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24
Mar

Gummy Yummy Bears, have I seen this game before? [Review]


Overview – Gummy Yummy Bears is a simple, match-three style game type that you may feel familiar with. Developer: Hanny Boni Price: Free (advertisements and in-app purchases) Highlights: No Google Play Games

24
Mar

Ignatius – a side-scrolling puzzler with a noir twist. [Review]


Overview – Ignatius is, at its heart, a side-scrolling puzzle game. Run around black-and-white levels solving puzzles and collecting film reels to move onto the next stage. Developer: Sons of welder

24
Mar

LG V10 Marshmallow update now available from Verizon


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Verizon has officially started pushing out the Marshmallow update for the LG V10, just as it said it would. There are a number of reports that the update is hitting phones, and is sized at just under 1GB. The update brings Doze, enhanced permission controls and more to the phone.

Since the update has only just started pushing out, it may not show up on your phone just yet. If you can’t wait, and want to check for the update now, you can do so from the Settings. Head to About Phone and then Check manually for the update. Once updated, be sure to let us know what you think of the update in the forums!

Discuss the LG V10 Marshmallow update in the forums

LG V10

  • Read our full review
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  • Join the discussion in our forums
  • LG V10 vs. the LG G4

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24
Mar

Guess Connect review: Limited smarts but full of traditional style


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Guess and Martian team up for an attractive smartwatch package.

When the first bunch of smartwatches were announced, one thing that was distinctly lacking was any kind of traditional style. Whether it was the original Pebble or the likes of the LG G Watch, they were more wrist computer than stylish timepiece.

And style is where we’ve seen big improvements in the years since. Phone makers like LG and Huawei are producing beautiful smartwatches now. But we’re also seeing the traditional watch makers get in on the action in various ways.

Guess isn’t a tech company. It’s a fashion label that has an extensive portfolio of analog watches. In 2015 it announced a partnership with Martian to co-produce a smartwatch, and this is the result: the Guess Connect.

And it might be my favorite smartwatch yet.

Analog style, modern smarts

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I’m no watch collector, but I do appreciate them. I have a few in my rotation, all of them traditional, analog timepieces. I enjoy wearing a nice watch, and smartwatches just haven’t stuck in the same way.

Where the Guess Connect stands out is its styling. Whether you like it or not comes down to your personal tastes and whether the brand designs products that take your fancy. The model I have here is the blue and Rose Gold combination with a silicone band.

It’s simple in its style: a pretty plain watch face that is only broken up by the tiny OLED display towards the bottom. It’s here where the smart features come into play and where you’ll see your various notifications.

This part of the watch is charged with a regular old Micro-USB cable and you should be good for multiple days between charges. I’ve been able to get 5 days out of it with the notifications set up the way I want them.

The best part is that once this battery dies, the watch still tells the time — that’s something that you won’t get from your Android Wear wrist computer.

It’s a little chunky, though

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This is not a slim watch. It’s not crazily thick, either, but it’s got some heft to it. It’s never become uncomfortable to wear for extended periods, but you’ll struggle to pull tighter sleeves over it.

The thickness is in no small part due to the added bits from Martian. If you look at the Guess Connect side on, there’s a distinct extra piece on the back below the metal. In the case of this review unit, where the Rose Gold stops is as thick as it would probably be without the smart features.

Equally, considering there’s an extra battery and the associated circuitry in there as well as the mechanical watch mechanisms, it’s not a bad job.

Charging a watch with Micro-USB is awful

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The one thing that isn’t so stylish or elegant in any way is the Micro-USB charging port for the Martian parts of the Guess Connect. It’s covered with a rubber flap first and foremost, which goes against the $350 price tag associated with buying one of these.

A standard it may be, but it’s still not a good way to charge this watch. The flap feels like it could snap off at any minute and then you’re left with an ugly exposed port on your nice, shiny watch.

Wireless charging would be much better, but at this point even a cradle with some pogo pins like on many Android Wear watches would be better.

It’s a good thing you won’t need to charge it every day — you can expect up to five days from a charge, and the watch parts will keep working even after the battery powering the smart parts has died.

As smart as you want it to be

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You won’t get any activity tracking with the Guess Connect (there’s a new model coming in late 2016 for that). But you do get all your notifications. Or you do if you want them.

The companion app allows you to easily pick which apps you want to serve up notifications with the option to set a custom vibration pattern for each one. So you don’t even necessarily have to look at your wrist to decide whether you need to action what’s just come in. It requires nothing more than turning a toggle on or off to enable or disable, with four sliders to then decide upon your favored pattern of vibrations.

