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4
Apr

Backup MMS: an easy way to save your MMS attachments [Review]


Overview –

Backup MMS allows you to easily save those attachments that you have sent to, or received from, your contacts.

Developer: Devmon

Highlights:Galaxy S6 Edge_8D1673D759B4_

  • Works as designed
  • Free to download (Pro version $0.99)

Setup –

Setup is a breeze, simply download the app from Google Play and launch the application. The app automatically searches your messages for attachments that it can grab.

Impression –

Galaxy S6 Edge_3C255A82C3A7_Backups MMS is not the most intuitive name for this app. While there are a lot of apps that will backup your SMS and MMS messages so that you can install a new ROM or transfer them to a new phone, I have not seen a lot of apps that will actually allow you to easily save the attachments to those messages directly to your internal storage.

Once you have launched the app it automatically searches your MMS messages for all attachments and puts them into three categories for you: Image, Audio, Video. Simply press the floppy button at the bottom right of the screen to save everything to your phone’s storage. Unfortunately, you are not able to specify where you would like to save these files.

Galaxy S6 Edge_0C04CC62C5A6_The app is limited to backing up all items unless you would like to upgrade to the pro version. This unlocks features like selection of items you would like to backup, renaming of files, removal of ads, and it allows you to save higher quality images (saves them as .PNG, .JPG is the default).

The app also allows you to see statistics about how many items it found and how many of each category were found in your messages.

Likes:

  • Does what it sets out to do
  • User-friendly GUI

Dislikes:

  • More customization would be nice
  • No app integration (Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.)

Conclusion –

Despite a confusing name, Backup MMS is an app that completes what it sets out to do; backup those attachments in your MMS messages, and with the Pro version only costing $0.99 for those extra features, it’s not a bad price to pay. With the addition of some storage customization and app integration for things like Google Drive or Dropbox this app would be a real winner.

 

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4
Apr

You can now sign up for the BlackBerry Priv Marshmallow beta


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As rumored, BlackBerry has announced the Marshmallow beta test for the BlackBerry Priv. You can now sign up to join the program, and the company will accept registrations for two weeks. The first wave will only be available to those who purchased their devices from Amazon, ShopBlackBerry or Carphone Warehouse.

Spaces will be limited, and BlackBerry will begin pushing the beta out in the second week of April. If you want to sign up to test, you can do so at the link below. The program may show as full, but be sure to sign up for the waitlist so that when more spots open next week you may be able to get one.

Sign up for the Marshmallow beta test

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4
Apr

Amazon Echo Dot review: An inch and a half of Alexa may be all you need


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The cliche is true — good things can come in small packages.

Don’t overthink the Amazon Echo Dot — particularly if you already know Alexa. Echo Dot is what you get if you lop off the top inch and a half of an Echo. You keep the brains, of course — the voice recognition that makes Echo so powerful and Alexa so friendly. You keep the connected nature of the device — it still connects to Wifi. But you lose the decent speaker that make up the other seven inches of the Echo.

And … That’s it, folks. That’s Amazon Echo Dot. It’s a much smaller Alexa-powered connected device that does everything its big sister does.

OK, there’s a little more to it. Here’s our Amazon Echo Dot review.

About this review

Android Central Choice Award

We’re writing this review after a few days with the Amazon Echo Dot, which we purchased. While generally we’d say that’s nowhere near enough to review something like a smartphone, Echo Dot essentially is a smaller Amazon Echo, which we’ve reviewed not just once, but twice over the past year or so.

There’s not a whole lot to figure out there. Nothing really subjective to get a feel for.

I’ve used it in a bedroom. I’ve used it in an office. I’ve used it a kitchen. My kids are fighting over who gets to have it in which room.

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Awwwwww, it’s a baby Echo

Amazon Echo Dot hardware

Amazon Echo is nine inches of black, cylindrical speaker. It’s not huge, but it’s sizable. Echo Dot is not. And it’s tempting to think that a smaller Echo isn’t as capable. But Alexa hasn’t lost her smarts at all. In fact, that’s maybe the most important thing to remember about Echo. It’s the rare product that you can buy today, knowing that it actually will get better over time. Nary a week goes by where Amazon doesn’t add some new under-the-hood functionality. (And the best part that it’s done entirely without you having to manually update the Echo.) Echo gets smarter. Echo Dot gets smarter.

