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24
Oct

Amazon Updates Kindle for iOS App With New Design and Goodreads Integration


Amazon today announced an all-new version of its Kindle iOS app, which has been redesigned to provide streamlined access to some of Kindle’s most popular features. The company said this will let users more easily move between pages of a book, access their library and the bookstore, and more. Amazon has also built Goodreads into the iOS app for the first time, similar to the implementation its e-readers have seen over the years.

Details of the new design include larger book covers, new fonts, a new app icon, and a new light background theme to go with the existing dark option. The new bottom bar navigation allows one-tap access to the book you’re currently reading, as well as tabs for Home, Library, Store, and more options. There’s also now a search bar available throughout the app, allowing for instant searches of your library or the Kindle Store.

“We’ve built the new Kindle app from the ground up for book lovers, giving readers easy access to everything they might want to do with their books, all in one place,” said Chuck Moore, Vice President, Kindle. “It’s now easier than ever to turn your phone or tablet into a book and immerse yourself in an author’s world at any time.”

iOS users will also be able to sign into their Goodreads accounts to discuss books and get recommendations from fellow readers, thanks to integration with the social network built directly into the app. Amazon owns Goodreads, and has added functionality for the reader-based social network into a few of its Kindle devices since it purchased the company in 2013.


Goodreads features in Kindle for iOS include a Community tab to stay up-to-date with what friends are reading, as well as suggestions for people to follow who have similar tastes in books. You can post notes and highlights from the book you’re currently reading so friends can comment, share when you start and finish a book, rate books, and more abilities taken from Goodreads’ social network features.


Goodreads will be available in the Kindle app only on iOS for users in the United States, and will expand to Kindle for Android in a future update. The Kindle app is available to download for free from the iOS App Store [Direct Link], and the new update is rolling out in the App Store beginning today.

Tags: Amazon, Kindle
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24
Oct

Instagram Launches New ‘Live With a Friend’ Video Feature


Instagram today introduced a new live video feature for the Instagram app, which is designed to let Instagram users invite friends to join them on a live video stream.

In testing since August, the new live video option splits the screen in two to let a viewer watch two people in one video feed.

Starting today, we’re introducing a fun way to go live with a friend. Now, you can hang out and go live together, whether you’re just doing homework or catching up on your day.

Live video helps you share in an authentic way, but sometimes it can be intimidating when you’re on your own. It’s easy to add a guest while you’re broadcasting.

Instagram users can add a guest or a friend by tapping the “new” icon on the bottom right of the live video feed and then tapping “Add” on anyone who is currently watching an ongoing livestream on Instagram. Viewers can be swapped out at will, but live streamers can only have a single guest at a time.

When your friends are participating in a live video feed, two circles stacked together are displayed in the stories bar, and the feed can be watched and commented on just like any other live video.

Instagram says the new update is available as part of Instagram version 20, available from the App Store. [Direct Link]

Tag: Instagram
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24
Oct

Vitality Insurance Members in United Kingdom Can Exercise Their Way to Free Apple Watch Series 3


Vitality, a health and life insurance provider, today announced that new and existing members in the United Kingdom can essentially earn their way to a free Apple Watch by maintaining an active lifestyle.

Between now and December 31, members enrolled in an eligible VitalityHealth or VitalityLife insurance plan can get a 38mm or 42mm sized Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS only for £0 or £59 upfront respectively, and pay nothing more if they stay active and earn at least 160 Vitality activity points every month for two years.

Apple Watch Nike+ models also qualify for the £0 upfront offer. Selected GPS + Cellular models will be available later this year.

Vitality members can earn activity points for walking, running, cycling, and other forms of exercise. 12,500 steps tracked in a day is good for eight points, for example, while 30-59 minutes of cycling yields five points. Activity points can be tracked in the Vitality Member app and shared with Apple’s Health app on iOS devices.


In the worst case scenario, members who aren’t active will be required to pay up to £12.50 per month for 24 months, which is essentially the Apple Watch Series 3’s £329 starting price spread out over instalments.

Vitality openly admits that this program benefits both society and the company’s profits, which comes about as a result of people being healthier and hopefully submitting insurance claims less often.

There’s a lot of fine print involved: members must be at least 18 years old, a credit check is required, the Apple Watch cannot be resold, and members can earn a maximum of eight activity points per day and 40 activity points per week. Be sure to read the FAQ and terms and conditions for complete pricing and eligibility requirements.

Vitality is also the provider of the discounted Apple Watch offer that life insurance provider John Hancock is offering in the United States.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)
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24
Oct

BLU VIVO 8L Smartphone Review


We’re celebrating ten years of AndroidGuys with a ton of giveaways!

Just a couple months ago we took a look at the BLU VIVO 8, which garnered our praise for performing so well at such an affordable price. BLU has been in the budget smartphone game for quite some time now and it definitely shows. Coupled with the fact that you can readily pick one up at Amazon or even in Best Buy stores, its phones are of our top recommendations if you prefer more humble Android smartphone offerings.

