Back in June, Google shared the good news that the Chrome browser would soon be smart enough to “intelligently pause content that aren’t central to the webpage” that you’re visiting. It’s a welcome change that should help to continue marginalizing the annoyance of Flash. Fortunately, that blessed new feature is ready for prime time. On the Google+ page for the company’s AdWords advertising program, Google said that a Chrome update coming on September 1st would make Flash-blocking the default state for users.
Google’s recommending that its advertisers switch over to HTML5 ads to avoid them being blocked, but for the rest of us, this only comes as good news. Blocking Flash content that you don’t want to see should hopefully make for a better browsing experience and also increase your computer’s battery life. Chrome has always been a bit of a battery hog, especially when you compare it to Safari on a Mac, but we’re hoping this change evens the playing field a bit. It’s worth noting that you can manually activate this feature now: go into the Chrome settings, select “Show advanced settings,” then select the content settings for “Privacy” and then select “Detect and run important plugin content.”
[Image credit: Kimihiro Hoshino/AFP/Getty Images]
Google AdWords (Google+)
Tags: adwords, blocking, chrome, flash, flashblocking, google, googlechrome, html5
Robots are replacing humans in a lot of roles. At Dartmouth, a robot may soon replace tackling dummies during football practice. Designed by engineering students at the Ivy League school, Mobile Virtual Player (MVP — yes, really) gives training sessions a more realistic feel over those regular ol’ stationary bags. It’s also looking to reduce the risk of head and neck injuries. What’s more, it’s remote controlled. There’s still work to be done, though, as the team behind the MVP is working to make the controls easier for coaches to use and the robot’s maneuvers more realistic. Hopefully they’re also installing a kill switch, so when the tech gets fed up, it doesn’t start wrecking fools on the gridiron.
Tags: darmouth, football, mvp, robot
Nintendo helped kick off Seattle’s annual PAX Prime gaming convention with a focus on the indie scene. The Nindies@Night event at the EMP Museum gave fans a chance to check out 19 indie games on the Wii U and 3DS — and interact with the developers themselves. Among the highlights: Developer Shin’en showed off two-player split-screen support in its very F-Zero-esque Fast Racing Neo; Squad talked about bringing Wii U-specific features to Kerbal Space Program; and Yacht Club Games unveiled a certain shovel-wielding Amiibo figure.Slideshow-316038
Fast Racing Neo
While a number of Nintendo franchises have made an appearance on its current-gen system, there’s still no sign of an F-Zero entry on the horizon. Those longing for a sci-fi racing fix might get just what they need in Shin’en’s upcoming Wii U exclusive: Fast Racing Neo. A follow-up to the dev’s 2011 WiiWare title, Fast Racing Neo aims to provide the kind of futuristic, sci-fi antics that fans of F-Zero and Wipeout can appreciate.
Players can race their rocket sleds in a variety of sci-fi settings — from futuristic cityscapes to space stations. Shin’en Art Director Martin Sauter walked me through the game as we watched a pair of attendees try out the newly announced split-screen mode. “We really tried to make it like a Hollywood movie — really exciting,” he said just as a massive, robotic worm arced over the racetrack. The game will feature 16 tracks split into four cup events, and supports single-player, up to four-way splits-screen and eight-player online.
A solid frame rate is a major component of any racing game and the developer is working hard to maintain 60 fps even during two-player split-screen — while Sauter expects four-player mode to hit “30 for sure.” The split-screen mode looked impressive in person and Sauter added that optimization is still ongoing. “At E3, I couldn’t even say 60 frames,” he said.
And while the Wii U might be capable of better graphics than some give it credit for, Sauter also touted his team’s experience with its in-house engine. “The Wii U has some power. … But you can’t just plug in Unity [a cross-platform game engine] and have everything run great,” he said. “We have our own engine and we’ve been developing it for 20 years.”
Of course, being a sci-fi racer set in the future, even Fast Racing Neo‘s rocket sleds can’t evade comparisons to genre classics like F-Zero and Wipeout. Sauter said the dev is, unsurprisingly, a big fan of those games and thought of those titles when considering what to bring to the Wii U’s eShop. “We don’t mind people seeing F-Zero,” he added, “[but] we want it to stand on its own feet.” Fast Racing Neo is expected to ship later this year.
