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1 week ago

Best T-Mobile Deals of January 2018

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If you're currently subscribed to T-Mobile or looking to switch to the Un-carrier, these are the deals to watch out for.

T-Mobile's been disrupting the wireless industry in the United States for years now, and a result of this has been big savings for the Un-carrier's subscribers. T-Mobile often runs all sorts of deals and promotions at any given time, and these are the absolute best ones that you should keep your eye on.

Buy one flagship phone and get another for free

Since we're still in the early stages of 2018, we're a ways off before we can actually start buying phones like the Galaxy S9, LG G7, and Pixel 3. However, if you don't have to have the latest and greatest, now's a great time to score some solid deals on last year's flagships.

Right now at T-Mobile, buying one flagship phone from 2017 will let you get another one at absolutely no extra cost. Eligible devices include the Galaxy S8, LG G6, and LG V30/V30+, and when you purchase a Galaxy S8+, S8 Active, or Note 8, you can still get up to $750 back.

New and existing customers can get in on this deal, but you will need to trade in your current device, port over a number, and purchase the phones on monthly installment plans. Once you do this, T-Mobile will credit you for the second phone after a mail-in rebate.

See at T-Mobile


Get $150 back on Samsung and LG phones

Samsung and LG are two of the top smartphone brands in the U.S., and while the hardware each company kicks out is great, you often have to pay a pretty penny in order to have the privilege of using it. T-Mobile understands the struggle, and it's here to help.

Whether you're a new or existing customer, you can score a $150 rebate when buyin a Galaxy S8/S8+, S8 Active, Note 8, LG G6, and V30/V30+. You'll need to buy the phone via monthly installment plans and trade-in your current phone, but don't forget that you'll get the value of your trade-in in addition to the extra $150. Not bad at all.

See at T-Mobile

Galaxy S8 and Pixel 2 join #GetOutoftheRed

T-Mobile's been running its #GetOutoftheRed promotion for some time now as an effort to get as many Verizon customers to switch over to the Un-Carrier as possible, and there are now even more phones being added that T-Mobile will pay off.

If you own a Galaxy S8/S8+, Pixel 2/2 XL, or other supported devices, T-Mobile will pay off the remaining amount on them that you owe to Verizon when you switch and sign up for either T-Mobile ONE Plus or ONE Plus International.

See at T-Mobile

More than $200 off Nest Secure and Nest Cam Indoor

In November, T-Mobile announced that it would be partnering with Nest as the exclusive cellular backup provider for its Nest Secure service. As part of this partnership, T-Mobile customers can purchase the Nest Secure home security system and Nest Cam Indoor security camera for just $480 – a package that would normally set you back $698.

You will need to subscribe to the T-Mobile Nest plan in order to take advantage of this, but after a $5/month credit on your bill, you can get it for just $10/month. With the Nest plan, you get access to both Nest Aware and T-Mobile's cellular backup service.

See at T-Mobile



Updated 1/10/18 – Removed LG V30 BOGO, Moto Z2 Force deal, and free Alcatel tablet; added flagship BOGO, Samsung and LG promo, and #GetOutoftheRed update.

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1 week ago

How to get the most from your Chromebook touchpad

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It may only be one big button, but the multi-touch touchpad on your Chromebook can do just about anything you would ask of it.

Your Chromebook's touchpad is simple to set up and use, and a couple of handy features make it more than just a way to move the mouse pointer. With multi-touch gestures, you'll be able to navigate web pages and apps easier, as well as see everything you're working on at a glance. And yes, you can move the mouse pointer, too.

The touchpad on current Chromebooks is a one-piece unit missing the buttons you might be used to with other laptops. Instead, the touchpad itself is a button, and multi-touch — being able to register multiple actions at once — takes care of the rest. Because you might be used to having buttons for right and left clicking, we'll start with the basics.

How to adjust your touchpad settings

To begin, have a look at the settings page, and you'll find where you can adjust the pointer speed and a section for touchpad settings where you can enable tap to click, swapping your primary mouse button and using Australian scrolling.

  • Tap to click is a setting that lets you tap your finger on the touchpad to do the same thing as a click would do on a regular button. If you want to use gestures you'll want to keep this enabled.
  • Swap your primary mouse button does the same thing it would do with a mouse or a trackpad with actual buttons. It switches actions that need a left click into actions that need a right click, and vice versa.
  • Australian scrolling is having the screen scroll the opposite direction your fingers are moving on the touchpad. Traditional scrolling moves your view up the page when you scroll up, and Australian scrolling moves your view down the page when you scroll up.

When you're done adjusting your settings, click OK to save them.

How to use the touchpad to control the cursor

Next, we'll cover the basics of pointing, clicking and navigating. If you're used to using a mouse, these will take a bit of time to get used to. Alternatively, you can use a mouse with your Chromebook if you would rather. It's still worth learning how to use the touchpad for those times when your mouse batteries are dead and that drawer in the kitchen with a fresh or charged set seems miles away.

