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4 weeks ago

Pandora Android TV app gains Premium support, refreshed UI, and more

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A new look and feel for your tunes.

Pandora might not be the first music streaming service to come to your mind, but even as the likes of Spotify and Apple Music continue to grow, there's no denying its place in the streaming market. Pandora announced earlier this month that it'd (sort of) be expanding on-demand listening to Plus and free members, and now the company's released a fairly large update to its Android TV app.

Perhaps one of the biggest additions to this update is support for Pandora Premium. Pandora Premium first launched back in March as a way for users to stream songs on-demand in addition to custom radio stations, and the expansion of it to Android TV is very welcome.

Also new is support for Google Assistant, a new search bar, an Autoplay feature that'll make sure the music never stops, and a user interface that's been refreshed to look more modern.

The v4.0 update for Pandora's Android TV app is available in the Play Store now, and you can grab it by clicking/tapping the button above.

Amazon Prime Video finally makes its way to Android TV

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4 weeks ago

Instagram's Android app gets 'add a comment' button in main feed

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Now you can tell your aunt how cute her cat is even faster.

Instagram's added a heap of new features to its app throughout the year (both big and small), and the latest addition to it aims to make commenting on photos/videos easier than ever.

As part of a server-side update that's rolling out to the Instagram app now, Android users will start to see a new "add a comment" button below posts that enables you to type and send a comment without having to leave your main feed.

Prior to this update, you'd have to tap on the comment icon to go to the comments section and then type your thoughts. It's a process that worked fine, but being able to say a few words about a post without having to actually leave your main feed is a nice touch.

Instagram with (left) and without (right) the new comment button.

Instagram confirmed to Engadget that this feature first started rolling out to iOS last month. The new comment button has already shown up on Andrew Martonik's phone and my own, but the rollout seems to be a bit buggy at the moment. The button shows up and works just fine on some posts, but it's just nowhere to be seen on others.

Have you seen this on your Instagram app?

Instagram is testing a standalone messaging app because why not

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4 weeks ago

Firefox now available on Fire TV with support for YouTube

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Mozilla comes to the rescue.

At the beginning of December, Google made the announcement that it'd be pulling its YouTube app from Amazon's Fire TV devices on January 1, 2018. Google's reason for this was due to Amazon not selling products like Chromecast and Google Home, and while Amazon's since started selling the former of those two things, Google's yet to revoke the YouTube ban.

Assuming Google does follow through and remove YouTube from Fire TV, Mozilla already has a workaround to ensure you can keep watching all of your favorite online content.

On December 20, Mozilla announced that it'd officially launched its Firefox web browser for the Fire TV. This enables users to go to their favorite sites like Instagram, Google, Pinterest, etc., but as Mozilla hints at multiple times in its announcement post, it's also a great way for "watching web video."

This is, of course, referring to the fact that you can watch YouTube on Firefox, and based on the screenshots Mozilla has shared, the YouTube web app you can access through it looks a lot like the app that's currently available for the Fire TV.

Firefox for Fire TV.

Mozilla says Firefox for Fire TV will work on 2nd generation Fire TV devices and newer, and although it's being targeted for U.S. users, anyone can download and use it.

Amazon Prime Video finally makes its way to Android TV

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4 weeks ago

Best Transit Apps for Android 2018

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Citymapper

Find your way around town with these handy Transit apps!

When you're using public transit to get around, or you need to get around in an unfamiliar town, having an app to help you out can make things much less stressful. While summoning an uber is always an option, these apps will help you take advantage of public transit wherever you are.

Citymapper

Citymapper

Citymapper is the best transit app that you can use on your Android phone, as long as you are in a supported city. When you need help traversing larger cities, like New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, or any number of international cities, that is where Citymapper comes in. The app can factor in buses, trains, subways, bikes and cabs, removing the daunting task of figuring out how to get from point A to B in the fastest or least stressful way possible.

Citymapper pulls all of this information into one place so you can check out the available options and see which is best for you. From directions that use the bus, subway, rail and even bikes, Citymapper will help you find the best place to get on the transportation method nearest you, and which stop you will want to get off. If you are one to travel into smaller cities, you may find that Citymapper doesn't yet offer support for it. Luckily, Citymapper is always looking to expand the areas that it supports and you can easily suggest a new location to be added.

