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18
Jan

SpeakTribe: A great way of learning the beautiful Spanish language (review)


Learning languages is, in my opinion, one of the most fulfilling things you can do. This is especially true when you are in a country where they speak a different language than yours. The feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction you get after slowly starting to get what it is written on the streets or finally being able of going to the grocery shop without pulling your phone to use Google Translate is extremely rewarding.

Being a native Spanish speaker, I’ve had the luck of learning English, German and Estonian, so I know how hard can it be to learn a new language (especially Estonian, which is very different from Spanish). Thanks to technology and our mobile-centric world, things are a bit easier now, and services such as Duolingo and Babbel have gained popularity, while companies like Rosetta Stone have had to adapt in order to also offer mobile solutions. Developer Edushire doesn’t want to get behind, and has released SpeakTribe, an app which will help you to get started on the beautiful world of the Spanish language.

Developer: Edushire

Price: Free

Setup

The app asks for some basic info and then dives right into the content.The app asks for some basic info and then dives right into the content.

The app lets you select between five different levels to begin your journey. Even though it is my native tongue, I chose the beginner level in order to experience the app right from the start, and because there is a chance that most people who are adventuring into the language will choose this level as well.

After that, and some other background information questions, the exercises start right away. There’s no waiting, no choosing, no scrolling, nothing. You are immediately thrown into the exercises. I like this very direct approach: makes things uncomplicated and to the point.

Overview

Through the use of both written and spoken exercises, SpeakTribe aims at slowly introducing you to words and small sentence constructs.

When you speak in your native language, you tend to just take things for granted, but now that I’ve seen how a non-native speaker has to learn the language, I can say that SpeakTribe does a good job in explaining small nuances that Spanish has.

For example, if you want to say “I am Ecuadorian” in Spanish, you would need to say “Soy ecuatoriano.” However, if you would like to say “I am busy,” then it would be “Estoy ocupado” and not “Soy ocupado” as logic would dictate. Even Estonian would say “Ma olen equadorlane” and “Ma olen hõivatud.” God knows why we don’t. And let’s not get started with other aspects, such as age, in which we literally say “I have 25 years” (Tengo 25 años) instead of “I am 25 years old.” It’s a mess.

Interface could be a bit nicer but it gets the job done.Interface could be a bit nicer but it gets the job done.

This kind of stuff is well explained throughout your exercises, although I’m pretty sure that it would take a bit of practice to get a grasp on it. Unfortunately, there’s no way of going through all of these tips after seeing them on your exercises, so if you can’t remember it, then tough luck. This is a really bad aspect of the app and one that should be addressed immediately.

Normally, exercises consist of sentences in Spanish accompanied with a highlighted phrase and choices in English. Your job is to choose the correct translation. Sometimes the app will give you hints, sometimes you’re on your own.

Each correct task will give you points, which will all add up in order to unlock the following labels. In between levels, you will have tasks that deal with having to infer stuff after reading a text. These texts normally have a vague investigation aspect to them. They normally use a lot of new words and are an interesting way of practicing the language in a different way than the regular exercises.

Voice

The app will speak to you in Spanish in whichever speed you like.The app will speak to you in Spanish in whichever speed you like.

A big part of SpeakTribe, and a huge part of learning a new language, is speaking and listening. For this, SpeakTribe has added support through Google Text-to-speech engine. It is responsible for talking to you in a nice Spanish from Spain, not from Latin America. For the most part, it works fine.

I haven’t had instances in which the engine didn’t recognize what I said (although that might have something to do with my proficiency with Spanish, but I deliberately pronounced stuff in a weird way and it worked as well). Also, it does a good job in reading stuff on the screen for you, so you can hear how things should come out of your mouth.

In my opinion, the voice tends to pronounce the last syllabes in a weirdly long way. For example, some exercises talk about a friend of yours coming from India, and it emphasizes the “a” a lot. Like “Indiaaaa.” This is not a problem with the app but with Google’s engine, but it is unfortunate since people learning could think that this is the way of pronouncing stuff.

If you think the voice is talking too fast for you, then in each section where there is a possibility of hearing a phrase, there is also a slider which you can move left or right in order to adjust the speed of the voice. I’m sure that this will be an extremely convenient option for a lot of people.

Price

Prices range from $11 to $22.Prices range from $11 to $22.

Normally price is not a category on its own, but it is something to pay close attention to in this case. SpeakTribe is free until a certain level (four, to be precise). After that, you will have to pay. There’s a total of 25 levels you can buy, divided into intermediate levels ($11.00) and advanced levels ($18.26). You can also buy them together at a discount ($22.86).