  • To move the pointer, move one finger across the trackpad in the direction you want the pointer to move.
  • To click on something, tap or press down on the lower half (the half closest to your body) of the touchpad with one finger.
  • To right click, tap or press down on any spot of the touchpad with two fingers.You can also right-click by pressing the Alt key then tapping or clicking with one finger.
  • To middle click, tap or press anywhere on the touchpad with three fingers.
  • To drag and drop, tap or press the thing you want to drag with one finger and move the pointer while holding down. Let go when your pointer is where you want to drop it. You can also press and hold with one finger then move the pointer with a second finger.

How to use gestures on your touchpad

Gestures are that little extra which can make an experience better. Some apps may have their own gestures, like a three-finger swipe left and right to skim through Chrome browser tabs, but there are three common ones that work with everything you do on your Chromebook.

  • To scroll, drag two fingers on the touchpad.
  • Scrolling right and left, acts as forwards and back buttons. The faster you swipe the faster you will navigate. This setting is universal and works anywhere you can move horizontally.
  • Scrolling up and down, moves the window content up and down. See Australian scrolling above for an option.
  • To see all open windows. swipe up or down with three fingers on the touchpad. If you have Australian scrolling enabled, swipe up. Otherwise, swipe down.

Most of these are along the lines for features you find in any laptop with a good touchpad or trackpad, with or without buttons. They're not too revolutionary. They do make working with the touchpad on your Chromebook as easy as using a mouse!

Updated January 2018: Updated with fresh tips on how to use your Chromebook touchpad to its fullest.

Chromebooks

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1 week ago

Unknown Sources: Everything you need to know!

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The Unknown Sources setting isn't the mystery — or the demon — it's made out to be if you know a little bit about it.

To install apps that you downloaded from somewhere besides the "official" app store from Google or the company that made your phone, you need to enable the "allow unknown sources" setting. There has always been a bit of confusion about what it is exactly and how things work. We're going to remedy that and talk through everything you need to know about unknown sources. Don't worry, it's gonna be fine.

What are 'Unknown Sources'?

No, not people who leak government stuff to the press. The Android kind of unknown sources. It's a scary label for a simple thing: a source for apps you want to install that is not trusted.

Unknown = not vetted directly by Google.

When we see the word "trusted" used this way, it means a little more than it usually would. In this case, trust means the same as it does for a web certificate and everyone involved on all sides will vouch for the source. Google says you can trust Google Play and Samsung Apps (for example) because they don't require you to enable the installation of unknown (not in the circle of trust) sources to install apps from either. Samsung feels the same way and so does your carrier.

In short, a trusted source is one that the company you gave your money to, the company who built it, and the company who wrote the software all have vouched for.

Why is there even a setting for this?

Half the people reading this will think that no company should allow us to install apps they do not trust. The other half will think that nobody should be telling me what apps I can and can't install. Having a setting in place is the only real solution.

It's not really a good idea to just let any app from any place get installed on your phone. When you block app installs from places not in that trusted circle, random drive-by downloads can't happen. Full stop. It's insanely difficult to find an exploit that can force you to install an app you don't want. It should be, because that sort of trickery is never done for a good reason. Going one step further and just outright blocking the darn things is the type of over-the-top phone security Google loves.

And Google doesn't claim that apps from other places are a bad thing. It has a whole page that tells app devs how to go about offering apps without putting them in the Play Store. All Google has to say about the Unknown Sources setting is:

User opt-in for apps from unknown sources

Android protects users from inadvertent download and install of apps from locations other than Google Play (which is trusted). It blocks such installs until the user opts in to Unknown sources in Settings > Security on their device. Users need to make this configuration change before they download your apps to their devices.

Note that some network providers don't allow users to install applications from unknown sources.

Google is cool with developers doing it and cool with you downloading and installing them. But they make sure you opt in for it before you do.

Are unknown sources a bad thing?

Nope. But enabling the setting for no good reason or leaving it on all the time is.

The internet is a big place. There are plenty of places to get apps that are as trustworthy as Google or Samsung or LG or any other company with their own on-device app store. You just need to do a tiny bit of poking around to make sure a place is trustworthy before you grab an app from it.

The Unknown Sources setting is like the stove: turn it off when you're done using it.

Reading this article is a good start. Read other Android websites, too. We're not afraid to tell you when you can trust something or some place. Here are two places I trust as much as anything from Google: Amazon and F-Droid. I use them both and am not afraid to tell you to use them if they have something you want. And everyone else here would say the same thing. In essence, Android Central trusts Amazon and F-Droid and thinks you can, too. But because of Google's definition of trust, in this case, they can't. Knowing that both Amazon and the folks running F-Droid scan all their files and are diligent about how they are distributing them isn't enough for Google because they need to do those things themselves before they trust a source.

What is a bad habit is leaving the unknown sources box checked if you don't need to. If an app you installed will run with the setting disabled, disable it until you need it again. If an app won't run without it enabled, find out why before you install it.

