The HTC 10 is sexy smartphone. If you’re keen on keeping that slick metal casing pristine, then you must cover it up. Like many smartphone enthusiasts, I’m also not a fan of throwing a plastic case on top of a beautiful design. Fortunately, Spigen has a good variety of options that attempt to not be too invasive. Here are a couple of the slimmer cases the company offers that might just tickle your fancy.
Thin Fit Cases
Spigen’s Thin Fit cases are the slimmest ones in its lineup. They’re more your typical snap-on kind of case, in which you sacrifice some protection for slimness (also meaning that it’s super easy to install and remove). Strangely, Spigen only offers two variants: Gunmetal and…Mint. Not sure why there’s not a wider range of colors, but I figure that the Gunmetal model should set well with most people. Let’s check that out first.
Gunmetal Thin Fit Case
The find the Gunmetal case to be the most interesting out of the bunch, because of the choice of material and color. In practice, it’s just a hard, snap-on case, but the grippy finish puts it above the rest. It’s somewhat rubbery and sticky to the touch (not in a bad way), which makes handling leaps and bounds better than with the phone’s bare surface. The case is reluctant to leave your hand.
Additionally, the styling is a big plus. It’s superbly metallic in appearance, perfectly complimenting the HTC 10’s fancy build. On-lookers should be hard-pressed to tell that they’re not looking at a charcoal version of the phone. It even mimics the HTC 10’s exaggerated chamfer that’s along the rear perimeter.
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Being that these are snap-on cases, the top and bottom of the phone are exposed. The sides are pretty robust, though. They completely wrap around and leave a substantial lip on each side of the front. You should have no worry laying the phone face down on a table.
A slight concern I noticed is that the camera and back-facing microphone cutouts don’t line up perfectly.
Camera and microphone are slightly offset from the cutouts, but they still function just fine.
I’d expect that such an established case-maker would have impeccable cutouts. Tsk tsk, Spigen.
Spigen Thin Fit Gunmetal Case link
Mint Thin Fit Case
The shape and fit of the Mint Thin Fit variant is the same as the Gunmetal. But the material has a more typical hard plastic finish. It’s nicely matte, and despite being smooth, there’s still plenty of grip. But that color…
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I’m just not a fan, and while it looks a little better in person than the promo pics (not as bright), it’s still an eyeful of pale green. But I won’t dwell further on the color, it’s subjective. The Mint Thin Fit case offers the same amount of protection as its brother. But I found the cutouts to be better aligned on my Mint model. Maybe I got a bad Gunmetal unit.
Spigen Thin Fit Mint Case link
Crystal Shell Case
Spigen’s Crystal Shell case is a good alternative to the Thin Fit. You get a bit better protection, but while there’s more substance to the case, the fact that it’s completely clear allows the phone’s design to still be relevant. The case’s build is a combination of hard plastic (back cover) and flexible TPU material (around all sides).
This allows the Crystal Shell case to have a Military Grade protection rating for your phone (MIL-STD 810G). The case’s thickness slightly raises above the camera module and front glass. This is probably the best balance of protection and slimness.
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There are cutouts on the top and bottom of the phone for all the ports. The power and volume buttons aren’t exposed; there’s matching TPU inserts that push into the actual buttons. It works just fine.
Spigen Crystal Shell Case link
Spigen continues to do a great job. It could do better in some areas, but for the most part, these are solid cases. If you care about looks, I strongly suggest that Gunmetal model. I loved it. But I suggest Spigen to look into quality control of those cutouts.
For more info on these cases, or others available, check out Spigen’s HTC product list.
Virgin America revealed a major overhaul to its website back in 2014, and now it finally has an app for Android and iOS. As you might expect, the retooled mobile software has a similar look and feel to the web portal, but you can use it to book flights, manage upgrades and access boarding passes on the go. There’s a lot more playful illustration than you’ve seen in other airline apps, consistent with the approach Virgin takes to air travel. What’s more, there’s Spotify integration as well, offering an easy way to play music during your trip.
In fact, Virgin America is calling the partnership a “first-of-its kind trip soundtrack mobile feature on an airline app.” How does it work? Well, once you check in, you can stream one of Spotify’s “Mood Lists” that are inspired by cities around the world. Users will be privy to a playlist that’s based on their destination, so in theory you’ll get a new mix of songs for each leg of your journey. If that sounds familiar, the streaming service recently revealed an Out of Office playlist tool that also compiles a collection of tracks inspired by where you’re traveling that can be used in those automatic email responses. The collaboration isn’t too surprising though, since flyers can already stream music from Spotify during Virgin flights.
While the new Virgin America app isn’t ready for the masses, select Elevate members and other frequent flyers will be privy to a beta test “in the coming weeks.” If you didn’t get an invite to the test phase, you can sign up here to try and get in. Don’t mind waiting a little longer? The airline says both the Android and iOS versions of the app are slated to launch “later this summer.”
