Saturday, June 30, 2018

Think you could be the next Tiesto? Learn how to be a DJ

DJ courseWe thought you might like something a bit different today readers, so we’ve found a superb offer on an all-encompassing DJ course. If you’re looking for a new calling, or just want to know what the fuss is about, this week you can get this professionally-led tuition for just $29.

Music has the power to inspire. To an amateur it can look like DJing is just starting a playlist on your laptop, but in reality it’s an artform. Learning to DJ can be fun and rewarding. Not everyone will go on to be the next Avicii or Skrillex, but at the very least you’ll get an impressive new talent.

‘DJs are the new rock stars’ – Tiesto

This in-depth video guide is led by veteran DJ and music producer David Pezza. David has 15 years experience in the industry, playing numerous top club locations and doing remix work for major record companies world-wide. His expertise are world-class, and he loves to teach in a fun and simple style.

This instructional DJ course doesn’t just stop at how to produce top music either. It covers all aspects of DJing, including how to play to an audience, and even how to get paid.

The DJ course at a glance:

  • Learn the history of DJing.

  • Explore the gear, mixers, and other tools a DJ needs.

  • Discuss the basics of beat matching, looping techniques, using effects, and more.

  • Get an introduction to scratching and advanced techniques.

  • Understand sound & lighting setups, and how to play to an audience.

  • Learn how to make money as a DJ.

This course usually retails for $399, but for the next few days at Tech Deals you can get access for one year at a cost of only $29. To be fair, it doesn’t sound like Mr Pezza needs the money.

Time for an exciting new venture? Hit the button below to check out the offer.

The AAPicks team writes about things we think you’ll like, and we may see a share of revenue from any purchases made through affiliate links. To see all our hottest deals, head over to the AAPICKS HUB.

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Thursday, June 28, 2018

Surface Pro 5 Release Date, News, Specs and Rumors

The Microsoft Surface Pro 5 release is still somewhat of a mystery, but it’s never too early to start thinking about what’s coming next. With that in mind, here’s the latest Surface Pro 5 news, rumors, release details and everything else you need to know.

Considering the last Surface Pro (2017) is over a year old, excitement is starting to build about a potential Surface Pro 5 in 2018 or early 2019. Or is it the Surface Pro 6? This next model is technically the 6th generation Surface.

Read: Surface Pro 2019: 4 Reasons to Wait & 4 Reasons Not to 

Microsoft’s new slate will have to compete with the latest iPad, a slew of Google Chromebook devices, and even Microsoft’s own discounted Pro (2017) and Surface Book. And from what we’re hearing, it’ll do exactly that.

  • Surface Pro 5 Release Date (or 6): Early-Mid 2019

  • What is the Surface Pro 5: Microsoft’s next powerful 2-in-1 laptop/tablet computer

  • What to expect?: Upgrades across the board: Display, battery life, connectivity (USB C), Surface Pen, processor, RAM and more.

  • How Much Will it Cost?: Starting at $799, so the same or more than previous years

Now that you know a few of the basics and we’ve answered some important questions, read on for the latest news and rumors.

Latest Surface Pro 2019 News

Nearly two years ago we were certain a new Surface Pro 5 was coming. That never happened, and eventually the aptly named “Surface Pro” arrived in 2017. Now, over a year later, rumor mills are starting to churn over what Microsoft is planning next.

According to reports from ZDNet, Microsoft is planning a major redesign for its next Surface in 2019. However, Bloomberg suggests the company wants to offer a low-cost tablet to rival the iPad and compete with Chromebooks. We could see both. A beautiful high-end Surface Pro 5 or 6 with tons of upgrades, then a more modest option for those on a budget. The cheaper model might even arrive in 2018.

And while we don’t have too much to go on or even a name, information from claims the new Surface is known internally as “Carmel”. Either way, this will be an extremely important launch for Microsoft.

Just know that a new Surface will likely have a beautiful OLED display, the latest processor and GPU, improved battery life, more connectivity options, built-in 4G LTE, and more all along with a stylish new design.

Microsoft Surface Pro 5 (2019) Release Date

In June of 2017 the company released a Surface Pro (2017) and that’s the last one. And while Microsoft has made some smaller updates to the Surface Pro like LTE support for mobile data and more memory, we expected more. More that will finally come early next year.

When will enthusiasts or Windows 10 fans actually get another one? We’re not really sure. Multiple sources seem positive that it’ll be here in early 2019, but ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley said she was told mid-2019. If a mid-arrival is accurate, that means Microsoft took two years to make another 2-in-1. Here’s a timeline of release dates to help you make up your own mind.

  • Surface Pro: February 2013

  • Surface Pro 2: Late October 2013

  • Surface Pro 3: June 2014

  • Surface Pro 4: October 26, 2015

  • Surface Pro (2017): June 15, 2017

Could we end up waiting until Microsoft Build 2019 in May? We’ll have to wait and see.

