Heading towards the middle of the month and following the Fourth of July, deals are mediocre, so if you’re in search of an iPad or a Mac, you might want to hold off for better sales. That said, there are a few select deals that are worth checking out this week, including a sale on the new 2015 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro and MacBook Air and some discounts on older MacBook Air and Retina MacBook Pro models.
As we first mentioned last week, there’s a new feature in the Buyer’s Guide, which will let you know when a product is available at the lowest price we’ve seen. Look for the products that are tagged with “Lowest Price Ever” to see some of the best discounts available.
We’ve rounded up deals on quite a few Apple accessories, including an exclusive discount on AppleCare with an iPad purchased from MacMall. As always, we’ve also included a great list of apps and games that are on sale this week.
iPad Air 2
B&H Photo is offering a small discount on most of its iPad Air 2 models, dropping prices by $30 to $50. With the discount, 64GB model Wi-Fi only model in Space Gray is priced at $564 and the 128GB model in Gold is priced at $659. Prices vary somewhat by model, but there are slight discounts to be had on all of the site’s iPads.
Best Buy, Amazon, and B&H Photo have deep discounts on some remaining stock of now-discontinued higher-capacity iPad Air models, as listed below.
[Price: Free with in-app purchases]
This week’s episode of Android Apps Weekly is brought to you by Tap n Flap. Yes, I know this is a Flappy Bird clone but this one is actually pretty decent. It comes with Google Play Games achievements and leaderboards and if you pay the reasonable $1.49 for the in-app purchase, you’ll have five levels to choose from, each with their own bird skin. Once you unlock all achievements, you can change birds and even obstacles to whatever you want. It’s a time waster, but a decent one and it’s kid friendly. Check it out and show your support for Android Apps Weekly!
Welcome back to Android Apps Weekly! Here are your headlines for this week:
- MasterCard is working on a new app that will let you take selfies for payments by verifying the identify the user before processing a payment. This would be among the precious few instances where selfies were actually useful.
- In an interesting twist, Shadowgun: Deadzone by Madfinger Games now has mods! The modding will allow people to change characters, weapons, levels, and even some of the game mechanics. All you have to do is download the Deadzone GM kit.
- Sony and Twitch have teamed up together to allow broadcasting game play from Sony Xperia devices. Right now, it’s limited to only the most recent Xperia lineup including Z3+ and Z4 but this gives mobile gamers more ways to stream on Twitch.
- Microsoft has rebranded their entertainment apps to lose the Xbox moniker. From now on, Xbox Music will be Groove while Xbox Video will be Movies & TV. This is likely in anticipation for the Windows 10 launch next month.
- Telltale Games has released the first trailer for the highly anticipated Minecraft: Story Mode game. It definitely looks like a Minecraft game except this will have a story line. In classic Tellate Games fashion, this will be an episodic adventure. It should be pretty good.
For even more Android apps and games news, don’t forget to check out this week’s newsletter! There we’ll have all the updates, new releases, and headlines that we didn’t have time for here. If you want, you can sign up for your email and we’ll send the newsletter to your inbox every Friday!
[Price: Free with in-app purchases]
The popular keyboard Fleksy made a huge announcement this last week. They have lowered the price of the app to free and it will now be supported with in-app purchases. Fleksy has a huge year in 2014 and it’s considered one of the best and most popular keyboards around. We anticipate it being free to use will help continue all of that. Along with going free, it will also soon be receiving an update that brings some new features.
[Price: Free with in-app purchases]
Action Launcher got a fairly significant update this last week. A new feature called Quickbar was added that allows users to customize the search bar at the top. This allows fast access to applications along with a little more functionality. The update also included some minor tweaks and changes along with the boilerplate bug fixes and performance improvements. It’s a good launcher if you’re in the market for one.
Disney has released an official Star Wars app that is meant to be your one-stop shop for all things Star Wars. The app includes notifications for big announcements and releases, content from the Star Wars blog, and even find Star Wars gifs. The app can also be themed based on your preference of the Force. The app is experiencing some release day issues that Disney is working through, but it’s a good download for fans.
[Price: Free with in-app purchases]
Ramboat is a surprisingly intense game that is kind of a parody of the Rambo series. This is a 2D, side scrolling shooter where you must race up and down rivers and mow down bad guys. The graphics aren’t amazing but they’re definitely not bad. It even includes a poker game mechanic. It’s definitely a time-waster type of game but let’s face it, there’s gambling and guns, what else do you need?
