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19
Oct

Google opens up Project Fi invites to all for 24 hour period


project_fi_for_all

Google is currently offering open invitations to its Project Fi wireless service, but only for a limited time. Indeed, Google is celebrating the launch of the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P with instant invitations to its upstart experience. You’ll have to act fast, though, it’s only open for 24 hours and the clock has been ticking.

Prior to today, those who were interested in signing up for Project Fi first had to signal their interest and wait for an invitation. Said invitations could take a few weeks or so, sometimes longer. Today, however, you can skip the line and get right in.

Project Fi launched in April and acts as a mobile virtual network operator that utilizes Sprint, T-Mobile, and Wi-Fi networks. Previously, the only supported smartphone was the Motorola-made Nexus 6. Both the new Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P are designed with Project Fi capability.

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The post Google opens up Project Fi invites to all for 24 hour period appeared first on AndroidGuys.

19
Oct

You can now become a beta tester for the Google app on Android


Google App AA

If you’d like to get the latest and greatest features in the Google app as they’re pushed out, now you can. Google has just opened up beta testing for the Google app on Android, which means you’ll get first dibs on the newest tweaks as they come out.

This news comes to us from some folks on Reddit, who noticed a Google Now card that recommended they sign up for the beta test because they have shown an interest in technology. If you don’t see the Now card in your feed, there’s no need to worry – we have the sign up page for you linked below.

So, how do you sign up? Just like with many other beta testing programs, all you need to do is head to the beta testing link attached below, then press the button that reads become a tester. After that, head to the Google Play Store, and an update to the Google app should be waiting for you. If an update isn’t yet available, that’s okay. Just wait a few minutes and an update should pop up.

I’ve just installed the latest beta version and I’m not seeing any differences so far. If you’re seeing anything new, be sure to let us know in the comments below!

19
Oct

Google giving out instant Project Fi invites for the next 24 hours


Project-Fi-Review-6

Still waiting for your Project Fi invitation? There’s no need to wait any longer, because Google is now giving out instant invites for anyone who wants them for the next 24 hours. This is to celebrate the fact that the Nexus 5X is now available for purchase from select retailers around the globe.

At the recent Nexus event, Google announced that the Nexus 6P and 5X smartphones would be compatible with its Project Fi network. These are the first two devices that can be used with the network, outside of last year’s Nexus 6. If you’d like to get your hands on one of these new Nexus devices on Project Fi but aren’t keen on spending hundreds of dollars upfront, Google will even let you finance a new Nexus if you choose to activate it on the company’s network.

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Project-Fi-Review-1Related: Google Project Fi review – can Google make it as a carrier?47

Project Fi uses a combination of Wi-Fi hotspots to provide inexpensive access to the Internet, as well as cellular networks from Sprint and T-Mobile when Wi-Fi access isn’t available (or if the signal is too weak). The phone will always pick the fastest network available. This service is similar to other mobile services such as FreedomPop, Republic Wireless and Scratch Wireless.

Interested in signing up? Head to the link below to score your free invite – just don’t forget to order a new SIM card.

Project Fi-compatible phones

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19
Oct

Google Play Store not working? Here are some possible fixes


play store aa

The Google Play Store is one of those apps we take for granted, mostly because it simply works as a mediator between the user and his precious apps. Hell freezes and the sky falls once it happens to stop working, though. How will you download that new app you have been so desperately waiting for?

There’s no definite manual for fixing the Google Play Store, but we have put together a set of tips and tricks that will most likely get your precious app store up and running again. Let’s jump right into the nitty gritty, before you go crazy with no Play Store access!

Force close the Google Play Store

Sometimes a simple force close is all you need! You can do this by simply swiping away the Google Play Store on your multi-tasking app switcher. Or you could go to Settings > Apps > All and then access the Google Play Store and hit “Force stop”.

Go on airplane mode

airplane-mode

Not sure how much this one works, but I have heard plenty of people say that switching Airplane Mode on, and then off, will help the Google Play Store get back on track. Hey, it’s not a complicated process and it’s safe. Why not try, right?

Toggle WiFi

Just like with Airplane Mode, some say WiFi could be the issue. Not to mention, your network may very well simply be having connection issues! Toggle WiFi on/off and play around with the Google Play Store for a few. It just might help. It also might be worth restarting your router, just in case.