New Surface Pro: What You Need to Know (The Important Stuff)

While it’s too early to start talking about a complete redesign, or the specs, a new 2-in-1 is on the horizon and there are some obvious places they can and will improve. In fact, one Surface Pro 5 rumor suggests the company will use a new Qualcomm Snapdragon processor typically reserved for smartphones, like the upcoming Snapdragon 855. This will allow the device to wake instantly, yet sip on battery for days while on standby. That’s just one of many models.

What we do know is that with a 2-year wait you can expect a major design overhaul, tons of improvements across the board, and one powerful device.

We’re talking about a new OLED display with smaller bezels, an even thinner low-profile design, better battery life, and more connectivity. When we say more connectivity we mean multiple USB Type-C ports or even a few Thunderbolt 3 ports to hook it up to an external display. Microsoft will also deliver more storage options, additional RAM (memory), and Intel’s latest 8th generation processors.

A lot of this simply makes sense, especially because Microsoft adopted it on the Surface Book 2. Like USB Type-C or 4G LTE for mobile data.

Then, expect a massive upgrade to the Surface Pen. From potentially a retractable tip, haptic feedback, or even a display with more points of sensitivity for a more accurate digital pen experience. We even saw a rumor (and patent) that claims the Surface Pen will never need a recharge again. That’s because it’ll suck battery from the Surface screen as you use it. Wouldn’t that be neat?

A Smaller & Cheaper Second Surface Mini

Earlier we mentioned a report from Bloomberg that states Microsoft wants to compete with the iPad. They could potentially do this by offering two different sizes of the Surface. Essentially a Surface Pro for 2019, and a smaller Surface Mini. The Surface Book 2 comes in two sizes, so this does make sense.

Hype suggests the smaller Surface would target emerging and education markets, and come in around $400. This will likely have a smaller 10-inch display. We’re hearing codenames of Libra, Lex, and Andromeda. The last one is potentially Microsoft’s new affordable and “pocketable” Windows device.

New Surface Pro 5 Price

With rumors suggesting at least 1-2 new Surface devices within the next 8-10 months, pricing is somewhat up in the air. That said, Microsoft typically asks the same price for its entry-level device. Based on previous years the Surface Pro 5 (or 6) will cost around $799 for the base model but quickly reach to over $1,000 and counting once you add a few things to the package.

Basically, you can expect Microsoft to stick to its usual pricing whenever it gets around to releasing a new Surface. If they do bump up the price, they’ll need some serious upgrades over earlier generations. We’re talking about more than just a spec bump and a slightly better display.

At the end of the day we’re expecting a cheaper or smaller Surface sometime in the near future, then a high-end true Surface Pro 2019, Surface Pro 5, or Surface Pro 6 sometime next year with all the bells and whistles.

Final Thoughts

In closing, we still don’t know too much about what’s coming next from Microsoft. If they want to release a smaller budget device soon, they better start in time for the back-to-school season. We’re also assuming the company wants to integrate things like a fingerprint scanner, Cortana, Windows Hello, and more to make this the best Surface Pro yet.

As 2018 continues and we inch toward 2019 you can expect more Surface Pro 5 news, rumors and leaks. Once they arrive we’ll update this post with all the details.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

¿Cómo será mi día? Google Home finally understands and speaks Spanish

Google Home

  • Google confirmed that its Home devices now support Spanish.

  • You can pick from three Spanish dialects, including Spain, Mexico, and the U.S.

  • Google also announced that the Home and Home Mini are available in Mexico.

Even though Spanish was available as part of Google Assistant, the language was not available for the Home, Home Mini, and Home Max. That is no longer the case as Google formally announced that all three Home devices can speak and understand Spanish.

It’s compatible with three localized versions of Spanish: Spain, Mexico, and the U.S. To switch to Spanish, tap Menu in the Google Home app. From there, select Preferences in the Settings menu and then select Español.

In related news, Google also announced that the Home and Home Mini are available in Mexico. The pair of devices launched in Spain last week.

Editor’s Pick

It is unclear why Google took this long to roll out Spanish to its Home devices. Even though the company quietly rolled out the option over the last two weeks, Assistant technically supported Spanish since May 2017 when it still lived in Allo. Whatever the reasoning may be, it is nice to see additional languages for Google’s smart home devices.

Speaking of additional languages, Google confirmed that Assistant will support over 30 languages by the end of the year. The company will also reportedly launch its Home devices in many more countries, though we do not know which countries those might be.

Finally, Google confirmed that Assistant will automatically detect the language you speak and respond in kind. That is particularly helpful for multilingual households, though the feature has yet to roll out.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

How to Change the LG G7 Lockscreen & Wallpaper

In this guide we’ll show you how to change the LG G7 lock screen and wallpaper image. These steps include adding your own images and photos, or themes, instead of just using the backgrounds that came on your phone.

LG’s G7 ThinQ has a big 6.1-inch Quad HD display that looks great, even with the notch. Getting a high quality and high-resolution wallpaper will look better and give you the best experience. We’ll show you all the customization options, how to change it, then recommend the best places to get a wallpaper.

