So given that tomorrow is Christmas and I'm sitting here at work with no intention of doing squat today I figured I'd do a Christmas related post. Namely one recommending various items worth gifting to the Android users in your life. I'm gonna try and cover a broad range of items and price points here, none of which will be aimed at breaking the bank.
Google Play Gift Cards
This is one you absolutely cannot go wrong with. They're available at almost all retailers (including the convenient store down the street from you). They come in various amounts ($10, $25 and $50) and they can be used towards purchasing devices from the Play Store itself if I remember correctly.
Basically, it's a nice little gift that lets the Android users in your life decide what to get for themselves. Given all the sales taking place at the moment this is an absolute bargain in terms of a quick little stocking stuffer for anyone you know.
Must Have Apps
Without getting too detailed on why these are must have apps I'm going to point out a few that are absolute must buys and what kind of app they are and why they're great.
Nova Launcher and Nova Launcher Prime ($4.00). I've mentioned both of these numerous times in the past and for good reason: It is simply, hands down, the best launcher around. You can hide apps, create folders, change your icon pack, etc with this. Nova Launcher Prime adds the ability to enable and set various gestures that allow you to launch apps, shoot right into the Settings menu and any other number of things.
Pocket Casts ($3.99). This is THE podcast app to have and use on Android. I've tried them all and none have caught my attention and kept me using them the way this one has. Oh yeah, their web player is officially out of beta and available for use/purchase for the low price of only $9.
SeriesGuide and SeriesGuide X Pass ($5.99). I think it goes without saying that most of us here on the Odeck have a huge number of shows we absolutely can't not watch week in and week out. That said sometimes it's hard to keep track of all the shows we've got on our plate and what episodes we've missed or what have you. SeriesGuide can help with that. It'll take care of all those things and then some (including reminding you when a show you watch has a new episode coming out and when). The X Pass basically unlocks a few little extras: Episode notifications, more list widget options, additional themes for the app and even extensions for the app itself.
Unified Remote and Unified Remote Full ($3.99). Do you want to control your computer from your phone? If so this is the app for you! I can't even begin to describe or cover everything this app can do, so just install the free version and give it a perusal for yourself. Once you've done so I can guarantee you'll find yourself springing for the full paid version.
Meme Generator ($1.99). This might be a sign that I've been on reddit for far too long now, but when I go through my usual day I find myself thinking in memes quite a bit. You either know what I'm talking about with this or you don't. This is the meme generating app you want though. Yes, there are numerous free options out there but this one is far and away better than every other similar app out there. Quick updates with the latest memes to hit the scene and no ads. It is of course available in a free version as well.
I've been on a serious Android gaming tear lately, so you're getting a few choice games here. These might be on the pricier side of things for some but they are well worth every penny in my opinion.
Snake - Shadow Edition. Do you remember playing Snake on your old phone years ago? That was totally fun, right? Well, I discovered this little gem the other day on reddit. Think the Snake we know and love meets Material Design! This is an absolutely beautiful take on a classic. This is one I'm tempted to post screenshots for but I want you all to see it for yourselves. The best part? It is absolutely free! (Even if I wish they'd offer a paid version to avoid the one ad I've seen playing this game. I hate ads!) I hit 46 in a quick play through the other day for this one. Who can top that? I say we make this a thing, who on the Odeck can get the highest score on this game.
Alone... ($1.99). This fucking game. I bought it because I found it rather intriguing when I first read about it upon its release and I found myself playing it like crazy shortly thereafter. "I've got a few minutes to kill, let me play Alone!" You're just navigating past space debris and through caves and what have you, but the music is intense and the controls can make things tricky. This is definitely a must own for everyone.
Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath ($5.99). I've yet to play this one, but the graphics look amazing. Toss in the fact that you get something like 20 hours of game play and you've got a total winner here. I've never played any of the Oddworld games in my life, this will be the first I play when I punch out later today. Been eager to give it a play through.
Soul Calibur ($13.99). I've always been a fan of this freaking game, I kick fucking ass with Sophitia. At $13 this one is a little harder to recommend than the previous one, especially given how random it is with actual compatibility for any Android devices. Yeah, it might install but it might not play and things like that. The bright side is you can always get a refund if it doesn't work on your device. I can confirm that it works perfectly on the Moto X (2014) though.
