New Android apps you have to download in March 2016

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March

f.lux

Joining the slowly swelling ranks of screen-dimming apps on Android, f.lux started its life on Linux and Windows years ago. It has been available on jailbroken iPhone for a few years, too, and now it’s finally making its way to Android. Currently in beta and only available on rooted devices, f.lux is a superb choice if you want to avoid straining your eyes at night.

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Join

Since Pushbullet introduced its paid service and removed features from the free version, many people have been on the lookout for a worthy cross-platform file-sharing alternative. Thankfully, that day has come. Join offers far more features than Pushbullet, and it does it all with a one-time payment, rather than a yearly subscription, a la Pushbullet.

The app only recently went live across all platforms – Android, Windows 10, web, Chrome – and there are still small bugs and UI improvements to be made, but this is an app worth getting on board with right now.

Hermit

Let Hermit save you battery by taking resource-intensive apps like Facebook and replacing them with a wrapper for the mobile website. All these Lite Apps will still appear in your app drawer, and they can send you notifications, they just won’t eat your battery and take up loads of storage space.

Any app that has a mobile website – including Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, any news service – can be used through Hermit. There’s also a useful library of popular and suggested Lite Apps to get you started.

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February

Promo Codes: Support Devs

Promo Codes: Support Devs gives you the chance to win an app you would normally have to pay for every 12 hours. Promo Codes itself is free and you don’t need to pay anything to enter its lottery, you just launch the app and tap I’m feeling lucky. You will be taken to the app store page of a particular app which you may or may not win. If you don’t, well hey, don’t worry, maybe you will next time.

Of course, part of the app’s intention is to promote apps: it’s expected that some people will be interested in buying an app if they don’t win it. If you’re ok with that, it is a cool and fun way to discover new apps. Give it a go and see if you get lucky.

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Kickstarter

At long last, Kickstarter has its own Android app. The popular crowdfunding portal only arrived to Android recently but the good news is it doesn’t suck. Though the app doesn’t offer much in the way of different functionality to using the Kickstarter website on mobile, it is a smoother and faster experience.

While there are plenty of pitfalls of crowdfunding and Kickstarter there are also a lot of successes. For those interested in smartphones specifically, there’s lot to enjoy: the Nextbit Robin was recently successfully funded there.

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Mimicker Alarm

Most of us hate our alarms, don’t we? Who wants to be woken up when they’re having a lovely dream about their teeth falling out?

But I hate Mimicker Alarm even more than most. Not only do you have to switch it off in the morning when you’re tired (ugh), but Mimicker won’t switch off until you’ve actually achieved something, and it can tell whether you’ve done this by using your camera.

For example, it might ask you to pull a certain face or snap a picture of certain color. This task always involves something physical and it almost always has the intended effect (unless you just switch your phone off completely, like I do). It’s a free app that you should definitely try. But I don’t like it one bit.

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January 

Habitica

Habitica has arrived at the perfect time. If you’re the type to make new year’s resolutions, this app could be the one that helps you stay on track. Habitica provides you with a digital avatar that “gains experience” when you complete certain goals or quests. What’s unique about this RPG, though, is that you set your own targets, so as you improve yourself in the real world, your Habitica character improves also.

It’s a great way to stay motivated because you can see a visual representation of your progress. Sure, you will naturally feel good about certain achievements in real life, but this type of feedback can act as a nice bonus.

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Cortana

Cortana recently exited its public Android beta and the full version is now here. This is the Microsoft equivalent of Google Now and Siri, which seeks to assist you in your daily life. Cortana allows you to set up reminders, track flights and packages, ask questions, and you can even set up quick replies from your PC if you miss a call on your phone.

It integrates with Windows computers in a way which Google Now and Siri can’t, but this is probably the only area where it provides a credible improvement to them. Still, it’s still early days for Cortana on Android, so if you’re interested, check it out at the link below.

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December

Chromer

Chromer might be one of greatest new apps to ever grace our list. It’s basically a web browser for apps, and allows you to use Chrome custom tabs without the need for app developers to implement the feature themselves. Basically, it’s like a miracle.

Once Chromer is configured, opening web pages from within apps happens quickly and without fuss. Leave the frustration of repeatedly selecting which app you want to use to open a link behind, by using this secure, free app.

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BandLab – Music Community

BandLab – Music Community is perhaps a more interesting idea than a completely awesome app, but is worth a look for musicians. Bandlab lets you record audio and share it between different devices and people using BandLab’s cloud service. This audio can also be edited and mixed to some degree, with a few simple production functions.

The collaborative aspect of it unique but the only problem is that mobile devices aren’t exactly built for audio recording, and the sound quality is terrible. If you can overlook this, BandLab is a great service for recording and sharing ideas as they come to you – it certainly beats using your built-in voice recorder.