Now, that is expensive for your usual in-app purchase, but actually it is not that much if you consider how much private lessons cost, but then, it is like comparing manzanas to naranjas. If you compare it to Rosetta Stone, then it is also cheaper, but Rosetta Stone includes stuff such as sessions with other students, phone calls with native speakers and much more content. Then if you compare it with Duolingo, which has a lot more content, gamification and better interface, SpeakTribe doesn’t fare well. Babbel has a similar system, but SpeakTribe’s one-time fee vs Babbel’s recurring subscription gives SpeakTribe a little edge, at least price-wise.

Options

The most important option available is the enabling or disabling of daily words. This feature sends you a notification with a new word in Spanish every day. I think it is worth it to keep it on, since you will learn a new word every day without you lifting a finger.

You are also able to backup your data to the server through your Google account. That way, you can progress through the course on different devices.

Other options available are not as noteworthy, such as toggling sound and vibration and speech recognition strictness.

Conclusion

Overall, I think that you could end up catching some words and understanding some structures with this app. Mastering a language is hard, and you will probably need some kind of interaction with someone else.

The interface is a little on the bland side (especially after using Duolingo), but it gets the work done. The word of the day notification is very useful to create a habit of practicing every day. If you are serious into learning Spanish, then you could definitely start with SpeakTribe. If it works for you, then $22 is not that expensive to continue your lessons. Just don’t expect to understand everything Alejandro Sanz sings in his melodies.

Download and install SpeakTribe from the Google Play Store.

18
Jan

Where to buy a used VR headset


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VR is expensive. Buying used might be the solution.

From the Samsung Gear VR up to the HTC Vive, you’re not going to get a decent VR experience for cheap. The Gear VR starts around $100, but if you’re not sure about VR just yet, $100 is a lot to spend on trying something.

Used VR headsets are popping up more and more as the technology continues to develop, but selection is fairly limited for now. We know where you can get used headsets, but there are a few things to consider before diving into second-hand VR.

Read more at VR Heads!

18
Jan

Microsoft is finally testing Cortana for your lock screen!


“Hey Cortana, catch up to Google Assistant.”

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Microsoft’s progress with Cortana for Android has been slow, but undeniably constant. As voice services go Cortana is arguably more capable than Assistant or Siri, but the implementation on Android hasn’t been complete enough to ever seriously consider replacing Google’s services. It’s an uphill climb for Microsoft, especially now that Google’s Assistant is coupled with Google Home as a more complete solution, but the next big step has finally arrived in the Cortana beta channel this morning.

This doesn’t appear to be a full lock screen replacement like Microsoft has done with other apps in the past.

In what Microsoft is calling a “VERY Alpha build” in the Cortana beta community, support for Cortana on your lock screen is being tested. This update starts by asking if you’d like to enable Cortana, and if you agree to test the new feature you’ll see Cortana’s ring at the bottom of your lock screen. This doesn’t appear to be a full lock screen replacement like Microsoft has done with other apps in the past, but you do gain some new information by interacting with the Cortana ring.

Swiping right on the rings pulls the Cortana itinerary view into frame, which gives you access to all of the traffic, calendar, and news events you’ve told Cortana you want to see in your feed. There’s also a microphone icon should you want to communicate directly with Cortana, but for right now it doesn’t look like “Hey Cortana” works when the display is off. It’s possible Microsoft will have that working as work on this Alpha build continues, but even without that feature this step forward is significant.

If you want to try this out before it is rolled out as a standard feature, sign up for the Cortana Beta group here.

18
Jan

ComiXology is getting an exclusive Adventure Time comic


Wield that axe, Marshall Lee.

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Fans of the Adventure Time universe are about to find themselves needing ComiXology in their lives, as one of its alternate universe characters gets his own three-part story. In a continued effort to promote their new push for original content, Amazon has a year of exclusive comics planned for ComiXology and Kindle owners.

At the top of their publishing list is Adventure Time: Marshall Lee Spectacular, a three story comic all about the alternate version of Marceline the Vampire Queen from the perspective of Ice King’s fan fiction. If you’re unfamiliar with the series, it really doesn’t get less confusing from here.

This three-part series includes an original song performed by Marshall Lee, and is available as either a $3.99 one-time purchase or free to ComiXology Unlimited subscribers. If you’re not a part of the $5.99/month subscription service, Amazon offers a 30 day free trial so you can see what’s going on. For those who would rather not bother with ComiXology at all, the comic is also available directly from Amazon for the Kindle app.

18
Jan

Samsung’s Exynos processors to power Audi’s next-gen infotainment systems


You want high-end processors in everything, even your car.

