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3 hours ago

Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus: Top 5 things you need to know

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Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus

The 18:9 screen is new, but the rest of the phone should be familiar to anyone that has used a Redmi Note 4.

Xiaomi unveiled the Redmi 5 Plus last month, bringing the 18:9 form factor to the budget segment. The Chinese manufacturer isn't the first to roll out a budget phone with minimal bezels, but the company is once again showing that it can absolutely dominate when it comes to the value proposition. The base variant of the Redmi 5 Plus retails for the equivalent of $150, making it an incredible bargain when you consider the hardware on offer.

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8 hours ago

Samsung Galaxy X foldable phone: Rumors, Images, Details, and More!

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Samsung foldable display

This will be the next big thing ... at some point.

The mobile industry has been tracking this rumored Samsung "Galaxy X" prototype phone for several months, gradually pushing back the supposed launch timeline for what's supposed to be a successor to the general "Galaxy S" line. But as waves of details about the upcoming Galaxy S9 and S9+ come in, we're still struggling for details on what this supposed Galaxy X with a foldable display will be. Reports with new details out of CES 2018 are at least giving us something to work with.

No, you didn't miss an announcement — Samsung didn't have anything public to say about the Galaxy X (if that is its real name) at CES. But as many companies do, Samsung took the opportunity of having so many high-up industry people together to show off what it's working on to partners. According to The Investor, this year that included the Galaxy X. The device in question has a 7.3-inch display that can fold in the middle — multiple versions were shown, with different capabilities such as folding both inwards and outwards.

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge and Galaxy S6 edge

The inward-folding model (protecting the screen when closed) is reportedly the design with the most traction at the moment. The outward-folding one, on the other hand, includes "more advanced next-generation technology," whatever that entails. The rest of the specs of the phone aren't yet known, and considering how far out we are from a potential release — reportedly in 2019 — those can and will change between now and then.

Samsung has of course been putting curved panels in production phones since the Galaxy Note Edge that eventually spawned into a phenomenon that has become a hallmark of Samsung's high-end devices. The company has been experimenting with bendable OLED panels for years, going so far as to show them off publicly as technology demonstrations. But the question is whether it could make devices with displays that could be actively bent or folded thousands of times as a regular part of use. The display would have to be very robust, but then you also have the issue of what covers the display panel — typical Gorilla Glass wouldn't do the trick.

Galaxy X render concept

LetsGoDigital has worked up renderings based on reports and patent filings that show the Galaxy X as a vertical-orientation phone, but with a hinge mechanism built into the sides of the phone. The phone would be rigid (and what looks to be extremely tall as well) when the display is extended and flat, but you could pull the top and bottom apart to expose the hinge to then bend while the screen follows suit.

Further renders show the phone while closed, which leaves a gap around the hinge portion not unlike a Microsoft Surface Book laptop. Large internal components would of course split between the top and bottom halves of the phone by the hinge.

Galaxy X render concept

Early rumors pointed to a Galaxy X with a hinge and two displays, but now we're talking about just one panel.

Early rumors of the Galaxy X pointed to some sort of announcement or teaser as early as late 2017, which obviously didn't happen. But those same rumors questioned whether the Galaxy X was truly a "bendable" phone with a single screen, or simply a hinged device with two distinct panels — like the ZTE Axon M, for example. It seems now that Samsung's going to attempt a full-on single bendable display. Other rumors also had indicated Samsung had a more tablet-shaped device with this bendable display technology in place, and that may still be on the table in different future devices, but in terms of the "Galaxy X" it looks to be a traditional vertical phone orientation.

Our next best bet for when we'll hear more about the Galaxy X will be MWC 2018, which kicks off at the end of February. That's where Samsung has already said it will unveil the Galaxy S9 and S9+, and perhaps that will come along with a tease or some sort of information on what's coming after that. Fingers crossed.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

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9 hours ago

Traveling will get easier with this $34 AmazonBasics Carry-On Backpack

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Now you just need a destination.

Amazon has its AmazonBasics Carry-On Travel Backpack on sale for $34, down from a normal price of $50. This will make traveling a breeze since you'll never have to worry whether your bag fits the proper airline dimensions.

