Connect with us

Tech News

Essential Applications for Android right now

Published

on

An awesome breakdown right here of the essential Android Applications that you must have on your device, these all support the latest Android OS.

There are nearly three million apps in the Google Play Store. That’s a lot of apps. Simply running the numbers, one can easily estimate that most of them aren’t worth your time, so how do you cut through the trash to find the apps you really need?

Fear not. We’re here for you. Just like last year, we’ve compiled 50 apps that are essential for Android users. These range from media apps, to tools, to simple housekeeping fare. No matter what section of the Play Store they came from, they all hold at least one thing in common: they deserve a spot in your app drawer.

These are the 50 essential Android apps for 2017:

Amazon Kindle
amazonkindle_final.jpgAmazon is still the king of eBooks, despite the best efforts from other companies like Barnes & Noble. If you’re already tied into the Kindle ecosystem, the Android app is a must have. It allows you to sync your current read between your phone, tablet and Kindle so you can keep all your devices on the same page. If you’re not a Kindle user, there are other great options in the Play Store like Moon Reader and Overdrive, which allows you to borrow eBooks from your library.

Android Device Manager
androiddevicemanager_final.jpgGiven the importance of smartphones to most people’s lives, you need to have a plan when something goes wrong. Android Device Manager helps users locate their device when it’s gone missing, reset their pin or passcode and even erase all the data. It’s not an app you will use everyday, but the one time you do need it, you’ll be happy it’s in your app drawer.

Android Pay
androidpay_final.jpgUnlike iOS, Android has a few options for mobile payments depending on what device you have. If you’re locked into Samsung’s Galaxy line, using that company’s own payment app is the likely choice. For anyone else, the answer is Android Pay which allows users to add any card from a participating bank (which is most major U.S. banks) and a large number of rewards cards.

Any.do
anydo_final.jpgKeeping yourself on task can be immensely difficult. Any.do is a great way to do so thanks to its ability to sync between all of your devices, including desktop, so you’re always in the know about what’s next on your to-do list. Add in a deep bench of features, like sharing lists and tasks with friends and co-workers, and Any.do becomes a must have.

Avast Mobile Security
avastmobilesecurity_final.jpgOf the two major mobile operating systems, Android is the more vulnerable from a security perspective. Though the best security is still common sense, it’s nice to have a safety net. Avast is one of the most recommended security apps in the Play Store, and for good reason. It has a host of features, including WiFi scanning, app locker, RAM boost and more.

Blendle
blendle_final.jpgBlendle is one of the most interesting new apps to hit the Play Store in recent years. It shakes up the mode of delivery for high quality, subscription-based journalism, allowing users to buy articles à la carte from top-tier publications like The Washington Post, The New York Times and more.

CamScanner
camscanner_final.jpgIf you ever need to scan documents on the go, CamScanner should be your go to. It’s incredibly simple to use and helpful in a pinch. The app also allows you to sync your scanned documents across multiple devices, so you can keep everything up to date.

Duolingo
duolingo_final.jpgDuolingo has long been one of the best language apps on the market, and nothing has changed in 2017. It’s beautifully designed, easy to use and offers real instruction. The app claims that 34 hours of use is equal to a semester of university-level education.

ESPN
espn_final.jpgThough the worldwide leader in sports has fallen on hard times recently, it’s app is still one of the best designed and easy to use options for sports fans. Timely, customizable updates for your favorite sports and teams, plus industry news, make it a must have.

Facebook Messenger
facebookmessenger_final.jpgYou may be able to get away without installing Facebook’s primary app, thanks to slick wraps like Metal, but avoiding the company’s messaging option is more difficult. Luckily, the app performs well, is beautifully designed and is continually adding new features, like the ability to send money to friends within the app.

Flamingo
flamingo_final.jpgQuite possibly the most gorgeous Twitter alternative on the Play Store, Flamingo stormed on the scene last year and quickly became a favorite thanks to its combination of looks and performance. Though it lacks some features the standard app contains, thanks to Twitter’s well-documented surly attitude toward third party apps, it makes up for it by offering the best, uncomplicated, pure Twitter experience on Android.

Flipboard
flipboard_final.jpgFlipboard shook up its approach recently, but the core of the app remains the same. It collects various news sources and topics into “magazines,” giving users a single place to quickly catch up on the news they care about. It remains one of the best looking, and useful, news apps on the market and one that is well worth your time.

