Apple may be taking steps to protect the name “AirPods,” based on recent trademark filings in a number of countries. While Apple itself is not directly linked to these applications, the pattern of filings is consistent with Apple’s usual strategy and MacRumors believes Apple is indeed responsible for them.
A trademark application for “AirPods” was made in the United States on September 22 by a company called Entertainment in Flight, LLC, a Delaware firm housed at the Corporation Trust Center, a strategy Apple has used a number of times in the past to hide its trademark work. The company was created in early September and appears to have no visible operations other than last week’s trademark filing.
We have been unable to find a concrete link between Apple and the AirPods trademark, but the evidence we’ve gathered is highly suggestive that Apple is indeed behind the filing. Assuming this is indeed the case, speculation then turns to the reasons why Apple is interested in the name.
The trademark filing in International Class 9 includes mention of audio accessories, earphones, microphones, wireless communication devices, and similar types of products, and with Apple already calling its existing line of earphones “EarPods” it seems reasonable to speculate the “AirPods” name could be intended for a wireless version of the company’s earphones.
Audio components and accessories; sound recording and reproducing apparatus; digital video recorders and players; remote control apparatus; audio speakers; earphones, headphones; microphones; voice recording and recognition apparatus; radios, radio transmitters, and receivers; handheld digital electronic devices and software related thereto; wireless communication devices for voice, data or image transmission; electrical and electronic connectors, couplers, wires, cables, chargers, docks, docking stations, interfaces, and adapters for use with all of the aforesaid goods
Apple of course already offers several models of wireless earphones and headphones through its Beats brand, but Apple has so far kept the Beats hardware brand separate from its own and may prefer to offer a wireless earphone option under its own brand and styling.
Other circumstantial evidence pointing toward Apple being behind the filing includes:
– Citing a March trademark application in Jamaica as a priority date for the registration. Apple commonly files first in Jamaica to establish its claim on a trademark, as the country does not maintain an online trademark database, making it easier for Apple and other companies to hide such filings.
– Use of a Gmail account on contact information. Apple’s shell companies almost always use Gmail addresses based on the companies’ names for their filings, and this is the case with Entertainment in Flight.
– International trademark filings made by known Apple-associated law firms. Alongside the U.S. filing, Entertainment in Flight made similar filings in a number of other countries around the world, and in each case used the services of law firms previously used by Apple and other known Apple shell companies to handle the filings: Locke Lord in the European Union, Bryn Aaflot in Norway, Baker & McKenzie in Australia and Canada, and attorney Pinar Arikan in Turkey.
The European filing covers two additional classes of trademarks: Class 38 for “transmission of digital audio, video and multimedia content” and Class 41 for “entertainment services” such as non-downloadable media and reviews and recommendations of entertainment content.
This post was created in partnership with The Wirecutter, a list of the best technology to buy. Read their continuously updated list of deals at TheWirecutter.com.
You may have already seen Engadget posting reviews from our friends at The Wirecutter. Now, from time to time, we’ll also be publishing their recommended deals on some of their top picks. Read on, and strike while the iron is hot — some of these sales could expire mighty soon.
Street Price: $440; MSRP: $600; Deal Price: $400
We’ve reported a couple deals on this TV recently, but this is $20 lower than anything we’ve had on our deals page. And up until about a week ago, we’d never seen any deals below $430.
The Sharp LC-48LE653U is our pick for best $500 TV. Chris Heinonen says, “Our main $500 pick for the time being is the Sharp LC-48LE653U. This $480 48-inch TV offers 1080p resolution, Netflix support, three HDMI inputs, and good picture quality for the money (according to current reviews). At this price level, it has the best picture quality, size, and features for the dollar compared with the competition.”
Street Price: $200; MSRP: $200; Deal Price: $155
Here’s a solid deal on this Bluetooth speaker from Logitech. Woot! isn’t offering the lowest price we’ve seen, but it’s still a good $45 below its current going value. You have four choices for colors with this deal: red-blue, white-pink, red-pink and blue-green. The price includes Woot!’s standard $5 shipping fee.
The UE Boom is being discontinued by Logitech because of two newer models: the Logitech UE Megaboom and the UE Boom 2. All that means right now is that we’ll probably see it hit several of these low prices while retailers clear inventory until it becomes hard to find.
