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25
Dec

Best accessories to buy for your new Amazon Fire tablet


Accessories are what make the Amazon Fire HD tablet a full experience and not just an inexpensive way to watch stuff.

So you’ve got a shiny new Amazon Fire HD tablet. Maybe it’s the 7-incher. Or the 8-incher. Or even the 10-inch Fire HD. Either way, congratulations! Someone you know is pretty smart, because while these aren’t the most powerful Android-based tablets you can find, they’re easily the best value for your money.

Yes, really. A couple reasons for that. One is that Amazon has a really robust ecosystem these days. It’s maybe not quite as streamlined as Google’s, but once you’re set up you’ve got access to movies, TV shows, apps, music, books — and of course all the online shopping Amazon can throw at you.

And if you’ve got kids, these are still the only tablets I’d had one.

But you’re not done yet. It’s time to accessorize. Here are the first accessories I’d look at for your brand-new Fire HD tablet.

See at Amazon

Buy a case

fire-hd-case.jpg?itok=Ll_o3sGHDo yourself a favor: Just buy a case. Even if you don’t think you’ll drop your tablet. You will. And cases are more than just protection these days. They’re also a handy way to prop up your Fire HD for watching movies or playing games.

(And, yes, they also protect your tablet.)

There are a ton of options out there, whether it’s the first-party plastic case from Amazon, or something leather(Esqueda) from a third party seller.

See at Amazon

Buy a microSD card

fire-hd-sd-card.jpg?itok=kIKTqrwyThe thing about the Fire HD tablets is that there’s not a lot of built-in storage space for apps and pictures and movies and games and stuff.

The thing about the Fire HD tablets is that it’s also super easy to just pop in an inexpensive microSD card and increase that storage space exponentially. Which one should you get? It really depends on your budget.

Me? I always try to get more than I think I’ll need. Because nobody has ever said “Ya know, I just have too much storage space.”

See at Amazon

Buy a screen protector

screen-protect.jpg?itok=cghji5SOThis one’s especially true if you’ve got kids — a screen protector can mean never having to say you’re sorry.

For one, they’ll help keep your display free of scratches. But they’ll also help keep that display clean of Kid Goo™ — that unexplainable stuff that kids secrete to no end.

Just trust me on this.

See at Amazon

Buy an extra charger

fire-hd-charger.jpg?itok=YHmP86ZPThe only thing worse than a dead tablet is … not knowing where the charger is.

Fire HD tablets all use the older Micro-USB standard. (Seriously, Amazon, it’ll be time to switch to USB-C at some point.) The good news is that if you don’t have any extra Micro-USB chargers laying around, they’re really just a couple bucks. It’s worth picking up an extra charger or two.

And maybe snag one for the car while you’re at it.

See at Amazon

Amazon Fire tablets

  • Amazon Fire 7
  • Amazon Fire HD 8
  • Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition
  • Amazon Fire 8 Kids Edition
  • Amazon Fire HD 10

See more at Amazon

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25
Dec

How to restore your apps and settings to a new Android phone


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Got a new phone? Awesome! Here’s how you can restore your apps and settings from your previous device.

Google has always synced calendar events, contacts, Drive documents, Gmail settings and other account-related information across devices, and since Android 5.0 Lollipop the company started offering the ability to restore apps to a new device. With Marshmallow, the feature was expanded to include app data as well as system settings, with all the information stored in the cloud. Android 7.0 and 8.0 doesn’t bring changes to the backup service itself, but Google has placed more focus on privacy and how sensitive information is sent or stored.

If you’re using the Google Now or Pixel Launcher, your home screen background, icon and widget layout, as well as the folder structure, is now saved to the cloud, allowing you to restore your settings to a new handset and retain your home screen layout.

Where does all this data get stored? Google is backing up the app data to Drive, allocating 25MB for each app. Data used by the backup system doesn’t count toward your storage quota. Meanwhile, developers can choose to select what app data gets stored in the cloud and you can opt-out of the service at any time through your device settings.

Here’s how you can restore your apps and settings when moving to a new Android phone.

How to enable the Android backup service

First, make sure you have the backup service running on your current phone.

Open Settings from the home screen or app drawer.
Navigate to Backup & reset.

Select Back up my data.

android-restore-enable.jpg?itok=bPHy_EK4

Toggle Back up my data to On.
Select Back to go back to Backup & reset.
Check that the correct Google account is associated in Backup account.

Toggle Automatic restore to On to restore settings and data when installing an app.

android-restore-toggle.jpg?itok=-X6AXoED

Now that you’ve enabled the Android backup service, your system settings and app data will be automatically saved to Drive. When you’re switching to a new phone, you can rely on the service to restore your settings, apps, and associated data.

Note: The menu layout may not look exactly as above on your phone, but any phone running Lollipop and above should have an equivalent of Backup & reset.

How to restore apps and services on a new Android phone

Restoring apps is straightforward if you’re using a handset running Lollipop and above. This setting is available to phones as they’re booting up for the first time, or after they’ve been factory reset.

Select the arrow at the welcome screen to start setting up your handset.
Select the System language.

Log in to your home Wi-Fi network.

android-restore-welcome.jpg?itok=lzyUWXB

Select Accept and continue.
You can easily copy your Google accounts, apps, and data from another device, but for now, we’ll not use this option.

