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9
Dec

Assistive tech is progressing faster than ever, and these 7 devices prove it


As much as we love our shiny new iPhone X, when it comes to technology that really changes people’s lives, very little compares to tech that’s designed to help disabled people lead fuller, more active, more independent, or simply more dignified lives. Thanks to advances in robotics, materials engineering, artificial intelligence, and a broad range of other things, assistive tech has progressed in leaps and bounds over the past decade. Here are seven astonishing examples of what we’re talking about:

Making glasses smarter

Depending on your specific difficulty, glasses or contact lenses work by either diverging or converging light rays to affect the eye’s focusing abilities. That’s all well and good, but in the age of self-driving cars and smartphones, surely engineers can do a little bit better than that, right?

At the U.K.’s University of Oxford, a computer vision scientist and a neuroscientist have teamed up to build augmented reality glasses that promise to further enhance specific parts of a person’s vision. This could mean anything from increasing image contrast to highlighting specific features of an image, all using the power of AR.

The smart glasses aren’t available yet, but the project has already attracted the attention of Google — which chipped in with a handy $658,000 grant to help with research.

Give us a sign!

Sign language is a great tool for helping deaf people communicate, but while American Sign Language (ASL) is used by an estimated 100,000 to 500,000 Americans, that still leaves an enormous number of people who don’t understand it. Fortunately, that’s something technology can help with.

Called KinTrans, a Dallas-based startup has developed a device capable of translating sign language into voice and text, and voice or text back into sign language. To do this, it uses a 3D camera to track the movement of a signer’s hands and body when they sign out words. The results are supposedly 98 percent accurate. A beta version has already been rolled out.

Restoring hearing by reading your brain waves

Alexander Raths/123RF

Imagine a hearing aid that doesn’t simplify the noises around you, but actually tunes into your brain waves to work out what you want to listen to. You won’t need to imagine such a thing for much longer, however, because that’s exactly what researchers at Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science are working on.

Their “cognitive hearing aid” reads brain activity to determine which voice a hearing aid user is most interested in listening to, and then focusing in on it. At present, the researchers are working to improve the technology by making it less obtrusive. This is clearly what the future of hearing aids look like!

A helping hand

DARPA

As robotics technology has progressed in leaps and bounds as of late, so too have tools like bionic hands, designed to help amputees.

These tools can work in a variety of ways, including ones powered by nerve endings in the arm, and even prostheses which use their own in-built cameras to make smart autonomous decisions about which actions to take — thereby speeding up reaction times.

Helping Parkinson’s patients avoid falls

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative brain disorder with a wide range of symptoms — not least the fact that sufferers are more likely to suffer from falls or loss of balance. At the University of Houston, researchers have developed a smartphone-based biofeedback rehabilitation wearable to help counter the effects.

Their special belt is lined with vibrating actuators, which map users’ movements in real time. This information can then be used to guide patients through exercises to improve their postural stability and confidence in carrying out everyday activities. You know, until scientists figure out how to cure Parkinson’s by reprogramming brain cells!

Getting folks walking again

There are few more life-altering technologies than assistive tools which can help people to walk again after they’re been rendered unable to do so under their own power. There are a wide number of incredibly innovative projects going on in this space, from pressure sensor-equipped staircases that will provide an extra bit of assistance when needed, to full-on modular exoskeletons.

Heck, one startup is even building assistive robot exoskeletons that are controlled by Amazon Alexa.

Unlocking locked-in syndrome

When it comes to physical disabilities, few things are more daunting than the idea of being trapped in your own body, with a mind that’s fully active, but without the ability to move, speak, or physically communicate in any way.

Although “locked-in syndrome” has no cure, technology can help patients — by using brain-computer interface technology to allow people to respond to “yes” and “no” questions with nothing more than their thoughts. The technology uses electrodes and some smart machine learning tools to work, and reportedly boasts up to 80 percent accuracy.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • New brainwave-reading technique may unlock ‘locked-in’ patients
  • Algorithm predicts Parkinson’s disease by digging through your medical history
  • Why human-robot relationships are totally a good thing
  • 8 times that movie and TV sci-fi got the future right
  • AI being used to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease early by reviewing brain scans




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9
Dec

Smartphones take half of the photos — but DSLRs are growing, Flickr says


The number of images taken with smartphones continues to rise — but the numbers for DSLRs are on the rise, too. Flickr recently released its 2017 year-in-review data, showing a breakdown of the most popular devices on the platform.

Like with the past few years, smartphones were the No. 1 type of camera used on the platform, accounting for exactly half of all the uploads, up from 48 percent in 2016. While the data is an unsurprising continuation of previous years trends, the rise in smartphone photography isn’t at the cost of the DSLR.

DSLRs made up 33 percent of all the Flick uploads in 2017 — that is a number that is up from only 25 percent in 2016. In just one year’s time, DSLRs went from shooting a quarter of the photos to a third.

