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22
Mar

Button Mapper: Full customization options for your phone’s buttons (Review)


Modern phones currently have so many different shortcuts for all kinds of things. My current phone lets me double push the home key to get to the camera. Prior to that, I had a phone where you only had to twist your wrist twice to open the camera, and if I did a chopping motion I could turn on my flashlight. These are great tricks to get to what you need quickly, but most of the time, the buttons on our phones are regulated to just opening the camera or adjusting volume. Button Mapper looks to change all that by providing a way to change how the physical buttons on your phone behave.

Developer: flair2
Cost: Free/$2.99
Download: Google Play

Overview

Setup for Button Mapper is pretty simple, but it does have a long list of permissions needed. The developer is pretty transparent in saying why they are needed (if you make the long press of your home key call home then permission is needed, for example). You are presented with a pretty extensive list of options, however customization beyond a physical home key (if you have one) and volume keys are locked in the free version.

Your options for customization are extensive. To start, you have to chose which key to customize, and then which shortcut you want: single tap, double tap, or long press. After that, you have to decide what you want each shortcut to do. The options are extensive. You can set shortcuts to open apps, or you can choose from a bunch of different options including:

  • Home, back or recent apps
  • Last app
  • Execute any task in Tasker
  • Turn screen off
  • Toggle flashlight
  • Quick settings
  • Show notifications
  • Power dialog
  • Take screenshot
  • Music: previous track, next track, and play/pause
  • Adjust volume
  • Mute volume
  • Toggle do not disturb
  • Adjust brightness
  • Toggle WiFi
  • Toggle orientation mode
  • Now on tap (requires root)
  • Menu button (require root)
  • Kill foreground app (requires root)

It’s a pretty impressive list. There are a few root-only options, but a majority of the options are available for rooted and unrooted users. Additional options include swapping the “Back” and “Recent Apps” buttons, disabling Button Mapper on certain apps to not interfere with things like camera zoom, and adjusting long press and double tap timing.

How well does it work?

I struggled at first figuring out exactly what I wanted to customize, not because I didn’t like the idea, but because there are just SO MANY options. I started with making double tap of volume up skip to the next track on Spotify, and volume down goes to the previous song. It works really well and lets me jump around my playlist a little while keeping my phone in my pocket. Most headphones are able to do similar, but my headphones are inconsistent with doing this, so I much prefer this way. The only problem with this is that button mapper doesn’t work if the phone screen is off, so I have to tap the phone on first before double tapping. I don’t mind this because it means that I don’t accidentally trigger any shortcuts pulling my phone out. Another of my favorite uses is to press and hold my home button to quickly check messages on my lock screen, then have it turn the screen off when you release it. I have to disable my fingerprint unlock for that one to work (otherwise my phone just unlocks) but its functionality is almost worth it. I haven’t experienced any glitching or failure to launch when using actions or app shortcuts. After using this app for about two weeks not, I can safely say that the level of functionality that it adds to my phone is well worth the price.

The Price

As I mentioned before, there are a number of features that are locked behind the Pro version of the app. You won’t be able to adjust your back or recent keys, and there are several other minor options that are locked. Personally, after using it to be able to set my long press “Recent” key to switch back to the last app uses, and long press back to open Spotify, I’m pretty hooked on the Pro settings and would say it’s well worth the $2.99 price tag. The best thing you could do is download it, mess around with the volume keys and home keys and see how you like it. For me, it’s a no-brainer must-buy.

 

Conclusion

Button Mapper is a quick and easy way to add massive amounts of customization and shortcuts to any phone. It allows you to set up your volume keys, home button, and recent and back keys to do whatever you want at a simple push or two. There are a few options locked behind the Pro version, but that added functionality is easily worth the price tag. If you are always looking for a quick way to launch apps, or even to add some shortcuts to your flashlight or music player, this app is your best bet.

