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4
Jul

Internet connectivity is a human right, and Rightmesh has a plan to fulfill it


John Lyotier poses with kids in Bangladesh, where Rightmesh held a hackathon in December of 2017.

“We believe that connectivity the way it exists today is broken,” John Lyotier, CEO of Rightmesh, told Digital Trends. “Internet accessibility and connectivity is a human right, yet we are not letting people connect.”

That sounds like a bold statement. Yet Lyotier is only saying what everyone already knows. People across the globe seem keenly aware that today’s internet isn’t as open as it once was. From state-enforced bans to private monopolies, the open internet’s enemies are many, and gaining ground.

What sets Rightmesh apart from the rest of us, though, is what it intends to do about it. The company has a plan to roll out internet to places it’s normally unavailable (or too slow to use), and is aggressively bringing it to fruition.

Does what it says on the tin

The solution is in the name; a mesh network made of devices people already own like smartphones or, in some cases, IoT devices. To be clear, we’re not talking about the sort of mesh you can set up at home with a few Google Wi-Fi routers. This is a more robust and complicated mesh which could consist of up to 100 devices.

A mesh makes sense because it bypasses the need to deploy expensive infrastructure.

“The world assumes that everything must go up to the Internet at all times, which is not always the case,” said Lyotier. He gave the example of a classroom, where students are within a few feet of each other. The internet forces use of expensive infrastructure even when a recipient is only a stone’s throw away. “The moment the send button is pushed the logic goes, take this packet of data, go up to the internet, out to the other side of the classroom, then deliver that message down.”

Not so with Rightmesh. That message could instead be delivered device to device using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. It’s not only more efficient, but also makes connectivity possible when the internet either isn’t available or – as is often true in areas just beginning to build out internet connectivity – there but too slow to be of practical use.

That’s not to say Rightmesh wants to abandon or bypass the internet entirely, however. Lyotier recognizes the internet is the best efficient way to connect over long distances. The mesh is not a replacement (not yet, at least) but instead a better way to bridge the gap. Communication across the mesh is possible with out the internet and, when the internet is accessible to any device in the mesh, it can be shared with all of them.

Giving people reason to share

While sharing resources over a mesh makes sense, it only partially solves the problem. Rightmesh intends to operate in places with minimal internet connectivity, and as with any scarce resource, that means internet access becomes expensive.

“It’s not that the telecom companies don’t know they’re there. It’s just that it’s really hard for a telecom company to invest […] when it doesn’t make economic sense to do so,” said Lyotier.

Anyone sharing internet access across a mesh would likely see serious usage bills.

While sharing resources over a mesh makes sense, it only partially solves the problem.

That’s where cryptocurrency comes in. Rightmesh thinks crypto could give be exactly what’s needed to incentivize sharing internet over a mesh. RMESH, the platform’s token, could be distributed to people who share their internet access, providing them reason to not only share but, depending on how profitable the currency becomes, actively seek out ways to share more.

“We needed to find a way to incentivize the right behavior,” Lyotier said. “The launch of the cryptocurrency has occurred, we’re in the process of minting our tokens as we speak.”

Giving people a reason to share isn’t the only path Rightmesh is pursuing. It’s also looking for ways to expand compatible apps and encourage developers to code apps specifically for mesh networks. Strong developer support is a must-have if mesh working is to gain traction for an obvious reason — most code apps for use with the internet. Rightmesh can build a mesh, but it won’t be much use if software can’t work with it.

“We are looking at releasing our software development kit into the public,” Lyotier told us. “We are looking at public beta of the SDK this fall. That’s the next big milestone.”

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4
Jul

What is WPA3, and why is it so important for Wi-Fi security?


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WPA3 means our devices and our data will be safer no matter what Wi-Fi network we’re using.

The Wi-Fi Alliance has a new standard for Wi-Fi security and it will bring plenty of new features that make your data safer while using public or private Wi-Fi. It’s great when anything makes our data safer and WPA3 also happens to be a pretty significant step for wireless security in general.