You're still protected

Google wants to scan every single app you install right before you install it. It will ask you to let it do so and to let it do it in the future the first time you try. At Google I/O, we were told that Google scans 50 billion apps per day to ferret out any with malware, including the ones you are installing. And this doesn't depend on having the latest version of Android. Every single phone with access to Google Play running Android 4 or higher has these protections built in through Google's Play Services feature. While no type of scanning is going to be 100% foolproof, chances are someone else has installed that app before you and Google has looked at it, and they will look harder if it does anything fishy. Or has a hidden ability to do anything fishy.

Fifty. Billion. Every day. That's a helluva lot of apps.

Google, Apple, Samsung, and every other company takes the integrity of their app store very seriously. Nothing makes them look worse than me telling you about bad apps that slipped through, so they do everything they can to keep it from happening. In this case, that benefit rolls over to apps you installed from elsewhere. Win all around!

Why don't companies just put their apps in Google's Play Store?

That's a question with a big, convoluted answer that no two people will agree on. Let's just say that Google places some restrictions on ways developers can make money. Not everyone is willing to accept those restrictions.

Of course, test apps and beta apps and project apps are better off being hosted locally and set to whoever needs them. But for big production ready apps, not everyone wants to use Google Play.

How do I turn Unknown Sources on?

  1. Open the device settings. Look for a gear icon in the notification shade near the top left corner and tap on it.
  2. Scroll down to the Security section and tap to open it.
  3. Scroll down to the entry labeled Unknown sources and read the subtext because you should always read any and all subtext in a "security" section of settings.
  4. Read the pop-up box that tells you Google isn't responsible if you install apps from places they do not explicitly trust and click OK to enable the setting.

You disable the setting the exact same way. Toggle the switch off and installation is once again blocked for apps downloaded outside of trusted app stores.

So should I enable the setting?

If you want to install an app that you trust — you know the source and are sure they aren't pulling a fast one and that the app is exactly as the developers have written it, then you can enable it when you need it.

There are a lot of different ways to define trust, but we think that word of mouth is one of the best ones. Your friends, people in forums and comments, and your favorite Android blog can tell you whether or not they think you should trust a thing or place, and whoever is saying it should be willing to tell you why.

Most importantly, you don't have to worry about temporarily enabling Unknown Sources if you trust a place that has an app you want to install.

I trust Amazon because it vets every app in its store and it is a popular source. That means if an app slips through, it will get caught quickly. I trust F-Droid because every app it offers has the full source code available and provides a checksum to make sure you're downloading a verified copy that it compiled itself. Not everyone wants the source code. You don't necessarily have to know either of these things because someone else has looked into it and the information is available. You should still do any personal vetting that you need to feel comfortable, but generally, a site that's not trustworthy is going to be talked about even more.

Do a little bit of homework and you're golden. Just be sure to turn the setting back off once you're done installing your apps.

Wrapping it up

This is a simple breakdown to make sure everyone can understand what's going on when asked to enable the Unknown Sources setting or when you see people warning against it. There are other more nerdy things like signing keys and heuristic scanning that could be talked about, but we feel that will muddy the water a little. If you're the type of person interested in the minutiae, the Android Developers site has plenty of information about how Google Play works and what else Google does to make it safe. It's great reading if you're inclined.

For everyone else, just know that the Unknown Sources setting isn't really a mystery or anything to be afraid of if you need it. And when you don't make sure it's turned off.

Stay safe!

Updated January 2018: With all the security worries lately, we've refreshed this piece to help you protect your devices and data.

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1 week ago

Buy two Amazon Fire 7 kids edition tablets together and save $50

0

Designed for kids but designed for parents, too.

Buy two Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition tablets for $149.98. Each tablet is $100 bought individually, so you're saving $50 on the total. You can buy this bundle in Blue/Pink, Pink/Yellow, or Blue/Yellow. A different color for each tablet so your kids don't get confused on which one is theirs.

The Kids Edition tablets have a special guarantee attached that protect you when your hyperactive kids smash the screens. They also have parental controls so you can see what they're accessing and manage times.

Features include:

  • Not a toy, a full-featured Fire 7 tablet with a 7-inch IPS display, 16 GB internal storage, and up to 8 hours of mixed-use battery life.
  • 2-year worry-free guarantee: if they break it, return it and we'll replace it for free. No questions asked.
  • One year of FreeTime Unlimited gives your kids access to 15,000 popular apps and games, videos, books, and educational content from PBS Kids, Nickelodeon, Disney, and more
  • Add even more content to your child's profile in FreeTime to give them selected access to apps in your personal library, such as Netflix, YouTube, and Minecraft
  • Best-in-class parental controls allow you to manage usage limits, content access, and educational goals

You can expand the storage of the tablet with a microSD card up to 256GB. This Samsung Evo Select 128GB microSD card is only $40.

See on Amazon

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1 week ago

These are the best free apps for PlayStation VR

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There aren't many out there, but the free apps on PlayStation VR are nothing to scoff at.