If you still found the $299 price of the VIVO 8 a bit much, BLU is throwing another option now into the mix. The company sent us its newly launched little brother, the VIVO 8L. Let’s see if it can maintain the same bang-for-the-buck awesomeness.

Design

It’s immediately apparent that the VIVO 8L is a sibling of the 8. This cheaper variant fortunately maintains the metal uni-body casing that the original had. In-hand, you get that cold metal feeling along with a smooth, premium finish. It catches some fingerprints, but our dark gray (almost black) model hides them well.

The fingerprint scanner works flawlessly and is notably quick to respond. It continually scans – you don’t have to wake the phone first.

On the bottom, you’ll find a back-firing external speaker, headphone jack, and microUSB charging port (quick charge supported)

An unexpected change happened with the fingerprint scanner. BLU moved it from the front to the back, like many manufacturers today are opting for. It’s circular and is placed right under the rear camera. The finish on the sensor matches exactly with the metal surrounding, but your finger can easily find it due to being slightly recessed. In our opinion, the phone looks much cleaner with this change. The front still has capacitive navigation buttons, but with Google’s icons for Recent Apps, Home, and Back.

It’s nice that BLU pre-installs a screen protector on the display. Particularly on this phone, its curved glass design leaves the screen exposed and vulnerable. You won’t want to set it face down without a screen protector, even with its Gorilla Glass 3 protection. It sure does look pretty though!

Performance

Like on the VIVO 8 (and most budget phones), the 8L is powered by a MediaTek chipset. It has a slightly down-clocked version of MediaTek’s 67XX series – a 1.3GHz MT6753 versus the 2.0GHz MT6755 chipset on the VIVO 8. But it’s still an octa-core processor with 64-bit support. RAM is also slightly knocked at still a capable 3GB.

Two levels of power saving modes for even more battery life.

As imagined, these minimal changes do end up being little consequence in real-world use. Navigation throughout the VIVO 8L is as responsive as we would want. We weren’t at all left wishing for more horsepower. Sure, it’s not going to quite fly like top-end Android flagships, but it’s really not far off. Probably the most crucial downgrade was the drop from 64GB to 32GB of internal storage. But fortunately, microSD expansion is still supported (up to 64GB).

One of the best things is that the battery capacity was barely touched from the VIVO 8 – reduced only by 10mAh. Coupled with the VIVO 8L’s reduced power components, we achieved some worthy battery life stats. The 8L can easily last through a day, and consistently for two days with moderate use. Battery life is probably the biggest win of the VIVO 8L.

Display

The screen size of the VIVO 8L gets a slight drop to 5.3″. The resolution is also knocked to 720P, but the impact from the VIVO 8 is minimal due to the size reduction. No, this is not going to come close to the sharpness of top-end Androids, but it’s no way a fuzzy mess. The screen setup is decent and certainly gets the job done.

This is an IPS LCD panel, so you won’t get the color pop and clear viewing angles that OLED panels provide. That said, the image quality is preserved at even extreme viewing angles, with only a slight brightness shift. The best thing about this panel is that it gets notably bright. Around 50% brightness was plenty for us in most situations, and outdoor visibility in sunshine is respectable.

Camera

The VIVO 8L manages to retain the same primary camera as its bigger brother – the 13MP Sony IMX258 sensor. We found this camera to perform decently in our VIVO 8 review, but nothing to necessarily write home about. It’s important to know that it lacks optically image stabilization that is now common in higher-end phones. Its f/2.0 lens aperture is respectable, and Auto HDR is on-board to help with those tricky lightning situations.

Check out some of our camera samples:

1 of 9


In well-lit situations, the quality of our shots very good for this price range. Detail from the 16MP capture can be clearly seen from macro to landscape shots. Indoors in lower light, things can quickly become noisy, as well as over-highlighting or over-darkening in higher dynamic range situations – things expected for a mid-range smartphone camera (considering the VIVO 8L is priced more towards the low-end).

We must mention that BLU upgraded the front camera. We thought a 16MP capture resolution was already considerable on the VIVO 8; now there’s a whopping 20MP selfie shooter there. Yes, you heard that right. The front camera has 7MP more than the main camera. Apparently BLU is really serious about selfies. And that spec sure does translate to great image quality. Even high-end Androids (with their measly 5MP or 8MP cameras) won’t compare in regard to detail captured.

Software

BLU nicely stays up to date with Android’s on-goings. On the VIVO 8L, we’re looking at Android 7.0 (Nougat) build. We like that BLU’s software tweaks aren’t heavy. The UI still largely looks like stock Android. The Recent Apps carousel and app drawer, for instance, look pure. The split-screen multitasking function also works like it does on stock. There is some app bloat pre-installed, but we like that BLU uses Google apps were applicable.

However, the UI changes that BLU did make are almost all questionable. One of our biggest gripes was with the notification drop-down. The Quick Settings menu seems to be completely removed. We made a bunch of attempts to try to get it to display and failed. There’s absolutely no reason to do this. So every time we simply want to adjust the brightness, we need to dig into the Settings menu. And speaking of which, BLU’s custom Settings menu layout is a mess. Why not just keep things the way they are in stock Android, especially when it adds no value to change it? We also don’t know why Nougat’s up/down swipe in the Home screen to access the app drawer was reverted back to a button.

