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1
Jan

‘PUBG’ is quietly changing video games with its 3D replay technology


The new replay tools offered in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds are so much more than standard video-capture technology. In fact, it isn’t video capture at all — it’s data capture. The 3D replay tools allow players to zoom around the map after a match, tracking their own character, following enemies’ movements, slowing down time and setting up cinematic shots of their favorite kills, all within a 1-kilometer radius of their avatar. It’s filled with statistics, fresh perspectives and infinite data points to dissect. This isn’t just a visual replay; it’s a slice of the actual game, perfectly preserved, inviting combatants to play God.

The toolset comes from South Korean company Minkonet, which just opened a second office in Los Angeles. PUBG is its first big client, and last month’s rollout marks the first real mainstream implementation of this data-capture technology.

It definitely won’t be the last. According to Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer Gilbert Kim, Minkonent’s phone has been ringing off the hook since the PUBG announcement, with studios around the world wanting a piece of the replay pie.

“We’ve been getting a lot of calls and a lot of interest,” he says. “Getting in new games is really competitive, and every feature counts, but we see data capture and replay technology is probably going to be mainstream in the next few years. … I think this is going to unleash new content that’s never been seen before in games, and it’s just starting. It’s just starting right now.”

PUBG is an ideal test case. It’s a massively popular online game where up to 100 players parachute onto a map, scavenge for supplies, upgrade weapons and attempt to be the last person standing. Even though it technically came out in December, PUBG has been available in early access since March and it’s picked up a considerable number of accolades — and players — in the process. Just last week, SteamDB reported PUBG hit 3 million concurrent players on PC, vastly outstripping its closest competitor, Dota 2, which has a record of 1.29 million simultaneous players.

Part of PUBG’s success stems from developers’ relentless focus on making the game fun to watch. Live streaming is now a major part of the video-game world, with sites like Twitch and YouTube Gaming growing in prominence and eSports bursting into the mainstream.

Kim says PUBG creator Brendan Greene and CEO Chang Han Kim built the idea of data-capture into the game from the beginning, and Minkonet’s tech is a natural evolution of this focus. Minkonet and PUBG developers connected in late 2016 and started working together on the actual software earlier this year.

“One of their first visions was to have PUBG as not just a great game to play, but a great game to watch,” Kim says. “So they were already from the very beginning focused on having PUBG as a great live streaming game; esports was also one of their sort of long-term visions.”

Minkonet’s replay suite for PUBG addresses four main issues, as Kim explains it: cheating, learning, video editing and esports. Cheating is a huge issue in PUBG — more than 1.5 million accounts have been banned from the game since it hit Early Access 10 months ago.

“One of the biggest sort of issues right now in gaming is cheating, hacking,” Kim says. “There’s a core, a few people who are doing it to a lot of people. But I think with our 3D replay technology we can sort of provide an anti-cheat — we can’t prevent a hack completely. But because of what we do with the 3D death cam, people sometimes when they play, they want to know how they died, and sometimes our technology can find out how you died. Is there is something a little bit suspicious, maybe something we should be looking at?”

On top of possibly catching cheaters in the act, Minkonet’s tech allows players to review their games and cut together cinematic videos of their best (or worst, or funniest) plays. Plus, it features improved spectator modes for esports and live-streaming goodness.

All of this exists on PC for now, but PUBG is also available on Xbox One. Minkonet doesn’t have any concrete details to share about bringing 3D replay tech to consoles, but Kim says it’s definitely going to happen.

Minkonet is working on fresh features to add to its 3D-replay technology, and it’s talking with developers about bringing these tools to other games. The days look numbered for traditional video-only replays.

“We are just starting, but demand has been great,” Kim says. “We just opened an LA office in the US. There are going to be several more projects next year.”

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1
Jan

Germany’s hefty hate speech fines for social networks start today


Starting today, Germany will fine social networks up to to €50 million (roughly $58 million) should they fail to remove posts containing hate speech within 24 hours, or seven days for “complex cases.” The law, known as the Network Enforcement Act (or NetzDG), went into effect in October, but provided a grace period through the end of 2017.

Although it was met with criticism and concerns over free speech, the law was nevertheless passed in Germany, which has some of the world’s toughest laws against defamation and hate crimes. In June, German police raided the homes of 36 people accused of hate speech or other illegal content.

