Skip to content

Archive for

12
Mar

Snag a Moto X Pure Edition at up to $100 off from Motorola


moto-x-pure-back.jpg?itok=tjeXWzmY

Motorola is currently offering a pretty good deal on the Moto X Pure Edition, cutting the price of the handset by up to $100. While that $100 discount is only available for the 16GB version of the Moto X Pure (dropping it to $299), those interested in the 32GB version can still snag it for $50 off at $399.

Motorola says the discount will be available through March 17, so there’s time to pick out just the right combination of colors via Moto Maker. Also worth noting is that Amazon is offering the same discount, but you’ll have to do without Moto Maker customization.

See at Motorola

rc.imgrc.imgrc.imga2.imga2t.imgmf.gif

12
Mar

The Android N Developer Preview can wreck your Nexus — think before you act!


N-preview.jpg?itok=QA23cyrM

By now, many of us have heard the horror stories about the N Developer Preview ‘breaking’ people’s phones and tablets. It can happen — even to you.

Google has made it easy to enroll in the Android N beta program (too easy in my opinion) which means that a lot of people who aren’t prepared to “fix” things when it all goes south are left with unusable devices. Over-the-air updates always have the potential to screw up a phone or tablet, and when you factor in the beta part of this particular one, things can turn ugly.

There are two common issues we’re hearing — people aren’t getting the OTA to roll back from the preview, or people are getting an update that breaks the OS and aren’t able to fix things because they either can’t flash an image or never unlocked their bootloader.

It’s a hard truth, but beta developer and enthusiast software programs aren’t put in place for everyone

The first is easy to fix — be patient. Whether there is an issue with Google pushing the return-to-Marshmallow OTA, or things are just slow, you’re not going to be left hanging forever. Relax and spend the time thinking about how beta software may not be for you.

The second is a harder nut to crack. If you never OEM unlocked your Nexus, you have no means to flash a factory restore image. If you’re unable to get the tools working to use fastboot and flash an image, this software wasn’t something you should have installed — but keep trying. Visit the forums and get the help you need. People are looking for tricks to work around the locked bootloader issue, but if this is your situation you just may be out of luck.

It’s a hard truth, but beta developer and enthusiast software programs aren’t put in place for everyone. When an official OTA wrecks your stuff, you have people you can contact for repairs. With a beta — that’s clearly marked as something for developers and enthusiasts only — you might be out of luck.

We hope Google is working on some solution, but we’re not holding our breath. In the meantime, if someone in the community works their way through it, we’ll be sure to talk about it.

Android N Developer Preview

n-bg-generic.jpg

The Android N Developer Preview is just that — a developer preview. It is not intended for daily use. That doesn’t mean it’s not cool, and that you shouldn’t poke around. But know that things will break. Tread carefully. (And have fun!)

  • What’s new in Android N
  • All Android N news
  • About the Android Beta Program
  • Download system images
  • Android N easter egg
  • Join the Discussion

rc.imgrc.imgrc.imga2.imga2t.imgmf.gif

12
Mar

A ‘Star Wars’ VR experiment is coming soon to HTC Vive


Last year Industrial Light & Magic teased an HTC Vive VR tie-in experience (the old teaser clip is embedded after the break) to go along with The Force Awakens and to celebrate the launch of its ILM Experience Lab. Apparently its release was delayed along with the headset, but with the Vive due April 5th, it could be arrive at or near launch. Earlier this evening a short YouTube teaser for Star Wars: Trials on Tatooine appeared on the ILMVisualFX YouTube channel before going private, and it showed something that goes well beyond the Jakku Spy experience we saw last year for Google Cardboard.

It flashed a glimpse at the Vive headset, along with a VR trip in the Star Wars universe featuring everything from R2-D2 to player-controlled lightsaber battles. These screenshots should give you an idea of what this Cinematic Virtual Reality Experiment will be like, now we’re just waiting to hear when it will be available.

[Thanks, Anonymous!]

