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1 week ago

Twitter's new look includes a redesign for its Android app

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The social network has undergone some major remodeling, including a tweak of its iconography.

After a vigorous beta testing phase and numerous feedback from fervent tweeters, Twitter has finally rolled out a new look and a bevy of new features. If you're on the social network, you'll see these changes reflected in Twitter for Android, TweetDeck, Twitter Lite, and on twitter.com.

The full rundown of features has been elaborated on in an official blog post. The new additions are as follows:

  • Profile, additional accounts, settings, and privacy – all in one place! A new side navigation menu and fewer tabs at the bottom of our app = less clutter and easier browsing. You told us you loved this change on Android last year and we're excited to now bring it to iOS.
  • Links to articles and websites now open in Safari's viewer in the Twitter app so you can easily access accounts on websites you're already signed into. [iOS only]
  • We've refined our typography to make it more consistent, and added bolder headlines to make it easier to focus on what's happening. Also, rounded profile photos make it clearer to see what's being said and who's saying it.
  • More intuitive icons make it easier to engage with Tweets – especially if you're coming to Twitter for the first time. For example, people thought the reply icon, an arrow, meant delete or go back to a previous page. We switched to a speech bubble, a symbol most know and love. We also made the icons lighter for more seamless interaction.
  • Tweets now update instantly with reply, Retweet, and like counts so you can see conversations as they're happening – live.

If you've logged in to Twitter today through the web, you've likely already seen these changes. The icons are lighter, rounder, and decidedly more millennial-esque in their aesthetic. What's particularly interesting to note is that the icons were remade to be "more intuitive" due to the fact that "people thought the reply icon, an arrow, meant delete or go back to a previous page." You'll see a speech bubble where the arrows were instead.

The new layout isn't out on Android yet, though beta users have already had some time with it. There's no mention of an update in the Google Play Store either, but Twitter has noted that it's in the process of rolling out.

So, how do people feel about the new Twitter changes? Naturally, they took to Twitter:

How are you feeling about the Twitter changes? Do you think they were really necessary considering Twitter's host of other problems? And do you think the redesign makes the Android app look like more like iOS?

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1 week ago

Mophie Charge Force review: A better, smarter Galaxy S8 battery case

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With Charge Force, Mophie builds a charging platform that takes advantage of the Galaxy S8's built-in wireless charging. And it's pretty damn good.

Battery cases are kind of a bummer. They promise the world, but in the end you get a fatter phone and an extra couple pieces of plastic you have to carry around with you when the battery dies. And despite the success of Mophie's own Juice Pack line of cases, the company thinks it has something better: Charge Force.

It's a line of cases that, starting with the Galaxy S8 and iPhone 7, offer an approximation of modularity — high-quality, leather phone covers that add (in the case of the iPhone) or reinforce (with the Galaxy S8) wireless charging, along with highly precise magnets that help align the pièce de resistance of the whole thing: a portable wireless battery pack.

The idea is simple yet compelling, especially with the Galaxy S8, for which the leather case acts only as protector and magnetic conduit — the iPhone 7 version, not having wireless charging built in, is much bulkier, and occupies the Lightning port — since the battery pack sticks to the case magnetically, charging wirelessly as the phone lies in a pocket or on a desk.

The case itself

The Charge Force case is surprisingly good. In fact, it's quickly become my favorite mid-level protection case in my repertoire. Made from strong, curved plastic — think a slightly less bulky version of the Otterbox Symmetry series — with a real leather overlay, it is comfortable to hold and extremely solid, holding the Galaxy S8 firmly in place.

This is a really good case. And it better be for $50.

Like all other Galaxy S8 cases, it makes finding and using the fingerprint sensor much easier, since there's a clear delineation between phone and perimeter. And, like any good case, it reinforces and improves the feeling of the buttons, which on the Galaxy S8 is an essential part of the experience.