It’s got the exact same look and feel as the full size Echo. Same LED ring at the top (though ours has a little bit of sharp edge) that glows orange during setup (which takes all of 1 minute to do) and blue when Alexa is doing her thing. (It’s also a part of the volume ring.) You’ve still got the mute and action buttons. New this time around, however, are a microUSB port for charging, and a 3.5mm jack for audio out. There’s still a built-in speaker, too, but the end result is more the quality of what you get in smartphone. (Which makes sense in this case.)

Also new is the ability to steam audio out from the Echo Dot via Bluetooth to another speaker.

So you’ve got three options when it comes to how good Echo dot sounds.

  • The tinny, built-in speaker. Works fine. Won’t impress anyone. But doesn’t take up any additional space.
  • Use the 3.5mm jack to plug in to another speaker. But that means more wires all in once place. Or maybe into a receiver — but that requires being on the right input, and then you’ll have Alexa getting piped through a full stereo system.
  • Bluetooth over to another speaker.

The bottom of the Echo Dot has that rubberized footing that keeps things in place when you’re turning the volume ring — though you could just, you know, ask Alexa to raise or lower the volume. The power LED on the back, 4-foot audio cable and 5-foot microUSB cable make up the rest of the hardware.

More: Why you should sign up for Amazon Prime

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Let’s talk …

Amazon Echo Dot software

There’s not a whole lot to say about software for Echo Dot, either. You’ll set it up via the Alexa app (available on Android as well as on iOS. (And your Echo Dot is waiting for you in the app already, because Amazon is smart and went ahead and added it to your Amazon account, which you use to log in to the app.) It’s the exact same app you use for Amazon Echo. It’s great at walking you through the brief Wifi Direct setup process to hook into Wifi, and then that’s it. You can use the Alexa App as a companion if you want — and it’s fun to see it update with information in real time as you talk to her. You can manage timers and alarms and music and books and your smart home connections.

Or you don’t have to do any of that. I’ve had an Echo for more than a year now and almost never open the app. Once you get a feel for what Alexa can do, it really does become that sort of pseudo-personal relationship. It’s sort of a matter of how much you use your Echo — and this is how I tend to use it).

On its own, it’s damned powerful. And it only gets better if you actually use the app alongside it.

But Alexa isn’t perfect. If you’ve used an Echo for any length of time you’ll pretty quickly realize that she’s smart, but not brilliant. She struggles with obscure questions far faster than Google Now does. Ask Alexa how long it’ll take to drive to, say, Los Angeles, and she’ll give you the distance. Google actually answers the question.

On the other hand, Google Now kinda sucks at adding things to your Amazon cart. Or playing back from Amazon Music on demand.

And perhaps most important: I can ask Alexa to “Play the Android Central Podcast,” and she’ll fire up the latest episode via TuneIn. No downloading any other apps, no having to subscribe to feeds. It just plays in all its podcast glory. (Maybe that’ll change when Google adds podcasts to Google Play Music

Shut up and take less of my money

The bottom line: Buy this!

Like we said at the outset, there’s not a lot to figure out with the Echo Dot. It’s a smaller Echo, with additional Bluetooth and 3.5 connections for external speakers, should you want something more than the tinny built-in speaker. Functionally, it’s exactly the same as the full-size Echo — and just as good. It’s just as responsive across the room as its larger, older sibling. it just doesn’t sound as good out of the box.

But on the other hand it’s only $89 — some $90 less than the full-size Echo. That’s a pretty good price for Alexa, especially if you’ve got an old speaker laying around that you want to put to good use.

Amazon Echo Dot

Want an Echo Dot? There’s a catch

Amazon Echo is way cool. And the idea of a smaller, cheaper Echo is one a lot of folks can get behind. But there’s a catch. Just as Echo was difficult to purchase at first — the waiting list was quite long — you can’t just go to Amazon, add an Echo Dot to your cart and have it the next day. First, you have to be an Amazon Prime member. Then you’ll need to use your voice to order a Dot either from an Echo, or through Amazon Fire TV or the Amazon app. (In other words, you can’t just go to the website.)