Tossup is a new application out of Microsoft Garage and it’s a fun little app. What it does is help you plan events and gather opinions about things. Using the app, you can ask people if they plan on attending an event and get answers back quickly. You can also use it to find things like restaurants or even individual opinions about something. It’s a bit simple and there are some release day bugs, but it’s worth a shot.
If we missed any great Android apps or games news, let us know about it in the comments!
The net neutrality rules passed by the Federal Communications Commission back in February permit it to examine cable and broadband pricing to ensure customers are treated fairly. Four Senators are urging Tom Wheeler and the FCC to do just that. The group, led by Senator (and Democratic presidential candidate) Bernie Sanders (I-VT), cites the limited options as a cause for price increases, asking for the FCC’s help in “empowering Americans with more information.” The effort looks to offer customers the details about rates and how their monthly bills are calculated by their service provider. In a letter sent by the group this week, the Senators use the example of Time Warner Cable increasing modem rental fees by 203 percent over a three-year period — a change that customers may not have been aware of when their monthly bill went up.
“At the very least, Americans should be able to understand the price of the product they are buying and what their neighbors are paying for the same service,” the letter explains. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Al Franken (D-MN) and Edward Markey (D-MA) also signed the letter asking for the FCC to help determine the specifics on average cost per state, average cost by provider and the average costs for service in both urban and rural areas. The letter only asks for the commission to help gather info, not to take any action against cable and internet companies, so we’ll have to see what happens when and if they get what they’re after.
[Image credit: Brittany Greeson/The Washington Post via Getty Images]
Filed under: Internet
Via: Ars Technica
Source: Sen. Bernie Sanders
It seemed like a good idea at the time. I’d been meaning to lose some weight for a while and all the recent news about how sitting for extended periods of time is terrible for your health convinced me that a drastic change was necessary. So, the best way to accomplish both goals simultaneously was with a double-duty exercise bike-workstation like the FitDesk 2.0, right? Boy, was I wrong.
To its credit, the FitDesk means well. Its aluminum-tube construction assembles in about half an hour with the included hex key and wrench. I did, however, find myself repeatedly wishing for a proper socket wrench set while putting the test unit together. Other than that, the assembly process was a breeze with instructions that were easier to follow than any Lego set I’ve encountered.
It operates exactly like the exercise bikes from the gym — just with a non-slip plastic shelf for your computer bolted to where the handlebars should be. The “desk” includes a pull-out drawer for headphones and office supplies in addition to a padded arm bar to make typing more comfortable. Unfortunately, the bar does nothing to make typing any easier while you’re pumping your legs and gasping for breath, which is a big deal when you’re trying to carve that beach bod and deliver a reviews feature on time.
A video posted by Christopher Trout (@mr_trout) on Jun 15, 2015 at 4:29pm PDT
The bike, conversely, supports riders up to 300 pounds and collapses to tuck away in a closet. It offers a multifunction stat tracker with speed, duration, mileage and estimated caloric burn as well as an eight-step resistance meter. The gearbox is surprisingly smooth even at the higher resistance levels. Best of all, it even has one of those stretchy rubber tubes for bicep curls. What, bro, you don’t lift while doing cardio? Do you even want to get swole?
But do you really need to be getting your sweat on at work? Because I sure don’t — at least not in an actual office environment where other people can see, hear and smell me. Even on the lightest setting, I found myself dripping profusely after just 10 to 15 minutes (told y’all I was out of shape). And at the Engadget offices, this sweatgression will not stand. Not only would I need to bring a change of clothes should I wish to exercise hard enough to actually lose weight, but also I’d need somewhere to shower as well. And that’s just from a public hygiene prospective. I accomplished, literally, nothing while riding the FitDesk. Between my labored breathing, wagging knees and swaying upper body, typing was a challenge, to say the least. I simply couldn’t take my mind off what my body was doing long enough to focus on the writing task at hand.
This simply isn’t a feasible option for the polite workplace. Now if I still worked from home — far from the prying eyes and nostrils of my coworkers — yeah, I could totally see the value of dropping $350 on this equipment. But as it stands, the FitDesk 2.0 now serves the same function as the rest of my exercise gear: coat rack.
Filed under: Misc
Live video game streaming service Twitch has updated their app with a new feature they call “Pop Out”. Similar to Samsung’s video player you can select a video and hit “Pop Out” to allow the video to leave the app and continue playing overtop of any other apps. This allows you to continue to watch your favorite gaming stream while still checking emails, texting, or anything else you need to do.
To access the “Pop Out” feature head to the gear icon within any stream and at the bottom it will say “Pop out”. After that the video should literally pop out allowing you to continue using your device with the stream still playing overtop. You can also move or resize the player around so it’s not in your way.