Dual-app split-screen functions like stock

Multitude of custom gestures

Features tab of the Settings menu

Not all the tweaks are bad though. BLU’s addition of some useful gestures is generous, such as double tap to wake and or the ability to draw a pattern on the screen while it’s off to activate a function. Also, there’s an extra tab in the Settings called “Features” that provide shortcuts to the phone’s useful abilities. One of these is the two-tier power saving modes.

Final Thoughts

To sum it up, the BLU VIVO 8L certainly does maintain the line’s bang-for-the-buck superiority. It even improves on it a couple ways, with slightly better battery life results and an upgraded front camera. Our only gripes considering the low price of this phone is the unnecessary software tweaks to the Android OS, though it’s not severe. We can easily recommend the VIVO 8L at a retail of $200.

And for its launch, BLU is for limited time knocking $50 off when purchasing from Amazon. The VIVO 8L is no doubt a bargain at $150.

24
Oct

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


Everyone likes Apple apps, but sometimes the best ones are a bit expensive. Now and then, developers put paid apps on sale for free for a limited time, but you have to snatch them up while you have the chance. Here are the latest and greatest iOS app deals available from 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. 

Timebox Photo Journal

This app will serve as your personal photo journal, now featuring iCloud shared journals so you can collaborate and exchange full-fidelity photo and video stories with your family and friends.

Available on:

iOS

Smart PDF Scanner

Just snap a photo of your document, and get a PDF file you can instantly send to your colleagues, all from your iPhone or Apple device.

Available on:

iOS

Picture Perfect

Picture Perfect is a fun and simple way to make beautiful photos in seconds. The app also brings in features such as ‘ToneCurve,’ which allows you to modify simply by clicking and dragging on the areas you wish to change.

Available on:

iOS

RadioApp

Easily tune in to local radio stations and to radio stations from all over the world, using a unique analog-like tuner.

Available on:

iOS

10K Runner

Go from Couch to 5K to 10K with the official and often imitated 10K Runner program. This app has over 1.2 million success stories of people who are now running 10K’s, and you can do it, too.

Available on:

iOS

Healthy CrockPot

The Healthy Crock Pot Recipe app contains recipes with a wide range of ingredients. Get featured recipes and categories based on season, trends, popularity, and more.

Available on:

iOS

Editor’s Recommendations

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




24
Oct

Lenovo beefs up security on select laptops with Intel Online Connect protection


Why it matters to you

If you’re worried about hackers gaining access to your private data as it’s tossed across the internet, specific Lenovo devices can now ease those worries.

Lenovo said on Tuesday, October 24 that it teamed up with Intel to bring FIDO-based certification directly to its Windows 10 PCs packing seventh and eighth-generation Core processors. This team-up essentially means the credentials used for Facebook, Google, Twitter, Amazon, PayPal, and so on will be safeguarded on the device by hardware-level encryption and the Intel Online Connect platform, keeping your private information out of the hands of hackers.

For starters, the FIDO Alliance is an ecosystem of devices and hardware on both ends of an internet connection for reducing the need to send sensitive credentials across the digital highways. There are two standards in the ecosystem, one of which is the Universal Authentication Framework (UAF) that relies on fingerprints, eyeballs, faces, and voices for authenticating a user. The other is the Universal Second Factor (U2F) platform that relies on secondary devices via Bluetooth, USB dongles, a smartphone, or smartwatch for additional authentication.

But that is just part of the overall security picture. Intel introduced its Software Guard Extensions (SGX) in its seventh-generation processors, a feature that increases the security of application code and data. Anything covered under the Intel SGX roof is supposedly protected even if the PC’s BIOS, system memory, operating system, and drivers are compromised by hackers.

Prior to Intel’s seventh-generation processors, embedded fingerprint readers and UAF-based software were typically your sources of password-free authentication on PCs. But now Intel’s latest processors serve as your main authenticator while built-in devices like a fingerprint scanner, facial recognition camera, and so on are your secondary authenticators. This setup provides two hardware layers for protection, removing the need for SMS or app-based authentication.

All this hardware protection is now complemented by Intel Online Connect when you need to send credentials online. This platform removes the requirement of constantly entering text or storing the information on a software level (aka browser). All that is required from you is a swipe of a finger to make quick payments. Intel Online Connect is compatible with Windows Hello, Microsoft’s new biometric security system baked into Windows 10.

The big news for Lenovo is that it is the first company to provide Intel Online Connect as a direct download. It’s available only for specific Lenovo devices and can be downloaded here, grabbed through the Lenovo System Update, or through Lenovo App Explorer. Lenovo devices must have seventh or eighth-generation Intel Core processors with the Intel SGX security feature enabled.

