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17
Jul

Play horror game ‘The Flock’ before it shuts down forever


The Flock is a competitive horror game attached to a ticking clock. Every player is a monster collectively called the Flock, and they’re all after the Artifact, a light-filled item that transforms whomever holds it into a new creature. The goal is to hold the Artifact for the longest stretch of time, fighting off Flock monsters with the object’s light. Here’s the tick-tock twist: For every player that dies, the Flock’s population number drops by one. When the population hits zero, no new players will be able to purchase the game. Only people who already own The Flock will be able to participate in the “climactic finale,” and once that’s done, the game will go offline permanently. No one will be able to play it again.

“A multiplayer game can take players to incredible heights, but at some point gamers will start to play less, get disinterested and stop playing altogether,” Creative Director Jeroen Van Hasselt says. “In opposition to other multiplayer games, we want The Flock‘s experience to inspire a sense of awe, to keep players eagerly anticipating what is coming next and to end with a memorable climax.”

The Flock is due to hit Steam for PC later this year. It comes from independent Dutch studio Vogelsap (which apparently translates to “bird juice”), a small group of HKU and Utrecht University game program students. It’s already secured a few awards and was featured in the Indie Megabooth at GDC 2015 in San Francisco. The Flock will be playable at the Indie Arena booth at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany from August 6th to 9th. Anyone in the area, play it while you still can.

Filed under: Gaming, HD

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17
Jul

Cortana for Android leaks out ahead of official launch – download the APK here!


Cortana for Android AA

Microsoft announced its plans to bring the Cortana virtual assistant to Android a few months ago, and a beta version of the app was slated to launch sometime this month. An early copy of the app has leaked to the Internet today, and you can download it via the Google Drive link below. Just keep in mind that since this file doesn’t come directly from Microsoft or anyone affiliated with the company, you’ll need to download and install at your own risk.

If you’re at all familiar with Cortana on Windows 10 or Windows Phone, you’ll be right at home here. Once you launch the app for the first time and enter in a few tidbits of information, you can start using Cortana just like you would Google Now or Siri. Microsoft’s voice assistant will help you schedule events, update you on local news, weather, sports and much more.

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This version of the app seems to be stable enough, but this is still a beta version, so there will be many more improvements coming over the next few weeks. As for the app itself, Cortana’s main screen houses your feed, similar to what you’d see on Google Now. There’s a slide out menu on the left side that houses your Notebook and Reminders, as well as the Settings menu.

We’ll go more in-depth with the voice assistant later today, but for now, feel free to download the APK and try it out for yourself!

17
Jul

5 Android apps you shouldn’t miss this week – Android Apps Weekly


Welcome back to Android Apps Weekly! Let’s jump right into those headlines:

  • It’s been found that Google Photos will keep uploading your photos to Google even if you uninstall the app. This is because it’s integrated with the Google Settings app that’s on every Android phone. So if you want to disable it forever, you’ll have to do so using the Google Settings app which is a little weird.
  • According to reports, Facebook is working on a virtual assistant called Moneypenny ostensibly named after the James Bond character. Unlike most, Moneypenny is a virtual assistant to help you shop for things and it’ll be integrated into Facebook Messenger. Of course, we’ll provide more information as we get it.
  • Late last week, developer Beamdog announced that they’ll be releasing a standalone expansion to Baldur’s Gate called Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear. The game, which is coming later this year, will tell the tale of what happened between Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2.
  • Twitter and its third party developers have been at odds for a long time thanks to Twitter’s ridiculous token limit that prevents Twitter apps from becoming super popular. In a recent announcement, Twitter has conceded that they need to make some changes and we hope that leads to more third party Twitter apps.
  • After an absence due to some pranking, the Google Map Maker is re-opening its doors sometime in August. The improved version will have a stricter approval process and more moderation to prevent things like that prank where someone added an Android urinating on an Apple logo.

For even more Android apps and games news, updates, and new releases, don’t forget to check out this week’s newsletter! There we have the complete list of all the happenings in the app world including stuff we didn’t have time for here. If you’re so inclined, you can subscribe with your email and get this info beamed to your inbox every Friday!
Check out our Android Apps Weekly newsletter!


