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Essential Applications for Android right now

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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, now stop reading and go check out some awesome posts on this site.

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Inside JD.com, the giant Chinese firm that could eat Amazon alive

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Pujiang Pu is a smiley, medium-built man in his mid-forties with stylish glasses, a bling gold watch, and a red JD lanyard around his neck. Along with many of the 150,000 employees of JD.com – a city-size e-commerce store sometimes referred to as the Amazon of China – he lives in a free dorm near one of the company’s 500 gigantic warehouses. The warehouse I visit is in Jiading, 30km north-west of Shanghai’s city centre. Hundreds of people work here, and at 100,000 square metres in size it sits on a JD complex so big it would take at least 45 minutes to walk from one end to the other.

I am allowed here as part of a rare, highly supervised press visit, and warehouse manager Pu is our tour guide. I am not shown everything, but enough to impress – or, as some analysts believe, to show that JD is a kind of company Amazon ultimately wants to become.

JD wasn’t always that big. It started out as a small brick and mortar store in Beijing, founded in 1998 by Richard Liu. Then in 2004, Liu moved it online and JD.com, short for Jingdong, was born. Fast-forward to today, and the firm is worth more than $55 billion. In February, logistics magazine DC Velocity called it “the biggest company you may not know all that much about”. Not for much longer though – JD is so growing so fast at home in China and expanding so rapidly into other markets such as Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam and most recently Europe, that even the most devout Amazonians will soon sit up and notice.

The main reason Pu stays in a dorm on site, and away from his family, is to ensure he can meet key performance indicators set by the firm. Sometimes, especially during JD.com’s annual shopping event, he has to work late into the night.

But the future of these dorms is uncertain. Many traditional warehouse jobs like stacking shelves and packing boxes at JD are likely to go to robots in the coming years, as the company starts to automate everything that can sensibly be automated. The tech giant is now busy retraining some staff to take on new roles that machines can’t yet do. Pu’s warehouses have some of the firm’s most advanced robotics – and he gets really excited talking about the autonomous forklift trucks and delivery drones.

These drones have been in the news a lot lately. Remember when Amazon’s boss Jeff Bezos made claims that his firm would soon drop parcels off at your doorstep? Well, that was in 2013 – and, some small-scale trials aside, it’s still not happening. But it’s very much happening at JD – since March 2016, its drones have been delivering products across China, having clocked over 300,000 minutes of flight time. “Today we have over 200 people working on our drone programme,” says Zheng Cui, director of the firm’s drone R&D centre in Xi’an.

The drones come in various shapes and sizes, but the quickest ones can fly up to 100km/h and have a range of 100km. So far though, the furthest delivery has been 15km and that drone flew much slower than 100km/h – but you have to start somewhere. What the drones can’t do yet, JD does with its 65,000 van drivers and couriers.

The drone efforts haven’t gone unnoticed though, and other companies are keen to replicate JD’s air delivery success. Cui says more and more firms are getting in touch to buy their drones. “We’ve just got an order for 1,000 at the beginning of this year,” he adds.

Those drones are still fairly small, but JD is busy developing larger ones that can carry up to five tonnes. “They’ll transfer inventory from one warehouse to another,” says Cui. “Within three years we’re looking at having a couple of thousand,” he says – and they will take off right from existing small airports near the company’s warehouses.

It’s not just the drones that make the Chinese behemoth different from Western e-commerce stores, though. Robots at JD are everywhere. In the warehouse I visit, machines stack tens of thousands of products on 24-metre-high shelves. Over the road from where I am, another fully automated warehouse can pack and ship 200,000 products a day. Robots are not alone yet, though: the fully automated warehouse has four human helpers.

Automation, growth, scale – the mega but still relatively unknown giant seems unlikely to slow down. Its revenues are growing 40 per cent a year, up to $55.7 billion in 2017. The company’s spokespeople tell us proudly the firm is the third largest “internet company” in the world by revenue after Google and Amazon, but ahead of companies like Facebook, eBay and Alibaba, its biggest rival.

It has major backers such as Tencent — the largest internet company in China by market cap and the owner of WeChat. Other investors are Walmart, which has a ten per cent stake, and even Google, which last month announced it was investing $550 million into JD to help it expand further outside China.

And the e-commerce giant is busy doing just that. In January, it opened its first European office, in Paris. It now aims to open another one in Milan, and is actively partnering with Spanish and other European brands – especially luxury ones. In 2017, Chinese made up 32 per cent of the worldwide luxury market.

JD’s response: last October, it launched Toplife, a platform for luxury buyers that can benefit from same-day deliveries and premium services, such as ultra-clean and secure warehouses with special air filters. Over just a few months, Toplife has already signed up 20 brands, including Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen. Amazon beware.

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LG G7 ThinQ Is Now Available In the US for $750

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LG waited longer than normal to announce its big 2018 flagship phone, but it finally took the wraps off the LG G7 ThinQ a few weeks ago. Today, the phone is available for purchase on most US carriers. While LG has had trouble competing with the likes of Samsung, it’s still targeting the same premium space. Although, it’s got an iPhone-style screen notch now. That’s what consumers want, right?

The LG G7 ThinQ is the epitome of all things 2018 in smartphone design. It has a glass back, dual cameras, and a display notch that isn’t done particularly well. The missing bit of screen provides a place for the camera, earpiece, and some other sensors. It does seem a little excessively large for how compact these components are, though. In addition, the G7 has a “chin” at the bottom with a larger bezel than the top and bottom. This asymmetric look isn’t as striking as the iPhone X it imitates. The 6.1-inch 1440p display is also an OLED, which lacks the vibrancy of modern OLED panels.

Inside, this phone has all the current flagship hardware you’d expect with a Snapdragon 845, 64GB of storage, and 4GB of RAM. Unlike many other current smartphones, the company has opted to keep the headphone jack for the G7 ThinQ. LG also touts the G7’s unique speaker design that uses the entire chassis as a resonator to boost sound output.

You may be wondering about the name — specifically the “ThinQ” bit. Well, that’s LG’s expanded brand for all its AI technologies. What that means for the G7 is that there’s an AI mode in the camera that looks for objects it can identify and offers possible filters. It’s not very accurate or useful, but LG didn’t even develop any AI software or hardware for this phone. It just licensed a machine vision library from a third-party.

The LG G7 ThinQ is available from all major carriers in the US except AT&T. Apparently, AT&T chose to sell the LG V35 instead of the G7. This marks the third variant of the V30 that LG has sold since it debuted last year. At other carriers, the G7 ThinQ will run you $750, give or take a few dollars. Carriers offer payment plans to split the cost over two years. It will launch on Google’s Project Fi soon, as well. If you don’t want to go through carriers, the phone is also available from Amazon.

 

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