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29 min ago

How to completely disable Bixby

81

How to completely disable Bixby

Get rid of the Galaxy's most disappointing feature.

The Galaxy Note 9 is coming August 24, and it also integrates Bixby. While we're still evaluating the software, we believe that these steps will be the same on the Galaxy Note 9.

Ever since Samsung announced the Galaxy S8 with its onboard assistant, Bixby, people have been asking for ways to disable it and forget the button ever existed in the first place. With the Galaxy S9, that chorus is even louder.

While the hardware's not going anywhere, we can definitely do something about the software. Here's how to get rid of Bixby Voice and, if you're using Samsung's launcher, Bixby Home.

Why do you want to disable Bixby?

One of the biggest frustrations with the Bixby button is its placement; the button is right under the volume keys and nearly directly opposite the power buttons. On larger phones like the Galaxy S9+ and Note 8, this often leads to accidental presses and unintended Bixby launches, especially when double-pressing the power button to launch the camera.

The Bixby button is also not mappable to another action; Samsung wants you to use it for Bixby, or not at all. This isn't ideal, so many people will inevitably choose to just forget it exists and move on.

How to disable Bixby Voice

Bixby is divided into two distinct categories: Bixby Voice and Bixby Home. Voice is the feature that lets you get stuff done by holding down the Bixby button for a moment, walkie-talkie-style. It's useful but can get frustrating when it doesn't work, so you're going to want to turn it off before you disable Bixby Home (which is accessed by short-pressing the Bixby button).

  1. While on the Samsung home screen, swipe right until you get to Bixby Home.

    • Alternatively, press the Bixby button on the left side of the phone, right under the volume rocker.

  2. On the top menu bar, tap the three vertical dots.
  3. Tap Settings.
  4. Uncheck Bixby Voice.

That's it! Now Bixby Voice won't bug you when you accidentally hold down your finger on the Bixby button. Next, we have to prevent the Bixby button from accessing Bixby Home.

How to disable the Bixby button

Now that Bixby Voice has been disabled, we have to disable Bixby Home from popping up whenever we accidentally press the side button.

  1. Press the Bixby button on the left side of the phone, right under the volume rocker.
  2. In the top menu bar, tap the Settings button (looks like three cogs).
  3. Uncheck Bixby Key.

That's it! Now when you press the Bixby button once, it won't open the Bixby Home

How to disable Bixby Home from the home screen

Now, the final step to disabling Bixby entirely is to disable Bixby Home access from the home screen which, by default, puts it on the left-most panel.

  1. From the home screen, hold down on empty space until the menu appears.
  2. Swipe to the right to reach the left home panel.
  3. Disable Bixby Home.

That's it! Now neither the Bixby button nor the Bixby Home screen will work and you can move on with your life, Bixby-free.

Should you want to access Bixby again, though, you'll need to follow these steps in reverse, first enabling Bixby Home from the launcher and then the Bixby button from inside the menu.

Questions? Comments?

Got any questions about this process, or just want to share your sheer joy at being able to disable Bixby? Let us know in the comments below!

Update August 14, 2018: This article is still accurate, and we're looking into whether the steps still work for the Galaxy Note 9.

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+

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2 hours ago

Google Assistant: Everything you need to know

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Google Assistant: Everything you need to know

There's a lot going on with the Google Assistant — let's break down the important stuff.

In May 2016, we got our very first taste of the Google Assistant with the debut of Allo. The Assistant was a big draw to Allo at the time, with Google marketing it as a helpful bot that could make restaurant reservations, search the web, and more within your conversations.

Since then, the Assistant has gained heaps of new features and expanded to smartphones, tablets, speakers, and more. Google's shown no interest in slowing down development for the Assistant, meaning that it's likely here for the long-haul.

Whether this is your first encounter with it or you just need a quick refresher, here's everything you need to know about the Google Assistant.

The latest Google Assistant news

August 14, 2018 — Pandora Premium now supported by Google Home and Smart Displays

Users have been able to stream Pandora through Google Home speakers for quite some time now, but starting today, you'll be able to link your Pandora Premium account so you can listen to specific, on-demand songs/playlists in addition to the service's popular radio stations.

Pandora Premium costs $9.99/month like the majority of its competitors, but if you own a Google Home, you can get a free 90-day trial to test out the service before handing over any of your hard-earned cash.

You can start listening to Pandora Premium on the Google Home, Home Mini, Home Max, Lenovo Smart Display, and other Google Assistant speakers right now.

August 9, 2018 — Deeper, more specific news coverage is now rolling out

Pretty much since the Assistant's inception, you've been able to say "Hey, Google, what's the news?" to get a quick overview of all the big headlines for any given day.

Starting today and rolling out to users across the U.S., you can now ask the Assistant about news for specific topics, such as "What's the latest on NASA?" or "What's the news on the women's national soccer team?". Asking these questions on a Smart Display will pull up related YouTube videos while audio-only speakers such as Google Home will read out excerpts from news articles.

Additionally, this command will also be available for Android Auto, Android phones, and Assistant-powered headphones like the Bose QC35 II.

August 3, 2018 — Google Home can now understand what room it's in for contextual light controls

That title might make this not sound all that exciting, but this is actually pretty cool.

Up until now, asking your Google Home to "turn on the lights" or "tune off the lights" without specifying a certain room would result in every single connected light being turned on/off. However, a new update now allows the Google Home to only control the lights in the same room as it when this command is issued.

For example, if you have a Google Home assigned to the same room as the smart lights in your living room, asking that Google Home to turn on the lights will only activate the bulbs in the living room. You can still specify rooms with your voice, but this update should make these interactions a lot more natural.

Following numerous Redditors discovering this feature, Google confirmed to Android Police that this is indeed rolling out to users and will be making its way to everyone over the coming days.

July 27, 2018 — You can now schedule custom routines for specific times/days

Building upon Custom Routines that were added to Google Assistant earlier this year, users can now schedule these routines to go off at a certain time/day. Previously, custom routines you made could only be used after saying a specific command.

While creating a routine, you'll now see a new "Set a time and day" option under the "When" section. Here, you can choose the time you want it to play and what day(s) it should repeat.

There are a lot of ways to take advantage of this, with one example being to have your coffee pot turn on, crank up the AC, and hear about the weather as you're waking up without having to ever speak to your Google Home. Neat!

July 26, 2018 — Dutch is now an officially supported language

Good news, Dutch speakers! As of July 26, 2018, Google's confirmed that the Google Assistant now speaks Dutch as one of its official languages.

Assuming you've got an Android phone running Marshmallow or later, you can now access the Assistant to ask it questions about the weather, create calendar appointments, control smart home devices, and more.

In addition to your phone, you'll also be able to use Dutch on the Google Home later in the year once the smart speaker goes on sale in the Netherlands.

July 17, 2018 — New Google Assistant page shows commute times, packages, upcoming flights, and more

Starting today, the Assistant on your phone is getting a big visual overhaul. After prompting the Assistant, tap the icon near the top right that previously opened up the Explore page for finding new Assistant actions and it'll now show a visual overview of your day.

Similar to old Google Now cards, this page shows things like your commute to work, the current weather, upcoming flights, packages that are on their way from recent online orders, calendar appointments, and much more.

In the near future, Google says it'll let you see a quick overview of notes/lists from Google Keep, Todoist, Bring!, and more, a discovery page that'll help you find nearby events/activities, reminders of where you last parked your car, and recommendations for songs and podcasts the Assistant thinks you'll like.

This new interface is rolling out today and is available on Android and iOS for all languages the Assistant supports.