WiFi coffee shutterstock ShutterStock

Restart your phone!

Like in the good ol’ times, current electronics sometimes just need a smack or two in order to work. OK, maybe not an actual smack, but you do need to put everything back in place, and sometimes a simple reboot will do. This will take a minute or two and very often fixes many problems.

Wipe the Google Play Store cache

Cache memory is an awesome tool. By storing data locally, the phone can reduce data usage and speed up loading times. This is data that would otherwise need to be downloaded every single time you access a page, which is unnecessary if there are no changes! The bad part is that sometimes older data can pile up, and it can also misbehave. This is why it’s good to clear cache from time to time.

Android clear app cache

To wipe the Google Play Store cache memory, just head over to your Settings and select the “Apps” option. From there, simply look for Google Play Store and tap on it. You will be presented with plenty of options, including a “Clear cache” button.

Delete Google Play Store data

Is clearing the cache not enough? It’s time to take out some bigger guns and really clean things up. To delete related data, simply access your Settings and go into the App Manager like you did to clear the cache. Instead of hitting “Clear Cache”, though, select “Clear Data”.

Just keep in mind this will clear the application. It will have to sign in and pick up all the data again next time you access the Google Play Store.

delete-button Shutterstock

Take a look at your disabled apps

Keep in mind that some apps need each other in order to work properly. Especially when dealing with system apps like the Google Play Store. Have you disabled any apps recently? That could be the cause of your Play Store woes.

Just head over to Settings > Apps > All and scroll all the way down. This is where disabled apps go when they are put down. If you see any disabled services, just enable them and see if that helps.

Check your date/time settings

It may seem like a silly suggestion, but often this can be the cause of many Google Play Store issues. This could be due to Google’s servers having trouble syncing with your date/time settings. Go back and put them on automatic, if they aren’t. If that isn’t helping, try to set your time and date as exactly as you can. Just play around with the time/date settings a bit.

Remove Proxy or VPN settings

Plenty of VPN/proxy users say they have encountered issues all over the board. Have you tried deactivating these (if you are using them)? Proxy settings are under WiFi, and you can access it by long-pressing on your router name and clicking “Advanced”. Meanwhile, VPN settings are under “More” in the Wireless & networks section.

TigerVPN

Just uninstall it!

If all fails, your best bet would probably be to uninstall the Google Play Store. The only trick is that this is a system app and you really can’t just get rid of it. What you can do is uninstall the updates, taking the application to an older version. You can update it again afterwards, so don’t worry – this is a safe procedure.

Just go to Settings > Apps > Google Play Store and tap on “Uninstall updates”.

Could the issue be Google Play Services?

We could say Google’s apps are the motor that drives Android devices. Yes, we are talking about that weird app that needs updating every now and then, when you are trying to get another application. And many have no idea what it is, but it happens to be your phone’s backbone. Google’s applications offer some of the most exciting features available, and it’s all powered by Google Play Services.

Like any other app, Google Play Services can fail at times, so it’s worth playing around with it if you are having any type of Google-related issues. Try clearing both the cache and data by following the same steps from above. The only difference is that instead of accessing the Google Play Store, you head over to Google Play Services on the App Manager.

google_play_services

Remove and re-enter Google account

I don’t have much faith on this one, but some people suggest that you can reset your Google account to fix some problems. I suppose it’s worth a try before jumping on the last (and most extreme) tip. Just go to Settings > Accounts and select your Google account. Tap on the 3-dot menu button and hit “Remove”. Then add your account again and try to access to the Google Play Store.

Factory data reset

If all else fails, just wipe your device clean and give it a fresh start. At this point we have no idea what could be causing your Google Play Store discrepancies, but a factory data reset will likely fix most of your issues, as it deletes everything on the device and leaves it the way it was when you turned it on for the very first time. You can perform a factory data reset by clicking on the button below and following the instructions within that post.

How to factory reset your Android device

Android Lollipop Nexus 7 factory reset restoring

Wrapping up

We certainly hope all these methods were able to get your Google Play Store back up and running. If they didn’t, the problem has to run deeper than usual and you should probably consult technical support. Have any of you guys ran across Google Play Store problems? What did you do to fix it? Hit the comments and let us know if you have used these methods, or if you have any other ones.

