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24
Dec

Best Honor 7X cases to keep your budget phone beautiful


The Honor 7X is Honor‘s latest budget phone, and it’s a beauty. With an awesome looking 18:9 aspect ratio display, the Honor 7X gives the budget market its very first bezel-less design, and thanks to the Kirin processor inside, it’s no slouch in the power department either. But despite that, it’s just as vulnerable to damage as any other budget smartphone. So what you really need is a way to protect it from harm. Luckily for you, we put together a list of the best Honor 7X cases you can buy right now.

TopAce Ultra-Thin Clear Case ($8)

Clear cases are amongst the cheapest and simplest ways you can protect your phone — and this case from TopAce is no exception. It’s made from durable and flexible TPU, and while it won’t be fully shockproof, the soft material will absorb some of any impact directed against your phone. It also affords extra grip, and a series of dots on the back helps to stop bubbling underneath the cover. It’s fully clear, so you can still appreciate your budget beauty, and it’s thin, so you can easily forget it’s there. A great choice if you want something simple.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Vinve Electroplated Bumper Frame Case ($9)

How about a little more style? This clear case from Vinve is thin, strong, and flexible, and affords many of the same benefits that you’ll get from a clear gel case. What sets this case apart are the slim metal bumpers at the top and bottom of the case. These extend over the top and bottom, and wrap around the camera lenses and fingerprint scanner, ensuring hard protection for those vulnerable areas. It’s super thin and it feels great in the hand, affording extra grip for your phone.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Skmy TPU Glitter Case ($9)

Who says protection can’t also look good? Another TPU case, this glitter case from Skmy has a raised lip around the edges, ensuring that the camera’s lenses and the display don’t directly touch surfaces the phone is laid on, stopping grit and dirt from scratching them. It also has a double-layer design, so it’s extra protected against drop damage, thanks to the padding at the corners. The glitter inside the case moves freely as you use the phone, forming into new patterns every time you use it. Some could see it as being a little over the top, but it has a simple and elegant design that you should be proud to slap onto your phone.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

E-Outfit TPU Bumper Drop Case ($8)

We’re upping the protection again with this TPU bumper case from E-Outfit. Made from a tougher TPU than previous cases, this case affords even more protection against the hazards of daily life. Button covers keep those vulnerable areas safe, and the TPU has been finished with a special anti-slip material that should ensure you won’t be dropping your phone at any time. The corners of a phone are the areas most likely to hit the ground after a fall, so each of the corners has been specially reinforced to ensure maximum protection. With a sleek, understated style, it doesn’t look bad either.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Jiangtiao Anti-Slip Hard Case ($10)

After something a little thinner and not as soft? This anti-slip case from Jiangtiao is made from polycarbonate, which is a hard plastic. That makes the case tough and durable. While it’s not going to be as resistant to shocks as a TPU case, it’s lightweight and strong, and affords great protection against direct damage. It clips straight to your phone and the surface of the case has been treated to make it anti-slip, fingerprint-resistant, and dust-proof. Open areas at the top and bottom ensure you can always the access your phone’s features, and the simple black surface offers a cool style for your Honor 7X. A great buy for this price.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Spigen Rugged Armor Case ($13)

One of the most reliable names in device protection, Spigen has made a name for itself by offering fantastic cases at fantastic prices. This Rugged Armor is TPU at its finest; strong, flexible, and durable in equal measure. Spigen’s internal spiderweb pattern and Air Cushion technology help to cushion the corners against impacts and spread the force away from the device itself. Tactile covers keep the buttons safe and clean, and aid grip thanks to the textured feel, and a raised lip helps to keep the device from touching surfaces when laid down. Carbon fiber-style panels at the top and bottom lend the case a futuristic look, and result in a case that will keep your Honor 7X protected and look good while doing it.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Kugi Anti-Slip Grip Case ($8)

If any case has been built for maximum grip, then it’s probably this case from Kugi. Made from our old friend TPU, the case is a combination of hard TPU with a softer back TPU panel. The back panel has a leather-like texture and gives a soft feeling for your fingers to rest on that also helps to aid grip on your device. Each side of the case has special cutouts below and above the button covers which double-down on anti-slip. If it does still slip from your grasp, then the chunky TPU should be able to take a good amount of punishment, thanks to the strong corner protection.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

J&D Tech RFID Blocking PU Leather Wallet Case ($10)

