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20
Mar

Cornerfly: add round corners to any display (Review)


It is safe to say that the new trend in smartphones is a display with rounded corners. The LG G6 debuted with this design choice and all rumors point to the Samsung Galaxy S8 going the same path. With the stagnation we’ve seen in recent smartphone designs, it is nice to see some changes taking place. The general consensus seems to be that these rounded corners – while fully cosmetic – are gorgeous and improve the look of the phones adopting them. If you have been yearning for rounded corners on your device but don’t have the money for the G6 or the patience to wait for the S8, you can still make your dreams come true. Cornerfly is coming to the rescue by allowing you to add rounded display corners to any device you want.

Developer: FlyperInc
Price: Free (In-app purchases)
Download: Google Play

Setup

Cornerfly-permissions-1024x603.jpgThe setup for Cornerfly is straightforward, but there are a couple of permissions it needs to run. First, you need to enable System Overlay to allow it to draw over other apps. This is what allows it to create the actual round corners on the display. Second, you need to grant it access to Accessibility Service so it can put a permanent notification in your notification shade that allows for quick tuning of the corners on a per-app basis. I have to commend Cornerfly for explaining exactly why it needs these permissions when it asks you for them. It lets you know that there is nothing shady going on behind the scenes. After you grant these two permissions, you are taken directly into the app, and your round corners will be there to great you.

Experience

Cornerfly-closeup.jpgAfter a couple of weeks using Cornerfly, I must say I love the look of rounded corners. I am using on an Alcatel IDOL 4S, which has an AMOLED display. I am not sure how good this would look on a device without an AMOLED display. Since this display shows pure black for the rounded corners, they blend in seemlessly with the body, and it is convincing that the display actually has rounded corners. I am not sure if it would have the same effect on a display with a backlight.

I also think this would have the best look on a device with physical buttons instead of hardware buttons. Since the navigation bar on my IDOL 4S is usually black already, you cannot see the rounded corners on the bottom of some apps. You can fix this by keeping the rounded corners from overlaying the navigation bar, but it doesn’t look as good.

Cornerfly-navigation-bar-1024x438.jpgRounded corners above the navigation bar in Feedly

It is also not always flawless. When watching a YouTube video in landscape, only the bottom left corner is rounded. I have no idea what is causing this, and no changes I had made in the settings have fixed it. It is not terribly noticeable, but I would rather have consistency across the board. YouTube is the only app I have noticed this in, and it does not happen when using the app in portrait.

Settings/Customization

Cornerfly is extremely simply to use and customize. In fact, you could exit the app right after setup, and I doubt you would ever need to open it again. However, there are some neat features in the app to fine tune your experience. We are looking at the Plus version (which is only a $0.99 in-app purchase away), but almost every feature will be available in the free version as well. Aside from removing advertising, the only feature added with the Plus version is the option to change corner sizing. With this feature, you can choose just how curved the corners of your display are. Although this is a pretty fun feature, I found that the default corner size was just fine and probably won’t bother anyone.

Aside from corner sizing, the app also lets to chose the color that the rounded corners are. You can change this color via an RGB slider, but if I’m being honest, anything other than the standard black is pretty awful looking. I wanted my display to appear like it actually had rounded corners so keeping the black color was best for this. Maybe if you had a phone with a white or blue chassis, you could change to corner colors to match the body, but otherwise, I cannot see a use for this feature.

There is a persistent Cornerfly notification that you can disable in the app, but I recommend leaving it enabled. The notification is located at the bottom of your notifications, and can actually come in handy. It gives you quick access to customize Cornerfly based on the app your in. You can have the corners be above or below the status bar, above or below the navigation bar (if you have on-screen buttons), and just disable Cornerfly in that app completely. If you are super picky about what shows up in your notification shade, you can disable it, but I would keep it for the quick customization options.

There are separate settings for dealing with fullscreen apps such as games. After enabling fullscreen detection (to allow Cornerfly to detect if an app is in fullscreen), you can choose whether to have the rounded corners display on these apps or not. This saves you time from going through each app and enabling or disabling the rounded corners. Under these fullscreen options, you have the option to toggle which corners of your display you would like rounded. By default, all are selected, but you can deselect any that you want.

Conclusion

Cornerfly is not a perfect replacement for a phone with rounded display corners, but it is pretty darn close. Not only does it give you the aesthetic of rounded corners, but it allows you to customize it to your liking. It might not look as good on an LCD display than an AMOLED and the corners are not always consistent, but the app is constantly getting updates, which I believe will fix at least one of these issues. If you are itching for rounded corners on your display but don’t want to shell out the cash for a new phone, Cornerfly is going to give you almost the same experience for a whole lot less!

