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7 hours ago

Android O's notification coloring is an abomination

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This idea needs a second look, Google.

Not every idea is a good idea. And some good ideas aren't nearly as good as they sound once put into use. I'm not sure where the idea of colorizing media notifications in Android O fits into the "good" scale of ideas, but I know one thing. It's an idea that needs to change.

In case you're not up to snuff with what I'm talking about — even when launched Android O will take about a year to get on the majority of phones out there — the new version allows developers to build rich media notifications that include playback controls, album art and a different color template based on the album or video thumbnail. right now, Google Play Music and YouTube will give you these new colorized notifications if you're running the Android O beta.

And they are a mess.

The twitch level is off the charts when I see something like this.

Alone, they're not horrible. A notification that's not base gray with darker gray lettering (on the Pixel launcher, because that's different on every phone) is neat. A splash of color goes a long way and can help brighten things up. But eventually, you'll come across a colorized notification that's a color combo you can't read (Tom Petty's Damn the Torpedos in Google Play will throw a pink notification with white lettering that refuses to show up in a photo of an AMOLED screen). I am on the lookout for a black on black notification, but so far even AC/DC has failed me.

It gets worse when you have two of the new rich colorized notifications or a normal notification and a colorized notification or any mix of either. The photos above demonstrate. This is not a good look.

The idea can be fixed if given a little attention.

OK, this is a beta. I know this. That means there's a chance the final product won't look anything like this, but that chance is slim. But I still want to give my feedback while there is time. Readability issues are easy enough to fix. Every color has a numerical value, and the software can be written so that certain numerical values won't ever be shown together. No more white text on light pink. But that still doesn't fix the fact that you might have one light pink notification beside (or above in this case) a normal one. Or one light pink one and one orange one. Or two brown ones with different color text.

And this is just the Pixel so far. Who knows how things will look on a Samsung or Huawei phone that has a pretty custom job going on up top for notifications. Which is part of the problem. Android can be too openy. It's cool that developers and users are able to change up how things look, but there needs to be a bit of control in some places. As mentioned in a recent episode of the Android Central Podcast, sometimes Google needs to stop suggesting how things are done and make a rule that needs to be followed. Especially for apps in Google Play.

Notifications with album art and controls are awesome. Can we make sure they look awesome?

The idea of having album art or thumbs in the notification is awesome. But they could be isolated from the rest of the notification area. Or something. I'm not a graphic designer, but I know at least a few work at Google. All I know is that no matter what phone I'm using, I never want to see the mess in the example photos.

A lot of people are going to disagree with me here, and that's fine. You should be able to have your stuff look the way you like. So should I. Let's hope there's an easy to find setting to kill the color when O makes its way into the world.

Android O

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12 hours ago

Get your groove on in this week's comment thread!

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Sit back, relax and chat about stuff because it's the weekend!

Hey hey! Another week is done and we're all closer to _________ (fill in the blank there with retirement, graduation, or whatever). Hopefully, you had a good one.

We did because we get to live through yet another OnePlus launch and the internet fun-times that always go with them. It seems like a great phone. A great phone that may be too expensive, or cheat at benchmarks, or tell fibs about camera specs or whatever. You know, that regular OnePlus drama. Don't think that people in OnePlus' marketing department aren't loving seeing the words OnePlus 5 in every online discussion about Android ...

On top of that circus, we get to play with Bixby. Sort of, at least in a preview kinda way. Which is better than a not-at-all kind of way. Oh, and yeah, English or Korean only. ¡Lo siento!

It seems decent. Good with the on-device stuff and a start on the broader finding information from the internet stuff. Makes sense, right? Samsung is all about their hardware and getting Bixby to work with it had to be their first priority. The rest will come.

Photo credit Dan Perry, CC BY 2.0.

I'm excited this weekend, because right now while you're reading I'm on my way for a week's R&R in Captiva, Florida. A week's worth of swimming with manatees, collecting seashells, exciting nightlife in nearby Ft. Myers, or just sitting on my butt in a cabana sipping fruity drinks with tiny umbrellas in them. Probably the latter.