We recently saw the details for WPA3 finalized, and that means manufacturers can now start properly supporting it in new products as well as look into updating older ones. We won’t be able to benefit from it right away, but it’s definitely something to look forward to!

What is WPA?

WPA stands for Wi-Fi Protected Access. Think of WPA as a set of rules designed to protect your Wi-Fi router, all the things that use it to connect to that router, and all the traffic that’s sent through those devices. How it works is one of the instances where two devices don’t need to know any “secret” details of the other because a middle layer can communicate with each.

If you have a password on your Wi-Fi at home, you’re probably using WPA to secure the network.

If you’re using WPA, your router login is protected by a passphrase and the data you send to it and receive from it are encrypted. WPA is the service that looks at what you used as the password on your phone or laptop when you tried to log into a Wi-Fi router, compares it to the password the router requires, and if they match it connects you and handles data decryption. Security in layers like this (the password you use is also not really the password and only generates a token that the router can check for validity) means no important information is sent in plain text. In this case, that important information would be your Wi-Fi network password.

Almost every one of us is using WPA on Wi-Fi at home or in public right now. WPA2 is the current standard. It came about in 2004 and was a big improvement over what we used prior, but like all things, it’s beginning to show its age. WPA3 addresses most of the areas where WPA2 needs to be updated.

Changes in WPA3

There are some pretty sizable changes coming with WPA3, and they all are the good kind of changes. We love it when that happens!

  • Your password will be a lot harder to crack. With WPA2 someone can grab data you send and receive from a Wi-Fi network then try to decrypt it by using a brute-force attack (guessing over and over and over until they get it right) on your password. With WPA3 every password guess will need to be authenticated live, in real time, by the router you’re trying to connect with.
  • Connecting IoT (Internet of Things) devices will be easier than ever. Ever try to set up a device without a screen? It usually involves using your phone with a direct connection, then interacting through the phone with the thing you’re trying to get connected, and finally entering the network details so they are written to whatever it is you want to be connected to your Wi-Fi. WPA3 has what’s called “Wi-Fi Easy Connect” that will let you do it by scanning a QR code with a phone on the same network. It’s like Wi-Fi Protected Setup but without all the security vulnerabilities and it will actually work.
  • Data captured without knowing your password is useless even if someone gets that password later. Forward secrecy is a new feature that means data collected and saved isn’t able to be decrypted later. This makes saving data from a connection an attacker can’t hijack is useless. Attackers won’t be bothered to save useless things.
  • Public hotspots will be a lot more secure. WPA3 means even open connections will encrypt data between you and the access point. This is huge. Right now, with WPA2, if you go somewhere with an open Wi-Fi access point (one where you don’t need a password) the data between you and the access point isn’t encrypted. This is how someone can see what you post on Facebook (as well as your name and password when you sign in) if you’re using Wi-Fi at McDonald’s. You won’t believe how incredibly easy it is to do, which is why it desperately needed some sort of fix. Encrypting that traffic is the best fix anyone could have asked for.
  • Stronger encryption for Enterprise-grade Wi-Fi. WPA3 Personal mode will use 128-bit encryption by default. WPA3 Enterprise mode will use 192-bit encryption by default and PSK (the Pre-Shared Key system) is replaced with SAE (Simultaneous Authentication of Equals). If you don’t know what any of that means don’t feel bad about it, most people who aren’t Enterprise IT Professionals don’t because they have no need.
    • A Pre-Shared Key system is where two things use the same credentials to connect with each other (like a password). Those credentials had to have been shared with two or more people/things manually before you tried to use them to authenticate.
    • Simultaneous Authentication of Equals is a system where a pre-shared key and the MAC addresses of both things that want to connect are used to authenticate based on the calculation of finite cyclic groups. That’s a big math nerd thing about calculations that even normal math nerds don’t understand.
    • I told you we didn’t need to know these two things.

When can I use WPA3?

Not any time soon.

The companies who manufacturer things that use Wi-Fi, like a router or your phone or a fancy alarm clock, are working on building it into their products. That means their new products — the ones we can buy next year in 2019.

Optimists say WPA3 will be widespread in 2019.

