How to be overly prepared for college with apps

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As we enter the thick of back-to-school season, companies are discounting school supplies and kids are packing up to return to the dorms. No matter who you are or what school you attend, there are numerous apps that can help your college life feel a little easier and less stressful. Some of the better ones will continue being useful and follow you post-graduation. Besides the basic social media apps and word processing essentials like Google Docs and Microsoft Word, what are some other standout apps of the 2.2 million plus that are in the app store? I’ve selectively chosen a few, knowing from my own studies that memory, data, and mental energy are the most frequent constraints. Nearly all of these should be available for both Android and…

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Spark email app now works with Todoist, Wunderlist, Trello, and Apple’s Reminders app

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Software company Readdle announced today that it’s adding new third-party integrations to the Spark email app. Version 1.4 of Spark for macOS and Spark 1.9 on iOS will now work directly with Things, Todoist, Wunderlist, Trello, Asana, and even Apple’s own Reminders app.

Each service integration has gotten its own custom design from Readdle, which looks much more dynamic than the typical Share Sheet dialog box that often serves as the transition between apps on iOS. For example, the new Spark on iOS will let you pluck a PDF from an email, send it to Asana, and assign the task to a particular person or project inside that service, all without leaving the app. On macOS, you can bounce an email between Spark and Evernote, similar to how…

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Stranger Things is getting a third season

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The second season of Netflix’s Stranger Things isn’t set to air until October, but co-creators Ross and Matt Duffer have already confirmed a third. In an interview with Vulture, Ross said the series will likely be “a four-season thing and then out.” The imagined fourth season hasn’t actually been greenlit yet.

In the same interview, the Duffer Brothers reveal a few minor details about the second season — mainly that it will feel more like a movie sequel than a TV show. As for the just-confirmed third season, the brothers say the storyline will probably have to move outside the small, fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana. “We just have to keep adjusting the story,” Matt says. “Though I don’t know if we can justify something bad happening…

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The first Shenmue III trailer is here, and the characters look as deadpan as ever

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A new trailer has dropped for Shenmue III, showcasing the first footage we’ve seen so far of the highly anticipated sequel. The original Shenmue was one of the most expensive video games ever made. It garnered a cult following when it was released on Dreamcast in 1999. The game was notable for its day and night mechanics, interactivity, and mini games.

Unfortunately, the game was a commercial failure, and the long-awaited sequel was only able to go ahead after a successful crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter which made over $6 million. Shenmue III follows the story of martial artist Ryo Hazuki who leaves Japan to search for his father’s killer in the mountains of China.

The trailer doesn’t give much away, but it does showcase sprawling…

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Did you miss yesterday’s total solar eclipse? Here’s your next chance

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Yesterday, the US experienced one of the biggest astronomical events of the decade: a total solar eclipse that crossed the country from coast to coast for the first time since 1918. If you’re heartbroken you missed it, don’t worry. You ought to get a few other chances over your lifetime.

Total solar eclipses happen every 18 months or so, when the Moon passes directly between the Earth and the Sun on its orbit around our planet. If you’re in the direct path of the Moon’s shadow — called the path of totality — you will see the Sun go dark. Often, however, the path of totality goes over the ocean or Antarctica. So that’s why whenever a total solar eclipse crosses easily reachable areas, it’s such a big deal. And one that shouldn’t be…

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There’s a new Gran Turismo Sport version of the PS4

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Sony has unveiled a shiny new limited edition Gran Turismo-themed Playstation 4, featuring a faceplate bearing the GT logo and a customized wireless controller. The 1 TB system will be available for sale on October 18th across the UK, Europe, Australia, and Asia.

The release coincides with that of the latest Gran Turismo game, and will come with a ‘Day 1’ edition of the title, giving players $250,000 of in-game credit, sticker packs, a chrome racing helmet, and 60 PS4 avatars.

You can get your hands on this limited edition gear in all sorts of combos. You can buy the controller on its own; the controller with the game; or the whole lot together, with game, controller, and console. You can also buy just a standard copy of G…

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Final Fantasy XV is being remade as an adorable mobile game

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The role-playing epic Final Fantasy XV is being reimagined for smartphones — and it’s getting a whole lot cuter in the process. At Gamescom in Germany today, developer Square Enix revealed Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition, which will be coming to iOS, Android, and Windows 10 this fall.