19
Oct

How to set up a mobile hotspot and tethering


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If you’re taking your laptop somewhere and need a wireless connection, your smartphone can be a reliable mobile hotspot. So we’re going to show you how to set one up the right way.

Mobile Hotspot

Setting up a mobile hotspot is very easy. In my case, you head to Settings > Wi-Fi Hotspot. Then just flick the switch on and your broadcasting. It’s as simple as that. Some smartphones, specifically carrier-branded ones, will have a dedicated mobile hotspot app that you can use. Also, keep in mind that just flipping the switch to turn on your hotspot is great for quick access, but not secure access.

It’s good practice to set a secure password. Simply using “password” as your password isn’t going to keep you away from someone even casually trying to access your hotspot. Usually something with upper case letters and numbers will suffice.

Next, under “Configure” make sure your network security is set to “WPA2″ and not something like “WEP,” which is an older and much less secure encryption level. Anyone could download an application or script to easily access your hotspot, something you definitely don’t want.

After all of this is configured, your mobile hotspot should be ready to go!

Tethering

android-tethering

Tethering works much the same as broadcasting a mobile hotspot, only it’s more private. It doesn’t publicly broadcast the network, as it’s only available to you while plugged in via a USB cable. Just head into Settings and under Wireless & Networks, turn on USB tethering.

With some phones, you might have Bluetooth tethering. You’ll need to make sure that your phone’s Bluetooth is turned on along with your computer’s Bluetooth. Again head into Settings and under Wireless & Networks, turn on Bluetooth tethering.

Finally, go to your computer’s Bluetooth settings, and begin the pairing process with your phone. Once it completes, you should be good to go.

Virtual Private Networks

If you want an extra level of security, setting up a virtual private network on your connection could be a good idea. We put a handy guide together on doing this awhile back, and it’s full of great information. But, in my case, one can be setup rather quickly by going following Settings > Wireless & Networks > VPN.

You then hit the ‘+’ button to begin setting up a VPN, providing a name and a server address.

Keep in mind that a VPN does give you a lot of security, but it can also slow down your connection to a crawl, a problem if you need to rely on a fast connection.

It all depends on what your needs are, but chances are your smartphone can meet all of them whether you need a fast Wi-Fi connection or a slower and more secure one.

Wrap Up

As you can see, it’s insanely easy to setup a secure mobile hotspot or tethering connection. It can be handy in a variety of situations, especially if you aren’t around free Wi-Fi access (e.g. a Starbucks or Tim Hortons). Keep in mind that you can really push your data plan to its limit, and I say that from experience!

If you had trouble setting up your mobile connection, be sure to let us know in the comments and we’ll help guide you through the process!

Come comment on this article: How to set up a mobile hotspot and tethering

19
Oct

Nexus 5X orders start shipping as Google opens instant invites for Project Fi


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Today, orders of the Nexus 5X from the Google Store have started shipping after customers noticed their bank accounts being charged last week. People in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Korea, and Japan should expect to receive their Nexus 5X within the next week or so. The company confirmed that its Nexus 5X is “available for immediate order,” meaning that the wait for new orders will not be very far behind.

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Pricing from Project Fi

Google also announced that invites to Project Fi will be sent instantly to anyone requesting one over the next twenty-four hours. This means that you can quickly get an invite and purchase Nexus 5X or Nexus 6P to use on Google’s wireless service backed by T-Mobile and Sprint’s networks.

Source: Project Fi, Google Nexus (Twitter)

Come comment on this article: Nexus 5X orders start shipping as Google opens instant invites for Project Fi

19
Oct

The ‘Halo 5: Guardians’ soundtrack gives fans what they want


When Microsoft’s in-house Halo studio 343 Industries took the franchise over from creator Bungie, it made a bold statement by abandoning longtime composer Marty O’Donnell’s iconic score for one mostly written by Neil Davidge of the English trip-hop group Massive Attack. Think of it like Disney replacing John Williams’ iconic Star Wars score with something by Randy Newman and you’re about halfway there. His changes were drastic, eschewing established musical tropes for something simultaneously foreign and familiar, leaving no sacred cows behind. It was a ballsy move, and at the time 343’s freshman bravado made a statement about how it would handle the franchise moving forward. But something happened in the three-year gap between then and now: 343 released Halo: The Master Chief Collection to disastrous technical results. How broken that game was (and in some cases still is) had an effect on the development team, and likely killed some of its confidence.