“I am thrilled to see the realization of this partnership between FIDO Alliance board members Intel and Lenovo, which resulted in the PC industry’s first FIDO-enabled embedded fingerprint and now includes support for all FIDO protocols on several new leading PC models,” Brett McDowell, executive director of the FIDO Alliance, said in a statement.

Here are the compatible systems:

  • P51, P51s, P71
  • T470, T470s, T470p
  • T570
  • X1 Tablet 2
  • X1 Carbon 5th gen
  • X270
  • Yoga 370, 910, 920
  • ideapad 720S-13IKB (MT: 81BV)

Editor’s Recommendations

  • Lenovo Yoga, Miix PCs invade IFA sporting 8th Gen Intel Core and 3D cameras
  • You can now buy a refurbished 12-inch laptop directly from Apple
  • Modders wanting a taste of ‘Coffee Lake’ may need to change their motherboard
  • Intel reveals its 8th-gen desktop CPU rollout early dubbed as Coffee Lake-S
  • Leak drips new information about Intel’s upcoming ‘Coffee Lake’ Core i3 CPUs




24
Oct

Lenovo beefs up security on select laptops with Intel Online Connect protection


Why it matters to you

If you’re worried about hackers gaining access to your private data as it’s tossed across the internet, specific Lenovo devices can now ease those worries.

Lenovo said on Tuesday, October 24 that it teamed up with Intel to bring FIDO-based certification directly to its Windows 10 PCs packing seventh and eighth-generation Core processors. This team-up essentially means the credentials used for Facebook, Google, Twitter, Amazon, PayPal, and so on will be safeguarded on the device by hardware-level encryption and the Intel Online Connect platform, keeping your private information out of the hands of hackers.

For starters, the FIDO Alliance is an ecosystem of devices and hardware on both ends of an internet connection for reducing the need to send sensitive credentials across the digital highways. There are two standards in the ecosystem, one of which is the Universal Authentication Framework (UAF) that relies on fingerprints, eyeballs, faces, and voices for authenticating a user. The other is the Universal Second Factor (U2F) platform that relies on secondary devices via Bluetooth, USB dongles, a smartphone, or smartwatch for additional authentication.

But that is just part of the overall security picture. Intel introduced its Software Guard Extensions (SGX) in its seventh-generation processors, a feature that increases the security of application code and data. Anything covered under the Intel SGX roof is supposedly protected even if the PC’s BIOS, system memory, operating system, and drivers are compromised by hackers.

Prior to Intel’s seventh-generation processors, embedded fingerprint readers and UAF-based software were typically your sources of password-free authentication on PCs. But now Intel’s latest processors serve as your main authenticator while built-in devices like a fingerprint scanner, facial recognition camera, and so on are your secondary authenticators. This setup provides two hardware layers for protection, removing the need for SMS or app-based authentication.

All this hardware protection is now complemented by Intel Online Connect when you need to send credentials online. This platform removes the requirement of constantly entering text or storing the information on a software level (aka browser). All that is required from you is a swipe of a finger to make quick payments. Intel Online Connect is compatible with Windows Hello, Microsoft’s new biometric security system baked into Windows 10.

The big news for Lenovo is that it is the first company to provide Intel Online Connect as a direct download. It’s available only for specific Lenovo devices and can be downloaded here, grabbed through the Lenovo System Update, or through Lenovo App Explorer. Lenovo devices must have seventh or eighth-generation Intel Core processors with the Intel SGX security feature enabled.

“I am thrilled to see the realization of this partnership between FIDO Alliance board members Intel and Lenovo, which resulted in the PC industry’s first FIDO-enabled embedded fingerprint and now includes support for all FIDO protocols on several new leading PC models,” Brett McDowell, executive director of the FIDO Alliance, said in a statement.

Here are the compatible systems:

  • P51, P51s, P71
  • T470, T470s, T470p
  • T570
  • X1 Tablet 2
  • X1 Carbon 5th gen
  • X270
  • Yoga 370, 910, 920
  • ideapad 720S-13IKB (MT: 81BV)

Editor’s Recommendations

  • Lenovo Yoga, Miix PCs invade IFA sporting 8th Gen Intel Core and 3D cameras
  • You can now buy a refurbished 12-inch laptop directly from Apple
  • Modders wanting a taste of ‘Coffee Lake’ may need to change their motherboard
  • Intel reveals its 8th-gen desktop CPU rollout early dubbed as Coffee Lake-S
  • Leak drips new information about Intel’s upcoming ‘Coffee Lake’ Core i3 CPUs




24
Oct

Android vs. iOS: Which smartphone platform is the best?


If you’re buying a new smartphone today, chances are very good that it will run Google’s Android or Apple’s iOS mobile operating systems. These two platforms accounted for more than 99 percent of all new smartphones shipped over the last year, and that rose to 99.7 percent in 2017, according to IDC. Microsoft has thrown in the towel with Windows Phone, BlackBerry makes Android devices now, and there are very few other options worth considering.

The good news is that both smartphone operating systems are excellent. They have far more in common than divides them, but there are some important differences that you’ll want to consider. We’re going to pit Android vs. iOS in several categories here and pick a winner for each one. Ultimately, the best platform for you depends on you. Pick the things that matter most to you, count the wins in those categories, and you have a recommendation.