Seriously, it will be a great week spent with family and minus stress. There's even a new little one to see, and that gets me excited. I hail from the area, and it's always nice to go back. Especially in the winter, but June is good, too.

What are y'all up to this weekend? Talk about it, or anything else in the comments down below.

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12 hours ago

Samsung's Galaxy S8, S8+ BOGO deal is infinitely better than T-Mobile's

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Our friends at Thrifter are back again, this time with a Galaxy S8 deal you can't afford to miss!

Update: Samsung has brought this insanely-popular deal back again. If you missed out last time, don't miss out this time!

We've seen it many times before, and it will continue to happen. New phones release and cellular carriers offer these ridiculous "Buy one get one free" promotions to entice people to purchase them, but most of the time the offers are quite terrible and require you to change plans, get small credits each month for 24 months and more. Samsung is currently running its own offer, which is actually a really great deal.

Here's how it works:

  1. Purchase 2 new Galaxy S8 / Galaxy S8+ phones from Samsung.com
  2. Activate one of the new devices on Samsung.com within 14 days
  3. Get a rebate for the less expensive of your 2 phones (minus taxes/fees) on your original payment method, up to 8 weeks after activation

Pretty simple, huh? No long waits for a mail-in rebate, no hoops to jump through. The offer is a bit confusing with the "activate a line on the T-Mobile network", but according to Samsung all you have to do is activate the included SIM card on any line through its site. Once your order ships and is delivered, you'll be able to click an activate button on the order status page, and then once it is done, you are set. The rebate is issued directly to the original payment method..

You can opt to pay for the devices in full, or sign up for a payment plan, and both phones will qualify for the free entertainment kit from Samsung. The kit, which has 6-months of Netflix and a 64GB microSD card will be automatically added to your cart with the phones. You can mix and match with one S8 and one S8+ or grab two of the same, and you can choose between Midnight Black, Arctic Silver, and Orchid Gray for each.

If you're in need of two new phones on your T-Mobile plan and have been looking at the Galaxy S8, you won't want to miss out on this deal. Once you've got your new phone on the way, be sure to stock up on some USB-C cables and cases for it!

See at Samsung

For more great deals be sure to check out our friends at Thrifter now!

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

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Verizon AT&T T-Mobile Sprint Unlocked

About

The Galaxy S8, and its larger sibling the S8+, are Samsung's top-end devices for 2017 meant to appeal to the general consumer and power user alike. The two phones are only differentiated by screen and battery size: 5.8 inches and 3000mAh, and 6.2 inches and 3500mAh.

The displays have a new 18.5:9 aspect ratio with a QHD+ resolution, meaning they're extra tall and narrow. Samsung moved to on-screen buttons and reduced bezel size dramatically in order to fit as much screen into the body as possible. That moved the fingerprint sensor to the back of the phones, where it sits somewhat-awkwardly next to the camera lens. Iris scanning makes its return in a new-and-improved version from the Note 7.

Though the batteries haven't increased in size from the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, the hope is that the improved efficiency of the new 10 nm processor inside will provide some help. The processor is backed up by 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Waterproofing and wireless charging are still here as well, plus a new USB-C port on the bottom. The rear camera is unchanged in terms of its 12MP sensor and f/1.7 lens, but has improved processing thanks to a new ISP and software.

Specs

Width Height Thickness 5.86 in
148.9 mm
2.68 in
68.1 mm
0.31 in
8 mm
5.47 oz
155g grams
  • Display:
    • 5.8-inch AMOLED display
    • 2960x1440 resolution
    • 18.5:9 aspect ratio
    • Dual-curve infinity display
  • Cameras:
    • 12MP ƒ/1.7 rear camera
    • Dual-pixel phase detection autofocus
    • 1.4-micron pixels
    • 8MP ƒ/1.7 front camera
  • Battery:
    • 3000 mAh battery
    • Non-removable
    • USB-C fast Charging
    • Qi + PMA wireless charging
  • Chips:
    • Snapdragon 835 processor
    • Samsung Exynos 8896 processor
      (varies by region)
    • 4GB RAM
    • 64GB internal storage
    • microSD card slot
    • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • GS8+
    • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    • 6.2-inch AMOLED display
    • 3500mAh battery
    • 6.28 in x 2.89 in x 0.32 in
      159.5mm x 73.4mm x 8.1mm
    • 6.10 oz / 73g

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12 hours ago

Best Horror Games For Gear VR

It's time to scare the crap out of your friends.

