editorial

10 high-quality mobile games that are actually worth your time

10 high-quality mobile games that are actually worth your time

When you think of mobile games -- that is, games you play on your smartphone or tablet -- there's a reasonable chance you're thinking of Candy Crush, FarmVille, or the hundreds of not-so-subtle clones that plague the various app stores. No judgement if you enjoy those games, but they're not everyone's cup of tea. If you're looking for something that feels more like a high-quality game and less like thinly-veiled gambling, this is the list for you.

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4 Phone insurance options that are (much) cheaper than your carrier

4 Phone insurance options that are (much) cheaper than your carrier

If you have a top-tier flagship smartphone, there's a good chance you paid somewhere between $600 and $800 for it...or more. That's a fairly substantial sum, and the reason why many find it hard to turn down their carrier's monthly phone insurance. That insurance, though, adds up on its own, typically being $11.99/month -- that's just under $144/year, not including the 'deductible' many charge when you need to use it. The good news is that you don't have to pay this; there are much cheaper options on the market with arguably better coverage.

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These are the Instagram filters that get photos the most ‘likes’

These are the Instagram filters that get photos the most ‘likes’

You've taken the most important step and opened an Instagram account. You've followed all of your real-life friends and all of your Internet friends, maybe some co-workers and family members. Your photos get some likes, but not as many as you'd like. It's a story most people can identify with, one that is easily remedied with the right actions. Chief among them? Start using filters that people actually want to see.

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Google Photos’ new AI sharing may be creepy, but count me in

Google Photos’ new AI sharing may be creepy, but count me in

At a Google I/O where the Google Assistant held center stage, it was a service I'm already deeply committed to, Google Photos, which arguably made best mainstream use of the growing AI. Like Google's most successful products, the integration between the Assistant and the cloud photo service ignored technological showboating in favor of just plain useful features that address real sharing hassles users experience every day. Indeed, as nudges to sharing goes, it's hard to see how Google Photos could now make it any easier without bypassing the human user altogether.

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Note 8 vs Galaxy S8: Do I buy now or wait for the phablet?

Note 8 vs Galaxy S8: Do I buy now or wait for the phablet?

By all reports, the Samsung Galaxy S8 is a barnstorming success. Indeed, there are only really two phones that could overshadow it: Apple's iPhone 8 and, ironically, Samsung's own Galaxy Note 8. Expected to make its big debut at the end of the year, the new phablet has some fiery shoes to fill.

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Galaxy S8 vs iPhone 8: Do I buy Samsung now, or wait for Apple?

Galaxy S8 vs iPhone 8: Do I buy Samsung now, or wait for Apple?

After my Galaxy S8 review, of the most frequent questions I've been asked is whether people should buy the new Samsung now, or wait until the new iPhone is revealed later in 2017. Samsung deserves some serious kudos for what it's done with the latest Galaxy flagship. Not only is the design on a par with the best we've seen from Apple's smartphone team, top-notch specs like the beautiful curved Super AMOLED screen make it just as pleasing to use as to hold.

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The IoT will survive this Juicero scorn

The IoT will survive this Juicero scorn

In a shocking revelation that came as a surprise to practically nobody, a $400 connected juicer may not be the must-have in the kitchen that it was pitched as. Nor is it the best poster-child for the Internet of Things and, as is usually the way, scorn heaped on Juicero has spilled over to the connected home more broadly. After all, with $120m in funding, some are already describing the company as the epitome of IoT hype.

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The Galaxy S8’s ergonomic compromise is giving me iPhone 8 worries

The Galaxy S8’s ergonomic compromise is giving me iPhone 8 worries

If all goes according to plan (or, at least, the rumor machine's version of the plan) Apple's anniversary iPhone 8 will be a huge departure in design. After three years of iterative iPhones, the new model - one of three expected to launch later in 2017, alongside updated versions of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus - will usher in a huge number of changes. Curved glass and OLED displays; reworked dual cameras; and tiny bezels. I'm excited, certainly, but I'm also worried, and I'm not alone.

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Why the LG G6’s display leads the way in 2017

Why the LG G6’s display leads the way in 2017

It's fair to say the LG G6 looked pretty odd in the first leaked photos. By the time the Android smartphone hit the stands at Mobile World Congress last month we were pretty much inured - both from leaks and LG's own near-constant drip-drip-drip of announcements - to its tall & skinny design. Still, when you first pick it up you notice, even if subconsciously, there's something strange going on.