Log in to your Google account (you have two-factor authentication enabled, don’t you?).

android-restore-login.jpg?itok=ZljqkF-c

Tap Accept to sign in to your Google account.
In the Google services page, you can select whether you want to enable the backup service for your account.
Choose your preferences, and select Next.

If you want to add another email account, you can do so in the Add another email section. Otherwise, just select Not now and hit Next.

android-restore-login-gmail.jpg?itok=qz6

We now come to the Which device? section, which lets you select the device you want to restore from.
You’ll see a list of all your previous devices, and when you’ve last used them.
Select a device to see all the apps available for restore.

If you want to restore all apps and settings, hit Restore.

android-restore.jpg?itok=hG7HFpF5

Don’t want everything restored? Hit the arrow next to Restore all.
Selectively choose which apps you want to restore.

Hit Restore to retrieve apps and settings from the cloud.

android-restore-selective.jpg?itok=MAG7H

You can now set up fingerprint security and enable Google Now.

android-restore-finish.jpg?itok=mM5sn_Rr

That’s it! Once the initial setup is completed, apps and settings will be restored in the background.

Your privacy

Gathering data and sending it off to a remote server means it’s outside the app sandbox and depends on Google and the people who made your phone to be doing the right things. That may not always be the case, as phone manufacturers have a lot of leeway when they make an Android-powered phone. Google’s thoughts on the issue:

Caution: Because the backup transport can differ from device to device, Android cannot guarantee the security of your data while using backup. Be cautious about using backup to store sensitive data, such as usernames and passwords.

Google provides plenty of documentation on how to use the Backup service, so developers have the means to be cautious and do the right thing with sensitive data. Don’t let this scare you away from using the service, but you do need to be aware.

How to see the amount of data synced to the cloud

Although you can’t see what data is being backed up to the cloud, you can take a look at the amount of app data that’s being stored. Here’s how you can find out:

Open Google Drive from the home screen or app drawer.
In My Drive, select the hamburger menu from the top left corner.

Navigate to Settings.

android-restore-drive.jpg?itok=_ijGajJW

Tap Manage backup.
You’ll see a list of all the apps that are using the backup service.

android-restore-drive-2.jpg?itok=NxjsVw-

The backup system works well for restoring apps and system settings, but app data remains an issue. When I did a clean Marshmallow install on the Moto G4 Plus and used the restore feature, apps like Fenix were already logged in, and my preferred settings for the Twitter client were intact from a previous phone. However, not all apps take advantage of the backup service, and with the feature limited to apps built on API level 23 (apps built for Marshmallow) and above, there are several older apps that aren’t eligible. The biggest issue is that even though the service is free and requires no special cloud services, developers just aren;t using it.

The ability to restore apps and settings is available on all current phones running Android 6.0 and above, although there are a few outliers. Recent Xiaomi phones, for instance, do not offer the restore service at all. I had to manually install apps individually on the Play Store like it’s 2013. The issue is more common in countries like India, where there is an influx of Chinese phones with heavily tweaked user interfaces.

In Western markets, this should not be an issue. If you’re buying a phone from the likes of Samsung, LG, HTC, Sony, Motorola, or any other handset manufacturer that has a foothold in the U.S. market, you’ll be able to use the restore functionality to retrieve your apps and settings data with ease.

How has your experience been with Android’s restore feature? Let us know in the comments.

Android Oreo

  • Android Oreo review!
  • Everything new in Android Oreo
  • How to get Android Oreo on your Pixel or Nexus
  • Oreo will make you love notifications again
  • Will my phone get Android Oreo?
  • Join the Discussion

25
Dec

Switching from iPhone to Android: Everything you need to know


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So you’ve seen the light and are switching from iPhone to Android. Welcome! Here’s what you need to know!

Switching from iPhone to Android can be a bit daunting. If you’re unpacking a brand new Pixel 2 or Galaxy S8, or something else equally exciting, let us help you get set up quickly and easily!

If you’ve never used an Android phone before, there are a few things you should know before taking the leap (even though it’s the leap home).

There’s a learning curve

Switching from iPhone to Android isn’t the same as upgrading the from the iPhone 7 to the iPhone X. It’s more akin to switching from Mac to Windows (though not as drastic). General functions are still similar, but major Android phone manufacturers will often have proprietary user interfaces, distinguishing them from other makers.

Therein lies the rub. There is no single version of Android in the way that there’s only one iOS. Companies take the Android operating system and interpret it and mold it according to their vision, meaning you’ll get a different experience using a Samsung phone than you would using an HTC phone or an LG phone.

Though all Android operate similarly on a fundamental level, it’s the little, finicky difference that set them all apart, so it may take some getting used to.

If you’re just about to turn off your iPhone and put your SIM card into a brand new Pixel, Galaxy or something else shiny, here’s what you need to know!

Turn off iMessage!

When you message other iPhones from your iPhone, they’ll communicate via iMessage when you’re connected to the internet. This is different from regular SMS texting, and if you leave iMessage turned on on your iPhone, many of your texts will still be routed through that service.

If you’re on your new Android phone, you won’t receive any of those messages. You need to disable iMessage before making the switch! (And while you’re at it, turn off FaceTime.)

