‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ broke several movie records
If you suspected that Star Wars: The Force Awakens would smash box office records when you saw the lengthy queues at your local theater, you made a pretty good guess. Disney expects the adventures of Finn, Poe and Rey to set an all-time domestic debut record with an estimated $238 million haul. The previous best, this summer’s Jurassic World, “only” pulled in $208.8 million. On top of that, TFA also broke several other domestic records, including the biggest single-day gross ($120.5 million), biggest Thursday preview ($57 million), best December debut and multiple IMAX records. Worldwide, it’s estimated to rake in $517 million over its first five days — and that $4 billion Lucasfilm purchase suddenly seems like the bargain of the century.
Some international records tumbled, too, such as the biggest opening weekends in Australia ($18.9 million), Germany ($27.3 million), Russia ($12.3 million and the UK ($48.9 million).
It doesn’t take much to understand why the movie succeeded, of course. You’re combining one of the biggest franchises ever with one of the industry’s more accomplished directors and an almost overwhelming level of hype. It’d be surprising if the movie didn’t succeed. Still, this is a watershed moment for geek culture as a whole. While there have certainly been successful sci-fi movies in the past (including this fall’s The Martian), it’s rare that they dominate the media landscape so completely.
Heads-up: the comments are likely to be rife with spoilers, so you may want to skip them if you have yet to watch the movie.
Sprint begins rolling out Android 6.0 Marshmallow to the LG G4
Sprint has started rolling out the Android 6.0 Marshmallow update for its LG G4 variant. The update brings in all the goodies of Marshmallow to Sprint LG G4 owners, and bumps the software version to LS991ZV9.
Sprint’s website doesn’t list an official changelog for the update, but we do know from when the Android 6.0 Marshmallow update started reaching European LG G4 handsets that the update an updated Knock Code, which has become more secure; App Permissions, which allows users to modify individual permission requests of an app; Silent Mode, which has been added to the sound profile; Interruptions, which has been renamed to ‘Do not disturb’; Allow Peeking, which enables users to see notifications on the top of the screen; and QMemo+, which has been renamed to Capture+ but is otherwise all the same.
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Apart from that, Android 6.0 introduces features like Doze, a built-in Android battery saving feature that helps decrease power draw during standby mode; Google Now on Tap, which makes information more accessible than ever; and much more. The update adds a Sprint-exclusive feature as well, called Sprint Global Roaming, which has been detailed in a previous post.
Sprint’s updates are usually rolled out in stages, so don’t be surprised if you don’t receive the update immediately or for a couple of days. Already using Android 6.0 Marshmallow on your LG G4? Do share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
See also: Android 6.0 Marshmallow updates roundup – December 18, 2015
Watch Apple show off its design studio at 7:30PM Eastern
For years, most people have only known about Apple’s secret design studio through anecdotes. There’s talk of extreme security, loads of specialized manufacturing gear and other stories that make it sound more like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory than a real-world place. However, a lot of that mystery is about to disappear. CBS’ 60 Minutes is airing a tour of Apple at 7:30PM Eastern that, on top of an interview with CEO Tim Cook, includes a rare peek at Apple’s design wing. You unsurprisingly won’t see future products (as hinted by the black cloth above), but there are promises of a talk with design chief Jony Ive about the process behind making all those iPhones, Macs and Watches.
As for the chat with Cook? The show is already willing to spill the beans a bit early… and here, it’s treading on more familiar territory. Cook rejects the notion that Apple is dodging taxes by hoarding money overseas, calling it “political crap.” He insists that Apple pays everything it owes in the US, and that the country’s “industrial age” tax code makes it utterly impractical to repatriate that income. Also, the exec maintains his firm pro-encryption stance — much like the experts, he understands that a government backdoor is really a backdoor for any would-be hacker. It’s doubtful that you’ll get any earth-shaking revelations from the interview, then, but it could be worth watching if there’s more to it than what the preview reveals.
[Image credit: 60 Minutes, Twitter]
Source: CBS News
Apple Once Again Rumored to Be Developing High-Resolution Audio Formats
Apple is reportedly preparing to launch new higher-quality audio streaming in 2016, according to industry sources who spoke to Mac Otakara at this weekend’s Portable Audio Festival in Tokyo.
