Quantum Break‘s time-altering escapades are no longer tied to Microsoft’s Xbox One console. When the game launches on April 5th it’ll also be available on PC, giving players with beefy rigs the chance to push its visual prowess to the limit. That’s not all developer Remedy Entertainment is announcing today though. Anyone that buys the game on Xbox One will also get a copy of the studio’s previous title, Alan Wake, as well as its two DLC packs through backwards compatibility. If you pre-order Quantum Break you’ll gain access to Alan Wake’s American Nightmare too, a downloadable sort-of-but-not-quite sequel that came out in 2012.
The kicker? If you pre-order Quantum Break for Xbox One, Microsoft will grant you the Windows 10 version too. So to recap, dropping your cash now on the console version will net you absolutely everything. It’s quite an offer and one clearly designed to push people towards the new IP. Alan Wake was a critical success but its sales — 4.5 million as of March 2015 — weren’t enough to green-light Alan Wake 2. (Some of Remedy’s ideas ended up in American Nightmare, however.) Quantum Break is, therefore, a crucial game for Remedy to prove it can play in the big leagues.
The title is unusual though, blending a third-person action game with live-action TV episodes. The two are designed to weave through one another, showing different perspectives or moments happening in another location. It has star pedigree, with actors Shawn Ashmore (X-Men), Dominic Monaghan (Lord of the Rings) and Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones) taking some of the lead roles. But how does it actually play? Are the time mechanics more than another bullet-time gimmick? We won’t know until April — in the meantime, here’s another live-action trailer to muse over.
Source: Xbox Wire
If finding Microsoft apps on the Galaxy S6 caught you off-guard, you’re in for a real surprise this year. Microsoft has announced that its apps are now bundled with current and future Android devices from 74 companies, including newcomer Acer as well as ASUS, LG, Samsung and Sony. That’s a healthy boost from 31 vendors last year. There are bound to be gaps in coverage, but the odds are now fairly high that you’ll find the Office suite, OneDrive, Skype and other Redmond-made tools on your brand new smartphone or tablet.
As is usually the case, though, this isn’t coming out of sheer eagerness to embrace Microsoft’s vision. The Windows maker notes that “IP alignment” is a key factor here — to put it another way, these companies are bundling Microsoft apps in part to avoid patent disputes over their use of Android. They do stand to profit from the deal, but it’s clear that Microsoft is using its leverage to get its apps and services on as many gadgets as possible.
Microsoft and Acer have announced plans to expand their partnership in order to bring services such as Word, Excel and Outlook to more devices.
From the second half of 2016, the two groups will be working side by side in order to push Microsoft’s best-known apps to more Android smartphones and tablets.
Acer will be pre-installing Microsoft software including Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, OneDrive and Skype. The move will be impacting ‘select’ Android smartphones and tablets from Acer, according to a press release.
Speaking more about the move, ST Liew, president of Acer Smart Products Business Group, said:
“By integrating the Microsoft software suite, Acer customers will enjoy productivity on-the-go along with the familiar computing experience on their smartphones and tablets.”
According to a blog post by Nick Parker of Microsoft’s Original Equipment Manufacturer Division, the company now boasts 74 hardware partners in 25 countries.
Nick Psyhogeos, president of Microsoft Technology Licensing, said:
“We’re pleased that we have been able to enhance the already strong partnership that exists between Microsoft and Acer. Mutually beneficial and collaborative agreements such as this one promote innovation and lead to better products and experiences for consumers.”
Microsoft will undoubtedly be looking to further expand its relationship with other partners to push its products to even more screens in the future.
Come comment on this article: Microsoft and Acer build partnership to push Microsoft services
Following on from last fall’s update to Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition beta and Minecraft: Pocket Edition, which saw the introduction of basic redstone components, Microsoft today announced that the game’s next update will deliver even more advanced mechanisms as well as new enemies and achievements. Players will also be able to more easily share their favorite worlds with a new map import/export function.
