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Posts tagged ‘App’

24
Aug

Dyson’s latest smart fan heats, cools and purifies the air


Dyson has expanded its lineup with The Pure Hot+Cool Link, a very expensive WiFi enabled fan that combines all the features of the Dyson Pure Hot+ Cool fan and Pure Cool Link. It can thermostatically cool, heat and purify the air, and connect with your home network. You can then control everything using the smartphone app introduced with the Pure Cool Link model.

The device sucks air in through the bottom and can either heat it with an element or cool you down using the so-called air multiplier technology. On the way, a HEPA glass filter scrubs 99.95 percent of harmful particles, including formaldehyde, dust, dead skin and pollen.

A built-in thermostat keeps the air temperature constant, Dyson says, though it’s not an air conditioner, so don’t expect it to save you on a super-hot day. The included app lets you tweak settings like fan speed and temperature, or set up a timer that it shuts off at night. It can also monitor air quality, and let you specify how often you want it to scrub the air. The app will notify you when it’s time to change the filter.

The Dyson Pure Hot+Cool Link fan will be available in the UK on September 5th for £500 and the US on September 6th for a (cool) $600. That’s $100 more than the Pure Cool Link model, but if you’re spending $600 on a fancy fan, that probably won’t phase you.

24
Aug

CLARO changes your Android wallpapers for you (review)


Have you ever looked at your home screen picture and thought….that has been the same forever? It has become easy than ever to change just about anything you want in android. Changing your wallpaper while not difficult just plain gets forgotten. The fix, automatic wallpaper changers! They take pictures from the internet or your gallery and display them on you home screen changing automatically at specific intervals that you set.

I have been using IF THIS THEN THAT to change my wallpaper to the newest Reddit post in the comicwalls subreddit for a while now. This can get kind of tricky since I am not the one putting the data in the subreddit; I have to watch what it’s getting changed to and have often had to change it manually because of an inappropriate post or just something that I didn’t like.

A new app that has come out that makes this less tricky and lets me be in control of the images on my background is CLARO. Lets go through some of the options we get, as well as a gallery of pictures from the into in the app.

With CLARO I pick the content from the gallery on my phone and tell the app:

  • What color to make the pictures, Original, Greyscale,Sepia or random
  • What days I would like these particular pictures to display
  • How often I would like the pictures to change
  • When to start the schedule and when to stop it

Adding Folders

Adding Folders

Add the Images you want

Add the Images you want

Pick how the pic shohuld look

Pick how the pic shohuld look

Pick a time range

Pick a time range

Pick the days of the week it should run

Pick the days of the week it should run

There are also action settings that include:

  • Showing the wallpaper picker so I can pick manually
  • Showing a Notification in the shade when it changes
  • Playing a sound when it changes
  • Vibrating when it changes
  • Waking up the phone when it changes
  • Make several different folders with different pictures in them on different schedules
  • Blurring the image
  • Pick what order to switch the wallpaper, either in a specific sequence or randomly.

The app employs Google’s Material Design principles, which I love, so it gets brownie points in the category. I have been using this app for a few days changing the wallpaper every three minutes and it does not seem to have much effect on the battery and it is also nice to see something different from my gallery every time I look at my home screen.

There are some ads the pop up when you are setting things up, but they are not terrible; users do not spend much time setting things up most and do not see them very often. A Heads up, though, as the developer’s first language is not English so some of the menus and wording in other places in the app are not quite what you might expect.

The developer claims this app is different because the service in CLARO only runs when it is scheduled to change the wallpaper whereas other “live” wallpaper apps run the service all the time draining the battery and using CPU. According to the developer, this has a benefit over using services like Muzei Live Wallpaper and its various tie-ins. I am not sure how to verify this without digging deep into the Android system but what I can say is I have not noticed any CPU, memory, or battery performance slow downs since installing this app.

Thus far, CLARO seems to be a solid alternative for me and allows me to be in control of the wallpaper will still having it change automatically.

  • Developer:Yogesh Dama
  • Price: Free with $0.99 in-app purchase to remove ads
  • Link: CLARO RANDOM WALLPAPER
23
Aug

Facebook tests auto-playing News Feed videos with sound


It’s no secret that Mark Zuckerberg wants Facebook to become a more video-centric social network, and the company has been conducting various tests to see how its users would react to new features. One of its latest mobile app experiments is auto-playing videos on the News Feed… with sound.