  • How to disable and deactivate iMessage on iPhone

You might have to buy your apps again

If you have pay-upfront apps on your iPhone that you paid for, you’ll likely have to buy them again from the Google Play Store if you want them on your Android phone.

The Google Play Store and the App Store are completely different entities, and the apps they house are made for different platforms. Some of the apps you had on your iPhone may not even be available for your Android phone and vice versa. That said, if you’re subscribing to a service like Spotify or Evernote, you just need to download the app and log in on your new Android phone to get going.

You may need to re-sync your life

If you have all of your contacts, calendar events, photos, documents, and more synced with iCloud, and everything’s on your iPhone, you’ll likely have to re-sync everything on your Android phone.

Android’s version of the cloud is housed in your Google apps, like Docs, Gmail, Contacts, Drive, and more. When setting up your Android phone, you’ll set up a Google account and from there, you can actually sync some of your iCloud content with your Google account, so that you don’t have to re-enter all of your dates, contacts, etc.

What you’ll need to bring with you

You don’t have to leave your life behind on your iPhone. You can bring your information with you so that you’re not taking hours to populate your Android phone with all of your stuff.

Contacts

Yes, Google and Apple are direct competitors and the two biggest competitors in the mobile game, but neither makes it too difficult to switch teams. Rather than manually enter all of your contacts into your new Android phone, you can export your iPhone contacts in a few different ways.

  • How to transfer contacts from iPhone to Android

Calendars

If your calendar is flush with events, it’d be a major pain in the behind to have to add them all in again once you’ve made the switch to Android. Luckily, all of your calendar info resides in files called ICS, which are widely used and easy to transfer.

  • How to sync your iPhone calendar to your Android phone

Photos

Like most of us, your phone is probably your primary camera. You’ll want to take those precious memories with you when you leave the land of Apple, especially if you’re planning on erasing and selling your iPhone after. We recommend using Google Photos. Most Android phones have Google Photos pre-installed (and if not, it can be downloaded from the Play Store) and it’s a super quick and easy process.

  • How to transfer iPhone photos to Android

Documents

If you use iCloud Drive, then you probably have a few documents socked away and you might want to get rid of iCloud Drive in favor of Google Drive when you switch to Android. Transferring those files is easy if you use the iCloud Drive and Google Drive desktop apps!

  • How to transfer your iCloud Drive files to Google Drive

Manufacturer tools

Some manufacturers have their own tools to help you migrate your information from a computer. So if you have all your iPhone data on a computer, you can add it to your Android phone using the maker’s tool.

You won’t be able to add an iPhone backup to your Android phone, but you’ll be able to drag and drop contacts, music, and more from your computer.

Samsung Smart Switch

You’ll need to use the desktop client to be able to move your iPhone data to your new Samsung phone. It’s essentially the same as moving files around on your computer, but by connecting your Android phone to your computer, you’ll be able to transfer everything right to your phone.

  • Download now
  • How to use Samsung Smart Switch to back up your Galaxy phone

LG Bridge

LG Bridge lets you interact with your LG phone on your computer, where you can easily transfer all of the stuff you want to bring over when you migrate from iPhone to Android.

  • How to use LG Bridge with your LG phone

Pixel Switch

Each Google Pixel comes with a USB-OTG adapter that allows you to quickly and easily transfer files, contacts, calendar entries and even iMessages from an iPhone to your new Android phone.

  • How to transfer data from iPhone to Google Pixel
  • Learn more about Pixel Switch at Google

Just remember

At the end of the day, switching to Android from iPhone is nowhere near as difficult as switching your writing hand, or even using that hand to write a test! An Android phone still performs the same basic functions you’re used to: making calls, messaging, surfing the web, playing games, etc.

It may take some getting used to, but you might find yourself feeling freed with all the customizable options that Android has to offer (I took three days to decide my home screen layout when I got my first Android phone after switching from iPhone).

Have fun with it and really do your research before buying your first Android phone so that you make sure you’re buying what’s best for you.

If you need some help with choosing, check out our Smartphone Buyer’s Guide, where we show you the particulars on just about every Android phone around, so that you can make an informed decision when it comes to switching over.

Questions?

Got a question about using and Android phone? Little nervous about making the switch? Let us know in the comments below!

Android Oreo

  • Android Oreo review!
  • Everything new in Android Oreo
  • How to get Android Oreo on your Pixel or Nexus
  • Oreo will make you love notifications again
  • Will my phone get Android Oreo?
  • Join the Discussion

25
Dec

China’s censors have taken down 13,000 websites in 3 years


It’s no secret that China is fond of censorship. Now, however, the country has divulged numbers that give a sense of that crackdown’s scale. A report from the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress has revealed that China has either shut down or revoked licenses for more than 13,000 websites since the start of 2015, or just under 3 years ago. It had also prompted the closure of nearly 10 million internet accounts (most likely social network accounts). To no one’s surprise, there’s a heavy amount of spin on the reasons these sites and accounts were taken down.

The state-backed media outlet Xinhua said these closures were meant to protect the “party’s long-term hold on power, the country’s long-term peace and stability, socio-economic development and the people’s personal interests.” Of course, it’s that first part that China’s officials are really concerned about. While the country has fought against porn, rumors and terrorism, a large amount of its energy has been spent on preventing residents from seeing uncensored news and communicating privately online.