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The latest apps, games and Google play news in your inbox once a week.


mountain goat mountain Android Apps WeeklyMountain Goat Mountain

[Price: Free with in-app purchases]
Mountain Goat Mountain is a new game out of Zynga. It features some colorful and enjoyable graphics along with arcade-style game play. The premise is that you must climb mountains while avoiding obstacles. The mechanics are simple tapping and swiping so anyone can get into it. It is a Freemium title which means there are in-app purchases but overall, it’s a fun little time waster and something a little bit different out of Zynga.
Get it on Google Play
mountain goat mountain Android Apps Weekly


wifimapper Android Apps WeeklyWiFiMapper

[Price: Free]
WifiMapper is a new application that helps you find WiFi hotspots. The idea is that you open the app and it shows you a map where you can get access to free WiFi. According to the developers, the app shows over 650 million hotspots that you can access. The information is crowd sourced so you can add more if you find them and it also comes with Foursquare integration. You can also see a history of the hotspots you’ve connected to and how well they worked. It’s a solid app with some decent features and it’s free.
Get it on Google Play


red bull alert Android Apps WeeklyRed Bull Alert

[Price: Free]
Red Bull Alert is a new alarm clock application that aims to get you up and out of bed before hitting the snooze alarm. It does this by integrating a social aspect where you can compete with your friends to see who wakes up the fastest. The app will also track your progress (or lack thereof) so you can see if the app actually does help you wake up faster. It’s a fun premise and it’s free to use.
Get it on Google Play


Here maps beta android appsHERE Maps Public Beta

[Price: Free]
HERE Maps is already a popular offline navigation option but this last week, Nokia released a public beta. It’s a bit convoluted to get as you have to join the beta group, become a beta tester, and then finally download the app. The public beta will have new features, a new UI design, and will be the place where Nokia tests all their new ideas. Do beware because that means there are bugs too. Click the button below for instructions on how to get it!
Get it on Google Play


traitor valkyrie plan Android Apps WeeklyTraitor – Valkyrie Plan

[Price: Free demo / $1.53]
Last up this week is a new first person shooter called Traitor – Valkyrie Plan. This is an FPS game based on a true story from World War 2 and features decent graphics, plenty of shooting, and you’ll also need a bit of stealth. The mechanics are fairly simple and manages to miss a lot of the pitfalls of other shooters by sticking to a simpler mechanic. Of course, this means that it isn’t as exciting as some shooters. In either case, it’s cheap and fun.
Get it on Google Play


Wrap up

If we missed any great Android apps and games news, tell us about it in the comments! See you all next week on the Android Apps Weekly show!

17
Jul

Galaxy Note 5 case renders from Ringke reveal clues on the possible S-Pen auto-eject feature


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Images of a new Galaxy Note 5 case from Ringke surfaced today and show new renders of the upcoming device, giving us a clue on the possible S-Pen eject mechanism. There has been rumors that the S-Pen on the upcoming Galaxy Note 5 might have an auto-eject feature after Samsung has filed patents for an auto-eject technology.

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The renders show that the S-Pen tip is even with the surface of the frame of the device, which means that there would no longer be a method to pull it out as it was the case for the previous Galaxy note models. The auto-eject technology that Samsung has patented suggest that the device will be able to eject the S-Pen stylus on its own, without having the user to do it manually. Other rumors suggest that the Note 5’s S-Pen will have a push-to-release mechanism.

The Note 5 is expected to be officially unveiled on August 12.

Source: Sammobile

Come comment on this article: Galaxy Note 5 case renders from Ringke reveal clues on the possible S-Pen auto-eject feature

17
Jul

T-Mobile to pay $17.5 million fine to the FCC for extended 911 outages


T-Mobile_Logo_01_TA

T-Mobile has agreed to pay the US Federal Communications Commission $17.5 million in fines. The carrier was under investigation due to two separate 911 outages on the telecommunication provider’s network on August 8, 2014.

The two separate 911 outages lasted almost three hours, preventing wireless customers from reaching first responders in the event of a tragedy. Paying the $17.5 million settles the investigation, however, T-Mobile also agreed to improve its 911 service procedures and adopt compliance measures that will follow the FCC’s 911 guidelines for better handling of an outage like this in the future.

As per the FCC:

In its investigation, the Enforcement Bureau found that T-Mobile did not provide timely notification of the August 8, 2014, outages to all affected 911 call centers, as required by FCC rules. The investigation also found that the outages would have been avoided if T-Mobile had implemented appropriate safeguards in its 911 network architecture.