Read: 10 Common LG G7 Problems & Quick Fixes

One of the reasons to change your lock screen and wallpaper is customization. Making your phone more unique and personal. We like that LG has multiple options, including setting a different image for the lock screen and the background wallpaper. Here’s how to get started.

How to Change the LG G7 ThinQ Lock Screen & Wallpaper

There are a few different ways to change the lock screen or background wallpaper. The easiest way is to simply press and hold a blank area on the screen, then tap on wallpapers. Simply follow our instructions below. You can even set your own image for the lock screen, one that’s different from the background.

  • Push and hold on a blank area on the screen (display)

  • It will zoom out to a customization menu, select Wallpaper

  • Tap on My Photos or scroll through the image gallery or collage gallery

  • Now select the image you want, crop to fit, and hit Apply Wallpaper

  • Choose home screen, lock screen or both

Like most manufacturers, LG adds pretty landscape photography shots and other images with the phone. This way you can choose from a wide selection of images without taking photos or downloading new wallpapers. Tap My Photos to select from your own gallery or the collage for even more image choices. This is how people use a photo they took of their family, kids, or pets on their screen.

You can always go to Settings > Display > Lock screen for more options or to change the background.

To find some beautiful wallpapers like you see online download the app called Zedge and browse their collection. Make sure you get at least a 1080p HD image or bigger so you can crop it without losing any quality. We recommend a full 2560 x 1440 Quad-HD (or bigger) image for the best results.

Lock Screen Wallpaper

In case you didn’t notice during our instructions above, adding a wallpaper to the lock screen is just as easy. Follow the same steps but choose to use any particular image on the lock screen, not the home screen. When you find the image you’d like to use and hit apply the phone will ask, “Do you want to apply this to the home screen, the lock screen, or both?”

Select both if you only want one image, or which area you want to apply it to. I have a Packers logo on my lock screen and something else when I unlock my phone.

Other Details and Lock Screen Customization

Sadly that’s about all you can change on the LG G7 lock screen. The company puts a microphone and camera shortcut icon in the bottom corners, but you can’t change these for something else, like a text message app. You can, however, enable the always-on display, add owner information, or change the on-screen keys.

If you’d like to fully change and customize the lock screen on the G7 you’ll need to replace your home screen launcher. The most popular app for this is NOVA Launcher, which is highly customizable. Give it a try today or enjoy the stock images on the LG G7. We also recommend owners head to Settings and search for themes, then try a new look and theme from the LG theme store.

While you’re here, check out these 10 best LG G7 cases.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

6 Reasons to Wait for the Galaxy Note 9 & 5 Reasons Not To

This guide will take you through some reasons why you should, and shouldn’t, wait for the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 release later this year.

If you’re hunting for a new Android smartphone, the Galaxy S8, Galaxy Note 8, and the new Galaxy S9 should be on your shopping list.

The Samsung Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+, and Galaxy Note 8 are cheaper than they once were and they’re also getting upgraded to Samsung’s Android 8.0 Oreo update. Android 8.0 Oreo brings a long list of new features, enhancements, fixes, and patches with it.

These Galaxy devices and others, like Samsung’s Galaxy S7, should have your attention, but don’t forget about the other Galaxy flagship Samsung’s reportedly working on for 2018.

Galaxy Note 9 Rumors

Developers digging through Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 Android 8.0 Oreo update discovered a collection Samsung product code names.

Among them, names like “astarqlte” (Galaxy S9 Active w/ Snapdragon), “star” (Galaxy S9), “star2” (Galaxy S9+), and “crown.” The device known as “crown” is reportedly the Samsung Galaxy Note 9.

Well-known leaker Evan Blass has corroborated this leak and says the Galaxy Note 9, model number SM-N960U, is indeed called “crown.”

At Mobile World Congress 2018 in Barcelona, Samsung confirmed a “Galaxy Note 9” launch to ZDNet. The company’s also filed for a “Galaxy Note 9” trademark in Colombia. The trademark doesn’t mean a release is close, but it’s an important piece of the puzzle.

The Galaxy Note 9 has also been certified for launch in China well ahead of its expected release date. The SM-N9600 and the SM-N9608 have both passed through the China Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

The device is also starting to show up in benchmarks confirming potential features like a Snapdragon 835 chipset from Qualcomm. The Snapdragon 835 also powers the Galaxy S9. Unsurprisingly, there will also be a model powered by Samsung’s in-house Exynos processor.

There’s also talk of an early launch date. Nothing is confirmed, but it sure sounds like we’ll see the Galaxy Note 9 before IFA 2018 in late August.

The fact that Samsung’s working on a successor for the Galaxy Note 8 shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Samsung’s released a new Note model every year since 2011.

We’re starting to see Galaxy Note 9 rumors firm up which means some of you still might want to consider holding out for this year’s Note flagship.

