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The first thing to understand about media sharing app RapChat is that co-founder Seth Miller is not a rapper and his other co-founder, Pat Gibson, is. Together they created RapChat, a service for making and sharing raps, and the conjunction of rapper and nerd seems to be really taking off.
Since we last looked at the app in 2016 (you can see Tito’s review below), a lot has changed. The team has raised $1.6 million in funding from investors out of Oakland and the midwest. Their app, which is sort of a musical.ly for rap, is a top 50 music app on iOS and Android and hit 100 million listens since launch. In short, their little social network/sharing platform is a “millionaire in the making, boss of [its] team, bringin home the bacon.”
The pair’s rap bonafides are genuine. Gibson has opened or performed with with Big Sean, Wiz Khalifa, and Machine Gun Kelly and he’s sold beats to MTV. “My music has garnered over 20M+ plays across YouTube, SoundCloud and more,” he wrote me, boasting in the semi-churlish manner of a rapper with a “beef.” Miller, on the other hand, likes to freestyle.
“I grew up loving to freestyle with friends at OU and I noticed lots of other millennials did this too (even if most suck lol) … at any party at 3am – there would always be a group of people in the corner freestyling,” he said. “At the same time Snapchat was blowing up on campus and just thought you should be able to do the same exact thing for rap.”
Gibson, on the other hand, saw it as a serious tool to help him with his music.
“I spent a lot of time, energy and resources making music,” he said. “I was producing the beats, writing the songs, recording/mixing the vocals, mastering the project, then distributing & promoting the music all by myself. With Rapchat, there’s a library of 1,000+ beats from top producers, an instant recording studio in your pocket, and the network to distribute your music worldwide and be discovered…. all from a free app. Rapchat is disrupting the creation, collaboration, distribution, & discovery of music via mobile
“We have a much bigger but also more active community than any other music creation app,” said Miller.
While it’s clear the wold needs another sharing platform like it needs a hole in the head, thanks to a rabid fanbase and a great idea the team has ensured that RapChat is not, as they say, wicka-wicka-whack. That, in the end, is all that matters.
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If you regularly sell stuff on eBay the shopping site’s updated mobile app could save you a lot of time and effort. This is thanks to the latest version of the eBay app having the ability to populate a listing for you without you having to lift a finger.
If you’re reading this you have probably listed at least one item on eBay. And if so, you’ll know how time-consuming the process of writing a description, taking photos, and setting a starting price can be. But eBay’s mobile app can now do all of that for you.
eBay Simplifies the Listing Process
With its latest update to the eBay app on Android and on iOS, the shopping site has endeavored to simplify the listing process as much as possible. This, according to eBay, “allows items to be listed on eBay within seconds.” And that isn’t an exaggeration.
Our latest app update just made listing an item on @eBay even simpler. In this #TechIRL video, senior product manager Megan Scurich explains how our listings flow now gives sellers photo, pricing & shipping recommendations in the blink of an eye: https://t.co/gF4g5up3Rw #eBayTech pic.twitter.com/sTc2v5inpw
— eBay Newsroom (@eBayNewsroom) April 20, 2018
All you need to do is scan the barcode of the item you’re looking to sell, select its condition, and then click “List your item”. And that’s it. Your item will be listed with a basic description, photos, and a suitable starting price. All within seconds.
If you no longer have the barcode to scan in, you can simply search for the item you’re looking to sell instead. Either way, eBay will choose a price likely to help it sell. And if you’re not happy with eBay’s judgement you can edit your listing before posting it.
Kelly Vincent, eBay’s VP of Consumer Selling Product & Engineering, said:
“This latest update continues to leverage eBay’s structured data […] to instantaneously populate product details, pricing and shipping information in the listing flow. This is one of many enhancements we’ll be making this year. We’ll continue to leverage structured data and new technology developments to help our sellers ‘get it sold.’”
Saving You Lots of Time and Effort
This automated option is primarily aimed at new sellers who aren’t well-versed in the ways of eBay. Still, it could also appeal to people who want to list lots of different items quickly and who haven’t got time to craft eBay listings from scratch.
For those of you who want to spend a little longer listing items for sale, we have previously listed critical tips to help you sell more on eBay. However, beware these eBay scams, and remember that the world of online shopping extends far beyond eBay.
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If you’re reading something on your computer and want to switch your phone, or need to easily go from your phone to your computer, Apple offers a handy feature called Handoff. But did you know that Android users can do something similar with Chrome? Here’s what to do to set it up.
Log Into Chrome on Your Phone and PC
You’re going to need to make sure you’ve logged into your Google account in Chrome on your phone and on your computer.
Log into Chrome on your desktop:
- Click the user icon in the top right-hand corner of the browser.
- Click Sign in to Chrome.
- When prompted enter your email address and password.
- You’ll see a screen letting you know you’re turning Chrome Sync on. Click OK got it.
Next, log in on your phone:
- Tap the menu (three dots) button.
- Tap Settings.
- You should see the Google account you’ve logged into to set up your Android phone. Tap Continue as [Name].
- You’ll see a screen letting you know you’re turning Chrome Sync on. Click OK Got it.
You can disable syncing by going back to Settings > Sync and toggle the feature off.
You can also be selective about what will be synced: Autofill, Bookmarks, History, Passwords, Open Tabs, Settings, and more. If you want to continue using this feature, don’t disable History or Open Tabs.
Moving Chrome Tabs From PC to Phone
So now that you’re logged in on both devices, you can start reading something on your computer and pick up where you left off on your phone.
- Open Chrome on your phone.
- Tap the menu (three dots) button.
- Tap Recent tabs.
- You’ll see a list of the recent tabs you’ve opened in Chrome, with the last one at the bottom of the list.