Source: ILMVisualFX (YouTube)

12
Mar

Watch astronauts make outer space Skype calls with HoloLens


So why exactly did the crew International Space Station need those HoloLens headsets? For a holographic instruction manual and VoIP calls, of course. Prior to entering orbit, the headset was certified for use on the Weightless Wonder C9 a number of times to ensure it’d work in a zero-G environment in addition to the NEEMO underwater space station analog, according to Victor Luo, the technical lead of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. Astronaut Scott Kelly used it to make the first Skype call from outer space to mission control and says he fiddled around with it for about two hours, too.

In that relatively short timeframe, Kelly says he could tell it was tech that could be used immediately. It’s stuff we’ve seen before, but hey, now we can take a gander at it in action and see what that outer-space Skype call really looked like. Spoiler: It’s probably a lot less awkward than calling your parents with a webcam typically is.

Source: NASA (YouTube)

12
Mar

Android N Developer Preview brings great accessibility improvements


Android-N-beta-accessibility-1.jpg?itok=

The Android N Developer Preview brings new accessibility options for low-vision users, starting right from the setup process.

A pair of really great features in the Android N Developer Preview are things that most people won’t ever use — new accessibility options. It’s easy to take your hearing and vision for granted, but there are plenty of folks out there who need a little assistance seeing what’s on these tiny screens, and some who just aren’t able to use a smartphone the traditional way. Two new features — Screen Zoom and a “vision assistant” profile during setup — are there to help.

Screen Zoom is the biggest user-facing feature, and it’s a great way to tackle the problem of not being able to see the tiny words and images on your phone. Rather than just display bigger text and images, Screen Zoom actually changes the display density to magnify or shrink everything on the screen. And everything means everything — even your status bar and on-screen navigation buttons change using the Screen Zoom tool.

screen-density.jpg?itok=6M1TElO6

Screen Zoom works to make everything smaller and show more on the screen, too. The maximum zoom makes elements the same size they would be on a 320dp screen (exactly the size of the Nexus 4) , so the only thing developers need to do is make sure their app layout allows you to see enough to use the app at that scale, and make sure they use density-independent pixel units for sizing UI elements. Most of the apps you use everyday will work just fine.

setup-assistance.jpg?itok=93RnSCsJ

The other great new feature is how accessibility option have been folded into the setup wizard. It’s easy to set up a new Android phone, unless you can’t see the instructions on the screen that guide you. Now users will be able to leverage the new zoom feature, as well as existing accessibility setting like larger fonts or the screen reader while they get things up and running. The Vision settings button is prominently displayed on the first screen of the process, and even flashes so the people that need to know it’s there can easily find it.

If you want to explore the new Screen Zoom features (and you should) you’ll find it in both the Display settings and the Accessibility settings on your N preview-powered Nexus.

Android N Developer Preview

n-bg-generic.jpg

The Android N Developer Preview is just that — a developer preview. It is not intended for daily use. That doesn’t mean it’s not cool, and that you shouldn’t poke around. But know that things will break. Tread carefully. (And have fun!)

  • What’s new in Android N
  • All Android N news
  • About the Android Beta Program
  • Download system images
  • Android N easter egg
  • Join the Discussion

rc.imgrc.imgrc.imga2.imga2t.imgmf.gif

12
Mar

Save $50 on Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P at the Google Store


nexus-5x-nexus-6p-rear-1.jpg?itok=ZO-7Hr

If you’re looking for a good deal for the Nexus 5X or Nexus 6P, now is your chance to score either for $50 off their normal price on the Google Store. The deal, which is in celebration of the Google Store’s first birthday, drops the starting price of the Nexus 5X down to $299, while the Nexus 6P now starts at $449.

If you’re interested, Google says that deals will last through March 27, so you’ve still got some time to decide on a storage option or color. Also worth noting is that the Google Store is still offering a $50 credit towards the purchase of a Huawei Watch when you buy a Nexus 6P, so you can add another feather in your savings cap.

See at the Google Store

rc.imgrc.imgrc.imga2.imga2t.imgmf.gif

12
Mar

The Public Access Weekly: Underoos


Hey, check out our new Public Access Weekly logo! Doesn’t it look great up there? I’ve got to give a hand to Erik, our designer, who whipped it up for us — I think it looks terrific and I love the way it echoes the banner on the Public Access home page. What do you think? Like it? Love it? Miss the old TV logo? I’m curious, so weigh in in the comments with your thoughts.
Also, heads up — this Sunday, March 13th is daylight saving time so don’t forget to spring those clocks ahead!

