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2 weeks ago

Best VPN Services in 2018

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The Best VPN Services of 2017

What are the best Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)?

A VPN can be described as an encrypted tunnel that shuttles your internet activity between your PC, Mac, or phone and a host server. While the internet is a public space, a VPN works by extending an invisibility cloak across the user's activity and allows people to send and receive data in a mostly-anonymous manner. In the simplest terms, a VPN makes it hard for someone to track your activity.

There are many different reasons people would want to use a VPN. In some countries, VPNs become a journalist's main tool to get around government censorship and geo-blocks.

It's true, there are plenty of free VPN services out there, but paid services are almost always a better option. You need a service that has fast speeds even when streaming video, and you want a service that doesn't keep logs of its users' activities. To help you decide which VPN is best, here are some great options that are available now.

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2 weeks ago

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai won't be attending CES 2018 due to death threats

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Disagreeing with the guy's one thing, but death threats are never okay.

No matter who you are, there's a good chance you're at least somewhat familiar with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. Pai proposed to repeal Obama-era net neutrality laws that have been in place since 2015, and on December 15, 2017, this proposal was officially passed in a 3-2 vote.

Pai's stance on net neutrality has made him an incredibly disliked public figure, and it's gotten to the point where his safety has been put at risk. A bomb threat was called in during the December 15 meeting right before the net neutrality repeal, and now it's been confirmed that Pai won't be attending CES 2018 due to death threats.

Ajit Pai was scheduled to have a fireside chat during this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and while it was announced on the evening of January 3 that this had been scrapped, it wasn't confirmed until January 4 that the reason for this was, in fact, death threats.

The FCC hasn't officially commented on this matter, simply saying "We do not comment on security measures or concerns."

As it's mentioned at the beginning of this article, it's one thing to disagree with someone's stance on an issue, but making threats to their well-being is both counterproductive and illegal. Talking with people in office about things that affect us all is how we make progress, but if Pai can't show his face at an open setting because of threats like this, nothing gets done.

Feel free to vent and complain all you want about Pai's net neutrality stance, but make sure you think twice before threatening the man's life.

GOP representative intros bill to restore some net neutrality principles

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2 weeks ago

Moto G4 Play finally has Android 7.1.1 Nougat 13 months later

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Who needs Oreo when you have Nougat, right?

Back in 2016, Motorola released three entries in its G-series with the Moto G4, G4 Play, and G4 Plus. The G4 and G4 Plus were both updated to Nougat later in the year, but the same could never be said for the G4 Play. Motorola was running Nougat soak tests for the G4 Play at one point in 2017, but an official over-the-air update was never released.

Now, in January of 2018, this is finally changing. One Redditor shared a screenshot of their G4 Play, and sure enough, it's running Android 7.1.1 Nougat (a version of Android that's now 13 months old) with the November 2017 security patch.

We aren't sure why it took Motorola so long to get Nougat pushed to the G4 Play, but we're certainly glad that it's finally here. Unfortunately, don't expect to be using Oreo at any point in the future. This is the last planned update that Motorola has for the G4 Play, but considering that this is a phone nearing two years of age that had a retail price of $99, that's not all that surprising.

Moto G4 and G4 Plus

Moto G4:

Amazon Motorola

Moto G4 Plus:

Amazon Motorola

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2 weeks ago

Google is running customer surveys in the Pixel 2's settings page

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Um, whatcha doing, Google?

Although Google's been around since the late 90s, Google as a hardware company is still very young. The Pixel and Google Home from 2016 were the first two major hardware releases we saw, and Google followed those up this year with the Pixel 2, Home Mini/Max, Pixelbook, Pixel Buds, and more.

The Pixel 2 is an incredible phone that we've raved about more than once, but it looks like Google is feeling a bit self-conscious and is in need of some reassurance from its customers.

When perusing his phone, Android Central's Andrew Martonik noticed something rather odd on his Pixel 2 XL. Near the bottom right of the screen in the settings, a pop-up can be seen with the title of "Help improve Pixel: 1 minute survey." You can tap "no thanks" to make this go away, but selecting "take our survey" will present you with a handful of questions.

