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1 month ago

Best holiday subscription services for Americans

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Best subscriptions

What do you give the girl who has everything? A streaming subscription.

Want to get your friend into more shows that you can geek out over together? Get them a subscription to Hulu so you can both keep up with the latest shows or rewatch old classics. Looking for a thoughtful gift for your grandparent who keeps lamenting the lack of quality television these days? Get them a Kindle subscription so they can read some quality literature instead, with adjustable font sizes so that they can read without straining their eyes. Does your coworker keep asking what you're listening to on those huge headphones? Give them a music subscription and send them your mixtapes.

Here are the best subscriptions you can give or get this holiday season!

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1 month ago

Plex adds more DVR controls to Android on phones and TV

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Time shift master.

Plex is arguably the best service around for storing and watching all of your local media files, and earlier this year, expanded to offer live TV features as well with Plex Live TV. The Plex app for Android on phones and televisions is receiving a new update, and the focus is on expanding DVR capabilities within Plex Live TV.

One of the biggest highlights of the update is being able to watch a live show while it's actively being recorded to your DVR at the same time. This is a process that typically requires dual tuners from your cable company, and it's something that we're pretty excited to see.

Along with this, Plex is also letting people pause, play, rewind, and fast-forward shows up until their live broadcast time as they're being recorded. And, if you get tired of the show you're watching that's already been recorded, you can jump to the live broadcast on the same channel without skipping a beat.

These features are available for Android TV and mobile devices now, and Plex says it'll be rolling them out to Amazon hardware soon.

Beginner's guide to Plex

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1 month ago

Android's 'Check for update' button is broken, fix coming in 2018

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The culprit? Google Play Services.

Back in September, Googler Elliot Hughes announced on Google+ that Android's "Check for update" button was being reworked so that it actually checked and pulled any new updates for your device rather than just doing a check to see if an update was planned for your area that day. In other words, you'd theoretically be able to get your hands on OTA updates much faster than before.

This came as exciting news for a lot of the Android community, but with the recent release of 8.1 Oreo, people have been noticing that the button still doesn't do diddly squat. Spotted by Android Police, Hughes recently took to Google+ once more, but this time to announce that the latest update for Google Play Services has stopped the feature from working as intended.

Per Hughes post:

[UPDATE: a Google Play Services update after I posted this broke the feature again. (An API incompatibility between the System Update code and the Checkin code, if you're interested in the details: bugs involving two separate moving parts are often the sneakiest.) This was fixed again internally, but late enough that it will be next year before this works again for non-Googlers.

It's unclear when in 2018 this solution will be made available to the public, but we're crossing our fingers that it'll be sooner rather than later.

Have you gotten your hands on 8.1 Oreo yet?

Android Oreo

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1 month ago

Amazon Music Unlimited and Echo devices coming to 28 additional countries

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Here's which countries get to share in on the Amazon fun.

On December 8, 2017, Amazon announced that it's officially expanding both its Music Unlimited streaming service and Echo smart speakers to 28 new countries.

Amazon Music Unlimited costs $7.99/month in the United States for Prime members ($9.99 for non-Prime customers), and for that price you get access to a library of 40 million songs, offline listening, and support for a variety of different devices, including Android, iOS, PC, Mac, Amazon Fire TV, and (of course) Echo speakers.

Echo speakers in these new markets currently only support controls in English, but we could see more languages added later on down the road.

As for the countries that are part of this expansion, they include:

  • Belgium
  • Bolivia
  • Bulgaria
  • Chile
  • Columbia
  • Costa Rica
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Sweden
  • Uruguay

If it seems like Amazon's been expanding a lot of its products to other countries recently, that's because it has. This latest news comes just a day after the Fire 7 and Fire HD 8 tablets launched in Canada, and back in November, Canadians were also finally treated with the release of Echo speakers.