Sony launched PlayStation VR with a bang, including a ton of amazing games from nearly every genre. If you haven't spent any time lurking through the PlayStation store since setting up your PlayStation VR, then you might not realize that there are a handful of free apps available for download right now. At the moment, the pickings are a bit slim, but that's to be expected since we're only a few short days past launch day. Well, don't worry about searching through the PlayStation store because we've got the details on the best free apps on PlayStation VR.

Invasion!

Invasion is a short film that centers around a pair of aliens who have set their sights on conquering Earth. There is just one problem. The first thing they run into is a mischievous white rabbit who isn't going to take their scare tactics sitting down. You'll find that you're a little white rabbit as well, if you take a look at your feet while watching the video.

This is only about a 5 minute long video, but it's adorable enough that you'll chuckle a little bit. If you want a mini-movie that will tickle your funny bone, this is a great one to check out.

Download Invasion! from the PlayStation Store

Hulu

If you've never had the chance to just kick back and watch your favorite show from within VR, now is your chance. PlayStation VR gives you access to Hulu, where you can catch up on your favorite movies and television shows. While the app itself is free, you will need a monthly membership in order to watch your shows.

Hulu also has a small library of short VR videos that you can check out. Not all of them are of great quality, but there are some cool ones that you can check out. These include shorts from National Geographic, and Kevin Hart. While the VR videos are cool, it's far more fun to sit in your VR living room and catch up on the latest episodes of your favorite shows.

Download Hulu from the PlayStation Store

Allumette

You might not think of VR as an awesome place to experience an animated short film, but Allumette would prove you wrong. There isn't any actual dialogue in the film, instead you'll hear music that helps to convey the emotion of the story that is unfolding around you.

It's the heart rending tale of a girl, and her mother and the sacrifice one makes for the other. The animation is gorgeous in a style that may remind you of stop motion classics from the past. We won't give away the story itself, but it takes place in a town on clouds in the sky. At times the animation is so close that you can lean in, or move slightly to see around the corners of the town. It is a bit long though, so be prepared.

Download Allumette from the PlayStation Store

Littlstar VR

Littlstar is another video app that is filled to the brim with content. These videos are all in 360 degrees, and put you smack in the middle of the action whether that means seeing Rio for the Olympics, or being interrogated in a Funny or Die sketch. They've got a pretty awesome navigation system as well.

You can navigate your way through categories, featured videos, channels, and more to find the videos that you really want to see. You'll even seen television channels, like Discovery and Showtime that has produced VR content for you to enjoy.

Download Littlstar VR from the PlayStation Store

YouTube

If the internet puts all of the information in the world at your fingertips, YouTube does the same with videos. From news, to vloggers, to beauty videos and gaming videos, and more, YouTube is full to the brim of content. So it makes sense that you'd be able to fall down a rabbit hole of videos even if you are in VR at the time.

There is a ton of content to explore, and more than any one person could ever sift through. Whether you just want to watch your favorite music videos, or you're catching up on the news of the day YouTube can get the job done.

Download YouTube from the PlayStation Store

Until Dawn: Rush of Blood

Until Dawn: Rush of Blood is a wickedly fun arcade style shooter that is guaranteed to make you jump at an inopportune time. While you'll have to pony up to pick up the first game, if you haven't tried out a horror game in VR then this is a great opportunity to do it since the demo of the game is available for free.

While playing Until Dawn: Rush of Blood, you'll sit in a roller coaster with monsters coming at you from all angles. You'll have to duck, while you are armed to the teeth to deal with them. With seven different levels and a variety of paths to take along the way, there is a ton of terror for you to shoot your way through.

Download Until Dawn: Rush of Blood demo on PlayStation Store

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Jackal Assault VR Experience

If you're a fan of the Call of Duty franchise, then you're in luck. That's because there is a VR add-on experience available even if you've already picked up Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. You'll be put into the cockpit of the Jackal, a fighter jet capable of battle in both Air and Space. Things start out simple enough, but soon enough you'll be thrown into combat after being attacked during a training mission.

Download Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Jackal VR Experience on PlayStation Store

Gary the Gull

As the weather gets colder, some of us are already dreaming of a nice warm day at the beach. If that's the case, then you may want to take a vacation and hang out with Gary the Gull in VR. This is a short film with a small twist, you aren't just watching what's going on, you're interacting with it.

As you play, the story will change depending on how you respond to Gary's questions. This experience will pick up voice responses, as well as head gestures. If you decide to use PlayStation Move controllers, you can also interact with the environment. This includes drawing in the sand with a stick, as well as picking up objects around you.

Download Gary the Gull on PlayStation Store

Air Force Special Ops: Nightfall

Ever wondered wht it would be like to throw yourself out of a moving plane at 14,000 feet and plummet down towards the Earth? Yeah, me either but Nightfall lets you do just that. This free version takes you through all the basic training to become a H.A.L.O. Jump specialist complete with pulling your cord and piloting your parachute through gates to get the best score possible.

AFSO: Nightfall uses photo realistic textures which look amazing when you are high in the sky but start to suffer as you get closer. That being said the game is great to look at and really does off the feelings you get when skydiving minus the crazy wind. It's a simple fun game that I use to show off VR to people who have never used it. If you want to know how good it is, the first time I played as I jumped out of the plane, I fell over in real life. Yup, I'm that guy..

