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March 27 2017

07:30
Opera Mini is getting a built-in Download Helper
06:41

Moto G5 Plus review: The new standard for budget phones

The quick take

The Moto G5 Plus is an awesome little phone, and that it's available for just over $200 is one of its greatest assets. Things could have gone either way for the Motorola brand under Lenovo, but it seems that the Moto G line has maintained what made it great in the first place: excellent hardware coupled with simple, unencumbered software, and a price tag that screams value.

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The Good

  • Solid build quality
  • Snapdragon 625 gives effortless performance
  • All-day battery life
  • Restrained software touches
  • Competitive price

The Bad

  • Not all metal despite marketing
  • Camera isn't as good as advertised
  • Heavily-advertised One Button Nav is a gimmick

Moto G5 Plus Specs

Category Moto G5 Plus Operating System Android 7.0 Nougat Display 5.2-inch LCD 1920x1080 (424 ppi)
Gorilla Glass 3 Processor Snapdragon 625 2GHz octa-core
Adreno 506 GPU Storage 32/64GB Expandable microSD card up to 128GB | microSD card up to 128GB RAM 2GB / 4GB Rear Camera 12MP, f/1.7, 1.4-micron pixels, dual AF pixels Front Camera 5MP, f/2.2, 1.4-micron pixels Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11n dual-band
Bluetooth 4.2
NFC (except U.S.) Battery 3000mAh
Non-removable Charging Micro-USB
15W TurboPower charger Water resistance Water-repellant nano-coating Security Fingerprint sensor Dimensions 150.2 x 74 x 9.7 mm Weight 155 g Colors Lunar Gray, Fine Gold

About this review

This review was written after I (Daniel Bader) used the Moto G5 Plus for two weeks on the Rogers network in Toronto, Canada and the AT&T network in the U.S. It was running Android 7.0, on Build NPN25.137-33 with the January 1, 2017 security patch. The phone was provided by Motorola for review, and wasn't updated through the course of the review period.

Moto G5 Plus Full review

The Moto G4 Plus was a pleasant surprise, a significant improvement from the company's third effort, which had until that time maintained a steady stream of minor upgrades. The Moto G5 returns to that pace of slow-and-steady reinvention with an upgraded design that resembles the notion of premium without investing the entire way.

It has the same camera sensor as the Galaxy S7, but that doesn't translate to the same photos.

At the same time, it neither brings back waterproofing — a popular feature in the third instalment — nor dual speakers, choosing to focus on what Motorola says are its customers' two most important considerations when buying a phone today: the camera, and the build quality. (The phone does have a so-called water-repellant nano-coating which, while not preventing damage from water ingress, should be sufficient to allow the phone to get splashed or romantically caught in a rainstorm.)

The first issue is certainly addressed here, with the Moto G5 Plus gaining the same 12MP IMX260 sensor as the Galaxy S7, while the second comes in the form of a more compact, partly metal-clad chassis that, least in the Lunar Grey model I reviewed, exudes a professionalism that we haven't seen from the series.

But other improvements abound, too: the phone's screen is mercifully smaller than last year's G4 series, shrinking to a more one hand-manageable 5.2-inches at 1080p — and the IPS LCD screen is really good. It's probably the same quality as what you'd come to expect from a high-end flagship in 2014 or 2015, with excellent viewing angles, good but not class-leading brightness, and color calibration is, to my eyes, on par with devices double the price.

Below the screen is what, in my opinion, is the most important aesthetic change to the phone: the square fingerprint sensor in Motorola's 2016 lineup has given way to an oblong with, mercifully, more surface area and a less interruptive aesthetic. I fully expect this to be transposed to the Moto Z line later this year, too. The single speaker and headpiece combo rests above the screen in an etch design that hasn't changed in a number of years, with a 5MP front-facing camera to its right.

The phone's bottom vexes. It contains a Micro-USB port that Motorola couldn't offer an explanation for, other than it didn't want to alienate long-time users of the series. We've had USB-C ports in budget phones for nearly a year now, with similarly-priced phones from Samsung and ZTE sporting the new universal port, so I don't quite buy that argument. And while having to return to the single-orientation plug was jarring, it also wasn't a problem; I have a million Micro-USB cords around the house, and the G5 Plus supports Quick Charge 3.0 through its Turbo Power charger, so I didn't lose out in any way.

Turning the phone around marks the biggest departure in the G series' design since its inception: we now have a metal back. While the backplate is removable on the cheaper Moto G5 (which isn't coming to the U.S.), it's fixed (good) on the more expensive model. Unfortunately, the extent of the metal ends there: the chrome sides, while metallic, are not metal, and there's quite a marked distinction between the colors of both materials. As a result, the G5 Plus feels considerably less expensive than its initial impressions would have you believe.