According to Mashable, some affected users see an icon on videos that you can tap to toggle sounds or or off. That sounds manageable, and we can imagine people liking the feature. However, other testers are reporting that sounds automatically start up when videos play on their News Feed, so long as their devices aren’t on silent mode. That one sounds like a huge PITA. It appears that the test is only live for a small percentage of people on mobile in Australia, however, and it doesn’t seem like it will be expanding elsewhere just yet.

You’re probably well-acquainted with how videos work on the News Feed by now. They automatically (and silently) play while they’re visible on your screen, but they stop as soon as you scroll past them. The system’s pretty convenient for watching videos on the go, especially if you usually can’t be bothered to dig up your earphones. It will be tough browsing your friends’ posts in public places if sounds autoplay, as well.

If you’re Down Under and among the small number of users affected, you don’t have to deal with it if you don’t want to. You can always switch sounds off in Settings or mute your phone completely.

Here’s the statement we got from Facebook:

“We’re running a small test in News Feed where people can choose whether they want to watch videos with sound on from the start. For people in this test who do not want sound to play, they can switch it off in Settings or directly on the video itself. This is one of several tests we’re running as we work to improve the video experience for people on Facebook.”

Source: Mashable

23
Aug

Tronsmart’s latest power bank is perfect for the Galaxy Note 7 and Nexus 6P


As you have witnessed, the mobile industry is slowly transitioning from microUSB to USB Type C. One of the first major smartphones to move to USB Type C was the Android enthusiast’s favorite, Google’s Nexus 6P. Since that phone was released there have been many other devices that followed suit including the LG G5, HTC 10, Moto Z and most recently, the almighty Samsung Galaxy Note 7.

I find this transition to be a pain in the rear. Almost all of my mobile accessories have microUSB plugs, only my Macbook, Pixel C and variety of smartphones have USB Type C. That means I need to pick up compatible Type C cables, chargers (car, office and home), as well as portable batteries to replace the old standard. Mix in the USB switch with the variety of Fast Charging, Quick Charging, and every other rapid charging method, and even someone like me who has access to all of this information is frustrated with the lack of uniformity.

While I wish I could wave a magic wand and unify the charging standards, as well as plug standards (even with Apple), the reality is the confusion is here to stay.

If you own one of these USB Type C smartphones, there is a good chance you need external power. There are a whole host of batteries to choose from, but not all are created equal. I’ve been using Tronsmart’s Presto 12000mAh battery with my Nexus 6P and Galaxy Note 7 for the past few weeks and can tell you that this is the Type C battery to get.

DSC03157_1

Build & Usage

The Tronsmart Presto battery follows the Tronsmart design with a plastic body that is durable and extremely well built. If you own a Tronsmart charger then you will be familiar with the design. The Presto is a candy bar shaped battery that is easy to hold in one hand, and it has a regular USB out with an in/out USB Type C slot as well. There’s nothing fancy or gimmicky about the build, and this battery is as reliable as it gets.

DSC03334

12000mAh is enough power to recharge my Note 7 and Nexus 6P three to four times each. Note and Nexus users are typically power users, so even though Android has improved battery management with things like Doze, we still push our phones hard enough to need a recharge on long days away from power outlets. There are hundreds of portable power banks with different power output ratings, and if you’re trying to charge your Note 7 or Nexus 6P with a 1W output port or even 2W, you simply will not be charging your devices at optimal speeds. Tronsmart’s Presto is fully compatible with all versions of Qualcomm’s Quick Charge as well as the Nexus 6P’s Fast Charging standard.

In my tests, it only takes about half an hour to get my Nexus 6P from 3-50%. My Note 7 is even faster.

Note 7Note 7

What is nice about USB Type is the fully reversible cable. Not only do I not have to look at my phone’s charging port when I plug in a USB Type C cable, but I can also recharge the Presto with the In AND Out USB Type C port on the front of the battery pack.

I’ve been using the Presto for just over a month and haven’t noticed any issues with the battery. It does get a little warm when charging my Note 7 at full speed, but that’s an issue across most portable power banks.