July 10, 2018 — Google updates the UX for selecting the Assistant's voice

During Google I/O this past May, four new voices were added to the Assistant's existing male and female voices to help give it some more personality. Starting today, English users in the United States will see a new user interface when changing the voice.

With the new UX, users will now see a horizontal row of colors that denotes each voice rather than a vertical list of Voice 1, Voice 2, etc. The colors are entirely random and consist of Red, Orange, Amber, Green, Cyan, Blue, Purple, and Pink.

Google says the new look should be live for everyone by the end of the week!

July 10, 2018 — Deezer Premium is now supported on Google Homes in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Italy

Deezer may not be as popular as rivals like Spotify and Pandora, but for subscribers of the paid Deezer Premium service, you'll be happy to know that you can now listen to all of your Deezer songs and playlists through your Google Home.

Deezer Premium streaming has been available through Google Home since August 2017, but it was initially only live in France and Germany. This was later expanded to the United Kingdom in April of this year, and with this latest rollout, Deezer Premium now works on Google Homes that are in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Italy.

To link Deezer Premium to your Google Home, open the Home app, go to Music, and link your Deezer account.

The service regularly costs $9.99/month, but if you're a new member, Google's offering three months for just $0.99. If you want to take advantage of this offer, it's good until September 20.

June 26, 2018 — All Google Home speakers now support Spanish

While users have been able to talk to Assistant in Spanish on their phones, we're just now getting the ability to do the same on Google Home speakers.

Now, users in the United States, Spain, Mexico and other countries can choose to speak to Google Assistant in Spanish. If you want to change what language Google Home uses, open the Home app on your phone. The tap Settings -> Preferences -> Español.

All Google Home Speakers now support Spanish

June 12, 2018 — Google Home can now handle up to three commands at once

It can get old trying to ask multiple questions to our smart speakers — "What's the weather" and "How's my schedule" — but nowGoogle Home can understand up to three commands. Now, you can get your calendar, find out the weather and start playing music by only saying "Okay Google" once.

Another new feature is support for Multiple Actions. So now, instead of asking, "What's the weather in New York and the weather in San Francisco?", you can ask, "What's the weather in New York and San Francisco?" This is a subtle change, but it makes conversing with Google Assistant much more like conversing with a human.

Google Home can now handle up to three commands at once

May 9, 2018 — Google announced a heap of new features at I/O

To little surprise, the Google Assistant was the star of the show for a good chunk of I/O's opening keynote this year.

A lot of new features were announced for the Assistant, including new voices, the ability to ask follow-up questions without having to say "Hey, Google" each time, and an option for making your own custom Routines.

However, the most exciting thing was a system called Google Duplex. With this, the Assistant can call businesses and make appointments/reservations on your behalf. It's wickedly cool and definitely one of the wildest things to come out of this year's conference.

What's new in Google Home and Assistant at Google I/O 2018

All the important details

Google Now paved the way for Google Assistant

The Google Now page compared to the new Google Feed.

Before there was the Google Assistant, we had Google Now. Google Now was introduced to the world all the way back in 2012, offering contextual info through the Google Now page and helpful answers to random questions with an "OK Google" voice command.

A lot of what made Google Now so great can still be found in the Google Assistant today, with the exception of the Google Now page. The Google Now page used to be home to cards showcasing the weather, information on packages that had shipped from online orders, boarding passes, and more. It's since been replaced by the Google Feed – a collection of news stories Google thinks you'll be interested in – and it's definitely the biggest departure between the two services.

The Google Assistant as a whole is still more powerful than Google Now ever was, but long-time Android users like myself are still mourning the loss of that Now page. RIP, old friend.

Read more: Google Now is being left to wither and die as Google Assistant takes the focus

It's available on just about everything

In just a few short years, the Google Assistant's gone from being exclusive to a now-failed chat app to being integrated into just about anything you can think of.

You'll find Google Assistant built right into most Android phones, it's the star of the show for the Google Home lineup, and it's even making its way into sound bars.

Here's the full list of devices with Google Assistant

Setting up the Google Assistant is as easy or complex as you want

When you set up a device for the first time that has the Assistant, getting started is pretty simple. Accessing it is just a voice command or tap away depending on what gadget you're using, but if you want to really fine-tune your experience, Google's got you covered.

Take a quick dive into your Assistant settings and you'll find options for just about everything – including your weather preferences, changing the Assistant's voice, retraining your voice model, picking out preferred news sources, and much more.

How to set up and customize Google Assistant

Google Assistant is available in multiple regions and languages

Of course, a smart voice assistant isn't any good if you can't actually use it. Fortunately, Google Assistant will be available in 52 countries —adding 38 countries this year — and 17 languages by the end of 2018.

More: Google Assistant will expand to 38 countries and 17 languages in 2018

Google Home's the premier way to get the Assistant in your house (at least for now)

It's great to have the Google Assistant on your phone, but if you want to truly experience just how helpful it can be, you'll want to consider picking up a Google Home.

Google Home is Google's line of smart speakers that put the Assistant on full-display, allowing you to control smart devices, ask random questions, set timers, play music, and more by just using your voice.

You can spend as little as $49 for the Google Home Mini, $129 for the original Google Home, or a whopping $399 for the Google Home Max.

However, as great as the Home series is, don't forget that Smart Displays are just on the horizon.

Announced at CES 2018, Smart Displays are essentially smart speakers with the Google Assistant and a touch screen display that can show you helpful visuals when talking to them. It's basically Google's answer to the Amazon Echo Show and Echo Spot, and we can't wait to see more from them.

Everything you need to know about Google's Home speakers

Then again, is an always-listening speaker the right fit for your home?

However, the convenience of a Google Home (or any smart speaker for that matter) does come at the cost of privacy. Speakers like the Google Home are "always listening", meaning they're constantly on the lookout for a hot word to know when you're talking to it (such as "Ok, Google" and "Hey, Google").

This means the microphone on a Google Home is always active, but it's not necessarily storing all the audio it hears when it doesn't detect its hot word.

Most all speakers allow you to restore some privacy by being able to mute the microphone, but if you want to start asking the Assistant questions, you'll need to unmute it first.

To learn more about these "always listening" speakers, I'll pass the mic over to Jerry

Big upgrades are coming to the Assistant on Wear OS

Switching gears for a second, the Google Assistant on Wear OS (formerly Android Wear) is about to get a big upgrade.

In the near future, the Assistant on Wear OS will support Assistant Actions (basically apps for the Assistant) and give you the option to hear its responses through your watch's speaker or a pair of connected Bluetooth headphones.

Along with this, Google will be adding something called "smart suggestions." After asking the Assistant for the weather, for example, you'll see little bubbles for "weather tonight", "use celsius", and more so you can continue the conversation with just the tap of your finger. Google Assistant on Android offers something similar, and it's a great tool to have.

IFTTT supercharges the Assistant's usefulness

IFTTT (If This Then That) is a powerful online tool that allows you trigger something (that) if a certain event (this) happens. You can connect IFTTT to the Google Assistant to create your own recipes using this formula, and it can allow for some incredibly helpful combinations.

Some of our favorite uses for IFTTT and the Assistant include adding contacts to your Google account, setting your Google Calendar status to Busy for a certain period of time, and much, much more.

Getting started with IFTTT can take some time and patience if you're new to it, but once you're all set up and ready to go, it can prove to be a lifesaver.

How to connect Google Home and IFTTT to do amazing things with your connected tech

You'll get the same experience no matter what devices you use

With so many devices capable of running the Assistant, it'd be easy to think that the experience you get on one gadget would be different from another. This is something that Google struggled with for a while at first, but we're finally in a position where the Assistant experience you get on a smart speaker, for example, is the same you'll get on your phone.