Moving Chrome Tabs From Phone to PC
If you’re reading something on your phone, but you’d rather continue on your computer, do the following:
- Open Chrome on your computer.
- Click History > Recently Visited.
- You should see the site you were visiting on your phone listed on your computer.
This feature should work with any computer running Chrome. If you’re not a fan of Chrome, Windows users can also get continuity features with their phone, whether on iOS or Android.
Most productivity gurus recommend having a to-do list to manage your tasks. But after a while, that to-do list can become your worst enemy, as it grows into an out-of-control mess. It might be time to change things up.
I’m a fan of the three-strike system to change productivity techniques or tools periodically. That change forces you to look again at which tasks really matter and should be put on your list. Plus, you never know which app will make you get more things done.
1. Timebound (Android, iOS): The Deadline-First Tasks App
Procrastinators will know that the only thing that really puts you into action is the sight of a looming deadline. So Timebound puts the deadline first, and the task later.
You can’t add a new task to Timebound without a deadline attached to it. Once you do, the tasks are arranged by when the deadline is due. You will see cards for each task, showing how much time you have left to complete it. If you don’t finish it, it’s going to be added to the “Missed” tab.
It’s a nice way to prioritize your task list, especially if you are someone who waits until the last minute to get things done. I’d recommend enabling notifications for the app just so that panic sets in earlier than later.
2. My Progress (Web): Simple To-Do App in a Browser Tab
Not everyone needs a complicated to-do app with deadlines, reminders, sub-folders, and all that jazz. My Progress is a simple to-do list app that resides in your browser. You don’t even need to sign up to use it.
There is nothing more to the app than adding a task, and checking it off when you’re done. When you check it, it gets a strikethrough as well as a different color and moves to the bottom of the list. Want it gone? Press the “X” to clear it. A progress bar tells you how many tasks you finished, while a notification says how many are left. And another bar at the top tells you how much of the day is left to finish your work.
My Progress actually works well even on mobile phones, which was a bit of a surprise. You could turn the site into an app and use it as your to-do list on the phone, devoid of any notifications. But yeah, it won’t sync with your desktop.
3. Tet (Android): 24-Hour To-Do List
One day, one task list. That should be the goal of any productive mind. Tet, an app made for this, believes you shouldn’t carry your tasks forward to the next day. Finish what you have or forget about it.
The app works with your Android system clock to let you add tasks for the current day. At midnight, the entire task list will be cleared and you will have to start fresh. It’s effective in forcing you to act on the tasks before you forget about them.
After all, when the tasks are on your to-do list forever, you can think you’ll get back to them later, and that’s how you end up procrastinating.
The simplicity of Tet makes it perfect to use along with the any of the other excellent to-do apps for Android. Use Tet for your daily chores, while the main to-do app can be all about long-term tasks.
Download: Tet for Android (Free)
4. Check (iOS): Tasks That Disappear After Your Deadline
For iPhone users who want something like Tet, check out Check. It doesn’t adhere to the 24-hour time limit, but it has the same principle of tasks that disappear after a while.
In this app, you get to set the deadline for each item on your to-do list. Once that time lapses, the task disappears. This is more control than Tet, but it’s also a bit of a pain at times. And unlike Tet, the tasks don’t disappear forever. Check keeps those tasks in a folder called Missed Tasks. From here, you can also re-add the tasks to your to-do list.
I have mixed feelings about this. While it’s nice that you can check what you missed, it loses the urgency of Tet to get things done before they’re gone forever. Without panic as a motivator, procrastination isn’t far away again.
Download: Check for iOS (Free)
5. Lanes (Web, Android): A Cool Weekly Planner With Pomodoro
Those who don’t work on a daily schedule wouldn’t have much use for the aforementioned apps. Lanes adds a little more ability to plan ahead, especially for the week to come. And there’s a built-in Pomodoro timer too.
Lanes offers three views: daily list, weekly planner, and calendar. Of these, the Weekly Planner is a fantastic way to chart out what you want to accomplish in the days ahead. As you add tasks, you can even set them to repeat for each day of the week. Tasks can also be labeled to categorize them effectively.
Hover over any task and you will get an option to start it with a Pomodoro timer. Lanes keeps a track of everything, of course.
Along with the planner, you get separate lists. These are for tasks that don’t fit into a day, but you need to do them at some point. Create a list, and start adding things to it. Over time, Lanes turns into a great-looking dashboard of everything you need to do.
Download: Lanes.io for Android (Free)
What’s the Best To-Do App?
These new to-do list apps will make you reassess how you think about task management, and even get you to be more productive in the process. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best to-do apps out there.
In fact, we recently took a long look at some of the most popular tools for task management. In the end, we have a winner: TickTick is the best to-do app (and if you don’t like that, then try Remember the Milk).
Anyone who has watched Netflix on their TV recently will be familiar with its preview videos. These give you an instant indication of what a movie or show is about, allowing you to make an informed decision as to whether to watch it in an instant.
After introducing video previews to the TV interface in 2017, Netflix is now bringing them to its mobile apps too. And rather than just port the previews over from the TV app, Netflix has built them from the ground up to ensure that they’re mobile friendly.
Netflix’s Mobile Video Previews
Netflix’s new mobile video previews are all around 30 seconds long, and presented in a vertical format. The short length means you can watch them in their entirety without getting bored, and the format means you don’t have to turn your phone to watch them.
The previews occupy their own separate space on Netflix’s mobile app. And they’re presented like a slideshow so you can easily choose which one(s) to play and which to bypass. After watching one you can tap to play the piece of content or add it to your list.