  • Carry-on travel backpack with internal, zippered laptop sleeve
  • Ultra-flexible and lightweight
  • Main compartment with zipper mesh space, optional midway shelf, and internal/external compression straps
  • Front pocket & front-top pocket for easy access to documents and travel liquids
  • Main upper packing compartment with organizer, expandable storage space, and key clip
  • Hide-away water bottle pocket & tuck-away ID pocket
  • Padded shoulder straps disconnect & store easily

This backpack received 4.3 out of 5 stars from 174 customer reviews. Make sure your liquids are TSA-approved with these silicone travel bottles.

See at Amazon

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10 hours ago

Samsung Pay updated with a cleaner and more traditional UI

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The bottom navigation bar strikes again.

During my short stint with the Galaxy S8 last year, one of my favorite features was easily Samsung Pay. Between MST support and reward points for making regular purchases, it's definitely my prefered mobile payment service of choice. The app in its current state is perfectly functional, but the latest update brings a new design that looks rather nice.

First spotted by our friends at Droid Life, updating Samsung Pay to build number 2.8.18 brings a new user interface that's cleaned up and makes a bit more sense from a usability point of view.

As you can see in the left screenshot below, the version of Samsung Pay we've had for a while has the main navigation buttons for the app smack dab in the middle below the rotating hero images. In the new version, these buttons have been moved down to a bottom navigation bar like we've been seeing in more and more Android apps as of late.

Samsung Pay's old UI (left) and the new one (right).

The Home page shows all of the latest promotions, your current status with Samsung Rewards, how many cards are in your wallet, and any recent transactions you've made. Along with this, there are separate pages for Wallet, Rewards, Store, and Deals.

What do you think about Samsung Pay's new look?

Future Samsung phones might be made out of new 'Metal 12' magnesium alloy

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11 hours 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!

Zolo Halo Bluetooth speaker with Alexa - $39.99 (Was $51)

Zolo's Halo Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Smart Speaker is down to $39.99 on Amazon. This speaker sells for around $51, and it has never dropped directly from that price.

This speaker works with Amazon Alexa, but you don't have to hook it up to your Echo to get it to work. It has Alexa built right into it, and she can access whatever place you stream music from the most.

See on Amazon

Sylvania Smart+ Bluetooth and HomeKit LED bulb - $20.99 (Was $26)

Amazon currently has the Sylvania Smart+ HomeKit compatible smart bulbs on sale for $20.99. These bulbs were released back in October and have sold for $25.99 since their release. Smart bulbs are rather common these days, but unfortunately not many of the more affordable options work with Apple's HomeKit, so Apple fans are left paying more or waiting longer.

These bulbs, which don't require a hub, can be controlled using voice commands through Siri on your compatible iOS and Mac devices. Other features include:

See on Amazon

Conico Mini WiFi smart plug - $11.03 with code (Was $16)

It may seem unnecessary, expensive or superfluous, but a simple, low-priced smart plug can add a lot of coziness to your home without you having to do much at all. Whether you want to have your AC running at the perfect temperature when you walk in the door from work, or your TV to already be powered on so you can easily rush to turn on your favorite show, a smart plug can add some ease and breeze to your life. Right now, you can pick up one from Conico for only $11.03 with promo code GMFE8IZL which is a crazy good deal for something that can add a new way of arriving home to your lifestyle.

See on 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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12 hours ago

How to download Android One launcher with Google Feed on your phone

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It's basically the Pixel 2 launcher with the search bar at the top.

Android One phones like the Xiaomi Mi A1 and Moto X4 are great for a lot of reasons, and one of the main highlights is the stock Android experience they ship with. If you own a non-Android One phone and want to spruce it up a bit, you can now download the launcher that ships with these phones for free.

Amir Zaidi (also known as AmriZ) is the developer responsible for this, and by downloading the APK file he's created, you can get a fully working version of the Android One launcher on your phone right now. There's support for adaptive icons, you swipe up to access your app drawer, and there's even a working Google Feed on the left-most side.

If that sounds a lot like the Pixel 2 launcher, that's because it's incredibly similar. The two main differences are that the search bar is at the top rather than below the dock and there's no At a Glance widget, but depending on who you are, you might prefer that over the Pixel 2's UI.

In order to get the Android One launcher on your phone, just download the APK file to your phone, install it, and you'll be good to go. The launcher won't work if you own a phone with the Android One or Pixel Launcher already installed, but if you're reading this, chances are that's not the case.

You can now download the Google Pixel 2 launcher on any phone

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12 hours ago

How to survive a winter storm using tech

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Winter is here, bring nasty storms to just about everybody.