This new move from T-Mobile should enable it to more quickly find and patch up risks of 911 outages and provide a better and quicker system of notifying officials and call centers about future disruptions.

In recent news, the FCC has decided to delay its decision on rules for the 600MHz wireless spectrum auction, as T-Mobile is making a big push for the FCC to reserve half of it for smaller carriers.

source: FCC

Come comment on this article: T-Mobile to pay $17.5 million fine to the FCC for extended 911 outages

17
Jul

Oppo’s partnership with FC Barcelona will give it a “global presence”


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Starting with the current season, FC Barcelona will have an official mobile partner for three years. The team will be sponsored by Chinese company Oppo until 2018. The partnership, which Oppo sees as an expansion of its global presence, will place the company’s brand across matches, events, commercials, accessories, and the team’s home stadium. Oppo says that its logo will be “prominently displayed” at the latter, Camp Nou.

FC Barcelona is the second most valuable sports team worldwide and the Oppo already sells its devices in twenty global markets. The partnership between the two will mostly shed light on Oppo’s existence because consumers are not generally aware of the company and what it does.

Hit the break for the full press release.

OPPO solidifies global presence with FC Barcelona partnership

The rise of global smartphone brand OPPO has remained under the international radar for much of the company’s 10-year history. However, all is set to change for the emerging mobile phone powerhouse thanks to a new three-year partnership with FC Barcelona, which is sure to increase public awareness and interest and cement OPPO’s status as a true global player.

The partnership, announced on May 31st, will see OPPO serve as Barcelona’s official partner for the mobile phone device category starting from the current season until 2018. The agreement covers a wide range of activities including soccer events, fan activities, TV advertisements and accessories. OPPO’s logo will also be prominently displayed at the Spanish football club’s home stadium, Camp Nou.

With Barcelona’s position as one of the world’s most recognized sports teams, this groundbreaking partnership is set to bring OPPO closer to the legions of fans that follow every move of the football club and its star players such as Lionel Messi and Neymar. Barcelona is the first sports team to amass more than 85 million fans on Facebook, with many of them in countries as diverse as Indonesia, Egypt, Brazil, and Mexico.

FC Barcelona Chief Executive Officer Ignacio Mestre expressed his enthusiasm for the collaboration, saying, “We are thrilled to team up with OPPO and hope that the partnership will excite fans around the world. As a global leading smartphone brand that values artistry of design and innovation in technology, OPPO is more than at home in Barcelona.”

Driving expansion forward with cross-brand partnerships and campaigns

This deal with Barcelona comes as the smartphone maker charges forward with a new global expansion strategy that was put in place in 2014, as an integral part of OPPO’s mid to long-term growth strategy. As of April 2015, the brand has been registered in 116 countries worldwide.

“OPPO has been focusing heavily on overseas expansion in recent years,” says OPPO CEO Tony Chen. “From the very beginning, we have positioned ourselves as a global company and our dynamic expansion strategy fully demonstrates this commitment.”

Founded in 2004, OPPO started its business journey as a global electronics and technology service provider by manufacturing high-quality MP3 and MP4 devices before adding Blu-ray DVD players to its line-up of products, the latter of which continues to do well in the US market. It started its foray into the mobile phone market in 2008 and made its first step overseas the following year, outpacing many of its rivals in terms of global outlook.

In 2009, OPPO entered its first overseas market, Thailand, with lively campaigns and creative marketing strategies. Today, it is a top smartphone brand in the country. OPPO smartphones are currently available in over 20 global markets as well as being sold online in an additional 50 countries via 3rd party online store OPPOstyle.com.

OPPO’s global expansion

OPPO made a big splash in 2011 when it enlisted Hollywood superstar Leonardo DiCaprio to star in the commercials for its Find smartphone series. In 2014, the company took part in a co-branding campaign with the action movie Transformers 4 for its promotional tour in Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam. This was followed up in the following year by a similar agreement in 10 countries with the blockbuster film The Fast and the Furious 7. This year, has seen OPPO make huge advances into the fashion industry; participating in 2015’s New York Fashion Week, with another major global fashion event this summer.

Thanks to its highly successful global marketing strategy that has put cross-brand partnerships and entertainment, fashion, and sports campaigns at the forefront, OPPO has seen its profile rise significantly, especially in Southeast Asia and South Asia. In 2014, the smartphone brand achieved registered market shares of 10% in Indonesia, 11% in Vietnam, and 12% in Malaysia, and has even established its first overseas assembly plant in Indonesia to service booming demand in the region. A second assembly plant is set to follow in India this year, as OPPO remains on target to ramp up its sales in the country to match that of the China market within the next five years.