— Rich Greenfield (@RichBTIG) April 18, 2018
Netflix explained the thinking behind the mobile previews on the Netflix Media Center, saying:
“Years of testing has made it clear that video previews help our members browse less and discover new content more quickly. With the launch of mobile previews, we are bringing a video browse experience to your mobile phone in a fun and mobile-optimized way.”
Netflix has already updated its iOS app to include the 30-second video previews, and the feature will be coming soon to Android. But whatever mobile operating system you use, Netflix has clearly designed these previews with smartphone users in mind.
Proving More Useful Than Annoying
When watching Netflix on a TV the video previews can sometimes get annoying. Especially when they start playing automatically as soon as you dare click on anything. However, these mobile-friendly previews should prove useful without also being annoying.
If you’re a fan of the streaming service you should read our ultimate guide to Netflix to make sure you know everything. And if you’re looking for content, try our list of the best period dramas, dark comedies, and Disney movies to watch on Netflix!
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Opera has announced that it’s shutting down its VPN app at the end of this month. The Opera VPN app, which provided Android and iOS users with a free VPN for their phones, is to be permanently discontinued as of April 30, 2018. Which sucks.
For the past couple of years, Opera has offered its own VPN service. The desktop browser has a free VPN built into it, and the Opera VPN app for Android and iOS welcomed smartphone users to the party as well. But Opera is now scaling back.
The Opera VPN App Is No More
According to the Opera VPN website, Opera is “discontinuing the Opera VPN app for iOS and Android on April 30, 2018”. The Opera VPN app allowed users to connect to countries around the world, with extra tools to prevent tracking and test their security.
As well as the free version, Opera offered an Opera VPN Gold service that increased speeds, added more countries to the mix, and added dedicated customer support, all for $30/year. But both the free version and the Gold version will soon be no more.
— Kevin Tembo (@KevTembo) April 18, 2018
Given that some people have paid for this app beyond the end of this month, Opera is offering Opera Gold users a free 1-year subscription to SurfEasy Ultra VPN. And everyone else will be offered an 80 percent discount on SurfEasy Total VPN through the app.
It isn’t yet clear whether Opera is only shutting down the Opera VPN app on Android and iOS or whether the free VPN built into the desktop browser is also for the chop. However, users of the Opera browser should probably find an alternative, just in case.
What’s Next on the Chopping Board?
As to why, there is speculation that Opera has discontinued its VPN as a direct result of being owned by a Chinese consortium. VPNs are obviously very popular with Chinese citizens looking to circumvent China’s internet restrictions, hence the speculation.
Opera’s decision to can its VPN app comes just a few months after Opera killed its data-saving app, Opera Max. And once again there was no real reason given for shutting it down. If I was an opera user I’d be worrying about what’s next on the chopping board.
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Want to run Android apps on Linux? How about play Android games? Several options are available, but the one that works the best is Anbox, a useful tool that runs your favorite Android apps on Linux without emulation.
Here’s how to get it up and running on your Linux PC today.
Meet Anbox, Your “Android in a Box”
Having access to your preferred Android apps and games brings an exciting new dimension of productivity to your Linux desktop or laptop. Mobile apps are, by design, a lot simpler than those found on desktop operating systems.
This could be just what you’re looking for to improve desktop productivity!
Meanwhile, mobile games are becoming increasingly sophisticated. It makes sense that you might want to continue playing on a different device, especially given the limited battery life of a phone or tablet. Sure, you could plug the device in to recharge, but being able to play the game on your computer could give you an edge.
Several macOS and Windows tools are available for running Android apps. The most common tool for running Android on a desktop is Bluestacks, but this isn’t available for Linux.
Instead, Linux users should try Anbox, a free and open source alternative based on the latest version from the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). Offering a window-based Android environment, complete with apps and games, Anbox uses containers to separate Android from the host operating system (that is, the OS on your computer).
That’s not all; as well as being open source, Anbox has no limits, so in theory you can run any Android app on Linux. There’s no hardware virtualization either, and Anbox can work on a laptop or desktop as well as it might on a Linux-powered mobile device.
This last point is hugely significant, as it could overcome engagement issues with Linux mobiles.
Which Linux Distros Support Snap?
Although free to use, Anbox comes as a snap package. This means that the binary and any dependencies are included in a single package, easing installation. Unfortunately, it may also mean that your Linux OS cannot use Anbox unless it can unpackage and install snaps.
The snapd service is required to install snaps, and this is compatible with Linux distributions such as:
- Arch Linux
- Linux Mint
In Ubuntu, it comes pre-installed from 14.04 onwards. You’ll find full details for your distro at the Snapcraft website.
To install snapd, use the following terminal command:
sudo apt install snapd
Wait until the installation completes before proceeding.
Installing Anbox on Linux
With the snapd service installed on your Linux PC, you’re ready to install Anbox. This is done using the following command, which installs everything you need:
snap install --classic anbox-installer && anbox-installer
You’ll be prompted for a password before the snap package downloads.
Shortly after, you’ll be presented with a choice:
- Install Anbox
- Uninstall Anbox
Should you need to remove the software at a later date, simply run the installer command above, and select option 2. In the case of installing Anbox, however, you can proceed with option 1.
Following this, you’ll see a summary of what the installation will do. For instance, files that are added from a PPA are highlighted, as is the information that the anbox runtime (a software library that enables other software and apps to run) will autostart when you log into Linux.
If you’re happy with all of this, enter the legend I AGREE, and wait for Anbox to install. Once done, follow the instruction to reboot your system before proceeding.
Downloading APK Files to Your Linux PC
With your PC rebooted, you should find Anbox available in your desktop’s menu. Click it to launch; you’ll soon see the Anbox window.
If nothing happens, or you’re stuck on a splash screen with the Starting message, cancel or wait for this to end. Then open a new terminal and enter
Next, click the icon in the menu again. A few moments later, Anbox should run. This is a known bug in Ubuntu 16.04-based distributions, and shouldn’t affect later distros.