GBoard
gboard_final.jpgThere is no shortage of keyboard apps in the Play Store, but Google’s own offering is the one you should have on your phone. After debuting on iOS, Mountain View finally brought the full GBoard experience to its own operating system months later. Though it seems a simple addition, having a Google search button directly on your keyboard is incredibly useful, making the whole experience of using your smartphone more efficient.

Google Chrome
googlechrome_final.jpgArguments can be made for numerous Android web browsers, including Dolphin and Opera Mini, but Chrome gets our nod because of the simple fact that you’re probably using it on your desktop or laptop. The app’s ability to sync your searches and history across devices is useful in a way that isn’t always apparent, but the moment you want to visit a website, whose address you can’t remember, on your laptop, you’ll be elated you were using Chrome on your phone, too.

Google Drive
googledrive_final.jpgThere are no better online office apps than Google Drive. Seamlessly working between all your devices, it’s the best and easiest way to handle documents across multiple locations and machines. The only downside is that, in order to get the best experience out of Drive, you will have to download a few other apps, like Google Sheets.

Google Fit
googlefit_final.jpgFit’s best feature, aside from being a beautiful and effective app in its own right, is its willingness to play well with others. If you need a more robust experience than what Fit offers with its basic fitness tracking, simply team it up with another fitness app you love.

Google Maps
googlemaps_final.jpgWaze has carved out its own section of the market, becoming a clear competitor to Google Maps(though, not really, as Google owns both), but the latter is still king. It’s the best maps app on the Play Store, and is always improving with new, and better, features like the recent addition allowing users to add a stop along their road trip.

Google Photos
googlephotos_final.jpgQuietly one of Google’s best apps, and perhaps the best product it’s released in years, Google Photos is absolutely a must have. It’s the best way to index all of your photos, particularly because it will do it automatically for you. The real star of the show, though, is the machine learning at work that makes searching through your photo collection a breeze.

Google Translate
googletranslate_final.jpgSometimes lambasted for its direct, and often humorous, translations, the Google Translate app is actually quite helpful, especially if you’re a frequent traveller. It uses the smartphone platform intelligently, letting users scan signs, posters and other items in the real world and translate them on their phone. If you find yourself in unfamiliar territory, look to Google Translate to lend a helping hand.

GrubHub
grubhub_final.jpgIf you live in one of the thousand-plus supported cities, you need to have GrubHub on your phone. It turns tons of restaurants into instant takeout options because it will deliver the food for you. All you have to do is get it on your phone, search for what you’re craving and place the order.

headspace_final.jpgWith the world becoming more stressful each and every day, an app that helps you manage that stress is indispensable. Headspace is one of the best apps available for adding a little mindfulness to your day, with its guided meditation sessions that help you relieve stress and find an emotional balance.

IFTTT
ifttt_final.jpgA classic Android app, IFTTT helps you unlock your phone’s potential. Its wide array of applets let users connect multiple applications together, so your Philips Hue lights will blink when your favorite baseball team scores, or your steps from Fitbit will be logged into a spreadsheet on Google Sheets everyday and much, much more. Support for Google Home and Amazon Alexa make it even more useful.

Inbox by Gmail
inbox_final.jpgThe race to find the perfect email app may have cooled of late, but there are still numerous great options to choose from on Android. Inbox gets our vote thanks to its streamlined interface, and built-in smarts. It will bundle similar messages together, show any reminders you set throughout the day, let you snooze messages until you have time to deal with them and more.

Instagram
instagram_final.jpgA no-brainer. Instagram is a juggernaut, and it needs to be on your phone. Sure, it may be blatantly ripping off the core features of Snapchat, but its still a hotbed for the social media movers and shakers of the world, and a phone without it is one sorely out of the zeitgeist.

LastPass
lastpass_final.jpgOne of the primary steps everyone should take toward being more secure online is creating varied, intricate passwords. A manager like LastPass makes the process easy. It lets users sync across multiple devices for free, and will even read the context of your screen to know if it should chime in with a username or password suggestion. LastPass can give you ease of mine, and ease of use.