See at Amazon

Amazon Echo

See at Amazon

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1 month ago

Microsoft's SwiftKey keyboard for Android isn't what it used to be

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SwiftKey on Android is not a good Android keyboard. In fact, it might be the worst one out there.

I was a Windows phone user for years before I finally made the switch to an Android smartphone. I had used everything from the HTC 7 Mozart all the way up to the HP Elite x3 as my daily driver. Back in 2010, when I made the switch from my iPhone 3GS to my HTC 7 Mozart, the keyboard was an obvious standout feature. It was so good.

Windows Phone 8.1 only improved the keyboard with the introduction of shape writing and better autocorrect, and although the Windows 10 Mobile keyboard was a little sub-par when it first launched, it didn't take long for that old behavior to return, maintaining Windows Phone's number one spot for best mobile OS keyboard.

But in 2017, that doesn't matter. But Microsoft made great keyboards, so I would at least expect it to have nailed the fundamentals on Android. It already has a great app launcher, superb Edge browser, Cortana, Outlook, and many more fantastic Android apps to help tie over any Windows phone converts. SwiftKey? Not so much ...

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1 month ago

Google reported to launch its third music streaming service in 2018

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In March 2018, Google might launch its third attempt at a music streaming service with YouTube Remix.

Music streaming services have become a dime a dozen, and because of this, it can be hard to successfully break into the market when the likes of Spotify, Pandora, and even Apple Music are dominating the industry. Google's already made a couple attempts with its own music streaming solutions, but according to a report from Bloomberg, we'll see the company's third one launch next March.

The new streaming service is currently dubbed as "Remix", and Google has reportedly already made deals with Warner Music Group and is currently in talks with Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, and Merlin to flesh out the service as much as possible.

Third time's the charm?

Remix is expected to offer on-demand listening for whatever songs you'd like, as well as an integration of related video clips – not surprising considering that Remix will be launching as a YouTube-branded service.

Google first dipped its toes in the music streaming market back in 2011 with the release of Google Play Music, and in 2014 followed this up with YouTube Music Key. Music Key transitioned into YouTube Red a couple years later in 2016, and it includes premium YouTube content in addition to Google Play Music All Access. Because of this, it'll be interesting to see if YouTube Remix replaces Google Play Music or if Google will try to have both coexist next to each other.

YouTube is said to have been trying to make a deal with Sony and Universal for over a year at this point for Remix, so whether or not we actually get a launch in March remains to be seen.

Google Play Music and YouTube Red are the best deal in streaming right now

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1 month ago

Action Launcher: Everything you need to know!

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Action Launcher is magic

Action Launcher is proof that you really can have it all.

Some launchers are made to be quick. Some launchers are made to be adaptable. Some launchers are made to be smart. Then there are some launchers that try to do it all, and they usually fail. Action Launcher, however, is the rare instance of a home screen launcher that is as quick as it is cunning, and white it does have limits, there's no doubt that Action is one of the best launchers you could come home to.

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1 month ago

Some Google searches are now answered by selfie videos from celebrities

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Available first on mobile with Mark Wahlberg, Gina Rodriguez, Seth MacFarlane, and others.

Google's always testing out new features here and there for making its many services as great as can be, and the latest one has to do with its bread and butter, Google Search. In a blog post that was published on December 7, Product Manager Rami Banna announced that some searches on Google will now showcase selfie videos from your favorite celebrities.

This is something that's launching first on mobile, and when asking something such as "Can Will Ferrell really play the drums?", you'll see a video that you can play in which Will Ferrell answers that question directly through a selfie video. This is something that seems to have come completely out of left field, but after messing around with it for a couple minutes, it's actually kind of fun.

You can pause a video once it starts by tapping on your screen, and swiping through the cards near the bottom or letting the video finish playing will take you to the next question.

Celebrities that you'll find video responses from include Priyanka Chopra, Will Ferrell, Tracee Ellis Ross, Gina Rodriguez, Kenan Thompson, Allison Williams, Nick Jonas, Mark Wahlberg, James Franco, Seth MacFarlane, Jonathan Yeo and Dominique Ansel.