Source: Virgin America
There are already ways to show of your photography skills on your television via the Apple TV, but Adobe is making those in-home exhibitions a bit easier. The company released a Lightroom app for the set-top box that allows users to pull in those snapshots quickly. Any photos that you’ve synced with Lightroom on the desktop, mobile or web are all available to display on your television. Adobe says the goal is for users to be able to share their work with anyone and anywhere, all while keeping top-notch image quality. Let’s be honest, offering a way to show images on the largest display in your house definitely fits the bill.
As you might expect, there’s a slideshow option as well as the ability to zoom in on a particular image to ogle the details. You’ll need a 4th generation Apple TV and a Creative Cloud subscription to take advantage of the app, but if you meet the requirements, the software is available at no extra cost from the App Store.
Swipe it is an unabashedly simple Android game for all ages from developer M/Games, where the goal is to swipe your screen in the same direction as the game indicates, as long as you can until you screw up and have to start over. That’s really all there is to say for an intro; let’s get to the game itself to see just what I mean, shall we?
Setup is also dead-simple: download this free game from the Play Store. Once done, you open the game where you’re greeted by the title screen. You can jump into the settings to mute the sound & vibration, you can check out game leaderboards, or you can take a look at your own game achievements to date.
As stated, this is a very simple game. There is not backstory, heroes, villains, or heroines-in-distress. It’s just you and your reaction time.
The game gives you a solid yellow background with a triangular arrow (not unlike the Google Play icon itself) in the lower-center. Above is a cascading run of directional arrows, each indicating which way you should swipe (up, down, left, right). By placing your thumb/finger at the triangle and swiping in the corresponding direction, you wipe that directional arrow from the screen, and the rest drop down by one a-la Tetris.
At the top of your screen is your life meter of sorts; when full it glows green but slowly shrinks during play, turning yellow, then red. You can slow the speed of your bar disappearing and even re-grow it though faster swipes.
Your game ends by one of two ways: your life meter drains to zero, or you swipe in an incorrect direction from the one given. Depending on your progress to that point, you may be given a chance to re-start from your current position, or you may have to start back at zero. Your life span is dictated by accuracy first, and speed second.
As you progress through the game, you are also given diagonal swipes to match, increasing the difficulty level a bit. You earn achievement tokens by hitting milestone numbers of accurate swipes (50, 100, etc.).
Graphics & Sound
If I do have a gripe with the game itself, it’s in the design of the directional arrows that you’re supposed to emulate with your swipes. They are very simple & thin in design, which can make it difficult to ascertain as you speed up (it that one up or down??). Now, this may be by design to increase the games challenge, but I personally think it would be more fun to have these a bit bolder, allowing the player to focus on maximum speed and longevity.
Game sound is rather minimal, including an 8-bit beep with every swipe, and some puny congratulatory horns when you hit a new high score. Meh.
Like I said, the gameplay is super-simple but can be fun. Where I found the most enjoyment out of it is challenging my kiddos to see who can last the longest (they always LOVE to crush dad at a game). Getting multiple people to engage in the game definitely increases its replay-ability.
All in all, I recommend Swipe It. The game knows what it is, and makes zero apologies for it. It gives you a quick challenge and invokes no guilt when you put it down. Give it a try and see for yourself.
Download Swipe It from the Play Store here.
Motorola is one of the oldest and most important companies in the history of the United States. Moto was founded in 1928 after the Galvin Brothers purchased the bankrupt Stewart Battery Company, its plant, and the plans for its battery eliminators for $750 at auction. Its first products were simple by today’s standards, they allowed radios to run on household electricity, but this was the start of something huge.
In the ’30s Motorola began selling the first car radios to police departments and by the time the first World War began, hand-held walkie talkies made by Motorola were in our troop’s hands. World War 2 brought new challenges and the Motorola made AM SCR-536 radio was vital to our success in Europe. In 1943 Motorola went public and by the time 1947 rolled around its biggest sellers were television sets and radios.
Motorola made the radio that carrier Neil Armstrong’s iconic words back from the moon.
Fast-forward to more recent history. Motorola was known for its semiconductors in the 80s and its cell phones in the 90s. Even though Motorola was one of the first companies to mass produce phones, it was overtaken in the late 90s as the largest seller of phones by Nokia. The 2000s brought us amazing devices like the Moto Razr that would influence our culture for years to come.
And then the smartphone wars started. In the early days of Android, Motorola produced the DROID. It’s a phone that the company is still known for to this day, but Moto failed to capitalize on its success and produced disappointing follow-ups.
I distinctly remember the Motorola Backflip that my wife loved. When we bought it the salesman at AT&T told us we’d probably be back in a few months for a replacement or to return it. That thing soldiers on for another three years before my wife finally gave up on it.
What many of you who are reading this will probably remember most is when Motorola came out with the Moto X lineup. It smartly dropped its attempt at a skin atop Android and went with a mostly stock look with small improvements atop. Motorola was one of the first to truly integrate voice commands into its phones and quick updates were a key selling point for the X lineup.
Moto X 2013, 2014, and 2015
The Moto X lineup was followed up with cheap, yet good phones in the Moto G and Moto E lineup that redefined what you could buy on a budget. Google bought Motorola for a hot minute, mostly for its patents, but we also got the Nexus 6 out of the deal which was controversial due to its size but loved by many.