A lover of all things tech, love all things that uses creative juices (not an innuendo) an avid blogger and part time vlogger, not stop reading and go check out some awesome posts on this site.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Tech News

Apple fixes HomeKit bug that allowed remote unlocking of users’ doors | Technology

Published

on

 

Apple has been forced to fix a security hole within its HomeKit smart home system that could have allowed hackers to unlock users’ smart locks or other devices.

The bug within iOS 11.2 permitted unauthorised remote control of HomeKit-enabled devices. Such devices include smart lights, plugs and other gadgets, but also includes smart locks and garage door openers.

An Apple spokesperson said: “The issue affecting HomeKit users running iOS 11.2 has been fixed. The fix temporarily disables remote access to shared users, which will be restored in a software update early next week.”

The company said the temporary fixed was made server side, meaning that users do not have to do anything for it to take effect, but also that it breaks some functionality of the system.

The vulnerability, disclosed to 9to5Mac, required at least one iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch running the latest software version iOS 11.2 to have connected to the iCloud account associated with the HomeKit system. Previous versions of iOS appear not to have been affected. To exploit the bug the attackers would need to know the email address associated with the Apple ID of the homeowner and knowledge of how the system worked.

Experts said that while issues with smart-home systems such as this impact consumer confidence in smart locks and other security devices, traditional locks can also be easily undermined with traditional picking techniques.

The security bug is just the latest in a series of issues affecting Apple’s software on both its iPhone and Mac computers. Since November, iPhone and iPad users have been plagued with bugs affecting the autocorrect system, including issues typing the word “it” and the letter “I”, having it replaced with odd symbols.

Apple was also forced to apologise after a serious security flaw that allowed anyone to take control of a Mac running the latest version of macOS High Sierra with a blank password was revealed. The company rushed out a fix for the security bug, which then broke the file sharing system, which itself needed fixing in a later software update.

“We greatly regret this error and we apologise to all Mac users, both for releasing with this vulnerability and for the concern it has caused. Our customers deserve better,” Apple said at the time.

Continue Reading

Tech News

Google Rolls Out New Chrome Security Feature to Combat Microsoft

Published

on

The internet can be a marvelous thing that gives us access to all the world’s information. However, it also gives us access to all the world’s malware. Every browser maker has implemented tougher security in recent years, but Google and Microsoft are particularly intent on competing with each other. In the latest volley, Google has rolled out a major new enterprise security feature in Chrome called site isolation. It’s a stronger version of the browser’s existing sandboxing feature.

Starting in Chrome v63, which is rolling out now, administrators have the option of enabling site isolation on client machines. This feature uses a separate process for each page the user loads, rather than using the main Chrome process for everything in a window. This offers improved security, because even if a site is running malicious code, it cannot access anything else running in Chrome.

Site isolation comes with a major drawback, though. Google explains that running a separate process for each tab consumes more memory, and Chrome is already a bit of a memory hog. Enabling this feature could increase Chrome’s memory usage by 10-20 percent. If a system has lots of extra RAM, this might be a relatively risk-free change.

This change comes as Microsoft has been making a case for its Edge browser on Windows. In a recent update, Edge gained support for hardware-based virtualization that keeps the browser in an isolated process. This protects the operating system from any malware the browser might encounter, and it doesn’t come with the same performance hit as Chrome’s process isolation.

chrome

Meanwhile, Google is also moving forward on a plan to revoke trust for certificates issued by Symantec, which it has accused of lax oversight in the way these important cryptographic keys are distributed. Symantec and Google began tussling over the last year when Mozilla developers brought to light some bad practices at Symantec. At that point, Google investigated what appeared to be around 100 incorrectly assigned certificates. It turned out the number was closer to 30,000, which is a huge security issue. Websites that were issued these certificates without proper accreditation might appear legitimate to a browser, but in reality, they could be stealing user information or distributing malware.

Symantec is selling its certificate business to let someone else manage the fallout. Google will begin marking old Symantec certificates as untrusted this coming April with Chrome v66, and all Symantec certificates will be untrusted in late 2018.

 

Continue Reading

Tech News

The Canon 70D Review, Pros and Cons (Mainly Pro’s)

Published

on

A few minor niggles but still a consummate all-rounder – still our favourite enthusiasts’ SLR

Pros
Excellent image quality
Articulated touchscreen
Impressive autofocus in video
Cons
Video quality could be sharper
No headphone socket

The Canon EOS 70D is the company’s latest enthusiast-oriented SLR. It replaces the Canon 60D, and has various enhancements that distinguish it from the likes of the Canon EOS 700D.