The Overworld update, scheduled to drop at the end of February, will include a host of new components including, “comparators, repeaters, dispensers, droppers, hoppers, trapped chests and various additional Minecart types” according to an Xbox Wire post. The update will also bring witches to the two platforms as well as their cauldrons which not only contain randomly generated potions but which can also be used to dye your armor. What’s more, players will be able to show off their most prized possessions — whether it’s loot or a fully-explored map — thanks to the addition of Item Frames.
And for those looking for even more gamer glory, the Windows 10 Edition now offers eight additional achievements for completing various in-game tasks. The Windows 10 version is only available from the Windows Store, though you can pick up the Pocket Edition for iOS, Android, Kindle or Windows Phone from their prospective stores.
Source: Xbox Wire
Last fall, Skype took the emoji and sticker craze and ran with it, introducing a new animated emoticon the company simply called the “Moji.” It’s basically an animation coupled with an audio clip, and they launched with big content properties like The Muppets and Jurassic Park. Now, to go along with Valentine’s day, Skype has a new set of 10 Moji it designed to convey the feelings of the holiday in a bunch of silly / cute ways.
What’s perhaps most interesting about these new animations is the big-name talent Skype recruited to do the sound that accompanies them: Sir Paul McCartney actually composed little 5-second ditties to go along with each, doing both sound effects and bare bones music. In a video, McCartney admits it was a “strange proposition” and that making music to fit the animations was “really challenging, but he’s overall pleased with how they turned out.
The few that Skype showed us in a preview were equal parts cute and bizarre, but also a touch risqué — one animated character pulls out flowers, chocolate, champagne… and then some fuzzy handcuffs. There’s also a “flirty” banana that’s essentially doing a striptease out of its peel and a sumo wrestler / cupid hybrid. Fortunately, if you don’t want to suggest light bondage to the person you’re Skyping with, you can preview these before sending. All in all it’s a strange partnership, but it doesn’t hurt Skype to have the endorsement of one of the two living Beatles members.
Microsoft is currently rolling out the latest Windows 10 update, and it now has an update history that makes it easier to keep track of the platform’s changes. This build comes with key improvements that will fix a lot of issues, including the Edge browser’s. Researchers discovered in January that the websites you visit during private browsing are as easily recovered as the URLs you visit on a normal tab. InPrivate browsing should prevent that from happening as it promises not to save any data, that’s why the update has removed its ability to cache visited URLs.
The latest build also patches up a security problem in Edge and even in Internet Explorer 11 that allows dubious websites to run malicious codes and install malware. In addition, it fixes any authentication issue, adds the ability to install multiple apps simultaneously and repairs the flaw that executes code remotely when malware is run. You’ll get the update soon if you haven’t yet, but feel free to read the full change log first if only because you can.
Via: The Verge
This week’s Android Apps Weekly show is brought to you by VarageSale. VarageSale is a Craigslist kind of application where people can post things they want to sell and you buy them. Unlike Craigslist, you’ll be required to create an account before you can interact with the site which is a mechanic we liked a lot. From there, you simply search around, find the stuff you want, and then buy it.
During our testing, we found all kinds of stuff from cloths to electronics and even an engagement ring. You can browse various categories in areas near you and you can even leave seller feedback which helps show which sellers are the most reliable. It has a lot going for it and it’s definitely worth a shot if you’re getting ready to sell stuff or just want to look around. It’s totally free so check it out and show your support for the Android Apps Weekly show!
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Welcome back to Android Apps Weekly! Let’s take a look at the biggest headlines from the last week:
- We managed to get a hold of the official Reddit beta application last week and wanted to show you what it was going to look like. It seems to have a modern design full of Material Design along with a few other fun features. We don’t know when it’ll be released but it seemed to work pretty well to us.
- SoundCloud announced a new stations feature that will give users a chance to listen to music similar to how they do on Pandora. This comes not long after announcing signing deals with a couple of major labels and announcing that they’ll be turning into a legitimate streaming service to battle the likes of Spotify.