Prior to the removal of the safety net, it’s not been clear if social networks have complied with the law, nor if any of them have fallen afoul of it. Germany isn’t alone in asking tech companies to take down hate speech posts — the EU has made a similar request. 2018 is only just beginning, and given the trouble Facebook and Twitter have had with hate speech in the past, avoiding such hefty fines may be a challenging task for these companies.

1
Jan

Don’t kick it to the curb: 13 ways to recycle your Christmas tree


A few weeks ago, you picked out the perfect live Christmas tree and lit it up with twinkling lights. Hopefully the little feller made it through the holidays, but now what do you do with the spruce moose? It’s easier to recycle your Christmas tree than you may think. Instead of hauling it out to the garbage, we have 14 suggestions that are kinder on landfills and give your tree a second life.

Mulch love: Use slow-decomposing pine needles to give your garden some TLC. Some communities even do the mulching themselves, then let residents take some home.

Put a bird on it: Leave it in the stand and hang bird feeders from it. (Put it outside first, of course.)

Save your table: Saw the trunk into thin slices, then coat them with polyurethane and use as tree coasters.

Trinet Uzun/Shutterstock

Give it back: Lots of cities have programs to recycle trees, which are biodegradable.

Make your own kind of music: Here are instructions for turning a Christmas tree into a didgeridoo.

Fight fire: Burning Christmas trees can be dangerous, especially indoors, so proceed with caution. Of course, some do cut their trees into firewood.

TravisPhotoWorks/Shutterstock

Sachet, Shantay: Put the pine needles in a little bag to keep the scent of Christmas around a few more weeks.

Scratching post: After trimming away the branches and securing the trunk, surrender the tree to your cats’ claws. Your local zoo or wildlife center might even want them for their big cats.

Fir-ment: Turn your tree into spruce beer.

Put it in the ground: Done right, you can actually replant a Christmas tree.

chamillewhite/123RF

It sleeps with the fishes: Donate your tree to a fish and wildlife department, so it can serve as a habitat for finned friends.

Rabbit fir coat: Give neighborhood bunnies some cover by creating brush piles with the branches.

Create a festive playground: Rent a wood chipper, run your tree through it, and marvel at your newly created playground cover. Now all you need is a big metal slide and a see-saw. No, we don’t know where to get those.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • 5 useful ways to get rid of that old Christmas tree
  • This smart holiday lighting is enough to make even Clark Griswold jealous
  • From candles to LEDs, a quick look at Christmas lights’ past
  • This unique open-air hotel room looks like a giant bird’s nest
  • Watch what happens when a Christmas tree is strapped to a Dodge Challenger Hellcat




1
Jan

The best unlimited data plan: Verizon vs. T-Mobile vs. AT&T vs. Sprint


In February 2017, something miraculous happened: Almost every major carrier in the U.S. announced revamped, tweaked, or entirely new unlimited data plans. Verizon, the nation’s largest in terms of total subscribers, brought back uncapped data for the first time in more than five years; T-Mobile and Sprint, both of which offered unlimited data before Verizon’s announcement, removed throttling schemes from their respective plans; and AT&T, the nation’s second-largest carrier, made unlimited data available to customers who don’t pay for DirecTV or U-verse.

But just because all four major carriers now offer “unlimited” data doesn’t mean that the plans are equal. Beyond subtle (and not-so-subtle) variations in pricing, there’s fine print to consider. Some plans slow the download speeds of subscribers who exceed a data limits. Others impose caps on certain forms of traffic. And still others omit basic benefits like tethering.

We’ve broken down each of the major four carriers’ best unlimited data plans to see which offers the most bang for your buck. But before we dive in, consider this: Maybe an unlimited data plan isn’t ideal for you? We’ve also got guides to the best individual plans and the best family plans. Hoping to save a buck? We’ve got a guide to finding the best cheap phone plan, too.

Our pick

T-Mobile One Unlimited Plan

It’s tough to choose a winner among four imperfect unlimited data plans, but one stands above the rest. We think that T-Mobile offers the best value for your money.

Why we chose it

T-Mobile’s One plan is more than just an unlimited plan. Sure, subscribers get unlimited music and high-definition video streaming and 10GB of tethering data. But they also get benefits that other carriers don’t offer. T-Mobile One customers get texting and data in 140 countries around the globe. Thanks to Binge On, they get the option to stream standard-definition videos without worrying about contributing to their throttle cap. And every Tuesday, subscribers get discounts on fast food, Lyft rides, movie tickets, and more.