The Wi-Fi Alliance says to expect late 2019 to be when there is a significant adoption of WPA3. I expect it to be much, much later but think we will be able to buy WPA3 products and build a network in Spring 2019.

We know “smarter” devices like your phone will be compatible but are only guessing when it comes to smart plugs or garage door openers because of how they are set up. There could be some fun times getting WPA2 IoT devices connected to a newer WPA3 capable router, even though it is backward compatible.

We’ll know more once we start to see products show up at Amazon.

Will my phone be updated to work with WPA3?

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Doubtful. Phones are what’s called a power-restrained device. That means everything they can do is limited by (and must be built to optimize for) a small rechargeable battery. The chips inside your phone that handle things like encryption algorithms and Wi-Fi encoding/decoding are only as powerful as they need to be right now. WPA3 will beef up the encryption level to 128-bit minimum which will mean it needs more processing power to calculate in real-time. In other words, even your super-fast phone that you have in your hands right now won’t be fast enough to do it.

But that’s OK. While we all want better security for our phones and know that WPA3 provides it, WPA2 will be supported and updated as needed by the Wi-Fi Alliance as necessary for a long time. It also means that a router or access point that is WPA3 capable will also be WPA2 compatible for a long time.

What router do you recommend right now?

You won’t be able to buy a router that is built to work with WPA3 for a while. We expect to see some made available in late 2018, but if you need a new router waiting that long isn’t the best solution.

For most of us, Google Wifi is the best router available today.

Right now I would recommend you buy a Google Wifi mesh router setup. It’s currently one of the most secure (read: patched very quickly with no need for you to do anything) routers and unless you have very specific needs a three-pack means everywhere in your house has really fast Wi-Fi.

It’s also one of the very few routers I expect to see updated to use WPA3, simply because Google loves the darn things and the company tends to keep working on ways to make them better. A three-pack costs about $260 at Amazon and you can set it up in no time at all using the Google Wifi app through your existing Google account.

When WPA3-ready routers become available, you can bet we’ll be back here to talk about them!

See at Amazon

What else do you want to know?

There’s more to WPA3 than what’s written here. Give us some questions below and we’ll be sure to try and answer them!

4
Jul

Best Free Games for Oculus Go


You don’t have to splash the cash to have fun on your Oculus Go.

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They say you get what you pay for, but that isn’t always the case. Oculus Go has some great content to play without having to spend a penny.

From scaring the pants off you and your friends to fishing on a virtual lake, here are the best free games to play on your Oculus Go.

Bait!

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Not every VR game needs to be a slash-’em-up or shooting game. Bait! lets you relax by a virtual lake and go fishing. It’s relatively basic but if you just want to sit on your sofa and zone out while fishing, it’s a great free game to try out.

The game has just enough context to make it more than just fishing. Your goal is to catch rare fish from four different lakes to help preserve them.

See at Oculus

Temple Run VR

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Temple Run has earned a good reputation on smartphones, and you can enjoy the runner in VR as well. You can dodge and jump over obstacles and avoid enemies, in this case, monkeys, to work your way towards a high score.

Endless runners are a throwback to old-school platformers and can be both frustrating and enjoyable at the same time.

See at Oculus

Face your Fears

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Reviews that mention almost breaking hardware are usually bad, but in the case of Face Your Fears, it’s trying to scare you into jumping out of your seat.

You can “enjoy” getting scared by ghosts and robots in environments that range from creepy to frightening.

See at Oculus

Jurassic World: Blue

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Jurassic World: Blue is an interactive cinematic experience that places you on the island from the famous film. You walk around as Blue and trying to survive the impending eruption of a volcano that will destroy the island.

It’s not a very long experience, but it gives you a glimpse of what could be the future of films in VR.

See at Oculus

Shooting Showdown 2

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Taking a different approach to shooting games, Shooting Showdown 2 has you aim your gun by tilting your head and using your controller to fire. You can shoot targets this way at a firing range at targets ranging from balloons to killer robots.

Filler

See at Oculus

Project Rampage: VR

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Who doesn’t want to be a gigantic gorilla that gets to destroy cities? Project Rampage: VR lets you play as George, Ralph, or Lizzie and gives you the change to destroy Paris or Chicago.

