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    Google Play App Roundup: Calendar Widget: Agenda, Rodeo Stampede, and Zombieville USA 2

    Another week is upon us, and that means it's time to check out the state of the Google Play Store. Your phone is only a shadow of itself without the best apps, so it's a good thing we're here to save the day. Just click on the app name to pull up the Google Play Store so you can try things out for yourself.

    Calendar Widget: Agenda

    A few years ago, Candl Apps released the "Month" calendar widget, and it was a pretty big success. Now, the developer has published Calendar Widget: Agenda. You can probably guess what it does from the name. Like Month, this app comes with a multiple skins and a couple extra features but directly related to your schedule.

    There's no entry for Agenda in your app drawer after installing. It's settings are only available from the widget after you've placed it in there home screen, so go ahead and do that. There's only one size in the weather list, but it's resizable to add small as 2x2 or as large as whatever your device's maximum grid size is. To change the theme, tap the settings gear on the widget.

    There centerpiece of this app is the assortment of neat themes for the widget. A few look like tweaked versions of the stock Google Calendar widget, and none of them are super-weird or unattractive. I particularly like the ones that separate the days out as cards. When selecting a theme, you also have the option of tweaking the colors and opacity.

    Like other agenda widgets, you can scroll through to get a look at all the event coming up on your calendars. In the settings, you can choose which calendars you want shown on the widget if you've got more than one attached to your account. There's also an option to have weather shown next to each day. This is part of the full version upgrade, though.

    You get a handful of themes in the free download. Most of them are the note generic ones, but for $1.49 you can get another dozen themes and the aforementioned weather feature.

    Google Play App Roundup: ADW Launcher 2.0, Lost Frontier, and _PRISM

    You probably want more apps, but more than that, you want the right ones. That's what we're here to deliver with the weekly Google Play App Roundup. This is where you'll find the best new and newly updated apps and games on Android. Just click the links to head right to Google Play.

    ADW Launcher 2.0

    Anyone who has used Android devices for a few years has probably heard of ADW Launcher. It was one of the best custom home screens for Android in the days before Nova appeared on the scene. It hasn't been updated in years, but the developer has reappeared with a beta release of ADW 2.0, and you can give it a shot right now.

    This is a completely redesigned version of ADW that seems competitive with the top alternative launchers today. Note: you'll have to opt into the beta test for this app before the new version will show up for you. It's using the same listing as the original app, so install that one and your devices will update to the beta automatically.

    ADW 2.0 is highly configurable and colorful, a good mix of qualities from other launchers. At the top of your screen is a Google search bar, but that's actually a custom widget. You can modify it, or even create entirely new widgets for that spot or anywhere else on your home screen. These widgets aren't as powerful as the various standalone apps that let you build custom widgets, but you can do some neat stuff. It does lead to some unnecessary complication, though. An example: ADW's custom all-in-one widget add-on defaults to celcius. If you want to use Fahrenheit, you have to actually go into the widget editor, find the temperature layer, and change it to imperial. It's a very "power user" way to do things.

    The launcher also has an automated theme engine built-in, which is one of the things I really like about Action Launcher. By default, it's based on your wallpaper image. Your search bar, app drawer, and folder background will pull colors from the wallpaper. You can change the colors in settings if you like. In another nod to Action Launcher, you can set folders to show only the top icon (launched with a tap), but still make the rest of the folder accessible with a swipe.

    I really like the way ADW groups widgets and makes managing your home screens easier. However, some of the features here aren't completely obvious. For instance, it took me a minute of experimenting to figure out how to get rid of a home screen panel. It's beta, so I assume that the tutorial will be fleshed out before the final release. In the app drawer, there's also a categorization option for apps, but it's all manual. That's fine if you want things a certain way and don't mind organizing everything by hand.

    ADW 2.0 does all the basic stuff you'd expect from a custom launcher like gestures, page transition effects, and icon packs. Almost all of this is available for free in the new beta, but you can upgrade to the full version for $2.99. The free version does have a "promo apps" icon, which is essentially an ad. You can remove it from your "all apps" category to hide it, though.

    Google Play App Roundup: Opera News and Search, Heroes of Loot 2, and PKTBALL

    A new week has dawned, and with it comes a new list of great things happening on Android. This is the Google Play App Roundup where we tell you what needs to be on your phone or tablet right now. Just click the links to head to Google Play and grab these apps for yourself.

    Opera News and Search

    Opera has been making browsers for Android since the early days, and there are several versions of its existing mini and standard browsers in the store right now. The new Opera News and Search browser is a little different. It focuses on recommending content in the browser and making it easier to read. It's a bit like a browser with a stripped down RSS feed inside.