And that’s to say nothing of T-Mobile’s excellent network. OpenSignal’s latest rankings put it among the top in terms of speed, and a forthcoming expansion this year promises to drastically improve its rural coverage.

For $70 a month, there’s no better unlimited plan out there. Verizon comes close. Its unlimited plan’s pricing ($80 for a single line), terms, and geographic reach the rank of best in class. But T-Mobile’s extras — in addition to its plan price’s included taxes and fees — put it over the finish line.

Carrier
Price
Throttling cap
Tethering
Other extras
T-Mobile
$70-$180
28GB
10GB
T-Mobile Tuesdays, free Netflix subscription, international data and calling
Verizon
$75-$250
22GB; video throttled to 480p/720p/1080p or 10Mbps
15GB

Sprint
$60-$190
23GB; music throttled to 1.5Mbps, gaming throttled to 8Mbps
10GB
Free Hulu subscription, plans start at regular pricing in 2019
AT&T
$65-$215
22GB
N/A

T-Mobile   Verizon   Sprint   AT&T

In the next few pages, we’ll go over all of the details of each carrier’s Unlimited plan.

1
Jan

The best VOIP services


Voice Over Internet Protocol, or VOIP as it’s more commonly known, is increasing in popularity exponentially as more people ditch their landline. It has important advantages over the conventional home telephone services that are its primary competition, and there’s even a growing number of mobile apps that can augment and sometimes replace cell phone services entirely. But with so many providers out there, you need to know which are the best VOIP services.

If you’re just looking to video call with a friend, check out our guide to the best video-chat apps for Android and iOS.

Skype

Skype is probably the best-known VOIP solution in existence, thanks to successful service that spans more than a decade. The company is now owned and operated by Microsoft, which means that Skype is integrated with Windows 10, but the service is available on the web, Mac OS X, Linux, all major mobile operating systems, and even the Xbox and some smart TVs. It’s also getting regular upgrades and overhauls, even if some third-parties have moved away from it.

Skype audio and video calls are free from one Skype account to another, anywhere in the world. To make calls to conventional phone numbers and receive them at your own number, however, you’ll need to either subscribe to a monthly pool of minutes, or pay for a credit fill-up. Rates are competitive and offer options for both landlines and mobile, and some country plans can be had for as little as $3.60 a month. An alternative for some countries is World Unlimited minutes, which allows unlimited calls to 63 countries for $16.80 a month.

Learn more from:

Skype

Google Hangouts

Google’s competitor to Skype doesn’t have nearly the same cachet, but it is available in the same places, and integrated with mobile. The Hangouts app is primarily for chats, but it can also emulate conventional text messaging, and make video calls and voice calls to landlines, especially if you combine it with new hardware options. Calls to most numbers in the United States are free. Rates for different countries and providers vary from a single penny per minute to more than a dollar, and credit can be refilled.

Hangouts is built into most recent Android phones, and messages to other Hangouts users will default to the Google’s chat client instead of using SMS. Installing the Hangouts Dialer enables conventional phone calls. Apps or extensions are also available on the desktop via Chrome, on Chrome OS devices, and on the iPhone and iPad.

Learn more from:

Google

Vonage

Vonage is the best-known VOIP provider in the United States, one that emulates conventional landline phones. The standard plan is $10 a month and covers all calls to landline and mobile numbers in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. International calls are billed per minute, like an old-fashioned landline plan. Other plans offer discounts for international calls, or calls to specific countries.

Once installed, Vonage works with traditional landline telephone handsets, and mobile apps allow users to make and receive calls from their Vonage number. The service also supports a host of advanced landline features such as caller ID, visual voicemail, three-way calling, call return, and a “do not disturb” mode. Curious customers can get a Starter Package that includes Vonage’s standard installation hardware — which doesn’t require a technician — with free calls to other Vonage-supplied numbers.

Learn more from:

Vonage

Ring Central

Although it’s based out of the UK, Ring Central is one of the most well-reviewed VOIP services available around the world. It’s definitely more for business users than consumers, and comes with the advanced feature set you would expect from a tier-one provider. With a network backbone in the U.S., there shouldn’t be any increased lag from the company’s headquartered location, and its prices make it hotly competitive with its contemporaries.

Plans start at $20 per month per user with support for up to four people per meeting, and unlimited phone and conference calls, all the way up to the $50 ultimate package, which gives you thousands of free minutes, up to 75-person video meetings and exclusively the voicemail transcription service. There are a number of packages in between too, with additional extras for new users and vanity numbers for those who want them.

