LUNATIK, the company that made a name for itself a number of years ago by creating popular watch bands such as the TikTok and LYNK for the sixth-generation iPod nano, has debuted a similar offering for the 42 mm Apple Watch with its new EPIK lineup.
EPIK began as a Kickstarter project that raised over $240,000 and offered a protective anodized aluminum casing for the watch itself paired with an integrated silicone sport band or aluminum link bracelet. Intended to aid in using the Apple Watch in more rugged environments, the EPIK adds protection to the Apple Watch in the form of enclosed sides, a significantly raised bezel to protect the face from impacts, and coverings for the device’s physical features.
Following the Kickstarter campaign and an early launch of a special low-end polycarbonate version initially made available through Best Buy for $60, LUNATIK is today announcing the broad release of EPIK for all customers. Aluminum models start at $140 for either a silver or black housing paired with a black silicone band, stepping up to $150 for a black housing paired with either a black or brown leather band. At the high end are the link bracelet models, which come in silver ($200) or black ($220) housing and band combinations.
LUNATIK sent me one of the black link bracelet models for review, and I’ve spent nearly a week wearing it as my sole Apple Watch band. Overall, I found it to be an interesting addition that adds some nice protection for the Apple Watch but which has a few drawbacks.
In Japan, Sony’s PlayStation Vita console has come in a host of colors for years now, but other countries haven’t been so lucky. For the most part, US buyers have been limited to only black or white options, but Sony just announced that’ll be changing soon. An “aqua blue” version of the second-generation PS Vita is coming to GameStop on November 2nd, and you can pre-order it now for $199.99. Other than the color, the console is identical to the version out in the market now, but it does appear to be a striking piece of hardware. (We’ll have to withhold full judgement until we see it in person, though.) The timing is a little odd, as the Vita isn’t getting any younger and developer support is definitely starting to wane. But if the blue color is enough to push you over the edge, you should probably pre-order soon — Sony says this model won’t be around for too long.
Tags: aquablue, gamestop, playstationvita, portableconsoles, psvita, sony, vita
We’re back in Berlin for IFA, one of the largest consumer electronics trade shows in Europe. As usual, we’re here to witness what companies like Microsoft, Sony, Samsung and others have planned ahead of the holiday season. Samsung already hosted its major event, Unpacked, a couple of weeks ago, but it and other manufacturers are still expected to unveil plenty of new products in Germany. From smartphones to tablets, to laptops to smartwatches, prepare to be introduced to a myriad of never-before-seen gadgets over the next week. One inescapable presence, of course, will be Windows 10. So don’t be surprised when you see a lot of devices running Microsoft’s shiny new operating system. But before things get started, let’s talk about the biggest players at IFA 2015.Slideshow-316450
Tags: hands-on, IFA, IFA2015
Are pigs about to start flying? After begging for years and losing all hope, BlackBerry has reportedly turned around and finally decided that making an Android smartphone wasn’t such a bad idea. BlackBerry CEO even mentioned he wouldn’t be opposed to building a secure Android handset.
Rumors and leaks have intensified since then. The tech world has all eyes on the keyboard king as we eagerly wait for an announcement, but for now all we can do is give you a rundown of all the rumored details that have managed to hit the inter webs. The upcoming handset is said to be named the BlackBerry Venice. Want to learn everything there is to know about this rumored phone? Keep reading.
Keep in mind most of this information is based on leaks and murmurs, and therefore you shouldn’t hold your breath on any of these. We are only putting all the information together for you. Take everything with a grain of salt. Oh, and don’t forget to keep this article bookmarked, as it will continue to be updated as more details on the BlackBerry Venice appear.
The whole tech world is raging about the BlackBerry Venice design. While we have had pretty good keyboards in the Android realm, none of them have quite matched BlackBerry quality. This is why our eyes turned wide open and our hearts dropped when we first heard the rumors that an Android BB smartphone was probably coming.
Thankfully, all rumors have kept us satisfied. And I believe we can put a certain level of trust on the general idea surrounding the Venice’s design, as all leaks have been consistent.
