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5
Sep

These are our Best of IFA 2018 award winners!


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The best tech we saw in Berlin.

The IFA electronics show isn’t typically as exciting as MWC earlier in the year, but IFA 2018 had more than enough announcements to keep us busy. We didn’t expect a whole lot, but were blown away by the number of great smartwatches, phones and Chromebooks we saw at the show. Wear OS and Android One were heavily represented, but there were cool new products in just about every area and operating system.

But some announcements stand out from the crowd — they’re our Best of IFA 2018 award winners, and you can see them all right here.

Skagen Falster 2 smartwatch

It’s true that Wear OS smartwatches are mostly the same on the inside, but what counts in a watch is what the outside looks like — and that’s why we love the Skagen Falster 2 so much. Not only does it have a sleek and simple casing that’s small enough to fit on a wide range of wrist sizes, but it also incorporates new features like NFC, GPS and a heart rate sensor.

It’s also affordable for a full-featured smartwatch, starting at just $250, and the up-charge for nicer bands is about $25. The bands pair nicely with one of the few color options, including a stealthy black, polished stainless steel and matte stainless steel.

The new Skagen Falster 2 and Diesel Full Guard 2.5 are truly gorgeous smartwatches

Casio ProTrek WSD-F30 smartwatch

Unlike Skagen’s latest, Casio is all about promoting the rugged capabilities of the new WSD-F30. It’s the same basic model as the last two generations, but now it has an upgrade pair of displays that can show you more information while lasting multiple days on a charge — not something most smartwatches can offer.

Though it’s still massive, the WSD-F30 also trimmed down in overall size compared to its predecessor. It’s the smartwatch for the person that wants to spend as much time outdoors as possible.

Casio’s new rugged WSD-F30 Wear OS smartwatch has improved dual-layer display, smaller case

BlackBerry KEY2 LE

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The BlackBerry KEY2 is better than the KEYone in every way, but it’s also more expensive. Seeing demand at a lower price, BlackBerry has the new KEY2 LE to make this great hardware keyboard more affordable.

It lacks some of the advanced features and higher specs of the standard KEY2, but the LE is every bit a BlackBerry. And with three striking color options, it even has a leg up on the high-end model in one respect.

BlackBerry KEY2 LE hands-on: A $399 ticket to the hardware keyboard party

Lenovo Yoga Chromebook

Lenovo entered the higher-end Chromebook game at IFA 2018 with the new Yoga Chromebook. It’s unique because of its huge size, with a 15-inch display, but it’s also rocking great build quality and high-end specs. You get a Core i5 processor and 8GB of RAM standard, and an optional 4K display resolution is great to see.

This isn’t a tiny portable machine you can take anywhere, but it shows Lenovo is committed to trying out higher end machines running Chrome OS — and we like the trend.

Lenovo Yoga Chromebook hands-on: $599 gets you a whole lot of laptop

HTC U12 Life

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HTC doesn’t have any hits on its hands at the moment, but the U12 Life shows what the company’s good at: bringing good-looking hardware to mid-range phones. The U12 Life doesn’t really have any ties or resemblance to the regular U12+, but it’s nice looking in its own right.

The plastic back is tastefully done, the screen looks good and the specs make the marks for this class of device. There’s nothing particularly “wow” worthy here, but it looks a lot better than most phones it’ll be competing against.

HTC U12 Life hands-on: Quite a looker, but in the end it’s a mid-range phone

LG G7 One

LG’s first Android One phone isn’t a total stunner, but the fact that it’s based on the LG G7 immediately gives it appeal. It has the same build quality, display and hardware features like its BoomBox speaker, Quad DAC, headphone jack and water resistance — but the frame has a new matte finish and the glass is frosted to a fine texture. It all looks kind of boring, clearly attempting to not outshine the standard LG G7, but it feels solid.

This is all shaping up to be an amazing device, but a few shortcomings cut back the temptation. It has a lesser Snapdragon 835 processor, 32GB of storage and 3000mAh battery, which drops it down a tier. It’s also missing LG’s unique wide-angle rear camera. Even still, this is easily one of the best Android one phones available.

LG G7 hands-on: This G7 sold its soul for great Android One software

Sony Xperia XZ3

It’s easy to burn out on Sony’s strategy of releasing a new phone every six months, but the Xperia XZ3 is a worthy refresh from the XZ2. It’s ostensibly the same metal-and-glass sandwich as before, but the details make a huge difference — the edges are more finely sculpted and come to a slim point on the side, and the back is more ergonomic. Paired with the new curved OLED screen — much like a Galaxy S9+ — the XZ3 is easier to get a hand around and hold, despite having a 6-inch screen.

The specs are absolutely top notch, too, and Sony continues to not get the credit it deserves for having tons of “must have” features many people look for, like an SD card slot, stereo speakers, wireless charging and more. It’s $900, though, which will people will scoff at — but they really shouldn’t, because this thing looks great.