When a nasty storm hits during the summer it can be miserable, but when a winter storm descends onto your house you may have to deal with being stuck indoors behind a wall of ice and snow. Whether this is your first Nor'easter, or you've been making snow angels since you were a kid, we've got some tips for getting through a blizzard using the tech you have (or should have) on-hand.

Track the storm

Weathering out a storm during the winter has its own set of challenges that can start well before the storm even fully reaches you. From icy rain to road closures to knowing how much snow to expect — and for how long — there are many different factors to consider. Your best bet is to keep an eye on the local weather. While you may get automated alerts if a winter storm or blizzard warning is sent out by the state, but having a dedicated app can give you a much better idea of what to expect.

While there are plenty of different apps that can help you out, Weather Underground is one of the best for monitoring precipitation (that's rain, snow and anything else you could expect) in real-time.

More: Best Weather apps for Android

Keep charged

Winter storms can easily knock out your power, and if the roads are iced over you may not get it back for hours — or days — at a time. If you know that there is a storm rolling in, you're going to want to make sure that all of your devices have the best charge possible.

Since many people live on their phones now, chances are you no longer pay for a landline. This means that if something goes wrong, it's absolutely imperative that you have a phone so that you can contact friends or emergency personnel. This also means that if possible, you're going to want to lay off of playing around on Facebook if you're suspicious that the power is going to cut out.

This goes for your portable battery packs, too. It's no good having a spare battery if you forget to charge it up. So make sure that everything is charged up, and things will be easier to deal with.

Stock up

While there is always a run on milk and toilet paper when a blizzard threatens, you may not be considering the tech accessories that can make it easier to weather out a storm. Your battery is what powers all of your devices, and they are going to be the only thing working if you lose power. With that in mind picking up a portable charger, and taking a few precautions can make it much, much easier to ride out the storm with ease.

If you're hoping to download Netflix programs for offline viewing, or watching movies from your tablet, then you'll need as much power as you can get. What we suggest is this 20,000mAh battery pack from Anker with both USB-C and USB-A ports it can easily power all of your devices so you aren't stuck in the dark.

Of course, if you live in an area that is notorious for losing power every winter, then you may just want to pony up for something a bit bigger. This Anker Powerhouse generator has a 120,000mAh capacity which will easily keep you running for a few days while you wait for the plows to rescue you through mountains of snow.

If you plan on using a larger portable battery to allow you to watch your digital movies or shows while you're snowed in then we have another precaution for you. In the case that you get hit with a record-breaking storm — aka Snowpocalypse — then it's very possible that your data may be affected. To avoid that, and stick to your data limit, try to use programs such as Netflix, Spotify, and even Google Maps, that support offline storage, so you don't need a data connection to access critical information and content.

Non-tech necessities

While having the right tech accessories handy can help you get through the storm, there are some regular items that can help you get through things unscathed. Depending on where you live a winter storm preparedness kit is going to look different, but a few stock items are pretty clear across the board.

Extra blankets, flashlights, batteries, and candles are all solid go-tos. You'll also want a portable camping stove to cook some hot meals using just a few replaceable gas canisters. You'll probably need an AM/FM radio, too, just in case.

Are you prepared?

Winter storms and blizzards have already coated the Continental U.S. sending massive amounts of snow dropping from Florida all the way up to Maine. These weather conditions are normal for everyone, so having an easy checklist to make sure you're prepped and ready is a good call. Is there a tip or trick that you think ought to have made our list? Let us know about it in the comments below!

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12 hours ago

Future Samsung phones might be made out of new 'Metal 12' magnesium alloy

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Samsung might be getting ready to kick aluminum to the curb.

Although we don't usually talk too much about them, Samsung's recently been killing it in the laptop space. The company announced its new Notebook 9 for 2018, and while there's a lot to like about the machine, one of its highlights is a new magnesium alloy Samsung created specifically for it. Samsung refers to the alloy as "Metal 12", and it allows the Notebook 9 to be incredibly durable and lightweight at the same time.

How does this pertain to Android, you ask? Samsung just trademarked the "Metal 12" name with the European Union Intellectual Property Office, and as such, there's a strong possibility that Metal 12 will soon be used in more of Samsung's products – such as smartphones and smartwatches.

Samsung notes in the trademark that Metal 12 could be used for these gadgets, and while I don't expect to see Metal 12 make an appearance on the Galaxy S9 or Note 9, it's possible that it could make a debut as soon as the Galaxy S10. Samsung actually toyed with the idea of using magnesium in the Galaxy S7, and while this obviously never came to market, this isn't the first time the company's wanted to try using a new metal.