Accordingly, officials added that over 10 million accounts had been suspended due to people refusing to use their real names. China had ostensibly implemented the measure to curb rumors and salty language, but it’s widely believed to be an effort to silence dissent by making it easy to identify political opponents.

Like it or not, these takedowns aren’t likely to relent any time soon. China has been implementing ever-stricter digital laws in recent months, and not just to suppress opposition during its National Congress this October. The government has grown increasingly nervous about the ability to elude its filters and monitoring tools, and it’s not about to let a site stay up if it makes that evasion any easier.

Via: Reuters

Source: Xinhuanet

25
Dec

Getting to Know Your New iPhone X – What’s Different


Rumors originally suggested the iPhone X would be tough to get through the holidays, but Apple significantly ramped up supply, so it’s been relatively easy to get a new iPhone X ahead of Christmas.

That means lots of new iPhone X devices are getting unboxed today, and if you’re coming from an iPhone 8 or later, it’s a big adjustment. Those of us who have been using an iPhone X since November can confirm that it takes a bit of time to get used to all of the changes in the device, but within a week or two, you won’t even miss that Home button.

We’ve shared a lot of details on the iPhone X over the course of the last month, and this post resurfaces some of that content along with a few new tidbits and tricks that will help you get used to your iPhone X more quickly.

The iPhone X Interface

Not having a Home button is on the iPhone X is the most immediately jarring change, because there are new and unfamiliar gestures to learn.

Instead of pressing on the Home button to get to the Home screen of the iPhone X, you swipe up from the bottom of the display. This minimizes any app that’s open.


On earlier iPhones, a double tap on the Home button brought up the App Switcher, but on iPhone X, you swipe up from the bottom and then pause for a moment to get to the App Switcher. Closing apps is no longer done with a single swipe — you’ll need to hold again on an app in the App Switcher until the red “-” appears, and then tap it or swipe up on the app.

To activate the display of the iPhone X to see your notifications, you can use a new “Tap to Wake” gesture, which, as the name suggests, means you just tap a finger on the inactive display. Pressing the side button also works.

Getting to the Control Center is going to be one of the most difficult gestures to learn. Instead of swiping up from the bottom like you’re used to, you swipe down from the top of the status bar that displays battery life and cellular signal.


A swipe down from the top of the iPhone X anywhere else on the display brings down the Cover Sheet of the Lock screen so you can see all of your notifications. Accessing Siri is now done by pressing twice on the side button instead of holding down on the Home button.

Additional Reading:

  • 6 Interface Tricks for iPhone X
  • Top 10 iPhone X Tricks
  • iPhone X First Look

The Notch

The iPhone X has an edge-to-edge display that does away with all bezels, except for a “notch” at the top of the device. Many criticized this design decision ahead of the release of the iPhone X, but in practical use, it’s something you acclimatize to after a week or two of using the iPhone X, and it fades into the background instead of being a focal point whenever you’re using the phone.


Apple needed the notch to hold all of the sensors for the TrueDepth camera, but it was implemented in a way that takes up as little space as possible, with two ears at the sides that house status information.


Apple, in developer materials, encourages developers to embrace the notch rather than to hide it away, and that’s the path most apps and games have taken. In portrait mode, the notch is easy to ignore, but it will be a bit harder to get used to in landscape mode.

Additional Reading:

  • Embracing the Notch
  • iPhone X Notch: Everything You Need to Know
  • Apple Approves Notch Remover App for iPhone X
  • Prime Real Estate: The Fight for Space in the iPhone X

The Display

The iPhone X is the first iPhone from Apple to feature OLED technology for true-to-life colors, deep blacks, and an improved contrast ratio. At a resolution of 2436 x 1125 with 458 pixels per inch, it has the highest resolution and pixel density ever introduced in an iPhone.


It is the best display we’ve seen in an iPhone, and it’s one of the features you’re likely to fall in love with immediately after unboxing the iPhone. It supports HDR, wide color, 3D Touch, and True Tone for adjusting the white balance of the display to match the ambient lighting.

Additional Reading:

  • Apple Says Minor Screen Burn-In and Shifts in Color When Looking at iPhone X Off-Angle Are Normal

Face ID

Face ID, like the removal of the Home button, is a major change in the iPhone X. A fingerprint is no longer required to unlock your iPhone because it’s using a 3D facial scan instead. Face ID works through a TrueDepth Camera system that projects thousands of tiny dots onto your face, which are read through an infrared camera.


For most people, Face ID is as secure as Touch ID, but it can sometimes be fooled by masks, twins, and children.


Face ID is identical to Touch ID in terms of what it’s used for (Apple Pay, device unlocking, password replacement in apps), it just uses your face instead of your finger. Developers have no access to Face ID data, nor does Apple, so it’s just as secure as Touch ID.


Built-in machine learning features allow Face ID to adjust to facial changes. It can recognize you with sunglasses on, when you grow a beard, when you cut your hair, when you wear a scarf, and in other similar situations.