The display on the Guess Connect is pretty good. It’ll display just a single line of text, so any snippets of your notifications that come in will scroll across. But it’s bright, clear, and doesn’t moves slow enough that you can actually read the text without being so slow that it’s irritating. Besides notifications, you’ll also be able to get basic weather information, with a World Clock also on hand. Both are configured in the companion app so you just press one of the physical buttons on the watch to get to them.

The Guess Connect can also do a couple of other neat tricks. The first is conducting a phone call. It works just fine, though you will need to remember to manually turn on the earpiece in the phone’s dialer app if you want to make a call in the old-fashioned way. The sound through the watch is clear, but it’s a little on the quiet side. It’s OK indoors, but you will struggle to hear it in noisier settings.

Your mileage may vary, but I would be completely happy to buy this watch with it not able to make phone calls. I think the mere fact it’s here spells out the level of Martian involvement in the collaboration. Guess has designed most of the watch, the parts that will make it look good to its customers. But its put that on top of an already-existing Martian smartwatch without thinking about whether or not these features are actually worth having.

The microphone and speaker combination can also work in tandem with Google voice search on your phone, but, since you’re going to get your phone out for a good number of interactions with the results from this anyway, it’s less useful. You can also use one of the physical buttons on the watch as a remote shutter for the camera on your phone, which was unexpected, but a nice touch some will find very handy.

But what’s particularly great about the Guess Connect is that it’s not trying to hard. The same could also be said of the Martian watches on which its based. You’re in control, you’re not overwhelmed with notifications if you don’t want, and it’ll discretely serve up exactly what it is you want it to.

The bottom line

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One of the problems with the Martian watch idea was always that it looked like a tech company had designed it. The idea was pretty sound, but the outward appearance wasn’t quite there. In partnering with Guess, that problem has been solved. What you now have is a smartwatch designed by a traditional watch company that’s not just a tiny computer on your wrist.

It’s quickly become one of my favorite smartwatches. I get what I want from it — important selected notifications, weather updates and the time — and it looks good all the time its doing it. And with Guess being a fashion brand, there are a whole bunch of styles to choose from, some wilder than others.

Whether you’d spend $350 on it is a different question. If you’re the sort of person who spends that sort of money on a watch, particularly someone who already buys Guess products, then it’s worth a shot. It’s not cheap, but it’s also not just a smartwatch. There are Pebble’s and Android Wear wrist adornments out there if you’re into the smart stuff first and the style second.

And that’s where we end. Guess isn’t necessarily targeting tech consumers with the Connect, that much became clear when we met with them at Mobile World Congress. It’s not a tech company, it’s a fashion brand. The Guess Connect is targeted at the people who already buy Guess products, as well as those who want to dip a toe in the smartwatch space without going away from the traditional, analog style they’re already accustomed to.

See at Amazon

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24
Mar

Mophie launches its wirelessly-charging Galaxy S7 and S7 edge cases


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Mophie’s new Juice Pack battery case for the Galaxy S7 is now available for purchase while the case for the Galaxy S7 edge is now up for pre-order. The Galaxy S7 case comes with a 2950mAh battery while the S7 edge case features a 3300mAh battery. Mophie claims that both cases will provide more than 60% extra power for their respective devices.

There’s an extra trick with this batch of Mophie cases, both Juice Packs are supporting wireless charging. The cases support Qi, along with other wireless charging specifications. Both cases can also be bundled with fast wall chargers and additional micro-USB cables.

Both the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge Juice Pack cases retail for $99.95, and you can place your order now over at Mophie.

See at Mophie

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24
Mar

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


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Moving from a Galaxy S6 to a GS7 is a reasonable question to ask — but does it make sense to go through with it?

Every time a manufacturer releases a new phone, it has to strike many balances. One of which is deciding between attracting altogether new buyers coming from a different company with keeping around exiting customers for a longer period by upgrading to the new phone version. The Galaxy S7 seems to lean towards bringing in those new customers … and for that reason it doesn’t exactly blow away anyone who has a Galaxy S6 in their pocket today.

As we’ve already explored, it seems like the Galaxy S7 is tailor-made to be a no-brainer upgrade for those with a Galaxy S5. But how about the Galaxy S6 owners who have had their phone for a year at most? It’s a bit tougher of a sell — and we’re going to explore the upgrade path right here.

