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Redraw Keyboard – Customize ALL THE THINGS (App Review)

Android has a billion keyboard options. Okay, maybe there’s not quite a billion keyboard apps out there to choose from, but with all of the customization options offered by some of them, it might at well be since every Android user ever could easily have a different looking keyboard. However, not all keyboards are created equal and there are plenty that choose to be flashy over having the functionality of other keyboards. Redraw attempts to combine the best of functions, appearance, and even achievements into a keyboard. Yes, achievements. Let’s take a look.

Developer: Redraw
Price: Free/IAP
Download: Google Play

Oh, Google. You slay me.Oh, Google. You slay me.

The Setup

The first thing that will pop up when you first open the app is a Google Play Games login. This may seem strange at first but connect it. I’ll cover more on this a little later on. The app will take you through all the necessary steps of enabling the keyboard in system settings and selecting it from the list of keyboards available. You then receive your daily reward. At this point, you’ve probably realized that this is no typical keyboard app but incorporates a game type element to it. Your daily reward of coins will enable you to purchase your first theme from a very extensive list. There are clean and simple themes that are a simple black and white, ones that simulate the iPhone keyboard, and ones that are way more detailed with fire, lighting, roses, skulls, and even themes such as Easter, Winter, and Black Friday (yes, that’s really a thing). After you pick your first theme, your setup is complete and you’re free to start typing to your heart’s content.

YES! I needed a good Black Friday theme!YES! I needed a good Black Friday theme!


Redraw includes a lot of popular features that are present in most of the top keyboard apps. You can tap to type, swipe your finger, word prediction, spell check, and quick access to emojis. The keyboard is set up in an intuitive way that allows you to effortlessly add emojis or stickers to any message. There are dozens upon dozens of sticker packs available, so if cute animals are your thing, you’re covered. If you like things a little edgier, there are fingers with attitudes. If you’re still feeling the Poké-craze, maybe a cool creature pack (read: not real Pokémon, but with a similar design) is more to your liking. You can also buy wallpapers for your phone, more fonts for your keyboard, and even additional sounds for your keyboard. Everything can be used to customize your keyboard exactly to your liking. There is a menu button on the top left of the keyboard that allows you to quickly access most of these setting, themes, or even achievements.

Wait… Achievement?!

Now let’s pause for a second here. This keyboard includes 35 achievements that will all supply you with even more gold coins to deck out your keyboard. Achievements range from easy things like swipe your first 5 words, to ones that you’ll get over time, such as send 10 stickers. Each achievement has a monetary value attached to it that can range from only 50 coins to a couple hundred depending on how long they take to unlock. This is a really innovative and creative feature that I believe is a first for the Android keyboard community, and it’s a welcome feature that really spices up an already extensive list of features.

What should I go with: Blue Haired Betty, or Fingers with attitude?What should I go with: Blue Haired Betty or Fingers with attitude?

Daily use

I’ve been a pretty regular user of GBoard up until this point, and in my first day of using this keyboard, I was a little underwhelmed. It didn’t seem to have as good predictions as GBoard, and I had an ugly white keyboard with big bubble looking letters. Then I dug a little deeper. I turned on such features as auto-correct which fixed a great number of typos (and consequently, a lot of my complaints) then discovered where you can customize your own theme. I’m pretty big into Overwatch right now on Xbox, so I took a picture of the logo, placed it in the background, tweaked the color of the keys so they could easily be read, added an orange accent color, and changed the transparency of the key outline until my keyboard was totally geeked out and I was over the moon. My keyboard now worked great, looked great, and I was turning the heads of lots of my friends.


Redraw keyboard has most of the features of a lot of the popular keyboards out there but adds extensive customization and some truly unique features such as achievements. You will need to make sure that predictions and auto-correct are enabled, but once you get everything setup, the keyboard really does offer a solid experience and does it with style. Achievements are just the icing on the cake and add a lot to otherwise mundane tasks. All in all, you owe it to yourself to take this one for a spin.


Best accessories for Samsung Gear S2 and Gear S2 Classic


You’ve got the watch, now it’s time to accessorize!

Your Samsung Gear S2 deserves some stellar accessories. From unique bands to carrying cases, we’ve found the essential accessories that you’re going to want to get your hands on.

  • Watch bands
  • Screen protectors
  • Charging docks
  • Bluetooth headphones
  • Carrying cases

Watch bands

One watch band is never enough. Get one for every occasion or try out as many different materials as you can. Just keep in mind that watch bands are made to fit either the Samsung Gear S2 or the Samsung Gear S2 Classic.

  • Samsung Gear S2 bands
  • Samsung Gear S2 Classic bands

Samsung Gear S2 bands


V-MORO rubber watch band

To give your Samsung Gear S2 a sporty look and feel, have a look at the bands from V-MORO. With seven solid colors and patterns to choose from, there’s a band to match every look and mood.

The elastomer rubber is softer and more pliable than standard silicone bands and won’t irritate or rub uncomfortably on your wrist. Wear it to the gym or with your favorite casual clothes for a fun look any day.

See at Amazon



For band patterns you won’t find anywhere else, look no further than Casetify. Known for their original artwork, the brand has crafted five bands for the Samsung Gear S2 that are sporty, fun, and stand out from the crowd. Pictured here is the Woodland Camouflage pattern.

You can order your bands in small or large sizes, so pay attention to the sizing chart that accompanies each pattern before your make a purchase. They ship for free worldwide and make a fantastic gift for a friend or a treat for yourself.

See at Casetify

Samsung Gear S2 Classic bands

eLander stainless steel band


The classic look of stainless steel links pairs perfectly with the Samsung Gear S2 Classic and this band from eLander is a standout example. It’s available in silver, but the stainless steel black is equally beautiful.

It comes with a toolkit for removing extra links and fits virtually any wrist. The clasp locks securely so your watch won’t jostle around on your wrist and it’s an excellent dressed-up alternative to the standard leather band, at a reasonable price.

See at Amazon



Coming soon to Casetify’s online store is the collection of bands for the Samsung Gear S2 Classic. Samsung’s official site has been teasing them for some time now and it looks like they’re going to be worth the wait.