With Anbox running, you’ll see a list of the basic Android apps you can run on Linux, such as Calendar and Email. Simply left-click these icons to open them; they’ll appear in new windows that you can resize as required. If you need a browser, the WebView Shell is included.
To add your own apps and games, all you need to do is download (or copy from another device) the appropriate APK files. These are installer files, like DEB files (or snaps) in Linux, or EXE files in Windows. They’re typically available via Google Play on Android… but that doesn’t apply on Anbox.
Installing Android Apps on Linux With Anbox
Because the Anbox implementation of Android is not registered, you won’t be able to access (or install) Google Play. The answer, therefore, is to download and sideload APKs.
Where will you find the APKs? Several Google Play alternatives are available, but if you’d rather stick with the Play Store, you have several methods for extracting APKs from Google Play. While Google restricts access to the Play Store to registered Android devices, bypassing this is not piracy. If you own the APK files, or they’re available freely, it’s okay to run them on unregistered Android devices.
Once you’ve got hold of any APK files you want to install, you’ll need to enable installation from unknown sources. Do this by opening the Settings menu from the apps screen, then find Security. Here, enable the switch next to Unknown Sources, and click OK to accept.
With this done, find your APK files and double-click the first one you want to install. A few moments later, the app or game should be ready, and will run in its own window in Linux. Installed games are listed alongside all other apps.
It’s that simple!
Now You Can Run Android Apps on Linux
Since Anbox is in the alpha stage, there may be some stability issues. However, it is reassuring to know how simple it is to set up, install, and run Android apps on Linux with Anbox.
- Confirm your distro supports snap packages.
- Install or update the snapd service.
- Install Anbox.
- Launch Anbox from your Linux desktop.
- Download APK files, and run them.
- Wait as the APK file installs.
- Click to run Android apps on your Linux desktop.
Anbox isn’t the only way to run Android apps and games on Linux, but we reckon it will be the most popular within a few years.
Peris Kimeli and Betsy Cheruyot were students at Kenyatta University thinking about launching a business when they applied for their first loans from the mobile lending company, Tala.
Hoping to get a clothing business off the ground and make some money to live on while going to school, the two young Kenyans downloaded the Tala mobile app, and within minutes received loans totaling about $15.
“Between us and poverty, we had about 200 shillings,” Kimeli said of her early days starting their business. “We were like, what are we going to eat? Our parents said, ‘No. We’re not going to send money… You go figure it out’ So we went and we did that.”
Kimeli and Cheruyot took that $15 loan and went to Nairobi’s famous secondhand market, Gikomba, where they bought 15 dresses at 100 shillings each and resold them in dorms and hostels for 200 shillings.
“Two remained, but we had no problem — since we could keep them, we could wear them. By the end of the month, we had 7000 [shillings],” Kimeli said. “We borrowed again — this time we borrowed 3000 [shillings] — we went out and bought some more dresses, and that’s how we’ve been.”
Similar stories are playing out in cities across the world — in countries like India, Mexico, the Philippines and Tanzania — all because of Tala, a young, Santa Monica, Calif.-based, financial services startup.
Now in its fourth year, Tala has already distributed around $300 million in loans to 1.3 million borrowers like Kimeli. The company plans to continue expanding its geographical reach and range of financial services, thanks in part to $65 million in new financing from billionaire backed investment funds like Steve Case’s Revolution Growth fund.
Shivani Siroya, the founder and chief executive officer at Tala, knows just how important — and transformational — outside investment can be for individuals in emerging markets.
Siroya was introduced to the power of financial independence working with the United Nations Population Fund.
“I ended up interviewing 3500 people, in person, across nine different countries,” Siroya says. “What I did was go to their homes with them. Walk with them to work and sit there in the back of their stores and tally how many customers came in and how many products they sold. How much money goes under the mattress and how much oney goes to allowances… These individuals are hard-working and they are credit worthy, but you couldn’t lend to them because they couldn’t be documented.”
Siroya launched Tala in March 2014 to create a mechanism for providing credit scores to financial institutions so that these undocumented women could get the loans they needed to become financially independent and entrepreneurial, she says. What Tala’s founder quickly realized was that the easiest way to create credit scores that other financial institutions would recognize would be for Tala to start issuing loans itself.
The app — available for download on Android devices — works by collecting data on texts and calls, merchant transactions, overall app usage, and personal identifiers on a mobile phone to create an instantaneous profile of its potential borrowers. Customers simply download the app, apply for a loan and receive a decision in seconds. Most Tala borrowers, actually receive their credit in less than 10 minutes.
Tala typically lends around $70 to its borrowers, but loans range from $10 on the low end to $500 at the high end. “The point of credit is leveraging your income to improve your quality of life,” Siroya says. Lower loan sizes could mean a product that’s geared more towards consumption than towards leveraging a product to invest for economic stability, she says.
“We want to start at $10, because we realize that 70% of our customers are using this for working capital. They’re small business owners. That’s really the gap in the market,” says Siroya.
Tala’s borrowers are usually paying back the loans within 30 days and the company charges a 11% to 15% interest on the money it disburses.
The company raised its first capital in 2013 from Lowercase Capital, Google Ventures, and Collaborative Fund. With the new financing, led by Revolution, Siroya now has $50 million in equity to match another $11 million in credit facilities. In all, the company has raised $94 million in equity across three rounds. Steve Murray, a managing partner of Revolution Growth — and former director on the board of business lending startup Kabbage — will be joining Tala’s board of directors with the latest round.
Previous investors, including the growth investment firm IVP, Data Collective, Lowercase Capital, Ribbit Capital, and Female Founders Fund, also participated in Tala’s latest financing.
