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25
May

Instagram is the latest social network to hit Iran’s blacklist


Iran’s top officials may use social media, but the country’s general populace isn’t allowed to join them. The nation has already banned Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, and yesterday it reportedly added Instagram to the naughty list. According to the AP, a private lawsuit was brought against Iran’s Ministry of Communications, forcing the bureau to restrict access to the Zuckerberg-owned photo-sharing service. There’s no evidence that such filtering is in place right now, and users in Tehran were still able to take some selfies on Friday lunchtime. Still, given that social media is a threat to the country’s conservative establishment, we imagine that someone will keep bringing lawsuits until no-one can utter the phrase “lemme take a selfie.”

Filed under: Cellphones, Internet, Mobile, Facebook

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Via: Reviewed

Source: ABC News

25
May

Google voice search adds car rentals and reminders that work like they should


Car rentals is typically an exercise in utter frustration. Now, even if a little, Google’s latest voice search update might help. “When is my rental car reservation?” are the magic words, pulling together your booking numbers, pick-up and drop-off dates in a card that’s been part of Google Now since last year. More broadly, the voice search can now program reminder alarms, too, completely hands-free. Oddly, the voice-based reminders prior to this update required a button-press to set the alarm, which pretty much defeated the point of the thing.

Filed under: Internet, Google

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Source: Google (Twitter), TNW

25
May

PicsArt – Professional Editing for Amateur Snappers


PicsArt is not a new app – it launched back in November 2011, back in the days when high-end smartphone cameras were a rarity. Slowly but surely though, as taking mobile images became as common as texting, PicsArt began attracting an army of followers, an army that is now some 120 million strong across Android, iOS and Windows Phone. And it’s nothing more than the developers deserve, because this app really is as good as it gets.

PicsArt, more than any other app, has the power to turn amateur smartphone snappers into fully-fledged photography artists – a trait that has allowed it to develop into one of the fastest growing social networks, offering a platform for users to share, learn, and compete in contents.

The biggest thing to stand out about PicsArt is the vast array of editing options at your fingertips. There is so much to immerse yourself in here that you wonder how this is a free app and not a premium one.

Along with the standard options that you expect from rival apps, it lets you correct images, as well as giving you the option of adding clip art, text, and even drawing on images. You can also make collages of images – a great feature for pictures taken at a party or on holiday.

The simple to use interface makes editing an enjoyable experience, and custom and complicated edits are much easier to play around with than most other apps. To start editing, you can take a snap from within the app or import one from your camera roll. PicsArt also lets you import images from Facebook, Flickr, Dropbox, and Picasa accounts.

Photo discovery and sharing is solid and browsing images is very pleasing. This aspect of the app, however, is not what makes it so good. That comes from the control over editing images – something that, currently, no other app can match.

PicsArt is available free from Google Play, iTunes, Windows Phone Store and the Amazon App Store.

25
May

Apple Now Preventing Updates and Reinstallation of Refunded Apps [iOS Blog]


Michael Simmons of Flexibits noted earlier today that the App Store no longer allows customers to reinstall or update refunded App Store apps.

refund
An error message now notifies users when they try:

Update Unavailable with This Apple ID

This update is not available for this Apple ID either because it was bought by a different user or the item was refunded and cancelled.

While Apple has never had an automatic way to get refunds for apps, Apple does allow users to “Report a Problem” on their purchases and options include ways to get a refund.

In the past, customers were allowed to continue updating and reinstalling apps even if they were given a refund on the price of the app. This new functionality has also been extended to the Mac App Store.



25
May

OTTTD makes its long awaited release on Android, will rekindle your love in Tower Defence Games



OTTTDThere are tower defence games, and then there are Over-The-Top Tower Defence games. You may recall that we took a look at a game called “Over-The-Top Tower Defence”, or OTTTD for short, at EB Expo 2013 last year. The game looked to breath new life into a mostly stale tower defence genre by adding RPG and RTS elements into a game that features incredible violent and ridiculous action. While it has taken the game a little longer than expected to be released, small Australian developer, SMG Studio, has now released OTTTD to the Google Play Store. Check out their “meet the characters” trailer for a taste of what the game is like and a healthy dose of humour:

As you can see, an crazy combination of tower defence with the ability to customize and improve your heroes who are the mainstay of your defence. And a sense of humour doesn’t go astray either. My favourite thing about OTTTD by far is its art style, which I see has been updated since the pre-alpha screenshots we took a look at late last year; my particular favourite is the toilet rolls strewn around after killing enemies. If you’re interested in picking up OTTTD, you can grab it from the Play Store now for $2.99 USD (or $3.18 AUD) (Play Store link below). Stay tuned for our review of OTTTD.

What do you think about OTTTD? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.