To its credit, Motorola has always embraced with aplomb the compromise of material in its mid-range products. Since the first Moto G in 2013, the line has been unabashedly plastic, culminating in last year's Moto G4 line, which found beauty in its plainness. I pick it up today and still like it.

When I pick up the Moto G5 Plus, I — and I don't think I'm alone here, judging from other reviews — am confused. The phone feels like a facsimile of a more expensive product, but is betrayed by its chrome. The same problem was true of 2014's Galaxy S5 — the difference is that that phone was $650; this is $230, and therefore much more forgivably chintzy. The design is also pedestrian; gone are the small touches that made a Moto phone a Moto phone, though admittedly those flourishes began disappearing in 2016's Moto G lineup.

Motorola still can't properly explain why it kept the Micro-USB port.

That said, the phone's more diminutive frame is sensible, and it also manages to pack in the same-size 3000mAh battery as its predecessor despite being considerably thinner and shorter. The battery also lasts much longer than the G4 Plus's, thanks to a super-efficient Snapdragon 625 processor that, when paired with either 2GB or 4GB of RAM, chugs along at a nice clip. I had a chance to use the phone as my daily driver for over a week, and noticed that it felt just as performant as the Galaxy S7 I came from (with a stop at the ZTE Blade V8 Pro in the middle, which also performs well for $230).

The difference is $60 between the 2GB and 4GB model, which also gives you an extra storage bump from 32GB to 64GB. I'd have loved a middle-ground option, a $250 version with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, but hey, you can't always get what you want.

Given that competitors like the Honor 6X and ZTE Blade V8 Pro go with 3GB as default, I think Motorola really did its base a disservice with its core configuration — especially if it wants the phone to last the two years for it claims to support — but I empathize with Lenovo's budgetary restraints. That's why I highly recommend either ponying up for the $299 version and forgoing that nice case or microSD card, or going with Amazon's Prime Exclusive model, which offers a $45-60 discount in exchange for some lockscreen ads and pre-installed apps.

One thing the ZTE has that the Moto G5 Plus and Honor 6X lack is an NFC chip. This omission makes sense when Motorola rolls out the numbers around mobile payments adoption in the U.S., but here I am recommending you spend a bit more to future-proof your phone by spending money to upgrade the RAM and storage when neither version has the ability to perform mobile payments in the U.S. I find this to be a strange and frustrating decision; even if price would have precluded it from being on the lower-tier Plus model, it should be in the $299 version. To me, NFC is a basic requirement of any high-end smartphone, and if Motorola really wants to play in this league, it has to step up and compete.

Camera

What's identical between both configurations is the 12MP camera, which, along with the metal back, may be the single biggest distinction over last year's budget flagship, at least on paper. On paper, the phone has the same sensor and lens combination — a 12MP IMX260 with 1.4 micron pixels and an f/1.7 lens — as the Galaxy S7, but it lacks a few things to keep it at the top echelon of phone cameras. First, it doesn't have optical image stabilization, which is a problem for low-light shots; and it lacks the advanced image signal processing bestowed on all phones running the more-expensive Snapdragon 820/Exynos 8890 chipsets.

Still, Motorola claims that the phone focuses considerably quicker than its predecessor, and I can confirm that to be true. The speed at which the Moto G5 Plus, even in low-light conditions, adjusts to the scene, is astonishing. And that focus speed is even more pronounced when you see the results achievable from the depth-of-field lens. And to accommodate that extra light, Motorola added a slightly wider lens, giving the photos a bit of extra breathing room compared to the average mobile camera. All good things.

The only situation the Moto G4 Plus performed better than its successor was in daylight photos, and only barely.

I also spent some time trying to corroborate others' claims that the G5's camera, arguably its biggest asset, is actually not as good as last year's 16MP rear sensor inside the Moto G4 Plus. I put the two phones through the usual rigors of indoor and outdoor tests, with a few macro and low-light shots thrown in, and found that the Moto G5 Plus performed better in nearly every situation.

I did observe some softness, especially in macro subjects, but the low-light advantages — with a shaper lens, larger sensor and pixels, and improved ISP — made up for it. Indeed, the only situation the Moto G4 Plus performed better than its successor was in daylight photos, and only when zoomed in to 100%, since the extra four million pixels allow for the capture of greater detail.

