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9
Apr

Color Switch: a colorful, timing-based puzzle for all skill levels [Review]


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Home Page


Prize Wheel


Game Progress


Google Play Achievements


Shapes


Game Modes 1


Game Modes 2


Challenge Easy


Challenge Medium


Challenge Hard


Reverse


Race


Cave


Color Fly


Gravity


Split


Bounce


Black & White


Color Swap

Summary

Color Switch is a timing-based puzzle fit for all ages. It is frustratingly addicting and, if played for too long, will make you see spinning, colorful circles everywhere you look.

Developer: Fortafy Games

Price: Free (ad-supported and in-app purchases)

Highlights

  • Bright Colors
  • Google Play Games integration
  • Compare your scores to your friends

Overview

Color Switch takes your run of the mill, timing-based puzzle and adds a twist – color. The mechanics are simple; tap the screen to make the ball jump up. The rest of it, not so much. You must keep the ball in the air while keeping it from touching anything that is the wrong color; at times, this means keeping your ball in a small space until you can move up. To make matters worse the ball changes color every time you complete an obstacle. The game has a simple scoring system, collect stars. Stars are used both as currency to purchase additional shapes that you can play as, and to gauge how far you have gotten in the game.

Graphically, this game is beautiful. The colors are bright, the animations are smooth, and the mechanics, though simple, are very precise. It is very evident Fortafy put some hard time into creating a quality product for us to play.

Now that we have explained the basics and reviewed some technical aspects, let’s go over the available game modes.

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Home Page

1Endless

Simply pressing the play button on the main screen starts a game of Color Switch. This play mode allows you to play through randomly generated obstacles until you fail, collecting stars along the way.

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Challenge Easy

2Challenges

 

A series of different scenarios ranging from Easy to Hard as labeled in the app. (100 challenges total) These are meant to take you through the complexities of the game and allow you short, finite challenges to conquer.

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Reverse

3Reverse

This takes the game you have taken so much time perfecting and flips the gravity upside down. your ball starts at the top and as soon as you begin, the ball starts falling. Continue to tap the screen to make the ball jump up and temporarily stop the decent. Pass the ball through like colors and collect starts to complete the levels.

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Race

4Race

As insinuated by the name, this is a race against the game. In each level there is a different “character” that you must race through the obstacles and, you guessed it, color changing still applies to both bouncing shapes.

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Cave

5Cave

Have you ever wanted to finish a colorful puzzle in a dark cave? Here you go. In Cave mode, you only have enough light to make out the obstacle in front of you, adding yet another level of difficulty to the game.

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Color Swap

6Color Swap

You guessed it, instead of changing colors at a set interval between obstacles, your shape changes colors at set time intervals. The new color is depicted by flashing bars on the sides of the screen. Plan you obstacles carefully as timing here is even more important.

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Color Fly

7Color Fly

This plays very much like the internet favorite Flappy Bird. Tap the screen to make your shape hop up as the screen scrolls to the right. All other rules still apply.

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Gravity

8Gravity

After each obstacle, the direction of gravity changes to match the direction of the arrows you see and, of course, colors still matter.

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Split

9Split

For those with the ability to divide your attention, each time you tap the screen your shape splits into two. Pass spinning stars and navigate other colorful obstacles as the map scrolls up automatically.

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Bounce

10Bounce

Bounce your shapes off walls like Pong. The only catch is you can only bounce off the sections that match the appropriate color.

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Black & White

11Black & White

As the name would suggest, you are only dealing with two colors here. The catch is, you must pass through the opposite color of your ball. C’mon, you knew the curveball was coming.

What I Like:

  • Beautiful colors
  • Smooth animation
  • Tons of play modes

What I don’t:

  • Not much, this game is solid from top to bottom.

Conclusion

This is a fun, bright game with varying levels of difficulty. It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself a recreational player or a hardcore gamer, Color Switch has a challenge for you.

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9
Apr

Audible’s Channels offer short audio programs for members


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Amazon-owned Audible has launched a beta version of its new Channels feature. Channels offer those with an Audible membership unlimited listening to short programs across a wide variety of subjects and themes, such as news, politics, fiction, relationships, and more. In addition to broad areas, Channels also feature content from a group of parters like Charlie Rose and Forbes.