Hardware and specs

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Aside from astute observers, most would be hard pressed to be able to pick out a Galaxy S7 from a crowd of Galaxy S6s. The metal and glass construction has carried over to the latest Galaxy, with the one major change being an increase in overall thickness, exhibited by a bulging glass back that’s rounded off on the sides toward the metal frame like on the Galaxy Note 5. The subtle increase in thickness makes the Galaxy S7 much easier to confidently hold than the perfectly flat back of the GS6, and also has the added bonus of making room for a larger battery inside. On the front, the glass frames out the same-sized 5.1-inch QHD Super AMOLED display — and it’s still wonderful.

You don’t gain a ton, but there are several notable improvements.

Internally, you’ll find predictable spec upgrades. A new Snapdragon 820 or Samsung Exynos 8 Octa (depending on the region) replaces the outgoing Exynos 7 processor, and you have an extra gigabyte of RAM to work with, bringing the total up to 4GB. Neither makes a huge difference now, but will give you the ability to run more serious apps a year or two down the road when resource demands are higher.

The two downsides internally here? They’re pretty minor, in the grand scheme of the phone. The big one is no option for additional internal storage. You can buy a 32GB Galaxy S7, but you can’t option up to 64 or 128GB like you could in the last version. The other is the removal of an IR blaster, meaning you can’t use the Galaxy S7 to control home entertainment gear via infrared.

The other big points of differentiation are two features that were lost when moving to the Galaxy S6 from the GS5: waterproofing and removable storage. Waterproofing is always a welcomed addition to a phone, and after it was removed with the launch of the Galaxy S6 we’re super happy to see it back on the GS7. This doesn’t make it a rugged phone by any stretch, but it will save it from any unfortunate contact with water in the future. The SD card slot is in the same boat — bringing back the much-desired feature will be a big deal for a lot of people, even if a majority won’t ever put a card in the phone.

Software and performance

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Thankfully for everyone, Samsung is well under way in its rollout of Android 6.0 Marshmallow to the Galaxy S6. Even better, what’s arriving on the last-gen phone is nearly identical to what you get out of the box on the GS7, save for a few features like the (questionably useful) always-on display mode. You get the same fresh design, flattened experience and majority of new features that make the Galaxy S7 great, all on your existing phone. If it hasn’t arrived yet, be patient — it’ll be there in due time, and knowing it’s coming removes one desire to upgrade to the new phone just to get it.

After updating to Marshmallow, the Galaxy S6 fits in just fine in 2016.

Once you have the update to the latest software on the Galaxy S6, you’ll also find that performance between the two phones isn’t much different either. Setting both phones together for some side-by-side tests you may see small differences in speed, but there’s absolutely nothing sluggish about the Galaxy S6 at this point. Sure the more powerful processor and additional RAM in the Galaxy S7 will help you handle more demanding apps and services in the future, but at this point you aren’t missing out on much by sticking with last year’s phone — the Galaxy S6 is still capable of handling whatever you need it to do.

The one big change in daily use here is the battery life, which has extended notably from last year. The bump to 3000 mAh in the same compact frame is great, and that extra 15 percent of capacity — plus a more efficient processor — means you’re far more likely to make it through a day without charging. The Galaxy S7 isn’t quite the battery champion that the Galaxy S7 edge is with its even larger battery, but the combination of specs available here can give you 16 or more hours of battery without breaking a sweat — and more if you’re a bit lighter on the phone. On the Galaxy S6, you had to really baby the phone to make it that far.

Camera quality

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We’ve covered this camera comparison pretty extensively at this point, including a direct comparison of the Galaxy S6 edge to the Galaxy S7 edge and Galaxy S6 edge+ to the Galaxy S7 edge — both comparisons being the same as what we’re looking at here.

The Galaxy S7’s new 12MP sensor (leading to larger 1.4-micron pixels) with a super fast f/1.7 lens is targeted at giving you great low-light photos, though the previous setup of a 16MP (1.12-micron pixels) sensor and f/1.9 lens was hardly a slouch in this regard — in fact, it was the winner of many camera comparisons. Interestingly, the new camera on the GS7 can in some cases come up short of what the GS6 can do in good lighting conditions, so it isn’t a wholesale upgrade from its predecessor.

The GS6 still has one of the best cameras available today.

With all of the technical stuff being said, just like before, I can come to the same conclusion: you aren’t missing out on too much in terms of camera performance by sticking with your Galaxy S6 and not upgrading to a Galaxy S7. The Galaxy S6 is still super fast to launch, focus and capture photos, and the end results are just as good as the GS7 in daylight and only slightly lower quality in some low light conditions. For a refresher, we have the comparison shots we took to evaluate the Galaxy S7 edge versus the Galaxy S6 edge just a week ago:

Galaxy S6 edge (left) / Galaxy S7 edge (right) — click images to view larger

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Even today, a year after its launch, the Galaxy S6 still has one of the best cameras available on a smartphone. That hasn’t changed just because the Galaxy S7 is now available.