Affordability

Apple has always been at the top end of the market in terms of pricing. The iPhone X is taking things to a whole new level with a starting price of $1,000. The iPhone 8 Plus starts from $800 and the iPhone 8 from $700. If you don’t want to spend that much, then you can go for the two-year-old iPhone 6S at $450 or the diminutive iPhone SE at $350. That’s as cheap as it gets unless you delve into the second-hand market.

For sheer scale and variety, nothing competes with Android. You can spend a lot if you want to, for example, Google’s new Pixel 2 phones and Samsung’s Galaxy Note line match Apple’s iPhone pricing, but there’s also a huge choice of low-cost handsets from a wide variety of different manufacturers and the platform has been deliberately optimized to run on low-end hardware. The fact that Android also leads the field in free apps makes it the natural choice for the budget-conscious.

Winner: Android

Apps

Simon Hill / Digital Trends

Let’s start with a look at the numbers. This is roughly how many apps you’ll find in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store:

  • Android apps: 2.8 million
  • iOS apps: 2.2 million

Truthfully, numbers aren’t the best metric because most of us only use a handful of apps and the most popular ones are available on both platforms. Traditionally, iOS has been a more lucrative platform for developers, so there has been a tendency for new apps to appear there first, but that is changing as Android’s market share continues to grow. In the U.S., iOS still leads the way, but developers elsewhere are increasingly targeting Android first.

The Play Store still has a higher percentage of free apps than the App Store. But the best mobile games still land on iOS first and they don’t always come to Android. Ultimately, quality beats quantity and so this is a narrow win for iOS.

Winner: iOS

App Store

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

It’s difficult to organize millions of apps and games and neither Google’s Play Store or Apple’s App Store does it perfectly. Overall, we think Apple’s redesigned App Store in iOS 11 provides a better browsing experience on your phone and does a better job with curated recommendations. The Play Store is easier to search and you can queue and install apps from the web browser on your PC or laptop.

We like the fact that you can buy apps using your fingerprint via TouchID on iPhones, but you can set up the same thing for the Play Store on Android phones with fingerprint sensors. The Play Store wins points for having a no quibble refund policy within 2 hours of purchase. There are some questionable apps in both stores, but Apple is generally stricter about blocking certain types of apps. That can be a good thing for overall quality, but it’s a bad thing if you’re into something like game emulators for classic consoles. The App Store edges the win for usability and curated content.

Winner: iOS

Alternative app stores and sideloading

It’s relatively easy to sideload apps on Android. Tick a box in the settings, download an APK and you’re set. There are also a lot of alternative Android app stores beyond the Play Store, but sideloading can open you up to the risk of malware. Apple is opposed to third-party app stores. If you want a wider choice of apps and easy sideloading then your choice is obvious.

Winner: Android

Battery life and charging

Simon Hill/Digital Trends

As one of the biggest bugbears for smartphone owners, battery life is a huge factor. It’s difficult to compare the two platforms because there’s no common hardware. We could say iOS is optimized to squeeze the most out of the battery per mAh rating, but you can buy an Android device with a much bigger battery that will easily outlast the iPhone.

Both Android and iOS allow you to see your battery usage at a glance, broken down by app, but only Android shows an estimate of how much battery life you have left. They both offer power saving modes that can extend your battery life by limiting performance, connectivity, and other power-sapping features, but precisely how it works is generally more customizable on Android.

For a long time, Android had an advantage in the charging department, because many Android phones offered fast charging capabilities and wireless charging. However, Apple’s iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and iPhone X all offer wireless charging and fast charging. It’s worth noting you have to buy the fast charging adapter separately, whereas it’s usually provided in the box with an Android phone.

This category is far from clear cut, but comparing similarly priced Android phones with iPhones, they tend to have longer battery life, so Android gets the win.

Winner: Android

Updates

Apple’s iOS offers consistent and timely software updates and security patches. If you want the same experience on Android, then you must buy one of Google’s Pixel phones. This is how iOS version share breaks down according to Mixpanel research:

  • iOS 11: 49.18 percent
  • iOS 10: 39.03 percent
  • Older: 11.79 percent

Just under 50 percent of all iOS devices are now running the latest version. By contrast, only 0.2 percent of Android devices are running the latest Android 8.0 Oreo. This is how Android breaks down according to the official Android Developer website:

  • Android 8.0 Oreo: 0.2 percent
  • Android 7.1 Nougat: 2 percent
  • Android 7.0 Nougat: 15.8 percent
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow: 32 percent
  • Android 5.1 Lollipop: 21 percent
  • Android 5.0 Lollipop: 6.7 percent
  • Android 4.4 KitKat: 14.5 percent
  • Older: 7.8 percent

If you want the latest features, bug fixes, and security updates, then you should choose iOS.