Elsewhere on the show floor, developer Yacht Club Games showed off the Plague of Shadows DLC for its popular side-scroller, Shovel Knight. But some of the biggest applause came during the official unveiling of a Shovel Knight Amiibo figure. Several attendees queued up to get a good look at the blue-hued protagonist (housed safely in a display case). Yacht Club says the figure can be used to unlock cooperative multiplayer modes on the Wii U and other challenges and customization options on both the Wii U and 3DS.
Kerbal Space Program
One of the most pleasant surprises was a game that wasn’t even on the show floor: Kerbal Space Program. Console ports for the popular spaceflight simulator have already been announced for the PS4 and Xbox One, but developer Squad took to the stage during a Q&A session to announce a Wii U version would be on its way as well.
Producer Miguel Piña said the dev is currently working on some Wii U-specific features that take advantage of the console’s unique GamePad, like mapping and planning on the controller’s screen rather than constantly flipping back and forth between menus on the TV. One option could let players view the interiors of their spaceships on the GamePad’s built-in screen – acting like a window of sorts as you move the controller around in all directions. Piña described using the GamePad to look at specific panels and reaching out to toggle controls. Controlling the ship this way opens up a whole new experience, he added, since players could look out through the windows of their ship and watch as the environment zooms by. Of course, the interior view could also ramp up the intensity whenever players make sudden, unexpected landings (read: crashes). The game doesn’t get gory, Piña said, but you do get a nice explosion. “It’s really fun [to control],” he said, “and also really scary when you crash.”
While I couldn’t pry a launch date out of him, Piña did say we can expect the Wii U version of Kerbal Space Program to lift off at the same time as the PS4 and Xbox One versions.
Overall, the devs and fans I spoke with at the event enjoyed the chance to interact directly with each other — something indie developers don’t always get a chance to do. When Squad started work on Kerbal Space Program in Mexico City, for example, Piña said the dev had no expectations when it came to widespread international success. “It’s so weird for us [meeting fans from across the globe in person], but it’s the best thing in the world,” he said, adding that when Squad first released the game, “we said, ‘Here’s our game; does anyone care?’”
Judging from the hundreds of fans on the show floor checking out indie games and the variety and creativity these titles can exhibit, it turns out yes; gamers care.
Images: Shin’en (Fast Racing Neo)
Tags: 3DS, F-Zero, Fast Racing Neo, hdpostcross, Indie, indie-games, kerbal-space-program, nintendo, PAX, PAX-2015, pax-prime, shovel-knight, Wii U, Wipeout
Not to be undone by bands that release artwork via fax machine or by albums released in sheet music form, German electronic mainstay Kraftwerk’s next record will be available in a 3D format. It’s a fairly unusual approach to making music as you can’t really hear 3D (unless you experience synesthesia). This latest collection of tracks will be released on Blu-ray in autumn. Ralf Hutter, the only remaining original member, told Rolling Stone that it will consist of 3D performances with surround sound.
Kling Klang, the bands’ private studio, is working on converting archival footage into 3D and arranging the images to synch with the music. The footage is largely taken from tour dates earlier this year; specifically performances such as the MoMA in New York, the Opera House in Sydney and the Tate Modern in London. Hutter, who formed the band in 1968 with partner Florian Schneider, said the bands’ signature minimalism “is really a multimedia concept. Not just music.”
Tags: 3D, album, Blu-Ray, kraftwerk, music
Tired of listening to the same 4 songs over and over that the disc jockeys force you to listen too? Talk radio bores you and your uninterested in corny jokes and advertisers attempting to sell you everything you don’t need or want?
I can’t speak for you, but that’s me, I have found myself driving to my destinations in silence. No radio, no phone, just fresh air, and energy.
Although finding quality content that I can control is no longer an issue. I recently have been introduced to Wondercasts available for download via The Google Playstore. Wondercasts allows you to manage and listen to your favorite podcasts, discover new podcasts, allows you to cast the podcasts to your television, and also enables you to download podcasts to your device when you don’t have access to an internet connection.
Setting up Wondercasts was extremely simple. All I had to do was download the application from The Google Playstore which is free with an ad removable option for just .99. After the installation was complete I was able to start browsing Wondercasts for podcasts without creating an account or registering any login credentials.