From Audible:

Channels is launching in beta now on Android and iOS, and you’ll need the latest version of Audible’s mobile apps and a subscription in order to use them. You can find the latest app update on the Google Play Store right now.

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9
Apr

An HTC One retrospective


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The HTC 10 is coming April 12. And after a lackluster showing by its predecessor — the HTC One M9 — we’re looking toward “the 10” (as we’re taking to calling it internally, anyway) with cautious optimism. HTC has struggled to sell phones the past couple years (while ramping up in other exciting areas), but it’s still one of the better smartphone manufacturers around.

And with that, let’s take a look back at the HTC One line. All of us at Android Central have used the phones in one respect or another, and hold a certain fondness (or disdain) for them in a way that’s sometimes lacking in other manufacturers.

The HTC One X (and One S … and One V …)

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Actually, let’s go all the way back. Back to Mobile World Congress 2012, when HTC launched three phones under the One umbrella. We got the HTC One X, One S and One V. (So much for solidifying things behind a single phone, right?) We also got some love for the Tegra 3 platform. And one of the best-designed phones ever to be ignored in the United States.

What do you recall from this time?

Phil Nickinson: I was at this launch event, atop Centre Comercial Arenas — an old bull ring in Barcelona that’s now a mall. (It’s a pretty stunning venue.) This also HTC’s biggest event to date, putting it nearly on par with the likes of Samsung. I remember the phones being really good by Android standards at the time. The One X was the top dog, but the One S and that “micro arc oxidation” process that made the metal into something special on the black model. Sadly, only T-Mobile carried the One S in the States. It was a beautiful 4.3-inch phone that died before its time. (And we never even got the One V here.)

The One X was pretty great — I used it for a long while. But it also suffered from some issues that didn’t show themselves at first. RAM management was a thing, and the Tegra 3 model suffered more than the Snapdragon S4, if memory serves.

All in all, though, it was SOP for HTC — a lot of effort put into three phones that were together but not the same (heh), and were short-lived, at that.

Alex Dobie: I played with the One X for a short while, but it never really excited me the way the One S did. The larger of the two phones was large and bulky (ridiculous as that may now sound for a 4.7-inch device) and, in the UK, plagued by performance and battery issues thanks to that Tegra 3 CPU. That said, the One X’s saving grace was its absolutely eye-popping screen. It was among the first mainstream 720p phones, and the jump in pixel density, brightness and color quality was spectacular to behold.

The One S was a better fit for me. The slim, brushed metal unibody — I never used the ceramic “micro-arc oxidation” version — was stunning, the phone itself was easier to palm by 2012 standards, and quicker too thanks to the then-new Snapdragon S4 processor. The only problem was a pretty dismal 960×540-resolution AMOLED display with poor brightness and color quality.

Jerry Hildenbrand: I loved both the One X and the One S. They were my perfect form-factor, and I used both until I inevitably bricked them and turned them into recycle bin fodder.

It goes without saying that I wasn’t deeply in love with the software on either. Android wasn’t very mature from a software standpoint in 2012, and nothing any of the manufacturers did to it made it better. I used both devices as a platform for my own tinkering and experimentation, and had a blast while doing it. In a time where many of us felt that you needed to void all the warranties, HTC’s hardware and design made the One X and One S the phones I wanted to do it with.

Russell Holly: I didn’t have enough nice things to say about the build quality One X and One S when they were originally released. The One X was the shining example of a plastic phone that didn’t feel like plastic, which was a major sticking point against LG and Samsung at the time. The camera bump made me nervous, and the way it wobbled when you sat it on a table wasn’t great, but for its time the design was outstanding.

I was fortunate enough to spend some time with the micro-arc oxidized version of the HTC One S, and to this day have not felt a metal phone quite a nice as that one. That particular version was hard to come by, and it was still a wrapper on an otherwise average phone for its time, but it matched the One S in feeling unique despite being made of fairly common materials.

HTC’s biggest hurdle back in the One S and One X days was the software, and everything that can be said about the old Sense days has already been said. We’ve all moved on, which is good.

Daniel Bader: I have indelible memories of the One X launch. It was my first media trip — not to Barcelona, but New York, where HTC was hosting an admittedly tiny event for those unable to attend Mobile World Congress.

