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5
Mar

Google celebrates International Women’s Day by highlighting apps made by women


In honor of International Women’s Day, Google is celebrating inspirational women in tech — particularly those that have contributed to the Google Play ecosystem. This week, on Google Play, you will see a collection of apps and games developed by women, along with movies and TV shows with strong female leads.

While Google will highlight movies and TV shows, what it really seems to want to show off is apps and games developed by women. The company launched its “Change the Game” initiative last fall in an attempt to help highlight and empower female developers. It makes sense — Google conducted a study into mobile gamers and found that roughly half were female — and that 43 percent of female gamers played more than five days a week, compared to only 38 percent of their male counterparts. Despite that, only 24.8 percent of women working in the industry, according to Google, identify as female or transgender, and the result is that only 30 percent of female gamers feel that games were made for them.

When it comes to particular games that Google is highlighting, you will see a few popular titles — such as 80 Days, Zen Koi 2, Race for the Galaxy and more. You will also see some female creators highlighted on YouTube — Gloom, CyberNova, and more will all take to YouTube starting on Thursday, March 8, to share their stories on how they got into gaming.

It’s not just about gaming though — Google will highlight other apps, too. For example, the company is promoting Canva, a graphic design app, CastBox, a podcast curation app, and Habitica, an app that helps you turn your day-to-day tasks into a kind of game — which could help you be a little more productive.

When it comes to movies and TV shows, more and more are being released with strong female leads. For example, Google is highlighting the likes of Wonder Woman, Frida, Girls, and more.

In general, the tech industry is facing a shift. Companies like Google and Apple have been criticized for their lack of diversity over the past few years, but they have been launching initiatives to try and change that.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Fitbit teams with Clue for better women’s health tracking
  • Google Play’s Change the Game is here to empower women in mobile gaming
  • Tinder follows Bumble’s lead with upcoming women-talk-first feature
  • Kate Spade’s smartwatch for women shuns tired old ‘shrink it and pink it’ style
  • REI and Athleta are teaming up to get more women outdoors


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5
Mar

How to Check Smart Thermostat Compatibility in your Home


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You can do this.

So you want to get yourself a smart thermostat. Good for you. It’s a smart investment. But, yeah. There are wires involved. And just a little bit of electricity. Nothing too scary (and nothing too high-voltage), but that does mean there’s going to be a little bit of homework before you buy. Because (and I know this from experience) there’s nothing worse than coming home with a few hundred bucks worth of hardware and finding you can’t use it.

The good news is you don’t have to be like me. The good news is that it’s pretty easy to check to see if your home setup is compatible with a smart thermostat.

I’m not actually going to tell you if your home is compatible, though. But I will show you where to get started. Teach a man to fish, and all that.

Here’s how.

First things first: Open things up

Regardless of which brand of smart thermostat you’re going to go with, you’re going to have to open up your current one and take a look at the wiring.

Most likely you’ll see a rat’s nest of different colored wires, probably with letters at the terminals. That’s a good thing. Go ahead and take a picture of it with your phone. You’ll thank me later.

Then, it’s time to take a look at what you’re considering.

Will my home work with a Nest Thermostat?

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Nest does a really good job of walking you through setup once you have one of its thermostats, but it also has one of the best pre-purchase experiences, too.

It’s the same basic process. Take a look at your existing wiring, and answer a few questions in an online widget compatibility thing. It’s simple enough.

But if you do need some extra help, Nest has additional options to figure things out. It’s got an online chat, toll-free phone number, and community forums. Or if you’re ready to throw in the towel and just get the thing done, they can hook you up with a “Nest Pro” for professional installation.

Click here to see if your home is compatible with a Nest Thermostat

Will my home work with an ecobee thermostat?

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ecobee also has an decent online installation guide. Its compatibility checker maybe isn’t quite as sexy or comprehensive as what Nest has, but the premise is the same. Take a look at your existing wires and run through the guide, and you’ll quickly see if it’ll work.

ecobee has a couple extra steps — you might need the included power extender kit, or you might not, and it’s got external sensors to set up as well.

But ecobee also has an excellent series of videos walking you through things.

Click here to see if your home is compatible with ecobee

Will my home work with a Honeywell thermostat?