I cannot tell you how happy I am to have an excuse to use that GIF. (So happy. And no, I couldn’t find a bigger size version of that GIF. Sorry!)

And now: Housekeeping. First, a reminder that if you’re looking for Public Access posts on Twitter, check the #PublicAccess hashtag. We use it when we’re tweeting out noteworthy posts, when we congratulate new users on their first posts and when a post makes it to the Engadget home page. Feel free to use it yourself when you’re promoting your own stories; it makes us easier for us to find and retweet.

Remember about two weeks ago when I said that Public Access posts couldn’t be indexed because there were some legal and technological aspects we were working through? We are officially working through them and Public Access posts will be indexed, hence findable in Google search, just like every other story on Engadget starting on Monday. If that makes you a happy camper, add a thank you GIF in the comments for our hard-working devs.

Lastly, I’d like to give a shout-out and many congratulations to our first three Public Access users to have stories make it to the Engadget home page: Richard Heby’s explanation on why he won’t be buying a Galaxy S7 was a really well-thought out opinion piece (and he gets bonus points for replying to all the comments on that story). Cormac Reynolds’ article on the science behind the superpowers was a fun look at the types of technologies that are being developed that could (maybe) one day provide us all with mutant powers, while Edward Watkinson’s twelve must-have travel apps inspired me to download Bonjournal.

Kudos you guys – that’s some stellar work! If you want to see your article make it to the Engadget home page, you can find a quick run down of what it takes here.

Looking for something to read? Check out:

The newest version of Vantablack, the carbon nanotube material from Surrey NanoSystems, is even darker than the first version (which could absorb 99.96% of the light that touches it). This could result in some interesting military and space applications. Plus, you know, science is awesome.

No, YOU’RE awesome Carl.

In more “Yay science!” type news, Japanese scientists have developed a bacteria that can eat through PET plastics — a serious environmental boon, even if the process does take a while (It currently takes the bacteria six weeks to chew through a thin layer of PET).

In non-science news, one of the cofounders of Epic Games (known for Gears of War and the Unreal Tournament series) has a nit to pick with Microsoft about its closed gaming ecosystem: Namely, he thinks the UWP apps will result in an ecosystem that relies entirely on the Windows Store hence closing out other more traditional .exe files (as well as services like Steam). There are a lot of strong responses here in the comments as well.

Looking for something to write about? Mull over:

Apparently people frequently attempt to get into cars that are not Ubers. Which, as our own Roberto Baldwin learned, can be pretty awkward. Or, in the recent case of a San Francisco woman, dangerous. Have you ever had someone hop into your car thinking you were an Uber or a ride share? Or do you have an awkward ride share story to tell? Dish!

There are a whole slew of geek holidays happening in March! For example, yesterday was The International Day of Awesomeness (and Chuck Norris’ birthday and Mario Day) and Monday March 14th is Pi Day. Two weeks from today is Tolkien Reading Day. Tell us all about your Pi Day plans (or upcoming geek holiday plans), how you’re celebrating and don’t forget to include pictures!

We recently published a story that listed five reasons why crowdfunding projects fail, including over promising and not understanding your audience. Why do you think crowdfunding projects fail? Give us reasons and support your statements. Or, if you’ve ever funded a failed crowdfunding project (or been part of a crowdfunding project that failed) tell us the story of why you think it fell through and what you learned from the experience.

12
Mar

What becomes of a failed app: It tries to become the next Snapchat


A few days ago, a new app called Shorts arrived in the app store. The app lets you share your camera roll with anyone who’s interested — it’s okay, you get to choose which photos and videos you want shared — with the idea that your friends and family will get a peek into your everyday life, and vice versa. Creator Paul Davison likened it to a lifestream, where the mundane becomes entertainment, where oversharing is encouraged, where the meaning of “TMI” is pushed to the bleeding edge. “It’s the most personal and intimate thing we’ve ever created,” he said.