The Logitech UE Boom is our runner-up pick in our guide on the best water-resistant Bluetooth speakers. Brent Butterworth said, “It offers an outstanding feature package, delivers very good sound quality, can withstand a splash or a rainstorm (but not a trip to the bottom of the pool), and has a compact and easily portable design.”
Street Price: $30; MSRP: $100; Deal Price: $15 with code 1NEWDEAL
This looks to be the lowest price ever on this version, although it can be hard to tell with coupon codes. This deal is pretty close to the lowest we’ve seen on the 11200mAh version, which has gone down to $13 before. You can also get the 15000mAh for $17 with code 2NEWDEAL.
While we’ve never tested the 13000mAh or 15000mAh, they are simply higher capacity upgrades of the 11200mAh battery pack, our runner-up pick for the best USB battery pack. Liam McCabe likes the IntoCircuit because “It takes up a bit less space overall than Anker’s Astro E4 [our main pick], but it also has a smaller battery capacity. Of the finalists, it’s the only one with a numerical charge-level indicator, which is as close as any of these packs comes to having a user interface.”
Street Price: $60; MSRP: $100; Deal Price: $45
We’ve had a similar deal up on this a number of times recently and while this isn’t a huge drop from the previous $47 low, it’s the new best price. Much like the previous deal, it’s available in black or red and comes with a special kit of 4 bottles and a reusable CO2 carbonator.
The SodaStream Jet is our pick for the best soda maker. Jamie Wiebe writes, “It’s simple to use, makes decent-tasting seltzer water, has a CO2 tank that lasts for about 40-60 liters, and is one of the most eco-friendly options.”
She added, “In our blind taste test, the Jet scored third, behind the Purefizz and the store-bought control. It’s neutral-tasting, and not as fizzy as the store-bought version, but it still tastes effervescent and bubbly.”
Deals change all the time, and some of these may have expired. To see an updated list of current deals, please go to The Wirecutter.com.
Some people look a little unkindly on the so-called “S” years — those years when Apple updates the iPhone, but doesn’t change how it looks, and then sells that while secretly working on something flashier that will debut 12 months later. I don’t think that’s exactly fair. Those “S” years are when Apple adds some of its most useful features. Siri? Touch ID? Both valuable additions to the iPhone platform that have since grown in importance. This year we get 3D Touch, a potentially awesome way to interact with iPhones. The thing is, a device’s worth isn’t just tied up in one feature: It’s about how all those moving parts work together. That’s why the new 6s and 6s Plus (starting at $649 and $749, respectively, for 16GB models) are such great phones. The combination of much-improved hardware and some polished software makes this year’s release far more than just a modest refresh.Slideshow-324598
No, your eyes don’t deceive you: The 6s and 6s Plus look nearly identical to last year’s models, save for a new rose gold color option that oscillates between “vaguely lavender” and “shiny new penny” depending on the light. The sleek, rounded aesthetic might not raise as many eyebrows as it did last year, but it’s still one of my favorite iPhone designs. Aside from the pink color option, the other changes aren’t particularly noticeable. Both phones are now made from 7000-series aluminum, an alloy used in the aerospace industry that, when compared to last year’s phones, makes for a sturdier but similarly lightweight design. The regulatory icons that used to live on the iPhone’s back have been removed too, leaving a teensy “S” logo to let the world know you’ve upgraded.Slideshow-324596
Meanwhile, we’re still left with the same 16GB, 64GB and 128GB storage options as last year, and you’re almost certainly going to want one of the latter two. I was hoping against hope Apple would finally give the 16GB model the heave-ho and raise the baseline to 32GB of space. That was clearly silly of me. Economies of scale aside, iOS 9’s smaller footprint and new developer tools like app slicing make the 16GB iPhone a little easier to make do with, though the inclusion of an upgraded 12-megapixel camera, 4K video shooting and animated Live Photos (which are turned on by default) means some will have a tough time keeping free space available.Slideshow-324597
As ever, the Touch ID fingerprint sensor lives in the iPhone’s home button, but this year’s module is a clear improvement: Apple claims it can pick up your fingerprints up to twice as fast as before. I can’t make out exactly what the speed multiple is here, but Touch ID really is blazing fast now, and I can’t remember the last time it didn’t work on the first try, either. In fact, it’s actually so fast that I’ve had to change some of my daily behaviors as a result. You see, I used to be one of those people who tapped on the home button to check the time or change tracks while I was in my car (yes, dangerous, sorry). With the 6s and 6s Plus, that doesn’t fly anymore: Touch ID picks up all but the quickest home-button taps.