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November

Define

If you do a lot of reading, you’re learning English, or you just have a curious mind, Define is the perfect addition to your Android device. It’s an offline, device-wide word lookup tool that provides definitions, synonyms and different usages of any copied word through an unobtrusive pop-up window or notification.

There are a choice of three dictionaries: Livio, Wordnet and Urban Dictionary, with the latter only working when you’re connected to the internet.

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Pixolor

Pixolor is a live eyedropper tool that floats over any screen in the form of a persistent notification. It lets you view the hex value for any individual pixel, create color palettes based on the current selection and view the nearest material design color, amongst other things.

The app is certainly most useful for designers, but the pinch to zoom feature might also be of use to those with poor eyesight.

There is an initial ad-free period of use, after which some ads will appear, but they can be removed by paying US$1.99.

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October

Khan Academy

Khan Academy began producing free and openly available videos and learning resources in 2006. They mostly cover math, physics and science, but offer limited coverage of other subjects, as well. All of Khan Academy’s material is freely available on YouTube, but the newly launched Android app offers a quick and simple way to navigate and access its material, of which there is loads.

It has more than 10,000 videos, as well as in-depth articles in fields such as arithmetic, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, statistics, calculus, biology, chemistry and physics. We highly recommend spending some time exploring and an afternoon or two learning with Khan Academy. It’s free, accessible and fun!

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Pintasking

Alt-tab doesn’t really exist in Android: there is always the extra step of opening the recent tabs window. Pintasking solves this by letting you pin apps to the screen as small buttons that can be pressed at any time from any app.

When you press the pin, the app opens, and the pin turns into a pair of arrows that can be pressed to quickly return to the previous app or window. It’s very handy if you need to frequently switch between two or more apps.

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Accomplish

There are plenty of scheduling and productivity apps on the market, but Accomplish’s interface is clean, elegant and intuitive. It keeps things as simple as they should be, so you can organize your tasks and set reminders without fuss. You can add tasks, change their colors and then drag them into a day planner, where you can stretch or shrink the box to adjust the length of time you want to spend on the task.

Accomplish also syncs with your Google Calendar, and is the most intuitive scheduler we’ve seen here . If you want a simple, pretty way to organize your day, this is it.

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Mirrativ

It’s early days for Mirrativ, so it still has a couple of bugs and speed issues, but it’s clear that this app has tons of potential. Mirrativ lets you live stream anything that is happening on the screen of your Android device, and the camera, simultaneously. It’s amazing that no one has combined these two things before. It only takes a few clicks, and you can share whatever you’re doing with friends, family, or the world. You can also interact with others using stickers and comments throughout the stream.

Mirrative is well worth checking out and having some fun with. Keep an eye on it as it gets updated, too, as there’s surely more to come from this one.

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ExoMount Touch car air vent mount – 31% off

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Smartphones offer a convenient replacement for a stand-alone GPS, but you can also still make calls and send messages using voice-activated services like Google Now. The only question is where to place your phone when you’re in the car. Luckily, the ExoMount air vent mount has you covered. Clip it onto your car’s air vent, and you’re phone or mp3 player can be fitted into it with just one touch.

It also offers a 360-degree swivel, so you can view your phone from any position, and in any orientation. When you’re not in the car, pop a thick bit of card in the holder, and you can use it as a desktop phone stand, too.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge vs Galaxy S7 Edge comparison

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Galaxy S6 Edge vs Galaxy S7 Edge: design

The Galaxy S6 Edge was a revolutionary device. Its dual-sided display had an aesthetic purpose – some people just prefer the look of this handset over the simultaneously released Galaxy S6 – but it also offered unique functionality.

The Galaxy S7 Edge doesn’t look radically different from the S6 Edge. Given the success of the original, Samsung decided to keep the S7 Edge design similar to its predecessor, only refining it slightly.

The S7 Edge is noticeably bigger than the S6 Edge, which makes it better for watching videos on but worse for carrying in your pocket. It has a 5.5-inch AMOLED display and measures 150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7 mm, while the S6 Edge has a 5.1-inch screen is 142 mm tall, 70 mm wide, although it does have a larger counterpart in the form of the Galaxy S6 Edge+.

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Unlike the S6 Edge, the Galaxy S7 Edge is waterproof and dustproof with IP68 certification. That means it can survive 30 minutes submerged in 1.5 m water. These details were missing in the S6, despite having been present in the S5.

The S7 Edge has a slot for a microSD and nano SIM; the phone’s memory is expandable up to 200 GB via microSD, which is not the case with the S6 Edge. This is feature received a good reception from Samsung enthusiasts who longed for more memory in the S6 Edge.

