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The shaky science of shattering the moon in ‘LawBreakers’

LawBreakers is the new, free shooter from Gears of War creator Cliff Bleszinski and it features a bold premise: Humans accidentally explode the moon, which leads to catastrophic earthquakes that nearly split the world in two. Plus, the event leaves pockets of low gravity scattered across the Earth — including in the Grand Canyon, which ends up surrounded by giant, floating rocks. It’s a wild idea that, at first glance, appears to be heavier on fiction than science. So, we asked Dr. Phil Plait, a popular astronomer and science writer known as Bad Astronomer, what would happen to the Earth if humans accidentally shattered the moon. Plait responded via email with the following intro:

“I watched the trailer. Yeah, nope.”

First, while the moon’s gravity does impact the Earth, it doesn’t affect earthquakes “except maybe very subtly (and even that is argued over — which makes my point that the effect is incredibly weak),” Plait says.

Second: “If the moon split into pieces and they drifted apart we’d lose most of the tides on Earth (but not all — the moon powers 2/3 of the tides, the Sun the other 1/3), but that’s about it as far as gravity is concerned.”

As for the giant, floating rocks in the middle of the Grand Canyon, Plait offers a succinct, “Um…”

“The real problem would be millions or billions of tons of debris raining down on Earth over the next few decades,” Plait says. “That would probably wipe everyone out. I’ll also note that blowing up the moon, or splitting it in half, takes a vast amount of energy. Like, taking a trillion of the largest nukes ever tested to do the deed. So there’s that, too.”

But let’s bring this all back to solid ground — LawBreakers is a video game and its premise is set in stone, if not science. And that’s great. Anything that lets us run around a cutting-edge, low-gravity-riddled Earth, taking out bad guys to save the day, is a fine sci-fi premise in our books. (And our video games).

Filed under:
Gaming, Science, HD


Tags: badastronomer, bosskey, CliffBleszinski, hdpostcross, lawbreakers, philplait


Dog emoji keyboard encourages you to adopt real pups

Some of the characters in the Dogs Trust emoji keyboard

There are plenty of cute emoji keyboard add-ons out there, but one from the UK’s Dogs Trust is going above and beyond to raise awareness for a good cause. The charity has released a dog emoji keyboard where every icon is based on a dog available for adoption. Load it up and you can show your fondness for specific breeds, such as Huskies and Greyhounds, while remembering that there’s a real pup looking for a home. The keyboard is free on both Android and iOS, so it won’t hurt to give this a shot and spread the word… especially on National Dog Day.

Filed under:
Cellphones, Mobile


Fast Company

Dogs Trust (1), (2)

Tags: android, animalrescue, charity, dogs, dogstrust, emoji, ios, iphone, keyboard, mobilepostcross, pet, smartphone


Which gaming laptops are worth buying?


For years, the wisdom has been that if you wanted a dedicated gaming machine, you bought a desktop. Gaming components were too unwieldy to fit in a notebook form factor, and if you tried to put together a machine with desktop-caliber components, it always ended up too big and heavy to be truly portable. However, recent gaming laptops have defied that history, packing lots of power into thinner and lighter chassis. They’re still not as slim as Ultrabooks, and meanwhile there’s still a gap in performance versus desktop machines. Even so, your days of lugging around a large desktop tower to LAN parties are over. We’ve taken a look at some of the more recent entries in the race to build a smaller gaming machine to find ones that can fit your needs — and budget. Slideshow-315071

Filed under:
Gaming, Laptops, ASUS, HP


Tags: Alienware, Alienware15, asus, EON-15X, G751, gaming, gaminglaptops, GS60, GS60Ghost, GS70, GS70Stealth, GT80, GT80Titan, hp, HPOmen, laptop, laptops, MSI, Omen, Origin, Razer, RazerBlade, RazerBlade2015, reviewroundup, ROGG751


Facebook Testing Siri Competitor ‘M’ Inside Messenger App

Facebook today rolled out a new virtual assistant called “M” inside its Messenger app for a limited number of users in the Bay Area, reports Wired. “M” is powered by both artificial intelligence and Facebook employees, enabling Messenger users to ask questions and complete tasks such as making restaurant reservations, ordering birthday flowers or discovering the best places to go hiking in California.

Facebook Messenger M
Using “M” is as simple as beginning a conversation with the assistant through the Messenger app, at which point it will begin providing you with recommendations or ask further questions to narrow down your request. Unlike Siri, “M” does not have a gender, nor it is possible to know whether you are being helped by a bot or a real Facebook employee — but Facebook aims to make sure that every request is answered.