The beauty of Citymapper is in its simplicity: you only need to open the app from your location and tell it where you want to go, and the extensive database will take into account the various means of getting somewhere — bus, subway, tram, even walking — to determine the ideal route. It's even smart enough to tell you when to leave to get there at a particular time, or which door to exit from to emerge from a subway closest to your location. The app is well-designed and extremely intuitive, and it functions as a replacement for Google Maps in every way but for driving directions.

Download:Citymapper(Free)

Google Maps

Google Maps

If you are looking for options in the most places possible, Google Maps is likely your best bet. While the other apps specialize in particular cities, Google is a bit more generic. This can be a good and bad thing at the same time. Sure, you'll have more information at your fingertips with Google Maps, but the overall density of information may not be as high.

Once you find your location on the map, you'll be able to pick between driving, taking a bus, train routes, walking directions, uber requests and more. From the settings, you'll be able to set a time you want to leave or arrive so that you can see accurate commute options for that trip. This also means you can roughly plan out a day that requires multiple bus or train rides across a wider area rather than being within a single city.

Google Maps also includes a full Transit tab that will clue you in on local stations and methods of transit. This tab include sinformation on buses, and some train stations. Additionally, if you use public transit to commute to and from work, you can set it up in Google Maps so that you always know when there has been a delay, or issue in service.

Download: Google Maps(Free)

Transit

Transit

Transit offers support in more than 120 cities already both in and out of the U.S. From an easy way to grab step-by-step directions to get you around a new city to real-time predictions of when the next train or bus may arrive, Transit is quite powerful. The built-in map will show you where your train is, notifications of when to get off at your stop and more so you won't get lost in that new city.

Whether you have an internet connection or not you'll be able to view the schedule for upcoming departures, check estimated time of arrivals (ETAs) and even request an Uber if no other method of transportation meets your needs. It has support for nearly all methods of transportation, including ferry, Uber, bus, rail, train, bike, car2go and others.

Transit is a great alternative to Citymapper and a great addition to Google Maps for those times you may need more in-depth information about getting around where you are. Transit offers support for more cities than Citymapper does, but its feature set isn't quite as extensive although it does work in many cities in Canada, Europe, and Australia.

Download: Transit(Free)

Moovit: Bus&Train Live Info

Moovit

Transit Directions by Moovit offers support for more than 1,200 cities around the world, which is far more than many of the other apps out there. Just because it supports more cities doesn't mean it's the best though. The interface is a bit different than others, and some may find that it works for them and others will be turned off and go back to another option.

The features of the app are great, though. With live directions that notify you when to get off at your stop, real-time arrival information, a favorites screen to quickly access places you frequently visit and more, there is no shortage of information in the app. The Moovit widget will help you keep an eye on your favorite destinations and travel lines to make sure things are operating as normal, and you can receive notifications for service alerts when things aren't running as usual.

On top of that, Moovit has been aggressively expanding their reach and add an average of one new city every 15 hours. It supports over 100 US Cities, connects to every major transit operator, and can even direct you to a local bike share if you'd rather take the scenic route on your trip.

Download: Transit Directions from Moovit

Which is your favorite?

Depending where you live or where you will be visiting, one app may work better than the others. Each one has it's own benefits and detriments that add up, and thankfully all of the options we've presented here do their job well. Do you have a favorite transit app? Let us know about it in the comments below!

Updated December 2017: We've updated the transit apps here with important updates for your user experience!

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4 weeks ago

Samsung Pay now supports bill payments in India

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A new treat for Indian users.

Samsung Pay is already one of the most powerful mobile payment systems around thanks to its support for NFC and MST transactions, but for users in India, the service is gaining even more flexibility with the addition of a new feature called 'Bill Payments.'

As the name suggests, Bill Payments allows you to pay for your electricity, broadband, gas, water, and other bills right within Samsung Pay. The feature is powered by NPCI's Bharat Bill Payments Systems, and along with paying for existing bills, Bill Payments can be used to get notifications when a new one is due, search for new recurring payments that you'd like to add, and more.