22
Mar

Black is the new gray: Here’s how to snag a sleek, limited-edition OnePlus 3T


Why it matters to you

If you’re already tempted by the excellent OnePlus 3T, you may want to try and grab one of these sleek, limited -dition midnight black models.

OnePlus recently tempted us with a limited edition-version of the excellent 3T smartphone, in a sleek midnight black finish, that was made available only at the Colette boutique store in Paris. Very cool, but if you’re not in the local area, impossible to buy. There’s no need to give up, however, because the company has decided to make it slightly easier for us to buy one of these cool, limited-run phones.

Starting March 24, you’ll be able to buy a midnight black OnePlus 3T phone for 440 British pounds through the Hypebeast online store in the U.K. — but you’ll have to be very quick to get one, because just 250 will be available.

More: Our review of the OnePlus 3T

Get one, and it’ll be a model with 128GB of internal storage space and 6GB of RAM, all wrapped up in a delectable midnight black aluminum body. OnePlus took its time getting the finish right, testing 30 options before settling on the final one seen here. It used three coatings of the color, sandblasted it twice for a bright finish, and finally added an anti-fingerprint layer to keep it free of smudges.

The technology inside the phone remains the same, which means a Snapdragon 821 processor, a 5.5-inch Optic AMOLED screen with a 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution, a 16-megapixel camera on the front and rear, plus a 3,400mAh battery with fast charging. Until now, the OnePlus 3T has been available in gunmetal gray and soft gold.

While the first batch of 250 midnight black OnePlus 3T phones won’t be available in the United States, OnePlus promises it’ll come to the OnePlus online store for U.S. buyers soon. However, like the first run, it’ll be sold in limited quantities so you’ll have to be ready with your credit card. It will cost $480, and the company hasn’t committed to a release date yet, but we’ll keep you updated here.

22
Mar

Best app deals of the day! 6 paid iPhone apps for free for a limited time


Everyone likes apps, but sometimes the best ones are a bit expensive. Now and then, developers make paid apps free for a limited time, but you have to snatch them up while you have the chance. Here are the latest and greatest apps on sale in the iOS App Store.

These apps normally cost money, and this sale lasts for a limited time only. If you go to the App Store and it says the app costs money, that means the deal has expired and you will be charged. 

More: 200 Awesome iPhone Apps | The best Android apps for almost any occasion

Remote Control

This app lets you turn your iPhone or iPad into the ultimate remote control for your Mac. Remote Control lets you take full control over your Mac using your iOS device.

Available on:

iOS

Phyzseek

Burn calories and fat, as well as build muscle, with daily, doctor-developed workouts that are short in duration but high in intensity.

Available on:

iOS

3D Earth

3D Earth presents a stunning live 3D simulation of our planet with weather, forecasts, and clock for cities around the world.

Available on:

iOS

Musemage

Musemage opens up your mobile device’s camera like nothing else, allowing you to use different filters and effects, all in real time. So edit as you shoot!

Available on:

iOS

Willio


Willio lets you split bills between friends and keep track of who owes what. It even lets you handle uneven shares and multiple currencies.

Available on:

iOS

System Activity Monitor

Take a deep dive into your iPhone to see whats going on inside. System Activity Monitor App is an activity monitor that provides a unique Dashboard view for your device.

Available on:

iOS

22
Mar

LastPass is patching up bugs that left passwords at risk of theft


Why it matters to you

Latest bugs in LastPass prove that password managers aren’t perfect either.

Password manager LastPass is patching a number of critical vulnerabilities in its software that left users’ passwords potentially leaking.

No software is ever totally safe and while password managers can offer a degree of security and convenience, they are not impervious as these security flaws demonstrate.

The latest bugs were discovered by Google Project Zero researcher Tavis Ormandy, who is renown for finding and disclosing flaws in security software. Ormandy said he found a vulnerability that allows for the stealing of passwords by running a binary version of the password manager’s extension.

In a proof of concept, Ormandy demonstrated using the code to launch an application. He opened the calculator in Windows but, he said, a malicious actor could use this code to steal password details when the manager is entering them into the login fields.