The Powerstation mini

The Powerstation mini is the main event, since the Galaxy S8 already has wireless charging and doesn't need any help from the case. Instead, the case helps align the Powerstation, a 3,300mAh wirelessly charging battery, using magnets.

The battery pack gets in the way of the Galaxy S8's fingerprint sensor while it's charging your phone.

When you're running low on power, you bring the back of the Powerstation close to that of the Galaxy S8 and — wham! — they stick together in the perfect position every time. Hold down the unit's power button for a few moments and you'll soon hear an accompanying haptic vibration on the Galaxy S8 to indicate it is charging wirelessly.

Of course, charging sans wires means that it's going to do so a little more slowly than plugging into a battery pack, but this keeps the phone's bottom clear (and in turn doesn't add height to the phone, which all other battery cases do) and thanks to the magnets, it's fairly easy to use the Galaxy S8 while the Powerstation is connected.

There is only one problem with this whole thing: while the Powerstation is slowly juicing your phone, it's nearly impossible to hit the fingerprint sensor, since the, well, protrusion gets in the way. This is less Mophie's fault than Samsung's (though if the fingerprint sensor was positioned where it is on the Pixel or LG G6 it would be impossible to activate) but it's still a bit annoying.

The Powerstation charges using Micro-USB, which is unfortunate, but it's so portable and convenient in other ways I'm wont to forgive that small oversight. Doubly so because, given that Mophie is attempting to make an ecosystem out of Charge Force, all Powerstations are cross device-compatible, which means that the same wireless battery pack will work on an iPhone 7 as well as future cases.

There are also other, larger-capacity batteries in the Powerstation family, including a $100, 10,000mAh pack that offers an additional USB port for charging another device.

Should you buy it?

Honestly, if the case wasn't any good I'd say skip it, but the Charge Force is so well made that it's quickly been elevated to my favorite Galaxy S8 cover. That it facilitates a magnetic connection to a portable wireless charger seems silly at first, but there were so many instances in the week or so I relied on the system to keep my phone topped up that I came to appreciate it.

Yes, it's no different to carrying around a lone battery pack — indeed, this is one with only wireless charging — except for the odd time I needed to use my phone while it charged. Then I liked, and appreciated, the integrated nature of Charge Force.

See at Mophie

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

Main

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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1 week ago

These are the Chromebooks that can run Android apps from Google Play

Android — and 1,000,000+ apps — on your Chromebook is awesome.

But not every Chromebook is going to get updated to have Google Play and Android apps. And most of the ones that will are in a long testing process.

We all hate waiting. And we all hate updates that break things. Google and the people who made your Chromebook are trying to make sure everything is good and keep the wait time to a minimum, but still — we all hate waiting!

Things are progressing. Here's the current state of Android on Chromebooks and Chromeboxes.

Chromebooks with Android apps available in the stable channel

Make sure you have the latest version of Chrome and look in your settings if you don't have a Play Store app. You can enable it there by checking the box.

Chromebooks with Android support in the beta channel

You'll need to switch to the beta channel to enable Android support. Further instructions on switching channels can be found here.

  • Acer Chromebook R13
  • Acer Chromebook 11 N7 (C731, C731T)
  • Acer Chromebook 15 (CB3-532)
  • ASUS Chromebook Flip C302
  • ASUS Chromebook C202SA
  • ASUS Chromebook C300SA / C301SA
  • CTL NL61 Chromebook
  • Dell Chromebook 11 (3180)
  • Dell Chromebook 11 Convertible (3189)
  • Dell Chromebook 13 (3380)
  • HP Chromebook x360 11 G1 EE
  • HP Chromebook 11 G5 EE
  • HP Chromebook 13 G1
  • Lenovo ThinkPad 11e Chromebook (Gen 4)
  • Lenovo Thinkpad 11e Yoga Chromebook (Gen 4)
  • Lenovo Flex 11 Chromebook
  • Lenovo N23 Yoga Chromebook
  • Lenovo N22 Chromebook
  • Lenovo N23 Chromebook
  • Lenovo N42 Chromebook
  • Mercer Chromebook NL6D
  • Samsung Chromebook 3

Chromebooks with Android support in the developer channel

You'll need to switch to the beta channel to enable Android support. Further instructions on switching channels can be found here. Be aware that the developer channel may be unstable and the opposite of what you're used to from your Chromebook.