You can also create new genetically mutated monsters to increase the city destruction.

See at Oculus

What are your favorites?

What are your favorite free games on the Oculus Go? Let us know in the comments below.

4
Jul

These SanDisk Extreme portable SSDs have never been more affordable


Fast, portable, and rugged. You’ll want one.

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SanDisk’s 250GB Extreme Portable SSD is down to $89.99 at Amazon today. This limited-time deal marks the first time it has ever been significantly discounted from its regular price of $100. The 500GB version is also down to a new all-time low price of $125.99 for those who need more storage.

Portable SSDs are relatively new. At least, affordable ones are. This SSD has read/write speeds of 550 MB/s and 500 MB/s respectively. It is dust-resistant, shock-resistant, and water-resistant. The interface is USB 3.1 Type-C with an adapter for Type-A. It works with both Windows and Mac.

At Amazon, close to 70 customers have reviewed this portable SSD with 4.6 out of 5 stars.

See at Amazon

4
Jul

Should you buy a Galaxy S9+ or wait for the Galaxy Note 9?


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Two big phones with one big difference.

We now know the Galaxy Note 9 will be unveiled at an event in New York City on August 9, and that gets all of our wheels turning thinking about the possibilities of what we can expect and whether it’s worth waiting for. For Samsung fans looking to make the move to a new phone, there really are two options: buy a Galaxy S9+ today, or wait for the Galaxy Note 9.

Let us help you down the path of choosing which one is right for you, and whether you should wait it out.

Who should buy a Galaxy S9+ now

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The Galaxy S9+ has a massive advantage here: it’s actually available to buy. The Note 9 will likely be available to pre-order about a week after announcement, but retail availability will probably take a week more, meaning we’re still well off from having a true head-to-head comparison here. Smartphone fans may be willing to wait for a specific phone to come out, but you may not be so flexible. If you need a phone right now, don’t try to scrape by for a month and a half with a broken phone (for example) just to get the Note 9 — pick up a Galaxy S9+ and you’ll be happy.

Unless you have a strong affinity for the Note line, just get a Galaxy S9+ now.

Now we don’t know exactly what the Galaxy Note 9 will offer in terms of specs or features yet, but we can make an educated guess based on previous releases. We can count on the Note 9 to basically match the GS9+ in terms of internal specs, with the same processor, RAM and storage options — though the base storage may bump up to 128GB, that isn’t really an advantage considering the GS9+ has that option already. The screen will likely be a little bigger, but keep the same resolution — and the Galaxy S9+’s screen is fantastic still no matter what. The cameras are likely to be the same or ever-so-slightly tweaked for a new feature. The software will also be similar, since Samsung typically reserves the Galaxy S release to debut altogether new software designs and features.

So really, the core of the Note 9 experience will just be the same as the Galaxy S9+. That bodes well for Note fans, because they’re getting a preview of how great their next phone will be, but it’s also good for anyone who just wants a Samsung phone now — you won’t be missing out on much. If you don’t have any affinity for the Galaxy Note line, it makes the decision even easier to just buy a Galaxy S9+ now and start enjoying your new phone. The Note 9 promises to be even more expensive than the GS9+ as well, so you’ll save some money in the process.

Reasons to wait for the Galaxy Note 9

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With so much shared in the core platform of the Galaxy S9+ and Note 9, the differences are going to be minimal — but just in case you’re looking for the absolute best, the Note 9 is expected to improve in a couple areas. The Note 9 is purported to make an improvement in battery size, perhaps going up to 4000mAh, which would be a welcomed return to the Note series offering more capacity than the plus-sized Galaxy S. The Note 9’s display may make another leap in brightness and outdoor visibility, too. And then of course there’s the one feature the Galaxy S9+ can’t match: the S Pen stylus.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9: Everything you need to know

Diehard Note fans shouldn’t settle for the Galaxy S9+ — especially this close to announcement.

