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18
Nov

Forza Football: Stop using other football apps and download this one right now (review)


Being from Ecuador, you might safely assume that I’m very passionate about football. The sport is so deeply tied to our culture; it controls our plans and our mood. Football makes you travel throughout the country to watch your local team and, to me, it is as relevant as other stuff that is supposed to actually be important. That’s why Forza Football is one of the first apps I install on any device I own.

I can’t remember when the first time was that I used it, but it’s definitely more than two years ago. This app is, in my opinion, one of the best apps available on the Play Store. It doesn’t matter if you know all of your team’s chants or if you just follow Real Madrid because you like Cristiano Ronaldo, Forza Football will make your experience so much better.

Developer: FootballAddicts
Price: Free

Setup

After the splash screen, Forza will automatically detect the country you’re in and show you the leagues available there. This will add them to your favorite leagues, an essential feature of Forza, since it will let you follow them in the app itself.

I’ve always thought that this part of the setup is actually in disorder, since I have always expected to be able to choose a team from my local league afterwards. Instead, Forza redirects you to popular leagues around the world. This include the Premier League (UK), La Liga (Spain), Bundesliga (Germany), and even the Primera División from Argentina.

Immediately after, you’re allowed to choose international competitions. Important events such as the Champions League, Europa League, World Cup Qualifiers, European Championship, and Copa America are included here. Some of them are pre-selected for you – namely the really important competitions, so you don’t need to go and look for them yourself. The selection here is truly astounding.

Forza’s Setup Process

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First, you choose your local leagues.


Then you can choose leagues from around the world.


Also international tournaments!


You can follow local teams and your national team.


Other popular teams are suggested to you.


Finally, you configure notifications for the selected teams.

After this, you get to choose your home country’s national team, as well as your local team. See what I mean? The order is kind of weird. The national team comes pre-selected for you, and it also can include U21 and women national teams, which is cool. Choosing a team from this list, either local or national, will turn on notifications for the matches of that team (more on this later). You can choose more than one local team, of course, but do you seriously want to do that?

Forza’s setup seems like forever, right? Now it’s the time to choose teams from all around the world. There are some popular options here, such as Juventus, Arsenal, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern München. If your favorite team is a bit more obscure though, you’ll have to go to the settings page later and add it manually.

Finally, the last screen of the setup shows a list of all the teams with a little bell to the side. This lets you configure the kind of notifications you want to receive for each team. If you don’t want to receive notifications for Manchester United (live in San Francisco and the match time is too early for you), but you still want to see their results easily, then you can leave it as a favorite team but turn off notifications here. There’s also a granular control over the kind of notifications you receive.

Overview

forza_football_mainForza’s Football main screen.

Finally! Forza will show you the screen you’ve longed for since we started this setup. A calendar strip is at the top, in which the current week will be displayed starting from Tuesday. This actually makes a lot of sense, since some leagues play some of their matches on Monday.

The rest of the screen is divided in two: your favorite teams and your favorite leagues. If a team you follow plays on the selected date, it will appear first and foremost so you won’t miss it.

If there are matches on the competitions you’ve followed, then they will appear below your favorite teams. These won’t filter by teams or anything: all of the matches played on that day valid for that league will appear here.

Tapping on the calendar icon at the top right will take you to a list view of the matches your favorite teams play in the next weeks. If you want to stop filtering your favorites at the top and just show everything according to their league, you can do that by tapping the switch at the top. If you only want to see live matches, there’s a button for that. There’s something for everyone here.

Match View

Tapping on a match will take you to the match view screen. This area is focused on a specific match, and the amount of information it shows is impressive. Also, it changes according to the phase of the match: fixture, currently playing, or played.

The screen itself is divided in five sectors: statistics, table information, match details, videos, and lineups. As you can figure, statistics, videos, and lineups are not available until the match is actually being played.

Statistics show live information such as possession, shots on target, yellow cards, and such. Table information shows the current standings in the table for the tournament this match is being played for. For example, if Arsenal plays Tottenham for the Premier League, then this tab will show the full Premier League standings.

This is updated live: this means that if Arsenal is winning, the table will already have the three points added to them. Both teams playing are shown in bold so it’s easier to spot them.

Forza’s Match View Screen

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The statistics tab lets you see live data about the game.


Standings are updated in real-time in this tab.


Want to know exactly what’s going on in the game? This tab is for you.


You can watch highlights through the videos tab.


Standings, subs, and injuries are all under the standings tab.

The match details tab is the most complex of them. It shows information such as the managers, age average, tendency, and stadium. When the match is being played, information such as yellow cards, red cards, goals, penalties and substitutions will also appear here. When the match is over, you can choose players of the match, and a small poll on confidence on chairman, squad, and manager of the team you support.