  • ASUS C301SA

Chromebooks with server-side support

These are the "special cases." It appears that Google has signed off and they can use Google Play as far as the store is concerned, but the setting has not yet been unlocked through an update. You can easily enable Android apps and Play Store support through Chrome's built-in terminal after you've switched to the Beta or Dev channel and enabled developer mode.

Reece Gale has full instructions here

  • Acer Chromebook 14
  • Acer Chromebook 11 c740
  • ASUS C201
  • Edugear CMT Chromebook
  • Lenovo ThinkPad 13
  • Toshiba Chromebook 2 (2015)

Chrome devices that will be supported sometime in 2017

These are the devices that will officially be updated to use Google Play. There is no word on when to expect the update, only that they will be supported.

Acer

  • Chromebook 11 CB3-111 / C730 / C730E / CB3-131
  • Chromebook 14 for Work
  • Chromebook 15 CB5-571 / C910
  • Chromebox CXI2
  • Chromebase 24

Asus

  • Chromebook C200
  • Chromebook C300
  • Chromebox CN62
  • Chromebit CS10

AOpen

  • Chromebox Commercial
  • Chromebase Commercial 22"

Bobicus

  • Chromebook 11

CDI

  • eduGear Chromebook M Series
  • eduGear Chromebook K Series
  • eduGear Chromebook R Series

CTL

  • Chromebook J2 / J4
  • J5 Convertible Chromebook

Dell

  • Chromebook 11 3120

Edxis

  • Chromebook
  • Education Chromebook

Haier

  • Chromebook 11
  • Chromebook 11e
  • Chromebook 11 G2

Hexa

  • Chromebook Pi

HiSense

  • Chromebook 11

Lava

  • Xolo Chromebook

HP

  • Chromebook 11 G3 / G4 / G4 EE
  • Chromebook 14 G4

Lenovo

  • 100S Chromebook
  • N20 / N20P Chromebook
  • N21 Chromebook
  • ThinkCentre Chromebox
  • Thinkpad 11e Chromebook Gen 2 / Gen 3

Medion

  • Akoya S2013
  • Chromebook S2015

M&A

  • Chromebook

NComputing

  • Chromebook CX100

Nexian

  • Chromebook 11.6"

PCMerge

  • Chromebook PCM-116E

Poin2

  • Chromebook 11

Samsung

  • Chromebook 2 11" - XE500C12

Sector 5

  • E1 Rugged Chromebook

Senkatel

  • C1101 Chromebook

Toshiba

  • Chromebook 2

True IDC

  • Chromebook 11

Viglen

  • Viglen Chromebook 11

Updated June 2017: Google has updated the list with support for more devices added to the beta channel.

We will continue to monitor the list and add any new Chromebooks that Google notes will support the feature.

Chromebooks

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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1 week ago

Essential Accessories for Moto Z

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Essential accessories for the Moto Z

What are the best accessories for the Moto Z?

The Moto Z is a great phone, but it's even better with perfectly paired accessories. Here are the add-ons you need to know about.

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1 week ago

How to add new smart home hardware to Alexa Groups

0

Adding your new smart home hardware to an Alexa group should only take a moment or two.

Alexa works hard to make itself a hub for all of your questions and technology. This of course includes Smart Home hardware, like Hue bulbs. Before you can go about making your house listen to your spoken commands though, you'll need to add that new hardware to Alexa. Thankfully this is a very easy process, and shouldn't take you more than five minutes.

