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Get out the party streamers, Netflix picture-in-picture has arrived on iPad

Many owners of the iPad rejoiced when the iOS 9 update rolled in baring the gift of picture-in-picture. But that joy was mixed with lament as it didn’t extend to Netflix. Let happiness reign, it’s just arrived.

Netflix has rolled out a new update that allows the iPad’s picture-in-picture feature to work while streaming video. That means owners of iPads with iOS 9.3.2 or newer will be able to pop out a video player and leave it running on top in the corner of the screen while they run other apps.

Want to IM chat with a friend to talk about the latest episode of Orange is the New Black while watching it? Now you can. Need to stay on email while catching up on Better Call Saul? Yup that’s possible too.

While Netflix has only just been updated to work with picture-in-picture on iOS 9, other services like Hulu have had the feature running for a while now. But hopefully it’s worth the wait and means this will be a nice stable build.

Netflix subscribers just need to update the app to the latest version of 8.7.0, and do the same for iOS 9.3.2 and they’re good to go.

READ: Apple iOS 10 release date and everything you need to know


Xbox One Gears of War 4 Elite Controller: The best gamepad just got even better

We’ve always loved the Xbox One Elite Controller and its mad, pricey ways, but during its E3 2016 media briefing Microsoft announced a new version that we want so much more.

Battle-scarred and sexy, the Xbox Elite Controller – Gears of War 4 Limited Edition is available on pre-order now at the princely sum of $200.

It offers similar customisable thumbsticks, D-pad, rear paddles and hair trigger functionality of the original, but is completely styled around the forthcoming shooter from Microsoft and the Coalition.

In addition to the controller, you get an exclusive in-game item for Gears 4 and three Gear Packs for your money, but those dropping that kind of cash are really after the stunning looks and abilities of the device itself.


We didn’t get to use it playing a game sadly, so can’t tell you exactly how it feels until we get one in for review in the comings weeks or months. We can say that, in the hand, it feels very similar to the black and silver Elite Controller we currently use to game with.

READ: Xbox E3 2016 highlights: What was launched, Project Scorpio, Xbox One S and much more

As well as the controller itself, you get a Gears-themed red carry case, four metallic red paddles that can be fitted to the rear and assigned for different actions in games, and six interchangeable thumbsticks – two standard, two domed and two taller than usual.

There are also two D-pads included, with a standard one and the faceted version seen in our pictures. That has the weapon selection icons as seen in Gears games, printed in the right places.

The controller takes two AA batteries and is a doddle to set up.

First Impressions

The Xbox One Gears 4 Elite Controller is very pricey, at $50 more than even the mammoth cost for the original Elite device, and that will no doubt be way too much for many.

It’s hugely desirable for Gears fans though, so they might have to start saving now.

An exact release date is yet to be revealed. We’re also not sure if or when it will come to the UK too.

We certainly hope so.


‘Titanfall 2’ doesn’t ditch Microsoft’s cloud; it builds on it

When the original Titanfall launched exclusively on the Xbox One, Windows and Xbox 360 in 2014, it took advantage of Microsoft’s Azure cloud system, which allowed developers at Respawn to add AI teammates and enemies in a low-lag gaming environment. It also meant that some regions, such as South Africa, never saw the game because Microsoft’s dedicated servers simply didn’t exist in the country. This all changes with Titanfall 2.

The sequel is multi-platform, heading to Xbox One, Windows 10 and PlayStation 4, and it takes advantage of multiple cloud systems. In fact, it uses “every cloud,” according to lead programmer Jon Shiring. Through a partnership with UK-based server company Multiplay, Titanfall 2 will use Azure, Google and Amazon cloud services, plus bare metal systems — physical servers that sit on racks in big data centers.

“Since this launch is going to be even bigger than the last game, I really wanted to make sure that we had an insane amount of scalability and reliability,” Shiring says. “What’s really important to me is the game just works. …I want the game to be hosted everywhere, to find places near our players and make sure that we have absolute stability and reliability.”

Respawn founder and CEO Vince Zampella — you may know him as a co-creator of Call of Duty — says that the multi-platform approach gives the team much more flexibility.

“Obviously the partnership with Microsoft was fantastic for us, but now as we’re expanding out, the more flexibility we have, the better service we can offer the players,” he says. “Being on Azure and Google and Amazon, it’s just added benefit.”