Stylish and protective, this wallet case from J&D Tech isn’t just interested in protecting your phone. Sandwiched between two layers of the durable PU leather sits a layer of RFID blocking material that protects the inner card slots from potential thieves looking to steal credit card details. An inner TPU casing holds your phone securely within the confines of the leather wallet, which folds around your phone to protect your display when not in use. This case also comes with a small lanyard you can use to keep hold of your phone when out and about, and the case’s cover even folds down into a handy stand for media-viewing on the go. With room for cards, cash, and your phone, this is the perfect case to replace a wallet or purse.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Yiakeng Protective Armor Case ($8)

Dual-layer cases use a combination of TPU and PC to achieve great protection in a variety of ways. This case from Yiakeng has a soft inner TPU core that absorbs impacts and cushions your Honor 7X, while the outer layer of PC clips around the TPU, and protects against more direct types of damage. The hard ridges on the PC section and the pattern on the TPU aids grip and imparts a rugged style to the case, perfect for trips outdoors and hiking. Best of all, it comes with a built-in kickstand that you can use to watch movies, check out pictures, or simply keep your notifications visible on your desk.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

DayJoy Aluminum Shield Case ($25)

Here’s something more than a little different. This case from DayJoy is an oddity on this list, as it’s made from metal. With a look that’s reminiscent of the love-child of a shuriken and a multi-tool, it’s almost certainly not for everyone. You would expect this case to be extremely heavy, since it’s made out of metal, and while it’s certainly heavier than the other cases on this list, the premium aerospace aluminum used in construction is lighter than it looks and it’s extremely strong. It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, and we imagine that getting it out of pockets in a hurry could be a struggle –but if you want something truly, truly unique, then you came to exactly the right place.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Honor 7X vs. Honor 6X: New school versus old school
  • Honor 7X vs. Nokia 6: Can Honor beat the Finnish veteran?
  • Honor 7X vs. Moto G5 Plus: Which cheap phone gets the most bang for your buck?
  • Honor View 10 versus Huawei Mate 10 Pro: A battle of David and Goliath
  • Honor 7X review




24
Dec

Future Chromebooks could make use of the Snapdragon 845 processor


Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 chip will make its way onto many of 2018’s flagship Android phones and always-connected PCs, but there’s a chance we’ll see it on a Chromebook as well.

Unlike the upcoming flagship smartphones, which run Android, or the always-connected PCs, which run on Windows, Google’s Chromebook line is powered by the Chrome OS. Buried within the code of the Chrome OS, XDA Developers have discovered clues to the potential future of a Snapdragon-powered Chromebook.

The team at XDA discovered that two commits were recently added to the Chrome OS code. The first adds a new board called “Cheza,” but gives no additional information regarding what Cheza is or what it does. However, the second commit reveals that Cheza is a board overlay for a reference device that will be powered by a Snapdragon 845.

In terms of performance and power consumption, the Snapdragon 845 would be a great fit for Chromebooks by providing a powerful yet energy-efficient chip to run the device. However, there have been a few obstacles to the use of Snapdragon processors.

The first had to do with getting the necessary drivers to work correctly. Last year, two ex-Google employees placed the blame on “Qualcomm’s reluctance to open-source and upstream the various drivers that make up Linux support for the embedded devices.” However, it does appear that the driver issues are being sorted out.

The Snapdragon 845 would make a great processor for a Chromebook, as the line is meant to balance performance and battery life while maintaining an affordable price point. Thanks to the lightweight nature of the Chrome OS, Chromebooks generally offer battery life that can outperform traditional laptops.

Another unanswered question is just who would be making the Snapdragon-powered Chromebooks and where they would fit into the overall ecosystem. With the exception of Pixelbook, Chromebooks aim for the sub-$500 market, so it would be unusual to see it go beyond that. In terms of manufacturer, that’s anyone’s guess. However, Samsung is a major contender here. The company already makes some of the best Chromebooks on the market, and it has extensive experience working with the Snapdragon, thanks to its Galaxy S smartphones.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Chromebooks vs. laptops
  • Asus Chromebook Flip C101PA review
  • How to install Android apps on a Chromebook
  • The best Chromebooks you can buy right now
  • Watch what you want on premium Chromebooks with Google’s free Netflix deal




24
Dec

Today Weather: A must-have weather app that’s also a Google Play ‘Best of 2017’ winner


We want to share the excitement with you — Today Weather was chosen as one of Google’s ‘Best apps of 2017’!