“M” aims to take on Siri, Google Now, Cortana and a growing selection of virtual assistants as the “first stop for anyone looking to do or buy anything”:

It won’t take long for Messenger’s users to realize M can accomplish much more than your standard digital helper, suspects David Marcus, vice president of messaging products at Facebook. “It can perform tasks that none of the others can,” Marcus says. That’s because, in addition to using artificial intelligence to complete its tasks, M is powered by actual people.

Marcus believes that “M” will slowly expand beyond the Bay Area and eventually reach all of Messenger’s 700 million users around the world.

Facebook Messenger [Direct Link] is free on the App Store for iPhone.


Facebook M is a digital assistant within Messenger, can buy things and more


Back in July we reported that Facebook Messenger was set to get its own virtual digital assistant, codenamed Moneypenny. Now it is official, and is formally dubbed Facebook M.

Facebook’s David Marcus calls M a “personal digital assistant inside of Messenger”, and we have to admit the idea of baking a digital assistant into a messaging platform is intriguing. But what exactly does M do? Instead of putting an emphasis on productivity and information retrieval, M doesn’t just have the power to complete tasks and find info — it can also “ purchase items, get gifts delivered to your loved ones, book restaurants, travel arrangements, appointments and way more.” Facebook M is powered by artificial intelligence like any other digital assistant on the market, but differs in the fact that it is also “trained and supervised” by real people.

There’s still a few unknowns about how Facebook M will work, especially the parts where it buys things in your behalf. That said, an article from Wired does shed a bit more light about the assistant. First, interactions will reportedly occur in a similar fashion to a normal conversation in Messenger, and that service will simply respond to commands or make suggestions based on questions it asks you, etc.

While Facebook no doubt has grand plans for its messenger-powered assistant, for now M is being tested out to a small number of people in the San Francisco area. It remains unseen how Facebook fans will react to the service, and we imagine the idea of an assistant that can buy, send gifts, and other more personal tasks might raise a few eyebrows from the security conscientious individuals.

What do you think of the idea of Facebook M? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.


How to make your Android device safer for your kids

child with phone


Smartphones and tablets (especially of the Android variety) are some of the best forms of education and entertainment kids have nowadays. Whether your child is learning through an educational YouTube video, application or simply playing a kid-friendly game, our mobile devices work wonders when it comes to entertainment.

With that said, it can be understandably nerve-racking to hand over one of these expensive devices to a youngling, especially with all of the personal information that’s normally stored on these things – credit card information, email addresses, text messages and more. Luckily there are a few easy ways to implement restrictions on Android to keep your children safe, and today we’re going to walk you through some of the easiest methods out there.

Editor’s note: Remember, every Android phone is different! If your tablet or smartphone doesn’t resemble the screenshots I’ve attached below, don’t worry. You might have to do a bit of digging, but the images I’ve attached to this post should point you in the right direction.

Create a restricted profile (Android tablets only)

If you happen to own an Android tablet, this step is for you. On tablets running Android 4.3 Jelly Bean and later, you have the ability to create a separate restricted profile that’s easy to manage. Unfortunately this feature isn’t available on smartphones, but we’d imagine it will be sometime in the future.

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To create a restricted profile, here’s what to do: Head on over to your Settings menu, then scroll down until you see the Users tab. Click this, and it will bring you to a page that lists all of the users that have profiles on your tablet. Simply click on the “Add user or profile” tab, and you’ll be prompted to choose between adding a new User or Restricted Profile. For this method, you’ll want to add a restricted profile. This will allow you to add and remove applications to this user’s profile at will.

Once you give your restricted profile a name, you’ll be shown a long list of applications with toggles on the right side. Here’s where you can choose which apps and games are visible to the restricted user. You might want to hide personal applications such as Gmail, Facebook or Contacts. If you happen to see a small gear icon next to the toggle, this will give you more granular control over what the application can do.

dell-venue-8-7000-review17Related: Best Android tablets (July 2015)17957970

To access your new profile, all you need to do is lock your device and click your profile icon on the top right of your screen. Select the profile you just created, and your tablet will switch right away. You can also switch between users from the notification shade from any screen, as well.

Create a separate user profile on your Android phone

If you own an Android smartphone, this method may help. While restricted profiles are a great feature (that should definitely be built into smartphones), creating a new user account without app restrictions will suffice for many users out there. To create a new user, follow the exact same steps that are listed above for creating a restricted profile. This time, though, you’ll only have the option to select a new User, not a Restricted Profile.

Remember – your kids can still purchase apps and games with your credit card

Once the new user profile has been created, your device will prompt you to set up your new profile now or later. If you choose to set it up now, your phone will switch over right away and prompt you to sign in to a new Google account. For this step, if you’re just creating a new user profile for you children, you can always enter your personal Google account information – just be weary that any purchases made from the Play Store attached to this Google account will be charged to your credit card (more on this later).

