Notifications are the bread and butter of our Android experience. Something happens, we get a notification. It could be as urgent as a new email from our boss telling us that we missed a comma in a post (stuff like that has been known to happen when your boss is Artem) or as ordinary as a new Twitter mention or a shipping status change on an order or a new episode available of your favorite series. The difference between how you act on these notifications is huge. You can instantly tap to check a notification or, if you're on Android N, directly reply to it, you can dismiss it without a second look because it's not something you care about all that much, or you can leave it hanging in your notification shade as a reminder to check later. Read More
The UE ROLL was one of the most interesting new Bluetooth speakers launched last year. With a waterproof (IPX7), disc-shaped body, and an attached bungee cord, the ROLL was marketed as a perfect companion for any adventure, rain or shine. Cam was a big fan of the device and had almost no complaints in his review.
Ultimate Ears is back at it again this year with an update to the original ROLL. It's called the UE ROLL 2 ($99), and as you might expect, it's even better. Read More
Introduced with the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, Live Photos was a new iOS feature that created a more dynamic photo experience. Instead of being limited to the single shot that users see when they press the shutter button, the camera would capture several shots around that moment, allowing you to move a few seconds or milliseconds and choose a better timed picture. Another benefit was the creation of a small stop-motion or gif-like animation of the different photos, to capture the breadth of the moment instead of fixing one frame in time.
I liked the Live Photos idea and was certain that some enterprising Android developers would soon bring it to their third-party camera app. Read More
Triller. That's a silly sounding name and a really dumb idea for an app.
Those were my first thoughts when I saw this app pop up on the Android Police to-do list. Triller is the kind of app I assumed would appeal only to narcissistic, college-attending, plaid-wearing, hipsters born after the year 1995. The fact that it launched as an iOS exclusive back in July, and this promo video didn't help that perception. It turns out I was wrong, but I'll get to that in a minute.
The concept of the app is pretty simple. First, pick one of the songs featured by the app, or one from your own music library. Read More
Around the Android corners, joaomgcd is known for his automation tools, most of which rely on heavy Tasker integration and require a level of tinkering that most of us lazy people can't bother with. So when Joao released his new app Join and the featureset seemed to closely mirror Pushbullet's upon close inspection, I was intrigued. Not just because of Pushbullet's latest switch to Pro plans, but because the main selling point of the service was its simplicity. That has not been Joao's strong suit — at least through a newbie's eyes, his apps always seemed a little too overwhelming.
So could Join break the mould and stand out as a capable and simple alternative to Pushbullet? Read More
Google Play Music. Spotify. Rdio. Tidal. There is no shortage of music streaming services that not only provide an extensive music selection, but also have good if not great Android applications so you can benefit from their catalogue everywhere you go.
The problem with most of these services is their availability. If you live in the USA, you can have your pick among any of them and there's little argument over the value of a $10 combined Google Play Music Unlimited and YouTube Red / Youtube Music subscription. But stray farther and things become less clear. American (Northern, Central, and Southern), European, and Southeast Asian countries are usually among the first supported by many services, but African, Middle Eastern, and plenty of other Asian nations often have limited options and even fewer good ones. Read More
Coming across a genuinely new launcher interface and paradigm on Android is rare. Most third-party clients try to emulate the default Android launcher and add some customizations and improvements here and there. Not to undermine the power of something like Nova Launcher, but there's only so many times you can swipe left and right between homescreens or tap to open and close an app drawer before you wonder what that new launcher you installed does differently. If you seek the novelty of a new welcoming interface each time you unlock your phone, choices are somewhat more limited especially if you want a reliable and simple app, not one that has been built for the sake of difference more than usability. Read More
Every once in a while, we get a sneak peek into the new technology that companies are creating that will ultimately make something better, faster, or [adjective here]. Swiftkey recently launched the latest project from Swiftkey Greenhouse: Swiftkey Neural Alpha. This is the first keyboard on a smartphone that uses artificial neural networks to fix mistakes and predict words. Swiftkey currently utilizes n-gram technology to do this by looking for patterns and common phrases.
Neural Network Clusters
While n-gram technology does use context to create predictions, this new neural network-based engine goes one step further toward truly understanding what you mean. Swiftkey's blog post has a full rundown of how the technology works, and there are many videos explaining neural networks and machine learning. Read More
People who take online privacy seriously eventually get to the point where they want to experiment with a VPN. Usually this costs money, which puts some people off particularly because the process involves handing over an email address and credit card information. This means that even if you're better protected from prying eyes than you would be if you were VPN-less, the company that supplies the service may still be able to connect the dots.
That's what makes Betternet interesting. Unlike most other options, this service is entirely free to use. That has implications both for your privacy (though you still have to watch out for DNS leaks) and your wallet. Read More