“We have been fortunate to invest in Twitter and Dropbox and a lot of other companies. but when I think about the companies that we have had the opportunity to back that will have the greatest impact on the world, Tala is certainly one of them,” says IVP general partner, Jules Maltz. “That’s because it has the opportunity to reach the 2 billion people who are unbanked and don’t have access to financial products.”
Those 2 billion include thousands just like Nairobi’s budding new entrepreneurs, Kimeli and Cheruyot.
“I believe in the magic of taking risks and new beginnings,” says Kimeli. “If we hadn’t began on that day, we could have just been desperate now. As in, we might not have a place to eat, maybe. It’s good to take risks, to start something new.”
Android lets you make all kinds of awesome customizations so you can personalize your phone. While some of these tweaks require lots of in-depth work, others are low-hanging fruit and only take a few taps. Custom icons fall into this second camp. In just a few minutes, you can swap the default app icons on your phone for something way cooler.
How to Set Custom Icons for Apps on Android
- First, you’ll need to install a compatible Android launcher. Unfortunately, the default launchers on many phones, like Pixel Launcher and Samsung’s launcher, don’t support custom icons. (We’ve taken a look at the best Android launchers if you’re not sure what to use. For this example, we’ll use Nova Launcher.)
- After you’ve installed a launcher, set it as your default so you don’t accidentally return to your old one. (When you tap the Home button on your phone, you should see an option to do so.)
- Next you’ll need to install one or more custom icon packs from Google Play. You can also import icons manually, but this is a lot slower. (Take a look at some great icon packs for an idea of what’s available. Moonshine is a solid one to try.)
- To apply your icon pack, head into the options for your launcher. In Nova Launcher, go to Nova Settings > Look & feel > Icon theme. (Here you’ll see a list of all installed icon packs. Select one to automatically apply the appropriate icons for all apps.)
Chances are that a given icon pack won’t have custom icons for every app on your phone. If you like, you can long-press on an icon and select Edit, then tap the app’s icon, to select an icon for it. Many icon packs, like Moonshine, also have a section in the app for requesting new icons.
Yesterday was a rough one for ZTE. A year after pleading guilty to violating sanctions with Iran and North Korea, the U.S. Department of Commerce brought the hammer down and announced a seven-year export restriction on goods sporting U.S. components.
That applies to more than a quarter of the components used in the company’s telecom equipment and mobile devices, according to estimates, including some big names like Qualcomm. The list may well also include Google licenses, a core part of the company’s Android handsets. According to a Bloomberg unnamed source, ZTE is evaluating its mobile operating system options as its lawyers meet with Google officials.
Many of the internal components can be replaced by non-U.S. companies. ZTE can likely lean more heavily on fellow Chinese manufacturers to provide more of the product’s internals, but it’s hard to see precisely where it goes from here with regard to an operating system. There’s an extremely small smattering of alternatives open to the company, but none are great. Each would essentially involve the company working to build things, including app selections, from the ground up — and likely play a much more central role in the OS’s development.
As for Google’s role in all of this, ZTE certainly isn’t make or break for Android’s fortunes. Still, it’s a pretty sizable presence. As of late last year, it commanded 12.2 percent of U.S. market share, putting it in fourth place behind Apple, Samsung and LG. It’s certainly in Google’s best interest to maintain as many prominent hardware partners as possible — though, not if it comes with the added risk of upsetting the DOC in the process.
Using voice control in your life isn’t science fiction. If you know the right “OK Google” voice commands to say to Google Assistant, it can make your life better in ways you’ve never imagined.
In this article, we’re going to take a walk through the typical day of a Google Assistant power user. You’ll see how Google Assistant can streamline your whole day. You’ll learn how it can remove daily annoyances from your life, and how it can even improve your relationships.
1. “Tell me the weather”
As you wake up in the morning, you’re not sure what to wear for the workday. Will it be cold or warm? Will it rain or not? You roll over toward your phone and say, “OK Google, tell me the weather.”
Google assistant tells you (out loud) the day’s weather, and what the forecast looks like for the week.
Using what you learn from Google Assistant, you choose your attire accordingly. Cold but sunny means a good sweater, jeans, and sunglasses.
2. “Play news on TV”
As you sit down on the sofa with your morning coffee, all you have to do is say “OK Google, play the news on my TV.”
Google Assistant casts the latest news from your preferred news sources to the TV you’ve set up in your Google Home app, like a Chromecast device.
You do need to configure your Chromecast TV with Google Assistant one time, by going to Settings and Home Control. If you’ve configured your Chromecast with the Google Home app, then Google Assistant will display the TV here.
Once this is set up, you can tell Google Assistant to cast anything you like to that screen. This could be the morning news from YouTube, Spotify music, or anything else from any Chromecast-enabled app on your phone.
3. “Play Eminem on Spotify”
You love listening to music during your drive to work. But turning knobs and pressing buttons is so old school. As you pull out of the driveway, you say “OK Google, play Eminem on Spotify”.
In order for this to work right, you do need to set up your preferred music service. Go to Settings and then Music.
Once this is set up, you just have to ask Google Assistant to play whatever you like. This also keeps your hands free to drive and focus on the road. That’s one of the safety benefits of adding voice control to your life.
If you don’t use Spotify, it’s very easy to change your default music player if you want to.
4. “Remind me to put out the trash”
You’re halfway to work, and you realize that you forgot to put the trash by the curb. You just have to say, “OK Google, remind me to put out the trash at 8 tonight.”
Google Assistant will confirm via voice and then add the reminder to your Google Calendar.
Throughout the day, any time you have something you need to remember later, all you have to do is ask Google Assistant to remind you later. It will!