Per Samsung India Director, Sanjay Razdan:

Consumer-centric innovation is at the forefront of our business. Since the launch of Samsung Pay, we have constantly innovated and added user-centric features such as UPI, wallets, Gift Cards and now Bill Payments. With the introduction of 'Bill Payments', consumers will be able to pay their utility bills seamlessly through Samsung Pay, set reminders and search favourite biller based on their current location. 'Bill Payments' is another 'Make for India' innovation that we believe will greatly benefit our consumers.

Bill Payments is currently only slated for a release in India, and it should be rolling out to users now.

Samsung Pay is now available in Mexico

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4 weeks ago

Amazon Prime Video finally makes its way to Android TV

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Amazon keeps offering olive branches.

Over the past few weeks, Amazon and Google have been at wits with one another. Google announced at the beginning of December that it had plans to pull the YouTube app from the Echo Show and Fire TV, and as we recently learned, Amazon used this same day to file trademarks for what appears to be its own YouTube competitor.

A few days after this, Amazon tried being the bigger company and said it'd once again start selling the Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra, and it now appears the online retail giant is offering yet another olive branch to Google by releasing a Prime Video app on Android TV.

Amazon's had a Prime Video app on the NVIDIA Shield TV since its release, but this is the first time we've seen any sign of it expanding to other Android TV-powered televisions/streaming boxes. The listing for the app on the Play Store looks a lot like the one that was recently released for the Apple TV, but at the time of this writing, you don't seem to be able to actually download it on any devices.

Amazon Prime Video for Android TV

Spotted by Android Police, the Prime Video Android TV app is not compatible with any devices. It's said that it's unable to install on the Nexus Player and other Android TV-powered tech, so it's possible Amazon isn't actually ready for a full launch quite yet.

Even so, the fact that we're now getting Prime Video for Android TV is still exciting. Not only is this good news for Prime subscribers that prefer Google's television platform, but this should also hopefully encourage Google to cease its ban of YouTube on Fire TV.

Amazon might be working on a YouTube competitor called 'Amazontube'

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1 month ago

Twitter now supports third-party apps for two-factor authentication

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Authenticate your tweets with Google Authenticator, 1Password, etc.

Twitter added two-factor authentication to all the way back in 2013, and while it works fine, it's continued to lack support for third-party apps year after year. Thankfully, now at the end of 2017, this is finally changing.

Up until now, Twitter's login verification process has only been able to send authentication codes via SMS. This is still more secure than not having two-factor authentication enabled at all, but the SMS messages are prone to being intercepted by people other than you.

Using two-factor authentication with a third-party app adds an even greater layer of security and codes that are sent to you automatically disappear after 30 seconds to ensure that you and only you can gain access to your account.

Supported apps include the likes of Google Authenticator, Authy, and 1Password, and turning on this feature is pretty simple.

  1. Tap your profile icon, go to Account, and then Security
  2. Text Message will be enabled as your default authentication method – tap review your login verification methods
  3. Enter and confirm your password
  4. Tap Set up -> Mobile security app -> Start
  5. Verify your password once more if asked
  6. Scan the QR code that pops up, follow the instructions, and then enter the 6-digit security code

Talon reimagines how Twitter's timeline should look

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1 month ago

Essential Phone now getting Oreo Beta 2 with new features and bug fixes

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Now with picture-in-picture, smart text selection, and more.

Essential rolled out the first beta of Oreo for the PH-1 back in mid-November, and while it's been great to play around with the new version of Android, there have been some noticeably missing features and multiple bugs that have made us anxious for beta two. This was supposed to be pushed out last week but was delayed due to "a few regressions" that Essential caught "last minute."

However, the waiting game is now over as Oreo Beta 2 is finally makings its way to the Essential Phone.

Weighing in at a hefty 142.4Mb, Oreo Beta 2 includes picture-in-picture, smart text selection, instant apps, security scans through Google Play Protect, app sign-in, and faster startup times.