As the owner of the phone, you have the option to uninstall any application you see fit. You can also completely turn off the ability to place phone calls and send texts with this user account, and to do so is very easy. Simply select the user from the Settings menu, and you’ll see an option to toggle on or off phone call and SMS access. Check out the image below for a better look:

Separate profile on phone AA

Since this method won’t completely stop your kids from accessing certain applications, you might want to try the next method listed in this tutorial.

Screen Pinning

Screen pinning is a unique feature that was introduced in Android 5.0 Lollipop back in 2014. It’s one of the more handy features available in Android, though it’s admittedly a little difficult to access if you’re not familiar with the phone.

So, what is it? Screen pinning allows you to “pin” a single application to your screen and block access to everything else on your phone. This feature is great if your child wants to play a quick round of Candy Crush or Two Dots.

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Here’s how to set it up: in your Settings menu, select the Security tab, and scroll down until you see the Screen Pinning option under the Advanced menu. Select this tab, and you’ll see a toggle up top, which will allow you to turn screen pinning on and off. Once you turn it on, you’re just a few steps away from pinning your first application.

To pin an app or game, open the screen you’d like to pin – this can be any app or game of your choosing. When the app is open, touch the overview button (the little square button on the bottom of your screen), and press the little pushpin icon that appears at the bottom of the application. And with that, you’ve successfully pinned your first app!

Unpinning an app is easy. Touch and hold the back (the little triangle button on the bottom of your screen) and overview buttons at the same time, and your app will become unpinned. Pretty cool, right?

Set a mobile data limit

If you’re not a fan of pinning individual apps and would much rather let you child have more freedom with your phone, you can set a mobile data limit. To do so, head to your Settings menu, then select Data Usage. From this screen, you can set your cellular data limit and even turn of mobile data access altogether.

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Once you’ve turned on your mobile data limit, all you need to do is drag the red bar up and down until you’ve chosen your data limit. This will ensure that your child doesn’t exceed the data limit for the month, which will probably end up saving you some money. Take a look at the images above for more information.

App and game restrictions in the Play Store

You can also set some restrictions in the Google Play Store, letting you rest easy knowing that your children aren’t downloading any sensitive content. To enable restrictions, open up your Play Store app. Slide out the menu from the left side of the screen, then press Settings. Scroll down to the User Controls section and select Parental Controls. From here, press the toggle on the top of your screen to turn on Parental Controls.

The Play Store will ask you to set up a 4-digit PIN, which will stop your children from turning off these restrictions if they try. Once you enter your PIN, you can then choose from various restrictions, including Apps & Games, Movies, TV, Books and Music. Once you tap on one of these categories, you’ll then be able to restrict access by age.

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Password Google Play AAYou should also make sure the Play Store prompts you to enter your Google password every time you download a paid application. To do this, under the User Controls section in the Play Store Settings, select the “Require authentication for purchases” section. You’ll then see a box that lets you choose how frequently Google will ask for your password – never, every 30 minutes, or for all purchases through Google Play.

Google also recently launched a Family section in the Play Store. This section features applications and games geared at children of all ages. If you’re interested, head to this link to learn more.

Try a third party application

If all else fails, or if you’re looking for a tad more protection that the above options can’t provide for you, there are a few third party applications available that can help you monitor your kids’ smartphone or tablet usage. Let’s take a quick look at some of the best apps available for these situations:

Kid Mode –  Kid Mode provides a safe, educational environment for kids that puts parents in control. This app might be a bit too restricting for some parents, but it’s still a great option if you’re looking to keep your kids as safe as can be.

Download Kid Mode from Google Play

Screen Time Parental Control – If you’d like to restrict the amount of time your children have with your mobile device, this app is for you. Screen Time Parental Control allows you to set a daily time limit for application access, block games at bedtime while still allowing reading apps, block all apps at bed time, and much more.

Download Screen Time Parental Control from Google Play

Parental Control – This application is very similar to Kid Mode, but puts a secure, kid-friendly launcher in place atop your normal Android home screen. This will let your children roam freely around the device, giving them access to only the safest apps.