That brings us to today when we’re seeing an entirely new lineup from Motorola, the Moto Z. The new lineup includes the Moto Z Droid and Moto Z Force Droid. The new devices are focused on fast and slim phones that can be expanded through modules that attach to the back. The selling points look great on paper, but how does it perform in real life? Read on for our full review.
- Dimensions: 6.14 x 2.98 x 0.28 in
- Display: 5.5 in, 2560 x 1440 (AMOLED)
- Processor: Qualcomm MSM8996 Snapdragon 820
- Storage: 32/64GB
- RAM: 4GB
- Battery: 3500mAh (non-removable)
- Cameras: 21/5MP
The Motorola Moto Z Force Droid stacks up with every other flagship on the market. The Snapdragon 820 has been the processor of choice for flagship releases in the United States market for early 2016. Pairing it with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage is pretty standard at this point. The Z Force Droid shares the same specs with the Samsung Galaxy S7, HTC 10, and LG G5. It’s only outclassed by the OnePlus 3 which offers 64GB of storage and 6GB of RAM.
Where the Moto Z Force Droid beats almost every other flagship is in battery size. We’ll talk about real life battery stats later, but we love the inclusion of a huge 3500mAh battery in this flagship phone. There are other phones on the market with larger batteries but most feel like novelties that just throw the highest capacity battery into a phone it can as a novelty.
The huge battery is needed to drive the impressive display. We’re getting used to seeing beautiful AMOLED displays, but the display on the Force is in the league of Samsung’s current generation panels. Max brightness is very good and perhaps just short of usability in very bright outdoor situations, but will do the job in pretty much every other circumstance. Viewing angles are excellent with almost no color shift at all. The colors feel bright and pop with vibrancy. If you’re looking for a phone to look at for the next two years, you’ll be happy with the Moto Z Force Droid.
The truly stand-out feature of the display is not all the pixels, but the Shattershield technology. Motorola boasts that the Moto Z Force Droid’s display is guaranteed not to crack or shatter, just like its predecessor the Droid Turbo 2. The fine print says the following:
“The display and embedded lens are warranted against shattering and cracking for four (4) years from the original date of purchase; scratches or other damage to the protective lens is not covered by this warranty, but should always be in place to prevent scratches and other damage to the underlying components. This phone is not shockproof or designed to withstand all damage from dropping. All other warranty exclusions, including scratches and other cosmetic damage, intentional damage or abuse, normal wear and tear and other limitations apply.”
Motorola did make the Moto Z Force Droid thicker than the Moto Z to include this technology (as well as a bigger battery), but I think the trade-off is worth it. I haven’t tried to destroy the display on my review unit, but I think any person purchasing this phone with their own money will love the fact that there is a four-year warranty on their display. I see so many people with cracked screens that are holding until they can afford a new device. You completely avoid this issue with the Moto Z Force Droid.
Just under the display is a square fingerprint scanner that serves as nothing but a fingerprint scanner (although you can hold it while the display is on to turn the display off). I’m not in love with the aesthetics of the scanner and its placement, but it does function fabulously. I’ve not had a misread yet and it’s as fast as the Nexus 6P, OnePlus 3 or iPhone 6s. I’d like to see the button function as a home button as well even though the rest of the buttons are on screen. I think Sony has the right idea about how to do fingerprint sensors: put it in the power button. Hopefully other OEMs will follow suit.
On the bottom of the phone, we find only a USB type C port, no headphone jack. And, the top of the phone doesn’t have anything besides an antenna band. So, if it’s not on the bottom and it’s not on the top, what gives?
Motorola decided to beat Apple to the punch and remove the 3.5mm jack. Now, I know the arguments for it (makes the device thinner and cheaper), but I just can’t get behind removing a universally accepted port. Is it perfect? No. Is it old? Yes. But does it work almost flawlessly? Yep.
To its credit, Motorola does include a USB type C to 3.5mm adapter so you can still use your wired headphones, but it seems like a messy fix to a problem it didn’t need to create in the first place.
The only speaker is housed in the earpiece which is situated between the front facing camera (left) and the forward facing flash (right). The flash is an excellent inclusion that we think dramatically improves those selfies. Some have crowed that the front facing camera is only 5MP, but it does a great job. It’s as good as any selfie cam I’ve seen yet.
The left side of the phone is barren which means the right side houses all of the buttons. I don’t think Motorola got it right here. I prefer staggering of the power and volume buttons on either side of the phone personally, but the placement here is all wrong. The volume buttons are very high on the device making quickly turning the volume up a pain. The power button sits just under them but is virtually indistinguishable from the volume buttons except for some ridges. The buttons are too small and too high. Luckily they are very clicky and provide good feedback when pressed.
