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18
Mar

Planet Surfer: Charming, casual, timing-based, space themed fun. [Review]


Overview Planet Surfer is a cool concept with a fun aesthetic; you blast off from planet to planet, matching the color of your planet to the one to which you’re

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18
Mar

You can now mark your favorite locations with colorful stickers in Google Maps


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Google Maps users have new options for navigating their way to their destinations. Google is adding colorful stickers that can be used to label and save addresses on the Maps app, such as home and work locations.

The stickers themselves include representations of regular houses or buildings, but there are also more esoteric choices such as igloos, treehouses and even submarines. Google says:

To save home and work addresses and other destinations, just make sure you’re signed into your Google account. Then visit the Your Places tab or type an address, then label it. Once setup, you can just type “home”, “work” or “gym” in the search bar to get directions and navigate quickly and easily from wherever you are.

You can download Google Maps right now from the Google Play Store.

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18
Mar

Should you upgrade to the Galaxy S7 edge from the Galaxy S6 edge+?


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The GS6 edge+ is barely six months old, but with the recent arrival of the Galaxy S7 edge, you might be feeling the itch to upgrade.

The Galaxy S6 edge+, launched alongside the Note 5 in fall 2015, was something of an oddity in Samsung’s Galaxy lineup — a halfway point between the regular GS6 edge and the newly arrived GS7 edge. Both devices boast big screens, great cameras and Samsung’s trademark edge display.

If you’re buying a new phone today, we’d always point you towards the newer model — the GS7. But if you’re already a GS6 edge+ owner, you may be enviously eyeing its successor. Wondering what you’re missing out on? We’ve put together a quick guide for your perusal. Read on to see whether it’s worth taking the plunge.

A quick note before we begin: We’re comparing a European GS6 edge+ (SM-G928F) running Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow to a European GS7 edge (SM-G935F), also running Android 6.0.1. The European GS7 edge uses a Samsung Exynos 8 Octa processor, whereas the U.S. version of the phone uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820. As such, your mileage may vary.

Hardware

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Coming from the same family of devices, the design DNA shared by the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ and the Galaxy S7 edge is clear to see. You’ve got a glass-fronted, glass backed phone broken up by a slender metal trim. The GS6 edge+ is a bit more angular overall, with a flat back and sharper corners where it joins the aluminum frame. By contrast the newer GS7 edge is curvy all over, with front face that gently blends into the metal trim, and a subtle Note 5-like curve to the glass back.

The GS7 edge’s extra curves give it a more ergonomic feel.

The additional curves give the GS7 edge a more ergonomic feel, and its smaller size also makes it a more natural fit for hands. Meanwhile the ever so slightly rounded back makes it easier to pick up off a flat surface.

The newer model is also noticeably thicker, in order to accommodate a larger battery. Thinness tends to be overemphasized in the smartphone world, and at 7.7mm the S7 remains svelte in its own right. If we had to choose, we’d say the GS7 edge is a more natural fit in the hand, and the move down from 5.7 to 5.5 inches of display real estate hasn’t troubled us at all.

On the inside, the move from GS6 edge+ to GS7 edge brings us almost a generational leap in internals. While the Exynos 7420 chip powering the older of the two phones is a year old at this point, it continues to pack more than enough horsepower for day-to-day app usage. Really, the only place you’ll see any difference in performance between the two is in benchmark apps and really high-end gaming.

As the spec sheet reveals, the basic dimensions of the phones may have changed, but many features have carried over.

Operating System Android 5.1.1 (Android 6.0.1 with update) Android 6.0.1
Processor (U.S., China, Japan) Exynos 7420 Octa-core4X ARM Cortex-A53, 4X ARM Cortex-A57 Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 quad-core2X Qualcomm Kryo + 2X Qualcomm Kryo
Processor (Rest of World) Exynos 7420 Octa-core4X ARM Cortex-A53, 4X ARM Cortex-A57 Exynos 8890 Octa-core4X ARM Cortex-A53, 4X Samsung Exynos M1
RAM 4GB 4GB
Storage 32/64GB 32GB + microSD
Display 5.7-inch QHD SuperAMOLED 5.5-inch QHD SuperAMOLED
Main Camera 16-megapixel + OIS, f/1.9 lens1.12μm pixels 12-megapixel + OIS, f/1.7 lens1.4μm pixels
Front Camera 5-megapixel + f/1.9 lens 5-megapixel + f/1.7 lens
Battery 3,000mAh internalAdaptive Fast Charging, Wireless Charging 3,600mAh internalAdaptive Fast Charging, Wireless Charging
Connectivity 802.11ac Wifi, 2.4/5GHz, MIMO (2×2), 620MbpsBluetooth v4.2 LE, ANT+NFC, Location (GPS, Glonass, Beidou) Wi-Fi 802.11 ac MIMO, Bluetooth v4.2 LE, ANT+, USB 2.0, NFC
Water resistance None IP68 rating
Dimensions 154.4 x 75.8 x 6.9mm 150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7 mm
Weight 153 grams 157 grams
Fingerprint security Yes Yes
Colors black, white, gold, green (varies by market) black, white, gold, silver (varies by market)