Download AFSO: Nightfall on Playstation Store

Spiderman: Homecoming VR Experience

With the release of the newest installment of the Spiderman Franchise Sony has released a VR experience to go with it. You play Spidey when he first dons the Stark Industries Spidey Suit for the first time. You get to try out the different web shooters and try to defeat the evil Vulture!

This is a short, but very well put together VR experience that makes you wish it was a fully realized Spiderman Game. Imagine swinging from roof to roof while fighting goons! it would be amazing! Well imagine no more, here is a glimpse at what could be. All for free on your PSVR.

Download Spiderman: Homecoming VR on Playstation Store

Lens for PS VR

Lens for PS VR is a free streaming service so you can watch not only 360 videos, but you can also stream 2D videos as well. It's been accessible for other VR headsets for some time, but it made it's way to PSVR at the beginning of last year.

Whether you're watching the Northern Lights, or one of their many 360 videos, Lens will be a great addition to your VR streaming library.

Download Lens for PS VR on Playstation Store

JAUNT

JAUNT is another streaming service that is quite different from Lens, since it streams 150 different cinematic movies. Along with many famous movies, JAUNT has brought some of their own entertainment to this app, with a horror movie in their Horror World.

I think Jaunt is a great way to stream a lot of great shows in VR, without having to pay any premium membership fees to access it all. When you are able to watch some great movies with the immersion of VR makes them even more enjoyable.

Download Jaunt on Playstation Store

Do you have a favorite?

There are plenty of great apps and experiences on PlayStation VR but these were the best that we found available for free! These aren't the only free apps that we've found on PlayStation VR, and doubtless there will be more added in the future. In the meantime though, these are our favorite free apps from the PlayStation Store. Do you have a favorite free PlayStation VR app we should check out? Have you been watching 360 videos on your PlayStation VR? Be sure to drop us a comment below!

Updated January 2018: We've added JAUNT and Lens to the list.

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1 week ago

Samsung Galaxy S9 will be announced in February at MWC

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And just like that, the rumors are laid to rest.

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Rumors and leaks for the Samsung Galaxy S9 have been pouring in for a couple months now, and while most of them have had to do with the phone itself, there was previously one suggesting that the S9 would get an unveiling at this year's CES. A spokesperson for Samsung later said that this was "unlikely", but now Samsung's president of mobile, DJ Koh, has officially shut this rumor down.

Koh confirmed that the Galaxy S9 will not make an appearance at CES 2018, and instead will be announced at MWC this coming February. This year's Mobile World Congress takes place between February 26 through March 1, and the announcement will likely come closer to the start of the convention.

Last year, Samsung announced the Galaxy S8 at its own Unpacked event in March, with sales shortly following in April. With an announcement coming in February this year, it's entirely possible that sales for the S9 will go live at some point in March.

The Galaxy S9 is expected to be a fairly minor improvement over the S8, but dual cameras on the larger S9+, even slimmer bezels, and a repositioned fingerprint sensor still have us excited for what Samsung has in store.

Samsung said to start producing foldable smartphone in November

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1 week ago

How to properly secure your Android phone

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Locked up phone

Know how to use the tools you're given to keep your phone and your data secure.

Google, Apple, and Microsoft have great tools for managing your online security. Some implementations may be technically better than others, but you can be reasonably sure that your data — both on the phone and in the cloud — is safe. If you need more reassurance or have different needs, third-party companies are available that work with the big three to provide enterprise-grade security assurances. No method is 100% secure, and ways to get around it are found regularly, then patched quickly so the cycle can repeat. But these methods are usually complicated and very time-consuming and rarely widespread.

This means you are the weakest link in any chain of security. If you want to keep your data — or your company's — secured, you need to force someone to use these complicated, time-consuming methods if they wanted to get into your phone. Secure data needs to be difficult to obtain and difficult to decipher if someone does get ahold of it. With Android, there are several things you can do to make someone have to work really hard to get your data — hopefully so hard that they don't bother trying.

Use a secure lock screen

Lock Screen

Having a secure lock screen is the easiest way to limit access to the data on your phone or the cloud. Whether you just left your phone on your desk while you had to walk away for a moment or two or if you've lost your phone or had it stolen, a lock screen that isn't simple to bypass is the best way to limit that access.

The first step is to lock the front door.

If your company issued you a phone or you work for someone with a BYOD policy, there's a good chance your phone is forced by a security policy to have password protection, and your IT department may have assigned you a username and password to unlock it.

Any method that locks your phone is better than none, but generally, a random six-digit PIN is enough to require someone to have special knowledge and tools to bypass it without triggering any self-destruct settings. Longer, randomized alpha-numeric passwords mean they will need the right tools and a lot of time. Entering a long complex password on a phone is inconvenient for you and we tend not to use things that inconvenience us so alternatives have been thought up that use patterns, pictures, voiceprints, and a host of other things easier to do than typing a long password. Read the instructions and overview for each and decide which works best for you. Just make sure you're using one.