In another recent global development, this July, saw OPPO enter into a partnership with leading Australian technology retailer Dick Smith to bring the full range of OPPO handsets to its 400+ outlets across the country. 

With a series of diverse and worldwide partnerships in full swing, OPPO is well on track in its quest to establishing itself as a true global brand.

Come comment on this article: Oppo’s partnership with FC Barcelona will give it a “global presence”

17
Jul

Watch the world’s biggest fighting game tournament right here


This weekend over 6,000 folks from 47 countries will descend into Las Vegas to kick the (virtual) snot out of each other. That’s because the 13th annual Evolution fighting game tournament, otherwise known as Evo 2015, starts today with world warriors competing across nine games including Killer Instinct, Mortal Kombat X, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Ultra Street Fighter IV. They’re battling for over $300,000 in prize money and in case you couldn’t make it to Sin City for the show, we’ve got you covered. The competition starts at 12 pm Eastern / 9 am Pacific today and goes until the final street fighting man or woman is defeated Sunday night. As you might expect, the entire event’s being broadcast via Twitch and you can park it right here on Engadget to watch the whole thing!

What’s more, if you’re feeling generous you can make a donation to the Evo Scholarship Fund. A $12 pledge gets you access to subscriber-only chat on the official broadcast channels and “unique” Evo Twitch emoticons that’re usable forever. And in case you were wondering, all of the proceeds from those dozen-dollar donations go to sending a competitor or fighting-game fan to college.

http://www.twitch.tv/widgets/live_embed_player.swfWatch live video from srkevo1 on www.twitch.tv

Filed under: Gaming, Home Entertainment, HD

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Source: Twitch (1), (2)

17
Jul

The best USB 3.0 hubs


This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a list of the best technology to buy. Read the full article below at TheWirecutter.com.

After 100 hours of research, testing, and consulting with electrical engineers, we found the HooToo HT-UH010 seven-port hub ($40) is the best USB 3.0 hub for most people. It’s compact, reliable, and has well-placed ports aplenty. But its main strength is its usability and design-we looked at many other hubs that were larger, had fewer ports, and weren’t as easy to use.

How we decided

A shot of the HooToo in action, with its power indicator and numbered LEDs alight.

A USB 3.0 hub is for people who have a computer with at least one USB 3.0 port, but need more ports to plug in a bunch of peripherals like portable hard drives, printers or thumb drives. Most hubs have one or two charge ports (for smartphones or tablets), but a USB hub is not the same as a dedicated USB charging station. To find the best, we surveyed hundreds of readers, interviewed engineers, and did our own research to find out what makes a USB hub great. We found the best USB hub must have USB 3.0 ports and dedicated power. It needs to be reliable, well-designed, light, and compact. A decent warranty and LED indicators for each port are also useful.

Our Pick

The HooToo HT-UH010 7-port hub, and all the cords that come with it.

The HooToo HT-UH010 is the best USB hub because it has a great, usable design that most of the competition lacked. It has seven USB 3.0 data ports, a 1-amp charge port for smartphones, and a 2.1-amp charge port for high-power devices like iPads. The upward-facing ports reduce desk clutter, and the HooToo is sturdy and reliable for simultaneous USB 3.0 file transfers and device charging. It also has LED indicators for each data port, lengthy cords for easy setup, and an 18-month warranty.

The vertically stacked ports mean you won’t have trouble plugging in bulkier USB devices next to one another. And, because the ports are located on top of the hub rather than arranged around the sides, devices stick up instead of fanning out and taking up valuable desk space. Much of the competition had side-facing ports that were too close together or made USB devices take up way more space on our desk.

For more ports

The ten-port Anker (right) next to our seven-port recommendation (left). They’re almost identical.

If you need more ports than the HooToo’s seven, the Anker AH231 has 10: nine USB 3.0 data ports and one 2.1A charging port. It’s exactly the same size and shape as our main pick, but has a different selection of ports, is white instead of black, and has different-colored LEDs. The Anker weighs the same, comes with the same power brick and cords, and worked just as well as the HooToo in all of our tests. However, at $60, the Anker is a full $20 more than the HooToo. That’s a lot to pay for two extra data ports, so make sure you really need it before buying.

