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1
May

New game from ‘Banjo-Kazooie’ team fully funded in 40 minutes


All that the team at Playtonic Games had to say was, “It’s a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie,” and their project probably would have reached its £175,000 funding goal on Kickstarter. But Playtonic — a studio composed of former Rare developers — instead revealed gameplay videos, pretty 3D screenshots, a colorful world and a few songs from their new game, and then they promised it was a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie. That said, Yooka-Laylee blasted past its Kickstarter goal in less than 40 minutes and the numbers just keep on climbing. Andy Robinson, Playtonic’s writer and only non-Rare veteran, calls the quick success “incredible.”

“Since we first discussed this project at the beginning of the year the response has been amazing,” Robinson says. “The fans are what convinced us to go bigger and launch this Kickstarter, and now together we’ll hopefully birth not just an amazing modern platform game, but convince other developers that this is a genre the public are very much interested in.”

Yooka-Laylee (yes, like the tiny guitar) is a 3D platformer starring Yooka, a bipedal lizard-like dude, and Laylee, a purple “wisecracking lady-bat.” They have unique abilities, such as Yooka’s tongue-grapple and Laylee’s tactical sonar blast, and together these best buds explore five worlds filled with weird characters and feisty bosses. Also, one of the abilities is a “giant fart bubble.” Playtonic knows the way to its players’ hearts.

Much of our footage, though representative of our goals, will likely be unrecognizable compared to the final product — in a very good way.

Yooka-Laylee is in development for PC, Mac, Linux, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Wii U, with a goal to launch on some of these platforms by October 2016. Playtonic planned ahead with its Kickstarter, listing stretch goals through £1 million that include the addition of more levels, extra bosses, new modes and, lastly, a simultaneous day-one release on Xbox One, PS4 and Wii U.

Everything on the Kickstarter page was created in just three months, a feat that Robinson largely attributes to the team’s experience. Still, this is only the beginning.

“It’s worth highlighting that what you’ve seen so far is still very early,” Robinson says. “We focused on nailing the characters and tone of Yooka-Laylee the best we could in the time that we had. But beyond that, much of our footage, though representative of our goals, will likely be unrecognizable compared to the final product — in a very good way.”

Filed under: Gaming, HD

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1
May

Alibaba posts job for ‘open minded Lolita’ encouragement specialist


Sometimes companies post stuff then react to the backlash with a “just kidding.” Chinese internet company Alibaba says it was just kidding after it posted, then pulled an incredibly sexist job opportunity for a “Programmer Encouragement Specialist.” The ideal candidate (translated from Chinese by Quartz) would, “effectively encourage teams of developers, bring them closer together, inspire excellent and lasting work.” Then it gets bad: “recognizably good looks,” and being “an open-minded Lolita like Sora Aoi” are requirements. Aoi is a Japanese porn star. After experiencing backlash from the Chinese media, Alibaba pulled the more salacious aspects of the posting and issued an apology. The new ad — which has also been pulled — stated that the job is now open to both men and women.

Filed under: Misc

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Via: Quartz, Bloomberg

1
May

Google+ opens a Twitter account


Yeah, we don’t really get it either.

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Filed under: Internet, Google

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Source: @GooglePlus (Twitter)

1
May

Microsoft helped me build a HoloLens app, and it was pretty easy


If you had told me years ago that Microsoft would come out with a futuristic augmented reality headset, I’d have said you were nuts. And yet, a few months ago, it did exactly that. The headset is called HoloLens, which, when worn, allows you to interact with holographic objects set in the real world. It’s pretty crazy, sci-fi-level stuff — as we saw earlier this week at Build, you could have Windows apps floating around you as you sit in your living room or walk around a projected image of a human skeleton. Yesterday, in a 90-minute presentation, I not only had the chance to get my hands on a much more polished version of the hardware, but also tried my hand at creating my very own holographic app.