There are a handful of features here and there that still create for some discrepency, but for the most part, the Assistant you use on your Pixel 2 is the same one found on Google Home.

Google Home and Google Assistant finally offer the same experience

Google Duplex is actually going to be a thing

Google showed off Duplex — Google Assistant making natural-sounding phone calls on your behalf — at I/O 2018, but quickly noted that it was just an experiment. Flash forward a couple months, and Google announced that certain users have started testing Duplex, and a public release will be here in the next few months. Before you know it, Google Assistant will be able to book hotels, dinner reservations, hair appointments and more without you lifting a finger.

More: What is Google Duplex?

Updated July 2018: Added the Google Duplex and language support sections, as well as links to recent Assistant news.

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3 hours ago

5 things we'd like to see in Fallout 76

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5 things we'd like to see in Fallout 76

Fallout 76 has the potential to bring the franchise to new heights with these five opportunities.

Fallout 76's massively-multiplayer online focus (MMO), as well as the fact that it's set before the rest of the Fallout games, leaves plenty of room for Bethesda to go wild with what it offers to the player. Here are five things that would make Fallout 76 awesome.

3 hours ago

Moto Z3 review: Verizon's middle child

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Moto Z3 review: Verizon's middle child

To love the Moto Z3 is to embrace every phone that Motorola's made over the past five years, to accept the company's decisions around modular telephony and gesture-friendly software. It's to understand that Motorola doesn't have the influence in the U.S. it once did, and to rationalize the deals it makes with carriers to get its phones on shelves and into people's pockets.

To love the Moto Z3 is to love the best parts of the Moto Z2 Force and the Moto Z3 Play, and to pretend that this phone isn't just a messy mashup of those two devices.

To buy the Moto Z3, however, is a different story.

Moto Z3

Price: $480

Bottom line: The Moto Z3 is a capable phone that, even without its impending 5G bona fides, fits into a strong mid-range lineup at Verizon.

See at Amazon

Pros:

  • Awesome battery life
  • Excellent, fluid software
  • Moto Display makes any phone better
  • 5G Mod is very exciting
  • Price is right

Cons:

  • Mediocre camera quality
  • 2017 hardware in 2018 body
  • Power button placement is objectively bad

Moto Z3 The Review

Spec Moto Z3 Specs Operating system Android 8.1
Moto Display, Voice, Actions Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor Screen 6.01-inch Full HD (2160x1080) AMOLED RAM 4GB Storage 64GB (expandable) Rear camera 12MP
phase-detect, laser autofocus
1.25um pixels
f/2.0 lens Rear camera 2 12MP black & white
portrait mode Front camera 8MP
1.12-micron pixels
f/2.0 wide-angle lens Speaker Single front-facing Moto Mods support Yes Water resistance Water-repellent coating Security Side fingerprint sensor, face unlock Battery 3000mAh
TurboPower charger (8 hrs battery in 15 min) Colors Deep Indigo Dimensions 76.5 x 156.5 x 6.75 mm Weight 156g

There's something to be said for Motorola's institutional fortitude at being able to Frankenstein together the internals of its 2017 flagship, the Moto Z2 Force, with the body of the more recent Moto Z3 Play and call it a new phone. Because that's exactly what this is: other than the battery size, which is slightly larger, this is by all accounts the same phone as the Z2 Force, down to the camera hardware.

I'd be very wary of giving such a rebadging a pass if it weren't for the phone's $480 price, and the fact that, at Verizon, it fits into an increasingly critical price point for the provider.

If you take a look at Verizon's smartphone offerings, you'll see a widening divide between entry-level devices — the ASUS ZenFone V, Samsung Galaxy J7 V, and LG Stylo 2 V — and the flagships like the Galaxy Note 9 and S9 series, Google's Pixel 2 lineup, and the various iPhones. For newer devices, only Motorola's existing Z2 Play fits into the sub-$500 "budget flagship" category.

So to dismiss the Moto Z3 outright is to miss its purpose in Verizon's lineup, which at $20 a month makes it palatable for price-sensitive customers who want a compromise-free phone. And despite its 2017 spec sheet, this phone is largely free of compromises. The Snapdragon 835 and 4GB of RAM combination makes for speedy operation, especially on Motorola's excellent and lightweight software, and the standard 64GB storage is enough for most people. Plus, there's microSD expansion. The 3,000mAh battery is good enough for a full day's use, and the addition of Moto Mod support allows for quick top-ups if necessary.

The camera is pretty good and gets the job done, but don't expect low light performance.

And while the cameras didn't impress me much last year, they're quite a bit better than those of the similarly-priced Moto Z3 Play, and comparable to, say, the $499 Honor View10. They're fine — the app loads quickly from Motorola's patented (and after five years, still awesome) snap gesture, and outdoor photos are vibrant and sharp. It would have been nice for Motorola to upgrade the lenses — unlike the f/1.7 aperture of the Z3 Play, the Z3 is stuck with Motorola's narrower f/2.0 combination, which lets in considerably less light. To offset this, there's a secondary 12MP monochrome sensor but it doesn't save this phone's low-light shots. It also doesn't save the problematic portrait mode, which is better left idle.

The main issue with the camera is that, because there's no optical stabilization, and the camera's aperture is relatively narrow, it defaults to slow shutter speeds in anything but great light, causing photo-destroying motion blur in the process. This isn't the phone to buy if you want to take lots of photos of kids or dogs.

At the same time, I took plenty of "normal" photos that I'm really happy with. From flowers to sunsets to stationary dogs (well, one stationary dog), I think most people will be very happy with the Z3's cameras. And for those who want things a bit more artsy, the secondary monochrome sensor can pull off some impressive visuals.

Moto Z3 (left) | Pixel 2 XL (right)

Here, compared to the Pixel 2 XL, you can see there isn't as much detail, and colors aren't as vivid, but I'm definitely not going to throw away the Z3's photo — especially since it's of my dog, Zadie. I keep all of her photos 💓.

From the outside, this is the Moto Z3 Play

If you were expecting a brand new look and feel for Motorola's 2018 flagship, you're missing the point; Motorola's parent, Lenovo, is a ruthless cost cutter, and the company is still not making money from its phone business. Here's how it framed things during its latest quarterly earnings report:

In North America, shipments continued to show strong, year-on-year growth as Lenovo strengthened presence with mainstream models and carrier expansion. North America shipments grew 54% year-on-year for Q4 and gained 1.1pts of market share to 3.8% in Q4 FY2017/18.

Translation: Our strategy is working, so we've got no plans to mess things up.

Expense reduction for the new fiscal year as part of a strategy to reduce loss and focus on strengthening MBG's leading position and profitability in Latin America, North America and Western Europe by simplifying the portfolio, optimizing the cost structure and leveraging shared platforms.

Translation: Cut costs any means necessary.

The Moto Z3 is the result of such a strategy. It looks the same as the Moto Z3 Play because the two were design in tandem.

You can read all about the design in my Z3 Play review, but the tl;dr is this: Motorola did a good job maintaining Moto Mods support while modernizing the phone's design. The taller 18:9 AMOLED display is great, as is the placement of the fingerprint sensor. The only issue is the power button, which is inexplicably on the left side of the phone.

You're also only getting a single speaker, though it is front-facing, along with a USB-C port and no headphone jack. On the back, the camera module protrudes slightly until you put a Mod on it, but the whole thing feels at once solid, dense, and a little too thin. Like all Moto Z devices, the Z3 was designed to be used with one of Motorola's many Mods.

That 5G Mod — and Mods in general

At its launch event in Chicago, Motorola spent less time talking about the Z3 than its upcoming 5G Moto Mod companion, which is set to debut ... sometime in 2019. In its current state, the thing is very much a prototype, and the demoes we saw were controlled and attached to large computers that made sure nothing funky would happen.