There are also quite a few bugs that have been squashed, including:

  • Android Auto and OEM Bluetooth car kit interoperability improvements
  • Data tracking issues for certain U.S. carriers
  • Setup Assistant screen cutoff issues due to status bar
  • Further Treble support
  • Battery life improvements
  • LED notification and charging behavior

You'll receive an OTA update to Beta 2 if you're already enrolled in the beta program, but if not, you can sideload it from Essential's website.

Essential Phone

Amazon Best Buy Sprint Telus

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1 month ago

Movies purchased via Google Play have extra content in Movies Anywhere

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Get ready for more behind-the-scenes and bloopers.

When Movies Anywhere launched this past October, it came as a true godsend for those with extensive digital libraries sprawled across multiple platforms. Being able to store and watch all your movies from Google Play, iTunes, Amazon, and Vudu in one location is still pretty magical, but it looks like there's an extra benefit for titles purchased on Google Play Movies that we didn't notice until now.

Google Play Movies has come a long way since its launch, but there are still certain areas where it's lacking – one of these being included extra content. There are some titles on Play Movies that come with behind-the-scenes clips and bloopers, but they're few and far between when compared to something like iTunes.

However, if you've purchased movies on Google Play and link your account to Movies Anywhere, you'll be able to watch any extra content that comes with those titles on other services in Movies Anywhere.

For example, if you purchased a movie like Big Hero 6 on Google Play Movies, you'll see that it doesn't come with any sort of extras. However, if you link your Google account to Movies Anywhere, you can jump to the Movies Anywhere app, open up Big Hero 6, and watch deleted scenes, interviews with some of the people behind the movie, and even the short Feast that aired before the movie in theaters.

Big Hero 6 on Google Play Movies (left) compared to Movies Anywhere (right). Note the disparity in extras.

I've checked multiple movies in my personal collection, and I can confirm that there's extra content for titles in Movies Anywhere that just isn't available in Play Movies – even though I originally purchased them through Google.

Movies Anywhere was already a game-changer, and this latest discovery just makes it even better.

Movies Anywhere lets you watch your digital movies on any service, and Google is a launch partner

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1 month ago

Samsung's CTO and former Bixby head has left the company

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A successor has not yet been announced.

At the end of October, Samsung announced a heap of changes for its executive department. All three of its co-CEOs were replaced, DJ Koh took over the company's mobile division, and Rhee In-jong was assigned as the new CTO. However, Samsung confirmed on Wednesday, December 20 that Rhee has officially resigned.

Rhee is said to have expressed a want to leave the company back in July, and in an email that he sent on December 19, his decision to resign appears to be strictly for personal reasons. Rhee's daughter was dispatched to serve in the U.S. Army in July, and after reflecting on this and his new position, Rhee said he felt "selfish" for taking the spot of CTO while his daughter was overseas.

Rhee In-jong first joined Samsung back in 2011, and during his time with the company, he helped work on products/services such as Samsung Knox and Samsung Pay, and he was even the head for development of Bixby.

Samsung has yet to announce who will replace Rhee as CTO, but whoever it is, they'll have mighty big shoes to fill.

Samsung smart speaker with Bixby to launch in first half of 2018

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1 month ago

Amazon might be working on a YouTube competitor called 'Amazontube'

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Say what now?

At the beginning of December, Google made a nasty move against Amazon by announcing that it'd be removing YouTube from the Echo Show (for the second time) and Fire TV as the latest move in the endless dispute between the two companies. According to the sharp eyes at TV Answer Man, Amazon filed for two trademarks that very same day for something rather interesting.

The two trademarks are titled as "Amazontube" and "Opentube," and both services would provide "non-downloadable pre-recorded audio, visual and audiovisual works via wireless networks." Content would range from tech, fashion, gaming, etc., and these services would allow "users to share content, photos, videos, text, data, images, and other electronic works."

In other words, it sounds like Amazon is playing around with the idea of launching a YouTube competitor.

What could Amazon offer to make people switch from YouTube?

It is interesting to think about what Amazon's take on YouTube might look like, but the likelihood of Amazon following through with this is pretty slim.

On the one hand, we've seen other companies try to mimic YouTube's formula and not see much success at all. YouTube's hold on the video-sharing market is pretty much unstoppable right now, and while we're all for more competition, that's a battle that'd prove to be difficult even for a company like Amazon.