The video responses don't show up when asking questions via Google Assistant, but they work fine when searching through the main Google app.

Oreo update rolling out to Android Wear, already available on Watch Sport

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1 month ago

Instagram is testing a standalone messaging app because why not

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Available now as part of a test in six select countries.

After starting out as a simple way for sharing photos with friends, family, and random followers, Instagram has grown into a fairly bloated app these days. Along with your regular feed, there's the Instagram Explore Tab for finding photos the app thinks you're interested in, a Stories feature taken straight from Snapchat, live streaming, and the ability to send direct messages to other users.

According to The Verge, Instagram is playing with the idea of taking that last feature out of its main app and moving it to a standalone one by the name of "Direct."

Direct is currently available for download as part of a test for Android and iOS in Chile, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, and Uruguay, and the reason for this move is to get more people using Instagram's direct messaging service while letting the core Instagram app be a place to share your photos and videos with the entire world.

Instagram Direct opens to the camera viewfinder like Snapchat upon launching it, but you can also choose to swipe down to type out a text-based message. The page to the left is where you'll find all of your account/app settings, and the one on right is home to your inbox of ongoing conversations. The app itself sounds pretty barebones, but the transition Instagram's built between the two sounds incredibly sleek.

The new Direct app.

When you're in Direct on your Inbox page, starting to swipe again the left will reveal an Instagram logo, and completing this swipe will automatically open up the main Instagram app. The direct messaging feature is removed from Instagram once Direct is downloaded, but you can easily access it by swiping once again to the left in Instagram to see the Direct logo and then jump right to it.

It's unclear if Instagram will bring Direct to other countries following its initial testing, but seeing how successful Facebook has been with Messenger after removing direct messaging from its core app, an expansion of Direct to other countries in the coming months wouldn't be all that surprising.

Instagram adds option for 'remixing' photos that friends send to you

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1 month ago

Best apps for planning the perfect holiday party

0

Plan the perfect party without losing your mind by getting help from these apps!

'Tis the season for holiday parties. From planning Christmas dinner at your house for the first time to hosting the annual White Elephant party for your friends, there is always plenty to get done. If you love throwing parties, but hate the stress of planning them, then we've got good news. There are plenty of great apps that can help you throw an excellent party without losing your mind in the process.

We've got the details for you here!

Any.do

If you've got errands to run, friends to stay in touch with, or a potluck to organize, Any.do is the to-do app to use. It's got tons of functionality, letting you build specific lists, and it includes the ability to share your lists with friends or family.

With features like reminders, you can ensure that you won't miss an important deadline while getting everything prepped. There is even a home screen widget so that your task list stays present in your mind, even when you're preoccupied with other things.

Download: Any.do(Free with in-app purchases)

Google Calendar

Trying to set a date for a party is never an easy task, and it only gets more difficult when you're trying to adjust to the busy schedules of your friends. Google Calendar makes setting a date and remembering that it's coming up easier than ever.

You can create events and share them with everyone who is planning to attend. This includes the option for folks to RSVP and lets each guest set reminders of their own so that they don't show up three quarters of the way through the night. Google Calendar also makes it easy for you to change the date if you need to, and for everyone to easily see their obligations before confirming that they can attend.

Download: Google Calendar(Free)

Cocktail Master

If you want to take things up a notch and deliver an excellent party, then serving up some signature cocktails can most definitely do it. Cocktail Master makes it easy to make complicated drinks that look awesome and taste even better.

You're able to search for specific recipes, or just swipe through what looks good on the screen. Each recipe includes step-by-step instructions and images that will let you know what your drink ought to look like when it's finished. The search function also lets you look by ingredient, which means you can take stock of your liquor and find a recipe that will work with it!