Aluminum has been the go-to metal of choice with smartphones for a while now, so the potential of magnesium entering the market is rather exciting. The Essential Phone proved that titanium has its place (as long as you don't mind some extra heft), and the prospect of having a device that's both durable and lighter than current aluminum handsets is something I can definitely get behind.

LG is reportedly ditching the G7 and starting over from scratch

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13 hours ago

Best Battery Cases for Samsung Galaxy S8

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Double up your Galaxy S8's battery life with protective and functional battery case!

The Samsung Galaxy S8 features pretty outstanding battery life on its own, but you may still be in search of an extra boost of battery life after a long day of use or if you're traveling and will be away from a wall charger for an extended period.

That's where a battery case comes in real handy, offering you essentially an extra battery pack that's attached to your phone and doubles up with some added protection. Before we dive into the options below, we should say from the outset that some battery cases may prevent your phone from using NFC due to their thickness and density — something to keep an eye out for.

With that out of the way, let's take a look at our options!

Mophie Juice Pack (2950mAh)

If you've bought a battery case for your phone in the past, chances are it was made by Mophie. It's one of the leading manufacturers and has a good track record of making quality products. For the Galaxy S8, it's released a version of its classic Mophie Juice Pack, which offers up 2950mAh of extra battery life for your phone, perfect for giving you an extra boost of juice when you're phone's running low near the end of the day.

But that Mophie branding also means it's able to charge a premium price — at $89.99 it's nearly three times the price of other cases on this list. It's also worth noting that despite the added protection in the corners, the drawback from Mophie's low-profile design means the case is nearly flush with the screen so you may want to look into a tempered glass screen protector to add a bit of protection around the front.

The case comes with a USB-C charging cable and wall charger but does not offer compatibility with Samsung's Fast Charge feature. But on the upside, the case itself offers wireless charging, so you can still use it on all of your various wireless chargers around the house. Mophie states on its website that its products are covered by a 2-year warranty, and it also offers a variety of wireless charging docks to keep your phone and your case topped up throughout your day.

See at Amazon


Mophie Charge Force Case

Another great option from Mophie for wirelessly charging your Galaxy S8 phone is its Charge Force series of accessories. Instead of having the battery pack built right into the case, the Charge Force Case is a slim case made of leather with built-in magnets that are used with other Charge Force accessories to top up your phone.

The case itself sells for $50 and is compatible with most wireless charging pads you may already own while being thin enough to not impede Samsung Pay or Google Pay. For wireless charging on the go, you'll also need to pick up a Charge Force Powerstation Mini. It's a compact 3,000 mAh battery pack that securely attaches to the back of the case via magnets and will wirelessly charge your phone whenever and wherever you need it. The advantages here are obvious as you only add the extra bulk of the charging pack when you absolutely need it without blocking the headphone jack or charging port at the bottom of your phone.

Mophie also offers Charge Force charging docks for your home, office, or car, and since everything is modular in nature and would work with other Charge Force cases for the Note 8 or any future Samsung flagships. These accessories, along with the Powerstation Mini, should work with newer Juice Pack cases that are compatible with Charge Force technology.

See at Mophie


Trianium Atomic Pro Battery Case (4500mAh)

The Trianium Atomic Pro case offers a good combination of protection and extra battery life, packing in a 4500mAh external battery on the back panel, with a front-plate bumper that protects the edges and adds a lip of protection for the screen. This case also features quick-charge sync-through technology which lets you charge your phone and your battery pack simultaneously.

On the back, you'll find an LED indicator for how much battery life is remaining in the case. Trianium has also included a headphone jack extender so you don't lose that functionality on your phone. Get this battery case for $36 in your choice of black or white.

See at Amazon


Vproof Power Bank Cover (5000mAh)

So if you were to search for battery cases for the Galaxy S8 on Amazon, you'll find a seemingly endless list of lesser-known brands offering essentially the exact same battery case for about the same price. So instead of linking to five nearly identical products, we'll point to one of the better reviewed of the bunch from Vproof.

Offering a 5000mAh battery, this case is as beefy as you would expect it to be but in exchange, it offers an extra 24+ hours of talk time (if you still do that) or up to 13 hours of added web browsing. It's designed with ample cutouts around the speakers, charging ports and headphone jack so the bulkiness won't interfere with your phone's functionality (aside from the NFC issue mentioned above). There's protection for your phone around the corners, but the case sits pretty flush with your phone's screen so you'll want to be aware of that going in. It's also available on the cheap, for just $25.99.