The build of the Moto Z Force Droid is out of this world. Never before have I felt such a light, yet sturdy phone. There is zero bend or creak when force is applied to the body, but it doesn’t feel unwieldy like say a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 did when it was popular. The device is equally weighted on top and bottom so it’s easy to reach the top of this 5.5″ screen. The band around the side feels strong and easy to hold, while the back feels smooth and flat. Motorola has been known in the past for the curved design of its phones and while that has been shuttered, it’s for the best. The back houses a pronounced camera bump, a Motorola logo and pogo pins at the bottom (more on those later).
The build of the Moto Z Force is so good that I play with it even when I’m not using it. It feels that good.
As I mentioned previously, the modern Motorola is known for keeping a close to stock Android feel in its phones. The minor additions help it stand out against competitors like Samsung and LG which apply a heavy skin to its phones. If you’re coming from a stock Android phone like a Nexus device, the Motorola Moto Z Force Droid will feel familiar to you.
But, that’s not to say this is a stock Android device. Since this phone is a Verizon exclusive, that means Verizon’s suite of apps come pre-installed on the device. By my count, there are 17 apps Verizon preloaded but all of them except Visual Voicemail can be disabled or outright uninstalled. Disabling apps isn’t a perfect solution since you’re unable to reclaim the space the apps take up in storage, but at least you can unclutter the phone a bit.
The look of the device does stay undeniably stock Android, and that’s a positive in my book. While some lament that Android feels feature bare without the software additions from Samsung or LG, Motorola adds smaller, but useful apps like the Moto app (previously called Moto Assist).
The app allows you to control features like the Active Display which shows you notifications in a battery friendly manner, voice controls, and actions. The actions that Moto included do things like keep the display on while you’re looking at it, allow you to turn the flashlight on by chopping the phone twice through the air, or swiping in from the button of the phone to make the screen smaller for one handed use.
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With Voice controls, you can train the phone to react to a custom phrase. In previous devices you’d have to use the stock phrase of “Okay Moto”, but we’re allowed more customization. One of my favorite features of the voice commands is the ability to have the device read text messages while you’re driving or you have a headset plugged in. I HATE messing with my phone while driving, but I want to stay in contact too, so this is a happy medium.
Adisclosure before we get into the battery section. The review unit we were supplied by Motorola is locked to Verizon since the Moto Z Force Droid is a Verizon exclusive. I’m a T-Mobile customer which makes normal daily usage very hard to measure. I’m not pulling the phone out of my pocket every few minutes to check messages or notifications and I’m not engaging in the normal phone conversations with friends and family that call me on my everyday number. I usually like to give real world usage in my reviews but since this isn’t possible I’ve done my best to find out the information about the battery I can to relay to you.
As I mentioned before, the battery is a non-removable 3500mAh unit. The capacity alone puts it near the top of the list for flagship phones released in the last few years. The only other comparable phones on the market in the US are the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge (3600mAh) and the Huawei Nexus 6P (3450mAh). You can import some great phones released only in Asia like the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 Pro (4100mAh) and Lenovo K5 Note (3500mAh) that rival it in capacity as well.
Adding to the excellent battery life is the Turbo Charging that Motorola enables in its phones. The Moto Z Force Droid comes with a Turbo Charger 30 which outputs at 5V at 5.7A. The only phone I’ve seen charge nearly as fast in person is the OnePlus 3 which has proprietary Dash charging (rebranded VOOC charging). Both phones will get you to about 60% battery in 30 minutes.
In day to day use where I was using the Z Force Droid as much as possible without making phone calls or texting I was getting over six hours of screen on time. This included such activities as reading Reddit, watching videos on YouTube and Netflix and streaming music with Google Play Music (check out the Monstercat Podcast!). I would expect roughly 4.5 to 5 hours of screen on time with normal usage, but that’s just an estimate at this point.
The battery benchmark early results are promising. I have zero doubt that this will be a battery champion amongst the competition.
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Screen on Time score. Should represent what you would normally get for regular usage
In depth Screen on Time scores
Screen on Time during benchmarking – from 99% battery to 20%
The Motorola Moto Z Force Droid has a 21MP camera with a f/1.8 aperture, laser and phase detection auto-focus, optical image stabilization, dual-LED flash, and 1.12 µm pixel size. The main shooter can record 4K video at 30fps, 1080p at 60fps, and 1080p at 30fps. The front-facing camera is a 5MP camera with f/2.2 aperture, has 1.4 µm pixel size, an LED flash, and can record 1080p video.
Maybe the most defining aspect of the camera is the camera bump on the back of the phone. It feels like it sticks out more significantly than any other camera bump I’ve ever seen on a phone. This is partially a product of how thin phones are getting and partially a design choice by Motorola. This isn’t just a little hump that houses the camera, it is a rounded, crafted statement on the rear of the phone that screams “I have an amazing camera”.
Does it have an amazing camera? We’re going to let you decide for yourself. Here are some examples that were taken during our time with the Moto Z Force Droid, feel free to cycle through them.
There are Pogo Pins on the back of the Motorola Moto Z Force Droid that connect to accessories. These add-ons can be attached to the phone to expand the functionality. During the reveal press conference, Motorola showed a projector, speaker, extended battery, and rear covers.