Encryption and two-factor authentication

Encrypt all of your local data and protect your data in the cloud with two-factor authentication on your account logins.

Recent versions of Android come encrypted by default. Android 7 uses file-level encryption for faster access and granular control. Your corporate data may have another level of security to reinforce this. Don't do anything to try and lessen it. A phone that needs to be unlocked to decrypt the data is one that only someone dedicated is going to try to crack.

Online accounts all need to use a strong password and two-factor authentication if offered. Don't use the same password across multiple sites and use a password manager to keep track of them. A centralized spot with all your account credentials is worth risking if it means you'll actually use good passwords.

More: Two-factor authentication: What you need to know

Know what you're tapping on

Never open a link or message from someone you don't know. Let those people email you if they need to make the first contact, and offer them the same courtesy and use email instead of a DM or a text message to get in touch with them the first time. And never click a random web link from someone you don't trust. I trust the Wall Street Journal's Twitter account, so I'll click obscured Twitter links. But I won't for someone I don't trust as much.

Trust is a major part of security at every level.

The reason isn't paranoia. Malformed videos were able to cause an Android phone to freeze up and had the potential to allow elevated permissions to your file system where a script could silently install malware. A JPG or PDF file was shown to do the same on the iPhone. Both instances were quickly patched, but it's certain that another similar exploit will be found, especially when we see stories of flaws like Meltdown and Spectre affecting all our digital things. Files sent through email will have been scanned and links in the email body are easy to spot. The same can't be said for a text message or a Facebook DM.

Only install trusted applications

For most, that means Google Play. If an app or link directs you to install it from somewhere else, decline until you know more. This means you won't need to enable the "unknown sources" setting required to install apps that didn't originate from a Google server in the Play Store. Only installing apps from the Play Store means Google is monitoring their behavior, not you. They are better at it than we are.

If you need to install apps from another source you need to make sure you trust the source itself. Actual malware that probes and exploits the software on your phone can only happen if you approved the installation. And as soon as you're finished installing or updating an app this way, turn the Unknown sources setting back off as a way to combat trickery and social engineering to get you to install an app manually.

With Android Oreo, Google has made it easier to grant trust to a source so you won't have to flip any switches or toggles after you've set things up. This is something Google is always working on because they put their name on the back of every phone and look bad when stories about malware on Android happen.

More: Everything you need to know about the Unknown Source setting

None of this will make your phone 100% secure. 100% security isn't the goal here and never is. The key is to make any data that's valuable to someone else difficult to get. The higher the level of difficulty, the more valuable the data has to be in order to make getting it worthwhile.

Some data is more valuable than others, but all of it is worth protecting.

Pictures of my dogs or maps to the best trout streams in the Blue Ridge Mountains won't require the same level of protection because they aren't of value to anyone but me. Quarterly reports or customer data stored in your corporate email may be worth the trouble to get and need extra layers.

Luckily, even low-value data is easy to keep secure using the tools provided and these few tips.

Updated January 2018: In light of the recent round of web security issues, we have refreshed this page with up-to-date information.

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1 week ago

Do you use stock SMS apps?

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The pros of going third-party.

There are a lot of benefits to using Android, and one of them is the sheer amount of customization that you have over your UI, default applications, etc. The Google Play Store is filled with third-party SMS apps to replace the one that comes preinstalled on your phone by default, and while some of them aren't that great, there are a lot of excellent ones to choose from.

We've previously talked about our top picks for the best of these apps, but some of our forum users recently approached this conversation a bit differently by talking about the main reasons they choose to ditch stock texting apps in the first place.

Here are some of the top answers.

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mysamsungs7e 01-08-2018 11:52 PM “

for the reason that we like Android: variety.

Reply
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cwbcpa 01-09-2018 06:44 AM “

Choice is a good thing. Don't like stock, choose something else. You like stock, stick with it. If an app is good and you find it useful, don't whine about kicking a couple bucks to a developer. They put work in and if they don't get paid for that work, they won't develop better apps.

Reply
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Almeuit 01-09-2018 12:24 AM “

Different colors.. fonts.. etc. Also some functionality. Such as I have it set to use MMS if it's over 160 characters.. therefore long SMS messages don't get split up by carriers since it'll send as a file with MMS. I also like the quick reply function and the customization to how notifications work with Textra over stock. To me that's worth the little I dished out for the app. I paid a few...

Reply
*/
103Softail 01-09-2018 02:03 AM “

Total customisation from colours to sounds. Get a long sms.....no problem with textra - but on sammy default I must tap the first part of sms to take me to the next page which shows the full sms???? Weird! Only thing with textra is that I can't read my sms on my gear S3 whereas sammy can. As for the cost of buying apps you're only paying for someone's time & effort so a couple of $ or even a few...

Reply

Now, we'd like to hear from you – Do you use stock SMS apps? Why or why not?

Join the conversation in the forums!

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1 week ago

Samsung Galaxy A8+ with Infinity Display and dual front cameras debuts in India for ₹32,990

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The Galaxy A8+ brings the Infinity Display to the mid-range category while introducing dual selfie cameras.