The videos tab will show you highlights (such as goals, failed penalties, and other important actions) from Dailymotion. This tab’s quality obviously depends on the match you’re watching. If you are looking at a Barcelona vs Real Madrid, then expect to see a lot of them. If you’re following a match from two obscure teams from Ecuador, then don’t expect any videos (even people in Ecuador don’t care about them anyways).

Finally, the squad tab does exactly what you expect of them, showing the starting 11, then showing substitutions and injured players. Special mention to Jack Wilshere, who always finds his way to this last section.

Options

forza_football_optionsThere’s a wide selections of options you can choose from. You can change your favorite leagues and competitions, manage what content you see on the details of a match, app language, notifications, and even support for themes.

The favorite leagues and competitions aspect is pretty much what you would expect. You can choose between every league and competition the app has to offer, and then mark it as favorite so you can see it on the main screen. The option of adding new teams is there too, in case you need it.

Themes range from really good to really ugly, but the fact that there’s actually an option for changing the colors of the app is nice. This is not a quick attempt of doing things either; when you change your theme, even the smallest of details change. It’s amazingly implemented and consistent throughout the app.

Notifications

This is one of the biggest aspects of this app, without doubt. In a nutshell, they work flawlessly. Remember all of those teams we chose on the setup and options screens? Well, you can get push notifications when these teams play.

There’s also the option of choosing with notifications you get: match reminder, lineups, match start, match end, goals, half time result, final result, yellow cards, red cards, video highligts, and even questions and transfer news about the team. You can do this for every individual theme or just set the default options on settings and use that here too.

forza_football_team_selectionYou can change your teams at any time.

The robustness and granularity of this system is something admirable. As I said before, I’ve used this app for approximately two years and I’ve had issues with it exactly once. It’s amazing how well it works, how each setting is remembered correctly and reflected immediately, how prompt the notifications are, and how every event is in fact picked up and reported.

Clicking on the notification itself takes you to the match details screen. Don’t want to receive notifications right now? Is your homework more important than that North London derby? You can turn off notifications for the match right from the notification, so you can do that Ruby on Rails homework while Arsenal and Tottenham draw yet again.

Conclusion

Forza Football provides a wide array of options, features, customizability, and robustness that is rarely seen on an app, let alone a free one. It sounds cliche, but, considering the amount of stuff you can do, I can safely say that this is an app from football fans for football fans. Seriously, just go and download it right now if you’re a fan of football. I’m sure you wont regret it and your experience will be better.

Download Forza Football from the Google Play Store.

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18
Nov

Snag the excellent Ecobee3 smart thermostat at one of the best prices we’ve seen


Make your home a little smarter and save a few bucks while you do it.

If you’re looking to add some extra smarts to your home and save a little money over the long-term, a smart thermostat is a great place to start. Luckily, the Ecobee3, a favorite in the space, is currently on sale for just $199.99 at Amazon. That’s a full $49 discount off of its usual price tag and one of the lowest prices we’ve seen.

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With the Ecobee 3, you can potentially save big on your energy bills throughout the year. The thermostat is able to sense when anyone is home, and can adjust the temperature accordingly, keeping you comfortable while you’re around, and saving energy while no one is in the house. The Ecobee3 also keeps an eye on the weather outside and thousands of other data points to make sure you’re always comfortable. Add in Amazon Echo integration, and the Ecobee3 is a compelling choice.

If you’re up for adding a smart thermostat to your home, you can snag the Ecobee3 and take advantage of this discount at Amazon now.

See at Amazon

18
Nov

Eagle Flight review: One hell of a ride!


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Paris is free from humans and nature has had enough time to take over. Wild animals roam the streets, vines climb the Eiffel Tower, and the Metro is flooded. How you live in this post-apocalyptic city is really up to you. Follow a story, take to the skies with some friends and defend your territory against other players, or enjoy yourself as your soar freely over Haussmann’s iconic architecture. It’s great to be a bird.

Read the full review at VR Heads!

18
Nov

Sony’s Xperia Ear finally launching Dec 13 for $199


Do more without picking up your phone with the Xperia Ear.

First announced back at Mobile World Congress in February, Sony has revealed its always listening in-ear Bluetooth piece, the Xperia Ear, will be available December 13 on Amazon. It will also be available through retailers such as Fry’s, B&H and other retailers. Retail price for the Xperia Ear has been set at $199.99.

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The Xperia Ear is a lightweight earpiece that’s designed to fit snugly in your ear. Packed into its tiny Graphite Black casing, Sony has included an accelerometer, gyroscope, and proximity sensors which allow the Xperia Ear to turn itself on automatically once inserted and allow users to use head gesture commands, such as a quick nod to confirm. If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone — it’s very similar to the idea of the Moto Hint from Motorola.