Sony Xperia XZ3 hands-on: Damn fine hardware, with potential pain points lurking

Motorola One and One Power

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It’s hard to get excited by two more mid-range Motorola phones, but the Motorola One and One Power got attention for a few of their styling details that mimic the iPhone X. There’s more to them, though — the Motorola One is a nicer-styled Moto G6 that feels a bit more modern and is pretty compact for the hand, while the One Power is an India-specific device with a huge battery and higher specs. And they both have Android One software, which guarantees an upgrade path — something Motorola’s phones don’t always have.

Neither one is going to change the course of the smartphone industry, but Motorola is going to find success with both of these in the value-focused mid-range.

Motorola One and One Power hands-on: I get it, you think they look like an iPhone X

Huawei Kirin 980 processor

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Huawei has (not so) quietly started making some of the best mobile processors in the business with its Kirin lineup — we just don’t really hear about them much considering QUalcomm’s global dominance in the space. But the new Kirin 980, which will launch in the Mate 20, has a lot to get excited about.

It’s the first 7nm processor to be released, meaning it’s faster and more efficient for every kind of task. Huawei’s claiming big performance increases in gaming, memory access, neural processing and more. The Kirin 970 was hardly a slouch, and the 980 bests it across the board.

Huawei Mate 20 series will launch October 16 with next-gen Kirin 980 chip

Huawei Mate 20 Lite

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Huawei is fantastic at making big, value-focused phones for the international market — and the Mate 20 Lite is the latest. For just £379 (or local equivalent) it has a 6.3-inch display with a nice metal and glass body, dual cameras on the back and respectable specs: a Kirin 710 and 4GB of RAM, with a 3750mAh battery.

The Mate 20 Lite is launching before the regular high-end Mate 20, and that means it’s coming with EMUI 8.1 … but it’s slated for an EMUI 9 update, with Android 9 Pie, as soon as possible.

Huawei Mate 20 Lite launches in the UK: Kirin 710, quad cameras, big battery

5
Sep

IG Shopping rumored to be Instagram’s next standalone app


Here’s your destination for all things Insta!

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When you think of social media apps, one of the first that probably comes to mind in Instagram.

Launched back in October 2010 as an iOS exclusive, Instagram has quickly grown up to be the most popular platform for sharing photos and videos with people around the world.

Whether you need a refresher of the app or want to stay on top of the latest news surround it, here’s everything you need to know about Instagram.

The latest Instagram news

September 5, 2018 — IG Shopping rumored to be Instagram’s next standalone app

Following the release of IGTV earlier this year, a new report from The Verge claims that Instagram’s second standalone app will be focused on online shopping and could be called “IG Shopping.”

Details on IG Shopping are still pretty scarce, and according to the report, the app could be canceled before it’s even released. However, should it come to fruition, IG Shopping will allow users to easily purchase items from businesses they follow on the main Instagram app.

Instagram already allows its users to purchase items from posts in their main feed, but similar to the IGTV app, IG Shopping would allow for a more-focused area that’s just about buying stuff and nothing more.

It’s unclear when Instagram plans on launching IG Shopping, but we’ll let you know if any additional details surface.

August 28, 2018 — Instagram users can request verification and finally use code-based 2FA

The verified checkmark has always been a sought-after badge in social media, and starting today, Instagram is making it easier to get your own. While there was previously no way to initiate verification — you basically had to wait and hope Instagram randomly gifted you with the badge — users can finally request verification through the settings.

As with most new Instagram features, this will be a slow rollout, presumably hitting iOS users first and coming to Android users a few days or even weeks later. In case you’re curious to check, it should appear near the bottom of the Settings list in its own menu titled Request Verification.

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In addition, Instagram accounts with large followings will begin to show an Account Info tab, which displays when the user first joined Instagram, the account’s country of origin, any previous usernames, and even any ads the user is currently running, among other details. This is all in the name of transparency and helping flush out fake or misleading accounts.

As far as secure sign-ins go, Instagram has offered two-factor authentication for a while, but until now the only way to receive a code was through SMS, rather than the much more secure method of generating a code through an app like Google Authenticator or Authy.

Starting today and rolling out to users over the coming weeks, you’ll soon be able to generate your sign-in code through your app of choice by going to the two-factor authentication menu in the Settings.

August 14, 2018 – Instagram users are reporting a strange hack that locks them out of their accounts

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Since the beginning of August, Instagram users have reported a bizarre hack: users will be ‘logged out’ of their account, and once they go to log back in, their username will no longer exist. Their handle will be changed, along with their profile picture, as well as the email and phone number that’s connected to the account, making it impossible to access their information.

On Twitter, there have been more than 100 of these types of anecdotal reports in the last 24 hours alone. According to data from analytics platform Talkwalker, there have been more than 5,000 tweets from 899 accounts mentioning Instagram hacks just in the last seven days. Many of these users have been desperately tweeting at Instagram’s Twitter account for help. (Mashable)

Once the accounts have been hacked, the picture is typically set to a Disney or Pixar character. The email associated with the accounts is switched to a Russian .ru email address. Their bios and personal information are also deleted.

To prevent things like this from happening to your Instagram account, we recommend turning on two-factor authentication. Plenty of users who have been affected by the hack didn’t have two-factor authentication turned on — however, it is worth noting that even having this extra security step might not fully keep your IG profile safe.

