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Protect your online browsing habits and access global content for $50

How many times have you been excited to check out a video online only to click the link and see “The uploader has not made this video available in your country?” That has to be one of the most frustrating things online. Or maybe you want to see what local streaming services look like abroad. Better yet, you definitely want to protect your online privacy — keeping your browsing habits anonymous. A quality VPN is the solution to all of that.

ZenMate Premium is just the VPN for you if you’re looking for a way to protect your data while on Wi-Fi in public (or even at home), hide your IP to keep your online identity anonymous, unblock restricted YouTube videos, and much more. The best part is that, though a lifetime subscription would regularly cost $840, you can get yours at Android Central Digital Offers for only $49.99, a savings of 94%.


ZenMate Premium encrypts your browser traffic in order to protect your data, and there’s even a handy browser extensions so that you can switch locations on a whim. If you’re trying to check out streaming services, news publications, or social media from around the world, ZenMate removes the geo restrictions so that you can browse unfettered. You can choose from 30 countries, and you’ll be browsing at top speed no matter where you “say” you’re from.ZenMate Premium will even block malicious sites in order to protect your browsing even further.

If you’re tired of region-blocked content, and you want to maintain anonymity while you freely browse the internet, then a VPN is the best option, and a lifetime subscription to ZenMate Premium for only $49.99 is an excellent solution.

See at Android Central Digital Offers


Galaxy S9 camera tips and tricks


The tools are there — now let us show you how to get the most out of them.

The new sensor and lens combination in the Galaxy S9 is extremely capable, and the Galaxy S9+ takes it a step further with a dedicated telephoto lens as well. But in photography, the tools only get you so far — at some point, the only way to advance further is to better utilize those tools with new knowledge (and lots of practice).

That’s where we come in: we want to help you take better photos with your Galaxy S9 or S9+, starting with the simplest of tweaks and going up to using more advanced features. Whether you use one or all of these tips and tricks, you’ll be taking better photos than you were before.

Clean your camera lens

Samsung has thankfully moved its fingerprint sensor from the insane side-mounted position it had before, but the oblong-shaped sensor is still lacking considerable separation from the camera lens(es) directly above it. That means you’re still likely to smudge your camera lens over time when you use that fingerprint sensor, on top of the general grease and grit it’ll pick up from the rest of your daily use.

The easiest thing you can do to improve every photo you take with any phone is to just clean the camera lens. You don’t have to bring a microfiber cloth around with you, either — just give the lens a little wipe with the edge of your shirt or pants pocket. Anything will be better than leaving it look like you just smeared a piece of pizza across it.

Customize your shooting modes


Samsung’s new camera interface introduced with Oreo has a clever swiping mechanism to switch between different shooting modes like Auto, Pro, Super slow-mo and more. One of the best parts about it is your ability to customize the order and placement of these modes, keeping the ones you use the most close to Auto and leaving the rest further away or completely disabled. Go into your camera settings and find “Edit camera modes” to get started. (Note: you can configure modes for the rear and front cameras independently.)

Once in the settings, you have check boxes on the left side to completely disable individual modes. Perhaps you don’t want to see Food or AR Emoji modes because you never use them — easily done! The only one you can’t remove is Auto.

On the right side, you can use these arrows to drag the shooting modes around and choose their order. Note that Auto will always be the default that your camera opens to, so the modes on either side of it will be just a swipe away in either direction. I keep Pro to the left and Super Slow-mo to the right, flanked further by less-used modes like Panorama, Live focus and Hyperlapse.

Turn on viewfinder grid lines


Any time someone wants a quick tip to help improve their smartphone photography, I tell them to turn on viewfinder grid lines. They will help you align horizons to get the perfect perspective on a shot (and not just on sunset photos!), but also help you properly proportion a scene so it inherently looks great. By having a simple grid on your viewfinder you can get your subject set right where you want it, and have it well-positioned to have the rest of the shot complement it.

To turn on viewfinder grid lines on the Galaxy S9, go into the camera settings and scroll down to find Grid lines. Most people will benefit from the “3 x 3” option, but Samsung also has a somewhat-odd “Square” option that simply frames in the center of the viewfinder as a square for moderate scene composition help.

Tap to focus when shooting at f/1.5

The camera’s physically adjustable aperture is an engineering marvel, and it lets the Galaxy S9 take great low-light shots at f/1.5 by letting more light hit the sensor. And the camera actually uses f/1.5 far more often than you’d think, as Samsung sets the threshold for switching to the f/1.5 aperture at any ambient light condition less than bright outdoor sunlight.

f/1.5 has many benefits, but the shallow depth of field can be a downside.

The one downside of shooting at this wide of an aperture is that the depth of field is extremely shallow, meaning the amount of the photo that’s in focus front-to-back is very small. Sometimes if you’re taking a macro-style shot, or even a portrait, the camera can focus on something you don’t want it to, and because the depth of field is so shallow it can actually make your subject soft or de-focused. So when you take a photo and you think it looks soft or blurry, don’t just check your camera lens for smudges — you can fix it in your next shot.

The way to fix this for certain is to just tap on the portion of the scene you want the camera to focus on before capturing. This is extremely important in macro shots where a differing focal point can make a huge difference in the look of the photo. Provided you’re not too close to focus, the camera will always focus on the point you tap until you move the phone and re-frame entirely.

Zoom using the shutter button

One of Samsung’s smartest camera interface elements is one you don’t know is there until you stumble across it: you can slide the shutter button back and forth to zoom the camera in and out. This function is not-so-transparently noted by the two dots on either side of the shutter button.

When holding the camera in landscape, just slide the shutter button up (zoom in) or down (zoom out) until you get to where you want to be, anywhere between 1X and 10X zoom. In portrait, sliding to the right (zoom in) or left (zoom out) accomplishes the same thing. On the Galaxy S9+, it will automatically switch to the secondary camera (light permitting) for anything beyond 2X.

You’ll never want to zoom in the camera any other way once you get used to this. It’s particularly useful when using the camera in one hand, so you don’t have to fumble around to hit the screen or use a volume key to zoom.

Tips for shooting in 960 fps slow-mo

The Galaxy S9 introduces super-high-frame rate slow-motion video, and while Samsung makes it pretty easy to switch to this mode and capture, there are a few things you should keep in mind when using 960 fps.

  • Light is the most important factor: By taking video at nearly 1000 fps, you dramatically reduce the amount of ambient light getting into that camera sensor, which considering its size is already hard-pressed to get enough light. For the best 960 fps video, you need to ideally shoot outside or in an extremely well-lit room. Don’t be surprised if you see grainy, soft 960 fps video when shooting in anything but absolutely great lighting.
  • “Auto” mode is usually best: The camera will let you switch to a “Manual” capture mode where you choose where to slow down the video capture, but because the window for capture is only 0.2-seconds, it’s incredibly tough to do right. Using the “Auto” mode to let it capture on its own when motion is detected in the designated portion of the screen is typically best for those dramatic shots of fast-moving objects.
  • Choose multi-take or single-take: In the camera settings, you can switch between being able to take one burst of super slow-motion or multiple in the same clip. The single-take is the easiest to manage and edit, but multi-take is useful if you don’t want to stop and start a new recording for each slow-motion clip you plan on capturing.
  • Edit the clip after capture: Even in Auto capture mode, your super slow-motion may not come off perfectly the way you want. But that’s okay, because you can edit it! Just open up your video clip in Samsung’s own Gallery app, and you can actually trim and manage the slow motion parts as well as the bookend pieces of normal-speed video. You can also turn off the sometimes mismatched auto-generated music overlay on the clips.
  • Don’t be afraid to drop to 240 fps: 960 fps seems fantastic, but it has limitations like needing lots of light and only outputting 720p resolution. If you don’t need that dramatic of a slow-motion effect, you can move to the regular slow-mo mode and capture at 240 fps, which is still very slow and will let you record for much longer at a higher resolution.

Press and hold the record button to preview video


This one’s another hidden feature you won’t know about unless someone tells you. Other than slow-motion, there’s no dedicated “video” mode in the Galaxy S9 camera — you just get a video record button in the main interface, right next to the regular photo shutter button. The problem is that photos are taken in a 4:3 aspect ratio, but video is recorded at 16:9, so when you tap that record button the interface switches over and so does your perspective on the scene.

To save yourself from having to edit out the first few seconds of every video you take because you’re re-framing your shot, press and hold the video record button when you want to start shooting video. As you hold the button, the interface will switch to a “video” mode and show you what you’ll actually be recording — and when you release the button the recording will actually start.

It’s a small thing, but one that will save you frustration (and editing time) with every single video that you record on your phone.

Take these tips and get out there taking better photos with your Galaxy S9!

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+

  • Galaxy S9 review: A great phone for the masses
  • Galaxy S9 and S9+: Everything you need to know!
  • Complete Galaxy S9 and S9+ specs
  • Galaxy S9 vs. Google Pixel 2: Which should you buy?
  • Galaxy S9 vs. Galaxy S8: Should you upgrade?
  • Join our Galaxy S9 forums



Huawei may be developing a ‘blockchain smartphone’

Huawei Technologies is reportedly considering developing a mobile phone using Sirin Labs’ operating system. The phone would be cable of running blockchain applications alongside Android. According to Bloomberg, the talks are occurring privately. There is no agreement in place. If these plans come to fruition, then Huawei Technologies, which is the third largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, would be the first major handset maker to support blockchain.

Blockchain is basically a ledger that records every transaction that happens within a cryptocurrency. These ledgers are decentralized and incorruptible, which are two of the benefits of blockchain. While this system has been heavily adopted and promoted by those invested in cryptocurrency, it has yet to appeal to a larger audience. Interest from a handset maker like Huawei could help with that.

Back in 2017, we learned that Sirin Labs was developing a blockchain-based smartphone with a $1,000 price tag. The phone was developed to run on an OS that was specifically designed for blockchain applications, like secure exchange access and crypto wallets. Presumably, Huawei has been intrigued by the interest consumers have shown in this phone — a Sirin Labs spokesperson told Bloomberg the company has preorders for over 25,000 units.

It will be interesting to see if these talks come to fruition. If they do, you can bet that other smartphone makers will be watching to see how much success this project has, and will consider if they should follow in Huawei’s footsteps.

Source: Bloomberg


Google Assistant now has the power to send and request money

Google is making it easy to pay Bob and Kate for last weekend’s barbecue by connecting its voice assistant to its mobile payment platform. You can now ask Assistant to pay your contacts — or to ask for payment from that one friend who keeps avoiding your calls — by saying “Hey Google, request $10 from Kevin for pizza three weeks ago” or “Hey Google, send Conny $15 for the movies tonight.” The feature is now live for Assistant on Android and iOS (probably through Google Pay Send’s peer-to-peer payment capabilities) devices, but only if you’re in the US.

As you can see in the GIF, you won’t accidentally send or request money, since you’ll need to verify each transaction. If you haven’t set up Google Pay yet, asking Assistant to send or request for payment will start the setup process — if it’s the recipient who doesn’t have a Pay account, they’ll receive a notification saying they’ll have to set one up to cash out. The feature will make its way to Assistant-powered smart speakers in the coming months and most likely to other regions in the future.


China’s hospitals turn to AI to make up for doctor shortage

We already use AI in medicine to examine medical scans and spot signs of diabetes, among other applications. In China, though, artificial intelligence can do more than just assist medical professionals: it can help alleviate the country’s doctor shortage. A hospital in Beijing, for instance, will start running all its lung scans through an algorithm that can expedite the screening process starting next month. The software was developed by a Beijing-based startup called PereDoc, and it can quickly spot nodules and other early signs of lung diseases.

According to MIT’s Technology Review, China has been beefing up its health care facilities with AI tools as part of its nationwide AI push, especially since there are only 1.5 doctors for every 1,000 people in the country, compared with 2.5 for every thousand in the US. A recent IDC report even said that China’s market for AI health care services could be as big as $930 million by 2022. That China has a bigger need for AI tools and has looser restrictions will likely help make that a reality. In fact, local researchers are already developing various AI tools for medicine, including one that can design dentures and another that can analyze ultrasound data to detect blood clots caused by lymphoma treatment.

As for Peredoc, it developed and continues to refine its software with help from 180 hospitals that serve as its research collaborators. The Beijing hospital that will start feeding its lung scans to Peredoc’s software next month treats about 10,000 outpatients every single day. With that many patients, the doctors don’t have time to examine every scan thoroughly — the algorithm will not only ensure that they don’t miss a thing, but also lighten their load. Peredoc has already installed its software in 20 hospitals in China, but if most hospitals have a similar situation to the one in Beijing, then it will probably make its way to more in the future.

Source: MIT Technology Review


‘PUBG’ Event Mode offers limited-time custom games

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has announced the debut of Event Mode, which will introduce temporary changes to typical gameplay. The developers described Event Mode “as a periodically changing preset Custom Game where we will be trying new things and experimenting with different game parameters.” It’ll offer Battle Royale experiences you can’t get in public matches and feature new content, most of which will only be playable for a limited time.

The first version of Event Mode will be fairly simple and the developers say that’s because they need to test out the new system. Once it’s live, it will allow up to eight players on a team and the rifle drop rate will double. “We know it’s not a huge change from the public matches but as mentioned above, this is just to get things rolling,” the developers said in the announcement. “The future of the Event Mode holds exciting things!” This iteration is currently being tested and should head to the live server sometime soon. The team also gave a hint as to what the next PUBG Event Mode will feature — a flare gun.

Image: PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

Via: Rock Paper Shotgun

Source: PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds


DJI is building 1,000 custom drones for a construction company

You might think of drones as consumer products, but DJI has unveiled a deal that shows where their future sales potential lies. Its commercial division is selling 1,000 custom Matrice 100 drones equipped with Skycatch imaging technology to Japanese construction equipment giant Komatsu. The sale represents the “largest commercial drone order in history,” said DJI.

It didn’t reveal the total value of the contract, but off-the-shelf Matrice 100s, which are highly customizable, cost $3,200 or so, and the “Guidance” GPS module is another $1,000. That doesn’t include the $1,800 per month price of Skycatch’s “High Precision Package” used to create surveying maps and point clouds for builders and others.

The potential of commercial drones for business and government is nearly unlimited. On top of the agricultural and industrial sectors where they’re already used, they could be deployed for search and rescue, surveying in, say, national parks, and numerous other activities.

DJI is the king of small consumer and commercial drones, with $2.7 billion in sales for 2017. While 80 percent of that was for consumer products, the company is rapidly expanding its enterprise sales. The Komatsu model gives a good idea of how it can do that; by building “white label” drones that it can customize to a company’s specifications.

DJI, like other Chinese companies, has been targeted by the US government, most recently the customs bureau (ICE) for supposedly using its drones to spy on sensitive installations. DJI has strongly denied the allegations.

Source: DJI


‘Children of Morta’ and the power of modern pixel art

Children of Morta made me incredibly happy, scared, sad and fiercely determined, all within the span of 10 minutes and using only pixel art — plus a few modern bells and whistles. It comes from Dead Mage and publisher 11 bit Studios, and it’s an isometric hack-and-slash game starring the Bergsons, a family of fierce fighters on a mission to save their home mountain from an evil corruption. Each family member has a special skill, and for my playthrough at GDC, I chose to battle as the youngest daughter, a fire mage.

Children of Morta’s visual impact stems from Dead Mage’s clever use of modernized pixel art. This means the game isn’t completely flat; instead, it’s layered with lighting effects and shadows that lend the landscapes richness and depth, while maintaining a retro vibe overall. Think Hyper Light Drifter or Enter the Gungeon.

In keeping with the old-school arcade feel, Children of Morta borrows a classic mechanic from shmups of old: point-to-shoot. Ranged characters, like the fire mage, hurl endless rounds of ammo into swarms of enemies as they appear in procedurally generated dungeons. There are skeletons with swords, goblins with bows and arrows, vicious bats and all manner of creepy crawlies out for blood.

The Bergson family scales the mountain searching for the source of its corruption, and each time a character dies, they appear back in the family’s home. Then, players are able to choose a new fighter, offering a variety of styles throughout the game.

Each character has unique powers, including their ultimate abilities: For instance, when the daughter enters rage mode, she Kamehamehas her way out of the situation, shooting a steady stream of flames from her body. She’s able to move around in this form, unlike her basic point-to-shoot attack, which requires her to stand still. She also has a tornado move and she’s able to leave a decoy of herself on the battlefield, drawing enemy fire away from her.

Children of Morta is a narrative-driven adventure and it offers surprisingly emotional story beats for a game packed with pixels. In one instance, just before I died, I encountered a small white puppy trying to protect the massacred body of its mother from a horde of enemies — and I immediately felt a deep connection with the tiny dog. I wanted to hold it and take it home, and that’s exactly what the game allows players to do. Survive that encounter and players take the pup home, where he remains as a beloved pet in the rest of the game.

Children of Morta is due out on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC this summer, with a Switch version incoming as well.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from GDC 2018!


‘Monty Python’ is silly-walking onto Netflix

A big chunk of Monty Python’s catalog is coming to Netflix UK in April and the US later in the year. The slate includes the iconic films Monty Python & the Holy Grail and Monty Python’s Life of Brian, along with TV series Monty Python’s Flying Circus and several live specials. They’ll all hit the service at once, so UK viewers can start binging starting on April 15th (don’t forget a thin mint afterwards). US users will have to wait, and “not all titles will be available at the same time in all territories,” Python’s website says.

It’s the first time much of the catalog has come to Netflix, though Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life is missing from the list. Members include Eric Idle, John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam and Graham Chapman (deceased). A complete list of the available Netflix titles is shown below.

  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  • Monty Python’s Life of Briain
  • Monty Python’s Flying Circus
  • Monty Python’s Fliegender Zirkus season 1
  • Monty Python’s Personal Best: season 1
  • Monty Python Conquers America
  • Monty Python’s Almost the Truth
  • The Meaning of Monty Python
  • Monty Python’s Best Bits (mostly): season 1
  • Monty Python Live (Mostly): One Down, Five to Go
  • Monty Python: The Meaning of Live

Source: Monty Python


Twitch brings polls, leaderboards and other Extensions to mobile

Since launching six months ago, Twitch Extensions have seen more than 1.5 billion interactions on desktop. From today, they’re available on mobile, so viewers can enjoy leader boards, polls, match histories and more, wherever you watch your streams. Not every Extension is mobile-ready just yet — it’s up to developers to decide whether to make theirs mobile-compatible, but you can bet most of them will. However, some Extensions that are already good to go include all-in-one Streamlabs Loyalty, Music, Polls and Games, plus Schedule and World of Warcraft Armory. Make sure your Twitch app is at version 6.0 or higher to take advantage of the update.

Of course, expanding the reach of Extensions creates new opportunities for developers, so Twitch is also rolling out its developer rig, designed to help developers build and test their Extensions. Developer rig is a web app that lets developers test an extension locally against production APIs across a variety of views and roles (the broadcaster live view, for example). Developers will also be able to pull down the new “Hello World” sample code (which includes a basic backend scaffold) to iterate on the extension, as well as add additional views and custom resolutions.

Twitch says this release is “just the beginning”, and that it plans to improve and add to the rig in the coming weeks and months. It seems to be taking a deeply collaborative approach to the feature, as it’s encouraging feedback on improvements and code samples. The company has also asked developers to keep an eye on its RFCs (Request For Comments), so they can get involved with the shaping of the rig’s second wave of functionality.

Source: Twitch – developer rig, Twitch – mobile extensions

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