These are presented to you in a larger pop-up window so you're never actually taken away from the settings page, and questions include the likes of "how satisfied are you with this phone", "when did you start using a Pixel 2 phone", and "before getting your Pixel, which company made your previous phone." Once you get through these questions, the survey ends with a box where you can choose to type in any comments you'd like to send to Google.

Andrew says he's only seen this on his Pixel 2 XL and not the regular Pixel 2, and I've yet to see it on my Pixel 2 either. It's unclear how Google is choosing which phones to run these surveys on, and while the info being collected here is likely valuable for Google going forward with future products, it's also decidedly intrusive to throw pop-ups on a phone that costs at least $650.

Have you noticed this on your Pixel 2? If so, let us know in those comments down below.

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

Best Buy Verizon Google Store Project Fi

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2 weeks ago

Here's your early look at the Nokia 6 (2018)

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Updates in all the right places.

The Nokia 6 was one of the many Nokia phones released in 2017, and although it wasn't the best budget phone we saw throughout the year, it still put up a solid fight and offered a tremendous amount of value thanks to steep discounts offered by Amazon's Prime Exclusive system. We're expecting a refresh at some point this year, and thanks to a Chinese retailer, we now have a clear look at the Nokia 6 (2018) in all of its glory.

Starting off with the design, the Nokia 6 is once again made out of aluminum (6000 series this time around) and will be available in two different colors – black with gold accents and white with copper accents. The bezels appear to be trimmed down compared to last year's Nokia 6, and because of this, the capacitive navigation buttons have been moved on-screen and the fingerprint sensor is now on the back below the camera.

The display is once again 5.5-inches with a resolution of 1920 x 1080, and although it's not directly mentioned, our guess is that Nokia will once again use an LED panel rather than AMOLED. Also here is a 16MP rear camera with f/2.0 aperture, 8MP front camera, 3,000 mAh battery with support for fast charging, and 32 or 64GB of internal storage that can be expanded up to 128GB.

One of Harish's biggest complaints about the 2017 Nokia 6 was with its performance. The phone shipped with the Snapdragon 430, and while it's a perfectly fine processor, it struggled to power the Nokia 6's 1080p display. This time around, Nokia is using the much more capable Snapdragon 630 and pairing it with an increased 4GB RAM.

The Nokia 6 (2018) will ship with Android 7.1.1 Nougat out of the box, and according to the site it's listed on, pre-orders will begin January 10. As for price, the 32GB model is listed at €191 and the 64GB variant is €216.

CES 2018 is right around the corner, and assuming this information is correct, we can probably expect an official announcement from Nokia next week.

Nokia 6 review: A great phone with one major drawback

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2 weeks ago

Should you buy a Chromebook in January 2018?

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While not for everyone, a Chromebook can be the best choice for a lot of things.

Whenever we talk about Chromebooks, this is one of the questions that always pops up. It's understandable — you've got about half the internet telling you that Chromebooks are great and most folks can do everything they want to do on a laptop with Chrome, and most of the other half claiming that they are useless and you shouldn't spend your money of "just a browser."

As usual, I think the real wisdom comes from the people in the middle. Folks who will come forward and say a Chromebook is their only computer or the one they use all or most of the time, and why it works for them. I may be biased because I'm one of those people, but I really do think that for a good many of us, a Chromebook is the best computer you can buy.

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2 weeks ago

These are all the phones Sony is launching in 2018

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Here's a look at Sony's smartphone lineup for 2018.

Sony has an...interesting...position in the Android smartphone space. Sony produced some darn good phones in 2017, such as the Xperia XZ Premium and XZ1, but compared to handsets like the Galaxy S8, Pixel 2, and even the OnePlus 5T, Sony's offerings usually fall flat in one area or another that hold them back from true greatness.