On the surface, the BlackBerry Venice looks like your regular black slab. One of the earlier images from @evleaks shows a phone with a speaker below the screen, a microUSB port and a 3.5 mm headset jack, as well as what seems like a curved screen displaying a rather clean version of Android. This information was great and all, but it was the leaks to come that would really get the conversation going.
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This thing has a keyboard, and it’s hidden right under the screen! You can literally slide the screen section upwards to the beautiful button layout. The image showcasing this part of the phone also came from Evan Blass, who then decided to treat us with an actual video of the phone.
Eye candy. pic.twitter.com/GtJwOfOus8
— Evan Blass (@evleaks) August 19, 2015
Other illustrations include cartoon-like press renders from CrackBerry and @evleaks (yes, again), but those are a little more basic. What has me more excited are the leaked shots we saw hitting the internet last weekend. These are true photos of the phone, not press renders or fancy animations. The phone looks just as we expected, and we can finally see it from all angles.
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The Venice looks like it will be made mostly of plastic, which is a usual characteristic for BlackBerry handsets. We can tell you no BlackBerry phone really feels cheap, though, so you should keep your mind open about going back to “inferior” materials. We have yet to see how good the slide-out mechanism works, too. Keyboard-bearing handsets haven’t been around for a while; here’s to hoping BlackBerry can put them back in style!
We can’t go too much into detail about this information just yet, as not enough about the handset’s internals has been strongly corroborated. The latest rumors do state the phone will come with a 5.4-inch QHD (2560x1440p) display, though. This would put the BlackBerry Venice up there with the big guys. It’s said to be a power house, so we should expect no less.
It’s also important to note that some of the images make it seem like the screen is slightly curved on the sides, a la Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge. It’s a cool little treat if you are into that kind of stuff, but it shouldn’t really make much of a difference. It’s said the display will feature a Super AMOLED panel, though, and that is definitely something to celebrate. At least for those of us who like deep blacks and vibrant colors.
As mentioned right above, the rumored spec list is still not yet worthy of too much trust, mostly because it’s not backed by many other sources or separate rumors. These specs come from N4bb, which claims the handset will feature a 1.8 GHz hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor and 3 GB of RAM.
Sure, it may not have the almighty Snapdragon 810 and the 4 GB of RAM that’s starting to become the standard, but this phone will certainly not disappoint. The Snapdragon 808 is plenty powerful, and 3 GB of RAM is great for multi-tasking. In fact, these specs seem to be identical to those of the LG G4, so you should expect similar performance. And the G4 happens to be a great smartphone!
I will say it right off the bat – BlackBerry has always been infamous for its sub-par smartphone cameras. Seriously… this stuff can get pretty bad, even with the newer handsets! Will a change in the operating system improve the situation? It’s hard to say, but we can only hope so.
At the very least we know the pixel count on photos will be pretty high. Rumors suggest the phone will come with an 18 MP rear-facing camera. The images also show some engraving around the lens with the words “OIS” and “FAST FOCUS”, so we can assume the camera will tout both mentioned features. On the front side, the Venice is said to feature a 5 MP camera. Nothing out of the ordinary, but it should definitely be good enough for those good ol’ selfies.
We know the BlackBerry Venice is coming with Android, but we are not sure just yet which version it will tout. With Android 6.0 Marshmallow right around the corner, we certainly hope the new handset will adopt the latest and greatest mobile OS iteration from Google.
What’s interesting is that this phone’s software will be more than just about Android and its benefits over BB10. BlackBerry CEO John Chen previously mentioned that “if he could find a way to secure an Android phone, he will also build that”, and this seems to hold true for the Venice.
A list of installed apps acquired by Evan Blass (aka @evleaks) shows us a bevy of BlackBerry apps being pre-installed on the Android handset. This would include popular services like BlackBerry Messenger, Hub, Calendar, Tasks, Notes, Emails and more.
BlackBerry has been meaning to offer its services to Android users. That leads us to one big question – is the Venice about showcasing the services BlackBerry can offer to other Android users, or is it more about making an awesome device?
Price and availability
Evan Blass swears this phone will be launching in November, and that it’s coming to all 4 major USA carriers. Other than that, details on availability are scarce.
No rumors on pricing have emerged either, but don’t expect the BlackBerry Venice to be cheap. It has high-end specs and likely a high focus on security, which will make it a valuable asset to many enterprise users. Not to mention, this smartphone will be all the hype among previous BlackBerry users.
BlackBerry plans to make its big return to the market with a phone they could actually manage to sell in larger quantities. The Venice looks like a winner, with specs that seem to be great and software that is even better. The great part is users will enjoy all the benefits Android has to offer, all while not needing to sacrifice their BlackBerry features, as most of the main BB10 services seem to be coming with it.
It will all make more sense once more details show up. We understand there’s not enough information to really make a decision right now, but the announcement is on its way and more rumors will continue coming in! Remember to keep this post bookmarked and an open eye on Android Authority for all your BlackBerry Venice and Android news. We will continue to report on the mysterious phone, and this post will be updated continuously.
Hit the comments and let us know what you think! The real question is whether users will put their money where their mouth is. I honestly wouldn’t mind giving the BlackBerry Venice a chance. Would you?
Earlier today, Google revealed a brand new logo and visual language that better reflects the company as a whole, no matter what screen size you’re using. We knew the revamped logo would begin rolling out to various products starting at some point today, and thanks to a new blog post, we’re getting a good look at the new visual refresh coming to mobile devices.
As you can see from the images attached above, search results on mobile devices will soon begin to look much more refined and modern. Google Now cards are getting a visual refresh, as well. Now they’ll be grouped together by category so you can find what you need more quickly, and they’ll also shift around and change sizes so the most important cards stand out.
Moreover, some big changes will also start to make their way to the home screen Search experience on Android devices. Take a look at the video below. As you can see, the Google logo and microphone have been updated to sport the iconic four color scheme. When the user taps the microphone, four colored dots appear on the screen and morph into the Google logo when the voice search is completed.
We’re not sure when all of these changes will come to mobile devices, but we’re hoping they do sooner rather than later. What are your thoughts on these new visual changes? Are you a fan, or do you like the way things look already?
Apple continues to recruit talent to bolster its “Project Titan” team, which is rumored to be researching an electric vehicle. Over the past several weeks, the company has hired multiple employees from Tesla Motors, Texas Instruments, and other companies in the automotive and technology industries, likely to join hundreds of others already working on the so-called “Apple Car.”
Apple hired former Tesla Motors engineering manager Hal Ockerse last month to join its own software engineering team, according to his LinkedIn profile. Ockerse was employed at Tesla between July 2014 and August 2015, working on hardware architecture and advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) components, including cameras, radars, LiDAR, and engine control units (ECUs).
Ockerse does not list his responsibilities at Apple, but it is likely that he is working on Apple’s car-related project. His experience prior to Tesla includes an eleven-year stint at Gentex Corporation, where as a research manager he worked on advanced driver assist solutions, a three-axis automotive electronic compass, custom designed HDR image cameras and sensors, and more.
Apple also recruited former Texas Instruments design engineer Subhagato Dutta to join its in-house technologies team in July. Dutta is a recent graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, known for its research on self-driving vehicles, and worked on an automotive algorithm and imaging algorithm development team at Texas Instruments between July 2012 and November 2013.
Yakshu Madaan joined Apple as a technical program manager in July, according to his LinkedIn profile. Madaan previously served as an operations manager at Tata Motors, the largest Indian automotive manufacturer, between July 2012 and August 2014. Madaan also designed and developed fuel injection strategies as a research assistant at the Indian Institute of Technology and UBC in early 2011.
Apple has been recruiting automotive experts since at least February for its automotive-related project, including former Tesla, Ford and GM employees, but there still remains some uncertainty as to whether Apple is working on its own vehicle or building upon its CarPlay platform for an enhanced in-car experience. As expected, the project remains highly secretive in Cupertino.