With the original Titanfall, Microsoft’s regional cloud servers could max out in terms of player numbers. For instance, 2 million people participated in the game’s trial period across Xbox One and PC, and at one point the European servers were unable to host any more players. At that point, Respawn had to shift the extra European players to US servers on the East Coast, which increased their ping — the amount of time that it takes for data to transfer between separate locations. In online multiplayer games, high ping is a death knell, or at least a serious frustration for competitive players.

At the time, Shiring told Engadget, “We don’t look forward to doing that at all, but if we have a bunch of people sitting unable to play the game, then we’re going to make sure that the experience is good enough -– maybe not ideal -– to get them playing.”

Shiring is confident that the new server infrastructure will be able to handle anything Titanfall 2 players throw its way. But, just to be sure, Respawn is holding a multiplayer technical test before the game launches on October 28th. Developers want to enlist as many players as possible so they can squash the kinds of bugs that only appear when tons of people boot up an online game at the same time.

“It’s a brand-new system and that’s one of the reasons we’re doing that multiplayer tech test, is to prove all this out and show that we’re ready for launch,” Shiring says. “Once we get there, it’s going to give us a really insane level of scalability being on every cloud and on bare metal as well.”


NASA’s recruitment posters are looking for Mars explorers

We wish these NASA recruitment posters for Martian workers were real. Alas, we’ve yet to send humans to the red planet, and these were but part of an art exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Complex in 2009. While you can’t work as a technician, a teacher, a surveyor or as a farmer on Mars at this point in time, you can at least download high-res copies of these posters today. The space agency has made them all available on its website, in case you want to print them out for your walls or to use them as wallpapers on your phone. If you’re still feeling a bit miffed that you can’t actually go to Mars, well, just think of Mark Watney and be thankful that there’s zero chance you’ll get left behind on an alien planet.

Via: Wired

Source: NASA


How Adidas is using motion capture to reinvent running shoes

When Kanye West isn’t wearing his Yeezys (or Vans, as he describes in a song on The Life of Pablo), he’s often spotted in Adidas Ultra Boosts. Since being introduced last year, the Ultra Boost has quickly transcended its intended purpose as a running shoe, becoming an essential silhouette for sneakerheads everywhere. But despite Ultra Boost finding success in the streetwear community, Adidas continues to create products around a mantra from founder Adi Dassler: “It all starts with the athlete.” That idea, combined with the use of evolving technologies such as motion capture, is what drove the design behind AlphaBounce, the company’s latest running shoe.

Before becoming a reality, AlphaBounce had to be shaped by ARAMIS, a motion-capture system that helps determine the amount of strain and tension caused by different materials. ARAMIS, which NASA has used to inspect the outer hull of space shuttles, combines high-speed cameras with flexion sensors to gather information at up to 500 frames per second. Since the software maps skin, bone and muscle, it can give Adidas engineers insight into how they should go about designing a more comfortable running sneaker. ARAMIS can visualize the level of comfort on every area of an individual’s foot, from the heel to the toes, as well as indicate when the fabric may be getting in the way of performance.

Adidas uses the ARAMIS motion-capture system to assess the tension of different fabrics.

“It’s a really versatile tool,” said George Robusti, senior design director of global running at Adidas, of the ARAMIS system. “The technology enabled us to fine-tune how we approach the functionality of the product. You shouldn’t need to think about the shoe being there.”

In the case of AlphaBounce, Adidas built the sneaker’s upper with a flexible, lightweight material called ForgeMesh. It’s supposed to fit like a glove — but still be less weird looking than those five-finger shoes. While Adidas has relied on ARAMIS to build a product in the past (it used it with Ultra Boost too), Robusti said this is the first time a design was brought to life based on data collected from the motion-capture system. Those learnings, of course, derived from Adidas bringing in athletes to put AlphaBounce through its phases.

As we sat and talked inside Adidas’ headquarters in Portland, Ore., I asked Robusti how AlphaBounce compares to the Ultra Boost and NMD, two of the company’s most popular runner lines. Unlike those highly coveted (and arguably fashion-centric) shoes, the AlphaBounce was designed primarily for performance, said Robusti, though it still needed a modern look. Adidas achieved that last part by mixing black, purple and orange colors, with a limited-edition speckled pattern meant to evoke the shoe used in Adidas’ motion-capture tests.