Tales from the Borderlands ($4.99). I wrote about this one the other day. Just buy it. Absolutely worth the price. Also the season pass is $15 right now, which is a savings of $5, and that'll guarantee you the next four episodes. Trust me on this one, just get the damn game.
The Wolf Among Us. This one is free for the first episode and the season pass for the other four will cost you $20. Completely worth the price though. I played this over a weekend a little while back and then went out and bought it again for my PS4 within a week or so. Fucking great game!
What gadget would be useful without all those lovely accessories they make for them? None. That's which ones. None. "Yo dawg, we heard you like gadgets so we made gadgets for your gadgets." I'll show myself out.
AmazonBasics micro USB 6' cable ($4.99). This one is simple in its recommendation because of how great it is when it comes to using it. Cables just aren't long enough for comfortable bedside use. None of mine are at least and my bed is right next to a damn electrical outlet. This fixed my late night reading issues. I can turn from one side to the other and even sit up without having to unplug my phone. The way I go through books (which is one per day when I'm on a real tear) means I'm up late most nights (as if my insomnia wouldn't have me up late anyway) reading and murdering my phone's battery in the process. Now I can read without having to take a break to charge my phone thanks to this bad boy.
Rocketfish micro USB Wall Charger (2.4 amp) ($9.99). My best friend and his girlfriend go through chargers like crazy. How they destroy them so quickly I have no idea, but they do. Some time back, when he got his last financial aid check, my buddy went with me to Best Buy while I picked up something and picked up a few of these. I've been a fan ever since. They charge insanely fast! They also are incredibly cheap! Oh yeah, they make a version for your car (for $7.99) too.
Anker 2nd Gen Astro E3 Ultra Compact 1000mAh Portable Charger $25.99). Try saying that ten times fast. Every one of us has experienced that "oh shit, my phone is about to die" moment at some point in our lives. So why not gift something that helps in such moments? Anker makes phenomenal chargers/battery packs and this one won't mug your wallet. Be sure to check out some of their other offerings though if you need more or less capacity.
Lepow Moonstone 6000 mAh External Battery ($25.99). Yeah, that's right. I did just suggest another portable charger/battery pack. Why? Because it comes in multiple colors, is slightly smaller and looks stunning. Aesthetically most portable chargers tend to be a little on the brutish side when it comes to appearance, the Lepow Moonstone though brings looks to the table and that's why I couldn't not recommend it. Also, I keep a black one in the car at all times. It holds a charge well and I can get at least two full charges (from nearly dead) with it. I know it does more but I like to charge it up after using it twice to bring my phone back from the brink. That's just how I roll.
Chromecast ($35). This is one of those things that is just beyond awesome. You can plug it into your TV (via the HDMI input) and then send stuff from your phone to it. Netflix, Google Play Music, Spotify, Pandora, etc. I've used mine almost every single day since I picked one up with a week of it coming out. For the price it simply can't be beat, especially not when there's a number of offers that basically give you movies, music and Play Store credit for picking one up. Also it's available pretty much everywhere (Best Buy and Walmart)
Logitech Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480 ($58.21). I picked up a similar keyboard for my desktop last week, I was a bit short on cash and went with a $20 one from Logitech. I could have bought this one at Best Buy but I honestly couldn't pass up picking up Guardians of the Galaxy on Blu-Ray while I was there. This is my next keyboard though. Why? Mutli-device use and compatibility. Smartphone, tablet and computer. One device to rule them all. Muahahaha!
JayBird BlueBuds X Bluetooth Headphones ($129.99). I picked up these last year as a gift to myself from my mom. "Go to Best Buy, take my card and buy whatever you want." This was that whatever you want. Why? Well, after doing tons of research online no other Bluetooth headphones matched it at the time in regards to aesthetics, use and battery life. These will make it through a full work day on a charge, come with multiple tips to fit your ears, a nice little case to store them in, a tangle free microUSB cable for charging and sound amazing. Whether you're listening to Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Mudvayne, Slipknot, Alkaline Trio, The Offspring or Bob Dylan and some Creedence Clearwater Revival. These sound fucking awesome. Android Police has reviewed them and Artem admits to never being without his.
