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6 months ago

Google Photos is getting a major — and smart — photo sharing boost

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Google Photos is getting a massive boost with new features announced at Google I/O 2017.

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6 months ago

Begin your Android development career with this professional bundle for $29

Ready to make a change in your career and start creating your own Android apps? Getting started can be a difficult task, there is a lot to learn, a lot of different ways to do things, and unless you have someone to chat with it can be hard to do on your own. There are a number of different ways you can begin your new path, and this bundle is one of the best.

Get started today for just $29 Learn More

Meet the Professional Android Developer Bundle, a great way for you to learn the basics and more advanced features of building Android apps. From an introduction to Javascript to the fundamentals of the operating system itself, there are countless hours of information here for you to move through at your own pace.

  • Introduction to Programming & Coding for Everyone with JavaScript - $295 Value
  • Fundamentals of Operating Systems - $295 Value
  • Building Android Apps That Work - $295 Value
  • Java SE 8 Programming Part 2 - $295 Value
  • Java SE 8 Programming Part 1 - $295 Value

Save big for a limited time! Learn More

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6 months ago

Best Reddit app for Android

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Updated May, 2017: Relay replaced BaconReader as the Best Reddit app for Android.

Best overall

Relay

Download on Google Play ($2.99)

Relay is the most beautiful of the Reddit apps and also one of the best explained. If you're new to Reddit or looking for an easy-to-navigate app, Relay has got your back with a simple layout and explainer tips the first time you use the app.

While many Reddit apps have implemented Material Design, none have done it quite as boldly or as well as Relay. It is also one of the few apps to offer themes beyond the simple light and dark, offering pink and blue as well. GIFs may not autoplay, but the image pop-ups that appear when you tap a thumbnail beat the heck out of the image loading in a new window or in a browser, and the material transitions out of these previews are gorgeous.

Bottom-line: Colorful, highly customizable, and material to a T, Relay is a Reddit app that's it's hard to go wrong with, especially for newer Redditors and lovers of long threads.

One more thing: Relay's great for longer posts with lots of threads, like popular AMAs, because you can use navigation controls in the floating action button to skip between one thread and the next.

Why Relay is the best

Relay is a Reddit app with a design that stands out, which is saying something considering how diverse Reddit apps can look, and it's a design that works well. From the handy clear button above the home button that clear posts you've already read to the floating navigation button in a Reddit post that allows you to easily skip from one thread to the next within popular or polluted Reddit posts like AMAs, Relay's UI is consistent and consistently productive.

Relay's themes are a good middle ground between those that only offer light/dark and those that let you pick all your own colors, with three light themes and two dark themes, and no matter what theme you pick, the app is easy to read, navigate, and act upon.

There are a lot of Reddit apps out there, and whether I'm going to be on it for two minutes or two hours, Relay keeps the front page of the internet readable, interesting, and fresh. It's the app that has outlasted all the others on my device, and I think it'll earn its spot on yours, too.

Best for beginners

Reddit: The Official App

Download on Google Play (free)

Reddit didn't have an official app for a long time, but now it's here and it's awesome. It's a clean and refreshingly simple app, great for users that don't want to hassle with a bunch of settings.

That simplicity can also be a problem. You can't resize the text which is a shame because it's a bit on the small side. The app's dark theme and card views are just okay, but it can auto-play GIFs and videos in card view, which is amazing for GIF-centric subreddits.

Bottom-line: It's the official app, and it's off to a great start, though it's a little simple. If you've already got your subreddit subscriptions where you want and browse a lot of GIFs, this is the app for you.

One more thing: Because of the concise feature set right now, the settings for Reddit: The Official App are wonderfully simple and easy to navigate.

Best Classic Reddit app

BaconReader

Download on Google Play ($1.99)

BaconReader has been around for a long, long time and users have enjoyed using it for just as long. It is one of the most-downloaded and most-reviewed Reddit apps on Google Play, and it got there by wooing users with slick features and maintaining them with stellar service and support.

BaconReader is carefully and pristinely laid out, making it easy to quickly browse and find something new and interesting to read, without stumbling around or leaving anything out. If BaconReader's beautiful design and feel seem familiar, their developer OneLouder is also the design of 1Weather, one of our favorite weather apps.

Bottom-line: BaconReader has robust features, support, and loyalty among its users. And while you can use it for free, it's more than worth upgrading to premium.

One more thing: If you ever need any help, BaconReader's subreddit is quite active and the developers are quick to answer most questions.