As it happens, both phones are a touch thicker and heavier than before, but they’re still comfortable to hold, and the change in thickness specifically is so subtle that it’s nearly imperceptible. As for the weight, the 6s and 6s Plus do indeed feel noticeably weightier: The 6s weighs in at 143 grams, up from 129, while the bigger 6s Plus now comes in at 192 grams, up from 172. Not that that’s a bad thing. All told, this is one of the few times an iPhone has gotten beefier (the 4s was slightly heavier than the 4), and I’m actually quite pleased about it. At some point, there has to be a lower limit to how thin a phone can get and still be comfortable to use. I’d much rather see companies abandon that ceaseless march toward cartoonishly thin designs and instead work to make better use of the sizes they’ve already achieved. Bigger batteries, anyone?
Speaking of the sort, the cells in these new models are actually slightly smaller than they were before: 1,715mAh in the 6s and 2,750mAh in the 6s Plus. I’ll delve more into battery life a little later (spoiler alert: It hasn’t really changed), but recent teardowns seem to reveal why we’ve gotten a bit of a downgrade this year. In short, you have that new 3D Touch screen to blame. To give you a little background, the display crams 96 pressure sensors into the backlight layer of the phones’ Retina HD displays, along with a Taptic Engine that provides some subtle vibrations when you bear down on the screen. Turns out, the engine took up some extra room near the phones’ bottom edges, just under the spot where the battery sits. For now, the time-savings you get from using 3D Touch gestures feels worth the slightly smaller batteries, but hopefully Apple will eventually figure out how to shrink the necessary components so that it doesn’t have to compromise on battery size.
A new display, and a new way to touch it
At first glance, you probably wouldn’t notice anything different about the IPS screens on the 6s and 6s Plus. After all, they’re the same size as before (4.7 inches and 5.5 inches, respectively) with the same pixel density (326 ppi, or 401 ppi on the Plus). You won’t even notice the improved glass covering them until you drop it (please don’t). The eagle-eyed among you might catch that both screens are a touch brighter with slightly better color reproduction. There is, of course, something much more important at play here. It’s called 3D Touch, and it’s the biggest change in how we interact with iPhones since Siri.
Let’s start with the broad strokes: If you press your finger down on, say, an app icon, you’ll get a small menu of quick actions that you’d usually have to be inside the app to use. You’ll also feel a brief vibration from the Taptic Engine as a sort of tactile “thumbs up.” Like any new behavior, applying force to your iPhone’s screen will take getting used to. The whole thing is made a little trickier by the fact that it’s initially easy to mix up a 3D Touch and a long-press (like the one used to rearrange your app icons). It didn’t take more than a day or two for my muscle memory to learn the amount of pressure needed to make 3D Touch work, but hey — your mileage may vary.
Those 96 3D Touch sensors can also take precise measurements as you push down and release. Imagine, for instance, playing a racing game and being able to press the screen to accelerate past the chump who just whiffed while taking a corner. If that’s the future of smartphones, bring it on.
What’s more, there’s an entirely new vocabulary around this 3D Touch screen. Pressing down to preview something in a little pop-up window — be it a web link, or an address someone texted you — is what Apple calls “peeking.” Apply just a bit more pressure and the phone will bring up the usual, full-screen app view, in this case a Safari window or a location in Apple Maps. Congratulations, you just “popped” something. You can’t use all the same 3D Touch actions if you’re using an iPhone 6s Plus in landscape mode. Pressing down on app icons still brings up the menus you’d expect them to — as evidenced by the GIF above — but you can’t peek/pop addresses or hyperlinks in Messages and Mail while the phone is sideways.