Winner: iOS

Customizability

Simon Hill/Digital Trends

This has always been one of Android’s main strengths. It’s very easy to theme your phone, you can set up the layout you want on your home screen, add widgets and shortcuts, and even change your entire user interface with launchers.

You can set backgrounds in iOS and there’s limited support for widgets, but you don’t have anything like the same level of freedom. Android also allows you to set up third-party apps as your default options for many things that are still locked down in iOS. If you enjoy tinkering, or you want a truly unique, personalized look for your home screen, then Android is the platform for you.

Winner: Android

Accessibility

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The perception that Android is more complicated than iOS prevails, but there’s no need to dive into customization options if you don’t want to. Both platforms offer a good range of accessibility features.

If you’re looking for a device for an elderly relative, or a technophobe then you’ll find some specialist offerings on Android, but they tend to scale down what’s possible. Manufacturers like Samsung also include options like “Easy mode” which make the interface bigger and simplify the whole experience, or you can opt for a third-party app to do the same. There are lots of good apps aimed at the elderly on Android and iOS.

Ultimately, iOS is simpler and easier to use in some important ways. It’s uniform across all iOS devices, whereas Android is slightly different on devices from different manufacturers. We also think iOS is less cluttered and more streamlined than most Android phones, although Google’s stock Android is every bit as elegant and accessible.

Winner: iOS

Calls and messaging

Basic calling and messaging functionality is good on both platforms, but it can be confusing on Android. Google appeared to be folding everything into Hangouts, which allows messages, SMS, video chat, group chat, and more via Wi-Fi or your data network, but then it somewhat confusingly released Allo and Duo. There’s also Android Messages, which used to be called Google Messenger, and it’s the default texting app. To make matters worse, you’ll find many manufacturers like to offer their own alternatives. Many Android phones come with their own messaging and dialer apps in addition to Google’s messaging apps, or they eliminate the Google apps.

FaceTime and iMessage come pre-installed on every iPhone and iPad, so it’s remarkably easy to connect with your friends and family. While iMessage is very easy to use, it works best when communicating with other iPhone users. You’ll find third-party app integration, fun stickers, GIFs, and much more in iMessage. We give iOS the win for its consistency and ease of use.

Winner: iOS

Email

The default email apps on Android and iOS are very easy to use and quick to set up. You can pull in multiple email accounts and view them in a single inbox if you desire. Android and iOS have a huge range of third-party email apps available as well. However, Gmail is a stronger default email app than iOS’ Mail. Since Gmail is the most popular email address system in the world, it makes sense that the Gmail app would be a winner. You can also add email addresses from different providers in Gmail with ease.

The only issue is that Android phones often offer alternative email apps made by the manufacturers, which may or may not be good.

Winner: Android

Maps

As the newer navigation system, Apple Maps did not have a great start, but it has improved significantly. Key features are similar, you can download maps for offline use, get accurate estimates based on current traffic conditions, and find turn-by-turn directions for driving or walking. You’ll also find public transit and ride-booking integration. They all work well and should get you where you’re going.

One thing that Google Maps offers that Apple Maps doesn’t is cycling directions. Overall, the scale and quality of Google Maps is unsurpassed. It has more points of interest and it is generally more detailed than Apple Maps, but the accuracy can vary from place to place. Given the choice we’d always pick Google Maps and, though you can get it on iOS, it’s better on Android because it’s the default navigation app.

Winner: Android

Camera

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

This is a difficult category to call. In the past, we’ve argued that Apple does the best job capturing lighting, coloring, and other details, but the latest Android smartphones are casting a lot of doubt on that assertion. Google’s Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL boast the best cameras we’ve used so far, but the iPhone 8 Plus comes close and we expect the iPhone X camera to be something special.

While most of the current crop of Android flagships sport good, or sometimes great, cameras, there’s a fair bit of variance and the camera quality of many mid-rangers doesn’t come close to the quality of iPhone cameras. As you’d expect, most budget Android phones have lower quality cameras.

The camera apps on both platforms are very good and very fast. For ease of use and best results without tweaking, the iOS camera app takes the cake. There’s more variation on Android simply because OEMs tend to add their own camera apps with lots of features, some good, some a bit gimmicky. We’re going to give this one to iOS, but with the caveat that the top Android phones, particularly the Pixel 2, offer the best smartphone camera experience around.

Winner: iOS

Photo backup

If you use the Photos app in Android, then you can automatically back up all your photos and videos. There’s no doubt that Google Photos is the best option because it offers unlimited free storage, provided you don’t mind the 16-megapixel limit for images and the 1080p resolution limit for video.

You can back up photos and videos at the original resolution with iCloud or Google Photos, but you only get 5GB of free space with iCloud, compared to 15GB with Google Drive. You can also back up unlimited photos and videos in full resolution with Google Photos if you own a Google-branded Pixel phone.

This category is complicated by the fact that the default on iOS is iCloud, but you can also use Google’s Photos on iOS. However, since most people go with the default option, we’re giving Android the win here.

Winner: Android

Cloud services

Apple is still lagging when it comes to cloud storage and automatic backups. Google Drive offers 15GB for free and has cross-platform support. You only get 5GB with iCloud, and it only works with Windows, Mac, and iOS.