The AlphaBounce will be available in a limited-edition pattern meant to evoke the motion-capture testing that Adidas used to design the product.

What completes the vision for AlphaBounce, and inspired its name, is the Bounce midsole, which has been redesigned to offer improved comfort and stability. Bounce, which debuted in 2015 with the Energy Bounce and Mana Bounce, is a type of elastic foam that’s been engineered to feel soft and, well, bouncy (get it?). Ideally, Adidas says, the running experience should feel almost elastic.

During a demo of the sneaker, the team behind AlphaBounce compared its blend of materials and design techniques to Apple’s signature approach: seamless integration between hardware and software. “In the past, we’ve always used off-the-shelf materials or processes that have existed,” said Andy Barr, Adidas’ category director of global running. It was important that the company develop all of the AlphaBounce’s components in-house, similar to how Apple owns or designs many of the components used in its own products. In particular, Barr pointed to the new upper materials used for ForgeMesh and the overhauled Bounce midsole.

“We’re always trying to create the new thing in the market,” he added. “It maybe doesn’t feel familiar straight away, but we know in a year, year and a half, it’s going to push the whole market forward.”

Ultimately, Adidas intends to bring AlphaBounce’s core technology to other products, including sports bras, apparel and different versions of the shoe. That said, it might be hard for AlphaBounce to reach the same level of popularity as the Ultra Boost and NDM or even Nike’s Free RN. But at $100 starting today, Adidas has high hopes that its new design will soon become a favorite among avid runners.


Pebble’s Time Round now comes in polished gold and silver

When Pebble unveiled its latest line of watches for 2016, noticeably absent was a successor to the Time Round, a bummer for those who love its thinner and circular design. To appease Round lovers, the company is releasing a couple of new special Kickstarter editions that come in polished gold and silver. It has that same round color e-paper display as before, along with a marine-grade stainless steel chassis. These particular editions have a black bezel with smoked numbers on the three-hour marks and ship with a 20mm black leather band. It’s worth noting that these new Round models do not have optical heart sensors like the recently announced Pebble 2 and Time 2.

You can of course pick one of these watches up later, but if you pre-order it now via Pebble’s current Kickstarter campaign, you’ll get it before anyone else. It’s $199 if you want to get it by itself, but if you fancy having one watch for sporty activities and another for everyday wear, you can get a combo pack with the Pebble 2 for $298. Pebble tells us that current backers can change their pledges to a different reward tier while the campaign is still ongoing. If you decide to add it later, you can simply specify it in a later Reward survey.

Source: Pebble


Monohm’s circular ‘anti-smartphone’ is up for pre-order

Back in 2015, while I was trawling the halls of Mobile World Congress, I stumbled upon a device known as the Runcible. It was a strangle, pebble-like object with limited functionality — its creator, Aubrey Anderson, described it as a “quieter” gadget to help people relax and live slightly more disconnected lives. Since then I’ve heard almost nothing about the project, but that’s all changing today — Anderson and his company, Monohm, have announced that the Runcible is now available for pre-order, starting at $399 for the base model and $499 for the premium “adventure” version.

The biggest change is the software. The Runcible no longer runs on Firefox OS, which is understandable given that Mozilla has abandoned its plans to build a smartphone operating system. (Firefox OS lives on as a platform for TVs and other “connected devices,” however.) Now the little puck runs on BuniOS, a platform built by Monohm using the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). It leverages The Crosswalk Project, an open-source web application runtime, as well as a more “traditional” runtime based on Android 5.1, which can be used to install and run native apps.

The Runcible is roughly the size of a coffee coaster. It has a 2.5-inch display with a 640 x 640 resolution, which works out at 256 pixels per inch (ppi). Under the surface you’ll find a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor, a Qualcomm Adreno 306 GPU, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. Not the most impressive specs, but then the Runcible isn’t a traditional smartphone. Its basic features include an analog clock, a compass and what appears to be a photo viewer. Monohm says it’ll “never beep, alert or otherwise interrupt” you, in order to help you focus on the real world.

That’s not to say you can’t stay connected. The so-called anti-smartphone has a 7-megapixel rear-facing camera and supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth out of the box. Anderson says the final version could also come with LTE — if there are enough pre-orders to “sway the operators,” that is.