Download Parental Control from Google Play

Net Nanny – Net Nanny is a kid-friendly mobile browser that becomes your child’s default browser. This is a highly customizable service, and is probably one of the better options out there if your child wants to browse the web. There’s a 14-day free trial available and after that, the service will cost $12.99 per year for each device. To learn more, visit

Download Net Nanny from Google Play

Android tablets for children

Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet-20

If your child is spending a ton of time with your mobile device, you might want to think about purchasing them their own Android tablet. There are a few good options aimed specifically at kids, but most of the time these tablets come with a terrible user interface and are locked down to a single app store. Instead, a good option would be to purchase an inexpensive Android tablet and install some of the apps and restrictions we’ve been talking about.

sony xperia z4 tablet 15Don’t miss: Cheap tablets: what to avoid, what to look for2710530

Did we miss anything? If there are any parents out there who have something more to add, let us know! And like we mentioned previously, if you’re struggling with any part of this tutorial, tell us in the comment section, and we’ll be happy to help.


Has TouchWiz improved on the latest release?

If you’ve read any of my previous talk regarding TouchWiz, you know that I haven’t been a fan.  This is even in spite of the supposedly new and improved interface that debuted with the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge earlier this year.  But I was able to put my discontent aside for the sake of some of the best hardware in the smartphone industry right now.  Samsung just owns when it comes to the display and camera.

So when the time came for the Note 5 and S6 Edge+, I watched the announcement hoping for any word about improvements to TouchWiz.  However, aside from some added features, Samsung was quiet about changes between the two major releases.

In hindsight, this shouldn’t have been surprising.  I imagine the software following a tick-tock schedule for significant changes (the Spring release being the “tick”, as the Note typically builds on the Galaxy S).  Also, why would Samsung admit their faults when they gave an extra effort to make TouchWiz right?

So I then traded my S6 Edge for a Note 5, expecting the exact same software experience (except for the added S Pen functionality).  But I was wrong.  Something is different, and I can’t quite put my finger on it.


On the surface, things look as they should.  The bubbly lock screen, the quick settings in the notification shade, the Settings layout, etc.  Only, the feel when navigating through the software is better.  Much better.  Buttery smooth.

Now, I am considering that the Note 5 has an extra gig of RAM, but I wouldn’t expect this much of a difference from that fact.  I mean, 3GB is a considerable amount.  All you should need, really.  Samsung better be careful, because it looks like they’re saying that a whopping 4GB of RAM is what it takes for TouchWiz to run fluently.

But if TouchWiz was in fact optimized even further since the launch of the Galaxy S6, I wish Samsung would’ve mentioned it.  The boost in fluidity could be a significant selling point, as many reviewers pointed out that Samsung’s big attempt to revamp TouchWiz wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be.

In addition, there are minor tweaks that I’ve noticed with my use of the Note 5 so far (for the better):

  • Unlocking the Lock Screen is way more responsive.  There were plenty of times on the S6 Edge it ignored my first attempt at swiping to unlock.
  • Close All button in Recent Apps now actually closes everything.  Before, it left some Google apps open.
  • The camera’s auto-focus is lightning fast now.  Wasn’t even sure if it was working at first.
  • UHQ Upscaler under sound quality settings, to upscale the resolution of music and videos.
  • You can fit a lot more icons/widgets in each panel now (and things are less cramped).
  • Fingerprint reading is faster.
  • Auto-rotate and WiFi quick toggles animate.  Also, a nice wireless charging animation shows when you begin charging.


It was apparent that the stock icon pack changed, to something bubbly in appearance.  This actually hasn’t bugged me as much as I thought it would.  For some reason it’s more subtle in person.

Unfortunately, one of TouchWiz’s big problems is still present – inadequate multitasking.  Despite its 4GB of memory, it still closes apps mere seconds from switching out of them.  This was the problem I was most hoping Samsung would address over the 6 months between the major releases.  But at least apps initiate really fast on this phone.

I’m hoping I don’t eat my words in a couple weeks time, if TouchWiz ends up slowing down.  Thus far, it’s been consistently fast.  And I haven’t had any lag creep up that required a reboot to fix (unlike my experience with the Galaxy S6).

For those who have used both versions of TouchWiz, do you agree?  Do you also notice a significant improvement in the feel of the UI?  Are there any other changes you’ve noticed that I haven’t listed?  Chime in on the Comments section below!

The post Has TouchWiz improved on the latest release? appeared first on AndroidGuys.


Review: Incipio Offgrid battery case for the Galaxy S6 and Edge

The Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge are absolutely beautiful phones. Redesigned from the ground up, Samsung took special care to include premium materials like a glass back and a new stronger aluminum for the frame. Unfortunately what they neglected in this gorgeous high end phone is a micro SD card slot or a battery that will last (most people) all day.

This is where the Incipio Offgrid battery case comes in. The Offgrid includes a 3,700 mAh battery in the case that will charge the 2,500 mAh battery in the S6 and 2,600 mAh battery in the S6 edge once and then some. And this case is compatible with both the S6 and S6 edge too. The case comes in two parts. A back which contains the battery and a really thin and light front that snaps to the back. You get two in the package, one for the S6 and one for the S6 edge.