The extra security measure didn’t protect Chris Woznicki, who was using two-factor authentication at the time his account was hacked 10 days ago. Woznicki says Instagram sent him security emails notifying him the email address on his account had been changed (once again, to a .ru address) and 2FA had been disabled. But by the time he saw the messages, it was too late and he had already lost access to his account, which had 660 followers. Others have reported similar occurrences. (Mashable)

July 19, 2018 — Instagram now shows you when your friends are online

If you frequently send direct messages to other Instagram users, you’ll now that there’s never been a way to know if your friends/followers are online and actively using the app. Thankfully, this changes today!

As part of a new update, Instagram will now show you when other people are online. On your inbox page for DMs and when browsing your friends list to share a post from your main feed, you’ll begin to see a green indicator next to profile pictures of other users if they’re on the app at that time. With this, it’ll be much easier to know if you’ll get an immediate response from someone if you send them a private message.

June 28, 2018 — A lite version of Instagram is now available in Mexico

Over the years, companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Spotify have released “lite” versions of their apps that offer all of the core features/experiences while being easier to run on slower hardware, taking up less storage space, and using less data.

Following this idea, Instagram Lite was just launched in Mexico and aims to offer all of Instagram’s best features while being much more accessible for people in developing markets.

Instagram Lite weighs in at just 573KB and allows you to post and view photos on your feed, use Instagram Stories, use all of the regular photo-editing tools, and more. There’s no way to send direct messages quite yet, but that’s something that’ll be coming soon.

Also, while Instagram Lite is currently limited to users in Mexico, there are plans to expand it to other markets in the near future.

Download: Instagram Lite (free)

June 20, 2018 ― IGTV has landed!

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IGTV, Instagram’s next big project, is all about bringing long-form video content to the platform to try and compete with the likes of YouTube.

You can access IGTV through the main Instagram app or through the standalone IGTV one, and once you’re there, you can browse through videos by For You, Following, Popular, and Continue Watching.

All video content on IGTV is meant to be shared/created vertically, and while that might sound bonkers at first, Instagram says that “IGTV is built for how you actually use your phone: vertical and full screen.”

Anyone can create IGTV content and upload videos through the Instagram app on your phone or through a web client.

Download: IGTV (free)

All the big details

The Home tab is where you’ll spend most of your time

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When you’re using Instagram, most of your time will likely be spent on the Home tab. This is the page you’re taken to each time you open the app, and it acts as a central hub for everything Instagram has to offer.

At the very top, you’ll see three icons. From left to right, these are for taking a photo for Instagram Stories, opening IGTV, and going to your inbox for direct messages. Below that are circles for people you follow so you can view any of their Instagram Stories posts.

Underneath all of this is your main feed. Here, you’ll be able to endlessly browse through posts from people and hashtags you follow. On each post there are buttons for liking it, leaving a comment, privately sending it to one of your contacts, and adding it to your Saved page (more on that later).

Find new stuff on the Explore page

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If you tap on the magnifying glass icon at the very bottom, you’ll be redirected to the Explore page.

On Explore, you can scroll through photos/videos from people and hashtags you might not be following but that Instagram thinks you’ll be interested in nonetheless.

You can search for a specific person or hashtag at the very top, and below that are recommended categories to filter the page by — including things like Humor, Animals, TV & Movies, and more. By default, this is set to For You.

Play around with the editing tools

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Editing photos has been a big part of Instagram for years, and in 2018, that hasn’t changed one bit.

After selecting a photo you want to post, you can browse through a list of numerous filters. As you tap each one, you’ll instantly see how it’s going to affect the look of your picture. If you don’t like any of the filters you’re seeing, keep swiping to the left until you see the Manage button. Tap on this and you can add even more to your collection.

In addition to filters, tapping the Edit button at the bottom will allow you to fine-tune your photos even more with controls for the brightness, contrast, fade, highlights, etc. And, if all else fails, tapping the sunshine icon at the top-middle will enable you to control the Lux for your post and instantly ramp up the saturation and brightness for a much more vibrant-looking photo.

Take advantage of the Saved feature

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If you come across a post on Instagram that you particularly like, it’s easy to save it for later without notifying anyone.

When looking at the post you want to save, tap the bookmark icon at the very right. Once you do this, head over to your profile,tap that same icon once again, and it’ll be right there for your viewing pleasure.

No one is notified when you add their photos to the Saved section, and if you want to go a step further, you can create a Collection to categorize the posts you add here.

Be sure to check out IGTV

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This past June, Instagram added one of the biggest new features to its app in years — IGTV.

IGTV is Instagram’s take on long-form video, and unlike something such as YouTube, is designed around having people create and share vertical video content.

You can access IGTV through the main Instagram app or by downloading the standalone IGTV one, and upon opening it, you’re able to browse through videos from people you follow and what’s currently trending/popular.

IGTV clearly has a long ways to go before it’s on the same level as YouTube, but even this early on in its life has a lot going for it. The interface is easy to understand, it’s integrated nicely into an app that billions of people are already using, and anyone can make their own IGTV content and manage it through their phone or a web client.