First, let’s talk hardware. Unlike the rough early prototype we saw in January (which was burdened by a tethered computer and exposed circuitry), the HoloLens I tried out yesterday actually looks like the product seen in press photos and promotional videos. The headset is essentially comprised of two parts — a headband that you secure to your noggin, along with an attached visor. First, you’ll have to place the headband around your head similar to the way you’d don a backwards baseball cap — front up, back down — and then tighten it with an adjustment wheel. The headband is there to support the visor so it doesn’t weigh down your nose. From there, you then tilt and slide the visor around to fit your face.

While the model I tried is certainly better than the one we saw earlier this year — it’s an all-in-one unit complete with built-in battery and tiny speakers — it could still use some improvement. Fitting the headband was a chore every single time; I couldn’t get it to stay still without it slipping around. And even though you can wear the HoloLens with glasses, it just felt a little more cumbersome trying to adjust the visor to fit around them. With enough help from a Microsoft employee, I was able to put them on each time, but it was still a lot more difficult than I anticipated. It’s definitely still a prototype, which could explain why Microsoft is so secretive about it — no one was allowed to take any photos or videos during the demo. Attendees were even instructed to keep all our belongings (yes, even our phones) in lockers set up outside the conference room. This was the same precaution used during the January event, which tells us Microsoft is still being very guarded.


The HoloLens field of view isn’t this big.

But the real magic behind the HoloLens is what you see when you put it on. As we mentioned back in January, HoloLens is an augmented reality headset and not a VR one. That means you won’t get a display that fills your entire field of vision and the experience won’t be as immersive. Think of it as a really fancy pair of ski goggles — you can see through them except for a small display of “mixed reality” in the middle. This does mean, however, that the field of view for holographic apps is actually quite small — they don’t take up the entire room like Microsoft’s demos and promotional videos might suggest.

Now onto the actual presentation. I was in a group of 30 or so journalists and we basically went through an express version of what Microsoft is calling a “Holographic Academy” session for developers (the original developer edition takes four hours, not 90 minutes). With the assistance of a helpful Microsoft mentor and pre-written code, we were taught to use Unity 3D and Microsoft’s Visual Studio to cobble together a holographic application, adding specific features and action triggers to it along the way.

At first, the app was simply a static 3D structure that consisted of a bunch of origami sculptures — cubes, paper airplanes and a couple of paper balls — on top of a giant notepad. Then I learned to add a small red ring cursor, which I could move around simply by looking at where I wanted it to go. From there, I added the ability to “tap” an object by waving my finger in front of it, and soon I was able to nudge those paper balls from the sculpture to the floor. Next I included voice commands, so I could say “drop sphere” and the balls would fall off the structure. At one point, I was able to see the wireframe of the room as the HoloLens attempted to make sense of its surroundings. The app wasn’t all visual either — we were also instructed to add “spatial sound” so that the closer you were to the object, the louder the sound.

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/AaTyeDtht-8?rel=0

The commands all worked pretty well, and I was surprised by how instantly the actions triggered. Yet, the experience wasn’t really perfect either. Midair finger taps often took a couple of tries before anything would happen and the visuals did seem a little glitchy — sometimes they would disappear and then reappear depending on where I looked. It’s important to remember that this is all very much in beta, however.

Microsoft saved the best demo for last. We were told to add a target in the middle of the notepad so that when the paper balls fell, the notepad would explode in a puff of smoke, exposing a spacious “underworld” with green hills, a river and a flying paper bird. It was pretty hilarious to see a dozen or so journalists on their hands and knees trying to make out what was going on in a fictional hole in the ground.

On the whole, it’s still early days yet for HoloLens as far as hardware goes — the fit and finish are still very rough around the edges. But judging by how easy it was to whip up an app, software is probably the HoloLens’ most intriguing characteristic, especially since developers can make any Windows 10 app compatible with it. I suspect that whenever HoloLens makes its public debut, it’ll have a whole slew of apps ready to launch alongside the device. It just remains to be seen if people will actually buy it.