There are also a few reasons why you might not want to sit through several months of Samsung Galaxy Note 9 rumors and speculation.

Wait for More Horsepower

Wait for More Horsepower

If you want a ton of horsepower from your next smartphone, consider holding out for the Galaxy Note 9 launch later this year.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is a powerful device, but if you need more, the Galaxy Note 9 will probably have what you’re looking for.

Galaxy Note 9 rumors are scarce, but you can expect the usual round of hardware upgrades: A more efficient processor (improved battery life, better gaming, etc), more RAM (the Galaxy S series got a bump this year), and some changes (a microphone?) to the Galaxy Note’s unique S Pen stylus. 

In response to a question about the next Galaxy Note model, BJ Kang from Samsung Electronics’ Global Product Planning Group says the team is “already considering how to approach the development of the next Note by evaluating the latest model and looking for ways to improve upon signature features like the S Pen.”

Rumors point to Samsung bundling a brand new S Pen with the Galaxy Note 9 so if you aren’t a huge fan of the current experience, we suggest you wait for the next iteration. 

Galaxy Note 9 rumors also point to a larger 3,850 mAh battery. The Galaxy Note 8 features a smaller 3300 mAh battery. There’s also chatter about a 4,000 mAh battery. 

If you aren’t impressed with the hardware on the Galaxy Note 8 or this year’s Galaxy S9 flagships, you might want to take a raincheck and wait for Samsung’s Next Big Thing. It might have what you’re looking for. 

Instagram is launching its YouTube clone, IGTV, on Android in a few weeks

The Instagram app on Pixel 2.

  • Instagram has revealed it now has 1 billion users worldwide since it first launched in 2010.

  • It also announced plans to launch a new app, IGTV, designed to show longer videos of up to one hour.

  • The app will launch sometime in the next few weeks for Android and iOS and is meant to compete with YouTube.

Instagram is making not one, but two big announcements today. The first is a new milestone for the Facebook-owned social network as Instagram revealed it now has 1 billion users worldwide. Instagram first launched in October 2010, which means it took less than eight years for it to hit that 1 billion user mark. By contrast, its parent Facebook took over eight years to reach that number.

instagram igtv app

The other big announcement, and one that has been rumored for the past several days, is the reveal of an upcoming standalone app, IGTV. It will allow Instagram video creators to upload vertically formatted clips of up to one hour in length. At the moment, Instagram allows users to post videos up to just 60 seconds on their profile, and just 15 seconds in Instagram Stories. The IGTV app will go live sometime in the next few weeks for Android and iOS.

Editor’s Pick

Instagram says the new app will include features like being able to begin watching content from people you already follow on Instagram right when you launch the app. You will also be able to switch between “For You,” “Following,” “Popular” and “Continue Watching” categories. Each Instagram creator will have an IGTV channel with all of their longer video clips. Finally, the IGTV app allows you to like and comment on those videos, as well as send them to friends in Direct. All of the longer videos in the IGTV app will also be available to watch in the main Instagram app.

This new move clearly shows that Instagram and Facebook are going after both the video creators and fans who are addicted to Google’s YouTube service. Offering longer videos to Instagram’s 1 billion audience members could result in a ton of competition for those viewers. Instagram will also likely leverage this longer video format for advertisers as well. The big question is whether or not users will embrace the vertical video format, or stick with the traditional horizontal video clips found on YouTube.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Brawl Stars Release: Everything You Need to Know

From the developers of Clash Royale and Clash of Clans, two extremely successful mobile games, is a new game called Brawl Stars. A competitive real-time 3v3 multiplayer shooter similar to other MOBA titles, with cartoon graphics and a top-down view. It’s still not available yet, but here’s everything you need to know about Supercell’s exciting new fast-paced game Brawl Stars.

The free-to-play game, Brawl Stars, got announced quietly through a livestream by the company with more details at its forums. This was back on June 14th, 2017. The game is 1-years old, and still not available globally, or for Android. Supercell slowly tests its games in select markets for the iPhone before deciding to release it around the world or cancel it completely. We still don’t know the fate of Brawl Stars.

Read: Clash of Clans 2018 Updates: 8 Things We Want Next

While there are still numerous questions about the game, incoming updates, and if it’ll ever get released on Android, we do have some initial details for potential players. Below we’ll go over the 3v3 shooter style, characters, game modes, and general release availability for those interested.

Supercell has successfully launched several different games for Android and iOS. Starting with Hay Day, then Clash of Clans, Boom Beach and more recently Clash Royale. Each game is wildly successful, with Clash of Clans still being one of the highest grossing mobile games on the planet. This is why Brawl Stars is so exciting, even if they’ve yet to release the game.

Brawl Stars Release Date

For now, we still have no clue when Supercell will release Brawl Stars, or if they’ll release it at all. That being said, the company is conducting a “soft launch” in Canada as we speak. Anyone with an iPhone in Canada can try the game today, and it’s available on the App Store.