Echo Dot also isn’t really in mass production yet — current shipping times after the initial wave are now in late July.

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4
Apr

The best Android keyboard apps


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Tap tap tap away with these great keyboards for your Android phones and tablets.

Keyboards are important. Really important. Without a good keyboard, communicating on a smartphone can go from heavenly bliss straight back to teeth-pulling torture. Keyboards are also one of the most important apps you select from a security standpoint, as they are by their very nature keyloggers. And while most users will never really need to worry about if their keyboard is stealing their emails and passwords as they type it in, it is something that you should keep in mind if you’re checking out a keyboard that you know absolutely nothing about.

There are a number of great keyboards out there, each with its own features, flaws, and followings. There are utterly simplistic keyboards and bleeding-edge keyboards with a longer list of features than some smartphones. Finding a keyboard that fits you and your lifestyle can be a bit daunting.

Whatever your style may be, these are the five keyboards that we think stand above the rest, and may be worthy of composing your LOLs and WTFs.

Article updated April 2016

SwiftKey

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If you had to ask us to pick one keyboard as our ultimate top choice for Android, SwiftKey would be it.

For years, SwiftKey soared above Google’s included keyboard, and it did — and still does — come preinstalled on many a phone and tablet. SwiftKey’s prediction methods, called the “fluency engine,” has made it the keyboard that many users and editors alike keep coming back to. SwiftKey has been pre-loaded on millions of devices over the years, including on flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S4.

While SwiftKey used to be a paid app, the keyboard itself went free in 2014, instead having its users pay for themes — such as their Frozen theme pack. SwiftKey has led the keyboard pack for a while, but it has plenty of competition to keep it on its toes. .

Download SwiftKey

Swype

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Swype is to SwiftKey as GM is to Ford. Both are established, respected, feature-rich keyboards. Swype allows you to swipe out words or whole sentences, and Swype supports typing in two languages at once, for bilingual users. Swype offers a free version, but the full version is a dollar, and themes are an additional two dollars apiece. For those uninterested in having Elsa on they keyboard, Swype offers sports themes, including Major League Soccer themes.

Swype ties into Android’s Accessibility features for TalkBack and Explore By Touch, which make Swype a keyboard vision-impaired users can learn more easily on their own. Copy/Cut/Paste functions are embedded as gestures in Swype’s keyboard, too. Swype all the things!

Download Swype

Google Keyboard

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While years ago, Google’s built-in android keyboard was considered a bit of a slouch, it’s built to compete today. The Google Keyboard is completely free, supports gesture typing for both individual words and entire sentences, a bounty of languages, a modest choice of themes, and it was the first keyboard to feature the full library of Kit Kat emoji last year. That may not sound like much, but after years of mediocre or downright dreadful emoji from the OEMs and keyboard manufacturers, Kit Kat system emoji was a welcome change and drew in quite a few users before third-party keyboards began to integrate it.

The Google Keyboard employs Google’s own text-to-speech engine for voice dictation, and the many advancements in voice recognition made for Google Now and Android Wear over the last few years have benefitted this keyboard greatly. Google’s keyboard still has a little ways to go on the text prediction, but it does learn from your typed data across Google’s apps and services.

Download Google Keyboard

Fleksy

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Fleksy is a keyboard that exudes class with its minimalist styling and its artfully done themes — if you want a Frozen keyboard theme that actually looks good, go get the Fleksy one. Now, make no mistake, Fleksy is not a cheap keyboard, though they do offer a 30-day trial to decide if it’s worth the $1.99. After paying for the keyboard, most premium themes are also paid, including licensed themes like Frozen and The Hunger Games.

Beyond more traditional customization options like a fifth row for numbers and support for more layouts than your standard QWERTY and DVORAK, Fleksy’s keyboard has extensions, allowing it to send things like gifs or work while becoming invisible. Another interesting addition to Fleksy is are the badges and rewards system that encourages users to master the keyboard and its features.

Download Fleksy

Touchpal

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TouchPal is one of the lesser-recognized keyboards out there, but a few useful features have helped it stand out and get over 10 million installs. TouchPal’s keyboard held the freemium model of an always-free keyboard with a paid theme store and paid cloud syncing before SwiftKey and the rest of the field headed that direction. However, while you can pay for premium themes, you also have the option to simply upload your own background image and make your own for free.