The viewfinder is significantly larger, there are lots of single-function buttons, a passive LCD screen on the top plate and a command dial and rear wheel for direct access to exposure settings. It’s faster than both the 700D and the 60D, with a 7fps continuous mode that lasted for 108 JPEGs or 16 RAW frames before slowing to the speed of the card.

Price, specs and rating based on the body-only package

Canon EOS 70D review: What you need to know

If you don’t want to wade through the details, the previous paragraph sums up the Canon EOS 70 pretty well. This is an enthusiast SLR that produces sublime 20.4-megapixel images and excellent video as well. It isn’t the newest SLR around anymore, having been replaced by the 80D, and it’s been discontinued by Canon, but if you can find one, it’s worth considering over some more recent models (see below).

Canon EOS 70D

Canon EOS 70D review: Price and competition

When we originally reviewed the 70D it cost £999 for the body only. It’s now been officially discontinued by the manufacturer and replaced by the Canon EOS 80D and Canon EOS 77D, but you can still buy one from various outlets for around £600 (body only), and for around £880 including an 18-55mm lens kit.

At that price, it’s worth picking one up over the 80D, because the more recent update didn’t move things on enough for us to give it a glowing review. We haven’t tested the Canon EOS 77D yet it looks like it might be a better option. It uses the same sensor as the EOS 80D, has more focus points than the 70D and a higher resolution, and the prices are closer together. The EOS 77D is more expensive than the 70D, though, and it loses the weather sealing of its predecessor as well.

Equally, though, now that the EOS 7D has been replaced by the newer 7D MKII, you can get the original as a body only for less than the 70D. While the 70D has more pixels, an articulated screen and is a newer camera, the 7D has more professionally-minded controls, an LCD display on the top of the body and a lower price.

If you’ve already bought into the Canon lens system and don’t need to buy a body with a kit, the 7D could be a bigger step up in terms of manual controls than the 70D. For everyone else, though, the 70D is a camera still worth considering, despite its age.

Canon EOS 70D review: Phase detect

The 20-megapixel resolution is Canon’s highest to date for an APS-C sensor, and the sensor design is radically different to anything we’ve seen before. Each pixel not only measures the intensity of light, but also the direction, with each one made up of two photodiodes facing left and right. This helps the sensor to perform phase-detect autofocus, determining not just whether the image is in focus, but also, if not, by how much. It means the lens can jump straight into focus rather than shuttle back and forth in search of a sharp picture.

Phase-detect autofocus is already available in all modern SLRs when using their viewfinders, but in most cases it’s disabled in live view mode. The 70D’s ability to perform phase-detect autofocus directly on the sensor makes it much faster than the 60D to focus in live view mode.

We’ve seen this technique a few times before, most recently on the EOS 700D. However, previous implementations have been limited to a few dedicated phase-detect points dotted across the sensor. What’s special about the 70D is that almost every pixel can contribute to phase-detect autofocus. The active area is quoted as 80 per cent of the frame, horizontally and vertically – you can’t place the autofocus point right at the edge of the frame.

Canon EOS 70D

Testing with the 18-135mm STM lens, the benefit was immediately obvious. It took around half a second to focus and capture a photo in live view mode, rising to around one second in low light. That’s twice as fast as the 700D, and about five times faster than the 60D.

It’s a superb result, but we can’t help wondering if it could have been even faster. It typically took less than 0.2 seconds from when we pressed the shutter button to hearing a double-beep to confirm that focus was achieved, but then it took another 0.3 seconds for the shutter mechanism to kick in. Half-pressing to focus and then fully pressing to capture removed this shutter lag, though. We measured 2.1 seconds between shots in live view mode, which is much slower than the 0.4 seconds it achieved when using the viewfinder. It delivered 7fps continuous shooting in live view mode, but focus was fixed and the screen was blank during bursts.

Still, the bottom line is that live view mode is far more useful than on any other Canon (or Nikon or Pentax) SLR. It helps that the screen is articulated, with a side-mounted hinge that allows it to tilt up, down, to the side and right around for self-portraits – a feature that’s conspicuously absent from the Nikon D7100 and Canon and Nikon’s full-frame SLRs.