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Today Weather is a great weather app that puts the information you need to know right in front of you in a clear and easy-to-understand way. What makes Today Weather stand out are the vibrant colors and, in particular, the black background that seems to make everything pop.

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There is an easy-to-use slide-in menu to easily access the weather at your location and various pre-set locations to get an idea, for example, of what the weather is like at your next vacation destination. There is also a seven-day forecast so you’ll be sure to not get caught out when planning your days out.

Today Weather provides many data sources: Accuweather.com, Weather.com, Weather Wunderground, Dark Sky.

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The app looks great on the phone with AMOLED displays because of the black background and display on the device, but the app is just very well designed so would look great across the board.

Download Today Weather – Forecast, Radar & Severe Alert

24
Dec

Best games for killing time during Christmas and the holidays


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Great games for taking a wee break from your holiday festivities!

The holidays are a perfect time for relaxing and spending some quality time with family and friends — especially the times when our phones are put away.

But the reality is that people are always going to have their phones on them, and maybe sometimes it’s alright to use them for a little escape from the hustle and bustle of the season. On the other hand, there are some games that are great for all ages and can help the whole family kill a bit of time while the turkey finishes cooking in the oven. And you also don’t want anything too involved — we’re looking for more casual pick up and play games here.

Without further ado, here are some of our favorite games for killing time at Christmas.

  • Hidden Folks
  • Reigns: Her Majesty
  • Trivia Crack
  • Downwell
  • Alto’s Adventure
  • Heads Up!
  • Words With Friends 2

Hidden Folks

Hidden Folks is a fantastic new game for Android that takes everything that you remember and love about Where’s Waldo — the hand-drawn art style, the relaxing and focused fun — and pushes it into the digital age. Here, instead of scanning a page, you’re left to tap around to uncover secrets hidden throughout the scene. You’re given a list of people or items to find in each scene, and it’s up to you to explore every inch of the canvas as you discover all sorts of fun secrets.

There’s a brilliantly layers sound design comprised of human-made sound effects that are charming and remind me of a parent making sounds while reading a book to a kid. This feels like a perfect game for parents with younger kids who are starting to get into mobile games — especially with the holiday season upon us — but it’s also a great break for adults, too.

Download: Hidden Folks ($2.99)

Reigns: Her Majesty

Reigns: Her Majesty is the sequel to the award-winning game that combined the easy controls of swiping cards left or right with a compelling and engaging story. You play as the monarch of the land and make decisions that affect four aspects of the kingdom: the church, the people, the army, and the royal wealth. Your goal is to keep all four in balance — if any meter fills to the max or is entirely depleted your reign is over… and a new reign begins!

The sequel plays nearly identically to the first game, except this time you play as the Queen instead of the King, complete with new characters to interact with and multiple branching storylines to discover. This is a great casual game that you can dive into for hours or play in small burst, and an ideal way to kill a bit of time around the holidays.

Download: Reigns: Her Majesty ($2.99)

Trivia Crack

Trivia Crack still claims to be the most popular trivia game in the world, although with HQ Trivia coming to Android on Christmas Day that just might be changing.

Nevertheless, Trivia Crack is still a great game to play for any occasion, but especially around Christmas. It’s a head-to-head trivia game where you take turns answering trivia questions You spin the wheel and try and collect a trivia crown for the six different categories — Art, History, Science, Sports, Geography and Entertainment. Its great fun to play alone, or rope in some of your family members and play as a group.

Download: Trivia Crack (Free)

Downwell

If you prefer a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, maybe you’d rather spend some quiet time at the bottom of a well. While we wouldn’t advise anyone to actually crawling into a well, Downwell is the next best thing.

This is a really simple game that’s easy to pick up but hard to master. There’s no story so to speak — you control this little dude that shoots energy blasts out of his feet as he descends deeper and deeper down a well. You’ll need to dodge or destroy enemies as you collect gems and purchase upgrades in this tough-as-nails game that will have you hooked for hours.

Downwell is one of the best games for Android and it’s definitely a game I keep coming back to whenever I have a bit of time to kill. Very addictive with no ads or in-app purchases to be bothered by.

Download: Downwell ($2.99)

Alto’s Adventure

I will always recommend Alto’s Adventure until the sequel is finally released. Whether you’ve played it before or not, Alto’s Adventure is just one of the best games for killing time on Android.

You play as Alto, a snowboarding llama herder on a mission to track down his flock who have wandered down the mountain. You speed down the mountain hitting huge jumps and grinding along

Download: Alto’s Adventure (Free)

Heads Up!

