Angry Birds Epic is now available in the Play Store, and it brings a new spin on the popular game. This time, instead of flinging the birds of anger into structures inhabited by green pigs, you actually do a little role playing. Yes, the Angry Birds have gone RPG, and so far ratings are pretty high for this game. So if you feel like getting back into the Angry Birds world, click the link below and head over to the Play Store. Let us know how much you like the new game.
The next time you activate a new line of service or upgrade your handset at AT&T you’ll find a slightly higher fee awaiting you. Last week saw Ma Bell quietly bump its activation fee from $36 to $40. Effective June 8, the change does not impact those who sign one up with an AT&T Next plan. Citing “administrative and other costs”, it’s a few bucks higher than Sprint ($36) and Verizon ($35). As for T-Mobile, well, they don’t charge anything to activate a Simple Choice plan.
Get out your tinfoil hat, kids. The latest round of chatter says that Google will debut Android 5.0 at Google I/O this month. Why, you ask? Because a tweet from Google’s official account yesterday says so.
If you happened to catch the tweet on June 11 about getting ready for The World Cup then you might have overlooked the clue that allegedly smacks us in the face. See the time on the clock up there in the top right? It’s 5:00… 5.0…Android 5.0 confirmed. Well, not really.
Would we like to see Android 5.0 announced? Sure… maybe? It depends on what’s in it, really. We’re totally content with the KitKat stuff we’ve been using the last few months and don’t feel like there’s anything missing from the experience.
It is worth pointing out, however, that there is actual consideration that goes into these press render images. After all, the clock does have to have some time on it, right? Check out some of the previously released images from Google that show times that kinda sorta do match up with a version of Android.
If interested, you can get in on the conspiracy theory over at Reddit.
The post Google tweet has Android fanboys thinking 5.0 for Google I/O appeared first on AndroidGuys.
Samsung will bring its Galaxy Note 4 and some smart wearables to Germany for the annual IFA trade show. According to a report from Korea Times, the successor to the Galaxy Note 3 may have two versions: one with a traditional flat screen and one with a curved display. The former is allegedly aimed at the average consumer while the latter is focused at niche users.
The Gear Glass is among the smart wearables rumored for IFA as well, says the report. We’ve had previous rumors about a SIM-connected Gear Solo device and a smartwatch based on Android Wear as well. Might we see all three at IFA? I’d be surprised if Samsung didn’t go big for its fall Unpacked event.
IFA starts September 5 so look for Samsung to hold its own presser on or around the 4th.
The post Report: Samsung to debut Galaxy Note 4, Gear Glass, and more at IFA appeared first on AndroidGuys.
We told you that Halo: The Master Chief Collection (MCC) existed before anyone else, but thanks to the package being officially official, we now have a veritable truckload of details about it. When the game releases November 11th, just over 10 years after Halo 2‘s launch, it’ll pack remastered audio and visuals, four whole games on one disc, a staggering number of multiplayer maps and even a few surprises.
“We think about our fans,” 343 Industries head Bonnie Ross said during the presentation I attended at E3. “We’re going for the nostalgia play, but [MCC] is about providing a new way to play. For us that are geeking out on story, it’s about being able to connect to Master Chief’s past.”
The future, however, is the impetus for that past. Developer 343 Industries (Microsoft’s internal Halo studio) knows that there’s an entire generation of gamers that weren’t even born when the franchise launched in 2001, and the team doesn’t want people to avoid next year’s sequel simply because they aren’t caught up on the decade-plus narrative. The MCC serves to address that by putting Master Chief’s story all in one place to give context for next year’s Halo 5: Guardians.
“We want you to know the full story [of Master Chief],” Ross said. “We want to make it incredibly accessible and so that the pieces are aligned leading up to Halo 5.”
Where Halo 4 tucked a lot of its story within semi-hidden computers in the game, those will be unlocked from the outset in MCC, and Halo 2 is getting a series of those off-the-beaten-path narrative points, too. Those will serve as a “breadcrumb trail” to Halo 5 and also flesh out the tale of The Arbiter, the disgraced alien general. Blur Studio, the company responsible for some of Halo 4‘s TV spots, is also creating narrative book-ends for the prologue and epilogue of the MCC, which should help fill in the gaps for those who haven’t been following the franchise’s wealth of expanded fiction, too.
I was told that the game is expected to be sold digitally, but if all you want is Halo 2, you’re out of luck: 343 isn’t breaking the game into discrete pieces; you have to buy the entire collection as a whole.
MCC’s playlists in action
So as not to alienate returning players, every campaign mission from every game is unlocked at the outset — pretty great news for those who don’t want to slog through “The Library” from Halo: Combat Evolved ever again. This aspect consequently gave 343 the chance to introduce curated playlists that let you bounce around the best moments from all four games’ campaigns back to back to back. Want to play the last level of each game in succession? Do it. To be clear, however, these are put together by the development team, not the users. At least, not yet.
