait to get their sticky mitts all over your Amazon Fire.

The honeycomb design helps to disperse the force of impact, so that your Fire stays in one piece when dropped from a short height. It wraps around the front of your tablet to protect the bezel and create a bumper between your screen and whatever your kid happens to lay it down on.

Comes in 10 colors and only fits the 2015 7-inch Fire.

See at Amazon


Topsky heavy duty case

Topsky

These Topsky cases are made of polycarbonate and flexible silicone, so that they're easy for your child to hold and durable enough to withstand playtime, even if playtime means playing with your Fire tablet instead of on it.

The kickstand is perfect to help you set up your tablet for the little ones when they want to watch cartoons or play games.

Comes in seven colors and fits the 7-inch Fire tablet (2015).

See at Amazon


Avawo convertible handle stand

Avawo

Tablets can be awkward for the kidlets to hold onto without dropping, so having a case with a handle made for little hands is perfect.

The handle folds into a convenient stand, and the case is thick and made with heavy duty EVA foam, which protects your Fire tablet from drops and the odd toss.

Comes in purple, green, red, or black and fits the 2015 (5th generation) Fire tablet only.

See at Amazon


Tinkle One EVA case

Tinkle One

EVA foam is where it's at for shock-proof cases that help kid-proof your Amazon Fire tablet. It's wipeable with a damp cloth and durable enough to survive short drops.

That being said, drops shouldn't be common, since the case is designed with little hands in mind, and it comes in six fun colors (well, five and black) to appease even the most discerning of toddlers.

Fits the 7-inch Amazon Fire tablet (2015).

See at Amazon


EpicGadget hybrid case

EpicGadget

EpicGadget's hybrid case is shock-proof and provides great drop protection, thanks to its flexible silicone and hard polycarbonate makeup.

The vertical kickstand lets you stand your Amazon Fire tablet upright or horizontally, so your young'uns can watch cartoons or play games hands-free.

The color combinations are fun and bright, and you can count on the silicone to be grippy and easy to clean.

Fits the 7-inch Amazon Fire tablet.

See at Amazon


Amazon FreeTime

Amazon FreeTime

Amazon's own FreeTime case is totally designed with kids in mind, with a shape meant for little hands, reinforced corners for extra drop protection, fun colors, and made from a material that's kid-safe and easy to clean.

All the buttons and ports are easily accessible for adults and children alike, and raised bumps on the inside help to further disperse impact.

Fits the 7-inch Amazon Fire tablet (2015).

See at Amazon


What's on your Fire?

Do you have an awesome go-to case to make sure your kids don't destroy your Amazon Fire tablet? Let us know in the comments below!

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1 week ago

Just get a new MacBook Pro? Now is the perfect time to move to Android

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USB-C is the port all of our new electronics will be using, except for the iPhone. Android is ready to hook up with your sexy new MacBook Pro.

Apple's new MacBook Pro was met with the same controversy that many new products garner. You can't please everyone, and there will always be a change or an omission that gets some folks riled up. We all do it, all the time, and this time was no exception. We're not pointing any fingers.

Ignoring all the hubbub for a moment, the new MacBook Pro is probably a great computer for any professional on the go who doesn't need extreme 32-bit single-precision floating point format performance, which requires a very expensive and power hungry graphics system. And since most of us don't have a Quadro P6000 in the computer on our desks at work, this means us. (And if you have a Quadro P6000 installed inside your desktop computer, I am so jealous.) It also looks great for folks who just want a high-end laptop to work on Excel sheets or look at Facebook and want to use macOS instead of Windows or Chrome. Rene has a really well-written and rational review at iMore that you should read if you haven't.

More: MacBook Pro (2016) review

One of the most common complaints you'll hear about the new MacBook is that folks are upset that they need so many dongles. With no SD card slot and USB-C ports, all the things you already have can't plug in without some sort of adapter. Including your iPhone. We can't fix every issue, but we know how to alleviate the problem of having one piece of gear with a standard, albeit new, port and the other having a proprietary port that's not going away anytime soon. Make the switch to Android!

The problem isn't with the MacBook Pro. Like the "regular" MacBook, it uses a standard USB Type-C port with USB 3.1 compliance and is specified for USB-PD (Power Delivery). You need to get used to that because that's where everything is going to be very shortly. And that's good. It's a better bus and interface that most things can benefit from when they use it. Even Apple, if they used it on the iPhone and iPad.

They would be able to transmit all the data they want to transfer through the external bus and would benefit from the engineering other companies have done on an open standard. But too much money has been sunk into the Lightning port already, and moving would cause a user revolt of epic proportions. You will need to use a special cable approved by Apple or a dongle of some sort to connect your iPhone to your MacBook Pro, and shortly the same thing will be said about every computer.

What to look for when buying a USB-C cable

The same can be said for Android phones. Last year when Microsoft, Google, OnePlus and others used a USB-C port on their phones it took courage was early in the life of the standard and the ports on the Nexus 6P or Lumia 950 or OnePlus 3 didn't support things like USB 3.1 speeds or Power Delivery, but since they used a recognized standard everything you buy today is 100% backwards compatible.