Heads Up! is a really fun local multiplayer trivia game. One player holds a phone or tablet to their head showing a word, and a teammate gives hints as to what the word is (without saying it specifically, of course). A quick flip down of the device brings up a fresh word when guessed right, while a flip-up is a pass. After it’s all done, you can watch a video replay taken from the device’s front-facing camera and share it out to friends. There are six themed packs available out of the gate, and plenty more through in-app purchases of about a buck a pop.

Definitely give Heads Up! a try if you’re looking for a fun game that everyone in the family can play around the holidays.

Download: Heads Up! (Free w/IAPs)

Words With Friends 2

Words With Friends is a classic mobile game, and the sequel takes everything you loved about the original game and made things easier to play for quick games as well as playing by yourself.

So what’s new with Words With Friends 2? Zynga has completely redesigned the look and feel of the game while also adding a bunch of cool new game modes. There’s Solo Challenge which pits you against iconic literary figures controlled by the CPU, from Jane Austen to the master wordsmith himself William Shakespeare. Then there’s Lightning Round which is a team-based mode where it’s a race to get to 750 points. Each member of your team starts with their own board and you swap and add words to each other’s board as fast as you can. Both of these modes seem to address the biggest gripe with the original game — waiting for your friend to finally play a word.

Its a substantial update to a beloved game that’ll likely lead to a whole bunch of Facebook invitations to play from friends and family, and does good work to further differentiate Words With Friends from Scrabble. Play it to kill time waiting for the family to show up for dinner, play cooperatively with your fam, or get your relatives in on the game so you can keep in touch through Words With Friends 2 throughout the year!

Download: Words With Friends 2 (Free)

Android Gaming

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  • Best Android games
  • Best free Android games
  • Best games with no in-app purchases
  • Best action games for Android
  • Best RPGs for Android
  • All the Android gaming news!

24
Dec

Best Chrome extensions you didn’t know about but should be using


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What are the best Chrome extensions I should be using?

The amount of time most people spend browsing the internet continues to rise each year, and Google’s Chrome browser attempts to be the most comfortable and versatile browser out there. To aid in its quest, Google allows for developers to market small software extensions that modify and (in most cases) ameliorate your browsing experience. Here are 10 Chrome extensions you didn’t know about but should be using.

Enhanced History

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Finding some page you looked at in Chrome two weeks ago is extremely difficult using the default history tools. Enhanced History to the rescue!

You can search for almost anything you’ve stumbled across in the Chrome browser using a URL, title or keyword and extra search parameters make it easier to pinpoint the exact thing you need to find. If only Google were as good at search as Enhanced history is!

See at Chrome Web Store

TL;DR

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TL;DR is the answer to articles on the internet that are too long to read. Highlight article text, click the TL;DR button located next to your address bar, and read a well-constructed summary of the article. You can adjust the length of the summary depending on how much time you have or how involved you want to get. It does a good job of condensing the article without cutting out important bits of information.

See at Chrome Web Store

Keepa

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Keepa gives you some pretty in-depth information about Amazon products and prices, and lets you set price-drop alerts to keep you in the know. Check price history charts for all iterations of a product (including different colors and sizes), and compare Amazon prices from all over the world. You can even import your Amazon wishlist and assign alerts for when specific items drop below a certain price. Go to Amazon and hover over any item while Keepa is running; a graph will pop up with extended information. Never get ripped off again!

See at Chrome Web Store

Web Timer

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Web Timer is a double-edged sword. You’re getting data that helps you better manage your time, but said data can be depressing. You’ll find yourself asking questions, like, “Did I really spend four hours on Reddit yesterday?” You can add sites to a white-list so that time spent is not recorded, and you can change time measurement parameters from “Today”, to “Average”, to “Lifetime.” Take Web Timer for a spin — you won’t be disappointed (or you will, but only in yourself)!

See at Chrome Web Store

PanicButton

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This app is ideal for the classic situation where you’re slacking off at work and your boss happens to walk by. Before you have a chance to yell “Lunch break,” he or she sees Facebook, Reddit, and whatever else you have open in Chrome. PanicButton provides you with a single button or single keyboard key (default F4) that scoops all open tabs into a hidden bookmarks folder that can be restored at a later time. You won’t always need PanicButton, but when you do need it you’ll be glad it’s installed.