Gear VR delivers plenty of awesome and awe-inspiring experiences that you can enjoy, but they've also got games made to scare the pants right off of you. If you're hoping for something spine-tingling or creepy to make you jump out of your skin, keep scrolling.

We've collected the best frightening games and experiences on Gear VR for you here!

Read more at VRHeads.com

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13 hours ago

Get this powerful, military-grade flashlight for only $20!

What's your plan for when the lights go out? Sure, you could use the flashlight built into your phone, but wasting valuable battery life on a flashlight is risky when you can't charge your phone and need to conserve power. Perhaps you're an avid camper or hiker. When night falls, you don't want to use your fragile smartphone to navigate through the darkness, do you?

Get this military-grade flashlight for only $20! Learn more

In a camping or emergency situation, you don't want to rely on something cheap or unreliable. Don't bother with some dollar store flashlight that you'll end up tossing because it's plastic and garbage. Get yourself a flashlight with a metal casing that can stand up to the rough life so that you can take it with you wherever you go: camping, hunting, in the car, whatever.

What you need is an Army Gear Z9 Tactical Military Flashlight that packs a powerful 500 lumen LED that is bright enough to be seen from miles away. Made of ultra-hardened aircraft grade aluminum, this is the same flashlight used by the Army Rangers and Marine Corp and comes dressed in modern infantry camo for a rugged and reliable design.

Your flashlight comes with a rechargeable battery, battery charger, and rugged storage case — typically this package would sell for $149.99, but thanks to this deal from CrackBerry Digital Offers you'll save 86%! The LED is rated for 100,000 hours of use, so you're definitely getting your money's worth for $20!

Get this military-grade flashlight for only $20! Learn more

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14 hours ago

Best Cases for Moto Z

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Best cases you can buy today for Moto Z Droid

What's the best case for the Moto Z?

The Moto Z, on its own, is very thin at just under 6 mm. If you're not planning on opting for any Mods, then you'll want a case with great protection against drops, since a spider-webbed screen is abstract art that's pretty hard to appreciate.

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16 hours ago

Best casual games for Android

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The perfect cure for a rainy day or your morning transit commute.

Not everyone wants to commit hours of their day to playing games on their phone. That's why casual games exist! Championed by iconic mobile games such as Angry Birds and Candy Crush Saga, these games have proven wildly successful. They're designed to be played on the go and at your own pace — as laid back or competitive as you want.

Most casual games are free, offering in-app purchases and some ads, while a few may cost you a dollar or two, but they're totally worth it. We've collected some of our favorites from the past, along with some newer games that are great to keep on your phone for a little gaming break during your day.

Super Mario Run

Everyone's favorite turtle-stomping plumber is back on Android in Super Mario Run. While Super Mario Run might be a bit of a disappointment for those of us dreaming of a full-fledged Mario game on a non-Nintendo handheld device, it's a great casual game that's sure to be a hit with Mario fans young and old.

Most of the Mario mechanics you know and love from the classic side-scrolling games of the past is here: you're running your way through eight different worlds made up of three levels and a boss battle as you try and rescue Princess Peach from the scaly claws of King Bowser. But rather than giving you full control over Mario, he's automatically running to the left and you control his jumps. It's a game that's designed to be played with one hand while you're riding the subway, which is the goal of most casual games.

The game is free to download and play the first world, but then you'll need to pay $9.99 to unlock the full game.

Download: Super Mario Run (Free w/IAPs)

The Battle of Polytopia

If you love in-depth strategy games like Civilization 5, but don't typically have 10 hours to burn playing through a full campaign, you should check out The Battle of Polytopia. It's a casual strategy game that borrows heavily from the Civilization franchise but offers a fresh take on the genre for Android.