We're just now getting started with 2018, but we've already got a good idea of what to expect from a few of Sony's Xperia handsets later this year. A lot of what we're seeing so far looks to be more of the same, but there are a few interesting bits here and there. Let's take a look.

Sony Xperia XZ2 Premium

As great of a phone as the XZ Premium was, there were more issues than we usually like to see for devices that cost $799 USD. We're expecting Sony to release a sequel this year, and while exact details are still quite sparse, Concept Creator has created a video showing their idea of what they'd like to see in the XZ2 Premium.

The video shows a phone with the slimmest bezels we've ever seen on a Sony phone, front-facing speakers, glass back, and dual cameras. We wouldn't be surprised to see Sony finally get on the dual camera bandwagon, and as great as it'd be to have a flagship Xperia handset with bezels this slim, we aren't all that sure if 2018 will be the year Sony makes this jump.

Sony Xperia XA2/XA2 Ultra

If you're going to be in the market for a small mid-ranger this year, Sony's Xperia XA2 might be worth checking out. The phone is expected to have the same 5-inch display as its predecessor, and it'll be just a bit shorter and wider at 141.6 x 70.4 x 9.6mm.

As for the XA2 Ultra, this will once again be a large phone with a screen that measures in at 6-inches. It'll be slightly shorter than the XA1 Ultra with dimensions of 162.5 x 80.0 x 9.5mm, but it'll retain the same screen resolution of 1920 x 1080. The XA2 Ultra will be powered by the Snapdragon 630 and 4GB of RAM, and you'll have 64GB of storage for all your local files.

Both the XA2 and XA2 Ultra will keep the traditional 16:9 aspect ratio and large top/bottom bezels, but what's interesting is that Sony is ditching the side-mounted fingerprint sensor for one that's on the back. This would mark the first time Sony's had a fingerprint sensor on the back of its phones, and while the implementation of it on the power button was cool, hopefully this will enable customers to finally have a fingerprint sensor on a Sony phone in the U.S.

Sony Xperia L2

The Xperia L2 falls in between the XA2 and XA2 Ultra size-wise with a 5.5-inch screen, and it features the same Snapdragon 630 processor and 4GB RAM. There's no word just yet as to what the resolution of that display will be, but we wouldn't be surprised to see it stay at 1280 x 720 like it is on the L1.

Android Nougat should be shipping on the L2, but considering Sony's track records for past software updates, we don't imagine it'll take too long before Oreo arrives on it.

Updated 1/4/18 – Added official pictures of the XA2, XA2 Ultra, and L2.

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2 weeks ago

Most entertaining running and walking apps for Android in 2018

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The Walk

Get fit and have fun at the same time with these interactive fitness apps!

Fitness apps are nothing new, but getting motivated to work out can often be the difficult part. That's where the emerging genre of interactive fitness apps comes in. These apps use your activity to tell you a story, motivate you, and make your workout seem more like a game. There are plenty of them out there, but we went ahead and weeded through them to find the apps you definitely don't want to miss.

Runtastic Story Running

Runtastic stories

We've talked before about how Runtastic is a great fitness app, particularly for runners. It's filled with enough features that you may have missed Runtastic Story Running, which lives in the app itself.

Story runs are considered a premium feature, with varying run times usually totalling 30 to 40 minutes. Topics range from various fiction genres to more ambient meditative breaks. During your run, you will see how long you've been moving, the distance traveled, and your average pace. Since it's part of a larger app, it isn't quite as interactive, but you can post your workout to Facebook and integrate a heart rate monitor.

With over a dozen stories spanning several genres, you've got plenty to listen to on your run. While there are a few free stories to run to, most of them cost $0.99 unless you buy into the premium Runtastic membership for $4.99 a month.

Download: Runtastic (Free, subscription)

The Walk

The Walk

The Walk is far more of a game than a fitness app. You are an agent who has been tasked with helping to save the world. As you walk— and all you ever need to do is walk — you will unlock sound clips, which expand the story. Each episode has checkpoints, collectible items, the ability to choose a route, and even achievements. If you've had your phone closed and you reopen the app, you'll be notified of how many steps you've taken and how long you would need to keep walking to finish the current mission.