See at Chrome Web Store

Ghostery

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Want to block advertising companies from creating a profile around your browsing tendencies? Want to load web pages faster than ever before? Want to have more overall privacy on the internet? Ghostery lets you choose what trackers to block on a website-to-website basis. The first time you turn Ghostery on in Chrome, you’ll be amazed at how many trackers are watching your moves. Trackers stay blocked across web pages, so you’ll deal with increasingly fewer trackers the more you browse.

See at Chrome Web Store

Feedly Mini

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This extension provides you with an easy way to see your RSS feeds now that Google got rid of Google Reader. If you have the Feedly app on your Android phone, you can add websites from your computer while you’re navigating the web. A small button sits at the bottom right side of your browser — click it and choose from several options including Facebook sharing and page tagging.

See at Chrome Web Store

HTTPS Everywhere

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HTTPS essentially creates authentication between you and the web server hosting the specific webpage. This helps reduce the chance of someone hijacking the information sent between you and the web server. This extension creates HTTPS authentication wherever you go, and it is a must-have if you’re worried about surveillance, censorship, or identity theft.

See at Chrome Web Store

The Great Suspender

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Everyone who uses Chrome knows about the enormous footprint it leaves on your memory. If you’re an hour or two into an internet trail and have about fifty tabs open, you’ll be happy to have The Great Suspender in your corner. It will auto-suspend tabs after a set time, and you can manually suspend tabs whenever you want. You can also place certain tabs on a whitelist (say the tab playing your YouTube video), and tabs can be opened even after closing and re-opening Chrome.

See at Chrome Web Store

Extensity

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You’re going to need an organizer for all the Chrome extensions you have working for you. Extensity collects all extensions and places them in one button beside your address bar; enable and disable extensions with one click and create profiles for separate preferences. Extensity keeps your browser toolbar uncluttered and gives you mastery over your browsing experience.

See at Chrome Web Store

Pushbullet

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Receiving notifications from your Android phone right in Chrome is a great way to not miss an important text or call. Pushbullet also allows you to send SMS messages from your phone and send messages through apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Kik. When you receive and acknowledge a notification in Chrome, the notification will be dismissed from your phone — alerts will no longer pile up while you’re busy working away on your computer.

See at Chrome Web Store

LastPass

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Having multiple, complex passwords is becoming ever more important, but keeping track of them all can be a pain. The LastPass extension brings everything you love about the password manager to Chrome — generate strong passwords, save all passwords, and even store credit card information for easy checkout. LastPass auto fills password fields, so you’ll only have to remember one master password that unlocks your vault. This is a free extension, but a premium version can be unlocked that features full syncing across all devices.

See at Chrome Web Store

uBlock Origin

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Choosing an extension that blocks ads doesn’t have to be a difficult decision. uBlock Origin is an open-source extension that aggressively blocks ads while using less memory than the other big ad-blocking services. If you want to go one step further, there are thousands of filters that can be applied to uBlock Origin, including tracking blockers and malware domain blockers.

See at Chrome Web Store

Honey

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There are plenty of deals available when you shop online — the only problem is that they’re sometimes hard to find. Honey is a neat extension that finds coupon codes for you. When you’re at a checkout screen, just click the Honey button and the best coupon code available will be automatically applied. Honey will also show a list of coupon codes that recently worked with whatever site you’re currently on.

See at Chrome Web Store

Magic Actions for YouTube

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Magic Actions is an extension designed for a better YouTube experience. Set all videos to start in HD, enable cinema mode for a darkened screen, hide those annoying video annotations, and block ads. For anyone who watches a lot of YouTube — who doesn’t? — this is an incredibly useful extension.

See at Chrome Web Store

OneTab

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The number of tabs that get opened in Chrome can be downright alarming, and sometimes closing a bunch of them just isn’t an option. OneTab lets you click a button and have all your open tabs merge into one mega-tab that presents itself as a list.

When you need to access one of the tabs, just click its name from the list. You can also restore all of them at once to get back to working on your project.

See at Chrome Web Store

Cite This For Me

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Writing academic papers is a lot of work, especially when it comes time to properly cite your sources. Since so much information now comes from the internet, a Chrome extension was created to automatically cite websites in either APA, MLA, Harvard, or Chicago styles.

All you have to do is visit the page, click the Cite button, and copy the citation. There is also an online bibliography where you can add a bunch of citations and worry about sorting them out later.

See at Chrome Web Store

Lazarus

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If you’ve ever been filling in a form online and something happens where you lose your work — a power outage or an internet error — you understand the crippling anger that occurs when you realize it’s gone forever.