Best for Purists

reddit is fun

Download on Google Play ($1.99)

I said it two years ago and it still holds true: reddit is fun looks most like the Reddit site, which can be a good or a bad thing depending on your tastes. reddit is fun has a card view, and it also has three experimental beta themes if you're bored of the traditional views. Switching views isn't a simple toggle the way other apps do it, but at least you have more options when picking a theme and layout.

reddit is fun is great for users who need to watch their data usage or are using a slower device, allowing you to skip downloading thumbnails when off Wi-Fi. While most apps can't load user flair, reddit is fun can display what the flair would be if you were on desktop, for instance: usernamehere pikachu on r/Pokemongo.

Bottom-line: It's a traditional take on a Reddit app, but reddit is fun is more than willing to experiment in order to keep users happy and give them an old school Reddit feel on Android.

One more thing: You can unsubscribe from a subreddit from the navigation page rather than having to go a separate page or menu, nice for cleaning up your subreddit list while you browse.

Conclusion

There are so many great Reddit apps on Android. Even as the service has matured and gone mainstream, there is still a wealth of independent app development because Reddit is such a different service depending on how you use it. Relay is the best of the bunch because it looks great, is easy to use, and has a wealth of features. But the official Reddit app is great, too, especially for newcomers to the service. You can't go wrong with any of our picks.

Best overall

Relay

Download on Google Play ($2.99)

Relay is the most beautiful of the Reddit apps and also one of the best explained. If you're new to Reddit or looking for an easy-to-navigate app, Relay has got your back with a simple layout and explainer tips the first time you use the app.

While many Reddit apps have implemented Material Design, none have done it quite as boldly or as well as Relay. It is also one of the few apps to offer themes beyond the simple light and dark, offering pink and blue as well. GIFs may not autoplay, but the image pop-ups that appear when you tap a thumbnail beat the heck out of the image loading in a new window or in a browser, and the material transitions out of these previews are gorgeous.

Bottom-line: Colorful, highly customizable, and material to a T, Relay is a Reddit app that's it's hard to go wrong with, especially for newer Redditors and lovers of long threads.

One more thing: Relay's great for longer posts with lots of threads, like popular AMAs, because you can use navigation controls in the floating action button to skip between one thread and the next.

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6 months ago

Access geo-restricted content from anywhere with this lifetime subscription for just $39

Ever go to watch a show or stream music only to find out that it isn't available where you live? There is nothing worse, right? Whether it is something on HBO that you want to check out, or some music you want to stream on Pandora, not being able to access it because it is only available in a different country is completely annoying. There are ways around it, but some are difficult, and others are expensive. It doesn't have to be this way though!

Get a lifetime subscription now! Learn More

Meet Unblock All, one of the easiest ways to access geo-restricted services from anywhere. Whether the Netflix content you want isn't available by you, or Pandora isn't accessible, with Unblock All you'll be able to gain access. You can change your location from Canada to the UK, or Australia to the U.S. all with just one click.

Some of the other features include:

  • Access blocked content from anywhere in the world
  • Change your location to the US, Canada, UK, or Australia w/ one click
  • Browse faster than w/ a VPN or Proxy thanks to no traffic limits & equal security
  • Use on an unlimited amount of devices

Save 81% right now! Learn More

Normally a lifetime license to the service would run around $215, but right now you can pay much less than that. For just $39 you can get the lifetime of access, or if you just want to check it out for a year, you can for only $19. If you want to access content that isn't normally available in your area, you'll want to check out Unblock All now!

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6 months ago

How to use Samsung Health to build better habits

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Samsung Health makes building better habits easier than ever.

The hardest part of making real changes to your lifestyle, comes when you realize you need to build better habits. Whether this involves ensuring that you get enough sleep every night, or cutting down on your daily caffeine intake, Samsung Health can help you in this endeavor.

Use the Tracker

The first big way that Samsung Health helps you out in building better habits is by delivering a Tracker that you can customize. There are 11 different options for your Tracker, from a daily step counter, all the way to your daily Blood Pressure.

You can enable any of these at any time, and the only default tracker that you cannot remove is the step counter. Some of the trackers will allow you to enter your information manually, while others will need a compatible accessory to take a reading.

How to add a Tracker

  1. Open Samsung Health.
  2. Tap Manage Items.
  3. Tap the toggle next to the habit you want to track.

How to manually input information into a Tracker

  1. Open Samsung Health.
  2. Tap the Tracked activity that you want to input information into.
  3. Tap the plus sign to add information.

How to input measure information into a Tracker

  1. Open Samsung Health.
  2. Tap Measure on the Tracked activity you want to measure information for.
  3. Place your finger on the sensor to left of your camera on the back of the phone.

  4. Wait while the sensor measures an activity.
  5. Set a status for more information about the activity collected by the sensor.
  6. Tap Save.

See your progress

After you've started to track your habits, the next step is seeing your progress towards better habits. To this end you have two different options. You can view your overall insights from the home page of Samsung Health, or view information specific to a tracked activity.

View your overall Insights

  1. Open Samsung Health
  2. Tap the green lightbulb icon in the upper right corner of your screen.
  3. Tap Set Up Insights.