Filed under: Misc, Microsoft

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1
May

Facebook lets you choose what to share with 3rd party apps


Galati, Romania, february 24, 2015: social media log in  Facebook, Google+ and Twitter on desktop

For ages, whenever you’ve wanted to use your Facebook credentials to log into a third party app like Foursquare or Candy Crush, you’ve had to give the app access to any and all data that FB has on you. There’s simply been no way of choosing what information you can share–until now. Facebook announced last year that it would be implementing a new API this spring which allows the user, not the developer, to decide what sorts of private information each app is privy to. Well, that year is up and now whenever you “Log In Using Facebook,” you’ll be redirected to a landing page where you can select which individual data sets you want to share. Only want to tell Groupme your birthday and location? Done. Don’t want to give Untappd access to your contacts? Easy.

There is one problem however: this only solves privacy issues moving forward. The apps that you’ve already shared info with still have all of it tucked away in a server somewhere. Sure, you could go into Facebook settings and remove the app’s access to stop sharing new data with it but the dev still has all of your old data. You could of course always ask the dev directly to delete your data and I’m sure they’ll get right on that. Or you can just take the hit to your online privacy (which, if we’re being honest, you voluntarily gave up when you authorized these apps in the first place) and simply be more vigilant with what data you hand over to gain access to the newest iteration of Angry Birds.

[Image credit: laurentiu iordache / Alamy]

Filed under: Internet, Facebook

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Via: Re/Code

Source: Facebook

1
May

Samsung expands “Level” series of wireless smart audio products


Samsung Level On Wireless Headphones

On April 28, Samsung detailed two new devices for its Level lineup of smart Bluetooth audio products: the Samsung Level On Wireless and the Samsung Level Line.

JK Shin, CEO and Head of IT & Mobile Communications Division at Samsung Electronics, had this to say about Samsung Level:

“With the Samsung Level series, we have brought together our industry-leading technology and design expertise to deliver users the best possible audio experience. The Samsung Level On Wireless and Level Link are built upon Samsung’s longstanding heritage of mobile innovation to expand our range of audio accessories that deliver organic sound quality, superior comfort, portability and style.”

First, let’s begin with the On Wireless. These are headphones equipped with six built-in microphones, Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), and a dual-layered diaphragm designed to reduce vibration and noise in order to create a more balanced sound. A touch control pad allows users to bring up S Voice, adjust the volume, or play, pause, or skip tracks. Tracks can be shared easily with other On Wireless users through the Sound Sharing function.

Samsung Level On Wireless Features

 

Lastly, the Link brings Bluetooth connectivity to traditional audio accessories in order to make them wireless. Simply, connect the Link to headphones, speakers, or another audio source, and pair it to a Bluetooth-enabled device. Streaming can be done to two Bluetooth-enabled products at once. The Link’s aptX Low Latency Codec should provide lag-less sound during video playback.

Samsung Level Link

Samsung Level Link Features

The post Samsung expands “Level” series of wireless smart audio products appeared first on AndroidGuys.

1
May

Last day for Wireless Cloud Buds, $29.99 shipped


We all know the frustration of our headphone cords looking like the Christmas lights that Chevy Case asks Rusty to untangle in Christmas Vacation. Or, even worse, enjoying the beat and feeling the music only to have your world rocked by catching the headphone cord on a doorknob and violently pulling the buds from your ears. What a mess. Good news! With the new Cloud Buds from TOCCs, Bluetooth headphones have never been more affordable.

Cloud Buds are a lightweight pair of Bluetooth headphones that employ both a noise-cancelling design with optional ear hooks and multiple sizes of earbuds. This ensures you’ll have a comfortable fit and be able to keep the music going from treadmill to office. With a built-in microphone and remote, these would be a great buy in the ballpark of fifty bucks — however AndroidGuys readers can take home a pair of Cloud Buds for just $29.99!