But if smartphones are up and DSLRs are up, something’s gotta go down. Images from point-and-shoot cameras was the only category with a loss this year. While the compact cameras made up 21 percent of the images in 2016, the smaller dedicated cameras shot only 12 percent of this year’s uploads. Mirrorless cameras have now held at four percent of the uploads for the third year in a row.

Flickr also tracks the brands used in those uploads and just like smartphones are once again the most used device, Apple is the top brand for the volume of uploads, with an iOS device accounting for nine out of the top 10 brand list. The most popular were the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone 5s while the Canon 5D Mark III also snuck into the top 10.

Canon was the second most popular brand accounting for 23 percent of the photos with Nikon following at 18 percent.

While uploads to the Flickr community aren’t exactly representative of all photographers, the data offers some insight into imaging trends for the year. The data seems to support the idea that the smartphone is replacing the compact camera, but not the DSLR. While a handful of companies have compact cameras with larger sensors, the trend away from compacts and toward interchangeable lens cameras is as easy to find as reviewing Nikon’s restructuring plan.

Remember though, uploading from a smartphone is much easier than uploading from a DSLR, so the ease of uploads could also be playing a role in smartphone’s dominance in volume alone. Flickr also released a list of the top 25 images of the year, a list which, like in 2016, is dominated by DSLRs, suggesting smartphones may make up a majority of the volume but DSLRs aren’t going anywhere when it comes to quality.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Fancy Phancer software gives your smartphone camera DSLR vibrancy
  • The best point-and-shoot cameras you can buy
  • The best DSLR cameras for beginners
  • 10 digital camera deals for everyone from adventurers to aspiring professionals
  • Canon EOS 77D review




9
Dec

Microsoft’s Android apps offer the best Windows mobile experience to date


A few weeks ago, we did something weird. We set aside the Google Pixel launcher on the Pixel XL in favor of the new Microsoft Launcher, Microsoft’s rebranded Arrow Android launcher, which was first launched back in 2015. Then, we took it a step further and downloaded and made default both the new Microsoft Edge browser for Android, and Cortana for Android.

The result? The best Microsoft mobile experience available.

It’s no secret that Windows Mobile has failed. Not only is its market share tiny, but a Microsoft executive also recently admitted that development of Windows Mobile was effectively over — putting in serious doubt rumors of a new Microsoft Surface Phone. So it makes sense that the company would instead focus its attention on getting Microsoft apps and services onto third-party mobile operating systems, and it makes sense that it would start with Android, where it can effectively take over your mobile life. What we didn’t expect is that it would actually deliver.

The launcher

If you’re looking to turn your Android phone into an Android-Microsoft hybrid, then the core of that experience is the Microsoft Launcher, which, as mentioned, is essentially a rebranding of the Arrow launcher from 2015. When Arrow was first launched, it impressed reviewers, and since then it has only grown better. It’s clean, well-organized, and offers a few tricks that other launchers don’t have.

There are a few things to get used to, especially as a Pixel user. For example, from the home screen swiping up won’t reveal the app tray — it’ll reveal a few favorite apps that you can place, as well as quick settings like Wi-Fi, airplane mode, Bluetooth, and so on. To get to the app tray, you’ll tap the small app tray button that’s still present on many Android launchers, and was even a staple of stock Android until recently. Once you pull up the tray, you’ll notice a very clean, alphabetically organized experience. At the top, you’ll find a list of recent apps, and a menu where you can choose to hide those recent apps or organize apps horizontally. You can even hide apps that you want to keep private.

Some might find it more useful than Google Now.

The launcher does away with Google Now, too. Instead of getting Google Now when you swipe left, you’ll get a rundown of your recent activity, events you have for the day, quick access to contacts you talk to a lot, and news. The feed does learn as it goes, and some might find it more useful than Google Now considering the recent activity section, from which you can see recently snapped photos and calls.

At the top of the home screen, you’ll find a search bar, and you can customize that search bar to your preferred apps and services. Because we wanted to test how well Microsoft’s services all worked together, we used Edge with Bing, and it worked pretty smoothly.

One of the coolest things about the launcher comes when you have a Windows PC. If you have your Windows computer updated to the latest version of Windows 10, you can link your phone and your computer — after which you can quickly and easily “Continue on PC.” What this means is that you can take a photo and immediately see it on your computer, or edit a document on Office and then continue editing it on your computer once you get to your desk.

So why is all this better than just having a Windows phone? Well, we strongly believe that Android is an overall better and easier to use operating system on mobile, plus this way you have access to the massive range of apps available on the Google Play Store.

The browser

Reviews for Microsoft Edge have been mixed, and that’s only likely to continue on Android. Still, while there’s no need to use Edge with the Microsoft launcher, those seriously plugged into the Microsoft ecosystem — and those that use Edge on their PC — might want to.

