Phandroid » Featured Android Phone News, Rumors, Reviews, Apps, Forums & More! Fri, 25 Jul 2014 17:23:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 8 things I miss after switching from Windows Phone to Android Fri, 25 Jul 2014 15:46:45 +0000 misswindowsphone

Almost three years ago I was given the opportunity to become a Windows Phone user. I was a little nervous to give up my Android device and switch to something completely different, but in the end I decided to do it. The first month or so with Windows Phone 7 was very rocky. As time went on I got more acquainted with the OS and started really loving it. Two years and two massive updates later I was being called a “Windows Phone fanboy.”

Four months ago I was given another opportunity, but this time it was to go back to Android. I was just as nervous to leave the OS I had learned to love, but in doing so I learned a lot. Switching back to Android from Windows Phone has given me an interesting perspective. Now that I’ve had the time to fully adjust back to Android there are a few things that I think Windows Phone does better than Android. Here are the 8 things I miss the most.

“Unofficially Official” Apps

insta 3rd party

Everyone knows that Windows Phone suffers from a lack of apps. The situation has been getting better, but there is still a ton of work to do. They say “desperation is the mother of invention,” and for Windows Phone developers that couldn’t be more true. If there is a popular app missing from the Store you can guarantee some developer is working on porting it over.

This may sound like a sad situation, but it’s actually one of my favorite things about Windows Phone. There is no official SnapChat app, but there is an app that is better than anything SnapChat could ever make. Instagram finally made a Windows Phone app, but there is an unofficial version that blows it out of the water. Having the choice of which Instagram app to use is something you can’t do on Android. Sure, there are hundreds of alternate choices for Twitter, but most services arrive on Android so quick that there is no need for anyone to build their own.


Customization is a funny thing. I am not going to try to convince you that Windows Phone can be customized more than Android. It can’t. The thing I miss is how Windows Phone does customization. You can’t choose custom launchers or icon packs, but what you can do is choose background and accent colors. These two simple color choices dramatically change how the entire OS looks.

cortana colors

In the screenshots above you can see Cortana in three different color choices. Many apps tie into the background and accent colors like this to deliver a personal experience for every user. Even the Start Screen icons for most apps use the accent color. If you do some tinkering there are ways to theme apps in Android, but the ease at which you can make the entire OS look different in Windows Phone is truly great. No hacking required.

Battery Saver Mode

battery saver

One of the very first things I missed about Windows Phone was the built-in “Battery Saver” mode. This feature is a godsend when you’re stranded away from a charger. When enabled, it automatically shuts down some battery-hogging features. Apps won’t run in the background, email won’t sync, live tiles will be shut off, but important things like SMS and phone call will still go through. This helps you eke out several more hours of use from what would normally last a couple of minutes.

In Windows Phone 8.1 the feature got even better. Now you can decide which apps should be allowed to run in the background when Battery Saver is enabled. I’m glad to see Android is finally adopting some of these features in the “L” release. You will be amazed at how handy it is. I’ve used it in the past to go through an entire camping trip without charging my phone.

Volume Controls

volume control

I hate the volume controls in Android. I’m constantly changing the volume for the wrong thing. On larger screen devices like the Nexus 7 you get a little settings icon which lets you adjust the volume for media and notifications. For whatever reason that option is not available on phones. You can only adjust the volume for whatever is currently making noise. Windows Phone 8.1 does it better.

Tap the volume button once and you get a numerical value for the volume of “Media + Apps.” There is a down arrow icon that expands the menu so you can adjust the volume for other things, such and ringer and notifications. There is even an option to turn vibrate on or off. I have to laugh that I’m including this because in Windows Phone 8 the volume control was awful. A lot can change in one update.

Smooth as Butter

Butter and knife

You have no doubt heard about how silky smooth everything feels in Windows Phone. It really is true. Android has come a long way since the days of laggy phones, but there is still just a little something that holds it back. For my money you can’t beat the smooth scrolling of an iOS or Windows Phone device. Even under-powered Windows Phone 7 devices felt incredibly smooth and fast.

I will admit that I don’t notice a lot of lag on my Nexus 5. It’s not as big of a deal as it used to be, but just go into a Best Buy and swipe around on the newest Nokia Lumia phone for a bit. You will notice how buttery smooth it is.

Hardware Camera Buttons

camera button

Having a dedicated camera button is a feature that too many manufacturers overlook. Some Android phones still come with a hardware camera button, but the vast majority do not. Microsoft requires manufacturers to include camera buttons (at least they used to). Having a two-stage camera button on your smartphone is incredibly handy.

Not only is it great for focusing and snapping pictures, but it also allows the camera to be launched while the phone is locked. Most Android lockscreens have a shortcut to the camera, but it’s not as quick as mashing down on a hardware button from your pocket. A physical camera button is also very useful for situations when I needed other people to take a photo with my phone. Every phone has a different camera UI, but all I had to say was “use this button like a regular camera.”



This one is honestly just a personal preference. I think the multitasking screen in Windows Phone looks nicer than Android. You get a full screenshot of the app, not just a list of square thumbnails. It also seems to be faster and more reliable. Sometimes when I tap an app in the Android multitasking it doesn’t open. I like the look of the new multitasking in Android L, but I would still prefer a full screenshot of the app. Like I said, this is just a personal preference.

App Lists Are Better Than Drawers

list drawer

The last thing I miss is the Windows Phone app list. Everyone knows about the Start Screen with live tiles, but if you swipe to the right you can see a full vertical list of the installed apps with icons and names. The apps are organized alphabetically, and by tapping on a letter you can quickly jump to a different spot on the list. I find this to be a much quicker way to launch apps than finding them in the Android app drawer.

For this reason I have found myself using the Yahoo Aviate launcher as my daily driver. It organizes apps into categories, but also has a vertical list of apps in alphabetical order. Also, if you have a Samsung device you can switch the app drawer to a vertical list. So while the default app drawer might not be my cup of tea, at least Android allows me to download something that is.


The great thing about Android is I can usually find an app or mod to do something that I miss from Windows Phone. The nice thing about Windows Phone is all these features are baked right into the OS. I’m glad Android L is addressing some of the things that I miss. Windows Phone will always hold a special place in my heart, but for now I am very happy to be on #TeamAndroid.

Do any of these things sound like something you would like? Are there any other features from different platforms that you want on Android? Have you switched from another platform and missed some features? Let us know!

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Best Android apps for guitar players Wed, 23 Jul 2014 19:27:16 +0000 android-guitar-apps

Do you dream of becoming a rock star, plying your virtuosic guitar skills into fame and fortune? Before that happens you need some practice, and luckily there is no shortage of Android apps that can help. From getting tuned up and in time to shredding through scales, here are the apps that should be in every guitar players toolkit, from pro to hobbyist.

Guitar tuner apps for Android

iStroboSoft Tuner


Tuning your instrument should be an easy and straightforward task, and iStroboSoft provides such functionality in spades with several visual indicators of intonation. The primary feedback comes from the app’s strobe visualizer, which pulses based on how close a particular string or note is to its mark. This alone makes iStroboSoft one of the better tuner apps out there, but it goes beyond the call of duty with several more features, including the ability to change keys, a noise filter (for better accuracy when in noisy environs), and an input boost. It comes at a cost though. iStroboSoft is easily one of the priciest tuner apps available at $9.99.



DaTuner is another excellent choice when it comes to getting your guitar up to pitch. The free version provides an accurate, easy-to-read display of a strings current pitch in relation to the note you are going for. You can even “lock on” to a note to make tuning up even easier should the current pitch be outside of the ideal range. A paid version of the app ($2.93) offers transposition, a strobe display, and built-in pitch pipe.

Learn to play guitar chords & tabs with Android

Ultimate Guitar Tabs & Chords


Ultimate Guitar is the web’s go-to repository of guitar tabs for hundreds of thousands of popular tunes, classics, and standards. Ultimate Guitar Tabs & Chords brings those tabs (and a bountiful library of chord charts) to your mobile device, adding in features you won’t find on the web version. Many tabs include playback functionality so you can hear how a song is supposed to sound then slow it down and pick it out one note at a time. Tabs can be saved for offline viewing or you can share and export via email or Dropbox. These features would be well worth the $2.99 price tag, but Ultimate Guitar went ahead and threw in a basic tuner and metronome to make this app an essential part of any guitarists tool kit.