To put it simply, if you’re a diehard Note fan you won’t be satisfied with a Galaxy S9+. Yes the screen is almost as big, but the GS9+ is missing the feature that makes the Note name so important to people: the S Pen. If you’ve spent your time getting used to the power and precise input of the S Pen on your current Note — perhaps a Note 5 or even Note 8 — it’ll feel like a downgrade moving to the Galaxy S9+ even though it’s a great phone in itself. We don’t know what changes Samsung will make to the precision, pressure sensitivity or software of the S Pen, but even without any improvements it would still be far and away the best smartphone stylus available.

If you’re happy with your current phone and not in dire need of a new device, the best course of action is to just wait it out. With the Galaxy Note 9 launch event on the horizon, it’s an easy task to simply wait a bit until you have all of the information in front of you for a proper decision. Even if you’re not all that enamored with the idea of an S Pen, an extra month of patience can help you out with a potential reduced price for the Galaxy S9+ if you decide to go that direction.

Are you going to wait?

Whether to grab a currently available phone or wait for a new model to be released is a constant debate, but it’s never more heated than when we’re talking about Samsung flagships. Are you inclined to wait for the Note 9, or just pick up a Galaxy S9+?

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+

  • Galaxy S9 and S9+: Everything you need to know!
  • Galaxy S9 review: A great phone for the masses
  • Complete Galaxy S9 and S9+ specs
  • Galaxy S9 vs. Galaxy S8: Should you upgrade?
  • Join our Galaxy S9 forums

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4
Jul

What color Galaxy Note 8 should you buy: Black, grey, gold, or blue?


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So you’re going to get a Galaxy Note 8 — but what color do you choose?

It’s the question so many people will be asking themselves as they eyeball the Galaxy Note 8. Which of the available colors is “best” for me? Well we can’t make up your mind for you, but we can offer looks at each of the four colors of the Galaxy Note 8, all side-by-side, and talk about a few of each one’s characteristics.

Hopefully with that extra info and some pretty pictures, you’ll have the knowledge you need to make a call on which one is the right color for you.

Galaxy Note 8 in Midnight Black

You can never go wrong releasing a black phone. Just like the Galaxy S8 and S8+, the “Midnight Black” Note 8 is black on black from the screen bezels to the metal surround to the back glass. It’s glossy all around, and at a glance it’s actually tough to differentiate between the high gloss metal and the glass on either side.

Who is it for?

If you’re not sure about what color you want to get, black is always a safe choice. It’s sleek, simple and understated, without being boring thanks to its shiny exterior. It’s also best equipped to handle the daily scratches and scuffs it’s likely to pick up as you use it, so this would be a great choice for those who may not use a case.

Galaxy Note 8 in Orchid Grey

You’d be forgiven for thinking that an “Orchid Grey” Galaxy Note 8 would be the same color as an “Orchid Grey” Galaxy S8 … but actually, they’re different. The Note 8’s take on the color is considerably lighter, and far more on the spectrum of blue rather than purple. It’s so different we’re kind of surprised Samsung uses the same name.

It’s still very attractive, for sure, and without being as reflective and outright shiny as the Maple Gold color.

Who is it for?

Orchid Grey is the lightest color available for the Note 8, and offers a light color option for people who don’t want to go with gold or would have previously gone with a white phone when Samsung was making that color available.

Galaxy Note 8 in Maple Gold

Samsung has been doing some sort of gold/champagne/silver color for a few years now, and Maple Gold on the Galaxy Note 8 is a slight tweak on the historical norm. It’s a bit deeper in color than previous versions, and it’s accented by a super-shiny gold metal band around the sides. When the light catches it just right, the metal lights up — and at the same time the back glass can shift to a softer champagne or silver color.

Who is it for?

If you want to flashy, Maple Gold is the color for you. The bright gold frame really stands out from the other three colors, and will do the same in the company of phones from other companies as well.

Galaxy Note 8 in Deep Sea Blue

Deep Sea Blue instantly became a favorite of the Android Central team because of its deep, luscious hue of a navy-like blue with just a bit of a turquoise tinge depending on how the light hits it. It actually looks quite similar to the deep blue color offered in the Galaxy Note 5, though with more depth to it. The frame is the same kind of blue, and it’s more on the dull side than the other colors.