The most portable four-port option

The Sabrent has two USB ports on each side, and there’s plenty of space between them for large devices.

The four-port Sabrent HB-W4U3 is the most portable and flexible hub we tested because it can be used with or without the included power cord and brick. (But we recommend you always use the power cord when possible, so you don’t risk overloading the hub.) The Sabrent has two horizontal, well-spaced USB 3.0 ports on each side. One of the data ports also doubles as a charge port, but it requires the host computer to be off or asleep, which means you can’t use the other three data ports at the same time. It’s also the smallest hub we tested-even smaller than a deck of cards-and has LED indicators and a one-year warranty.

In closing

The HooToo UH-010 is the best USB 3.0 hub for most people-it has seven data ports and two charge ports for tablets and smartphones. Its vertically stacked, upward-facing ports and compact design keep devices from taking up too much room on your desk, and the hub isn’t ugly, either.

This guide may have been updated. To see the current recommendation, please go to TheWirecutter.com.

Filed under: Peripherals

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17
Jul

Recon Jet review: expensive fitness glasses with potential to be better


Recon Jet review: expensive fitness glasses with potential to be better

Recon Jet is a sports computer for long-distance runners and cyclists that’s embedded into a pair of sunglasses. Take it on a long, lung-bursting trip and you’ll get your speed, cadence and calories, as well as a variety of other stats — all presented to you on a tiny display placed just below your right eye. At $699, it’s priced for the hardcore athletes (and it’s certainly catering to that corner of the market). Normally we might not bother with such a niche device but as it happens, the company was recently acquired by Intel for $175 million. As such, we thought it was worth a closer look to see if it heralds a fresh start for face-worn computing — or if will suffer the same fate as Google Glass.

Hardware

Shove the Jet onto your face and you’ll find the compute module on the right-hand side, which contains the meat and potatoes of the device. That includes the display, camera, GPS module, charging port and controls, while a swappable battery pack is tucked in on the left. Yes, the micro-USB port for power is not on the battery, because power is transmitted back and forth via a microfilament that’s embedded into the lenses themselves. This means that you won’t be able to run to your local opticians for a replacement, or get prescription or tinted lenses. The company has said it’s working on offering these options, but most of these additional pieces rely on the device becoming fatuously successful before the R&D money begins to flow.

Effectively it’s a low-end Android smartphone that’s been squeezed in to sit beside your face. Tucked beneath the plastic you’ll find a 1GHz dual-core Cortex-A9 CPU, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage along with the various GPS, WiFi and gyro sensors. In addition, there’s a 2.1-megapixel webcam poking out the front, as well as a WQVGA (400 x 240) display and an infrared glance-detection sensor that’ll enable the unit to save power by frustrating you to death — see below for more details.

Fashion isn’t just about what you wear, but how you wear it, and it’s here that Recon paints its users into a corner. If you’re traditionally seen in Oakley sunglasses and a North Face windbreaker, then you’ll have no trouble wearing this device. I, on the other hand, look like some out-of-touch government minister on an awkward press trip to a factory. That’s not to rag on the Jet’s styling, but to say that the only way for this to not be incongruous is to wear cycling spandex and a crash helmet.

In use

In the intro, I said that Recon Jet was designed for long-distance runners and cyclists because the sort of granular data that it provides isn’t that useful for casual exercisers. The first time I took the device out on a run with me, I left my smartphone at home to see how well it operated without help. This was a mistake, because I was nearly a third of the way through my journey before the hardware locked onto a GPS signal.

Switching on the unit can also be problematic since there’s no simple way to tell that it’s loading if you aren’t standing in front of a mirror. The first time I took it out, I pushed the “on” switch and waited for something to happen, only to be met with a black screen. So, I took it off to check that the white LED that signifies power, situated at the back of the compute module, was actually on. Unfortunately, the system has an infrared sensor that knows when the device isn’t being worn, and powers down accordingly to preserve battery life. You can probably work out the rest for yourself.

Once it’s working, it’s just like being in a video game since you’re getting all of this instant data pumped straight to your right eye. The default is for you to be able to see your distance (km or miles), duration, speed (KPH or MPH) and calories, with the option to tweak that further. If you pair the gear with a heart rate monitor or cadence sensor you can also get those two stats, as well as your average power and elevation. You’re only allowed four windows per screen, but you can add up to six pages that you can swipe through when you’re on the go. It’s possible to get all of this data from a connected smartphone, sure, but there’s something slightly unreal — in a good way — about it sitting in your peripheral vision.