I recently had the chance to speak to 343’s in-house composer Kazuma Jinnouchi as well as audio director Sotaro Tojima and lead audio producer Mary Olson. Our conversation covers everything from fan reactions to Halo 4‘s soundtrack to using music composition as a means of differentiating returning hero Master Chief from new protagonist Jameson Locke. Previously, Jinnouchi’s worked on a number of Metal Gear Solid games, so we talked about the differences between writing music for a first-person versus third-person game as well. To hear how fan-centric the approach to the score was for yourself, you can stream the game’s entire soundtrack as you read the interview below.

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I’ve been listening to the soundtrack quite a bit and I’m curious what the approach was for the game and how it differed from Halo 4.

Jinnouchi: The major difference was me being the main composer. And me being in-house at 343 Industries from the very start of the project. When the story was only five pages long, I was there. Having that insight helped me understand the game a lot more than how I was involved in Halo 4. Because I joined the team a year before the game shipped, I pretty much jumped in in the middle of the production that was already happening between the studio and Neil Davidge. We were working remotely with Neil so there were a lot of challenges on our end. Communication was very … it wasn’t the easiest project for us. Getting to know people and then being told to make the biggest game was quite a challenge. Going through that experience and moving forward to Halo 5 was a lot easier.

When I listened to the soundtrack, I noticed that there were a lot of familiar themes, musically. The monks are back, for example. Why go back to what was in the original games?

Tojima: Neil Davidge did a great job on Halo 4. We felt that we were missing one piece from the Neil Davidge library: strong music pieces which the Halo fans really love. This is the reason I took Kazuma and said I really need one piece of really strong music which has a strong Halo classic aesthetic for Halo 4. “This is clearly your biggest goal.” So we worked together and he composed “117.” It was one of the users’ favorite pieces, eventually.

Outsourcing a strong composer has a benefit because they have a bunch of experience working for film, TV or music. To me, especially for Halo fans, the most important thing is that the main music composer keeps thinking about Halo fans and the franchise a whole year, every day, with strong communications with the audio director, creative director or the whole studio.

Halo 5‘s score was recorded at the legendary Abbey Road studio

What was the fan reaction to the Halo 4 soundtrack? It sounded different than you’d expect a Halo game to sound and was really experimental. I think that’s what I liked most about it. Halo 5‘s sounds like a traditional score for the series.

Tojima: Actually, the music feedback was a combination of negative and positive. On the positive side, the many Halo fans said that the music itself is really cool, but some people complained about it having not enough of a classic Halo aesthetic; it was too different. “I can’t hear what I listened to for 10 years.” That kind of thing. Negative feedback was that each piece is great, but for some reason it didn’t feel so memorable in-game.

This is kind of my bad rather than Neil Davidge’s. The mixing or music and music direction; everything is not sophisticated enough. For example, Neil did compose a bunch of thematic, melodic pieces. Great pieces, but we couldn’t use his great music most effectively. We should’ve used some specific music more repeatedly or arranged it more thematically. But like Kazuma was saying, we had a communication challenge. He’s a great guy, easy to work with; we had a couple of Skype meetings per week. Compared to the daily communication with an in-house music composer, though, it’s a challenge.

We should always talk about what Halo fans want. We’re checking the user feedback pretty much every day and adjusting details, the direction.

What was it like working under fan expectations?

[Interrupts] Olson: Sorry to cut you off, but to be clear about this vision and what they set out to do was really more to combine. It wasn’t to just go back to Marty’s pieces and hang out there and give up. It wasn’t just to go back and give the fans total classic Halo. It was more like a leaping point. There’s absolutely the intent of establishing a new direction and taking a new direction, but taking a nod and showing the respect for that classic and bringing that into Halo 5 and incorporating it.

Jinnouchi: My process was to take all the musical elements from Halo 1, 2, 3 and 4 and say, “Okay, we have this theme for this type of moment, this theme for that character.” We have a lot of that for our legacy. So moving forward, I have to take them and make sense against what we see and what we experience in Halo 5. I rearranged a lot of them in a way that the tone is still Halo 5, but you do pay homage to the previous titles.