Samsung doesn’t use its own Exynos processors in all of its phones and tablets, but it has struck a deal with Audi to start using its chips in its cars to power its next-generation infotainment systems. The announcement states that Samsung will be providing its “flagship” processors, which bodes well for the performance of in-dash applications.

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While Audi has various other deals with chip makers to run its self-driving and autonomous car efforts, there’s always a niche to be carved out for running smaller systems. Samsung says that its newest Exynos processors can handle running four different displays in the car at once thanks to its advanced graphics processing power. Each of the displays can run intense interfaces with various levels of user interaction.

Samsung’s own Exynos processors have historically been among the most powerful available, capable of running high-end phones and tablets, so there’s no doubt an Exynos processor can handle a car’s infotainment systems without a hitch.

Samsung

Samsung is a massive South Korea-based multinational company that makes some of the best-selling phones, tablets and mobile accessories, but also spans industries such as televisions, appliances and semiconductors (like memory and processors). Samsung is the largest Android device manufacturer worldwide.

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18
Jan

YouTube is launching a new private chat feature, and it’s starting in Canada


Canadians finally get a Google product first.

YouTube is rolling out a new sharing feature, and Canadians — who YouTube says share 15% more videos than an average user — are getting it first. The new interface turns the YouTube sharing system into more of an integrated chat experience, keeping a private conversation around a video inside the YouTube app rather than elsewhere.

The new feature rolls out to the YouTube app in Canada starting today, and with the latest version when you go to share a video you’ll be able to share it within the YouTube app to a group of friends. You can then chat back and forth about the video, continuing the conversation by posting other YouTube videos into the chat.

Yes in many ways this is yet Another Google Chat App.

The interface for sharing looks very similar to the new sharing system implemented in Google Photos, whereby you simply tap on people who you want to share with and the app does the rest. The first sharer sends off a message, and the conversation gets going. You can search for and include videos right from inside the chat, as well as “like” messages.

Yes in many ways this is yet Another Google Chat App, but thankfully it’s just a new feature inside of an extremely established Google app rather than an altogether new platform. Keeping the conversation going inside YouTube rather than sending it off to another app makes sense on the surface, though it’s hard to see a majority of people choosing to chat within YouTube rather than simply sending off the link to their favorite chat app of choice where a conversation is likely already in progress.

18
Jan

YouTube’s AdBlitz kicks off its 10th year for Super Bowl 51


For many, the best part of the Super Bowl is the ads.

YouTube has been the go-to place to watch all of the catchy (and cringe-worthy) ads from Super Bowls, and has even given a one-stop place for them called “AdBlitz.” Super Bowl 51 marks the 10th year for AdBlitz, and that means the channel is live and ready to go for kickoff that’s only a couple weeks away.

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This year, AdBlitz will not only recognize what it considers the “best” ad, but will also award winners in various categories like automotive and food. And for the first time, YouTube will now consider adding ads that didn’t necessarily air nationally during the Super Bowl but did launch around the game to get in on the fun.

So though we don’t yet know which teams will actually be playing in the Super Bowl, we know we’ll be able to go to YouTube and relive all of the great ads from the game. YouTube says that the top 20 Super Bowl ads on YouTube have collectively accumulated 440 million minutes of watch time.

You can get ready for the Super Bowl by bookmarking the AdBlitz page early!

18
Jan

Twitter just sold its developer platform to Google


Fabric, Twitter’s developer platform, now belongs to Google. The move was announced on Fabric’s blog Wednesday morning and confirmed in a Twitter thread by Sr. Director of Product, Jeff Seibert.

Acquired by Twitter in 2014, Fabric is a “a modular mobile platform” designed to help app developers improve the ” stability, distribution, revenue and identity” of their products, according to Twitter’s blog post. Everything from the ability to natively embed tweets in other apps to signing in with your Twitter credentials were made possible by Fabric.

Now that it’s been reacquired, Fabric will merge with Google’s Firebase development platform. “We quickly realized that our missions are the same – helping mobile teams build better apps, understand their users, and grow their businesses,” the Fabric team wrote in its announcement. “Fabric and Firebase operate mobile platforms with unique strengths in the market today.” For its part, Twitter plans to continue investing in its public APIs and “Publisher Platform products including Twitter Kit and TweetDeck… Ads API, MoPub, and Gnip.” And if you’re an existing Fabric customer, don’t worry, the platform will continue to function. You’ll just need to agree to the new terms of service, which will be available once the deal is completed.