Along with that, Google might not have to follow through with its decision to remove YouTube from the Echo Show and Fire TV after all. The spokeswoman that made the announcement said Google chose to do this as a result of Amazon not selling Google's hardware, but just recently, Amazon said it'd once again start selling the Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra. It remains to be seen if this is enough to keep Google from pulling the plug on YouTube from Amazon's devices, but it is encouraging to see Amazon try to create some peace between the two.

Just in case we do one day see an Amazontube, though, what features would it have to offer for you to use it over YouTube?

Amazon will once again sell Chromecast and Apple TV

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1 month ago

Google Assistant SDK picks up new languages and features

1

Google Assistant on third-party speakers is about to get a lot smarter.

Although the Google Assistant first launched as an exclusive feature for the Pixel/Pixel XL and Google Home in 2016, it's rapidly expanded to other Android phones, tablets, and third-party smart speakers. The Google Assistant SDK is what allows manufacturers to add the virtual assistant to any device with a microphone and speaker, and it's gaining a few new features to expand its usefulness.

The TicHome Mini, a third-party Google Assistant speaker.

The first new addition to the SDK is more language support. With this update, the SDK now supports English in Australia, Canada, UK, and the U.S., French in Canada and France, as well as German, and Japanese.

Also new are more customizable device settings. With this, developers can use the SDK to change a device's language, location, and even nickname to allow for more personalized results.

The addition of Device Actions enables developers to create Actions right within devices running the Assistant SDK, and there's now also support for text-based questions and responses.

These upgrades to the Assistant SDK should be rolling out now, and it'll be interesting to see how developers tap into everything being added here with future applications and updates to existing ones.

Google Assistant coming to Android tablets and older phones

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1 month ago

Liam Neeson can now give you driving directions in Waze

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In a car near you through January 14.

There are a lot of reasons to use Waze, but one of the app's most entertaining and unique features is the ability to have navigation directions read aloud by a number of different celebrities or even your own voice.

Now through January 14, you'll be able to have your directions read to you by none other than Liam Neeson.

Neeson's voice is being added to Waze as part of a promotion for the upcoming film The Commuter, and you can enable it by going to Settings -> Voice Directions -> Liam Neeson.

It's a shame good old Liam won't be around forever, but if you've got some last minute holiday shopping to go out and do, you might as well have former Jedi Knight and world's best dad guide you to your destinations.

You can now use your own voice for turn-by-turn directions with Waze

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1 month ago

Best eBook Reading Apps for Android in 2018

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Ebooks

Get your book fix with an ebook reading app!

Books can be heavy, expensive, and take up valuable space in a cramped apartment. If you've been considering the jump from physical books to ebooks, you'll need to figure out the best e-reader for the job. Thankfully you've got a few options, depending on where you want to get your books, and how you want them to look on the screen.

Take a peek at our picks for the best ebook reading apps on Android!

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Kindle pulls ahead of the pack of ebook readers with its access to a huge library of content, which includes free books and content from indie publishers. Many classic books like The Count of Monte Cristo are absolutely free, and you can read them on your mobile device, or desktop with the Kindle app. There is a book out there for you no matter what genre you are looking for, and even includes independently published content.

Kindle Direct Publishing even publishes content of varying lengths from self-published authors, or are otherwise unable to find a brick and mortar publisher. You can find titles ranging from Stephen King or Joe Hill to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Bell Hooks. Kindle Unlimited offers an endless selection of ebooks for a monthly fee.

In the app, you're able to customize fonts, margins, line spacing, and organize the books you've downloaded into collections so that it's easier to find the book you want to read. Kindle will also remember the page that you left on when you switch devices. This means that you can switch between your phone, Fire Tablet, and PC without ever losing your page in the process.

Download: Amazon Kindle (Free)

Google Play Books

Google Play Books gives you access to a vast bookstore, some of which are free. You'll also find some textbooks, although we'd like to see the textbook selection improve in the future. You can read books offline, use a dictionary to look up unfamiliar words, and have your notes and place in the book saved across multiple devices through your Google account.