I have been using Wondercasts daily for the past 7 days. Upon using Wondercasts, I didn’t have any real expectations on what the app would or wouldn’t offer nor did I feel I needed it. I had previously used IHeart Radio and had no complaints and for a while I used it every day. Until now I was uninterested in searching for any podcasts or even starting fresh with a new podcast provider.
Out the gate, I was greeted with a crisp professional user interface(u.i.) that utilized Google’s Material Design standards. The clean white background accented with baby blue (my favorite color) was very inviting and started my Wondercasts experience off well.
Not to mention I was able to immediately search the vast content that Wondercasts provided without being badgered to create an account or login via Facebook or Google+. Wondercasts conveniently categorized their menu thus allowing easy navigation.
The menu options:
Podcast– allows one-click access to all of the Podcasts that you subscribed to.
Lists– is the section that displays the podcasts that you have saved offline to view when you have no internet connection
Downloads – shows you real-time status of the size of the podcasts you are downloading along with an estimated download time.
Settings– is quite detailed and useful compared to a lot of other applications. The settings menu allows you to update podcasts cover art, control playback controls, options to save battery and more.
Popular– this section allows content discovery, you can search popular casts. If you were unable to find any podcasts that interest you, you are able to filter your search by genres. Example you could search for business podcasts and catch up on TED Talks business section and get knowledge from the great speaker Simon Sinek or Sports & Recreation and find podcasts on America’s team the Dallas Cowboys.
After discovering podcasts that I was interested in my experience became even more entertaining and pleasing. I stumbled upon a business podcast entitled “Build a Badass Business”. The display image of “Build a Badass Business” was crisp and high resolution and I immediately realized that the playback controls were the same color as the graphics of the podcasts which is a very nice touch. That was just the cake here comes the icing, the playback controls have very cool animations that you will discover when pressing them. Also when listening to a podcast you can set a timer for how long you would like to listen. Another feature that I found useful was when you are playing a podcasts if you access the overflow menu(3 linear dots near the top of the application) you can access a Go to option. The Go to option allows you to type in the time code of the podcast to easily access a specific point in time in the podcast down to the second you want to hear.
Using Wondercasts for the past few days I have discovered multiple podcasts that I have begun to listen to daily. I believe it was just the simplicity, design, and easy to discover content that allowed me to quickly become comfortable with Wondercasts and made it a daily option for me to visit like Youtube and Spotify.
Who will find Wondercasts useful
Wondercasts is a well-rounded application that does a lot of things right. Individuals who travel frequently, those who want to spend their driving time in a more useful manner than listening to music Wondercasts is a good option for you. Wondercats has a wide variety of content to choose from movies, sports, business,news & politics etc. There are multiple genres that could benefit and entertain you.
What We Like
- Beautiful User Interface
- Playback control animations
- Wide variety of podcasts /easy to discover new podcasts
- Download podcasts offline to your device
What We didn’t Like
- Upon constant usage did notice some force close errors
Wondercasts organizing podcasts for you to easily discover is not a new concept. Although what is great is that Wondercasts is an old concept packaged with great design, easy to discover content, small graphical and animated tweaks that enables a well designed useful app that simply works.
The post All your favorite Podcasts in one place with Wondercasts Review appeared first on AndroidGuys.
In a report corroborating several oft-rumored features of the next-generation Apple TV, including an A8 chip and a native SDK for creating apps, TechCrunch editor-in-chief Matthew Panzarino has revealed that the set-top box will also have a motion sensitive remote control with multi-axis sensors, a touchpad on the top, physical buttons on the bottom and a microphone for Siri.
Panzarino claims the redesigned remote control will likely be targeted at casual gamers:
A game controller with a microphone, physical buttons, a touchpad and motion sensitive controls would be extremely capable. While Apple is likely going to target the broad casual gaming market, I would not be shocked to see innovative gameplay blossom from that type of input possibility. Think, for instance, of multi-player gaming with several people using voice input, or many popular genres of party games that would do far better on the TV than on an iPad or iPhone.
A new Apple TV with an App Store and easy-to-use controller could lure a significant number of casual gamers away from competing platforms such as Nintendo, in the same way that smartphones have undermined other handheld gaming devices. Coupled with on-demand movies and TV shows, home automation and a streaming TV service, the new Apple TV could dominate the living room.
Almost instantaneously, the Apple TV will no longer be Apple’s “hobby” product.