The patterns are fun, unique, and tailored specifically for the Gear S2 Classic. Five vibrant patterns are on deck; pictured here is the Diamond White pattern. Get on their mailing list for a notification when the bands are ready to order.

See at Casetify

If these don’t catch your fancy, check out more of our favorites in our roundup of the best watch bands for the Samsung Gear S2 Classic.

Screen protectors

You didn’t spend your hard-earned money on your Samsung Gear S2 or Gear S2 Classic to get the face all scratched up. Put a screen protector on it!

Spigen tempered glass screen protector


Spigen is known for creating products that fit well and protect your gear. Their tempered glass screen protector fits both the Samsung Gear S2 and Gear S2 Classic and helps to stop your watch face from scratching, cracking, and overexposure to the elements.

It comes with easy-to-install wings so that you don’t get gunk or fingerprints on the underside of the screen protector. The edges won’t lift up on you and the tempered glass is incredibly thin, maintaining the touch sensitivity of the screen.

See at Amazon

Skinomi TechSkin screen protector


An alternative to tempered glass comes from Skinomi SkinTech. It still protects against incidental scratches and daily wear but is thinner than tempered glass and designed to be replaced if or when necessary, which is OK, since you’ll receive six for the price of one.

The edges of the screen protector won’t roll up and the TPU is UV-resitant, which means won’t yellow over time. It remains virtually invisible to keep the original clarity of the screen as it should be.

See at Amazon

Charging docks

Get something nice to hold your watch while it charges. A charging dock keeps in in sight and displayed for bragging purposes, and wireless charging docks mean there’s no need to tediously plug in your Gear S2 or Gear S2 Classic every night.

Samsung Wireless Charger Dock

Samsung offers their own white or black charger dock for the Samsung Gear S2 and Gear S2 Classic. If you’re feeling brand-loyal and want to stick to the product line, it’s a well-reviewed charger for the price.

The cradle holds the watch securely on any flat surface, like your office desk, coffee table, or nightstand and it doesn’t obstruct your view of the watch face, allowing you to show off the band you’re currently using.

See at Amazon

Henoda charging cradle


Take your pick of five colors when you buy a charging cradle from Henoda. It’s small, lightweight, and made of soft rubber that will be easy on your Samsung Gear S2 or Gear S2 Classic.

The non-slip base will keep the charger in place on any flat surface, and if you already have a charger or cradle that you use at home, the Henoda is a great alternative for travel or to keep at your desk.

See at Amazon

Bluetooth headphones

On your morning commute, your daily jog, or just around the house, Bluetooth headphones come in awfully handy when you’re wearing your Samsung Gear S2 or Gear S2 Classic.

Samsung Level U Pro Bluetooth headphones


Treat yourself to the Level U Pro headphones from Samsung. Available in black, blue, purple or bronze, they are well-designed and pair perfectly with the Samsung Gear S2 and Gear S2 Classic.

The joints are flexible and the headphones is lightweight and comfortable, as well as sweat and water-resistant, so a long run or a quick dash out into the rain won’t do any harm. The battery life has up to nine hours of talk or play time, which is more than enough to get you through the day with vivid, concert-quality sound.

See at Amazon

SoundPEATS QY7 Bluetooth headphones

Choose from 10 color combinations with headphones from SoundPEATS. Designed for active users, they fit snugly but comfortably in-ear and won’t move, no matter how much you do.

Eight hours of talk or play time means you won’t be searching for a way to charge them throughout your work day or your workout and the sweat-resistant material won’t get sticky or uncomfortable. No matter how active you get, the Bluetooth connection won’t waver.

See at Amazon

Carrying case

Your watch won’t always be on your wrist. A carrying case will give you a safe place to put it when you’re not wearing it.

BSI black leather case


Compact and lightweight, this leather case from BSI will protect your Samsung Gear S2 or Gear S2 Classic when you need a safe place to store it. The outer case is a hard shell that can handle being tossed into your gym bag, carry-on, or suitcase.

The inner case is lined with soft fabric, so your watch won’t be damaged when you’re on the go and there’s even room in the middle of the case to coil up and store a charging cable, so you don’t have to rummage around the bottom of a bag to find it when you need it.

See at Amazon

CASEBUDi watch travel case


How about a case made of ballistic nylon? They exist, they’re inexpensive, and they do the job well. CASEBUDi makes travel cases for watches of all sizes and the Samsung Gear S2 and Gear S2 Classic will fit nicely.

The soft interior cushions your watch when the case gets tossed around in your bag, and the zipper and case come with a one-year warranty, so if the case is damaged in the process of protecting your watch, you can get a replacement easily.

See at Amazon

Found your favorites?

Have you come across some excellent accessories for the Samsung Gear S2 or Gear S2 Classic? Let us know in the comments below and tell us why they’re the best of the best!

Samsung Gear S2

  • In-depth Samsung Gear S2 review
  • Full Gear S2 specs
  • Here are the phones that work with Gear S2
  • Gear S2 vs. Apple Watch
  • Join the discussion in our forums!

Best Buy


Styr’s system of health gadgets exists to sell you supplements

I’m the kind of guy who can always stand to lose a few pounds. The Styr Lab regimen seemed like a great way to do so. When I first saw it at TechCrunch’s Disrupt event in San Francisco last September, I was genuinely excited to give the fitness-tracking system a try. After three months using the regimen, however, I find myself just as pudgy and unmotivated as I was beforehand. Maybe even more so.

The Styr system employs a trio of devices: a bean-size tracker that can be worn on the wrist or the hip, a water bottle and a fat-sensing scale. All three are sold separately but can work in conjunction with the Styr iOS/Android app in any combination. What’s more, each device will recommend a specific in-house line of supplements (vitamins for the wearable, protein for the scale and electrolytes for the water bottle) that are tailored to the user based on his or her activity level and fitness goals.

I should point out that I didn’t consume these supplements beyond the initial month’s supply. However, based on what the Styr system recommended for my nutritional needs, I could accomplish the same effect with a men’s multivitamin and better eating habits for a fraction of the price of what Styr is asking. Seriously, it wants $68 a month for its vitamin packs, $28 per 1 lb. bag of protein powder and $24 for 12 packets of electrolyte mix.