LG G5LG G5

Summary

Switching to USB Type C from microUSB is without question a pain in the rear. The change is happening and there is nothing you can do to stop it. If you own a smartphone with USB Type C now is the time to switch over your power bank to Tronsmart’s Presto. It costs about $40 at Amazon, and is a high quality accessory from a trusted brand that is certified by Qualcomm to work with your devices. The major downside is this battery is so good that Amazon can barely keep it in stock.

Samsung Note 7 owners, as well as Nexus 6P, LG G5, HTC 10 owners should strongly consider picking up the Tronsmart Presto as it will be the most efficient way to charge your smartphone when you’re away from a wall outlet.

Get the Tronsmart Presto 12000mAh portable power bank at Amazon.

23
Aug

EyeCons is a speed-matching game that offers some fun! (review)


There are approximately 1 billion tile matching games in the Google Play Store. EyeCons is a a new 2-tile matching game that offers some unique twists as well as look & feel. It’s a great selection for all ages, as there is almost no text to get through. The game is actually a take on a board game of the same names from Hersch games, for you trivial buffs.

Screenshot_2016-08-14-21-49-54Setup

Easy enough; download for free from the Play Store. Once on your device, go ahead an open it…there is a screen to register via either your Facebook login or an email/password combo, but can also skip this step if you don’t want the social aspect to the game.
Once in you select single player and level 1 to get rocking. On this setup screen, though you can also see your profile (provided you’ve registered & logged in), adjust settings (sound & in-app purchases), shop for said in-app purchases, as well as a help/tutorial screen.

Gameplay

Eyecons is a pretty simple game to get rolling on. You are Screenshot_2016-08-14-21-51-40provided a screen full of stacked tiles, each with a unique icon-type of picture on them. The goal is equally simple: match any two like tiles by tapping on them. This makes them disappear and reveal the tiles below it (think Mahjong). Speed is key here; each level has a countdown timer, and your goal is to beat the timer to advance. But the game wouldn’t be complete without a set of power-ups and other available accelerators.

Examples are:

  • Hammer: Elimates a tile and its buried match with a single tap.
  • Shuffle: Rearranges the tiles to give you a fresh view.
  • Hint: Gives you a visual highlight of an available pair to clear.
  • Bombs & Super Bombs: Clears 2 or 3 pairs of tiles (respectively) .
  • Clock: Adds 5 more seconds to your countdown timer.

Screenshot_2016-08-15-13-04-17You accumulate these power-ups through good gameplay. You can also purchase these in the setup screen using coins either earned or bought using in-app purchases. The effectiveness of these power-ups was rather muted though; I found the effort to abort your focus on the tiles to hit a power-up almost wasn’t worth it…..I would prefer the power-ups to be more rare but also more powerful.
There is also a sort-of “turbo bar” that appears when you’ve matched a certain number of tile pairs. This bar allows you to earn multi-fold in coins with every subsequent tile match during its existence, but it depletes quickly so you need to max out your speed while this is up.

Screenshot_2016-08-10-17-23-22Graphics and Sound

This area is a real highlight of the game, for two reasons:

The dark overall theme is pretty nice on the eyes, allowing for longer focus on the screen before your eyes tire out. A simple but very effective choice for the player.
Both the the sound and the colors are punchy but not all-out garish, like in so many tile match games out there. In too many other titles the “bubble-gum bonanza” effect makes me want to put the game down within seconds, not to mention all the zany background music and sound effects flying out of my devices constantly.

EyeCons really dials this back; the music is constant but not at all intrusive (and completely mutable in the setup menu)…..and the sound effects upon tapping and clearing titles is a set of very simple ‘clicks’ and ‘boops’. In fact it almost sounds fickle to say that some sounds may be a little too subtle, as when you tap on non-matching tiles, nothing much happens…..I found myself re-tapping a couple of times occasionally only to finds that I was a little off on my matching.Screenshot_2016-08-10-17-24-19

Overall

EyeCons is a pretty fun game to play: easy to pick up and learn, very re-playable, and not annoyingly loud or obnoxious in any way. I highly recommend this title for your Android!

Download EyeCons from the Play Store for free here.

23
Aug

Google Duo: Finally, a FaceTime for the rest of us


Overview

Duo is a simple, yet very well done video calling app from Google that aims to be the FaceTime for Android users.