But even when the 5G Mod itself is ready, its success depends on Verizon's successful rollout of its 5G network, which will only debut in four cities by the end of 2018, and relies on super-fast signals that won't penetrate walls. In other words, even those few early adopters will only get to experience 5G in very limited capacity.

5G Moto Mod: Everything you need to know

I wouldn't suggest buying the Moto Z3 just so you can wait an undisclosed number of months for its bulky, likely-pricey 5G companion.

But what about the Mods ecosystem in general? At this point, it's pretty stacked, with plenty of batteries to choose from, along with capable speakers, printers, projectors, and many other useful tools. Did I mention there are many batteries?

Motorola only committed to three generations of Moto Mod support, which is up with the release of the Z3. It also said it wouldn't release any more Mods in 2018. While it's unclear whether the 5G Mod will be the company's last, the writing is sort of on the wall. So should you buy the Moto Z3 in anticipation of a Moto Mods fire sale sometime in 2019? Or should you buy it because you already have a bunch of Mods from your first-gen Moto Z? Maybe, but those aren't great reasons to buy a phone.

A matter of taste

The Moto Z3 does most things well and nothing spectacularly. The software is great because Motorola basically copies the best parts of Android and adds a bunch of interesting stuff, including a great ambient display called Moto Display and a bunch of truly useful gestures, like the aforementioned camera twist, that you're going to use a lot.

There are also a lot of preloaded pieces of software, including a bunch of crappy games, that you'll immediately want to get rid of. Verizon's own pre-installed apps are no less intrusive, and I highly recommend disabling as many of those as you can without negatively affecting your experience. Such is the price of a subsidized phone.

Despite the number on the box, the Z3's battery lasts much longer than many phones with bigger cells.

On the battery front, the 3,000mAh cell isn't huge but it lasted me a full day throughout the week that I used the phone. I also relied on my trusty Turbopower Mod to give me a boost whenever I needed it, but that only happened a couple evenings after heavy-use days.

Finally, given that the phone runs last year's Snapdragon 835, it technically supports gigabit speeds, though my experience on Verizon's network in Chicago, while good, didn't quite reach those heights. And as with all Motorola phones, call quality is superb, though sound coming from the single speaker isn't.

Moto Z3 Should you buy it?

This is a more important phone for Verizon than it is for Motorola. While it feels expressly built as a vehicle to promote an upcoming Moto Mod that very few people will actually buy, it also slots in perfectly to the company's stretched phone lineup that, at the moment, has very little between the low-end and the very high-end.

Unlike the Moto Z3 Play, which is quickly becoming an Amazon Prime Exclusive darling, you probably won't be buying the Z3 outright. At $20 a month for two years, the Z3's $480 street price is quite attractive for what you get, even if its most notable feature, the 5G Moto Mod, is months away from release and will likely carry a price tag to rival the phone itself.

3.5 out of 5

The Moto Z3 is a great phone. Really, it is. If you're not keen on a Galaxy, or don't want to spend the extra $10 to $15 per month on a LG G7, or are upgrading from a Moto Z, the Z3 is going to treat you well.

See at Verizon

3 hours ago

Sprint and LG are working together to make the first 5G phone in the U.S.

6

Sprint and LG are working together to make the first 5G phone in the U.S.

5G is coming sooner than you think.

Motorola may have already shown off a 5G Moto Mod for its new Moto Z3, but that accessory isn't due to be released until early 2019 — and even then, it's just an add-on that attaches to the back of your phone. Another device to purchase, another device to keep charged, and another device to carry with you at all times.

For 5G to really start taking off, we're going to need to start seeing phones with integrated 5G radios built directly in, and LG is teaming up with Sprint to make that happen.

Unfortunately, neither company has given much info on the phone; we don't know whether to expect the LG G8 to be 5G-capable or if this is a different phone entirely, but either way the companies are looking to ship this 5G phone in the first half of 2019.

Sprint says its 5G-capable Massive MIMO cell sites can deliver up to 10 times the capacity of its existing LTE systems — at first, it'll roll out in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix, and Washington D.C., but of course, the 5G network will expand to other markets over time.

Read more: Sprint's nationwide 5G network will launch in the first half of 2019

LG G7 ThinQ

Amazon Verizon T-Mobile Sprint

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3 hours ago

How to download Xbox One captures on Android

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How to download Xbox One captures on Android

DVR Hub for Xbox
DVR Hub for Xbox
DVR Hub for Xbox

DVR Hub for Xbox

The Xbox app for Android doesn't let you do this. Enter a third-party developer.

One key feature the Windows 10 Mobile Xbox app has over both the iOS and Android versions is that you can not only view but also download your console captures from the cloud. Once uploaded to Xbox Live, just as you can on the PC app, the Windows 10 Mobile app allows you to get hold of them for sharing and editing as you see fit to places like Instagram and YouTube.

Even to this day, if I want to share a clip on my Instagram account, I've mostly been using a Windows phone to download it and then re-upload it to Instagram. That's not a long term solution, though, and Microsoft really needs to add it to the other platforms apps.

Until that happens, a third-party app called DVR Hub for Xbox is here to save the day.

4 hours ago

Best ways to customize and decorate your Oculus Go

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Best ways to customize and decorate your Oculus Go

Art can make anything beautiful, including your VR headsets!

Most of us love the sleek look of a plain gray headset, but some of us like a little more spark or a little more silliness. From custom art to safe stickers, I'm gonna show you how to make your Oculus Go one of a kind.

By the time you're done checking out all your options, your creative energy will be bursting at the seams to put it to good use and get rid of all of that gray! So without further ado, here's how to give your Oculus Go that one-of-a-kind look you've been dying for.

Not interested in giving it a paint job? There are other options!

Give your Oculus Go a custom paint job

Of all the options that were available for customizing my headset, I personally decided to just go ahead and paint a design of my choosing on it. By no means am I a super artistic person, but I like to think I can get the job done if I need to.

If you're worried about not having a steady hand or you've never drawn more than a couple of stick figures, don't worry. You can always print out a stencil to make the whole process go that much smoother.

Usually, when people give custom art to their tech (like with controllers or Game Boy) they'll use spray paint. That is not an option in this case. It's only safe to use in those circumstances because you can actually it apart and put it back together. You can't take the frame of the Oculus Go off, so using spray paint only risks getting paint into all the tiny holes and crevices.

Alchohol based ink paint

When I say, "Give your Oculus Go a custom paint job," what I really mean is, "Give your Oculus Go a custom ink job." You want to use the same ink paint that is used to paint model cars or miniatures for DND.

If you're still apprehensive I can personally attest that I use my Oculus Go almost 2-3 hours at a time, even after the paint, and have experienced no issues. You can find it on Amazon for $14.20.

See on Amazon.

What you'll need

You'll probably find most of what you need in your house already. This includes things like a pencil, a paper plate, a plastic cup, rubbing alcohol, some paper towels and a good source of light.

The rest of what you'll need are some fine point paint brushes, solvent-based enamel paint, and blue painters tape. If you don't have painters tape (and don't want to order any) I used masking tape and got away with it just fine.

Fine point brushes

You're going to be painting on a much smaller surface than what you normally have on a canvas. For better detailing on the small pieces, you'll want to make sure you have a few fine-point brushes laying around. You can get a set of 15 off Amazon for $10.97.

See on Amazon.

Cover all of the important bits

First things first, get out your tape and cut it into small sections. You'll want the pieces of tape to be large enough to go over all the buttons, holes and then some. If what you want to paint will require you getting close to the buttons make sure you're very careful.