  4. Type in a nickname and double check your information.
  5. Tap Next.

  6. Set goals that you want to track.
  7. Tap Next.

View Trends on a Tracked Activity

  1. Open Samsung Health.
  2. Tap on the Tracked Activity you want to view Trends for.
  3. Tap on Trends to view a graph of information of that activity.

Have you tried Samsung Health?

The first step is building better habits is having a good look at all of your information. Between tracking your information, and seeing Trends in how these habits change from day to day, it's easier to see where you're doing well along with where you still need to improve. Have you tried using Samsung Health to build better habits? Let us know about it in the comments below!

Samsung Gear Fit 2 review

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6 months ago

How Google's Project Treble will help fix one of Android's oldest problems

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How Google can build one update that works everywhere.

In March 2016, when the Android N developer preview was released, we noticed something was different. With Android Marshmallow, Google had inserted a new partitioning structure that included a vendor partition. This held some files that had previously lived in the "regular" core OS folders in the system partition, as well as some files from the company who made the phone itself. But in the Android N developer preview, things changed even more and there were also files in this new partition that duplicated and overwrote pieces of the core OS when the phone was booted up.

At the time, we put our heads together and did some extra digging and came to the conclusion that this was the first step towards making Android easy to update by giving companies like Samsung or Qualcomm a place to call their own and splitting the system into two parts: a vendor area and an Android core area.

Project Treble splits Android into two parts: The Google part and the hardware support part.

Google announced Project Treble today, and everything has come full circle. This is exactly what that vendor area is for, and we get to see just how it can change the problem of phones not being updated fast enough.

The Vendor Interface and VTS (Vendor Test Suite) are coming with Android O, and it looks like this will take away any excuses for being slow with the updates. It's a fairly technical thing to describe, and if you're technically inclined, you should have a look at Google's blog post on it all, but we can break it down so that everyone can understand what this is and why it can make a big difference.

We all know Android comes from Google. Plenty of other companies work with Google to make Android better (and Google has invited companies to do even more of this), but the code is finalized and hosted by Google. Anyone can download it and build it into Android, but this Android on its own is not a complete phone operating system.

To get Android to do anything, you need support from companies like Qualcomm, Samsung, and every other company who makes the individual parts. The software that makes those parts work is separate, and the way things are before Project Treble mean that those parts need to be built into Android's code when the companies making a phone build the operating system. Each time Android is updated, whether it be a full platform update, like the jump from Marshmallow to Nougat or a security update that only affects a few parts of the system, the parts that make the hardware work need to be incorporated.

Android itself is not a complete operating system. You need support from hardware vendors to do anything.

That slows things down considerably. Instead of Google being able to send a single update for every phone running Android to the companies that make them and have it work, they send a non-complete operating system that needs the rest built into the new base, then it needs to be compiled and tested. Samsung (for example) needs to do this for every model of the Galaxy S8 they make before they can even think about sending that update to you.

With the new system, Google's portion of Android can live in its own space and the parts from Qualcomm and Samsung and HTC and everyone else can live in their own space. In theory, the update is already tested and will "just work."

That's what the new VTS is for. Think of the VTS as the rulebook about how to make Android. If everyone follows these rules, the changes Google makes and tests will work exactly the same on every phone running a particular version of Android. And with updates easier to build and send to us users, most new phones will all be on the same version. This is great for us, and it's great for the companies involved because it lets them work on their area of expertise while someone else works on their stuff.

The Vendor Test Suite is designed to make sure every company builds Android the same way.

To check that the rules work and everyone is following them, a series of tests can be done on a new device before it goes up for sale and each time the system is overhauled. These test will make sure that Samsung's TouchWiz Android and HTC's Sense Android both work with Google's Android the same way and a single update from Google works on both. This is how things are done to make sure all the apps in Google Play will work, and, for the most part, it's a great system.

We don't have the full details yet, but we're told that everything will be published and pushed to the open source code for Android once Android O launches later this year. This will make for a very interesting time at Google I/O, and we'll continue to check out this new way of doing things and what everyone else involved in making the phones we love is doing with them.

Android Oreo

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6 months ago

Here's what we want to see at Google I/O 2017 [Roundtable]

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Here's what we want Google to show us at I/O 2017.

Google I/O 2017 is just a few days away and we're excited. If you've ever been to I/O you know that it's three days where the future of Android, Chrome and just about everything Google does gets talked about and shown off. While it's primarily a developer conference, seeing that future and getting a hands-on demo of it has everyone looking forward to using it every day.

We went around the table to talk about the thing(s) we want to see most from Google this year. Think of this as our wish list for Google Claus just in case we're in the "nice" column.

Russell Holly

I want a better way to share VR experiences locally.