Who is it for?

If you want a deep, strong color to your phone but don’t want the flare and shine of the maple gold or orchid grey colors, this is going to be for you. It stands out from a crowd, but can just as simply blend in if you toss a case on it.

Regional differences matter

Don’t get too attached to a specific color before you figure out which colors will actually be available where you live. If you’re in the U.S., you’ll have Midnight Black and Orchid Grey to choose from if you buy from the carriers, plus Deep Sea Blue if you go to Best Buy (carrier models or unlocked) or Samsung.com (unlocked). In Canada, the color choices are Midnight Black and Deep Sea Blue. Internationally, with some potential variations by market and retailer, you’ll have access to all four colors.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

  • Galaxy Note 8 review
  • Galaxy Note 8 vs. Galaxy S8+
  • Which Note 8 color is best?
  • Complete Galaxy Note 8 specs
  • Join our Galaxy Note 8 forums

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4
Jul

Samsung Gear Sport vs. Gear S3: Which should you buy?


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The wearable landscape is heading toward fitness, and there are plenty of choices.

Samsung offers a nice three-pronged approach to wearables, starting at the bottom with the fitness-driven Gear Fit 2 Pro, notching up to the fence-sitting Gear Sport and impressing at the top with the all-around performer Gear S3. For someone who wants comprehensive fitness tracking but also a bigger screen that can handle more traditional smartwatch functions, they will instantly narrow down to just the Gear Sport and the larger Gear S3.

So which of these two Tizen-powered smartwatches is right for you? We’re here to lay out the details and help you decide.

See Gear Sport at Amazon
See Gear S3 at Amazon

What’s the same

Despite a few spec and size differences, Samsung uses the same software and interface paradigm across its Gear S2, Gear Sport, and Gear S3. It’s the same Tizen OS we’ve been using for a couple of years now, with an emphasis on maximizing its circular interface and rotating bezel (plus a couple side buttons) for navigation.

Samsung Gear Sport review

Both watches offer you the same apps, core software capabilities, connection to your phone directly via Bluetooth or remotely via Wi-Fi, and some standalone features. They have the same 768MB of RAM, 4GB of storage, and a 1GHz processor inside. The screen resolution between the two is even the same, 360×360, though the diameter is different.

The core specs, experience, and even design, is shared between these two.

As you can see in the photos, the Gear Sport very much feels like a shrunken version of the Gear S3 Frontier. There isn’t a “Classic” version of the Gear Sport, but if you compare directly to the Frontier, you get most of the same design cues. The gunmetal exterior and combination of a couple different textures looks good, and the rotating bezel remains with a slightly different knurl to it.

Even though the Gear Sport is smaller and therefore has a smaller battery, Samsung’s battery claims remain consistent with the Gear S3. That’s thanks to a smaller screen size, and it’s great to see that you can use either one for a couple solid days without rushing for the charger. With simple use and turning off always-on watch faces, you could stretch that out for three whole days on either one.

What’s different

The differences between these two smartwatches effectively come down to size. The Gear Sport, as its name implies, is more focused on being a fitness tracker and therefore had to shrink down in size to keep from being cumbersome. Compared to the Gear S3 Frontier, the Gear Sport is 3mm narrower, 4.5mm shorter, 1.3mm thinner and 12g lighter (sans strap). Talking about millimeters and grams doesn’t seem like much, but not a watch it makes a big difference: the Gear Sport stays closer to your wrist and isn’t as likely to get in your way when you’re on a run or hitting the gym. It also has more heavy-duty water resistance, staying safe up to 5 ATM, with included swim tracking if that’s your exercise of choice.

It really comes down to overall size and some relatively fringe features.