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20
Mar

One step closer to thought crime? Scientists learn to detect guilt with brain scans


Why it matters to you

Studies like these may take the guesswork out of criminal culpability but raise serious privacy and self-incrimination concerns.

Neuroscientists around the world are trying to uncover the secrets of the brain by studying images of it. That’s no easy task — the human brain is arguably the most sophisticated thing in existence and it has proven difficult to decipher. But a team of researchers have found that brain images reveal whether someone committed a crime knowingly or recklessly. It may seem like a small distinction but it could have a significant impact in the courtroom.

The United States Model Penal Code considers criminal culpability through the lens of a suspect’s awareness and intentions. Someone who knew they were acting against the law is subject to stricter penalties than someone who didn’t. More precisely, a suspect’s actions are considered on a scale of severity that includes purposeful, knowing, reckless, and negligent.

More: Mindset headphones have an integrated EEG that helps your brain focus

“People can commit exactly the same crime in all of its elements and circumstances, and depending on their mental states, the difference could be one would go to jail for 14 years and the other would get probation,” Read Montague, a neuroscientist at Virginia Tech who led the study, said in a press release. “Predicated on which side of the boundary you are on between acting knowingly and recklessly, you can differentially be deprived of your freedom.”

Montague and his team scanned the brains of 40 people and used machine-learning algorithms to study the images and determine whether the participants knew they were committing crimes.

The participants were given a thought experiment, in which they had to decide whether to carry a suitcase across a border. Thy were given varying probabilities that suitcase contained illicit drugs, in order to differentiate between those who knowingly committed a crime (since the case clearly contained illegal substance) and those who accepted the risk associated with the act. By monitoring which parts of the brain were activated in each scan, the researchers were capable of determining which participants knew they were carrying drugs and which participants were simply acting recklessly.

The research, which was published last week in the journal Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, demonstrates the first neurobiological evidence of the difference between knowledgeable and reckless mental states. Though the study is currently confined to the laboratory — the brain scans need to be captured as the subject is making the decision — it may someday help courtrooms make more accurate decisions on a suspect’s criminal culpability.

20
Mar

Scientists re-create a devastating tornado using a supercomputer simulation


Why it matters to you

By studying simulated storms, meteorologists can better predict and prepare for potentially devastating events.

Some 1,200 tornadoes pass through the United States each year — more than any other country on Earth. And, within the U.S., Tornado Alley is their main route.

Scientists have now re-created a devastating supercell that swept through the central Great Plains in 2011. Luckily, the new storm touched down only in a simulation.

Led by Leigh Orf, an atmospheric scientist from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, the researchers used a supercomputer to re-create the tornado-producing supercell in an effort understand the structure and mechanisms at work within these huge storms. Most importantly, they wanted to know why certain storms create such intense tornadoes.

During a four-day period in May 2011, a series of storms spawned tornadoes that devastated parts Oklahoma. “El Reno,” the biggest of these cyclones, swept through the landscape for almost two hours, leaving significant destruction in its wake.

More: Ever wanted to see what hurricanes look like from outer space? Here’s your chance

With access to reliable environmental data from the storm, Orf and his team set out to re-create El Reno. Like the tornado, the task was huge, requiring a supercomputer to break the atmosphere into almost two 2 billion grid points 75 miles wide, 75 miles long, and nearly 12.5 miles tall. The team was eventually able to re-create the weather conditions present during the storm and identify the atmospheric factors — from wind speed to humidity — leading up to it.

“We are just starting to really dig into the data,” Orf told Digital Trends, “so we lack definitive results at this time.” However, the researchers have found that corkscrew-like features called helical flows seem to accompany tornadoes but never directly interact with them.

“We also found that tornado formation was associated with many smaller ‘mini-tornadoes’ merging along the forward flank downdraft boundary before the main tornado formed,” he said. “We think that these vortices may play a key role in getting the tornado to form.”

20
Mar

Don’t toss it: Your next smartphone’s packaging could fold into a VR viewer


Why it matters to you

Rather than discard your new phone’s packaging, Google envisions a better use for it as a VR headset.

Google’s made no secret of its ambitions to carve out a slice of the virtual reality market. It’s shipped more than 10 million of its low-cost Cardboard devices for smartphones and launched its high-end Daydream platform in 2016. A new patent from the search giant, though, envisions a far more scalable solution: device packaging that can double as a VR viewer.