The $399 model comes with a back made from recycled ocean plastic. A limited number will also be available for $499 with sustainably harvested madrone wood. These prices might sound expensive — they probably are — but Anderson is committed to quality. Like a watch or family memento, he wants the Runcible to last “decades.” That’s why the device is also highly customizable — Monohm wants users to fix and replace the parts.

“When you take your Runcible apart, you’ll find exposed GPIO (general-purpose input/output) you can add components to,” Anderson explains. “You’ll find end points for audio, USB host, SPI (serial peripheral interface) and UART (universal asynchronous receiver/transmitter).”

The Runcible is weirdly wonderful. It’s trying to tackle an emerging problem with smartphones and how people live with technology — increasingly connected, and staring at a screen. There’s nothing wrong with that per se, but for those who want a different life balance — one where they’re encouraged to look up at the world a little more often — there’s now the Runcible. Much will depend on its software and the support it receives from both Monohm and the developer community. Regardless, we’re just happy to see a startup trying something different.

Source: Monohm


The old-school approach behind St. Lucia’s ‘Help Me Run Away’

How do you fit a story arc centered around a lovelorn pair of sneakers into a five minute music video? For St. Lucia’s song Help Me Run Away, director Norton relied on a combination of practical effects and CG to animate Converse sneakers on a cross-country road trip to find its matching pair of high heels.

When I spoke to the director, he referenced movies including the original Jurassic Park, where the combination of CGI for longer shots and live-action robots for close up. The behind the scenes video below shows how puppeteering on a custom-built rig or green suited dancers wearing the shoes created movement that’s realistic, without the uncanny valley that overused computer renderings can produce, even in current movies. (Of course, practical effects can have their issues too.) There are some instances of computer generated rendering for close-ups, like when the shoes are waving their shoelaces in the breeze.

As described by St. Lucia’s Jean-Philip Grobler, he and Norton took their cues not just from cheesy 80s movies (note the quick zooms) but also Pixar’s knack for bringing forth a hidden life from everyday objects. The human characters in the video are played by the rest of the band, transforming the song from Grobler’s idea of his own journey from South Africa to the US, to something else entirely. even the journey isn’t just green-screened, as the video was shot on both coasts, before being edited in Adobe Premiere and adding CGI from Stratostorm.

Source: St. Lucia (YouTube)


London Tube font redesigned for the internet age

The iconic typeface of the London Underground is getting a revamp. Design firm Monotype has been commissioned to rework the letters, numbers and symbols that people look at every day while they hurriedly board Tube carriages, stand on platforms and look at maps. The “Johnston” typeface was unveiled in 1916 and while it’s undergone some changes since then, Transport for London (TfL) thinks it could use another tweak. The new “Johnston100” serves two purposes; to bring back some of the “soul” of the original typeface, which may have been lost in subsequent redesigns, and to make it more legible for apps and digital signage.

The latter is especially important given how often people now connect with the London Underground on the web and through social media. The first Johnston typeface was, of course, never designed for the internet age — as a result, there were no “@” or “#” symbols. They’ve since been added, but now Transport for London wants a more considered look.

The Johnston100 typeface will come in five different weights, two of which are completely new for the Johnston family: thin and hairline. As their names suggest, these are the narrowest and most skeletal, making them useful for smaller screens and intricate designs. Monotype has also worked to bring back some of the original typeface’s quirks and idiosyncrasies — the lower case “g,” for instance, is no longer round at the bottom, but slightly diagonal so the hole in the middle is shaped like a teardrop. “The latest versions had started to become slightly mechanical, and a little bit uniform,” Nadine Chahine, Monotype Type Director explains.

The redesigned font will be rolled out in July, starting with printed materials such as Tube maps and posters. Over time, it’ll be expanded to train carriages and station signage — including the long-awaited Crossrail Elizabeth Line — as well as the web and other digital platforms.

Via: Wired

Source: Monotype


Uber deal gives you free rides when you pay with Capital One

Getting a free Uber ride isn’t usually easy. Unless you get a referral from a friend, you typically have to get that gratis trip outside of the app. You’ll have a much easier time after today, though — Uber is launching a promotion with Capital One that makes every 10th ride free (up to $15, that is) if you pay with a Quicksilver or QuicksilverOne card. The offer only lasts until March 2017, and you’ll have until April 30th, 2017 to use your free travel, but it could save you quite a bit of cash if you regularly hail Uber cars to get around town. Let’s just hope that these kinds of promos spread to other partners and become more of a mainstay.

Source: Capital One

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