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Galaxy S6 Edge vs Galaxy S7 Edge: display

The Galaxy S7 Edge features a dual-sided display (meaning that it slopes on the right and left-hand sides). The S7 Edge has not improved on the S6 Edge display, at least not from a resolution standpoint. As we suspected, the Galaxy S series didn’t get the 4K treatment; the S7 Edge display has the same QHD resolution as its predecessor.

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Galaxy S6 Edge vs Galaxy S7 Edge: software

The Galaxy S6 Edge arrived with its own set of software features (which you can read about in the Galaxy S6 Edge review), afforded by the curved display. Some argued that these were merely novelty additions, so we were not surprised that Samsung updated them for the S7 Edge (as it has done each year with the Galaxy Note series’ Air Command software). Some of the less-used features have been chopped, others improved, and there are some new additions.

Some of the software features available on the S6 Edge were afforded by its curved display

For example, the Galaxy S7 Edge display can make use of two side columns rather than one, meaning even more information can be displayed on the edge of the screen. What’s more, the API has been made available to third-party developers to create their own unique functions for Samsung’s edge panels.

TouchWiz has not changed in a significant way since the S6 Edge+ or the Note 5. The phone comes with about seven Samsung apps, five from Microsoft, plus some from Google, as well as Facebook and WhatsApp. In total, the Galaxy S7 Edge has 25 pre-installed applications. Aside from the new edge display features, the user-experience is much the same as before.

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The S7 Edge runs Android Marshmallow. The S6 Edge was upgraded to Marshmallow in the first quarter of 2016.

Galaxy S6 Edge vs Galaxy S7 Edge: performance

The European version Galaxy S7 Edge contains the Exynos 8890 chipset, which has four cores with a maximum speed of 2.4 GHz and four with 1.6 GHz.

According to Samsung, the CPU and GPU are 30 percent more powerful than the ones in the S6, which gives an idea of the power that this phone can produce in comparison with its predecessor.

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Galaxy S6 Edge vs Galaxy S7 Edge: camera

The S6 Edge camera technology is the same as on its counterpart, the Galaxy S6, and it is impressive. The S7 camera unfortunately has a lower resolution but its low light capabilities, dynamic range and color representation are an overall improvement from the S6 Edge.

The S7 Edge uses dual-pixel technology, which means that for each pixel, there are two light-sensitive photodiodes working in tandem. This means that an impressive 24 million photodiodes work together simultaneously. Its focus speed is four times faster in low-light conditions than on the S6.

It seems that with the S7 Edge, Samsung aimed for something more like Apple’s camera tech, which favors balance and contrast over high resolution. And this time, the camera doesn’t stick out of the back of the handset like a goth at a pep rally as did the camera of the S6 Edge.

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Galaxy S6 Edge vs Galaxy S7 Edge: battery

Battery life was generally pretty good on the S6 Edge and is even better on the S7 Edge. The S7 Edge is able to take advantage of the battery saving features that Android Marshmallow offers, which gives it an advantage over the S6 Edge until the latter phone gets updated.

The Galaxy S7 Edge battery has a decent capacity of 3,600 mAh, which is 1,000 mAh larger than the S6 Edge battery. Samsung has used a new flexible battery technology that’s able to take advantage of extra space inside the body so that the S7 Edge did not need to be too much larger than the S6 Edge.

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Galaxy S6 Edge vs Galaxy S7 Edge: price and conclusion

The price of the S7 Edge started at US$800 when it was released, that’s more expensive than the S6 Edge on its launch. This increase in release price is due to better features in this next generation of Galaxy Edge devices.

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The Galaxy S6 Edge was groundbreaking, but it could be argued that it lacked a unique feature to really sell the benefit of the curved display. Features such as Edge Lighting were ultimately unessential and provided only minor aesthetic value.

The S7 Edge has made some improvements on the Galaxy S6 Edge, such as the inclusion of microSD card support and water-resistance. It managed to increase the size of the battery without greatly increasing the size of the body, no small feat. It decreased the size of the camera on the back of the device, a notable blemish on the S6 Edge.

Samsung Galaxy S7: Snapdragon vs Exynos

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The differences in the processors of the two versions of the Galaxy S7.