    When you first open Opera News and Search, you'll see a start screen with a search/URL field at the top and news headlines below that. Right now the biggest issue is that some of the content Opera shows you be default is kind of garbage. I don't personally care about a "crazy hack that will dry your nails in seconds." Luckily, that's just the main feed. You can slide over to the Discover tab to see specific topics like technology, design, and so on. You can check them out there or subscribe to get dedicated news tabs and a better mix of things in your main list. When you tap on a story, you have the option of loading it in a text-only reading mode too.

    Your main search/news tabs remain open at all times in the home tab, but you can open others and use Opera like any other browser. Simply use the search bar or the tab button in the bottom toolbar to get on your way. The home button will always take you back to the main tab with all the news content. You'll get notifications for breaking news as well.

    If you have an Opera account, this browser can sync your tab history, reading list, and bookmarks. As is customary in Opera browsers, there's also an option to enable server-side compression to save mobile data while browsing. Private browsing is supported as well via the tab management screen. Anything loaded in private mode will not be saved in cache or your browsing history.

    The new Opera is experimental, so there are probably going to be some bugs. It's also only available in the US right now (at least officially). At its heart, the new Opera is running the same engine as the other full-scale version (non-Mini), meaning Chromium. The Opera implementation is fast and page rendering is spot-on.

    It does seem rather well put together for a first release. If Opera improves user control over the news feed, this could be a capable alternative to Chrome and a nice improvement over the current Opera browser.

    Google Play App Roundup: Flamingo, Sky Force Reloaded, and NeoWars

    A new week has dawned, and with it comes a new list of great things happening on Android. This is the Google Play App Roundup where we tell you what needs to be on your phone or tablet right now. Just click the links to head to Google Play and grab these apps for yourself.

    Flamingo

    Twitter recently resurrected the much-loved app Fenix from the grave after it ran out of tokens. From this we learned that the company is now willing to work with developers who have run out of auth tokens, so it's a bit safer for developers to invest their time and energy into Twitter apps. The first new Twitter app of interest in a long time is Flamingo, which was made by the developer of the fabulous Weather Timeline app. It's still in beta, but Flamingo get a lot of things right.

    Flamingo has three main columns across the top, and they're the right columns. You have the timeline, mentions, and messages. So many apps clutter the main interface with unnecessary streams. You can, however, rearrange, add, and remove columns from the main app UI. Flamingo puts all the other stuff in the slide-out navigation menu where it's supposed to be. You can swipe to navigate between columns or tap on the headers. Tapping on the header will also move you to the top of your current stream, an essential feature for me in Twitter apps.

    The way you interact with tweets is well-designed in Flamingo as well. Tapping on a tweet pulls up in-line action buttons to reply, retweet, like, and so on. A long-press opens the tweet in a new screen with full conversation history. I love that you can drag down to close these screens, as well as images that you've opened. If you are supposed to see replies to something in your timeline (i.e. you follow both people) those will be shown in-line, which is very handy. I also quite like the way links and quoted tweets show up in colorful boxes in the timeline tweet. It's easy to follow what's going on at a glance here.

    One of Flamingo's main selling points is the abundance of themes. It comes with a dozen presets, and you can design your own theme by picking colors. The default "blue bird" theme is pretty good, but there are plenty of other nice ones including an AMOLED dark theme.

    Flamingo doesn't have settings for refresh speed, so I'm assuming the notifications are handled as push messages. The only toggle I can find is one to defer notifications to save battery. Presumably this batches notifications so your phone won't wake up constantly to deliver them. I'd like a little more clarity on this.

    I'm really impressed with the design and reliability of Flamingo at such an early stage. I'm personally missing a widget. I use home screen widgets to browse Twitter almost as much as I use the actual app, so it's a must have feature for me. If the developer can get that sorted out, i could easily make Flamingo my full-time Twitter client, and it's only $0.99.

    The Best Android Smartphones for Your Network (June 2016)

    There have already been some big device launches this year, and several of 2015's Android flagships are starting to get a bit long in the tooth. So, what are you supposed to do if the time has come to upgrade? You can get something a bit older that costs a bit less and appeals to you more, or pick up the latest and greatest. And of course, there's always something big just around the corner. Let's get the lay of the Android land.

    Carrier Phones

    On the carrier side, I think there are only two devices to seriously consider; the Galaxy S7 and the HTC 10. If you're on AT&T, that decision is even easier, which I'll get to shortly. First, the Galaxy S7 has some strong points regardless of the carrier you're on.

    Samsung is using a metal and glass unibody design for the GS7, which feels extremely solid. However, you will collect fingerprints like mad and you could damage the body of the phone if you drop it. The designers took an unusual step this year. Samsung made the GS7 about a millimeter thicker than the GS6 so the camera hump is flush with the back, and there's more room inside for a bigger battery. The glass panel on the back also has curved edges to make it more comfortable in your hand.