Canon EOS 70D

The 70D’s screen is touch-sensitive too, so moving the autofocus point in live view mode couldn’t be easier. Subject tracking is available but we weren’t bowled over by its reliability. The touchscreen also speeds up navigation of the Q menu, which gives quick access to a wider array of functions than are covered by the dedicated buttons. The touchscreen provides an alternative way to navigate the main menu, but we found it quicker to use the command dial and rear wheel to jump to a particular setting.

The 70D is fastest when using the viewfinder, so it’s good to see some improvements here too. The 60D’s 9-point autofocus sensor has been ditched in favour of the 19-point sensor first seen in the EOS 7D. All 19 points are cross-type for increased sensitivity, and they were fast and accurate even in extremely low light. There’s a new button next to the command dial for expanding the active area. The largest area encompasses all 19 points, and when used in conjunction with the AI Servo autofocus mode, allows for some basic subject tracking. It can’t match the sophistication of the 3D Tracking mode in the Nikon D7100, though.

Canon EOS 70D review: Wi-Fi and connectivity

Wi-Fi is built in, with the same functions that we saw on the Canon EOS 6D. They include remote control via the accompanying iPhone and Android apps, with access to exposure settings and the ability to move the autofocus point using the smartphone or tablet’s touchscreen. While the 6D had to make do with lethargic live view autofocus, the 70D was much more responsive when shooting remotely. The app can also access the camera’s card to view full-screen previews with EXIF metadata, apply star ratings and instigate transfers.

Canon EOS 70D

We appreciate how both the remote shooting and image browsing modes are accessible without locking up the camera’s controls. Photos appeared in the app within two seconds of being captured, letting us use an iPad to review shots in more detail that the camera’s 3in screen allows. However, previews and transfers are limited to 2.5 megapixels, so it’s not so useful for checking focus. Enabling Wi-Fi disables the USB port and video capture, so a tablet can’t be used as a remote video monitor.

The iOS app worked fine in our tests but we could only connect our Nexus 4 smartphone via an existing network rather than make a direct connection. We’ve heard others have made direct connections with different handsets, but if this is an essential feature to you it might be worth popping along to a retailer and testing it with your own device.

Canon EOS 70D

Canon EOS 70D review: Video

The new autofocus technology is great news for photographers, but it’s potentially even more exciting for videographers. The 70D’s video autofocus was the most responsive we’ve ever seen from a large-sensor camera, adjusting in less than a second when we moved the autofocus point using the touchscreen. There was no sign of focus hunting, and face detection and subject tracking helped us follow moving subjects – although once again, it was a little unreliable.

Even so, when we tapped on a subject to focus on, more often than not, focus would remain locked as it moved nearer or further. We’ve always maintained that manual focus is the only way to achieve polished results, but for the first time, here’s a video autofocus system that we can envisage being used in professional productions. With a choice of 24, 25 or 30fps capture at 1080p, clips up to 30 minutes and an All-Intra mode that encodes at 75Mbit/s to avoid compression artefacts, it all looks pretty promising for serious video production.

It’s a shame, then, that details in the 70D’s videos aren’t a little sharper. Its footage looked decent enough in isolation, but the Panasonic GX7 and Panasonic GH3 were able to resolve fine details with greater fidelity. We also noticed a tendency for moiré interference on repeating textures such as fabric and bricks. The full-frame Canon 5D Mark III showed big improvements in video detail compared to previous EOS cameras, but it seems that these advances haven’t been built into the 70D. We achieved better results by selecting the Neutral Picture Style and sharpening up the footage in software, but this didn’t get rid of the moiré interference.

Canon EOS 70D sample shot

^ It will bother some more than others, but the Panasonic GH3 (left) has a clear advantage over the 70D (second from left) for details in videos. The 70D’s details can be improved by rolling off the sharpness and contrast and then sharpening in software, but it still can’t quite match the GH3 – click to enlarge

Another hurdle for serious video production is the lack of a headphone socket, which limits the usefulness of the microphone input. The HDMI output can stream a live feed but it’s not a clean feed to send to an external recorder. Despite the 70D’s superb autofocus performance, the Panasonic GH3 remains our top choice for video production. The 70D isn’t too far behind, though. For more casual users who still demand high quality, its more responsive video autofocus may tip the balance in its favour.

Continue Reading

Trending