After teasing an imminent arrival last week, Samsung has launched the mid-range Galaxy A8+ in India. The phone will be available exclusively on Amazon India for ₹33,990 ($530), with sales set to kick off from January 20.

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1 week ago

Fingers-on with the new and weird Vital and Keyboard Moto Mods

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The latest Mods for the Moto Z line bring a slide-out keyboard and blood pressure monitoring to the party.

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Motorola's not backing away from the Moto Mod ecosystem, adding a mini slide-out keyboard and a health monitor to the line-up of capability enhancing add-ons for the Moto Z. We got to try out the two newest: the Lenovo Vital Moto Mod and the Livermorium Slider Keyboard Moto Mod.

Lenovo Vital Moto Mod

More and more we're seeing health tools integrated into the gadgets we carry, from heart rate sensors to blood oxygen sensors. They're usually pretty good, but they're not quite clinical level. But there's stuff they can't do, and that's where the Lenovo Vital Moto Mod comes in.

It's a very bulky number, but it has to be to include the mechanics necessary to measure blood pressure. It is, in essence, a miniature blood pressure cuff, but instead of being for your arm it is for a single finger. You slip your finger through the ring on the back (a finger on your left hand is recommended for the 99.99% of people with left-sided hearts) and into the cradle — the ring then inflates to restrict the flow of blood through your finger and the pulse and blood oxygen sensors in the cradle turn on. It takes about two minutes to complete the measurements, which are logged in the associated app.

The Vital Moto Mod also has an infrared thermometer that you can hold close to your forehead to gauge your body temperature. While the Vital Moto Mod hasn't been FDA certified, Lenovo says their own testing has shown it was at least as accurate as the approved clinical devices.

Lenovo's built the Vital Moto Mod as more of a separate module than a Moto Mod. In fact, it only connects to the Moto Z with the magnets and makes no use of the pin connectors, instead handling data transfer over Bluetooth. The Vital Moto Mod is entirely self-contained, with a USB-C port to charge it up for the claimed 2-month battery life. This was an intentional design choice — it allows use without having to tie the phone to the mod.

Of course, that leads to the question of why this even had to be a Moto Mod. Every phone has Bluetooth, and nobody is going to carry around this incredibly bulky block of plastic on a daily basis. There's absolutely nothing gained by it being a Moto Mod — in fact, being a Moto Mod dramatically limits the potential addressable audience of what's an otherwise potentially useful healthcare device.

But, if it fits your healthcare needs and you have a Moto Z to slap it onto, then by all means, go ahead. You'll be able to pick up the Lenovo Vital Moto Mod in April 2018 for $395.

Livermorium Slider Keyboard Moto Mod

I'm a longtime keyboard phone fan, so when I heard about the Livermorium Slider Keyboard Moto Mod (hereon referred to as the Keyboard Moto Mod) I found myself somewhat excited... and apprehensive. The Keyboard Moto Mod was born from the "Transform the Smartphone Challenge" that Motorola put on with Indiegogo, winning with its slide-out full-width QWERTY tilting keyboard design.

As a $99 accessory, I had high expectations for the Keyboard Moto Mod, but I was thoroughly disappointed. The slider action is smooth though stiff, and given its width it exhibits a fair amount of wobble in the mechanism. And because this is a landscape-oriented keyboard meant for a large phone, it's not designed with any sort of handheld use in mind — you're supposed to tilt the phone up after sliding it out and stick it on a hard surface to type.

Adding to the pain is the weakness of the magnets that hold the Keyboard Moto Mod to the phone. About half of the times I tried to open the keyboard I instead detached the phone. Thankfully the Moto Mod system is designed with the magnets in the mod itself, so these could (and should) be upgraded before the release sometime near the first few months of 2018.

Once you've successfully slid it open and positioned the phone upright at the 60-degree angle (any less of an angle and the weight of the phone will tip the whole thing back), then you can type. Except the keyboard is so short and the key travel so shallow and mushy with near zero tactile feedback that you'll immediately regret that decision. Daniel Bader described the feel as similar to the original Motorola Droid, and I'm inclined to agree. With how far design and manufacturing has advanced since 2009, it's just not an acceptable typing experience.

You might've noticed that this keyboard which slides over the back of your phone doesn't have a hole in it (as you'd expect for a keyboard). Problem is... the camera's on the back of the phone. So if you want to take pictures, you'll have to slide the keyboard out. Honestly, if you want a keyboard phone, get a BlackBerry KEYone.

Moto Z, Moto Z Force and Moto Z Play

Motorola Verizon

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1 week ago

Be prepared and proactive with this $30 1080p Yi Dash Camera

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Thinking ahead.

Amazon has the Yi 2.7-inch 1080p Dash Camera on sale for $29.99 when you apply coupon code KJHW27DZ at checkout. That saves you about $10 off the normal price of this camera, which received 4.4 out of 5 stars from 31 customer reviews. If you don't already have one, make sure to pick up a microSD card so you have extra storage space.