Additional Reading:

  • Apple Shares In-Depth Face ID Security Info
  • Face ID Unlocked With Mask
  • Face ID Twin Tests
  • 10-Year Old Unlocks Face ID on Mother’s iPhone
  • Face ID is Faster than Touch ID in Day-to-Day Usage
  • Face ID Works With Sunglasses
  • Face ID Works in the Dark, With Hats, and With Beards

Animoji and Third-Party Apps

The TrueDepth Camera isn’t just used for Face ID — it powers a new feature called Animoji, which are animated characters that mimic your facial expressions. Animoji live in the Messages app, so you can send friends and family messages featuring animated characters with your voice and facial expression.


Animoji were popular just after the release thanks to “Animoji Karaoke,” designed to make it look like the Animoji characters were singing hit songs, but that has died out over the last few weeks.


The TrueDepth Camera can send a rough facial map of your face to developers for ARKit apps. Snapchat, for example, can use this additional data from the TrueDepth camera to make its built-in facial filters more realistic than ever before.

Additional Reading:

  • Privacy Advocates and Devs Raise Concerns About Third-Party App Access to TrueDepth Camera
  • Animoji Karaoke Takes Over Social Media Following iPhone X Launch

Apple Pay

Apple Pay on iPhone X is as simple to use as Apple Pay with devices that have Touch ID, but the checkout process is different.

Instead of confirming a payment with a finger on the Touch ID Home button, you’ll need to unlock your iPhone X with Face ID, hold it down towards the payment terminal, and then press twice on the side button. The video below walks through the steps required:

Wireless Charging

You can still charge the iPhone X via Lightning port like any other iPhone, but it also supports wireless charging functionality. It will work with any Qi-certified wireless charger, with or without a case (with the exception of cases with a very thick back, aluminum cases, or cases with built-in magnets).


Wireless charging is about as fast as charging with the standard 5W wired charger from Apple, but it’s slower than other wired charging methods and charging speeds can vary based on factors like ambient temperature and the amount of power being delivered by the charger.

Aditional Reading:

  • iPhone X Charging Speeds Compared
  • iOS 11.2 Supports Faster 7.5W Wireless Charging on iPhone X
  • Comparison: Belkin and Mophie’s Wireless Chargers
  • Discounted and Upcoming Qi Charging Pads

Cameras

Compared to older iPhones, the iPhone X cameras operate in much the same way, but there are some improvements and tweaks to be aware of. The iPhone X’s rear-facing cameras are vertical rather than horizontal, but in practice, they work the same way.


Portrait mode, limited to the rear-facing camera in older Plus iPhone models, is available on both the front and rear facing cameras on the iPhone X. With the front camera, Portrait Mode is enabled through the TrueDepth camera system.


The rear facing camera is much improved, with an improved 12-megapixel sensor, new color filter, and a new image signal processor for better automatic adjustments and faster autofocus. Also new is optical image stabilization for the telephoto camera, meaning better portraits and an overall improvement to both lenses in the device.


For both the front and rear cameras in the iPhone X, there’s a new Portrait Lighting effect that works alongside Portrait Mode to let you adjust the lighting in your image to introduce studio-quality effects.

For video, iPhone X supports 4K video at up to 60 frames per second and slo-mo video at up to 240 frames per second, and all of the aforementioned new hardware brings better stabilization for reduced blur and shakiness.

Additional Reading:

  • iPhone X Camera Overview: Portrait Lighting, Video Improvements, Front-Facing Portraits and More
  • iPhone X Low Light Photography Test Demonstrates Improved Telephoto Lens

Other Features

There are a ton of other new features in the iPhone X, including a new battery design for more battery life and an A11 Bionic processor that’s incredibly fast and powers all of the iPhone X’s camera functionality, but these are under-the-hood inclusions that won’t be an immediate change from former iPhones.


For more information on all of the new features included iPhone X, make sure to check out our dedicated iPhone X roundup.

Related Roundup: iPhone XBuyer’s Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)
Discuss this article in our forums

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25
Dec

Sorry iPhone X fans, Face ID won’t work for approving family purchases


Apple touted its new Face ID feature as a revolutionary authentication method when it debuted the tool with the iPhone X. But now, it would appear that Apple itself isn’t totally confident as to the effectiveness of Face ID as a security measure. As originally reported by Ars Technica, a number of iPhone X users have discovered that Face ID isn’t a viable authentication method for Apple’s “Ask to Buy” feature, which lets parents give their kids and other family members the green light for iOS and downloads.

Rather, anytime one of these requests comes through, the account holder (or “family organizer”) must input his or her Apple account password, approving each purchase attempt one by one.

This is particularly frustrating because users previously were able to approve purchases with the touch of a button with Touch ID devices. But because the iPhone X doesn’t have this same functionality, that option no longer exists. And while you can use Face ID to authenticate other purchases, oddly enough, you can’t use it to authenticate purchases made … in the App Store (unless you make them yourself).

Although this may not seem like that significant of a nuisance, it could prove to be rather cumbersome for folks with big families, or around the holidays. After all, if members of your family receive App Store gift cards and try to use them, you’ll have to approve each of these transactions individually. It’s also a rather odd holdup given the otherwise easy transition from Face ID to Touch ID. Many third-party apps that previously used Touch ID automatically moved over to Face ID for iPhone X owners, making Apple’s own oversight here even more jarring.

That said, Face ID hasn’t been without its hiccups, which may be why Apple is attempting to be super cautious in this case. Apple has admitted that Face ID can be duped by one family member bearing a strong resemblance to another, and there’s even been a case of a child unlocking a parent’s phone using the authentication method.