If you run across an unknown chord in a chart, you’ll be glad you have the aptly-named Chord! reference app. On the surface, Chord! is a simple tool for figuring out how to finger a specific chord at any position on the neck. Digging deeper, the app is a robust tool that relies on computation and analysis rather than a simple database to help users learn the concepts and theories behind chord composition. Chord! also offers an array of scales for practice to further enhance understanding of music theory. The free version is limited five scales and eight tunings, but a paid version ($3.99) opens up custom tunings and reverse chord and scale search.



For the new player, it’s great to have a knowledgeable instructor to help you along. Unfortunately, paying a guitar teacher isn’t always in the budget. Then there is Jamstar, a free instructional app that not only provides over 100 free lessons that will have you playing songs from popular artists like The Beatles, Foo Fighters, and more, but it actually listens as you play and provides real time feedback. Jamstar offers chords, scales, and even a tuner to help you on your path to becoming a guitar hero.

Gibson Learn and Master Guitar


Gibson Learn and Master Guitar is an all-in-one app for the budding guitarist. It has the bases covered with a chromatic tuner, metronome, chord charts, and a selection of lessons from one of the best-known names in the guitar biz. This free set of tools will get you rocking in no time.

Android app to practice and jam along with

Guitar Jam Tracks


One of the most fun and enriching experiences a guitar player can have is to jam with a band. That’s not always an option for those of us with limited time, practice space, and musician friends of the same skill level. Guitar Jam Tracks remedies this by providing a bluesy backing track to practice your leads over. The paid version ($4.99) offers additional backing tracks in other styles including jazz, rock, and reggae.

PocketBand Lite


If pre-made backing tracks don’t suit your particular musical tastes, PocketBand is the perfect application for whipping up your own original tunes to jam along with. Combining a drum machine, programmable synthesizer, and sound recorder, you can easily plot out a backbeat and rhythm track to jam along with. PocketBand Pro adds more sound options, recording space, and enhanced looping capabilities, making the app an equally useful tool for the aspiring songwriter.

Metronome apps for Android

Time Guru Metronome


Time Guru is your standard metronome and it isn’t. While it provides a steady tempo-adjustable beat for instrumentalists to play along with, it also offers the unique ability to mute individual tempo clicks randomly or as part of a preset pattern. The result is a metronome that keeps time but also challenges users to develop their own internal sense of rhythm in order to keep the beat steady when the clicks drop out. A good metronome is a tool any guitar player should not be without, and this just might be the best.

Mobile Metronome


Mobile Metronome provides players with an advanced set of tools to aid in the study and mastery of tempo. Fully adjustable and featuring several time signature selections and variable beats, Mobile Metronome is perfect for practicing complex rhythms while keeping in time.

Android apps for recording guitar and other instruments

Audio Evolution Mobile DAW


Android devices are capable of some pretty amazing things, and the includes operating as a digital audio workstation (DAW) thanks to Audio Evolution Mobile. This complete multitrack audio recording solution offers many features (MIDI sequencing, virtual instruments) you might only expect from expensive, desktop-based software packages at only a fraction of the price ($7.85). This is the perfect app for the songwriter on the go looking to capture that moment of inspiration before it’s gone forever.



For the guitarist looking for a more straightforward and simple approach to recording a few licks or even a whole tune, TapeMachine is a great option. This light-on-its-feet recording interface lets users quickly record a take before manipulating with helpful postproduction tools like time stretch, loops, and fades.

Android apps for adding effects and shaping your guitar tone



Unlike iOS, there is a shortage of sound manipulation, effects, and amp modeling apps for Android. Of the few options, the best is perhaps usbEffects, an app that lets users plug into their phones via a guitar-to-USB cable. The app features a handful of popular stombox effects including delay, reverb, distortion, a flanger, wah wah, and looper, to name a few. Each effect is individually configurable and can be chained together along with a basic amp simulator to produce some very interesting tones. USB audio isn’t perfect with every Android device, so it is recommended you try the free version before investing $4.99 in the more feature-laden Pro edition.

With these apps you should be just about covered when it comes to the essentials, and you’ll even save some money over buying expensive hardware tuners, stompboxes, recording gear, and other accessories. Have any of your own favorite apps for guitarists or other musicians alike? Feel free to share them in the comments below.


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7 sneaky ways pickpockets steal your phone (and what you can do about it) Tue, 22 Jul 2014 19:45:46 +0000 pickpocket3

Even the most complicated lockscreen pattern, pass code, or even Face Unlock, can’t protect against someone physically stealing your phone. We’ve written about what to do about lost or stolen phones in the past, but sometimes even the best anti-theft software is no use. What do you do if someone is smart enough to steal your phone and know how to stop you from tracking them?

Pickpocketing is a common way for petty thieves to steal valuable items. Most people nowadays are carrying something that is worth more than the contents of your wallet or purse: a smartphone. The best way to protect your phone is to know the techniques being used against you. These are the seven most common tricks pickpocketers use to swipe your phone or wallet.

The Tricks


The Diversion

The most common technique for pickpockets is The Diversion. As the name implies, this technique is all about distracting you, and it usually requires a tag team. Thief 1 will drop something in front of you in hopes that you help them pick it up, then Thief 2 will come from behind and swipe your phone as they walk by. With all of your attention on Thief 1′s diversion you have no idea what just happened.

The Stall

This technique is similar to The Diversion. Thief 1 will try to stall you by asking for help or telling you there is something on your coat or shirt. While this is happening Thief 2 will walk by and swipe your phone. This technique works because it is usually used on people in a hurry. Your mind is on the place you need to be and the annoying stranger who is slowing you down.

Concealed Hand

The Concealed Hand is a popular pickpocketing technique to show on TV. The thief will use something like a newspaper or magazine to hide their hand movement. This technique is commonly used in congested areas of people standing still, such as subway cars and bus stops. The thief is trying to hide their actions from other people so as to not alert the victim.


This technique is probably the laziest. The thieves using this trick are not worried about being discrete or undiscovered. It’s all about getting the goods and making a break for it. The thief will simply ask to use your phone to make a call or look something up. It seems harmless, but after they get their hands on your device they bolt. Gone forever with your phone, unless you happen to be Usain Bolt.

The Bump

Another technique that is commonly used in congested areas is The Bump. We’ve all been walking around and been bumped into by passing strangers. It happens a lot. Thieves will use this to their advantage by purposefully bumping into you so they can snag your phone. The act of being bumped puts all of your attention on the stranger and the area of your body that was hit. You don’t feel the phone being lifted from your pocket or bag.

The Fake-out

This technique is one of the more complex on this list. Thief 1 will purposefully let you catch them “pickpocketing” you. What they are really doing is trying to be caught so your attention is on them and not Thief 2 who is actually pickpocketing you for real. This is a risky technique because it can draw attention to you, which makes it harder for a thief to be sneaky. When it works it works really well because you leave the encounter thinking you stopped a pickpocket.

The Sleeper

Do you often sleep on public transportation? If so, you are susceptible to this technique. It’s very simple, really. The thief waits until you fall asleep, then they will swipe your phone or your entire bag. This technique is particularly successful if you keep all of your valuables in a bag under your seat. Thieves are not picky. They will take the entire bag because it’s much easier to do quickly.

What can you do?


Now that we know the tricks used by pickpocketers we can think about how to prevent them from being used on you. For the purpose of this article we are talking about phones being stolen, but these techniques can obviously be used to steal any number of valuable objects. There are a few simple things you can do to avoid being pickpocketed.

  • A pickpocket can’t steal what you don’t have. Limit the amount of things that you carry on your person.
  • Be aware of the situation. Many of the techniques listed above only work in congested areas. If you find yourself in these situations pay extra attention to the contents of your pockets and bags.
  • Don’t be a target. This may sound impossible, but it’s not. Thieves will target people that they think look susceptible. Walk like you know where you’re going, keep your bag properly closed, and don’t have things hanging out of your pockets.
  • Pay attention to distractions. We don’t want you to stop helping people with directions or dropped items, but just pay closer attention in these situations. Is your phone peeking out of your pocket when you bend over? Did you set your bag on the ground to help?
  • Last but not least is to use anti-pickpocketing devices. If you’re super worried about these techniques you can put your phone or wallet on a chain connected to your pants or use a lock on your bag.