As for the display, outside of lab tests the most we can say is both phones have absolutely phenomenal screens — easily among the best in any smartphone. Detail is plentiful thanks to the Quad HD resolution, colors are bright and vibrant, and the super-high-brightness daylight mode is as always a welcome addition.

The GS7 has grown two big, new important hardware features, however — the newer model is water and dust-resistant, rated IP68, and Samsung has brought back the microSD slot for adding expandable memory. You won’t be able to directly augment your internal storage with Android 6.0’s “adoptable storage” feature, but it’s an easy place to offload photos or music.

Software

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Here’s where things get interesting. The Galaxy S6 edge+ was recently updated to Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow in many countries — if the update isn’t with you already, it’ll be coming pretty soon. So for the purposes of this article, we’ll compare both phones on Marshmallow.

So for the most part, the Marshmallow upgrade for Galaxy S6-series phones, including the edge+, brings many of the Galaxy S7’s features to these devices. For the edge+, this includes Samsung’s revamped edge screen features that make the curved display a bit more useful than before. You’ll also benefit from speedier performance all-round, a more reliable fingerprint sensor and relief from one or two random bugs that would occasionally cause Samsung’s 2015 devices to freeze and stutter.

It’s easier to point out what you don’t get in the GS6 edge+ Marshmallow update.

And these upgrades include all the visual enhancements from the GS7 — a more muted grey-blue notification drawer, a revamped Settings pane, and all-new versions of each one of Samsung’s bundled apps.

Basically everything that makes the GS7 software experience can be found in the GS6 series’ Marshmallow update, with just a few exceptions worth mentioning.

  • Game Launcher isn’t included, so you’ll miss out on the dedicated launcher for games, as well as recording and notification-silencing features.
  • The always-on display feature also isn’t included, though this isn’t particularly useful on the GS7, and we’ve already turned it off on that device.
  • The new camera modes like video collage and hyperlapse aren’t included.

And really, this just underscores what a solid update Android 6.0 is for the Galaxy S6 edge+ — about as big a jump as we’ve in any generational software upgrade for a Samsung phone. That being the case, there’s not much in the GS7 edge’s software to inspire an update from its immediate predecessor.

Camera quality

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The Galaxy S7 series brings about a re-think of Samsung’s camera philosophy, with a new 12-megapixel sensor with larger pixels (1.4-micron versus 1.12 in the GS6 series) for improved low-light pics. That’s augmented by a brighter f/1.7 lens, compared to the GS6 series’ f/1.9.

The Galaxy S7 edge’s camera, as we stated in our review, has a lot to live up to. Last year’s Samsung cameras were phenomenal, and so any improvement in low-light photography ideally shouldn’t compromise the camera’s daylight capabilities.

Again, as we discussed in our full reviews, there are certain semi-rare situations, in daylight or in HDR mode, where the GS6 will produce a better-looking shot than its successor. You’ll have to take side-by-side comparison shots to tell, but it can happen.

With this caveat out the way, the high-level summary is this: Both phones have excellent cameras, but the GS7 pushes ahead with a substantial improvement in low-light photography, especially in really dark scenes. The new f/1.7 lens can also produce some absolutely gorgeous micro shots, though the GS6 was highly skilled in this area too.

The biggest difference we’ve noticed between the two is in HDR mode. Whereas the GS6 tended towards almost over-lightening areas in HDR shots, photos in HDR mode from the GS7 appeared darker and less appealing overall, though arguably more true to life.