Learn more from:

Ring Central

Ooma Telo

Ooma is a competitor to Vonage that prides itself on crystal-clear, encrypted calls thanks to its proprietary platform. The service starts with a small, router-style gadget which can plug into conventional landline phones. With just the $90 router, users can make free calls to U.S. numbers — even without a service plan — and per-minute international calls, with support for voicemail and other standard telephone features.

For users who want more out of their VOIP service, the Ooma Premier service is available for $10 a month. The premium service supports a second phone number, blacklisting, and lets you make and receive calls via a smartphone app. Ooma Premiere also supports smart home features that no other service can match. It can interface with the Amazon Echo, the Nest thermostat, Nest Protect, and even “smart” wall outlets and light bulbs.

Learn more from:

Ooma

Lingo

Lingo mixes a Vonage-style VOIP service with an international unlimited plan that should appeal to anyone who needs to frequently call outside the United States. Lingo Unlimited is also available for as little as $15 a month with a contract ($20 without), and comes with a free adapter that works with landline phone hardware. The $10-a-month plan offers 500 international minutes, which might make better sense for lighter users. The service also supports standard phone features and multiple lines, but using Lingo via a smartphone app requires you to pony up an extra $10 a month. It’s best suited for users who make frequent calls at specific times from their home or business.

Learn more from:

Lingo

What’s best?

Skype and Hangouts are good enough for users who don’t want to make any investment in new hardware. Skype, Vonage, and Ooma also offer business-class services with more features for additional rates, so check out their websites if you’re looking for a more elaborate service. Vonage is probably the best bet for home users who want a landline alternative, while Ring Central is preferable for businesses who want a complete VoIP and teleconferencing service.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • The 10 best messaging apps for Android and iOS
  • Find out how to track a phone with these helpful tracking tips
  • Which Verizon plan is best for you? We check out family, individual, and prepaid
  • The 10 best note-taking apps compared: OneNote, Zoho, Quip, and more
  • How to save Instagram videos with these six free apps and tools




1
Jan

The best VOIP services


Voice Over Internet Protocol, or VOIP as it’s more commonly known, is increasing in popularity exponentially as more people ditch their landline. It has important advantages over the conventional home telephone services that are its primary competition, and there’s even a growing number of mobile apps that can augment and sometimes replace cell phone services entirely. But with so many providers out there, you need to know which are the best VOIP services.

If you’re just looking to video call with a friend, check out our guide to the best video-chat apps for Android and iOS.

Skype

Skype is probably the best-known VOIP solution in existence, thanks to successful service that spans more than a decade. The company is now owned and operated by Microsoft, which means that Skype is integrated with Windows 10, but the service is available on the web, Mac OS X, Linux, all major mobile operating systems, and even the Xbox and some smart TVs. It’s also getting regular upgrades and overhauls, even if some third-parties have moved away from it.

Skype audio and video calls are free from one Skype account to another, anywhere in the world. To make calls to conventional phone numbers and receive them at your own number, however, you’ll need to either subscribe to a monthly pool of minutes, or pay for a credit fill-up. Rates are competitive and offer options for both landlines and mobile, and some country plans can be had for as little as $3.60 a month. An alternative for some countries is World Unlimited minutes, which allows unlimited calls to 63 countries for $16.80 a month.

Learn more from:

Skype

Google Hangouts

Google’s competitor to Skype doesn’t have nearly the same cachet, but it is available in the same places, and integrated with mobile. The Hangouts app is primarily for chats, but it can also emulate conventional text messaging, and make video calls and voice calls to landlines, especially if you combine it with new hardware options. Calls to most numbers in the United States are free. Rates for different countries and providers vary from a single penny per minute to more than a dollar, and credit can be refilled.

Hangouts is built into most recent Android phones, and messages to other Hangouts users will default to the Google’s chat client instead of using SMS. Installing the Hangouts Dialer enables conventional phone calls. Apps or extensions are also available on the desktop via Chrome, on Chrome OS devices, and on the iPhone and iPad.

Learn more from:

Google

Vonage

Vonage is the best-known VOIP provider in the United States, one that emulates conventional landline phones. The standard plan is $10 a month and covers all calls to landline and mobile numbers in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. International calls are billed per minute, like an old-fashioned landline plan. Other plans offer discounts for international calls, or calls to specific countries.