Vproof also offers a 12-month hassle-free warranty as well which is always nice.

See at Amazon

Planning to pick up a battery case?

Do any of these battery cases stand out to you? Which one are you getting? Let us know in the comments!

Update January 2018: Added Mophie Charge Force case and updated pricing information.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

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13 hours ago

Google looking into Home and Chromecast devices that kill Wi-Fi networks

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If your Wi-Fi derps while using Google Home or Chromecast, you're not alone.

Google's been trying its hand at connected home gadgets for a few years now, and now that it has devices like the Chromecast, Google Home, and soon Smart Displays, it's clear now more than ever that this is a market it wants to dominate. Before that happens, however, Google needs to issue a fix to a bug that's recently caused Wi-Fi networks to go dark when using these gadgets.

According to the folks at Android Police, the issue first appeared with the Google Home Max and TP-Link Archer C7 router. Users reported that the router would go offline and be inaccessible as soon as the Home Max was added to their network, and shortly after this, TP-Link issued a software update through its beta channel that supposedly fixed the issue.

However, after this update was released, more and more complaints appeared. More people were quick to report that other Home devices, Chromecast/Cast-enabled products, and even other routers were exhibiting the same problem.

If this sounds familiar, that's because users of the Nexus Player ran into a similar roadblock last September. MDNS packets are used to keep products with Cast technology online and available to use, but rather than sending these packets at a steady rate every 20 seconds, the Home Max and other gadgets are doing so at a much faster rate and causing routers to overload and shutdown.

Google has since responded and said that it's actively looking into a fix, and considering just how many Google Homes were sold this holiday season, the sooner the better.

Google and Qualcomm are poised to put assistants in all the things

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14 hours ago

Try one of these royally dark Disney themes

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Call me a princess. I dare you.

I'm a child of the 90's, and as such, I was raised on Disney Princess movies. Everyone thinks princesses — and everything around them — should be light, bright, and saccharine. Well, we've got a princess theme that brings our favorite royals into the lovely embrace of the dark. Whether you kick it old-school with Snow White or rock the harem pants with Jasmine, we've got you covered for the six "original" Disney Princesses. Sorry, Raps, we'll get to you later.

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14 hours ago

Someone made a YouTube app for Android Auto, and that's a terrible idea

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The app's called 'YouTubeAuto' and you can download it now.

Android Auto had a surprisingly big presence at this year's CES. Wireless connectivity and full Google Assistant support are the two main features that are coming to Android Auto, and now there's an app you can download that lets you watch YouTube videos while in the car.

The app is called "YouTubeAuto" and it was created by developer Kiran Kumar. You can browse all the latest trending videos, check out new uploads from channels you're subscribed to, and search through YouTube's entire catalog of clips. It's essentially a port of the regular YouTube app for Android phones and tablets, and while some of the UI looks a bit stretched off and janky, you do have access to just about every YouTube feature that you'd find in the mobile app.

I certainly don't recommend watching YouTube videos while driving, and this something you'll see a warning for every time you open the app. With that said, if there's a podcast, song, or other video that you can just listen to in the background, this might be worth checking out.

YouTubeAuto isn't available in the Play Store as it violates Android Auto's guidelines — and in fact sideloaded apps don't work by default on Android Auto, which is why you have to jump through a couple hoops to get this to work at all. But if you still want to take a look, you can download the APK file now from Kumar's website.

Android Auto is fantastic with the addition of Google Assistant and wireless connectivity

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15 hours ago

What can you do in ARCore right now?

ARCore is for developers right now, but there are some fun things for us laymen to try out.

ARCore is a new set of API's, Frameworks and tools to allow real-time Augmented Reality(AR) apps to work on a standard Android device. What is AR as opposed to VR? Great question! It's a program that will put digital objects and visuals in your view of the actual world through your VR Headset. Based on the work they've done with Project Tango, ARCore removes the need for specialized hardware making room scale VR in reach of the common Cell Phone.

Latest ARCore News

December, 2017 - ARCore Developer Preview 2 has been released

As of December 15th, 2017, Google released an update to their ARCore Developer Preview with a few awesome improvements to SDK! This includes a new C API for Android NDK that helps improve your experiences with Java, Unity, and Unreal SDKs. Also, now you can pause and un-pause your AR sessions! Then they also improved accuracy and run-time for the anchor, plane finding, and point cloud APIs.