Have you or anyone you know been a victim of pickpocketing? Is this something you worry about, or do you not care? If you do care, what are you doing to prevent it from happening?

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The Best Samsung Galaxy S5 accessories Fri, 18 Jul 2014 17:16:36 +0000 Samsung Galaxy S5 DSC05766

When it comes to Android smartphones, Samsung’s Galaxy S line is about as ubiquitous as it gets. With the launch of the Galaxy S5 earlier this year, the market has become swamped with accessories and add-ons. It’s enough to make your head spin. We’ve waded through the mire to track down the best Galaxy S5 accessories out there — the ones that will help you get the most out of your smartphone. Let’s jump in.

Best Galaxy S5 smartwatch


Samsung Gear Live

Samsung’s Gear family of smartwatches were designed as companion devices for the popular Galaxy line of Android smartphones, so they are a no-brainer for our list of best accessories for the GS5. We’re particularly fond of the Gear Live, which runs on Google’s recently released Android Wear platform. A highlight of the device is its deft handling of voice commands. Also worth consideration are the Android Wear-powered LG G Watch and upcoming Moto 360. [Samsung Gear Live ($199.00), LG G Watch ($229.00) Motorola Moto 360 (coming soon)]

Other options:

Best Galaxy S5 expandable memory


64GB SanDisk MicroSDXC Class 10 memory card with SD adapter

You can’t got wrong with a bit of extra storage. We’re recommending a 64GB microSD card for its combination of storage space and pricing, but the Galaxy S5 can support cards with up to 128GB of storage. Use the extra space to store music and other media, apps and games, or whatever else you can think of. The bonus? Because the card is removable and includes a standard SD adapter your data is even more portable. [SanDisk 64GB Mobile Ultra MicroSDXC Class 10 Memory Card with SD Adapter ($39.99)]

Other options:

Best Galaxy S5 replacement battery


Galaxy S5 Spare Battery Charging System

The Samsung Galaxy S5 already boasts some impressive battery life, but it never hurts to have a little bit of extra juice. A replaceable power cell makes an extra battery pack a must-have accessory for those times when getting a charge just isn’t convenient. You can snag the spare 2800mAh battery alone for $29.99. [Galaxy S5 Spare Battery Charging System ($49.99)]

Other options:

Best Galaxy S5 charging system


Galaxy S5 Wireless Charging Cover and Charging Pad

You can buy an extended battery to delay the need for connecting your Galaxy S5 to a charger, but you can’t avoid the issue forever. When it does come time to re-up on power, what’s more convenient than wireless charging? With Samsung’s wireless charging accessories you get everything you need to make powering up as simple as placing your phone on the provided charging matt. [Wireless Charging Cover ($29.99), Wireless Charging Pad mini ($49.99)]

Other options: 

Best Galaxy S5 case


Galaxy S5 S-View Flip Cover case

The S-View Flip Cover is the rare combination of  protective case with added functionality, namely the S-View window that highlights a small portion of the Galaxy S5’s display to give users quick access to the date and time, notifications, as well as the ability to accept or reject incoming calls. Also available in a wireless charging-compatible version. [Galaxy S5 S-View Flip Cover ($49.99)]

Other options:

Best Galaxy S5 Bluetooth wireless speaker


Braven BRV-X Wireless Bluetooth Speaker

When it comes to pumping up the jams, the Braven BRV-X is one of the best on the market. Pair it with your Galaxy S5 and you have a portable party in your pocket. The BRV-X has great sound performance both indoors and out and features a ruggedized construction that is resistant to water, dust and dirt, and shock. Check out our full review for the lowdown. [Braven BRV-X Bluetooth Speaker ($189.00)]

Other options: 

Best Galaxy S5 headphones


Audio Technica AX5iS SonicFuel over-ear headphones

If you’re looking for a killer set of headphones you might consider the over-ear AX5iS from Audio Technica. From their SonicFuel line, you’ll get great sound reproduction from these headphones designed specifically for smartphones. Bonus features include playback controls as well as an in-line mic for taking calls [Audio Technica AX5iS SonicFuel headphones ($89.95)]

Other options:

Best Galaxy S5 vehicle dock


Universal Car Mount for Galaxy Devices

Samsung’s universal car mount for Galaxy devices makes it easy to go hands-free while driving or to use your GS5 as a powerful navigation device. The dock can be positioned both horizontally and vertically and will fit all Android devices with screen sizes ranging from 4 to 6.3 inches. [Galaxy Universal Vehicle Navigation Mount ($49.99)]

Other option:

Want to get even more out of your Galaxy S5? Become the master of your own Galaxy with our extensive list of tips and tricks. If that’s still not enough, join the countless others debating and dissecting the GS5 over at Android Forums now.

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7 cool tricks every Android phone user should know [VIDEO] Fri, 18 Jul 2014 16:59:14 +0000

Android is pretty cool. There are things you can do with an Android phone that iOS and Windows Phone users can only dream about. With a little imagination the possibilities are nearly infinite. Since there are so many different things you can do with an Android phone it’s inevitable to be unaware of some basic tricks. We’ve compiled a list of seven cool tricks that every Android user should know.

1. Do a Google search from anywhere

google any

One of the best things about having an Android device is the tight integration of Google services. In the latest versions of the Google Search app for Android they have enabled users to do searches from anywhere. All you have to do is turn on your phone and say “Ok, Google.” It’s fast and super handy when you want to quickly find something. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Open the Google Search app
  2. Go to Settings > Voice
  3. Go to “Ok Google Detection”
  4. Enable “From any screen”
  5. Train the app to recognize your voice

2. Make your phone snappy with faster animations

One of the most common complaints about Android is “lagginess.” For whatever reason Google has never been able to get Android on the same buttery smooth level as iOS or even Windows Phone. In the last few versions they have made some serious improvements, but if you still feel like your phone is a little laggy there is a trick for speeding things up. Google has hidden some secret developer options inside the Settings. Inside the secret developer options is settings for animation and transition speed. Here’s how to speed things up.

  1. Open Settings > About phone
  2. Scroll down and tap on “Build number” 7 times
  3. Now go back to Settings and you should see new “Developer options”
  4. Adjust the window and transition animation scales to .5x or turn them off completely

3. Locate and wipe your lost phone

Losing your phone is one of the worst things that can happen. These devices contain sensitive information and private data. If your phone falls into the wrong hands it could put you in a world of trouble. There are apps you can download to help in the event of a lost phone, but in order for them to work you need to have them installed before something bad happens. Luckily there is a built-in way to find your lost phone and even wipe all of your personal data.

  1. Double-check to make sure Android Device Manager is installed
  2. Go to
  3. Select your phone from the menu
  4. Now you can see the location, ring it, lock it, or erase it

Check out our in-depth guide on how to find lost or stolen phones.

4. Scrub through songs on lockscreen

scrub lock

When you’re playing music on your phone the lockscreen gets taken over with beautiful album art and media controls. These controls allow you to go back, play/pause, or skip to the next song without having to fully unlock the device. However, that’s not all you can do with those buttons. A little known feature is the ability to scrub through a song from the lockscreen. It’s stupidly easy to do, but not an obvious feature.

  1. With music playing, long-press on the media control buttons
  2. Scrub through the song with the newly present bar

5. Put widgets on the lockscreen

Widgets have long been a selling point of Android, and remain to be a unique feature of the OS. Most people love to deck out their homescreen with widgets, but you don’t have to stop there. Ever since Android 4.—— the lockscreen can also be a place for widgets. This gives users quick access to pertinent information without even unlocking the device. Lockscreen widgets are not turned on by default. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Go to Settings > Security
  2. Tap “Enable widgets”
  3. Go to the lockscreen and swipe to the left screen
  4. Tap the [+] button and choose a widget

6. Save battery in the GPS settings

If you don’t rely on location data a lot you could be saving some precious battery life. Android has a built-in setting that allows you to determine how you want your phone to find your location. There are three different modes: high accuracy, battery saving, and device only. This trick isn’t for everyone, but if you don’t care about location it’s a nice way to save some juice.