The story is seriously engaging, and when you get caught up in it, it's easy to let time slip by so you can finish the entire mission in a single go. The Walk is $2.99 and entirely worth it.

Download: The Walk ($2.99)

Zombies, Run!

Zombies, Run!

Zombies, Run! is probably the most popular app on this list, and for good reason. There are a bunch of free missions, as well as a paid version of Zombies, Run! for 5k training. The app will hit you with chunks of the story as you move, each piece coming every few minutes. At times, you'll be told to run and you'll hear the zombies chasing you — definitely a motivator. As you travel along, you'll automatically pick up items, which can be used to improve your town after each mission. While you're running, you have a counter that tells you how far you've gone, your pace, a counter for in-game items, and a status bar for how far you've traveled.

Zombies, Run! is fantastically fun and captivating. It makes you want to keep going, and because there is so much content, it's very easy to do just that. You don't even need to run; you can take the game at your own pace, since missions are timed and not based on how fast you move. Early missions are free, but you'll have to pay to unlock more.

Download: Zombies, Run! (Free, in-app purchases)

Pokémon Go

Pokemon Go

You might not think that walking around the neighborhood in search of pocket monsters is a workout, but thousands of miles walked by Trainers worldwide would prove you wrong. Released by Niantic, Pokémon Go is a game that is made to have you up and walking around while you play. You'll be able to find and catch over 200 different Pokémon, check in at local PokéStops to get items, and even challenge Gyms to aid your team within the game.

Pokémon Go is a ton of fun with plenty to keep you engaged. The game runs regular events, along with rewarding you for how far you've walked. That's because you'll pick up Eggs that need to be incubated. You'll need to walk a specific distance in order to fully hatch the eggs and add an awesome new Pokémon to your repertoire. The game is evolving all the time, having added Raid battles, legendary Pokémon, and more.

Download: Pokémon Go (Free, in-app purchases)

Are you ready to get moving?

There you go, four of the best interactive fitness apps on the market today. Whether you're looking to just amble along, or you're training for a run, these apps can definitely make fitness more like a game than work. So which interactive fitness apps are up your alley, or which ones did we miss out on? Let us know in the comments!

Updated January 2018: We've updated this list with Pokémon Go!

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2 weeks ago

Grab two Amazon Fire HD 8 tablets for only $100

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Grabbing a decent tablet doesn't have to break the bank.

Some people tend to think the only way to get a good tablet is to spend at least a couple hundred bucks on one. If that idea is still in your head too, you haven't tried Amazon's Fire HD 8 tablet yet. Not only is it a great device that's totally capable of watching your favorite shows, checking up on the latest news and playing games, but Amazon's offering a two-pack for just $99.98 currently. Two awesome tablets at under $100 is a deal worth considering if you need two. Just one Fire HD 8 tablet generally costs $80, which is a nice price point too in comparison to how costly tablets can become.

The Fire HD 8 tablet has an 8-inch HD display and can last for up to 12 hours on a single charge. It has 16GB of storage space with the opportunity to a micro SD card for more space (up to 256GB). It also features 1.5GB RAM and Dolby Audio. Amazon's product page also boasts that the Fire HD 8 is more durable than the latest iPad. It comes in Black, Blue, Red and Yellow.

This tablet also comes powered with Amazon's Alexa voice assistant which can answer your questions, play music, tell you the news, control your smart home products and more.

If you have Amazon Prime, Netflix or Showtime, the Fire HD 8 tablet is also a great way to take advantage of those sites' download features. Netflix and those other sites actually allow you to download videos so you can play them while offline, and you can download them straight to the tablet (though if you do that a lot you definitely want a micro SD card too to hold it all).

See at Amazon

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2 weeks ago

First 6 things to do with your Google Pixel 2 or 2 XL

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Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

We're all excited about our new phones — but let's remember some of the basics.