    The slightly thicker frame means the regular GS7 has a 3000mAh battery, and the GS7 Edge has 3600mAh. Both phones are also water resistant, which is a feature Samsung dropped from the GS6. There's also a microSD card slot in these phones, another improvement over the Galaxy S6, but it doesn't support adoptable storage in Android 6.0.

    The Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge have new Super AMOLED panels at 2560x1440 resolution. The GS7 is 5.1-inches, while the Edge variant has a larger 5.5-inch display. The Edge, of course, has a screen that curves down on the left and right edge. The Edge phone does look very nice, but it's not as comfortable to hold thanks to the larger size and narrower metal band around the perimeter due to the Edge screen. None of the software features that are supposed to take advantage of the Edge display really do anything special. Most of them would work on the regular phone too. It's just an arbitrary attempt to justify the design.

    Tested: The HTC 10 Android Smartphone

    There was a time when HTC was the top Android OEM -- in fact, it was the first Android OEM too. Its fortunes changed after several disappointing release cycles, and now the future of HTC is uncertain. The company needed a hit in 2016, a device that proves it deserves to remain in the top tier of Android OEMs. Its best shot is the HTC 10. This phone is make or break for HTC, so let's find out which it is.

    Design and Display

    Aluminum unibody designs have been HTC's hallmark for several generations, but if you ask fans of the One series, they'll often say that the M7 was HTC's best chassis. It was a little more rough around the edges, but the design was sleek, angular, and clean. The more rounded body of the M8 and M9 were a step backward in my eyes, but the HTC 10 returns HTC's aluminum design to greatness.

    The HTC 10 body is milled from a solid piece of aluminum with a glass front that blends smoothly into the metal edges. I was admittedly worried about the giant chamfer that encircles the rear panel of this phone. However, it gives the frame a distinctive shape and actually makes it very comfortable in the hand. It's a heavy, dense phone, but only a little more so than the Samsung Galaxy S7. The HTC 10 looks and feels like an expensive piece of technology.

    You will probably notice that HTC's obsession with front-facing speakers appears to be over. The A9 didn't have them, and neither does the HTC 10. There are actually two speakers, though. One is in the earpiece and the other is on the bottom edge of the phone. The stereo sound this phone produces isn't as good as older HTC phones (tinnier and less power in the lows), but it's better than phones that only have one bottom-firing speaker.

    Google Play App Roundup: Boomerang Notifications, Tiny Tower, and Crashing Season

    A new week has dawned, and with it comes a new list of great things happening on Android. This is the Google Play App Roundup where we tell you what needs to be on your phone or tablet right now. Just click the links to head to Google Play and grab these apps for yourself.

    Boomerang Notifications

    It always strikes me as weird that there are so many apps out there that seek to improve on Android's notification system. At every stage of the game, it's been the best notification scheme of any platform, but there are always edge cases that encourage someone to try something different. Sometimes it's even a cool addition, as in the case of Boomerang. It turns your notifications into recurring reminders and archives them for you.

    Boomerang plugs into the Android notification listener service, so you'll be asked to enable that during setup. All modern Android phones have this feature, and it's used by a lot of apps. It uses this access to read and save the text from your notifications, but not all notifications. Boomerang makes the most sense when you choose specific apps for it to manage. These will probably be the apps you get the most notifications from like Gmail, your messaging app of choice, and social apps.

    Once you've selected active apps in the list, Boomerang will monitor for those notifications. When you swipe away a notification, Boomerang will pop up a notification asking you if you want to save it for later (this will go away on its own after a few seconds). You can also choose to add a reminder in addition to saving. This is the "boomerang" part of the app -- it comes back to you. There's also a persistent notification for Boomerang that shows you the current number of saved notifications you have. I'm not crazy about persistent notifications, but this is the sort of app that really needs one to make sure it operates as intended.

    When you open Boomerang from the notification or shortcut, it shows you the saved notifications. Tapping on them launches as if you'd tapped on the original notification, and a long press lets you set a reminder. This can be handy in the event you need to reply to someone later, but you don't want to deal with it at that moment. Boomerang saves you from messing around with launching other apps just to set reminders about a notification. This is just one step.

    Boomerang Notifications is free, which is a little surprising. I would have at least expected some sort of premium version in-app purchase. There's no reason not to at least give this a shot.

    Google Play App Roundup: Science Journal, Air Attack, and Assassin's Creed Identity

    Android devices do a lot of neat stuff out of the box, but you can always load it up with new apps to make if do more stuff. And maybe some games for good measure. This is the Google Play App Roundup where we tell you what's new on Android. Just hit the links to head to the Play Store.