5. “Remember Where I Parked”
When you arrive at work, you discover that the parking lot is completely full, and you need to park at the very edge of the lot. You know you’ll never find your car again after work, so you say to Google Assistant, “OK Google, Remember where I parked.”
Whenever you issue the command to save your parking location, Google Assistant stores a map image of your current location. When you need to see that location, just ask, “OK Google, where did I park?”
6. Take Advice from a Virtual Nurse
Once you get to work and settle in for the day, one of your work colleagues comes up to you and mentions they have a pretty severe migraine. They ask for your advice.
Since you’re not a doctor, you don’t want to give them a bad tip. So once again, you turn to Google Assistant.
Google Assistant is integrated with a number of useful online services. One of them is a Virtual Nurse who will answer any of your medical questions. So, just say, “OK Google, ask virtual nurse how to cure a migraine.”
You share the Virtual Nurse’s advice with your colleague and help them to cure their migraine. You’re a good friend!
7. Calculate a Tip
Once lunchtime rolls around, a few of your colleagues want to head over to your favorite lunch restaurant. It’s a great meal, but the part that you enjoy the least arrives. You get your bill and have to calculate the tip.
No worries, because Google Assistant has you covered there as well. You ask Google Assistant, “What’s 15 percent of 25?”
The answer arrives in less than a couple of seconds.
You add a healthy 15 percent tip to your receipt and you’re ready to leave before all of your colleagues have figured out their own tips!
8. Friendly Fortune Teller
On the walk back to the office, you decide to show off Google Assistant to your colleagues by asking the Friendly Fortune Teller for your future.
The Friendly Fortune Teller is another “assistant”, just like the Virtual Nurse, embedded into Google Assistant.
After getting a good laugh from your silly fortune, one of the ladies in the group claims she knows how to rap.
9. Drop a Beat
Isn’t it convenient that Google Assistant can help with that? You say, “OK Google, drop a beat.”
Google Assistant calls up the help of an expert beatboxer who starts laying down a beat from your phone speakers.
After your work colleague proves her awesome freestyle skills, you all return to the office to finish off your afternoon at work.
10. Ask to Print
Once you’ve returned home to your family (and after Google Assistant reminded you to put out the trash!), you decide to spend some time coloring with your kids.
There’s no need to run to the store for a coloring book, because you know all you have to do is say to Google Assistant, “Hey Google, ask HP Printer to print a coloring page.”
The first time you want to try this, you’ll have to set it up with your own HP Printer. The printer also needs to be web-enabled. So, configure your printer to work with Google Cloud Print. Next, you’ll need to issue the command to Google Assistant and tap the link to set up your printer for the first time.
Once you’ve got your HP printer connected to the cloud and enabled with the Google Assistant “HP Action”, you can issue any printer commands you like by voice.
If your printer isn’t a web-enabled model, you’ll see the warning showed above that it isn’t a web-enabled model but the voice commands will still work.
11. “Play a Recipe”
After coloring with the kids, you decide to cook dinner with your spouse. After popping open a bottle of wine, you say, “OK Google, play lasagna recipe from Food Network.”
Google Assistant shows you several recipes to choose from. To pick the one you want, just click to send it to your Google Home speaker.
This feature is available for any recipes on Bon Appetit or Food Network. No need to fumble around with cookbooks or recipe cards anymore, now that Google Assistant can read the recipe aloud while you focus on cooking.
If you don’t have a Google Home speaker yet, it can really enhance your use of Google Assistant. Read our review of Google Home and decide if it’s right for you.
12. Settle Your Debates
Sitting down to dinner with the family, you all start to get into one of your silly family debates. This time it’s about why cats always land on their feet. Everyone has a different answer and no one knows who’s right! You once again turn to Google Assistant for help.
“OK Google, why do cats land on their feet?”
The answer arrives in seconds, spoken aloud in a digital voice for all to hear.
With that settled, dinner is done! Everyone rinses off their plates, and the you and your spouse settle in for an evening of Netflix.
13. Play Stranger Things on TV
One of the nicest things about having Google Assistant connected with Netflix and Chromecast is the ability to say, “OK Google, Play Stranger Things on TV” and Google Assistant takes care of the rest.
There are few things that will make you feel more like you’re living in a futuristic dream world. You can cuddle up with your spouse on the couch, and without lifting a remote control, issue a voice command to Google Assistant to launch the evening’s entertainment.
It doesn’t get much cooler than that.
14. Set Your Alarm
After a bit of TV watching, both you and your spouse are ready for bed. After brushing your teeth, you realize you’re exhausted. Thanks to Google Assistant, you don’t really have to put much effort into getting ready for bed.
You plop down onto your pillow, lean over to your phone, and say, “OK Google, set alarm for 5:30am tomorrow.”
With that done, you look over at the desk lamp in the corner of the room. You realize you forgot to turn it off.
15. Turn Off Lights
No worries. Thanks to Google Assistant, you don’t have to get out of bed. You close your eyes and utter the last words of the day, “OK Google, turn off desk lamp.”
As the bedroom is cast into darkness, you smile. Your day was just made a whole lot better thanks to Google Assistant.
If you own Philips Hue lights, you should know that Google Assistant can control those too. It’s just one addition to the many automation opportunities that Philips Hue lights offer.
Google Assistant Can Improve Your Life
What sets Google Assistant apart from other productivity apps is that instead of wasting time with menial tasks like flipping light switches, searching for information, or playing music and movies—Google Assistant gives you that time back. Spend that with your kids or your spouse, or doing activities that are more important to you.
These daily actions are a few of the many commands you can make. Use the Google Assistant Action Directory to browse the other commands. There are over one million of them. That’s one million ways to make your life easier.