What has stood out about TouchPal for me, and made it my primary keyboard for the last year now are three things: the dialogue between the developers and the beta community, swiping from the backspace to delete the last word, and swiping the space bar up to access the emoji drawer, which supports system emoji and now emoji art and emoticons.

Download TouchPal

Which keyboard do you use?

What keyboard do you use?

So, which keyboard graces your device? Do you prefer a more simplistic keyboard or a model with more bells and whistles? Chime in below in the comments section with your keyboard setup.

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4
Apr

Google is updating its Play family of apps with a unified icon design


Google has announced that it will be rolling out a new set of icons to its Play family of apps. The suite of apps includes Google Play, Play Store, Play Movies & TV, Play Music, Play Games, Play Books and Play Newsstand. All of the icons now have the same triangular design so at a glance they look similar, yet they each feature a distinction to make it easy to recognize the app.

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From Google’s announcement:

Since launching Google Play four years ago, we’ve always had dedicated apps in addition to the Google Play store. Today, all our icons are getting an update to provide a consistent look across the entire family of Play apps.

You’ll start to see the new Google Play icons across devices and online in the coming weeks. We hope you’ll continue enjoying the Play family of products—now with a new look.

Be sure to keep an eye out for the new icons to appear on your devices. What are your thoughts on the changes? Let us know in the comments!

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4
Apr

The best music player apps for Android


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Get the best music experience on your Android phone or tablet with these great apps

Over the years music fans have gradually changed how they listen to their music, and what they listen to it on. With the rise of the smartphone it’s only natural that now the one device we carry with us everywhere is also our primary media player. On Android, we’re also fortunate that there’s a huge community of developers that create apps that can better the experience we’re provided by the folks who made our phones.

The Google Play Store has many music related apps to choose from, but some do stand out from the crowd. It’d be impossible to look at all of them, so here we’ve chosen some that we think are some of the best there is. Let’s take a look.

Article updated April 2016.

Poweramp

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Poweramp is a real favorite. It offers a list of features long enough that we could sit here talking about it all day. But, if you’re serious about your music, you should definitely take a look. Making that easier is the free 15-day trial. No barriers, just full access for that 15-days to see whether you like it or not.

And the chances are pretty high that you will like it. It has a much different visual look to something like DoubleTwist, but looks just as fantastic in its own way. Big album artwork in the “Now Playing” view, a crisp and clean layout and some pretty amazing customizations. Poweramp supports themes and has a bunch of tweaks you can make in the settings, so you can really create the music player you’ve always wanted.

With a ton of different files supported, a view to look through your folders, an equalizer, crossfade, gapless, and much, much more, Poweramp is definitely one of the best music players on Android.

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Download Poweramp (Free Trial)

DoubleTwist Cloudplayer

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We’ve talked about DoubleTwist a lot around these parts and with good reason. DoubleTwist became a favorite of Android users that had deep roots in the iTunes ecosystem, and still is. The base app has been replaced on this list by Cloudplayer, a newer offering that looks great and has hooks into some of the most popular cloud storage services to deliver your music.

We’re not talking about hooking into streaming services, either. Create your own cloud streaming library with your own music, a Dropbox, OneDrive or Google Drive account and DoubleTwist Cloudplayer. Access to these is unlockable via an in-app purchase, but the basic app is free. And the basic app will also play your lossless FLAC files.

That in-app purchase also unlocks Chromecast and AirPlay support and the equaliser tools to help you get the most from your music. And like the older app you can still use it to listen to radio and podcasts, too, as well as now having support for both Android Wear and Android Auto. A pretty well stocked one stop shop for all your audio needs.

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Download DoubleTwist Cloudplayer (Free with in-app purchases)

Google Play Music

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Not just a music player, but we have to include Google Play Music. While it doesn’t have the deep customization or power features of something like Poweramp, it offers what many others do not; that huge cloud library for your own music. After all, without the music to listen too, what good is a killer music player?

That’s not to say Google Play Music isn’t a good music player, because it is. Being a Google product it integrates perfectly with your device – including the sweet lockscreen artwork. But the real value is in that cloud storage. It means you can take your music collection with you on whichever Android and iOS device you own. Sure, you need to offline some of that from time-to-time, but it’s always with you.