I want Google to explain its messaging solution. That explanation can be massive feature additions to Allo, it can be a way to import Hangouts to Allo, or it can be a firm public declaration that Hangouts is getting Allo features. Something. ANYTHING that helps Google's long-time users return to a messaging plan that makes sense.

I'm also looking forward to seeing what comes next for Daydream. I'd like to see Google explore the social aspect of VR, either with Hangouts/Allo plugin for Daydream or a better way to share VR experiences locally. The important thing here is the social layer, and I think Google can have some real fun with this.

Alex Dobie

I want some clarity on Google's laptop/tablet/convertible strategy. We've been theorizing around Andromeda and Fuchsia for the past few months — developers need to be part of that conversation, and I/O 2017 is as good a place as any to kick things off. Android, as we know it on tablets probably, isn't going away, but Google needs to lay the foundations for whatever's next, whether it's a collision between Android and Chrome OS, or some other platform that's an evolution of both.

I want some clarity on Google's tablet/laptop/convertible strategy.

I'm also looking forward to putting some meat on the bones of Android O. We'll hopefully find out a little more about what the next major release will mean for end users — sure, I/O is a developer conference, but it's seen consumer-relevant announcements in the past.

And finally, a bit of a wildcard — remember that crazy old rumor about some adaptation of the Android One program coming to the U.S.? If that's real, I'd love to see how it's going to work as part of this year's keynote.

Andrew Martonik

By Evan-Amos - Public Domain

I'm looking forward to seeing what Google lays out for Android O in terms of more specific features and direction for this release. The early Developer Preview is obviously not intended to be feature-complete, and Google I/O is a great place to start getting a feel for what the next version of Android will really be when it's released. High on my list is seeing what it can do with tablets — there are a few different rumors swirling, and I want Google to make sense of it all.

Show me those Android O features!

More selfishly, I want to hear something that shows Google cares about Project Fi still. The service is still a tiny focus compared to Google's other big businesses, but it's one that feels particularly ignored considering we all pay monthly for it. We're still using Hangouts for SMS, call forwarding is broken since the Google Voice app updated and we haven't heard anything new in terms of extra features. It feels like Fi is in a holding pattern, and it's not at a particularly great place to do so.

Jerry Hildenbrand

Tell me something good about Project Fi. Tell me you have SMS support built into the Fi app. Tell me you are going to officially support Android Wear devices. Tell me anything, even if you have to lie to me.

Why I should keep using Project Fi?

And if you are going to just lie to me, go on and tell me you're making a Pixel Tablet that runs Chrome OS and has a SIM card slot. One that works on Project Fi.

Android is in good shape. They can make small refinements, as will the people making the phones, but there isn't a real need for any big changes (even if we want them). But Google does a lot of other things, and some of those (cough Project Fi) could use some special I/O lovin'.

Marc Lagace

Show some love to Canada, Google!

My favorite reveal from last year's I/O was the Google Home, so I'm hoping that Google announces an official release date for us Canadians along with some more features and functionality for Google Assistant. I didn't realize how much I've been relying on Google Assistant on the Pixel until I recently switched to a different phone. It's quickly become a feature something I use frequently throughout the day, so I'm hoping Google has been able to iron out some of the kinks.

Speaking of Canadian availability, man would I be happy if Google announced it was going to start offering Project Fi service up here, too. Show some love to Canada, Google!

Ara Wagoner

I hope for the same thing every year at Google I/O: a dark theme for Google Play Music. But in all seriousness, if YouTube can get a dark theme, as can Google Play Movies, then Google Play Music can too. Oh, and I want the voice controls Google Play Music has on Google Home (fast forward 90 seconds) to migrate to Google Assistant on phones and Android Auto. Crazy, right?

Dark. Themes. Yes?

Turning to things that might actually happen, I want to hear new developments on the Chromebook front, be it Andromeda, be it Google Play finally rolling out to the rest of us with legacy Chromebooks, or the debut of a new Google-made Chromebook that will be beautiful beyond all reason. I also want to see Google announce some sort of initiative to try and get Android manufacturers to roll out monthly updates in a timely manner. It matters, and our choices for buying phones that get timely updates shouldn't be Blackberry and a couple of flagships.

Florence Ion

This is my fifth consecutive year attending Google I/O and I've grown an affinity to calling it Google Disneyland by virtue of the fact that it's now held at an outdoor venue. It also feels like the new digs are a nod to what it must be like to develop with Google: fun, a little chaotic at times, and incredibly forward-facing.

Making new friends at Google Disneyland is great!

This year, in particular, I'm excited to see what's next for Android and Google Assistant, but I'm also looking forward to reconnecting with the Android community in one common space. The energy at I/O is so incredibly infectious; there are nascent and experienced developers alike making connections, sharing stories, and nurturing one another in a space that encourages it. It's also fun to make friends while you're waiting in line for a session and catch on to how some developers are using their apps to make the most out of what's available to tinker with on Android.