  1. Go to Settings > Location
  2. Tap on “Mode”
  3. Select your desired location mode

7. Change what app launches with the home button shortcut


On devices with software buttons you can launch Google Search by swiping up on the home button. Some devices with hardware buttons allow you to do this with a long-press on the home button. An app called Home Button Launcher allows you to use this gesture to launch any app you would like. This gives you quick access to your favorite apps from anywhere on the phone. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Download Home Button Launcher from Google Play
  2. Swipe up or long press the home button
  3. Tap Home Button Launcher and make it default
  4. Tap the menu icon and select “Add”
  5. Choose all the app you wish to appear in the shortcut

What are your tricks?

We’re sure some of you veteran Android users are aware of all these tricks. Be sure to show them to all your Android-toting friends. Which tricks do you use that are not well-known? Have you discovered any tricks of your own? Share your favorites with us in the comments below!

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It’s time to stop treating Android Wear like a phone Wed, 16 Jul 2014 19:15:56 +0000 phonewear

Android community, we need to talk.

There are a lot of awesome Android developers/hackers out there. They do amazing things that I can’t even dream of doing. Need Android on an old Windows Mobile phone? Done. How about a WebOS device? Piece of cake. Flappy Bird on my smartwatch? No problem. These projects, and many others like them, were done because they could be done. If there is one thing that Android hackers love to do it’s pushing the limits. That is not always a good thing.

Android Wear is the newest member of the Android family. At Google I/O thousands of developers got their hands on the first devices, and last week they shipped to everyone else. Almost immediately we started seeing apps for Android Wear pop up in the Play Store. It started with apps from brand names adding Wear support, but recently we’ve been seeing a new breed of apps developed specifically for your watch.


Many of these new Android Wear apps are completely missing the point of what Google intended for Wear. I’m certainly not the first person to bring this up, but it has been on my mind ever since I mentioned it on the Mobile Roar Podcast last week. Android developers and hackers are once again pushing the limits of what these devices can do, and it could have major ramifications for the future of the Android Wear platform.

The second I saw someone make an app launcher for Android Wear I knew something was wrong. The fact that users were so excited to see this app made me realize it even more. Launching apps is purposefully tedious because it’s not supposed to be a common action. Android Wear is all about getting things done quickly with your voice or simple swipes. Heavy app usage is meant for your phone. This is not just my opinion, either. Google has clearly outlined how they want Wear apps to work.

In Google’s official guideline video for designing for Android Wear you can hear the presenter say “inputs requiring fine-grained motor skills are avoided.” Many of the current Android Wear apps are guilty of violating this. Apps like calculators and keyboards have no place on a tiny watch display. Some of you may ask “but why does Google get to decide how I use my smartwatch?”


The Android ecosystem is no stranger to smartwatches. Samsung has created several smartwatches that run Android, but none of them have done particularly well. Using one of Samsung’s Galaxy Gear devices is like using a tiny version of your phone on your wrist. Some of them even have a camera. Most critics of these devices point to that very reason as to why they’ve failed. A smartwatch is not supposed to be treated like a phone, but that is exactly what’s happening to Android Wear.

Which leads us to the reason why you should trust Google to tell you how to use Android Wear. They have a clear vision for this platform to be something more than just apps. Google is trying to do something valuable with wearables. They don’t just want to slap Android on your wrist and be done with it. However, if users are clamoring for apps like the launcher or widgets, and not giving Wear a chance to be something unique, it could determine the direction Google takes the platform. At the end of the day Google wants users.

The future of Android Wear is in our hands (and on our wrists). Many of the limitations of Wear are there for a reason. These devices are companions, not replacements. There is a reason you see the “Launch on phone” button so often throughout the UI. If you can’t perform the action with a few taps or voice commands it should be done with your phone. This is hard for people to realize, especially when you have a shiny new toy to play with. Embrace a new and different experience. Embrace using your voice. Let’s make Android Wear great.

What do you think?

Whether you have an Android Wear device or not we want to hear your opinion. Should Android Wear apps be shrunken down versions of phone apps? Do you want your watch to have the same functionality as your phone? What should an Android Wear app do for you?

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16 Best Android Games for 2 Players Tue, 15 Jul 2014 18:16:55 +0000 2Player

Local multiplayer games are a dying breed in the world of gaming. Most multiplayer games nowadays can only work if you’re connected to the internet. Sure, it’s fun to pwn noobs from across the world, but sometimes you want to pwn the person sitting right next to you.

Local multiplayer games are perfect for passing time with your friends on plane rides, while waiting for food at a restaurant, hospital waiting rooms, and tons of other boring places. It can be hard to find a good Android game with local multiplayer, but we’ve done all the work for you. Check out these great games for two (or more) players!


Gentlemen! is a Victorian era-themed head-to-head arcade battle. You and a friend duel on the same screen with knives, bombs, homing pigeons, and much more. The controls are on opposite sides so you can sit across from a buddy and compete. Gentlemen! works best on a tablet that is 7-inches or bigger. Many of the games on this list include local multiplayer, but this game was built for it. It’s a little pricey at $4.67, but you can split it with your friend.

2 Player Reactor


2 Player Reactor is a classic game. It starts with you and a friend take opposite sides of a device. The game consists of 18 random mini games that cycle quickly. One second you’re being asked to find a sad face in a crowd of smiles, next you’re being asked to solve a simple math equation. Each mini game requires fast reaction time in order to earn points. But you can’t just mash the button, wrong answers result in negative points. It’s a hectic and exciting game that is perfect to play with friends, plus it’s free.

UNO & Friends


If you’ve never played UNO before I have serious doubts about whether you’re really a human. This timeless card game is tons of fun, and you can play it on Android too. The basic idea is to get rid of cards by discarding ones with the appropriate numbers or colors. The player who discards all of their cards first is the winner. UNO & Friends utilizes the “pass & play” mechanic so your friends can’t spy on your cards. UNO is fun for all ages and completely free.



BADLAND is an epic side-scrolling adventure platformer. It’s rare to see multiplayer platformers on mobile because of the screen real estate for controls, but BADLAND pulls it off. The local multiplayer in BADLAND is pure chaotic fun. The goal is to survive as long as possible through the many obstacles, but you can sabotage your friends and improve your odds. There is also a co-op mode if you’re feeling nice. BADLAND is available for free.

Edge of the World

There was a time when people thought the world was flat. They actually feared going off the edge in a ship. Nowadays we don’t worry about such things, but in Edge of the World it’s the name of the game. You and a friend take turns launching ships to see who can get closest to the edge. Of course you can also just knock your friends ships off the edge to win. It’s a lot like shuffle board. There are five different captains to choose from which come with different powers. This game is available for free.

Worms 2


One of the original “Pass & Play” games was Worms. In this classic game you control a team of worms. At your disposal is a long list of weapons and actions that you can use to defeat your opponents’ team of worms. Players take turns attacking each other until only one team remains. Some weapons do more damage than others, and some can only be used once, or after so many turns. If you’ve never played Worms you are really missing out. Worms 2 costs $4.99, but it’s worth every penny.

Sea Battle


If you’ve never played Battleship you are seriously missing out. This classic two-player board game has been recreated for Android dozens of times, but the best version is Sea Battle. In this version there are tons of new options that aren’t available in the board game. They have added bombers, mines, anti-aircraft defense, radars, and more. It’s tons of fun, and of course it can be played with two people on the same device. Sea Battle is available for free in the Play Store.

Action for 2 Players


“Action for 2 Players” may be the most aptly named app in the Play Store. It is what it is: action for two people at once. There are three games to choose from: tablet soccer, tank fight, car race. Tablet soccer is a lot like air hockey. Tank fight is the classic game where you drive around and shoot at each other. Car race is a simple top-down racing game. All of these games can be played with 2-4 players at one time. Use a tablet for best results. This game is available for free.

4 in a Row


Connect Four is a classic strategy game for two players. The goal of the game is to get 4 discs in a row, which is where this Android version of the game gets its name. The game consists of an upright board with 42 holes. Players take turns dropping colored discs from the top. The goal is to get four of your discs in a row. Think of it like tic-tac-toe, but gravity pulls all of the X’s and O’s to the bottom. To win you need to strategically plan out your moves. It’s a lot of fun and can be yours for free.

2 Player Touch


2 Player Touch is similar to 2 Player Reactor. It consists of 12 mini game stages with an emphasis on being first to react. The mini games are completely different from 2 Player Reactor, and instead of having just one button to press you get three or more. The graphics are bright, colorful, and fun. If you’re looking to show off your reaction time this is another game to check out. It’s completely free from the Play Store.