    Science Journal

    Your smartphone is bristling with sensors, so why not use them to do some basic science? Google has released a new app that helps you run simple experiments with your phone called Science Journal. It's mostly aimed at getting students interested in science and the process of running experiments, but everyone can learn a little something.

    Science Journal accesses three sensors in your phone: the light sensor, accelerometer, and the microphone. In the main interface, you can switch between each of these outputs to see live data as a single number or a graph. In addition, the accelerometer data is split up into X, Y, and Z axis readings. Of course, the app is a super-slick example of material design with bright colors and cool animations.

    Down at the bottom of the screen is a toolbar and timecode. This is where you record your data. Simply hit the record button and the sensor data will be archived. You can organize each data set into different experiments and add notes to them as well. The graphs (both live and archived) respond to pinch zoom gestures.

    You might be surprised how sensitive the sensors in your phone are, especially the accelerometer. Because this part is designed to measure g-forces, it reads gravitational acceleration at rest, and it's pretty close to the 9.8m/s^2 number we all learned in school. We often think of acceleration in terms of velocity relative to the ground, but this app encourages you to think about it a little differently. For example, in freefall, the Z-axis reads 0 instead of 9.8-ish. I was even able to use the accelerometer to measure my heart rate by laying the phone on my chest.

    At the top of Science Journal is a button that links the app with external devices. You probably don't have any of these, but the Google Making and Science Initiative website lists some kits Google helped to design with companies like Sparkfun that will connect to the app, usually via an Arduino. All the data acquired through the app, via both internal and external sensors, can be exported as a CSV file.

    The app is free and fun to play around with if nothing else. If you have kids, you might want to use this as a learning opportunity.

    The Best of Google I/O 2016: Android N, Daydream VR, and More

    Google I/O is now in its 10th year, and Google brought it back to the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View where it started. I/O is always big on news, especially in the last few years as Google announced developer previews of upcoming versions of Android. This year, we already have the Android N dev preview, but that didn't stop Google from showing off some cool new features. There are also big changes coming to Chrome OS, messaging, and more.

    Let's take a look at all of Google's I/O 2016 highlights.

    Android N

    The existence of Android N wasn't the big reveal this year. We're actually getting quite familiar with this pre-release OS after two developer previews. The third preview was released at I/O, and Google also talked about some more features coming to Android N.

    There were, of course, demos of things like multi-window and the revamped notifications. We knew all about that, though. Possibly the most interesting new tidbit about Android N is the support for what Google is calling seamless updates. If you've ever used a Chromebook, it'll be very similar. In fact, the Android team borrowed some code from Chrome OS to do this.

    Right now, getting an OTA update, though joyous, is a pain in the butt. You have to restart your device, wait for the OS to unpack and install, then sit through the app optimization process. Devices that ship with Android N won't have to do any of that. Instead, updates will happen in the background as soon as they're available (like a Chromebook). The next time you restart, your phone or tablet will simply boot into the updated OS and that's it.

    So how is this magic possible? Android N will support dual system partitions. The one you're actively using will be online and the other will be offline. When a system update is ready, it will be installed in the offline partition while the device is still in use. Upon reboot, the offline partition becomes online and online becomes offline. Not only is this a faster way to do updates, it provides a fallback in case a bad update breaks something. The device can just boot into the old system and try the update again.

    Google Play App Roundup: Slash Keyboard, Bushido Bear, and Leap Day

    Your Android phone is capable of a lot of cool things, but it's the apps that make that possible. Developers have access to all sorts of hooks in the system to make your phone do amazing things, you just have to find the right stuff. That's what the weekly Google Play App Roundup is all about -- helping you find the right apps. Just click on the app name to head right to the Play Store and pick it up yourself.

    Slash Keyboard

    You might have caught the news last week that Google released a keyboard app for iOS called Gboard. Its claim to fame is that it has Google search built right in. You can grab results and paste them in without leaving the app. That's not available on Android yet (weirdly), but there's actually an app that came out a few weeks back called Slash keyboard that has similar features. It's pretty relevant now, though.

    They call it Slash Keyboard because you trigger all its special search features by adding a slash to whatever you're typing. It works in any app too. For example, you're typing a message and making plans to meet up. You want to send them the location of some bar or restaurant, but switching apps is a pain. Just type /maps and enter your search term. The results appear in a scrollable bar right above the keyboard. When you tap a result, it will be pasted into the text field.

    That's just one possible use case. This keyboard app supports more than 20 services including Google search, Twitter, Giphy, Spotify, YouTube, and more. There's also a cool /pin command that instantly shares your current location. The keyboard will start suggesting slashes as soon as you enter one, but there's also a quick access bar at the top of the keyboard that starts your favorite slashes instantly. You can change the order or disable the bar entirely.

