Overview – Alto’s Adventure puts you in the bindings of Alto, a shepherd that must chase his herd of alpacas down the mountain on his snowboard. It’s an endless-style adventure
It’s not even technically a beta, but we know a bunch of you are using it.
We’ve had a bit of time to play with the Android N beta on our Nexus phones. Google made it easy — maybe too easy — to switch over to the beta from a pretty stable Marshmallow, so this time around there are a lot more people using it. And finding the bugs.
That’s part of what the beta program is all about — finding the bugs. App developers need access to the new APIs as soon as they can get it to take advantage of the new system features and make adjustments for any changes, but it’s also a way for Google to do a wider test to see what’s broken. Opening things up to the public is a great way to find the inevitable bugs quicker. That means it’s important to report the bugs you find — do your part as a beta tester!
I’ve been using the beta since it became available with my Nexus 5X on T-Mobile. Some of it works really well, and in many ways the 5X is more stable than it was on Marshmallow a few versions back. Of course, in other ways it’s not. Beta really means beta in this case.
Anyhoo, besides the same things I see everyone talking about — the UI “disappearing” when the home screen is in landscape, Chrome freezing and Android Pay not working — I’ve also ran into a few others.
- Receiving a YouTube link in an SMS message crashes Messenger 100 percent of the time.
- Split screen sometimes leaves a ghost image on the bottom half when you close the app.
- Video recorded from the rear camera flickers when played back.
- The phone restarts sometimes when switching between WiFi and LTE when WiFi calling is enabled.
Overall, the beta is less buggy than I expected. There are enough issues that keep it from being something I’d use if I only had one phone, but it’s really good for a version this early.
Let’s take this opportunity to discuss what issues we’re all seeing in the comments. This way we know things we might need to try, and can give feedback to the folks working on fixing everything.
Android N Developer Preview
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
A new video showing off the LG G5’s UX 5.0 shows an new option for adding an app drawer back to the default launcher.
You can’t talk about the LG G5 without someone bringing up the fact that it’s the latest smartphone to eschew the app drawer in favor of a single-layer springboard approach. Maybe it’s a big deal, maybe it’s not. But in any case, LG apparently is adding in an option for a launcher with an app drawer.
And we’re not just talking about the “EasyHome” option — LG’s oversized, built-for-beginners optional lockscreen. In a new video showing off LG’s UX 5.0, you can clearly see the “Home & app drawer” option alongside the standard launcher. (Check it out at 2:15 in the video below.)
This is definitely a new feature and isn’t even in the pre-production unit we’ve been playing with for a couple weeks now. The LG G5 is officially available in the U.S. starting April 1.
- LG G5 hands-on
- LG G5 complete specs
- LG G5 CAM Plus module
- LG G5 B&O Hi-Fi audio module
- The G5 has an always-on display
- LG G5 keeps the SD card, shuns adoptable storage
- Join the LG G5 discussion
Palmer Luckey, founder of Oculus, took it upon himself to deliver the first consumer version of his company’s virtual reality headset, the Rift. Ross Martin, a VR enthusiast and indie developer from Anchorage, Alaska was the lucky recipient of the device, which will arrive on other customers’ doorsteps starting tomorrow. Martin, who documented part of his experience with Luckey on Twitter, is the first person to have the device in hand and he’ll likely never forget this moment. “So grateful to Palmer Luckey and Oculus for coming all the way to Alaska,” he said in a tweet. “You guys are super cool!”
Luckey, meanwhile, told gaming publication Polygon, “This didn’t come together until the last second, I’ve had a bunch of things that I’ve wanted to do over the years, and I was pretty adamant.” He added, “I said, ‘Hey guys, I’ve been working on this since 2009, we’ve been working on Oculus since 2012, I’ll be damned if some random delivery guy is going to get the satisfaction of delivering the first Rift. That’s mine.’”
Hiking through Alaska in the winter wearing flipflops was a mistake
— Palmer Luckey (@PalmerLuckey) March 26, 2016
Source: Ross Martin (Twitter)
The Good The Nighthawk X4S AC2600 Smart WiFi Router is fast and can reach pretty much anywhere in my house.
The Bad The router’s software interface is confusing and slow and its network storage performance can’t match the competition. It’s pricey.
The Bottom Line If you need a powerful Wi-Fi solution for a large home, the X4S is a great choice.
The Nighthawk X4S AC2600 Smart WiFi Router (model R7800) is an updated version of the X4 R7500 and not only is it much faster, its Wi-Fi signal reach much farther. What’s more, the new router now supports MIMO, an increasing popular feature that helps boosts the speed for supported Wi-Fi clients in a crowded home. (Note: Netgear has also released a D7800 version of the X4S that includes a built-in DSL modem.)
It’s not perfect, however, and shares the same bloated Web interface as previous Netgear routers and having relatively slow network storage performance when coupled with an external hard drive. Nonetheless, if you’re looking to cover a large home (of 4000 square feet or less) with a dozen or so of Wi-Fi devices, the X4S is a great choice. For more options, check out this list of top 802.11ac wireless routers on the market.