They were looking forward, and we complained about having to buy new cables the same way MacBook Pro buyers are complaining about dongles. But that's mostly done with, and USB-C to USB-C is simple and better than what we had before. Every "flagship" Android phone released from now until we get something "even better" will have a USB-C port with a bus specified for PD. Just like the MacBook Pro.

If you like the iPhone, but hate the dongles and having two expensive things that can't use the same stuff like a keyboard or webcam, know that phones like the Pixel and LG V20 are here for you. 2017's great Android phones will be, too.

And so will we.

Google Pixel + Pixel XL

Google Store Verizon

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1 week ago

Become a certified Project Manager for just $69!

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Project Management happens to be one of the fastest growing fields in several industries right now, and you may be looking to make a switch. But just how does one get started with Project Management and learning the ropes? Well, they take expensive courses that consume a lot of time, right? Wrong.

You don't have to spend a ton of time and money to begin learning the basics. Meet the Ultimate Project Management Certification bundle which provides you access to 9 comprehensive courses seven days a week, 24 hours a day. From learning the basics to getting more in depth with Six Sigma Black, this is a great way to jumpstart your career change.

With the bundle you'll get:

  • Access 9 comprehensive courses 24/7
  • Explore study materials for PMI Risk Management Professional, Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM), Certified Scrum Master (CSM), Project Management Professional (PMP), Six Sigma Green Belt, Six Sigma Black Bundle, PRINCE2 Foundation Certification, and PRINCE2 Practitioner Certification
  • Learn a structured approach to managing projects
  • Understand how to manage stakeholder engagement, service strategy process, & how to analyze data
  • Plan human resources needs & identify project risks
  • Use exam prep quizzes, tests, & mock exams to ensure you're ready to take on the real certification exams

Normally, a bundle like this would set you back around $4,300, but right now you can pay a fraction of that. For access at any time of any day to nine different courses, you can't really beat the $69 price tag here. From learning structured approachings to managing projections to planning upcoming human resource needs, and more, there is tons of valuable information here.

This huge 98% savings won't last though, so you'll want to grab it for yourself now before it is too late.

See at Android Central Offers

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1 week ago

AirDroid app vulnerable to 'man-in-the-middle' attacks [Update: Fixed and improved]

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Android security

Remote management app could expose data to attackers — or compromise devices through hijacked update files.

Update, December 9: Betty Chen, CMO of AirDroid has reached out to Android Central with the latest on the team's work to fix the vulnerability. See the response below:

We have just completed the staged rollout of AirDroid(Mobile 4.0.0.3; Mac/Win 3.3.5.3 ) on Google Play Store, it is now available to all users. In this update, we have improved our encryption mechanism as planned and fixed the issue regarding the recent concern over AirDroid's security.

The issue is fixed in the update.

Along with other security improvements, we have upgraded the communication channels to https and improved the encryption method.

Because of AirDroid's cross-platform nature, it took us sometime to design a customised solution and level up our security in all aspects. We introduced the restructuring coding system into AirDroid4.0 and AirDroid 4.0.0.1 to make sure the compatibility works fine across platforms late in November. After a careful assessment, we started to roll out this update partially earlier this month across clients to make sure a smooth communication is performed well. Now we can finally release this update fully to fix the issue raised as well as make sure our users are better protected.

Research by security firm Zimperium has shown that popular remote management app AirDroid is vulnerable to so-called "man-n-the-middle" attacks, leaving users' phones open to data theft or, at worst, compromise of the device through a hijacked update file.

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1 week ago

Motorola is taking a wait-and-see approach to wearables

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Motorola isn't saying wearables are dead, but for now they're frozen.

Motorola has been in the wearables game longer than practically any other company. This was pointed out by Shakil Barkat, Moto's head of global product development and self-proclaimed "big fan of wearables," during a meeting with reporters at the company's Chicago headquarters this week.

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1 week ago

Ditch the wires with up to 66% off these Bluetooth headphones

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Right now you can save up to 66% on a variety of SoundPeats Bluetooth headphones at Amazon, but only for today. The discounts range from the company's sport headphones right down to the truly wireless ones, so you won't want to miss out here. Whether you need to pick up some headphones to replace an older pair, or can't use your old ones in your new phone without a headphone jack, Bluetooth is the way to go these days.

If you need a new set of headphones, today is the day to buy a pair. This deal will end tonight, so be sure to act quickly and pick some up right now,

See at Amazon

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1 week ago

OnePlus 3T lands in India for ₹29,999; 128GB variant debuts at ₹34,999

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The best phone you can get for under ₹30,000 in India.

The OnePlus 3T has made its debut in India, with sales set to kick off from December 14 exclusively on Amazon. The 64GB variant will retail for ₹29,999 ($440), while the 128GB variant will be available for ₹34,999 ($512).

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1 week ago

These are Google Play's best apps and games of 2016

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The best of 2016 from Google Play.

Google Play has rolled out its Best of 2016 guide, highlighting the best-selling apps and games this year. As expected, Niantic's Pokémon Go turned out to be the most popular game of 2016, Game of Thrones was the most-watched TV show, and Scoompa's Face Changer 2 led the app charts.

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