Download: Cocktail Master(Free)

Yummly

Whether you're planning on an intricate four-course meal to surprise your in-laws, or you're opting for simpler finger foods with friends, having the right recipe for the job makes a difference. That's where Yummly comes in, delivering thousands upon thousands of delicious recipes for any skill level.

You can search for specific recipes or by the occasion to find holiday-themed food. You're also able to save your favorite recipes or see similar ones. This way no matter what you want to make, or whether you're looking for some kind of inspiration for the most delicious entrée, Yummly has you covered.

Download: Yummly

Hello Vino

If you're new to planning out a holiday party, or you've started experimenting with different wine pairings, then Hello Vino is the app that you didn't know you needed. It was created to help you find the perfect wine to go with dinner, or to enjoy once everyone else has gone home and you've cleaned up from the shenanigans.

You can search for wines by their grape variety or flavor profile, scan wine as you purchase it, get wine reviews from the pros, and even get specific wine pairings for specific foods. The more you use the app, you'll get recommendations and the ability to highlight wines that you disliked so that you don't accidentally end up with another bad bottle down the line.

Download: Hello Vino(Free)

Spotify

Once the planning is done, the food is in the oven, and the drinks are prepped, it'll be time to enjoy the party. So of course, you need some music. From the best holiday classics to great music that will have everyone bobbing their head, Spotify is a great option.

You can listen to full albums, create your own playlists, or see what other users have created. You can access Spotify for free or opt-in for the ads free Premium version, and has tons of capabilities with a connected home. This means you can play on your Amazon Echo, Google Home, cast it to the TV with Chromecast, or even play it from your computer.

Download: Spotify(Free with in-app purchases)

Are you planning a party?

For many people, December means time to spend with family and friends. Putting in all the work can be stressful, but hopefully these apps will help take a load off your mind. Are you planning a party? Is there an app you love to use that we missed here? Let us know in the comments below!

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1 month ago

Google is partnering with Qualcomm and MediaTek for Android Go devices

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Both Qualcomm and MediaTek will be supporting Google's initiative for entry-level devices in developing markets.

At an event in India this week, Google officially launched Android Go. Android Go is a smaller and more lightweight version of the Android OS that's designed to be more efficient on less powerful hardware, and following this, both Qualcomm and MediaTek have announced plans to support the platform.

On the Qualcomm side of things, we'll soon see both low and mid-tier Snapdragon processors made available to OEMs that are working on devices powered by Android Go. Per Vice President of Product Management, Nancy Fares:

We are excited to implement Android Oreo (Go edition) within the Qualcomm Snapdragon mobile platform family as it will enable consumers around the world to experience a more robust operating system for lower cost smartphones. Android Oreo (Go edition) delivers an optimized Android user experience key for emerging regions where lower bill of materials costs are especially attractive, as well as in established regions for pre-paid and lifeline uses.

As for MediaTek, the company's MT6739, MT6737, and MT6580 processors now all support hardware running Android Go. The MT6739 and MT6737 SoCs will be used for 4G devices, whereas the MT6580 will be used for 3G ones.

Commenting on this announcement, MediaTek's General Manager of Wireless Communication, TL Lee, said:

Today's announcement builds upon our existing work with Google, including our recent collaboration on Google's GMS Express to speed up the certification process. With Android Oreo (Go edition), we are partnering with Google to tackle the performance challenges of lower memory phones, improving the user experience of entry level smartphones for consumers in key markets across India, the Middle East & Africa, Latin America and South East Asia.

Both Qualcomm and MediaTek are expected to have their processors in Android Go hardware in early 2018.

Google launches Android Oreo (Go edition) for entry-level phones

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1 month ago

OneDrive for Android gets fresh coat of paint, ditches hamburger menu

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OneDrive for Android has picked up a snazzy new look in its latest update.

An update to Microsoft's OneDrive app for Android is rolling out, bringing along a fresh coat of paint.

