Reddit’s Ask Me Anything (AMA) interviews with celebrities run the gamut from stellar to ugly, but they’re usually entertaining — and there’s now a dedicated app. That means you won’t have to wade through the site’s copious content to find interviews with the likes of Aaron Paul (above) or Bill Gates. You can choose hot, recent or all-time popular AMAs, then see a description of the interviewee. From there, you can narrow it down to just questions that were answered, or see every question posed. Reddit told Variety that it’s trying to be more proactive in marketing features like AMA, rather than solely relying its (formidable) organic growth. For instance, the AMA’s recent explosion in popularity was due in large part to an impromptu session by President Obama. The AMA app is now available for iOS and should be hitting Android next week.
This week marks a new chapter in how computing is taught in Britain’s schools, with children as young as five learning how to code as part of the government’s new national curriculum. With the help of hardware like the Raspberry Pi, schools are expected to help pupils understand and exercise the basic principles of computer science, giving them a basic grounding in programming and how algorithms are implemented in the devices they use every day. It’s a tough ask, but the BBC wants to help, so it’s expanded the support materials on its Bitesize website (having already helped schoolchildren learn more about core subjects for more than 15 years) to include basic computing skills. Content will include a number of interactive games and online guides, but the BBC also intends to deliver a number of new technology-themed TV shows, 30 years after it launched its first computing initiative centred around the BBC Microcomputer. With smartphones and tablets at their disposal, younger generations are now surrounded by technology — the government now (finally) believes it’s time for them to get a better grasp of how it all works.
[Image credit: David Gilmour, Flickr]
Source: BBC News
Apple is such an opaque company that even app developers can be left, out in the cold, wondering why their app was rejected from the app store. Thankfully, the company does have some sympathy for those dejected coders, which is why it’s published a list (in full, after the break) of the most common reasons their digital magnum opus failed to pass muster. Thankfully, the biggest reason is simply administrative: if devs fail to provide enough information or a valid demonstration account, then their work will be ignored out of hand. There’s no surprises further down the list, either, with most apps getting dumped for buggy code, misleading content or because its name doesn’t align with its intended purpose. The only reason that may annoy some is that Apple will turn down an app that doesn’t meet its high standards for user interface design – so you’d better hope that your avant-garde menu items don’t alienate Cupertino’s QA mavens.
Twitch was an accident. The live video streaming service, which boasts over 55 million unique users each month, began life in 2007 as “Justin.tv”: an all-hours video livestream of co-founder Justin Kan’s life. That wasn’t the whole point of the service, of course; later that year, “Justin.tv” opened up to the public, who could then “livestream” to various “channels.” At its inception, Justin.tv was a form of internet television, offering live broadcasts across a variety of topics. One such topic — gaming — took a particularly large portion of Justin.tv’s audience. So much so that, in 2011, the company spun out gaming into its own website: Twitch.tv. Three years later and Justin.tv is dead, the company is now known as “Twitch Interactive,” and Amazon just bought it for $970 million. Not too shabby for an “accident”.
WHAT IS TWITCH?
Like Justin.tv, Twitch.tv is a live video broadcasting service. Unlike Justin.tv, Twitch focuses solely on gaming. More specifically, Twitch focuses primarily on e-sports: the burgeoning world of competitive games played professionally for money.
For example! Twitch hosts a non-stop livestream of “The International,” an annual game tournament. At The International, teams compete in a Valve game named DOTA 2. Twitch broadcasts those games in real-time. This year, over 20 million people tuned in. Over 2 million people tuned in simultaneously at one point. Oh, and the winning team took home just over $5 million.
So, what are those 20 million people watching? They are literally watching live video of a video game being played by other human beings. The live video often has commentary (sometimes by the players themselves, other times by other folks), and often has a picture-in-picture view of the players face. That description can be applied to much of the content on Twitch, albeit with varying levels of production. The International (seen below) is a massive event, so its stream has very high production value.
In short, Twitch is mainly a venue for e-sports fans to watch live e-sports. But there’s another side to Twitch: participation. Within each Twitch user’s channel is an embedded chat widget, enabling the person (or people) broadcasting live video to interact directly with viewers. Interactivity expands the use of Twitch beyond simply watching e-sports being played live.
For example! Game development studio Vlambeer use their Twitch channel to broadcast a weekly stream of game development. Since their game is already available to purchase, fans can offer feedback directly on what they’ve played, see what’s currently in-development, and even influence the final product. It’s a direct pipeline from development team to player.
But these two examples are exceptions to the rule. They represent the “premium” end of Twitch’s content — the “whales” (especially high viewer numbers). Anyone can broadcast games on Twitch — even Engadget! — and, beyond using the web interface on a computer, it’s built into both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. There’s even a new Android tablet with Twitch broadcasting capability built in. That accessibility means that the vast majority of video content broadcast on Twitch is, well, “just some person playing a game.” Some channels attract millions of viewers. Some attract single digits.