Given your background and how differently Japanese culture views first-person shooters, did that play a role in how you approached the music?

Jinnouchi: My approach was very different from the previous games I worked on. Working on a Halo game felt like you need a lot more subtlety. You arrange differently because of that and write differently. Previously, I’d mostly worked on third-person games. When you work on a first person game, you’re not looking at the character; you are the character. The music shouldn’t be in the way of what you do or your thinking process. When I say I felt like I needed more subtlety, it’s driven by that aspect; there’s a lot of room for thinking as a user from that perspective.

With first-person shooter games, my approach is to have music not explain what’s really going on on the screen because you are the character and you are fighting through the intense moment. You know it’s an intense moment. The music doesn’t have to be there to explain that. Well … sometimes it needs to be there to drive that intention even more. In general, there’s a different role for the music. What’s the story behind [what’s happening on-screen]? Why’s it creepy? The music doesn’t necessarily explain what kind of situation you’re in from a gameplay perspective; it should explain why it’s happening. It’s not just third-person versus first-person; it’s more about how modern gaming music should be.

Was there a specific reason Davidge wasn’t brought back?

Olson: [16-second pause] I think that it touches on all the things that Kazuma and Tojima have said in terms of the advantages of having an in-house composer. At that point, because Kazuma came in in the last year of Halo 4, he was here and [having him compose] was an option that was available, whereas it wasn’t on Halo 4. And again, like Tojima mentioned, he’d written “117.” He’d taken some time to creatively prove himself.

“117” is a great track; I love the Halo 4 soundtrack and listen to it pretty regularly. When Halo 5 was announced, my first question was if Davidge was coming back.

Olson: It’s fun to talk to somebody who did love it.

So this wasn’t anything to do with appeasing fans that weren’t happy with Halo 4 and just go back to classic?

Jinnouchi: No, it was more about creatively how we should move forward.

Tojima: Not just on the audio team, but I think all of 343 has a very challenging question: Where is a great spot between something totally new and epic, or a classic Halo aesthetic? So some fans really want to keep that similarity. As a new team, the creators, we try to hit something new creatively. That’s why I think we are struggling between a classic Halo aesthetic, but something new.

We also tried to hit that sweet spot in Halo 4 with Neil Davidge. We arranged a couple of [existing] pieces in Halo 4. But we didn’t use the iconic Halo choir on the title screen, but we didn’t arrange one of the most thematic, iconic pieces. We arranged the more iconic pieces [from the past] this time because we feel these pieces should be the core of the experience for Halo fans. This is part of their gaming history, so we should really respect the melody.

You’re introducing a brand-new character, Spartan Locke. What are the things you did differently musically to differentiate him from Master Chief?

Jinnouchi: Two things. One is choice of instruments. Another big factor is chord progression and melody. I used a different scale for Locke’s theme as opposed to Master Chief. It’s got little major/minor scale things that consist of two different chord progressions. It doesn’t just stay within the minor or the major. It has this ambiguity to it.

Initially, I wanted to create the feel of, “Is this a good guy or a bad guy?” I wanted the music to make you ask, “Who is this?”

[Image credits: 343 Industries]

This interview has been condensed and edited.

19
Oct

Your kid’s Google Doodle can win them a $30K scholarship


If you frequent the Google home page (and really who doesn’t), you’re familiar with Google Doodles; the search giant’s series of art based on the company’s logo that commemorates a date or person. Now it’s opening up its homepage to one lucky kid. Beginning today, its annual “Doodle 4 Google” competition is accepting entries from US students K-12 for the chance to win a $30,000 scholarship. The theme is, “What makes me…me.” Future college graduates can use any material they want and are encouraged to use a medium to showcases their uniqueness. The winning design will be featured on the site for one day. Entries must be submitted by December 7, 2015. So if you want to make a huge dent in your future college tuition, it’s a good idea to get those creative juices flowing.

Source: Google

19
Oct

Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile offering a trio of new Android smartphones for less than $150


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Both Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile are now selling new three Android smartphones $150 or less. Whereas some of the models may have been previously announced or offered through one of the service providers, the trio can now be had at both places.

Each comes from a different hardware maker; however, all three run Android 5.1 Lollipop and can be scooped up at Walmart for the two carriers.