Brawl Stars is actually available for iOS in Canada, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Ireland. The developers hope to add Android and other regions in the near future. However, they said that in June of 2017, and one year later, almost nothing has changed.

There has been no mention of a Brawl Stars release on Android, or a global release date for other regions. Most of the gaming community thought the game would go global (get released around the world) on the 1-year anniversary. Which, of course, is June 15th, 2018.

That didn’t happen. We still don’t know when this game is coming out. We’ll keep an eye out for information and share it here the moment we know more.

Download – Brawl Stars for iOS (Select regions only)

As we said above users can only play Brawl Stars on iOS in Canada and a few other regions. Those in other regions can create a new Apple ID using an address in Canada/Finland to try it today, and more information on that process is available here.  That, or wait for a global release date.

What is Brawl Stars?

The best way to explain Brawl Stars is to consider it a MOBA title, which stands for multiplayer online battle arena. Players will participate in real-time 3v3 battles using one of 15+ different characters, each with their own unique hero abilities and attack styles. There are multiple game modes, achievements, leaderboards and more.

Hero-based combat games like DOTA or League of Legends come to mind, although Brawl Stars has a friendly look and feel full of cartoon graphics. Like any MOBA title, Brawl Stars has different game modes to enjoy.

We’ve seen several updates over the last 12 months that changed the entire game. From balance changes, how the game looks and feels, new game modes, hero changes and more. And, we’re expecting a big Brawl Stars June-July 2018 update soon. Here’s a quick preview from Twitter. The developers are active on Twitter, which is a good sign that this game will get released eventually.

Each team consisting of three players battle another team of three in the arena. The goal is to take out the enemy with any of your characters while collecting gems, crystals or stars along the way for upgrades and skins. You can also destroy the enemy mines to win the battle, or kill all three players. This, of course, depends on the game mode being played. Not to mention some of these modes or game rules may change by the time this game gets released.

Brawl Stars Game Modes

At soft launch, there were four main game modes. These are the initial game modes, although they likely changed in the last 12 months. And, they might change again before the game goes public. It’s still in a limited soft launch beta testing phase.

  • Bounty: Collect stars for your team by eliminating opponents, but be careful not to let them pick you off. The team with the most stars at the end of the match wins!

  • Smash & Grab: Collect Crystals from the center of the map, while fighting the opposing team. The first team to collect 10 crystals and hold onto them wins.

  • Heist: Crack the safe protected by the opposing team, or defend your valuables from would-be safecrackers. You have a couple of minutes to determine who leaves with the loot!

  • Showdown: The rowdiest rumble! 10 players get dropped into a slowly shrinking arena. Can you be the last Brawler standing?

Players will be able to collect coins, Elixir and chips to unlock new Brawlers. You can do upgrades, get new skins, and plenty of other personalization. You can battle solo, or play with friends. Instead of joining a clan like other Supercell games, you’ll be able to join a Band of Brawlers to battle for the top spot. Climb the leaderboards, complete achievements and become the best Brawler.

Keep in mind that while Brawl Stars is free to play, there are plenty of in-app purchases like all Supercell games. Players can spend real money on new characters, upgrades, skins, and weapons.

This could become the best fast-paced multiplayer shooter on mobile.

Brawl Stars Gameplay Video

It’s hard to get a sense of a game without seeing it played in real-time. Along with the announcement, Supercell gave some popular YouTube “lets play” personalities early access to the game. Here is Clash Royale stars GamingwithMolt and NickatNyte playing Brawl Stars.

Here we see the fast-paced 3v3 battles in real-time as they take on enemies with a slew of different characters and weapons. It looks like a fun game, but some may not enjoy the childlike cartoon graphics. For a more recent video with all the changes over the last year, upgrades, and new modes, check out this video.

Read: Common Clash of Clans Problems & Fixes

As you can see the game is still very much in the early stages, a beta, and nowhere near a completed game. However, in the coming weeks and months, it will get updates and improvements. We’re hoping for an announcement before the end of June 2018.

Brawl Stars Android APK

Do not try to download Brawl Stars for Android until it is officially announced by the game developer. We repeat, Brawl Stars is NOT available yet for Android, even though we’re seeing dozens of download links and Brawl Stars APK’s floating around the internet. An “APK” is the installation files for games and apps on Android. However, installing an APK and granting it access to your phone, or accepting the pop-up permissions could harm your smartphone or tablet.

These are fake downloads and not the real game. Some are harmless, while others could install malicious code on your device. We’ll update this post the minute Brawl Stars is available for Android. For now, avoid anything you find online.

Other Details

In January of 2016 Supercell announced Clash Royale and made it available for select users on iOS. Two months later on March 2nd, it arrived for all with a global release date for both iOS and Android. We expected a similar 2-3 month trial for Brawl Stars, but that wasn’t the case.

Now, over one year later, the game still isn’t available. As of writing, it’s June of 2018 and we’re still waiting for an announcement, a release date, or even availability on Android.