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Honeywell has the most simple support pages of the three we’re looking at here. It’s definitely less interactive, but it’ll still get the job done.

Again, look at your existing wiring, then run through their little series of questions.

Click here to see if your home is compatible with Honeywell

5
Mar

Get the training needed to become an IT security professional for just $29!


If there’s one thing that isn’t going away anytime soon, it’s IT security. The internet plays a huge role (that’s only getting bigger) in the operation of companies and corporations, and the data being moved back and forth requires protection.

Professionals are in high demand when it comes to IT security, and having Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) on your resume will only help you get hired. The training required to pass the certification exam is usually expensive, but Android Central Digital Offers has a great deal. Instead of paying the regular price of $672, you’ll instead pay just $29. That’s 95 percent off!

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This course includes eight comprehensive modules that you can access anytime. You’ll learn the principles of access control, the role of information governance in security standards, how to use cryptography to protect data in transit, and much more, all in preparation of the certification exam.

If you’re thinking about a career in IT security, don’t sleep on this course. CISSP certification looks great on your resume, and might mean the difference between landing a lucrative career and being passed over.

5
Mar

Nest Hello will work with Google Home to announce who’s actually at the door


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You’ll just have to teach it a tad.

In hindsight, this one should have been obvious. And maybe Nest spelled it out explicitly and I just missed it. But in any event, let’s codify it here.

Nest Hello — the upcoming video doorbell from the company best known for its thermostats and cameras — will work with Google Home (and Google Home Mini — really, with Google Assistant) to announce who’s at your door. That is, it’ll recognize who’s there thanks to Nest Aware’s “Familiar Faces” feature, and then spit out that info over a Google Home. Nest is throwing in a free Google Home Mini if you pre-order Nest Hello by March 14.

Hmmmm. Not sure if I just missed this before, or if they updated for it, but it was obvious, no? pic.twitter.com/iT46qLtA5m

— Phil Nickinson (@mdrndad) March 5, 2018

Familiar Faces is a thing by which Nest recognizes that there’s a face (erm, or not) and then asks you to give it a name. From then on when it recognizes that person (or chair) it’ll say “Hey, there’s Phil. Phil’s here. Hi, Phil.” Or something like that. The point is that it doesn’t just pluck that person’s identity off of the internet — you have to personalize things.

But this will solve one of my major headaches regarding connected doorbells. It’s great being able to see who’s coming, or who’s there. But there’s still just enough lag time between the doorbell seeing someone and my being able to respond to a notification and open and app and then visually figure out who it is.

This should cut a couple steps out of the process.

For a couple other things on my Nest Hello wish list, check out “How Nest Hello could out-doorbell Ring.”

See at Nest

5
Mar

Amazon’s Kids Edition Fire Tablets are starting at $70 right now


Treat your kids to a new tablet.

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Amazon’s Fire Tablets are super popular because of their affordable prices, so when you can save even more on them you shouldn’t miss out. The Fire 7 Kids Edition is currently down to just $69.99 from its regular price of $99.99 in your choice of blue, pink, or yellow. If you want something a little bigger, you can grab the Fire HD 8 Kids Edition for $89.99, which is $40 lower than it normally sells for.

Both options come with a year of Amazon’s FreeTime Unlimited, which is a $119 value. Amazon offers a two-year worry-free guarantee on the tablets, so if your kids happen to break the tablet Amazon will exchange it with no questions asked.

The tablets have access to tons of kid-friendly content and media. Unfortunately, they don’t have much internal storage, so you’ll want to add a microSD card to your purchase so that your kids don’t run out of space.

5
Mar

Best Cricket Wireless Phones as of March 2018


Here’s a look at the best Android phones offered by Cricket Wireless.

  • Best overall
  • Best for less
  • Best for note-takers and doodlers
  • Best if you already have a phone

The Galaxy S9 has just been announced and it will be released on March 16! We are still evaluating the phone and will add it to this list once it is available.

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy S8

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See at Cricket Wireless

The Galaxy S9 will soon be available on Cricket, but until then, the Galaxy S8 is still the best Android phone the company sells. However, that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

As we all know at this point, the Galaxy S8 is a darn good phone. Its Super AMOLED Infinity Display is downright gorgeous, the 12MP rear camera continues to take impressive photos/videos, and things like a 3.5mm headphone jack and fast wireless charging are always welcome touches.