    Slash also includes custom slashes, which are basically shortcodes you can input to automatically expand into your chosen text. You might make one for your address or other contact info you don't want to type all the time.

    As for its performance as an actual keyboard, Slash does well. I wouldn't say it's my favorite keyboard, mostly because it lacks swipe input, which I use often. The theme does fit with Android, and you might not even notice at first it's not the stock keyboard. My only real UI complaint is that Slash takes up a lot of vertical space when you're performing searches. I don't know that there's really a way to solve that, though.

    Slash Keyboard is free and worth a look if you like the idea of Gboard.

    Google Play App Roundup: App Volume Control, Gangfort, and Hungry Shark World

    Well, your phone or tablet might be cool, but it could be a lot cooler with the right apps. So what? Spend like mad until you find the apps that suit your needs? Nah, just read the weekly Google Play App Roundup here on Tested. We strive to bring you the best new and newly updated apps on Android. Just click the app name to head to the Play Store.

    App Volume Control

    Volume control on Android has changed repeatedly in the last few iterations, and OEMs often change the way this feature works. It can be a pain to simply make sure you have sound when you want it, and no sound when you don't. App Volume Control is a new app that aims to make it simple by automating the process. Well, the setup isn't particularly simple, but after that it's smooth sailing.

    App Volume Control will need accessibility access on your device, which it uses to manage your volume levels down to the smallest detail depending on the app you have open. For example, maybe you want to keep your phone completely silent except for media volume when you open a music or video player. So, just find those apps in the main App Volume Control list and turn them on for automation. Then, choose the volume levels you want to control and save.

    The toughest part of using this app is just making sense of all the options. Android phones expose a ton of volume control options, and App Volume Control takes advantage of every one. Not only can you set the media, ring, alarm, notification, and system volume, you can choose different settings depending on how the sound is being played. The default mode is the phone speakers, but you can change the setting for headset and Bluetooth audio independently.

    And all that is just for starters. Literally, just when starting an app. Each app has a tab for starting and another for closing. The default setting in the second tab is to restore the previous volume when you leave an automated app, but you can also pick a custom setting with the same level of granularity as above. You even get a little toast notification to let you know App Volume Control is working (can be disabled in the settings).

    App Volume Control runs a service in the background to manage all this, but it doesn't seem to have any effect on performance or battery life in my testing. I'd like it if the app were a little more attractive or laid out better (it reminds me a little of setting up a Tasker profile right now), but it does what it's supposed to. The free version has a persistent ad at the bottom, but there's a pro version that you can buy for $0.99 that doesn't have that.

    The Best Android Smartphones for Your Network (May 2016)

    The first round of 2016 Android flagships are all out in the open, and that means you've got a serious decision to make if the time has come for an upgrade. The best Android phones are priced near or over $700, so you don't want to make the wrong decision. That's a lot of coin to spend on a phone if you don't like it. Samsung was the undisputed winner last month on the carrier side, but this month the HTC 10 is up for preorder.

    Carrier Phones

    The Galaxy S7 has a very similar overall aesthetic to the Galaxy S6, but it makes several important changes. It's not a revolutionary device, but it really focuses on the GS6's shortcomings. There will be deals on the GS6, but don't let the similar looks fool you. The GS7 is a much better phone and it's worth the cost.

    Samsung is using a metal and glass unibody design for the GS7. So yes, that means fingerprints and the potential of a cracked back if you drop the GS7. The designers took an unusual step, though. Samsung made the GS7 about a millimeter thicker so the camera hump is flush with the back, and there's more room inside for a bigger battery. The glass panel on the back also has curved edges to make it more comfortable in your hand.

    The slightly thicker frame means the regular GS7 has a 3000mAh battery, and the GS7 Edge has 3600mAh. Both phones are also water resistant, which is a feature Samsung dropped from the GS6. There's also a microSD card slot in these phones, another improvement over the Galaxy S6, but it doesn't support adoptable storage in Android 6.0.

    The Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge have new Super AMOLED panels with the same 1440p resolution as last year. The GS7 is 5.1-inches, while the Edge variant has a larger 5.5-inch display. The Edge, of course, has a screen that curves down on the left and right edge. I don't think the Edge is as comfortable because of the narrower band around the screen. There are a few software features that are intended to take advantage of the curved panel, but none of them are necessary. The real reason to get this version of the device is that it looks really cool.

    Everything You Need to Know About Fingerprint Sensors on Android

    Android phones started sporting fingerprint sensors years ago, but the technology was still too early to make a big impact on the experience. After Apple introduced Touch ID on the iPhone, Android OEMs came back to fingerprint reader tech with renewed interest. Thanks to improved hardware, it has become a feature people actually want on Android. However, not all fingerprint readers on Android are created equal. Here's how they differ, and how users can maximize their usefulness today.