Davison is also the CEO and founder of Highlight, an app that made a big splash at SXSW Interactive in 2012. It’s a location-based people-discovery app, and it came to prominence at a time when apps of this sort were all the rage. (Others in the space included Glancee, Sonar, Banjo and Kismet. Haven’t heard of these apps? You can see why they didn’t last.) Three years since its heyday in Austin, Texas and the app has fallen by the wayside as adoption numbers dipped. Highlight isn’t dead just yet, but Davison and co’s efforts are now fully focused on Shorts instead. Seeing as it launched just a few days shy of this year’s SXSW Interactive — perhaps with ambitions to be the next hot new app at the event — that’s not too surprising.

It’s a tale that’s all too common in the rollercoaster world of Silicon Valley. Just last week, Meerkat announced that it would be pivoting away from live streaming and would be refocusing on being a video social network instead. Lest we forget, Meerkat was the hottest app of last year’s SxSW Interactive. It quickly caught on fire during the annual Austin tech fest where there was no shortage of cool events to be streamed and shared. Then celebrities like Jimmy Fallon and Madonna started using it and it seemed like the live streaming floodgates had opened.

And then Periscope happened. Twitter’s patronage helped Periscope surpass Meerkat by leaps and bounds. It also didn’t help matters that Periscope’s UI was just, well, better. Later in 2015, Facebook got in on the live streaming act too with Facebook Live Video, which made it even simpler for folks to start broadcasting. With Twitter and Facebook looming, Meerkat just didn’t stand a chance. But as a Skype-like group chat service? Well, maybe. It’ll still be a tough road ahead, regardless.

Apps live and die on the fleeting whim of the public. As a result, the constant evolution and flow of new apps is a necessary phenomenon. Either they get bought out, they get shut down or they figure out an alternative. Remember: Burbn became Instagram. Twitter was a side project by the creators of Odeo. Similarly, Shorts is a spin-off too. Indeed, Davison tells me that the inspiration behind Shorts came from Highlight in the first place.

“We started to realize the important role photos played in the product,” he said. When you tap on a person’s profile in Highlight, you can see a few photos of them and request to be their friend. The problem, Davison said, is that people don’t really update their profile photos too often. Plus they didn’t really provide too many clues as to who they were as people.

“We thought: Wouldn’t it be interesting, when you saw someone nearby, you could learn more about them by flipping through the latest photos in their camera roll?” said Davidson. “It’s a really provocative concept right? Because it’s such a private space. But what richer source of data than that? What better way to learn about someone than to see their life through their eyes and what they’re capturing?”

It was such a new and disruptive idea that Davidson knew it wouldn’t fit into Highlight; after all, that’s not what Highlight users signed up for when they joined the service. So they rolled it out into a standalone app. The initial prototype was something called Roll, and it was pretty frictionless. “You could see everything! It was crazy,” said Davison. “I saw my friend on vacation take a photo of his boarding pass, his car to see where he parked it, what he was cooking. It was a really fascinating thing.”

The problem was that it was too scary; you didn’t want to accidentally share something you’d regret your friend seeing. So with Shorts, they refined it. It would run in the background, and when you launched it, it would check to see if you have any new photos or videos in your camera roll. If there are, it opens right to them, where you can then swipe up to share, or swipe down to keep them to yourself. The downside, as far as I see, is that you have to do so with each individual image — there’s no way to mass edit here — so the approval process could be pretty tedious if you’re the type to take lots of photos.

The constant evolution and flow of new apps is a necessary phenomenon.

Davison tells me that early tests showed that people really took to it. There are photos on Shorts that you’d never see on Instagram or Facebook, he said. They’re less posed, more natural and much more spontaneous. It’s the same sort of feel that you’d get on Snapchat, except with Shorts, those photos stick around. “People started taking a lot more photos,” said Davison. “The act of simply taking a photo becomes social. It becomes more fun.” He also said that by letting your friends share more intimate moments, you get to know them better. “The ability to let them into your world a little bit… it really changes relationships.”

If that wasn’t boundary-crossing enough, Shorts is also designed a little like Highlight in that you can enable location to find other people around you who are using the same app. Tap on the person’s profile in Shorts, and you’ll be able to see the last 24 photos they published. This, Davison says, is potentially really useful at parties or events. “It’s enough to get a sense of whether you want to add someone as a friend, but not so many that people worry about putting too much out there.”