Lazarus is here to save the day. It takes the words you type and saves them so that they can be restored with a simple click. Worried about privacy? Your keystrokes are saved on your device and are encrypted to protect from snooping.

See at Chrome Web Store

Taco

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Working on the internet usually means you’re employing a ton of different services, like Trello, Gmail, RSS, and Evernote. With Taco, all of these services and more can be organized in Chrome’s New Tab page.

You can drag and drop tasks from a wide variety of services, letting you prioritize and hide content you’re not currently working. Grab this extension if you prefer having everything in one place.

See at Chrome Web Store

StayFocused

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For some people, especially students, staying on task to get everything on your to-do list done is easier said than done. When you have assignments due, or deadlines to hit, being able to focus on the task at hand is key.

StayFocused keeps you on track by not allowing you to visit certain websites for an allotted amount of time. You set up the sites that are blocked, decide when you can browse freely, and adjust what sites you are free to distract yourself with. There are plenty of settings to play with in order to limit the amount of distraction you deal with while trying to get work done on your laptop.

See at Chrome Web Store

Grammarly for Chrome

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Being able to quickly and easily check the spelling and grammar of a document really can’t be overstated. Whether you want to be sure that you don’t embarrass yourself in an email to your Supervisor, or in an essay you write for English 121, have a spelling and grammar checker can be handy.

While Grammarly definitely isn’t perfect and may miss some problems, overall it’s a great way to ensure your work and communications look polished before hitting that send button.

See at Chrome Web Store

Your favorite extension?

Hit the comments section and let us know what Chrome extensions you use most.

Updated December 2017 with more great Chrome extensions!

24
Dec

The best gadgets of 2017


2017 hasn’t been the easiest year to live through, but we’ve found joy and comfort in some of the hardware we’ve tested over the last 12 months. Last year, we saw VR surge in prominence, but our picks this year are more conventional — not to mention more diverse. The usual suspects include the iPhone X and Surface Laptop for getting helping us get things done, and the Nintendo Switch and the Sonos One for their ability to let us luxuriate at home and on the road. There’s some more unexpected stuff on our list, too, like the easy-to-use DJI Spark drone as well as the Mighty, a tiny music player that won over much of the Engadget staff. Ultimately, we appreciated these picks for the ways they made our lives more pleasant, even if only a little.

iPhone X

Apple’s latest iPhone is a radical departure from the company’s tried-and-true smartphone formula, but you’d better get used to it. The home button is finally gone, and Apple’s new Face ID technology works better than we expected and gives app creators another canvas for new kinds of experiences and interactions. (Animoji, anyone?) And for those more concerned with speed and camera performance, the iPhone X delivers on those fronts, too.

What really impressed us about the iPhone X, though, is the way Apple rewrote its rules for what an iPhone should be and still managed to build a pleasantly familiar slice of tomorrow. This is the future of the iPhone, and we’re more than happy to never look back.

Galaxy S8/S8 Plus

Lumping two phones into a single entry may seem like a cop-out, but whatever — Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus were a remarkable return to form for a company mired in controversy. As usual, Samsung combined top-tier horsepower with some truly phenomenal cameras, and we give the company credit for taking risks with projects like the Bixby AI assistant, even it’s a long way off from reaching its potential.

Still, it’s Samsung’s prowess with screens and industrial design that really impressed us. We’d argue that the S8 and S8 Plus are the most beautiful machines Samsung has ever crafted, and there’s no phone maker in the world that does these big, bezel-less displays better. (No wonder Apple tapped Samsung to make the iPhone X’s screen.) For Android fans, Samsung’s hardware is second to none.

Surface Laptop

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Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

MacBooks can seem ubiquitous at times, but Microsoft just might be the king of laptop design now. The Surface Laptop took much of what we loved about Microsoft’s Surface Pro line and adapted it into a more traditional form factor. It ships with a seventh-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, and while it’s not the most powerful ultraportable out there, its excellent battery life and gorgeous 13.5-inch display made such concessions easier to live with.

The biggest knock against the Surface Laptop is that it ships with a locked-down version of Windows 10 S, but that’s easily remedied with an upgrade to Windows 10 Pro — a process that’s much easier than it sounds. The Surface Laptop line will almost certainly grow more powerful and capable over the next few years, but Microsoft’s first-gen notebook for the masses still belongs on shoppers’ shortlists.