Everyone has played Hangman at least once in their life. This game requires no introduction, but I will give one just in case we have any rookies out there. One player picks a word for the other player to guess. For every incorrect letter the man gets closer to being hung. It’s a little gruesome if you think about it, but it’s fun nonetheless. We love the cute graphics of this particular version, and it’s free.

Math Duel


If numbers and equations are things that you enjoy we have the perfect game for you. Math Duel is a fun two-player game for people who can do quick calculations in their head. Players use opposite sides of the display to solve math problems. For each correct answer you get a point, and for each incorrect answer you lose one. It’s a fun and competitive way to pass the time and learn a thing or two in the process. Kids 7 years old and up should be able to do the math, and it’s free to download.

Tic Tac Toe


Sometimes all you want to do is play some good old-fashioned tic tac toe. Of course there are plenty of tic tac toe apps in the Play Store, but we like this one the best. For those of you who shockingly don’t know how to play tic tac toe: players take turns making marks in a 3×3 grid in attempt to get 3 in a row. That’s it. It’s the most basic time killing game on the face of the Earth, and of course it’s free.

Dots and Boxes


Another super simple and classic time killing game is Dots and Boxes. This game is popular among elementary school kids because it’s the perfect use for graphing paper. In this version of Dots and Boxes the grid is made up of 49 dots. Players take turns connecting dots with horizontal or vertical lines. If your line is the fourth side of a box it fills in with your color and you get another turn. The player to make the most boxes wins. It’s easy, it’s fun, and it’s free.

2 Players Duel


In this game you and a friend take to the skies and control fighter jets. Each player gets their own controls on opposite side of the device. The goal of the game is to maneuver your jet so you can shoot the other player. The first player to get 10 successful hits is the winner. The only buttons at your disposal are left, right, jet, and fire. Like many of the games on this list, it’s super simple, but also tons of fun. It’s also available for free.

Two Player Fruit Shoot


Finally, a way to play Fruit Ninja with two players. Two Player Fruit Shoot substitutes ninja swords for bows and arrows, but the fruit slaying is all the same. The big bonus to this fruit-based game is that you can compete against a friend on the same device. Each player gets a side of the screen, and fruit is flung up between them. Whoever shoots the fruit first gets the points. It’s that simple, and it’s free. Kill some fruit!


Local multiplayer games are an under-appreciated genre. We hope this list has opened your eyes to some new games to play with your friends. Do you have any favorite games to whip out when you’re bored with friends? Do you have any suggestions that didn’t make our list? Let us know!

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Top 10 Android dating apps and the people you’ll meet using them Tue, 15 Jul 2014 17:46:25 +0000 android-dating-apps

Dating is hard. First you have to actually get dressed and leave the house. Then you have to go to public places and actually talk to people, bracing for rejection 90 percent of the time. For a lonely single, that sounds like a whole lot of work. Why even take a shower or brush your teeth when finding love is only a few swipes away on your Android device? Here are the top dating apps you should be using to find love (or a quick hook up) and the type of people you will meet on each.



Swipe to the right if you like them. Swipe to the left if you don’t. Tinder might just be the hottest dating app around these days, and it earns that status thanks to a simplified interface that provides minimal details on potential matches, instead asking you to make a decision based largely on appearance. If you both swipe right, it’s a match and you can begin communicating. Tinder has been dubbed little more than a “hook up” app by concerned parents and conservative fearmongers, but if you think it’s that easy to find a little fun in the sheets you will be sorely mistaken.

Who you’ll meet

For guys: Are these girls looking to hook up? The fact that they are on Tinder suggests so, but they would never admit it. You’ll have to do most of the talking, and expect some hesitancy when trying to arrange a date as your match attempts to decipher whether you are merely a creeper looking to get in her pants or not.

For girls: Prepare yourself for countless and sundry unsolicited proposals of the sexual variety. Sure, there might be some nice guys lurking somewhere on Tinder, but most conversations start with an icebreaker along the lines of “OMGZ SO YOU WANT TO SEE A DICK PIC OR WHAT!?”



This internet dating stalwart tends to attract individuals often described as “alternative” and is a haven for lonely hipster singles. While OkCupid has always focused on pairing up couples via a match percentage determined by completing a series of questions covering life views, relationship etiquette, and personal opinions, their mobile app has been updated to include Tinder-like picture swiping. While not as immediately satisfying as Tinder in that regard, it does add a bit of life to the search for Mr. or Ms. Right. Expect plenty of messaging before setting up an inevitably awkward first date at a local coffee shop or bar.

Who you’ll meet:

For guys: You know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words? In the case of OkCupid, a picture is worth just about nothing. Don’t expect your date to look even remotely like the carefully curated set of photos posted to her profile, but do expect a women who will likely bring up the idea of a long-term, committed relationship on the first date.

For girls: With OkCupid you pretty much have two options: Fedora Guy or sexual predator. In the case of the latter, see the above section pertaining to Tinder. If you’re lucky, you might stumble across a sensitive hipster who will likely bring up the idea of a long-term, committed relationship on the first date.



Hinge aims to take some of the creeper factor out of the dating app genre by setting you up with potential matches that already know your IRL friends. Hinge also adds an air of exclusivity by only presenting you with five matches to evaluate per day. The goal is to make meeting up less awkward and provide potential couples with a starting point for getting to know each other. If you manage to find a friend-of-a-friend who didn’t already reject you at that one party where you got a little too drunk, expect the majority of your conversation to center around boring stories of how you met your mutual acquaintances.

Who you’ll meet

For guys: Remember that party we just mentioned where you got too drunk? Expect to see plenty of girls you crushed on from across the room along with other blasts from the past including college and high school classmates. The bad news? Chances are she didn’t take an interest way back when and she still won’t.

For girls: Remember that guy that wouldn’t stop staring at you from across the room at your friend’s party?  He’s on Hinge, and he is probably messaging you right now.



OK, so this one isn’t technically an Android app (yet — you can still access it via the mobile web, however), but the concept is such a refreshing take on internet matchmaking that we had to include it. That Grouper sets up two groups of friends (three guys, three girls) on a pre-arranged date at a local bar or restaurant — complete with a concierge for introductions and a round of drinks — is novel. Not so novel? The fact that these group encounters tend to dissolve quickly and you’re no more likely to hit it off with your match than with any other app on this list — with or without wingmen.

Who you’ll meet

For guys: With three options you can’t lose, right? Wrong. One girl probably has a boyfriend. The other was dragged along by her friend and is only there for moral support. This leaves one eligible bachelorette who will no doubt take an interest in any other member of the group that isn’t you. Wait, who is the wingman on this date again?

For girls: You thought one dude from the internet lusting after you was creepy enough? Try three. While Grouper presents its group scenario as an innocent way for guys and gals to meet in a comfortable, friendly setting, don’t think for a second that one or all of the guys isn’t hoping the situation might devolve into an orgy that would make even Caligula jealous.

Down Dating


What happens when you combine the swipe-if-you-like-them approach of Tinder with the friends-of-friends approach of Hinge? You get Down Dating, the since-refined brand of an app that launched initially as Bang with Friends. Subtle, amirite? As far as we can tell, the goal of the app is still to locate hook-up partners from within your circle of connections, but at least it now masquerades as a service that aims to bring together mutual acquaintances that might not have met otherwise. Expect most proposed dates to revolve around “watching Netflix” and several bottles of wine.

Who you’ll meet

For guys: You didn’t come here looking for love, and she didn’t either. We can’t promise that “friends with benefits” won’t evolve into “it’s complicated,” however.

For girls: You didn’t come here looking for love, and he didn’t either. Be OK with the idea that this guy will likely bombard you with drunken booty calls at 1AM for the foreseeable future.



eHarmony might as well be when compared to the other apps on this list. With a userbase that skews a bit on the older side, eHarmony is best reserved for those with dreams of wedding bells in their future. The app itself doesn’t offer many compelling features beyond what you will find on eHarmony’s web portal. It’s one of the few dating services that runs its own “relationship research facility” to help its users locate the perfect match. While those matches might be great for you, expect your life plans to be a focal point of any first date.