It comes with multiple earbud tips to find your comfortable fit, along with a storage case that doubles as a charger with a 300 mAh battery. The device itself features a 65 mAh battery and is capable of 4 hours of talk time and 80 hours of standby. From Sony’s release:

Utilizing a proximity sensor and Sony Agent Technology, Xperia Ear users can send and receive messages, hear personalized information, get the latest news updates, check their schedule, search and navigate without ever having to look at their smartphone. Xperia Ear also uses voice command technology, allowing users to dictate text that can be sent immediately or saved for later. Additionally, users can also accept or ignore phone calls with simple head gestures.

The Xperia Ear is NFC and Bluetooth 4.1 enabled, and will be compatible with any phone running Android 4.4 via the Xperia Ear app.

18
Nov

Don’t miss out on this amazing $140 Gear S2 savings right now!


If you’re in the market for a Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch and want an incredible deal, you’ll want to check out this offer from BuyDig. Right now you can pick one up for as little as $159, which is a huge savings from the regular price of $299. The deal is on the dark gray version of the smartwatch with built-in heartrate monitoring and more.

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Whether you are looking at picking one up for yourself or for someone else as a gift, you’ll want to act quick. We don’t know how long this deal will last, but at this price odds are not for very long.

See at BuyDig

18
Nov

Galaxy Beta Program users can’t play with their Gear VR right now


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Be careful what you flash for.

Samsung’s Galaxy Beta Program is letting waves of users try out the latest version of Android on their hardware before it is officially rolled out to the world. This is a great way for Samsung to make sure there are no serious problems with their implementation of Android Nougat. Enrolling in the program is easy, but Samsung is only accepting handfuls of interested people at a time which means there are those who have decided to go and manually install this preview through less-than-legitimate methods in order to experience all of the new software.

Regardless of how you install the Nougat preview on your phone, doing so will cause you to no longer be able to play any of your Gear VR games.

Read more at VR Heads!

18
Nov

Microsoft’s Paint 3D app arrives on Windows 10 preview


Microsoft has incorporated its revamped Paint 3D app into the latest Windows 10 Insider Preview build. First announced as part of the Windows 10 Creators update, it has nothing to do with the crude raster tool that has been the butt of jokes since Windows 1.0. Rather, it’s more of a 3D app for the masses that lets you create complex scenes with relative ease. You can scan real-world objects using a smartphone camera, use 3D “clipart” created by by the Remix 3D community and even output your final models to a 3D printer.

Paint 3D and Remix 3D will only be available in English for now, Microsoft says, but it’ll expand regions and languages soon. Going forward, the app will be a permanent (and free) part of Windows 10. Other new features include ePub reading in Microsoft Edge (with three themes), PowerShell as the defacto File Explorer command shell, improved language support and, of course, a bunch of bug fixes. The Windows 10 Preview build (14971) is now rolling out to Insiders on the Fast Ring, Microsoft’s update system for braver users who want new stuff as quickly as possible.

Source: Microsoft

18
Nov

24 hours with Sony’s A6500 mirrorless camera


When Sony announced the A6500 in October, it touted speed as one of the camera’s main selling points. The company’s new flagship mirrorless, which hits stores later this month for $1,400 (body-only), features a 24.2-megapixel APS-C sensor with 11-fps continuous shooting. You can shoot at that rate for up to 307 frames in RAW mode, giving you about 30 seconds of total shooting time in a single shutter press. That’s an impressive feat for any camera, let alone one this size. The A6500 also comes with in-body 5-axis image stabilization — a first for one of Sony’s APS-C shooters.

While I’ve only had the chance to test the camera for a little over 24 hours, that’s enough time to get an idea of what this thing can do. Thankfully, Sony wasn’t kidding when it said its A6500 was all about speed. I used the camera mostly with the Vario-Tessar T* E 16-70mm f/4 and FE 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses, which made it easy to take shots in the dark and at sports games. It’s one of the few times I’ve been able to capture decent shots at a sporting event. Indeed, Sony says its goal is to appeal to appeal to sports photographers, and even some people who aren’t professionals.

I’ll have more thoughts on the A6500 in the coming weeks. For now, take a look at the sample images below to get an idea of what to expect from it.

To view our sample images in full resolution, click here.

18
Nov

Has Hyperloop One bitten off more than it can chew?