If you’re just getting started with it, make sure to read our introduction to Google Assistant and start automating your life today.
Google is testing changing the way Google Maps gives out directions. The idea is to make Google Maps sound more human, and employ similar clues as a real person would when asked for directions to a particular location. Which essentially means pointing landmarks.
Thanks to sat navs and smartphones, it has probably been a while since anyone pulled over and asked you for directions. However, when that was a common occurrence, the chances are you would have used memorable landmarks to help drivers remember.
Google Maps Loves Fast Food Chains
Google Maps and other GPS platforms currently don’t do that. Instead, they use a combination of distances and street names. This works, but can lead to you overshooting a turn, especially if you get distracted. So Google is testing a different way of doing things.
Some users have noticed that Google Maps has started naming places of interest when giving directions. These places of interest include fast food restaurants such as Burger King and White Castle. But we have to assume there’s no favoritism here.
— Deemah MS (@iamdeemah) April 14, 2018
This feature hasn’t been advertised, and isn’t listed in the most recent update. And that’s probably because this is just being tested right now. Google told Engadget that this is just one of a number of methods being tested to “make guidance better”.
If other methods are being tested, no one has yet reported hearing them. Still, it seems clear that Google is exploring ways of making Google Maps give directions in ways closer to how humans would. Which utilizes buildings and businesses as visual clues.
Following Machines From A to B
This could obviously help drivers get to where they want to go. However, it could also help us become less reliant on navigation tools. Right now we blindly follow a machine from A to B. But this could make us take notice of our surroundings once again.
As these Google Maps alternatives show, this isn’t the only navigation app worth using. However, it does have some features you may not be aware of. Google Maps can now find you a parking space, track friends in real-time, and even explore the solar system.
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Have you ever forgotten what Android phone you have? Unlike the iPhone’s few models, there are hundreds of Android phones, and many of them have confusing names. If someone has ever asked you what phone you have and you forgot the model name, or just want to know for reference, here’s how you can find out.
How to Find Out the Model of Your Android Phone
- First, flip your phone over and look at the back. Some phones, such as Samsung’s Galaxy line, have the phone model printed on the back. It’s usually near the bottom, and may be in a color that’s hard to read unless the light is shining on it just right.
- If there’s nothing on the back of your phone, don’t worry. Unlock your device and open the Settings app.
- Select About Phone near the bottom of the list. On stock Android, you’ll find this under the System entry.
- In the About Phone section, you should see a Phone name or similar entry that lists the common name of your device.
- Elsewhere on this menu, depending on your device, you may see a specific model number. Unlike the common name, the manufacturer can use the model number to see the specific specs of your device.
- If you don’t see your model number here, look for a further entry named Hardware info or similar. Inside this, you should find Model number.
Should you require more information about your phone, or can’t find what you need in this menu, check out the app Droid Hardware Info. It will show you tons of info about your phone and its hardware, including the model.
For more help, check out how to solve common Android problems.
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Family road trips can be a fun adventure, but when they go on for too long they become boring. Thankfully, there are a lot of great road trip games for Android and iOS that’ll keep everyone occupied during the ride.
The following games offer something for everyone, including online multiplayer, local multiplayer via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, and even single-player experiences.
The one aspect they all have in common is they’ll help you and your family pass the long hours as you travel to your vacation destination. Don’t forget to install the best Android apps for trip planning if you’re still organizing yours.
1. Plates Free Family Travel Game
What’s the one item you pass most often when you’re driving for countless hours on the highway? License plates.
That’s what makes this a perfect road trip game. It includes all plates you’ll see from regions in Mexico, Canada, or the United States. The name of the game is simple: each person needs to find plates from as many states or regions as possible before the trip is over.
The person with the highest score by the end of the trip wins. This game doesn’t require any network connection, since each player’s phone tracks their score.
If you prefer, to keep track of each player’s score you could also use any free note-taking app.
2. What If
Another fun road trip game is What If. This only requires one person in the car to run it on their phone. That person can ask the question and either take a majority poll from everyone in the car, or ask one person each question in turn.
The fun part of the game is seeing whether a majority of people who play the game agreed with your answer. It’s really surprising to see how people answer some of these crazy questions!
3. Family’s Game Travel Pack Lite
If you’re more into playing networked games with other people in the car, then you’re definitely going to want to give Family’s Game Travel Pack a try.
The app includes a collection of 50 traditional games like Sudoku, Chess, Crazy Eights, and more. To link up and play these games with other players riding in the car, they just need to install the app too and make sure they have either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi enabled.
These classic games are a fun way to pass the time normally. But when you play them during a long drive, you’ll be surprised just how fast the ride goes by.
Even if there’s no one else in the car available to play with you, there’s also an offline option to play with the game’s AI. A non-app alternative, if you just love board games, is to jump online and play free board games through your browser.
Word games make for great party games. And great party games usually also make great road trip games. This one is no exception.
The game is simple. The app shows you two pictures that together represent a single word. You can use the scrambled letters underneath to spell out your guess.
It’s a great one-player puzzle to pass the time during a trip, but it’s easy to turn it into a multiplayer game by passing your phone around and taking turns.
5. Fun Run 3: Arena
If you do have a family data plan, Fun Run 3 is a total joy to play. It’s an online multiplayer game where you compete against players from all around the world.
The touch controls are pretty simple. You tap up to jump and down to duck or slide.
You’ll challenge three other real online players to make it to the end of the race first. The better you place, the more points you get at the end.
This is a great game for an only child to pass the time during a long drive. They won’t have to worry about finding someone to play with them, because there are online players ready to go anytime.
DUAL! is a direct phone-to-phone game you can play with someone sitting next to you. Just install it on your phone and have a friend install it on theirs. Make sure you both have Wi-Fi or Bluetooth enabled.