The patent in question, “Integrated mobile device packaging and virtual reality headset,” was originally filed in February 2016 and describes a box that folds along perforated lines into a headset. It’s constructed from cardboard and heavy paper stock, held together with a combination of glue and tape, and packs a pair of lenses — one for each eye.

More: YouTube wants to make it “chocolate rain” in VR

Road to VR speculates it could be related to new Google job postings for a VR engineer, lead product designer, and hardware validation manager. In 2016, Engadget reported Google was working on a VR headset that “[integrates] eye-tracking and [uses] sensors and algorithms to map out the real-world space in front of a user.” The project was said to be “separate from the company’s Daydream VR platform.”

Google is not the first to integrate a VR viewer into packaging — McDonald’s, for example, recently shipped a Happy Meal box that folded into “Happy Goggles” — but VR-equipped box align’s with the company’s broader mission of attracting “hundreds of millions of [Android] users” to VR. At Google’s I/O development conference in 2016, it announced plans to build a “multi-billion dollar business” out of Daydream, a VR platform that combines a motion controller, flagship hardware, and software from hundreds of partners to deliver a “premium” virtual reality experience.

“The hope is that if in five years we’re collectively working on another frontier technology, that we can look back and say again that we’ve created value [with Daydream],” Brahim Elbouchikhi, senior product manager on the Google VR team, said at I/O. “[Our] intention is to operate at Android scale.”

More: Google wants to show off your face a bit better in VR and mixed reality

To that end, Google’s VR efforts extend beyond hardware. In February, Google’s Research division showed off a project that leverages 3D computer vision, machine learning, green screen technology, and advanced rendering methods to show a person’s facial expressions inside a mixed reality environment. And in March, YouTube announced it is working to make 360-degree and VR video “better” with improved rendering technologies that “display [content] without using more bandwidth than necessary.”

20
Mar

Don’t toss it: Your next smartphone’s packaging could fold into a VR viewer


Why it matters to you

Rather than discard your new phone’s packaging, Google envisions a better use for it as a VR headset.

Google’s made no secret of its ambitions to carve out a slice of the virtual reality market. It’s shipped more than 10 million of its low-cost Cardboard devices for smartphones and launched its high-end Daydream platform in 2016. A new patent from the search giant, though, envisions a far more scalable solution: device packaging that can double as a VR viewer.

The patent in question, “Integrated mobile device packaging and virtual reality headset,” was originally filed in February 2016 and describes a box that folds along perforated lines into a headset. It’s constructed from cardboard and heavy paper stock, held together with a combination of glue and tape, and packs a pair of lenses — one for each eye.

More: YouTube wants to make it “chocolate rain” in VR

Road to VR speculates it could be related to new Google job postings for a VR engineer, lead product designer, and hardware validation manager. In 2016, Engadget reported Google was working on a VR headset that “[integrates] eye-tracking and [uses] sensors and algorithms to map out the real-world space in front of a user.” The project was said to be “separate from the company’s Daydream VR platform.”

Google is not the first to integrate a VR viewer into packaging — McDonald’s, for example, recently shipped a Happy Meal box that folded into “Happy Goggles” — but VR-equipped box align’s with the company’s broader mission of attracting “hundreds of millions of [Android] users” to VR. At Google’s I/O development conference in 2016, it announced plans to build a “multi-billion dollar business” out of Daydream, a VR platform that combines a motion controller, flagship hardware, and software from hundreds of partners to deliver a “premium” virtual reality experience.

“The hope is that if in five years we’re collectively working on another frontier technology, that we can look back and say again that we’ve created value [with Daydream],” Brahim Elbouchikhi, senior product manager on the Google VR team, said at I/O. “[Our] intention is to operate at Android scale.”

More: Google wants to show off your face a bit better in VR and mixed reality

To that end, Google’s VR efforts extend beyond hardware. In February, Google’s Research division showed off a project that leverages 3D computer vision, machine learning, green screen technology, and advanced rendering methods to show a person’s facial expressions inside a mixed reality environment. And in March, YouTube announced it is working to make 360-degree and VR video “better” with improved rendering technologies that “display [content] without using more bandwidth than necessary.”

20
Mar

Sleek and powerful Portal Wi-Fi router is available for $149 through March


If you use Wi-Fi in a residential area such as an apartment complex, you are very likely not getting the speeds that you are paying for. Network congestion, caused by too many neighboring connections to the same data channels, can slow your wireless internet down considerably. Now $51 off on Amazon until the end of March, the Portal Wi-Fi router is a simple and elegant solution to boost your wireless speeds by making sure that nearby networks and devices aren’t crowding you out.