Upgrade your technology tree, explore new lands, and decimate your enemies in solo and multiplayer modes that are great for quick pick-up-and-play or lengthier gaming sessions. Everything is wrapped in colorful poly graphics and it's surprisingly robust for a free-to-play title.

Download: The Battle of Polytopia (Free w/IAPs)

Reigns

If you haven't played Reigns yet, you need to check it out — it was one of our favorite games of 2016 and won Google's first Indie Game Award. It's built around a very casual gameplay mechanic (traditionally found in dating apps): you play as a King ruling over your kingdom who must make "yes" or "no" decisions to the advisors, citizens, and talking animals that wander into your palace.

The aim is to live as long as you can. When you die, you take up the role of your successor and the new reign begins (get it?). Featuring a great mix of mystery and gallows humor, this game is filled with fun surprises to discover the longer you play. Well worth the price of admission, this is a game you can casually play — but be prepared to get addicted to its simplistic gameplay and engaging storytelling.

Download: Reigns ($2.99)

Fast like a Fox

Search for stolen coins, emeralds, and diamonds as you race through multiple worlds in Fast like a Fox. The retro-style geometric design of your little hero fox and the landscapes he runs through are fun to watch, and the soundtrack is zippy and catchy.

The game claims it's "easy to play, hard to master" and that's just what you want in a casual game; it will keep you coming back until your fox has claimed all of the treasure he can. The game also uses a rather unique control scheme that lets you tap the back of your phone to control the speed of your fox. In-app purchases are available for removing ads or unlocking secret character, but they are unnecessary for enjoying the game.

Download: Fast like a Fox (Free w/IAPs)

Smash Hit

Unwind in your downtime by breaking virtual glass in Smash Hit. No consequences, only loads of points when you shatter the glass obstacles in your path in beautifully designed game levels.

The music and audio effects change as you progress through the game's stages, over 50 of which are available in the free download. An optional in-app purchase gives you premium perks such as the ability to save and access checkpoints, new game modes, and cloud save access across all of your devices. If you have a Samsung Gear VR, you'll definitely want to check out Smash Hit VR, too. Less casual, but a super cool VR experience to say the least!

Download: Smash Hit (Free w/IAPs)

Blek

If you often find yourself mindlessly doodling, Blek is a game designed with you in mind. The multiple award winning game takes doodles to an artistic level as you find patterns and draw your way to more challenging levels.

The concept is simple and hooks you in right away. Use your doodling skills to draw a continuous line that collects all of the colored balls in a pattern. Succeed and your doodle becomes its own piece of art; make a mistake and you try again. Blek is easy enough to play on your downtime, yet challenging enough to busy your mind. With full support for the S-pen, this is a must-own for Samsung Galaxy Note owners.

Download:Blek ($2.99)

Piano Tiles 2

Building on the popularity of the original Piano Tiles game, Piano Tiles 2 lets you play along with the band to classical music and modern pop songs. Use your fingertips to tap the black keys as they scroll down your screen to the music.

Play in friendly battle of bands-style competitions against your Facebook friends or against other music lovers from around the world. In-app purchases unlock additional songs. A tremendously popular game with a beautiful built-in soundtrack? That's an absolute must have.

Download:Piano Tiles 2 (Free w/IAPs)

Candy Crush Saga

The Candy Crush franchise is the most popular casual puzzler for phones. In the latest twist on the Candy Crush game, you match three of the same candy on the game board to create, spread, or clear away jelly. Your nemesis is the Jelly Queen and you can battle her alone or test your skills against your friends.

The game has added new candies you'll wish you could buy and eat in real life. If you're connected to Facebook you'll have access to a leaderboard that shows you how well you're doing and who your biggest competition is. There are over 100 levels of sweet, silly fun to be had, and the games are as short or as in-depth as you want them to be.

Download:Candy Crush Saga (Free w/IAPs)

Fruit Ninja Free

Enter the world of Fruitasia, where your Sensei is waiting for you with fruit fight missions. All you need to know to get started with Fruit Ninja is to slice the fruit, not the bombs; once you master that, you'll be slicing and dicing like an old pro in no time.

