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13
Jan

Best new games for Android


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What’s the latest games worth checking out in the Google Play Store?

There are thousands and thousands of games available in the Google Play Store, with more being added every month. With so much content hitting the app store, it can be damn near impossible to keep up on the latest releases and determine which games are worth your time.

Here at Android Central, we want to help. We’ll be using this space to let you know about the latest gaming releases for Android that we think deserve your attention. We’ll be checking in and updating this page weekly as new games are released, so refresh often!

hocus

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This indie game is the definition of chill and answers the question “What if M.C. Escher designed a game for Android?” In this minimalist puzzle game, you must use your spacial reasoning skills to work a red cube through illusion-based mazes built from impossible structures.

It’s a brilliant idea for a puzzle game, offering a casual challenge while calming music plays in the background. You’ll reach zen-like states as you learn to move the cube across the different dimensions of the maze. There are 100 levels included in the main part of the game but — and this is where the real fun begins — you also have the option to build your own levels, as well as play levels designed by people around the world. Best of all, the game is free with no ads to break your flow.

Download: Hocus (Free)

Arrow.io

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Frantic gameplay is at the heart of Arrow.io, a minimalist action game that puts you in control of a ninja archer as you do battle in arenas against online opponents. The game uses on-screen joystick to control your ninja — which will be a point of frustration for some — and swipes to fire your arrows as you hunt down your opponents collecting experience points and health along the way. Once you level up, you’re able to select a new power up to help you in your quest to be the best.

Like Slither.io, the goal here is to rise to the top of your arena and stay there. But unlike slither.io, there’s actually progress to be made here: you learn the ropes in the beginner arena, but then move on to more challenging arenas as your skills progress and your kill count grows. There’s also a Team Play mode for playing with friends, as well as an offline mode where you can hone your skills against wave after wave of AI bots.

Download: Arrow.io (Free)

Star Wars: Force Arena

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Star Wars: Force Arena combines frantic MOBA-style action with the card casting gameplay from Clash Royale, and wraps the whole thing in wonderful Star Wars nostalgia. Freshly released from beta, you’ll want to check this game out.

Choose your side, choose your hero, then build out your deck of troop cards before you head into the online battle arena. You can jump into a one-on-one battle against another opponent, team up with a random opponent for a two-on-two battle, or join a guild and play alongside your friends. You’ll need to keep winning to unlock more card packs, which gift you more credits and cards, which you’ll need to upgrade your troops and level up your account. The game is free, but there are a ton of in-app purchases available if you’re so inclined.

Expect a full review of this game in the near future, but you can check it out for yourself right now!

Download: Star Wars: Force Arena (Free w/ IAP)

Android Gaming

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  • Best Android games
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13
Jan

At just $24 you won’t be afraid to try some tricks with this mini drone


Right now you can pick up Aukey’s mini-drone for just $24 at Amazon with coupon code AU2DRONE, a savings of $6. You can control this drone with your smartphone, allowing you to fly it just about anywhere, and once you get good at flying it you can even start performing some tricks as well. It takes off and lands easily with just a single tap, and the controls are super responsive so you won’t have to worry about delays. It comes with two extra sets of propellers, just in case you happen to crash and break one.

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Being so small you can pack in just about any bag so you can keep it with you at all times. Remember to use coupon code AU2DRONE for the full savings. Will you be learning to fly with Aukey’s drone? Let us know in the comments!

See at Amazon

13
Jan

Has Samsung Display just revealed the Galaxy S8?


Samsung Display has posted two videos to its Korean YouTube channel that show a smartphone using its latest AMOLED display technology. While the technology itself is probably very interesting – it’s in Korean so we’re not sure what’s being said – it shows a smartphone that could well be the Galaxy S8.

The phone in question features a screen with incredibly thin bezels on all sides, but especially the left and right, something we already expect to be the case with the Galaxy S8. However it is a flat screen, rather than one with curved edges. While the possibility of a flat screen has been mentioned, there have been more rumours to suggest the Galaxy S8 will only be available with a curved screen, even if there are two versions. 

  • Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Edge: What’s the story so far?

The phone being used in all three videos doesn’t have any branding on it though, which could mean it’s a prototype version, although it is missing a physical home button, which is something else we expect to see on the Galaxy S8.

You don’t need to understand much Korean to be able to work out what one of the videos is trying to say. It pitches Samsung Display’s AMOLED screen up against a competitor, which is likely to be an LCD panel. It shows much deeper colours and a 100 percent colour gamut compared to the rivals’ measly 74 percent. It then goes on to show a cross section of both displays and how they’re made up. Samsung’s AMOLED uses far fewer layers, which suggests whatever phone it’s fitted to, can be made a lot thinner.