Who you’ll meet

For guys: Mature doesn’t necessarily mean old, but don’t be surprised if your date is a single mom (in most cases she won’t bring the kiddo along) or makes more money than you.

For girls: These career-oriented gents just don’t have time for dating or the singles scene. Refreshing is the fact that they are less interested in hook-ups and more interested in finding a longterm partner.


While might not carry the stigma of catering to as old a crowd as eHarmony (but still a slightly more mature audience than other dating apps we have covered), expect a fairly similar experience here. users are looking for the one, and they are willing to pay cold hard cash to find a life partner. With the focus on longterm commitment, most dates will evolve into an intense, weeks to months-long trial relationship that may or may not fizzle out as quickly as it started.

Who you’ll meet

For guys: is the stomping ground of the serial monogamist. She jumps from serious boyfriend to serious boyfriend with little recovery time between. You could be next.

For girls: He’s the sweet sensitive guy just looking for love, but it comes at a price. Things could get awkward pretty quickly. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.



Grindr is the go-to hook up app for gay men and arguably the inspiration for Tinder and other dating apps without such a specific audience. Grindr was the first of the genre to successfully leverage location data to connect singles with potential matches in their area. While we are sure a few longterm relationships have grown from the seeds planted by a Grindr meet-up, users of the app can expect the majority of their “dates” to consist of brief, passionate trysts.

Who you’ll meet

For guys: Men looking for love, but not necessarily relationships. Be prepared for solicitations from older gentleman and young guys alike, as Grindr users run the gamut.

For girls: Perhaps some eye candy, but this is not the app for you.

Plenty of Fish


Touted as the “world’s largest dating site,” Plenty of Fish gives you plenty of opportunities. Whether you’re looking for a fun date or simply more, chances are you should be able to find someone to accompany you on the journey of love. The app itself combines elements of OkCupid (more robust profiles and browsing) and Tinder (swipe-able matches) to help you track down the perfect partner.

Who you’ll meet

For guys: The women here are pretty akin to those that also spend time browsing OkCupid, though Plenty of Fish tends to attract a slightly more mainstream audience. Be wary of the serial monogamists lurking here, as well.

For girls: Finding a straightforward man on Plenty of Fish isn’t the easiest task. The dudes here seem to deal in deception, offering an idealistic version of themselves in hopes of luring in a date.



HowAboutWe is different from many of the apps on this list in the fact that it attempts to match up singles based on proposed date ideas rather than profile pics and match percentages (don’t worry, you can still ogle your match before the date). The app aims to skip the small talk by providing the parameters of the date up front (if you’re lacking in ideas it will make suggestions based on location). Expect an early morning trip to the farmer’s market or coffee and a bike ride over drinks at a bar or dinner and a movie.

Who you’ll meet

For guys: You know that girl who can’t stop talking about her Pinterest board? She’s waiting for you at that new independently-owned cafe in that newly gentrified neighborhood with a tall iced mocha latte in hand.

For girls: His date idea says “go on a long walk through a city park,” but that’s all pretense for what will likely evolve into the typical “let’s go grab a drink” in hopes that inhibitions will be lowered enough to get what he really came for.

Which is a match for you?

We’ve covered quite a few dating apps, and while all are a fun way to meet new people and perhaps go on a few dates (and score a few free drinks in the process), which is the best match for what you are looking for? Let’s break it down.

You’re looking for…

  • A quick hookup: Down Dating, Grindr
  • A good time, maybe more: Tinder, HowAboutWe
  • A serious relationship: OkCupid, eHarmony,, Plenty of Fish
  • The least awkward date possible: Grouper, Hinge

Editor’s Pick: Tinder

For its mix of addictive match swiping, easy conversation starters, and casual dating experience, Tinder is the perfect app for those looking to get their feet wet in the digital dating scene without committing a lot of time and effort into filling out profiles, completing match quizzes, and browsing through thousands of singles without aim. The app’s focus on location means new users could be set up with a date in a mere matter of hours. What comes next is all up to you.

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Android Wallpaper: Matias Duarte Shirts Sat, 12 Jul 2014 16:00:31 +0000 android wallpaper matias

See past editions of Android Wallpaper

Not many software designers are as well-known as Matias Duarte. In 2010 he was hired by Google after three years of designing the user experience of Palm OS. At this time Android was considered clunky and ugly. Fast forward four years and Matias has helped completely revamp the look and feel of all Google services and products. Android fans love Matias for his great design sense, but he is also known for something else: his shirts.

Whenever Matias takes the stage at a keynote or does an interview he likes to wear flamboyant shirts. This has become Matias’ signature look, and people have come to expect it with each event. In honor of Matias Duarte we dedicate this edition of Android Wallpaper to his shirts. We have chosen five HD patterns that would look great on Matias and your Android device. To get one of these on your phone, tablet, or PC simply tap or click the download link underneath each image. #PraiseDuarte

Push new Android Wallpaper to your Android device with this IFTTT recipe.

Blue Feathers

blue feathers

Download (2560 x 1600)


Floral Pattern

Download (2560 x 1600)

Abstract Paint

paint pattern

Download (2560 x 1600)

Red Flowers

red floral crazy

Download (2560 x 1600)


drops pattern

Download (2560 x 1600)

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How are you liking your Android Wear watch so far? [POLL] Sat, 12 Jul 2014 14:00:30 +0000  

LG G Watch Android Wear DSC06106

Earlier this week patient Android fans were greeted with shiny new smartwatches. The LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live, which went on sale back at Google I/O, finally arrived on door steps. All week we’ve been seeing new apps, tips, and discoveries from the vibrant group of Android Wear early adopters. If you’re a member of that group we want to know how you’re liking everything so far.

While many of us wait for the Moto 360 we have to live vicariously through those of you who already have an Android Wear device. We have so many questions for you! Are you happy with your purchase? Do you find yourself pulling out your phone less? How is battery life? What apps are you using? Has anyone asked you about your watch? What is your favorite thing about Android Wear?

If you don’t feel like answering all of those questions we have an easier poll for you below. Submit your response and tell us a little about your experience so far. Hopefully we can get a good discussion going and maybe share some tips and tricks. If you’re interested in talking to fellow users be sure to check out the G Watch and Gear Live forums.

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40+ Android Wear Voice Commands [VIDEO] Fri, 11 Jul 2014 17:44:11 +0000 One of Android Wear’s neatest features – whether with the Moto 360, Samsung Gear Live, LG G Watch, or another device – is the ability to trigger helpful features and actions using your voice. If you spend some time learning and memorizing the available voice command options, you’ll find it greatly expands the value, enjoyment, and usefulness of your new watch.

Voice commands are easy to initiate: simply tap your watch’s home screen once, or if you’re not on the home screen, say “Okay Google.” Now you’re ready to rock… here are 40+ Android Wear voice commands worth putting to use.

Send messages

In addition to replying to incoming messages, you can initiate new text messages and e-mails by choosing a medium and speaking the contact’s name out loud.

This works best when you speak the name of a contact whose E-Mail address you have saved, but you can also speak the actual e-mail address out loud if it’s straight forward enough for Google to understand. Chances are an e-mail to your new penpal won’t work.

  • “Send a text to [Steve Albright]
  • “Email [Steve Albright]
  • “Call [Steve Albright]

Set reminders

If you’re like me, you have a habit of either forgetting way too many things in your mental filing cabinet or e-mailing yourself one line messages as reminders when they randomly pop into your head. Now even the most forgetful folk can stay organized without pulling out their phone or typing a single word.

  • “Take a note [Android Wear is awesome]
  • “Note to self [she likes sunflowers and her favorite color is orange]
  • “Remind me to [give mom her birthday gift]
  • “Remind me to [take my medicine] [at 1PM]
  • “Remind me to [call mom] when I’m at [home]

Stay on schedule

Keeping organized has a lot to do with knowing what you have to do and when. Thankfully all Android Wear devices work with Google Calendar and have some built in functionality for time tracking. In addition to the Google Now notification cards, you can proactively stay on schedule with the following voice commands:

  • “Wake me up in [5 hours]
  • “Agenda for today”
  • “Set a timer for [30 minutes]
  • “Set an alarm for [7AM]
  • “Show alarms”

Travel & Navigation

Thought not shown in the video, Android Wear’s Call a Car feature is perhaps my favorite… when it works. Simply say the command and a connected service like Lyft will soon be at your beck and call. You can also find businesses, navigate to locations or contacts, and get information about hotel and flight reservations. Driving directions and navigation with Android Wear should be avoided… pedestrians only (safety first!).