Download: IGTV (free)

There’s more to see with Instagram Stories

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Instagram Stories is basically Instagram’s way of taking Snapchat head-on, and while I briefly mentioned it in this guide, there’s not enough time to dive into everything it has to offer.

Thankfully, Hayato already put together a fantastic guide going through absolutely everything you could want to know about Stories. Check it out below!

Instagram Stories on Android: Everything you need to know!

5
Sep

Understanding the two ending credits scenes in Marvel’s Spider-Man


Please make this sequel, Insomniac. Pretty, pretty please.

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Editor’s Note: Everything you are about to read is a spoiler for Marvel’s Spider-Man on PlayStation 4. If you have not finished the core story yet, it’s probably a bad idea to keep reading. Consider yourself warned.

Marvel’s Spider-Man hits shelves this Friday, and it is by any measure a great game. While our full review goes further into details, the sheer volume of things Insomniac did right is gloriously exciting. Easily the coolest part for people watching you play is the way the whole thing feels like a movie, and like any Marvel movie this game includes ending credits scenes. Two of them, in fact.

Whether you’re not super familiar with the Spider-verse, or you’re eager to see my thoughts on these scenes, I’m going to go ahead and break down both for you.

If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out our review of Marvel’s Spider-Man!

Scene One – Welcome to Team Spidey, Miles

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At the very end of the first gameplay trailer for Marvel’s Spider-Man, you get a shot of a kid names Miles. Half the crowd cheered even louder, because those folks knew just how important that name and face is. Miles Morales is, in most versions of the Spider-Man comics, the next Spider-Man. Most of the time he doesn’t become the next web-slinging hero until something terrible happens to Peter Parker, but as we see in this game he gets the radioactive spider bite a little early in this telling of the tale.

The after-credits scene with Miles shows him revealing his unique new abilities to Peter, who in turn shows Miles he’s not alone in being a little unusual. The scene itself is delightfully awkward, and ends flawlessly with the two of them hanging from the ceiling.

While we did get a few little scenes in this game where you could walk around and hack things as Miles, a full-on Spider-Man game like the one you just finished with Miles as the main character has been a long time coming. And we’re clearly in the perfect time for it, as the animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse starring Miles is almost ready to hit theaters.

It’s time. Give us a sequel to this amazing game with Miles as the main, Insomniac.

Scene Two – Harry’s trip to “Europe” is going great

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If you didn’t get the impression Norman Osborn was an absolute bastard from the entire rest of this game, his ending scene really seals the deal. The game itself was peppered with a few hints that left you thinking maybe we’d see the Green Goblin at some point, but Insomniac clearly has something much darker in mind for this family.

The scene reveals Norman unlocking the secret room MJ breaks into during the game, but then unlocking a chamber you don’t get to open when you’re in that room. Norman speaks softly, making it clear he’s going to keep doing everything he can to “fix” this, and then the camera flips to reveal his son Harry has been here the whole time. He’s suspended in this chamber full of green liquid, and covered in black webbing that looks a whole lot like Venom has fused with Peter’s childhood friend.

In a way, this ending makes a lot of sense. Venom is basically the only classic Spidey villain who doesn’t get some kind of name drop or background tease in the game, and making it something Peter hasn’t endured yet closes the only leftover thread in his backstory. We get so much talk about how important Harry is to Peter and MJ, and how everyone wished he was around, but no resolution at all by the end of the main story.

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Personally, I think it would be super cool if these two scenes were the basis for a sequel to this game. And I know there are developers at Insomniac swearing at me for talking about a sequel for a game that is just now shipping, but it really would be great. Miles being taken under Peter’s wing, learning from him and working together on cool new gadgets, while Harry breaks out of his father’s prison and Venom does what it does best and makes trouble. Sounds like one hell of a follow-up to me. Who knows, maybe we’ll get more about this in the upcoming DLC.

5
Sep

Canada Deal: Make everything smarter with the $30 Wemo Mini Smart Plug


You’ll never have to manually flip a switch again with this deal.

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Amazon has the Wi-Fi enabled Wemo Mini Smart Plug on sale for just $29.99. This is a great deal, especially when you consider a 3-pack of the plugs generally doesn’t drop far below $100.

What makes these Wemo smart plugs stand out is their size. You can easily stack two of these in a standard outlet without any issues. You can use the free app to control whatever is plugged into your new smart plug from your phone. You can also add voice control with an Echo Dot or hook up the Wemo Bridge to bring the switches into your existing HomeKit setup. When away from home, set the “Away Mode” to randomize your light schedule and make people think you never left.

Phil Nickinson took a look at the Wemo Mini for Android Central and was impressed by the ease of use and flexibility of the switches.

For more Canadian deals coverage, be sure to keep an eye on Thrifter CA, sign up for the Canadian newsletter and follow the team on Twitter.

See at Amazon Canada

5
Sep

Get $300 off the LG G7 and V35 or $250 credit with Pixel 2 XL at Project Fi


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Google’s own carrier offering definitely has appealing features.