It’s not a spinoff of the main game, or a direct port. Instead, Square Enix describes it as “an all-new adventure that retells the beloved story of Final Fantasy XV.” The new version switches things up with a cutesy art style and newly integrated touch controls. Pocket Edition will also feature an all-new structure: the story will be divided into 10 episodes; the first one will be available for free in the fall.

The new mobile game is just the latest of a…

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Facebook’s colorful status updates are now available on WhatsApp

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WhatsApp is rolling out a new feature that lets users write status updates with a colorful background, reports VentureBeat. It’s pretty much identical to a feature on Facebook, and also allows users to add a link and choose a font for their statuses. Previously, you could only use photos and videos as a background.

Facebook began adding the colored-background statuses in December 2016. While garish at times, the feature was supposed to increase engagement among users. WhatsApp started testing the feature earlier this month before releasing it to all users today. The statuses disappear after 24 hours and can be added to WhatsApp’s stories feature — copied from Snapchat, and now available on Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger.

Ephemeral…

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Verizon’s good unlimited data plan is now three bad unlimited plans

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Well, now we know why Verizon Wireless was “testing” reduced Netflix streaming speeds last month. Today the biggest US carrier announced that its existing unlimited data plan is being divided into three new options: Go Unlimited (starting at $75 for a single line), Beyond Unlimited ($85 for first line), and Business Unlimited. Unlike the relatively straightforward unlimited plan that Verizon surprised customers with in February, these new monthly plans are chock-full of fine print and caveats. And in a move sure to anger net neutrality advocates, the regular “Go Unlimited” plan throttles all smartphone video streaming to 480p / DVD-quality. The new plans go into effect beginning tomorrow, August 23rd, so this change is happening fast….

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Microsoft announces Age of Empires IV

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It’s been a while, Age of Empires.

More than a decade after Age of Empires III was released, publisher Microsoft Studios has announced that Age of Empires IV is in development and coming to PC. There’s no release window for the game; just the launch trailer above, filled with concept art of historical battles. But even that will be enough to get fans of the series excited.

The first Age of Empires came out in 1997 as a real-time strategy game developed by the now-defunct Ensemble Studios. Players had to guide their troops through the Stone Age to the Classical period, with a follow up in 1999, Age of Empires II, taking the action to the Middle Ages. Age of Empires III was released in 2005, focusing on the colonial period, and adding a…

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Google code hints at headphones that run Google Assistant

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Is Google making a pair of headphones with its virtual assistant built-in? That seems to be what snippets of code in the latest version of the Google app (7.10) suggest. 9to5Google has sifted through the evidence and found a number of references in the app’s APK to a mystery product, codenamed “Bisto.” One line of code seems to spell out what Bisto could be: “Your headphones have the Google Assistant. Ask it questions. Tell it to do things. It’s your own personal Google, always ready to help.”

Of course, just because these lines of code appear in the Google app, it doesn’t mean that the company will actually release a pair of Assistant-equipped headphones. But it’s interesting to speculate. The code dug up by 9to5Google also mentions the…

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The SNES Classic has a great trick for beating difficult Nintendo games

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The SNES Classic Edition, launching on September 29th for $79.99, does exactly what you expect it to do. You plug in power and HDMI, flip down a weird little flap covering the controller ports, plug in the controllers, and start playing Star Fox, F-Zero, or Donkey Kong Country.

Nintendo has also learned from the shortcomings of its predecessor, the NES Classic. Mainly, the company has promised to make “significantly more” of the damn things this time around — though whether “significantly more” is the same thing as “enough” is anyone’s guess.

Then there’s the controllers, which are great. The D-pad, in particular, feels super nice — whereas on modern controllers it’s too often an afterthought. The SNES Classic also has slightly longer…

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HP’s first Omen X gaming laptop includes easy access to upgrade parts

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HP returned to the gaming world earlier this year with a new line of Omen products. While we’ve seen HP produce some cheaper gaming laptops and a high-end glowing desktop cube so far, we’ve been waiting for a high-end Omen laptop for enthusiasts. At Gamescom today, HP is launching the Omen X laptop, and it’s pretty much what you’d expect from a high-end gaming laptop.