  • “Call a Car” (requests a Lyft ride)
  • “Find [Dogwatch Tavern]
  • “Where is [Camden Yards]
  • “Navigate to [333 West Camden Street]
  • “Get directions to [Camden Yards]” …
  • “Get walking directions to [Camden Yards]
  • “Get biking directions to [Camden Yards]
  • “Get driving directions to [Camden Yards]
  • “Get public transportation directions to [Camden Yards]
  • “What’s the traffic to [New York City]
  • “Where is my hotel?”
  • “How far is [Boston] from [Baltimore?]

Fitness focus

Watches and wristbands like FitBit and Jawbone could be in serious trouble as Android Wear officially includes fitness features by default. The Samsung Gear Live adds a heart rate monitor and I’m sure more fitness oriented devices and apps will soon be on the way. You can already find services like RunKeeper offering Android Wear support.

  • “Show me my steps”
  • “Show me my heart rate”
  • “Start stopwatch”


Don’t consider your Android Watch an entertainment device itself – the screen is far too small – but consider it a helpful gadget for facilitating entertaining experiences like finding movies and controlling to your music. Thought I wouldn’t be surprised if some enterprising Android Devs found a way to build a new generation of games that take the screen size and experience into consideration.

  • “Play Music”
  • “Listen to [Jay-Z]
  • “Listen to [99 Problems]
  • “What’s the closest [movie theatre]

Get answers from Google

In many ways, Google Now and the Google Knowledge Graph have taken over the Google experience on Android Wear. The info is beamed directly to your watch when Google finds it is time appropriate, but don’t be afraid to ask for additional info. Here are some Google searches that yield beautiful, native-looking Android Wear responses.

  • “When is sunset?”
  • “What time is it in London?”
  • “How’s the weather in Baltimore?”
  • “Weather in Baltimore this weekend”
  • “Where was Babe Ruth born”
  • “What’s Google’s stock price?”
  • “Translate [Hello] to [Spanish]“
  • “Convert [7 pounds] to [grams]“
  • “How old is Will Smith?”
  • “Score of the Orioles game”
  • “Orioles schedule”
  • “What is the square root of 7,196″

Launch and control apps

Without nice big home screens to swipe around, finding and launching Android  Wear apps on your watch could be a pain. Thankfully you can use the “Start [App Name]” command to launch wear capable apps directly or simply say “Start” to get a scrollable list of all available apps.

To demonstrate, we’ve listed some of our favorite Android Wear apps below… try downloading and launching with the “Start” command:

Easter Eggs!

There are some less useful but fun things that Android Wear can do, too… and you may recognize these: they’ll work on your Android Phone, too.

  • Go Go Gadget [App Name] to launch an app
  • “What is the Bacon number of [actor/actress]?”
  • What is the loneliest number?”
  • “What is the answer to life, the universe, and everything?”

What else?

This is a comprehensive list but the number of available voice commands will quickly expand as Google continues to grow Android Wear and developers integrate 3rd party support.

Share your favorite finds and most used Android Voice commands in the comments below!

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Say “Go Go Gadget” to launch Android Wear Apps [VIDEO] Thu, 10 Jul 2014 14:47:04 +0000

Nowadays when someone says “gadget” we think of phones, tablets, or computers, but back in the day it was the namesake of a dim-witted cyborg detective. Inspector Gadget had all the coolest gadgets at his disposal, and all he had to do to use one was simply say “Go Go Gadget _____.” Everyone wishes they could do this themselves, and now with Android Wear you can!

You may be familiar with an Easter Egg in Google Now that lets users launch apps by saying “Go Go Gadget [app name]. Since Android Wear relies heavily on Google Now for voice commands you can also do this on your smartwatch, which is a million times cooler than doing it on a phone. Simple tap or say “Ok Google” and then say, for example, “Go Go Gadget Compass.” Try it yourself!


Bum Ba Dum Ba Dum Inspector Gadget

“Go Go Gadget” is just one Google Now Easter egg that works on Android Wear. Here are a couple other ones you can impress your friends with:

  • What is the loneliest number?
  • What is the answer to life, the universe, and everything?
  • What is the Bacon number of [random actor]?

We love the little Easter Eggs that Google hides in their products. Go up to any little kid and launch on an app on your watch with the “Go Go Gadget” command and watch their amazement. What other Easter Eggs have you found in Android Wear?

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Could rollable phones (and TVs) be the next flip phone? Thu, 10 Jul 2014 03:24:29 +0000 There was a time when flip phones ruled the world… just ask Motorola. Those are long gone, but LG is working on the next generation of screen technology that could make rollable phones the next most highly coveted genre of smart phone.

Flexible (Rollable) OLED_01

If you don’t think that’s awesome, you must be amish.

The new technology shown above is actually an 18-inch flexible OLED display made by LG that was just announced and has the potential to revolutionize what we consider today as “pocketable” or “wearable” tech. This large screen can be rolled up into a toilet paper style cylinder that’s only 3cm in radius, has a resolution of 1200×810, and packs almost 1 million pixels.

LG has positioned this tech in terms of televisions, claiming that the company could even make a 50-inch TV of this kind in the future. I can picture it now:

  • Boy: Hey Mom, wheres the TV?
  • Mom: Not sure, dad was using it last.
  • Dad: Check between the couch cushions!

This technology could arrive sooner than you think, with LG aiming for release of a 60-inch rollable TV by 2017.

We are confident that by 2017, we will successfully develop an Ultra HD flexible and transparent OLED panel of more than 60 inches, which will have transmittance of more than 40 percent and a curvature radius of 100R, thereby leading the future display market

Transparent OLED

Flexible (Rollable) OLED_02

The lateral move to bring this technology from TVs to phones, tablets, and other screens won’t be easy; there’s a lot of underlying modules and hardware in these devices that could make engineering them more difficult. But where there’s a will there’s a way, and based on what we’re seeing above, LG is going to get there.

Remember the good ‘ol days when families would eat breakfast together, dad would finish his cereal, roll up his newspaper, clamp it under his armpit, kiss the wife and kids goodbye and rush off to work? They might be coming back… only that newspaper will be made by LG and there will be just as many moms following suit.

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Best Android Apps for learning Spanish, Japanese, and other languages Wed, 09 Jul 2014 19:59:28 +0000 language droid

Hola. Learning a new language can be extremely challenging. Many people take on this task when it’s a requirement in school, but a growing amount of people are doing it on their own. Some do it for their careers, others for travel. Some do it for fun, others for practical purposes. Regardless of the reason, everyone who decides to learn a language will need help.

Contrary to what you may hear from TV infomercials, learning a new language isn’t as simple as buying a CD or tape. Language is an art that requires participation- thankfully we now have phones, tablets, and even watches that provide the perfect medium for interactive language learning.

Android users will find a plethora of learning options out there, so to make your lives easier we’ve compiled our list of the best Android apps for learning languages (with some special focus on apps for learning Spanish and apps for learning Japanese).

Multiple Languages



Languages: Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, and English
Price: Free

Duolingo is the best app for learning languages on Android. Full stop. Like many language learning services try to do, Duolingo turns learning into an addictive game. Each lesson comes with a few “hearts” that act like lives in a video game. For each incorrect answer you lose one heart. Complete the lesson and you can earn achievements. It’s very fun, and the lessons are short enough that you can complete one whenever you have a few minutes.

Another great feature of Duolingo is the design and developer support. Duolingo has a great tablet interface, embraces the Android design language, and was one of the first to support Android Wear. On your watch you can see flash cards and swipe through answers. Oh, and did we mention all of this is completely free? And you can use it on the web and iOS? Yep, it’s pretty great.



Languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Brazilian Portuguese, Swedish, Turkish, Polish, Dutch, Norwegian, Danish, Indonesian
Price: Free

Babbel for Android brings all of the great courses from to your mobile device. This app is perfect for anyone with or without previous knowledge of a second language. Babbel provides exercises for people of all learning types, inducing listening, writing, and speaking. The built-in voice recognition is great at making sure you’re speaking the language correctly. This app offers a wide variety of languages, but Babbel also offers dedicated apps to go more in-depth with a specific language. All of Babbel’s apps require a subscription.