Bottom line: You really have to nit-pick to find fault with the GS7’s camera. And when you do, it’s not impossible to find areas where the GS6’s takes a slightly better-looking photo, particularly in bright daylight. While the GS7 is the clear winner in low light, you’ve still got a highly capable camera in the GS6 series.

Sample images: First from GS6 edge+, second from GS7 edge

Note: Samsung uses a mix of its own ISOCELL sensors and Sony IMX260 sensors interchangeably across the Galaxy S7 range. For what it’s worth, our device has the ISOCELL sensor.

Bottom line

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The Galaxy S6 edge+ was always a great phone. With its recent upgrade to Marshmallow — complete with all the Samsung goodies that bring it into line with the S7 software experience — it’s a really great phone. In fact, it still compares favorably to most high-end Android phones of the moment.

That being the case, there are a few reasons why you might want to sell your phone and upgrade to the new Galaxy S7 edge. The first is battery life. The 20 percent boost in battery capacity, together with more efficient components and a smaller display size overall, make the GS7 edge noticeably longer-lasting.

The next is the camera. Sure, in decent lighting the GS7’s camera is more of a side-grade than a straight-up upgrade, but if you’re taking a lot of photos in low light, the updated model has a clear lead.

But you’re going to have to care about these two features a lot for this to be a worthwhile upgrade. Instead, most GS6 edge+ owners are going to get more out of the upgrade to Marshmallow than they would forking out the extra cash for a GS7 edge.

Galaxy S6 edge+ owners, are you tempted to upgrade to the Galaxy S7 edge? Shout out in the comments!

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge

  • Galaxy S7 review
  • Galaxy S7 edge review
  • Galaxy S7 edge with Exynos: A Canadian perspective
  • Here are all four Galaxy S7 colors
  • Details on the Galaxy S7’s camera
  • The SD card is back on the GS7
  • Join our Galaxy S7 forums

AT&T Sprint T-Mobile Verizon

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18
Mar

Verizon is pushing a security update to the Galaxy S7, S7 edge


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Verizon is joining AT&T and T-Mobile in pushing out the first security update to the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge on its network. The carrier only notes bringing the phone up to date with the most recent security patch in its changelog. From Verizon’s update page:

The current software update gives you the most up to date Android security patch on your device.

If you haven’t already received the update notification, you can check manually for it. To do so, simply head to your Settings, About device and then check for the update.

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge

  • Galaxy S7 review
  • Galaxy S7 edge review
  • Galaxy S7 edge with Exynos: A Canadian perspective
  • Here are all four Galaxy S7 colors
  • Details on the Galaxy S7’s camera
  • The SD card is back on the GS7
  • Join our Galaxy S7 forums

AT&T Sprint T-Mobile Verizon

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18
Mar

T-Mobile fixes what was broken in Binge On, setting a new standard for new streaming services


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T-Mobile is now the streaming video gatekeeper, but at least they aren’t guarding a broken system anymore.

As long as you didn’t think too hard about what was happening, T-Mobile’s Binge On service has been fantastic from day one. By doing absolutely nothing, all T-Mobile customers were gifted with the ability to enjoy as much 480p video from Netflix and several other major services as they wanted for free. When looking a little closer, there were some real problems with educating consumers on what was happening when video services that weren’t a part of Binge On would behave differently. On top of being questionable in its legality, it was a terrible way to treat content your subscribers pay to access.

T-Mobile has done a great job pushing the service, and adding more video services on a regular basis. On top of this, they’ve actually fixed the major problems with Binge On over the last two updates. It’s a complete thought now, and if the service is even half as popular as John Legere says it is you can expect competing carriers to offer matching services within the year. That sounds like great news for everyone, as long as you aren’t trying to start a new video streaming service.

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The biggest issue with Binge On to date has been fixed. In the past if you had Binge On enabled on your phone the service would force every service to drop to 480p, regardless of whether that service was partnered with T-Mobile to offer this “optimized” service. Despite John Legere’s initial assertion that this wasn’t a problem, going so far as to directly insult the EFF when called out for this particular business practice and calling Google liars for saying the service negatively impacted YouTube, the issues have been fixed.

The new Binge On now allows any streaming service the ability to opt-out of this thing that totally isn’t throttling if you ask John Legere, as long as the company meets some fairly minor requirements for being identified on a network level. Video will still be throttled to 480p on T-Mobile’s network when Binge On is enabled if you don’t play by the rules, but it’s T-Mobile’s sandbox and those are the rules for playing in it for the moment. This is all good news for current service providers, especially T-Mobile’s newest partners. YouTube is by far the largest streaming video service in the world, and making it possible to stream an unlimited amount of 480p video is great for both companies.