Developer: Google

Cost: Free

Impressions

Long has the Apple community had access to a intuitive, simple and functional video calling service called FaceTime, and as long as Apple has had it, the Android faithful have been waiting for Google to offer up their own version for us to enjoy. Enter Duo, a simple video calling app that is super easy to use and works great on both iOS and Android.

You may be asking “what about good old Hangouts? Doesn’t it already do that stuff?” Well Duo, unlike Hangouts, is tied to your phone number and only offers two-way video calling. It has no group chat, messaging or cross-platform support for your PC and other devices. Duo is simply a video calling service and even though it only does one thing, it does it very well. Google made Duo with a minimalist interface, and some neat little features that help to set it apart from Hangouts and make it the go-to video calling app for Android users.

1 of 3


The most notable feature of Duo is Knock Knock, which allows whoever you call to see a preview of the person calling them. Its a neat little addition that adds a little something to the experience. It also makes filtering potentially undesirable calls based on what the other side of the call looks like. Knock Knock is only allowed from people in your contacts list, and you can easily turn it off if it’s not something you’re into. The other great feature Duo offers in end-to-end encryption, so all of your conversations are protected.

Video call quality and audio quality are excellent, with clear sound and smooth high definition calls. I initially had a few calls freeze or drop on the first day using Duo, but since then the calls have been consistant in performance and quality, I couldn’t be more satisfied. I’ve used it from Android to Android, and Android to iOS and both worked as expected with no issues due to compatibility. The only thing that iOS can’t do is show Knock Knock when the app is closed, otherwise you’ll just get an incoming call notification.

If there was any negative thing I could say about Duo, it would probably be the lack of any additional features. It only does the one thing, and it does do it well, but maybe an option of “video voicemail” or a group chat option would have been interesting to have at launch. The good thing is that there is always the possibility of new features with future updates so here’s hoping Google sticks by this one.

Conclusion

Duo is a excellent option for frequent video callers, and a worthy competitor to FaceTime that anyone can use. The app is simple, intuitive and functional and call quality is solid. EVen though Duo is fairly light on additional features, Google has done an excellent job of bringing video calling to the masses with Duo and you should definitely check this one out.

Download Duo from the Google Play Store

21
Aug

Facebook’s Lifestage is a video-centric social app for teens


Facebook isn’t done launching products designed to capture the Snapchat generation. Its latest attempt after Instagram Stories and live filters? A new standalone, video-centric social app for high school students called Lifestage. To be able to complete your profile, you’d have to take videos and selfies of your likes, dislikes and facial expressions. It will ask you take videos of your BFFs, to bust out dances moves on cam, take photos of your desserts, so on and so forth. When we say that it’s for high school students, we mean you won’t even be able to see other people’s profiles if you’re older than 22. That’s assuming you won’t creepily pretend to be younger than you are.

See, it only shows you profiles of other kids going to your school and other ones nearby, similar to how Facebook was in the beginning. Further, the app will only unlock profiles from your school if over 20 students sign up. While we’ll have to wait and see if the new social network catches on, Lifestage was created by someone who truly knows its audience: 19-year-old Facebook employee Michael Sayman, who’s been with Facebook since he got out of high school. He’s been making apps since he was 13 years old, and Mark Zuckerberg personally invited him to join his team.

Sayman says his app “looks back at the days of Facebook from 2004 and explores what can be done if we went back and turned the crank all the way forward to 2016 with video-first.” That certainly aligns with Zuckerberg’s plan to transition his website into a more video-centric network. There’s no word yet on when it’ll come out for Android devices, but iPhone- and iPad-using high schoolers can now download it from iTunes.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Michael Sayman (Facebook)

20
Aug

LimeLens: 2 Wide Angle Lenses For Your Android


The Low Down

  • What it is: 2 Wide angle lenses
  • Price: $49.99
  • Where to buy: Directly From Lime Lens

 The Get Down

For most of us, our phone is always with us, always within arm’s reach. We use it for everything from surfing the web, checking our email, looking at our bank accounts and even phone calls. It is also the easiest to get to and sometimes the best camera we have around too.