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Learning to love Apple CarPlay

Learning to love Apple CarPlay

If Apple is truly working on a car, as all the rumors suggest, then CarPlay is the visible tip of that iceberg. While I appreciated Apple's aim of distilling the familiar essentials from your iPhone in a way that was both safe and convenient while you're driving, it's taken me some time to appreciate what the fairly barebones interface has to offer. Still, it's more of a Stockholm syndrome relationship than I'd care to admit: I'm warming to CarPlay primarily because most in-car systems are so bad.

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It’s time this car safety tech was standard

It’s time this car safety tech was standard

Some car technology is frivolous or pure luxury; other added-extras are a matter of personal taste. If you want leather seats, or a 1,300W audio system, or autonomous parking, you probably should pay extra for it. Even some safety technology, like adaptive cruise control or active lane-keeping assistance, falls into the convenience category more than a must-have essential.

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For me, Carrie Fisher’s Leia was more than just ‘one of the boys’

For me, Carrie Fisher’s Leia was more than just ‘one of the boys’

I was somewhere around age 7 when I first saw A New Hope, then just known as Star Wars, and it ignited many things in my young mind. A love for storytelling, a love for science fiction specifically, and the stubborn insistence that lightsabers must exist somewhere regardless of what everyone said. It wasn’t until I watched Return of the Jedi, though, that Star Wars — and Carrie Fisher specifically — revolutionized my understanding of life and my place in it.

Star Wars was many things to me — a classic battle between good and evil, hope that the underdog could persevere against seemingly impossible odds, and, of course, a fun look at an imagined distant future. A New Hope reflected the world I’d perceived and known up to that point: boys having fun and being important and the one token girl being, well, a princess. An admittedly badass princess, but still.

It wasn’t that I didn’t appreciate the Princess Leia presented in A New Hope, but I didn’t see anything outside of what I knew as normal. She was exactly what I expected the princess to be. Luke was the special Jedi who got a lightsaber and a vital role in changing the galaxy. Han had a huge ship and all these connections amongst many worlds. Princess Leia needed help.

I’d declared at a young age that I wished I was a boy because boys were important and got to have the most fun. I had this idea of what a princess was, and it involved a hefty dose of forced helplessness. Being a girl meant having a lot of pink toys and being admonished about all the things that weren’t ladylike, and while that didn't describe the Princess Leia of A New Hope, I figured she'd had to put up with all that stuff, too.

Princess Leia was okay, but I wanted to be Luke Skywalker. And so I felt like someone must have made a mistake and I was supposed to be a boy. There couldn't be any other answer, I'd figured.

Fast-forward to Return of the Jedi and the plot twist that my young self never saw coming: Luke had a sister, and that sister had the Force, and that sister was Princess Leia. To most adults it seemed like a somewhat cheesy twist, given the love interest angle of the previous movies, but to me it was something else entirely: the very first moment I realized girls could be just as special as boys. She wasn't just a princess tagging along with the boys, she was just as important as them.

Fisher's role in the Star Wars world took on a new form in Return of the Jedi, and she steered it masterfully. Princess Leia wasn't just a stereotypical princess, and at the same time she wasn't a stereotypical "one of the boys" character who tried too hard to be masculine as if the feminine aspects of her personality were shameful.

This point was driven home during the Endor battle scene in which Leia was both warrior and nurturer, being able to hold her own against Imperial forces without needing the boys' help, and at the same time being gentle and loving toward the ewoks and, later on, having no qualms about donning a dress and braiding her hair.

It may sound like such simple things, but to many girls watching those movies for the first time, Fisher presented (and still presents) a look at what could be. You didn't have to be a boy to be special. You didn't have to be saved or sit on the sidelines, and you didn't have to pretend to be a boy or act tough all the time. I stopped wanting to be a boy or be Luke, and I decided I wanted to be like Princess Leia instead: someone who could be a person instead of just a girl.

In light of Fisher's passing, many narratives about her life will no doubt arise across social media in coming days. Many can't seem to help pointing out her past drug use, and others dismiss her as just an actress. Like Leia, though, she was more than any single one thing: she was a person who lived a complex life, and she wasn't afraid to be herself. Her influence will ultimately outlive any single narrative that may arise, and she'll no doubt continue to influence young viewers for years to come.

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