“It’s something [the MCC developers] started out trying to do,” Ross told me. “It may be something we get back in. It’d be pretty cool to send your own custom playlists to your friends; it’s just we’re doing a ton with this project already. At first, we’re going to get community feedback so it feels like there are more personalities than just 343 making [the playlists].”
MCC lead Dennis Ries agreed, but said it isn’t something he and his team can do right now — they’re working to get the base game out to fans this November. Any suggested additions at this point will likely come post-launch.
“That’s something that we know we can give to our audience,” he said. “If we have that opportunity, we’re going to.”
With 2014 being Halo 2‘s 10th anniversary, 343 is remastering it with even more care than it gave to the game’s forebearer. It’s a Halo 2 that’s been gussied up aurally and visually, with its roughly 50 minutes of cinematics getting entirely rebuilt by Blur Studio. Like its predecessor, you’ll also be able to swap between old and new graphics with a push of a button.
Some of Blur’s previous Halo work
This time out, though, there isn’t a brief pause as it happens; the trick is instantaneous. There was a live demo during the presentation where whoever was playing jumped back and forth between modern and classic graphics while popping off headshots, all without missing a single kill. The Xbox One’s horsepower advantage over the Xbox 360 is readily apparent here.
The love for the title that legitimized console-based online shooters doesn’t stop there, either. Six of Halo 2‘s classic adversarial maps got the remaster treatment as well, including “Lockout,” “Ivory Tower” and “Ascension.” If those get boring, there are still some 97 other maps to keep you busy: Every map that’s ever shipped for a Halo game is included in the MCC, even if they were exclusive to PC ports of the first two titles. Yes, you’ll finally be able to play online pistols-only matches on “Wizard.” I’m stoked too. The MCC flavors of Combat Evolved‘s maps use the PC version as their base, so while “Hang ‘em High” won’t look as good as something from, say, Halo 4, it will likely look better than it did 13 years ago.
Each Halo‘s online combat has been markedly different, however. To address that, 343 is isolating each release’s unique features to their respective title. It might sound disappointing that you can’t use a Halo 3‘s bubble shield on “Sidewinder” from Halo: Combat Evolved, but it’s probably for the best; each title’s maps were designed to handle those wrinkles. Keeping the entire online experience cohesive is a voting system similar to what’s been in previous games. Pick your desired game-type; pick from a Halo 1, 2, 3 or 4 map; murder; finish and repeat.
Keith David’s voice makes every video better
The inclusion of every game in Chief’s saga into the MCC might have a downside, though. Come 2017 and 2022, we might not see anniversary packages for Halo 3 and Halo 4, respectively, because they’re represented here. Those games, along with Combat Evolved Anniversary, are more or less being left alone in terms of remastering because they appeared on the Xbox 360 to start. I was told they’d run at 60 frames per second and get some additional post-processing effects, but that an overhaul wasn’t in the cards — especially since Halo 4 still looks incredible.
“The internal Halo 4 team all said ‘this is what it was supposed to look like on Xbox 360!’” Ross excitedly told me. “It looks amazing.”
The path to mainstream home robots is strewn with the battery-drained corpses of AIBO and lesser-known, Dalek-esque robots like Wakamaru. But now Japan’s SoftBank, flush from the purchase of Sprint, has introduced its robot game changer, teaming up with Aldebaran Robotics (the team behind NAO) to make sure it gets it right. This is Pepper-kun. He’s adorable… and a bit of a ditz. Is it finally time, like it was for the home PC, for the home robot revolution?
Pepper’s giant eyes are designed to look at you wherever you are — like the Mona Lisa. Creepy side-glances abound, but I was surprised at how comfortable I soon became when interacting with the 3-foot, 11-inch robot. The diminutive size and big eyes project that kawaii (“cute”) aura that Japan loves. There’s some manga-inspired design here, and it goes against the efforts to design more human-looking robots, which then inevitably tumble into the uncanny valley: Is it human? Is it a machine? It’s like how parts of Blade Runner and Hiroshi Ishiguro’s Geminoids might weird you out. SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son talked about how he was inspired by Astro Boy, an Osamu Tezuka creation from over 50 years ago.
Fortunately, SoftBank’s Pepper sidesteps that weirdness: It’s designed to be inoffensive and lovable. Inside those black holes are an infrared sensor and a detector: This measures 3D depth. On the top of the head, there are four mics for directional sensitivity and a pair of speakers distributed between the ears. Confusingly, in the mouth, there’s one of two high-definition cameras; the other resides between the eyes. There are touch sensors in the head and hands, as well as three bump sensors in the base. (I’ll get to those; I’m working my way down.) This particular Pepper is the model that’ll be working part-time in SoftBank’s phone stores, although I’m told the hardware will be nearly identical to the ones the carrier will offer for sale early next year.