As a nearsighted glasses wearer, I don’t want to talk too much about my experience with the display because I just forwent glasses or lenses during my testing; your mileage will obviously vary. I will say, however, that I wish the company had mounted the arm a little higher up. I had the screen tilted at an extreme angle to make it easy for my eyes to peep the data and still, looking down like that on a regular basis wasn’t that comfortable.

In order to sync your progress with Recon Engage, the company’s cloud-based fitness service, you’ll need to download Recon Uplink to your Windows PC or Mac. In addition, there are Android and iOS mobile smartphone apps.

If there’s one phrase I’d use to explain my experience of syncing the device to my desktop, it’d be, “There was an error; please reconnect or restart your HUD.” Recon Uplink would frequently stall when I tried to upload my jaunts and wiped a chunk of my exercise history when I accidentally opted for an OS update. In addition, it would often disconnect itself and then lecture me about it, when I’d done nothing to anger it. These issues became less frequent with each update, but it’s still something that could — and should — have been remedied before the hardware left the warehouse.

Recon Jet runs ReconOS, the company’s homegrown fork of Android that’s been skinned beyond recognition. When you activate the device, the first thing you’ll be dropped into is the top menu, where you’ll be offered to start a New Activity, while swiping left and right presents panes for apps, records, notifications and settings. Drop down into the apps menu and you’ll be presented with a similar left-right screen offering you a camera, compass, gallery, map and music player. Interestingly, these icons seem cribbed from Microsoft’s Metro design rather than Android. I’m not sure if I appreciate the shift in tone between menus, but it does make it easier to tell you where you are if you’ve got one hand on a handlebar.

Navigation

Plug the Recon Jet into your desktop and visit the companion website and you’ll be able to download maps that you can use offline. You can select multiple locations; the only limit being that the total area of your selections is no larger than 10,000 square kilometers. Then, the next time that you’re out and about, you can use the wearable as a rudimentary navigation tool. Yes, it sounds cool, but there are some limits to what you can do with the technology.

When it’s on your head, it’ll take around 40 seconds for maps to load, and then you’ll be presented with a Grand Theft Auto-style overhead map view. In fact, given its placement in the lower corner of your vision, you do feel very much like you’re inside one of those games. Unfortunately, there are no road markings and no way to produce even a rudimentary guided navigation tool that’d let you plot an unfamiliar route before you left home. It’s not a huge problem, per se, but it’s certainly something that we’d like to see fixed in a later update.

Camera

When I sat down with Recon Chief Marketing Officer Tom Fowler this past January, he said that the Jet’s camera was, essentially, for those moments when you’re out on your bike and you spot something cool. In his example, he was cycling through a forest outside Vancouver and saw a deer that had bolted by the time he had gotten his phone out. The 2.1-megapixel camera on the glasses would never replace your smartphone or DSLR, but it’s useful for quick moments when you need something to shoot with.

The fact that this isn’t really designed for regular usage and the fact that it has a resolution of just 2.1 megapixels means that it’s hard to get snippy about the images it produces. They’re just as bad as the ones on a budget smartphone from a few years back, all blurry edges and washed-out color. You’re certainly not going to be looking at anything in detail on this, nor will you be able to zoom into anything for up-close looks. On the upside, the photos that you take on your trips will be uploaded to Recon Engage, although there’s no option to share them straight from your dashboard.

http://www.engadget.com/embed-5min/?sid=577&playList=518948400&responsive=false&pgType=console&pgTypeId=myvideos-videoDetails-grabCodeBtn

In that same vein, the Jet won’t behave as a substitute for a head-mounted action camera like a GoPro or Drift. The device can shoot video clips with sound, but only for instances of 15 seconds at a time. On the upside, the clips are smooth and there’s very little interlacing or judder, but on the downside, they’re still washed out, have difficulty handling over or under-lit areas and lack detail. I’d say that you’ll probably not want to use this mode either; in fact, let’s just steer clear of the camera unless you really have to, okay?