“That doesn’t look good, this script will proxy unauthenticated window messages to the extension. This is clearly a mistake, because anybody can do [it],” he wrote in his advisory.

More: LastPass, used by millions, may be vulnerable to shockingly simple exploits

“Therefore, this allows complete access to internal privileged LastPass RPC [remote procedure calls] commands,” he said.

I found another bug in LastPass 4.1.35 (unpatched), allows stealing passwords for any domain. Full report will be on the way shortly. pic.twitter.com/9VkV7R3vud

— Tavis Ormandy (@taviso) March 21, 2017

LastPass said in a tweet that this has been fixed and promised a blog post with more details on what went wrong but the post has yet to materialize.

Ormandy also found remote code execution vulnerabilities in the password manager’s Chrome and Firefox extensions. The Chrome bug has since been patched but the Firefox version remains unpatched for now but this may be due to a hold up on Mozilla’s end.

“We are aware of reports of a Firefox add-on vulnerability. Our security is investigating and working on issuing a fix,” said LastPass on Tuesday night.

This isn’t the first time that Ormandy has poked holes in LastPass’ software. In 2016, he disclosed a Firefox-related flaw that would have allowed an attacker to access someone’s extension, without them knowing, and delete the passwords.

22
Mar

Fly over the red planet with this stunning video built from actual Mars images


Why it matters to you

Humans won’t be setting foot on Mars in the immediate future — but you can still get a glimpse of how an artist might view the planet with this incredible project based on actual NASA images.

Photographer Jan Frojdman is familiar with devising creative ways to overcome obstacles — he once built a hot air balloon out of brown package paper to get an aerial view in his youth.  So when he set out on his latest project, he wasn’t about to let travel hurdles get in the way of his vision of a new type of aerial view — on Mars. The audiovisiual artist instead took thousands of images from NASA’s HiRISE camera to stitch together a video of what it would likely look like to fly over Mars.

The images from HiRISE are publicly available from NASA, JPL, and the University of Arizona. The images of the Martian topography allowed  Frojdman to create a 3D digital replica of the planet’s surface using the anaglyph process of superimposing multiple images to create a 3D effect. Frojdman had to manually set 33,000 reference points to create the anaglyphs. Stitching together multiple anaglyphs into panoramas allowed him to create realistic flyover effects.

More: Get your Sagan on with these 33 awe-inspiring photos of the final frontier

The topographical images are, however, in grayscale, so first Frojdman color graded the images. While the photographer used NASA research to simulate colors in the image, he says the video is a fictional work based on real images, designed for art not science.

The video took about three months to create between sorting through photos to pick the most interesting locations, creating the anaglyphs, stitching the 3D images together, and then creating the flyover effect.

“I would love to see images taken by a landscape photographer on Mars, especially from the polar regions. But I’m afraid I won’t see those kinds of images during my lifetime,” Fröjdman wrote on his website.

Fröjdman has used similar techniques to enhance video he shot from a regular airplane, using a similar 3D-mapping technique to add flyover effects different than the flight path of the actual airplane. For more details on Frojdman’s work, visit his website or Vimeo page.

22
Mar

Lexar’s new USB thumb drives can survive being run over by a car


Why it matters to you

Designed to protect your data from a variety of threats, the new JumpDrive is waterproof, shockproof, and includes 256-bit encryption.

As cloud storage becomes more common, the need for portable, removable drives has diminished, but for photographers, travelers, extreme athletes, or anyone working in remote locations, a hands-on physical solution for transporting important files is sometimes the only option.

To address the needs of such users, Lexar today unveiled its latest USB thumb drive, the JumpDrive Tough. Built to withstand the elements and survive a wide range of adverse conditions, it is waterproof, shockproof, and includes EncryptStick Lite software to provide 256-bit AES encryption that protects files and guards against corruption, loss, and deletion.