If you’re an Android enthusiast, you likely know about Project Fi. But that doesn’t mean you necessarily know everything about it. And for everyone out there who doesn’t have one of the handful of phones that work with the carrier are unlikely to have looked into Project Fi deeply. So we’re here to give you the high-level view at the carrier option that comes directly from Google. Namely, just what the heck it is, how it works compared to other carriers and maybe a few reasons why you’d want to try it.

See at Project Fi

The latest Project Fi news

September 5, 2018 — Get $300 off the LG G7 and V35, $250 Fi credit when purchasing a Pixel 2 XL

If you’ve been waiting for a great deal to get you to switch to Project Fi or upgrade your current phone, Google’s got a couple new offers to hopefully push you over the edge.

First up, you can now instantly take $300 off any LG phone on Project Fi. The G7 and V35 are the only two LG handsets currently available, and this brings them down to just $449 and $599, respectively.

If you’d prefer to get the Pixel 2 XL, you can score $250 in Fi credits when ordering the phone. You’ll still pay $849 upfront for the phone, but that $250 goes towards your monthly bill.

These deals are available for a limited time, so if you want either one, make sure you act sooner rather than later!

See at Project Fi

August 15, 2018 — Project Fi is getting rid of text forwarding

Project Fi is chock-full of helpful features, one of which is text forwarding — the ability to have all of your text messages that are sent to your Fi number also go to other numbers you set up.

Unfortunately, text forwarding is going away after September 12 😞.

Call forwarding will continue to work (i.e. calls to your Fi number are sent to other numbers), but text forwarding will be no more. Google didn’t provide any reasoning for this move, but in any case, we’ll play our sad violin for any of you that relied on it. And in any case, if you need access to your Fi texts on other devices you can use the Hangouts app, which for now still has Fi integration.

🎻🎻🎻

July 16, 2018 — Get a $300 credit when pre-ordering the G7 or V35

It’s been almost a month since the LG G7 and V35 appeared on Project Fi, and if you’ve been holding off on picking one up for yourself, a new promotion for a $300 Fi credit might finally push you over the edge.

Between now and July 29 (while supplies last), you can get a $300 credit that’s applied towards your monthly Project Fi bill when pre-ordering either the G7 or V35 for $749 and $899, respectively.

If you already pre-ordered either of the phones when Google was running its $100 Fi credit promo, you’ll be receiving an email shortly on how to claim your other $200.

See at Project Fi

June 19, 2018 — LG G7 and V35 now available for pre-order

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LG’s first Project Fi phones, the G7 and V35, are now available for pre-order!

The G7 is the more affordable of the two at $749 outright or $31.21/month for 24 months, whereas the V35 will set you back a hefty $899 or $37.46/month for 24 months.

No matter which one you choose, Google’s offering a $100 Fi credit when you pre-order either one. This is a limited time offer and will only be available through July 7, 2018, at 11:59 PM PT.

See at Project Fi

June 5, 2018 — You can now add kids under 13-years-old to your family plan

Leveraging its Family Link suite of digital parental tools, Google now allows you to add kids to your Project Fi family plan that are under 13-years-old.

After making a Google account for your kiddo(s) through Family Link, you’ll be able to add them to your Project Fi plan like any other adult user. They’ll have access to all of the features everyone else on your plan has, but of course, you can limit how much time they spend on their phone through the Family Link app.

Kids also cost the same at $15/month for the Fi Basics (calling and texting) and then $10 per GB of data they use.

You can now add kids under 13 to Project Fi group plans via Family Link

What you need to know about Project Fi

What is Project Fi?

At the highest level, Project Fi is a phone carrier operated by Google. It works by giving you mobile data service on three mobile networks, which your phone will intelligently switch between — it also uses Wi-Fi to make calls and send texts whenever available. Project Fi is a “prepaid” carrier, meaning you pay upfront for your service in the trailing month, which is the opposite of a traditional carrier (Verizon, AT&T, etc.) that bills you after you use the service.

It’s all about simplified billing with no hidden fees or overages.

Project Fi is focused on simplified billing. You pay $20 per month for unlimited talk and texting, and a flat rate of $10 per gigabyte of data used. At the start of each month you simply estimate how much data you’ll use (by the gigabyte) and pay for that amount — at the end of the month you’ll receive either a refund for data you didn’t use, or pay a little extra on the next bill for data overages. You’ll always pay at the same $10 per gigabyte rate either way. Bill Protection applies to international data usage the same as home usage.

The only time that doesn’t apply is when you hit a level called “Bill Protection” — effectively an unlimited plan tier for Fi. Once you’ve used 6GB ($60) of data in a given month, your bill is then capped at that point for the month but you continue to get data service. You can use as much data as you want for the month without paying over $80 total ($20 base + $60 data). The only caveat here is that once you hit 15GB of total data usage, your speeds are slowed to 256kbps — alternatively, at the 15GB point you can choose to start paying $10 per GB again for full-speed data if needed.

The huge benefit here is that you don’t have to pay for an “unlimited” plan every month — it’s simply there if you use beyond 6GB of data in a month. All other months when you use less than 6GB of data your bill will be less than $80.