Pepper speaks in childlike Japanese. The software behind it can speak and detect French, English and Spanish, but again, this is the robot that’ll be working phone stores in Japan, where there’s not a huge need for foreign-language skills at the moment. Pepper’s “personality” features a love of cheesy jokes, but you’d probably have to appreciate that Japanese humor to get most of it. Still, it’s a nice touch.
Pepper’s “personality” features a love of cheesy jokes, but you’d probably have to appreciate that Japanese humor to get most of it. Still, it’s a nice touch.
SoftBank’s spokesman tells me there’s a difference to the behavior between the shop-centric model (Pepper starts a lot of conversations and wants to play a lot of games), and the eventual home robot. The latter will base a lot of its interactions on established information and on face detection — it’ll know who it’s talking to. Less small talk and gags and more “Don’t forget your umbrella,” “Are you feeling okay?”-type interactions. SoftBank is reiterating Pepper’s ability to read into what you’re saying emotionally, from a light-and-friendly “No,” to an aggressive one. The meaning is different, and Aldebaran Robotics’ boss told our Japanese colleagues that it can typically tell the difference if you say, “Yes,” but your heart (and probably your face and intonation) says, “No.”
Pepper, though, asks if he can join your family, asks what kind of person you are. It’s friendly small talk, but it’s also tinged with a hint of impatience. If he can’t understand your roughly pronounced Japanese (sorry), he’ll move on to a new question, or ignore you outright. But I don’t feel all that offended; I feel like Pepper’s still learning — he’s still a kid and I humor him. Maybe it’s the way he talks, or the fact that he’s a couple of feet shorter than me, but I forgive him for it, and that might be how it worms its way into Japanese homes.
They aren’t going to pick up anything anytime soon. As you might have seen in the intro video, the hands, nay arms, are surprisingly fluid and Pepper’s numerous poses are quite natural. There’s a degree of give to the hands’ movement too: They’ve been designed to be soft and pliable, because kids. Children can get excitable and they run around a lot. So to avoid poked eyes and subsequent tears, the fingers are bendable, while joints are surrounded by flexible rubber so that they don’t pinch if a hand gets trapped in there. The whole body is a combination of gentle curves and SoftBank colors (white and light gray — it’s all very interior design-friendly).
There are touch sensors on the arms, as well as the head. But during our first meeting, it was the head patting that got Pepper’s attention most. I’d love for Pepper to have the ability to hold our keys or umbrella while we prepare to go out, for example. I want my robot butler.
It’s not a bipedal robot. ASIMO is safe for now. It’s something Son mentioned at Pepper’s debut, but it is a fact that wheel-based robots are far more energy efficient. SoftBank pegs the battery life of its newest sales assistant at around 12 hours. A combination of three specially designed wheels allow it to rotate on the spot, reverse and generally navigate its environment. To help, there are three bumper sensors and a trio of paired laser sensors augmented with sonar. This doesn’t just avoid collisions, but also ensures that it can maintain a degree of distance — you can keep your personal space. And if bipedal is your dream robot form, Aldebaran Robotics does have one in development.
What do you expect Pepper to do? That’s the next challenge for SoftBank. It doesn’t offer much in the way of manual labor or cleaning, but it definitely, unwaveringly, offers a glimpse into the sociable future of robots. Imagine Siri’s savvy with Pepper’s expressiveness and, er, Boston Dynamics’ maneuverability — that’s probably the future.
Imagine Siri’s savvy with Pepper’s expressiveness and, er, Boston Dynamics’ maneuverability.
But will it be a commercial success? By installing these robots in its stores (four at the moment, but rolling out further later this month), it could become a familiar sight in Japan — and that’s what Pepper will need if SoftBank’s expecting normal people to stump up its 198,000 yen asking price. SoftBank’s CEO Son said, “It’s the first step,” and the core part to this is its affordability. It may not be cheap in the world of phones and tablets, but nor is it out of this world (or your wallet). For a humanoid robot that wants to talk, $1,900 is a bargain.
“How many calories are in this mojito?” you ask yourself three drinks in. Or maybe you don’t — but you should. (Those cocktails really add up.) If you want to get a handle on your beverage habit and make sure you’re adequately hydrated, a sleek, 13-ounce container designed by Yves Béhar can help. Called Vessyl, the smart cup recognizes whatever liquid you pour into it. What’s more, it can tell you just how much caffeine is in your coffee and send nutritional content to your smartphone.You can pre-order the device now for $99, which is a hundred bucks cheaper than the retail price. That’s no bargain, but Vessyl’s ability to recognize thousands of drinks is pretty impressive.