As your game improves, you can upgrade your blade and join new Dojos. Learn how to handle bananas and multi-slice pomegranates, not to mention the rare 10 fruit Great Wave. It all sounds funny and a little on the ridiculous side, but it's also all for fun and distraction; that's the perfect casual game.

Download: Fruit Ninja Free (Free w/IAPs)

Angry Birds 2

The Angry Birds franchise is one of those iconic smartphone games that has reached heights that even the developers couldn't have envisioned when the first game landed on mobile over 7 years ago. What started out as a simple game pitting upset birds battling the green pigs that stole their eggs has spawned several spin-offs and sequels — and even a freaking Angry Birds movie!

If you've never played it before, here's the skinny. Every bird comes with a unique skill, designed to ruin the evil pigs and restore order. You fling the birds at obstacles, power up their skills with features like a Birdquake (hint: it's exactly what it sounds like), or make a one-time purchase of the Mighty Eagle and show those pigs who the real bosses are. It's loads of addictive fun for gamers of any age or skill level. Angry Birds 2 is the sequel, which adds more birds, more powerups, and more fun!

Download: Angry Birds 2 (Free w/IAPs)

Dumb Ways to Die 2

This casual game is based on the cute, animated Australian public service announcement about train safety that went viral a few years back. All you have to do is stay alive, and that would be easy if your character wasn't so dumb. Dumb Ways to Die 2 is actually a series of mini-games, perfect for those little moments when you want to play a game but can't invest loads of time.

In the Dumb universe, you don't throw the javelin, you catch it. Have you always wanted to swim with dolphins? Try your hand at the Dolphin Rodeo and try not to break your neck. Don't forget to join the local curling team and play with dynamite rocks. Invite your friends in the multiplayer mode and see who can jump the ever-rising electric fence.

Download: Dumb Ways to Die 2 (Free w/IAPs)

New Words With Friends

Fancy yourself a wordsmith? If so, get on board with Words With Friends, the Scrabble-based game you play at your own pace, whether it's one word an hour or one word per day. Just check your gameboard whenever you have a few free moments and play tiles to earn points and climb the real-time leaderboard.

The in-app chat feature lets you converse with your friends as you play, so you can send them an innocent taunt or gentle reminder that you're waiting for them to take a turn, or you can congratulate them on a complex play. You'll also be able to access your game from your desktop, laptop, tablet, and phone, so your game can just keep on going.

Download: New Words With Friends (Free w/IAPs)

Keep it casual

We want to know what are some of your favorite go-to casual games? Tell us all about them in the comments!

Update June 2017: Revamped our list and added some of our favorite newer casual games — Super Mario Run, The Battle of Polytopia, and Reigns!

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18 hours ago

Grab Samsung's Level U Pro Bluetooth headphones for just $45 today

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Bluetooth headphones have become more popular in the recent years, especially as manufacturers drop support of headphone jacks and Samsung's Level U Pro are a great option. They have an around the neck design that lets them rest comfortably when not in use, and today you can pick up a pair for just $45.

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1 day ago

Action Launcher ditches the 3, adds a new logo and frees up previously paid features

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Action Launcher is back, baby!

One of our (and your) favorite home screen launchers is getting itself a major update today. Action Launcher 3 is retaking the classic Action Launcher name with this update, and with the name change comes an icon change as Action Launcher ditches the Quickdrawer-reminiscent icon for a modernized, minimal AL logo.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

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1 day ago

Every Daydream app you can install right now, and a look at what comes next

Just go ahead and install all of them. You know, for fun.

Google's first Daydream headset is finally shipping to people who purchased the first Daydream phone, and are quickly finding it's not easy to locate the whole list of Daydream apps from the Play Store. While we've been having a lot of fun showing you the best free Daydream apps and the Daydream games everyone should have installed, the act of browsing for apps and then waiting for them to install while in VR isn't a good time.

To make it a little easier, we've tracked down the first wave of Google Daydream apps that are available to install now, so you can load up your Pixel with VR goodness and see what this new experience is all about.

Read more at VR Heads!

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1 day ago

Google will stop scanning Gmail content for ad personalization

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Changes coming to the way Google delivers ads within Gmail.