US VARIANT INTERNATIONAL VARIANT
PROCESSOR Qualcomm Snapdragon 820
Quad-Core, 14 nm
2 x 1.59 GHz, 2 x 2.15 GHz
Samsung Exynos 8890
Octa-Core, 14 nm
2 x 2.6 GHz oder 4 x 2.3 GHz + 4 x 1.5 GHz
GRAPHICS CARD Adreno 530, 624 MHz Mali T880MP12, 650 MHz
MEMORY Dual-Channel LPDDR4 1,866 MHz Dual-Channel LPDDR4 1,794 MHz

Exynos vs Snapdragon: performance

Since we have not been given the US model, we need to use the readings from PhoneArena. These state that the Qualcomm variant of the Galaxy S7 in browser benchmarks and in multicore benchmarks are higher than the Exynos version. The latter is not surprising, the Exynos is clocked with four cores operating at 2.3 GHz and the Snapdragon with 2 x 2.15 GHz and 2 x 1.59 GHz. In addition, the Samsung processor can outsource background tasks on its four Coretex-A53 CPUs.

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Exynos vs Snapdragon: efficiency

If the Exynos processor has twice as many cores as the Snapdragon 820 then it theoretically should also consume more power. Since we do not yet have any measurement, we cannot draw a definitive conclusion. We’ll discuss battery life below.

Exynos vs Snapdragon: modifiability

Another important question in the processor differences between the two versions of the Samsung Galaxy S7 is whether you can install third-party software. Also crucial is the question of how complicated root access is. In these measurements, the international version initially had a clear advantage but now the US version seems to be ahead.

Previously, CF-Autoroot S7 and S7 Edge Custom Recoveries were made available only to the International version. Then, after March 18, the bootloader lock was lifted from US versions and the tide changed.

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Once this was completed, the Snapdragon model had some clear advantages. Samsung shares Qualcomm’s processor documentation with developers, allowing the creation of third-party firmwares. In the long term, it is plausible that CyanogenMod comes out for US Galaxys. The Exynos variant, however, is not expected to authorize modifications beyond root access.

The comparison is a little idle

It’s not surprising the Samsung decided to release two different versions of its Galaxy S7. This allows the company to track differences in performance and satisfaction for the device with different variables. While it does seem that the US processor does have some clear advantages, international version purchasers should not be dismayed. The Exynos version is still part of a great device and will perform near where its US peer will.

How to recover deleted text messages on your Android phone

Tools to recover deleted text messages

There are several different PC and Mac-based tools available. They essentially all do the same thing: scan your Android’s memory, then identify and recover your deleted messages. Some cost money, some are free and some do more than others.

Whichever tool you choose, they’ll all walk you through the process, which is usually only four steps long: connect, scan, preview, recover (the same process works for other data besides text messages). Note that many, if not all, of these processes require root access to your phone, which can void the warranty. Some programs worth trying out include:

Sponsored: FonePaw’s Android Data Recovery can detect and recover deleted or lost files from Android devices through a clean and intuitive UI. Coupled with its powerful data recovery capacity, supporting multiple Android OS versions and devices, it’s a top-tier tool for recovering your lost data.

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How to recover lost text messages on Android

I’m using Wondershare to demonstrate the procedure, but most programs have the same – or at least similar – steps.

1. Enable Developer options on your Android phone. To do this, go to Settings > About phone and tap Build number until you see the notification that Developer options has been enabled.

2. Go to Developer options > USB debugging and check the box (or flip the switch, depending on your version of Android).

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3. Download and install the free Wondershare trial (or another recovery tool of your choice) and connect your Android phone to your computer.

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4. Follow the prompts in the recovery program to identify your device and scan or analyze your Android’s memory.

5. Once the process is complete you can browse and preview both the deleted and undeleted data on your Android device. As long as the particular part of memory on which your data was originally stored has not been saved over, you can still retrieve it. This is why it’s important to act quickly if you’ve accidentally deleted an SMS.

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6. Next, open the Messages folder in the left-hand pane, select the messages you wish to recover and click Recover at the bottom right to put them back on your device or save them to your computer.

Note: if you want to complete this process without a PC, you will need root access on your device and, more than likely, a paid recovery app. Feel free to do it that way if you like, but it’s easier (and free) to just use a computer.

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How to never lose a text message again

Maybe you’ve learned your lesson, maybe you haven’t. If you want to avoid the panic of losing your messages and using a PC to recover them, the best thing to do is to back up your SMS messages regularly. The good news is, doing so only takes five minutes.

I use a free app called SMS Backup & Restore. It’s straightforward, looks nice and works perfectly: all you need for this type of operation. Check out the screenshots below for the walkthrough.

1. Once you’ve downloaded and installed SMS Backup & Restore, open the app and tap Backup.

2. Next, choose what exactly you want to create a backup of, then – crucially – tap Local backup and upload if you want to send your backup to Google Drive, Dropbox or an email address.

3. Make your selection from the list that appears and then tap OK.

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4. To restore your backed-up SMS messages, tap Restore on the app’s home screen, then, on the Restore Backup page, you can just tap the backup name in the list to restore it (if it’s stored locally).

5. If your backup is stored in the cloud, tap the overflow menu (three dots) at the top right, then Load from and select whichever cloud service it’s stored on.