Nintendo Switch

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Aaron Souppouris/Engadget

After the flop that was the Wii U, Nintendo’s Switch hybrid marks a bold step in a new direction. First-party games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey are among the best (if not the best) in their respective series, and developers have been keen to port more adult fare like Doom and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus to the new platform. Best of all, you don’t need to be lounging in your living room to enjoy the Switch’s surprisingly broad slate of year-one games. Truly, the number of Engadget staffers who swear by the Switch as a travel companion is impressive. And people seem to like the Switch as much as we do. Nintendo recently revealed it has sold more than 10 million units so far, with the new console poised to overtake the Wii U’s lifetime sales in a single year.

Xbox One X

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Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

For gamers who would rather trade portability for unadulterated power, there’s the Xbox One X. It’s the most powerful gaming console available right now, and to make the most of it, you’ll want to hook it up to the best 4K television you can get your hands on. Original Xbox One owners itching for a prettier, more nuanced gaming experience owe it to themselves to snap up one of these $500 boxes. It’s a tougher sell for more casual gamers, however, and it lacks glitzy add-ons like a VR headset. Still, Microsoft has been clear from the outset: If power is your biggest priority, the Xbox One X is the way to go.

Sonos One

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Nathan Ingraham/Engadget

Amazon’s suite of Echos and Google’s Home speakers are fine, but of all the smart speakers we tested this year, the Sonos One simply sounds the best. That might not be everyone’s biggest priority, but still — if you’re going to insist on some kind of voice-activated speaker sitting on your kitchen counter or bookshelf, why not invest in one that sounds great? More importantly, its deep Alexa integration means the Sonos One can do just about anything one an Amazon Echo can, and a recently announced Spotify partnership means you can ask to hear all your carefully curated playlists. And for those who aren’t particularly fond of Amazon’s Alexa, just hang in there — the Sonos One is slated to get Google’s Assistant sometime next year.

Mighty

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Billy Steele/Engadget

We really didn’t expect to love this iPod Shuffle look-alike as much as we did, but here we are. While many people are more than happy to take their phones everywhere, the Mighty’s tiny body makes it an excellent companion for workouts or long walks. It’s not perfect — the companion app in particular could use some work — but it’s been a long time since we’ve heard such a compelling case for carrying a separate music doo-dad.

Sony WH-1000XM2

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Mat Smith/Engadget

The name might be a mouthful, but Sony’s latest set of high-end cans just might be the best headphones we tested in 2017. That’s no small feat, since we’ve tried out a quite a few seriously impressive headsets this year. Audio aficionados might notice that this pair sounds basically identical to the model it replaces, but we’re not complaining about the bold, dynamic audio the WH-1000XM2 produces.

Better still, we thought the new cans were just a touch better than Bose in the noise-cancellation department — an important consideration if you’re a frequent traveler. And the best part? Sony upped the battery life to 30 hours of use with Bluetooth and noise cancellation enabled. There are technically better sounding headphones out there, but as far as overall value goes, Sony wins.

DJI Spark

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James Trew/Engadget

For a long time, buying a decent drone meant shelling out loads of money. Not so much anymore. The DJI Spark is one of the more modestly priced drones we’ve tested, but what really sold us was how easy it is to simply pick up and start using. You don’t even need a phone or a controller to use it; simply fire it up, let it go, and control it using hand gestures. Grabbing epic selfies has never been so simple. More advanced users may bristle at its relatively small battery and limited range, but beginners looking for a way to get their feet wet won’t find a better option than this.

Cadillac Super Cruise

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Cadillac

This one isn’t a product so much as a feature made possible by lots of underlying technology. Cadillac’s Super Cruise earns points for taking the pain out of long drives. The biggest difference between Super Cruise and other semi-autonomous driving systems is that you’re able to remove your hands from the steering wheel entirely.

A suite of cameras are trained on you, and as long as you keep your eyes on the road, you’re free to fiddle with your phone, have a conversation with your passengers or just luxuriate in peace with your hands in your lap. Commutes won’t be totally hands-free, but they’ll be a whole lot more tranquil than usual. The feature is only available in the pricey Cadillac CT6 for now, but if enough people splurge on Super Cruise, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the technology show up in other GM cars over the next few years.

Check out all of Engadget’s year-in-review coverage right here.