Being an overall smaller watch, the Gear Sport also uses a smaller watch band attachment. It will still let you use any standard watch bands you’d like, but you’ll need to shop for 20 mm straps rather than the 22 mm you can currently find for the Gear S3. Outside of the dozens Samsung will make available designed to specifically match the Gear Sport, you should have no trouble finding other great-looking bands from retailers like Amazon

In that smaller package, the Gear Sport misses out on a few hardware features you can find on the Gear S3. It notably offers Samsung Pay, but only via NFC and not the neat MST technology that enables payments at any swipe-style card terminal. It doesn’t have any LTE option, so you’ll be on Bluetooth or Wi-Fi only. It has a smaller screen, 1.2-inches instead of 1.3, and a corresponding smaller battery.

Which should you buy?

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With so much shared between the Gear Sport and Gear S3, for most people this will simply be decided by what size watch they want to wear and how often they’ll use some of the niche features of the larger watch. The Gear Sport at $299 is darn close to the now-discounted Gear S3 that hovers around $325 and even drops down to the same $299 price as the Sport, making the price of little consequence.

The Gear Sport offers the same core experience in a smaller package at a lower price.

With price differences so small, the Gear Sport gives you the same core software experience as its larger sibling surrounded by a smaller casing that’s easier to exercise with but also simply more compatible with a wider range of wrist sizes. It lacks a few extra features like full Samsung Pay support, LTE connectivity and a larger display, but that’s probably a worthwhile trade-off for many people to have something that’s comfortable for everyday wear.

The Gear S3 Frontier and Classic will still stand as the top-tier options for people who are less focused on fitness but would prefer to have something big and even more capable on their wrist. If you’re going to spend more time moving through on-watch apps and managing dozens of notifications rather than tracking a gym workout, the Gear S3 may be worth it.

See Gear Sport at Amazon
See Gear S3 at Amazon

4
Jul

This Kindle Unlimited 40% off sale is just Amazon trying to get you to read


If you’re getting ready to hibernate for the winter, you might as well keep your reading supply fresh.

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Kindle Unlimited is Amazon’s $10 per month subscription service to Kindle books. Amazon is discounting the service by 40% if you sign up for twelve months, bringing the total down to $80.32 (from $120) when you enter promo code PDKU18 at checkout. This product would be a fantastic, easy pick gift for the reader in your life, allowing them to choose from a wide selection of novels. They don’t even need a Kindle to use this membership either, as Kindle ebooks can be read via the Kindle app on devices like smartphones, tablets, and your desktop computer. You can also grab a two-year subscription for $143.86 right now.

If you’re not sure the service is for you, you can try it out with a three-month subscription for only $1 for a limited time. That deal is exclusive to Prime members however. Both of these deals come courtesy of Amazon’s countdown to Prime Day 2018.

Kindle Unlimited includes access to more than one million titles. The list includes great books like Slaughterhouse Five or The Handmaid’s Tale, and novels you’ve always said you read but never actually did like 1984. With your subscription, you can read whatever you want that’s covered under the Unlimited banner for free. You also get access to any available audio books, which has the nifty feature of taking over wherever you stopped reading so you can go from the couch to the car without losing your place.

Remember to check out Amazon First Reads, which releases brand new reads each month for Amazon Prime members.

See at Amazon

4
Jul

Best Text Messaging Apps for Android in 2018


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There are plenty of great text messaging apps to choose from, and these are some of our favorites.

Text messaging is a big part of phone use for many people, and while all phones come with native messaging clients, they can be painfully, horribly bad. Some native text messaging apps don’t handle MMS the way we’d like. Some native text messaging apps are laid out poorly. Some are just lacking. Thankfully we have the option to use one of many, many third-party SMS clients — some of which are minimal messaging apps, and others that offer features above and beyond the rest.

  • Android Messages
  • Textra
  • Pulse
  • Mood

Android Messages


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Android Messages is Google’s official SMS app, and it features a simple interface and plenty of features for the average user without going overboard with bells and whistles. It also supports Google’s RCS features, which allow for iMessage or WhatsApp-like features like read receipts and larger file transfers as long as your carrier supports it. If you’re just looking for a dependable, simple text messenger that will work well, support RCS, and do MMS right, Android Messages has got you. Messages has implemented Android Oreo’s notification settings to allow you to set individual notification tones and settings on a per conversation basis. It lacks some of the more nuanced theme options — like a dark theme for us late-night drunk-texters — but it’s a nice easy app to learn your way around.