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6. There are plenty of extra options in SMS Backup & Restore, including scheduled backups and password protection. You can find these by tapping the overflow menu icon at the top right of the app’s home screen, then hit Preferences.

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Android N vs iOS 9 comparison

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Android N vs iOS 9: release date

Android N is currently available as a Developer Preview, which was made available on 17 March. It’s a long way from a finished system and only contains a few new bits; the final version is due in the Fall.

iOS 9 has been around since 2015, with the third version (iOS 9.3) made available to all compatible devices in March 2016.

Both Apple and Android offer beta programs that enable you to test the next versions of their software before they are officially released, although they warn that you shouldn’t use betas on any devices you depend upon: by their very nature betas are unstable and buggy.

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Android N vs iOS 9: interface

Android N is likely to undergo a lot of interface changes between now and Fall, but we’re already seeing some key differences between it and Android Marshmallow. The notifications area has been completely redesigned and now enables you to respond to messages from within notifications, and there’s a new multi-window mode, which didn’t quite make the cut for Android M. Google also says it’s been working on Project Svelte to make Android feel smooth on older devices, but details of that haven’t been announced yet.

The last major redesign of iOS was years ago, with the controversial iOS 7. It’s not quite as garish as iOS 7 was and the new 3D touch adds extra functionality to (some) app icons, but there are still some shockingly bad interface elements such as the horrible, horrible Music app. iOS 9.3 does get one key new UI feature, though: Night Shift, which can automatically chance the color balance to minimize bright screens’ effects on your sleep.

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Android N vs iOS 9: Google Now vs Siri

We’ve yet to see any significant changes in Google Now on Android N, but even if Google only tweaks the edges it’s still ahead of Apple’s Siri for us. Maybe it’s our accent but we find Google’s voice recognition much more accurate than Apple’s, so Siri’s usefulness suffers as a result. Being able to shout “hey Siri!” and issue commands is something we’re glad Apple copied; it’s just a shame that Siri seems to think everything else we say is “blargle argle garble”. Siri also remains far behind Google Now in the usefulness stakes.

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Android N vs iOS 9: security and privacy

As ever, Apple and Google are coming at this from different directions. Apple goes for the Father Knows Best model, where apps are only allowed from the Apple app store and even the FBI doesn’t get to decrypt users’ iPhones. Google, on the other hand, wants to be open, so there are always security risks from malicious apps and third-party app stores. One thing we’re hoping to see in Android N is the Smart Lock for Passwords feature, which actually debuted in Marshmallow: that version doesn’t work with many apps yet, so we’re hoping Google promotes it more for Android N app developers.

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Android N vs iOS 9: battery

Android’s kicking Apple’s backside in the battery stakes: only the enormous iPhone 6S really delivers the goods battery-wise for power users, whereas the Doze mode introduced in Android Marshmallow massively increased battery life in Android devices of all sizes. Android N doubles down on Doze, with an improved energy saving mode that kicks in any time the screen is off. That should make Android last even longer – hopefully without impairing notifications and usability.

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Android N vs iOS 9: mobile payments

Apple’s way ahead here, with Apple Pay embraced by banks all over the world. Google’s payment system has been revamped and rebranded – it’s Android Pay now – but at the time of writing it hasn’t launched in markets such as the UK. When it does, we’d expect the same retailers that support Apple Pay to support Android Pay too.

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Android N vs iOS 9: early verdict

We’re not just comparing apples and oranges here; Android N is so far away that we’re comparing ripe apples with orange trees that haven’t borne fruit yet. Android N is already looking interesting, but we haven’t seen its best bits yet.

As with iOS 8 and Android M, both Android N and iOS 9 are improved versions of existing OSes: they’re better than their predecessors but in an evolutionary sense, not an “OMG they’ve changed everything!” sense. We think Android has the edge in some key areas – battery life and voice recognition in particular – and that Apple offers a more elegant but also more strictly controlled experience. As ever the choice between the rival OSes will largely come down to personal preference, so Android users are likely to gravitate to Android N while iOS users will tend to stick to iOS kit.

Best translation apps for Android

Best for offline use: Microsoft Translator

Microsoft jumped into the Android translation market with its simple and sophisticated app. This app is designed for offline use and supports 12 offline languages. Accessing these offline are really easy, you just need to download each individually. Each is around 200 MB and once you do you won’t have to worry about losing your connection in a rural part of the world. After all, this is where English is spoken the least.

The interface for Microsoft Translator is practical and well-designed. When you open the app, you are given three buttons for quick access. You can choose speak detection translation, keyboard translation or two-way translation for when you’re in a social situation and need a translator.