Get organized with Groups!

When it comes to truly being a connected hub, Alexa does a great job. Between Groups letting you organize what room of the house you are talking to and its ability to automatically detect smart home hardware, Alexa does most of the heavy lifting for you. This of course means that once you've got that new hardware home and ready to roll, you can be connected in just a few moments, seriously cutting down on frustration.

Groups within Alexa are how you separate all of your devices, which is especially handy if you have hardware in different rooms of your home. This means you can have a group for the Bedroom, the Living Room, the Kitchen, and so on. Using groups makes talking to your Smart Home hardware, and from within groups you can easily add that hardware to the room it lives in.

How to add Smart Home hardware to an Alexa group

  1. Open the Alexa app on your phone.
  2. Tap the menu button in the upper left corner. It looks like three horizontal lines.
  3. Tap Smart Home from the menu.

    Open the Alexa app, Tap the overflow icon, Tap Smart Home

  4. Tap Groups.
  5. Tap the group you would like to add hardware to.
  6. Tap the checkbox next to the Smart Home hardware you would like to add.

    Tap groups, Tap the group you want to add hardware to, tap the checkbox next to the hardware you want to add

Have you added Smart Home hardware to your Alexa groups?

Alexa makes it easy to edit your groups and add new Smart Home hardware in just a few moments. Since Alexa will automatically detect devices that can be added to a group, all that you need to do is hit a checkbox to connect it. This also means it's easy to disconnect if you decide to move things around in the house. Have you connected Smart Home hardware to your Alexa? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo Dot

Amazon

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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1 week ago

Let your dad tell Alexa how thrifty you are when you get a deal on an Amazon Echo or Tap

1

Our friends at Thrifter are back again, this time with some great deals on Amazon's Alexa-enabled product line!

Update: Amazon has just announced the Dash Wand with Alexa support for $20, and you get a $20 credit Amazon credit for select items when you activate it. Unlike the other Alexa devices, the Dash Wand won't offer full support for all of Alexa's features, but if you just have to try it now is the time. If you want all the great features that Alexa offers, be sure to check out the discounts below.

Today marks the start of several Father's Day promotions for Amazon. These prices will continue until June 19, the day after Father's Day, or until sold out.

Amazon is dropping the price on several Alexa-enabled Echo products. The drops for the standard Echo and the Echo Dot are matches for deals we have seen pretty recently. The Amazon Tap, however, hasn't had a direct drop in price since December 2016. Even though this deal isn't as big as that one was, it's only $10 more and still a great price.

Not sure which of these is best for you? Here's a great breakdown of all three of these devices, how they compare, and which ones you should be interested in. They also explore the new, only recently announced, Echo Show and how it compares to this lineup. So if you're struggling to pick just one, just buy them all or check out the differences and pick your favorite.

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

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1 week ago

Canada bans locked phones as it looks to make switching carriers easier

50

The Wireless Code of Conduct has received an update to address some of its widely-held complaints. But it doesn't fix everything.

In a review of Canada's Wireless Code of Conduct, which debuted in June 2013, the country's telecom regulator has made two important changes that will potentially lower the cost of ownership and make it easier for consumers to switch providers.

In a statement, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced, as of December 1, 2017, the end of unlocking fees for Canadians with existing devices and, perhaps more significantly, a mandate that all new devices as of that day will need to be sold unlocked, even if purchased from a carrier on contract.

As of December 1, all Canadians will be able to request an unlock code for a locked phone from their carrier at no charge — currently, the Big Three providers charge between $35 and $50 for the service — which will allow it to be used on any competing network, domestically or while traveling abroad. It will also easily allow customers to switch carriers and bring their compatible phone over to a new one should they desire. What isn't being said, though, is that many phones being sold at the carrier level today, including the Google Pixel and upcoming Essential Phone, are unlocked out of the box from the manufacturer. Other devices, like the Galaxy S8, are sold unlocked and become locked to the first SIM card inserted in the phone.