  • Samsung Galaxy S8 launch planned for April in New York

There is a possibility that the phone isn’t the Galaxy S8 at all, but it does show that Samsung Display has made an AMOLED screen that can take up the vast majority of a phone’s front side. It’s probably the best piece of evidence we’ve seen yet to show what the Galaxy S8 will look like.

13
Jan

Pandora cuts its workforce by 7 percent


Streaming is big business, although most of the companies in the space keep a nervous eye on their bank balances. Pandora, the internet radio service that seemed most at risk, has said that it’s now doing better, thank you very much. The company has posted its latest financial figures, boasting that it now has 4.3 million paid subscribers and has trimmed some of its losses. Which is nice, although there’s a poison pill buried in that news: the company will cut seven percent of its workforce in pursuit of “operational efficiency.”

As TechCrunch explains, 2016 was a difficult year for Pandora with Spotify, Apple Music and others making big gains in the streaming music space. The company also radically altered its business, with founder Tim Westergren coming in as CEO and the launch of an Rdio-style on-demand listening platform. It also began integrating with Ticketfly, the live gig marketing and ticketing service it purchased in 2015 for $450 million.

In a letter to shareholders, Westergren explained how he plans to keep the company going in the face of its bigger, wealthier rivals. He believes that having a seven day free trial is a useful way of pulling subscribers onto a paid subscription plan. The CEO also praised his advertising team for pulling in more revenue and taking a “more aggressive approach” toward commercial content. We’ll wait and see to find out if that’s enough to stay afloat in a notoriously cutthroat market.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Pandora, (2)

13
Jan

The Obamas bid farewell with a VR White House tour


President Obama and his family have just a few more days left in the White House, but they’re not leaving without one more surprise. Together with Facebook’s Oculus, they’ve filmed a virtual reality experience where they guide you through the building’s iconic rooms. Dubbed The People’s House (which is also a nickname for the White House) it’ll serve as both a remote tour for people who might never make it to Washington, D.C., and a reminder of the Obamas’ legacy.

Much like President Obama’s ode to Yosemite, the new experience will be available on Facebook for everyone, as well as the Oculus Store for Gear VR and Rift owners. And just like that previous VR entry, The People’s House is as much a meditation on an American institution as it is a glimpse into the Obamas’ life. You start out by coming right through the front door and towards the lone podium where we’ve seen the President deliver countless announcements.

You get to sit right beside him in the Oval Office as he talks about what it’s like to work there, and thanks to the freedom of 360-degree video, you can peer around to take in minute details of the room. Look to your left, and you’ll see the bust of Martin Luther King Jr. that keeps its watchful eye over Obama. Look to the right, and you’ll see a simple bowl of apples on a stately coffee table. Later on, Michelle Obama talks about what it was like to make a public museum feel like a home.

The People’s House is also just a taste of what’s to come. It clocks in at around eight minutes, but there’s a longer version that’s closer to 20 minutes coming later this year, according to the VR studio Felix & Paul, which filmed the experience. That extended edition will also be available in stereoscopic 3D, so it’ll have more depth and sharpness than what we’re seeing today, which is just a flat 360-degree video. I had a chance to view a few scenes in 3D, and it was like a night and day difference, with much sharper video and a greater sense of presence.

Felix & Paul shot the footage for the VR film over last November and December, and since they wanted to deliver something while President Obama was still in office, they chose to release a shorter video first. The 3D version will take more time to be edited and properly constructed. Equipment-wise, they used the same camera setup as their Yosemite film, but they also developed a robotic platform that moves in a “perfectly fluid way.” That’s responsible for the smooth motion in some of the VR experience’s shots — it feels akin to seeing a traditional movie camera on rails.

If anything, The People’s House shows how VR can create snapshots of history that are fundamentally different than photos and film. It’s not quite a perfect medium yet, but it’s the closest method we have so far for capturing the feeling of “being there.”

13
Jan

Self-driving Nissan LEAFs will hit London streets next month


If autonomous cars are to be made available in the UK, car makers first need their vehicles to do hard miles on domestic roads. Nissan knows this, so today it confirmed that it will deploy a fleet of LEAF vehicles in London next month, giving it the opportunity to publicly test its autonomous drive technology for the first time in Europe.

Nissan says that while it hasn’t yet finalised the routes its cars will take, they “will be public roads with full agreement from the relevant local authorities.” The government, which has already spent millions funding intelligent car trials, supports the pilot, noting that such trials will help the UK become “a world leader in the development and testing of auto technology.”

It’s not the first time Nissan has demonstrated its self-driving capabilities on public roads. The first tests began in Tokyo in October 2015, expanding to Silicon Valley in January 2016. Just before CES, Nissan’s CEO rode in an autonomous Infiniti Q50 sedan to show off how far along its technology has come. It’s also not the first time a self-driving car has hit Britain’s roads — the “Lutz Pathfinder” pod has that claim to fame — but Nissan’s tests will mark the first of many UK tests major car makers will conduct in 2017.