I’m not entirely in love with the design of the case. While I do love having about two days of battery, it does add some weight and a lot of bulk to a phone designed to be slim and sexy. The battery sticks out about half the size of the sim micro sim card in your phone, which is significant. Incipio says it leads the class with the Offgrid only being 9mm but I’d still like to only use this when I have to because of the bulk.

And that brings me to my second problem. It is not easy to get the phone out of the case quickly. The front snaps to the back of the case and it’s a pain to get your finger in between the cases and unsnap all of the seals. While this is good because your case isn’t going to pop open when it’s dropped, it’s not ideal to get the phone out and if you’re anything like me, you’re only going to use this when you have to.

If you’re not like me and you keep the Offgrid on at all times, Incipio has some really excellent features built into the case. Probably the most headline worthy is that with the flick of a switch, you can read MicroSD cards. There’s a slot on the inside of the back part of the case for you to slip your card into. Again, not easy to get to but unless you’re swapping out micro SD cards a lot, you’re fine here. And it supports up to a 128 GB card so you can keep all of your backed up files with you.

The next group of things I’m going to point out are more like things that the case doesn’t take away from you rather than added features. Normally when you have a case this thick you really have to give up a lot but not in this case. Wireless charging unfortunately doesn’t work in my testing but you will still be able to use Samsung Pay or Google Wallet.

The Offgrid also supports Quick Charge 2.0 charging and passthrough so not only can you charge up the case super fast but also the phone itself at the same time. And speaking of passthrough, when you plug your phone + case into a computer you can also transfer files to both your phone and the micro SD card while it’s still in the case. Very convenient.

The Incipo Offgrid has its downsides. It takes a phone designed to be slim and sexy with a premium design and puts a pretty significant case on it, but the advantages are so good I can forgive them. There are a ton of battery cases out there that do the same thing but the added Micro SD card support in the Offgrid is really excellent. Incipio really made up for where Samsung fell short.


The post Review: Incipio Offgrid battery case for the Galaxy S6 and Edge appeared first on AndroidGuys.


Nvidia Shield Android TV now available from Google Store for $199


While the Nvidia Shield console has been available since May, for some reason the Android TV player wasn’t made available through the Google store – until today.

Priced at the same $199 and $299 for the 16GB and 500GB models respectively, the Nvidia Shield is easily one of the best Android TV devices on the market and is particularly exciting for Android gamers, as well as those interested in the Shield’s PC game streaming capabilities. In addition to providing up to 500GB storage, the Shield Android TV is powered by a Tegra X1 with 2GB RAM. Even more important, the Shield has surprisingly good gamepads that resemble an Xbox controller and allow you to take your mobile and PC gaming experience to the next level.

The Nvidia Shield comes with a single controller out of the box, though you can buy additional controllers for $59.99, or a more traditional remote for $49.99.

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If you’re at all interested in Android TV, the Nvidia Shield is a great option and at an excellent price. To get an even better idea of what to expect, be sure to check out our full review, where Lanh gave the Shield TV a 9 out of 10 rating. What do you think, anyone planning on picking this one up now that it has hit the Google Store?

Get it now from the Google Store!


Facebook ‘M’ makes Messenger your personal assistant

Facebook Messenger's M assistant

Remember that talk of Facebook testing its own virtual assistant? Well, it’s real. The social network is trying out M, an artificial intelligence-powered Messenger assistant that can answer questions and complete tasks. You can ask it for advice on places to go, for instance, or have it make travel arrangements. Think of it as a Siri- or Cortana-like helper that exists solely in text chat. It should be less likely to make mistakes, though, as Facebook is quick to note that there are humans training and supervising the AI behind the scenes. And in case you’re wondering, it only bases its conversations around Messenger — it’s not using your regular Facebook data to make decisions.

Don’t expect to give M a spin just yet. It’s only in use by a few hundred people in the San Francisco Bay Area, and it could take a long while to scale up if it proves successful. However, a wider rollout seems like more a question of “when” than “if.” Facebook has been dramatically expanding the role of Messenger as of late, turning it from a basic communication tool into a platform for everything from games to money transfers. It only makes sense that the company would take the next logical step and make Messenger the go-to place to get many tasks done.

Filed under:
Cellphones, Internet, Mobile, Facebook



David Marcus (Facebook)

Tags: ai, artificialintelligence, assistant, chat, facebook, FacebookMessenger, internet, m, messaging, mobilepostcross, socialnetwork, socialnetworking

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