Opening up the box and pulling out a new Pixel 2 or 2 XL is a wonderful feeling, no matter how many times you've done it or what phone you're upgrading from. The excitement of the new device may drive you to hop right in without thinking about some of the basic things — forgetting the core features that work best when you set them up from the start rather than getting to them later.

Here are a handful of tips to keep in mind when you unbox your Google Pixel 2.

Add lock screen security

Google Pixel 2 lock screen settings

We know this is an integral part of the setup process on all new phones, but there's a chance you were so excited about your new phone that you skipped the lock screen setup portion. If you're reading this now and don't have a secure lock screen on your phone, do it now. It may seem inconvenient at first, but there's little reason to leave our phone unsecured from anyone who has their hands on it.

Going into Settings then Security & location, you'll see your various options for keeping your phone secure but also accessible. You'll want to go to Pixel imprint and enroll both of your index fingers, and that'll serve as the fastest way to keep your phone secure. You'll need to back that up with another screen lock of some sort, and while most people choose a pattern you can do a PIN or even a long password if you prefer.

If you need more flexibility, check out Smart Lock for options to keep your Pixel 2 unlocked when it's connected to a Bluetooth device, at a specific location and more. Just remember that these options are inherently less secure than a fingerprint!

Set up Google Photos backup

The Pixel 2 includes unlimited photo backup at original quality to Google Photos until the end of 2020 — but only if you actually set up the app to back up your photos! To make sure you don't have to think about it later on when you've already taken photos, open the Photos app and go into the settings to find "Back up & sync."

Make sure the toggle is turned on, and then check to make sure you haven't accidentally also turned on cellular data and roaming backups — that is, unless you have an unlimited data plan and don't care. While you're in here you can also choose which on-device folders are backed up, such as screenshots or edited Instagram photos.

Learn the camera's capabilities

Google Pixel 2 XL camera

The Pixel 2 has a fantastic camera, and for the most part can take great photos without any real work on your part. But to make the most of the camera, you'll want to hop into its settings and get acquainted with a few of the features and options.

  • Turn on location: It seems simple, but make sure that your location is turned on in the camera. It lets Google Photos search by location, and gives you an extra bit of context years down the road when you look at old shots.
  • Use Smartburst with moving subjects: Press and hold the shutter button to take up to 10 frames per second. Super useful when you or your subject (or both) are in motion for a must-have shot.
  • Choose your grid lines: It may feel distracting at first, but turning on grid lines will help you mind the proportions of your photos and line up horizons for great sunset shots.
  • Use focus and exposure lock: One of the only "manual" controls is the ability to lock focus and exposure after adjusting them. Tap the viewfinder to set exposure and focus, then tap the lock button to keep it there.
  • Don't be tempted by the flash: The flash should only be used as a last resort. Google's HDR+ processing is fantastic, and it really doesn't need a flash as often as you'd think.
  • Increase the panorama resolution: By default, panoramas are set for speed of processing rather than maximum resolution. You want maximum resolution — change the setting, and wait a few extra seconds for it to process.

How to take the best photos with your Google Pixel 2

Rearrange your notification quick settings

Google Pixel 2 quick settingsGoogle Pixel 2 quick settingsGoogle Pixel 2 quick settings

You know those quick settings found at the top of your notification shade? Those can be rearranged and set up however you like. After expanding your notification shade, give it a second swipe and tap on the pencil icon at the bottom of the shade.

Press and hold icons to drag them into their desired positions. The first two rows of the expanded view become the six icons you see with a single swipe of the notification shade, so choose wisely. If you don't want an icon at all, drag it down to the darker portion of the window, then maybe bring up a less-used icon to the top so it's available. If you add more than nine icons, the 10th and beyond go onto a second page you'll have to swipe one more time to access.

If you go overboard and want to just put them back how they were as default, go into that edit mode, tap the menu button in the top-right corner and tap Reset.