It’s actually a pretty good experience on Android. On the main screen, you’ll find the navigation bar at the top, but contrary to Google Chrome you’ll get some controls at the bottom. By default, those include forward and back buttons, a button to view all your open tabs, and a menu button. You’ll also get a “Continue on PC” button, which makes it super easy to send what you’re doing over to your PC without having to go through any extra taps or steps. Continue on PC only works if you have the latest version of Windows, but once you’re all updated and ready to go, it works pretty smoothly.

There are still a few bugs to work out with the system. Once or twice, my phone wasn’t able to find the computer and prompted me to link my PC. It’s also important to note that on Windows, the system uses Edge — even if your default is set to something else, like Chrome. We would like to see the whole Continue on PC system speed up a bit — it often took a few seconds to find a linked PC — but it wasn’t really a big deal to wait those few seconds and it was never more than a few.

In general, using Microsoft Edge on Android was a smooth experience.

The main complaint we have with the Continue on PC feature is that it’s too limited. For example, users should be able to continue editing a Word document on their computer or phone. There’s no reason this can’t expand to all of Microsoft’s apps — and we’d like to see it do so. Of course, that’s probably in the works. Microsoft just brought the launcher out of beta, and the Continue on PC feature is totally new.

In general, using Microsoft Edge on Android was a smooth experience. The overall design looks and feels pretty similar to Edge on Windows, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you’re signed in to your account, things like favorites and your reading list will sync, which is handy for those that want a uniform experience. Severely lacking from that uniform experience, however, is the ability to open all of your open tabs at once from Android to Windows. According to other reports, that feature is to come soon — which is good news.

The experience

What can make or break a mobile experience lies in how well a company’s products all work together. That doesn’t just mean how well the phone works with the computer, but also how the launcher, browser, and digital assistant all work together on a single device — the smartphone.

You may have noticed that we haven’t talked much about Cortana for Android yet. Unfortunately, it’s the real point of failure in Microsoft’s Android ecosystem. It’s slow, often gets things wrong, and it can’t be voice activated outside of the Cortana app. There’s not really much that Microsoft can do about that — the thing about building a service and the operating system that a service works on is that you can integrate the two together, allowing you to control third-party apps, and use that important always-listening feature. Google knows that, and because of it Google Assistant is still the best digital assistant on Android — and will likely remain so, at least for the foreseeable future.

Conclusions

The best thing about Microsoft’s products on Android is how well they work with your PC. If you’re a Windows user, who also sticks with Edge and often uses apps like Office and OneDrive, then Microsoft’s Android apps and launcher could actually end up being super helpful for you. Us? We’re reverting to Chrome and Google Assistant, and it’s hard to pass on the Pixel launcher, which gives a lot more access to all the Google services that we’ve been using for years now.

It’s tempting to switch though. It’s tempting to get rid of the Mac and adopt Windows full-time rather than just when we’re testing Microsoft stuff. Integration between devices is a big deal, and while Apple is doing a pretty good job of it, and Microsoft is working hard to get better at it, Android users have been a little left out so far, if they choose to use Google’s apps and services.

You can download all of Microsoft’s new Android offerings for yourself at the Google Play Store. Head here for the Microsoft Launcher, here for Edge for Android, and here for Cortana for Android.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Microsoft Edge arrives on iOS and Android devices in preview
  • ‘Continue on PC’ feature could help Edge stand out in the mobile browser crowd
  • Adidas picks up the pace with a mobile-friendly shopping app that uses A.I.
  • Learn how to play YouTube in the background on iOS and Android
  • Hoard your mobile data like Scrooge with Google’s new Datally app for Android




9
Dec

Microsoft’s Android apps offer the best Windows mobile experience to date


A few weeks ago, we did something weird. We set aside the Google Pixel launcher on the Pixel XL in favor of the new Microsoft Launcher, Microsoft’s rebranded Arrow Android launcher, which was first launched back in 2015. Then, we took it a step further and downloaded and made default both the new Microsoft Edge browser for Android, and Cortana for Android.

The result? The best Microsoft mobile experience available.

It’s no secret that Windows Mobile has failed. Not only is its market share tiny, but a Microsoft executive also recently admitted that development of Windows Mobile was effectively over — putting in serious doubt rumors of a new Microsoft Surface Phone. So it makes sense that the company would instead focus its attention on getting Microsoft apps and services onto third-party mobile operating systems, and it makes sense that it would start with Android, where it can effectively take over your mobile life. What we didn’t expect is that it would actually deliver.

The launcher

If you’re looking to turn your Android phone into an Android-Microsoft hybrid, then the core of that experience is the Microsoft Launcher, which, as mentioned, is essentially a rebranding of the Arrow launcher from 2015. When Arrow was first launched, it impressed reviewers, and since then it has only grown better. It’s clean, well-organized, and offers a few tricks that other launchers don’t have.