If Apple did indeed ‘delay’ the Apple TV from being released at WWDC, then it probably had a reason. And, if my sources are correct, that reason could well be polish, polish, polish. The experience of using it is said to blow away the types of junky smart TV interfaces we’ve had to deal with so far. This is the first real Apple TV product.
Apple is expected to announce the new Apple TV at its September 9th media event.
On September 1st, you will no longer see advertisements utilizing Flash. This doesn’t mean that you won’t see video-like advertisements anymore, just they will all be HTML5.
Google’s AdWords division states that this change will speed up browser performance and bring all advertisers in line with the new HTML5 standard.
There is already a setting in Chrome that allows you to disable these Flash advertisement plugins, but on September 1st, Google will switch this to “On” as default in the Chrome browser.
If you’re an advertiser, Google has already attempted to convert your Flash advertisement to HTML5, but there is a chance that it was unsuccessful in doing this. If it was unsuccessful, then your advertisement will be disabled and you will need to do the converting yourself.
Google had the following to say about the changes:
Video and interactive media bring consumers rich, engaging experiences on the web–but they can also impact browser speed and battery life. A few months ago, Chrome introduced a setting (https://goo.gl/cBhea4) designed to increase page-load speed and reduce power consumption by pausing certain plugin content, including many Flash ads. As soon as September (http://goo.gl/u5f019), this setting will be turned on by default so Chrome users can enjoy faster performance and view more content before charging their batteries.
Come comment on this article: Google AdWords to begin disabling Flash advertisements in Chrome
A huge topic in the tech world the past few years is the staggeringly low percentages of women and minorities employed in these sectors. A few companies have committed themselves to addressing this issue and, now, Twitter joins them.
In a blog post today, Twitter Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion Janet Van Huysse, wrote that Twitter intends to perform better in 2016 with its hiring standards and retention of female and minority prospects. This is done in a move that she claims will commit Twitter to having a more diverse workplace that is representative of the diversity present in the company’s consumers.
We considered simply setting company-wide hiring goals, but we don’t want to stop at that. If our aim is to build a company we can really be proud of — one that’s more inclusive and diverse — we need to make sure it’s a great place for both new and current employees to work and to grow. That’s why these new goals focus on increasing the overall representation of women and underrepresented minorities throughout the whole company.
Van Huysse hopes to increase the overall percentage of women employed by Twitter to 35% and hopefully get to 25% for women in leadership roles inside of the social media company by the end of 2016.
And if they don’t reach these goals? Van Huysse wants you to call them out. “We’re holding ourselves accountable to these measurable goals, as should you.”
Come comment on this article: Amid widespread diversity complaints in the tech sector, Twitter claims it will do better in 2016
What happens when you mash up Periscope with Twitch? That’s essentially what you get with Mirrativ, a new app from Japan-based DeNA.
The new Android-only app is designed to make it extremely easy to broadcast whatever is on your phone or tablet screen. Despite the fact that DeNA is a mobile game company, streams aren’t limited to gaming. Showing off the UI, apps, reading from an e-reader, watching a video — nothing is off limits from this platform. In addition to capturing what is on screen, Mirrativ can also show off your face at the same time. It’s even possible to use Mirrativ simply to show off what you are doing using your phone’s camera just like Periscope.
Further borrowing pages from Periscope’s playbook, streams are non-permanent and so there is no way to revisit them once the session ends. Again, just like Periscope (and Meerkat) streams are instantly shared with a user’s follows and followers can not only interact through live comments, they can also add stars as a way of rating the broadcast.
While it’s hard to say how popular Mirrativ will be, the fact that it can be used for regular app demonstrations, how tos, and just about anything, certainly makes the app appealing for those looking for something a bit different. You can download Mirrativ right now, but you wouldn’t be able to broadcast just yet. For now, the company is giving a sneak-peek of live stream demos and won’t open up the platform to new broadcasters until sometime next month.
As we prepare to bid a fond farewell to summer, classrooms and lecture halls are starting to fill up with eager and not so eager students returning to pursue a diploma, degree or simply just a passing grade. To reduce some of that back to school tension, we’ve put together a list of useful Android applications that should help lighten your academic load. This selection has a little bit of everything and features a blend of software capable of helping students of all ages. So if you’re ready to transform your smartphone or tablet into a powerful study buddy, pull up a chair and check out these must-have apps.