Switching to a different network will also be simpler under the new rules because customers will be able to cancel service contracts within 15 days while paying no penalties for phone restocking, something that the first draft of the Wireless Code tried to address but, according to consumer advocacy groups, didn't go far enough.

Unlocked phones may be going away, but carriers will still pursue phone exclusives to differentiate themselves.

Given that the vast majority of Canadians pay one of three companies for mobile service, all of whom share a number of similarities in network speed, coverage, device availability and plan costs, this is more a convenience than anything else, but current return policies limit handset returns to 30 minutes of talk time and 50MB of data use, an absurdly rapacious set of numbers.

One of the most important changes to the Wireless Code is also going to be the least talked-about: secondary line users will no longer be able to consent to overage charges without the permission of the primary account holder. This means that parents will be able to supervise and approve roaming or data overage charges on a per-line basis, fixing an oversight in the first Wireless Code draft that caused millions of dollars in unnecessary fees. Primary account holders will still be able to let secondary lines approve overages, but it will be an opt-in process.

The existing overages of $50 for domestic and $100 international roaming are still in place, but the CRTC has explicitly stated that they apply to one's entire account, not an individual line holder. For big families that share data plans, this may lead to limits being hit, and overages needing to be approved, far earlier in the billing cycle.

This will make it easier for Canadians to leave the carriers they love to hate.

Since its inception in 2013, and its strict enforcement in 2015, the Wireless Code has been criticized for allowing wireless carriers to continue raising the cost of service within the existing rules. Advocacy groups believe that without a robust MVNO market, where carriers sell wholesale access to their networks to smaller companies in a model popularized by broadband internet, Canadians will be forced to continue paying a high price for their monthly service. Carriers justify the prices by saying that, Canada being a huge country, network upgrades and maintenance are more expensive than anywhere else in the world, but critics point to a lack of competition keeping prices high.

The Wireless Code doesn't mandate pricing, and these new changes, while admirable, don't address the core issues of competition within the Canadian wireless market. Still, being able to move devices more freely, and having penalty-free service trials, will make it easier for Canadians to shop around, which may have the effect of lowering complaints against the companies Canadians love to hate.

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1 week ago

What you need to know when considering a smart lock for your home

15
Kwikset Kevo 2

Not all smart locks are created equal. In fact, many aren't even all that smart.

There are some incredible benefits to home automation, but when it comes to securing your home, it's important to not simply buy the cheapest thing on the shelf. There's a lot to these "smart" locks, and not all of them live up to the promises in the packaging.

Here's a quick look at what you can do to make sure your smart lock is both convenient and safe.

Understand how the lock you want works

Smart locks come in several different flavors. Some add a Wi-Fi connection to your lock and let you control the ability to lock and unlock from wherever you are. Some rely on Bluetooth and only give you the ability to automatically unlock when your phone is close by. Some rely on touch to unlock, while others offer a keypad for a security pin.

The point is, there isn't one kind of smart lock. It's important to understand how the lock you install works and understand how it keeps you safe when locked.

Make sure the lock itself is safe

Just because your smart lock is shinier and more expensive than a normal door lock does not mean it is more safe or secure. Many first-generation smart locks offered compromised, less expensive locks with all of the smart trimmings around it.

It's also important to make sure the smart tech you are buying actually works as advertised. That's not always the case, which is dangerous. Some early locks using Bluetooth Beacons couldn't actually tell which side of the door you were on, meaning if your phone was inside the house and near the door it could still be unlocked. Obviously, that's not great.

Beware of misbehaving apps

Assuming you have found a lock that is safe and works the way you want it to, it's important to keep an eye on how the app behaves on your phone. Early versions of the Kwikset Kevo app, for example, kept the phone awake when nearby a lock and constantly draining the power from your phone while doing largely nothing.