Google has decided to bring the consumer version of Gmail in alignment with the G Suite version of its widely popular email service, which is great news for the billion-plus users around the world. In a recent blog, after bragging about how popular its G Suite business has become amongst the enterprise community, Google announced that it would no longer scan consumer Gmail content for any ad personalization.

Currently, the free version of Gmail will scan the contents of your inbox for topics and then deliver relevant ads within Gmail. The example Google uses on its support page on the topic is if you've received a number of messages about photography or cameras, it might send you a targeted ad for a deal at a local camera store. Once the change happens later this year, Google will still deliver ads within the free version of Gmail, but they will be based on the ads settings associated with your Google Account, which adds topics you may like based on the things you consume or search for on other Google products — the videos you watch on YouTube, for example

This decision comes after Google saw G Suite usage more than double among large business customers over the past year, and as the total number of Gmail users continues to grow, adding over 200 million new users since Google announced it had surpassed 1 billion in 2016.

If you're interested to see how Google has been customizing the ads it shows you, you can go into your Google Account settings and check out the section on ads. You'll see a list of topics Google has determined you like based on your browsing habits, as well as a list of topics you don't like, which might be completely empty if you've never browsed through these settings before.

Whether you love how accurate Google's targeted ads have become and want to make them even more specific to your interests or find it creepy and want to scale things back a bit, It's definitely worth your time to take a gander at these settings.

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1 day ago

What's on our home screens! [Roundtable]

27

Be together. Not the same.

One of the things that people love about Android is how easy it is to customize and personalize. The companies that make the phones we all love have no desire to restrict us to keep the design and style they use, and nobody cares how beautiful or gaudy we make things. Some even provide a theme engine to make it easy to mix things up with one tap.

Everyone does things a little differently, and that includes the staff here at Android Central. This week we're going around the table so each of us can show how we do it, and of course, we want to see how you do it, too!

Andrew Martonik

For me, it all starts with Google Now Launcher — or, the stock launcher when using my Pixel. I don't necessarily mind the stock launchers on most other phones, but when it comes to keeping things visually consistent between phones I like to toss Now Launcher on them all. I also really like having the Google Now feed just a swipe away.

I use a single home screen, with a large portion dedicated to the Google Calendar widget so I can always see what's happening at a glance. I only use a couple of folders — primarily my "tools" folder that has things like Drive and Dropbox, travel apps and banking apps. The rest are single apps arranged from bottom to top in terms of how many times I use them.

I think it's a pretty standard roster of apps, but I really don't end up going into the app drawer all that often. This dozen or so apps on the home screen get me through most days.

 

Daniel Bader

I used to be ambivalent about setting up all of my phones the same way. I'd either use the default launcher and haphazardly create folders on my main screen, or I'd just leave the home screens alone and use the app drawer. Well, old me is disgusting.

These days, I have a Nova Launcher backup on Dropbox that I use for every new phone, and it's amazing. I have my 15 most important apps on the home screen and a number of secondary important apps in folders on the screen to the right. Then, simple Google Calendar and Todoist widgets and I'm good to go.

Nova Launcher recently got even better with a recent beta update that added native Google Feed support. I'm in love.

As for icon packs, I messed around with a bunch of them before settling on the simplest: Pixel Icon Pack. This set of icons mimics what you'd find on the Google Pixel, round icons and all, and it's great. I have yet to find an icon that's not perfect.

I've experimented with other launchers, and on devices like the OnePlus 5, Google Pixel and Moto Z2 Play I tend not to change the launcher since I'm quite happy with the stock experience. Aside from Nova, however, I'm quite fond of Evie Launcher, which is new and still growing in popularity. My next go-to icon pack is Dives, which has a great selection of icons and is perfect for when I feel like something different.

Jen Karner

 

I don't tend to change what's on my home screen very often, primarily because once I find a setup that I like, I tend to stick with it. I installed a Beauty and the Beast theme a few months ago, and haven't really touched or adjusted anything since.

I've got a widget up top for my music player, the weather, and a few groups of the apps I use most often. This includes the Google Suite, all of my messenger apps, and social media. I've also got it set up so that Google Play and my camera can both be launched with just the press of a button.