Last week, it was reported that former Tesla firmware engineer Jamie Carlson left the company to join Apple’s “Special Projects” group in August, alongside several other autonomous vehicle experts. Apple also hired Doug Betts, former Senior Vice President of the Chrysler Group, and Paul Furgale, a researcher who specializes in autonomous vehicles, according to a report in July.
In a big change from what we have been seeing for the past few years, Google has announced a new design language to reflect the changes in the way we now search. Just a few years ago, most of our searches came from typing on a computer, but now we are searching using our tablets, mobile phones, smart watches, and TV’s amongst other devices.
When using Google to search on the mobile, or through the Google app you will see Google’s new logo, icon, and animated dots across Google.
When using mobile devices, Google has changed the way you interact with searches. Search results will help you find more diverse content such as images, videos, new stories and more with swiping and tapping.
For Android, Google updated the home page of the Google App. When they publish a doodle, it will show up at the top of the page and Now Cards will be organized by category making things easier to find. As your day progresses, Now Cards will sort themselves by changing sizes to reflect what’s important at that time of the day.
The changes are pretty significant, but knowing Google I’m sure it will be one of those things we won’t truly appreciate until we’ve used it for a while.
LinkedIn is undoubtably a valuable, even essential, service these days, but that doesn’t meant the site is all that easy to use. If you’ve ever shaken your head in frustration at the mess that is the LinkedIn Inbox, we have some good news for you: The company has just completely redesigned its messaging experience. Gone is the stodgy old email-style inbox, a feature that was reminiscent of the worst parts of old web mail. In its place is a chat-style interface that LinkedIn expects will encourage shorter, quicker back-and-forth conversations. It’s along the lines of Facebook Messenger, Hangouts and every other web-based messaging app you’ve been using to communicate with your friends and colleagues.
LinkedIn is even throwing in GIFs, emoji, and stickers in an effort to catch up with how people are using chat these days. While the utility of GIFs in LinkedIn might be up for debate, you can also attach photos and documents — tools that might be more useful in LinkedIn’s business-focused context.
Whether or not you need to send emoji to your business contacts, the overall redesign makes a lot of sense. The last thing anyone needs is yet another email-style inbox to check. With LinkedIn’s new focus on shorter messaging, keeping up with your contacts there should be less of a chore. The update is live on LinkedIn now, and the company says it’ll be pushing out an update to its iOS and Android apps soon as well.
Tags: chat, inbox, instantmessaging, linkedin, linkedinmessaging, messaging
Nothing relies on the power of Disney’s brand quite like Disney Infinity. It’s the licensed game to end all licensed games, a toys-to-life platformer with all the star-power of Spider-Man, Frozen, Tron, Star Wars and dozen other Disney franchises. It’s the game’s selling point, but also its greatest weakness: the last two versions of the game relied on its brand-power to make up for how mediocre they were as actual video games. That’s not the case anymore. With Disney Infinity 3.0 they finally got it right. That’s not to say that the first games in the series were bad, but compared to Disney Infinity 3.0, they felt a little incomplete. All the same elements are here — the disparate Playsets that offer franchise-exclusive story-based adventures, the open-world sandbox mode that lets you create your own adventures and the adorable, collectible figures — but they all seem to have evolved in ways that add up to a more cohesive whole.
Engaging gameplay in a galaxy far, far away
From game one, Disney Infinity’s biggest problem was the relative lack of depth in its Playsets — the franchise-specific game pieces that typically provide four to six hours of play as a story-driven experience. The problem was that they simply weren’t very good, suffering from dull combat, repetitive missions and stories that failed to engage grown-ups like myself. Disney Infinity 3.0 and the Star Wars: Twilight of the Republic Playset changes that. This actually feels like substantial game.
There are a lot of things that make this new Playset stand out as a more complete experience than its predecessors, but let’s focus on just three: combat gameplay, level design and linear storytelling.