Indoor movement: Moto G5 Plus (left) | Moto G4 Plus (middle) | Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (right)

Macro: Moto G5 Plus (left) | Moto G4 Plus (middle) | Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (right)

Low light: Moto G5 Plus (left) | Moto G4 Plus (middle) | Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (right)

Motorola still has one of the best camera interfaces out there.

I also compared the Moto G5 Plus to the Galaxy S7 edge, as they share fundamental camera components, and found that you do indeed get what you pay for. Or, another way to look at it, the same hardware nets very different results.

While I in no way expected the Moto G5 Plus to compete with the Galaxy S7, the bright spot is that it comes fairly close.

The Moto G5 Plus's camera impresses in most situations. Its low-light results are certainly not comparable to the best phones out there today, but you're unlikely to get much better from a $230 solution. And Motorola still has one of the best camera interfaces out there, with a simple set of options that hide a bevy of useful manual settings. And there is, as always, the useful double-twist-to-open-camera gesture that has been a mainstay of the Moto line since its inception.

Software

On the software front, the Moto G5 Plus continues Motorola's art of minimalism. It runs Android 7.0 out of the box, it's about as untarnished as you're going to fight in this price range, too.

It has changed up the launcher to resemble the Pixel Launcher — you'll remember that Moto phones always used the now-deprecated Google Now Launcher — which includes a swipe-up app drawer and homescreen access to Google's Feed.

Elsewhere, Motorola's signature feature, Moto Display, has been revamped to be more colorful and a bit more information dense. It's still one of my favorite implementations of an ambient display, but year after year is becoming less essential as versions from Samsung, LG and Google close the gap.

One feature that Motorola is hoping will get a lot of attention is one that I discourage people to use. One Button Nav, as it's called, eschews on-screen navigation keys for gestures using the fingerprint sensor. A left swipe for "back," a right swipe for "multitasking," and various lengths of taps and holds for "home," screen off and Google Assistant. I tried using it, I really did.

I forced myself to adapt to it for three days — plenty of time to grow used to its idiosyncrasies. Instead, I found myself yearning for the touch-friendly simplicity of Google's on-screen navigation keys. It wasn't just that the swipes themselves were inconsistently registered — more than a few times a left swipe to go back would be registered as a tap to go home — but that I just found the benefits of extra screen space don't nearly outweigh the additional cognitive load. It's just not a great feature; worse, it's a gimmick portrayed as one.

I tried using One Button Nav, I really did. But it's just not very well implemented.

I do, however, want to be sensitive to Motorola's demographic compromises here. The company is releasing a phone to compete with popular Asian brands like Oppo, Xiaomi, Vivo, and even Lenovo itself, most of which don't use on-screen buttons, along with many big U.S. brands. One Button Nav, as imperfect as it is, is not for me, but for the millions of people that have never done it Google's way. While I'm still not convinced this is the right way to do it, it's certainly well done for what it is, and can be improved through subsequent software updates.

Battery life

Motorola has done an amazing job with battery life on this phone.

There are a lot of things I could nitpick about this phone, but that it doesn't match the Moto Z Play's epic uptime is not one of them. Motorola has done an amazing job getting the Moto G5 Plus to the point where I don't have to worry about it dying on me before the end of the day, and it's managed to do that in a chassis considerably thinner than its predecessor's.

While I disagree with the company's decision to maintain the legacy Micro-USB port, I can't complain about the actual charging speed, which is Quick Charge 3.0-fast, nor the phone's longevity, which handles everyday tasks with aplomb.

Which should you get?

In the U.S., you can't buy the Moto G5 Plus from a carrier, so you're going to be getting it unlocked at one of the company's many retail partners, or directly from Motorola itself.

The two configurations are identical but for RAM and storage amounts:

  • The $229.99 version comes with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage.
  • The $299.99 version comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.

I'm of the opinion that you should try to find the extra cash for the extra RAM, since we've found that Android runs better over the long run with more memory to work with. That said, as long as you keep your expectations in check, and clear your open apps every once in a while (or let the OS do it for you), you should be fine with the cheaper $229.99 model.

There's also the Amazon Prime Exclusive offer, which gives a $45 and $60 discount, respectively, on the two models in exchange for lockscreen ads and pre-installed Amazon apps. I am not a fan of these particular devices, mainly because they are updated on a separate track and Motorola already has a pretty poor record, but the offer is a great way to bring down the cost of the more expensive Moto G5 Plus to $229.99.

Buy it

Moto G5 Plus Final Thoughts

This is probably the best $230 phone you can buy today, though the number of competitors in the space is quickly increasing. If companies like Honor and ZTE get their software acts together and stop shipping devices with older versions of Android, Motorola's advantage will be quickly lost. At the same time, that Motorola is shipping the G5 Plus with Nougat, while good, does't promise that it will get its own updates in a timely fashion, either. Lenovo has drained some of that efficacy in favor of cost savings.