- Nintendo has announced that people can start signing up for the closed beta of Miitomo, their first Android game, starting on February 17th. We know a lot about the game already and how it will emulate social media to an extent. However, we won’t know everything until we get our hands on it and that may be sooner than later.
- Even though most of Apple’s apps have received a slew of terrible ratings in the Play Store, they seem to be doing pretty good. How good? Well, Tim Cook announced this week that even more Apple apps will likely be making their way to Android. We don’t know which ones yet, but our guess is likely iCloud and other productivity apps.
- Perhaps the biggest app news from the last week was Microsoft purchasing SwiftKey for $250 million. There hasn’t been a lot of information from either company but the popular guess is that Microsoft is after SwiftKey’s legendary predictive algorithms and AI. For now, nothing is changing, but after seeing what happened to Sunrise Calendar and Accompli, we wouldn’t blame you if you were a bit worried.
For even more Android apps and games news, don’t forget to check out this week’s newsletter! We had a metric ton of news there that we didn’t have time for here. If you want to sign up, use the form below and we’ll send you the Android Apps Weekly newsletter every Sunday!
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Sundance VR is a newer application released with the idea of showing you full VR content including short films, music videos, and other types of VR stuff. It’s a newer app and there aren’t a lot of selections yet so you may not find the app overly enjoyable right now. However, if you own Google Cardboard or you’re interested in VR, I would keep this app in your crosshairs because it should get a decent selection of unique VR content eventually.
Get it now on Google Play!
The latest LEGO game has hit the Google Play Store and like many were before it, this one is entirely free with no in-app purchases. This one continues the Ninjago series where the prior game left off and includes a lot of the same graphics and mechanics as prior Ninjago games. There is a stealth element where you can hide in the shadows instead of engaging in fights and the controls are very simple. It’s a great title for kids or adults and is especially great if you’re low on money.
Get it now on Google Play!
[Price: Free with in-app purchases]
Marvel Avengers Academy is the latest adventure/simulation game out of TinyCo. They are the same developers who did Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff. The game lets you play as your favorite Avengers as teenagers who are just beginning to find their abilities. You’ll battle bad guys, level up your characters, and even do teenager stuff like go on dates. It’s a mixture of adventure and simulation so there will be some management here and there and then some action here and there. It’s free to download but does have in-app purchases.
Get it now on Google Play!
Promo Codes is a new application that is meant to take advantage of the new promo codes feature in Google Play. It’s very simple. Developers sign up for the service and once per day, people using the app can check and see if they get a free promo code. If they do, they get a paid app for free. If not, well, better luck tomorrow. It’s a fun and unique way for developers to utilize their promo codes and even if the users lose out, they get to see a fun new app every day. This should be on every smartphone. Get it.
Get it now on Google Play!
Adventures of Mana is a classic RPG that was originally released on Game Boy in the early 1990’s. Don’t worry, though, because Square Enix has updated the graphics and soundtrack to make it look way better than it did back then. The story line and content remains intact and you’ll play once again as the hero trying to keep the Dark Lord Glaive from reaching the sacred Mana Tree and destroying all life. It has simple, touch-based controls. There is also a steep price tag but at least there are no in-app purchases.
Get it now on Google Play!
Related best app lists:
If we missed any big Android apps or games news, tell us about them in the comments!
Hello Android fans, this week we finally had confirmation that the Galaxy S7 and the LG G5 are both launching on February 21 in Barcelona; we’ve heard about Google’s plans to take more control over the Nexus program; the first credible image of the HTC M10 leaked out; Google became the most valuable company in the world; Microsoft bought SwiftKey for a rumored $500 million; and Marshmallow graced several flagship phones and one device that was launched in 2011!
Inside AA HQ
Our smartphones are hardly phones anymore, with their large screens made for browsing the web and specs that rival laptops. It would probably be more accurate to call them “smartcameras.” Millions of users use their devices primarily to take pics and share them on their social network of choice. Thing is, despite the amazing advancements of mobile cameras, the average shot is still pretty… average. If you’re looking for ways to up your mobile photography game, don’t miss Edgar’s excellent piece with tips and tricks for getting better pics out of your phone right away. And stay tuned for more in-depth posts on mobile photography in the future.