You can also set up a “Group Plan” on Project Fi for up to six people to share a single account and billing source. With a Group Plan, all of the same features of an individual plan apply, but you save $5 per person per month on the base plan charge. Billing is handled centrally by the account owner, along with data limitations for each user (if needed) — Bill Protection data usage limits are also handled on a per-person basis. Project Fi charges the group owner for everyone’s bill collectively, but can also facilitate payments back to the account admin from each member to pay their share. Individuals can come and go from a Group Plan as they wish, without any contract.

Unlike most other prepaid carriers, Project Fi is available for just a handful of phones: the Google Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 2, Moto X4, Pixel XL, Pixel, Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X and Nexus 6. You can also use a data-only SIM card with any tablet that supports the T-Mobile network.

How does it work?

Project Fi works with a special SIM card — and a little software on your phone — that can authenticate you on T-Mobile, Sprint and US Cellular, and switch between them on the fly based on a variety of factors. On the new Pixel 2 and 2 XL, an integrated eSIM lets you use Project Fi without a physical SIM card and quickly switch between Project Fi and another carrier’s SIM.

Using Wi-Fi for calls and texts, you can keep using your phone in places where mobile data isn’t that great. Extra software called a “Wi-Fi assistant” will automatically connect your phone to open Wi-Fi access points when you’re out of the house, reducing your data usage without any intervention on your part.

You get the power of three mobile networks, plus Wi-Fi, in a single SIM

When you use Project Fi, you also get some of the same features that have made Google Voice popular over the years. You can forward phone calls to your Fi number to any phone you want, as well as view voicemail, make calls and send texts with that number from any device using the Hangouts app and website.

Project Fi also works internationally in 120 countries around the world with no additional cost for data use or texting. You can call at a flat rate to any number while on the cellular networks abroad, or pay much lower rates when calling on Wi-Fi. You can also call back home to the U.S. on Wi-Fi for free. Data used internationally just comes out of your standard $10 per gigabyte bucket, but speeds can vary depending on the country you’re in.

What phones are available?

When Project Fi launched in 2015, the only phone that supported it was the Nexus 6. Google’s been expanding this list over the years, and while the list of compatible phones isn’t nearly on the same level as carriers such as T-Mobile and Verizon, it’s one that’s growing all the time.

Along with Google’s own Pixel 2 and 2 XL, other phones that work on Project Fi include the Moto G6, LG G7, LG V35, and others.

These phones work on Project Fi

Why do I want it?

Well, this is really a personal question of whether you actually want to try Project Fi. Chances are if you’re reading Android Central you’re at least one step closer to being the target audience for the Google-powered carrier, but there are a few other boxes to check that make it the right choice for you.

Simplicity in the service and billing are paramount to the experience.

The only big issue for most people is the limited phone choices. Google lets you use its latest phones, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, on Project Fi, in addition to a small selection of handsets from Motorola and LG — including the Moto G6, LG G7, and a couple others.

If you’re okay with that limitation, you don’t have many other hurdles to jump over. You can sign up for Project Fi online in minutes, and you can either buy a Pixel phone at the same time or Google will send you a SIM card to put in your existing Pixel or Nexus. Once it arrives, you can start the typical porting process of bringing your current phone number to Fi, or can start fresh with a new number. You can use Project Fi for as long or short as you want, as there aren’t any contracts or commitments involved.

There are lots of cool features that make Project Fi a good choice, like the simplified billing, included international features and improved network coverage through the use of three carriers and Wi-Fi networks. Each one will have a different amount of draw for different people, though.

Project Fi’s pricing isn’t dramatically lower than other carriers out there, and whether it makes a good choice financially for you depends on your data usage and which features you want. We encourage you to do your pricing research before choosing which carrier is the best.

And whether you’re still on the fence or just curious about it, be sure to follow all of our Project Fi coverage here at Android Central!

See at Project Fi

Google Project Fi

  • What is Project Fi?
  • Get the latest Project Fi news
  • Google Pixel 2 review
  • Moto X4 review
  • Discuss Project Fi in our forums
  • Sign up for Project Fi!

Update June 19, 2018: Started a blog roll for the latest Project Fi news and added a section about the available phones.

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5
Sep

The best microSD card for Android


We’re a virtual company made up of tech experts from across the globe. We live and breathe Android phones, and know that expandable storage is a key feature for many people.

The Samsung EVO Plus 256GB is the best microSD card for most people. It has an enormous capacity, fast read/write speeds, and can handle storing 4K video like a champ.

Our Pick

Samsung EVO Plus 256GB

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  • $95 from Amazon
  • $120 from Best Buy

Samsung’s highest-end card is fast, reliable, and has more storage than you’ll likely need.

Read speeds of 95MB/s and write speeds of 90MB/s mean you can store everything more quickly, and that includes 4K video and high-res photos. Everything you need will always be readily accessible, and fast.

Who should buy this microSD card?

Anyone. No, really. $95 isn’t a huge ask for a microSD card of the performance level and with this capacity. It’ll very likely be the last microSD card you’ll ever need. And even if you take tons of photos and are constantly filling cards up, then all the better to grab this card.

Those fast read and write speeds aren’t just fancy numbers — they mean you’ll be able to instantly store and access all of the footage you take. And the best part is that you’ll be able to take all of that to each subsequent Android phone you buy that has a microSD slot.

Is it a good time to buy this microSD card?

Yes. microSD cards haven’t seen much change in the last fews years, aside from them increasing in class in order to accommodate 4K HDR content and high-res imagery. This is the best card Samsung offers, so unless phones start shooting 6K content in the next five years (they won’t), there’s absolutely no reason not to buy this microSD card.

Reasons to buy

  • Huge 256GB capacity
  • Fast read/write speeds
  • Water-, temperature-, and x-ray, and magnet-proof

Reasons not to buy

  • There are less expensive options
  • You never take photos or video with your phone

The best microSD card for most people

Samsung has quite a few microSD card classes, and they’re great at what they do. The standard EVO is a great budget pick, while the EVO Select takes you up to a higher class and faster speeds. Then comes EVO Plus, and after that is PRO Endurance and PRO Plus, which most people just don’t need.

The EVO Plus sits in that perfect pocket of affordability, performance, and feature set. It’s perfect for people who need store high-res photos and video or large files, and it’s still just as great for people who want a place to store all their favorite physical music. The high read speeds mean your music plays back seamlessly.

The Samsung EVO Plus is perfect for power users and average users alike.

If you’re looking for a high-performance card to use as adoptable storage (if you Android phone supports it), then this is also an excellent option. Again, it marries affordability, capacity, and performance perfectly.

Aside from performance, Samsung’s microSD cards are just plain well-built. I’ve been using the same one since I got the Galaxy S5 all the way back in 2015, and it performs just as well in my Galaxy S8.

Alternatives to the Samsung EVO Plus

It may be unsurprising, but one of the best alternatives to the Samsung EVO Plus microSD card is the Samsung EVO Select. There’s also the Lexar Professional 1000x, which is lightning quick and quite inexpensive.

Runner-up

Lexar Professional 1000x 32GB UHS-II/U3

lexar-card.jpg

If speed matters above all else, this is the card for you.

$33 at Amazon

Lexar’s Professional 1000x microSD card boasts transfer speeds of up to 150MB/s, making it perfect for when speed is the most important feature you’re looking for. It can, however, get pretty expensive if you need a lot of space ($250 for 256GB).

If you’re an avid phone photographer or you rely on your Android phone to shoot 4K video, and you shoot a lot of it, then this is the card you should buy. It even comes with a USB-A reader, so you can connect it directly to your computer when you need to offload some footage.

Value Pick

Samsung EVO Select 128GB

Great transfer speeds and very affordable high-capacity cards.

$34 at Amazon

Samsung’s EVO Select still boasts fast read/write speeds, and this one even comes with a full-size SD card adapter. This is the lowest price we’ve seen on a high-quality 128GB card.

At $34, it’s hard to beat the 128GB Samsung EVO Select. Though it boasts high read/write speeds in advertising, it won’t match the EVO Plus, but that’s fine. You get so much space for the money, it can still handle 4K video, and it’s awesome for storing physical music and files.

Bottom line

The true winner is the Samsung EVO Plus 256GB, with its fast transfer speeds and large capacity. It’s perfect for the power users and for average users, and if you’re looking for a way to move all of your data from phone to phone, then look no further.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

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Mick Symons is a staff writer at Mobile Nations. He still likes physical music storage and pretending that he can play said music when no one’s looking.

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Alex Dobie is Android Central’s resident Brit, cooking up piping-hot bowls of European Android coverage every day.

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Derek Kessler is the Special Projects Manager at Mobile Nations and is a wizard. No, really — a real wizard.

5
Sep

Snapchat Introduces Two New Spectacles Designs With Polarized Lenses for $200


Four months after launching the second version of Spectacles, Snapchat today revealed two new styles of its wearable glasses, called “Nico” and “Veronica.” Instead of the circular lenses with colorful styles, the new Spectacles come in black-on-black with polarized lenses and more traditional sunglasses designs.

Otherwise, the glasses appear to be largely the same as the the models that were announced in April. You can capture up to 70 videos or “hundreds” of photos on a single charge, and all the content will be transferred to your connected smartphone via Bluetooth. Nico and Veronica also retain the Spectacles 2’s water resistance feature, so you don’t have to worry about wearing them in the rain or at the beach.

In the fall, Snapchat says that a new Spectacles feature will debut that automatically curates your Spectacles Snaps into one Highlight Story. The company explains that this should make it “faster and easier” to find your favorite recorded moments and share them with your Snapchat friends after you’ve recorded a lot of videos and photos.

In addition to polarized lenses, The Verge reports that another difference between the new Spectacles and the models from April is a new black “semi-soft” carrying case. This is another aim by Snapchat to be more subtle with its Spectacles line, as the original devices all came with a bright, hard yellow charging case.

According to Snapchat, the April launch of Spectacles 2 saw a 40 percent increase in content uploaded to Snapchat via Spectacles:

Snap says that since the introduction of Spectacles 2, users have been posting, on average, 40 percent more photos and videos captured with the glasses. The company has also made it easier to share that content on other platforms outside Snapchat by adding automatic camera roll saves and by allowing users to export video in more conventional square and horizontal formats.

Those interested can purchase the Nico and Veronica Spectacles on Snapchat.com today for $199.99. Following the online launch, the updated Spectacles will be sold at select Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus retail stores in the fall, as well as a “variety of retailers in Europe.” Prescription versions will also be available through Lensabl.

The new Spectacles come after Snapchat lost millions of users throughout 2018, following its controversial redesign that began rolling out in November 2017. During its second quarter earnings results, the company said it went down from 191 million daily active users in Q1 2018 to 188 million in Q2, “primarily driven” by the “disruption caused by our redesign,” according to CEO Evan Spiegel.

Still, Spiegel at the time said that Snapchat is working to iterate and improve the app based on community feedback, promising that the major frustrations have already been addressed.

Tag: Snapchat
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5
Sep

T-Mobile Partners With Apple to Launch iPhone and iPad Leasing Program for Businesses


T-Mobile today launched a new iPhone and iPad leasing program for businesses in partnership with Apple’s Financial Services.

Under the program, qualifying business accounts activating 25 or more lines with T-Mobile can lease iPhone and iPad models with no upfront costs, and lower monthly installments versus purchasing the devices outright.

By leasing instead of owning, businesses pay only for their usage of the devices, with the option to upgrade to the latest models each year.

For example, businesses can get an iPhone 8 for as low as $18 per month. Paired with unlimited talk, text, and data through T-Mobile ONE for $25 per month, the monthly out of pocket cost is as low as $43 per line.

In addition, while purchasing devices upfront or through a financing plan is a capital expenditure, leasing devices over 24 months through Apple can move the cost to an operating expense for financial flexibility.

For a limited time, T-Mobile says it will cover the first $100 of every iPhone and iPad leased through the program. Businesses can sign up for the program, and learn more, on T-Mobile’s enterprise website.

Tag: T-Mobile
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5
Sep

CarPlay Available in Acura ILX Starting With 2019 Model


Acura today debuted its all-new 2019 ILX compact sedan, complete with availability of CarPlay and Android Auto.

This is the first model year of the ILX available with factory installed CarPlay in the U.S., following in the footsteps of the 2017 and newer NSX, 2018 and newer MDX, 2018 and newer TLX, and 2019 RDX.

While the 2019 ILX is available with a stacked dual-screen setup, including a seven-inch capacitive touchscreen on the bottom, CarPlay is displayed on the top screen, which is controlled by in-car knobs only.

Like most automakers, Acura is using wired CarPlay, so an iPhone must be connected to the system with a Lightning to USB cable.

Acura provides a brief demo of CarPlay in the 2019 ILX in its teaser video for the vehicle, starting at the 25 second mark. Fine print in the video confirms that CarPlay is available on the Premium trim and above.


CarPlay enables iPhone users to access a range of apps from the dashboard, such as Messages, Apple Maps, Apple Music, Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify, Pandora, and WhatsApp. Google Maps and Waze are also supported as of iOS 12.

The 2019 Acura ILX will begin arriving at Acura dealerships across the U.S. in October. Pricing has not been disclosed.

Related Roundup: CarPlayTag: Acura
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5
Sep

MacPaw Launches CleanMyMac X With Smarter, Faster Mac Scanning and Cleaning


MacPaw today announced the launch of CleanMyMac X, an updated version of the CleanMyMac software that’s designed to help users get rid of unwanted files and clean up space on their Macs.

According to MacPaw, CleanMyMac X offers up a new Malware Removal option along with 14 tools for optimizing macOS. It also offers a Menu app for quick access to CleanMyMac X options, an extended Safety Database, and personalized cleanup tips.

A Smart Scan feature offers up a quick, complete scan of the Mac with options for Cleanup, Protection, and Speed to remove unnecessary system junk and malware while also offering performance optimization tips.

Scanning with CleanMyMac X is up to three times faster than the previous CleanMyMac 3 software, while the newly implemented Malware Removal tool will check for vulnerabilities and get rid of suspicious files.

An optimization module provides tools for managing login items, launch agents, and apps that are absorbing too many system resources, and a built-in assistant will provide explanations, reminders for regular checkups, and additional optimization steps that are meant to improve performance.


All of these tools are run when using the Smart Scan option, but there are also individual controls for cleaning up system junk, photo junk, mail attachments, trash bins, and iTunes junk.

Malware scans can also be conducted individually, as can optimization scans, and there is a built-in uninstaller and updater for application management.

MacPaw is charging $39.95 per year for a subscription to CleanMyMac X, or $89.95 for a one-time purchase, but the new software is also included in Setapp, MacPaw’s Mac software subscription service priced at $9.99 per month.

Setapp offers more than 100 apps for the $9.99 per month price tag, including titles like iStat Menus, Bartender, Ulysses, Canary Mail, and more.

Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with MacPaw. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.
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