Once installed, Vonage works with traditional landline telephone handsets, and mobile apps allow users to make and receive calls from their Vonage number. The service also supports a host of advanced landline features such as caller ID, visual voicemail, three-way calling, call return, and a “do not disturb” mode. Curious customers can get a Starter Package that includes Vonage’s standard installation hardware — which doesn’t require a technician — with free calls to other Vonage-supplied numbers.

Learn more from:

Vonage

Ring Central

Although it’s based out of the UK, Ring Central is one of the most well-reviewed VOIP services available around the world. It’s definitely more for business users than consumers, and comes with the advanced feature set you would expect from a tier-one provider. With a network backbone in the U.S., there shouldn’t be any increased lag from the company’s headquartered location, and its prices make it hotly competitive with its contemporaries.

Plans start at $20 per month per user with support for up to four people per meeting, and unlimited phone and conference calls, all the way up to the $50 ultimate package, which gives you thousands of free minutes, up to 75-person video meetings and exclusively the voicemail transcription service. There are a number of packages in between too, with additional extras for new users and vanity numbers for those who want them.

Learn more from:

Ring Central

Ooma Telo

Ooma is a competitor to Vonage that prides itself on crystal-clear, encrypted calls thanks to its proprietary platform. The service starts with a small, router-style gadget which can plug into conventional landline phones. With just the $90 router, users can make free calls to U.S. numbers — even without a service plan — and per-minute international calls, with support for voicemail and other standard telephone features.

For users who want more out of their VOIP service, the Ooma Premier service is available for $10 a month. The premium service supports a second phone number, blacklisting, and lets you make and receive calls via a smartphone app. Ooma Premiere also supports smart home features that no other service can match. It can interface with the Amazon Echo, the Nest thermostat, Nest Protect, and even “smart” wall outlets and light bulbs.

Learn more from:

Ooma

Lingo

Lingo mixes a Vonage-style VOIP service with an international unlimited plan that should appeal to anyone who needs to frequently call outside the United States. Lingo Unlimited is also available for as little as $15 a month with a contract ($20 without), and comes with a free adapter that works with landline phone hardware. The $10-a-month plan offers 500 international minutes, which might make better sense for lighter users. The service also supports standard phone features and multiple lines, but using Lingo via a smartphone app requires you to pony up an extra $10 a month. It’s best suited for users who make frequent calls at specific times from their home or business.

Learn more from:

Lingo

What’s best?

Skype and Hangouts are good enough for users who don’t want to make any investment in new hardware. Skype, Vonage, and Ooma also offer business-class services with more features for additional rates, so check out their websites if you’re looking for a more elaborate service. Vonage is probably the best bet for home users who want a landline alternative, while Ring Central is preferable for businesses who want a complete VoIP and teleconferencing service.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • The 10 best messaging apps for Android and iOS
  • Find out how to track a phone with these helpful tracking tips
  • Which Verizon plan is best for you? We check out family, individual, and prepaid
  • The 10 best note-taking apps compared: OneNote, Zoho, Quip, and more
  • How to save Instagram videos with these six free apps and tools




1
Jan

How to get started with Google Play Music


play-music-playback-snow-day-pixel.jpg?i

There is more music at your fingertips than there are stars in the sky.

While there are many apps that stream music, and stream it well, Google Play Music is Google’s music service and as such is an app that comes on millions and millions of devices. While the app has gotten clunkier in recent years, the app is still undoubtedly one of the most useful on the Android scene, and with generous benefits to both paid and free users, it’s an app worth getting to know. Whether you subscribe for the millions of songs in Google’s library or just stick to the up to 50,000 songs that you can upload and listen to just about anywhere for free, here’s how to start down the rabbit hole with Google Play Music.

  • How to search for music
  • How to buy music
  • How to add music to your library
  • How to create a playlist
  • How to find stations
  • How to curate a station
  • How to get better music recommendations
  • How to find a podcast

How to search for music

Before you can play music, you have to find music. If you have some music already in mind, you can search for it by genre, artist, band and song title.

Launch Google Play Music from your home screen, or app drawer.
Tap the white search bar at the top of the screen
Type in the band, or song title you are searching for.

Tap the search icon and browse your results.

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If you want to browse without search terms, then you can browse Google Play Music a few different ways.

Tap the three-line menu icon in the top left corner.
To browse currently trending music, tap Top charts.
To browse new music, tap New releases.

