Android is constantly changing, and so is its home screen.

The home screen sets Android apart from other mobile platforms, and it’s an excellent marker to judge Android’s state and evolution. Folders have gotten more advanced (and far more fashionable) in the last two years. Live wallpapers are starting to experience a bit of a revival. Most importantly, launchers themselves have evolved and been refined, with gestures becoming a far more normalized and integral part of the experience. While many launchers have begun to add gestures to launch the app drawer and other specific actions, gestures have been at the core of the Action Launcher experience for years, and they help make it one of the most intuitive and customizable launchers on the platform.

Action Launcher’s evolution

Action Launcher has been around for almost five years now, and in that time it has undergone a few significant evolutions. Almost three years ago, developer Chris Lacy completely re-imagined Action Launcher into Action Launcher 3, which made angry waves among Android users, as it required them to buy a fresh Plus version to unlock the paid features again. Then this summer, Action Launcher dropped the 3 to become Action Launcher again.

Action Launcher’s features have evolved and been refined over the years to better imitate Google’s vision of the home screen, while still offering up the customization and gesture-based UI that its users can quite quickly become addicted to. It’s no secret that Action Launcher has a following that’s almost as fervent as fellow market veteran Nova Launcher, including our own Modern Dad Phil Nickinson, and it’s because Action Launcher is easy to get your home screen exactly the way you want and then keep it that way.

Hidden treasures

Action Launcher allows you to lay out your home screens with a desktop grid and padding to your liking, but the true magic comes in when we start getting crazy with gesture features. Enable the Quickdrawer for a vertical app list that you can swipe in from the left edge of the screen. Enable Quickpage to get an extra page of widgets and app shortcut space you can summon from the right.

Then we have Covers and Shutters. Covers and Shutters enable Action Launcher to hide unsightly folders and widgets in plain sight by hiding them under normal-looking app shortcuts. Covers make folders practically invisible, setting the first app in the folder as both the folder icon and the tap action for the folder, while swiping up on the new icon will open the folder. Shutters allow you to swipe up or down on an app shortcut on your home screen or Quickpage and open a folder-like window containing a widget from that app. These tools allow you to nest Shutters inside Covers and hide both elements inside a clean-looking home screen. Once you get used to them, it’s pretty hard to go back to anything else.

One of the most prominent — and customizable — tentpoles of Action Launcher is its persistent search bar, called the Quickbar. Action Launcher goes beyond the boring one-function search bars most launchers use and allows you to add extra functionality, such as shortcuts to your favorite apps and the Quickdrawer. Action Launcher recently added the ability to colorize the icons in your Quickbar to be more vibrant and better match your themes. You can dock your Quickbar at the top of the screen, or at the bottom of the dock in the Pixel 2 style.

Tenacious delight

Once you get the launcher set up the way you want, Action Launcher has a few features to make theming an existing home screen layout a breeze. Quicktheme allows Action Launcher to pull colors for its various elements from the set wallpaper, and from some wallpaper apps like Muzei. This means that changing themes can be as easy as just changing a wallpaper, as the launcher colors will automatically adjust. The most you’ll have to do is perhaps switch color types and change icon packs. The only downfall here is that Action Launcher sometimes misses the desired colors in a particularly vibrant wallpaper, or in most live wallpapers.

Action Launcher has adapted quite admirably over the years, quickly implementing Pixel folders last year and both the dock searchbar, notification previews and At A Glance widgets from this year’s Pixel 2 home screen. Action Launcher has even made the Pixel setup the default for the launcher, allowing new users to get to a Google-esque look without having to set everything up from scratch.

Conclusion

There’s still more ground to be broken by Action Launcher, but rest assured this launcher is one of the best on the market. So long as it thoughtfully adapts and evolves along the Android system as a whole, there’s no doubt in my mind Action Launcher will be worthy of hosting your home screen. Which Action Launcher features keep you coming back? Are there any features you feel are still missing after almost five years of launcher loveliness?

Let us know in the comments below!




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White and multi-colored, dimmable, and smart. This bulb does everything.

Update: This product has dropped in price by $8 since yesterday’s mention.