Google also has its own store and streaming service built into the same app making it a superb one stop shop for all your musical needs. What it lacks in features compared to others it makes up for in convenience.

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Download Google Play Music (Free)

Shuttle Music Player

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Shuttle is perhaps one you’ve not heard of before, but one that’s definitely worth your attention. Where something like Poweramp is pretty heavy duty and has tons of settings and customizations, Shuffle offers a portion of that with a much more lightweight look and feel.

It comes with a sleep timer, gapless playback, a choice of a few different themes, built in equalizer and much more. And for the Materiyolo kids out there, it’s pretty much perfect in how it looks. It comes in free and paid versions, but with the paid version just $0.99, it also represents fantastic value for money.

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Download Shuttle Music Player (free)

Equalizer+

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The clue to a big part of this app is in the name. As with the other apps mentioned in this post, there’s a pretty decent Equalizer built into this one. It’s also a pretty solid music player, though to take advantage of everything it offers you will need to put your hand in your wallet.

On offer though is that 5-band equalizer with presets, bass booster, contextual search, a visualizer – which can be displayed on a second screen – fade and much more. The app is free to download, and you get access to the main equalizer controls for that, too.

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Download Equalizer (free with in-app purchases)

Amazon Music

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Google isn’t the only provider on Android offering an all-in-one store, cloud and player solution. Amazon has its own thing going on and combines its Prime Music streaming service with its music store and a decent looking music player all in one. If you’re a Prime subscriber in selected markets you’ll have Prime Music and so you’ll need this on your phone. Amazon also offers you a cloud locker, much like Google, to access music you already own on any of your devices, and the app will play anything you have stored locally.

It doesn’t offer some of the techy stuff that audio nerds will find in some other apps on this list but it does give you lyrics. Sing along while you’re on the bus to work!

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Download Amazon Music

GoneMAD Music Player

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GoneMAD boasts over 250 customizations, so needless to say we’re not going to talk about them all, here. Add to this over 1000 themes and what you’ve got is a music app that really can be tailored to suit your own personal tastes. On the techy front it boasts gapless playback, support for a whole bunch of formats including lossless audio, smart playlists, an equalizer, multi-window and much, much more. You can even go back to the old UI if you don’t like how it looks right now.

The app is free to download for 14-days and after that if you like it and want to keep using it, you’ll need to buy the full version. And you might just want to do that.

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Download GoneMAD Music Player (Free trial)

Rocket Music Player

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Rocket is another hugely popular music player for Android with a bunch of good reasons to choose it. You’ve got a stylish minimalism mixed with a 5-band equalizer, folders support, Chromecast, video and podcasts and much much more.

That’s just in the free app. If you upgrade to Premium you also get a bunch of different themes, support for lossless audio, a 10-band equalizer and a whole bundle of other features to perfect your audio experience.

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Download Rocket Music Player (Free)

Your picks?

So, that’s five of what we think are the best music players Android has to offer, but what about you? If you’ve a particular favorite you wish to share, drop it and why you like it so much into the comments below!

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4
Apr

Amazon CEO says a brand-new flagship Kindle is coming next week


If you’re thinking about buying a Kindle Voyage, you probably should hold off. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos just tweeted this morning that the company is ready to release an “all-new, top of the line” Kindle next week. Presumably, that’ll be a replacement for the aging but still powerful Kindle Voyage, which was released back in the fall of 2014. It’s still an excellent e-reader (albeit an expensive one at $200), but the mid-range Kindle Paperwhite has since adopted its high-resolution screen at a much lower price.

Heads up readers – all-new, top of the line Kindle almost ready. 8th generation. Details next week.

— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) April 4, 2016

The Voyage is still slightly smaller and lighter than the Paperwhite; it also features a screen with adaptive lighting technology and has pressure-sensitive page turn buttons. But for most readers, the cheaper Paperwhite is the better buy. We’ll see what Amazon has to differentiate its new e-reader from the Voyage next week, but as for now Bezos isn’t dropping any other details.