Game: OTTTD

Play Store Link

Price: $2.99


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25
May

OtterBox Defender Series Case for Motorola Moto G Review: Nothing but the best Protection



OtterBox Defender Series Case for Motorola Moto G ReviewOne name generally stands out when it comes to ultimate mobile protection: OtterBox. It’s hard to go past the steadfast quality of OtterBox cases, particularly when you are considering getting the best protection for your smartphone. Despite the Moto G being one of the best selling phones that Motorola has ever produced in recent years, there are still lack of cases that are capable of fully protecting the device. Enter the OtterBox Defender Series for Motorola Moto G.

What’s in the box

OtterBox Defender Series Case for Motorola Moto G ReviewIf you have never heard of the OtterBox Defender Series, the premise of the product is to be the best possible protection for a device in any given environment. It’s dust proof, water proof,  and drop proof. Just by looking at it, you’d think it were also tank proof (definitely unconfirmed).

OtterBox Defender Series Case for Motorola Moto G ReviewInside the humble little box, you will find the Defender along with a belt harness that can be mounted on all manner of things. There aren’t any peripheral things like screen protectors or screen cleaning cloths included because you won’t be needing them; a plastic film encases the screen to stop errant debris being forced into the case, making for a relatively airtight seal.

OtterBox Defender Series Case for Motorola Moto G ReviewThe Defender is made up of three pieces; two of these make up the hard plastic inner case which can be likened to a skeleton protecting inner organs (i.e. your previous phone). A silicon outer layer goes on top of this skeleton, giving your Moto G the shock proofing it needs. The process of opening the case can be a little fiddly, but once inside, you really do get the sense that your Moto G can now face any adversity. We have the Black version of the case here today, but the case can also be had in Glacier, Key Lime, Wild Orchid, and Hornet variants.

How does it perform?

OtterBox Defender Series Case for Motorola Moto G ReviewAs with the previous entries in the Defender Series, the Moto G version does exactly what Otterbox does best, and that’s protecting your phone. The inner plastic frame forms an extremely snug fit around the Moto G, allowing for no free space inside. I found it a little frustrating trying to get it open initially, but perseverance is the key here.

OtterBox Defender Series Case for Motorola Moto G ReviewOnce the silicon cover goes over, each accessible port on your device (bar the microphone on the bottom and the back speaker) are covered with a flap to prevent any dust or dirt getting in. The hold and volume buttons are also encased within the silicon case, and I had been concerned that the case would ruin the tactile feel of the Moto G’s normally crisp buttons. To my pleasant surprise, the buttons remained impressively tactile; dampened of course, but much better than I had expected.

OtterBox Defender Series Case for Motorola Moto G Review
OtterBox Defender Series Case for Motorola Moto G Review
OtterBox Defender Series Case for Motorola Moto G Review

Over my test period of several weeks, my device suffered absolutely no damage and the silicon case looks exactly the same as the day I put the case on, save for some specs of dust. As you might expect, there was a little build up of dust in specific parts of the case including the microphone and speaker port, as well as the slit where the front facing camera and ear speaker are left open. In general, the Defender engulfs the Moto G and makes it look fairly ambiguous, which is good or bad depending on how you look at it; all I know is I was asked why I had such a big case for my iPhone quite a few times.


OtterBox Defender Series Case for Motorola Moto G ReviewThe harness has been a staple for the Defender Series and its inclusion with the Moto G version is no surprise. The construction is basically identical the previous versions, including the swivelling clip. The harness is made from hard plastic to withstand the rigours of outside activities. I’m personally not big on using the harness myself, but it’s a great little accessory with great durability.

What I like about the Defender Series case

OtterBox Defender Series Case for Motorola Moto G ReviewI like that the Defender case is protective; I know that sounds almost like a moot point given OtterBox’s reputation, but it’s one thing to say it, but it’s another to excel at it, which the Defender does. If you’re the type of person who drops your device frequently, or just needs a little more security in case something happens, the Defender has those credentials written all over it.

OtterBox Defender Series Case for Motorola Moto G ReviewAs I mentioned earlier, I was quite afraid that the case would impair the Moto G’s button tactility, however I’m hugely impressed that it hasn’t really taken away from that at all. The same can’t be said for the Commuter case which we reviewed earlier, as the silicon buttons seemed to absorb too much of the force to create a nice feeling button press. So yes: you could say that the Defender pushes my buttons.

What I don’t like about the Defender Series case

OtterBox Defender Series Case for Motorola Moto G ReviewWhile the Defender is a supremely protective case, that naturally comes at somewhat of a cost. Because the edges around the screen are raised so high and ends right where the screen is, I found that the screen near those edges became a little more difficult to use. Case in point for me has been while I try to swipe words on my screen and I want to hit the letter “p”; because the edge is so close to the screen and the fact that fingers are round, it would actually take a few attempts to properly spell the word I was intending to. Sure it might be a small peeve, but since it happens on a daily basis, it’s more than a little frustrating.