This Philips Hue A19 3rd generation LED smart bulb is down to $31.99 on Amazon. This bulb has been selling for as much as $47 recently. Although it does drop in price often, this sort of deal can be easy to miss because it doesn’t last long.

Whether you’re just getting started with smart bulbs or want to add to an ever-expanding collection, this smart bulb can do whatever you need it to do. Add some color to a dull room, ambiance to your movies or video games, or just use it because it’s dimmable.

Features include:

  • Choose between millions of colors and shades of white light to light your home, wirelessly control with your smartphone or tablet, and sync your light immersively to music, games, and movies.
  • Requiring the Hue Bridge for the full Hue experience, this bulb fits standard-size table and floor lamps. Enjoy richer shades of green, cyan, and blue with improved design.
  • Install the LED light as you would install ordinary bulbs, then pair them with the Hue Bridge, which allows you to control smart-bulb-equipped lamps and overhead lights via the Philips Hue App.
  • Easily expand your lighting system with accessories (sold separately), such as a Hue Dimmer Switch, Hue Tap, or Hue Motion Sensor. Pair it for automation with your existing Nest or SmartThings system.

If you want to fully control multiple Philips Hue bulbs, you’ll need a Hue Bridge. You could just get the Hue Starter Kit, which includes the bridge and three of these lights. It’s down to $110 on Best Buy right now.

See at Amazon




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One of our favorite deals is available ahead of Friday!

Update: These discounts are back again. If you missed out on them the other day, you won’t want to miss out today!

Right now you can score up to $100 off select Sonos speakers at Amazon. This deal includes the first discount on the Sonos One, dropping it down to just $174.99. The Sonos One is the company’s first speaker that builds Alexa right into the speaker, and we had good things to say about it in our review.

Sonos is also offering all of these discounts on its own site.

TL;DR

  • What makes this deal worth considering? – Sonos discounts are rather rare, and this is the first discount that we have seen on the Sonos One.
  • Things to know before you buy! – The Sonos One is the newest speaker from the company, and has Amazon’s Alexa built right into it. All of the speakers are great and worth buying, but the Sonos One is what you will most likely be interested in right now.




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We know not everyone can browse tons of deal feeds to find the best deal, so we’ve simplified it for you. This list will constantly be updating, so be sure to check back frequently.

Smart Home

HDTVs

Toys

PlayStation

Google & Android

Amazon Devices

Amazon Deals

Best Buy Deals

Walmart Deals

Apple

Xbox

Nintendo

Everyday Essentials

Fashion & Beauty

LEGO




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What do I need to know about Fallout 4 VR?

Fallout 4 VR is expected to release for HTC Vive December 12, 2017. Are you getting excited? Here’s everything we know so far.

Read more at VRHeads!




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Calls not going through? Texts not sending? Here’s what to do in the event of a Verizon outage.

If you’re with Verizon in the U.S., then you know it’s one of the nation’s largest networks, so when there’s an outage, for whatever reason, it affects a lot of people in a given area.

If your Verizon service isn’t working as it should, whether it’s LTE, phone calls, texts, or whatever, then here’s what you can do to relieve it or at least figure out what’s going on.

First off, sign up for outage alerts

By signing into your Verizon account you can change preferences for various notifications, including service outage alerts for your area. Depending on what the outage is, you’ll receive SMS notifications or email notifications.

Have your tried turning it off and on again?

Always check the device that’s acting up first. Whatever it happens to be, power it down, wait a few seconds, and turn it back on again. If you’re experience outage issues on multiple devices, then you know something’s up with your network (though it could still be isolated to your home’s connection).

Check Verizon’s ‘Help with a Service Outage’ page

Verizon’s own resource for service outages is one of the first stops your should make in your research, since it can also help with potential troubleshooting tips, just in case it’s not a service outage for your area and it’s actually an issue that’s affecting your specific device or connection.

There are then links to resources that can help you diagnose your problem and then decide whether you need an in-home technician’s help or if simple online troubleshooting can help you out (if your area isn’t actually experiencing an outage).

Verizon also has an FAQ page that can help you with various troubleshooting tips and any questions you might have.