According to The Verge, the smart cup knows the difference between Gatorade Cool Blue and Glacier Freeze. More practically, though, Vessyl tracks your hydration level in real time. Simply tilt the cup, and the display is activated, indicating if you’ve had enough water. It can also display other consumption data, such as how much caffeine you’ve had thus far. The device can even sync with your fitness tracker to offer a more accurate picture of your net intake. On the app side, you can choose a specific “lens” for interpreting your data, depending on whether your goal is to lose weight, build muscle or sleep better, for example.
Mark One, the company behind Vessyl, hasn’t detailed how the cup’s sensor analyzes liquids, but CEO Justin Lee said the device sports a processor and runs algorithms to match your drink with one of the thousands that have been tested. That’s not to say you can’t get accurate nutritional information for a homemade smoothie or cocktail; the system measures a drink’s content in real time rather than just pulling in calorie info.
Vessyl’s design is pretty sweet, too. The lid is spill-proof, the interior is non-stick and the whole package is made to withstand everything from hot beverages to the freezer. It’s definitely a good choice for coffee on your morning commute, but if you’re the kind of person who values a proper whiskey glass, you could always pour your libation into Vessyl to get a reading before transferring it to your cup of choice. Head to the source link for more info, or to place a pre-order.
Via: The Verge
Apple’s iTunes Store and App Store appear to be down for many users on both iOS devices and desktops, with attempts to access the stores resulting in one of several error messages such as “Cannot Connect to App Store” and “The item you’ve requested is not currently available in the U.S. store.”
Issues seem to have begun this morning, as several users noted an inability to download the Skype app following its release. Some users attempting to download the app received a message indicating the app was no longer available for download.
The iTunes Store does not appear to be loading content for affected users, with the Music, Movies, TV Shows Books, App Store, and Podcasts section of iTunes all giving error messages. Search remains functional on the desktop, however.
For the App Store, some users are having trouble loading multiple sections, including Featured, Top Charts, and Near Me, while other users are able to access certain sections like Top Charts. The Purchased and Update tabs appear functional, with the Purchased tab able to download apps. Search is down on the App Store on iOS devices.
The Apple TV also appears to be experiencing issues, with the Movies and TV sections missing and inaccessible.
Apple’s System Status page is not currently reporting any outages.
Nest creator Tony Fadell, who formerly worked at Apple before starting Nest Labs and launching both a connected thermostat and smoke detector, has shared some details on both his experience at Apple and his encounters with Steve Jobs in a lengthy profile and interview with Fortune.
Dubbed one of the “fathers of the iPod,” Fadell started at Apple in 2001, moving on to become SVP of the company’s iPod division from 2006 to 2008, where he helped produce early versions of the music player. Fadell clashed with Jobs and other executives at times, and says he had to “repeatedly quit” to get his way at the company.
One time, after key members of his iPod team had been raided for another Apple project, Fadell informed Jobs he was done, and the CEO asked him to stay, telling Fadell he was overreacting. “I said, ‘I’m not overreacting.’ I told him I was out. If you didn’t stand up for yourself, no one else would.” (Fadell says he recanted at least two resignations, having gotten his way each time.)
Jobs and Fadell reportedly had a relationship that “alternated between the father/son and school principal/naughty student archetypes.” Fadell often argued with Jobs, who thought Fadell “asked too many questions,” which would frustrate him. Fadell left Apple after marrying Danielle Lambert, a human resources executive who worked as a “super-key” recruiter.
Fadell, who launched a stealth startup in home automation in 2010 that eventually lead to the ultra popular Nest, says that he wishes he had been able to tell Jobs about Nest. While they spoke about Fadell’s startup, Jobs was very ill when the Nest was ready to launch.
By the time Fadell was ready to share more in the summer of 2011, however, Jobs had grown gravely ill, and he died several weeks later. “I would have loved to have been able to show it to him, but the timing didn’t work,” he says. Jobs presumably would have been proud of Fadell. And he almost certainly would have asked a lot of questions.
Nest went on to be acquired by Google in January of 2014, in a deal that netted the company $3.2 billion. Though now a Google employee, Fadell continues to operate Nest independently, budgeting one day a week to visit Google and learn how it can help Nest in the long run.
The full profile of Tony Fadell, which includes more information on his history, the development of Nest, and his time at Apple, can be read over at Fortune.
Ever liked a fitness product on Facebook, or changed your relationship status to “it’s complicated?” If you have, you might have enjoyed the cold pragmatism of advertisers trying to ease your woes with dating sites or fat-loss pills. Soon that will change, according to the big FB. Via a blog post, the social network outlines how users have said they want more control over adverts they’re shown, and why wouldn’t Facebook want to help out with that? As such, in the following weeks, you’ll be able to access ad preferences that will explain why you’re seeing an advert, along with the option to dismiss (or ask for more of) them. Handy for you, more social profile info for Facebook. They ain’t silly.
Filed under: Internet