See more at deals.androidguys.com

The post Last day for Wireless Cloud Buds, $29.99 shipped appeared first on AndroidGuys.

1
May

What happens when lithium-ion batteries overheat?


Lithium-ion batteries power a ton of devices we use in our day-to-day lives – smartphones, tablets, laptops and more. And ever since they began showing up in all of our mobile devices, we’ve known that these types of batteries can be extremely dangerous. So, in hopes to find out exactly what makes these lithium-ion batteries tick, a group of researchers at University College London have been using 3D and thermal imaging to find out what happens before, during and after batteries overheat.

Read more: Solving the battery life conundrum 

Taking a look at the video below, the researchers heated a pair of batteries to 482 degrees Fahrenheit (250 degrees Celsius), taking a close look at what happens at all points during the overheating process. One of the batteries reached its tipping point at this temperature, all thanks to a term called “thermal runaway”. One researcher explains:

Thermal runaway means that at a critical temperature, the materials inside these batteries start to break down. And when heat cannot escape as fast as it’s being generated, this is a “runaway” reaction that cannot be stopped.

It should be noted that thermal runaway only took place in the battery that didn’t have any internal support. So the battery that had this feature was heated all the way up to 1,832 degrees Fahrenheit (1,000 degrees Celsius). At this temperature, the copper internals began melting away, thus causing thermal runaway to eventually take place.

Obviously lithium-ion batteries won’t even come close to reaching these kinds of temperatures the way we use them today, but these are the kinds of tests that need to take place before we begin using them in more demanding and larger devices.



1
May

Enter for your chance to test out the LG G4 before everyone else in the UK


lg g4 first look aa (23 of 32)

Do you live in the UK? Do you want to extensively test out the LG G4 before its official launch? If you meet both of these criteria, you’re in luck!

LG is now recruiting 200 testers in the UK to try out the new LG G4 and give the company feedback before the device is released to the masses. If you’d like to sign up, the recruitment period extends from Friday, May 1st (today) to Wednesday, May 13th. LG will pick the lucky 200 on Friday, May 15th. All 200 will get a unit to test out, but only 44 will get the chance to keep their G4 at the end of the test.

More on the new LG G4

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If you’re chosen, you’ll be able to test the device for 6 full weeks. LG notes that you’ll need to send the device back after the test is over, or choose to purchase it for a “favorable Insider” price. There are a few more details worth noting, and you can read about all of the terms and conditions for the contest by following this link. If all of this sounds like a pretty sweet deal, be sure to head to the source link below to sign up for the contest!


Want to learn more about the LG G4? Check out some of these posts!



1
May

T-Mobile keeps Baseball in your pocket with MLB at Bat and free subscription






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T-Mobile is once again the official wireless sponsor for Major League Baseball. This is the third straight year that the un-carrier can make claim to that title. Since the original partnership in 2012 T-Mobile has been hard at work to deploy DAS (Distributed Antennae Systems) at nearly half the stadiums across america. The system helps keep T-Mobile customers at the games connected and sharing moments from through all nine innings.

For those of us that don’t have a stadium readily available or the time to make it out to the ballpark, T-Mobile is still going to take care of you. The MLB at bat premium subscription, which is the official app for the Major Leagues, will, once again, be offered to Magenta customers for free. That saves you $19.99 and lets you get up-to-the-moment game analysis, live broadcast feeds of the “Game of the week”, real-time pitch tracking, audio broadcasts of games and a heck of a lot more.


MLB At Bat 2MLB At Bat 3MLB at Bat
If that isn’t enough, T-Mobile is also sponsoring the MLB FanFest during All-Star Week, which takes place July 10th-14th in CinCinnati, Ohio. During that week T-Mobile customers will have exclusive access to discounted tickets for FanFast along with other unique benefits.

So, if you’re a Baseball fan and a T-Mobile customer, then you best get the app installed today.

The post T-Mobile keeps Baseball in your pocket with MLB at Bat and free subscription appeared first on AndroidSPIN.

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