If you need a lot of additional space, then Google Drive was the cheapest at $2 per month for 100GB ($24 for the year), but Apple dropped its prices to match. Apple charges $1 per month for 50GB. They both offer 1TB for $10 per month.

Android’s cloud storage is easier to use and more effective than iCloud, though you can use Google Drive on an iPhone, whereas iCloud is iOS only.

Winner: Android

Voice assistants

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

You can do many of the same things with Apple’s Siri as you can with Google Assistant, but Siri is more like a straightforward helper for setting calendar appointments, searching the web, or making calls. Google Assistant has an extra layer. It can pre-emptively offer useful suggestions, and it has a more conversational side that offers up entertaining games and contextual information based on what you’re doing. It’s smarter and more versatile than Siri.

Winner: Android

Security

Much has been made of the supposedly “toxic hell stew” that is Android, but the threat of malware is exaggerated. The truth is that most people will never encounter a problem because they don’t go outside the Play Store for apps. Specific manufacturers like Samsung have taken extra efforts to beef up security for the enterprise market. But the slovenly nature of updates on many Android devices can seriously delay important security patches.

Speedy updates are now more important than ever because security breaches are becoming more serious. Android is behind in the update world, unless you have a stock Android device, and so it’s less secure. Because millions of Android phones are still running software that’s years old they can be vulnerable to serious hacks like Heartbleed and Stagefright.

Apple is already firmly entrenched in corporate America and has also worked on improved security for general consumers, most notably with Touch ID and the forthcoming FaceID in the iPhone X. The tight oversight that Apple has on apps and the ability to push updates out to more devices, more quickly, gives it a definite edge over Android. The company also encrypts data in iMessage and its other apps.

Apple prioritizes user privacy, so you can feel safe knowing your personal data is not stored or read by Apple. It is all encrypted, too. Meanwhile, Android encrypts some data, but your privacy is less protected. Google mines your data for information that it can use to sell better ads and market products to you. Your data is also stored and read to provide you with a better AI experience.

Google said it’s challenging to fully protect user privacy and still provide the AI services it offers, but some security experts and Apple argue that Google presents a false choice between privacy and AI. Apple even went to war with the FBI to guarantee your right to encryption. It’s hard to beat that kind of dedication.

There’s no denying that iOS is the most secure platform and the one that best protects user privacy. If you care about your privacy and security, go with an iPhone.

Winner: iOS

Rooting, bootloaders, and jailbreaking

We’ve looked at how to root your Android phone or tablet before. It’s not for everyone, but if you want root access and complete control over your device, then rooting is the way to get it. Rooting gives you access to more apps, the latest OS updates without waiting, new software skins to get the aesthetic you want, the chance to get rid of bloatware from carriers and manufacturers, potential tweaks to boost your device’s speed and battery life, and more.

Many Android OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) also offer a way to unlock the bootloader, which determines how the operating system loads up on your device. Apple is completely opposed to this kind of thing. Jailbreaking is an option for iOS, which lets you download and install apps from outside the App Store and bypass some other limitations.

Winner: Android

Cases and accessories

Native Union Dock

The average iPad or iPhone owner spends more money on more things than the average Android device owner, and Apple has built up a great ecosystem of peripherals for its phones and tablets. There are far more peripherals and cases aimed at the iPhone than any other device, but something like Samsung’s Galaxy S8 would be a close second.

On the other hand, Android devices have adopted the Micro USB or USB-C standard, whereas Apple insists on its proprietary Lightning cable, which means it’s much easier to find a charger if you’re not an iPhone owner. This often means you have to splash out on an overpriced Apple adapter. Peripheral manufacturers may still go after iOS as their main target, but it’s very rare to find something without Micro USB support.

Another mark against Apple here relates to its abandonment of the standard 3.5mm audio port, which started with the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. You do get an adapter in the box, but it’s easily lost and the choice of headphones sporting 3.5mm audio jacks far exceeds those with Lightning connectors. Of course, now some Android phones are axing the headphone jack in favor of USB-C audio, so this may not be a difference for much longer.

It’s also important to note that Apple’s ecosystem of products all work together exceedingly well. The iPad, Apple Watch, MacBook, and HomeKit products all work together in perfect harmony. MacOS, WatchOS, and iOS are all well connected, making it easy to have all Apple products on the same page.

Since Android phones are produced by many different manufacturers, product ecosystems vary. Samsung has a great ecosystem, for example, and Android phones have support from Home, Chromecast, and Android Wear. However, it’s not quite as seamless.

Overall, taking all available accessories into account, you have more choice with an iPhone, so iOS takes the win here, but with caveats.

Winner: iOS

Conclusion

Numerically speaking, Android wins 10 categories and iOS wins 8 categories, but iOS wins in some of the more important categories – we don’t think rooting or alternative app stores are as important for most people as accessibility or security, for example. It’s very difficult to compare the two. Because Apple controls the hardware and the software, you’ll find that iOS offers a more uniform experience across devices.