Followed with all of these exciting updates Nikhil Chandhok, the Project Manager for Google AR & VR, has said within the next few months they'll be releasing ARCore v1.0! When this happens, Google says that it'll support more than 100 million devices with numerous ARCore apps scheduled to launch in the Play Store at the same time. Now, there is a bit of sad news as well. Based on what in his new update, they will be stopping the support on Project Tango.

Already have it installed?

If ARCore is already installed on your device, check out these games and apps to see what you can do! If not, continue to learn how to get ARCore on your phone!

How do You Install The ARCore App?

Setting up your Android Studio

These steps are to be completed on your computer, not your android phone.

Android Studio which includes the SDK (Software Development Kit).

  1. Install Android Studio by following this link.
  2. Launch the .exe file you downloaded. This will open a Set Up Wizard. Follow the instructions for it and allow the application to install on your computer. Opt to run Android Studio when it finishes downloading.
  3. If you have Studio settings to import, select the folder where they reside and hit "OK". If you don't this step is not detrimental, so you can keep "Do not import settings" selected and hit "OK".
  4. The next prompt will have you choose settings and preferences for your actual app. Select the ones you want and the app will then begin to Download the Components. This will take a bit of time.
  5. Select "Finish".
  6. Select to open an existing project, which will prompt you to load "Hello". Do just this. Don't dismiss the tips that pop up. You want to read them, especially if you are new.

Preparing Android Native Development Kit (NDK)

These steps are to be completed on your computer, not your android phone.

NDK is a set of tools that will allow you to use C and C++ codes with Android. This is good for reusing other's C or C++ libraries or run computationally intensive applications, such as games or physics simulations.

The process is complicated because there are so many steps, but they are all pretty simple, so don't let it intimidate you. I've included the video above to help walk you through the steps ina visual process.

Now you'll go here to prepare CMake with the SDK Manager. Follow this link to install ARCore SDK for Android Studio.

Get your device ready

Supported Android devices include Google Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, and Samsung Galaxy S8 (SM-G950U, SM-G950N, SM-G950F, SM-G950FD, SM-G950W, SM-G950U1).

These next few steps are to be completed on your phone, not your computer.

First, enable developer options.

  1. OpenSettings.
  2. Select System.
  3. Select About phone.
  4. Find the build number and tap those worse 7 times. If you have a pin set up to your device, it will prompt you to enter it. If this was completed properly a message will appear at the bottom saying you are now a developer. Now, when you go back to the System screen there will be a new option labeled Developer.
  5. Scroll down and enable USB debugging. This will allow your phone to work with Android Studio.
  6. Follow this link to install ARCore to your phone.
  7. Connect your phone to your computer via USB.
  8. Install ARCore by running the following ADB command:
adb install -r -d arcore-preview2.apk 

Opening your sample project

Go back to your computer where you should still have Andriod Studio, Hello AR open. If your required dependencies are not installed, Android Studio will ask you for permission to download and install them on your machine.

  1. Connect your device to Android Studio by clicking app in the Project window, and then select Run.
  2. In the Select Deployment Target window, select your device, and click OK. Android Studio installs the app on your connected device and starts it. You should now see "Hello World!" displayed in the app running on your device.

What Apps are Available?

Precious few right now, but you can see the potential in some of them. Here is a brief synopsis of each.

AR Stickers

AR Stickers is the most fun you can have in AR without having to go through the trouble of turning your phone into a developer device. After you download this device to your phone, it's time to change the world around you into whatever your hearts' desire.

You want Storm Troopers to invade your home? You want the Millennium Falcon to swoop in through your window? You got it! Download the app straight from the Google Play Store and rock the world around you however you want.

See on Play Store

Horizon Explorer

Horizon Explorer allows you to view parts of the world you normally can't in two cool ways. The first one takes you to a point on the map where you can then move your phone around to see the different parts of the street view. Imagine using google street view, except actually moving around instead of just swiping your finger to see the next part.

The other cool experience it can do is what I've shown in the picture above. It gives you a satellite view of the selected area that is dumped right into the environment around you. From here you can chose to view the environment from a birds-eye view and scale the area! If you're into seeing all parts of the world this app is a recommendation.

See on Play Store

ARCore Solar System

Solar Systems, space, stars, planets, death-defying black holes. There's nothing about space that isn't as equally interesting as it is dangerously fun. But alas, not everyone is a astronaut or just, you know, have a space ship at their disposal. That's okay! ARCore now has an app where you can plop that gorgeous galaxy down right in your living room and interact with it from the comfort of your lazy chair.