It’s also worth noting that this is a pretty strange way to drop some news — most new device launches are obviously shrouded in secrecy. Bezos’ transparency around this implies that it’s not that big of a deal, despite his “all-new” proclamation. And e-readers aren’t exactly hotly anticipated gadgets at this point; Amazon got the formula right with the Kindle and continues to dominate the market with it. So there’s not a whole lot for Bezos to lose by giving the masses a little tease of what’s coming next.

Source: Jeff Bezos (Twitter)

4
Apr

‘Artificial gills’ maker relaunches Indiegogo campaign amidst controversy


Last month, Triton, a start-up claiming to have created “artificial gills” that let divers breathe for up to 45 minutes underwater, launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, and amassed nearly $1 million in funding. Three days ago, it fully refunded all of its backers, canceled that campaign, issued an update and proof of concept video, and then launched a new campaign. The issue? It seems Triton’s claims that its simplistic-looking “rebreather” could filter out enough oxygen from water using filtration alone were shaky at best and came under scrutiny from scientists who dismissed the highly desirable tech as fictitious. According to one researcher, in order for the Triton to properly work and extract gaseous oxygen, it’d need to have an inbuilt pump push a large amount of water through its filters; it’s not something swimming alone could achieve.

Triton’s since responded by somewhat clarifying how its diving tech works, saying only that it relies on a combination of the microporous hollow fiber filters in its “gills” and replaceable liquid oxygen cylinders to deliver breathable oxygen. The start-up’s holding back any further specifics of how its tech works due to intellectual property concerns. And while that certainly doesn’t clear up any of the confusion or skepticism surrounding the project, it definitely hasn’t slowed enthusiasm from backers. To date, the relaunched campaign has raised just under $250,000, blowing past its modest $50,000 goal. The “gills,” which are priced at $299 for backers and are set to hit retail at $399, are currently slated to ship this December. Just don’t hold your breath.

Source: Ars Technica, Indiegogo

4
Apr

Sony made a custom PS4 controller for a gamer with cerebral palsy


It’s tough to use gadgets when you have cerebral palsy — few of their interfaces take the movement disorder into account. However, a Sony staffer went the extra mile to make sure this wasn’t a problem for one gamer. When Peter Byrne wrote Sony complaining that the DualShock 4’s touchpad was difficult to use with his cerebral palsy (he’d inadvertently hit the pad and pause the game), the company’s Alex Nawabi made him a custom version of the official PS4 gamepad. The modified controller, which took 10 hours to make, disables the touchpad and uses another button to fulfill that role.

It’s an extremely kind gesture by itself, but it gets better: Nawabi built a second controller just in case the first one breaks, so Byrne likely won’t have to worry about asking for another favor. While this isn’t the same as a full-fledged production model, it shows that it’s possible to accommodate gamers’ special needs with relatively little effort.

Via: Kotaku

Source: News 12 New Jersey

4
Apr

‘Artificial gills’ maker relaunches Indiegogo campaign amidst controversy


Last month, Triton, a start-up claiming to have created “artificial gills” that let divers breathe for up to 45 minutes underwater, launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, and amassed nearly $1 million in funding. Three days ago, it fully refunded all of its backers, canceled that campaign, issued an update and proof of concept video, and then launched a new campaign. The issue? It seems Triton’s claims that its simplistic-looking “rebreather” could filter out enough oxygen from water using filtration alone were shaky at best and came under scrutiny from scientists who dismissed the highly desirable tech as fictitious. According to one researcher, in order for the Triton to properly work and extract gaseous oxygen, it’d need to have an inbuilt pump push a large amount of water through its filters. That’s not something swimming alone could achieve.

Triton’s since responded by somewhat clarifying how its diving tech works, saying only that it relies on a combination of the microporous hollow fiber filters in its “gills” and replaceable liquid oxygen cylinders to deliver breathable oxygen. The start-up’s holding back any further specifics of how its tech works due to intellectual property concerns. And while that certainly doesn’t clear up any of the confusion or skepticism surrounding the project, it definitely hasn’t slowed enthusiasm from backers. To date, the relaunched campaign has raised just under $250,000, blowing past its modest $50,000 goal. The “gills,” which are priced at $299 for backers and are set to hit retail at $399, are currently slated to ship this December. Just don’t hold your breath.

Source: Ars Technica, Indiegogo

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