While the interface is much nicer than most translator apps, Microsoft Translator is not a great all-around app. There aren’t any options for picture or instant text translation, if you want this feature, read on. The app does support Android Wear and this can give you quick translation access that other apps cannot.

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Best for quick use: Language Translator

If what you want is an app that can get you a translation fast, then Language Translator by La Clave Gandora is your best bet. This app was developed with ease-of-use in mind, and is ideal for beginners, thanks to its simple interface. it has just two translation functions, typing and speaking, and they both offer up translations quickly.

Language Translator makes it really easy to get from one language to another on mobile. The buttons are relatively large and have flags next to them so you can easily distinguish between the languages, and the large font size makes it easy to see your translations. It’s rated highly (4.4) on Google Play and has had more than a million downloads.

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Best for individual words: PONS

PONS Online Dictionary is a dictionary with translator functions, which means it can give you in-depth descriptions of words. Words often have several meanings, so PONS gives you a few options displayed in a simple interface. For example, the word ‘current’ could mean ‘electrical current’ or ‘new’ and could appear as a noun or an adjective. You need to find out which way the word is meant to be used in order to get the right translation and PONS is great at helping you figure this out.

PONS is also great for finding and translating phrases in which to use these words. A suggested phrase for ‘current’ is ‘this version is current,’ which is immediately translated on the other half of the screen. This gives you a better understanding of the word in both languages.

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Best for voice recognition: Translate voice

Translate voice does voice recognition the best of any of the apps we could find. You can say a word or read an entire paragraph and the app keeps up with you. It is dependent on your smartphone’s voice recognition capabilities, so results could vary.

Translate voice has the best voice recognition of any translation app.

This app is especially helpful for when you are in social situations where typing is impractical, but you still need to push a complicated idea across the language barrier. With Translate voice, you can say these difficult sentences and then play the translation aloud to the other person.

Translate voice is limited by its number of usable functions. If you need something that is more thorough in its translation services, you should probably try one of the other apps down this list.

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Best for accuracy: iTranslate

If you need a sentence or two translated, iTranslate will give you the most accurate results. It is equipped to handle more than 90 languages, and though this is just a small fraction of the total languages in the world, it will be useful in the majority of situations you may find yourself in.

iTranslate is also the best app to use for typing or copying text. The swipe feature quickly copies blocks of text and translates them effortlessly. If you find something in your translation that you may need later, you can save it in your favorites.

While the voice recognition is not the best, it does have an amazing audio function that can read back translations in different dialects. For instance, you can choose between British, American and Australian English. You can also have the text read back to you more slowly.

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Best all-round app: Google Translate

Google Translate is the standard translation app that serves most purposes. Google Translate is reasonably accurate and has a ton of features. If you need an app that does everything you need, plus things you never thought you needed, then Google Translate is the ticket. It’s very popular, with more than 100 million downloads and a solid 4.4 rating on Google Play.

If you need a solid multi-function translation app, then Google Translate is your best bet.

The type-translate function currently supports 90 languages, which are also supported if you want to take a picture and have it translated or use your finger to write the words. Two-way automatic voice translation is limited to 40 languages.

The coolest feature of Google Translate is the instant camera text translation, which instantly translates public transportation schedules, warning signs, menus and so on from a photo you take. The size or font of the text does not matter, Google Translate will recognize it and instantly translate it. This function is limited to 26 languages, but works incredibly well, and you will be amazed at the number of instances when it comes in handy.

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Facebook Messenger tips and tricks: from notifications to locations

Play hidden basketball game on Facebook Messenger

The latest version of Facebook Messenger has a cool new feature that allows you to play a game of basketball during a chat. The game is free but it’s hidden. Read below for how to access it.

How to play Facebook Messenger hidden basketball game:

  1. Update to the latest version of Messenger in the Play Store
  2. Open a chat with one of your contacts
  3. Send the basketball emoji to them. It’s circled in red in the left-side screenshot below
  4. Once the emoji has been sent, simply tap on it to start the game
facebook messenger basketball

Turn off notification alerts on the Android Facebook Messenger app

You know how it is: someone starts a group conversation asking if anybody wants to buy their leather sofa, and before you know it you’re getting non-stop buzzes about upholstery. If you’ve ever found yourself in a similar situation, here’s a couple of tips for how to stop receiving those notifications without actually leaving the conversation.