Daniel Bader

Let's go back to what I/O is all about: Developers.

Every year, Google I/O promises improvements for developers that will bring their apps to the next level. But the Play Store is still full of terrible apps, along with thousands of great apps that no one will be able to find. This year, I'd like Google to focus once again on why people came to Google I/O years ago: to build amazing Android apps that can actually make money, in a marketplace that showcases the best and brightest curated by real people and not just algorithms.

I'd also like Google to expand upon its plan for Assistant, which is quickly growing into one of Google's most important properties. We've seen it expand to all Android phones running Marshmallow and above, along with Allo and Google Home, but I'd like Google to address its poor discoverability — did you know the Galaxy S8 has Assistant built in?

Jen Karner

OK, Google; What's next for Allo?

This is my second year of actually keeping a close eye on what is going on at Google I/O, and what I'm really interested to see is what they've got planned next for Daydream. It's already incredibly capable, but I'd love to see more social aspects for this headset, where my friends and I can enjoy things together — even when geographically we're thousands of miles apart.

While VR is where most of my attention is going to be focused at, I'm also hoping to see what is next for Google Assistant and Allo. Additionally, I'm curious to see what new developments Google is going to surprise me with this year and whether I had any clue they were coming.

Your wishlist?

We know everyone out there has a thing or two they want google to show us at Google I/O 2017. Sound off in the comments and let us know what's on your list!

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6 months ago

Apex Launcher is back and better than ever, but you should wait a while before switching

2

Apex Launcher isn't back just yet, but that hasn't stopped people from saying that it is.

Apex Launcher announced its comeback weeks ago with a May arrival date. Lo, it is May, and and Apex Launcher beta has pushed out for the testers to enjoy. But I'd hold off for a little while.

Hey, I'm as ready for another customization-heavy launcher to join the ranks of Nova Launcher and Action Launcher as anyone else, but after playing with the new beta, I can tell you it's not there yet.

Now, I refuse to make a bunch of hasty conclusions about Apex's resurgence until it makes its way to the stable release, or at least makes it through a few more beta updates, but so far, things look a lot like they did back in 2015. There's a few new-ish card styles and animations, but the majority of Apex looks and acts like it did before, right down to the way it cuts off icons when your grid gets too big.

Long story short, it's still more old Apex than new Apex. Until that new Apex is a little more visible, unless you're really into betas and giving feedback to launcher developers, I'd sit tight. If you want to take part in the Beta, you'll need to join the Apex Launcher Google+ community and then opt-in to the beta before downloading Apex Launcher from Google Play.

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6 months ago

YouTube TV has managed to satiate my desire for live television

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But with rival services making their way onto the scene, YouTube TV needs an edge.

Is there anyone out there who cut the cord and misses cable as much as I did? It wasn't until I downloaded YouTube TV that I realized how much I missed the sensation of flipping through channels, or being able to watch programs at the same time as everyone else.

Sure, full-featured cable TV does have its drawbacks. In many cases, it's overwrought with screeching advertisements and garbage content (says the reality TV connoisseur), not to mention that it can be pretty expensive if you want the whole kit and caboodle. But I found that the past few weeks with YouTube TV have been successful precisely because it evokes the same sensations of subscribing to cable TV while simultaneously filling in the blanks where some streaming services fall short.

It's saving me from a bad habit

Let's get this straight: There is nothing wrong with being a consumer of reality television. For me, it's a way to escape the world at present and be ensconced in someone else's drama for a change. But even I can admit that I was spending way too much money on the varying seasons of the Real Housewives and a few other shows simply because I wanted to watch them at the same timeline as everyone else. Most seasons range between $12-20 in the Google Play Store — it definitely adds up after a while, and then I'm left with seasons of old reality television tied to my Google account.

YouTube TV saves me a ton of money.

YouTube TV saves me a ton of money. For $35 a month, I can watch garbage television on Bravo, E!, and The CW in real time, or subscribe to them — it's the thing to do on YouTube, after all — so that I can watch them later.

I also appreciate the duality of the YouTube TV app. Not only do I have access to 50 live channels, including a variety of sports-centric networks (ESPN , FS1, and NBC Sports Network, to name a few), but I can also keep a mark on the other network shows I like to watch, too, without having to wait for Hulu to publish the episodes. And if it's a live special that won't appear on the internet after the fact, I can use the built-in DVR capabilities to record it and watch later.

YouTube TV is liveIt also offers a breadth of on demand contentAnd YouTube originals

YouTube TV offers live TV (left), but there's also on demand content (middle) in addition to YouTube originals (right).