Both Samsung and LG have confirmed that their respective flagships will be unveiled in Barcelona in exactly two weeks. Exciting times, as LG vies to turnaround its top phone series and Samsung is in the tricky position of having to top the superb Galaxy S6. And that’s just the cherry on the cake: MWC is shaping up to be more interesting than ever, and Android Authority will be there to cover it all. Flights are booked, accommodation has been arranged, now it’s time to wait. In the meantime, look out for our MWC preview, coming soon.
Back to the popular Nexus 6P for our popular Sunday Giveaway. Try your luck here!
The stuff you shouldn’t miss
- Review: Krystal reviews the incredibly affordable honor 5X
- How-to: You always wondered, admit it – how can I take better pics with my phone. Wonder no more
- Tech talk: iOS has long held the lead in audio latency, but Marshmallow is narrowing the gap.
- Tech talk: Which fast charging standard is the best?
- For developers: Here’s what you need to know to start building apps with Android IDE
- Best apps: So you’re finally done with the Facebook app. Here are some alternatives
- Explainer: Fingerprint scanners are everywhere: here’s how they work
- Versus: Sibling rivalry: Mate 8 vs Nexus 6P
- Feature: 2016 is do or die for Sony Mobile – here’s why
News of the week
Google Nexus changes
Galaxy S7 release date
- Latest Galaxy S7 renders allegedly show off back of device
- It’s official: Galaxy S7 is launching on February 21
LG G5 teasing is on
- Google releases February security update factory images for Nexus devices
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow rolling out to the LG G4 in Canada
- BlackBerry Priv February security patch is now rolling out
- Marshmallow now rolling out to the original NVIDIA Shield Tablet (Update: OTA halted)
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow rolling out to the LG G4 in Canada
- Select AT&T Galaxy Note 5 users are receiving Marshmallow beta on their devices
Google’s raking in money
- Google posts Q4 and full year 2015 earnings – $74.5 billion in revenue for the year
- Alphabet is now the world’s most valuable company, toppling Apple
Microsoft now owns Swiftkey
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GoPro and Microsoft have forged a partnership, and it’s a very secretive one. The two companies have signed a patent licensing “for certain file storage and other system technologies.” That is seriously all they’re willing to tell us at this point, as the rest of the agreement’s details remain confidential. TechCrunch notes, however, that Microsoft made the exFAT file system available for licensing, making it a likely candidate for one of the technologies included in the agreement.
exFAT is a format optimized for flash drives, allowing you to save files 32GB and up. GoPro uses exFAT for larger SD cards, but for 64GB ones and smaller, it still uses the FAT format that only save files up to 4GB in size. Microsoft has refused to give TechCrunch more info about the agreement, but in the partnership’s announcement, Microsoft Technology Licensing’s Nick Psyhogeos said:
This agreement with GoPro shows the incredible breadth of technology sharing enabled through patent transactions. Microsoft’s licensing of personal wearable technologies is seeing strong demand as we partner with companies from all industries to optimize solutions for their customers around the globe.
Despite all the secrecy, GoPro has already benefited greatly from the deal. The action camera-maker’s stock has been dropping these recent months, but it’s gone up from four to six percent after the partnership was announced.
Apple CEO Tim Cook let an intriguing bit of news slip earlier this week at a town hall meeting with the company’s employees. Apple Music for Android was apparently just a first step: The company is considering bringing more of its software and services to Google’s mobile OS.
It sounds a little crazy, as Apple’s message for decades has been how well its software and hardware work together. But both Google and Microsoft are infiltrating iOS with their own excellent apps, pushing many of Apple’s services to the side. Cook may feel he needs to fight back and bring more Apple apps to Android — but he first needs to make sure the company’s software runs better on its own hardware than it currently does.