Via: Jeff Seibert (Twitter)

Source: Fabric (blog)

18
Jan

Samsung Galaxy S8 release date: 26 February, 29 March, 15 April, 18 April, take your pick


After the Galaxy Note 7 disaster, Samsung is keen to ensure that its next flagship smartphone launch not only goes without hitch, but that it is extra special in every way. That’s why it is not expected to be hosting an Unpacked event at this year’s Mobile World Congress.

Indeed, considering we’ve not heard anything nor had an invite to any dedicated press conference, that’s about as certain as these things can be.

Modern thinking now points at a launch for the Samsung Galaxy S8 to occur a month or two beyond MWC, at an Unpacked event on Samsung’s own terms. The only issue is when?

We’ve heard so many rumoured dates that it’s hard to trust any of them. And that’s why we’ve listed the ones we’ve heard about below, with our own thoughts on whether they sound convincing or not. Hopefully, that’ll give you enough information to come up with your own conclusions.

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Samsung Galaxy S8 release date: 26 February

Speculation around the phone’s launch on 26 February was largely reliant on Samsung holding an Unpacked event on the eve of Mobile World Congress which, as we’ve pointed out, seems very unlikely now.

Other companies have already started to send out invites to their MWC press events. Samsung isn’t one of them.

Samsung Galaxy S8 release date: 29 March

The latest date to be touted around is 29 March, with Twitter tipster Ricciolo claiming that’s the date a “little bird” told him. He also states that Samsung will have the new handset at Mobile World Congress, but only to show a select few partners – not press – behind closed doors.

#S8 is READY & will be present to mwc,though NOT showcased to big public.. Little bird told me 3/29 , available w17, from 849 !!! #galaxyS8

— Ricciolo (@Ricciolo1) January 16, 2017

That latter suggestion makes sense. Retailers and networks we know always get a heads-up on a new device before any official unveiling and if the phone will be publicly shown on 29 March, it stands to reason that the final device(s) would be available for viewing.

Ricciolo also says the handset will be available in week 17 – 24-28 April – so that effectively rubbishes the latter two dates we’ve heard so far.

Samsung Galaxy S8 release date: 15 April

Korea’s own ET News cites “industry sources” for its suggestion that the Galaxy S8 will be launched on 15 April. In fact, “smartphone products” are said to be coming on that date, which does tie-in with the many other rumours we’ve heard about multiple devices.

The date also matches speculation we heard in December last year about a mid-April launch in New York City, and you don’t get more “mid” than 15 April.

Samsung Galaxy S8 release date: 18 April

The last date to be mentioned recently is 18 April, as revealed by serial leakster Dmitri12 on Slash Leaks. There is little or no information attached to the date, but considering he has a 92 per cent accuracy rating on the site, and 80 per cent of visitors believe this particular leak, it’s worth mentioning.

Samsung Galaxy S8 release date: Conclusion

These probably won’t be the last dates mentioned online when it comes to Samsung’s genuine launch event, but if one or two of them are to be believed we’d take a stab at the phone being announced on 29 March and hitting stores around mid-April. That would certainly explain some of the confusion.

The one thing we can be sure of though is that the Galaxy S8 will not be launched at Mobile World Congress at the end of February. Unless it is.

18
Jan

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs LG G6: What’s the rumoured difference?


Samsung and LG are both set to launch their new flagship smartphones in the next couple of months. Despite LG going for a more innovative route in 2016 with its modular device, ultimately Samsung was the company with the more appealing devices.

Will it be the same story in 2017 though? Here is how the Samsung Galaxy S8 is looking against the LG G6, based on the leaks and rumours.

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Samsung Galaxy S8 vs LG G6: Release date

  • LG G6 could be out around six weeks before Galaxy S8
  • G6 rumoured for a March released, S8 for April

Rumour has it the LG G6 will launch a couple of months before the Samsung Galaxy S8. LG’s next flagship is said to be appearing at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona which takes place at the end of February, while Samsung is reported to be hosting a separate event for the S8 around mid April, steering clear of the show.

It’s been claimed the S8 will hit shelves sale in April, while the G6 is said to be going on sale on 10 March. The Samsung event is claimed to be around 15 or 18 April, so the G6 could be available nearly six weeks before its South Korean rival. There have also been reports of an MWC launch for Samsung though, as well as 29 March. 

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Samsung Galaxy S8 vs LG G6: Design

  • Premium designs expected for both
  • Both expected to be waterproof 
  • G6 expected to keep headphone jack, S8 expected to ditch it

Leaks suggest the Samsung Galaxy S8 will feature an all-screen front with very slim bezels and no physical home button. It’s not clear from the rumours if the metal and glass sandwich will remain intact for the S8, but expect a very premium build.