In any case, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that biometric security measures, while convenient, aren’t always altogether effective. And Apple is just one of many companies still looking to get it right.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • iPhone X users can now use Face ID to make purchases on eBay
  • Apple adds more indoor maps for select airports and malls to iOS 11
  • The all-screen Apple iPhone X is here, and it’s the new iPhone you’ll want
  • Can facial recognition really replace fingerprints? We asked the experts
  • Parents can safeguard their preteens’s Facebook usage with Messenger Kids




25
Dec

The best bitcoin wallets


With cryptocurrency technologies, trends and values changing on a near daily basis, it can often be hard to keep track of the latest best practices. One of the most important considerations to make as a bitcoin (or alt-coin) investor or owner is where to store them. For that, you need to know the best bitcoin wallets.

Do you use a wallet linked to an exchange? Do you use a software wallet that’s local to your machine? A hardware wallet specifically designed for keeping your coins safe? Or even put it on a piece of paper and lock it in a fire-proof safe? There are various approaches to the cryptocurrency wallet, and all of them have their benefits and drawbacks.

Online wallets

The best option for those just getting started with bitcoin, online wallets let you store your cryptocurrency in a place that’s easily accessible from anywhere in the world, on any device you choose. Often linked to an exchange, they make trading for fiat currencies (like the US dollar), or other cryptocurrencies, quick and easy, and are straightforward to set up and get started with. Many also feature smartphone apps to give you easier access to your bitcoin.

Most offer decent security in terms of two-factor authentication, or better, and some will require forms of photo I.D. to sign up to confirm your identity. That does mean there’s less anonymity with these wallets than some of the other options on this list.

These wallets do make you more reliant on a third party for support. If the exchange is hacked and it loses all its funds, that money is likely gone. If the exchange is hit with heavy traffic or a DDOS attack, you may not be able to access your currencies. Since your bitcoin is stored remotely, hackers and social engineers may be able to steal your identity from you and access your account without your permission to make off with your coin collection.

For those reasons, these wallets are recommended for those just starting out with bitcoin trading, for those only trading small amounts, or only holding on to their coins for a short period of time.

Our pick

Blockchain – Blockchain.info’s wallet system features an easy to understand interface, two-factor authentication, and various other security options. It comes with built in ShapeShift trading for easy conversion of bitcoin, Ether and Bitcoin Cash. Unlike some of the alternatives, it doesn’t require identification, though it’s encouraged to ease account recovery if necessary.

Other options

Coinbase – Quick and easy access to Coinbase’s various markets, including its GDAX trading platform where you can buy, sell and trade bitcoin, Litecoin and Ether. It was recently embroiled in a bit of a scandal involving Bitcoin Cash, so its reputation has taken a hit as of late, but it’s one of the better used and respected exchange platforms otherwise.

Offline software wallets

Offline software wallets, sometimes called “desktop wallets,” still retain some of the ease of use and access. Some are aimed specifically at use on desktop and laptop PCs, while others have a more mobile focus, and are app exclusive.

The big advantage of this approach is independence. Every exchange in the world can go down, yet and you still have technical ownership and access to your cryptocurrencies. It also means that you would have to be specifically hacked or attacked to lose access to them. Your identity is protected, with no need to sign up anywhere or provide some form of identification to set up, or access your wallet.

If it has a companion mobile application, you can transfer bitcoins easily between you and other owners, and even use them to pay for certain items in real-world stores.

That’s not to say these types of wallets are perfect, though. They are still software-based, so are susceptible to hackers and malware attacks. Those with an online component for ease of trading are also more public than the truly-offline hardware (cold storage) alternatives. If you’re storing a lot of bitcoin in one, that can draw unwanted attention.

Our pick

Exodus – An all in one application that combines support for a variety of cryptocurrencies — bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and more — with strong privacy and security features — Exodus is entirely free to use. It features built-in ShapeShift functionality for easy inter-trading of various cryptocurrencies, live charts and trackers, and is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux. It does however, currently lack two-factor authentication.

Other options

Electrum – A fast and private offline software wallet, Electrum has been one of the most popular choices among cryptocurrency owners for years for good reason. It’s private and secure, with a fast interface and full ability to export your private key to use with another bitcoin client. It’s also compatible with hardware wallets through the use of third-party plugins.

Mycelium – A mobile-exclusive software wallet, Mycelium is an open-source wallet platform with full support for bitcoin. While it cannot be used with other cryptocurrencies at this time, it’s constantly being developed and expanded upon. It’s fast, easily accessible and though a little complicated for new users, offers a wealth of advanced options for the more confident bitcoin owners.

Bread Wallet – One of the most popular bitcoin wallet solutions on iOS, this wallet is now supported on Android devices too. With a straightforward interface and a setup process that takes seconds, this is one of the easiest mobile wallets to get up and going with quickly and without hassle. Paper key support means you can recover your wallet, even if you lose your phone.

Hardware wallets

For those who want to have the utmost security for their bitcoin investment, or plan to deal with a lot of high-value cryptocurrency in general, a hardware wallet is a must. By storing your bitcoin on a specific piece of hardware that is “cold,” I.E., not connected to the internet, you can be sure that no one will be able to steal your cryptocurrency. Hackers and malware will find it very difficult to infiltrate your wallet, and barring someone physically stealing the device from you, it’s almost impossible to lose access to it.