There are a few things to get used to, especially as a Pixel user. For example, from the home screen swiping up won’t reveal the app tray — it’ll reveal a few favorite apps that you can place, as well as quick settings like Wi-Fi, airplane mode, Bluetooth, and so on. To get to the app tray, you’ll tap the small app tray button that’s still present on many Android launchers, and was even a staple of stock Android until recently. Once you pull up the tray, you’ll notice a very clean, alphabetically organized experience. At the top, you’ll find a list of recent apps, and a menu where you can choose to hide those recent apps or organize apps horizontally. You can even hide apps that you want to keep private.

Some might find it more useful than Google Now.

The launcher does away with Google Now, too. Instead of getting Google Now when you swipe left, you’ll get a rundown of your recent activity, events you have for the day, quick access to contacts you talk to a lot, and news. The feed does learn as it goes, and some might find it more useful than Google Now considering the recent activity section, from which you can see recently snapped photos and calls.

At the top of the home screen, you’ll find a search bar, and you can customize that search bar to your preferred apps and services. Because we wanted to test how well Microsoft’s services all worked together, we used Edge with Bing, and it worked pretty smoothly.

One of the coolest things about the launcher comes when you have a Windows PC. If you have your Windows computer updated to the latest version of Windows 10, you can link your phone and your computer — after which you can quickly and easily “Continue on PC.” What this means is that you can take a photo and immediately see it on your computer, or edit a document on Office and then continue editing it on your computer once you get to your desk.

So why is all this better than just having a Windows phone? Well, we strongly believe that Android is an overall better and easier to use operating system on mobile, plus this way you have access to the massive range of apps available on the Google Play Store.

The browser

Reviews for Microsoft Edge have been mixed, and that’s only likely to continue on Android. Still, while there’s no need to use Edge with the Microsoft launcher, those seriously plugged into the Microsoft ecosystem — and those that use Edge on their PC — might want to.

It’s actually a pretty good experience on Android. On the main screen, you’ll find the navigation bar at the top, but contrary to Google Chrome you’ll get some controls at the bottom. By default, those include forward and back buttons, a button to view all your open tabs, and a menu button. You’ll also get a “Continue on PC” button, which makes it super easy to send what you’re doing over to your PC without having to go through any extra taps or steps. Continue on PC only works if you have the latest version of Windows, but once you’re all updated and ready to go, it works pretty smoothly.

There are still a few bugs to work out with the system. Once or twice, my phone wasn’t able to find the computer and prompted me to link my PC. It’s also important to note that on Windows, the system uses Edge — even if your default is set to something else, like Chrome. We would like to see the whole Continue on PC system speed up a bit — it often took a few seconds to find a linked PC — but it wasn’t really a big deal to wait those few seconds and it was never more than a few.

In general, using Microsoft Edge on Android was a smooth experience.

The main complaint we have with the Continue on PC feature is that it’s too limited. For example, users should be able to continue editing a Word document on their computer or phone. There’s no reason this can’t expand to all of Microsoft’s apps — and we’d like to see it do so. Of course, that’s probably in the works. Microsoft just brought the launcher out of beta, and the Continue on PC feature is totally new.

In general, using Microsoft Edge on Android was a smooth experience. The overall design looks and feels pretty similar to Edge on Windows, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you’re signed in to your account, things like favorites and your reading list will sync, which is handy for those that want a uniform experience. Severely lacking from that uniform experience, however, is the ability to open all of your open tabs at once from Android to Windows. According to other reports, that feature is to come soon — which is good news.

The experience

What can make or break a mobile experience lies in how well a company’s products all work together. That doesn’t just mean how well the phone works with the computer, but also how the launcher, browser, and digital assistant all work together on a single device — the smartphone.

You may have noticed that we haven’t talked much about Cortana for Android yet. Unfortunately, it’s the real point of failure in Microsoft’s Android ecosystem. It’s slow, often gets things wrong, and it can’t be voice activated outside of the Cortana app. There’s not really much that Microsoft can do about that — the thing about building a service and the operating system that a service works on is that you can integrate the two together, allowing you to control third-party apps, and use that important always-listening feature. Google knows that, and because of it Google Assistant is still the best digital assistant on Android — and will likely remain so, at least for the foreseeable future.

Conclusions

The best thing about Microsoft’s products on Android is how well they work with your PC. If you’re a Windows user, who also sticks with Edge and often uses apps like Office and OneDrive, then Microsoft’s Android apps and launcher could actually end up being super helpful for you. Us? We’re reverting to Chrome and Google Assistant, and it’s hard to pass on the Pixel launcher, which gives a lot more access to all the Google services that we’ve been using for years now.