How to turn off Facebook Messenger notifications for a single conversation:

  1. Launch the Facebook Messenger app
  2. In your conversations tab (the far left tab), tap and hold on the conversation you wish to mute
  3. Tap Mute notifications
  4. Select the length of time you want the notifications to be muted for
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How to turn off Facebook Messenger notifications for all conversations on Android:

  1. Launch the Facebook Messenger app
  2. Tap the settings menu (the cog wheel)
  3. Tap Notifications & Sounds
  4. Tap the toggle at the top of the page to turn notifications On or Off
  5. Select the length of time you want the notifications to remain muted for
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How to make a voice call in Facebook Messenger

Did you know that Facebook Messenger allows you to make free calls? Well, you probably did. But are you taking advantage of it? Simply tap on the call button (highlighted below) in one of your conversation windows and you will begin calling the person in that conversation.

androidpit facebook messenger calls

How to make a group shortcut for Facebook Messenger

If there’s a crew you talk to all the time, then why not bypass the app launching altogether and pin a group chat shortcut to your home screen? Just go to your Groups tab where you can select an existing group or create a new one and tap the little menu button on the top right of the Group tile. From here simply select ”Create shortcut” to have a chat group shortcut added to your home screen.

androidpit facebook messenger tips

How to send a picture with Facebook Messenger

Did you know you can take a photo direct from the keyboard in Messenger? See that little camera icon? Tap that to turn your keyboard space into a mini viewfinder (which you can also expand). You can switch between the front or back mounted cameras and snap a quick pic with the vertical send button rather oddly placed right in the middle of the viewfinder. Tap the little image icon next to the camera to choose from previously taken pics.

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How to send a big thumbs up with Facebook Messenger

If you’re feeling a little like Miley Cyrus and have a need for a particularly big thumbs up, then just press and hold the Like button to inflate the size of your thumb. If a simple Like won’t do the trick then hit that little emoji button at the end of the text entry field, hit your sticker collection or revert to your device’s emoji supported keyboard for a bit more expressive flair.

androidpit facebook thumbs up tip

How to send or view a location with Facebook Messenger

If you want a super easy way to let your friends know where you are Facebook, all you need to do is send a message. As long as you have “location” enabled in your settings, they will be able to see where you are.

Similarly, if your friend has it enabled, simply tap on a message to bring up the location from which is was sent. If you don’t want to share your location at all, head to your settings and uncheck that “location” box.

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Top 5 Android VR headsets

Gear VR

Samsung’s Gear VR headset works with the group’s newest mobiles, the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge, also playing nicely with older devices including the Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge.

This VR accessory for Android devices works specifically with Samsung gadgets, and a lightweight design and comfortable head strap mean that longer gaming sessions don’t take too much of a toll on your body.

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Volume controls and a touchpad live on the right side of the device, and there’s a handy toggle above where the smartphone sits that can adjust vision settings, useful for folk that wear glasses. The foam-covered inside where you place your nose is fairly comfy, and the head strap can be adjusted if needed.

The Gear VR lands at just under $100, but for that amount of money you get a particularly well-made VR accessory with physical input buttons, something that many other headsets can’t offer.

You’ll need a Samsung smartphone to get things rolling, but once you’ve got that sorted you’re in for a treat.

Freefly VR headset

The Freefly VR headset can handle both mini smartphones and the newest phablets, shipping with its own dedicated controller that brings another dimension to VR gaming.

Freefly’s wireless GLIDE controller isn’t much bigger than your thumb, equipped with a small joystick that means gamers can navigate worlds with their hand and look around by moving their head. With the GLIDE, it’s easy to take on hordes of zombies, soar above the clouds in a plane or nervously sneak through a haunted mansion.

Freefly VR Headset

Complimented by leather face padding, the Freefly is remarkably comfy to wear. To add to that, the Freefly VR headset really excels when it comes to keeping your Android smartphone in place as you’re gaming. The device has a mechanism that pushes several foam pads against the device to make it snug.

If you’re after a budget-priced VR headset with great build quality and a bonus Bluetooth controller, take a look at the Freefly VR headset.

Innori Virtual Reality Headset

The Innori Virtual Reality Handset lands at a price far lower than the other headsets we’ve discussed above, starring adjustable straps to optimize the viewing experience and support for devices with up to 5.7-inch displays.

Innori VR Headset

This Android accessory comes with a pair of high-quality lenses that keep visuals crisp, also offering viewing angles ranging up to 98-degrees in either direction. The VR headset comes with a free cleaning cloth and is easy to dismantle when you need to slide your smartphone inside.

You can pick up the Innori Virtual Reality Headset at a budget price as an AndroidPIT reader, so now’s a good time to invest in a VR headset if you haven’t done so already.

Homido « mini »

The Homido << mini >> is brilliantly unique, with an intuitive design meaning that the VR accessory can be folded up and tucked neatly into your pocket.

Homido has released full VR headsets in the past similar in appearance to the Innori, but the group’s latest arrival consists of a simple pair of lenses that hook onto a smartphone for some no-frills entertainment.