I purposely picked a design that wouldn't go anywhere near the buttons on my headset to avoid the risk of the paint causing things to stick together or get clunky. If you trust your steady hand a lot more than I trust mine then go for it! Just be very cautious of the crevices you'll find along the rim of the face and on the bottom of your headset.

Rough drafts and the first base

The best part about the surface of your Oculus Go is the ability to draw on it with a pencil. If you don't like how something turned out, or change your mind all-together, you can erase the entire thing with nothing more than a slightly damp paper towel.

With my project, I chose to do only a mild outline. Freehanding the Cookie Cats in the background was the best-worst decision I've ever made. Don't be like me, draw out your outline. It'll save you so much time.

Don't worry about the clunkyness. As you can see from the second image I've provided in this section, the base of my art was very lumpy, uneven and even some of my colors mixed while I was painting. Don't let it get to you. You'll need to do a second coat of your paint anyway. If you do make a serious mistake all you have to do is wrap the pointy end of your paintbrush with a paper towel, dip it into some paint thinner (if the paint has dried) and wipe it off. There are no mistakes here, only happy accidents.

Finishing the job

Once you're done with your base you should be able to go right into your second base. This paint dies wicked fast, making the whole process go pretty quick. Adding your second base will smooth out the paint and allow the colors to become more vibrant. Then all you have to go is go through and finish detailing!

When all is said and done, and you're happy with your work, get your enamel finish out. I got the spray can version of this, but I did not use the spray directly on my headset. Instead, I sprayed it into a cup and painted it on with my brush. Topcoat for nail polish might seem like a good idea, but don't do that. You need something that's safe for temperatures, and outdoor enamel paint is usually perfect for this job. All you have to do is cover the paint, not the entire headset.

Want to change the image up every few months? Skip out on sealing it with enamel. This way you can wipe off your art with paint thinner and do something else with it at a later date. Yes, this means the art will go through the usual wear and tear. But, if you like a constant change you can just use it as motivation to paint again!

Other options

If you're not the artistic type there are more ways to customize your Oculus Go. Instead, you can try a few of these other options to spice up your VR headset life. One of my personal favorites are the hilariously silly googly eyes. With minimal effort, you can enhance your VR experience forever with constant laughter.

Googly eyes

Nothing, I repeat, nothing will make me laugh more than seeing a pair of Googly eyes on a VR headset. For $6 you can find these stickers on Amazon and have a grand ole' time with them. Get one of your friends to try out your Oculus Go with a pair of these babies on and strap them into the most physical game you can think of. The results will be endless laughter and great memories, I promise.

See on Amazon.

Other than that there is a decent variety of decal kits you can find online. These are a little bit of a pain to work with, but that might just be my OCD talking. I can almost never seem to get them to line up properly that I end up peeling off and sticking back on so many times it just stops working. I bet you're better at this than I am, so you should get one for yourself and test it out!

Decal kits

If googly eyes are a little too silly for you there are a few more options. Amazon is carrying decal kits for your Oculus Go and there are quite a few choices to choose from! For $15 you can grab your favorite design and turn your headset into an absolute masterpiece. (Now with half the work!)

See on Amazon.

So how did you decorate your Oculus Go?

Whether you gave it your very own paint job or found some amazing sticker decals, I wanna hear all about it! Tell me in the comment section below, or shoot me a Tweet @OriginallSluggo. What are your plans for spicing up your headset?

4 hours ago

How to stop your Android phone from sharing your location with Google

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How to stop your Android phone from sharing your location with Google

All the settings you need to know when Google doesn't need to know.

If you carry a cell phone — even a simple flip phone without any sort of real display — someone somewhere is tracking your location. Even if there is no SIM card inside, the phone is in constant contact with cellular towers as long as it's turned on and one or more are in range. When you add some smarts to the mix and use something like an Android phone, things get a little more complicated.

We can't help you hide your movements from carriers or cell towers because that's a little past the grey line between privacy and the law. But we can help you keep Google from knowing where you've been and when you were there — all you need to know is that the name of some settings might not mean what you think they mean.

Don't worry. We've got you covered.

Location History

My timeline over seven years.

The wording here has a lot of people confused. Don't feel bad if you're one of them because it's natural to think this means a place where the location of your phone is being kept and updated, and that turning it off should make it all stop. But that's not what this is, it's actually the name of a feature tied to your Google account.

Google has a nifty feature it calls a location timeline. You can check it out on your Android phone under the device location settings. What it does is show you a list of where your phone has been and when, and this can be turned into a really cool map that shows your movements over time. A lot of people want this sort of thing; it's convenient for keeping track of mileage and distance, and this data is part of what Google uses to make Maps more personalized for you.

You can turn this on and off at will (note that turning it off doesn't erase the data that's already there) and your location won't be saved into this history. But this is not a general location setting for any other app or purpose — it's simply there to manage your location timeline. Turning it off doesn't affect things like other apps knowing where you are, or localized search results, or anything else that may be requesting location data. You can see what apps want to use your location under the application permissions setting if you're curious.

Web and App Activity

This is where you can see what apps see when they want your location. Whenever any app on any device you are using while logged into your Google account is used, the data it collects and stores to your Google account is logged here. According to Google, this data is used to provide a better experience in Google's services.

Saves your activity on Google sites and apps to give you faster searches, better recommendations, and more personalized experiences in Maps, Search, and other Google services.

Some of that data may be your location. It's important to know that you grant or revoke permission to access your location for each and every app individually, and this has nothing to do with the Location History setting on your account.

Taking control of all this

Knowing what's going on here is only half the battle and knowing how to stop it all is equally important. Here's what you need to know.

You can turn some or all of these settings off through the settings on your phone, but since they are account based you need to do it through the web. You can still use your phone to do it, just fire up your web browser and head to the Activity Controls page for your Google account.

The settings you need to know about are right at the top, labeled Web & App Activity and Location History and all you need to do to shut them down is toggle the blue switch. It's interesting to see what's been collected by opening the MANAGE ACTIVITY link for each. That's where you can clear the saved history of each category, but you don't need to do that to turn one or both off — just flick the switch.

But you do need to know what happens when you turn them off. Turning off Location History doesn't seem to affect much outside of Google Maps and apps or products like the Local Guides program that are tied to it. Of course, we have no idea what or how Google uses the data stored there so it could halt your favorite thing. You'll need to experiment here.

Turning off Web & App Activity does have a much larger impact. The first thing you'll notice (it even warns you) is that Google Assistant instantly becomes mostly useless. That's because it relies on knowing all about you to help you.

Other apps that depend on having some history about you stored will also work differently. You'll no longer get narrow and specific search results tailored to you. You'll notice shopping apps no longer notify you when you're at a local store. Basically, any app or service that was keeping tabs on how and when you do the things you do will become less functional, or possibly even stop working altogether.

Account based is not device based

One last thing to know that's also really important is that these settings are across all devices tied to your Google account. That means changing things on your phone's web browser also changes things on your tablet or Chromebook or PC. But only for your account.

If you have multiple accounts on any device, the other account isn't affected. You'll need to make the same changes on all accounts to stop all activity from being logged. The same applies if you share a device, like a Chromebook, with someone else. What happens on their account is still logged and tied to that device.

We're not suggesting that you hide everything you do from Google and try to stay incognito for all things. We just want you to know how you can keep location turned on so things like navigation apps work but keep the all-seeing Google eye from knowing about it.

4 hours ago

Every PlayStation VR game with HOTAS support

Every PlayStation VR game with HOTAS support

If you're going to fly in VR, you might as well go all in and pick up a HOTAS.