WHO’S USING TWITCH? AND WHY?
Twitch’s full user base is enormous: over 55 million “unique viewers” use Twitch annually, and over one million people use Twitch to broadcast each month.
Not these guys
The heavy-hitters — that is, the channels with the most views — tend to be “partners.” Twitch describes its “partner” program as such: “an exclusive group of the world’s most popular video game broadcasters, personalities, leagues, teams and tournaments.” That includes everything from The International to live broadcasts of press conferences; at this year’s big gaming trade show, E3, Twitch carried live broadcasts of every console maker’s press conference.
That said, the people broadcasting on Twitch vary dramatically. Though e-sports dominates the most-viewed list, Twitch is home to some incredible — and incredibly bizarre — user-generated content. Take, for instance, “Twitch Plays Pokémon.” Using Twitch, a programmer in Australia created an interactive game for Twitch viewers. He combined an emulation of GameBoy classic Pokémon Red with a bot that took text from chat. If a viewer entered “up” in chat, the character in Pokémon Red would move up. Simple enough! It becomes far less simple when hundreds of thousands of people are entering commands all at once. The result is what you see below.
Unbelievably, the game was eventually completed solely based on community commands. The system actually defeated a whole mess of Pokémon games. And now, fish are getting in on the action. Really!
Yet another use of Twitch: the phenomenon known as “speedrunning.” The term literally means to complete a game as quickly as possible. Sound lame? Watch this incredible video of Nintendo classic Mario 64 being defeated in under 10 minutes.
One particularly interesting subcommunity is helmed by the group “Games Done Quick” (GDQ). Each year, the group holds two marathons of non-stop live speedruns in an effort to raise money for charity (this summer’s event already happened, and they raised over $700K for Doctors Without Borders). In total, the group’s raised just shy of $3 million for charity by playing games as fast as humanly possible while live broadcasting the whole thing.
As for the general public, live broadcasting became far more mainstream when it entered the living room. With Xbox One and PlayStation 4, living rooms were suddenly thrust online in full view of the world. In the case of PlayStation 4 tech showcase The Playroom, Twitch was forced to outright ban the game; it enabled users to directly broadcast a full screen video feed of their living room. As you can imagine, that led to some occasionally lurid content.
Of course, that’s also the exception — many are simply using Twitch, and game broadcasting in general, as a social platform. Their friends are online, and they can participate remotely in each other’s games, follow the same people, and broadcast or watch together. It fosters community, and it’s instantly relatable to a generation that’s grown up with fast internet and computer ubiquity. As Ben Davis wrote in a recent New York Magazine piece, “So much of social life has migrated online already; why wouldn’t it be the entertainment that was live and social and digital that feels most vital?”
WHY SHOULD I CARE?
Perhaps you like money? With Twitch’s huge user base, there’s plenty of opportunity to jump in and get broadcasting. Between running ads on your content through Twitch’s partner program and charging a subscription price to your channel (which gives viewers an ad-free experience), you could make it a full-time gig. Of course, you’re one of millions. But that never stopped anyone before, right?
Okay, okay — let’s appeal to your more reasonable senses. This whole e-sports and live broadcasting thing is quickly becoming a pretty big deal. Maybe you dig traditional sports? E-sports might be your thing. The same rivalries transpire, and it’s full of the same human emotion. All the words they’re saying might sound like jargon at first, but that disappears after a few intense matches pique your interest.
Though e-sports gained prominence with the mass popularity of competitive first-person shooter games like Call of Duty and Halo, the game dominating Twitch’s charts now are of the “MOBA” genre (multiplayer online battle arena). Of this genre, millions are playing League of Legends and DOTA 2. Though from different developers and made independently of each other, both games are nigh identical in the way they play. Like sports, there is only one “arena” where players compete. Teams battle for control of the other’s side, carefully organizing tactics and strategies to win. In so many words, it’s a hell of a lot like traditional sports.
Loaded as the term “e-sports” may sound, Twitch offers a great (and free) opportunity to give them a shot. At very least, the fantasy sports players among you will feel right at home.
WANT EVEN MORE?
Despite Twitch’s relative newness as a company and service, there’s been quite a bit of words spilled in that time. From New York Magazine‘s excellent recent breakdown of the company’s purchase by Amazon, to our sister site Joystiq‘s coverage of Twitch Plays Pokémon, to The Next Web‘s interview with Twitch when the company spun out its video game arm, there’s quite a bit of material out there. Oh, and there’s the BBC‘s recent take on defining the service’s importance to the uninitiated (seen above) and this recent piece from the New York Times which digs in on e-sports.
[Image credit: Twitch (ESL TV), BBC Newsnight ("What is Twitch?"), Suzi Pratt/FilmMagic (The International DOTA 2 Championships, 2014), Vlambeer (Nuclear Throne devstream), Shutterstock ("Gamers"), Twitch Plays Pokémon (via Joystiq), Twitch (Fish Plays Pokémon), Sony Computer Entertainment/Reddit (The Playroom), YouTube]
If you’re an email fiend, you already know the value of filters — you can easily color code and label incoming emails with a few simple rules so that your inbox isn’t a cluttered mess. Unfortunately, however, if you’re a Gmail user, you were only able to create and edit those filters on the web and not on the Android app, which seems like a weird oversight. It’s even more embarrassing, then, that Google rival Yahoo has just introduced this feature into its own Android app. Yep, as of today, Yahoo Mail for Android will let you create, update and remove filters. Simply tap the option at the bottom of the sidebar and you’ll be guided through setting one up — as usual, you can filter emails by sender, recipient or its content. Of course, you’ll have to be a Yahoo Mail user to take advantage of all this in the first place; hopefully this will light a fire under the folks at Mountain View to add this much-needed feature so Gmail users won’t feel left out. If you do use Yahoo Mail on Android, however, go on and download the latest update so that you can get to reaching Inbox Zero that much faster.
Via: Android Police
Source: Yahoo Mail
Facebook’s Messenger app isn’t new — it’s been around since 2011. It was up to users to decide if they wanted a separate app or if they liked exchanging messages inside the regular Facebook app. Now if users tap the message icon on Facebook, a message appears telling them to move over to Messenger. It’s no longer an option; it’s a requirement Facebook put in place to deliver “the best mobile messaging experience possible.”
This sudden shift isn’t sitting too well with users, evidenced by a 1.5-star rating in the App Store and lots of complaints on Twitter, ironically. Though I used to send messages often, it’s not important enough to warrant having another app on my phone and so I’ve parted ways with that feature. Doesn’t matter how adorable Pusheen may be. What’s your take? If you’re using Facebook regularly, have you complied with Facebook’s demand or have you given up? Head on over to our forums and let it out.
For a number of recent events, including the World Cup and Lollapalooza, Snapchat let users beam their event photos to a crowd-contributed feed known as Our Story. After over 350 hours of snaps were uploaded during the test events, the outfit is now letting everyone in on the action. With the latest update, a new Live section rests just below Recent Updates in the app after you capture a photo or some video footage (it’s also accessible from the Stories button on the edit screen). From there, simply select the appropriate option you’re attending to share your spinet of coverage with the masses. Of course, you don’t have to be in attendance to browse the feed and catch on what you’re missing from afar.
Several of us here at Engadget HQ employ If This Then That’s (IFTTT) recipe-based automation chops to keep app-driven tasks in order. The software outfit has been keen on adding new functionality often, with channels opening up recently for Nike+, Eyefi, Square and more. So what’s down the road for the handy add-on? Paid plans. The New York Times reports that the upcoming options will cater to users who want more than what the regular free version offers, and of course, generating some revenue to help pay the bills. The example given in the report is a social media manager linking various Twitter accounts to the service in order to automate tasks for each. What’s more, the company is aims to create “an operating system” for the so-called Internet of Things that weaves together mounting pile of connected gadgets introduced on the regular. With a recently raised $30 million in funding, doubling staff to focus on both design and business development is the first step towards more automated living for us all.
Source: The New York Times
Tower Defense games are a dime a dozen any more. The basic principal is to defend your base of home or what have you, using a variety of weapons, upgrades and tactics. Some are better than others both in gameplay and visual looks. I have spent many hours playing Sentinel 3: Homeworld, Jelly Defense and Fieldrunners. Now there is a new one on the scene that looks to be pretty exciting, offer a zombie twist and look like no other tower defense game I have seen. Meet Zombie City Defense.
Your main goal is to hold the city while hordes of zombies attempt to take it over. Rather than a predetermines sort of approach though you will need to do some planning. Your tactics will solely depend on your play style. Are you going to try and hold the whole city, or just small sections of it. It all depends on what units you choose to use. The title seems to pack in quite a bunch of goods:
✔ Uniqe holographic look.
✔ Upgrade your units to stay alive.
✔ Mix of RTS & Tower Defense genre.
✔ 3 difficulty levels and an infinite mode.
✔ Detailed cities with schools, industrial zones & downtown districts.
✔ Hordes of enemies to stop you from reaching your goal.
✔ Lots of infantry units and vehicles to chose from. Tanks with artillery support vs zombies ? You can try it!
✔ Different maps with different play styles.
I am all about the blood bath of a zombie battle like Dead Trigger offers, but there is something really appealing to this holographic cityscape. The developer, Mozg Labs, has the title live on the Play Store for all to enjoy. For a limited time it is 50% off which puts it at $1.50 currently. You might want to grab it before the price tag goes back up.
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