Homido Mini Headset

Homido’s mini headset can’t offer the same user experience as ‘complete’ headsets, but it does serve as a great low-priced alternative.

There’s hundreds of apps to try out on the Play Store, and Homido itself has an app that serves as a hub for the best gaming experiences.

Google Cardboard

For an introduction to the world of Android VR, it doesn’t get much better than Google Cardboard. Cardboard is the headset that kicked off the hype surrounding virtual reality gaming on Android, and it remains a popular choice amongst newbies.

If you’re picking up a Google Cardboard, there’s a chance you’ll need to construct the headset yourself. Whilst some retailers sell Cardboard clones that arrive pre-assembled, others come in a flat-pack kit that requires some setting up.

Oneplus boradcard

Google Cardboard comes with an ingenious magnet system that sees two mini magnets used as a pull-down input switch. Often, the mechanism is used to select items from in-game menus. The magnets are sometimes prone to moving around, but for this price it’s still of solid build quality.

If you build the Google Cardboard well, it’ll likely last you a long time, considering the headset is surprisingly tough when it’s constructed correctly.

Best Android antivirus and mobile security apps 2016

2. 360 Security – Antivirus: best real-time protection

360 (formerly known as Qihoo) is a long-standing and popular Android antivirus app with all the bells and whistles required to protect your phone. Naturally, it has an antivirus engine, which automatically scans your files and updates its definitions.

Each installation, whether from the Play Store or beyond, has to pass through 360 real-time protection before it can end up on your phone. On top of that, 360 is a system cleaner that cleans out junk files, frees up RAM and has some neat power-saving features too.

androidpit 360 antivirus

3. Kaspersky Internet Security: best anti-phishing protection

The PC version of Kaspersky is regularly showered with accolades and often voted the best internet security suite you can get. The free mobile version offers all the standard anti-malware protection you’d expect, as well as a whole host of anti-theft features.

Upgrade to the premium version (US$14.95 for one year), and you get anti-phishing protection for your text messaging, cloud protection and privacy protection when you surf the web.

androidpit kaspersky

4. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware: best privacy manager

Malwarebytes built its reputation as one of the most lightweight PC protection tools around. The free Android version is a chip off the old block, focusing on ease-of-use rather than tons of features. It offers anti-malware protection, a privacy manager, and also scans apps that are behaving suspiciously.

The developers have also stayed ahead of the curve by integrating Malwarebytes with Android Device Manager – the remote tracking/anti-theft Android feature that effectively negates such features on many Android antivirus suites.

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5. AVL: best interface

AVL antivirus is an efficient Android security option with an intuitive user-interface. While it doesn’t include some of the more advanced anti-theft features that can be found in similar apps, it’s great for your basic protection needs and less likely to impact your battery or damage performance than some. AVL comes highly recommended.

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6. AVG Antivirus Security: best for protection and anti-theft

AVG Antivirus is a free application that protects your smartphone in real time from viruses, malicious applications and other spyware. You can review your applications but also your files, settings and more.

There’s even an option to close apps that are significantly slowing your smartphone down or abusing your battery. Also, if you lose your device, you can block or delete your information and locate your device via Google Maps.

androidpit avg antivirus security

7. Norton Security Antivirus: best premium version

Norton Security Antivirus is a free application that blocks and removes malware. Pay for the premium version, and you get a whole load more features, such as remote locking and Sneak Peak, which takes photos of people using your device if you’ve flagged it as stolen.

The premium version also includes App Advisor, which automatically checks apps for privacy risks, high battery use and suspicious behavior.

androidpit norton mobile security

8. avast! Antivirus & Security: most features

With avast!, it is possible to perform automatic scans of your installed apps, the contents of your memory card as well as apps that you’re about to install. avast! also has SMS/call filtering and blocking and – in the case of theft – there are also remote lock and wipe options, GPS tracking, siren alert and even a notification if someone attempts to switch out SIM cards. Other features include a firewall, web shield and network meter.

avast mobile security app sperre

9. LastPass Authenticator: best app protection

LastPass has had a password manager app for some time, letting you store all your passwords in one safe location under a single master password. Now, the team behind it have expanded to provide a two-factor authentication tool. Lastpass Authenticator generates a 6-digit code that you enter to verify your account. It works with LastPass’s own password manager, as well as any TOTP-compatible apps.

While there are other authenticators like this out there, including Google Authenticator, if you tie this service into LastPass’s own ecosystem, it provides probably the best and most secure option for keeping your data safe from more physical reaches than the digital grasps addressed in the other apps on this list.

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You may recall that TrustGo’s Antivirus & Mobile Security was on previous version of this list. While it was credible at the time, and still has more than 10 million downloads, this app hasn’t been updated since 2014 and given the frequency with which new threats are created, we can no longer recommend it.