If you have a family account set up, then you can share books between everybody without having to purchase them multiple times. As you purchase more books, Google will also show you books that are similar to ones you have already purchased, in order to find new authors you may not have heard of before.

Google Play Books has a great selection for the bibliophile in your family, and will likely be loaded onto your Android phone when you purchase it. Staying within the Google ecosystem also makes it easy to share your purchases with family members, and keep all of your media in one place.

Download: Google Play Books (Free)

Kobo

Kobo is a great way to read your favorite books whether it's on your phone or tablet. They have a gigantic selection filled with both new and established authors, including magazines and children's books. The most popular and trending ebooks are even updated hourly so that you don't miss an amazing story, even when it's coming from an author you've never heard of.

Kobo also includes a reading list, which lets you add items you are currently reading, as well as the books you intend to tackle. This makes it easy to keep track of your reading list, even when you're on the go.

As you begin to buy books and Kobo learns your likes, it will also build a recommendations list. This is made up of suggestions for new books or magazines, based on what you've already purchased. There is also a really awesome reading activity feature. It will show you how much time you've spent reading in the app, what books you are currently reading, a running tally of how many books you've read and how many pages you've turned in the process.

Kobo delivers an awesome reading experience with plenty of books to read through, as well as features that make finding a good book easier than ever. You can customize your reading experience, and since Kobo will learn your preferences over time, you'll find new authors with just a tap. As a final perk when you sign up you'll get a $5 credit to be used towards your first book purchase.

Download: Kobo Reader (Free)

Nook

If you want to continue shopping at Barnes and Noble, the Nook app is what you're looking for. It's the company's branded app, which gives you access to a huge library of books, magazines, and periodicals.

Since this is the official app from Barnes and Noble, if you buy into their yearly membership you can apply those discounts through the app. You also get access to tons of features to customize your reading experience, like spacing, sizing, and font selection. You can also share your library with family members, organize the way you like, and bookmark upcoming books that are available for pre-order.

Download: Nook (Free)

Moon+Reader

While being able to purchase books from a major retailer and download them to your phone is awesome, sometimes the books you want to read are ones that you already have the files for. Whether you've picked up ebooks from an independent publisher, or you've gotten the files from a now-defunct program, being able to open and read them is key. That's where Moon+Reader comes in.

It has support for 12 different file formats, from .rar files all the way to .epub files. On top of that, you still are able to customize the way words look on the screen, lets you back up your library online, and gives you access to 5 auto-scroll options on top of plenty more fantastic features.

Download: Moon+Reader(Free)

Are you reading?

While you might miss the feel of a book in your hands, or the smell of aged paper, there's a reason ebooks are so popular: they can save you space and money. If you've made the choice to move solely to ebooks, you have a variety of different e-readers to choose from. Do you use an e-reading app? Let us know about it in the comments below!

December 2017: We've added Nook and Moon+Reader to our list, and updated the info on all the best ebook apps!

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1 month ago

YouTube signs deal with two music labels ahead of new streaming service

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Universal and Sony join the mix.

Following Google Play Music and YouTube Music, Google is expected to launch its third streaming service at some point in 2018. Referred to as "YouTube Remix," YouTube just signed two deals with major labels in the industry to help give the service as much of a fighting chance as possible.

The current YouTube Music app.

According to Bloomberg, YouTube has signed deals with Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment. Part of the deal has to do with allowing YouTube to continue to host uploaded videos featuring songs by the labels, but there's also a clear intent of adding more content to the new streaming service.

Sony, Universal, and Warner are all on board for YouTube Remix.

For years now, YouTube's been at arms with music labels about whether or not it's paying enough money to copyright holders for users that listen to songs for free on the website. With the launch of YouTube Remix (or whatever it ends up being called), YouTube will likely make a strong push to convert regular YouTube users to paid Remix subscribers to help strengthen its relationship with these labels.

In addition to Universal and Sony, YouTube has also signed a deal with Warner Music Group.

We're anticipating YouTube Remix to launch at some point next year, but it's still unclear how much it'll cost or where it'll fit in with Google's other music services.

Google reported to launch its third music streaming service in 2018

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