The way Motorola has gone about adding modular functionality is pretty brilliant. Attaching modules to the back of the phone through the use of magnets is a much better option than say, the LG G5 which you have to remove the bottom of the phone. This leads to issues like the gap between the bottom and the rest of the phone. By placing modules on the rear of the phone, the only thing you sacrifice is some thinness. That’s a pretty easy trade-off, especially when you take into consideration how thin the Moto Z Droid and Moto Z Force Droid already are.
You’ll hear more about the speaker and extended battery accessories in our Moto Z Droid review, but for now, we’re going to focus on the projector. Dubbed the “Moto Insta-Share Projector” the device allows you project a picture up to 70″ and adds an hour of screen time due to the included battery.
During my testing I found the picture to be pretty clear, but not bright enough to use in my living room during the daytime. Where I think this will really shine is during the fall when we’re outside around the fire. I’d love to be able to cast a college football game onto the side of my house using the ESPN app.
The Insta-share Projector comes in at a hefty $300, but I know that it would be my first purchase if I was buying this phone for personal use.
Also included with our review unit is a wood Moto Style Shell. These snap to the back exactly like the projector and add a little flair to the phone. I found the phone to feel a bit thick with it on the back, but I’m coming from a OnePlus 3 which an extremely thin feeling phone, so my perception may be a bit skewed. Along with the wood back, Motorola also announced leather and textured style shells that will be available.
When Lenovo bought Motorola from Google many people were rightly worried about the future of the company. The Moto X line was loved by many Android enthusiasts for it’s close to stock Android software and the ability to customize the outside of the device with Moto Maker. Lenovo will have to prove that it can continue on Motorola’s promise of quick updates and minimal skins. This has always been a key to customers that buy into Motorola’s way of thinking.
I don’t know what the future holds for Lenovorola, but this is certainly a good start. The Moto Z Force Droid isn’t a perfect device, but if you’re looking for a flagship phone right now (on Verizon), it’ll be hard not to pick it up.
The long-term success of the device, I believe, will lay in the adoption and pricing of the Moto Mods. This is such a great idea I have no idea why someone didn’t come up with it sooner. Motorola stated that it will be opening it up so third party companies are welcome to come in and make their own Mods, but will the promise be kept if the phone doesn’t sell well? As a reminder, LG made the same claim, but no new modules are yet to be found for the G5 It’s a bit of a chicken and the egg problem. No one is going to make mods if there aren’t users to buy them, but customers might not buy the phone if they can’t take full advantage of one of the best features of the phone.
Pre-order have just begun for the Moto Z Droid and Moto Z Force Droid at the time of publication. The Z Droid can be had for $624 and the Moto Z Force Droid comes in at a hefty $720. Phones are getting more and more expensive, but I truly think that if you’re going to spend that kind of money on a phone, this is the one to get. It has almost everything you can want in a phone. I’ve been through just about every phone on the market and the Motorola Moto Z Force Droid is my favorite so far.
One key thing was missing from Periscope’s live video option: the ability to embed the video streams and archived footage in other places rather than sharing a link. Twitter’s livestreaming option is doing something about that today as Periscope videos can now be posted in a tweet. This means that so long as you’re willing to embed the tweet than contains the live video, you’ll be able to post them wherever you like. The app also got a Highlights feature, but it’s different from what Facebook’s live videos offer.
Rather than displaying a timeline of reactions, Periscope creates a short trailer-like compilation of the broadcast. The app uses “a variety of signals” to determine which parts make the cut, a process that the company says will continue to improve over time. There’s also a new Autoplay feature that will automatically start playback when you swipe over to the Watch tab and Global Feed. If you’re familiar with the Instagram video feed, you have an idea of how this works. Autoplay is only available on Android for now, but it’s coming to iOS “soon.” Those Highlights will be available in both versions of the app over the next few days though, so you won’t have to wait long to try it out.
LIVE on #Periscope: On the range with Jason Day https://t.co/0NhfLaEeNA
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) July 21, 2016
Source: Periscope (Medium)
Add Mozilla to the ranks of web browser developers giving Flash the boot. While it previously blocked Flash over security issues, it’s phasing out regular use of Adobe’s often-criticized plugin, starting with one of its next major releases. As of August, Firefox will block some Flash content that’s “not essential to the user experience.” And in 2017, it’ll leave Flash off by default — much like what other companies are doing, you’ll have to click to activate any Flash-only material.
You’ve heard the reasons before. Mozilla explains that shutting off Flash will not only offer “enhanced security,” but improve the overall experience by getting rid of a crash-prone performance and battery hog. Web standards like HTML5 now handle media playback, 3D graphics and video chats — there’s just not much reason to rely on Flash these days.
While Mozilla says it works “closely” with Adobe to optimize for Flash when it’s running, there’s no denying that the plugin is out of favor. With Apple, Google and Microsoft also switching off Flash (Opera wasn’t big on it to start with), there will be very little incentive to keep Flash on by default. Who’s going to use it for not-so-vital tasks when the rest of the big browsers won’t handle it either? In many ways, this is one of the last nails in the coffin for Flash as a regular sight on the internet.