Try it early on iOS in Canada

Supercell is in a unique position when it comes to mobile games, as each title released has been a smashing success. Whether or not Brawl Stars will receive the same attention and fame as their other titles is a complete mystery. At the end of the day, this is a trusted game developer with a history of releasing some of the best games for mobile, and we expect the same from Brawl Stars.

However, for the game to be a success they need to release it first. With the 1-year anniversary here, be on the lookout for more details in the next few weeks. The developers at Supercell could finally be ready to release the game. Maybe they’re waiting for E3 to end, we’re not sure.

We’re pretty confident in saying that Brawl Stars will get released in 2018, we just don’t know when. Stay tuned for more details.

What’s the Fastest Cell Phone Carrier in 2018

It’s easier than ever to find a decent cell phone carrier, but which is the fastest cell phone carrier in 2018.

After sending testers to 30 major cities in the U.S. and testing in six rural areas PCMag found that Verizon is the fastest mobile network in the U.S. T-mobile is a close second, with AT&T in third and Sprint way out in the back.

Even if you aren’t on the fastest cell phone carrier, speeds overall are up 10Mbps and latency is down, which means better connectivity for everyone.

<figcaption class=" wp-caption-text/>Verizon is the fastest cell phone carrier in 2018.

While the testing focuses on data, this is also a good indication of voice quality since T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon all use voice calls over LTE when connected to high-speed networks, so you can expect good voice coverage if you can get fast data speeds.

In addition to an overall nationwide winner, the PCMag report breaks down regional winners and winners by city where the testing took place. This makes finding the fastest cell phone network in your area easier.

T-Mobile won the Southeast region, but Verizon won out across the rest of the regions in the U.S., and in 20 of the 36 cities, which is why it is the overall winner.

Read: Verizon vs T-Mobile

You can see the results of this testing in detail, including the winners by city. This test is helpful because it focuses on the real world, not a controlled speed in a lab or ideal settings. The test includes reliability, average speeds and other factors to help you make better decisions.

If you use a pre-paid carrier, you can check out the results here, since the best pre-paid carriers all use the big networks.

Keep in mind that as you pick a carrier, you may not always get to use the fastest speeds for anything you want. Many of the new carrier plans limit the bandwidth for streaming video, so a super fast download speed won’t always make YouTube or Netflix look better on your phone.

16 Best Budget Apps for 2018

Mint Budgeting App

Mint Budgeting App

Mint is one of the best budget apps because it takes the hassle out of making a budget. You connect the Mint app to your bank and the app can use your details to help create a personalized budget. We love this budget app because it can help you quickly identify where you are spending your money, so you can see where to trim your current expenses as you make a budget. 

The Mint app uses the same security as banks and the team behind this service also makes TurboTax and Quicken, so you can trust that they take all possible steps to secure your accounts and your data.

Mint will send you alerts to unusual charges and helps identify tips customized to your spending that can help you reduce the money you spend on fees and on other bills. Mint also includes your credit score, so you can see a big picture view of your budget and your personal finances.

With the Mint apps for iPhone, iPad and Android you can see your budget anywhere and there is also an online component to look at from your computer and a bill pay component to help you manage and pay your bills in one place.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

2 Reasons to Pre-Order Cyberpunk 2077 & 4 Reasons to Wait

CD Projekt Red, the developer behind the popular Witcher series, is finally talking about its next game, Cyberpunk 2077. We don’t have an official release date just yet, but the game is up for pre-order. And while some of you might want to pre-order now, many others are better off waiting.

It took awhile, but we’re finally inching closer to the release of Cyberpunk 2077 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows PC.

Cyberpunk 2077 was originally confirmed all the way back in 2012 and the game is a sequel to Mike Pondsmith’s pen and paper RPG Cyberpunk 2020. Cyberpunk 2020 was released all the way back in 1988.

CD Projekt Red’s taking its time, but fans of Cyberpunk and The Witcher series are hoping the developer can recreate the magic it delivered in 2015 with The Witcher 3.

Now that the developer is talking more about Cyberpunk 2077, retailers like Amazon and Best Buy are taking pre-orders for the game. And now that we know a little more about the direction it’s taking, some of you, particularly those of you who are fond of CD Projekt Red’s games, might be thinking about ordering a copy.

In this guide we’re going to take you through the best reasons to pre-order a copy of Cyberpunk 2077 right now. We’ll also take you through some reasons to think about holding off, at least for the time being.

Pre-Order If You Love Huge Single Player RPGs

Pre-Order If You Love Huge Single Player RPGs

If you’re hoping for a deep multiplayer experience, you shouldn’t pre-order Cyberpunk 2077. If you were a fan of The Witcher series and you’re generally a fan of deep, immersive single player RPGs, you should think about putting in a pre-order. 

While there were rumors of a multiplayer component, it looks like Cyberpunk 2077 will, like The Witcher 3, be a “single-player game purchased for a one-off fee.”

More specifically, Cyberpunk 2077 is a true single player, story-driven RPG where you’ll be able to create your own character. 