Better yet, if you don’t mind rocking last year’s tech, you can get the Galaxy S8 on Cricket for just $349.99 when you transfer an existing number and activate it with a new line of service.

Bottom line: At this very moment, the Galaxy S8 is still the best phone you can get on Cricket Wireless.

One more thing: If you have to have the latest and greatest, the Galaxy S9 will be here before you know it.

Why the Galaxy S8 is the best

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What is there to say about the Galaxy S8 that hasn’t already been said? This remains as one of Samsung’s most powerful and best-looking phones ever made, and that holds true even with the S9 right around the corner.

The S9 will be on Cricket soon, but even when it arrives, the S8 will still offer an incredible user experience, beautiful display, and a heap of features for considerably less cash.

Best for less

Alcatel Idol 5

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See at Cricket Wireless

There’s no denying that the S8 is a fantastic purchase, but if you’d like to spend a couple of hundred dollars less while still getting a great user experience, Alcatel’s Idol 5 is a great alternative.

For just $129.99 with a number transfer and activation, the Idol 5 comes equipped with a sturdy metal body, loud front-facing speakers, a surprisingly great 1080p LCD display, and even NFC for Google Pay. The camera isn’t the fastest and there’s a fair bit of pre-installed bloatware, but for a phone this cheap, the Idol 5 punches way above its asking price.

Bottom line: If you want a well-built smartphone that nails the basics, the Idol 5 is a top contender.

One more thing: Alcatel found itself in some hot water earlier this year, but the issue doesn’t appear to be totally widespread.

Best for note-takers and doodlers

LG Stylo 3

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See at Cricket Wireless

Samsung’s Galaxy Note series is often praised for offering large screens and added functionality with the S Pen, and while all of this is fine and dandy, it can also set you back a pretty penny. If you’d like to get about 80% of the Note experience while saving a ton of cash, that’s where the LG Stylo 3 comes in.

The Stylo 3 has a big 5.7-inch screen with a resolution of 1280 x 720, and the included stylus that’s easily stored in the phone’s body makes it easy to sketch, sign documents, and much more. Add this together with a fingerprint sensor, 3,200 mAh battery, and a striking Rose Gold color, and it’s easy to see why this is such a steal at just $79.99.

Bottom line: The Stylo 3 offers a lot of the features that make Samsung’s Note devices so great at a fraction of the cost.

One more thing: LG opted for a cheaper plastic back and single mono speaker, but these aren’t uncommon at this price range.

Best if you already have a phone

Bring your own phone

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See at Cricket Wireless

If you aren’t a fan of Cricket’s phone offerings, that’s not a problem. Because Cricket uses AT&T’s network, bringing your own phone is as easy as buying a SIM card and popping it in your device.

You can get a SIM kit from Cricket for just $9.99, and as long as your phone is unlocked and supports GSM networks, you shouldn’t have any issues whatsoever. In other words, you can sign up for one of Cricket’s awesome plans while using the Google Pixel 2, LG V30, HTC U11, and countless other handsets.

Bottom line: For $9.99, you can bring virtually any phone to Cricket’s network.

One more thing: Even if you don’t already have a phone, you can buy a wide variety of unlocked ones if the above options don’t tickle your fancy.

Updated March 2018: Added all of the best phones you can currently get on Cricket.

5
Mar

Android Auto was worth waiting three years to buy my car for


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I waited three years to buy a CR-V with Android Auto, and it was worth every day.

I used to drive a 2003 Honda Odyssey. During my Disney College Program, she picked up the name Crimson. If anyone needed to move, if anyone needed to haul a crew around, or was taking a road trip, Crimson was our girl. Even at 226,000 miles, I was reluctant to give her up. During three years of car shopping to succeed her, I had only one requirement for Crimson’s replacement: it had to have Android Auto.