As an recently added bonus, Android Messages now allows you to text via computer thanks to Android Message’s website, which pairs with your phone via QR code. Here’s how to get started with it.

Download Android Messages (free)

Textra


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A long-time favorite, Textra is a clean-looking SMS app with plenty of features for hardcore users. Textra offers a slew of customization options with various theme colors, notifications, and per-contact settings. Want to make your text messages look like iMessage? Textra can look amazingly like an iPhone. Want to set special colors and notification tones for texting your boyfriend versus texting your parents? Textra is there to help. There’s built-in SMS scheduling, quick replies, improved group messaging, SMS blocking and more.

Download Textra (Free, in-app purchases)

Pulse SMS


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Pulse SMS is an interesting and very, very customizable text messaging app in its own right, but that’s not the real draw for Pulse. Pulse is a text messaging app that helps bring your text messages to all your other devices, too, from tablets to computers. It’s a paid service — which is now competing with Android Messages’s free SMS-from-desktop service — but one that multi-device users will find quickly pays for itself. Pulse has also added password-protected private conversations box, in case you need to protect the identity and messages of your sources or your side piece. Pulse, like Messages, has implemented Android Oreo’s notification settings to allow you to set individual notification tones and settings on a per conversation basis.

Download Pulse SMS (Free, in-app purchases)

Mood Messenger


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Mood Messenger wants to be a fusion of web messengers and text messengers, and it’s certainly a tantalizing idea. If you have enough people who actually use Mood to use it as a WhatsApp alternative, great for you, but for the rest of us, Mood is still worth a look as a solid SMS app with an interesting UI, dedicated themes, and excellent developer support. Mood also had the option for a Quick Compose persistent notification with a user-selected group of contacts so that they can quickly rattle off a quick text without having to go to the full app, and it is the easiest app to set custom notification tones for contacts in.

Download Mood Messenger (Free)

Your favorite?

What are some of your favorite text messaging apps? Hit up the comments and let us know!

Updated July 2018: We’ve updated this article to reflect the new additions in Android Messages like the ability to text from your computer. Now if only they could get a dark theme…

4
Jul

Amazon has already started sharing some Prime Day deals, and here are the best ones


The celebrations have already begun!

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Amazon Prime Day doesn’t officially begin until July 16, but that didn’t stop the company from beginning the deals a little bit early. Alongside the announcement, Amazon announced that a few deals would be available instantly for Prime members, and there are a few that you definitely won’t want to miss.

To kick things off, the company slashed $100 on the price of the Echo Show, dropping it down to just $129.99. This is the lowest we’ve ever seen it go and makes it the same price as the smaller screened Echo Spot. We’ve seen Amazon offer Voice Shopping exclusive deals in the past during Prime Day, so if you don’t have an Alexa device, or want another, this is a no-brainer purchase.

If you’ve yet to try out Amazon’s Music Unlimited service, you can get a four-month membership for just $0.99. That’s right, all four months of unlimited access to all the music in the company’s library (which is rather extensive) for just one dollar. Prefer to read books instead of listening to music? No worries, Amazon has three months of Kindle Unlimited available for $0.99 as well. This gets you access to over a million book titles, and you can read as many of them as your heart desires during that time frame.

You can also go all-in on a Kindle Unlimited subscription and save 40% when you checkout with the coupon code PDKU18. This drops the one-year subscription down to $80.32 and the two-year subscription to $143.86. If you want to just buy a few books, you can get $10 towards any Kindle, print, or Audible book purchase when you buy any Kindle book for $5 or more before July 15.

Finally, Amazon is offering a free PC game each day through July 18 via Twitch Prime. There are popular titles like Pillars of Eternity, Q.U.B.E, Hue, and more. You’ll also get exclusive in-game look for Warframe and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and if you’re looking to load up on Twitch apparel, the merch is 50% off right now.

Of course, to take advantage of any of these offers you need to be an Amazon Prime member. If you aren’t already, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial so you can access all these deals and save during the big event.

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