I have longed for a camera on my phone that could replace a standard bulky digital camera. And the Galaxy S7 Edge is as close to that as I have found. It takes beautiful photos in the right light and pretty good ones in low light too. But what it lacks is a wide angle shot that can catch those big family photos or wide open spaces in nature.

The pictures below were taken standing in the same position at the same height.

Taken with no Lens attached

Taken with no Lens attached

Taken with The Thinker

Taken with The Thinker

Taken with The Captain

Taken with The Captain

Enter Lime Lens. Maybe. The set includes both The Thinker – Dual Macro / Wide Lens and The Captain – Supreme Fisheye Lens. Both lenses dramatically change the standard photos you get with the built-in camera.

Let’s start at the beginning. After opening the package I found that the lenses were packed quite well. It seems professional and everything is protected well in the case. You will get both lenses, 3 “clips” (these are how you mount the lens to your phone) cleaning cloth, #LimeLife stickers, and an instruction manual, plus the faux leather zipper case is all comes in.

Lime Lens Case opened

Lime Lens Case opened

Lime Lens Case Half opened

Lime Lens Case Half opened

The first thing we have to do is determine which clip goes to our phone. There is a great guide in the manual so we won’t go into that here. Once you have the clip installed it’s time to put those lenses on and start shooting.

The Down Low

The lenses are small, as you would expect since they are for your phone. But I found it hard not to touch the glass parts of them and had fingerprints I had to wipe away. Luckily Lime Lens supplied the cleaning cloths.

There is a ridge in the clip and a piece that goes into that on half of each lens, so you put the lens in the clip and twist it half way around to lock it into place. I found this to be tricky and actually dropped the lenses a couple of times when I thought they were secure. It did not break and seemed to take each fall well.

Now let talk about that clip. This is my least favorite part of Lime Lens. The clip is a piece of plastic that sticks to your phone. Once removed from your phone it cannot be used again. It will not work if you have a case on your phone since the lens has to be right on top of the lens on the phone’s camera. There is a list of cases that will work with Lime Lens but most are not very perspective.

Center View

Center View

From the Top

From the Top

At the Bottom

At the Bottom

For a product that is not used all the time I am frustrated that I have to have a part of it stuck to my phone all the time, and it stops me from putting the case back on my phone since I can’t take it off when not in use. There are a few other products on the market (none of which I have used so I don’t know if the lenses work as well as the Lime Lens) that have solved this problem by actually being a clip that can be removed when the lens is not in use.

They definitely don’t look as good as Lime Lens when you are actually using the lenses, but for me I would prefer my phone to look funny when I need to use the lens and then take it off when it’s not in use, than to have a piece of plastic stuck to the back of my phone all the time.

The lenses themselves work well and really add something useful to your phone’s camera. You can see in the pictures above how much more you can get in the shot with the Wide angle lens.

So if you don’t use a case or are willing to buy a new one that works with the lime lens clip, and you need to take wide angle shots with your phone this might be the product for you.

19
Aug

Moto G4 Plus review: Moto has to bring its A-game


Motorola has been redefining what a budget phone is capable of for the past few years. The Moto X line provided affordable flagships with great features while the beloved Moto G and E lines set examples for just how well budget phones could perform given proper software.

Although Moto has diverged from its usual affordable flagships with the $600+ Moto Z line, this year’s Moto G4 and G4 Plus are still extremely affordable and come with good features. But the smartphone market has been trending towards power yet affordable flagships for a couple of years. Does the G4 Plus offer enough to make it stand out from the crowd?

Things I Liked

Software

Screenshot_20160818-161857For the last few years, Motorola has been leading the way in terms of Android skins for its phones. It does this by basically not adding a skin at all. I would wager that most would think this phone ran stock Android at first glance.

The G4 Plus’ version of Marshmallow is almost untouched aside from a few software additions and Moto apps. I love the look and feel of stock Android and usually protest to any changes made to the software by phone manufacturers. However, Moto continually impresses me with the usefulness of its added features.

Screenshot_20160818-161903Moto display is still one of my favorite OEM additions since its inception on the original Moto X. The ability to quickly view and interact with notifications using Moto Display is something you don’t realize you want until you have it.

Another addition that Moto has spoiled me with are Moto Actions. With this feature, you can control a few aspects of your phone with nothing but movement. The most famous of these are the double twist with your phone to open the camera and the double chop to activate the flashlight. While they take a few moments to master, the convenience they offer is worth it.