To solve the problem of signal congestion, the Portal Wi-Fi router features patented FastLanes technology, which creates four unused data streams on the 5GHz spectrum reserved for you and your devices. This highly effective FastLanes feature and its super-simple setup are two of the main reasons the Portal earned an 8.0 rating from our review team and was named one of the best routers on the market today.

More: The best wireless routers you can buy

Nine powerful internal antennas provide blanket coverage of up to 3,000 square feet, and the Portal is Mesh 2.0-compatible in case want to integrate your Portal into a larger mesh Wi-Fi Portal Wi-Fi routernetwork. The router utilizes dual-band AC2400 connectivity for a throughput of 2,400 Mbps. MU-MIMO technology allows multiple clients to connect to and use your network without their devices fighting each other for bandwidth, a feature that is particularly important for homes with users who frequently perform data-heavy tasks such as 4K streaming or online gaming.

The Portal Wi-Fi router normally comes in at $200, but a month-long promotion brings the price of this simple, sleek, and powerful router down to just $149 on Amazon. This $51 discount is good until the end of March. If network congestion is affecting your internet speeds, then now is a great time to take 25 percent off one of our favorite home routers so you can enjoy faster congestion-free Wi-Fi.

Buy it for $149 on Amazon

20
Mar

AMD rumored to be working on a 16-core, 32-thread Ryzen CPU due later this year


Why it matters to you

AMD may have ironed out gaming problems with its second iteration of Ryzen CPUs, just in time to offer competition to Intel’s upcoming chips.

AMD is rumored to be working on more Ryzen CPUs that add even more cores and threads to the equation. Their release is said to be several months away, so it may not be long before AMD reveals a 16-core, 32-thread Ryzen CPU with support for quad-channel DDR4 memory.

Although AMD’s Ryzen CPUs have received some criticism for their single-core performance and gaming ability, they have excelled in applications and settings where the full power of their many cores and threads can be utilized. The rumored CPUs that AMD may have in the works would up the ante even more, making them even more capable than the competition in those settings.

More: Ryzen proves the PC industry can no longer ignore AMD’s comeback

The main source for this latest AMD rumor is French PC magazine Canard PC Hardware, which said the chip would have 16 cores and 32 threads, be a high-end desktop (rather than server) processor, and support AMD’s rumored X399 chipset, as well as four channel DDR4 memory.

Its socket is reported to be LGA SP3r2, have a TDP of 150w, and clock in at 2.4GHz base frequency, boosting to 2.8GHz. That is a rather low frequency for most consumer-grade hardware, but such a chip would not be designed with gaming or typically low-core/thread count tasks in mind. It would instead excel at multiple threaded tasks, such as video editing and rendering.

Backing up PC Canard’s original Tweet, Chinese site Chiphell (via Digiworthy) has its own sources to cite. They claim that AMD will reveal the rumored CPUs in a couple of months and confirm that the flagship version will be a 16 core, 32 thread monster. The reported purpose of this lineup is to bridge the gap between AMD’s top-of-the-line consumer hardware and its more performance-focused server platform.

The Chinese sources also claim the problems that led to somewhat erratic gaming performance with Ryzen CPUs have been ironed out, suggesting that, with overclocking, these rumored Ryzen CPUs could also be excellent at gaming.

Pricing for the flagship chip is expected to be around the $1,000 mark.

The potential release date of AMD’s new chips, sometime within the next four to six months, would put them in position to compete with Intel’s expected Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X chips, which are slated for an August 2017 release.

20
Mar

Sony’s Xperia L1 brings the premium feel without breaking the bank


Why it matters to you

Sony’s flagship smartphones have been out of reach for many would-be users, but the Xperia L1 will lower the entry barrier to one of Android’s most unique device makers.

As many await the imminent launch of Sony’s Xperia flagships for 2017, the company has just pulled the cover off an entry-level smartphone nobody really saw coming. It’s called the Xperia L1, and it is expected to launch in select regions, such as the United Kingdom, beginning in late April.

Following in the footsteps of 2013’s budget-conscious Xperia L, the L1 carries a 5.5-inch 720p display driven by a MediaTek quad-core system-on-chip clocked at 1.45 GHz, paired with 2GB of RAM. In terms of cameras, there’s a 13-megapixel shooter at the back with an F2.2 lens, and a 24 mm wide-angle 5MP shooter above the screen. The phone comes with 16GB of onboard storage, and will support MicroSDXC cards up to 256GB in capacity. It will also be dual SIM-capable in certain markets.

More: Xperia XZ Premium vs. Xperia XZs: Which slow-mo Sony phone is superior?