According to several insiders familiar with Apple, whose products are exhibited at PORTABLE AUDIO FESTIVAL 2015, the company has been developing Hi-Res Audio streaming up to 96kHz/24bit in 2016.
The Lightning terminal with iOS 9 is compatible up to 192kHz/24Bit, but we do not have information on the sampling frequency of Apple Music download music.
The report also claims many audio equipment manufacturers are preparing their own third-party Lightning cables in anticipation of Apple’s move toward improved audio quality.
Apple has long been rumored to be looking to introduce higher-quality audio formats for iTunes Store downloads and perhaps also Apple Music streaming. A year and a half ago, music blogger Robert Hutton claimed Apple was working to roll out high-resolution audio for the iTunes Store, and Mac Otakara made similar claims about an HD Audio format and new hardware being planned for release alongside iOS 8 later that year.
An even earlier flurry of rumors came in 2012 after Neil Young revealed that he and Steve Jobs had discussed ideas for improving the audio quality of iTunes Store content. Young ultimately went on his own in an effort to increase the quality digital music, releasing his PonoPlayer in early 2014.
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23 Minimal wallpapers to get your week started right
Some folks like really busy wallpapers, with different flows and themes running across your screens. Others, not so much. There’s just something to be said about a minimal wallpaper that has little effect on your eyes as your working on your various devices.
So if you’re in the market for some new wallpapers, and want something that doesn’t always catch your attention, be sure to check out this set of minimal wallpapers.
The wallpapers are all in the scrolling images above, and if you want to save them, follow these instructions:
- Click the left/right arrows to scroll through the images
- Maximize the image you like by clicking on it
- Long press or hold down on the image and click “save”
- Go to your gallery or Google Photos and find your image
- Click “use as” and then click wallpaper
If you see a wallpaper that belongs to you and you would like to receive credit, I would love to give it to you! Just drop a comment in the section provided below with some proof (You know, just so we don’t have people claiming things that are not theirs…) So, please choose those that you like and enjoy!
Some of my favorites can be found below:
The post 23 Minimal wallpapers to get your week started right appeared first on AndroidGuys.
Talk Android Apps of the Week: December 20, 2015
It’s Sunday, the time of the week when Talk Android brings you a report on some of the very best applications we’ve been using over the course of the past seven days. Today we’re focusing our attention on a fantastic photo storing platform, a reliable weather tracker, an awesome music streaming service and last, but not least, an addictive game.
Whether you’re an incessant selfie snapper or someone who likes to take shots of your surroundings wherever you go, it’s odds-on you have an abundance of pictures stored on your phone. Backing up these images and having them sync across all of your devices can be a bit of a pain, though. However, last week I unearthed a nifty little application developed in-house by Google that does all the hard work for you.
Google Photos is its name and it replaces the default Gallery application on your handset to become your one-stop-shop for any photo-related tasks. Once you’ve configured the application and linked it to your Google account, all of your pictures will be transferred to the devices you have the app installed on.
There’s no need to worry about how much space the images are taking up, either. You can upload an unlimited amount of images to Photos, providing you give permission for them to be scaled down and compressed. However, If you do want to retain the full size and quality of your pictures, you can simply upload them as part of your Drive storage allowance.
The weather affects a variety of factors in our day-to-day lives, like, for instance, what we wear, what route we take, what time we leave and even if we go at all. These are just a few reasons why it’s handy to be prepared for what’s in store. My favorite weather tracking application is without a doubt BBC Weather.
Not only is the app extremely simple and clear to use, but it also features the most detailed and reliable information you’ll find on the Web. All of its statistics come straight from the Met Office, so you’ll be the first to see any severe weather warnings issued at your location wherever you maybe.
Unfortunately, one essential feature the application does lack is Android Wear compatibility, but the developers have hinted that it is on its way, and should be available some time during the first Quarter of 2016 — so be sure to keep your browser pointed to Talk Android for more details on that.