Check out the wonderful wallpapers

Google Pixel 2 wallpapers

Google has seriously upped its wallpaper game since launching the original Pixel and Pixel XL back in 2016, and it continues the trend. There are just a handful of "pre-installed" wallpapers, but that's augmented by a regularly updated catalog of great wallpapers (from Google's Wallpapers app) in a whole bunch of different genres and styles.

You can wade through the dozens of wallpapers to find something that fits your style, or in some categories you can set a "daily wallpaper" and get a fresh one of that style each day. If you don't like the particular wallpaper that shows up, you can hop back into the wallpaper section and tap once to load a new one in that category.

Keep track of that headphone adapter

Yup, this is a thing now. There's a good chance this is your first phone without a headphone jack, and that means keeping an eye on that USB-C to 3.5 mm headphone adapter that comes in the box. If you regularly use one pair of wired headphones it's a good idea to just keep the adapter attached to the headphones themselves, but if you swap around often you should keep in the back of the mind where it is — being left out somewhere without the adapter sure sucks.

Google sells replacement adapters for $9, but they've curiously been out of stock often. And right now it's far from a guarantee that other USB-C to headphone adapters, if you somehow come across them in the wild, will work with your phone.

Updated January 2018: These are still the first things you should do with your new Pixel 2!

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

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2 weeks ago

The 3rd-gen Nest Thermostat is back down to $199 in White

5

Control this smart thermostat with your voice using Google Assistant or Amazon's Alexa.

The white Nest Thermostat 3rd generation is down to $199 at Amazon. This smart thermostat usually sells for $250, though it's receiving this $50 discount thanks to a price-match of a sale from Home Depot where you can also grab this deal. This is close to the best price the product saw during Black Friday, which was $189.

The Nest is one of the most thorough smart systems you can buy. Just look at all these features:

  • The Nest Learning Thermostat is the first thermostat to get ENERGY STAR Certified by the EPA.
  • System Match activates features that work with your specific heating and cooling systems, and connects to most 24-volt forced-air, heat pump with AUX, dual fuel and radiant systems.
  • Convenient Wi-Fi capabilities offer a secure and reliable connection.
  • Download the free app from iTunes or GooglePlay and adjust your thermostat from your smartphone, tablet or laptop, even when you're miles away.
  • Farsight illuminates the thermostat's display when it spots you across the room.
  • Monitors your equipment, sends service reminders and tells you if anything is not working correctly. You can also be alerted if your home's temperature gets dangerously hot or cold.
  • Within a week the Nest thermostat starts programming itself to the temperatures you like. Away mode automatically switches to an energy-efficient temperature when you're not home.
  • Different features follow your activity, manage humidity, and keep an eye on the weather to provide a custom climate for your home.
  • Track how much energy you've used and follow tips that will help you conserve.

You can also pair the Nest Thermostat with other products like the Nest Protect and it will automatically turn off your gas furnace if carbon monoxide is present.

See at Amazon

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2 weeks ago

Keep your browsing ad- and tracker-free with X-VPN

It's 2018 — if you aren't using a VPN already it should definitely be on your list of goals for the New Year. Whether you're annoyed with the proliferation of ads online or are concerned with how websites, ISPs, or other entities might be tracking your browsing habits, setting up and using a VPN has never been easier.

There are a ton of VPN options out there, but the best offer a wide range of virtual servers to choose from, offer unlimited bandwidth, and work across all your devices without logging any of your private browsing habits. Right now, Android Central Digital Offers has a great deal on subscriptions for X-VPN. You may have seen X-VPN as one of the top-rated VPN apps in the Google Play Store. It's been tried and tested in countries around the world (excluding China) and celebrated for it's ease of use and ad-free mobile interface.

X-VPN has over 1000 servers located around the world allowing you to bypass geo-restrictions and browse ad-free in a secure environment. It works on both Android and iOS as well as recent versions of Windows and MacOS. With unlimited bandwidth available across an unlimited number of devices at one time backed by live chat support available 24/7 and a strict no logging policy for your personal data, this all sounds great — but what about the price?