But judged on its own merits, right now, the Moto G5 Plus is a really good product, and is great value. While I'd recommend springing for the 4GB model, either version is worthy of consideration, and has enough improvements over the G4 Plus to be considered a serious upgrade.

See at Motorola

06:30
Google Play Store gets its own Free App of the Week section
02:20
Apple didn’t copy iPhone design in China, says Beijing court
01:31
Galaxy S8 leak spills all the beans days before official unveil

March 26 2017

20:30
2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country First Drive: A wagon America can love
19:00
New red iPhone 7 already modded with black display on front
18:00

Best Replacement Watch Bands for Samsung Gear S3

What are the best third-party watch bands for Samsung Gear S3?

The Samsung Gear S3 is one of our favorite smartwatches, and a great alternative to many of the Android Wear watches out there. The Gear S3 supports standard 22mm watch bands, making it really easy to upgrade with something new.

Here are a few of the best third-party watch bands to consider once you pick up your brand new Samsung Gear S3!

ArtStyle nylon strap

Keep things simple, fun, and functional with the ArtStyle watch band made from a sturdy nylon material and a durable metal buckle! The ArtStyle nylon strap is easily adjustable and is hypoallergenic, making it the perfect band to wear if you have sensitive skin. The material is also breathable and waterproof on top of being extremely comfortable to wear day-to-day.

On top of the ArtStyle's practical design, the watch strap comes in a ton of different, bright colors, including red, blue/yellow, black, black/gray, navy blue, gray, khaki, orange, army green, black/blue, black/green/red, black/gray/blue, black/gray/orange, black/gray/green, black/red.

See at Amazon

Rerii leather band

There's nothing more simple and stylish than a classic leather watch band, and Rerii nails it with their affordable 22mm leather band that the Samsung Gear S3! Made from a high quality and sturdy yet lightweight and soft leather, the Rerii watch band comes with an easy-to-buckle stainless steel clasp, making it the perfect day-to-day band. Unlike some other watch straps, the Rerii's design is super simple and void of all logos, so it's perfect for people who want a classic-looking smartwatch accessory.

The Rerii leather band also comes in a number of vibrant, eye-catching colors, like black, brown, coffee, black with white stitching, brown with white stitching, or coffee with white stitching.

See at Amazon

TRUMiRR Milanese stainless steel band

The Milanese look has been a staple with traditional watch designs for decades, so incorporating the TRUMiRR Milanese stainless steel band might be the perfect fit if that's the particular style you're after. This 22mm watch band is designed with a mesh, woven, stainless steel wire, and is adjustable for a variety of wrist sizes, so you never have to be uncomfortable while sporting your Samsung Gear S3.

To attach and detach your watch band, all you need to do is release a small spring bar, minimizing annoying tools. The TRUMiRR may not come in a ton of colors, but it does come in a shiny silver or a clean, classic black design.

See at Amazon

Barton silicone band

After garnishing its fair share of positive reviews online and coupled with an easy-release design, vibrant colors, comfortable feel, and much more, the Barton silicone band is a great option to check out while you're customizing your Samsung Gear S3. The Barton silicone watch band is designed with a textured back, making the slipping and sliding of most smooth silicone bands a thing of the past. The silicone design also makes it a great tool for working out, as you can easily remove and wash it if it starts to look dirty or stink.

To change your watch band, simply turn the band over and flip the switch — no tools are required! You can pick your Barton band from a number of vibrant colors, including black, white, turquoise, forest green, brown, gray, burgundy, yellow, navy blue, orange, peach, dark gray, and baby blue.

See at Amazon

Ritche stainless steel watch band

The Ritche 22mm stainless steel watch band is an affordable, high quality strap that keeps your Samsung Gear S3 looking classic and clean without any clutter or useless accents of other watch bands. Unlike some other straps, the Ritche cannot be adjusted to fit individual wrists with a simple tightening system; rather, users will have to remove the links near the band's clasps in order to make the stainless steel Samsung Gear S3 accessory smaller.

To remove the Ritche, you will have to use a small tool which comes with the band. The Ritche only comes in one color, silver, but if you're looking for a watch with a similar style in a different color, then we suggest taking a peek at the Vetoo.

See at Amazon

Your pick?

Is there a third-party watch band that you think would be perfect for the Samsung Gear S3? Drop a link in the comments with a brief description of why you like it so that others can check it out as well!