Features include:

  • Loop recording
  • Easy installation
  • 130 Wide Angle Lens
  • 2.7-inch 16:9 HD LCD Widescreen
  • 1080p resolution at 30fps
  • Night vision
  • Wi-Fi enabled
  • Built-in microphone / speaker
  • Connects via iOS / Android app

A dash camera is to your car what a security camera is to your home. You'll always have proof of fault for accidents, even at night. You might even catch some cool meteor footage.

See at Amazon

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1 week ago

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

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Android Auto didn't get an overhaul, but these new features are fantastic.

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In case you hadn't heard, CES 2018 is Google's platform for showing how Google Assistant can be deployed everywhere. One of the places where it makes perfect sense to have a hands-free intelligent assistant is in the car, so naturally Google added it to Android Auto. At the same time, it announced the public availability of wireless Android Auto, which was first shown off conceptually at Google I/O 2017.

Android Auto already had a basic set of voice commands available, but with the move to Google Assistant branding you're getting feature parity with Assistant on other platforms — at least, for the features that are feasible in the car. Just start with "Hey Google" and then rattle off whatever you'd normally ask your phone or Google Home. Directions, messages, reminders, navigation-related queries and more work perfectly.

Android Auto's voice controls simply got smarter, matching your phone or Google Home.

Here at CES Google demonstrated Android Auto controlling smart home devices as well, which it sees as a great way to make a few home adjustments — like lights, thermostat, etc. — on your way to or from the house. Because it's effectively just using your phone, you don't have to do any extra setup with the IoT devices, either. Assistant's voice recognition and capabilities are so great, it's fantastic to have it in yet another place.

Google says that multi-user voice detection isn't available yet, but voice training for you is here just like on your phone so only the driver can activate the system. Obviously many cars with Android Auto built-in from the factory will have steering wheel controls for audio input as well.

Thank you Google, you finally figured out how to make wireless Android Auto happen. Two new head units from Pioneer are the first to offer it, though right now they're only being shown off as prototypes and don't have pricing or release information.

It's simple to use, and bypasses frustrating issues with cable and USB port compatibility.

Just like we saw back at Google I/O, the system is dead simple. The head unit has a Wi-Fi network that your phone connects to and has a local connection, leaving your mobile data active. After that setup, every time the car is on and your Android Auto app is opened on your phone, the two will connect automatically and launch. To my eyes the speed of the head unit connected wirelessly is indistinguishable from the USB-based version, and it has the exact same capabilities. A little toggle in the home screen interface of the head unit lets you select between multiple connected devices if your passenger happens to have Android Auto, which is neat.

While wireless can certainly have its own set of issues, it's hard to think that maintaining a simple Wi-Fi connection would create problems anywhere near the constant stream of complaints I see about the old wired system. By doing things wirelessly, you skip the frustration of having the wrong kind of cable or incompatibilities at the hardware level with customizations of phone USB ports.

Of course these head units still have a USB cable if you want to go that route and charge your phone while you drive, but for shorter trips it's clearly preferable to not have to think about plugging in. Wireless was a key missing component that makes Android Auto feel so much more integrated to your car.

All About Android Auto

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

This phone's fingerprint sensor is its display

11

The ubiquitous fingerprint sensor: it's one of the most convenient ways to unlock your smartphone or laptop, but it's always required its own reserved bastion of space on your device. Always, that is … until now.

Here at CES 2018 I just went hands-on with the first fingerprint sensor that lives UNDER your phone's display. The Synaptics ClearID module is an optical sensor that sits under the glass of an OLED screen, and it's making its public debut on a Vivo phone later this year. It's slower and not as tactile as the fingerprint sensor on your phone, but it's a massive engineering breakthrough – and it's going to unlock major possibilities in the future of smartphone design. Check out the MrMobile hands-on with the under-glass fingerprint sensor at CES, and don't miss Android Central's roundup for more details!

Stay social, my friends

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2 weeks 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.

Samsung's 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.

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2 weeks ago

Verizon might also back away from carrying Huawei Mate 10 Pro

24

This just keeps getting worse.

All the way back in November, rumors first started to pop up that Huawei's Mate 10 Pro would be the first phone from the company to launch on a United States carrier. AT&T was later confirmed to be one of the networks that'd support and sell the Mate 10 Pro, but earlier this week, those plans were squashed.

Shortly after Huawei confirmed that AT&T was no longer going to be offering the Mate 10 Pro, sources that have spoken with Android Police say that Verizon is facing similar pressure to do the same thing.

Verizon was reportedly going to start selling the phone this summer but then pushed this back to a launch in the fall. Now, the carrier is being encouraged to drop the Mate 10 Pro altogether with claims coming from the Senate and House of Representatives that Huawei poses a security threat.

Launching the Mate 10 Pro on AT&T was supposed to be the big push into U.S. markets that Huawei needed, but if this turns out to be true and the company loses support from both it and Verizon, we might never seen a Huawei phone sold by a carrier in the country.

Huawei Mate 10

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