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It’s easy to look at this deal and appreciate the incredible deal you’re getting as a user — and to be perfectly clear, it really is an incredible deal for T-Mobile’s customers — but for the Internet in general it’s difficult to see this as such a great deal.

The next upstart streaming video service, the one we don’t have yet that will be forced to play nice with T-Mobile in order to reach their customers, faces a tough road. Because it won’t be just T-Mobile for long. Now that we’ve collectively decided Binge On is awesome and doesn’t violate Net Neutrality laws (or at least acceptably blurs the line on them), other carriers will offer competing services with their own set of rules.

It’s not going to take long either, we’ve already seen Verizon play with the idea through their Go90 service. It’s not hard to imagine a point in the not-so-distant future where new streaming services will have to ensure their service plays nice with six or more carriers around the world just to ensure everyone can use it at launch. While it certainly isn’t T-Mobile’s responsibility to police the Internet so new companies have a chance, that’s an ugly future for new services to compete in.

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18
Mar

Twitter CEO says its 140-character limit for posts is ‘staying’


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Twitter will be sticking with its infamous 140-character limit on public posts. The company’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, when asked in an interview if the limit was staying or if it will change, answered, “It’s staying. It’s a good constraint for us and it allows for of-the-moment brevity.”

Dorsey made the comments on NBC’s Today show to help celebrate Twitter’s 10th anniversary. He added that the company is “changing a lot. We’re always going to make Twitter better”.

Twitter recently raised the limit of characters in direct messages from 140 to 10,000, but a recent rumor claimed that the company was considering a plan to increase the limit of characters in public posts up to 10,000 as well. Dorsey’s statement would seem to contradict those rumors.

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18
Mar

Specs comparison: Playstation VR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Gear VR


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All the major VR units, and all of the specs for them.

It seems like forever ago when Google released their VR unit Cardboard and got the ball rolling on bringing VR to anyone, and everyone. Since then we’ve seen announcements and models of several different VR units. Trying to decide which one is the right system for you can boggle the mind, especially when you consider the hardware you may need to purchase in order to be “VR Ready” on these sytems. And now with the official announcement of the Playstation VR, Sony has jumped into the ring to compete with the likes of the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift.

So take a look and figured out which VR platform is in your future!

Display 2560×14401280 x 1440 per eyeSuper AMOLED 2560×14401080 x 1200 per eyeOLED 2160 x 1200 1080 x 1200 per eyeOLED 1920 x 1080960×1080 per eye OLED
Refresh rate 60 Hz 90 Hz 90 Hz 120 Hz, 90 Hz
Sensors Accelerator, gyrometer, geomagnetic, proximity Accelerometer, gyroscope, laser position sensor, front-facing camera Accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, 360-degree positional tracking 360 degree tracking, 9 LEDs
Field of View 96 degrees 110 degrees 110 degrees 100 degrees
Controller Bluetooth controller Vive Controllers, SteamVR controller, any PC-compatible gamepad Oculus Touch, Xbox One controller Sony DUALSHOCK 4 controller or PlayStation Move
Tracking area Fixed position 15 x 15 feet 5 x 11 feet 10 x 10 feet
Minimum hardware requirements Samsung Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 series, or Galaxy S7 series NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290 GPU, Intel Core i5-4590 CPU,4GB RAM, HDMI 1.3, USB 2.0 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290 GPU, Intel Core i5-4590 CPU, 8GB RAM, HDMI 1.3, 2x USB 3.0, Windows 7 SP1 Sony Playstation 4
Price $99 $799 $599 $399
Consumer release date November 27, 2015 April 15, 2016 March 28, 2016 October 2016

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18
Mar

Google lays out its autonomous car proposal to the Feds


The head of Google’s self-driving car program, Chris Urmson, sent a letter to the Department of Transportation on Friday outlining a proposal that would fast-track self-driving car technology and expedite the process of taking the technology mainstream. Current US law prohibits vehicles which cannot be driven by a human — as is the case with the steering wheel-less Google Car — from operating on public roads. And, rather than wait for these existing laws to eventually catch up to the technology, Google wants the government create a special permitting system wherein any auto manufacturer, having shown that their vehicle meets federal safety standards, could petition regulators for permission to sell them. For their part, regulators would be empowered to dictate usage limitations for the applicant vehicles based on prevailing safety concerns.