Whether you work in extreme conditions or are simply accident prone, the JumpDrive Tough has you covered. It is waterproof down to a depth of 98 feet, so if for some reason you want to carry your family memories with you on your next scuba diving trip, you can.  Or, you can just rest easy knowing if you drop it in the mud you can wash it off without fear of damaging it. Plus, if you’ve ever wanted to wear stiletto heels around the house or office but didn’t for fear of stepping on and destroying a stray USB flash drive, fear no more: the JumpDrive Tough can withstand up to 750 PSI of pressure.

More: SanDisk announces development of the only SD card you’ll ever need

Lexar didn’t just build this new thumb drive to be strong, they also made it fast, with a transfer speed of up to 150 megabytes per second and a read speed of up to 60MB per second over USB 3.1 connections. Lexar says that’s roughly four times faster than a USB 2 thumb drive, with the ability to transfer a 3GB file in less than one minute. Naturally, the drive is reverse compatible with older USB standards, albeit at slower speeds. 150MB per second isn’t as fast as many of Lexar’s other consumer memory products. The 1800x Professional MicroSD card transfers data at 270MB per second — but it probably wouldn’t survive being stepped on by an elephant or run over by a tank.

The JumpDrive Tough is available now in three different sizes: 32 gigabytes for $20, 64GB for $35, and 128GB for $60.

Buy now from:

Amazon

22
Mar

Google Maps now lets you share your location with your besties


Why it matters to you

Tapping out your current address is time consuming. The new Google Maps makes it easier with real-time location sharing.

Whether your navigating the Adirondacks or tracking down that hip new bar everyone’s talking about, Google Maps has your back. It’s packed to the brim with useful features like a speed indicator, turn-by-turn navigation, and parking reminder. And starting today, it’s getting location sharing.

Location sharing isn’t novel. Waze boasts location-sharing features, as does Glympse. And Google’s own Latitudes app, which the search giant retired in 2013, let you share your real-time whereabouts with friends. But there’s something to be said for convenience. With close to 95 million users (according to ComScore), Maps is Google’s most-used app after YouTube and the fourth most used app overall.  In other words, you likely know a friend who’s used it once or twice.

More: Google’s new and improved Maps does away with the clutter to make finding places easier

And sharing your location with that friend is now as simple as a tap. Within Maps, touching the blue “Share location” icon via the app’s side menu will serve up a menu from which you can specify with whom you want to share your location. You can broadcast your whereabouts for a set period of time (between 15 minutes and 3 days) or indefinitely. And if you opt for the latter, you’ll receive an email every two or three weeks to remind you that it’s on.

01-share_location-light_gray_final-1.gif

You’re not restricted to people in your Google contacts list. You beam a link to your location via email or text, but links are restricted to time-based sharing — they expire once a specified amount of time has elapsed.

Once you’ve shared your location with a privileged circle, you’ll be able to see which folks you’ve granted access to in the app’s Location Sharing screen. When someone shares their location with you, you’ll have the option of reciprocating by sharing your own location, or pulling up directions to the person’s address.

More: Never run for the bus again with Google Maps’ real-time commute update

There’s more. You can hide friends on the map who’ve shared their location, and “unhide” them when you choose. Obsessive types (and parents) can pin a person’s location to their home screen for speedier access. And if you’re navigating to a spot using Maps’ turn-by-turn features, you can send friends your real-time location and expected arrival time.

The new Google Maps also brings the number of supported ridesharing apps to 14 across 70 countries, up from 9 in January.

sharingyourlocation.gif

Where real-time location’s involved, there’s an obvious privacy concern. But Jen Fitzpatrick, vice president of Google Maps, said that sharers are in control.

More: A future version of Google Maps may feature location sharing, more new goodies

“Our goal is guiding and assisting users in the real world everyday,” Fitzpatrick told Engadget. “We’re stretching people’s perceptions on what maps can do for them, and the real-world tasks that we can help them with.”

Google further noted that it’s working with the Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse (CORA), a domestic abuse agency, to figure out the best way to protect the privacy of people dealing with abusive relationships.