What’s unique about this game is it combines two phone screens into one. You need to hold the phones together so the top ends touch. It’s a vintage Atari-style shooting game and it’s a blast (pun intended) to play.
The only limitation of this game is that you have to be physically sitting next to the person you’re playing with, and only two people can play. But as a backseat road trip game for two kids (or adults) to play, it’s great fun.
After the highly successful Heads Up!, Ellen DeGeneres is back with another fun family game called Psych! It’s great for holiday parties, but also fits for long car trips.
There are four “decks” available to play: a truth game, movie trivia, a word game, or a true/false facts game.
Thanks to the way the game lays out its rules, you can have a lot of fun if you’re a bit witty. For example, the “Is That a Fact?” game asks players to answer a fact. You can either provide a truthful answer, or a fake one.
If you’re convincing enough, you could probably fool everyone into believing your fake answer. It’s a complete riot to play with friends or family, and it passes the time quickly. You won’t want to stop playing even once you reach your destination.
8. Racers Vs Cops
If you’re into car racing games, you’ll love Racers Vs Cops. This game puts you head-to-head against your friend in a wild road chase.
The goal of the game is for the racer player to make it to the end first, or the cop player to get ahead of the racer and cut them off short of the goal.
There’s also a single-player mode if you don’t have anyone to go up against. Controls are easier than most mobile racing games, with the throttle and brake on the lower corners of screen. Sound effects and steering sensitivity are quite accurate.
9. Battleships: Fleet Battle
If you’ve ever played the classic game Battleship before, then you can imagine how awesome this digital version is.
You can choose from single player against AI, online multiplayer, or local multiplayer. Place your battleships wisely, because the goal of this game is to shoot your enemy’s battleships out of the water before they shoot all of yours.
If you think those rules sound too simple to be fun, you’ve got a surprise in store. I challenge you to play just one round of this game. It can easily make several hours pass in the blink of an eye—perfect for a road trip!
10. Tank 1990 HD
If you love retro console games, then you should adore Tank 1990. The game is exactly what it sounds like: a multiplayer remake of the popular game Tank 1990. You can play with your friends over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
If the never played the game before, the rules are simple. Navigate your tank through the gaps between brick walls and shoot the enemy tanks before they shoot you.
But be careful. Tanks can blow a hole through the bricks, so play strategically! When you play this game with friends, it’s exciting, a bit nerve-racking, but really fun.
Playing Road Trip Games on the Go
Remember, playing games while traveling is something only passengers should do. Drivers need to keep their eyes on the road!
But for the rest of the passengers, any of these road trip games are sure to help pass the time without getting too bored. And if you have small children, make sure to install some apps to keep young kids entertained as well.
Image Credit: Kryzhov/Depositphotos
Skagen is a well-know maker of thin and uniquely Danish watches. Founded in 1989, the company is now part of the Fossil group and, as such, has begin dabbling in both the analog with the Hagen and now Android Wear with the Falster. The Falster is unique in that it stuffs all of the power of a standard Android Wear device into a watch that mimics the chromed aesthetic of Skagen’s austere design while offering just enough features to make you a fashionable smartwatch wearer.
The Falster, which costs $275 and is available now, has a fully round digital OLED face which means you can read the time at all times. When the watch wakes up you can see an ultra bright white on black time-telling color scheme and then tap the crown to jump into the various features including Android Fit and the always clever Translate feature that lets you record a sentence and then show it the person in front of you.
You can buy it with a leather or metal band and the mesh steel model costs $20 extra.
Sadly, in order stuff the electronics into such a small case, Skagen did away with GPS, LTE connectivity, and even a heart-rate monitor. In other words if you were expecting a workout companion then the Falster isn’t the Android you’re looking for. However, if you’re looking for a bare-bones fashion smartwatch, Skagen ticks all the boxes.
What you get from the Flasterou do get, however, is a low-cost, high-style Android Wear watch with most of the trimmings. I’ve worn this watch off and on few a few weeks now and, although I do definitely miss the heart rate monitor for workouts, the fact that this thing looks and acts like a normal watch 99% of the time makes it quite interesting. If obvious brand recognition nee ostentation are your goal, the Apple Watch or any of the Samsung Gear line are more your style. This watch, made by a company famous for its Danish understatement, offers the opposite of that.
Skagen offers a few very basic watch faces with the Skagen branding at various points on the dial. I particularly like the list face which includes world time or temperature in various spots around the world, offering you an at-a-glance view of timezones. Like most Android Wear systems you can change the display by pressing and holding on the face.
It lasts about a day on one charge although busy days may run down the battery sooner as notifications flood the screen. The notification system – essentially a little icon that appears over the watch face – sometimes fails and instead shows a baffling grey square. This is the single annoyance I noticed, UI-wise, when it came to the Falster. It works with both Android smartphones and iOS.
What this watch boils down to is an improved fitness tracker and notification system. If you’re wearing, say, a Fitbit, something like the Skagen Falster offers a superior experience in a very chic package. Because the watch is fairly compact (at 42mm I won’t say it’s small but it would work on a thinner wrist) it takes away a lot of the bulk of other smartwatches and, more important, doesn’t look like a smartwatch. Those of use who don’t want to look like we’re wearing robotic egg sacs on our wrists will enjoy that aspect of Skagen’s effort, even without all the trimmings we expect from a modern smartwatch.
Skagen, like so many other watch manufacturers, decided if it couldn’t been the digital revolution it would join it. The result is the Falster and, to a lesser degree, their analog collections. Whether or not traditional watchmakers will survive the 21st century is still up in the air but, as evidenced by this handsome and well-made watch, they’re at least giving it the old Danish try.
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