17:30
AMC planning subscription streaming service that still requires cable
16:16

From the Editor's Desk: Is Android O a boring release?

The lack of new whizbang user-facing features in O is a sign of Android's maturity, but that doesn't mean we won't see big surprises for non-phone devices.

The big Android story of the week was Android O. Based on what we know about O so far, it would appear to be one of those Android releases, like KitKat or Marshmallow that tunes things up, adds under-the-hood enhancements and builds on already solid foundations.

There are important features for developers, like background app limits, which could significantly improve Android battery life. And new things for users, like native app badge support (finally!) and notification channels. But on the whole, normal Android owners could be forgiven for not really caring about O just yet. That's understandable. Few phones will get the update this year, if the OS's track record is any indicator.

Instead, Android O is what you'll see for the first time next year on your Galaxy S9 or LG G7 or Huawei P11.

The fact that we're not seeing any huge, sweeping user-facing changes since Nougat speaks to a couple of things. First, Android is a mature, stable OS, and Google isn't tearing anything down and rebuilding it just for the sake of novelty. Despite ongoing issues moving the billion-plus ecosystem off older OS versions, Android is working pretty well. Even longstanding security weaknesses are starting to be addressed.

That's not to say Android is going to stand still. O is still a very important release for developers, which is why they're getting an early look at what's coming. Eventually it'll be time to shake things up — with a big new release more akin to the changes of ICS or Lollipop, but that time hasn't yet arrived.

Read this excellent Jerrytorial to learn how Google might significantly change things up Android P and beyond, with the new Fuschia kernel.

The O Preview is important for developers, with more user-facing features likely to break cover at I/O.

It's also worth pointing out that what we have in this very first developer preview isn't anything close to a final, stable build. Dave Burke himself says in this blog post that new features are coming, and the likely venue for that is Google I/O this May.

Tablets are going to be a big piece of the puzzle. Google has struggled with tablets and convertibles, a category which fits between two current areas of strength — smartphones and Chromebooks. This is the weird, hard-to-define space that the rumored Andromeda OS, a new thing combining parts of Android and Chrome, may live. As the Pixel C heads towards unsupported status for new OS updates (in November 2017), Google essentially has to release a new tablet this year. It's going to be very interesting to see what form that takes, and I suspect the parts of Android O that we haven't yet seen could form a major part of that.

Aside from all that, the smartphone side of things will continue to tick along, in a year when phone hardware finally becomes interesting again. If recent Galaxy S8 leaks are any indicator, this next round of flagships will look and feel more futuristic than ever — an advance in smartphone design that comes along only once every few years.

So even if Android O isn't the most exciting release ever for phones, there's still plenty to look forward to.

Other odds and ends for a working Sunday:

16:00
Call of Duty 2017: leaked images suggest return to WWII setting
15:30
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild review – The grandest adventure yet
14:30
Nokia’s new Android-powered phones come to the US this summer
14:00

Best Chrome extensions you didn't know about but should be using

What are the best Chrome extensions I should be using?

Update 24 March 2017: We've refreshed this list to ensure you're kept up to the latest when it comes to the best Chrome extensions you should be using.

The amount of time most people spend browsing the internet continues to rise each year, and Google's Chrome browser attempts to be the most comfortable and versatile browser out there. To aid in its quest, Google allows for developers to market small software extensions that modify and (in most cases) ameliorate your browsing experience. Here are 10 Chrome extensions you didn't know about but should be using.

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Dark Reader

Chrome's natural white background can become tiresome after a few hours of viewing — Dark Reader has the answer. It changes blinding, bright pages into high-contrast, dark-themed pages that are easy on the eyes. You can adjust the filters and font settings and add certain webpages to an ignore list in the case of complete incompatibility.

See at Chrome Web Store


TL;DR

TL;DR is the answer to articles on the internet that are too long to read. Highlight article text, click the TL;DR button located next to your address bar, and read a well-constructed summary of the article. You can adjust the length of the summary depending on how much time you have or how involved you want to get. It does a good job of condensing the article without cutting out important bits of information.

See at Chrome Web Store


Keepa

Keepa gives you some pretty in-depth information about Amazon products and prices, and lets you set price-drop alerts to keep you in the know. Check price history charts for all iterations of a product (including different colors and sizes), and compare Amazon prices from all over the world. You can even import your Amazon wishlist and assign alerts for when specific items drop below a certain price. Go to Amazon and hover over any item while Keepa is running; a graph will pop up with extended information. Never get ripped off again!