Come comment on this article: Twitch updated with “Pop Out” video to watch videos anywhere on your device
The Asus ZenPad S 8.0 Z580C is now available to buy in the United States for a little over $200 from popular electronics retailer Best Buy. Asus unveiled its new ZenPad line in early June during Computex 2015.
The tablet features an 8-inch 2048 x 1536 display, a qud-core Intel Atom Z3530 CPU, 2GB of RAM, a 5-megapixel rear shooter, and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera. It also has 32GB of internal storage and is running Android 5.0 Lollipop under Asus’ ZenUI.
Alternatively, the entry-level ZenPad 8.0 Z380C is available for pre-order through Adorama for $130. This device features an 8-inch 1280 x 800 display, a 1.2GHz quad-core Intel Atom X3 C3200 series processor, 1/2GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage. You’ll find a 5-megapixel camera on the back and a 2-megapixel shooter on the front. It’s also running Asus’ own ZenUI atop of Android 5.0.
Anyone picking up or pre-ordering one of Asus’ new ZenPads?
Come comment on this article: Asus’ ZenPad 8.0 Z580C is now available in the United States via Best Buy
Samsung is headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, in the hub of an exceedingly connected country: South Korea boasts the fastest internet connection speed in the world and is second globally in smartphone penetration. It’s in this environment that both Samsung and Google have banned popular gay social networking apps from their online stores, Buzzfeed News reports. Samsung rejected the gay hookup app Hornet from its South Korean store in 2013, citing local values and laws that disallow LGBT content. Hornet is available in the US and other countries, though it remains banned in Argentina, Iceland, Syria and South Korea, the report says. Samsung confirmed to the site that it blocks LGBT apps on a country-by-country basis, though it’s notable that Argentina and Iceland both legalized same-sex marriage in 2010.
Many Android smartphone users get their apps from Google Play as opposed to Samsung’s own store, and Hornet, Grindr and other LGBT networking apps are on there, even in South Korea. One popular gay dating app, Jack’d, is not available on Google Play in South Korea — the company deleted Jack’d from its store a few years ago, seemingly without notifying its developer, Buzzfeed reports. Still, Jack’d has more than 500,000 users in South Korea, most of them on Android, the app’s lead account manager for Asia told the site. Where there’s a will, there’s a way to bypass a smarthphone’s region settings via VPN.
Censorship in South Korea seems to stem from the top: The country’s new justice minister, Kim Hyun-woong, recently called for restrictions against a pride march that has been held for the past 16 years. “It does not go by our society’s traditional values or norms, therefore I believe there should be restrictions against it,” he said during his confirmation hearings, according to Buzzfeed. The pride march went ahead in June, though it faced fierce opposition and protests from Christian groups in the country.
[Image credit: Samsung]
Source: Buzzfeed News
One does not simply get enough of Shuhei Yoshida, the head of Sony PlayStation’s Worldwide Studios. So following our nice, long chat with him at E3 (seriously, go read it), we managed to get hold of him again in Hong Kong and picked his brain with more questions about Project Morpheus. These include the VR headset’s final form (you’re looking at it), its compatibility with other devices and whether it’ll revive the now-defunct PlayStation Home. We also took the opportunity to ask about the challenges of bringing PlayStation games into China.
As to whether users can expect Project Morpheus to work with our smartphones and various video sources, Yoshida said that’s a firm “no.” Morpheus’ display has to run at a speedy 120Hz to deliver a smooth visual experience, and this means it has to be connected directly to the PS4. But of course, given that the PS4 is also a multimedia hub, you can expect to enjoy 3D movies and other types of entertainment content with the headset. “Things that come to the PS4, there’s a chance that [they] can be enjoyed on Project Morpheus,” he said. While the company plans to talk more about Project Morpheus’ non-gaming functionality and its user interface in the future, Yoshida said the focus for now is on its gaming applications.
Although Morpheus and PlayStation Home may seem like a match made in VR heaven, Yoshida indicated there’s no plan to resurrect the virtual community. Nor is any company currently developing a similar service for the headset. Should something pop up later in this category, however, Yoshida believes it’d mesh very well with Project Morpheus.
Since Yoshida was in Hong Kong to meet both the local media and those from mainland China, I asked him about what it takes to bring PlayStation games into the Middle Kingdom where censorship is the norm. The exec wasn’t afraid to admit that “it’s a big challenge,” partly because it takes a long time to get games approved. But his team is trying to work very closely with the authorities to better understand their requirements. “It’s a learning experience as of now,” he said.