Not long ago, Nissan looked like it would pull its manufacturing operation from the UK following the Brexit vote. However, a new deal saw the car maker commit to its Sunderland plant, which will help build the new autonomous Nissan Leaf and Qashqai models.

The UK government is also in the process of developing new laws to govern the use of driverless cars on Britain’s roads. Current laws dictate that a human driver will need to sit behind the steering wheel while the LEAF does its thing, helping collect the data it needs to be ready for when it can go it alone.

Source: Nissan

13
Jan

The Engadget Podcast Ep 24: The Biggest Lie


Senior editors Edgar Alvarez and Devindra Hardawar join host Terrence O’Brien to discuss the biggest stories of the week, including Facebook’s Journalism Project and the Emoji takeover of Monopoly. Then they’ll talk about Volkswagen’s massive settlement and pending indictments. Plus they’ll try to recap Dieselgate without messing up the timeline.


Relevant links:

  • The cancellation of ‘Scalebound’ is a huge blow for PlatinumGames
  • You can vote for emoji to replace the current Monopoly tokens
  • Facebook’s fix for journalism involves digests and subscriptions
  • VW pleads guilty in US emissions scandal, will pay $4.3 billion
  • VW will begin buying back diesel vehicles in mid-November
  • Don’t bank on Volkswagen paying you $5,000 just yet
  • Report: FBI arrests Volkswagen executive over Dieselgate
  • Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn resigns amid emissions scandal
  • The cost of VW’s emissions scandal hits $18.2 billion
  • VW agrees to $14.7 billion settlement over US diesel claims
  • Volkswagen to recall about 500,000 cars over sneaky software
  • Chrysler pulls a VW, cheats emissions tests

You can check out every episode on The Engadget Podcast page in audio, video and text form for the hearing impaired.

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Click here to catch up on the latest news from CES 2017.

13
Jan

Volvo is forming a global car-sharing business


Swedish automaker Volvo is establishing a car-sharing business that will operate not just in Sweden, but in other countries across the globe. It will be based on Sunfleet, the car-sharing service that it’s been running in its homeland for decades. According to TechCrunch, you can avail of Sunfleet’s services by booking a car through its website, which you can then unlock with an app. While you can book a car for a day or two, you can also set up a monthly subscription. The new business will likely offer something similar, though the company says it will also introduce “an entirely new range of mobility services.” Who knows — someday that might even include the ability to rent one of its self-driving vehicles.

Volvo chief Håkan Samuelsson said in a statement:

“Private car ownership will not disappear, but as an automaker we need to embrace the fact that it will reduce and – more importantly – change. We have a proven and profitable concept in our home market which we intend to leverage as we develop a global concept.

Today’s notion of mobility and car ownership is changing. By recognising this fundamental and rapid shift in individual mobility behaviour and responding to it, we ensure that Volvo will continue to be relevant in the eyes of the consumer.”

The company joins the list of automakers with their own car-sharing service, such as GM’s Maven that already operates in several cities across the US. BMW has ReachNow, Mercedes-Benz has Croove in Germany, while Toyota has begun testing its keyless car-sharing service last year. Volvo promises to announce more details about its new venture in the coming months, so you’ll know soon enough how it compares to its rivals’ offerings.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Volvo

13
Jan

Nintendo’s Switch makes a great first impression


Well, this is different. In my hands is Nintendo’s Switch, a $300 (£280 in the UK) console that’s like nothing I’ve held before. Well, it’s like quite a few things, but nonetheless a unique device.

It all starts with a tablet, dominated by 6.2-inch 720p capacitive touchscreen, with speakers in the lower corners. It’s thick, by anyone’s standards, but it’s not too heavy, and is generally well-balanced and comfortable to hold. The screen, although low-res compared to most tablets, looks sharp, bright, and rich. Viewing angles also seemed good — vital for two-player sessions.

At the top of the tablet portion is a slot for proprietary Game Cards, a headphone jack, two volume keys and a recessed power button. Below is a microSD Card slot and a USB Type-C charging port. Around the back is a sturdy kickstand that lets you rest the tablet on a table. Adorning the vertical edges of the tablet are detachable “Joy-Cons” that slide on and off on rails.

With the Joy-Cons attached, the Switch turns into a giant gamepad, with similar dimensions to the Wii U. Unlike the Wii U, the analog sticks are laid out asymmetrically, giving the controller a feel closer to the Xbox pad (or indeed, Nintendo’s GameCube controller) than the PlayStation 4’s DualShock. As someone that never really liked the two analogs at the top (or indeed at the bottom of the Wii U Pro controller), I’m very happy with the layout.