Other features

ReconOS is based on Android, so the hope is that developers will treat the Jet as a “platform” rather than a device and craft apps for it. For now, however, there are only two other features that we haven’t touched upon: “Compass,” which visualizes what direction you’re pointing in, and music playback. This is a bit of a misnomer, since you’re just using the HUD to control the tunes that are blasting out of your smartphone over Bluetooth. You can play/pause, alter the volume and swipe between tracks with the touch panel, and, er, that’s it. Much like the other options, it takes so long to access the feature that it’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever use it. Even worse, is that if you’re using another feature, like Maps, you can’t just jump out, change the track and leap back in. Instead, you have to wait for the device to reload the feature, which becomes a real annoyance after a while.

The competition

There are head-worn fitness devices and there are head-worn computers, but only the Recon Jet straddles the line between the two. If you wanted a gadget that simply tracked your activity and happened to sit atop your skull, then we’d point you in the direction of a LifeBeam Helmet or Spree Headband. If you wanted something that can do more than just track your movement, then Google Glass is probably your only option. Oh, and we’re not including head-mounted VR/AR devices in this list either, since that’s an entirely discrete country in the land of gadgets.

Except, of course, Google has pulled its first-generation wearable from the shelves in the hope that Tony Fadell can do something useful with it. In the meantime, you can hunt around on eBay for a set, some of which are being sold for less than $500 if you’re prepared to be patient. Otherwise, you’ll be limited to various sets of enterprise-level “smart glasses” like Epson’s Moverio Pro BT-2000, which is likely to be priced well out of the hands of the likes of us.

Wrap-up

Between the start of this review process and its publication, Recon Instruments was purchased by Intel in a deal reportedly worth $175 million. I’ve judged this device by the standards of a scrappy hardware startup, but it’s important not to ignore that, now that the Jet has been released, it’s being backed by a company with a market cap of $140 billion. Much like Basis, another wearable outfit that Intel acquired, Recon now has enormous financial and technical muscle that it can put at its disposal, and it needs it.

There are plenty of things that are wrong with the Recon Jet, but the idea behind the technology isn’t one of them. Thanks to Google Glass, head-worn computing had become a punchline to a tired old joke, but this device has breathed new life into the concept. Crafting a product that does a specific job within a specific niche is an excellent point to begin working from. Those good fundamentals, however, have yet to be realized as a product that I can recommend that you buy.

The whole thing could do with being shrunken down so it’s less prominent on your face, and introducing symmetry wouldn’t be a bad thing, either. The operating system works fine, but the user interface is probably two buttons and a serious rethink shy of being as elegant as it should be. Don’t forget, the target consumer is a cyclist sprinting down roads — not someone who can easily pause their journey to futz with submenus. In addition, everything’s just so painfully slow, there’s little benefit to using this over a high-end cycling computer that could be as easily glanced from a handlebar mount.

But.

One thing that Recon is very good at is iterating, and the company pushed out two software updates in two weeks to improve the system. Overall performance has become snappier and, if you keep your phone with you on a ride, you can off-load GPS pairing to that device, cutting the loading time by a substantial margin. If the company can continue to refine, slim down and fix the most friction-inducing issues in the Jet, then it’s likely that it’ll be purchased by high-end cyclists. Until then, you probably would be better off sticking to a far cheaper cycling computer and waiting for the second generation.

Filed under: Wearables

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17
Jul

The human cost of global spyware sales


https://engadget.cartodb.com/viz/91db677c-2b42-11e5-b18b-0e5e07bb5d8a/embed_map

This year a number of major news stories released information on world governments buying, selling and using surveillance technologies on their citizens. These stories, reports — and in some cases, hacktivist breaches and data dumps — have served to verify the acquisition and use of spyware on citizens by dozens diverse governments around the globe.

We sought to answer one question: Why is this a problem, exactly?

To see how countries compare, we decided to focus on the client list of Italy’s infamous spyware dealers, Hacking Team — who were recently hacked and exposed for selling malware, intrusion services, and surveillance technologies to dozens of countries. That total is now around 50 countries.

Click each shaded country for a concise summary of its current surveillance practices and its human rights status — with the direct correlations between its use of these technologies and the day-to-day condition of its citizens.

So now, when you see a country’s name in a news story about malware, spyware, web filtering and monitoring, or other surveillance technologies, you can click on this map and see for yourself why this is a problem for the people who live there.

The information in this report was culled from published papers by international human rights organizations and verified documents, primarily: Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders, Privacy International, Global Information Society Watch, Freedom House, Open Democracy, and UN Watch. If you’re interested in learning more you can browse our list of sources here.

[Image credit: Shutterstock]

Filed under: Internet, Software

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