    Speed and accuracy

    Having a phone that unlocks quickly from a fingerprint is good, but sometimes accuracy is actually preferable. One of the primary things to consider here is how you wake up the phone. Take the Nexus phones for example -- you can tap the rear-facing Nexus Imprint sensor to wake and unlock the phone. It happens quickly and is highly accurate. If you want to see the lock screen without unlocking, there's a dedicated power button on the side. The Honor 5X is similar, and works quite well.

    The G5, on the other hand, has the power button combined with the rear-facing sensor. If you press the button so you can just check your notifications on the lock screen, it's probably going to read your fingerprint because the sensor is very fast to react. That might not be what you want in this scenario because fast doesn't mean accurate. The G5's sensor misses more often than the Nexus phones, so you may get a rejected print. When that happens, you have to lift your finger and tap again should you decided to unlock. It's annoying. So here, you might prefer the sensor was slower and more accurate. The V10 suffers from the same issue, but it seems a bit more accurate to me at least.

    Google Play App Roundup: Radon, Exploding Kittens, and Zenge

    We're really getting spoiled these days. There are great Android apps coming out all the time, but it can still be hard to find them amid all the clutter. The Google Play App Roundup is all about clearing the junk out of the way so you can find the best apps. Just click on the app name to go straight to the Google Play Store and pick up the app yourself.

    Radon

    Google has made a lot of cool APIs available to app developers, and many of them get a lot of use. One API that I think has gotten short shrift is Nearby. The Nearby API was announced about a year ago as a way for devices to talk to each other with a minimum of setup. Radon is a new app that makes sharing content between devices super-easy by using the Nearby API.

    In case you're not aware, Nearby is a set of tools that can allow devices to pair and exchange information using Bluetooth, WiFi, and ultrasonic pulses. It's similar to the guest mode on the Chromecast in that it uses ultrasonic tones to pair with devices that aren't on the same WiFi network. You'll have to approve Radon to use Nearby services when you first start it. After that, you can simply share things to Radon from the system sharing menu.

    Radon is not intended to push large amounts of data, so you'll be able to share things like links, videos, and so on. Radon opens when selected and begins looking for other devices in the vicinity running Radon. The receiving phone just needs to have the app open, and it'll start searching for a sender. When the devices spot each other, the content will be pushed over immediately. The app itself has a snazzy material UI with a purple and pink theme.

    The main barrier to entry here is that both parties need to have Radon running. That means getting people to install it. The app includes quick links to the app and a QR code to help your friends get the app installed. Radon is free, and the lack of any signup process makes it at least feasible to get people on board.

    Testing: The LG G5 Android Smartphone

    LG has been chasing its hometown rival Samsung in the Android ecosystem for years now, but it's never managed to beat Samsung. The LG G5 is LG's attempt to address concerns about its materials and design while also keeping the features that set it apart from other Android OEMs. The G5 has an aluminum frame, whereas past phones were plastic. At the same time, it keeps the removable battery and adds a system of modular accessories. Is this enough to make for a compelling flagship phone?

    I've been using the G5 for a few weeks, so let's see how it stacks up to the competition.

    Design and Display

    The G5 is an aluminum phone, which is a big deal for LG. In the past, it has been criticized for sticking with plastic materials while its competition used more impressive metal and glass designs. However, the way LG is using aluminum is probably not the way you would have expected. In fact, there's been a lot of argument about this on the internet.

    So here's the deal: the G5 is a metal phone, but it doesn't feel like one. There's a thick layer of synthetic polymer primer on top of the metal that hides the antennas on the back panel. Most metal phones have those plastic lines across the back (think iPhone), but LG decided it wanted to hide those. The solution seems bizarre to me because part of the appeal of a metal phone is that it feels like metal. The upshot of all this is the smooth back (if you like that), and a more rigid frame that allows for the unique battery system (more on that shortly).

    Also on the back is the power button with built-in fingerprint sensor. The volume rocker has, sadly, moved back to the side of the phone. I quite liked it on the back with previous LG phones. The fingerprint sensor works well enough, but it's not as good as the ones from Google, Samsung, and HTC.

    On the bottom is the mono speaker, which is fine, and the new USB 3.0 Type-C port. The Type-C port will mean ditching all your old cables, but this is the standard of the future. Best we all just get with the program. The addition of Quick Charge 3.0 is nice as well.

    LG has again gone with a 2560x1440 resolution LCD—it was the first mainstream OEM to do that with the LG G3 two years ago. The G4 was an improvement over that phone, and the G5 improves even further. The colors are solid and accurate without any of the blown out reds of some LCDs that are trying to emulate AMOLED. With the high resolution, this 5.3-inch panel is very dense and produces crisp images. The outdoor brightness is impressive as well. Some people are noticing some backlight bleed, but I haven't seen that one my unit.