Apple’s already laid out guidelines about how developers should implement 3D Touch, and they’re basically centered on one key idea: 3D Touch is about helping users do things faster. So far, the vast majority of apps don’t yet support 3D Touch, but the ones that do take different approaches as to what you can peek at. Some, like Twitter and Instagram, let you press down on their app icons to bring up those Quick Actions menus for near-instantaneous tweeting and photo sharing. Others, like Dropbox, offer previews of your files when you long-press their filenames in a list, but there’s no app icon interaction. OpenTable takes sort of a hybrid approach — you’ll get both an app icon menu and the ability to peek at restaurants’ locations in Maps as you’re scrolling through the culinary options.
This all might sound complex, but trust me: It’s not. Once more developers get on board, people will be able to zip around their home screens and just do things, as opposed to constantly jumping in and out of apps. It’s also a tremendously useful tool for getting quick bits of context — why yes, I would love to see a map of that sweet poutinerie in Berkeley, thanks very much.
After I got used to using 3D Touch, going back to the plain screen on my iPhone 6 was almost painful. Heck, even if you use the 6s and 6s Plus full-time, most developers haven’t had the chance to build 3D Touch support into their apps yet. I can’t tell you the number of times I was reading something in a non-supported app like Twitter, and pressed my thumb down on a link only to have nothing happen. Whoops! The mild twinge of annoyance I felt every time that happened speaks to how powerful 3D Touch is: It might seem like a gimmick at first, but it quickly became a feature I wanted to use all the time.
I’ve already penned a few thousand words on iOS 9, and its focus on cohesiveness and efficiency makes a great match for the new iPhones. Most of the software tweaks on the 6s and 6s Plus are centered on those lovely little 3D Touch interactions, but there’s one more trick that’s currently only available on these things. Jump into Siri’s settings and you’ll find that you can now enable “Hey Siri” — Apple’s always-on listening mode — to work even when you’re not connected to a power source. The feature launched with iOS 9 just a few weeks back, but it works best with the new iPhones’ more efficient M9 co-processor helping out under the hood. Weird as it sounds, I’ve taken to just talking to her sometimes when I want to listen to some Capital Cities in Apple Music, add yet another event to my stupid-packed calendar or turn on Airplane Mode when it’s time for some shut-eye.
What’s more, one of my favorite features from recent iPads has reached the new iPhones: 3D-Touching the keyboard while pecking out a text turns it into a trackpad for precise placement of the cursor when an inevitable typo pops up. If you lump in these tweaks with all the other thoughtful design changes in iOS 9, you’re left with a tightly integrated package that tries to give us the apps and info we want at just the right time.
Camera and Live Photos
iPhones account for a huge chunk of the photos taken every day, so it’s no surprise that Apple takes this camera business seriously. Thankfully, after several years, Apple finally traded in its 8-megapixel sensor in favor of a 12-megapixel main camera. Naturally, it’s actually not so much the higher resolution that matters; it’s all the other, more technical bits that should help improve photo quality. The folks in Cupertino went for smaller, more densely packed pixels (1.22µ, down from 1.5µ in the iPhone 6) that make for higher-resolution shots… with the added potential for more noise.
That’s where Apple’s “deep trench isolation” comes in: The company managed to separate the sensor’s photodiodes to keep incoming photons from introducing interference into surrounding diodes. You don’t really need to worry about that, though: It basically just means your photos should come out nice and crisp. Pair all that with a five-element lens and a familiar f/2.2 aperture and we’ve got ourselves another serious camera contender. Slideshow-323551
Right, so how do photos actually look? Pretty great. Colors look nicely saturated, but naturally so, while the standard Photo mode handles dynamic range and exposure better than I expected. This becomes especially apparent in landscape shots; neither the 6s nor 6s Plus blew out the sky on bright days, which made for some great shots of Toronto’s famous Honest Ed’s superstore. Once you get a little closer to your subject, though, things start to go slightly awry. Just about all of the photos I shot using the 6s and 6s Plus’s main cameras were crisp with clear color separation, but zooming in didn’t reveal much more detail than in photos I took with the iPhone 6. That’s not to say the 6s’ photos were worse than ones taken with last year’s iPhone; they just weren’t always the dramatic leap forward I was hoping for.