Source: Mozilla Future Releases
As we get older, our responsibilities grow and our bodies slow down. It’s a fact of life that by our mid twenties we stop growing, and with every year we age our hormones and metabolism slow down. Add in job responsibilities, families, pets, and general life, it can be real easy to stop taking care of ourselves.
You never realize how good of shape you’re in until you’re out of shape. I’m no different than anyone else. I just turned 36 this last Sunday, and I really need to get my butt back into shape. Kids aren’t in my life plan, but a full time career as a medicinal chemist is as well as writing for AndroidGuys. It’s too easy for me to not make time to take care of myself. After a long day, a cold beer or two definitely melts my stress away, but puts me in a state of laziness. It’s gone on too long.
I decided to take action. One step at a time.
I’ve been a big guy my entire life. This body that I have been blessed with allowed me to excel in sports all the way through high school. In college I leaned out and got in real good shape. But then life got in the way, and now I honestly could afford to drop about 20 pounds. Maybe 30.
About a week and a half ago I joined in on a friendly walking competition with some friends from the local dog park I bring my dog park to everyday. We downloaded an app called Argus, and since that day I have been working out and feel like I am taking control of my health.
Argus for Android
The reason why I chose to download Argus was due to the compatibility between Android and iOS. My friends from the dog park found an app that we could all use to track our steps and not only compete with each other, but offer support as well. Most of them use iPhones too.
Generally most of us all carry our smartphones with us wherever we go, and the app takes advantage of the built-in hardware that’s included in our smartphones to track our steps. While we could have picked up fitness trackers like Fitbits or Android Wear smartwatches, we opted for the Argus app, since it is free to download and use, at the Google Play Store and Apple App store. The Argus app is compatible with many fitness trackers, so if you have one it might be a good alternative to use instead of your smartphone.
In order to get our group motivated we made a bet to up the stakes. The bet was, whoever ended the seven day period with the least amount of steps would take the group out to happy hour on their dime. While that wasn’t motivation for me, simply competing again amped me up to where I wanted to win. Argus was simply a step tracker for me at that point, but a tool to show that I could win.
The homescreen interface is very simple and nice to look at. The app tracks my steps very well. Sure you can cheat and shake your phone, but there is no real point in that and if you’re going to waste your time shaking a phone just to beat your friends, you should probably find something more productive to do. After day two and 50k steps later, I started to look through Argus to see what other features it offered.
It shows what day you’re on, how many steps you’ve taken, how much coffee you’ve drank, a place to track your heart rate using the camera lens in your smartphone, weight tracking, as well as food and water intake. Naturally I went with what was easiest first and that was tracking my water intake.
From the days of when I used to work out to look good, I know that just a 2% reduction of fluid in your body can result in a 10-20% decrease in athletic performance. Not to mention that water is required to make your body function efficiently. If you don’t have good water intake habits, your physical and mental health can suffer tremendously. Admittedly over the past few years I got real tired of going to the water fountain to fill up my water bottle at work. I usually went a whole day of just drinking coffee to keep me awake which is a natural diuretic. This contributed to my fatigue at the end of the work day.
After tracking my water intake, I brought a bottle into work and started drinking at least two to three full bottles during the work day. By the time I got home, I felt good and hydrated for my workout, rather than feeling empty on coffee. I still haven’t started tracking my food intake yet as that is a whole different level of commitment I am not ready to take on yet. But when I am ready, I can track caloric intake through Argus.
By day five, averaging over 20k steps per day, my friends started to wonder if I was cheating. How could this out of shape guy get so many steps? So I started to track my heart rate during my running/elliptical sessions to show I really was working out. When you have friends that you follow, you get to see the information they input as well. One of my friends is a medical doctor, and validated that I was working out and earning my steps with the increased heart rate that went along with my workouts.
By day seven, the walking challenge bet was no longer about happy hour or winning. It was about how good I felt and finally taking control of my health. Sure my feet ached and my knees hurt, but my skin felt clean, my muscles were awakened, and my mental health improved more than anything else. I also sleep better now too.
I think tracking progress with a scale is annoying and can easily demotivate someone who wants results too quickly. I measure my progress now by how my clothes fit. My pants are a little looser, and that made me feel real good about myself. Sure I have a long way to go, but with Argus, I am getting there one step at a time.
Argus for Android isn’t as good as its iOS version. It lacks the challenge feature which it says is coming soon in the app. I don’t know how much I believe that considering how long it has been out, but there’s always hope. Competition is good for some like me and lacking that feature is annoying when I know that iOS has it.
There’s still the ability to see how many steps my friends have taken as the app shows me who has walked the most throughout the day. Or I can also click on each individual friend to see how much they have walked. When I see a bit of laziness, I give them a call and we walk our dogs together. The beauty of Argus is the social support or competition if you want it. Argus is not perfect, and there are lots of other apps and fitness trackers that work similarly, but the interface, social interaction and ease of use have me coming back for more every single day.
Do you want to get healthier?