We haven’t seen much of the game yet, but you can expect a cast of memorable characters, a large selection of weapons, great storytelling, and a huge open world to explore. The game is set in the fictional Night City, California

These types of games can take many hours to enjoy and finish. The Witcher 3’s main story (on average) took gamers around 50 hours to complete. Call of Duty this is not. It’s a commitment. 

That said, this is the type of game that will almost certainly be worth the price of admission ($60).

If you loved The Witcher series and/or exploring a huge dystopian metropolis on your own sounds like something you want to play ASAP, you should think about pre-ordering Cyberpunk 2077.

How to Find Fallout 76 Power Armor Edition in Stock

Bethesda’s Fallout 76 Power Armor Edition will be a limited run which means it could be hard to find ahead of the game’s release date this November.

Fallout 76 is official and Bethesda and its retail partners are selling two versions of the game ahead of the November 14th launch date on Xbox One, PS4, and Windows PC.

You’ve got the standard, no frills, $60 edition that includes a copy of the new Fallout. You’ve also got the $200 Power Armor Edition, this year’s equivalent to 2015’s Fallout 4 Pip-Boy Edition.

If you recall, the Pip-Boy Edition was an expensive Fallout 4 bundle that included a copy of the game and a real-life Pip-Boy. The Pip-Boy Edition release was plagued with stock shortages and scalpers charging an arm and a leg for a copy ahead of the game’s release date.

We don’t know if history will repeat itself, but the Fallout 76 Power Armor Edition is already showing up as “Currently Unavailable” at Amazon and “Coming Soon” at Best Buy, no longer available at Walmart, and “Not Available” at GameStop . This could be a sign of things to come.

Bethesda already says supplies will be very limited and we could see a complete sellout this summer. If really want the Power Armor Edition collectors items, which include a glow in the dark map and a Full-Scale Wearable T-51 Power Armor Helmet, you’ll probably want to put in a pre-order when the bundle is in stock.

We don’t know when stock will become available at those sites so you’ll want to monitor them as we push through the summer. Fortunately, this is fairly easy to do.

How to Find Fallout 76 Power Armor Edition in Stock

The first thing you’ll need to do is visit the Fallout 76 page on Now In Stock. This page shows a history of the Fallout 76 Power Armor Edition stock at Best Buy, Amazon and GameStop. It will update every few minutes and give you an up-to-date look at their inventory.

You can easily track Fallout 76 Power Armor Edition stock with these alerts.

If you don’t want to open up your browser and a new tab every time you want to check, you can set up an alert that will send you an email, text or browser notification when the Fallout 76 Power Armor Edition is available at one of these retailers. Here’s how to do that:

  • Register for a free account at Now In Stock.

  • Check your inbox for a verification email and click the correct link to verify.

  • Go back to the Fallout 76 page.

  • Click Add/Manage alerts in the right corner of the screen.

  • Add an item to track it.

Once you click Add an item you’ll get a little menu where you can select to get text, email and Browser alerts. These are free, other than carrier text message charges.

This is the best way to manually check for Power Armor Edition stock. It’ll help you secure a pre-order and avoid paying exorbitant prices for a copy if and when there is a sellout.

If you’re thinking about buying the game from Amazon, you can also opt into email alerts for the Power Armor Edition. It’s not as elegant as the NowInStock option, but it’s an option nonetheless.

If you want to receive email alerts from Amazon:

  • Sign into your Amazon account.

  • Go to the appropriate Power Armor Edition option.

  • Under the “Currently Unavailable” signage, click Email Me.

  • Check your email everyday for an update.

4 Reasons to Pre-Order Fallout 76 & 5 Reasons to Wait

Pre-Order If You Love Online Games & Fallout

Pre-Order If You Love Online Games & Fallout

If you like the sound of an online Fallout-style RPG, you might want to put in a Fallout 76 pre-order.

Fallout 76 is an online survival RPG inspired by games like Rust and DayZ

The game is still in development and the gameplay is reportedly still in flux, but it’ll be much different than Fallout 4.

That said, the game will have quests and tons of enemies to kill just like Bethesda’s traditional single-player RPGs. It’ll also have base building (dubbed C.A.M.P.), something Bethesda introduced in Fallout 4 back in 2015. Fallout 76 allows you to build anywhere. 

Fallout 76 is going to more Fallout Online/Elder Scrolls Online than Fallout 5. If sharing an open, evolving Fallout world with friends sounds amazing, think about putting in an early order today, tomorrow, or sometime in the near future. 

Vivo Nex vs Google Pixel 2 camera comparison: Closer than you might think

Google Pixel 2 vs Vivo Nex camera

When it comes to smartphone cameras, the Google Pixel 2 is the de facto benchmark for most of us. Whether it’s still the best smartphone camera isn’t the point — it’s simply the phone camera most of us are most familiar with. That’s why I took a bunch of comparison shots with the Pixel 2 while I was in China for the Vivo Nex launch this week. They’re not direct competitors, nor are they priced equally, and they have far from the same target audiences. Regardless, the two phones posted some very compelling results.