That's the other thing about YouTube TV: the promise of nearly-unlimited DVR. You can record shows as they air and keep them tied to your account for up to nine months. There's a downside to doing this, however, and it's also a reminder of why I cut the cord in the first place: I'm forced to watch the advertisements in between scenes, and I can't skip 'em either.

But considering I've been a Hulu subscriber for such a long time — six years! — and I've never paid to eliminate the ads, I'm okay with sitting through a few of them when I'm watching TV. If anything, it adds to the effect of "having cable," and I don't have to worry about pausing the content in between segments to get up and take a break from the couch.

The beginning of a burgeoning trend

YouTube isn't the first to jump on the live-TV-over-the-internet trend. Sling TV has been long offering this kind of functionality on a variety of devices. I found its packages to be a bit too limiting for my liking, however, and the channels I wanted to watch in real time were part of its highest subscription tier. It's since changed its offerings, however, and I'll be curious to see if I can get more variety for the same price as YouTube TV.

Hulu is currently accepting sign-ups for its live television abilities.

Hulu has also joined the ranks in delivering live television over the internet, and that's the service that I'm feeling particularly conflicted about. The pricing and variety of channels are about on par with YouTube TV, and though I've yet to try it out, it seems to be more worth the cash. It only offers 200 hours of cloud DVR, however, but that's in addition to the breadth of original content and movies available on demand.

YouTube doesn't necessarily have all that content available. Sure, I have access to whatever is on demand from the various network channels — this includes made-for-TV movies and past seasons of terrible reality television — but the feed is also clogged with mentions of YouTube Red content that doesn't appear as appealing to watch.

One thing's for sure: the idea of live TV wherever you are is definitely heating up.

I'll be curious to see if Hulu Live can offer an edge of what's essentially a beta service offered by YouTube. I like the flexibility of the YouTube TV app, however; the ability to watch TV on either my Android device or through Chromecast. But Hulu is even more cross compatible in that regard, particularly since it's available on practically everything. What's a gal to do?

One thing's for sure: the idea of live TV wherever you are is definitely heating up. It's also a great reminder of how the methodology of watching TV has drastically changed over the years. Before, you could only watch live TV by subscribing to cable or sharing shady links with your friends. Now, you can do almost everything a traditional set-top box with DVR used to do right from your smartphone.

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6 months ago

Verizon debuts its own chatbot on Facebook Messenger

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The Fios customer service bot will answer your questions and help you find things to watch.

Probably the worst part about customer service is having to talk to someone on the phone when things go awry or you have a quick question. But would you rather have the conversation over Facebook Messenger?

Verizon has introduced the Fios chatbot on Facebook Messenger. You can use it to do things like search for content to watch, manage your DVR, and add channels to an existing package. It works for Verizon Fios internet service, too, so if you're wondering what the throughput is on your internet speeds, you can simply ask the chatbot to test the connection.

"The Fios chatbot is focused on entertainment content now," said Miguel Quiroga, head of digital for Verizon's Fios consumer business, in the official press release. "It will continue to evolve based on how people use it. In effect, our customers will be 'co-creating' the platform with us."

Automated customer service isn't a new concept, just as chatbots aren't new either. Facebook on its part recently announced its plans to double down on chatbots in an effort to give them substantial credence over time.

If you're a Verizon Fios customer, you can try out the Fios chatbot on Facebook Messenger right now. Search for Fios, and then select "Get Started" as the first chat entry to start the process of linking your account.

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6 months ago

How to connect an accessory to Samsung Health

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Connecting an accessory to Samsung Health makes tracking your progress easier than ever.

Samsung Health aims to be your one-stop-shop for tracking your health and exercise. While it contains plenty of features within the app to track things, you can also connect compatible accessories that will help you in this endeavor. Whether you're hoping to know what your fastest mile is or precisely how far you biked, you can do it all by connecting the right accessory. It's also an extremely easy process, and we have the details for you here.

Why connect an accessory to Samsung Health?

Connecting your Samsung Gear S3 Smartwatch, or Gear Icon X earbuds to Samsung Health can definitely enhance how well Samsung Health works. This is because the app is actually set up to connect to activity trackers, bike sensors, smartwatches, heart rate monitors, and plenty more.

Samsung Health really does aim to be an all-in-one place for you to build healthy habits, and then track them. To this end, they've included compatibility with a slew of different devices you may be using to aid you in a variety of ways. Whether these are smart scales to check your weight, glucose monitors to check your sugar levels, or just an activity tracker to get the stats from your morning run, this is a pretty big deal.

This makes tracking your progress easier than ever.

Being able to have all of your health information in one place, and to see the improvement day after day and week after week may be the motivation you need to get serious about your health. While the devices that you'll be able to connect are primarily Samsung's own, you can see a full list of supported devices within the accessory page inside of the app.