The (clickable) analogs sticks also feel way better than the Wii U’s. They’re smaller, which might be a problem for some people, but they’re also lower and more rigid than any sticks Nintendo has built before. I can’t be sure that they won’t loosen over time, but right now I’m loving the way they push back against your thumbs.

All the other buttons are as clicky and responsive as you’d expect from a company that has pretty much defined how we control video games. The right-sided Joy-Con has Nintendo’s traditional A, B, X, Y face buttons above the analog stick, and a circular home key below. In the upper left corner of the pad there’s the familiar “+” button, a holdover from the Wii U.

The left Joy-Con has the analog up top, circular directional buttons (no traditional d-pad here, for reasons we’ll get to in a minute) below and a “capture” key at the bottom. That capture button behaves like the Share key on a DualShock, instantly taking a screenshot for you to post. Nintendo says that, much like Sony’s setup, it’ll eventually capture video as well. Nintendo hasn’t exactly greeted YouTube and Twitch users with open arms, — on many occasions it’s prevented YouTubers from making money from gameplay videos — so it’ll be interesting to see if it’s finally opening up on that front.

As you well know, the Switch is not just a portable console. Pop it down on a table (using the aforementioned kickstand) or in its TV dock and the controller experience is very different.

Each Joy-Con slides out of the tablet smoothly (it’s very satisfying, and makes me worry I’m going to randomly be doing that all the time, because I am weird like that). One they’re out, you can either slide them into a plastic shell called the Joy-Con Grip, or use them individually. Let’s cover the Grip first.

This grip is very compact, and its squared front will take some getting used to for sure, but in general it feels exactly the same as the Switch does in handheld mode. The grips are slanted and… grippy, for lack of a better word, and offer enough space for my fairly brutish knuckles to nestle behind without brushing up against each other.

Used individually, the controllers aren’t quite as ergonomic. Nintendo encourages you to slide them into a “Joy-Con Strap” (because everything must have a proper noun), which makes them a little taller, but doesn’t improve things too much. Each offers an analog on the left, two buttons up top and four face buttons on the right (that’s why there’s no d-pad). You can use these controllers without with Strap, but the shoulder buttons aren’t as pronounced, and, well, Nintendo is packing two Straps in with the console so why would you?

Using a solo Joy-Con as a traditional controller is kind of like holding an overly complex Game Boy Micro. It definitely won’t be comfortable for adults to use over long periods of time, but in a pinch it’ll let you host a quick local multiplayer session.

Each Joy-Con does, however, have motion controls, so you can use them much like Wii Remotes. In this orientation, they’re just fine, and Nintendo’s unique approach to controllers this time means that you can play two-player motion-controlled games straight out of the box.

All told, the Switch, as revolutionary as it sounds, really just feels like Nintendo nailing what the Wii U’s brief. It’s a games console you can play in the living room, bedroom, or pretty much anywhere. People can point to a lack of cutting-edge graphics, but in 2017 it’s difficult to see how Nintendo could’ve balanced battery life, power and ergonomics any better. Moreover, if it treats this console like it has its portables over the years, we’ll likely get faster, slimmer and longer-lasting iterations of the Switch.

We’ll have more to come very shortly, but for now, all you need to know is the Switch makes a very good first impression. It’ll launch on March 3rd.

13
Jan

Tesla-Bound Chris Lattner May Have ‘Felt Constrained’ by Apple’s Culture of Secrecy


Earlier this week, Swift creator and LLVM co-author Chris Lattner announced he will be leaving Apple later this month—he is headed to Tesla to lead its autopilot engineering team as Vice President of Autopilot Software.

Lattner, who oversaw development of Swift and Xcode as director of Apple’s Development Tools department, did not provide an explanation for his decision to leave the company, but “someone in Lattner’s circle of developer friends” told Business Insider that Apple’s culture of secrecy may have been a contributing factor.

“He always felt constrained at Apple in terms of what he could discuss publicly — resorting to off-the-record chats, surprise presentations, and the like,” the person told us. “Similarly, I know he was constrained in recruiting and other areas. Eventually I know that can really wear people down.”

Lattner, who joined Apple in 2005, did not respond to the publication’s requests for comment, so the exact reason for his decision remains uncertain. He previously said the decision “wasn’t made lightly,” and that he plans to remain an active member of the Swift Core Team despite his departure.

What we do know is that Swift now has a large community of developers working on the programming language since it became open source in late 2015, so it is very possible that Lattner felt he was in a good position to pursue a new opportunity without jeopardizing future development of the language he created in 2010.

Swift, designed to work with Apple’s Cocoa and Cocoa Touch frameworks, was developed for iOS, macOS, watchOS, tvOS, and Linux. The programming language was introduced at WWDC 2014 and is viewed as an alternative to Objective-C. Lattner said Apple’s development of Swift will continue under Ted Kremenek.

Tags: Swift, Tesla
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