I still believe that Moto provides the best Android software experience aside from pure stock Android.

Performance

The G4 Plus comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor and Adreno 405 GPU; however, the amount of RAM is dependent on your version. There are 16, 32, and 64GB variants of the G4 Plus that each come with 2, 3, and 4GB of RAM, respectively (the 32GB/3GB version is not available in the US). I have the 64GB model with 4GB of RAM.

In my couple of weeks using this phone, performance has blown me away. I believe this is definitely due in part to the mostly stock Android software running on the G4 Plus. This phone flies through daily tasks like social media and web browsing, checking emails, texting, and playing light games.

It may struggle on games that are more graphically intensive and demanding, but for the majority of mobile gamers, the G4 Plus will be more than enough. I never experienced any stutters or lag while using this phone during my normal daily activities, which is a continuation of Moto’s commitment to making budget phones that still provide quality user experiences.

Battery life

Screenshot_20160720-022148

Powering the G4 Plus is a non-removable, 3000mAh battery. Combine this with power friendly hardware and software, and that’s a phone that, in theory, should have good battery life. In actual use, I found that the G4 Plus has incredible battery life!

Moto G4 Plus screen on timeI use my phone heavily and can easily drain most phones’ batteries before the end of the day. With the G4 Plus, I found myself often ending the day with over 10% battery left. I never got less than 5 hours of screen time every day with most days climbing close to or passing 6 hours of screen time.

My normal day includes texting friends and family most of the day, streaming YouTube and Spotify over WiFi and LTE for about 2 hours or more together, sending some pictures through Snapchat, and having four email accounts pulling down continuously. If you are a power user, I believe most will be able to get a full day of use from the G4 Plus and lighter users could stretch that to two days or more.

Fingerprint scanner

Moto G4 Plus fingerprint scanner (FILEminimizer)

One of the advantages of getting the G4 Plus over the basic G4 is the inclusion of a fingerprint scanner. With a base price of $250, I was not expecting much from this phone’s fingerprint scanner, but I have been pleasantly surprised by it.

While its speed will not rival the newest offerings from Samsung and Apple, it proved faster than a friend’s iPhone 6 and should be fast enough for most anyone. You also do not have to power on the display to unlock your phone; simply touching your finger to the scanner will both turn on the display and unlock the phone.

In terms of accuracy, I have had almost no misses with any of the four fingers I added to the phone. The fingerprint scanner is a welcomed addition to the G4 Plus, and its speed and accuracy make it worth the price difference over the regular G4.

Build

Moto G4 Plus back (FILEminimizer)

From pictures and videos, the G4 Plus does not appear to be anything incredible physically, and honestly, it isn’t. However, I do not think that is a bad thing. While the phone is no fully metal behemoth, the metal band on the side and slightly textured plastic back make the G4 Plus a comfortable phone to hold while also keeping weight down.

I was pleased to see Moto go with a textured plastic back instead of something glossy because it adds a grippiness to it that gives you a better hold. I was never worried about this phone sliding out of my hand or my pocket. The design itself is pretty understated with no logos or writing aside from the Moto logo on the back. The back is also removable to give you access to the SIM card slot and the MicroSD card slot.

Moto G4 Plus SIM and MicroSD (FILEminimizer)

There won’t be any awards given to the G4 Plus in terms of style or uniqueness, but its solid build and smart materials make it easy to hold, which is most important.

The following  are a couple of the smaller things that I liked about the Moto G4 Plus. While they are not big enough to warrant entire paragraphs, I believe they deserve to be mentioned nonetheless.

  • I love front-facing speakers and always commend companies for adding them to their phones. Moto deserves some credit for using a front-facing speaker on the G4 Plus. If you are looking for a full report on the speaker, keep on reading.
  • This is a completely personal opinion, but I love the dimple on the back of many Moto phones. It creates a nice place for my finger to rest and just feels nice when you hold the phone. Sometimes it is the small things that really stand out.

Things I Didn’t Like

Display

Moto G4 Plus screen (FILEminimizer)The display on the G4 Plus is a nice size at 5.5” and comes with a respectable 1080p resolution. This resolution definitely helps the G4 Plus accomplish its impressive screen on times. Also, the IPS panel gets exceptionally bright for those who struggle viewing their phones in the sunlight.