It’s tempting to switch though. It’s tempting to get rid of the Mac and adopt Windows full-time rather than just when we’re testing Microsoft stuff. Integration between devices is a big deal, and while Apple is doing a pretty good job of it, and Microsoft is working hard to get better at it, Android users have been a little left out so far, if they choose to use Google’s apps and services.

You can download all of Microsoft’s new Android offerings for yourself at the Google Play Store. Head here for the Microsoft Launcher, here for Edge for Android, and here for Cortana for Android.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Microsoft Edge arrives on iOS and Android devices in preview
  • ‘Continue on PC’ feature could help Edge stand out in the mobile browser crowd
  • Adidas picks up the pace with a mobile-friendly shopping app that uses A.I.
  • Learn how to play YouTube in the background on iOS and Android
  • Hoard your mobile data like Scrooge with Google’s new Datally app for Android




9
Dec

Astronomers have observed the most-distant supermassive black hole


Astronomers have made a surprise discovery of the most-distant supermassive black hole ever seen. First observed by Carnegie Observatories researchers led by Eduardo Bañados, the black hole was found to exist in a quasar dating to some 690 million after the Big Bang — an eon to us, but brief in the timescale of the universe.

“Gathering all this mass in fewer than 690 million years is an enormous challenge for theories of supermassive black hole growth,” Bañados said.

With a mass of approximately 800 million times that of our Sun, the black hole fits into the “supermassive” category, which includes some of the largest objects in the universe.

The black hole was found within a quasar, immensely luminous objects with hearts of matter-ejecting black holes.

Black holes that form in the environment of today’s universe (which is about 13.8 billion years old) rarely grow to a few dozen times the mass of the Sun. In the “dark ages,” when the universe was just a few hundred million years old and stars were first forming, astronomers speculate that conditions allowed black holes to reach some 100,000 times the solar mass. It’s these conditions that have enabled the quasar to grow so massive and bright.

The recently discovered quasar is more than thirteen billion light years away, meaning the light seen through the Carnegie telescope represents the blackhole at just a fraction of its current age. It would be like seeing a picture of a middle-aged woman when she was just a toddler.

“This great distance makes such objects extremely faint when viewed from Earth. Early quasars are also very rare on the sky. Only one quasar was known to exist at a redshift greater than seven before now, despite extensive searching,” Xiaohui Fan, an astronomer at the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory, said.

Bigger black holes abound in the cosmos, but none yet have been discovered so far away from Earth. Only one other quasar has been discovered at a comparable distance, but the recent discovery still out paces it by around 60 million years. The researchers estimate that between 20 and 100 quasars of this size and distance exist in the universe.

A paper detailing the research was published this week in the journal Nature.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Here are the names and achievements behind this year’s Nobel Prizes in Science
  • Visualize thousands of distant worlds in the Periodic Table of Exoplanets
  • This exoplanet telescope could help astronomers discover alien life
  • Here’s how scientists know the ‘Oumuamua’ asteroid isn’t from our solar system
  • The 10 best exoplanets we’ve discovered so far, ranked




9
Dec

How to choose what you sync on Chrome across devices


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You can choose exactly what syncs with Google and your computer, and it’s easy.

If you have a Chromebook and use Google Chrome on another computer, here’s a quick tip about choosing what you synchronize between them.

On our Chromebooks, many of us install apps and extensions that add more features and functionality. That’s how Chrome OS was designed, with it’s own online store full of apps and extensions, and there are plenty of useful ones included. But things you might want on your Chromebook — for example a small text editor or online image editor — also might be things you don’t want on a Windows or Mac (or Linux) laptop or desktop. Plenty of software comes bundled into those operating systems, and often it makes no sense to have duplicate programs for productivity or entertainment. The good news is it’s easy to manage.

You can choose exactly what Chrome syncs across your devices. To get there, make sure you’re signed in with your Google account and follow these steps.

Open the settings
Under People, click the entry labeled “Sync”
In the window that opens, adjust the toggles to sync what you like, or toggle the Sync Everything switch if you just want to do it all.

Screenshot%202017-12-07%20at%2011.21.16%

You’ll find an entry for everything that Chrome can synchronize, both on your Chromebook and with the Chrome browser on any platform. Extensions and Apps are the focus of this article, but you can choose to not sync other data, like passwords or browser history, if you like. You can even choose to not sync anything if that suits you better. Some things — like browser tabs, passwords and history — also sync with Chrome on Android. You can manage those settings on your phone or tablet inside the Chrome app settings.

You’ll also see some encryption options, and with those you can choose to use your own sync password, but by default Google encrypts all the data that goes in and out of your account. There’s also a handy link to see your web activity, where you can manage your browsing and search history online.

A quick “one more thing” protip — when you install Chrome on a new computer, or sign into a new Chromebook, leave the defaults set for the first sync. This way you won’t have to manually install any apps or extensions or themes from the Chrome store. Once everything is set up, you can change the settings and uninstall the things you don’t want through the Settings > Extensions page. When you choose what to sync on one device, it won;t delete anything from any of the others — but it will if you leave the “Sync everything” option enabled.