It’s a refrain you’ve likely heard already. Many of Apple’s apps and services have become too buggy to recommend using full time, or they’re entirely outclassed by what Google offers. Raise your hand if you have a folder on your iPhone full of native Apple apps you never use … yup, that’s a lot of you. Now raise your hand if you use iCloud email, iCloud Drive or the default iOS Notes or Reminders apps instead of third-party options like Gmail, Dropbox, Wunderlist, Evernote and so on. Not nearly as many of you are raising your hand this time.
I don’t want to wax hyperbolic and say that Apple’s software is irrevocably broken and not worth using. I actually use nearly all of its services pretty extensively, and when they work well they are absolutely better at working across multiple Apple devices than a lot of third-party options. ICloud Calendars, Notes, Reminders and even Apple’s email app with iCloud Mail work fine if your needs are basic, and the way they integrate between iOS and OS X is a killer feature. But, true to form, there isn’t a lot of customization or flexibility there.
Apple’s apps have become either too bloated and complex or too basic with key features missing.
And if the app isn’t too basic, it’s too overwrought and complex. The greatest examples of these problems are illustrated in iTunes, which has grown into an unwieldy, bloated monster doing too many things at once, and Apple Music, which is powerful but not terribly intuitive. The company’s new Photos app for the Mac and corresponding iCloud Photo Library for iOS are more examples; once you take the time to figure out how they work, they’re a solid, sometimes excellent solution. But at first glance, understanding how your photos are backed up and synced through iCloud is not at all clear.
Then there are the bugs. I frequently have an infuriating time making AirDrop work. My first experience with the company’s new Music Memos app led to song sketches disappearing and reappearing at iCloud’s whim. And too often I find that the App Store isn’t downloading updates for me, even though I have auto-update turned on. None of these are dealbreakers per se, but I wager that most iOS users have their own list of bugs that pop up from time to time with no apparent explanation.
That’s not to say that the competition is perfect, either. No software works flawlessly all the time, and Apple does a lot of things right. Continuity and Handoff between the Mac and iPhone are great features, and iMessage for Android would be an absolutely killer app. But it would be even better if Apple tightened up its software ship first. I get excited every year when Apple shows off upcoming iOS and OS X updates at WWDC, but things rarely play together as well as they do in the company’s expertly managed demos.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t an upside for Apple here: Cook is clearly looking at the success Google and Microsoft have had bringing their services to iOS lately. Microsoft has been unable to get people to buy its phones, but under CEO Satya Nadella, the company now offers Office, Bing and even Cortana on the screens people use the most — that’s iOS and Android. And for years now Google has put nearly all of its often-excellent services on Apple’s platforms. (The less we talk about the one notable exception, the abominable Gmail for iOS, the better.)
Apple might try the “put your apps where everyone is” strategy that Google and Microsoft have used.
Historically, Apple has resisted this strategy, refusing to bring its software to platforms it doesn’t control. ITunes and now Apple Music have been the notable exceptions, and both served an obvious purpose. ITunes for Windows helped accelerate iPod sales, and the dominance of the iTunes Store eventually made it easier for everyone to buy an iPhone back when you needed iTunes to manage your phone. And mobile is probably the most important place a streaming service needs to be; not having Apple Music on Android would make it near impossible to compete with Spotify.
The case for bringing other services to Android is a little murkier, but basically it comes down to the same “put your software where users are” strategy that Google and Microsoft already follow. Android won the market-share battle, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. But having access to services like iMessage, the iCloud suite, the iTunes Store and Apple’s new photo-syncing solution would make using an Android phone with a Mac (or an iPad) a lot easier. And Apple made it clear last week that it will rely on its growing services business to drive revenue in the months to come.
If Apple can simplify its more complex apps while adding a few features to its more basic offerings, a cross-platform Apple app suite would be a lot more appealing. There’s a middle ground that the company has had a hard time hitting lately in software design and functionality. But if it can get back there, Apple will have a chance of making some inroads on Google’s home turf.