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1 month ago

Smart Text Selection finally available in Google Chrome

1

More than three months later, Smart Text Selection finally makes its way to Google Chrome.

Android 8.0 Oreo introduced a lot of new features for our favorite mobile OS, and in my opinion, one of the most underrated ones in Smart Text Selection. This is something that's been available since 8.0 Oreo was released in August, but now on December 6, the stable version of Google Chrome is just now being updated to support it.

Smart Text Selection is coming to Google Chrome as part of the v63 update that's rolling out to the Play Store now, and as long as you're running either 8.0 or 8.1, it should work without any problems.

As a quick refresher, Smart Text Selection suggests different actions based on certain text that you're highlighting/copying. If you highlight an address, you'll get a new prompt that takes you right to Google Maps and automatically fills in said address. If you do the same with a phone number, you'll get a prompt to take you to the dialer. It's not a mind-blowing feature, but it is one of the more practical ones found in Oreo.

Now that we're talking about it, have you been using Smart Text Selection?

Android Oreo

img { width: 100%; height: auto; } .devicebox ul { display: table; margin: 0 0 10px; width: 100%; } .devicebox ul li { background: #f7f7f7; margin: 2px 0; padding: 4px 15px; } .devicebox ul li:hover { background: #fff; } .devicebox ul li:before { display: none; } .devicebox p ~ p { line-height: 1.25; } .devicebox p:first-of-type + p { padding: 15px; } .devicebox a.buy-link { border-radius: 5px; display: inline-block; font: 14px/31px "Proxima Nova Extrabld",Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; text-align: center; } .devicebox a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:link, .devicebox a.buy-link:active, .devicebox a.buy-link:visited { background: #37B5D7; color: #FFF; } .devicebox a.buy-link:hover { background: #2694B2; text-decoration: none; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { content: "\e61e"; font: 40px/0 "ac_iconset" !important; margin: 0 3px 0 -8px; vertical-align: middle; } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { /* div:not(.columns-3) excludes help menu content */ .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p img, .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .article-body-wrap > div:not(.columns-3) > *:first-child:not(.sticky-wrapper) .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 660px) { .devicebox h3 { text-align: center; } .devicebox ul, .devicebox p { display: block; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 660px) { .devicebox { padding: 20px 0 25px; } .devicebox .video { float: left; margin: 0 30px 0 0; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox h3 + p { bottom: 37px; display: block; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: 60px; width: calc(100% - 375px); } .devicebox p img, .devicebox p > img { position: absolute; top: 50%; transform: translateY(-50%); } .devicebox p:nth-child(n+3), .devicebox ul { box-sizing: border-box; margin-left: calc(100% - 345px); width: 340px; } .devicebox p.list-head { margin-top: -5px; } } @media all and (min-width: 1025px), all and (max-width: 800px) and (min-width: 661px), all and (max-width: 500px) { /* 2x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(even) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:last-of-type:nth-of-type(odd) { width: 100%; } } @media all and (max-width: 1024px) and (min-width: 801px), all and (max-width: 659px) and (min-width: 501px) { /* 3x buy buttons */ .devicebox a.buy-link { width: calc(100%/3 - 10px/3); margin: 0 5px 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-of-type(3n):not(:nth-last-of-type(2)) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:only-child { width: 100%; margin: 0 0 5px 0; } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1), .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link { width: calc(50% - 2.5px); } .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(2):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link, .devicebox a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(4):nth-of-type(3n+1) ~ a.buy-link:nth-last-of-type(odd) { margin: 0 0 5px 0; } } @media all and (max-width: 800px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } } @media all and (max-width: 500px) { .devicebox { margin: 0 0 30px; max-width: none; width: auto; } .devicebox a.buy-link:before { display: none; } } .page-admin .devicebox {max-width: 350px;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe {position: relative; height: 0; padding-bottom: 56.9%;} .page-admin .devicebox .video_iframe iframe {width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;} /*-->*/ /*-->*/ /*-->*/

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