See at Chrome Web Store


Web Timer

Web Timer is a double-edged sword. You're getting data that helps you better manage your time, but said data can be depressing. You'll find yourself asking questions, like, "Did I really spend four hours on Reddit yesterday?" You can add sites to a white-list so that time spent is not recorded, and you can change time measurement parameters from "Today", to "Average", to "Lifetime." Take Web Timer for a spin — you won't be disappointed (or you will, but only in yourself)!

See at Chrome Web Store


PanicButton

This app is ideal for the classic situation where you're slacking off at work and your boss happens to walk by. Before you have a chance to yell "Lunch break," he or she sees Facebook, Reddit, and whatever else you have open in Chrome. PanicButton provides you with a single button or single keyboard key (default F4) that scoops all open tabs into a hidden bookmarks folder that can be restored at a later time. You won't always need PanicButton, but when you do need it you'll be glad it's installed.

See at Chrome Web Store


Ghostery

Want to block advertising companies from creating a profile around your browsing tendencies? Want to load webpages faster than ever before? Want to have more overall privacy on the internet? Ghostery lets you choose what trackers to block on a website-to-website basis. The first time you turn Ghostery on in Chrome, you'll be amazed at how many trackers are watching your moves. Trackers stay blocked across webpages, so you'll deal with increasingly less trackers the more you browse.

See at Chrome Web Store


Feedly Mini

This extension provides you with an easy way to see your RSS feeds now that Google got rid of Google Reader. If you have the Feedly app on your Android phone, you can add websites from your computer while you're navigating the web. A small button sits at the bottom right side of your browser — click it and choose from several options including Facebook sharing and page tagging.

See at Chrome Web Store


HTTPS Everywhere

HTTPS essentially creates authentication between you and the web server hosting the specific webpage. This helps reduce the chance of someone hijacking the information sent between you and the web server. This extension creates HTTPS authentication wherever you go, and it is a must have if you're worried about surveillance, censorship, or identification theft.

See at Chrome Web Store


The Great Suspender

Everyone who uses Chrome knows about the enormous footprint it leaves on your memory. If you're an hour or two into an internet trail and have about fifty tabs open, you'll be happy to have The Great Suspender in your corner. It will auto-suspend tabs after a set time, and you can manually suspend tabs whenever you want. You can also place certain tabs on a whitelist (say the tab playing your YouTube video), and tabs can be opened even after closing and re-opening Chrome.

See at Chrome Web Store


Extensity

You're going to need an organizer for all the Chrome extensions you have working for you. Extensity collects all extensions and places them in one button beside your address bar; enable and disable extensions with one click and create profiles for separate preferences. Extensity keeps your browser toolbar uncluttered and gives you mastery over your browsing experience.

See at Chrome Web Store


Pushbullet

Receiving notifications from your Android phone right in Chrome is a great way to not miss an important text or call. Pushbullet also allows you to send SMS messages from your phone and send messages through apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Kik. When you receive and acknowledge a notification in Chrome, the notification will be dismissed from your phone — alerts will no longer pile up while you're busy working away at your computer.

See at Chrome Web Store


LastPass

Having multiple, complex passwords is becoming ever more important, but keeping track of them all can be a pain. The LastPass extension brings everything you love about the password manager to Chrome — generate strong passwords, save all passwords, and even store credit card information for easy checkout. LastPass autofills password fields, so you'll only have to remember one master password that unlocks your vault. This is a free extension, but a premium version can be unlocked that features full syncing across all devices.

See at Chrome Web Store


uBlock Origin

Choosing an extension that blocks ads doesn't have to be a difficult decision. uBlock Origin is an open-source extension that aggressively blocks ads while using less memory than the other big ad-blocking services. If you want to go one step further, there are thousands of filters that can be applied to uBlock Origin, including tracking blockers and malware domain blockers.

See at Chrome Web Store


Honey

There are plenty of deals available when you shop online — the only problem is that they're sometimes hard to find. Honey is a neat extension that finds coupon codes for you. When you're at a checkout screen, just click the Honey button and the best coupon code available will be automatically applied. Honey will also show a list of coupon codes that recently worked with whatever site you're currently on.

See at Chrome Web Store


Magic Actions for YouTube

Magic Actions is an extension designed for a better YouTube experience. Set all videos to start in HD, enable cinema mode for a darkened screen, hide those annoying video annotations, and block ads. For anyone who watches a lot of YouTube — who doesn't? — this is an incredibly useful extension.

See at Chrome Web Store


OneTab

The amount of tabs that get opened in Chrome can be downright alarming, and sometimes closing a bunch of them just isn't an option. OneTab lets you click a button and have all your open tabs merge into one mega-tab that presents itself as a list.