A hardware wallet can be as simple as an external hard drive with one of the above software wallets installed, or a specifically crafted device used only for storing your cryptocurrency. In either case, you do need to be secure in its physical location — some suggest putting them in a real-world safe to be doubly sure — and understand that although safe from digital threats, your wallet is not as protected from the elements as some of the other solutions on this list.

These cold wallets can be connected to any computer in the world, so you can easily transfer funds from it to a “hot” wallet, in order to make trades or transactions, before unplugging it again.

Although not expensive, some hardware wallets can cost upwards of $100, so shopping around is a must if specific features are important.

Our Pick

Ledger Nano – With support for bitcoin, Litecoin Ethereum and Ethereum-based alt-coins, the Ledger Nano is a small-form-factor USB device with an OLED display to double check transactions on. It has a pin-code unlock system and support for two-factor authentication through FIDO UTF and tamper-proof internal hardware. It’s as secure and private a bitcoin wallet as you can get. You can get one now for around $80.

Other options

Trezor – The oldest hardware wallet on the market, Trezor might lack some of the most modern features of the Ledger Nano, but it’s still much more secure than almost any other wallet out there. With a simple input interface and a number of prominent security features, it’s certainly a viable choice of hardware wallet. The price tag is currently just north of $100.

External hard drive – This option is a more secure version of some of the offline software wallets. Although not as secure against tampering as some of the other hardware wallet solutions, this option gives you the ability to use a wider variety of software platforms, which may be preferable. You can re-use the drive if you ever decide you’re done with cryptocurrencies too. These are our favorites.

Paper wallets

Although less secure than hardware wallets in terms of physical durability, a paper wallet is a very inconspicuous way to store your bitcoin. They do allow you to ‘send’ bitcoin using neat homemade gift-cards, and store your bitcoin in an entirely non-electronic medium, but if you decide to utilize this option we would seriously recommend a waterproof, airtight bag, and fire-proof safe as a secondary measure. A piece of paper is far too fragile a thing to store lots of ‘money’ on.

Paper wallets are also definitely an advanced-user system, as they can be complicated to set up. There isn’t much recourse if you get it wrong and certainly none if you lose the paper, so take this final step in securing your cryptocurrency with care.

Our Pick

BitcoinPaperWallet – Free to use, or with an optional charge if you want to incorporate holograms and tamper checks, BitcoinPaperWallet.com will get you set up with a paper wallet in no time. It even has a built-in support service with the site’s founder, who can help you through any problems you run into.

Other options

BitAddress – Consider this the do-it-yourself option. There’s not much hand-holding with this one at all, so make sure you do some more reading before diving in. Coindesk’s detailed guide on creating paper wallets can walk you through the process.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Go ahead, pass laws. Governments can’t kill bitcoin, even if they try
  • How to buy Ethereum
  • How to buy bitcoin
  • As bitcoin takes its biggest tumble this quarter, other coins follow suit
  • Bitcoin Cash surpassed Ethereum as world’s second most popular cryptocurrency




25
Dec

Back up your stuff! How to make sure you never lose your important data again


This holiday season, make sure your phone — and those of your loved ones — is adequately backed up.

When your phone is your life, the potential of losing essential photos, documents, music and other important things can be devastating. On your computer or laptop, even more so. That’s why we’re starting out our 12 days of tech tips with an obvious one: back up your stuff.

  • Day 1
  • Day 2
  • Day 3
  • Day 4
  • Day 5
  • Day 6
  • Day 7
  • Day 8
  • Day 9
  • Day 10
  • Day 11
  • Day 12

And even if your stuff is backed up, either to a physical disk or somewhere in the cloud, use the time you’re spending with friends and family to help them back up their most precious digital data — or you’ll inevitably be getting that 3 a.m. call you’ve been dreading for years.

Send it to the cloud

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The best way to make sure your stuff is backed up is to send it to the cloud. If you use an Android phone, you may already have an account with Google Drive, and just by signing up for a Google account you get 15GB of storage to play around with. If you use collaboration services like Google Docs or Sheets, those files are already saved to Drive. Google makes things (scarily) simple in that regard.

But if you want to avoid Google, there are plenty of other places to store your stuff. We really like the speed and ease of Dropbox, and it’s available everywhere, from Android to Mac to your favorite browser.

If you’ve got a lot of stuff and don’t necessarily need constant access to it — say a huge movie, music, or archival document collection — we love Backblaze, and think it’s the best option for most people. Best of all, it’s really cheap for the amount of storage you get.

And finally, if you want to avoid the cloud altogether, we’d recommend getting a NAS and buying a couple of 2TB hard drives. Synology makes a great, easy-to-set-up solution that can automatically back up your computer on a regular basis and make the files available through the cloud — even outside your home network — on your Android phone.

Photos and music

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We’ve got documents taken care of, but music and movies are incredibly important, too. Of course, you can store both in any of the above solutions, but I’d recommend moving to the cloud for both. In particular, Spotify and Google Photos are my picks for the best places to store and access music.