Get help with a Verizon service outage

Check out an outage website

There are many websites that will report carrier outages and where you can report an outage if you think you’re facing one in your area. Outage.Report is a great service because it shows you an outage map for the entire U.S., so you can see where the outage hotspots might be and whether or not a reported outage is affecting your area.

You can also check out downdetector.com, which will show you instances of outages over the last 24 hours, so you can see if problems you’re having have been reported or are residual from an earlier outage.

Contact Verizon

If you can’t figure out what’s going on and your service outage persists, contact Verizon directly.

Call 1-800-922-0204 or dial *611 from your Verizon phone (unless of course calls aren’t working on your mobile network).

Contact Verizon online




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HTC is jumping into the Black Friday weekend frenzy a few days early with a handful of discounts which are quite appealing. Those who have been holding out on getting the HTC U11 can now pick up the phone for just … Read More




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Some great Black Friday smartphone deals.

Last year, Alcatel’s Idol 4S was one of our top budget smartphone choices, so we were pretty excited when the sequel, the Idol 5S, didn’t make too many changes.

What the phone did, though, was get introduced at a much lower price than its predecessor. For $280, users got a 5.2-inch 1080p panel, a Snapdragon 625 processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a 2620mAh battery, a 12MP rear camera, and a low-profile version of Android 7.1 Nougat.

Now the Idol 5S is down to $199.99 for a limited time — between Thursday, November 23 at 12:00AM PST and Monday, November 27 at 11:59PM PST — for Black Friday. That’s the same price Amazon sells the ad-supported Prime Exclusive version, but this one is ad-free and compatible with all four U.S. carriers.

See at Amazon

Alcatel is also discounting its entry-level A30 smartphone to $60 for the same period, which is a pretty outstanding deal on a device with a Snapdragon 210 processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, an 8MP camera, and Android 7.0 Nougat.

See at Amazon




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This deal features the Moto G5 Plus at its lowest price ever!

Is this deal for me?

Amazon is selling the unlocked Moto G5 Plus phone for just $169.99. This is the device’s lowest price ever and saves you around $50 off its regular price. This offer is only available on the Lunar Gray device.

The Moto G5 Plus features:

  • Fingerprint reader
  • High-grade aluminum design
  • Octa-core processor
  • 5.2″ HD Display
  • 12 MP rear camera
  • 5 MP front-facing camera
  • 3000 mAh battery
  • Android 7.0

This model comes with 32GB of storage space though there’s a 64GB model available for $300. You can add a microSD card for more space if you want as well.

TL;DR

  • What makes this deal worth considering? – This unlocked device is free of ads unlike the other discounted version Amazon sells.
  • Things to know before you buy! – The Moto G5 Plus has a 4.1 out of 5-star rating on Amazon and is the #1 best-seller on the site in the Unlocked Cell Phones category.

See at Amazon




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Control everything from one thing!

Is this deal for me?

Amazon has dropped the price on Logitech’s Harmony Companion Remote down to $99.99, which is a savings of $50. This remote will allow you to leave behind the stack of remotes you currently use to control your TV, DVD player, cable box and home theater system, and use just one insteadl.

Feature include:

  • Works with Alexa for voice control. Performs activities like Lower the blinds, dim the lights, fire-up the TV for movie night—all with a tap of the finger.
  • Use your Smartphone (with available app) or included Harmony Remote for one-touch control of your entertainment system and home automation devices such as Philips Hue lights or Nest Learning Thermostat
  • Companion remote includes full featured home entertainment controls including dedicated home automation controls
  • Included Harmony Hub lets you control devices hidden behind cabinet doors or walls, including game consoles such as PS3, Wii, and Xbox 360
  • Simple setup on computer or the available smartphone app – works with over 270,000 devices, including your TV, satellite or cable box, blu-ray player, Apple TV, Roku, Sonos, game consoles, Philips Hue lights, and more

TL;DR

  • What makes this deal worth considering? – This isn’t an all-time low on this remote, but it’s the lowest we have seen in quite a while. It allows you to stop using 10 different remotes all the time and instead just use one.
  • Things to know before you buy! – If you want to take advantage of the Alexa features, you’ll need an Alexa-enabled device. You can bundle the remote and an Echo Dot for just $30 more, which is an additional $20 in savings.

See at Amazon




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