Apple’s brand new music streaming platform is now available for Android in beta form, and to be completely honest, it’s by far the best audio service I’ve ever subscribed to. After signing up for a free 3-month trial, you’ll have instant access to over 30 million songs, which you can play live or download for offline playback at any time.
The application itself is a treat to use. When using it, you’ll be presented with recommendations selected purely on what you already listen to and love. You’ll also be able to tune into live radio streams, where you can hear exclusive interviews and tasters of upcoming songs.
One of Apple Music’s greatest features is its ability to bring all of your iTunes purchases to Android. This thankfully bridges the gap between Apple’s music platform and Google’s open-source operating system, which previously never played nicely together, but now it will be easier than ever to access songs from your iTunes library on your Android smartphone.
Up last this week, we’re looking at Circle, a puzzle game which brings a new lease of life to traditional ‘avoid the wire’ titles. All you have to do is continuously tap your device’s display to make your circle jump so it steers clear of the metal pipe. If you do happen to come into contact with the line, you instantly fail the level and have no other option than to start again. Progress is tracked by the scores that you hit. The higher you go, the better it is.
Previous Apps of the Week editions:
Come comment on this article: Talk Android Apps of the Week: December 20, 2015
Living with the BlackBerry Priv hooked me on its keyboard
When my colleague Dan reviewed the BlackBerry Priv, he was understandably cool about it. You’re paying a steeper-than-average price ($699-plus in the US) for a phone whose selling point is its slide-out keyboard. That’s a big gamble when there are more affordable touch-only phones that are also more powerful. But what’s it like if you take that plunge? I’ve spent two months living with a Priv to find out. All its stand-out features and quirks are still there, but I’ve found myself gradually drawn in by that keyboard — enough so that my opinion of the phone has changed for good. Slideshow-349703
Yes, a lot of the issues with the keyboard remain. It’s narrow, tightly spaced and otherwise not the best keyboard BlackBerry has ever made. (To me, that honor goes to the Bold 9900.) Also, a slider design on a large 5.4-inch phone creates a unique problem: It’s so tall in its extended mode that I occasionally had to hold it close to me to avoid banging against nearby objects. For that matter, the software autocorrect would sometimes fail to kick in while I was using the physical keyboard, leaving me to correct typos like it was 2006 all over again.
But when everything works, it works. It’s not so much the speed — it’s not that much faster than using a touchscreen keyboard — as the feel and how it frees up screen space. There’s something satisfying about flicking out the keyboard to wake the phone and dash off a message. And hiding the software keyboard is just perfect for chat apps like Hangouts, where all that newly freed-up real estate lets me track more of the conversation without scrolling. Although the on-screen keyboard is well-done, I found myself leaning toward the old-school buttons when I had the chance.
Part of the appeal comes when I do have to scroll, mind you. The keyboard’s gesture support is inconsistent, even within apps (Flickr reverses scrolling directions in different sections, for instance), but on the whole it’s very useful. I can read an article without obscuring the page, or follow the strands of a long Twitter conversation without lifting my hands off the keys. While I didn’t use the other features much (such as selecting text or erasing whole words), they were nice to have now and then. These gestures were also present on the Passport, of course, but it’s still great to have them here too, especially when there’s a rich app ecosystem that can take advantage of those keyboard swipes.
How does the rest of the Priv stack up, you ask? Pretty well, actually. The quad HD display and 18-megapixel camera remain good but not great, and the battery life with heavy use (e.g., social networking and music streaming) is merely average despite the big 3,410mAh battery. However, the phone could almost always keep up with what I wanted to do. The Snapdragon 808 chip and 3GB of RAM aren’t as powerful as you’ll get in some phones in this class, but they’re still up to the job of driving a flagship device. About the only let-down was the low-light photography, which was reasonably bright but also noisy and colorless (though it did get better, as you’ll see below). You could never touch the Priv’s keyboard and still get a pretty solid smartphone.
And yes, moving to Android has done wonders for the BlackBerry experience. As good as a few elements of BlackBerry 10 were — multitasking in particular — it’s refreshing to have an ample supply of native apps, instead of repackaged titles or, more often, nothing at all. Instagram? Flickr? Swarm? Yes to all of them. BlackBerry’s custom touches are generally welcome, too, like pop-up widgets and stars to indicate apps with notifications. Some of the software is superfluous outside of certain business users; I didn’t really need DTEK’s security audits, for instance. All the same, I’d say BlackBerry struck a fine balance between maintaining Android’s strong points and catering to faithful users.