To browse the various radio stations Google has created for different genres and activities, tap Browse stations.

google-play-music-stations-1.jpg?itok=rvgoogle-play-music-stations-2.jpg?itok=7V

How to buy music

When you search Google Play Music, you may come across music you’d like to add to your library. If you’re not a paid subscriber to Google Play Music, don’t fret! You can still buy that music and add it to your library.

Tap the three-dot menu icon beside the album or song you want to buy.
Tap Buy.

You’ll be taken to the album listing for your desired music. Tap the price box next to the song you want to buy or the orange price box to buy the album.

google-play-music-buy-1.jpg?itok=qsFJNmCgoogle-play-music-buy-2.jpg?itok=phJJlQPgoogle-play-music-buy-3.jpg?itok=F7N4zpv

To choose a payment method outside your default, tap the down arrow next to your current payment method.
Select your payment method.

Confirm your purchase by tapping Buy.

google-play-music-buy-4.jpg?itok=4cOXN5ngoogle-play-music-buy-5.jpg?itok=a0Idxq8google-play-music-buy-4.jpg?itok=4cOXN5n

How to add music to your library

google-play-music-buy-2.jpg?itok=Cp9n9d_

If you are a Google Play Music subscriber, when you come across music on your searches or while listening to stations, you can add that music to your library. By adding music to your library, you can find it more easily later on and save it for offline playback. So, as long as you’re a paid subscriber the songs you add to your library will remain in your library unless the album itself is entirely removed from the streaming service.

Tap the three-dot menu icon beside the album or song you want.
Tap Add to library.

How to create a playlist

Playing albums and stations is all well and good, but sometimes you want to mix things up a little bit more. That’s where playlists come in, allowing you to mix albums, artists, and genres into a playlist that is exactly what you want. If you’re a paid subscriber, you can mix your uploaded music with the streaming catalog in playlists.

Tap the three-dot menu icon beside the album or song you want to add to your playlist.

Tap Add to playlist.

google-play-music-make-playlist-1.jpg?itgoogle-play-music-make-playlist-2.jpg?it

Tap New Playlist.
Name your playlist.
If you want to make your playlist available to other Google Play Music users and shareable with your friends, tap Public.

Tap Make Playlist.

google-play-music-make-playlist-3.jpg?itgoogle-play-music-make-playlist-4.jpg?it

To keep adding songs to the playlist, repeat steps one and two, selecting your newly-created playlist when the Add to Playlist window appears. If you add something to a playlist accidentally, it’s easy to remove it:

Go to the playlist you accidentally added the song to.
Tap the three-dot menu icon beside the album or song you want to add to your playlist.

Tap Remove from playlist.

google-play-music-remove-playlist-1.jpg?google-play-music-remove-playlist-2.jpg?google-play-music-remove-playlist-3.jpg?

How to find stations

Tap the three-line menu icon in the top left corner.

Tap Browse stations.

google-play-music-stations-1.jpg?itok=rvgoogle-play-music-stations-2.jpg?itok=7V

From here we have some choices to make, as stations are sorted five ways:

google-play-music-stations-3.jpg?itok=Ocgoogle-play-music-stations-4.jpg?itok=q3google-play-music-stations-5.jpg?itok=9j

  • Genres help you find a station if you’re only interested in a particular style of music
  • Decades are stations built around set time-frames and flashpoints in modern music history.
  • Activities are stations that may encompass multiple genres of music in search of a mix perfect for whatever you may be doing, from Waking Up to Breaking Up to Pumping Up (The Party)
  • Moods are stations designed to achieve, maintain, or satisfy users at the listed moods. May the music gods have mercy on any in your war path while on Rage Rock.
  • Kids stations are here to help you find age-appropriate music for kids and families with every age group. Just be warned: these stations will be worked into your other Play Music recommendations.

How to get better music recommendations

google-play-music-playback-window-thumbs

As stations and instant mixes play, you can help refine them in order to keep your musical high going and to improve the stations for future listeners. And refining your recommendations is actually quite simple, so you should absolutely do it when you can so that not only does your musical experience improve but everyone’s.

As you’re listening, when you come across songs you really like, give them a Thumbs up in the playback window.

When you come across songs you hate, give them a Thumbs down in the playback window.

How to find a podcast

Podcasts are now a part of Google Play Music, for better or worse. You can’t mix playlists and podcasts, but it’s nice to keep everything in one app for easy management and listening. If you know the name of the podcast you want to listen to, you can search for it just as you search for music. If you need to browse, here’s how to browse podcasts

Tap the three-line menu icon in the top left corner.

Tap Podcasts.

google-play-music-podcasts-1.jpg?itok=W5google-play-music-podcasts-2.jpg?itok=1h

Tap All categories to open the category drop-down.

Tap the genre of podcast you want to listen to.

google-play-music-podcasts-3.jpg?itok=JNgoogle-play-music-podcasts-4.jpg?itok=G3

You can browse podcasts, and when you find one you want to keep listening to, you can subscribe to the podcast in order to more easily find new episodes of the podcast and even automatically download them if you’re the type to listen to podcasts in the car.

Tap the three-dot menu icon on the podcast’s card or page.
Tap Subscribe.
For the latest 3 episodes to remain downloaded automatically, tap Auto-Download to activate it.
To receive push notifications when new episodes are added, tap Notifications to activate it.
To have the podcasts order from oldest to newest instead of newest to oldest, tap Playback order and Oldest to newest.
Tap Subscribe to confirm your subscription.

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Your turn

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This is by no means everything that is going on in Google Play Music. It does give you a good place to start from, and explore to find both awesome new music, along with the tunes you’ve been jamming out to for years. Do you still have questions about using Google Play Music? Did we miss something integral? Be sure to drop us a comment below and let us know about it.

1
Jan

3 important steps for keeping your kids safe online in 2018


You don’t need to be afraid of your kids using the internet.

Surfing the internet is not in and of itself a dangerous act, but much like the chain letter emails of our forefathers, it can be easy to get lost when you’re inexperienced. Younger users tend to live in apps instead of the browser, but that doesn’t always guarantee safety. If you’re concerned about leaving your child unattended on the internet, we’ve got a few tips for ensuring their safety.

As parents, we have no reference to what it is like to be a kid today. We didn’t have the internet growing up, and those of us who did weren’t constantly barraged with social networks and an endless stream of information that may or may not be real news. Being safe online isn’t just about protecting your information digitally, kids in school and other public places can easily snap a photo and use it mock your child online.

Navigating this environment as a parent is new and unusual, but it’s also not particularly difficult. Here’s how to start!

Give them their own account

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This may sound counterproductive, but hear me out: your kid, regardless of age, needs their own identity online. It doesn’t have to contain any personal information, it just needs to be separate from your online identity. This can be a Google account, a separate screen name in Minecraft, or their own profile on the family computer, but it’s important to set this up early.

That unique identifier makes it easier for their activity online to be monitored and, more importantly, filtered. With a Google Family Link account, you have control over the kinds of search results your child sees and what kinds of apps they can access. With a unique account on Netflix or Hulu you can control what ratings your kid can see. This gives you the ability to teach best practices in safer environments, and slowly open up more of the internet to your kid as they grow more mature.

Also read: How to set up a kid-friendly Android phone or tablet

If you’re sharing a tablet, giving your child their own account or profile also helps them feel a sense of ownership. If their activity on that device isn’t what you want, you can show them consequences for improper use without exposing your own usage habits and patterns. Instead of just handing the phone or tablet over to play with temporarily, they get to create an environment that belongs to them, which helps them learn and grow.

Look for Parents Guides

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Your kids are more than likely going to be using apps and playing games you’ve never heard of. They want a Roblox account because all of their friends have one, or they want to play Clash of Clans because they saw a commercial on TV. There are a ton of these games out there, and with these little adventures typically comes some kind of horror story of a child racking up a huge bill through in-app purchases because a parent wasn’t paying attention. This is not only easily avoidable, but it’s an important thing to pay attention to.

Because most of these app developers are aware their games can skew to the younger side, you’ll frequently find Parents Guides made by the game creators. These guides are designed to show you how to use the tools built into the app to keep your kid safe and stop unwanted purchases from happening. Some of these tools do things like disable chat or keep personal information hidden when you identify the user as under a certain age. Others will email you when your child logs in to their account from a new device, so you know if your child is playing when they aren’t supposed to.

Before letting your kid run wild in a game they love, make sure you locate the Parents Guide. You’ll be able to quickly enable any safety or privacy features you’d rather know about early on, and you’ll be able to stop your child from spending a ton of cash in-game.