In the same way racing wheels with pedals make driving games in VR feel a lot more realistic, flight games in VR are improved dramatically when you add a Hands On Throttle And Stick (HOTAS) controller. These controllers allow you to really punch the throttle forward or quickly flip your ship around when fighting in space. You could do these things with a normal controller but, if a game supports HOTAS, the difference in how that it feels in VR is drastically different.

You can get a HOTAS controller for the PlayStation 4 for fairly cheap, but not every game supports this hardware. Here's a quick list of the PlayStation VR games offering HOTAS support now, planning to offer support later, or launching later this year with support planned out of the box.

Not sure which HOTAS you want for PlayStation VR? We've got you covered!

Games you can play right now

There are a couple of PlayStation VR games you can buy right now, plug in your HOTAS controller, and everything will just work.

Ultrawings

Ultrawings is an adorable obstacle in a cartoon world. Take on quests from flying challenges to shooting challenges and see if you can win all of the gold metals! You can find this game on the PlayStation for $24.99 and it's worth every penny.

See on PlayStation Store.

End Space

The United Trade Consortium has entrusted you with some of their best equiptment to fight an ongoing war. Are you prepared to test your skills? You can find this title on the PlayStation Store for $19.99. While HOTAS support is available there has been reports that it's not quite perfect yet.

See at PlayStation Store.

Eve: Valkyrie

The first epic space combat game for PlayStation VR has a lot of experience with HOTAS controllers, and adding one to this game makes space combat feel incredible. The best news? You can get it on Amazon for less than $20.

See at Amazon.

StarBlood Arena

More combat focused than space flight focused, this game is all about arena combat and lightning reflexes. A HOTAS controller could be the difference between victory and defeat in online multiplayer. Find this title on Amazon for $14.99!

See at Amazon.

Space Rift

This game already exists for PlayStation VR and HOTAS support was promised shortly after it's release. Finally, you can play Space Rift with your favorite HOTAS controller! Find it on the PlayStation Store for $19.99

See at PlayStation Store.

Ace Combat 7

This franchise has a long history of quality flight experiences in both classic and modern combat planes. Ace Combat 7 is on Amazon for $59.99. The price might seem steep, but the game is truly worth it!

See at Amazon.

Games promising HOTAS support later

Stay tuned for when we hear about more games promising HOTAS support later!

Thoughts?

Which HOTAS experience do you most like in your PlayStation VR? Sound off in the comments or send me a Tweet @OriginalSluggo

Update August 2018: We've added Ultrawings, End Space, Eve: Valkyrie, and Starblood arena as the new games with HOTAS support. Space Rift and Ace Combat have now upgraded to support HOTAS as well!

PlayStation 4

Amazon

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5 hours ago

Best Android Phones in 2018

Best Android Phones in 2018

Huawei P20 Pro

The Samsung Galaxy S9+ builds on years of Samsung's excellence. It starts with a gorgeously sculpted metal and glass body that's waterproof, with features like dual speakers, a headphone jack and an SD card slot. Inside are the latest and greatest specs, plus a standout pair of cameras on the back and the best display on the market around front.

Our pick

Samsung Galaxy S9+

Samsung Galaxy S9+

The best Android phone for most people.

Choosing the Galaxy S9+ doesn't require much thought — it can do everything, and looks great doing it, with few real downsides. It's beautiful, has the best screen, isn't missing any hardware features and has one of the best camera experiences available in a smartphone today.

Who should buy this phone

Samsung designs its phones to be appealing to the widest possible audience, and that makes the Galaxy S9+ a great device for just about anyone. It has a big and beautiful display that's quite simply the best in the industry, but with very small bezels and curved edges, it fits into a relatively compact size.

Internally, it has all of the latest specs to handle any app or task you need. It also has a pair of cameras on the back that are in the mix as the best available today. Samsung has also kept around crowd-pleasing features like wireless charging, waterproofing, an SD card slot and a headphone jack. Really, the Galaxy S9+ does a great job at being all things to all people.

Best of all, if you don't care for the larger size of the Galaxy S9+ for whatever reason, you can simply buy the smaller and less expensive Galaxy S9 instead and get the same core experience with only a few changes.

Is it a good time to buy this phone?

Yes. The Samsung Galaxy S9+ launched the first week of March 2018, meaning it is still the latest and great phone that Samsung makes. The Galaxy Note 9 is expected to launch around October 2018, which will likely be only a marginal improvement over the Galaxy S9+, and the Galaxy S9+'s successor will not be unveiled until March 2019.

Reasons to buy

  • Sleek and beautiful hardware
  • Top-notch specs
  • Waterproofing, wireless charging and more
  • Best-in-class display
  • Up to 256GB of storage available
  • Fantastic dual cameras
  • Dual speakers and a headphone jack
  • Available everywhere

Reasons not to buy

  • Lots of unnecessary apps installed
  • Slow update speed

There are so many great Android phones available, but one stands out just a little extra

The Galaxy S9+ is all about giving you the most features, both hardware and software, in a beautiful package. You get a great display, top-end specs across the board, plus all of the hardware features you expect: waterproofing, wireless charging, an SD card slot, a headphone jack and more. It's all wrapped up in a glossy and shiny metal-and-glass exterior that's efficient and great looking.

The camera is all-new this generation, with a sensor that does fantastic processing to remove noise and sharpen fine detail even in poor lighting. It's aided by a dual-aperture lens to get the best combination of light and detail in different shots, and is paired with a secondary telephoto lens for zoom and portrait mode shooting. Whether you shoot in auto or mess around in manual mode, you can get great shots in just about any scene.

You don't get the clean and simple software experience of phones like the Google Pixel 2 XL or OnePlus 6, which may take some extra customization and tweaking on your part, but the Galaxy S9+ is far less polarizing overall because it just has so many features to appeal to everyone. When you take it all together, it's a complete package.

Alternatives to the Samsung Galaxy S9+

No phone is perfect for everyone's needs, and if you find the Galaxy S9+'s software to be overwhelming or grating, you'll want to look at the Google Pixel 2 XL instead. Google's take on Android is clean, fast and a pleasure to use every day — as you'd expect, it also perfectly integrates with Google's apps and services.

Runner-up

Google Pixel 2 XL

Google Pixel 2 XL

$850 at Verizon

Stellar performance with the best camera you'll find.

The cleanest, smoothest and most Google-friendly phone available. It has sleek hardware and a killer camera, with years of guaranteed software updates and unlimited Google Photos storage.

The Pixel 2 XL doesn't have a fantastic screen or headphone jack like the Galaxy S9+ does, but that's one of the trade-offs you make in order to get this fantastic software experience. The camera on Google's flagship is just as good, though, and some would say that the overall experience, aided by that great software, is more consistent and approachable. You also get three years of guaranteed software updates, which provides excellent peace of mind.

Budget pick

OnePlus 6

OnePlus 6

$529 from OnePlus

Great value for an amazing feature-rich device.

The OnePlus 6 is pretty much everything you expect in a high-end phone, but for $200-300 less. You don't give up much with this $529 phone, and in many ways, you get a better software experience.

These top-end phones are expensive, but that doesn't mean you're stuck paying top-dollar for your next upgrade. The OnePlus 6 provides nearly the same experience as these other devices at a substantial discount — just $529. You get all of the latest specs inside, and it's wrapped up in a beautiful metal-and-glass frame not unlike the Galaxy S9+.

There are a few shortcomings, like an average display, basic speaker, and subpar vibration motor, but the software experience is more akin to the Pixel 2 XL than the Galaxy S9+ — and that's a good thing. OnePlus has dramatically improved its camera offering to where the OnePlus 6 is just a stone's throw away from the top-of-the-line phones, which just adds to the great value this phone offers.