On the near-top floor of the Rockefeller Plaza, I fondled what would instantly become my favourite phone of 2012: the HTC One X. It was beautiful in its curves and white plastic and gently protruding camera. It was fast, with what turned out to be one of the most versatile SoCs of the early Snapdragon era, and it had a killer camera.

I was also quite taken with the lithe, metal One S, which (ironically) due to its smaller size I ended up spending much more time with as my main phone. I didn’t mind the qHD display, though in retrospect it was pretty terrible, especially compared to the gorgeous Super LCD panel on the One X. But what the One S lacked in specs (it also forwent LTE, which was very battery-heavy at the time) it made up for in holistic usability. In short, the One S was a pleasure to use, since the qHD panel was much less taxing on the Snapdragon S4’s two Krait cores.

As for the One V, it was a cute little sequel to the Legend, and did quite well in Canada as the de facto $0 Android phone, until Samsung began beating up HTC and stealing its lunch money with the launch of the Galaxy S3 and S3 mini later in 2012. Despite the relative success of the One M7, the One X/S/V represented the height of HTC’s bravuro, and exposed the hubris that would eventually doom it.

Andrew Martonik: Branding issues of having “one” phone that was actually three very different phones — and with the One X later bifurcated into two branches — aside, I thought 2012 marked a serious period of strength for HTC.

The One X, in particular, was a fantastic piece of hardware, with its solid piece of milled polycarbonate separating it from the field. It also had a really great display and powerful camera for the time. Unfortunately there were some general performance issues, for the most part caused by the Tegra processor choice, and the Sense software of the day was pretty heavy and overbearing.

HTC obviously stepped up its game the next year with the One (M7), but I still look back fondly on the One X as one of HTC’s best designs and a phone that was best pitted against competitors to be a leading device in its category.

The HTC One (M7)

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The parenthetical is intentional. When we first were introduced to what’s now referred to as “M7,” it was just “HTC One.” And it was a pretty big departure from the previous HTC Ones (or at least the One X), moving from polycarbonate to a single piece of milled aluminum. And any number of us would still argue that the 4.7-inch screen and dual stereo “Boomsound” speakers — along with the sleek curves — made this the perfect Android specimen.

But it also came with a new idea for the camera. Enter the “UltraPixel” — HTC’s early take on a lower resolution camera sensor with larger individual pixels, allowing more light to hit things. (It’s what Samsung’s employing this year on the Galaxy S7.) The “Zoe” moving pictures were part gif/part video — and years ahead of Apple doing “Live Photos” on the iPhone. And Video Highlights would put together a 30-second mashup of your pics and video from an event — automatically — long before it was standard operating procedure. Plus an Infrared port for controlling your TV, and the new BlinkFeed reader — there was a lot going on here.

Phil: I loved this phone. I loved so much about it. I loved the size. I loved the shape. I still can’t pick it up without wondering if maybe I could get away with using it again for a little while. I loved the Zoe photos — moving pictures! — and themed video highlights. (Have a great one of my eldest daughter getting her ears pierced before we’d even left the store.) I loved front-facing stereo speakers.

And I hated that HTC had no idea what to do with it. It struggled to explain Zoe, and struggled even more once it started changing what Zoes were. Video highlights never got the recognition they deserved, but they were quickly matched other devices, and by server-side services that took care of things off the device. HTC’s attempt to make all this into some sort of social network wasn’t ever going to get off the ground.

Still, though. I miss this phone.

Alex: I don’t think I’ve ever awaited a review phone with as much excitement as I did the M7. I’d seen the phone at its launch event in London and come away relatively impressed, and it was obvious to me just how much better the “new HTC One” was than any previous Android phone. HTC set new standards in Android build quality (with that aluminum unibody), display fidelity (with an amazing 1080p Super LCD3 panel), sound (hey there BoomSound) and performance (apparently thanks to touchscreen tech licensed from Apple.)

The only piece of the puzzle that wasn’t there was the camera. The “UltraPixel” shooter improved night-time photography at great cost to daylight shots — a real shame, since the Zoe video highlights feature first introduced in the M7 was a lot of fun. For me, to this day, the M7 stands out as the very best of HTC.

Jerry: Easily the best smartphone HTC ever released, the One M7 was also, in my opinion, one of the best smartphones anyone ever released — from a design standpoint. If you have any doubts, look at what Apple is doing today. The aluminum unibody wasn’t exactly a new idea for HTC (see the HTC Legend) but the M7 did it in a way that nobody had thought of before.

It was also the first Android phone that I didn’t strip the shipping software off of as soon as I was able. The “new” Sense was smooth and was able to do all the things I wanted it to do. More importantly, the things I didn’t want or need it to do weren’t in my way, and had little impact on anything else. My Developer Edition is still in the drawer labeled “phones that work”, and it still has HTC Sense on it.

I also was one of the few that saw the value of HTC’s camera. I was happy to have features like “moving” still pictures and being able to create my own documentaries about the things I saw or participated in with the touch of a button. For me, the software innovations and ability to take pictures in places so dark no other phone could have handled it were a fine trade-off for the low quality of 1:1 images. While it can’t stand against today’s phone cameras that can get those “no-light” images and have awesome content-creation software, it was the first and I appreciate it.

Russell: While the HTC One (M7) on its own was a fairly capable phone, what really pulled me in with this release was the Google Play Edition of the phone. A sleek metal body the likes of which HTC has never again replicated, with no Sense UI on top. It was heaven for me, right until my camera started doing that weird blue thing that so many early Ultrapixel sensors did after a while.

Part of me misses the Google Play Edition concept. Part of my misses the texture of the HTC One (M7) body. All of me is glad Ultrapixel is dead.

Daniel: There’s still a reason I see people using the OG One. It was, and is, a great smartphone, from its compact aluminum frame to its incredible BoomSound speakers and underrated (if limited) UltraPixel camera.

For me, the One was so close to a perfect Android phone for the time that I wonder whether, in a parallel universe where HTC didn’t include an UltraPixel sensor, the company would still dominate the Android market. While there were issues elsewhere with the device, it was the inclusion of the UltraPixel that doomed HTC to failure — not in 2013, when the One (M7) was released, but the following year, with the One (M8), when the company insisted on doubling down on its gimmick, with disastrous results.

Andrew: I’m obviously not alone in thinking that the One (M7) was an absolutely fantastic design for HTC — especially in the black color variant — and in my opinion it was the best of its metal “One” phones (not being sure at this point what the 10 is going to offer). The One (M7) ushered in the “unibody aluminum” revolution that some manufacturers are just now getting to the point of perfecting the way HTC did in 2013. It was a great size, felt wonderful and had a really awesome display to look at.

The newest version of Sense was scaled back a bit from the One X, and the entire interface was quick and smooth. The only real downside of using the phone at the time was the completely nonstandard capacitive navigation keys, which dropped the third key (menu or recents, take your pick) for an awkward setup of just “back” and “home” that I just couldn’t get used to.

The HTC One (M8)

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Still tucked inside parenthesis by HTC, though actively referred to in marketing materials as well as by those of us who write about such things for a living, the M8 (pronounced em-eight) scaled things up in size and rounded off some edges, but still kept the sleek, metal design. This was one of the first phones to move to a dual-rear camera design, though the second lens was for depth perception — a lot of hardware to throw at bokeh and pseudo-3D pictures. (Cool as they were.)

The Sense user interface iterated some more, but mostly kept the same look and feel. UltraPixel was still around, but better, and the camera software gained a bunch of new post-processing features. This was HTC hitting its stride, right?

Phil: Fast forward a year, and this one struck me as a space-age M7. If the Silver Surfer had a phone, this might be it. I was never sold on the Duo Camera thing for defocus effects. It’s fine every now and then, I guess, but that’s a lot of hardware to throw at something that single-lens cameras could do with software just months later. Plus there were a number of production issues that led to poor image quality — or some serious effects, I guess. The phone itself was maybe just too thin — hard to hold.

It stayed in my pocket for a good long while, though. But I don’t really miss it.

Alex: HTC didn’t go back to the drawing board with the One M8, but it did change more about its established design language than you’d first expect. The M8 got rid of the plastic trim and instead gave us a curvy (and yes, pretty darn slippery) metal body. The phone got bigger, but also lost some visual real estate to its on-screen buttons. The metal curves of the M8 quickly aged its more angular predecessor, but there was something about the smaller, more industrial feel of the M7 that its successor failed to capture.

Beyond the superficial external stuff, here was another great HTC phone let down by a crappy camera. And the much hyped Zoe social network feature, since abandoned altogether, wasn’t ready to go at launch either.

Jerry: All I had to do was hold the M8 in one hand and hold the M7 in the other to know that this wasn’t the phone for me. Gone was the excellent anodized aluminum construction, and instead we got something tall and slippery. I literally dropped the M8 the very first time I held it, because it slipped right out of my hand while reaching for the power button. And the tighter you gripped it, the more prone to pop out your hand it was.

No thanks.

Russell: I dropped my M8 review unit three days after I got it, permanently damaging the soft metal body that HTC swore was an upgrade from the M7 that I could have worn like body armor. The glossy texture of the back didn’t sit well with me at all, and the weird rubber Dot View case on top of it felt gross. Such a cool idea for a case, but the execution was awful.

The color of the body was nice, the camera was a bad joke, and the whole phone felt like an unfinished project to me. I moved on from this phone way faster than I had most other HTC phones.

Daniel: Slippery. That’s the primary memory I have of the HTC One (M8). Not a bad phone by any means, but a regression where it needed to soar: the camera. Because HTC removed the optical image stabilization module from the M7 in favour of a second sensor in the One M8, HTC’s 2014 flagship could barely take a daylight picture worth sharing. And the gimmicky bokeh and 3D effects? What a waste of engineering time.

Elsewhere, the One M8 was a competent smartphone, and actually showed up Samsung’s Galaxy S4 in a number of ways, but by then the Korean giant’s marketing train was at full speed, and others, like LG, were making significant inroads in the Android space.

But HTC still made some of the best phones out there, and by the time it released the M8, it had significantly improved its software game. Sense went from bloat to best, and I continue to admire HTC for its restraint as it tries to maintain a unique design language for its Android skin. Kudos.

Andrew: I actually quite liked the looks of the One (M8), but unfortunately the ridiculous smoothness of it — plus the larger overall size — made it a hassle to use. The One (M8) was just too darn slick to hold onto, and that made you worried to pull it out of your pocket gripping it too lightly — or even too tightly. I actually appreciated the new BoomSound speakers and the move to on-screen navigation buttons after the super-awkward buttons on the One (M7), but that wasn’t enough to overcome the poor choice in finishes that made it a slippery fish.

Of course HTC kept up with what it was really good at — offering a super slick, smooth and intuitive user interface in Sense, and at this point it was still the only non-stock UI that I could handle.

Unfortunately this was another year in which HTC completely whiffed on the camera. There just isn’t much good to say here — another “UltraPixel” affair that missed the mark entirely.

The HTC One M9

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Announced in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress 2015, the M9 iterated on things some more. The phone became a little more blocky, and arguably easier to hold, addressing a chief complaint of the M8.

But the promise of an improved camera fell flat, even as HTC increased the megapixels and went back to a single lens. Sense was starting to feel stale, especially as “stock” Android really matured. And for all intents and purposes, the M9 was a nonstarter not just for those of us in the press, but for consumers as well, buried under the sheer marketing hype (and exciting new direction) for the Galaxy S6, which was unveiled just hours after the M9.

What the hell happened?

Phil: The M9 didn’t do much for me. The design was better than the M8, I guess — not quite as skinny. But I was burned by the early results of the camera. (And by having to explain that the review unit I had already contained the software “fixes” long before it pushed to the public.) And by the time any real improvements were seen, I’d moved on.

Android matured a lot during this period, too, particularly with the notifications and quick settings and how one doesn’t get in the way of the other. Sense very much was lagging behind in this respect, and the M9 quickly fell by the wayside.

Alex: Right after getting some face time with both the One M9 and Samsung’s Galaxy S6 series at Mobile World Congress 2015, it was clear to me who had won. “If you see these two next to each other on the store shelf,” I remember saying to Mobile Nations’ Managing Editor Derek Kessler, “you’re walking out with the GS6 every time.”

That year’s Samsung phone was new, sexy and exciting. HTC, it seemed, was content re-treading over familiar territory. Worse still, the M9’s display and battery life was inferior to that of the M8, token changes to HTC Sense (including a useless app suggestion engine) did little to improve the user experience, and the camera was still crap, just a different kind of crap.

The M9 was a perfectly serviceable phone, but clearly lacked the magic that made the M7 and M8 special.

Jerry: I really only ever used the M9 when I had to, which wasn’t very often. I didn’t care for the design, and plenty of other phones were able to take up my time. I like to think of 2014 and 2015 and HTC’s “dark” years where their products weren’t bad, but not compelling enough to grab my attention. Other companies were pushing the boundaries of the price/performance ratio, and another good (but not great) yet still expensive offering from HTC just wasn’t on my radar when set against other top-tier phones with heftier price tags.

Russell: More than anything I appreciated the way it felt like HTC was working with Google to make Sense UI feel more like an integration than an overlay in the M9. The whole UI felt polished in a way that HTC had never really pulled off before, and I deeply appreciated that.

Unfortunately, the hardware accentuated all of the things I didn’t like about the One M8 and the camera was underwhelming compared to the other experiences that were available at the time.

This was a phone I wanted to love because it felt like HTC finally got software, but couldn’t deal with the hardware. It was a weird flip flop from my previous HTC experiences.

Daniel: I loved the way the M9 felt in the hand, especially when compared to the pebble-like smoothness of the M8. But by 2015 HTC had no excuse for giving its flagship smartphone an underwhelming camera, and by all accounts the M9’s 20MP sensor was an unmitigated disaster.

The One M9 was not released in a bubble, either: 2015 was the year everyone stepped up their game in the Android space, from Samsung and LG to Huawei, OnePlus and Xiaomi. HTC needed to match the progress, but once again it regressed in the worst way.

Andrew: After the relatively disappointing One (M8) I had high hopes for the One M9, and unfortunately I just wasn’t impressed by it. It wasn’t that I was disappointed, per se, as much as it just didn’t feel like a fantastic phone in the way that the Galaxy S6 did by comparison.

Though the design improved a bit in terms of usability compared to the One (M8), the One M9 was still very tall and slippery. And though it brought back the BoomSound speakers, the display arguably wasn’t as good as its predecessor and certainly wasn’t as good as what Samsung was offering in the GS6. And though HTC finally gave up on UltraPixels and went the other direction to get extra resolution for better photos, the One M9 still wasn’t anywhere near the competition in terms of imaging — even though the camera was fast and the interface was good, the resulting photos just lacked quality.

The software was good, like it had been the past two years, but that wasn’t enough to save HTC’s hopes for having a hit on its hands — the One M9 just didn’t do enough.

You tell us

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The extensive HTC One line — from the One X to the One M9 —were in a lot of hands. We know that there are plenty of thoughts and stories from the community about them. We want to hear from you!

Share what you remember — good or bad — about the One, whichever one you used. And join me as I pour one on the curb for my lost Super-CID micro-arc One S.

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9
Apr

Your Amazon Echo can now teach you all about The Art of War


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The Amazon Echo has picked up some new skills, including helping to get your day started with a quote from Sun Tzu. You can now ask Alexa for a new quote from The Art of War every day by asking “Alexa, ask Sun Tzu for today’s lesson.”

If The Art of War isn’t really your thing, you can always as Alexa to read you a poem. Once you’ve enabled this skill, you can ask for a new poem every day. Alexa can also get you more information about science and math.

These new skills come along with the Echo’s new ability to control your Lutron Caséta lighting system which lets you control Lutron’s wireless switches and dimmers with just your voice.

To use Alexa’s new skills, you’ll need to enable them in the Alexa app, which you can find on the Google Play Store.

Amazon Echo

  • Read our updated review
  • Get the latest news
  • Join the discussion
  • Download the Echo app

Amazon

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9
Apr

OS X update fixed ‘simple’ bug that could leak your iMessages


Researchers explained one large security hole in Apple’s iMessage app that received a patch last month, but until now we didn’t have details on another vulnerability fixed at the same time. By tricking users into clicking a specially-crafted link, hackers could gain access to the usually encrypted communications in OS X El Capitan’s Messages. “You don’t need a graduate degree in mathematics to exploit it, nor does it require advanced knowledge of memory management, shellcode or ROP chains,” according to security researchers at Bishop Fox — just knowledge of basic JavaScript.

Simply clicking the nefarious link from a sender grants them access to your plaintext messages and any attachments. That bit of JavaScript could even look like a legitimate link, as you’ll see in the video below. From there the cross-site scripting attack (XSS) is executed and uploads your stuff to a remote server. Flaws like these have usually been common in web browsers, but as the team points out, use of rendering engines like WebKit can bring them to other apps as well.

The team reported the problem (CVE-2016-1764) to Apple before publicly announcing how it works, and the company’s patch fixes things with “improved content security policy checks.” As always, make sure you have all of the latest updates installed, and double check links before blindly clicking on them. Protip: The ones that start with javascript:// probably won’t actually reveal what all of your Facebook friends are secretly saying about you.

iMessage executes Javascript URLs. What is this clown show. https://t.co/lxuAIutKaO

— Matthew Green (@matthew_d_green) April 8, 2016

Via: Matthew D. Green (Twitter)

Source: Bishop Fox

9
Apr

ICYMI: Auto-transcribing Moleskines, meta-Rembrandts and more


ICYMI: Auto-Transcribing Moleskines, Meta-Rembrandts and More

Today on In Case You Missed It: Moleskine debuted its new Smart Writing Set which automatically digitizes anything that you physically write or draw. A team of art historians taught a computer to perfectly match Rembrandt’s artistic style then had it 3D print a brand new work using ultraviolet ink. And a modder managed to not only cram a bunch of extra buttons onto a Game Boy chassis, he also installed a ROM reader so he can play virtually any classic Nintendo title with it. Good form.
As always, please share any great tech or science videos you find by using the #ICYMI hashtag on Twitter for @mskerryd.

9
Apr

Grabbing and going with BMW’s ReachNow car share service


BMW wants to make car-sharing classier. Its premium-level ReachNow service launched in Seattle today with BMW 3 Series’, i3s and Mini Coopers scattered throughout the downtown area. Its closest vehicle-sharing competitor Car2go has already filled the city streets with Smart Fortwos. But those tiny cars provide more utility than luxury.

While it may seem logical to assume that BMW is competing with Car2go, the carmaker doesn’t see it that way. It’s appealing to a different sort of user — the type that wants to commute (or just cruise) around town in style. I drove a few of the German automakers swanky cars in Seattle and while the experience was indeed fancy, it still needs a bit of polish.

One of the self-professed key features of the service is how quickly users can register for it — accounts are supposed to be verified within 2 minutes. Because you take photos of your credit card and drivers license, the sign up process moves quickly. And while it did take about two minutes to finish the entire process, I was verified before I even got my mailing address plugged into the app.

Reservations are equally painless thanks to a map that shows all available vehicles in the area. Tapping on a desired car shows its per-minute rate and license plate number, and if you like what you see, another tap on ‘reserve’ makes it yours. While you wait for the app to confirm your reservation, it displays a blue walking trail to the vehicle. Should you prefer Google or Apple Maps, you can tap the automobile’s location to launch your navigation of choice. You have 30 minutes to get to the rental before the reservation expires.

Once you arrive at your car you can unlock the vehicle with either the app or membership card. But both take just long enough that if you’re impatient like me, you might think it’s not working. A few times I kept pressing the card against the windshield again and again trying to unlock the doors. Then right when I was about to give up, the car unlocked with two chirps. Frustration, apparently, is part of the luxury experience.

Once inside, the center display walks you through the process to start the vehicle — that includes inputting the PIN you had to create during the registration process to unlock the engine. It even shows you how to start the car. For example, the start/stop button for the Mini is in the center console and not on, or near the steering column. I own a 2011 Mini and was not aware they had moved the button.

Once you’ve jumped through all those hoops, all that’s left is to drive the car, and enjoy the BMW experience without the corresponding car payments. Of course the company is hoping ReachNow will turn BMW renters into BMW buyers. It even noted that the 70 i3s it added to the Seattle fleet will give anyone wary of electric vehicles the opportunity to actually drive one without having to visit a dealer. BMW may be branching out into mobility, but it still wants to sell cars.

While you’re using one of these cars, street parking is free. Well, not really. You don’t have to pay the meter, but you’re charged $.30 a-minute while in away mode. When you park and turn off the car, you’re given the option of ending the trip or parking and keeping the car on your account. If you’re just going to quickly run into a store, the parking feature is cool. But if you plan on spending any time in a restaurant or shop, it might be better to end the trip and find a another car when you’re done.

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That parking feature conundrum also illuminates one of the other issues with the app. Once you’re tied to a vehicle, you can’t see if other cars are available in the area until you end your trip. That’s fine when a ton of ReachNow rentals are available in the area, but if there aren’t, you could let go of your ride and have another user grab it. Then you’re left to find another way to get around.

If you do decide to bite the bullet and keep paying for the car while it’s parked, you can’t change your mind once you’re out of the vehicle. You have to return to the rental, unlock it, put in your PIN and then end the trip. You can’t do it from the app.

Another weird issue is that while it’s very cool that you can set a destination in the app and send it to your reserved car, you can’t do it more than once per trip. The BMW in-car navigation system works fine enough, but it’s still easier to input addresses on your smartphone.

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While the service has its problems, it’s still pretty good, at $.49 a minute with the price capped at $50 for 3 hours. It’s not that much more expensive than Car2go’s $.41 per minute rate, and ReachNow is even matching Car2go’s rate for a limited time. Is ReachNow worth the extra 8 cents an hour? It is… if you’re looking for a fancier driving experience with the odd issue or two.

9
Apr

Skullcandy Grind Wireless review – CNET


The Good The Skullcandy Grind sounds surprisingly good for its modest price, is lightweight and comfortable to wear and has a remote/microphone built into the left earcup. Headband is made of metal instead of plastic.

The Bad Doesn’t fold up or come with a carrying case; only performs OK as a headset for making calls.

The Bottom Line The Grind Wireless offers a comfortable fit and good sound for its relatively modest price point..

Last year Skullcandy finally made a headphone I liked: the Grind, an on-ear model that’s comfortable and sounds really good for its relatively modest price (it costs less than $50 online). Now the company has introduced a Bluetooth version — The Grind Wireless — that carries a list price of $90. No word yet on UK or Australia pricing, but that price converts to about £65 and AU$125.

From a design standpoint the Grind Wireless is very similar to the Grind and comes in six different colors at launch. The Grind is lightweight but seems sturdily constructed, with a metal headband and plastic earcups that don’t look or feel cheap. It’s comfortable to wear, particularly for an on-ear model, and seals out some ambient noise, though over-ear headphones will offer better noise isolation. Although it’s a wireless model, you can listen to it in “wired” mode with an included cable.

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The Grind Wireless comes in multiple color options but simple black has its appeal.


Sarah Tew/CNET

A microphone is built into the right earcup along with volume controls and a pause/play button that also answers and ends calls. You hold the volume up/down buttons to advance tracks forward or back. Battery life is rated at 12 hours.

9
Apr

T-Mobile Netherlands may borrow strategy from its U.S. brother in turnaround attempt


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In order to remedy issues with T-Mobile Netherlands, parent company Deutsche Telekom is reportedly planning to take a page out of the book of its U.S. counterpart. While T-Mobile Netherlands has lost over 1 million subscribers in the last three years, T-Mobile US has been consistently adding subscribers for the last couple of years, thanks in large part to aggressive pricing and promotions.

From Bloomberg:

Deutsche Telekom is weighing the more disruptive strategy as it seeks to revive T-Mobile Netherlands after a planned sale failed, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. The option is one of several and the German carrier may decide against it, one of the people said.

If the company does elect to go with a more aggressive strategy with its Dutch brand, it’ll be facing some stiff competition. While T-Mobile US is seen as a disruptive force in its own cellular market, Tele2 AB, a smaller rival to T-Mobile Netherlands, is already making some headway with aggressive pricing strategies. T-Mobile Netherlands is also up against market leaders Royal KPN NV and Vodafone.

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9
Apr

Sony rolling out Marshmallow to select versions of the Xperia Z2, Z3 and Z3 Compact


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It looks like Sony is rolling out its Marshmallow update to select versions of the Xperia Z2, Xperia Z3, and Xperia Z3 Compact. Specifically, it appears that the update is arriving for the D6503 version of the Z2, the D6603 Z3, and the D5803 Z3 Compact.

As noted by Xperia Blog, in addition to general Marshmallow improvements like Doze, this update brings a new Camera interface to these Xperia phones. It also adds the February Android security patch to the devices.

The models in question were previously involved with Sony’s Marshmallow beta program.

Discuss the update in our forums

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