Photos taken with the iPhone 6s Plus are, in most cases, on par with those taken on the regular 6s, but it does fare a little better in low-light situations thanks to its optical image stabilization. Those of you with really steady hands might not notice as much of a difference, but it came in handy when shooting video. Also on the plus side, the front-facing FaceTime camera has also received a long-overdue upgrade to a 5-megapixel sensor. It should shock absolutely no one that selfies came out crisper and more natural looking, and the software-based screen flash does a respectable job lighting up faces in bars.
As for video, the 6s and 6s Plus can shoot in 4K — not that most people have 4K-ready screens in their homes yet. The resulting footage is remarkably sharp, with colors that were more or less true to life. Of course, all of this comes at a price: 4K video will eat up your free space in a hurry if you let it, which is why Apple didn’t bother setting it as the default recording quality.
What is enabled by default, however, is the Live Photos feature. You’ve probably seen the demos already; when you snap a photo, the camera captures just a little audio and video before and after the shot is taken — much like the Living Images feature found on recent Lumia phones. The end result is a neat, gimmicky way to capture enhanced pictures. They’re evocative at best and sort of lame at worst, but artsy types will surely get a kick out of concocting cool Live Photo scenarios and sharing them to and fro. Remember, Live Photos are shareable between anyone running Apple’s latest phone, watch or computer operating systems, so they need not languish alone on your 6s. They’ll quickly spring to life as you thumb through your Camera Roll, and you can set them as Live Wallpapers too — just apply a quick 3D Touch to run through the animations on your lockscreen.
All told, then, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus have great cameras. And yes, that’s “cameras” as in plural. Here’s the rub, though: The competition hasn’t exactly been sitting on their haunches these past few years, and devices like the Galaxy S6 line and Motorola’s Moto X Pure edition are powerful pocket cameras in their own right. Are these new iPhones definitively the best mobile cameras on the market? No, but they’re very strong options that stack up nicely against the rest of the greats. We’re all better off for the competition.
Performance and battery life
A new kind of touchscreen and some upgraded cameras are one thing, but what about the silicon running under the hood? This year, we’ve got a new 64-bit A9 chipset thrumming away inside both the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, which, according to some benchmarking tools, appear to be made up of dual 1.8GHz Typhoon CPU cores, the GPU and the updated M9 co-processor. Apple never comments publicly about how much RAM its phones have, but recent teardowns show that the new iPhones have 2GB, just like the most recent iPad Air and Mini. All together, that’s the biggest performance increase from one generation to another that we’ve seen in a while, and it shows.
I spent most of my time testing the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus by restoring them from recent backups of an iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and then using them side by side. The difference is obvious: Launching apps, firing up webpages and multitasking were all noticeably smoother on the newer iPhones. This performance gap can still vary a bit; the older iPhones would occasionally get close to 6s speed, but they never fully caught up. The benchmark table below paints a pretty good picture of just how much better the 6s and 6s Plus are at handling graphically intensive tasks like playing games. No dropped frames, no stuttering, no jankiness — the 6s and the 6s Plus were the clear winners.
|iPhone 6s||iPhone 6s Plus||iPhone 6||iPhone 6 Plus|
|3DMark Unlimited IS||24,601||27,542||16,689||17,902|
|Geekbench 3 (multi-thread)||4,427||4,289||2,885||2,803|
|Basemark OS II||2,354||2,428||1,441||1,520|
|SunSpider 1.0.2 (ms)||230||220||351||388|
|SunSpider: Lower scores are better|
More horsepower plus smaller batteries usually only means bad news, but the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus fared surprisingly well in our standard rundown tests. With screen brightness set to 50 percent and a video looping indefinitely with WiFi on and connected, the 6s hung in for 10 hours and 4 minutes, just short of the 10 hours and 19 minutes we saw on last year’s iPhone 6. Meanwhile, the 6s Plus and its bigger battery managed to eke out 12 hours and 37 minutes, narrowly besting its predecessor. Frankly, I wasn’t expecting either iPhone to match last year’s results, but whatever Apple’s doing with its silicon sure seems to be working.