I’d add that BlackBerry has been good about supporting the Priv in the time I’ve used it. A major December update improved performance across the board, including the camera’s low-light quality. On top of that, there have been numerous app updates to tweak the functionality and fix bugs. It’s still not flawless: One recent crash forced me to reboot the phone. However, this is the kind of tremendous post-launch support that I wish other phone manufacturers would offer. That extra level of care stems partly from make-or-break necessity (BlackBerry may quit hardware entirely if sales remain poor), but it’s greatly appreciated.
My main concern is that the Priv isn’t quite as transformative an experience as BlackBerry arguably needs it to be. I did get hooked on typing on that hardware keyboard, but I felt back at home the moment I went back to typing on glass with other phones. The physical keys weren’t so addictive that I found myself missing them dearly, and that’s a problem when rivals like the Galaxy Note 5 and Nexus 6P are faster, take better photos and otherwise sport more bells and whistles. Even so, I’m going to miss the Priv — and that’s something I haven’t said about a BlackBerry in a long time.
5 Android apps you shouldn’t miss this week! – Android Apps Weekly
Sponsored by: ES File Explorer Pro
This week’s Android Apps Weekly is sponsored by ES File Explorer Pro. This is one of Android’s oldest and most stable file managing apps and includes a ton of features including pretty much any file management feature you could ask for along with cloud storage management, app management, remote file management, archive management, and tons of other types of managements. It’s also all wrapped up in material design.
Recently, the developers also released ES File Explorer Pro. It’s exactly the same as ES File Explorer in every way except you’ll have expanded theming options, no advertising, and a promise from the developers to keep being awesome. I bought this the day it came out long before they ever became a sponsor because I really do actually like this app a lot. Give the pro version a go yourself and show your support for the Android Apps Weekly show.
Get it now on Google Play!
Welcome back to Android Apps Weekly! Here are your headlines from the last week:
- As you have no doubt heard, Star Wars: The Force Awakens has had fairly stellar reviews so far and the fan hype has been unbelievable. To celebrate, the Google Play Store is currently offering the movie for pre-order on Google Play as well as the soundtrack. Sure it’s kind of silly to pre-order digital goods that never run out of stock, but hey, it’s there if you want it.
- This last week, rumors began to surface that Google Hangouts was going to lose SMS integration. This is, of course, bad news for people that use both SMS and Hangouts and it’s been reported that Google will begin promoting their SMS app instead. Google Voice users will still be able to text and the app itself will gain other new features.
- In a bizarre ruling, court officials in Brazil levied a 48 hour ban on WhatsApp when they refused to hand over user information for a criminal drug trafficking investigation. The ban has since been lifted because it was ruled unconstitutional that millions of Brazilians get cut off from their messaging services over something like that.
- Facebook has announced that they’re shutting down their photo syncing service on January 10th, 2016. From that moment on, users can download a zip file containing their photos or they can get the Facebook Moments app which will continue the photo syncing goodness. I guess they want Moments to be a competitor to Google Photos. We’ll see how well that does.
- To celebrate the holiday, there is currently a game sale going on in the Play Store. There are more than 35 games on sale, including most Square Enix games, Prune, a couple of LEGO games, XCOM: Enemy Within, and plenty more. Check out the list and grab some awesome games for cheap!
For even more Android apps and games news, updates, and releases, don’t forget to check out this week’s newsletter. We had a ton of stuff this week that we didn’t have time for here and we encourage you to check it out. If you want, you can use the form below to subscribe to the newsletter and get it sent directly to your email address every week!
Picpal is a new app that is kind of like Snapchat. You and your friends take pictures of things and those pictures are used to create a collage that is then posted. This process can be repeated whenever the mood strikes. It’s a fun concept and the app uses Material Design which looks great. Unfortunately, the app only allows Facebook login and it is a little rough around the edges but it’s definitely something to keep an eye on.