Location sharing is rolling out to iOS, Android, and desktop users worldwide in the coming weeks.

22
Mar

Mouse’s facial recognition camera is a cost-effective way to use Windows Hello


Why it matters to you

If you want to drop the password for your PC in favor of facial recognition, this camera is the cheapest way to do so.

Windows Hello, introduced as part of Windows 10, is a great way to secure your PC with biometrics, but purchasing the necessary hardware to take advantage of its functionality can be expensive. However, Japanese manufacturer Mouse Computers offers a camera that can do the job without breaking the bank.

The company is fielding the Mouse facial recognition camera for Windows Hello, a cost-effective peripheral that is available on Amazon. The camera only costs $70, which is substantially cheaper than other devices that offer the same support for logging in via a facial scan.

Windows Hello allows users to log into their PC using biometric credentials, eliminating the need for a conventional password. The functionality supports fingerprint scanning, but in this case, a small camera would be attached to the monitor in order to carry out a scan of the user’s facial features.

More: Microsoft’s Windows Hello makes headway, with almost 100 supported devices

Mouse’s camera apparently supports all the same features as Microsoft’s proprietary Windows Hello camera, according to a report from MS Power User. This includes one-second hands-free login, support for multiple users logging into the same system, and the ability to distinguish between a real user and a photograph of their face.

We all know the importance of keeping our devices secure and Windows Hello could help many users do just that. While passwords can be guessed or stolen, it’s much more difficult to falsify someone’s biometrics, so fingerprint scans and facial recognition could prove to be very popular going forward — if the necessary hardware isn’t prohibitively expensive.

It seems that Windows 10 users are already jumping on Mouse’s camera, as Amazon is listing the device as out of stock until later this week at the time of writing. If this particular camera strikes a chord with consumers, expect to see plenty more manufacturers release their own inexpensive peripherals for use with Windows Hello.

22
Mar

Cinemood, the pint-sized projector for your pint-sized kids, now coming to U.S.


It may seem like retro technology, but there’s nothing antiquated about this pint-sized projector. After a successful Indiegogo campaign last year, the Cinemood, a mini-projector designed specifically with families in mind, is coming to brick and mortar stores in the U.S. Beginning in April, parents who want to give their children an “alternative interface for technology” will be able to check out this 21st century storytelling machine.

While you may not want your youngsters spending too much time with their eyes glued to a television or laptop screen, the Cinemood may be the alternative that lets users tap into the addictive and hypnotic qualities of the TV while determining what sort of content their tots are consuming.

Cinemood boasts swappable smart covers that are meant to turn a plain wall or ceiling into a theater of sorts. From there, parents can choose from cartoons, digital books, or even creative play environments to be projected for the enjoyment of young viewers. This, the Cinemood team hopes, will allow “watching television” to become more of a shared experience that transcends the typical zombie-like state that arises from sitting in front of a monitor for hours on end.

Related: Lazertouch is a projector that lets you turn any surface into a touchscreen

From blocking unwanted content (you can control everything your child sees from Cinemood) to a brand new way of telling children their bedtime stories (by projecting them on the ceiling) to connecting to cloud storage for your own enjoyment, Cinemood says that there are a wide variety of applications that make this portable projector an ideal addition to any family. The projector runs on Android KitKat and has 1GB of RAM storage, with a DLP optical engine. It weighs in at just 250 grams and fits in the palm of your hand.

Since its successful Indiegogo campaign, Cinemood has made quite a few changes. For one, it has introduced a new iOS app that allows you to control the mini projector from your iPhone, and which you can download here. Moreover, the team is looking to strengthen its content creation platform, helping young users develop and exercise their creativity. And speaking of content, Cinemood is putting the finishing touches on its Content Subscription package, which will “aggregate external content libraries and show the best content based on our recommendation system algorithms,” the company told Digital Trends. 

The 777 folks who backed the projector during its crowdfunding days have already received their own Cinemoods, and you can now order your own on the Cinemood website for $449.