Okay, so this one might be a given, but if it’s not loaded in your device’s app drawer, you’re definitely missing out. More than just an index of definitions, Dictionary also includes a top-shelf thesaurus and vocabulary expanding features like “word of the day.” There’s also a few snazzy inclusions like voice search and audio pronunciations that should help with those tough words like “anemone” and “worcestershire.” There’s even support for Android Wear baked right in.
You’ve barely been back in class for a few weeks and a heavy demand for papers appears to be a popular trend among your professors and instructors. With such a hefty workload coming on, you’ll soon find yourself using the B-word — bibliography. The process of logging in citations can be brutally tedious, but it’s often necessary. Thankfully this easy to use application simplifies the process.
To get this sourcing party started, fire up EasyBib and point your device’s camera at a book’s barcode. You’ll have a choice of over 7,000 citation styles, including ASA, AMA, CSE and ACS all with a single tap.
As a budding scholar your mind is loaded with tons of ideas and sometimes it can be hard to keep things organized. If you’re looking for something to calm your raging brainstorm, SimpleMind has some easy to use tools wrapped in a light 1.5MB package. This mind mapping software charts your ideas in a color-coded web for fast access. Not just limited to mobile gear, you can also edit your tops via cross-platform support for Windows and Mac.
If you’re ever in need of a scanner, there’s no need to buy a big bulky overpriced machine that will only crowd your already cramped dorm room. Fast Scanner uses your device’s camera to capture single or multiple page documents and export them as PDFs. You can use this app to send files via email or archive them for your records.
If you’re a math major or your area of study requires some heavy number crunching, you’ll definitely need a good calculator. As for freebie apps, Graphing Calculator by Mathlab digs in pretty deeply. Equipped with scientific, fraction, algebra and matrix calculator modes, things can get a little heavy. However, even if you’re studying the arts, this potent software can most likely run circles around your device’s stock application. So you might as well give it a try.
If you’re taking up a second language or planning on studying abroad, your linguistic skills will most likely need a coach. Instead of drilling you with grueling challenges and making you run laps for incorrect answers, Duolingo uses a variety of games and visual cues to teach you a new language. Easy to use, the app’s developer claims that 34 hours of Duolingo are comparable to a semester of university-level education. Even so, while we endorse the app, we don’t recommend dropping out of class.
No matter how high-end your mobile device may be, it can’t do all of your homework for you. You’ll still need to study. A must have tool in any respectable crammer’s arsenal is the flashcard and StudyBlue manages to modernize this age-old staple. It’s a lightweight piece of software that offers an eco-friendly solution to using dozens of costly index cards. You can keep study notes with you at all times and remotely share flashcards with classmates on the fly.
Here Comes the Bus
So you’re not the student, but your kid(s) are and the school bus is their primary method of transportation. This app can definitely help give you peace of mind. Used by multiple school districts, Here Comes the Bus keeps parents connected to their precious cargo by sharing details like bus arrivals and departures. It also supports push notifications that will notify you of schedule changes, along with alerts of when a bus is within five minutes of your stop.
The thought of typing notes on a smartphone or tablet sounds downright torturous to some people and we’d have to agree with such sentiments. Perhaps you’d rather jot them down on your mobile device, but you didn’t pick up Samsung’s new king-size smartphone. No worries, Squid (formerly known as Papyrus) has you covered.
You can scribble notes directly on your phone with a stylus or your finger and file them away for safe keeping. In addition to handwritten drafts, users can mark notations and highlights on PDF files. Plus all of your notes can be backed up to the cloud via Dropbox or Box.
Easy Voice Recorder
If handwritten notes sound too retro for your style of studying or you often find yourself falling asleep during class, you’ll need a good voice recorder to keep up with your instructor’s lectures. Thankfully, Android has plenty of options to choose from, but we’re going to recommend one in particular. Easy Voice Recorder by Digipom offers a simplified audio capturing software that lets you encode sound samples in a variety of codecs including PCM, AAC and AMR. There’s also widget support for fast access.
The process of starting or returning to school can be grueling and hopefully our selection of applications will help you hit the ground running. In addition to the aforementioned software, Google’s app catalog has a stellar suite of productivity tools that are often preloaded on Android devices. However, if your setup is somehow light on programs from Mountain View, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drive and Calendar are almost mandatory downloads.
If you liked our selection, or one of your favorite academic applications didn’t make this list, be sure to let us know in the comments.