 

 

Marc Lagace

I don't spend too much time thinking messing with themes or tweaking the app icons on my phone because I prefer a minimalist look and like to keep things simple. If I'm going to install my own launcher, it's typically going to be Google Now. Currently, my home screen is quite bare, with just a few widgets (Spotify, Weather, and Google Search) and my home row of the stock apps that I rely on a daily basis.

I use the second screen to store all my most-used apps, and I've actually been testing out a new layout on the taller Galaxy S8. By default, new apps populate from the top-left corner down, but that's quite the stretch for my thumb when I'm using the phone with just my right hand. So I determined the natural range of motion of my thumb and mapped my go-to apps within that grid. Also props to Samsung for their Game Launcher app, which keeps all my games in one place without cluttering the home screen.

 

Ara Wagoner

Well, my home screens change a lot for my many, many theming articles, but they've been especially chaotic of late as I deviate from my modus operandi of dock folders. I've been using dock folders for the last five years, and while they've worked wonders for me, I get that not everyone is onboard with them. So I've ditched the dock entirely and taken to have a small array of apps scattered about the home screen in various places depending on the theme.

While the icon layouts have changed a lot in the last month, my widgets have barely changed. I'm still in love with the themeability of Material Music Komponent for KWGT, which I can easily color match to my wallpaper using the hex codes extracted by Kolorette. 1Weather's widgets might not be quite as themeable as KWGT, but they're a hell of a lot easier to set up, and they link to my favorite weather app when I need to see forecasting outside the newscasts I direct. I will say that Google Search widgets have been making a comeback on my recent themes, both to remind me of the Google Now pane Nova Launcher Beta added and to help add another color pop on my screens.

Check out my many home screen themes from this month on Google Photos and tell me if there are any themes here you'd like to see instructions for on Android Central. I've also been experimenting with themes in Action Launcher and Evie Launcher to give my beloved Nova Launcher a break, so if you want theme instructions for another launcher, give me a shout!

Florence "my home screen is plain af" Ion

This is my home screen. It's the stock Pixel launcher, with stock fonts and stock icons and everything is stock, stock, STOCK! I want none of your fancy graphics or crazy involved theming engines. All I want out of life is a simple home screen that's easy to navigate.

I've been honestly working on my perfect home screen since the first day I brought home an Android smartphone. Do you remember how limiting iOS was/is/will always be? And how you could only display your icons in a grid across various screens? Why bother with all of that when you can do what you like with the Android interface? I certainly did what I like. I kept it simple.

My home screen life is pretty tame. I've got the most important apps in my world all at the top, including Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter. There are also two small widgets provided by HDWidgets that help indicate when my next alarm is and when the sun will rise and set. Below that, I've shortcuts to all the important Google stuff; I've got Allo and Android Pay in the application dock, wedged right there between the stock camera app, the dialer, and Android Messages. The apps in this row are the ones I rely on most frequently and I'll swap them out depending on where I'm at in life.

Jerry Hildenbrand

The BlackBerry KEYone and the launcher's keyboard shortcuts mean I don't need home screen icons.

Android 7.1.1 and its System UI Tuner means I don't have to have a buttload of icons across my status bar. Except for that pesky VPN notification.

I put a clock and weather widget there so I know when the screen is on. The widgets are part of the Lines icon set, which is pretty close to the way old BBOS 7 themes looked.

Less is more, yo. I'm good like this.

Your turn

We all really want to check out how you do it.

Take a minute to dump a screenshot post in the AC Wallpapers, Ringtones, and Themes forum then kick us a link in the comments. We know some of y'all can do amazing stuff, so share it!

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1 day ago

Modern Dad really likes the HTC U11

51

Another great phone from HTC, but the same question remains: Can they actually sell it?

My first smartphone was from HTC — the Treo 750. Over the years I've used more HTC devices than I can even remember, from the Nexus One up through today's flagship, the U11. Not every phone has been a winner, but more often than not I (and others, of course) came to the conclusion that basically went "This is a hell of a phone. It's a shame they never manage to sell better."