Read: Camera showdown: Galaxy S7 vs. iPhone 6s Plus vs. Nexus 6P vs. Lumia 950

The bottom line

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Unsurprisingly, we come to the same basic conclusion here as when we discussed the feasibility of upgrading to a Galaxy S7 edge from the Galaxy S6 edge. Though in this case there’s even less to consider, as the newer Galaxy S7 doesn’t offer the same screen size boost as the Galaxy S7 edge does compared to its predecessor.

With the Galaxy S6 getting its update to Marshmallow and packing a very similar physical design, whether it’s worth an upgrade to you will come down to just a few main areas: battery, waterproofing, storage and camera. The battery life boost is very much worth it, and being able to make it through a day again is a huge deal. Waterproofing isn’t something you think about all the time, but will save you lots of money when it comes into play. Removable SD card storage may be a bit of a throwaway feature for some. The camera feels like a bit of a lateral move overall, and there isn’t enough here to make you toss your GS6 that itself has a wonderful camera.

Considering how much you’d have to fork over in terms of selling your current Galaxy S6 and buying a Galaxy S7, you may want to think long and hard about this potential upgrade. A bigger battery, a couple new features and the latest in specs are definitely worth something, but it may not be worth the $300-400 gap in cost to make you jump from your perfectly capable phone to the Galaxy S7.

Are you a Galaxy S6 owner considering upgrading to a Galaxy S7? We want to know what you’re thinking — sound off 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

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24
Mar

Hulu virtual reality app now available for Samsung Gear VR owners


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Samsung Gear VR owners can now watch a ton of classic and current TV shows and movies with the introduction of the Hulu virtual reality app. It’s now available to download from the Gear VR’s Oculus Store.

Hulu says the app allows Gear VR viewers to watch all of the 2D content on Hulu, which can be viewed with the headset for a more immersive experience. In addition, the app has over 25 videos made exclusively for VR, from companies such as Discovery Communications, The National Geographic Channel, Showtime and others:

The new VR app also includes Hulu’s first originally produced VR short film, “The Big One.” For the short, Hulu partnered with Lionsgate to bring Freddie Wong and his RocketJump brand into the virtual reality space. “The Big One” invites users to witness a meteor shower that soon turns into an apocalyptic nightmare.

The Hulu app is also a VR experience in of itself:

Just like with VR content, the 360 degree environments in the Hulu app transport viewers into immersive settings to watch their favorite show: sitting in a comfortable living room, watching a movie in a big screen theatre, or kicking back on a scenic beach. Viewers can interact with each 360-degree environment and change the ambience which includes outside scenes, lighting and look and feel to their preference.

Samsung Gear VR

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  • Gear VR review
  • Five Gear VR games that shouldn’t be missed
  • Inside Samsung’s Gear VR web browser
  • Gear VR vs. Google Cardboard
  • Where to buy Gear VR

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24
Mar

Messaging giant Line becomes a phone carrier in Japan


Line already dominates phones in some corners of the world through its messaging app and rapidly expanding list of services, but it’s now taking that control one step further: it’s becoming a carrier. As of this summer, Japanese residents can subscribe to Line Mobile and get unlimited use of not only Line’s chat and call services, but the “main features” (browsing and posts) of Facebook and Twitter. It’s cheap, too. The DoCoMo-based virtual provider will start plans at as little as ¥500 ($4.40) per month with unlimited Line use, and it’s considering offering Line Points (cash back on Line’s payment card) when you pay your phone bill.

The low rates and unlimited usage perks aren’t altruistic gestures, of course. Line notes that only half of Japanese cellphone owners have smartphones — the rest are still using basic feature phones. If the company can convince those holdouts to upgrade to smartphones, they’re more likely to use Line’s apps and services. Think of this like you would the free internet efforts from Facebook and Google, where the network costs could easily be offset by the surge in new users.

Via: Yonhap News Agency, ABC News

Source: Line

24
Mar

On the Brink of Greatness: Startup Workspaces


Roost makes it easy to rent out the extra space you have in your home. Like kitchen cabinets and crawl spaces. Rent every nook and cranny to anyone. In this week’s episode of On The Brink of Greatness, Steve Goldbloom and embark on a Cribs-style tour of the growing startup. From the cozy office/living room to the meeting room with an innovative mattress lying on the floor, Roost is going to be huge even if its office is teeny tiny.