The LG G6 is said to be ditching the modular design that arrived with 2016’s G5. It has been suggested the new flagship will feature a rear made of glass or a highly reflective metallic material, whilst also offering waterproofing, which Samsung’s S8 will also no doubt offer.

The G6 is also said to be coming with a big screen and small body, suggesting both these flagships will be all about their screens. The S8 is said to be ditching the headphone jack, though it is thought the G6 will retain it.

The G6 is also rumoured to be coming with an iris scanner on the front, something Samsung’s Note 7 offered. An iris scanner hasn’t been specifically rumoured for the S8, though it would make sense for Samsung to carry over the tech, especially if the fingerprint sensor disappears from the front.

  • LG G5 review

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs LG G6: Display

  • S8 rumoured to have 5.7-inch, 5.5-inch or 5.2-inch curved display
  • 2K or 4K resolution rumoured for S8
  • G6 confirmed to be coming with 5.7-inch Quad HD+ LCD display

The Samsung Galaxy S8 is rumoured to be coming with a 5.7-inch display, alongside a Plus device that is rumoured to sit at 6.2-inches. There have also been reports of 5.2-inch and 5.5-inch screens though so the size is currently up in the air.

Resolution is also still an uncertain topic. Rumour has it Samsung will adopt a 4K resolution, like the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium, while others have said it will retain a 2K display but that it will be better than the S7 for virtual reality. It is also thought to be curved like the S7 edge and it is likely to be Super AMOLED.

The LG G6 on the other hand is confirmed to be coming with a 5.7-inch LCD display. It will offer a 2880 x 1440 Quad HD+ resolution for a pixel density of 564ppi, along with an ultra wide aspect ratio of 18:9.

  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge review

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs LG G6: Camera

  • Dual-rear camera rumoured for S8 and expected for G6
  • S8 could come with autofocus on front camera
  • G6 could have combined iris scanner and front camera

Some reports have suggested Samsung’s Galaxy S8 will have a dual-rear camera comprising a 12-megapixel sensor and a 13-megapixel sensor, coupled with an 8-megapixel front-facing camera with autofocus. Other reports have suggested a 30-megapixel sensor with OIS, along with a 9-megapixel front camera.

Rumours have been thin on the ground when it comes to the LG G6’s camera, though we’d expect LG to retain the dual-camera setup that worked so well for the company on the G5. There has been a suggestion of the front-facing camera also incorporating the rumoured iris scanner, but we have yet to hear anything in terms of megapixels or features.

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs LG G6: Hardware

  • Both likely to have USB Type-C
  • G6 should have Qualcomm SD835 chip, as should some S8 devices
  • S8 thought to be coming with 4200mAh battery

The Samsung Galaxy S8 is thought to be coming with either the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip, or the Exynos 8895 processor, which will presumably depend on region, as it did with the S7. There has also been talk of 6GB or 8GB of RAM, along with 64GB and 128GB storage options, both of which should have microSD.

The LG G6 will also probably launch with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip, along with at least 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage with microSD. Rumours haven’t detailed the hardware predictions for the LG device but we’d expect these numbers as a minimum.

Both devices should offer USB Type-C and we’d also hope to see wireless charging on both models. The S8 is said to be coming with a 4200mAh battery, but no reports have indicated what the G6 will offer.

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs LG G6: Software

  • Both expected to launch on Android Nougat
  • S8 to come with personal assistant 

The Samsung Galaxy S8 and the LG G6 will both launch on Android Nougat with each company’s software skins over the top.

At the moment, it is not clear what unique features each of these flagships will offer, though it has been confirmed that the Galaxy S8 will have its own personal assistant Viv on board.

  • Android Nougat review

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs LG G6: Price

  • LG G6 likely to be cheaper

The Samsung Galaxy S7 launched with a price tag of £639, while the LG G5 cost around the £500 mark.

We wouldn’t be surprised to see each company stick to similar prices for the new flagships, meaning LG will most likely undercut Samsung by around £100.

Samsung Galaxy S8 vs LG G6: Conclusion

Nothing is confirmed, other than the display for the LG G6, so it’s difficult to tell which of these two devices offers the most promise.

Both the LG G6 and the Samsung Galaxy S8 will likely offer similar processing power, along with premium designs featuring big screens and small bodies. Based on 2015’s flagships from the two companies, we’d also expect great cameras on both the new models.

It’s also likely the G6 will be cheaper than the S8, but which device will offer the nicest design, the best display or the most exciting features remains to be seen for now.

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