This isn't easy to test before bringing the lock home, so it's important to rely on hands-on reviews with testing on battery life over time. App power problems are less common now, especially with changes Google has made to recent versions of Android, but it's still something to keep an eye out for.

The good ones really are worth it

As disheartening as it can be to see stories about connected home tech going wrong and leaving people vulnerable when they think they are more secure, there's a lot to like about the good smart locks.

Being able to remotely lock your home if you forget, or being able to give someone a temporary virtual key if they're house sitting while you're away, or even using the locked state of the door to control the away modes of other connected home tech are all important. These features save you money over time by conserving energy, keep your home safe by using smart lights to make it look like people are here when you're away, and are generally more convenient than digging around for your keys.

The most important first step is making sure you're buying a quality lock from a reputable company with features you actually want. When that happens, you'll be much happier with how you use your front door.

Do you have a smart lock?

Which one? Has it worked out well for you? Share your success or horror story in the comments below!

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1 week ago

LG's Second Year Promise gives the G6 an extra year of warranty

54

LG is making a big move to win customer loyalty.

The LG G6 has consistently been heralded as one of the best smartphones of 2017, all but erasing the negative impression of the G5 before it. Now, LG wants to continue that goodwill with a new program called the Second Year Promise, which extends the G6's regular warranty from one year to two in the U.S.

While this isn't quite like HTC's Uh-Oh Protection, which acts more as a low-deductible insurance policy, the Second Year Promise, according to a report by The Verge, merely extends the G6's regular manufacturer's warranty an extra 12 months. This puts the phone's U.S. warranty on par with its European one, which tends to be two years for electronics goods.

Here's what you need to know:

  • This applies to all LG G6s sold in the U.S., both from carriers and unlocked through online retailers.
  • This doesn't apply to user-caused damage, so if you drop your phone on day one or day 401, it doesn't matter — this won't cover you.
  • Users need to register their G6 with LG 90 days after the announcement of the program in order to extend the warranty.
    • If you've already bought an LG G6, don't worry, you're still covered as long as you sign up within 90 days from June 15.
  • If a phone is found to be defective, it will be replaced within two business days of shipping it back to LG.

That's it! Easy peasy. What do you think of the new program? Is it going to entice you to buy a G6 if you haven't already, or a future LG product in the future?

See at LG

LG G6

Verizon Sprint T-Mobile AT&T B&H

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1 week ago

The case for a Material Dark culture on Android

145
Dark and beautiful

I love hex black and a dark UI!

You Android-lovers can't deny,

That when an app installs in an itty-bitty space,

With a dark theme in your face,

You get sprung!

Google and Android are filled with white, white, white UIs. It wasn't always that way, but it is now. The only real dark system UIs available right now are downloadable TouchWiz themes and third-party apps and Google's apps are whiter than my jeans-365-days-a-year legs. Night modes have been toyed with in Developer Previews the last two years but have never amounted to much — and it's been left out of even the Developer Previews on Android O.

Really, even if they had stuck around, it wouldn't've been the dark theme we need — or want — anyway.

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1 week ago

Essential Phone coming to Canada as a Telus exclusive

13

Telus nabs Andy Rubin's Essential Phone for sole distribution up in Canada.

This was unexpected. Essential Phone, the titanium-and-ceramic wünderhandset from Android creator Andy Rubin's company of the same name, will debut in Canada later this summer on Telus.

The company said in a press release that the phone will be available for pre-order at the end of July, with availability later this summer. According to Rubin, Telus was chosen as the sole carrier "due to our strong alignment on the importance of continuous innovation and support for consumer choice."

Essential Phone Specs

Essential announced earlier this month that the Phone would be available for $699 when it goes on sale unlocked in the U.S. Sprint then came out as the sole U.S. carrier offering the phone. With Telus locked in for Canadian distribution, it would seem that Essential's strategy is in place.