Oddly, the system doesn’t take the nutritional value of what you’re eating, or how much, into account. The app will track whether you’ve eaten a snack, small meal or large meal, but that’s it. By those metrics, a McDonald’s two-cheeseburger meal with medium fries and soda carries the same nutritional value as eating 8 ounces of fish with a mixed-green salad and water.

Instead, the system revolves exclusively around your activity level and current weight. The activity tracker itself is minuscule, barely as long as the first joint of my thumb, or a little over an inch long. It uses a touchscreen interface, allowing the user to cycle through a home screen, step tracker, calorie-burn estimator and odometer. The screen itself is not great, requiring a good deal of squinting in direct sunlight. However, its battery life is fantastic. The little tracker lasts upward of two weeks depending on how often you activate its screen.

That said, it tends to be finicky when you do use it. The step-tracking function, for example, tended to overestimate my footwork when I wore the device on my wrist — where it routinely fell off because the band’s clasp mechanism wore out within the first month. It also had a habit of underestimating it when was attached to my belt or carried in a pants pocket. The mileage tracker was also consistently about a quarter-mile short compared to my Runkeeper data, as confirmed by Google Maps.

And, unfortunately, the same goes for its calorie counter. The wearable has no means of actively tracking how many calories you’re burning, as many rival devices do. Nor does it have any means of tracking your heart rate (even though there’s still a category for it in the app). When you do log your activity into the Styr app, it’s a time-based approximation of how much you’ve burned, at best. Whether I half-assed my morning calisthenics or really pushed myself, I was still rewarded with the same 145 calories/20 minutes. This in particular was a huge motivation killer for me.

I was much more impressed with the Styr scale, especially after having used the Fitbit Aria. The connected scale is well-designed and measures the same metrics as the Aria, providing readings for body-fat percentage, bone mass and water content, though there’s no way for me to know if any of them are really accurate. Still, it nice not to have my weight and body-fat percentages swing in 6-pound and 13-percent increments overnight, as the Aria routinely did. However, for some reason, it only tracked my weight over time. The moment I stepped off the scale, the system would discard my body-fat percentage, bone-mass and water-content readings. It makes me question why Styr even bothered to include them.

The water bottle was also a bit of a mixed bag. It’s a perfectly serviceable water bottle; there’s not a whole lot you can do to screw up that design, short of drilling holes in the bottom. However, after three months of daily use and repeated washings, I still haven’t managed to get that bitter “new-water bottle” taste out of it. Honestly, as soon as this review is over, I’m looking forward to switching back to my trusty Kleen Canteen.

Overall, I can’t figure out if the Styr fitness-tracking ecosystem is trying to do too much or too little. The app offers tracking categories for metrics none of the devices actually measure, like heart rate, yet doesn’t record all of the metrics the devices do measure, like body-fat percentage.

The entire system seems explicitly designed to sell you nutritional supplements a month at a time. That in itself is odd because the quality of the activity tracking doesn’t match the level of activity you’re supposedly needing it for. That is, the devices themselves feel like they’ve been designed for casual fitness enthusiasts, yet the company continually pushes nutritional supplements that only fitness fanatics and semipro athletes really need to be worrying about. The rest of us can probably forgo the $180 investment in these devices and get by with more regular exercise and a couple extra salads per week.


Recommended Reading: Video games and the issue of slavery

How Historical
Games Integrate or
Ignore Slavery

Amanda Kerri,
Rock Paper Shotgun

Video games certainly don’t claim to always offer a depiction of the “real world,” but for those titles rooted in historical events, how the narrative addresses certain events is key. One of the issues those historical games have to wrestle with is how to address slavery. This piece from Rock Paper Shotgun takes a look at how games have integrated events or ignored them completely.

The Inside Story of Google’s Daydream, Where VR Feels Like Home
David Pierce, Wired

Wired offers a behind-the-scenes look at the development of Google Daydream in terms of design, strategy and more.

The (Final) Problem with ‘Sherlock’
Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic

(Contains spoilers for the most recent season)
The fourth season of the BBC’s Sherlock is a departure from what made the show so great. And in the end, that isn’t a good thing.

How ‘Resident Evil 4’ Turned ‘System Shock 3’ into ‘Dead Space’
Mat Paget, PC Gamer

Two of the developers behind modern survival-horror classic Dead Space wax about the game’s inspirations and ultimately, where the franchise went off the rails.

Inside Megyn Kelly’s New Show About Millennials, Journalists and Sex
Andrew Karpan, Film School Rejects

Megyn Kelly is the executive producer of the show Embeds, working alongside creator Scott Conroy. Based on this review, it seems to offer an interesting look at political journalists.


ASUS ZenFone 3 Max (ZC553KL) review

ASUS has a crowded ZenFone line-up, but the company buckets its offerings in well-rounded categories. Like the ZenFone Max, with a focus on marathon battery life.

However, since last year with the launch of ZenFone 3 portfolio, the Taiwanese company has upped the ante in design and positioning and instead of focusing on hardware specifications, aims to bring premium experience to its users. That also means that most of their latest phones are not exactly run-of-the-mill value-for-money devices, but differentiate themselves in design, camera, battery life, etc.

ASUS launched the first ZenFone Max in 2015, and while it delivered on its USP of long battery life, it brought nothing else to the table. The follow-up version had more memory and faster processor, but both devices were chunky plastic smartphones that didn’t impress many.

However, the ZenFone 3 Max (ZC553KL) aims to change that with a well-rounded smartphone experience coupled with premium design, while continuing the focus on battery life. Is ASUS third time lucky with the Max? Let’s find out. 


ASUS has finally brought an all-metal design to the ZenFone series, later than when most people would’ve liked. Even entry-level budget smartphones in 2016 boasted of an all-metal design. Better late than never, though. There’s nothing extraordinary about the design, but neither is it run-of-the-mill.

The homogenous design language of the ZenFone series is apparent, a premium one at that, bringing the flagship design to the budget smartphone. It is well-built and the aluminum chassis gives it a solid feel. It’s not very slippery, yet, since it is an all-metal phone, you’d have to get used to the smoothness and take care of the phone slipping out of the hand.