Languages: Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Mexican Spanish
Price: Free

Memrise is a very unique way to learn new languages. You create “mems” which are meme-like pictures to help you remember a word. The idea is you will remember the funny picture and the words that go with it. Just like how kids use songs to memorize things. If you’re not feeling creative you can use mems that other users have made. If you are a more visual learner this is a great service to check out. Memrise is also great for other topics besides languages, such as learning geography.

Learn 50 Languages


Languages: 50+
Price: Free contains over 100 lessons that provide you with a basic vocabulary, this free app provides 30 of those lessons. With no prior knowledge required, you will learn to speak short sentences in real-world situations. 50languages corresponds to the Common European Framework levels A1 and A2, which means it’s suitable for all types of schools and students. If you learned a language in school this app will be great in refreshing your memory. 50languages also provides dedicated apps for several languages.



Languages: French, Spanish, German, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, English
Price: Paid

As the name implies, Phrasebook contains over 800 commonly used phrases and vocabularies. You won’t exactly learn a language this way, but the app is especially useful when you travel to countries where you are not familiar with the language. However, Phrasebook is much more than just a travel guide. You can learn languages by working with the parrot. Simply repeat after him, or use him to speak on your behalf.



Languages: Spanish, French, Italian, German, Japanese, Polish, Russian, Portuguese, Turkish, Chinese, English
Price: Free

busuu describes itself as a “social network for learning languages.” When you sign up for a free account you are joining over 40 million other native language speakers. busuu offers 150 everyday topics containing 3,000 words and phrases. The courses are based on the CEFR, which is a recognized framework for learning languages. Since busuu is a social network you can get feedback from people who natively speak the languages you want to learn. This is a personal touch that not many other language learning apps can provide.



Languages: English, German, Spanish, French, Italian
Price: Free

Courses123 is one of the newer apps on this list. This app was made to utilize modern technology to help people learn new languages. Some of the techniques used include badges, achievements, progress meters, and a very easy to use UI. Courses123 uses flash cards and audio to teach new words and phrases. If you like the “game-ification” of education this is another fun app to try.



Languages: English, French, Spanish, Japanese, Italian, German, Russian, Chinese, Portuguese, Swedish, Korean, Dutch
Price: Free

LingQ is a great language learning app for people who want to listen to audio lessons. The old-fashioned way to learn a new language was to play cassette tapes, but now we have apps like LingQ which make it even easier. If audio isn’t your cup of tea, LingQ also uses flashcards for memorization. All of your lessons and progress are synced to the LingQ website. It’s also worth noting that this app receives frequent updates to stay up to date with Android.

Rosetta Course


Languages: 30+
Price: Subscription

Rosetta Stone is one of the most recognizable names in language learning. Their Android app gives current subscribers a way to learn on the go. Rosetta Course gives you access to language basics like greeting and introductions, terms for shopping, travel, friends and social, and dining and vacation. If Rosetta Stone is your software of choice this is an excellent companion.

Mango Languages


Languages: Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese
Price: Paid

Mango Languages unique feature is called “Intuitive Language Construction.” This feature attempts to mimic the natural process by which people learn to speak. It does this by presenting material through real-life conversations. Every lesson incorporates Mango’s four conversation components: vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, and culture. The first lesson for every language is free from Mango. Subsequent lessons require the Mango Passport.

Google Translate


Languages: 80+
Price: Free

Trusty ‘ol Google Translate can also be used to learn a new language. As the name suggests, this app is great at translating language. You can enter words or phrases manually and see the translation, or speak to it and hear the phrase back. Another cool feature is the ability to scan real world items and get them translated in real-time. Google Translate certainly isn’t as powerful as other apps on this list, but it’s a nice simple way to get started.

Single Language

Best App for learning English - Voxy


Price: Free

Most of the apps on this list are targeted to English-speaking people, but Voxy is the opposite. This app is all about teaching the English language. Voxy offers lessons that adapt to your specific needs and wants. Native speaking tutors are available for one-on-one tutoring, and lessons are updated every day to give you new and fresh exercises. Voxy will help you speak English better than some native speakers do.

Best App for learning Japanese - Learning Japanese


Price: Free

Learning Japanese can be a daunting task. One of the first important things to learn is the KANA vocabulary and the correct way to express numbers, dates, and time. This app will help you learn those things with stroke and audio tests. The best way to learn Japanese is to write it, and that is exactly what you can do in this app. You can also use this app as a phrasebook for when you don’t know what to say.

Best App for learning Spanish - Learn Spanish


Price: Free

One of he most common languages in the world, especially here in the United States, is Spanish. Underneath almost every English phrase on signs in big cities is a Spanish translation. If you’re interested in learning this language this is a great app for doing it. Learn Spanish by SpeakTribe uses innovative approaches designed specifically for beginners. It’s the fastest way to get started on the right track.

Learning a new language doesn’t have to be a chore. We hope that these apps will make the experience more fun and enjoyable. If you learned a new language with an Android app let us know in the comments below!

Have you learned foreign languages with an Android app?

  • What’s your favorite app for learning languages?
  • Have a “Best App” suggestion for a single language besides English, Spanish, and Japanese? Let us know.
  • Impress us with a phrase from the language you learned (keep it clean!)
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Android Deals: 50% off the LG G Watch, HTC One for a penny, and more Tue, 08 Jul 2014 17:57:34 +0000 deals

Nobody likes to spend money when they don’t have to, and we’re here to help out. We’ve scoured the web for all the best Android deals on everything from handsets and smartwatches to apps and music. You better act fast, though. Many of these deals are for a limited time only, so don’t say we didn’t warn you. The below deals were active as of posting on July 8th.

Hardware and Accessories


Get 50% off the LG G Watch and other accessories when you preorder the LG G3 or purchase an LG G Flex from AT&T. Normally $229, the G Watch could be yours for as low as $115. Also available for 50% off as part of this limited time deal are the LG G3 Quick Circle Folio Case with wireless charging and the Tone Ultra Bluetooth Stereo Headset. The LG G3 is available for preorder as of today (July 8th) for $199 with a two-year contract or as low as $25 per month as part of an AT&T Next plan. The phone ships by July 11th. [AT&T]

Get the LG G Flex for $99 from AT&T with a new two-year contract. The handset is marked down from its original price of $299. Purchasing a G Flex qualifies the buyer for the aforementioned 50% off the purchase of an LG Watch or other select accessories. More deals can be found at AT&T’s deal’s page. [AT&T]

Save $50 on an Altec Lansing Inmotion Bluetooth Speaker. Normally priced at $149.99, Amazon has the iMW555-BLK Imotion Bluetooth Speaker available for a limited time at $99, a savings of 33%. This speaker features NFC pairing and includes a battery rated for 10 hours of nonstop playback, making it the perfect companion to your Android phone. [Amazon]

72% off NXG Technology Wireless Bluetooth Headphones at Amazon. These wireless headphones normally priced at $52.99 can be yours for a meager $14.95. The high-fidelity stereo headset offers playback controls plus an onboard microphone for hands-free calling. [Amazon]

Get the HTC One M7 for a penny when purchasing from Amazon and agreeing to a new two-year individual or family plan with Verizon Wireless. The One M7 may have been supplanted by the One M8, but it is still an excellent Android phone in its own right. At $0.0.1, it remains a steal. [Amazon]

Turn your phone into a handheld gaming device for $75 with the Phonejoy Pro Gamer bundle. Compatible with devices running Android 4.0 and up, this handheld controller can be used both as a smartphone cradle as well as a standalone peripheral for use with tablets. The bundle includes the Phonejoy controller with hardshell carrying case, charging accessories and 3.5mm audio adaptor, as well as a tablet kickstand. [StackSocial]

Apps and Games

Google Play Games icon

As always, Google Play and Amazon have some great deals on apps and games to offer up. You’ll want to hurry up, though, as many of these deals won’t last through the end of the day.



Music and Media


The deals aren’t done yet. Looking for some great entertainment options at rock bottom prices? Look no further. Here is just a sampling of some of the great deals on movies, music, and TV shows sprinkled across the web.

Music Albums

Music Singles

Music Compilations


TV Shows


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