Canadian pricing hasn't been confirmed just yet, but Telus said it will be available outright — likely for close to $1,000 given today's exchange rates — or on subsidy with select shared data plans. Telus also plans to sell Essential's 4K 360-degree camera accessory in its stores.

See at Telus

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1 week ago

How to shop on Amazon with Alexa

0
Amazon Echo

As an Amazon product, naturally you can buy things with Alexa. Here's how.

Everything Amazon ever does has some form of hook into buying things from its retail store. On its tablets, that extends to adverts on your lock screen, but on the Amazon Echo, it's pretty much the opposite.

You can use it to buy things from Amazon, but only if you want to. There're no ads, no up-sell. But instead of reaching for your phone or going on the computer, just ask Alexa to order things for you. Here's how.

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1 week ago

Sphero made a Spider-Man your kids can talk to like an Amazon Echo

14

Sphero's contract with Disney now includes Marvel, which is great for all of us nerds. I guess kids will like it, too.

We've seen Sphero bring BB-8 and Lightning McQueen to life over the last year, but now is the time of superheroes. A little Spider-Man can now stand on a pedestal and interact with anyone who taps the logo on his chest, in a way that is not terribly unlike an Amazon Echo speaker without the wake command. What makes this little Spidey worth adding t your house? It's aimed at being a best friend for your kid.

Spider-Man by Sphero is a Wi-Fi enabled snark machine with eyes that animate with the audio from the speaker and lots of ways to play with kids. He will "guard" a bedroom, tell stores, and with the two hour battery inside can roam around the house with your kids to go on adventures. You know, standard friendly neighborhood hero stuff.

You can grab one of these little heroes starting today for $149. Will you be picking one up?

See on Amazon

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1 week ago

Using Alexa Scenes to control your home like magic

3
Amazon Alexa

How do I use Alexa Scenes?

Most connected home gadgets have a way to do things automatically or based on specific conditions. That's the whole appeal after all: being able to automate parts of your life. That might be changing the color temperature in your living room when it's time to watch a movie or maybe just making sure the cable box is set to a specific channel when you turn on your television. Either way, Amazon collects these little scripted behaviors and puts them in a voice-controlled system called Scenes. Here's how it works.

Discovering your Scenes

Amazon's Scene tab isn't for creating; it's for collecting. If you have a Logitech Harmony set up to control you TV, those instructions can be added to a collection. If you have a thermostat and lights working together to change your environment in specific conditions, that gets added to the collection.

It's basically anything that isn't automated but still part of the system. Instead of going to those individual apps to activate these scripts, Alexa gathers them up and lets you activate them with your voice.

How to discover Scenes

  1. Open your Alexa App.
  2. Tap on the Menu button.
  3. Tap Smart Home in the Menu.
  4. Tap Scenes.
  5. Tap Discover.

Alexa will now scan your local wireless network for any tech with a Scene to be collected. If you have a Philips Hue set, you'll need to press the sync button on the Hue Hub to give Alexa access to those scenes.

How to use Alexa Scenes

In your Scene list, you'll see everything you've set up for light bulbs, fans, thermostats, and other smart home things that can be on or off with a simple command. The Scene has a name, and if you say that name to Alexa, it will execute the series of commands in the Scene.

For example, if you have a Philips Hue Scene named "Bedtime" that slowly lowers the brightness when you give the command, you can say "Alexa, turn on Bedtime," and the Scene will start. If you have scenes that work in multiple rooms, adjust the command to include the name of the room after and it will work.

Questions or comments?

Do you have an Alexa Scene you rely on every day? Share your favorites in the comments!

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo Dot

Amazon

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1 week ago

Honor 9 is the sum of many incremental upgrades, and that's just fine

17
Honor 9

The biggest upgrades in this year's Honor flagship will be software, camera, and audio.

The Honor 9 won't be announced in Europe for another couple of weeks — a launch event is scheduled for June 27 — but thanks to the standard early Chinese launch, we have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the handset.

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