Unlike the original ZenFone Max, this one is not a brick and neither does it sport big bezels (it could’ve had even smaller bezels though, on top and bottom) and boasts of a pretty good 73 per cent screen-to-body ratio. It’s not very slim at 8.33mm, and at 175 grams, it’s not the lightest smartphone out there. Yet it is one of the lighter phones to pack a big battery and a large display, and you wouldn’t feel the heft lugging it around. Also, the gradual curves and rounded corners make it a very comfortable and ergonomic phone to hold, and it is easily pocketable unless you can’t stand larger smartphones.


The ZenFone 3 Max sports a 5.5-inch Full HD IPS display with a pixel density of 401 ppi. The display is sharp and the 400 nits brightness is very good, offering great sunlight visibility.

The contrast ratio is not exceptional though, and if you’re a fan of vibrant, and even over-saturated AMOLED displays, like I am, this one is just average. Viewing angles on the phone are, however, quite good. There is a little color shift when viewing it from extreme angles, but that’s the case with most smartphones.


Powered by a 1.4Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 processor paired with 3GB of RAM, the ZenFone 3 Max chugs along nicely while multitasking offering a smooth Android experience.

However, if you stress the hardware, the phone tends to stutter a bit. You’d be unable to play graphic-intensive games at maxed-out settings and experience frequent frame-drops. Interestingly, it never gets too hot to handle even when the performance is stretched to its modest limits. However, you’d experience some lag in navigation and switching between apps in that case.

Clearly, the device is geared towards casual smartphone users – and that is where it excels. However, I think the company could squeeze some extra juice from its internals with better software optimization. Some other phones in the market tend to offer smoother experience with similar hardware specifications.

Of course, the pièce de résistance of the ZenFone 3 Max is its long battery life. There has been a drop in the battery capacity of the Max this time around (to go away from that chunky size), however, the 4100 mAh battery – with the hardware it packs and the software optimizations that ASUS has done – still manages to offer phenomenal battery life. With basic to moderate usage, I was easily able to get two days battery life on the phone, which is quite good. You can stretch that, and coupled with power saving features, can even squeeze more than that!


The ZenFone 3 Max comes with 32GB of internal memory, further expandable by up to 128GB via a microSD card slot. The dual SIM smartphones features a hybrid slot, so you can either use the second SIM or the microSD card, but not both.

The phone supports reverse charging, and can be used to charge other devices via OTG. There’s a bundled OTG adapter in the box. For a smartphone with a focus on battery life, it’s a shame that it doesn’t support fast charging. It ships with a regular charger, which takes painfully long to charge the big battery completely.

The fingerprint scanner can be used to answer incoming calls, launch the camera app, or take a picture, but is not quick enough. While the recognition is just fine, the authentication is a tad slow or requires slight pressure of the finger. Also, the capacitive keys on the front are not backlit. Of course, with impulse you get used to tapping the finger or thumb at the right place but sometimes it gets a tad annoying, especially in the dark or when you’re not holding the phone as you do usually.


The ZenFone 3 Max sports a 16-megapixel rear camera with f/2.0 aperture, Phase Detection Autofocus and laser auto-focus, Electronic Image Stabilization for shooting videos, and dual-LED flash.

Outdoors in daylight, the camera performs very well and takes sharp pictures with good details. The color reproduction is mostly accurate. Although the pictures are generally noise-free, zooming them reveals pixilation which is more pronounced when I viewed them on a 40-inch display. For most people though, who just share photos on social media, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Indoors or in low-light conditions, the night mode is a mixed bag. Some of the shots give great results, better than auto mode, however, several times, they’d end up very noisy with messed up metering.

The camera focusses nicely and quickly, although there is a definite shutter lag and often I’d end up with a blurry photo when I was attempting to take a shot of a moving subject.

On the front, there is an 8-megapixel camera with f/2.2 aperture that manages to click detailed selfies even in tricky lighting.

The camera app on the Zenfone 3 Max is the same as on the company’s flagship ZenFone 3 smartphone. While the options are great to tinker around, including a manual mode, the camera on the ZenFone 3 Max is just above average.


The ASUS ZenFone 3 runs Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow out of the box with the new version of the company’s proprietary ZenUI 3.0 on top of it. Virtually, every nook and corner of the Android experience gets a fresh coat of paint.

Right up, that’s a good thing. The older versions of ZenUI were plagued with bloatware and gimmicky UI elements that marred the overall user experience. The latest version is a complete makeover, and offers a clean UI with subtle animations. There are several nifty utilities, but there’s still a plethora of ASUS-branded apps that I’ve hardly seen anyone using really. Unfortunately, only a few of these can be uninstalled and while you can disable most others, they still occupy storage space on your phone.

ZenUI 3.0 features an app drawer, and there’s a built-in search functionality. You can swipe down the screen and search the Web or your apps and contacts, and view your frequently used apps. There’s an all-new Theme Store from which users can download free as well as paid themes, wallpapers, icons, and ringtones to customize their smartphone.

One of the neat features of the ZenUI is ZenMotion which allows configuring a variety of touch and motion gestures like double tap to wake or flipping the phone when you get an incoming call to enable silent mode. It also allows you to enable the one-handed mode that shrinks the display to one corner of the screen for easy, one-handed usage when you’re on the move.

Of course, the most useful app from the entire ZenUI suite is the Mobile Manager. With slick animations and intuitive UI, the app offers quick ways to free RAM and storage space, and manage apps as well as app permissions. It’s a sort of one-stop destination for managing your phone’s performance.

The latest version of ZenUI on the ZenFone 3 is fluid and aims to offer stock Android-like experience while adding additional functionalities. And, it succeeds in doing that. It’s one of the better UIs out there in terms of ease of use and feels polished. Better internals would’ve made it even smoother on the ZenFone 3 Max. But the excess of bloatware is disappointing, and shows that the company has learnt nothing from similar criticism in the past.


Operating System Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow with ZenUI 3.0
Display 5.5-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS
Processor 1.4GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 430
Internal Storage 32GB; expandable up to 128GB with microSD card
Rear Camera 16MP | f/2.0 aperture | Dual-LED flash
Front Camera 8MP | f/2.2 aperture | 84-degree wide-angle lens
Battery 4100 mAh
Dimensions 151.4 x 76.24 x 8.3mm
Weight 175 grams


Pricing and final thoughts

The ZenFone 3 Max aims to pimp up the Max range with a premium design. It succeeds there, but there’s little else.