Typically, X-VPN sells a lifetime subscription to its service for $720 but thanks to Android Central Digital Offers you can save 93% off the regular price and pay just $45. It's the best deal with the best value for your dollar, but there are shorter term subscriptions available if you only want a one or three-year subscription.

Getting all these great features in a VPN service for life for just $45 is a great way to start off better browsing habits for 2018 and beyond. Don't miss out on this great offer!

See at Android Central Digital Offers

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2 weeks ago

Sprint replaces its current President and CFO with Michel Combes

7

A new face for the new year.

There were seemingly endless rumors throughout 2017 about T-Mobile and Sprint finally following through with a merger that'd been talked about for years, but in early November, these were finally laid to rest. Sprint needs to hit 2018 with full force now that the possibility of a merger is dead, and to start these efforts, the carrier is replacing its President and CFO.

Current President and CFO Tarek Robbiati will stay on through the end of January, but starting first thing in February, they'll be replaced by Michel Combes. Sprint shares actually stopped leading up to this announcement, and when trading was once again resumed, they fell by more than 5 percent.

Speaking of Combes, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said:

He is a visionary executive with a proven track record of successfully transforming leading telecom and media companies and will help us to execute our strategic plan and strengthen our team.

Looking at that "proven track record", Combes was previously involved with the sale of Alcatel-Lucent to Nokia when the company was nearing bankruptcy, and he also came aboard France Telecom to bring the company out of debt and rebrand it to Orange.

Sprint's definitely seen better days compared to where it's at right now, so the talent of Combes just might be what the company needs going into the new year.

Unpacking the doomed T-Mobile / Sprint merger

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2 weeks ago

Best Smartwatches for Fitness in 2018

Best overall

Samsung Gear Sport

See at Amazon See at Best Buy

The best smartwatch to pull double duty for daily use and activity tracking is the Samsung Gear Sport. It's built to take a beating or a plunge with 5ATM waterproofing, and has all of the necessary sensors and radios to make sure you can track everything. Samsung Health has gotten surprisingly good for following each workout but also long-term goals, and partnerships with bigger names like Under Armour and MapMyFitness mean you can also send all of your data to a different system if you need.

One of the best features of the Gear Sport is that it doesn't look that sporty. It can easily be worn every day with a variety of clothing and not stand out, which you can't really say about most smartwatches that are aimed at fitness. The rotating bezel is fantastic, the screen is great and while the software is a tad clunky it's super powerful. Battery life is surprisingly good as well, about 2-3 days depending on usage.

Bottom line: The Gear Sport gets all of the typical smartwatch stuff handled, and is also a super-capable fitness tracker.

One more thing: For the sportiest look and robust design, stick with one of the rubber bands rather than a nylon or leather one.

Best Android Wear

LG Watch Sport

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Throughout 2017 Android Wear went further away from "fitness" models and instead focused on fashion, but the LG Watch Sport is one of the few that leans toward the active crowd. It has a robust case, waterproofing and rubber bands that will feel at home in the gym or out on a run. It also has the benefit of a rotating crown, that like the Gear Sport gives you an option to quickly move through menus and apps without touching or swiping on the screen.

If you're an Android purist, you'll be interested in the Android Wear operating system because of its seamless integration into your Android phone when it comes to companion apps, notifications and data sync. But when it comes to dedicated fitness tracking, Android Wear comes up short of the Gear Sport and Fitbit Ionic. The LG Watch Sport straddles the middle ground between "general purpose" and "fitness focused" smartwatches in many ways, but the software is the best indication.

Bottom line: If you need to have Android Wear, the LG Watch Sport is your best choice for fitness.

One more thing: Keep an eye out for discounted, refurbished or open-box units, as the LG Watch Sport is several months old at this point.