Get it now on Google Play!
Watch Your Style Watch Faces
This last week, Google announced over a dozen new designer watch faces that aim to give Android Wear users a little more class to their smartwatches. Some of the designers include Ted Baker, Vivienne Tam, ADIDAS, and plenty of others. Each watch face is entirely free and they all have their own unique looks and features. They’re definitely worth checking out, especially if you’re getting a bit bored with your watch face.
Get it now on Google Play!
[Price: $4.99 with in-app purchases]
Scribblenauts Remix was one of the most popular paid games on Android in its heyday and Scribblenauts Unlimited aims to continue that proud tradition. It uses a lot of the same mechanics from the prior game, such as allowing the user to type words out and have those things actually appear. At its core, it’s a creative puzzle game where you must create things to solve puzzles. It’s a lot of fun and contains a ton of content.
Get it now on Google Play!
Microsoft Apps is an application by Microsoft that shows you other Microsoft apps. This may seem a bit silly given that you can simply search for those apps, but not everyone is as tech savvy as some of us which means there is a legitimate use for an app like this. Especially with Microsoft’s unusually large app collection. It’s simple to use and adheres to most of the Material Design standards. It’s also totally free.
Get it now on Google Play!
Cut the Rope: Magic
[Price: Free with in-app purchases]
ZeptoLab has released the latest version of Cut the Rope just in time for Christmas. Much like its predecessors, it’s totally free with no in-app purchases and again revolves around helping the small, adorable little monster solve puzzles. It borrows a lot of its mechanics and premise from prior titles in the series, but includes new elements such as transformations, boss levels, and over 100 new levels.
Get it now on Google Play!
If there are any great new releases or headlines that we missed, tell us about them in the comments! Thanks for reading and watching, we’ll see you next week!
Inhabitat’s Week in Green: Elon Musk’s solar energy plan
It’s been a good week for environmental news. For starters, world leaders sealed the deal on a historic climate agreement in Paris, President Obama announced the largest energy efficiency rule in US history and congress extended solar and wind tax credits for another five years. Elon Musk found a way to power the entire United States with solar energy, and Bernie Sanders declared war on global warming in his ambitious climate plan. Google expanded its free online solar power calculator to nine more states, while SolarPod launched an innovative line of photovoltaic panels that can be installed on any roof without drilling a single hole.
Ford is investing in the future of transportation in a big way. The automaker just dedicated $4.5 billion to develop 13 new electrified cars, and they’re planning to test a self-driving hybrid in California next year. Meanwhile, Nissan is taking aim at the Chevy Volt with plans to launch a range-extended electric car in 2016. Flat tires are the bane of cycling, but what if your tires automatically inflated while you ride? That’s the idea behind the PumpTube, which pumps itself up using force generated by rolling tires. And if you’re traveling over the holidays, make sure to check out Olaf, a clever backpack that morphs into a scooter, trolley and skateboard.
The EcoCapsule is an off-grid egg home that’s entirely powered by the sun and wind — and it just went on sale this week. In other design news, two architects invented an innovative brick that disperses heat to keep homes naturally cool. Hamwell launched a recirculating shower that uses 80 percent less energy and 90 percent less water, and we tested out Dyson’s new Pure Cool air purifier, which eliminates 99.95 percent of harmful airborne particles.
In wearable tech news, we showed you how to knit a pair of Netflix smart socks that pause your show when you fall asleep, while ShiftWear debuted a slick pair of kicks that change color before your eyes. And to celebrate Star Wars we showcased an awesome set of lightsabers inspired by five of the world’s top designers, and we explored how Frank Lloyd Wright inspired George Lucas.
The After Math: Baby, it’s cold outside
It’s 50 degrees and raining here in San Francisco which, by West Coast standards, constitutes the second coming of Snowpacalypse. With this sort of weather the only rational choice is to stay inside and patiently wait for spring. But just because we’re tied to the couch for the next few months doesn’t mean we can’t take a tour of the West Wing, knit ourselves some binge socks or play 16 new (old) XBox games. Because counting the days to spring is way easier if you do it by the numbers.Slideshow-349707