Like the entire ZenFone lineup, the ASUS ZenFone 3 is a decent smartphone. However, even with the premium pitch, there’s no stand out factor running for it. It looks good on paper, but the real-world performance is limited – and would only meet the demands of less discerning users. Yes, there’s the fantastic battery life, and that’s the sole reason one should go for this device. Else, even looking within, there are better ZenFone siblings around.

ASUS isn’t officially selling the ZenFone 3 Max in the US, but in India, the device is priced at ₹17,999 ($265) – a tad higher than what everyone would’ve liked. At this price, it feels a little out of place. What do you think of the ZenFone 3 Max, and do you plan to buy one? Let us know your views in the comments below!


Best apps for learning a language


Rosetta Stone delivers a solid foundation for learning a new language.

Best overall

Learn languages: Rosetta Stone


See at Store

Rosetta Stone is already well known as a great way to begin learning a new language, but you may not have realized that it was available on your phone. With access to 28 different languages, a slow and steady pace that is great for building up your confidence, and optional live-tutoring, there is a reason that Rosetta Stone is king when it comes to language learning apps. Whether you’re aiming to learn for fun, or you want to become fluent, this is a great place to start. This program will let you learn how to speak, write and read in a new language, with an emphasis on building confidence in pronunciation and the ability to sync progress across your desktop or mobile device.

Bottom line: Rosetta Stone delivers an excellent foundation for learning a new language with a program that focuses on practical conversational skills. With the addition of teaching you how to read, write, and listen for a rounded experience.

One more thing: While you do have to pay for the full version, you can access the first module of any language for free to try it out.

Why Rosetta Stone is the best

Rosetta Stone makes sure that the fundamentals are pounded into your head and offers features that make sure you’re confident about what you’re hearing, saying, and writing.

When it comes to language apps, Rosetta Stone may already be the first software you think of. There’s good reason for that too. For years Rosetta Stone has dominated language learning on PC and it’s mobile version is just as solid. While getting access to the full program is a bit pricy, if you’ll motivated to really learn a new language it’s worth the hit to your wallet in the long run.

Jill Duffy of PCMag gave it high marks for a foundation in a new language.

“Rosetta Stone is a wonderful, polished, and technically competent language-learning program, especially for beginners who are looking to build a foundation of knowledge on their own time.”

While Rosetta Stone does have it’s limitations, for those without a background in the language they’re trying to learn, this is the most solid all around program. While it can be repetitive, that’s to make sure that your new vocabulary sticks in your brain. At higher levels you’ll also be able to read to the program while it listens to your pronunciation. Additionally it employs games likes bingo to help your association between individual words and their meanings.

One of the biggest perks to Rosetta Stone is how they introduce everything. Immersion is the key to learning with Rosetta Stone, combined with deductive reasoning. At time you’ll need to guess a new word, but it’s made easier by giving you choices of other words that you’ve already learned.

Best free



See at Store

While price isn’t an option for some people, if you’re looking for the best way to begin learning a new language on a budget then Duolingo is definitely the best bet. This free app has access to 20 different languages to learn from Vietnamese and Irish to Spanish and German. Unlike most other programs, Duolingo employs XP and leaderboards so that you can learn with your friends and turns language into a game to be played.

Each language is a little bit different, and the more popular languages do have access to far more module lessons. Each one starts out the same though. You’ll deal with the basics before moving on to phrases and language specific lessons. The leaderboards will show you which friends on facebook use the app and will let you compete against each other. By completing modules you’ll also earn EXP and Lingots which you can use to purchase extra modules. If you’re learning with friends, you can also start clubs which allows you to turn learning a language into a group activity.

Bottom line: Duolingo makes learning a language fun, and with it’s social aspects it’s easy to learn a language with friends. Absolutely free, you never need to pay a penny in order to learn everything it has to offer.

One more thing: Duolingo also allows people coming back to a language to test past the basics and jump right back into learning new content.

Best for the rest



See at Store

If you’re looking for a solid middle of the road option for learning a new language, then Babbel ought to be your go to. It offers a subscription for access to the full catalog, but it isn’t nearly as expensive as picking up a copy of Rosetta Stone. Each language is made up of a variety of courses from beginning vocabulary to grammar and writing in the language you are learning.

Each lesson must be downloaded to your phone, but they only take a moment or two and then you can properly jump in. Those lessons are also fairly short, making them easy to rock through when you’re sitting on the train during your commute. There are currently 14 languages in the Babbel arsenal, from Spanish to Brazilian Portugese.

Bottom line: Babbel offers an affordable middle of the road option for learning a new language. There are 14 different languages available, with plenty of courses to get you working towards fluency in a new language.

One more thing: Each language must be downloaded as a different app, which can be a bit bulky if you download more than one at a time.

Best overall

Learn languages: Rosetta Stone


See at Store

Rosetta Stone is already well known as a great way to begin learning a new language, but you may not have realized that it was available on your phone. With access to 28 different languages, a slow and steady pace that is great for building up your confidence, and optional live-tutoring, there is a reason that Rosetta Stone is king when it comes to language learning apps. Whether you’re aiming to learn for fun, or you want to become fluent, this is a great place to start. This program will let you learn how to speak, write and read in a new language, with an emphasis on building confidence in pronunciation and the ability to sync progress across your desktop or mobile device.

Bottom line: Rosetta Stone delivers an excellent foundation for learning a new language with a program that focuses on practical conversational skills. With the addition of teaching you how to read, write, and listen for a rounded experience.

One more thing: While you do have to pay for the full version, you can access the first module of any language for free to try it out.


How to fix voice search problems on Gear VR


How do I enable voice search for my Gear VR?

When it comes to browsing the web in VR, Samsung has made it easier than most with the Samsung Internet app for Gear VR. The ability to surf the web and watching anything you come across is generally pretty easy, though reading isn’t always the best experience.

A key part of this experience is voice search, making it so you don’t have to type every character out by pointing your face at a key on a virtual keyboard. On occasion, this feature can become interrupted by other apps on your phone. Thankfully it’s an easy fix, and one that can be handled in just a few minutes.

Read more at VR Heads!


Best legal add-ons for Kodi


Kodi has a ton of quality — and legal — content available.

Kodi is one of the easiest ways to cut the cord and say adios to your monthly cable bill. Formerly XMBC, Kodi is a front end that streams media. It’s also super easy to install on just about anything that runs Android. Even if it’s Android in name only, like Fire OS on the Amazon Fire TV stick. If it can install and run Android apps, you can install Kodi.

Installing Kodi is only the first step, though. A media streamer doesn’t do much without media to stream. Setting up your own storage space and connecting it to your Kodi install is easy, but there’s a whole internet out there filled with media to stream. You just have to know where to start.


Of course, YouTube is on our best list. YouTube is a free service where anyone can upload media. That means some of it is the worst media you can imagine, but there are also plenty of gems you can stream to your TV using the YouTube Addon. And installing it is simple.

  • Open the settings and click the icon labeled Add-ons.
  • Depending on the version of Kodi you’re running, you’ll see an icon that says Install from repository or Get add-ons. Click it.
  • Choose the Kodi Add-on repository
  • Under Video Add-ons you’ll see YouTube listed. Click it to install.


I love Twitch. I don’t know why, but watching interesting people stream interesting games or other non-gaming content is almost as fun as playing them. And the Twitch add-on for Kodi is a great way to watch them.

It’s easy to navigate and use, even with a remote if you don’t have a keyboard. It also supports your account login and you can chat and spam Kappa just like you can from a PC. Though you might want a keyboard for that. But seriously, check out Paul and the gang from Windows Central on Twitch and tell them kappa sent you!

Installing Twitch is done the same way as the YouTube add-on above, Just search Twitch instead of YouTube.


The list

Instead of writing out hundreds of great add-ons through the official Kodi repository, I’ll direct you to the master list. You’ll find names you know like Hulu and Netflix as well as networks and programming you have never heard of. Every one of these add-ons is also 100% legal and above the board — nobody from your ISP is going to be sending you a nastygram.

You’ll install any of them the same way, right through the settings app on your Kodi box.

Official Kodi Video Add-ons

Our next three add-ons either aren’t listed in the official Kodi repository or are updated so often it’s better to get them from another source that’s quicker to add the new content. We’ll be using SuperRepo to install them.

Not everything at SuperRepo can make our legal list, but these are fine.

SuperRepo has tons of add-ons for Kodi. Some, like these, are completely on the level. Others fall into that gray murky area where ownership and copyright aren’t clear. That means you need to be careful and not just install every add-on that catches your eye if you want to comply with rules and laws.

And you really should comply with laws. Following even stupid laws you hate is a great way to stay out of trouble. But if you do dive in where words like legal don’t apply, use a VPN. DComcast or Time Warner or whoever you get your internet from is watching you.

To install the SuperRepo repository:

  • In the System category, open the File Manager.
  • Click the Add source icon.
  • Click the list (it might say “none”) to open a text box where you can add a new source.
  • Type in the text box, and give it the name SuperRepo. Click Done.

Now you’ll see Super Repo in your file manager. The files you see will all install an add-on just by clicking on them.


This is the first one to find in your new SuperRepo source. USTVNow is an online version of the cable channels you’ll find through your cable company. CNN, NBC, Cartoon Network and a ton more are available and you’ll always be able to find something to watch. You’ll also find USTVNow in the official Kodi repository, but for faster updates and all-around better service, we recommend using the SuperRepo source.

USTVNow (the name is a clue) is for people in the U.S. only and requires an account. You can set that up, as well as stream to your computer, at

FilmOn TV

FilmOn TV is a service that offers both free and premium content. Good, current content. Whether you’re looking for UFC matches, catch up on your favorite cable show or watch a-list movies you’ll find them at FilmOn TV. You can also watch over 600 live TV channels or set up a recording to watch a show at your leisure. Paired with USTVNow, FilmON TV makes cord-cutting easy.

You will need to set up an account at

Dbmc (Dropbox)

Dbmc isn’t a full Dropbox client. It’s a way to view or listen to stuff in your Dropbox. You can be boring and productive while looking at TPS reports or you can watch any video you have collected and uploaded into Dropbox. It’s also a great way to build a slideshow of your photos on the big screen.

Dbmc is also available through the official Kodi repository, but we’ve found the SuperRepo version to be quicker on the updates.

Of course, you need a Dropbox account.

If you’re using Kodi and have a favorite of your own that’s nto on our list, shout out in the comments so everyone can check it out!


ICYMI: A soft robot sleeve to keep your heart going

ICYMI: A soft robot sleeve to keep your heart going

Today on In Case You Missed It: A soft robotic device made by Harvard and Boston Children’s Hospital researchers has been tested on pigs and so far, seems quite promising in treating heart disease. The robotic heart wraps around parts of existing tissue and helps squeeze, keeping the blood moving. But unlike other existing devices that are inserted into the heart, this just goes over the top. Its makers believe that will lead to better outcomes for patients that use it, since cycling blood through a medical device can lead to all kinds of complications, from infection to blood clots. No word yet on when they’ll begin tests in humans.

The video about the wearable solar cell collector is here and if I can recommend one good read, let it be the e-waste surge in Asia the last five years.

Programming Note: I’ll be out for the next six weeks to recover from a shoulder surgery, so please enjoy the talented fill-ins. The show will be cut back to two episodes a week in my absence. But because of the marvels of pre-planning, you can still see me in Engadget’s newest show, The Future IRL. It premieres on Tuesday.

As always, please share any interesting tech or science videos you find by using the #ICYMI hashtag on Twitter for @engadget or @mskerryd.


Obama’s legacy: The most tech-savvy president

When Barack Obama moved into the White House on January 20th, 2009, the federal government was in the digital dark ages. Even as late as 2011, he was complaining that the White House was 30 years behind. Among other things, Obama was the first president to carry a BlackBerry, and even so, it wasn’t until 2016 that the leader of the free world was finally able to trade in his aging RIM device for a modern smartphone. And, as the president was quick to point out in an interview with Jimmy Fallon, the unnamed phone is so locked down, it’s like one of those “play phones” you’d give to a 3-year-old.