Sony’s phones have long had a reputation of respectable battery life, and the L1 will look to continue that with a 2,620mAh unit fitted with Qnovo Adaptive Charging. The feature, which will be present in all of Sony’s Xperia XA and XZ devices, claims to extend the lifespan of the battery, allowing it to maintain stock performance for two years. It also allows for quick charging.

The L1 will launch with Android 7.0 Nougat onboard, and come in a selection of three colors: Black, white, and pink. It also features Sony’s Xperia Actions software that monitors how you use your phone, and then presents you with the relevant settings to tailor usage to your habits.

For example, if you typically silence all notifications before bed, Xperia Actions pays attention to that, asks if you’d like to set an automatic time window for muting your phone, and offers even more granular controls, like the ability to turn off charging lights and sounds. It will certainly come in handy for those kept awake at night by the piercing LEDs found in some smartphones nowadays.

There’s currently no word as to precisely where and on what carriers the L1 will launch, or if it will even come stateside. Cost is another unknown, though TechRadar reports Sony has confirmed a price of 169 pounds for the U.K., which roughly equates to $210. Look for more information to drop in the coming weeks.

20
Mar

Brain.fm helps you focus, relax, and sleep: A lifetime subscription is now $50


Constant access to the internet and mobile tech make it easy to lose focus and procrastinate when we are trying to get work done, and the glow of computer screens can even affect our body rhythms and make it difficult to get to sleep at night due to unnaturally elevated brain activity. In response to this 21st-century problem, many people have turned their devices from time-sucking distractions into productivity boosters and sleep enhancers thanks to unique new apps like Brain.fm.

If your computer and mobile devices have given you the attention span of a hummingbird, are making it hard to stay on task throughout the Brain.fmday, or are negatively impacting your sleep patterns, then consider a lifetime subscription to Brain.fm, which can be yours for just $50 from our DT Shop. This app lets you enjoy original background music and noise selections specifically crafted for increased concentration, relaxation, and deeper sleep.

More: Protect your privacy with this VPN Unlimited deal: Just $39 for lifetime access

The effect that auditory stimulation has on the human brain has been a growing topic of discussion in recent years, and Brain.fm has teamed up with neuroscientists to implement their research into the audio that the app creates. All of these unique compositions are generated by a human-assisted AI and backed by data. A focus pilot study carried out in 2015 showed that Brain.fm greatly enhanced visual pattern recognition and sleep quality for test subjects when compared to those who listened to placebo music or no audio at all.

A premium Brain.fm account includes full access to exclusive members-only content, as well as such features such as work progress tracking metrics. If you’re looking to improve your focus, sleep, and relaxation without any monthly fees, then consider a lifetime subscription for $50 from our DT Shop.

Buy it on the DT Shop for $50

20
Mar

Neverware helps schools run Chrome OS and Office 365 on low-end machines


Why it matters to you

Your school can now make better use of its low-end PCs and Macs while still integrating more closely with Office 365.

Google’s Chrome OS has made some headway in the educational market for a few important reasons. First, it’s a relatively low-cost platform, both in its upfront purchase costs and in terms of managing how students use PCs. Second, it’s easy for students and teachers to get into and start using.

One weakness of Chrome OS, however, is that it doesn’t provide the best integration with Microsoft’s productivity solutions. If that’s important to a school, then Neverware’s newest CloudReady version should be of some interest, as Engadget reports.

More: Google dominates K-12 education in the U.S. as Apple falls to third place

Neverware’s CloudReady is a solution that basically installs Chrome OS on the otherwise obsolete PCs and Macs that an organization might have sitting around collecting dust. It’s a way of stretching the life span of older machines, while gaining the management and training benefits of Chromebooks without making new investments. Now, Neverware has created a new Office 365 version that more closely ties in with Microsoft’s offering.

The CloudReady: Office 365 Education Edition offers “out-of-the-box integrations” with OneDrive, rather than Google’s Drive cloud storage solution, as well as with the online web versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. Those same apps will work with the generic version of Chrome OS, of course, but Neverware’s implementation promises tighter integration with Microsoft’s offerings.

One example of better integration is the single sign-on via Office 365 that the solution offers. That level of integration comes at a price, however, as the Office 365 Education Edition costs a dollar per student through Neverware’s districtwide site license, $15 for an annual per-device license, and $59 for a lifetime per-device license.

With a list of more than 200 supported laptops and desktops that are common to educational environments, it’s likely that a school can make use of Neverware’s CloudReady solution. And for any school that has a handful of old machines that don’t perform well when running Windows or MacOS, and that wants the ease of management the Chrome OS provides, it’s no longer necessary to give up solid Office 365 support.

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