Article originally published in May 2016. Updated on 3-22-2017 by Lulu Chang: Added news of Cinemood’s upcoming availability in the U.S.

22
Mar

Everything you need to know about LG Pay


Apple has Apple Pay, Samsung has Samsung Pay, Android has Android Pay, and now LG has LG Pay. Long rumored, it now seems as though LG Pay is finally almost ready for launch.

Presumably, it will use near-field communication (NFC) technology  just like Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay. Using the popular NFC system would make it easier for LG to gain support, since it can latch onto all the same retailers whose payment terminals work with other types of mobile payments.

Launch date: June

The launch date for LG Pay has undergone quite a few changes over the past year, but the latest news comes from Reuters, which notes that LG has confirmed that the service will finally launch in June of this year in South Korea. It’s not yet known if the service will launch outside of South Korea — and if so, when. Initially, the service will only be available on the LG G6 — however, it’s expected to come to more devices soon after.

More: Read all the LG G5 rumors and news

Previously, it was rumored that LG would launch the service alongside the LG G5 at MWC 2016, however that didn’t end up happening. Then, the company announced that it was delaying the service to the second quarter of 2016 — which didn’t happen again. The company denied that it delayed the launch of its mobile payments service because of limited support from U.S. credit card companies.

LG Pay may include mobile payments and a smart credit card

While LG has confirmed that it will launch LG Pay sometime in the future, it’s unclear whether it will be a mobile payment solution or a physical card. Or both.

The Korean company said on Facebook that it has deals with two major credit card companies in the country — Shinhan Card and KB Kookmin Card — but did not mention a specific launch date for the service or details about how the system works.

Back in November 2015, ET News reported that LG’s plan for LG Pay would be a White Card similar to Plastc or the Coin card. In other words, it would be a plastic card similar to a credit card, but it would store several credit cards and possibly connect to an app on your phone.

In late January 2016, the same site leaked images of the said card along with unconfirmed claims. ET News is reporting that the card is about the same size as a credit card, but it’s slightly thicker. Users will be able to store information for several credit cards and cycle through them using the LCD display and navigation controls. The card can also be locked so no one else can access the stored information.

Supposedly users would supposedly be able to use the White Card in ATM machines as well.

The White Card may also include metal pins for charging, and a charging accessory is rumored to ship with it. The images show what appears to be a battery life indicator on the LCD display of the White Card.

According to a representative of one of LG Pay’s partners, transactions won’t go through LG’s servers, so they are still controlled by the credit card companies. This means that banks are more likely to partner with LG Pay.

Allegedly, the White Card will come with a magnetic stripe at the back when launched, so it won’t work with chip readers. However, sources indicate that chip support will arrive at a later date.

It’s unclear whether LG will also include some sort of mobile app for those consumers who would rather make payments with their smartphones instead of the White Card.

According to ET News, the White Card will be officially unveiled at Mobile World Congress in February.

It’s official! We have partnered with Shinhan Card and KB Kookmin Card to prepare for the launch of LG Pay. (From left:…

Posted by LG Mobile on Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Related: Read our LG V10 review

Would LG block Android Pay?

The announcement of LG Pay won’t necessarily mean that LG will block Google’s Android Pay.

Related: The $380 LG Nexus 5X is the Nexus 5 successor you’ve been waiting for

Once LG does introduce its own mobile payments platform, it’ll be following the trend of LG tagging onto the things its larger and more successful regional rival Samsung does. The Galaxy S6 maker launched Samsung Pay, a new intuitive payments service that works with any card reader, regardless of whether it supports contactless cards or NFC-based mobile payments.

LG Pay doesn’t sound like a huge advancement in the mobile payments market, but LG might be able to bake in more payment support than Apple Pay or Samsung Pay, to make LG Pay more versatile.

Updated on 03-22-2017 by Christian de Looper: Added news that LG has confirmed June launch date in South Korea.

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