    Google Play App Roundup: Screenshot Join, Redcon, and Warhammer Freeblade

    Grab your phone and prepare to shoot some new apps and games over to it from the Google cloud. It's time for the Google Play App Roundup where we tell you what's new and cool in the Play Store. Just click the links to head to each app's page to check it out for yourself.

    Screenshot Join

    One of my favorite features Samsung built into its newer Galaxy phones is the scrolling screenshot. Whenever you take a screenshot, you have the option of automatically scrolling down and stitching the next screen onto it. Screenshot Join is a new app that gives you similar results on any Android phone. It's not quite as easy, but it seems to get the job done more easily than using a general photo editor.

    To start, you'll need to snap all the screenshots you want to stitch together using your phone's native button combination. With that accomplished, it's time to open Screenshot Join. The app offers the option of exploring just the screenshot folder or using the Android file picker to see all recent images. Odds are the screenshot option will be easier.

    After selecting the first and second photos, you'll be taken to an interface with a split screen allowing you to line up the spot where the images match. It's sort of like sliding the second pic under the first one until the stitch isn't visible anymore. Note, you can pick vertical or side-by-side orientation for the photos. Vertical will probably be more common.

    So, that leaves you with two joined screenshots as one file. What if you want more? Just hit the arrow action button and you'll go back to the image selection interface with the new stitched image as the top photo. Add the next image in the series to the bottom and go through the process of lining it up again.

    You can add as many images as you like to the final product before saving. It's a little more tedious than I'd like, and some sort of finer control while lining the images up would be appreciated. Still, Screenshot Join is faster at this than the alternatives and it's free. You will have to put up with a few ads when attaching images, though.

    Google Play App Roundup: Quote, Toby: The Secret Mine, and Velociraptor

    Grab your phone and prepare to shoot some new apps and games over to it from the Google cloud. It's time for the Google Play App Roundup where we tell you what's new and cool in the Play Store. Just click the links to head to each app's page to check it out for yourself.

    Quote

    The number of RSS readers ballooned a few years ago when Google announce it was retiring Reader. People who had never really used an RSS reader before thought Reader sounded like a good idea, and developers were there to provide alternatives. Many of them plug into one service or another, so what you're really looking for is a good front end. The newly released Quote (from the developer of Fenix for Twitter) has a clean design with support for popular feed aggregator services.

    You can log into Quote with Feedly or Inoreader accounts. The pro upgrade includes the ability to have multiple accounts as well. The main screen shows you your overall counts at the top, collections in the middle, and individual subscriptions at the bottom. The layout is much less dense than some apps, and if you have a huge list of subscriptions, it might seem sub-optimal. For most people, it's a much more friendly and easy UI to get used to.

    Whenever you tap through to a different list, you can always swipe back to return to the previous screen. Swipe gestures are used throughout Quote to keep the UI clean and avoid the cluttered toolbars and menus you get with many other RSS readers. There's also a neat swipe gesture to mark items as read or unread.

    The reading interface is one of the best I've seen in an RSS reader, and this is just the first public release. It's full screen, so the status bar hides when you scroll down. At the bottom is a toolbar that also hides, including buttons to skip to the next/previous feed item, star a post, and change your reading mode. Most sites limit the RSS feed to just snippets, so Quote lets you open in the browser, or more interestingly open "readability" mode. That just grabs the full text and renders it in the Quote UI. It feels completely native.

    Like any self-respecting RSS reader, Quote has support for syncing your subscriptions for offline reading. This can be triggered automatically in the background or only when you open the app. However, you can choose to exclude images from that or only allow them to be downloaded on WiFi.

    The free version of Quote has two themes to choose from, as well as some ads. For $2.49 you get the pro version with two more themes (the sepia looks great) and no ads. You should check out the free version and see if it's right for you. This is great for a first release.

    Google Play App Roundup: Scarlett for Chromecast, Pokémon TCG, and Chameleon Run

    Android devices do a lot of neat stuff out of the box, but you can always load it up with new apps to make if do more stuff. And maybe some games for good measure. This is the Google Play App Roundup where we tell you what's new on Android. Just hit the links to head to the Play Store.

    Scarlett for Chromecast

    Google's Cast screensaver is okay, but there's not much to it even after customizing with the Cast app's backdrops. Scarlett for Chromecast aims to make your Chromecast or Android TV a little more useful by turning it into a dashboard for information.