You’re probably not spending over 10 hours a day watching the same video over and over on your phone, though, and thankfully the iPhones do a great job keeping up with real-world demands too. In my case, a typical day of use consists of horsing around on social networks, firing off messages in Slack and Outlook, intermittent voice calls and the occasional bathroom break playing Pokémon Shuffle. With that kind of use, the iPhone 6s usually made it through an 11-hour workday with 15 or 20 percent battery life to spare, at which point I fired up Low Power Mode for another hour or two before plugging it in. if you’re a bit more demanding or simply can’t stand the idea of being tethered to an outlet, you might want to go in for the 6s Plus: I routinely was able to squeeze out 18 hours of use on a charge.
If you’re on the prowl for a new smartphone and consider yourself platform agnostic, Samsung’s Galaxy S6 line would be a good place to start. Samsung shares Apple’s fondness for sleek, metal-and-glass designs, and both the 5.1-inch S6 and curved-screen S6 Edge pack some of the fastest silicon I’ve ever seen in an Android handset. Both phones are also comfortable to hold despite being bigger than the iPhone 6s. And if comfort and big screens are your concern, there’s a good chance the Galaxy Note 5’s curvaceous back will fit your palm better than the iPhone 6s Plus.
Then, of course, we’ve got some big-name options that aren’t even available yet. There’s a new pair of Nexus phones — the 5X ($379) and the 6P ($499) — that each offer potent horsepower at a reasonable price. Microsoft’s eager to prove it’s still in the smartphone game too, and is holding a keynote next week where it’s probably going to announce the first high-end Lumia phones we’ve seen in ages. There’s no word on price, unfortunately, and none of these options are likely to sway ardent Apple fans, but people willing to jump ship are about to have a lot great choices on their hands.
It’s easy to say that these are the best iPhones Apple has ever made, but that’s true every year. Like I said before, a device’s worth isn’t tied directly to a single feature: The important thing is how all of its components and design flourishes and features and interaction elements fit together as a unified whole. The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus nail it — mostly. They’re great phones: well-built, well thought-out and brimming with potential. So, let’s cap this off with a little buying advice. If you have an iPhone 5s and are itching to turn it in, now’s the time. If you’re an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus owner, this is a worthy upgrade, but no one will fault you for waiting another year. If you want the best iPhone you can buy right now (and don’t mind a bigger device), you want the iPhone 6s Plus. And if you’re tired of everyone insisting that big phones are the future and asking “What’s wrong with you; why don’t you have one yet?” buy a 6s and tell them to buzz off.
All product photos by Will Lipman. James Trew contributed camera samples.
Microsoft’s Windows 10 virtual assistant Cortana is getting even smarter today by integrating LinkedIn. If you’re using Windows Mail and Calendar for meetings, you can now connect Cortana to your LinkedIn account, which will surface details about the people you’re meeting with in Cortana’s reminders. That includes information like photos (helpful if you’re not good with faces), job titles and a quick link to their entire LinkedIn profile. Naturally, you’ll also be able to send a LinkedIn request right from Cortana reminders. This is the sort of integration mobile mail and calendar apps have been including for years now, so it’s not exactly new, but it’ll still be useful for Windows 10 users. And it’s also a fitting example of how third-party companies can tap into Cortana.
Robin Finck’s slow entry into the video game industry began, as he puts it, “a hundred years ago.” Around that time, Finck — best known as the guitarist for Nine Inch Nails — ran into Devolver Digital co-founder Mike Wilson in a fairly unconventional place. “Mike Wilson and I camped adjacent one another at Burning Man,” Finck explains. “I think he was dressed in shades and a flag and not much more, save the dust.”
The two kept in touch over the years, Finck touring and meeting up with Wilson whenever they were in the same city. Recently, their conversations turned to video game soundtracks. This was Wilson’s wheelhouse — Finck had never done music for a game and his personal connection to the industry ended with Atari’s 1980 arcade game Missile Command.
“I told him I was up for the challenge,” Finck says. “He came back to me the next day with a list of Skype meetings with different developers. Chris was one of them.”
Chris Eskins is the co-developer of Noct, a tense, monochromatic, top-down horror game that feels like a mix of Hotline Miami and XCOM filmed in Outlast‘s night-vision mode. It launches on Steam on October 22nd, and it features massive monsters and multiplayer elements. Players can communicate with strangers and friends alike in a simplistic chat system that populates directly within the game’s landscape, risking attack and permadeath with every keystroke.
“I think atmosphere is one of the key critical ingredients in any horror media,” Eskins says. “You want players to feel uneasy while exploring the world you’ve created. We build this tension by constantly reminding the player that even though you are in control (which may not be for very long, by the way), you can’t help but notice the lingering helplessness of having a suspended view of events from high above.”
A soundtrack heavily influences atmosphere as well. Aural terror takes many forms, from the creeping, bass-driven ba-dum of Jaws or the shrieking knife blows of Psycho. For Noct, Finck and fellow musician Wordclock (Pedro Pimentel) aimed for melodic unease.
“The soundtrack is decidedly an emersion of drones and ambience to complement the game states,” Finck says. “A real lights-out-lost-in-the-headphones sorta thing. My task was to bring a melodic quality of hope to the doomy beds, and in so doing, we created a bunch of new material as well. … It all really culminates in a greater WTF when you get clamped upon. It is an infectious and thrilling haunt.”
To Finck, Noct is the perfect introduction to the video game soundtrack world.
“I love the the monochrome aesthetic and the overall feel of the terrain,” he says. “Chris is really talented and passionate about the game, clearly, and Pedro’s original tracks made an alluring bed for me to lie in. They have been fabulous to work with. Together, we’ve retooled some of the original tracks, and created a batch of new music for the thing. It is a terrific outlet for me at this time.”
Finck’s experience with Noct has been so satisfying that he’s diving into the gaming world full-force. He has more soundtracks planned, in “a variety of themes and styles.”
Eskins, for his part, is happy to share something weird and unpredictable with new players and longtime gaming fans alike. “If our twisted little experimental game manages to creep players out, thank you for letting us mess with you,” he says.
The news department has been heating up a bit as of late. Apple included its own news app in iOS 9, and FlipBoard has been improving their own service, not to mention all the Material Design overhauls. Now we have come across something called “Glean”, which is another newsstand-style app. I was initially rather dubious at how Glean can compete against the bigger services, but as soon as I opened up the app up, my view on that changed completely.
Although the setup can take some time, it’s a necessity as the app wants to deliver relevant news and topics of interest to you. You begin by signing in, either creating an account or with an existing Google or Facebook account. I chose the Google account, and then was greeted by an interesting screen that allowed me to choose my topics of interest. I am not lying when I say that the list is vast and full of subjects, and there is guaranteed to be something that you can think of.
Once you’ve selected your topics, you go straight into the news area. There aren’t much options setting wise, you can only read the Privacy T&C’s and log out of your account.
The function of Glean is to obviously provide news that is of interest to you. Like the competitors, you can browse a large amount of any topics pulled from the web, along with some neat options like bookmarking articles, changing text size and sharing to your various social media accounts.
Glean is packed with these features. It offers most of the things that its competitors do, but unfortunately doesn’t seem to offer anything unique against the competition. Glean does, however, do the job well and at no point was I disappointed at what it had. This is made even better by the Material Design that the developers have incorporated into Glean to create an aesthetically pleasing experience.
Is it for me?
As Glean is a bit late on the scene, it is likely you already have a dedicated app for news topics. Regardless, Glean is something you should still try out and perhaps replace your existing app.
What we liked
- The incorporated material design
- Packed full of features
- Customization of topics
- No adverts
And not so much…
- Not much options for the app in the settings
Glean certainly has the potential to fill the market with its great service. With a decent mobile app, features and service, we can expect to see more people take it on as their main source of news.
The post Glean promises a quality news experience (App Review) appeared first on AndroidGuys.
Apple TV and Chromecast getting banned from Amazon to “avoid customer confusion” with Prime Video compatibility
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What do you do when you are an enormous online retailer who just so happens to provide hardware and services of their own? Well, firstly you stop allowing the primary competition to sell their products through your site. At least, that is part of the story coming from third-party vendors about an email that was sent out from Amazon. It would appear that Amazon will be banning all new Apple TV and Chromecast listings today forward and all current listings will be removed by October 29th.