Plantronics BackBeat Fit Bluetooth Headphones ($126.09). My mom recently decided she needed Bluetooth headphones, she did so over the weekend, and told me to find the best ones for when she's running. I found these. She did not buy these. She went with similar ones that are Beats. They cost more and just genuinely suck in my opinion. (I'm not an audiophile by any means, but when someone tells me they bought Beats headphones I mentally translate that to: I don't do research on products I buy and I buy what's popular even if it sucks. Beats sucks but I deserve said suckage because I refuse to do any research whatsoever.) If you exercise though and want some Bluetooth headphones worth using then go with these. Android Police reviewed these over the weekend as well, which is what cemented these in my mind as perfect for my mom. She left out of town by now, I for one can't wait til she gets back and complains about her headphones like I'm almost certain she will. Just so I can say, "Frommer's tried to tell you, but you wouldn't listen." Yes, that is a EuroTrip reference I just worked into this post. That is a great movie!
I debated whether or not to throw this in here, but I figured what the hell. It's my post, I'll do whatever I want with it.
Google Play Music All Access ($9.99/month). That'll take you to the web link, but you can also sign up via the Google Play Music app itself. Seriously, folks, this is hands down the best music subscription service out there. Pandora and Spotify do not have shit on Google Play Music All Access, even if their names are much easier to drop in casual conversation. $9.99 a month gets you access to far more albums than you'll ever listen to. The ability to "pin" (aka download) said albums to your device is a plus. Throw in the Android Wear support and downloads (pinned albums are saved to your watch if you enable that option under Settings) and you've got a real winner here. At $10 and change a month this will total to just over $100 a year but it is definitely worth it for yourself or those in your life. I'm actually going to gift this to a friend tomorrow, I'll just enter my debit card info on her phone and pay for it that way. She needs tunes and the faster I sign her up for this the quicker I can get her off my back about downloading this or that for her. Her taste in music sucks and I don't want her nonsense on my computers. Oh yeah, getting this gives you access to YouTube Music Key as well. So that's double nice.
Netflix (monthly plans vary in price). Netflix is freaking awesome and by now if you aren't already using it you know at least one person who is and they likely binge things regularly. Like I said though, prices vary but it is well worth it at any plan you go with.
Hell, I'd say get it for House of Cards alone. That ending to the first episode in Season 2. Fuck! I got chills the first time I heard that monologue. "Did you think I'd forgotten you?" [turns and looks in mirror at you] FUCK! Season three can't start soon enough!
(suggested by umataro42) Marvel Unlimited. $70/year for access to their digital comic back catalog (going back to the 60s/70s) and anything recent that's been out for 6 months or more. Perfect if you've got a tablet (I was using a 7" but the 8.9" I've got now is even better for it), but even good on a phone (you can do a panel by panel read or just manually zoom in).
I got nothing. Any of the items listed above would make a great stocking stuffer in my opinion. If you got your younger friends or relatives (talking teens and kids) a smartphone or tablet I'd say get them the games. Relatives who are always on the go and always having a device that's bordering on battery death, go with the chargers and battery packs. Someone whose taste in music needs improvement, get them All Access and some headphones so you don't have to hear their tunes. Lol. Etc. etc. etc.
Oh yeah, today's usual Wednesday Android Update post will be delayed til likely the afternoon. (I heard a rumor on reddit that we are gonna see a BIG Hangouts update today. No details were given though. Here's hoping!) It's almost ten and my boss's mom brought us a ton of homemade cookies! The fact that it's me and two engineers and our construction supervisor, basically the people I chat and goof off around, means we will be doing squat today. The adults/management are away, so the mice will play and all that.
If I don't see you or talk to you between now and tomorrow though I'd just like to say Merry Christmas in advance. If I don't see you by New Year's either then Happy New Year!
And also just to throw a curve ball your way and fuck up your day by getting something stuck in your head, enjoy some Abba!
To make up for it though enjoy "The Safety Dance". Relevant note: I am of the firm belief that if we all danced around like they do in the video and listened to the song more often we could achieve world peace and just generally be happier in our every day lives. I say we get started doing that immediately. Who's with me?
And last but not least, I leave you with a Christmas tale from the man who helped raise me.
And to all a good night!!!