Despite these hurdles, Obama made it one of his priorities to modernize the federal government on everything from telecommunications policy to White House IT. He tackled infrastructure, STEM education, net neutrality and climate change in serious and substantive ways. Of course, the president’s efforts weren’t always a rousing success, and on issues involving privacy, spying and drone usage, he faces lingering criticism from both ends of the political spectrum.

But, love him or hate him, for better or worse, when it comes to science and technology, Barack Obama has had a bigger impact than almost any president in history.

Spreading his message

In 2008, the political establishment still hadn’t figured out the Internet. But Obama saw the power of social networking early on. His campaign built the grassroots organizing platform, which was sort of a mashup of and MySpace, with some fundraising tools bolted on. These days, the internet is the cornerstone of any political campaign. And it’s not just about raising money through a well-designed website; it’s about Twitter and Reddit AMAs and Snapchat. Obama’s 2008 march to the White House was the first major political operation to truly embrace the web.

After taking office, he continued to push the boundaries of how the government, and especially the White House, used the internet. He was quick to embrace the relatively young Twitter, and convinced the government to secure @POTUS for whoever the sitting president is. He posted weekly video addresses to the nation on the White House website and even started streaming the State of the Union.

In January 2016, Engadget dubbed him “the White House’s first social media ninja,” and we’re not backing down from that claim. While it may seem like a no-brainer that a president and his administration would rely on the same digital tools as the citizenry, he was still the first. The first on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr … you get the idea. He even embraced the medium of GIFs. (He pronounces that word with a hard g, by the way — possibly a more controversial subject than even the Affordable Care Act.) After Obama, expectations about the how the president interacts with the public have forever changed.

The internet


Seeing as how the internet was crucial to getting Obama elected and helping spread his message of “hope and change,” it’s not surprising that he made broadband a major priority. Right off the bat, the president set aside billions of dollars to invest in improving the quality and reach of high-speed internet. The FCC’s National Broadband Plan, developed during Obama’s first term, set a goal of giving all Americans access to “robust broadband services” by 2020.

There’s still room for improvement on that front. In 2010, when the plan was passed, roughly 60 percent of households had wired broadband service, according to Pew Research. In 2015, that figure was up to 67 percent, though another 13 percent of Americans said they relied entirely on mobile broadband on their smartphones. According to the FCC, 6 percent of Americans still don’t have access to high-speed internet, particularly in rural and tribal areas of the country.

Home broadband use has plateaued

The growing importance of wireless wasn’t lost on Obama either. His administration quickly put forward a plan to free up spectrum for cellular providers and invested in 4G technologies for rural areas. And just last year, the White House and the FCC took proactive steps to establish guidelines for next-generation wireless networks, or 5G.

While expanding the reach of broadband was priority number one, President Obama also sought to preserve net neutrality. The notion that all traffic on the internet should be treated equally, so long as it doesn’t violate any laws, turned out to be surprisingly controversial.

The FCC started with some limited rules in 2010 that basically made nobody happy, but by 2015 the agency and the White House were pushing to reclassify broadband access under Title II, meaning it would be subject to the same regulations and protections as other utilities. In June of that year, the new rules went into effect, guaranteeing that (almost) all internet traffic would be treated exactly the same. Those rules are increasingly important as the media landscape consolidates. For example: Comcast delivers broadband internet and pay TV, but it also owns NBCUniversal. The FCC’s net neutrality regulations say that Comcast can’t give content from MSNBC priority over that from HBO or Netflix.

Consumer protection and data rights

The Obama administration wasn’t blind to the dangers of the internet, however. As the power of companies to collect data on customers and track them grew, pressure mounted from consumer and privacy advocacy groups to put protections in place. In 2012, the White House threw its weight behind an online bill of rights as well as the Do Not Track web standard, which lets consumers opt out of tracking cookies that serve up customized ads. Several bills of this nature were introduced in the House and Senate between 2011 and 2012, but all of them failed to pass. Despite that, the public attention led Microsoft, Mozilla and Google to build tools into their browsers that made it easier for consumers to opt out of personalized ads. Still, the reality is somewhat complicated, since the company serving up the ads would also need to honor the “do not track” request.

In 2014, the White House resurrected the idea of a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, following a probe into the NSA’s data-gathering practices (more on that later). It called for a sweeping overhaul of the Electronic Communications and Privacy Act (ECPA), which was passed in 1986 and was woefully out of date. The proposed reforms included putting an end to mining student email accounts to serve up targeted ads and requiring more explicit consent from customers to use their data.

Of course, as with many ideas proposed in the later stages of Obama’s tenure as president, Congress failed to make them a reality. Here too, though, public pressure forced some companies to take (limited) action on their own. Still, without clear laws on the books regarding things like notification of breaches, many companies continue to act against the interests of their customers and keep the details of hacks and data leaks secret.

While it was often difficult for the administration to enact meaningful reform to protect consumer privacy, Obama was unafraid to use the FTC’s existing powers and the bully pulpit to the best of his ability. And, when possible, he turned to executive actions, especially during his second term. For example, in 2013 he signed a series of actions aimed at protecting consumers and small businesses from patent trolls.

Surveillance and the NSA

NSA Surveillance

The Obama administration at least paid lip service to protecting the privacy and data of Americans from companies and hackers, but when it came to the government, things were a little different. Obama presided over the most expansive domestic spying program in the country’s history. The details of the bulk metadata collection and internet traffic-gathering programs are alarming. And the scope is large enough that we can barely scratch the surface in this story.

Many of these NSA spying programs began under his predecessor, but under Obama’s administration these efforts only grew. If you’ve ever ignored instructions to turn off your phone on a flight, any calls you’ve made have been tracked by the NSA. Even as recently as 2015, the White House was expanding the agency’s ability to monitor internet traffic.

While courts, the White House and Congress have placed some limits on the NSA’s ability to collect data on citizens, overall its abilities to spy haven’t been hampered. That is especially true when it comes to citizens of foreign nations. And while the NSA spied on foreign citizens and leaders, it also spent plenty of time monitoring ordinary Americans and even Congress.

Between PRISM, Boundless Informant, Co-Traveler, XKeyscore and SKYNET, the US government built probably the largest networks of spying tools ever seen. It did this by tapping directly into the servers of the largest internet companies. And in some cases it allegedly convinced these companies to work with the government.