24
Mar

iPhone SE Reviews: Blazingly Fast With Impressive Battery Life


Apple let press go hands-on with the iPhone SE at its launch event and provided several publications with iPhone SE review units ahead of the device’s debut, and we’ve gathered excerpts from each site to highlight the general release reaction to Apple’s new 4-inch iPhone. Reviews and first impressions have been largely positive, with reviewers praising the device’s powerful internals.

The general consensus is that the iPhone SE is the perfect phone for people who want the power of Apple’s flagship iPhone lineup in a small form factor.

TechRadar called the exterior “svelte and sleek,” and said it’s just like handling an iPhone 5s, the phone the SE is modeled after.

The same exemplary precision found on the high-end iPhones is also found on the iPhone SE. At last, you don’t have to feel that you’re settling just to get a phone that’s easier to handle.

Handling the iPhone SE is a lovely affair, particularly if you’re coming from the iPhone 6S Plus. It’s dainty – cute, even – and although, obviously, it feels exactly as if you’re handling the iPhone 5S, there’s something extra novel about it now. It’s no longer the norm; the 4-inch form factor is now the exception.

The Independent speculates that the iPhone SE will appeal most to those who currently use a 4-inch iPhone, as it can be difficult to adjust to a smaller 4-inch screen after using Apple’s larger 4.7 or 5.5-inch iPhones.

Mostly, I’d guess, it will appeal to people who currently have a four-inch display phone. Going back to it from the iPhone 6s Plus with its 5.5-inch screen, took some doing – why, the entire dear little iPhone SE fits within the 6s Plus screen. Using the keyboard on the SE was a learning curve after the expansiveness of the 6s Plus.

iMore pointed out that while the iPhone SE got the 12-megapixel rear camera from the iPhone 6s, the front-facing camera didn’t get much of an upgrade. It’s still 1.2 megapixels.

The front FaceTime camera is still the same sensor as iPhone 5s but benefits from the new ISP and from a Retina Flash. I’m not sure why it didn’t get a bump to an iPhone 6s-level 5 megapixels, because selfies really are a thing and really do need the better camera.

The Wall Street Journal points out the impressive battery life in the iPhone SE, which beats out the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 6s, but criticizes the unoriginal design.

The standout news is battery life. Unlike many other recent Apple products, the iPhone SE’s is a significant improvement over its predecessors’. In my lab stress test, which cycles through websites with uniform screen brightness, the SE lasted 10 hours–more than two hours longer than both the iPhone 6s and iPhone 5s, and nearly three hours longer than the Galaxy S7. […]

The iPhone SE is a win for ergonomic choice, but Apple doesn’t score any points for originality. The new phone is nearly indistinguishable from the three-year-old iPhone 5s, which is a hair thicker and less pleasantly rounded than Apple’s more recent designs. (The SE even fits in most existing 5s cases.)

The Daily Mail says the iPhone SE, with its A9 processor – the same processor in the iPhone 6s – is “blazingly fast.”

Although we’ve only been using the phone for a few days, one thing is clear – it’s blazingly fast. Playing several high intensity games show that this really is as powerful as the current flagship, the 6s.

It’s powered by the A9, the same chip found in the iPhone 6s, and Apple says the iPhone SE has 2x faster CPU and 3x faster GPU performance compared to the older iPhone 5s – and this is something you notice right away, with a far snappier feel the the handset even when its not playing games.

Mashable highlights the $399 price tag, calling it “tremendously competitive” for a device with current-generation technology.

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The best thing about the iPhone SE might just be its price. Selling for just $399 for a 16GB version and $499 for a 64GB version, this is a tremendously competitive phone. Most $400 phones are not going to give you the latest-generation processor and camera technologies. I really can’t underscore how well I think this product will do, simply based on its price.

Consider that the iPhone 6S starts at $649 for a 16GB version. Yes, it has more features — including 3D Touch, a better front-facing camera and a larger display — but the price point Apple has set will be very compelling.

Pre-orders for the iPhone SE started at 12:01 a.m. on March 24. The device can be purchased from the Apple online store, with deliveries and in-store availability set to begin on March 31. While the 16GB iPhone SE models are still in stock and will deliver on that date, the 64GB iPhone SE models have proven more popular and shipping estimates have slipped to five to seven days. Pricing on the iPhone SE, which is Apple’s most affordable iPhone, starts at $399.

Related Roundup: iPhone SE
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