Now, I have it. And it’s glorious.

cr-v-dealership-out-the-window.jpg?itok= A nerd and her first new car

This is my 2018 Honda CR-V, with the EX level trim, Obsidian Blue exterior, and most importantly, Android Auto. The native infotainment system on the EX and above supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, with the USB port that links up with the head unit sitting at the bottom of the center console compartment. It’s a nice arrangement, allowing excess cabling to be coiled out of sight while the phone sits and charges on either the center console tray or in one of the cup holders.

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If you hadn’t spied it in the photo above, there’s one big difference between this head unit and most aftermarket Android Auto head units: it has a good old-fashioned volume knob! I use the steering wheel controls more often, but it’s good to have a knob that people in the passenger seat can quickly quell the music when they get a call, or you want to blast that drum fill during “In The Air Tonight”. It’s old school, but there’s something undeniable about the appeal of a volume knob.

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Speaking of steering wheel controls, the ones implemented on the CR-V’s wheel are equal parts cool and confusing. The volume slide is haptic, so if you just brush your thumb over it, it’ll turn the music up or down. This is cool if you’re a volume rider like I am, but it’s easy to trigger while making a turn. Likewise, the side-to-side arrow keys let you easily change tracks, but the center “Enter” button doesn’t pause the music. As volume gets its own rocker now, the up and down buttons will switch music sources, if you’re into that kind of thing. Me, I plug in my phone and let Android Auto do its thing.

There’s also call and voice command buttons on the steering wheel, and that voice command button pulls double duty. Click the button once, and you can give a voice command for the non-Android Auto part of the head unit. Press and hold the voice command button and Google Assistant will process your search instead.

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The Android Auto experience is supposed to be the same across phones and head units, and the layout does indeed match other head units. There’re five buttons on the bottom nav bar: maps, phone, home, music, and Instrument Panel, which takes me back to the home screen on the CR-V’s launcher — the CR-V’s head unit runs Android. Navigating Android Auto is easier on the head unit’s 7-inch electrostatic screen than it fumbling with Android Auto on the phone itself, as I did with Crimson.

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Between voice commands and the easy layout of most apps, it’s hard to run into the 5-tap limit when navigating, but every now and again that block me from reaching a playlist I wanted to switch to, but that’s why you’re supposed to get your music set up before you start driving. Using Android Auto for Google Maps instead of paying extra for a navigation service in the car is not only money-saving but sanity-saving, and the turn-by-turn directions are fed to the center screen of the CR-V’s instrument panel, so I don’t even have to look over at the main screen while I’m approaching a turn.

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I’ve had the car for almost a month, and I can tell this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Without a doubt, I’m happy I waited for a model with Android Auto. Now, even though the CR-V has excellent Bluetooth and very easy pairing, I won’t have to worry about it, because Android Auto’s hardwired connection is easier and more stable. I know that wireless Android Auto was shown off at CES this year, and while that would be nice, I’d already waited three years for Android Auto. I wasn’t going to wait another three years for wireless Android Auto.

5
Mar

Future Essential Phone could have a pop-up selfie camera


This is how you make bezel-less smartphones.

We saw a lot of exciting tech at this year’s Mobile World Congress, but one phone that stole our hearts the most was Vivo’s Apex concept phone. The Apex is Vivo’s idea of what our phones could look like in the near future, and one of the most stunning parts of the Apex was its 90%+ screen-to-body ratio. Rather than adopting the infamous notch, Vivo achieved this by hiding the front-facing camera in the top of the phone’s body.

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This is one of the more original smartphone designs we’ve seen in quite some time, and shortly after people started raving about it, Andy Rubin revealed on Twitter that Essential filed a patent for a very similar design in May of 2016.

Similar to the Vivo Apex, this patent shows a smartphone with a front-facing camera that can pop out from the top of the frame and then go back down into hiding when it’s not in use. In addition to looking cool, this also allows for virtually no bezels without sacrificing parts of your precious screen.

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The Essential Phone was the first smartphone to be released with a notch in its screen, and while its take on this particular design trend is one of the least offensive ones we’ve seen, no notch is always preferable over any sort of notch — no matter how small it is.

It’s unclear when Essential will release a phone that takes advantage of this patent, but seeing as how Rubin publically touted it on Twitter, I’d say there’s some chance (even if not that great) we see this come to life with the Essential Phone 2.

Essential Phone 2 — How Essential can have a much more successful Year 2

Essential Phone

  • Essential Phone review
  • Essential Phone specs
  • The latest Essential Phone news
  • Join our Essential Phone forums!

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5
Mar

Roland’s TR-8S mashes all your favorite 80s drum machines together


In the 80s, Roland drum machines were at the epicenter of hip hop, house, techno, acid house and other music genres. The 808, 909, 707, and 606 helped create the beats of some of your favorite songs. But if you wanted to pick up any of these vintage drum machines today, you’d probably end up dropping thousands of dollars. Fortunately, Roland just made getting all those vintage drum sounds a lot easier and cheaper with its new TR-8S, drum machine.

The successor to the Aira TR-8 introduced four years ago, takes what the company learned from that drum machine and fine-tuned it into a more capable and feature-rich drum machine that’s ready to mix and mash all those genres along with a few more with a just a few twists and button pushes. I got a chance to try out the new $699 TR-8S and during a hands-on and I came away impressed with what Roland has accomplished with the machine.

Right off the bat, my favorite new feature is the ability to import and play stereo or mono samples. Being able to add any sound (drum hit, voice or even a dog bark) to a sequence opens up a ton of opportunities for folks like myself that use drum machines during live performances. Plus, Roland’s implementation is dead simple. Just drop a WAV or AIFF onto an SD card and within a few seconds, it’s ready to be dropped into a sequence.

Another update from the TR-8 is that instead of the two sequences per pattern, the TR-8S has eight sequences available per pattern. These can be played in order or selected on the fly. This also opens up opportunities for live performers. A musician could have the intro, verse, pre-chorus, chorus and bridge all in a single pattern.

Plus now there’s a pressure sensitive pad that can be assigned to any instrument in a pattern. You can either tap to rec said instrument to a sequence or use it to play along and add a little flavor to a precomposed beat.

All the digital sounds on the TR-8S (and there are a ton of sounds, not just the drum machines) sounded outstanding. Rolands ACB (Analog Circuit Behavior) continues to impress me with its recreations of analog sounds.

Roland puts it all together in a package that’s easy to while also enabling more complex patterns. We’ll have a complete review of the TR-8S (which will be available this month) in the coming weeks.

Source: Roland

5
Mar

Pennsylvania sues Uber over 2016 data breach


Uber may be trying to clean up its image with new services like Uber Health, but its past mistakes keep coming back to haunt it. Back in 2016, Uber was the target of a cyberattack, which exposed the personal information of 57 million people. It took Uber over a year to actually report the attack; the company instead chose to pay the hackers a $100,000 extortion fee. Now, the state of Pennsylvania is suing Uber for failing it immediately disclose the breach.

“Uber violated Pennsylvania law by failing to put our residents on timely notice of this massive data breach,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a statement. “Instead of notifying impacted consumers of the breach within a reasonable amount of time, Uber hid the incident for over a year — and actually paid the hackers to delete the data and stay quiet. That’s just outrageous corporate misconduct, and I’m suing to hold them accountable and recover for Pennsylvanians.”

The law Uber is charged with violating is the Pennsylvania Breach of Personal Information Notification Act. This requires companies to notify people who are impacted by any breach of data within a reasonable amount of time. It’s difficult to argue that thirteen months, which is the amount of time between the October 2016 leak and November 2017 disclosure, is “reasonable”. The law allows Shapiro to seek up to $13.5 million in penalties from Uber.

You can bet that Pennsylvania won’t be the last state to file suit against Uber; as many as 43 others are investigating Uber’s failure to disclose the hack. You can bet that this isn’t the last we’ll hear about this data breach.

Update: We’ve heard from Uber on the suit. They gave us the following statement: “While we make no excuses for the previous failure to disclose the data breach, Uber’s new leadership has taken a series of steps to be accountable and respond responsibly. We investigated the incident, disclosed the circumstances to state and federal regulators, and reached out to state Attorneys General, including Attorney General Shapiro, to express Uber’s desire to cooperate fully with any investigations. While we dispute the accuracy of some of the characterizations in the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s lawsuit, we will continue to cooperate with them and ask only that we be treated fairly.”

Source: Office of the Attorney General of Pennsylvania (1), Office of the Attorney General of Pennsylvania (2)

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