This proposal comes in response to the DoT’s call for industry input on ways to speed up self-driving technology adoption. Urmson first suggested this system at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on Tuesday — this letter lays out the meat of the idea. These new rules, as Google spokesman Johnny Luu told the Associated Press, would create “the right framework that will allow deployment in a safe and timely manner.” The company has not yet, however, submitted a formal draft proposal to lawmakers.

Source: Associated Press

18
Mar

With HoloLens, you can now remodel your kitchen at Lowe’s


When it comes to HoloLens, Microsoft’s augmented reality headset, the company’s making very careful moves to introduce the holographic tech to the public. Case in point: Today, it announced a partnership with Lowe’s, the home improvement chain, that will let customers in the Seattle area visualize a remodel of their kitchens using HoloLens in a showroom environment. The obvious appeal here being the cost benefits: there’s no need to order, try and return expensive tiles or appliances if they don’t suit your design tastes. They are just holograms, after all.

In keeping with its mixed reality promise, the Lowe’s HoloLens showroom, which Microsoft says will kick off this month at a Lynwood, WA location, will be a mock-up of a mostly empty kitchen. That way customers can properly select from amongst different features like countertops, tables and cabinets, and view them all at scale. Microsoft says these holographic kitchen options will be at a high enough visual fidelity that customers will be able to distinguish key design elements such as how a matte or shiny appliance might look within a space. These holographic design plans will also be shareable online, so customers can walk away with a visual of their work in progress.

The first phase of this pilot program is slated for a select number of stores in the greater Seattle area, a location that’s close to home for Microsoft, and will initially be used for internal testing before being open to customers. But there are plans to expand its reach to locations in Raleigh, North Carolina, which also conveniently happens to be nearby Lowe’s own headquarters.

Image credit: Microsoft

Source: Microsoft

18
Mar

MacRumors Giveaway: Win an iPad Keyboard From Brydge


For this week’s giveaway, we’ve teamed up with Brydge Keyboards to give five MacRumors winners a chance to win a new Brydge keyboard for their iPad Air, iPad Air 2, or iPad mini 1/2/3. Brydge’s line of keyboards are some of the best available, made from high-quality materials with a comfortable, MacBook Pro-style key feel.

Brydge keyboards, which will turn your iPad into a mini MacBook, are all designed from aluminum to match the style of Apple’s tablets and are available in Silver, Space Gray, and Gold.

Unlike some other keyboards, Brydge’s products connect to an iPad using two silicone-lined tabs, with no back case included. This helps keep weight down while still providing protection for the iPad’s screen when closed. Weight for the smaller keyboard is at .66 pounds while the larger keyboard weighs 1.15 pounds.

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The 180-degree hinge on Brydge’s keyboards allow them to be adjusted into multiple viewing angles and both of the models included in the giveaway, the BrydgeAir and the BrydgeMini, have backlit keys for use in low-light conditions. The larger BrydgeAir model for the iPad Air and iPad Air 2 also includes a built-in Bluetooth speaker for improved audio.

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Brydge’s keyboards receive largely positive reviews for their build quality, key feel, and feature set, and when we reviewed the BrydgeAir, we found it to be one of the best iPad keyboards we’ve used. The BrydgeAir for iPad Air and iPad Air 2 is priced at $149.99 and the BrydgeMini for the iPad mini 1, 2, and 3 is priced at $129.99, but five MacRumors readers will be able to get the Brydge keyboard of their choosing at no cost.

To enter to win, use the Rafflecopter widget below and enter an email address. Email addresses will be used solely for contact purposes to reach the winner and send the prize.

You can earn additional entries by subscribing to our weekly newsletter, subscribing to our YouTube channel, following us on Twitter, or visiting the MacRumors Facebook page. Due to the complexities of international laws regarding giveaways, only U.S. residents who are 18 years of age or older are eligible to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveawayThe contest will run from today (March 18) at 11:30 a.m. Pacific Time through 11:30 a.m. Pacific Time on March 25. The winners will be chosen randomly on March 25 and will be contacted by email. The winners have 48 hours to respond and provide a shipping address before new winners are chosen. The prizes will be shipped to the winners for free.

Tags: giveaway, Brydge
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