Final Thoughts

OtterBox Defender Series Case for Motorola Moto G ReviewIt’s hard not to give the Defender Series top marks as a smartphone case; if you’re in the market for something super-heavy duty to protect your Moto G, you can’t go past the Defender. Sure it has its peeves and downsides, but if your concern is protecting your phone, you can be sure that the Defender has the same concerns in mind. And for $49.95, that’s a small price to pay for peace of mind. That said, if you’re looking for something almost as protective with a little more freedom, take a look at the OtterBox Commuter instead (read our review here).

If you’re interested in picking up the OtterBox Defender Series Case for Motorola Moto G, you can visit its product page here, or to take a look at OtterBox’s other products, you can check out their full website here.

Gallery of Photos

OtterBox Defender Series Case for Motorola Moto G Review
OtterBox Defender Series Case for Motorola Moto G Review
OtterBox Defender Series Case for Motorola Moto G Review
OtterBox Defender Series Case for Motorola Moto G Review
OtterBox Defender Series Case for Motorola Moto G Review
OtterBox Defender Series Case for Motorola Moto G Review
OtterBox Defender Series Case for Motorola Moto G Review
OtterBox Defender Series Case for Motorola Moto G Review
OtterBox Defender Series Case for Motorola Moto G Review
OtterBox Defender Series Case for Motorola Moto G Review
OtterBox Defender Series Case for Motorola Moto G Review
OtterBox Defender Series Case for Motorola Moto G Review
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OtterBox Defender Series Case for Motorola Moto G Review
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OtterBox Defender Series Case for Motorola Moto G Review


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25
May

Roombots: Lego-like robotic blocks that transform into furniture (video)


Imagine if you can just snap your fingers or issue a verbal command for a table, a chair or any other furniture to assemble right in front of you. That’s what a team of researchers from the Swiss Biorobotics Laboratory (BioRob) at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) hopes to achieve by developing Lego-like robotic blocks called Roombots that can stick to each other and form different structures. Each Roombot is made up of two blocks with wireless connection and a battery that powers motors, which the robot uses to rotate into place. These blocks also have retractable claws so anything you conjure up can climb walls and ceilings or stay attached to floors. The researchers believe that Roombots could be very useful to the elderly and people with disabilities, as they could eventually tell the machines to move closer to them or move out of the way.

For now, though, the team still needs to figure out how users can control the robots — while voice or gesture command would be ideal, the team’s looking at using software made for tablets at the moment. They still also need to smooth out the robots’ movements, tweak their algorithm and make sure they work together better first before your can fill your homes with reconfigurable furniture.

Filed under: Robots

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Via: NanoWerk

Source: ScienceDirect

25
May

FCC gets approval for plan to subsidize fast rural internet access


Rural Broadband

At long last, the FCC can move forward with reforming its rural connection subsidies for the broadband era. A federal appeals court has upheld the agency’s Connect America Fund after challenges from smaller carriers, which were worried that the shift from subsidizing phone calls to fast internet access would hurt their bottom line. Their arguments were either “unpersuasive” or were blocked from legal consideration in the first place, the court says.

The fund still faces criticism from those worried that the $4.5 billion in subsidies will hike phone bills through growing fees; there’s also concerns that the occasional fraud seen in existing programs might carry over to Connect America. However, the plan may be worthwhile if it gives tens of thousands of homes a first chance at the speedy, affordable internet access that many of us in urban areas take for granted.

[Image credit: Associated Press]

Filed under: Internet

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Via: New York Times

Source: FCC (PDF)

25
May

Apple wants more money from Samsung, so it’s asking for a retrial


Images Of Apple Inc. And Samsung Electronics Products As Legal Disputes Continue

The next chapter of the (seemingly) never ending legal wrangling between Samsung and Apple is here, and because it’s a holiday weekend when everyone has better things to do, Apple is tossing a few new requests into the ring. After recent jury ruling found Samsung in violation of certain patents (and Apple in violation of one itself), Apple is simultaneously requesting a retrial in pursuit of more damages than the $119 million it was already awarded, and asking the US to ban Samsung from selling the infringing products. That could include current or future phones and tablets that Apple says are using its tech for things like slide-to-unlock and word prediction. It’s not clear if there’s any real chance of either request being granted, but FOSS Patents has posted the documents if you’d enjoy Apple’s legal arguments for some weekend reading.

[Image credit: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg]

Filed under: Cellphones, Software, Mobile, Apple, Samsung

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Source: FOSS Patents (1), (2)

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