Now one thing to remember is that if you are connecting a Samsung Accessory, you'll need to go ahead and install Samsung Gear Manager first. Your phone won't connect to your smartwatch if the Gear Manager isn't on your phone.

Once you have an accessory connected then you'll be able to track specific information without having to manually enter it into the app. This makes tracking your progress easier than ever, especially if you tend to forget to input information after a workout.

How to connect an accessory within Samsung Health

  1. Open Samsung Health.
  2. Tap the overflow icon that looks like three vertical dots in the upper right corner.
  3. Tap Accessories to open the accessories page.

  4. Tap the Accessory you want to connect to Samsung Health.
  5. Tap Register in the upper right hand corner of the screen.
  6. Tap Connect to pair your accessory to your phone.

Have you connected an accessory to Samsung Health?

Connecting an accessory to Samsung Health lets you keep better track of information like your run, heart rate, weight, and plenty more. This makes it easier than ever to track your progress as you try to get healthier, without having to think about it or constantly input information. Have you made the jump and connected your smartwatch, or another accessory to Samsung Health? We want to know about it! Leave us a comment below!

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6 months ago

Allo's next trick: Turning your selfies into emoji

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The new features takes advantage of Google's machine learning abilities to make a set of stickers based on your face.

Feel like your feelings could better be expressed through emoji that look like you? Well, you're in luck if you're an Allo user. The latest update comes with a feature that turns your selfie into a reusable sticker.

The feature was announced in an official Google blog, and then confirmed in an interview between Google's Jason Cornwall, Communications UX Lead at Google, and FastCo Design. Starting today, you'll be able to shoot and save your own emotive stickers to use within Allo conversations. Google's image-recognition algorithm will analyze your face and map each of your individual features to a preset selection of images illustrated by artist Lamar Abrams, who is best known for the Cartoon Network series Steven Universe. Then, you can choose the emotion that best suits your mood.

"The goal isn't accuracy," Cornwell said about the ability. "It's to let someone create something that feels like themselves, to themselves." Google estimates that there are 563 quadrillion possibilities. Once you create your stickers, you'll have 22 different moods to choose from.

The FastCo Design article continues with some background on Google's objective behind the sticker-making feature:

The project represents a long-running priority at Google—to figure out new ways that it can apply ML to broader and broader swathes of experience. The logic, for Google, is alluring: Google leads the world in ML, so if it can make ML into a must-have feature for apps and websites, then its products will be able to leapfrog competitors. Along those lines, Allo has become a test bed for all kinds of novel ML applications. "What we're doing with Allo is trying to find all the ways that ML can make messaging better," says Cornwell. "From saying the right thing at the right time to conveying the right emotion at the right time."

Unfortunately, I don't see the update available in the Google Play Store at the time of writing, which is quite a bummer. A sticker-making feature that uses Google's Machine Learning abilities is rather impressive, and I'm curious to see the end result in real time.

You can read the rest of the article, which includes background on how the stickers were designed, at FastCo Design. As for the app update, keep checking in the Google Play Store.

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6 months ago

Everywhere you can use Samsung Pay

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Samsung Pay is available all over the place.

Samsung Pay makes paying for your purchases easier than ever, but knowing when it will work is handy in a pinch. There are plenty of places that work well with Samsung Pay, but it definitely isn't available everywhere. We've got the details for you on where it works, and where it doesn't.

Where can I use Samsung Pay?

Samsung Pay will work at terminals that use NFC or MST—Magnetic Secure Transmission —payments. While you may be pretty familiar with NFC payments, Samsung phones are the only ones using MST to render payments.

MST Technology allows your phone to trick a terminal into thinking a card has been swiped by using a magnetic field. Using this technology your phone is able to magnetically swipe at terminals as though it were a real card, even if the terminal does not support tap and pay.

Essentially what you need to use Samsung Pay is a terminal where it is possible to just tap or magnetically 'swipe' your phone in order to pay. Now, many folks currently have credit or debit cards that require a chip reader in order to render payments. Depending on the card that you are using, the virtual card supplied in the app should be able to bypass this by delivering a virtual card without a chip. And thanks to tokenization, a process that randomizes the numbers of your virtual card from those of your real, physical one, if the terminal is compromised and those numbers are stolen, it shouldn't affect your account as a whole.

Many retailers that are set up to accept Samsung Pay as a payment method have a sticker on their terminal. This makes it easy to tell at a glance if Samsung Pay is accepted, although in some locations it will work even if it isn't indicated.

What does not support Samsung Pay?

Samsung Pay is supported at many different locations, from grocery stores to convenience stores to Square readers. However, it isn't going to work everywhere. Specifically the place where you are going to run into problems is anywhere that requires you to insert your card in order to process payment.