Let’s start with Spotify. You can go with a number of its competitors, including the Google-owned Play Music, but Spotify doesn’t limit the number of device authorizations per year, and it allows you to download songs, albums, and playlists for offline playback when you don’t have a signal. You don’t need to own music to hear it because Spotify has over 30 million songs, and anything you’d want to listen to is on there.

And then there’s Google Photos. You have to be using Google Photos — it’s so good. Not only does it come preloaded on practically every Android phone — only a problem when the app is bad, which in this case it isn’t — but Google offers free high-quality uploads for life. Yeah, yeah, Google gets your photos but Photos is amazing: it sorts photos by person and location; it performs magical optimizations to make them look better; and when you want to go for the manual touch, the editing features are incredible. Finally, if you want to store the full-sized version of a photo or video you can, too: you just need to pay for Google’s extra storage, which isn’t particularly expensive.

Passwords

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You are using a password manager, right? These days, with the number of online services for which we have to remember login information, there’s no excuse not to be using a great password manager. Personally, I love 1Password, but you can’t go wrong with Enpass, Dashlane or LastPass — they all have awesome Android apps and are multi-platform for when you need to connect remotely.

Backing up passwords is probably the most important thing you’ll do for your mental health. While some of the services offer local or manually-controlled cloud backups, 1Password takes all the hassle out of the procedure by doubling down on security and storing them in the cloud. It’s a lot safer than it sounds, and it’s a hell of a lot more convenient, too.

The best password managers for Android

Launchers and themes

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If you use an Android phone or tablet, chances are you’re using a third-party launcher, or at least some app that requires a bit of customization. If you want to bring everything over to a new phone when you upgrade, try Action Launcher or Nova Launcher; both have excellent remote backup solutions that allow you to restore any and all settings to a new phone. You’ll need Google Drive or Dropbox to store the backup file, but you’ve already done that, right? RIGHT?!

How to back up your Android launcher (and why you should)

Do the right thing this year

Take advantage of the downtime this holiday season to make sure that, if you were to lose your phone or laptop (heaven forbid) you won’t lose the important documents, photos, videos, music files and anything else you value. These days, there’s no excuse not to have a full-spectrum backup solution!

25
Dec

How to enable Google Home ‘Guest mode’


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Some parties are best handled by a single DJ, but it doesn’t hurt to let guests get in on the fun sometimes.

The Google Home, Home Mini and Home Max can be great party companions, filling the room with music or podcasts and taking occasional breaks to answer questions. But what if your guests want to play something from their own collection rather than talking to it directly? Well that’s what “Guest mode” is for. Once you set it up, anyone in the same room as your Google Home can connect to it and send data from any app on their phone that supports Google Cast. Here’s how you get it done.

How to set up Guest mode on your Google Home

Setting up Guest mode takes just a minute.

Open the Google Home app and make sure you’re signed in with the Google account you used to set up your Google Home.
Tap on the “Devices” button in the top-right corner of the app.
Scroll down to the Google Home you want to enable Guest mode on.
Tap the menu button (three vertical dots) and tap Guest Mode.
Tap the toggle to on. It will turn blue.
Make note of the four-digit PIN listed under “Guest mode.”

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Once Guest mode is enabled, it remains enabled until you choose to turn it off.

How to use Guest mode

With Guest mode enabled, people in the same room as your Google Home will be able to access it and play content just as if they were on your Wi-Fi network without actually being connected to it.

Make sure your Google Home is plugged in and its microphone is unmuted.
Have your guests open an app that supports Google Cast, and tap the Cast button.
Because they’re not on a Wi-Fi network, the phone will automatically start searching for “nearby devices.”
If the phone is able to, it will automatically connect to the Google Home that has Guest mode enabled.
If the auto-pair doesn’t work, there will be an on-screen prompt to *enter the four-digit PIN generated earlier.

  • The Guest mode PIN is available in your Google Home app.
  • Enter the PIN and tap Connect.

Once connected, guests can send commands to the Google Home just as if they were on the Wi-Fi network.

  • This includes managing content queues, switching apps and even pausing and playing remotely from the phone.

For some people it will be easier to just give out their home Wi-Fi network password and let people play directly to the Google Home, but if that’s not possible the Guest mode does work as a nice backup option. Just follow the steps closely and you’ll be rockin’ out to everyone’s tunes in no time.

Google Home

  • Google Home review
  • Google Home Max review
  • These services work with Google Home
  • Google Home vs. Amazon Echo
  • Join our Google Home forums!

Google Store Best Buy Target

25
Dec

Julian Assange’s Twitter account goes quiet (Update: It’s back)


Late on Christmas Eve Julian Assange’s official Twitter account appears to have been deleted. It’s initially unclear if the disappearance was a ban or if Assange simply deleted his own account. But it does not appear to simply be a glitch. According to The Daily Beast, a second account popped up shortly after claiming to be a back up alternate to the official @JulianAssange. It accused Twitter of deleting Assange’s account to silence him ahead of a major story. But that account has also now been removed.

You can see a cached version of the original account here, but there are no obvious clues as to why the account went quiet.

We’ve reached out to both Wikileaks and Twitter for more information. We’ll update the story if and when we hear back.

Update: Assange’s account is back up, but there’s still no explanation from him, Wikileaks or Twitter.

Source: Gizmodo

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