According to data from Nielsen, the number one New Year’s resolution is fitness. There is a very high chance that you made a commitment to get in shape. If it’s to look better, feel better, get in shape to spend time playing with your kids, or simply to get healthy for more energy, now is the time to download Argus.
Join in my commitment to get in shape. Add me on Argus. My username is Derrick Miyao and my associated email address is [email protected]. We can challenge each other, or we can offer support when we need it most. I’d love to connect with you. There is no prize in signing up except you will feel better and improve your health. The more people who sign up, and the more who connect with each other, the higher the chances all of us will stick to it.
Argus is free to use with a premium add on of $30 per year which I have not signed up for. The app isn’t perfect, but it is really good. On Android it sometimes lags when it tracks steps, but eventually it will refresh and catch up.
Most importantly though, it is free and your first step to getting in shape. I highly recommend you check Argus out if you want to get healthier. Just about anyone can get healthier.
Download Argus at the Google Play Store and add me, Derrick Miyao. I look forward to it.
You may have played a mobile word search game or two, and they may have had their share of unique color schemes, game modes, and such. But I would like to take you through a truly new style of word search game: Word Teaser. From the developer GAMEDU, who also offers up to 20 other mobile games in all varieties, Word Teaser take the traditional word search, and adds several levels of variety that makes it a pretty fun game that offers a surprising amount of replay value.
Getting started is easy; just download from or the Play Store (or iTunes if you have an iOS device). Once done, you can sign in to Google Play Games if you so choose (though you don’t have to).
Once in the game, you go through a tutorial to guide you through the game’s rules:
- You have to find a word of a given length (the “target word”) within the puzzle presented.
- You build words by swiping across adjacent letters. The words you build may or may not be the target word, but they will help you discover the target word through a process of elimination.
- Words can be built using adjacent letters; adjacent being above, below, left, right or diagonal to the previous letter.
- The flow of the words can be forwards, backwards, up, down, a combination from first letter to last.
- There are three letter colors that are meant to be used as hints:
- Green letters exist in the target word in their exact position.
- Yellow letters exist in the target word, but are in the wrong position in the puzzle.
- Red letters do not exist in the target word.
- You are given a time limit for each puzzle to find the target word; usually around 60-90 seconds. If you fail in finding your word in time, the game is over.
Playing the game took a bit getting used to in the beginning, particularly using the color-coded hint system explained above. But with just a few minutes of repetition I had a good handle on it and found myself replaying for a good long while.
The game overall is for adults down to school-aged children. You start out looking for just three-letter words, and it takes a while to graduate to even 5-letter words. But please don’t take that to mean the game is easy: even once in the four-letter puzzles, I found myself scrambling to complete them before my time ran out.
Controls are smooth, perhaps a bit too much. Particularly on my phone, I found my finger going one letter too many and my word being rejected because of the added letter; causing several re-tries.
Graphics are a nice set of muted earth-tones, making the screen easy to look at for extended periods (this is an underused feature in games: more developers should spend less time trying to make their games stand out with bright color and more with good gameplay).
Music was rather bland; it sounds a bit elementary. But again it’s unobtrusive so it’s in no way a deal-breaker (and you can turn both the music and sound effects on & off, so there’s that).
There are several modes you can choose right from the beginning, without having to unlock them first:
- Solo (the ‘standard’ game version): You build up through the levels of increasing difficulty.
- Category: You can choose to find words from a specific topic (sports, flowers, cities, colors, etc).
- Multiplayer: You take on a friend! Each player has 3 puzzles; the winner is decided by who completes their 3 puzzles in the least amount of time.
I was genuinely surprised by the quality and replay value of Word Teaser. Puzzle games generally lost their appeal for me a while ago; so when I was asked to review this game, I didn’t expect a whole lot of fun from the exercise. Imagine my surprise when I found myself still playing this game almost an hour after downloading and opening it!
That really is the core of this review itself: give this game a try…..chances are you will find yourself still there playing it a whole lot later than you anticipated.
And it’s a game your school-age children would enjoy, as well, so it’s a win-win for family devices, to boot.
Download Word Teaser for Android here.
Download Word Teaser for iOS here.
Headphones can be an expensive purchase depending on what you’re looking for. I don’t know about you, but $100 to $200 headphones is out of my budget. Even if it was in my budget, I’m not sure I would go out and buy a pair without doing some extensive research, I mean it’s a big price when perhaps there are cheaper alternatives.
Many smaller companies offer headphones that not only look amazing but also have quality sound at a much more reasonable price. Often times they get overshadowed by big companies that have bigger budgets to showcase its products.
Fortunately, we live in the world of Amazon, which means smaller companies with smaller budgets have the opportunity to be seen. Operating with only an Amazon storefront means better visibility with less overhead; this allows those companies to compete with bigger brands. It also affords potential consumers easier comparative shopping with lots of reviews at their fingertips.
Today, I have two headphones to review from one of those companies: HiGoing. This brand has a couple of those quality headphones which are priced more in line with my tastes.