Unfortunately, this is where the good features of the display end. The color reproduction on the G4 Plus’ display is completely horrible. Colors appear washed out and much lighter than they should be. This is especially noticeable when using the camera. For many people, I do not believe this will be important or even noticeable; however, there are some who appreciate a quality screen on their phone. If that is you, the G4 Plus probably isn’t your phone.

Camera

Moto G4 Plus camera (FILEminimizer)

This category was difficult to place because the camera is fairly average for a phone in this price range. The G4 comes with a 16-megapixel f/2.0 camera on back with a 5-megapixel front camera.

In well lit, outdoor shots, the rear camera actually performs well. Details are fairly crisp, color reproduction is okay, and focusing is quick thanks to phase detection autofocus. However, I found that the camera tends to struggle in photos with uneven lighting by blowing out highlights and losing detail in shadows.

Moto G4 Plus
Thankfully, the G4 Plus comes with a good HDR mode that helps level out these types of shots; although, it is not as fast as I would like and requires the phone to be held steady for a few seconds, which might not be possible in some situations. As for low light, the camera struggles noticeably. I do not use my camera much in low light anyway, but the test shots I took showed lots of noise, poor detail, and an overall dull image.

My biggest complaint is actually not the camera’s fault but, rather, the screen’s. Due to the poor color reproduction of the screen, photos often look washed out, but when viewing them on another device, the photos look much better than they did on the G4 Plus. This made it difficult to tell how the photos would actually turn out.

As for the front camera, it continues on the path of average. Good enough for the majority of users, but it will not be blowing you away in terms of quality.

Speaker

Earlier, I commended Moto’s use of a front facing speaker, and some of you might be wondering why speaker is singular. Well, that is because there is only one speaker on the G4 Plus. The earpiece doubles as a speaker, which means no dual speakers on this phone. I like the inclusion of dual speakers, and I was disappointed to see Moto opt for a single one.

Of course, it would probably be okay if the speaker had good quality, but my findings on the sound from the speaker are a strong “meh”. I never expect much from phone speakers since they are rarely good, but the G4 Plus’ speaker is disappointing.

If you mostly use your speakers for watching YouTube videos, listening to podcasts, and talking on speakerphone, the G4 Plus can handle that. But do not expect to play music with any sort of style from this phone. I would recommend using headphones or an external speaker for anything like that.

Just like above, I also found a few small things that I did not like about the Moto G4 Plus that just aren’t big enough to go in their own category.

  • While I loved the fingerprint scanner, I prefer fingerprint scanners on the back of phones because I like the front of my phone to be minimal and clean. I also think the dimple in the back would have been a perfect place.
  • To my dismay, the G4 Plus lacks NFC. For many of you, that might not be a factor at all, but for me, it was disappointing to see it left off. I use NFC often when checking out at stores as well as connecting to several of my speakers. If you don’t use NFC, you can pretty much ignore this complaint.
  • As I said earlier, little things are often what sets a phone apart from its competitors. Most people may not pay attention to their phone’s buttons, but I always love when companies make their buttons tactile and clicky. In the case of the G4 Plus, the buttons are mushy, which makes pressing them difficult.

After a few weeks with the G4 Plus, I have to say that I am pleased with Moto’s fourth iteration of its famous budget phone. Performance, software, battery life, and the fingerprint scanner are all wonderful and make this phone a joy to use. The lackluster display, disappointing speaker, and average camera keep it from being a perfect budget phone.

So the question remains: Did Moto bring its A-game with the G4 Plus? With a heavy heart, I have to say no. I think the company could have done better with the G4 Plus, which is evident when you look at my list of dislikes. That being said, I would not have much hesitation in recommending the G4 Plus to anyone looking for a quality budget smartphone.

If you are willing to overlook its faults, the G4 Plus is a phone I can see being used for multiple years. You can get a G4 Plus starting at $250 from the Motorola website, Amazon, and B&H Photo!