At this point, the NSA and the Obama White House have set an expectation regarding spying, both foreign and domestic. It’s a precedent other countries and his successor are likely to follow.

Space and science

Space Station Over Earth (NASA, International Space Station, 03/07/11)

During his campaign in 2008, Barack Obama talked a lot about science and rational thought. But even his own advisers were surprised by how much he embraced science. He pledged in 2009 to “restore science to its rightful place.” By most accounts, he quickly did just that, by naming the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to the rank of assistant to the president. He was not the first to do so, but during the Bush administration, the OSTP was not given the same level priority. According to the New York Times, Obama’s science advisory committee has been the most active in history, launching 34 different studies during his tenure.

One of his first executive orders lifted the ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. The practice is a controversial one, but both scientists and doctors believe that stem cells could hold the key to curing countless diseases, from Parkinson’s to cancer, and could even be used to treat physical injuries, including spinal cord damage.

At the same time, the president signed a memorandum instructing the OSTP to “develop a strategy for restoring scientific integrity to government decision-making.” He made it clear from moment one that empirical evidence would be the driving force behind his administration’s decisions.

“Ensuring that the US continues to lead the world in science and technology will be a central priority for my administration.” —Barack Obama

The administration oversaw the revitalization of NASA, and a surprise increase in the agency’s budget. While the space shuttle program came to a close in 2011, NASA is working on a new space vehicle of its own and has partnered with private companies on other spacecraft. When Obama took office in 2009, the idea of a commercial space flight seemed relatively far-fetched. It was just six months before his inauguration when SpaceX became the first private company to reach orbit, and now it’s running resupply missions to the ISS.

The president and Joe Biden also made a point of identifying the next “moonshots” — grand projects like the BRAIN initiative and Cancer Moonshot Task Force. These programs pumped billions of dollars into mapping the human mind and advancing neuroscience, and battling cancer, respectively. Just before he left office, Obama pledged millions to research artificial intelligence and to work with industry leaders to ensure it’s a force for positive change.

Climate change

Nowhere has Obama’s approach to science been more clear than on climate change. But this is also one of the areas where his legacy may be short-lived. As we’ve discussed before, much of the work done by the Obama White House can easily be undone by the incoming administration, including the Clean Power Plan and it could refuse to comply with the Paris Agreement.

By his second term, Obama was increasingly reliant on executive orders to accomplish his goals. So, while a 40 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by the federal government within the next decade sounds significant, the truth is that efforts like these aren’t likely to endure. And it’s still unclear if his decision to protect large swaths of the continental shelf from offshore drilling, under a 1953 law, will survive legal challenges.

That being said, during his time as president, Obama did manage to make some lasting impact. He argued recently in an essay for Science that clean energy has “irreversible momentum,” and that may be true. In the past eight years, his policies have helped turn wind, solar and other renewable forms of energy into big business. Federal investment in R&D and tougher regulations have accelerated the move toward clean energy and electric cars. The Department of Energy even loaned Tesla $465 million.

New presidents may reduce regulations and increase reliance on fossil fuels, but they won’t be able to roll back an entire industry.


With all the work to be done in science and technology, it’s clear that one of the priorities would need to be training future engineers, researchers and programmers. The White House invested plenty of government resources in STEM education, pushing for computer programming classes in high schools and encouraging teachers to provide hands-on learning opportunities.

But more important, Obama used his stature to draw attention to science, technology and astronomy. He hosted an entire week of programming on the Science Channel, guest-edited Wired and recorded an introduction for the prime-time reboot of Cosmos with Neil deGrasse Tyson. In short, he helped make science cool again and even became the first president to write a computer program.

“If you win the NCAA championship, you come to the White House. Well, if you’re a young person and you produce the best experiment or design, the best hardware or software, you ought to be recognized for that achievement, too.” —Barack Obama

The White House became home to an annual science fair and mini Maker Faires where the president geeked out with kids of all ages, as well as celebrities like Bill Nye and LeVar Burton. Projects on display ranged from efforts to program complex neural networks to marshmallow guns and artificial legs.

Modernizing the government

Megan Smith Celebrates Her May Cover Of WIRED With MAKERS At AOL's HQ

Just three months into his first term, Barack Obama appointed America’s first chief technology officer, Aneesh Chopra. This new position within the OSTP focused on helping the White House leverage data and new technologies to improve government efficiency and effectiveness. The creation of the CTO position was an attempt to bring something of a Silicon Valley mind-set to the federal government.

Chopra and Obama quickly made efforts to modernize the executive branch. That involved opening up data to be shared between agencies and with the American public. Suddenly, machine-readable government information was readily available to anyone interested in building an app or performing research. APIs available through made it easy for companies to tap into this wealth of information to improve everything from real estate search results to calorie-counting apps.

In 2014, Obama also formed the United States Digital Service, which is essentially a consulting agency within the Executive Office that helps other federal agencies. USDS offers guidance on IT, connects departments with outside contractors and generally helps improve public-facing federal websites.

The White House and the Commerce Department also embraced the concept of “big data” and added chief data scientist positions. These new roles focused on turning the vast amounts of information being collected by the government into actionable policy.

These were not the only roles President Obama established with a focus on taking on the challenges of an increasingly digital world. He, along with the Pentagon, created several cybersecurity-specific positions within the administration. Proposals have even been floated to elevate Cyber Command to the same status as other military combatant commands, such as the Pacific Command and United States Central Command. And, as he leaves office, Obama hands over a comprehensive new cybersecurity plan for his successor. (Though it’s unlikely the new administration will embrace it.)

In eight years, Barack Obama left an indelible mark on our federal government and our country. Some of his efforts on climate change and his heavy investment in science won’t continue under the new president. But the White House Donald Trump is taking over is far more modern and agile than the one inherited by his predecessor. It’s also one with far more tools and data at its disposal.

It’s safe to say that part of Obama’s legacy will be as the most tech-savvy president in history. A title he’ll likely keep for at least the next four years.

Images: Joshua Lott via Getty Images (Lead image); Reuters (Tom Wheeler); D. Thomas Magee (Yahoo illustration); ASSOCIATED PRESS (NSA protest); NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center/Flickr (ISS in orbit); REUTERS (smokestacks); Adela Loconte via Getty Images (US CTO, Megan Smith).

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