HP has opted for a 17-inch 4K display for the top model, or a 120Hz 1080p display for those who want more performance instead of a higher resolution. Both configurations are Nvidia G-Sync enabled, and you can pick models with up to an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 (factory overclocked) inside. You can connect two external displays, and there’s even support for overclocking both…

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Amazon Echo is only $100 for the next two weeks

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Amazon puts pretty deep discounts on the Echo every now and then, but it’s rare to see a discount go this deep and for this long: From now through September 4th, the Echo is on sale for $99.99 — down from its usual price of $179.99. The deal is technically part of Amazon’s “back to school” sale, but the company doesn’t actually seem to care whether you’re a student.

The Echo Dot is also on sale, but it’s only $5 off, at $44.99. And the Amazon Tap is down $30 to $99.99. Meanwhile, all Kindles are $20 off. The Echo deals run through September 4th; the Kindle deals end earlier, on August 26th.

This is pure speculation, but the deep and extended discount on the Echo makes me think that Amazon may be trying to clear out its…

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Google’s Inbox can finally show multiple email accounts at once

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Google Inbox has a new “all inboxes” view on Android, allowing you to see all of your inboxes without tapping back and forth. This saves you two seconds of tapping each time you check your mail and keeps you from missing important messages arriving in your less-used mailboxes. While Gmail on Android has had this feature since 2015, it has yet to come to Gmail on iOS. Predictably, the unified view hasn’t come to Google Inbox on iOS either.

Unfortunately, the new feature doesn’t feel very organized. After all, the whole purpose of having different email addresses is to keep business and pleasure separated and the spam sent to the spam address. So far, there isn’t a way to filter or sort through the All Inboxes tab, but maybe disorganized…

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Intel has a mysterious black Surface Book in its latest video

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Intel unveiled its 8th generation Core processors earlier today, which will launch on laptops first. As part of the launch, Intel has produced a promotional video of what to expect from the next processors, which will bring quad-core chips more broadly to laptops. MSPoweruser has spotted that the video includes what appears to be a black Surface Book.

Microsoft currently manufactures a gray Surface Book, and the company hasn’t used black on its Surface line since the Surface Pro 2 nearly four years ago. The mysterious device in Intel’s video could be a marketing render, but it does include the exact same eject key found on the keyboard of the Surface Book and the unique fulcrum hinge that Microsoft uses on its laptop.

Microsoft is…

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Here’s what the 2017 solar eclipse looked like from space

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The 2017 solar eclipse has come and gone! Now, it’s time to stare in awe at all the amazing images captured by NASA, the European Space Agency, their satellites, and the luckiest folks off Earth: the astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

Yes, while you were pinching and zooming on your phone trying to nail the perfect Instagram moment, space agencies around the world were gathering the kinds of eclipse images that we could never dream of capturing ourselves.

To wit, there are already plenty of great images of shadow that the Moon cast across the country. Let’s start with a few GIFs and videos of that, made from images captured by GOES-16, a satellite that launched into orbit last November:

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Google may take on the Echo Dot with a mini Google Home

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Google is reportedly planning to unveil a miniaturized version of its Home smart speaker at a hardware event dedicated to the upcoming Pixel sequel, according to a report from Android Police. The event may occur in October as last year’s Pixel and Google Home launch event did, although we don’t have concrete specifics on when or where Google will host it.

The mini Home speaker would likely be positioned as an Amazon Echo Dot competitor. That would allow you to hook up traditional audio systems with voice control, string together multiple Home units, and access Google Assistant throughout your house without spending an additional $129 on a standalone Home speaker.

Also rumored to be at the event is a new Pixel-branded Chromebook, the…

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Android O is now officially Android Oreo

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After months of waiting (and a bizarre octopus easter egg) Google finally announced today next version of Android — previously known as Android O — will officially be going by the name of Android Oreo.

The use of an existing brand makes sense for Google here — there aren’t a ton of good “O” dessert foods out there, and Oreos are pretty much as universally beloved as a cookie can be. There’s also precedent for the partnership, as Google had previously teamed up with Nestlé and Hershey’s to call Android 4.4 KitKat.

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Google also today showed off the official statue for the new Android OS, as it does with every new version. At a press event in New York City, which coincided…

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