19
Aug

Mevolife is a well-meaning but flawed fitness app (review)


Overview

With a lot of press on fitness & healthy lifestyles in current society, the Google Play store is rife with personal options to track and trend your personal health goals. A newer option that come to this market recently is Mevolife from the developer Mevolife Inc. Mevolife (or “Mevo”, as I’ll call it going forward) is an attempt to be your all-in-one fitness diary, planner, and virtual coach. As you’ll see, Mevo does an admirable job at this task, but it is not without it’s flaws throughout.

Screenshot_2016-08-01-19-33-16

Setup

The app is free to download from the Google Play Store. The app is free to start, though there is a bit a push from the app to purchase ‘points’ that allow you a deeper experience (more on that later). You do need to sign on with an email and adding a password to go forward, though.

Exploring the app, you will find all sorts of paths to take and available information:

 

Dashboard: Your personal report on how you’re doing.

Food: Your portal to your food diary, recipes, meal plans, and restaurant options.

Workouts: A comprehensive listing of workout plans, individual workouts, and exercises (including how-to’s and animations of each move).

Social: The app’s attempt to connect you to other app users to find comeraderie and motivation to keep improving.

Screenshot_2016-08-01-19-35-56Screenshot_2016-08-02-11-27-47Screenshot_2016-08-01-19-32-13

 

 

 

 

 

 

The interface is a clean, modern look, with large text and selection windows. The colors are crisp and bright, with an organic orange permeating throughout to keep it consistent.

I did state that the app is free, but to get a deeper experience out of it, there are paid ‘credits’ available that allow you to have more detailed access to meal & workout plans, recipes, and ad-free experience, and so forth.

Experience

Using the app was both easy and difficult for me. I say this because the app can be both light- and heavy-handed, so to speak.

Let’s start where I found the app to be too light. One area is in Screenshot_2016-08-01-19-31-24the meal diary, where you can enter what you eat throughout the day, and the app will calculate all the nutrient values based on it’s food library. The problem is in the library; from the start I found searching for foods that I eat to be commonly missing from the library, and the app would instead try to implant it’s substitute. I frequently got frustrated with attempting to accurately fill out my food diary, and often just gave up.
Also on the food side of things, sticking with the free version of the app seems very limited overall in the comprehensiveness of its use; paying for credits would likely improve the experience, but I simply wasn’t willing to go there.

Screenshot_2016-08-02-11-26-46 - EditedOn the heavy-handed side, the app can put a lot of notifications onto your device, including a running pedometer as well as reminders throughout the day. I often checked my phone, only to find three, four, and more Mevo reminders clogging up my screen.
The biggest problem with this is that there is no discernable way in the app to edit/modify/disable notifications. This goes for the the pedometer; if you have the app installed this is omnipresent in your notification panel. Add to it that its icon looks a lot like a Facebook notification, it causes a lot of false phone checks, and quickly grows aggravating.

The pedometer itself is only as accurate as your phone and how you carry it. I often walked ‘hundreds of steps’ and burned ‘hundreds of calories’, just by sitting on my patio typing on my computer. In other words, I came to not trust it very early in my testing.
Also, inputting exercises can be labor intensive. This Screenshot_2016-08-01-19-44-39may be more from the fact that I don’t normally track my exercises, but having to add reps and sets for every single exercise got old very fast. Not only is it required to input all reps, but this must be done using a repeating interface (photo left) that you must fill out, close then repeat for every set of every workout. My patience ran thin after completing my first workout recording.
Most exercises are available, but like the food diary portion of the app, there are certain moves I do that just aren’t available in the app, leaving me with a definitive hole in my workout story.

 Conclusion

I really wanted to like Mevolife. The clean interface and photo-centric design invites you to come explore and give the app a whirl.
Screenshot_2016-08-01-19-31-20But as I dove deeper, the app’s flaws became apparent. From forcing me to look for foods that apparently aren’t there, to manually inputting every workout’s rep & set through multiple, repeating screens, to a wonky pedometer & notification system that can’t be tweaked, there’s simply too many holes to make it a trustworthy training partner.

This type of app can admittedly be a very difficult thing to get right for the masses, as you have to be 100% complete in order to satisfy different types of users. Pick 50 people, and you’ll get 50 different food and exercise routines; this makes for a very small target to hit where everybody is happy. I do hope the app continues to improve and fill out; time will tell.

Download Mevolife here.

 

 

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