This means that locations like ATMs, or vending machines are not going to be able to process Samsung Pay purchases if they require you to insert a bank card. While you do have a virtual card saved to your account, it isn't physical and thus can't be inserted into the machines.

The big thing to remember is that Samsung Pay is only going to work in locations that have a magnetic strip reader using MST, or access to NFC contactless technology. In some cases you may still run into issues with companies updating their terminals for chip technology.

What do terminals that use Samsung Pay look like?

Since so many places now support Samsung Pay, it can be a little bit difficult to figure out which ones don't support this payment method. We've collected some photos for you, so that you know when Samsung Pay ought to work, and when it won't.

We tested out terminals in chain stores like Target and Journeys, along with vending machines that take Samsung Pay.

Now when it comes to places that aren't currently accepting Samsung Pay, you'll often be looking at older locations that haven't updated their terminals yet.

Have you used Samsung Pay?

Samsung Pay lets you tap your phone to a terminal in order to pay with your phone, and it's available for use at thousands upon thousands of locations. While it doesn't work everywhere, or in every case, it is a handy alternative to digging through your wallet for your card. Have you used Samsung Pay? Let us know about it in the comments below!

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

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6 months ago

Google wants you to (what else?) use its search engine to find things to do

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Feeling droll and aching for something new to do? Ask Google.

Google doesn't want you to use a separate app or scour the depths of the internet to find something interesting to do. Instead, it wants you to give its ol' search engine a try. The latest update to the Google app and mobile website enables the search engine to tap into feeds from services like Eventbrite, Meetup, and Songkick to directly display what's happening near you.

To try it, type in a search like "art events this weekend" on your phone. You'll see variety of options, including an extended event calendar and tabs for the different days of the week. You can also type in the date or day of the week for more specific results, or "events near me" to see what's happening near your location.

The update appears to be on a slow roll out to both Android and iOS users, as the new features weren't available for me at press time. I also live in a smaller town, and it'll be interesting to ses if the lack of things happening nearby will affect this ability outright.

If you manage an event-centric site, you can check out the varying guidelines for marking up your own events so that they're more discoverable.

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6 months ago

How to get started with Samsung Health

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Samsung Health is filled with plenty of great features for you to utilize, but first you need to get set up.

When it comes to trying to get healthier, there are tons of apps out there that can help you in one avenue or another. Samsung Health, previously S Health, is an all in one app here to help you build better habits, and track the habits you already have. While there is a lot going on within the app, getting started is easier than you might think.

Create an account

The first thing that you'll need to do to get started with Samsung Health is create a new account or log into an existing S Health account. If you've ever had an S Health account, then you'll be able to log in and access all of your previous health information that was stored. If you want to start over or need to create a new account, that's also an easy process.

  1. Launch Samsung Health.
  2. Tap Agree to the terms and conditions.
  3. Tap Next.

    Open Samsung Health, tap to agree to terms and conditions, tap next,

  4. Type in your information to create an account.
  5. Tap Sign in.

    Type in your information, and tap log in

Set goals for yourself

The first thing that you should do after getting logged in to Samsung Health is set some goals for yourself. While there are plenty of specific goals that you can fine tune later, you get suggestions for the first few goals you set. These include counting calories if you're trying to eat better, a step counter to help your activity level, and a sleep tracker to help you get a solid amount of sleep each night.

  1. Launch Samung Health.
  2. Tap Set goals.
  3. Drag the slider bar to adjust the goal to where you want it.

    Open Samsung Health, Tap set goals, drag the slider to adjust the goal

  4. Tap Next to save your goal. Repeat this process with each goal.

    Tap next to save your goal, repeat this process with each goal

Fill out your Profile

The last big step of getting started with Samsung Health is to fill in the information on your profile. This includes benign information, like your display name, as well as entering information about your gender, height, weight, and activity levels.

Your profile page has all the information about your recent activities too. It's where you can see your personal best, as well as view a weekly summary that has a breakdown of your activity.

  1. Launch Samsung Health.
  2. Tap the green icon of a person in the upper right corner to navigate to the profile page.
  3. Tap on gender and tap to choose between male and female.

    Open Samsung Health, tap on the green icon of a person, tap on gender to choose your gender

  4. Tap Next.
  5. Tap the date you were born to set your age.
  6. Tap Next.

    Tap next, tap the date your were born, and tap next

  7. Tap and drag the slider to set your height.
  8. Tap Next.
  9. Tap and drag the slider to set your weight.

    Use the slider bar to set your height, tap next, use the slider to set your weight

  10. Tap Done to finish inputting profile info.

    tap done

Are you using Samsung Health?

Samung Health has plenty of tools to help you build better habits, but before you can jump into everything going on, you'll need to get set up. From creating an account to filling out your profile to setting your initial goals, this is an easy process. So are you using Samsung Health? Be sure to let us know about it in the comments below!

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