A lot of people seem to be having problems with getting the app to work, but I found using my Pixel 2 that I didn't have any issues at all. The two compatible devices they have listed are the Pixel and Samsung 8, so be sure you are working on those devices if you wish to try this app.

See on Play Store

99 Snowballs for ARCore (Preview)

The best time for a snowball fight is usually when there is actually snow on the ground. But maybe you're one of those whose heart perpetually lives in Christmas. Well, 99 Snowballs for ARCore has brought you Christmas in July (or whenever the heck you wanna play it) with this fun game you can play with your friends. So grab your phone, punch that snowman and get ready for a right and proper snowball fight. You know, without the hassle of frozen fingertips.

See on Play Store

Gnome Cam

There was far more excitement than I'm willing to admit when I saw this app in the Play Store. It seems like such a small thing, but it's always those little things that bring us the most joy. Like, I don't know, attaching gnome stickers into your world and taking cute pictures with him?! It's like all of the prayers I didn't know I had were answered.

Gnome Cam allows you to chose from a few different gnomes and place them into your environment. After a picture is taken, you can add a boarder to resemble a Polaroid picture with a cute hand-written note at the bottom. Let me tell you, my social medias are about to get a LOT more interesting.

See on Play Store

ARcore GR and ARCore Experiments

ARCore GR is the most basic thing you can do with ARCore, but it does show the mechanics hiding in the background. As the App scans for surfaces, you see the little pixels dotted around the screen. Once they have found your surface, you get a yellow grid pattern, very similar to a holodeck floor, that you can then place little Bugdroids on.

That's about all there is to it though, you can move the phone around to see the Bugdroid from all angles but not interact with it in any other way.

ARCore Experiments is exactly the same as ARCore GR but with a few added extras. One shows a spinning logo that help shows how movement works in ARCore, again it's basic but at least it moves! The last experiment is a drawing tool. Although it's very rudimentary, you can see how a drawing tool in AR could paint different surfaces in different textures.

Atom Visualizer

So far Atom Visualizer is the most fully-realized app using the ARCore framework. It's still simple, it scans the area, finds surfaces, and lets you place objects on it. The objects, in this case, are all the elements of the Periodic Table. Placing a Hydrogen atom on a surface shows an electron spinning around a proton that can be viewed from all angles like the Bugdroids in the other apps.

What sets Atom Visualizer apart hower is the excellent way it allows atoms to be placed in space. This gives you the chance to lay the elements out as they would look in a molecule. Not to get to into the science, but as a learning tool this could be invaluable. It gives you a glimpse at how this kind of Augmented Reality could help in schools and workplaces.

Conclusion

The simple answer is, if you are a regular consumer, not much can be done with ARKit right now. If you are developer there appears to some amazing applications to this Framework, Niantic for example could benefit from this. Pokemon GO is still a huge game for a lot of people. Showing Pokemon in the real world is a large part of the game and would be enhanced greatly by having surface recognition. Seeing a Pikachu on a table or on top of a car instead of randomly floating in the air would add a lot to the experience.

So watch this space, folks, ARCore is coming fast and our phones may never be the same. Is there anything you would like to see from ARCore? Pitch us your best AR ideas in the comments!

Update, January 2018: We've updated this article with new information on ARCore.

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16 hours ago

Nest Secure vs. Ring Alarm: Which DIY security system is best?

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Two well-known tech companies have competing — but also different — home alarm systems. Which one's right for you?

For as smart as our homes have become — with damned near every device you can buy today connected to the internet, and probably with some sort of smart assistant baked in — alarm systems have sort of lagged in the past. Legacy companies continue to dominate, in no small part because there traditionally was very little for homeowners to do other than sign a check.

But advances in networking and in the simplification of the technology itself means that it's gotten easier for anyone with a screwdriver to install all sorts of cameras and sensors in and around their home. In late 2017, Nest — already known for its thermostats, smoke detectors and cameras — announced its "Nest Secure" system. And upstart Ring — which has made quite the name for itself with a series of connected doorbells and lights, each with cameras built in — has followed suit with its "Ring Alarm" system.

Nest Secure is available today. Ring Alarm is coming sometime in the spring of 2018. The two systems aren't really a 1:1 comparison, whether it's in price or products. If you're looking to deck out every point of entry in your home, one will cost significantly more than the other, at least on paper.