HTC has a company has changed a lot since then. And I don't have the slightest idea if the U11 will spark some massive turnaround in a business sense. Or if it even needs to, for that matter. But this much is clear: Look at this phone. That mirror finish is ridiculously cool, and makes me not care about fingerprints. It's the first phone you wipe off because you want to show it off — not just because it's gotten smudged. The cameras are VERY good. The best? I dunno — but certainly right up there with anything else you can buy today. The software is fast and nearly flawless. Yeah, it's still full of features I might well not use — pretty much any smartphone is at this point — but none of that bogs it down or gets in the way.

The biggest hangup may be the price. It'll fluctuate with sales, of course. But it's $100 more than the LG G6 and nearly $200 more than the OnePlus 5 — both of which are extremely capable in their own rights. Even the excellent Galaxy S8 comes in $25 cheaper. The U11 is going to be a tough sell for folks. (It's also right in line with a base-model iPhone 7, if that's how you roll.)

But none of that actually change anything about the phone, of course. It's excellent. Looks great. Feels great. Works great.

Now HTC just has to sell it.

Modern Dad

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1 day ago

Everything you need to know about sideloading apps for your Gear VR

Sideloading apps onto your phone is easy and lets you access apps you can't get on the Google Play Store.

The Gear VR is one of the most accessible forms of virtual reality available today because it runs right off of your Samsung phone. Initially, there are plenty of apps that you can download from the Oculus Store, or the Google Play Store. However, if you've found an app that you want to try that isn't on the Google Play Store, or you want to check out some of the more adult apps out there, you'll need to sideload those apps on your phone.

Don't panic if you have no clue what sideloading is. We've got all the details that you'll need. Just keep scrolling and we'll explain everything.

Read more at VRHeads

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1 day ago

The best tech deals that you don't want to miss out on

Our friends at Thrifter post some great deals every day, and here are the best ones available right now!

From mobile phones to general tech, home goods and much more, the team at Thrifter is scouring the web every single day to find the best deals. Whether something hits a new all-time low, gets discounted for just a limited time, or has a new coupon code available for it, you won't want to miss out any of them. If you want to know about the deals as soon as they are happening, you'll want to follow Thrifter on Twitter, and sign up for the newsletter, because missing out on a great deal stinks!

So, what are the best deals that you should be looking at right now? Well, let's take a look at them so you can see which ones are best for you!

Google Wifi 3-Pack - $269.99 (Normally $299.99)

Google WiFi, the company's first mesh internet setup, has been quite popular since its release. At first, it was pretty hard to find, and we've never really seen any great deals on it, until now. You can pick up a 3-pack from Amazon for just $269.99. This is a savings of $30 on the system, which is just a couple dollars more than the previous deal we saw from Newegg.

With Google Wifi you can easily set up and manage your network right from your phone. The mesh system allows you to bring the internet to parts of your home or office that didn't get a good signal before. If your current system is struggling, or you are looking for something new, be sure to pick up the 3-pack now!

See at Amazon

Logitech Harmony Companion - $86.07 (Normally $149.99)

First things first, this deal is not going to ship as fast as you might expect. According to Amazon, it will be available June 27. So it will take a day or two after that date to get it. That being said, this is a crazy low price that more than makes up for the slow shipping time. This Logitech Harmony Companion All-in-One remote control varies regularly between $130 and $150. Since 2014, it has only dropped below $110 twice before. Right now it's $86.

See at Amazon

TP-Link Multicolor Smart Bulb - $39.99 (Normally $49.99)

Amazon is offering the TP-Link (LB130) Multicolor Smart Wi-Fi LED Bulb for just $39.99 with free shipping. That's a savings of $10 off compared to other retailers like Best Buy and the lowest price we have tracked. Over 1,900 Amazon customers rate it 3.8 out of 5 stars.

This bulb works without the need for a smart home hub, and it can be controlled using Amazon's Alexa through an Echo, Echo Dot and more. If you're looking to try out a smart light or need some extras for more rooms in your house, you won't want to miss this deal.

See at Amazon

More great deals!

For even more great deals, and to see these discounts as they become available, be sure to check out our friends at Thrifter now!

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