When you need to access one of the tabs, just click its name from the list. You can also restore all of them at once to get back to working on your project.

See at Chrome Web Store

Cite This For Me

Writing academic papers is a lot of work, especially when it comes time to properly cite your sources. Since so much information now comes from the internet, a Chrome extension was created to automatically cite websites in either APA, MLA, Harvard, or Chicago styles.

All you have to do is visit the page, click the Cite button, and copy the citation. There is also an online bibliography where you can add a bunch of citations and worry about sorting them out later.

See at Chrome Web Store

Lazarus

If you've ever been filling in a form online and something happens where you lose your work — a power outage or an internet error — you understand the crippling anger that occurs when you realize it's gone forever.

Lazarus is here to save the day. It takes the words you type and saves them so that they can be restored with a simple click. Worried about privacy? Your keystrokes are saved on your device and are encrypted to protect from snooping.

See at Chrome Web Store

Taco

Working on the internet usually means you're employing a ton of different services, like Trello, Gmail, RSS, and Evernote. With Taco, all of these services and more can be organized in Chrome's New Tab page.

You can drag and drop tasks from a wide variety of services, letting you prioritize and hide content you're not currently working. Grab this extension if you prefer having everything in one place.

See at Chrome Web Store

Darkness - Beautiful Dark Themes

Whereas some other dark-filter extensions for Chrome give you one option, Darkness has a few themes built around some of the most popular websites on the internet.

The free version comes with themes for Facebook and Google; pay $5 for the Pro version and get themes for Twitter, Reddit, YouTube, Gmail, and more. If you want more than just a dark screen, you'll love Darkness.

See at Chrome Web Store

StayFocused

For some people, especially students, staying on task to get everything on your to-do list done is easier said than done. When you have assignments due, or deadlines to hit, being able to focus on the task at hand is key.

StayFocused keeps you on track by not allowing you to visit certain websites for an allotted amount of time. You set up the sites that are blocked, decide when you can browse freely, and adjust what sites you are free to distract yourself with. There are plenty of settings to play with in order to limit the amount of distraction you deal with while trying to get work done on your laptop.

See at Chrome Web Store

Grammarly for Chrome

Being able to quickly and easily check the spelling and grammar of a document really can't be overstated. Whether you want to be sure that you don't embarrass yourself in an email to your Supervisor, or in an essay you write for English 121, have a spelling and grammar checker can be handy.

While Grammarly definitely isn't perfect, and may miss some problems, overall it's a great way to ensure your work and communications look polished before hitting that send button.

See at Chrome Web Store

Your favorite extension?

Hit the comments section and let us know what Chrome extensions you use most.

13:30

Anonymously surf the web across all your devices for only $60

Privacy is everything nowadays. It's hotly debated online, in political forums, and huge corporations are regularly selling our information so that other corporations can, in turn, make money off of us as well. A lot of folks are OK with that and view it as "just the way the world works" and other folks are tinfoil and don't even have a landline telephone. But you don't have to belong to either extreme camp — you can meet privacy and online freedom right in the middle.

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Subscribe to Private Internet Access for $60 Learn more

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What you need is a VPN or "virtual private network". A VPN helps you browse the web anonymously by masking your online identity, thus preventing data mining, blocking ads and malware, cloaks your IP address, and more. In an age where identity theft, cloud leaks, and more are made easier thanks to the internet, you can protect yourself and feel at ease online.

The Private Internet Access VPN allows you to use up to five devices at once without limiting bandwidth so that you and the rest of your family can browse the internet in anonymity. This type of service is usually $166 for a two-year subscription, but through Android Central Digital Offers, you can subscribe for $59.95, a savings of 63%. This VPN is perfect if you worry about your online privacy or if you like to view content from all over the world, since it bypasses censorship filters, freeing your from geographic filters. And, if the VPN connection is unexpectedly terminated, you can flip off your internet connection with a killswitch, so that you're not left open to any type of online attack.

If you hate online ads and you prefer your online identity and personal information to remain a secret, then a VPN is just what you need. Viewing unrestricted content from around the world is a bonus! You could end up spending hundreds on a VPN, especially if you're signing up for a multi-year period, but at Android Central Digital Offers, you can subscribe to Private Internet Access for only $59.95 and browse safely, securely, and most importantly: anonymously.

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Subscribe to Private Internet Access for $60 Learn more

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13:00
Blizzard reveals StarCraft: Remastered with 4K, original StarCraft made free
12:00
New Justice League trailer brings all the heroes to the table
10:30

Make your next smartphone repair easy with this $29.87 toolkit today!