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The Nighthawk X4S share the same bulky design as the X4 that came out in 2014.
Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know about this router:
- The X4S is fast: Local tasks (such as sharing files or backing up your storage over the network) don’t take long, and if you have super-fast Internet, the X4S will accommodate that speed. The X4S has a long range and a stable signal to give you better Wi-Fi coverage in your home. Depending on the number of walls, a home of some 4,000 square feet will likely have coverage in every corner if the router is in the middle of the home.
- MU-MIMO: If you have Wi-Fi devices of different Wi-Fi tiers (and we all do), all of them will work at their best without interfering with one another. The router works best with less than a dozen or so Wi-Fi devices at a time, though it can technically support a lot more.
- Peripheral ports: With two USB 3.0 ports and one eSATA port, the X4S can also work as a printer and storage server when connected to a USB printer and and an external hard drive, respectively. Its storage performance is not the best, however.
- Bloated interface with redundant menu items and sections: If you’re a novice, you will have trouble trying to customize your network with the X4S. Pro-users will find it a bit lacking in customization options.
- Pricing: Its $270, £230, AU$549 suggested retail price is expensive, but you can likely find it on the street for less.
Bulky design, powerful hardware
The X4S shares the same bulky design as the X4, with four detachable antennae, five network ports (four LAN ports and one WAN/Internet port) and three peripheral ports (two USB 3.0, one eSATA.) It also has quad-stream support (4×4) with a top speed of 1,733Mbps on the 5GHz band and up to 800Mbps (compared to 600Mbps of the X4) on 2.4GHz. Combining the two bands, the router has a top Wi-Fi bandwidth of 2,553Mbps to earn the AC2600 designation. (Read more about Wi-Fi standards and designations here.)
The router sports the most powerful hardware on the market, running a dual-core 1.7GHz processor with 256MB of RAM and 512MB of flash memory. In my experience, powerful hardware doesn’t always translate into fast performance (which was the case of the X4) But the X4S, for the most part, delivered in my testing. More on this below.
Easy setup, confusing Web interface
Similar to most Netgear routers, the R7800 is basically ready to use right out of the box. It’s preconfigured with a Wi-Fi network the information for which (that is, its name and password) is printed on the underside of the device. Using this information, all you have to do is plug the router into power and connect its WAN (Internet) port to a broadband modem, and you’re done.
(Overall, like all routers with a Web interface, the setup process of the X4S is rather standard. More information on how to set up a home router can be found here.)
But if you want to customize your network (for example, changing the name of the Wi-Fi network and choosing a new password) that’s a different story. The router has a sluggish and confusing Web interface, called Netgear Genie, with too many menu items. Some settings were difficult to find and some common settings weren’t even available. For example, by default the 5GHz band is set to work for both 802.11ac and 802.11n Wi-Fi standards. If you want it to work for just one of those standards, there’s no way to do that.
Apart from the Web interface, you can also use the free downloadable Netgear Genie app for the job. The app is slightly easier to use but you can’t access all of the router’s settings and features with it. Frankly, it’s disappointing how little the Netgear Genie firmware platform has improved despite how many years it’s been around.
We’re making it easier than ever to see all the news you want from your neck of the woods — and less of what you don’t.
New features always are a fun thing, and we’ve just rolled out a long-awaited improvement to the site — particularly for those of you outside the United States.
You might have already noticed this past week the addition of a “U.S. Edition” or “UK Edition” icon on the home page. That’s part of our new tool for providing better content based on your interests — and your geographic region. While U.S. carrier news is important to those of us in the U.S., it’s not all that useful elsewhere. By that same token, our increased coverage of the Indian market probably isn’t all that interesting to someone in, say, Kansas.
So the homepage now has this new filter. We’re starting out with our four largest readerships — the U.S., UK, Canada and India. There’s also a “Global” option, which lets you see all the stories for all the world, all the time. But select one of those regional options and you’ll get the stories that are specific to that region, in addition to all the stuff that applies to everyone. But if you’ve selected U.S., you’ll no longer have to sift through the Canadian-specific content, or see what’s going on in India.
It’s easy, and it’s just the beginning. We’re starting with our largest regions, naturally, but there’s no reason we can’t add more. Want more coverage of your neck of the woods? Let us know! And this gives us the option for more specific individual feeds and the like. We’ll update when these new features get their own new features, of course.
But for now, it’s more Android news and reviews the way you want it.
A few other thoughts on things …
- Here’s your annual reminder that we don’t do April Fools’ Day jokes on the site. It’s all hard news, all the time. With the occasional screenshot tutorial to keep folks honest.
- Good find by Patrick Hill. An HTC Sense launcher in the works for non-HTC phones?
- The first episode of West Wing Weekly was pretty good.
- At this point, I’m not expecting Google to roll out podcasts in Google Play Music until this Amazon Echo competitor thing comes to light.
- A couple good political editorials that are worth a read. Rolling Stone’s endorsement of Clinton is very well reasoned, even if it does gloss over some of her negatives.
- And the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser has an excellent takedown of the mess in Alabama — and how we the voters (OK, not me — I’m 20 minutes into Florida) created it.