Updated December 2017 with instructions for the latest version of Chrome.

Chromebooks

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  • Acer Chromebook 14 review
  • Join our Chromebook forums

9
Dec

Pay What you Want to Become the Ultimate White Hat Hacker


Ethical hacking is big business these days. Ethical hackers are hired by companies to infiltrate their security systems in order to find flaws and fix them before someone with malicious intent does so and exploits them for all they’re worth. If you’re good at it, you can get paid quite well, and as more and more companies move almost entirely online, the job pool is growing. But if you want to become a good ethical hacker, you should invest in a bit of training.

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That’s where the Ultimate White Hat Hacker bundle bundle comes in. It comprises eight apps, which all contain courses on various aspects of ethical hacking, from beginner topics to advanced subjects, like hacking mobile devices and other network hacking. This whole bundle is valued at $1528, but at Android Central Digital Offers, you don’t have to pay that — you get to pay what you want. If you beat the average price, you get all eight apps; pay below the average price and you’ll unlock fewer. You can also choose to beat the leader price and make it to the top of the leaderboard! You’ll also get entered in our huge giveaway.

The Ultimate White Hat Hacker bundle contains the following courses:

  • Ethical Hacking for Beginners
  • Cyber Security Volume II: Network Security
  • Learn Website Hacking and Penetration Testing from Scratch
  • Ethical Hacking Using Kali Linux from A to Z
  • From Zero to Hero in Web, Network, and Wi-Fi Hacking
  • Web Application Penetration Testing Professional: WAPTP v3.1
  • Hack People, Systems, and Mobile Devices
  • Learn Hacking Windows 10 Using Metasploit from Scratch

If you’re looking to become an ethical hacker for Windows 10, then check out the Ultimate White Hat Hacker bundle at Android Central Digital Offers and pay what you want! Unlock the whole bundle by paying more than the average price, or get entered in our epic giveaway by beating the leader!

See at Android Central Digital Offers

9
Dec

Alex’s Favorite Tech of 2017


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Alex’s Favorite Tech of 2017

The past year has brought us bountiful quantities of new gadgets, and not just in the smartphone space. Whether it’s the tech I use to do my job, to relax at the end of a busy day, or to capture special occasions and everyday moments, 2017 has been a year of many upgrades for me. So here, presented below for your perusal, are a few of my favorite tech-related things for 2017. Cast your eyes on the high-quality toys below.

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Google Pixel 2 XL

The Pixel 2 XL has one or two screen issues, and isn’t as pretty as Samsung’s current Android lineup. But ultimately I don’t care — for me, the Pixel 2 XL is the best Android phone you can buy right now. The larger of the two 2017 Pixels gets the basics right, and delivers the best software experience on any Android phone, and a world-beating camera to boot. (Seriously. This phone has ruined pretty much every other smartphone camera for me.) Software and imaging are two areas that are really hard to excel at, and major reasons why the Pixel 2 XL should be your next phone.

It’s expensive for sure, but with Google’s promise of swift software updates for three years, the 2 XL should have a long life ahead of it.

From $849 Buy Now

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Panasonic DC-GH5

OK, so this one is a big purchase, but Panasonic’s GH5 has probably been the most important addition to my tech loadout in 2017. Almost everything you’ll see on the Android Central YouTube channel since August was shot on the GH5. It’s a camera which can caputre phenomenal footage (with the right lens, of course), backed up by software features that feel in step with the way professional and semi-professional users want to shoot. In particular, Panasonic’s (slightly clunky but still great) mobile app has been indispensible to me, offering an easy way to control most functions to the camera remotely via my phone.

$1998 Buy Now

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Google Home

Had I not reviewed Google Home shortly after it launched in the UK this year, I probably would’ve let it pass me by. I wasn’t hugely interested in a connected smart speaker, but little by little, Google Home — the full-sized model, not the smaller, cheaper “Mini” has won me over. It’s a quick and easy Chromecast target for music or podcasts, with a surprisingly great (and surprisingly room-filling) little speaker lurking within Like everything with Google Assistant built in, Google Home is going to get better with time, and many of the early teething problems with Home have now been worked out. Google Home Mini is great for cheaply building out a network of speakers, but the original, big Google Home is the one to get if you want superior sound quality at a non-outrageous price.

$129 Buy Now

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RAVPower 26800mAh PD Power Bank

Sometimes you want a slim portable battery that you can carry around in a jeans pocket. Other times you just want all of the power, and RAVPower’s 26,800mAh portable cell fits the bill for multiple phone refills, and even a full refill of a USB-C-enabled laptop. If you’re going to be traveling, and don’t want to worry about constantly refilling a portable battery as well as all your various gadgets, this battery is worth a look. It has three ouputs, and it’ll charge devices over the USB Power Delivery standard, with a total combined output of 5.5A. That’s a lot of juice.

$50 Buy Now

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Razer Blade (14-inch)

Having managed almost five years without a laptop upgrade, this year I made the jump from an aging 2012 MacBook Air to a Razer Blade — mainly for video editing reasons. The Blade packs a ton of power (with the expected battery sacrifices, of course), and the included NVIDIA GTX 1060 GPU makes the blade just as great at video editing and other visually intensive work as it is at gaming.

$2099 Buy Now

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Samsung Gear Sport

With Android Wear continuing to stagnate in 2017, it’s been really hard to track down a decent, good-looking, non-gigantic, Android-compatible smartwatch — at least until Samsung recently launched the Gear Sport. The company’s latest wearable is a sort of follow-up to 2015’s Gear S2, with a smaller form factor, improved water resistance specs, faster software and improved battery life.The sleek design and easily interchangeable straps mean the Gear Sport doesn’t look out of place alongside a tracksuit or smarter attire. And in the grander scheme of watch prices, you’re not shelling out a whole lot of cash .

$298 Buy Now

9
Dec

Moto Z2 Force and Z2 Play: Everything you need to know!


The Moto Z2 Force and Z2 Play are Motorola’s flagship and high-mid-range phones for 2017, continuing the company’s tradition of simple software and modular expansion.

After the introduction of the Z line and mods in 2016, Motorola has followed that up with the iterative but sufficient Z2 Force and Z2 Play. There is no “regular” Moto Z2, with the Moto Z2 Force becoming available in more markets to fill this more. Interested in the Moto Z2 Force and Z2 Play? Read on!

Be sure to read our reviews

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Both phones have been out for a while, and we’ve had plenty of hands-on time to see how they fare in the real world. Before going any further, be sure to read our reviews of both of these phones.

Moto Z2 Force review: Stronger, not better

Moto Z2 Force, a second opinion: Just not enough

Moto Z2 Play review: Midnight in the garden of good and sequel

They’re both arguably worse than last year’s versions

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Motorola made some…strange decisions coming from last year’s Z line. On both the Z2 Force and the Z2 Play, the company cut battery capacity compared to the previous phones. The Z Force uses a 3500 mAh battery, while the Z2 Force cuts that to 2730 mAh. The Moto Z Play was known for being a battery juggernaut due to its super-efficient Snapdragon 625 processor and 3510 mAh cell. But with a very similar Snapdragon 626 processor, the smaller 3000 mAh battery is still enough to get through the day, it just doesn’t live up to the legendary status of its predecessor.

Moto Z2 Play specs

The software is still fantastic

Motorola has been known for minimalistic software for a few years now, and that legacy continues with its 2017 phones. Built on top of vanilla Android, the company only adds a few key features. Among these are the awesome double-twist gesture to open the camera, the chopping gesture to activate the flashlight, and the Moto display that has been cloned by almost every other OEM. Anyone who has used a Motorola phone in the past few years will feel right at home, and anyone else will learn to love all these features.

Moto Z2 Force Edition is official: 2730 mAh battery, Snapdragon 835, Shattershield display

The Moto Z2 Force is built like a tank, with a major drawback

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The Z2 Force is built of 7000 series aluminum, which is one of the toughest aluminum alloys out there. The display itself is topped with Motorola’s ShatterShield, which will save the display from cracking after a fall. The downside to this is the fact that the top layer of the ShatterShield is plastic: great for not cracking, but it gets scratched if you look at it funny. Motorola is offering a four-year warranty on the Z2 Force’s screen, in the event it can’t be shielded from shatters.

More: It’s really hard to use the Moto Z2 Force without a Moto Mod on the back

The Z2 Force has dual rear cameras

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Like a lot of recent flagships, the Moto Z2 Force is packing a dual rear camera, a first for Motorola. While LG uses its second lense for wide angle shots and Apple has opted for a telephoto lens, Motorola is using its second lens as a pure black-and-white sensor. This will look better than a color photo with a black-and-white filter applied in post-processing, and photos can be combined for more detail. Unfortunately, neither lens is optically stabilized, and photos and videos the phone takes aren’t particularly great. If the stock camera isn’t up to your expecations, or you just want true optical zoom, there is always the Hasselblad True Zoom Moto Mod.

This is the Hasselblad True Zoom, the essential camera add-on for the Moto Z

The Mods are back in town

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Motorola promised that all of its Moto Mods released in 2016 would work on the 2017 versions of its phones, and has kept that promise. Every mod designed and released in 2016 will work on the newer phones, and every mod released in 2017 will work on the older devices as well. While some mods like the speaker and battery packs just duplicate already existing accessories like Bluetooth speakers and portable chargers, there are some truly unique mods like the Amazon Alexa mod and a 360-degree camera.