To keep the playing field level, I won’t highlight up front which device took which photo in the slider images below. I’ll keep the same phone on the same side in each comparison below, and reveal which was which at the end with a few thoughts on the results. Let’s see if you picked right.

If you want to pixel peep the full-res images, you can grab them here.

Six of one, half a dozen of the other…

What this first batch of images will likely impress upon you is just how similar the cameras on these two phones are. There are some slight differences in exposure and saturation, but you really need to zoom right in to start picking them apart. Color reproduction is remarkably similar on both, mainly differing in white balance.

Portrait mode

Portrait mode reveals big differences in exposure, saturation, and color, with the phone on the left producing a brighter image with poppier colors. The phone on the right gets more contrasty detail on the roof of the building, but loses plenty of detail below the awning and on the tree trunk to the right. Both handle the cutout of foreground and background well and produce a bokeh effect that looks far from fake in either. Remember, the Pixel 2 only uses a single camera to achieve this result while the Vivo Nex has a secondary camera.


The first image here shows very similar results again with a couple of noticeable differences. The image on the left blows out the detail, where you can see the sky through the tree. The image on the right produces an unnaturally bright green on the plant growing out of the roof. With the second scene, the image on the right shows more noise and really struggles with the edges of the TV tower where it meets the sky, especially around the round sections. The image on the left is cleaner overall, but colors aren’t as saturated as on the right.

Dynamic range

The results in this batch of images had greater variation. In the first image, the device on the left shows less detail on the white wall at the back, but if you zoom in you can clearly read the sign in the shadows (which you can’t do with the image on the right). The second image shows greater dynamic range in the right-hand image where the hallway meets the bright exterior. It also produces more detail in the shadows inside.

The third and fourth sets of images flip the results a little. Colors notwithstanding, let’s look at the sign and trees on the left of the third set of photos. The image on the left captures much more information in the shadows under the trees and the writing on the blue sign is far more legible. The fourth image pair shows similar handling of the sky, but the image on the right has a peculiar purplish tint and tries too hard to lighten the darker areas under the awning of the building. The image on the left is much more natural-looking.

Detail and sharpening

At first glance the elevated cityscape shot looks nicer on the left. If you zoom right in you can see plenty of oversharpening in effect. In the second image, we see a microcosm of what has come before: a lighter exposure and more detail under the tree shadows in the left-hand image, and a darker exposure and less vibrant colors in the right-hand image. In the third comparison there’s very little in it that wouldn’t be carried one way or another based on personal preference. The final pair is similar again: the photo on the right is darker, with more noise in the water, and slightly duller colors overall.

Low light

Like the zoomed-in night-time shot above, these shots of the Shanghai skyline reveal most of the same things. Colors are more saturated in the image on the right (the opposite of what happens during daytime), but sharpness is lost due to the muddy blurring of the bright lights (zoom in on the blue building to the left of the TV tower for an example). The night sky is darker in the right-hand image too, but it also shows much more noise than the cleaner image on the left.

Front-facing camera

I left this one until last because it seemed the most likely to give away the true identities of the two devices. The Pixel 2 has a very well-regarded front-facing camera, and for good reason. Based on this image alone it’d be relatively easy to identify that the right-hand images throughout this camera comparison came from the Pixel 2. Like the main camera, the Vivo Nex overexposes again. Did you pick which was which correctly?

Final thoughts

I was quite surprised Vivo managed to put such a competitive camera on the Nex (the Nex produced the left-hand images throughout). Barring the front-facing camera — sadly one of the big attention-grabbers for Vivo’s new phone thanks to its elevating mechanism — the Nex cameras perform very well. The Vivo Nex camera may not outright beat the Pixel 2, but it comes tantalizingly close on multiple occasions. That fact alone is about as good an advertisement as any smartphone can ask for right now.

Vivo managed to put a very competitive camera on the Nex.

I ran a little blind test amongst a couple of the Android Authority team and most actually preferred the images from the Nex. They correctly identified the presence of oversharpening in the Nex’s image processing but nevertheless preferred the punchier colors and lighter exposure. It’s a little like Samsung displays: we all know they’re more saturated than “normal” but we can’t help but like them anyway. Sometimes an OEM bumping the colors and exposure isn’t so bad — it can actually save us a trip to an editing app before we share them. Then again, others will detest the sharpening and exposure of the Nex.

As I said about the Huawei P20 Pro, which approach you prefer will likely come down to whether you judge a smartphone photo as it appears on your smartphone or as it appears up close on your computer. The Pixel maintains detail at the expense of added noise, only making colors pop at night. The Nex tends to overexpose, with very visible sharpening if you zoom in. We won’t declare an outright “winner,”  but the Vivo Nex definitely puts up a very good fight against the smartphone camera against which all others are judged.

Now you tell me: which set of images did you prefer?


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