- My main takeaway of this election cycle is still that we voted [insert crazy candidate here] into office in the first place. How? Why? And when will someone better run?
- I’d vote for this guy, though.
- It’s been fascinating watching Cuba the past week or two. My good friend and USA Today reporter Alan Gomez (a Cuban himself) is worth following for an inside look at what’s going on on the ground there.
- Mike Elgan is doing some cool stuff from Cuba, too.
- This Microsoft Tay thing was silly from the start. Do we really need explainers how a bunch of assholes turned an AI into an asshole, too? And we should be proud of this?
Been listening to A Tribe Called Quest all week after the death of Phife Dawg. Definitely outside my norm, but damned good stuff. That’s it for this week. See y’all Monday.
Tesla is set to unveil its most affordable electric car ever next weekend, but Chevrolet stole a bit of its thunder by rolling out the first pre-production Bolt EV. Meanwhile, Toyota debuted the Prius Prime, a plug-in hybrid with a record-breaking 120 MPGe rating. Hybrid Air Vehicles launched the world’s largest airship, which can fly for three weeks straight without a crew. And frequent fliers will be relieved to learn that Airbus has developed a new plane designed to eliminate jet lag.
In clean energy news, General Electric just announced that America’s first offshore wind farm will be completed by the end of this year. China kicked its environmental initiatives up a notch with plans to triple its solar power capacity by the year 2020. Tesla has discontinued its 10kWh Powerwall home battery as it prepares to launch a new model this summer. A tiny house village for the homeless in Oregon received a solar energy upgrade, and we spotted a handy photovoltaic “Lifepack” that keeps your gadgets powered on the go.
Producing water from thin air sounds like a magic trick, but that’s exactly what the Warka Water Tower does, and this week the project took home a World Design Impact Prize. Meanwhile, an Icelandic designer developed a biodegradable water bottle made entirely from algae, and a Berlin grocery store unveiled a vertical micro-farm that grows fresh produce on-site. In China, an abandoned factory has been transformed into a green oasis complete with floating fields of crops. An ambitious architect unveiled plans for a gorgeous glass home built around a gigantic tree. And we spotted an insane proposal to surround New York’s Central Park with 1,000-foot glass walls.
Free-but-limited internet services can help communication and knowledge in countries where just owning a computer is a luxury, but they’re not immune to abuse. Motherboard notes that some Angolans have created ad hoc piracy networks by hiding files in Wikipedia pages (which they can access through Wikipedia Zero) and sharing links to them in private Facebook groups (available in Facebook’s Free Basics). Wikipedia has tried banning some of the connections used to plant those files, but that has been a double-edged sword — it also ended up blocking people making legitimate contributions.
For its part, the Wikipedia Zero team says that large-scale bans or access changes are “not on the table.” It’s also looking into Angola’s (typically light) copyright laws to see what it can do. However, the file sharing raises a question: how much energy do these free services put into enforcing the rules from their normal sites? While movie and music creators might not be happy that people are swiping their work, cracking down on piracy could do far more damage by shutting out innocents who just want a taste of the internet access that many of us take for granted.
Source: Motherboard, Wikimedia.org
Ready to finally be free of endless headphone cord tangles? The MMOVE Stereo Earbuds offer great Bluetooth sound without the labyrinth cord headache, and stay attached in the most trying of conditions. Right now, they’re on offer for 49 per cent off via Pocket-lint Deals.
Considering these earbuds have an internal rechargeable battery that offers six hours of playback, they are incredibly lightweight at just over half an ounce. Along with the sweatproof casing, this makes the MMOVEs great for sport activity, no matter what your passion may be. To help keep them in place, you get optional earhooks, and multiple sizes of tips for a snug fit.
To isolate the outside world even further, the ‘buds utilize CVC 6.0 Noise Reduction technology. Music controls are built into the earpieces, and a microphone lets you take calls. Helpfully, this headset can connect to two devices at the same time, so you don’t have to disconnect your MP3 player to talk hands-free.
Pick up your own set of MMOVE Earbuds for just £22.11 ($31.99) with free shipping around the world, from Pocket-lint Deals.
As drones become more accessible and affordable, the chances for abuse go up… and the Federal Aviation Administration has the evidence to prove it. It just posted an updated list of sighting reports that shows how less-than-responsible drone flights surged “dramatically” last year. The data shows that there were 582 reports just between August 2015 and January 2016. Combined with the 764 reports from before (November 2014 to August 2015), it’s clear that many people are playing fast and loose with the rules.
Many of the reports are pedestrian, and frequently involve seeing a drone near a conventional aircraft. However, some of the observers note that the drones got uncomfortably close — in a few cases, just 50 feet away. There aren’t reports of collisions with aircraft, but at least one pilot had to change course to avoid an accident.
Statistically, the odds of drones creating serious problems are quite low. However, the sightings are only likely to fuel the FAA’s belief that it needs to regulate drone usage through registration and no-fly zones. It’s doubtful that the agency wants to look complacent if a drone triggers a crash.