HiGoing Wireless Stereo Workout Headsets
HiGoing’s workout headphones are in-ear buds designed with intense workouts in mind. They have a two-foot-long tangle free cord that is not only strong and durable but also fits nicely into the included hardshell case. To ensure the right fit for your ears, you are provided with the traditional small, medium, and large ear tips.
The body of the of these headphones is built from a nice soft rubber with a matte finish. On the sides, it has beautiful brushed aluminium with HiGoing’s logo on it and a silver power button. I have to say it, though, the logo could use a little work.
On top of the right ear, there are two buttons that control volume and skip tracks which are quick to respond and easy to press. On the inside of the right ear’s body is the tiny microphone hole. The microphone quality is okay, but I wouldn’t rely on it as a daily talking device.
Finishing out the body are ear hooks that easily and comfortably fit around your ear. This is ideal for rigorous workout routines as you don’t want them falling out.
Inserting these in my ears for the first time, I thought it wasn’t going to be loud enough because it wasn’t deep in my ear. I’ve had this issue before with similar styles where you have to get it in the right position to get better volume. As it turns out, volume wasn’t an issue at all; they had plenty.
They have excellent battery life and take only a couple of hours to top off with a microUSB cord (included). At decent volume levels, around 70%, you can last 7-9 hours easily. The Bluetooth connects by just turning on the headphones and has a reach of around 30 feet.
Let’s face it, a good workout means one thing: sweat. Some of us sweat more than others, but none of us want that ruining our headphones. HiGoing’s headphones have an IPX4 rating, which means you can’t go swimming with them, buy it’s certainly protected from sweat.
Sound is where it really counts so let’s discuss how it stacks up. These headphones are a bit on the bass-y side. It doesn’t necessarily reach the level of distortion, though, so it’s no deal breaker. It’s more prevalent in some songs than others, so results will vary. The highs and mids are more on the transparent side. Overall, and considering $22 price tag, these are great workout headphones to buy.
You can buy HiGoing Wireless Stereo Workout Headsets in one of three different colors: Red/Gold, Black/Gray or Red/Gray.
Buy HiGoing’s workout headphones
Yunyida’s New Bee headphones are sold exclusively on HiGoing’s Amazon page. These on-ear headphones are a nice bang-for-the-buck pair when it comes to Bluetooth headphones. They have a nice build that is smooth to the touch and features a matte finished soft rubber shell. The ear cups have a soft padding that is great for long term wear so you can avoid that soreness on the outer ear that some headphones leave you with.
These headphones have a foldable and adjustable headband for easy storage and easy fit. For extra comfort, they have padding at the top. The ear cups are connected to a swiveling piece at the bottom of the headband. This piece is made out of plastic that has a slight sheen to it without looking cheap. Since the ear cups swivel, it creates a better fit no matter who is wearing them.
On the side of the right ear cup, you’ll find four buttons that control power/phone call, two volume buttons that double as skip tracks, and play/pause. All the controls are easy to press, which is more than I can say for others I have used.
On the bottom of the right ear cup, you will find a USB port, 3.5mm jack, and a small hole for the microphone. I’m not gonna say the phone call quality was excellent, but it’s sufficient being that you probably won’t be using it primarily for this purpose.
New Bee’s Bluetooth connects quickly by turning on the headphones, and the light at the bottom of the headphones will flash blue and red. Listening range is typical of any other Bluetooth device, around 30 feet, and it works flawlessly for me.
Let’s discuss battery life. The company boasts that this 800mAh battery can do 45 hours of playback time, 60 hours of phone calls, and 180 days of standby time. I can’t attest to the phone calls time as I’m not sure I even talk on the phone 60 hours in a year, and it would have been wrong to hold on to these for 180 days before getting around to the review.
In the time I have had these, I’ve only charged once, and I didn’t fully charge them. I have listened to about 10 hours of music off and on and had roughly 30 minutes of talk time, and I’m still on the same charge. It may not go the full 45 hours, but feel confident in saying it will last plenty long enough for average users.
Since these headphones are foldable, they are compact and easy to take along with you. Thankfully, they come with a roomy clamshell hard case for protection in your bag. Inside this case are the instruction manual, microUSB cable, and a 3.5mm cord. While you certainly don’t always need a case it is nice to have one to protect investments.
Overall, New Bee has a sound that is full, with tight bass and transient mids and highs. It makes for incredible listening sessions, and for $35, these headphones are a steal.
Other features in the New Bee included NFC for quick and easy pairing and an app for tracking steps while wearing. You can buy New Bee headphones in one of three different colors: Red, Brown, or Black.
Buy New Bee headphones from Amazon
We’re giving you a chance to win a pair of headphones from Higoing and AndroidGuys. In fact, we’re helping to give out two pairs, one of each model. We’ll give away brown version of the on-ear and a black set of the in-ear units.
To enter simply leave a comment between now and 11:59PM PST Friday, July 22. Make sure that you do use a working email address for your account/comment so we can reach you there. It doesn’t get much easier! Unfortunately, we do have to limit the entries to those of you living in the United States.
You can learn more about HiGoing on Facebook and Twitter.