    To use Scarlett, you'll need to have a Chromecast or Android TV (obviously). Just open the app on your phone and tap the Cast button to select the target. You'll immediately get a feed of information dictated by your settings. Scarlett offers to set all this up on your first run, but you can edit the settings later.

    The feed includes content from YouTube, Twitter, Reddit and more. Facebook and Pinterest are apparently coming soon. The bulk of the interface is taken up with the current item in the feed list. If it's a video, you can play it on the TV and control via the app. Other content cycles through automatically every 30 seconds. The app can also advance through feed items with a swipe. You can also open any of the content on your phone from the app. After logging in, your Twitter timeline and YouTube playlists will be accessible in Scarlett, which is pretty cool.

    The dashboard is accessible in the second tab of Scarlett. Selecting that will kick the TV over into that mode. It's a bit less interactive, consisting of weather, a clock, and images from 500px cycling through. It's more like the standard Cast screen with a few more features. The last tab is for search, which is handled by voice input. That allows you to look for specific content and have it appear on the TV screen inside Scarlett.

    Scarlett for Chromecast is still in the early stages of development, but it's a really solid idea with lots of room to add functionality. It's free too. You should check it out if you've got a Google Cast device connected to your TV.

    The Best Android Smartphones for Your Network (April 2016)

    The season of 2016 flagship smartphones is in full swing now with big phones from both Samsung and LG. If you held off upgrading last year, the time is approaching for you to make a decision. You could wait a few more weeks and find out what HTC has lined up for this year, but you've got plenty of great options now as well. Let's see where things stand right now.

    Photo credit: Răzvan Băltărețu via Creative Commons

    Carrier Phones

    If you're looking to pick up a phone from your carrier of choice right now, there are two devices you should be looking at -- the LG G5 and Samsung Galaxy S7. Both have their strong points, but I think the Galaxy S7 has the edge. Let's start there.

    The Galaxy S7 does look a lot like the Galaxy S6, but it makes several improvements that users were asking for last year. There will be deals on the GS6, but don't let the similar looks fool you. The GS7 is a much better phone and it's worth the cost.

    Samsung is using a metal and glass unibody design for the GS7. The designers took an unusual step, though. Samsung made the GS7 about a millimeter thicker so the camera hump is flush with the back, and there's more room inside for a bigger battery. The glass panel on the back also has curved edges to make it more comfortable in your hand.

    The slightly thicker frame means the regular GS7 has a 3000mAh battery, and the GS7 Edge has 3600mAh. Both phones are also water resistant, which is a feature Samsung dropped from the GS6. There's also a microSD card slot in these phones, another improvement over the Galaxy S6, but it shares the same tray as the SIM card, making swaps difficult.

    Google Play App Roundup: Monospace Writer, Hammer Bomb, and Ultraflow 2

    Despite being a search company, Google hasn't really made it very easy to find the apps you're looking for. That's why we do the Google Play App Roundup. Here you'll find the best new and newly updated apps on Android. Just click the app link to head right to the Play Store to download for yourself.

    Monospace Writer

    The Google Drive quite is pre-installed on every Android device, but it packs in a lot of features that many people don't want when they are writing on a mobile device. Let's face it, doing any significant amount of writing on a touchscreen isn't ideal, but Monospace might make things easier. This app has been in beta for a few months, but now it's available to everyone. Plus, it's free to try.

    With Monospace, you just start typing and add formatting along the way. The toolbar at the top only has a few buttons for color theme, undo, and sharing. The theme options are helpful if you're working in a dark or bright environment, and the dark theme has an optional AMOLED true black mode. All the formatting commands are accessed by highlighting text with a double-tap or long-press. You can bold, italicize, underline, strikethrough (pro), add bullets, and more. It's smart to keep all this stuff out of the way until you need it, and when you do see it, it's in the same area of the screen you just tapped to highlight.

    Having all this only exist on your Android device wouldn't be very useful, so Monospace has syncing abilities too. You can connect to Dropbox to access your documents on other devices and stay in sync. With the $4 pro upgrade, you can also use Google Docs to automatically sync. That's more useful option as the files are accessible in the Docs editor more easily. Monospace saves files as text with markdown, so it can be copied into various other programs and services. There's also a plain text export option.

    When creating files in Monospace, you may notice that there's no apparent way to organize into folders. You actually can, and it's very cool. Monospace uses hashtags for organization. At the end of your document, add a hashtag (#name) to set a folder. The app will create a folder and add the document to it. You can also create nested folders with hashtags (#name#anothername). One of my favorite features is the ability to quickly encrypt important information by adding the #encrypted hashtag. The app will ask for a passcode, and you'll have to enter that to decrypt the file each time.

    Monospace Writer is a great option if you're looking for a minimalist text editor on Android. It's still quite capable even without the pro upgrade, but the $4 price tag is fair for what you get.