Davison took pains to tell me that they’ve built it with the necessary privacy controls; you only share what you want to share. Still, I found the whole thing a little unsettling. I take care to share only certain things with certain audiences; the idea of sharing everything with any number of people just seems like it’s too much. Davison did acknowledge that Shorts pushes boundaries a little, but he says that’s a natural thing with most social apps. “Before LinkedIn, it was weird to put your resume online … before Facebook, we didn’t really put baby photos online. These things just evolve.”

Perhaps. Or perhaps, like Meerkat, it might need to pivot into something else.

12
Mar

Bot Party asks: Are robots the future of comedy?


“You’re so ugly, you scared the crap out of the toilet.” That joke was delivered by a robot called Annabel wearing a sparkly blue prom dress. This is peak SXSW. The reason why Annabel is telling terrible one-liners is simple, if a little odd. Years ago, Arthur Simone, co-founder of Coldtowne Theater in Austin, started an improv show with his dog for a bet. It was a chain of events that would lead him to wonder if you could do improv comedy with a robot. Working with Martin Triplett, founder of Red Sky Robotics, they created “Bot Party” to find out. Annabel’s toilet humor might not have Saturday Night Live worried, but it’s proof that it’s possible. She’s also available for weddings.

Annabel is more a tablet strapped to an armless mannequin on wheels than pure robot. But we’re not judging. The other half of the robot double act is Ava, who plays the Hardy role — and has much better robot credentials. She’s laden with visual sensors, thermal vision, articulated arms and caterpillar tracks. She’s also much more sarcastic. The performance I’m at was delayed by an hour, and then sound problems held things up further. But once these issues are fixed, she looks to the audience and delivers a cutting “Finally.”

The one-liners are actually being fed to the robot duo. It’s the warm up material as people quietly take their seats. The real improv comes later when Simone — in classic “Whose line is it anyway” style — asks the audience for a topic. A human says “food.” Simone addresses Annabel about where to eat. Annabel responds almost nonsensically. Simone, himself an actor, isn’t phased, and replies without missing a beat. It’s improv, but only thanks to the human half of the demonstration.

“I give that round to Annabel” summarises Ava. I don’t quite agree.

Simone doesn’t give up. He knows he can get more from his bots. The performers, droid and humans alike, start a new game called “Good advice, bad advice, bad robot advice.” Two of the flesh-based Bot Party team respond to a given topic with good, and then bad advice respectively. Someone asks: “How do you find the best parties at SXSW?” The humans give their answers. Annabel simply offers: “Did you hear what I just said? Somebody might have died out there!” She’s actually picking lines from J.J. Abrams scripts. This one is from Lost. It’s funny, but accidentally. It doesn’t matter. Everyone’s enjoying the show.

“What’s the meaning of life?” Someone else asks. “Did you hear what I just said? Somebody might have died out there!” Annabel repeats. Weirdly, it’s funnier a second time. “What did that have to do with the question.” Sneers Ava with perfect comedy timing.

The show for SXSW is a little more controlled than the live performance you can go and see for yourself in Austin. If you do, you’ll see the robots relying on voice recognition and word association — and a splash of software logic. Either way, the show we see is somewhat chaotic, almost surreal. Not unlike regular improv in that regard. Ava is the funnier one, but Annabel has the last laugh, telling her co-droid “If you’re going to be two faced, at least make one of them pretty.” Ava, for once, didn’t have anything to say.

Are robots the future of comedy? Not right now, but Simone, Triplett Ava and Annabel (and friends) make a show that feels raw and raucous. As unpredictable and wacky as the real thing. It’s bonkers and somewhat hypnotic. There’s time for one last joke before we’re ushered out.

“When Chuck Norris goes to give blood, he declines the syringe and asks for a gun and a bucket.” — Annabel.

Okay, that one was pretty bad.

12
Mar

NYNE ROCK splashproof portable bluetooth speaker review


It is pretty easy to make the assumption that a bigger speaker elicits a bigger sound. Why not? Hardware vendors should be squeezing in more bang and boom and taking

%d bloggers like this: