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30
Apr

Roaming within the EU has just become cheaper


European decision-makers have been forcibly capping mobile roaming charges in the region for several years now. The last mandated reduction came into effect in July 2014, but today the European Commission has made calls, texts and megabytes that much cheaper once again. The maximum a carrier can now charge you for answering a voice call when you’re roaming in another EU country is €0.0114 per minute. Similarly, €0.05 per minute for an outgoing call, €0.02 per SMS and €0.05 per megabyte are the maximum charges you can expect on top of what you’d pay at home.

The new roaming caps introduced today, alongside stricter European net neutrality rules, will also be the last such reduction. That’s because from June 15th next year, the concept of roaming will cease to exist, at least among EU carriers and their customers. In the UK, Tesco Mobile is giving its users a transient taste of this level of freedom over the summer, by scrapping roaming charges across Europe until early September.

Source: European Commission (1), (2)

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30
Apr

Watch a 360-degree video of SpaceX’s rocket landing at sea


If you’ve ever had any doubt whether SpaceX’s Falcon 9 really touched down on a barge, you should watch this YouTube video. It shows a 360-degree view of the drone ship as the rocket was landing, which means you can drag the video around to watch it from different angles or view it using a VR headset. SpaceX successfully landed its reusable rocket at sea for the first time in early April after several failed attempts. The historic booster was transported back to the Kennedy Space Center to make sure everything’s working properly. If it’s still in perfect condition, the commercial space company might launch it again at a later date.

Heads up! 360 degree camera view of landing on the droneship https://t.co/0VNR3gvN7X

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 29, 2016

Source: SpaceX (Twitter)

30
Apr

PlanetPron app for Android updated with Material UI and new features [NSFW]


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This post is about a great update to an app designed to look at porn. It’s not safe for work or children, and some readers may find the content offensive.

Really. I don’t want to offend anyone here, I just want to write about an Android app that’s done really well. If you don’t want to read about pornography, please hit your back button and know that we don’t judge you or anyone else.

We first had a look at the PlanetPron app for Android when the service first launched. It’s an adult app and an adult service that has pictures and video of adults doing adult things, for consenting adults to watch. But just because it’s all about pornography doesn’t mean that the app shouldn’t be done well, and the service doesn’t have to be secure. There’s a big update coming very soon for the Android app, and it’s worth revisiting.

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The first thing you’ll notice with the new app is the Material Design UI. The home screen consists of a grid of content (that we can’t show you for reasons) that’s scrollable, and built with high-resolution thumbnails of the content itself. To have a closer look at something, you just tap the content block, and an image or video will open in a new screen. Once there, you’ll find your content at the top and icons for sharing, related content, a menu, and comments. Turn your phone or tablet to landscape, and the content becomes full screen. It’s very similar to the way the YouTube app works in that regard.

Back on the home screen, you’ll find all the settings and ways to navigate in the hamburger menu to the left. Tap the icon in the upper left or slide your finger to the right to pull the drawer open, and you’ll see the content menu where you can choose what to show on the home screen, a tab that takes you to the categories and a tab for messages. According to PlanetPron, the models often feel like chatting through the messaging section, so having it somewhere handy makes sense.

I’m most impressed that the app requires no special permissions, and doesn’t track what you’re doing

The content menu is straightforward, and it’s where you decide what type of content is shown on the home screen. You can choose to see only photos, or only videos or both, and also pick whether you want to see the content collected from the categories you choose, or see PlanetPron’s Amateur Showcase — a revenue sharing platform where amateur models can submit their own photos or videos. Premium members can also store a list of favorite pictures or videos, and also track content creators you’re following through the service. Finally, you’ll find sorting options such as trending or “I’m feeling Lucky” as well as sorting based on number of comments, ratings or number of favorites.

Jump over to the categories tab and you can choose the type of pron you want to see. Straight man on woman (or group) action is well represented, and there’s a lesbian category, but man on man or transgender content isn’t present in the sorting options. PlanetPron certainly isn’t the only porn service to leave out categories of this nature, but we do wish the service was more inclusive — it does so many other things really well. You will find plenty of categories if you’re straight or like to see ladies with other ladies, with options ranging from Amateur to Webcam, though.

PlanetPron-permissions.jpg?itok=-NIFMaWVPlanetPron-app-locking.jpg?itok=3MXSdL6PPlanetPron-icons.jpg?itok=jx16qFoqPlanetPron-screen1.jpg?itok=hnyUz-toPlanetPron-screen2.jpg?itok=nLIgXlsyPlanetPron-screen3.jpg?itok=DSbhZPH5PlanetPron-screen4.jpg?itok=rV2g0MjB

A tap on the gear icon brings you to the settings page. There’s a lot here to like. I’ll start with Night Mode — it’s just what you think it is. A dark interface where the things that used to be white are now black, and vice-versa. That’s always a fan favorite. You’ll also find your account settings for both free and premium memberships, terms and conditions (read them!), tech support and a place where you can submit your own content. In addition, there are a couple of security settings many will appreciate — you can choose an icon that doesn’t say “porn” anywhere for the app, and a PIN lock to keep the content and your settings private. The PIN is required anytime you leave the app or the screen times out, and it works with Marshmallow’s fingerprint authentication API to unlock with a fingerprint.

App locking works with a PIN or the Marshmallow fingerprint authentication API

Most impressive (to me, anyway) is that the app requires no special permissions. You’ll need to allow internet access and let the app listen for phone calls so it can be quieted and minimized when one comes in, but no location is requested, and no ad servers or trackers want to see your contacts or settings. PlanetPron is a legitimate business as far as we can tell, and makes their money from paid memberships instead of crappy ads and tracking their users. Premium membership is $7.99 per month, automatically pulled from your credit card unless canceled. Billing is charged through Epoch Payment Solutions.

You won’t find the PlanetPron app in Google Play, of course. You can install it from their mobile app portal, and you’ll need to allow unknown sources to install it. You can (and should) revoke that access once you’re finished. The update to this version is coming over the weekend, but you can download the existing version now. Everything still works, but some of these new features aren’t yet present.

Download: PlanetPron

There are plenty of porn apps out there that can show you the videos and pictures you might be looking for, but if you’re looking for something that’s done well, you should have a look at PlanetPron.

Android After Dark

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  • Android After Dark: NSFW
  • More: The best adult Android apps

It’s a big world out there, and it’s not all Rated G. Welcome to Android Central’s NSFW section — home to sex, booze and other stories of an adult nature. It’s not for everyone — especially if you’re underage —and that’s OK. Be adult. Be respectful. And be responsible.

30
Apr

Puma’s robotic running companion can keep pace with Usain Bolt


For some people, the RunKeeper coach’s voice is enough to keep them motivated during a jog. Others need something physical to keep pace with. That’s where Puma’s BeatBot comes in. Developed by a NASA robotics engineer, a trio of MIT students and Puma’s ad agency, the robot follows lines around a track at any pace you’d want, according to Fast Company. It can even match Usain Bolt’s 2009 foot-speed world record of 44.6 KPH (27.7 MPH) in case you need something a little more aspirational than an eight-minute mile.

The robot works by scanning lines on the track with an array of nine IR sensors, while wheel rotations are monitored via Arduino to keep track of speed and distance. BeatBot’s also outfitted with LED lights on the back and dual GoPro cameras. If you figured this would be expensive, you’re right. Even though there isn’t an exact price, for now, BeatBot will only be offered to Puma-sponsored teams and athletes. Until that changes, you’ll just have to make due the old fashioned way: finding a faster running buddy.

Via: Tech Crunch

Source: Fast Co Create

30
Apr

Double Play: How sports games reach deeper into gamers’ pockets


Source: NBA 2K16
*Editor’s Note: This article is a guest-post from our Public Access community content section, where readers, commenters and fans can all contribute stories on their thoughts, opinions and experiences on technology and how it has impacted with their lives. If you would like to read more from Public Access go here; if you would like to register to become a member go here.*

Imagine buying a burrito, and getting charged extra for gua-… wait, that’s a bad example. Imagine receiving a car for free, but it can only drive at 20 miles per hour. If you wanted to accelerate, you’d have to invite at least five friends to visit the dealership. Alternatively, you could pay ten dollars to accelerate to 30 mph, or pay twenty dollars to accelerate to 50 mph. Hitting the break costs $2.50. Don’t laugh – with autonomous cars just on the horizon, we may not be too far from such a reality.

The digital realm is peppered with similar examples of “Freemium” payment models – offering a mediocre product for free that can be improved by emptying your wallet (making it “premium”). Though it originated with shareware in the 1980s, it has been adopted by a variety of modern industries, the most crucial of which is video games.

Video game companies have come a long way since stealing quarters from kids who wanted another whack at Space Invaders. Aside from a few sympathetic publishers, it has not been uncommon lately for incomplete games to be released at full price, expecting customers to pay additional costs for downloadable content (DLC). Certain mobile games have even gone so far as to be nearly indistinguishable from gambling, preying on those susceptible to addiction with digital credit card micropayments.

Full games released at full price are few and far between, often losing the profit battle to the Freemium or DLC models. But even full games are prying open gamers’ pockets in a different way… and the main culprits are sports games.

This is not a denouncement of franchises getting away with basically re-releasing the same game year after year with little more than a roster update (though that is problematic). Rather, my gripe is with something that has gotten out of hand in every major EA or 2KSports release in the last several years: advertising.

Mobile games often give the option of paying a one-time fee to permanently remove ads from an otherwise free game. In console and PC sports games, players are paying full price (upwards of $70 at release) for a game that will bombard them with ads for Gatorade, Nike, Sprite, Adidas, Sprint, KIA, and countless others.

How can game companies justify this visual and mental molestation? Every graphic, statistic, replay, jersey, and surface of every stadium is covered with brand names and logos.

“The Sprint Halftime Report: Presented by Sprint”

-NBA 2K15 (Xbox 360)

Some might say that it’s all part of nailing the realism of televised sports; which similarly barrage your eyes with seizure-inducing ads. That may be true, but how far are gamers willing to go for the sake of realism? ESPN has commercial breaks every five minutes; should those be included in the game? Should there be inadvertent whistles by referees? Should NBA 2K17 include a feature where Jack Nicholson spills a beer on the Staples Center court, and players have to press X to clean it up?

Realism is a way to improve one’s gaming experience… any addition that actually makes the game worse should not be included.

But maybe it’s not about realism. Perhaps game companies justify in-game ads by claiming that the added revenue source allows them to take more risks and produce better games. This could very well be true, but not for sports games.

First of all, sports game franchises have established, loyal followings. Fans of EA’s NHL games or the Madden NFL series tend to know what they’re getting when they purchase the latest installment. These are not startup companies risking budgets on untested products. Second, non-sports franchises have succeeded in producing high-quality, top-selling games with zero in-game ads.

Game publisher Rockstar, for example, took an immense risk with its recent game, Grand Theft Auto V. With the highest total production cost of a video game to date, GTAV was quickly regarded as a behemoth, with unprecedented attention to detail, gameplay, and writing. Despite not having any in-game ads (not real ones, at least), it made back its budget within 24 hours of its release. If such a feat is possible, why can’t sports games accomplish the same thing?

Granted, maybe comparing other games to Grand Theft Auto V is like asking why your toddler can’t win a race against Usain Bolt. But other games have managed to be successful without the use of in-game ads. Why should sports games get a pass (no pun intended) under the guise of realism?

At the very least: why not pass the savings on to the customers, and charge less for a game featuring aggressive marketing? That seems like a fair compromise. And while you’re at it, add that Jack Nicholson thing (I’d actually find that kind of funny).

30
Apr

Ask Alexa what’s playing on SyFy


Amazon has been nudging third parties to make products that use its voice-controlled software, Alexa, but it’s also encouraging others to specially interact by making custom ‘Alexa skills’. Today, the SyFy network announced that it is the first entertainment channel to get one of these skills.
That could mean asking Alexa to give episode recaps, offer previews of the next episode in a series or list the channel’s schedule. Injecting this skill into Alexa means users can ask SyFy questions of any Alexa-equipped device, from the Amazon Echo family to any upcoming third party device that runs the voice command software. It’s another brick in the content wall as Amazon continues to build out Alexa into a more robust service.

Source: SyFy

30
Apr

Xiaomi’s smartwatch for kids costs less than $50


Look, Xiaomi’s smartwatch for kids isn’t anything revolutionary. It has features typically found in children’s wearables, including the ability to make and receive calls and to track users’ whereabouts. The best thing about it, however, is its price: it only costs 299 yuan or around $46, which is a lot cheaper than many other smartwatches for kids out there. Besides voice calls, the Mi Bunny Smartwatch also alerts parents when their kids wander out of the virtual fence they’ve set up. Plus, it has an SOS button children can press if they need help: pushing it will send their current location data to their parents’ phones in seconds. The company didn’t say whether the Bunny watches will make their way stateside, but you can read all about its features right here.

Source: Xiaomi (1), (2)

30
Apr

Developer Gets Apple Watch to Run Windows 95


After developer Nick Lee realized that the Apple Watch’s 520 MHz processor, 512 MB of RAM and 8 GB of internal storage made it more powerful than many desktops running Windows 95 in the 1990s, he felt confident he could get it to run Microsoft’s successful operating system.

Photo via Nick Lee
To get Windows 95 to run on the Apple Watch, Lee knew he couldn’t rely on Apple’s WatchKit SDK because it doesn’t allow developers to directly access user touch locations. Instead, the SDK forces developers to use Apple’s stock controls. So Lee had to patch certain files within a WatchKit app to load his own app code rather than Apple’s. Lee tells MacRumors the process, which puts an x86 emulator into a self-contained Watch app, essentially turned Windows 95 into an an app.

Once Windows 95 was loaded onto the Apple Watch, the booting process took an hour because it’s being emulated rather than virtualized. Lee also had to attach a straw to a small motor that nudged the Digital Crown periodically to keep the Watch awake. Once the Watch is all booted up and ready, users can control the mouse with their finger. However, because the emulation is so slow, Lee told MacRumors that “it only registers a few pixels per movement on the screen.” To combat the lack of speed users can queue up commands by rapidly swiping on the display.


The Watch can be seen booting up and running Windows 95 in the video above, and Lee goes into further detail about the process in his Medium post.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 2, iWatch Rumors
Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Caution)
Discuss this article in our forums

MacRumors-All?d=6W8y8wAjSf4 MacRumors-All?d=qj6IDK7rITs

30
Apr

The Public Access Weekly: The cool breeze


This week, Beyonce released a visual album called Lemonade, Babymetal partnered with Super Mario Maker (to the glee of many Engadget staffers), thousands if copies of Uncharted 4 were stolen and we got the first glimpses of the Snowden trailer.

In community news, I’d like to give a shout out and a proper thank you to the folks who have volunteered to be moderators. We’re doing a whole lot of work to make improvements to the system and getting our ‘mod squad’ properly geared up. This week, I got a preview of the new tools and I’ve been testing the beta of the new features. Once the tools are rolled out to the mods, we’ll be posting some refreshed rules of engagement for the comments section. So, if you have suggestions or thoughts on the kind of community rules and guidelines you’d like to see here on Engadget weigh in and let me know. After all, it’s your comments section, right?

Over in Public Access, our community content section, more stories are going up than ever before: We’ve seen new posts go up almost every single day this month, with many days boasting four or five stories (except for Sunday. For some reason no one posts on Sundays…) Last week we had nearly 30 posts go up — the most posts we’ve ever had in a week’s time! That’s amazing, truly, so thank you to all the Public Access contributors and give yourselves a pat on the back because that’s some great work.


Nice going Public Access members!

Looking for something to read? Check out:

One of my very favorite posts to go up on Public Access this past week was this post from Richard Starr about in-game advertising in sports video games. Read it, read it now because you’re not going to want to miss a story that nearly made me spit out my coffee laughing.

People are sharing less and less about themselves on Facebook — and that’s a problem for the company. As the site grew bigger and bigger, people became more and more guarded. Meaning, essentially, that most Facebook users are sharing YouTube links or news stories but not birthday party photos or vacation updates so nobody’s really talking anymore. An interesting look at the evolution of a social media service.

When I’m watching TV at home, my S.O. will often mention something about an ad we’ve just watched — and I will often have no damn idea what he is referring to because ads wash right over me without even registering for the most part. So, I’m not raising any eyebrows over YouTube’s decision to put six-second bumper ads before videos (hey, content’s gotta monetize, right?). Others… are having different feelings.

Looking for something to write about? Mull over:

Speaking of TV, we just started subscribing to the PlayStation4’s Vue service. Does anyone else have this? Do you like it? Are there neat tricks I should know? Your thoughts/opinions/reviews, give them to me (in the form of Public Access stories. Obviously).

The FTC ruled that Amazon is liable for in-app purchases incurred by children in ‘free’ apps making it the third company to be found culpable (after Apple and Google). Some in the comments are saying people need to take personal responsibility and keep their kids off the internet; others point out that apps and pop-up messages are designed to appeal to kids who don’t understand what happens when they click the buy button. What are the best practices for kids and mobile apps? What kind of features should smart device makers start including on the devices software (or hardware) to prevent this kind of issue?

On one hand, you can have my 3.5mm headphone jack over my cold, dead body. On the other…the reasoning behind the switch and some of the arguments in the comments make me believe it might be time to upgrade the standard. What do you think – is the 3.5mm headphone jack done for? Is it well past time to retire this particular analog technology? What should replace it, and what is the best way to make the switch for consumers?

30
Apr

Inside Marshmallow: Adoptable storage


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Android has had limited support for removable storage in one form or another since the beginning. With Marshmallow, the new Adoptable storage feature lets you turn your removable SD card option into a more or less permanent (and no longer removable) part of the device.

The whole thing is simple, really, and most of the confusion surrounding Adoptable storage is easy to clear up. There are a few things to keep in mind so you understand how it works and what it’s doing.

Your storage device really gets adopted

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You can force any storage device connected via USB OTG to be adopted using one simple command:

adb shell sm set-force-adoptable true

But you probably shouldn’t.

Once a storage device is adopted, it becomes part of the system and is no longer removable. Sure you can physically remove it, but you’ll be prompted to put it back while apps and services crash on your phone or tablet. It’s adopted — taken in and loved by the system, and made part of the whole.

This means Adoptable storage is really only useful for two things:

  • An SD card placed in a phone or tablet and never to be removed
  • A USB storage device attached to your Android TV box, and never to be removed.

When you insert an SD card into the HTC One A9 or something like your G4 or V10 that has been updated to Marshmallow, you have the choice of using it as a Portable device or an Internal device if you go to reformat it. If you choose Portable, it acts like any other SD card and you can take it out and swap it between devices at your leisure.

If you choose Internal, things change. The device is formatted as a local, 128-bit AES encrypted EXT4 drive and mounted as part of the system. It’s then set as the preferred storage, and you’re prompted to move data over. Newly generated data is placed on the adopted storage by default.

If you try to remove it, things go haywire.

It might be a little slow

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Your phone will “benchmark” storage when it’s adopted. When I tried it (both on the A9 and hacking a USB 3.0 thumb drive via USB OTG on the Nexus 6P) it told me that my storage was slower than recommended at the end of the process. I didn’t notice any significant slow-down, but I might not have been doing the right things to make it become slow.

When you get a phone with Marshmallow and an SD card slot, I recommend using the fastest SD card you can find that’s supported. Class 10 and UHS are words to look for.

In any case, it’s never going to be as fast as the internal flash storage built into your phone. This might make a difference to you, and you might not like what you see.

Do you really want to adopt your SD card as part of the system?

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Chances are, you probably don’t.

Everyone thinks Google made this move because Android One devices all ship with limited internal storage, and users will need more space to install apps and their associated data. I agree, and this is a decent solution if you have a similar phone.

But for many of us reading this, we really only want more storage to store things like pictures, music and movies. We’re better off using an SD card as a portable storage device that we can remove and use wherever we want (like to transfer files back and forth between devices), and keep apps and data off of the card.

There’s also the bit about how SD cards have a limited number of times they can be read from and written to. Using an SD card the “normal” way means failures are uncommon. When you start caching data and reading and writing at a rate higher than a card was designed to handle, problems can arise. Android takes some precautions here with formatting and mounting options that reduce the indexing, but it can still happen. It’s interesting to watch and see how different cards handle this, now that Marshmallow and adoptable storage are common, we can see which cards are better than others in this regard.

Adoptable storage is a good idea. Formatting an SD card as an ext partition and mounting it at boot is something Android hackers have been doing for a while. It allowed my Nexus One to live a much longer life than it should have.

But it’s not magic, and the idea is simple once you stop and think about how it works. You’ll have to decide if it’s an idea you want to use or not.

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