But it's still worth taking a look at them side by side, which we'll do now.

Nest Secure ($499, available now)

What you get: For the base price you get a Nest Guard base, two Nest Detects, and two Nest Tags. The Nest Guard includes a keypad and is how you'll arm and disarm the system. (You also can do so with your phone.)

The Nest Detect looks like a typical door or window sensor to alert when something's been opened, but it also serves as a motion detector. Or, it can do both. (It also provides path lighting.)

Nest Tags are little keyring-size pucks that you can tap on the Nest Guard to arm and disarm the system.

Add-ons: An additional Nest Detect will cost $59 each. That'll get expensive real fast if you're looking to monitor every door or window in your home. But remember that each one can also serve as a motion detector. Additional Nest Tags cost $25 each, and you can pick up a Nest Connect range extender for $69.

Monitoring: Just like with Nest's other products, everything will ping into your phone. For $50 a year (or $5 a month) you can add a cellular backup option, so you'll still be alerted even if your home internet is down. And there's full 24/7 professional monitoring available through MONI, starting at $25 a month with a three-year contract — $900 over the life of the plan.

Our take: Nest Secure certainly looks like an expensive option. But that also fits into Nest's product range — function and style, along with ease of use, and a price tag to match. Arming every single point of entry would get very expensive — we might just concentrate on strategic locations instead.

See at Nest

Ring Alarm ($199, not yet available)

What you get: The bottom-line price gets you a base unit and separate keypad. Also included is a single door/window contact sensor, and a single motion sensor.

Add-ons: The basic Ring Alarm system is a lot less expensive but comes with fewer sensors. However, it also has more products available to tie in to the system.

An additional keypad runs $50. Each additional motion detector is $30, and additional contact sensors are $20 each. A flood/freeze sensor is $25, as is a smoke/CO sensor.

Monitoring: Ring Alarm doesn't appear to have as extensive monitoring options — including cellular backup or professional monitoring. But $100 a year (or $10 a month) hooks you in to Ring's "Protect Plus" plan, which gives full playback and sharing from all of your Ring devices, lifetime warranty, and discounts on future devices.

Our take: Ring Alarm was pushed back due to legal issues, and we don't know exactly when it'll be available, or what might change in the interim. It's more of a DIY home security thing and lacks the sophistication of other systems. But it's far less expensive and should still be a good option.

More info at Ring

The bottom line

If you're looking for alternatives to the legacy alarm vendors, both Nest Secure and Ring Alarm should be intriguing options — especially if you're already using products from either ecosystem.

Nest Secure is more expensive. I could rig up all of the doors and windows of my home with Ring Alarm and have money left over for more motion detectors. On the other hand, Nest Secure may make more sense if you've got a Nest Thermostat or Nest Cam and want to have products in as few ecosystems as possible.

I've got Nest products in my home. I've got Ring products in my home. Both work well, though Nest's software tends to work a little better in my experience (your mileage may vary), and often is easier to set up. On the other hand, I love my Ring doorbell.

I'd look at this as a couple of good options for different budgets. And, again, we'll have to see how the thing actually work once Ring Alarm is released.

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16 hours ago

TAG Heuer announces Connected Modular 41 smartwatch, starts at $1200

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The price of luxury ain't cheap.

CES 2018 was home to a couple Android Wear announcements from Kate Spade and Skagen, and following this, TAG Heuer is launching its all-new Connected Modular 41 – a smaller and cheaper version of the Connected Modular 45 that launched in March of 2017.

Similar to the Modular 45, you can customize just about every aspect of the Modular 41, including the watch band, buckle, lugs, and bezel (aka module) surrounding the screen. Pink, blue, and white leather straps are also launching alongside the Modular 41. The screen is made out of scratch-resistant sapphire, and you've got your choice of materials such as gold and titanium for the body itself.

Moving over to the technical side of things, the Modular 41 has an AMOLED 390 x 390 display, GPS, NFC for Google Pay support, 1GB RAM, and 8GB of internal storage. The watch ships with Android Wear 2.0, but it's unclear at this time if Oreo is present out of the box.

The TAG Heuer Connected Modular 41 has a starting price of $1200, and while there's no denying that that's a ton of cash to throw down on a smartwatch, the craftsmanship that's present here is on an entirely different level compared to watches such as the LG Watch Sport and Huawei Watch 2.

See at TAG Heuer

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