Talk with your children

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The best way to keep your kid safe online has little to do with enabling a feature or installing the right app. It’s communication. That may sound simple, but it requires a lot of work on the side of the parent. Talk with your kids about what they are doing online, and really try to focus on the parts you don’t fully understand. If your kid just spent the last hour watching Jacksepticeye playing a game on Twitch, you should have a general idea of who that person is and get your kid to talk about the experience.

Some of this is going to sound like a foreign language, and you need to respond to that confusion by looking it up yourself and asking your child to explain it to you. Not only does this give you a window into the kind of thing they enjoy, but it keeps you from being surprised when your child is doing something online you don’t fully approve of. As a general rule, if you don’t understand what your kid is doing online you need to fix that. This isn’t just about keeping your child from doing something they shouldn’t, it about being aware of how their friends and classmates are treating your child as well.

It’s important to be an active participant in your child’s online and app-based activities. That doesn’t mean you have to be their friend on Instagram, but it does mean you should have a general idea of what the apps and games are they use the most and what those apps are used for. Open communication will allow you to teach your kids how to avoid some of the more obvious traps online, but also keep you from being surprised if something goes wrong.

1
Jan

How much local storage do you use on your phone?


The constant battle of cloud vs. local.

Now more than ever, phones are shipping with larger storage configurations and getting rid of 16 and 32GB variants. Seeing 64GB of internal storage slowly become the new norm is pretty exciting, and with Samsung already producing a mobile chip with 512GB, we’re now living in the best time for saving local files on our mobile devices.

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But then again, do we really need all of that space?

So much of what we do on our phones is now streamed or saved on the cloud, and our forum users recently got into a discussion about how much storage they actually use on their handsets.

Here’s what they had to say:

default.jpgklau25
12-28-2017 12:53 PM

I guess it depends on you. I keep everything in the cloud, Google drive, Google music. Even with the pixel 1 at 32 gig, I had around 20 gig of storage used. So 64 gig is plenty for me. Some people always have to have everything on their phone. Just depends on how you use it.

Reply

avatar2504567_1.gifForest Dane
12-28-2017 12:58 PM

I managed 2 years with 64gb on my 6p but for some reason I’ve already used about 50 gb on this XL. I’m probably using more due to having more but even so I’m glad I went larger

Reply

avatar758074_106.gifAlmeuit
12-28-2017 01:06 PM

If you don’t store a lot on the phone 64 is fine.

I personally went with 128 just so I don’t ever have to think about it. I do store music and other things on my phone.

Reply

avatar2545374_4.gifEMGSM
12-28-2017 08:49 PM

Returning my 64 tomorrow. 128 comes in on the 3rd. I put a lot of videos, music, and notes on it so 128 gives me extra room. As others mentioned, 64 is plenty if you don’t store everything on your phone.

Reply

avatar3011964_1.gifrochrunner46
12-29-2017 02:20 PM

I only use half of the 32Gb on my 5x, but then I have very little data stored on the device (don’t d/l movies or anything like that). All my music is streamed too.

Reply

What about you – How much internal storage do you use on your phone?

Join the conversation in the forums!

1
Jan

OnePlus 5 now has Face Unlock with OxygenOS Open Beta 3


It’s finally here.

A few days before we closed out 2017, OnePlus announced that it’d be introducing Face Unlock to the OnePlus 5 with an OxygenOS Open Beta before rolling it out to everyone with an official OTA update. OxygenOS Beta 3 is now rolling out to the OnePlus 5, and along with a new security patch and a couple general optimizations, also included is – you guessed it – Face Unlock.

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Just like on the OnePlus 5T, Face Unlock on the 5 allows you to securely unlock your phone almost instantly by just looking at it. It’s not as secure as the good old fingerprint sensor, but there’s no denying its sheer convenience.

In addition to Face Unlock, Open Beta 3 for the OnePlus 5 also adds the December 2017 security patch, app shortcuts for Recorder, optimizations for vibrations, a fix for connection issues when using 5G Wi-Fi, and other general fixes/improvements.

You’ll need to flash the OxygenOS Open Beta onto your OnePlus 5 if you’re not already enrolled, but if you are, an OTA update should already be available.

OnePlus 5T and OnePlus 5

  • OnePlus 5T review: Come for the value, not the excitement
  • OnePlus 5T specs
  • Should you upgrade from the OnePlus 3T?
  • OnePlus 5T vs. Galaxy S8: Beast mode
  • All of the latest OnePlus 5T news
  • Join the discussion in the forums

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