Ever try to do an at-home repair on your phone or tablet only to realize that you don't have the right tools? Don't put yourself in that position again, and instead pick up iFixit's 64 bit driver kit to ensure that you have the right tools for your upcoming repairs. Right now you can pick up this kit for just $29.87.

00:51

An Android O deep dive [#acpodcast]

This week, Daniel, Jerry and Russell are joined by Eric Richardson, an Android developer at WillowTree, to talk about Android O.

Android O is still very early — we don't even know its final name yet — but we do know that there are going to be a lot of important under-the-hood improvements that will make experiences better on phones, tablet and even Chromebooks!

Join us for a deep dive into everything we currently know about Android O!

00:39

Google Talk is dead, Hangouts is the new Slack, Project Fi users are screwed and everyone hates Allo

It is impossible to go seven or more days without some messaging news from Google.

Google seems to understand that it needs to pare its messenger story down to a few apps that cover everyone's needs (so it's easier for people to ignore them all and use WhatsApp anyway). And, to some extent, that's what is happening, but everything feels so chaotic and is changing before replacements are ready.

It just feels like Google has gone off the deep end.

Some people use the word confusing to describe Google's strategy here, but no matter what words are used it all still feels rushed — something you would expect from amateurs instead of one of the biggest tech companies in the world. It just feels like Google has gone off the deep end.

I'm going to take responsibility for what every blogger or journalist has done wrong here because some of the confusion is our fault. It's easy (and fun) to write about seemingly random changes and follow with a jab at Google for doing them. But if you break things down you can guess at Google's strategy.

  • Hangouts is now a proper enterprise tool. Or at least it will be. Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat sound like, together, a potential Slack replacement for every company that uses Google Docs. Seeing what it will (hopefully) be capable of, I imagine Mobile Nations is going to give it a spin because we are a Google Docs shop.
  • Google Talk is dead. It needed to die so the places it lives can be used for Hangouts Chat. Nobody uses the Google Talk app on their phone or tablet, and while having it tied to Gmail is great, having Hangouts Chat there is better for the people who live in Gmail all day. They are the people who will use Hangouts Chat to talk to their demanding boss from Toronto (Ed note: Damnit, Jerry). Or something.
  • Allo is Google's app for people who don't want to use SMS. And that is a lot of people. I had hoped Google would use Allo and Duo to provide an iMessage-like experience, but instead, it's the Mountain View version of WhatsApp. It's also a really good app, but nobody wants to use it because WhatsApp has a gazillion more users. Had Google worked things out and brought Allo to us before WhatsApp exploded, things may be different.

  • Duo is Google's video calling app. It's a really nice app with a fatal flaw: you can't set up a group call. A lot of work went into making things easy and delivering the best video feed possible for every level of bandwidth, but Hangouts used to let 15 people get together and look at each other. We are not likely to forget that and will complain instead of using Duo, or at least complain while using it. I know I will. Especially when I use Hangouts Meet for work stuff and can't use it for anything else unless I get a Google Apps account or am invited to a Hangout by someone with a Gapps account. WTF, Google?
  • Android Messages is one thing Google is doing right. Too bad it depends on your carrier to also do it right, and that will take forever and an act of God because your carrier wants your friends to switch to it rather than make its features available to users on another provider. I wish Google was working on some way for people using Android Messages to have a great IM experience with each other without using SMS to do it. But, technically, they have Allo for that.
  • Google Voice has been improved so it's a nicer experience for when you want to send texts from your tablet or use the same number on more than one phone. Unless you use Project Fi. Then you're screwed. Also, why is there no screw emoji? They have "ear of Maize" so it will have to do. 🌽
  • Supersonic exists to give us one more thing to wonder about and for Russell Holly to talk to himself and the Supersonic help chat bot.

Now for the big question: How the hell do you make all these changes without pissing everyone off and confusing the hell out of a person who just bought their first Android phone and wants a replacement for iMessage?

This stuff is hard, and the way Google is doing it makes it seem even harder.

You don't. That means you probably should be changing everything all at once.

I won't pretend that I would be a good businessman. I have a hard time deciding what side to get with my steak or what socks to wear. I imagine some really smart people in expensive suits sitting at a giant mahogany table using slides and big words to make these decisions, but then I see them in action and realize it could just as easily be a bunch of folks who tumbled out of a clown car. I have no idea what Google is thinking, and it's kind of hard to assume they have a comprehensive plan.

Google I/O is coming. It would be a great time for someone to explain something. If they do, we'll tell you all about it. And if they don't we'll keep scratching our heads and guessing at what they have planned.

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