Disney Interactive knew the first game was lacking in the action combat department, and brought in Ninja Theory (the studio behind action games like Heavenly Sword and DmC: Devil May Cry) to tune things up for version 2.0. The result was a much more robust combat engine with combo moves and a skill-based level system. In short, it was a massive improvement. Disney Infinity 3.0 is even better, with even more complex combos and skill sets, awesome slow-motion finishing moves and a level of polish that makes the game feel like a legitimate action platformer.
As great as the combat upgrades are, they weren’t enough to save the last version, which had its improved gameplay mechanics gutted by empty, soulless level design. Disney Infinity 3.0 doesn’t have this problem at all: The Star Wars: Twilight of the Republic Playset features four different locations from the prequel trilogy, and each one feels large and well populated. Unlike on previous versions, the illusion never falters here; it doesn’t feel like something I could simply throw together in the game’s Toybox mode. Together with the buffer of Starfox-like space missions above each planet, these worlds create a connected universe that seems far more massive in scale than it really is.
This authentic world-building dovetails nicely with the improved combat and, of course, the storyline. Truth be told, the Twilight of the Republic’s narrative isn’t particularly memorable, but it does provide more direction than previous games, nudging players through the action with clearly defined objectives and story-driven motivation. Together, these improvements create a solid action platforming experience that, while short, can almost stand on its own apart from the rest of the game.
A theme park of creativity
As far as Disney Infinity 3.0’s Playsets go, I’m more impressed by what Disney has done with the game’s Toybox mode. For many players, this was the game’s entire selling point: a creative sandbox area where you can create your own games and worlds to play in. It always seemed like a good idea, but it never clicked for me. The tutorials felt disorganized and pandering. I didn’t know where to start and eventually gave up. Thankfully, learning to build worlds in Disney Infinity 3.0 is refreshingly easy.
If you’ve ever been to Disneyland, the new Toybox hub will look familiar. It features a central area that radiates out into disparate creativity “zones,” modeled after the various famous theme park. There’s a driving zone, where a character from the Cars films teaches you how to handle vehicles, a combat zone where you learn to make the most of Ninja Theory’s latest improvements and four other areas with deeper tutorials on the Toybox’s various mechanics.
Each area presents players with increasingly complex challenges that ease them into the various elements of the game, including how to program the more complex toys and tools with logic connections. By the time I finished the missions in the creative zone’s Main Street USA (See? Disneyland!) I felt fully prepared to create my own Toybox games and worlds. I’ve owned every iteration of this game, and this is the first time I’ve been able to say that.
It’s still expensive, though
I can say without hesitation or irony that Disney Infinity 3.0 is the best version of the franchise yet. In short, Disney fixed its game, taking all of its great, yet sometimes poorly executed ideas and taking the time to get them right. Even its toys are better, featuring more detailed paint jobs and special edition Star Wars figures with lightsabers that actually light-up — but all of this freshness comes at a price. At $65 for the starter pack, $35 for every expansion and $14 a figure, Disney Infinity 3.0 hits the wallet hard.
At least this time, I feel like I’m getting my money’s worth.
Tags: disney, disneyinfinity, disneyinteractive, gaming, pixar, starwars, toystolife, videogames
Even if you don’t own an iOS-powered phone or tablet, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve heard of the hit snowboarding game Alto’s Adventure. Launched back in February, Alto’s Adventure quickly grew to the top of the charts thanks to its unique gameplay style and beautiful visuals. But up until now, there’s been little to no word of an Android release.
That changes today, as Noodlecake Studios, developers of such titles as FRAMED and Shooting Stars!, has just announced that it’s working with the folks over at Built By Snowman to bring the snowboarding title to Android. While exact launch date details are scarce at the moment, the game developer did say that they “are hoping to have the game out soon enough”. It probably won’t be too long until we see an official announcement.
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No pricing information has been released yet, either, though Alto’s Adventure is available in the App Store for $1.99. Noodlecake also says the game will launch on Android and Kindle Fire devices.