A straight comparison of the latest versions of Android and iOS wouldn’t be very representative of most people’s experience, because most Android devices aren’t running the latest version. The experience you get is further complicated by the fact that most Android smartphone manufacturers add their own user interface on top of Google’s stock Android. As a result, there’s quite a big difference between using Google’s Pixel 2, the Samsung Galaxy S8, and the LG G6, for example.

If you do decide to go with an Android device, make sure you do a little research and look at the version of Android it runs, the manufacturer skin on top, and the manufacturer’s record for software updates.

Ultimately, different categories will be important to different people, so you should pay attention to the ones that count for you and make your decision based on that. If security and privacy are an important factor, then the iPhone is the obvious choice. If battery life is top of your list and you want to be able to customize your phone, then choose Android. Both Android and iOS are mature, feature-packed platforms with far more similarities than differences, and we can heartily recommend either.

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24
Oct

Going on vacation? Wink Lookout gives homeowners peace of mind


Why it matters to you

A secure home is a safe one. Wink Lookout keeps an eye on things when homeowners can’t.

When you’re away from home, having a smart security system can put you at ease. Wink, a manufacturer of smart home products, has unveiled its latest service to make home monitoring holistic and intuitive. With Wink Lookout, families gain an all-in-one home safety system.

Many other security services come with high prices, monthly fees, or hidden contracts. The Wink Lookout system offers a free-to-use mobile dashboard and three new products for a flexible way to connect their homes. Each of the new Z-Wave-enabled products can be purchased together or separately depending on what is needed.

Starting small, the Wink Lookout smart security products include window and door sensors. These can be easily attached to existing frames around the home. Once in place, users can be alerted via the Wink mobile app whenever a door or window is opened. For more insight into what is happening inside the home, motion sensors can detect a wide range of motion. For pet owners, the sensitivity can be adjusted to make them invisible to the sensors.

Alerting users of a possible break-in is one thing, but stopping it entirely is another. The Wink siren and chime work in tandem with the sensors around the home. When activated, an alarm will sound and lights flash to ward off intruders and alert homeowners and neighbors. Chimes can be customized with ten different sounds, three different volumes, and can be tied to specific events such as opening the garage door or cracking a window.

For easy connection, the Wink Hub 2 comes preconnected to other Wink devices straight out of the box. In a matter of minutes, users can use the hub to bring hundreds of products from dozens of brands together. Existing Wink users will be happy to know that Lookout works with dozens of other Wink-compatible alarms, locks, cameras, doorbells, and more.

Just in time for Halloween, Wink Lookout as a whole launches at $199 on October 31. Those just looking to get their toes wet can start off with the Door and Window Sensor for $29, the Siren and Chime for $39, or the Motion Sensor for $39.

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24
Oct

The Mitte water system doesn’t just purify — it adds minerals to your water, too


Why it matters to you

Get the full benefits of water thanks to Mitte and its mineral cartridges.

Who says all water is created equal? Certainly not the team at Mitte, the Berlin-based company seeking to improve lives with healthy water. Now, Mitte debuted an at-home, countertop smart water purification system that promises to not only distill your water, but also provide customized mineral enhancements. So whether you’re in need of more calcium or want a bit of zinc in your water, the Mitte can offer you water that suits you.

Attempting to cut down on the waste created by bottled water and the potential contaminants found in tap water, Mitte seeks to replicate the naturally occurring process by which water picks up minerals as it flows through rocks. While traditional water purifiers can remove bacteria and pollutants, they don’t do much to actually enhance the taste or the benefits of water. With Mitte, however, you will be able to personalize your drinking water with three cartridges that contain various levels of natural minerals and ingredients.

There is the alkaline cartridge, which features a high pH level to neutralize acid in the body and bloodstream, thereby contributing to increased oxygen levels and improved energy and metabolism. There is also the balance cartridge, which is filled with basic minerals including calcium, magnesium, and potassium. The neutral taste of this water makes it ideal for brewing coffee or tea, or preparing baby food. Finally, there is the vitality cartridge, which contains a higher concentration of these basic minerals, alongside trace minerals like manganese, iron, selenium, and zinc, leading to what is said to be a “more complex taste.”

Of course, there is a companion app to help you dispense water at preselected temperatures and keep tabs on your water quality and consumption quantity. And thanks to the sleek design of the Mitte, you ought to be able to fit this purifier just about anywhere in your home and in your life.

“We want to redefine the way people think about drinking water. ‘Healthy water’ combines the purest purification system with personalized minerals, providing consumers with a unique experience that gives them complete control of their hydration and wellness,” Moritz Waldstein, founder and CEO of Mitte, said in a statement. “Water is usually overlooked as a source of minerals, but it actually contains several of the essential minerals for human body, often removed in the purification process by common filtration systems. Mitte not only purifies, but also enhances drinking water with minerals to create the perfect, curated water for each user’s needs, all from home.”

You can pre-order the Mitte from Kickstarter for the early bird price of $199. Shipment is expected in May 2018.

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