Amazing camera

Huawei P20 Pro

Huawei P20 Pro

A high-end device that checks all the right boxes.

The Huawei P20 Pro is all about the cameras — a 40MP main sensor is assisted by an 8MP telephoto camera and a 20MP monochrome camera to give you so many shooting options and out-of-this-world results. It's a photographer's dream.

$800 from Amazon

You may think that the "Leica" branding is a bit of a joke at first, but don't let that turn you away — the Huawei P20 Pro has an amazing set of cameras that can produce the best photos of any smartphone today. The combination of a 40MP main sensor, an 8MP telephoto camera and a 20MP monochrome sensor give you unending shooting options, and the software pulling it all together knows all of the tricks to create stellar photos.

The rest of the phone experience isn't subpar, either — Huawei's built a beautiful phone here with powerful specs. It's just let down as ever by the Huawei software that heavily tweaks and modifies Android — to a fault. Some can look past that to get those wonderful cameras, though, and will even go so far as to import an international version to the U.S.

Bottom line

If you're a bit more discerning about the software experience, you'll want to look at the Google Pixel 2 XL. You'll have to buy from Verizon or unlocked, but that Google software is worth it. For less money, the OnePlus 6 gives you a near-flagship experience and also has great clean software. The most versatile camera imaginable can be found in the Huawei P20 Pro, and the rest of the phone isn't exactly bad — you'll just have to put up with some software quirks to take advantage of that great imaging.

But the best Android phone for most potential buyers is the Samsung Galaxy S9+, as it provides the best experience and most features for the widest number of people — it's also available everywhere, from any carrier or retailer you could imagine.

Update August 2018: The Galaxy S9+ takes over the top spot because of its great overall capabilities and wide-ranging availability. The Pixel 2 XL remains for those who want a simpler software experience and are willing to buy unlocked. The OnePlus 6 is the best pick for anyone who's on a budget, and the Huawei P20 Pro remains the choice for photography-focused buyers.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Daniel Bader is the Managing Editor of Android Central. As he's writing this, a mountain of old Android phones is about to fall on his head, but his Great Dane will protect him. He drinks way too much coffee and sleeps too little. He wonders if there's a correlation.

Andrew Martonik is the Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central. He has been a mobile enthusiast since the Windows Mobile days, and covering all things Android-related with a unique perspective at AC since 2012. For suggestions and updates, you can reach him at andrew.martonik@androidcentral.com or on Twitter at @andrewmartonik.

Jerry Hildenbrand is Mobile Nation's Senior Editor and works from a Chromebook full time. Currently he is using Google's Pixelbook but is always looking at new products and may have any Chromebook in his hands at any time. You'll find him across the Mobile Nations network and you can hit him up on Twitter if you want to say hey.

*/
5 hours ago

Nintendo Switch games, Cooler Master keyboard combos, SanDisk microSD cards, and more are all discounted today

Nintendo Switch games, Cooler Master keyboard combos, SanDisk microSD cards, and more are all discounted today

Whether you're looking for new tech gear or household items, we've got you covered.

We found plenty of great deals today that include big discounts on these Cooler Master keyboard and mice combos, Nintendo Switch games, SanDisk microSD cards and more! Most of these prices will be gone when the day ends, so don't miss your chance to save big!

If you want to know about the deals as soon as they are happening, you'll want to follow Thrifter on Twitter, and sign up for the newsletter, because missing out on a great deal stinks!

6 hours ago

iOttie Easy One Touch 4 Dashboard Car Mount Review: The perfect driving companion

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iOttie Easy One Touch 4 Dashboard Car Mount Review: The perfect driving companion

Whether you use your phone for navigation or music while driving, this is an essential accessory to keep you as safe as can be.

In an ideal world, nobody would use their phone while driving. In the real world, this simply isn't the case.

While there's never any excuse for checking Twitter, texting, or watching YouTube videos while on the road, you might need to use your phone for turn-by-turn directions, answering an incoming call, or controlling your music while you drive.

To help make these quick interactions as safe as possible, there's the iOttie Easy One Touch 4. Dashboard mounts for phones aren't anything new, but if you're in the market for one and want something that'll just work while keeping you your phone as safe as can be, iOttie's option should be at the very top of your shopping list.

iOttie Easy One Touch 4

Price: $24.95

Bottom line: A simple accessory that does a fantastic job at keeping you (and your phone) safe while on the road.

The Good

  • Easy installation
  • Works on dashboards and windshields
  • Use your phone vertically or horizontally
  • Phone is held securely

The Bad

  • A little pricey compared to some other brands

See at Amazon

Everything just works

iOttie Easy One Touch 4 What I like

Seeing as how this is the first car mount I've ever purchased, I was a little hesitant going into the installation process as I wasn't really sure what to expect. Thankfully, iOttie makes installing the car mount as easy as can be.

After attaching the phone holder to the actual mount, all you have to do is place a circular pad on your car's dashboard or windshield. Let it rest there for about half an hour, place the mount on top of it, push the suction lever, and it sucks onto the pad with a force to be reckoned with. No tools or prior mount knowledge are required to get this installed, and that creates for a great first impression of a product that ticks almost every box possible.

Once the mount is attached to your car, using it is dead simple, too.

There are a few different knobs you can loosen/tighten to adjust the position of the mount's arm to get the perfect fit for your car. It can be moved up/down, the arm can be extended/shortened, and you can turn the phone holder so that your phone is held vertically or horizontally.

To place the phone in the mount, push the two horizontal tabs inwards. This causes the arms to open up, and once they do, just push your phone against the large button with the iOttie logo. The push of this button results in the arms closing up against the sides of your phone, and to help accommodate phones of all sizes, the bottom feet can be extended if need be.

You'll want to make sure you get everything tightened up before heading out on the road, but once you do, the mount stays in place and shows no signs up moving/loosening up even when driving on Michigan's notoriously bad roads.

The price of being the best

iOttie Easy One Touch 4 What I don't like

When talking negatives, the only downside I can think of for the iOttie Easy One Touch 4 is its price. $25 isn't a lot of money on its own, but a quick Amazon search will show many competing phone mounts for $8 to $10.

I can't speak to the quality of those, but if you're on a particularly tight budget or just feel like spending as little as possible, the One Touch 4 might not be for you.

iOttie Easy One Touch 4

There are hundreds of dashboard mounts everywhere you look nowadays, but if you've got $25 and want something that'll just work, it's hard to do better than the One Touch 4.

The installation process is simple, you can adjust/customize just about every aspect of it, and your phone is held in place with more than enough security.

5 out of 5

Some buyers might see this mount as a bit overkill compared to the cheaper options out there, but after driving with this mount in my car for the past week, I couldn't be any happier with it.

See at Amazon

6 hours ago

NVIDIA's new Shield TV bundle throws in a Samsung SmartThings Link

5

NVIDIA's new Shield TV bundle throws in a Samsung SmartThings Link

The whole smash costs $219, but we're already seeing it on sale.

NVIDIA today announced a new bundle for Shield TV. Dubbed the Shield TV Smart Home Edition, you get a Shield TV (which is still an excellent option for cord-cutters and the only Android TV box we recommend), the non-rechargeable voice remote, and a Samsung SmartThings Link — a USB fob that you'll plug into the back of your Shield TV to enable access to Samsung Smart Things. That gets you all the power of Smart Things living alongside Google Assistant, which is pretty cool.

And you get it all for $219.

(Actually, if you go the Best Buy route you'll save $20.)

See at Amazon

NVIDIA Shield Android TV

Amazon

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6 hours ago

Instagram: Everything you need to know

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Instagram: Everything you need to know

Here's your destination for all things Insta!