Best alternate

Fitbit Ionic

See at Amazon See at Best Buy

Fitbit comes at smartwatches from the direction of its successful fitness band lineup. This makes the Ionic a perfect smartwatch for someone who really wants to focus on activity tracking first, and the other "smartwatch" stuff secondarily. Though it may be a bit big and blocky, the Fitbit Ionic has a bright display, GPS tracking, optical heart rate sensor, SpO2 sensor, 50-meter waterproofing and all of the other cool stuff like NFC and 2.5GB of storage space. It's also rated at four days of battery life, which goes beyond the competition.

Tons of people have trusted Fitbit with their fitness tracking of all kinds for years, and that's really what you're getting in the ~$300 Ionic. The smartwatch side of things isn't as deeply integrated to your Android phone as an Android Wear or even Samsung watch is, but you can't argue it's just as good or better for fitness.

Bottom line: If fitness is your primary goal, and you've had previous Fitbits, the Ionic should be at the top of your list.

One more thing: Don't expect deep smartwatch integration to your phone on the same level as Android Wear.

Best for less

Samsung Gear S2

See at Amazon See at Best Buy

Take almost everything that makes the Gear Sport great, and knock about $100 off of it — now you have the Gear S2. This previous-generation model has all of the basic fitness tracking capabilities as the new Gear Sport, minus the swim tracking, but for less money. That means it actually has a chance to compete with "fitness bands" that have no smartwatch capabilities at all, which the Gear S2 does have.

Bottom line: For a similar experience to the Gear Sport at a lower price, the Gear S2 is a good choice.

One more thing: If you're focused on fitness, make sure to get the regular Gear S2 and not the "Classic" version.

Conclusion

For a smartwatch that pulls double duty as a daily watch but also a capable fitness tracker, the Gear Sport is a fantastic decision. Anyone who's tied to Android Wear should use the LG Watch Sport, and those who just want fitness in a smartwatch form factor should consider the Fitbit Ionic.

Best overall

Samsung Gear Sport

See at Amazon See at Best Buy

The best smartwatch to pull double duty for daily use and activity tracking is the Samsung Gear Sport. It's built to take a beating or a plunge with 5ATM waterproofing, and has all of the necessary sensors and radios to make sure you can track everything. Samsung Health has gotten surprisingly good for following each workout but also long-term goals, and partnerships with bigger names like Under Armour and MapMyFitness mean you can also send all of your data to a different system if you need.

One of the best features of the Gear Sport is that it doesn't look that sporty. It can easily be worn every day with a variety of clothing and not stand out, which you can't really say about most smartwatches that are aimed at fitness. The rotating bezel is fantastic, the screen is great and while the software is a tad clunky it's super powerful. Battery life is surprisingly good as well, about 2-3 days depending on usage.

Bottom line: The Gear Sport gets all of the typical smartwatch stuff handled, and is also a super-capable fitness tracker.

One more thing: For the sportiest look and robust design, stick with one of the rubber bands rather than a nylon or leather one.

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2 weeks ago

Android Security Director Adrian Ludwig is now working for Nest

0

He'll be succeeded by Dave Kleidermacher.

There are a seemingly endless number of things that go into creating the Android we know and love, and one of the most important is security. Adrian Ludwig has been serving as the Director of Android Security since as far back as 2011, but six years later, Ludwig has announced that he's moving to a new position.

On Google+, Ludwig said that he's now working as the Directory of Security and Privacy for Nest. Ludwig is still working within Alphabet since it also owns Nest in addition to Google, but his departure from his previous position is still big news.

Towards the end of his post, Ludwig says:

This is a big change for me -- Android Security has been one of the most amazing journeys of my life. I have an incredibly long list of people to thank for your effort, commitment, support and investment in Android security over the last 6+ years. I'm looking forward to seeing the advances in Android (and Nest) Security in 2018 and beyond!

Thankfully, Ludwig will be leaving Android's security in good hands as Dave Kleidermacher will be the new Android Security Director. Kleidermacher was the Chief Security Officer at BlackBerry, but he left the company in 2017 to work for Google.

Google reported to absorb Nest into its own hardware division

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