So far, the general rule is to keep the games family friendly, which is why the likes of LittleBigPlanet 3, Final Fantasy X | X-2 HD, Driveclub, Knack, Rayman Legends, Dynasty Warriors 8 and more have made the short list of 12 games. It’s been an even bigger struggle for the PS Vita, which only has eight approved games right now, of which Farming Simulator 14 is one. But as we all know, there’s no stopping Chinese gamers from obtaining their favorite titles through other means.
If you’re eager to try on HTC’s Vive VR headset, which blew us away back at Mobile World Congress, you may soon have your chance. HTC just announced a world tour for the Vive, starting this week at San Diego Comic-Con, stretching all the way into the Paris Games Week in November. You can check out a full list of cities and dates below, but take note that they’re subject to change. The Vive, developed together with Valve, is a VR headset similar to the Oculus Rift, but it also includes some positional laser sensors which can track your movement around a room. It was so immersive it made Engadget’s Nicole Lee a believer in VR. Our only issue with this news? We’re noticing a distinct lack of East Coast dates. New York City wants to see the Vive already, HTC!
Here are HTC’s current tour stops for the Vive:
- July 9-12, Island St & 6th Ave, San Diego, CA, USA
- July 17-19, Forecastle Festival [Invite Only], Louisville, KY, USA
- July 21-23, Navy Pier, Chicago, IL, USA
- July 25-28, specific location TBD, Kansas City, KS, USA
- August 2-8, The International, Seattle, WA, USA
- August 5-9, Gamescom, Cologne, Germany
- August 13-16, specific location TBD, San Francisco, CA, USA
- August 20-23, specific location TBD, Portland, OR, USA
- August 28-31, PAX Prime, Seattle, WA, USA
- September 4-9, IFA, Berlin, Germany
- October 28-November 1, Paris Games Week, Paris, France
The OnePlus 2 is almost here, and to get us hyped up, Carl Pei spoke to The Guardian on what to expect from the company not just with its next handset, but in the years to come. The biggest goal for OnePlus? Turning its brand into a platform that keeps users coming back for more.
Android users tend to be less attached to one particular Android brand than say Apple fans (though that’s not always the case), often flitting between Samsung, HTC, Sony, and others. Instilling loyalty in your brand means adding extra value that makes your products stand out. So what exactly does OnePlus plan to do to set itself apart? In the interview, Pei shared several ideas — all of them pretty up in the clouds.
First, Pei talked about how its software could be used to help its fans do good for others. As an example, Pei said: “If there’s an earthquake, we can nudge them to donate money, or help in some other way, to get free credits on their OnePlus account. Or some other incentive.” An interesting idea, as long as its not overly invasive with its pestering.
Beyond this, Pei talked about how they are still taking things slowly but that when they get “15 million active users, that starts to get really, really interesting”. Building a base that size will open up new doors according to Pei. In addition to building new partnerships with companies like Dropbox and Uber to develop better incentives for its user base, Pei believes that in the future they can offer things like “OnePlus credits” and can make it possible for your information to follow you through a OnePlus account, making switching to a new phone an instantaneous process.
In Pei’s exact words, “because we own the end-to-end user experience on e-commerce, we can capture their address, their credit card information, even their biometric information.” Wait… What? That seems like a lot of power to give one company, though OnePlus says its plans would be to log users into their new devices before they even receive them. “So next time, with the OnePlus 4 or 5 a few years down the line, when they receive the phone it’s already logged in and already has everything set up according to their preferences, already has their biometric information. The entire friction of making a purchase or a customisation just decreases so much more. This will lead to higher engagement.”
While it’s unclear how much (or if at all) of this vision will affect the OnePlus 2, it seems that Pei’s ambitions for OnePlus go beyond just making hardware. At least if he has his wish, in the future OnePlus could be a platform that (hopefully) safely stores all your personal details, all the information about your favorite apps, preferences, and more. The problem is, OnePlus hasn’t exactly had a great reputation when it comes to customer service. Could they be trusted with this level of power over a user’s personal data? Would they be able to logistically handle it without it turning into a PR nightmare? Only time will tell for sure.
Probably the most intriguing (Read: scary) aspect of it is that Pei mentioned twice the idea of OnePlus remotely storing biometric data. Is this a hint that the OnePlus 2 will not be storing fingerprint information on-device, as we’ve seen from companies like Samsung? What do you think of OnePlus’ bold ambitions, could they actually pull them off or is it a disaster waiting to happen? Let us know what you think in the comments.