“I don’t want to be remembered as the guy that put a train in a tube” is the quote du jour from Hyperloop One’s Josh Giegel. Giegel and co-founder Shervin Pishevar have been showing off a revised vision for how the future of public transportation will operate that moves far beyond intercity travel. But does this level of futurism run the risk of alienating governments and regulators who just want a cheap alternative to high-speed rail? We sat down with the pair to ask them to justify their even more utopian vision for the future of travel.

The company’s latest pitch video demonstrates this, showing how a route between Dubai and Abu Dhabi would work. In it, an Abu Dhabi-based individual is reminded that he needs to be back in Dubai within half an hour. Eschewing the two-hour drive between the pair, he heads to the Hyperloop Portal — the company’s name for a station — and checks into a cube-shaped pod capable of seating six people. The pod then drives to the dock, where clusters of four pods are installed inside a capsule, which is then sent into the tube.

“We looked at what it’s like to walk into a station,” Giegel explained, “and if we had to reinvent something, let’s reinvent all the things you hate.” So rather than waiting on a long, cold, crowded train platform and piling into a carriage via two doors, you enter a pod with six to 10 other people. The engineer continued, “Imagine an airplane and think about all those hundreds of people getting into one door. This effectively gives you four doors.” The method also reduces the number of airlocks you need between the capsule and the tube, making it easier to maintain Hyperloop’s zero-pressure environment.

This modularity also promises to make the station’s footprint smaller, because the concept is based on a series of concentric circles. Passengers will enter a circular hall with pod doors lining the walls, and the vehicles will then drive around and down (or up) to the Hyperloop dock. Pishevar says that the design “takes up a lot less real estate,” compared to the long, flat platforms you get with existing train infrastructure. That means it’s a little more feasible — on paper, at least — to build them slap-bang in the middle of cities or by points of interest.

It’s the other end of the journey, the component dubbed the “last mile” between the station and your home, that Hyperloop is now looking to conquer. In the concept video, the Dubai-to-Abu-Dhabi pod breaks out of its capsule at the Burj Khalifa portal and drives on the road. The windowless, mirrored cube glides down the highway — autonomously, obviously — to carry the person to his final destination. Sure, it’s a concept video, but there’s a whiff of the ridiculousness that threatens to derail the company’s ambitions.

To start, Hyperloop One has spent the past few years assembling a team of engineers to build a high-speed train in a tube. So why do its leaders think they can, out of nowhere, also create a self-driving, road-ready vehicle? Pishevar says that autonomous vehicles “aren’t rocket science,” and that the technology is quickly “becoming a commodity.” The implication is that rather than developing the tools in-house, Hyperloop One will buy the tech off the shelf.

Pishevar also hopes the pods will be capacious enough to accommodate commercial self-driving cars in the not-too-distant future. The billionaire says he sees Hyperloop as a “platform and as an API, where technologies can plug into the network.” For instance, a self-driving Uber or Tesla could drive into a street-level pod and come out the other end. Giegel describes Hyperloop’s potential as a “range extender,” adding that he “wouldn’t take an Uber from Lisbon to Madrid, but that [he] could do that with an Uber and Hyperloop.”

The new system incorporates an order of magnitude more moving parts than outlined in Elon Musk’s original white paper. After all, you now have hundreds — if not thousands — of pods, the majority of which will need to be ready for driving on the road. From an engineering standpoint, that’s a lot of extra complexity that the company will now be responsible for maintaining. But Giegel doesn’t seem too worried about it, saying that “there’s a little more complexity, but the tech that’s gone into these things has been around for some time.”

The concern must be that Giegel and Pishevar have bitten more than they can chew, despite their obvious confidence. Hyperloop One promises that its technology will deliver “airline speeds for the price of a bus ticket” and that this change in direction won’t affect that. But it’s hard not to be concerned that governments, regulators and investors will be put off by the company’s ever-wider utopianism. That said, the company is currently building Dev Loop — its prototype Hyperloop — in North Las Vegas, and a successful demonstration would go a long way toward ensuring this doesn’t remain a fanciful what-if.

18
Nov

AT&T’s DirecTV Now service will be unveiled on November 28th


It seems like DirecTV Now has been in the works forever. Announced back in March as a competitor to Sling TV and PlayStation Vue, it’s an online streaming TV service that’ll offer 100 channels for just $35 a month. After months of teasing details, AT&T just sent out invites for an event in New York City on November 28th, where we’ll finally get the full skinny about the service. It’s still unclear when, exactly, DirecTV Now will launch, but we’ll be on the ground at the event to learn more.

What’s most interesting about DirecTV Now is its aggressive pricing and channel offering. PlayStation Vue starts at $30 a month with around 45 channels, while Sling TV starts at $20 with even fewer networks. Both services let you add more channels for additional fees, but at that point the benefits of cancelling cable start to seem moot.

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