“Over the last three years, Prime Video has become an important part of Prime,” the message read, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. “It’s important that the streaming media players we sell interact well with Prime Video in order to avoid customer confusion.”
According to that message, it would appear that Amazon is flexing its muscles a bit. I am sure it has something to do with some of the other announcements Amazon has made recently, like the CBS deal from this morning, mixed with Google Play Movies & TV / Apple TV not being supported by Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. What is truly interesting, is that Amazon Prime Video is Android and iOS compatible, but Amazon is playing hardball on making their own app for the service compatible with Chromecast or Apple TV stating that “Prime Video doesn’t work well with its rivals’ products.” That argument seems pretty thin at best in this technological day and age. It would seem a bit more accurate if they said “We won’t support them, so we aren’t going to sell them. Buy a Roku, Fire TV or Fire TV Stick if you want Prime Video on your TV.”
I doubt we will see Amazon stocks plumet, but they could renig on the whole thing by the end of the month. If they are worried about “customer confusion” as they say, they could simply make it blatantly obvious on the purchase page the device a customer is buying does not support Prime Video. We shall see where it goes from here.
I’ll admit that over the years Jetpack Joyride has been one of my favorite time wasters. There’s something semi-addicting about the game and it makes for a great way to kill time when waiting around in line at a doctor/dentist appointment, or just when I have a few minutes to kill. How appropriate then that it’s latest update is blending in one of my other personal favorite things, the Back to the Future franchise.
The new update introduces levels based off of Hill Valley, vehicles like the DeLorean Time Machine and the hoverboard, and plenty of new outfits and in-game collectibles. When it comes to gameplay, honestly very little has changed here. That said, it is a fun dose of nostalgia and could at least revitalize interest among those that have played Jetpack Joyride to death.
The video introducing the update is also pretty humorous, for what it is worth. What do you think of Jetpack Joyride’s latest update? Still enjoy the game, or do you wish they’d create a proper sequel with improved (and/or different) gameplay mechanics? Let us know what you think in the comments.
Amazon plans to stop selling some streaming video devices that compete with its Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, reports Bloomberg. It will no longer offer Google’s Chromecast or Apple’s Apple TV for sale in its online store.
Amazon today sent an email to marketplace sellers notifying them of the upcoming change. The site plans to disallow new listings for the product and remove existing inventory on October 29. As a reason for the removal, Amazon is citing compatibility with its Prime Video streaming service, which is not available on devices from Google and Apple.
“Over the last three years, Prime Video has become an important part of Prime,” Amazon said in the e-mail. “It’s important that the streaming media players we sell interact well with Prime Video in order to avoid customer confusion.”
Other set-top boxes and consoles, including those from Roku, Microsoft, and Playstation, do have apps that allow customers to stream Amazon Prime Video and thus won’t be affected by the new ban.
For Apple customers, this means the new fourth-generation Apple TV will not be available for purchase via Amazon.com. It also suggests the device will not be gaining an Amazon video app and will continue to be incompatible with the Amazon Prime Video service.
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Yesterday NVIDIA announced NVIDIA GeForce NOW. Essentially it is the re-branding of the streaming game service that was dubbed NVIDIA GRID. The GeForce NOW service is the same thing, you pay $7.99 a month to access more than 50 games that stream to your TV to play. You can also opt to buy many titles outright and stream them too. Today NVIDIA has announced something the lucky users of Google Fiber might enjoy.
Today, NVIDIA is teaming up with Google Fiber to make sure you can put that 1Gig connection to use. If you happen to live near one of the Google Fiber Spaces, you can swing in today and check out game streaming over Google Fiber, watch some demos, and possibly win some prizes too. If you are in Provo, Utah, Kansas City, Kansas, Kansas City, Missouri, or Austin, Texas then you have a special offer available on the NVIDIA SHIELD as a Google Fiber customer, or would be customer. They are knocking 10% of the SHIELD, making it $180 instead of $199.99.
You will have to wait for your promo code to arrive in an email though, but hey, $20 is $20. Anyone in a Fiber location heading out to a Google Fiber Space to take a look today? Let us know what you think if you do. Don’t wait though, they will only be at the Google Fiber Spaces today, October 1st.
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