24
Dec

Ben Heck’s SNES Classic teardown


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How does the SNES Classic compare to the NES Classic? Find out in this episode, wherein Ben picks up the newer edition and performs a teardown. Discover what components are in the box and how different the design is different from an electronics and mechanical perspective. Join Ben for a trip down memory lane with a discussion about Nintendo games. Have suggestions on what hardware should be torn down and unboxed on the show? Let us know over on the element14 Community.

24
Dec

NVIDIA is gearing up to end 32-bit OS support


The time of the 32-bit OS continues its slow descent into obsolescence. NVIDIA announced that Version 390 of its graphics card driver would be the last to support 32-bit Windows, Linux and FreeBSD systems.

While this shouldn’t come as a surprise 64-bit systems have become the norm, there are folks and organizations out there that are stuck using legacy machines. Maybe they have to run 16-bit or 32-bit applications that 64-bit systems don’t support.

Of course, using older operating systems typically means using less secure operating systems. This is how the WannaCry ransomware was able to cripple the UK’s NHS. It exploited a vulnerability in older versions of Windows that the hospitals were running for various reasons including controlling critical medical equipment and accessing patient data.

If you’re personally running a 32-bit system and you count on NVIDIA graphics drivers, it probably time to start looking to upgrade if you can. Sure change is scary. But not as scary as the security issues that pop up using old technology.

Via: Ars Technica

Source: NVIDIA

24
Dec

iPhone X owners can’t use Face ID to approve family purchases


Face ID on the iPhone X is helpful for authorizing a purchase for yourself, but don’t expect to use it if you’re approving a purchase for your kids. Numerous owners have discovered that the face authentication feature doesn’t work for family purchases (that is, where a family member asks you to buy apps or music on their behalf) like Touch ID does on earlier iPhones. It’s not a tremendous pain, but you probably won’t relish the thought of punching in your password every time your little ones want a new game for their iPads.

We’ve asked Apple if it can elaborate on why Face ID doesn’t work in these situations. Is it a security decision, a lack of time to add the feature or something else?

As Ars Technica notes, there could be good practical reasons to avoid using Face ID for family sharing decisions like this. When Apple was introducing Face ID, it was up front about the possibility that twins and other similar-looking family members could fool the detection system. And sure enough, we’ve seen at least one instance where a child successfully unlocked a parent’s iPhone X because of a strong resemblance. Apple probably doesn’t want to risk someone’s child going on a shopping spree simply because genetics worked in their favor, even if the chances of that happening are slim.

Whatever the reasons, the findings highlight the challenges of switching biometric security formats — each one has its own limitations, and could force companies to reevaluate security policies that they’d taken for granted after years of including fingerprint readers. It could be a while before depth-based face recognition is reliable enough to use in every situation, and that’s assuming there are no insurmountable obstacles.

Via: Ars Technica

Source: Apple Communities (1), (2), (3)

24
Dec

Court fines Apple for withholding evidence against Qualcomm


Apple and Qualcomm aren’t exactly the best of friends, so it’s quite surprising to hear that Cupertino is facing fines for failing to produce evidence for a lawsuit against the chipmaker. According to Bloomberg, a San Jose, California court has ordered Apple to pay $25,000 for each day (starting from December 16th) it fails to turn over documents the Federal Trade Commission needs for its lawsuit. The agency sued Qualcomm earlier this year over anti-competitive practices: it offered the tech titan, for instance, lower royalty fees if it exclusively uses its baseband chips for the iPhone.

Apple spokesperson Josh Rosenstock denied that the company has been withholding documents and told Bloomberg: “We have already produced millions of documents for this case and are working hard to deliver the millions more which have been requested in an unprecedented time frame. We plan to appeal this ruling.” It’s unclear why Apple hasn’t been able to move as fast the court demands and if the delay will sway things in Qualcomm’s favor. Unless the decision is reversed, Cupertino will have to present documents for the case by December 29th or face steeper fines. Then again, whatever that new amount is, it will barely make a dent in the finances of a company that can pump out $25,000 in profit within a few seconds.

While Apple isn’t directly involved in this lawsuit, the two entities are engaged in a few legal battles against each other. The tech giant started the war in January, piggybacking off FTC’s lawsuit and suing Qualcomm for $1 billion over royalty. In November, the chipmaker fired back with its own lawsuit, accusing Apple of failing to comply with the terms of a software license and sharing proprietary info with a rival. Apple sued Qualcomm again in late November, claiming that older Snapdragon chips violate at least eight patents. Qualcomm responded with a lawsuit of its own, of course, claiming that all iPhones from 7 to X violate at least 16 patents.

Source: Bloomberg

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