Alexa as a Moto Mod is almost a good idea

Oreo is on its way

Under Google, Motorola had a legendary track record for updates, delivering new versions of Android to the Moto X before the Nexus line got them. Under Lenovo, that’s…changed, to say the least. Motorola devices just aren’t updated as quickly anymore, even with a fairly minimal take on Android. They have also dropped support for devices quickly, especially for mid and low end phones. Fortunately, the company announced the Moto Z and Z2 series will both be upgraded to Android 8.0 Oreo sometime in 2018.

Motorola announces Oreo updates: Moto Z and G5 lines, starting this fall

Comparing to other phones

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With its shortcomings, the Moto Z2 Force doesn’t compare well when compared to other devices in its class. Against the HTC U11, the Z2 Force has a smaller battery, no water resistance, and a worse camera. Compared the Galaxy S8, the Z2 Force has an older-looking design, no water resistance (again) a smaller battery (again), a worse camera (again) and no headphone jack. The Z2 Force does have good software in its favor, as well as the ability to expand the battery with a Moto Mod and a tougher body that is covered under warranty for four years. You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of each device to find which is best for you.

Moto Z2 Force vs HTC U11: With some much in common, it’s a tight race

Moto Z2 Force vs Samsung Galaxy S8: Top dollar battle

Check out our forums!

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Have any more questions about the Moto Z2 Force and Z2 Play? Be sure to stop into our super helpful forums and ask away!

Moto Z2 Force forum

Moto Z2 Play forum

Moto Z2 Force

  • Moto Z2 Force reviewl
  • Moto Z2 Force specs
  • This is the Moto 360 Camera Mod
  • The ultimate guide to Moto Mods
  • Moto Z2 Force vs. Galaxy S8
  • Join the discussion in the forums!

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Best Buy

9
Dec

Tested: The OnePlus 5T is the fastest-charging smartphone right now


By Mark Spoonauer

You just realized that your phone is low on juice, and panic sets in. How much charge can you get in a limited amount of time? We tested 10 of the top flagship phones and found that the OnePlus 5T is the fastest in the land.

The good news is that most of the premium Android phones these days offer some form of quick charging via their USB-C adapters. In the case of the latest iPhones, you can get fast charging, but only if you pay extra for both a 29-watt power adapter and a USB-C-to-Lightning cable (about $68 total). Yes, I’m serious.

For our first round of testing, we wanted to find what battery percentage these phones could reach in 30 minutes of charging with their included adapters. The phones were on, but the screens were turned off. With the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X, we used both the standard AC plug and the fast-charging gear to bring you both sets of results.

The OnePlus 5T led the pack, reaching an impressive 59 percent in 30 minutes. The advantage for the OnePlus? Unlike most other Android phones, it doesn’t use Qualcomm’s QuickCharge technology. Instead, it employs the proprietary Dash Charge, which delivers higher amperage than QuickCharge and uses dedicated circuitry in the charger itself for heat management. (Android Central has a great explainer on how Dash Charge works.)

MORE: Smartphones with the Longest Battery Life

The next-best phone in the first round of our testing was the LG V30, at 53 percent. The iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus were all close behind, at 50 percent, 49 percent and 47 percent, respectively, when we used the fast-charging gear Apple sells separately.

Flagship phone battery capacity and battery life compared

Battery Capacity
Battery Life*
Google Pixel 2 XL
3,520 mAh
12:09
Galaxy S8+
3,500 mAh
11:04
Galaxy Note 8
3,300 mAh
11:11
OnePlus 5T
3,300 mAh
11:12
LG V30
3,300 mAh
6:30
Galaxy S8
3,000 mAh
10:39
iPhone X
2,716 mAh
10:49
Google Pixel 2
2,700 mAh
11:07
iPhone 8 Plus
2,691 mAh
11:16
iPhone 8
1,821 mAh
9:54

* Based on Tom’s Guide web surfing battery test over LTE

However, it’s important to note that these iPhones charge slower than the rest of the field even with their included adapters. For instance, the iPhone X hit only 17 percent after 30 minutes.

Among other phones, the Galaxy Note 8, S8 and S8+ were all in the same ballpark, at 35 to 38 percent, and the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL had comparable results.

So how about after an hour? The OnePlus 5T once again took the prize, reaching 93 percent in 60 minutes. The LG V30 snagged second place, at 86 percent, and the latest iPhones all vied for third place, though the iPhone X had the most capacity, at 81 percent. And, yes, you could argue that you need to cheat to hit these numbers with the iPhone, because you have to buy extra gear.

Overall, if filling up your phone fast is a top priority, the OnePlus 5T is the champ. And at $499, it’s also the most affordable phone you can get that comes with flagship-level specs and performance.

  • OnePlus 5T vs Pixel 2: Why OnePlus Wins
  • Best Android Apps You’re Not Using
  • 10 Reasons Android Beats the iPhone
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