When you think of social media apps, one of the first that probably comes to mind in Instagram.

Launched back in October 2010 as an iOS exclusive, Instagram has quickly grown up to be the most popular platform for sharing photos and videos with people around the world.

Whether you need a refresher of the app or want to stay on top of the latest news surround it, here's everything you need to know about Instagram.

The latest Instagram news

August 14, 2018 - Instagram users are reporting a strange hack that locks them out of their accounts

Since the beginning of August, Instagram users have reported a bizarre hack: users will be 'logged out' of their account, and once they go to log back in, their username will no longer exist. Their handle will be changed, along with their profile picture, as well as the email and phone number that's connected to the account, making it impossible to access their information.

On Twitter, there have been more than 100 of these types of anecdotal reports in the last 24 hours alone. According to data from analytics platform Talkwalker, there have been more than 5,000 tweets from 899 accounts mentioning Instagram hacks just in the last seven days. Many of these users have been desperately tweeting at Instagram's Twitter account for help. (Mashable)

Once the accounts have been hacked, the picture is typically set to a Disney or Pixar character. The email associated with the accounts is switched to a Russian .ru email address. Their bios and personal information are also deleted.

To prevent things like this from happening to your Instagram account, we recommend turning on two-factor authentication. Plenty of users who have been affected by the hack didn't have two-factor authentication turned on — however, it is worth noting that even having this extra security step might not fully keep your IG profile safe.

The extra security measure didn't protect Chris Woznicki, who was using two-factor authentication at the time his account was hacked 10 days ago. Woznicki says Instagram sent him security emails notifying him the email address on his account had been changed (once again, to a .ru address) and 2FA had been disabled. But by the time he saw the messages, it was too late and he had already lost access to his account, which had 660 followers. Others have reported similar occurrences. (Mashable)

July 19, 2018 — Instagram now shows you when your friends are online

If you frequently send direct messages to other Instagram users, you'll now that there's never been a way to know if your friends/followers are online and actively using the app. Thankfully, this changes today!

As part of a new update, Instagram will now show you when other people are online. On your inbox page for DMs and when browsing your friends list to share a post from your main feed, you'll begin to see a green indicator next to profile pictures of other users if they're on the app at that time. With this, it'll be much easier to know if you'll get an immediate response from someone if you send them a private message.

June 28, 2018 — A lite version of Instagram is now available in Mexico

Over the years, companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Spotify have released "lite" versions of their apps that offer all of the core features/experiences while being easier to run on slower hardware, taking up less storage space, and using less data.

Following this idea, Instagram Lite was just launched in Mexico and aims to offer all of Instagram's best features while being much more accessible for people in developing markets.

Instagram Lite weighs in at just 573KB and allows you to post and view photos on your feed, use Instagram Stories, use all of the regular photo-editing tools, and more. There's no way to send direct messages quite yet, but that's something that'll be coming soon.

Also, while Instagram Lite is currently limited to users in Mexico, there are plans to expand it to other markets in the near future.

Download: Instagram Lite (free)

June 20, 2018 ― IGTV has landed!

IGTV, Instagram's next big project, is all about bringing long-form video content to the platform to try and compete with the likes of YouTube.

You can access IGTV through the main Instagram app or through the standalone IGTV one, and once you're there, you can browse through videos by For You, Following, Popular, and Continue Watching.

All video content on IGTV is meant to be shared/created vertically, and while that might sound bonkers at first, Instagram says that "IGTV is built for how you actually use your phone: vertical and full screen."

Anyone can create IGTV content and upload videos through the Instagram app on your phone or through a web client.

Download: IGTV (free)

All the big details

The Home tab is where you'll spend most of your time

When you're using Instagram, most of your time will likely be spent on the Home tab. This is the page you're taken to each time you open the app, and it acts as a central hub for everything Instagram has to offer.

At the very top, you'll see three icons. From left to right, these are for taking a photo for Instagram Stories, opening IGTV, and going to your inbox for direct messages. Below that are circles for people you follow so you can view any of their Instagram Stories posts.

Underneath all of this is your main feed. Here, you'll be able to endlessly browse through posts from people and hashtags you follow. On each post there are buttons for liking it, leaving a comment, privately sending it to one of your contacts, and adding it to your Saved page (more on that later).

Find new stuff on the Explore page

If you tap on the magnifying glass icon at the very bottom, you'll be redirected to the Explore page.

On Explore, you can scroll through photos/videos from people and hashtags you might not be following but that Instagram thinks you'll be interested in nonetheless.

You can search for a specific person or hashtag at the very top, and below that are recommended categories to filter the page by — including things like Humor, Animals, TV & Movies, and more. By default, this is set to For You.

Play around with the editing tools

Editing photos has been a big part of Instagram for years, and in 2018, that hasn't changed one bit.

After selecting a photo you want to post, you can browse through a list of numerous filters. As you tap each one, you'll instantly see how it's going to affect the look of your picture. If you don't like any of the filters you're seeing, keep swiping to the left until you see the Manage button. Tap on this and you can add even more to your collection.

In addition to filters, tapping the Edit button at the bottom will allow you to fine-tune your photos even more with controls for the brightness, contrast, fade, highlights, etc. And, if all else fails, tapping the sunshine icon at the top-middle will enable you to control the Lux for your post and instantly ramp up the saturation and brightness for a much more vibrant-looking photo.

Take advantage of the Saved feature

If you come across a post on Instagram that you particularly like, it's easy to save it for later without notifying anyone.

When looking at the post you want to save, tap the bookmark icon at the very right. Once you do this, head over to your profile,tap that same icon once again, and it'll be right there for your viewing pleasure.

No one is notified when you add their photos to the Saved section, and if you want to go a step further, you can create a Collection to categorize the posts you add here.

Be sure to check out IGTV

This past June, Instagram added one of the biggest new features to its app in years — IGTV.

IGTV is Instagram's take on long-form video, and unlike something such as YouTube, is designed around having people create and share vertical video content.

You can access IGTV through the main Instagram app or by downloading the standalone IGTV one, and upon opening it, you're able to browse through videos from people you follow and what's currently trending/popular.

IGTV clearly has a long ways to go before it's on the same level as YouTube, but even this early on in its life has a lot going for it. The interface is easy to understand, it's integrated nicely into an app that billions of people are already using, and anyone can make their own IGTV content and manage it through their phone or a web client.

Download: IGTV (free)

There's more to see with Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories is basically Instagram's way of taking Snapchat head-on, and while I briefly mentioned it in this guide, there's not enough time to dive into everything it has to offer.

Thankfully, Hayato already put together a fantastic guide going through absolutely everything you could want to know about Stories. Check it out below!

Instagram Stories on Android: Everything you need to know!

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7 hours ago

Dark themes on Android should be the norm, not the exception

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Dark themes on Android should be the norm, not the exception

Hello darkness

You don't know the power of the dark side!

Once upon a time, Android cloaked itself in shadow and cerulean. Triumphant cries of #YOLOHOLO rang out throughout the net as users reveled in a mobile experience that didn't blind them like the sun every time they checked their phone in bed. But then a shift came. Material Design ushered in a new age of bright, white Android apps, and one by one, even Google's own apps were drained of their contrast and their charcoal. The manufacturers followed in Google's footprints and system theme after system theme was dragged into the light.

Today, dark themes on Android are an exception, an increasingly uncommon feature sought out by users almost as fervently as it is avoided by nearly all major services and manufacturers. Android Pie dashed the hopes of a system-wide dark theme for another year, and none of Google's most prominent apps have dark themes available for their Android apps.

This is unfortunate for users, but even more so for the developers that shun the darkness, for there are a holy trinity of benefits to these devilishly dark designs.

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