  • The HTC Desire 626s features a 5-inch 720p display, an 8-megapixel rear camera and 2-megapixel front-facing camera. You’ll find this one for $130.
  • The third generation Moto G is a water-resistant handset with a 13-megapixel rear camera and 5-inch DH display protected by Gorilla Glass 3. Look for the Moto G for $150.

left_huawei_union

The Huawei Union is a more entry-level experience and comes with a 4.5-inch touchscreen display, 5-megapixel rear-facing camera. Priced $80.00, it offers up a 4.5-inch screen, with power coming from a 1.1GHz quad-core processor, 1GB RAM, and 8GB of storage. Rounding things out, the Union has a 2,000mAh battery as well as support for memory cards up to 32GB.

Both Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile operate off of the Sprint network.

Purchase the Huawei Union from Virgin Mobile

Purchase the HTC Desire 626s from Virgin Mobile

Purchase the Motorola Moto G (3rd Gen) from Virgin Mobile

Purchase the Huawei Union from Boost Mobile

Purchase the HTC Desire 626s from Boost Mobile/Walmart

Purchase the Motorola Moto G (3rd Gen) from Boost Mobile

 

The post Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile offering a trio of new Android smartphones for less than $150 appeared first on AndroidGuys.

19
Oct

Seven Squares: a color matching puzzle game (App Review)


Color matching is a game that we have been playing before most of us can remember. It’s easy, right? Not with Seven Squares. This is a puzzle game that will be enjoyed by anyone, of any age, even if you are color blind.

Overview

In Seven Squares, you are given an 8×8 board and 10 randomly generated colors. Your three initial colors are red, yellow, and orange. The goal is to match a minimum of seven squares of the same color, eliminating the matched group, and allowing you to unlock more colored squares, each worth more points.

  • Red, yellow, and orange unlock green squares
  • Green unlocks blue squares
  • Blue unlocks dark purple squares
  • Dark purple unlocks light purple squares
  • Light purple unlocks dark red crowns

One of the things I like is that when you match colors together, you are stuck with that shape and have to move the squares as a group. This will definitely make you think twice where you want to place your squares, as you can get colors blocked in fairly easily if you don’t pay attention. To match a color, simply tap the color square you want, and move it to the corresponding color. You can move squares in any direction, including diagonally, as long as there is room enough to place it. If you do not eliminate a color group, a minimum of three of the initial colors will randomly generate.

If you do succeed in eliminating a color group, you can receive the corresponding color, instead of the initial ones. The number of squares you match will determine how many of the next color will generate. A group of seven will give you one of the next colors, eight will give you two, nine will give you three, and so on. If you match nine, or more, you will receive the appropriate number of the next colors, and none of the initial colors. It can be very difficult to obtain all the colors, which could be attributed to the size of the game board.

Now, the best part of this game is you can play even if you are color blind. From the menu button, just select C. This will add letters and numbers on top of the colored squares, making it easy for you to play, even if the orange might look the same as the yellow. This feature alone makes this a great game for everyone. There is also no time limit, but you will see ads at the bottom of the screen.

Gameplay

The graphics are pretty basic, and the overall setup of the game is very simple and easy to use. The menu buttons are always in the top right corner. However, they are the same colors as some of the squares, so they can blend in a bit, sometimes. Despite this, it is very nice to have the menu buttons so easily accessible. The game will also save itself, making it easy to pick up right where you left off.

The game also has a tutorial section, which can be accessed at any time by pressing the “?” in the drop-down menu, along with options to select the color blind mode, rate the game, and links to two more games by the developer. You can also share the game, restart the game, or connect your facebook account. Linking your Facebook account does not allow the game to make posts for you. This is more for viewing your friends high scores. The top left of the screen will show your current score, and you can view your top score by clicking the score box.

What we liked

  • Endless gameplay
  • Very challenging
  • Simple interface

What could be better

  • Menu colors that don’t blend into the game board
  • Screen rotation support
  • Multiple game board sizes

Summary

There are many types of color matching apps on the market, but having the color blind option makes this one of the best. I really enjoyed playing this game, and will recommend it to anyone who enjoys a challenge.

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The post Seven Squares: a color matching puzzle game (App Review) appeared first on AndroidGuys.

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