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21
Nov

The Supreme Court could soon change the course of how location data is used


The courts of the 21st century are being tasked with 21st-century issues, namely those related to smartphones and their data. From data stored on iPhones to location data associated with other mobile devices, these tiny pieces of technology are presenting big headaches for lawmakers and officials across the nation. The latest case to reach the highest court in the land just may reduce authorities’ power to track people by way of mobile phone data. Next week, the United States Supreme Court will hear arguments that would require prosecutors to obtain a warrant before accessing mobile phone tower records showing an individual’s location.

The case in question revolves around Timothy Ivory Carpenter, who hopes to overturn his current conviction for his involvement in armed robberies of Radio Shack stores. Prosecutors used four months of location data to prove that Carpenter was within half a mile and two miles of four of the robberies when they took place, and obtained this location data without a warrant by way of the 1986 Stored Communications Act. And now, the Supreme Court is considering how much the judicial branch ought to heed the 1986 Act, which is now more than three decades old.

As initially reported by Bloomberg, this case could set quite the precedent. Indeed, prosecutors ask for this sort of data from telecommunication companies “in tens of thousands of cases of year,” using the information as evidence or an alibi. And even outside of smartphone location data, the case could also call into question other devices that are cloud-connected, like virtual assistants; IoT devices like smart thermostats, security systems, and even connected refrigerators; or fitness trackers.

“The data that is transmitted can reveal a wealth of detail about people’s personal lives,” according to a court filing by technology companies including Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Verizon, Twitter, and Google. “Users of digital technologies reasonably expect to retain significant privacy in that data.”

The current Supreme Court has a record of valuing citizens’ digital privacy, and being rather bearish on technology as it relates to users’ privacy. Five years ago, the court limited the ability of police to install tracking devices on cars, and three years ago, the justices ruled that police generally need to need a warrant before searching an arrested suspect’s phone.

“It is no exaggeration to say that many of the more than 90 percent of American adults who own a cell phone keep on their person a digital record of nearly every aspect of their lives — from the mundane to the intimate,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote at the time.

Don’t hold your breath about a ruling, though. The Supreme Court won’t hand down its decision until next June.

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21
Nov

Skype becomes victim of Chinese censorship, disappears from App Stores


Yet another communication tool has disappeared in China. Joining social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat, Skype has become the latest foreign-run victim of Chinese censorship. As initially reported by The New York Times, the popular video calling software has been unavailable for nearly a month, unavailable on app download sites, as well as Apple’s app store.

“We have been notified by the Ministry of Public Security that a number of voice over internet protocol apps do not comply with local law. Therefore these apps have been removed from the app store in China,” an Apple spokeswoman told the Times in an emailed statement regarding questions about Skype’s recent vanishing act. “These apps remain available in all other markets where they do business.”

Curiously enough, Skype is still functional in China, and we’re not yet certain as to whether or not the service will be fully banned in the nation. But now that it’s no longer available for download, it only seems like a matter of time before government officials remove the service altogether from behind the so-called Great Firewall of China.

President Xi Jinping’s administration has been among the toughest on social media and messaging technology, reflecting the government’s desire to control content and communication within the nation’s borders. Just a few months ago, China blocked Facebook-owned WhatsApp, and other apps popular in Asian nations like Telegram and Line have also been banned. The Times reports that the government’s complaint with these services lies in their encryption options (which means that they’re more difficult for government officials to monitor). Plus, these apps don’t require users to share their real names for accounts, which runs contrary to official Chinese rules.

And now, Skype may be the latest service to join this burgeoning list of disallowed services. A Microsoft spokesman noted that the app had been “temporarily removed” from the App Store, but that the company is “working to reinstate the app as soon as possible.” However, there’s no word as to what might happen with regard to Skype’s removal from third-party Android app stores like the ones controlled by Chinese companies Huawei and Xiaomi. So if you’re traveling to China anytime soon, you may want to make alternate plans about how you’ll stay in touch with folks in other countries — your options are increasingly limited.

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21
Nov

Nova Launcher 5.5 adds adaptive icons, Google search in dock, and more


The 5.5 update is live on the Play Store now.

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Nova Launcher is widely considered to be one of the best launchers around, and the recent update to v5.5 adds a lot of long-awaited features – including adaptive icons, the ability to put the Google search bar in your dock, and much more.

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Starting first with adaptive icons, these are supported as long as you’re using Nova Launcher on a device running Android 5.0 or later. Adaptive icons have been available as part of the Nova Launcher beta since September, but this is the first time they’ve made their way to a public build.

You can access adaptive icon settings by going to Settings -> Look & feel -> Adaptive icon style. From here, you can change your icon shapes to round, squircle, rounded square, square, and teardrop.

Also new is the ability to have your Google search bar placed in your dock (either below or above your apps here) to mimic the look of Google’s Pixel 2. However, Nova Launcher takes things a step further by allowing you to customize the look of the search bar and even replace it with another widget.

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Lastly, Nova Launcher 5.5 adopts Android 8.1’s slightly changed popup menu and adds some general optimizations and bug fixes for an overall better experience.

The 5.5 update for Nova Launcher is live on the Google Play Store right now.

Top 5 things to do after switching to Nova Launcher

21
Nov

Grab the Withings Smart Body Analyzer for just $79 at Amazon


It’s time to be smarter about tracking your weight.

Is this deal for me?

The Withings Smart Body Analyzer is now down to just $79 via Amazon. This deal features this product’s lowest price ever and saves you around $30 off its average price.

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The Smart Body Analyzer can not only keep track of your weight, but also your heart rate, the air quality, and more. It can connect to the free Withings: Health Mate app so you can view your results and track your progress from anywhere, and it’s even compatible with other fitness and health apps too, like RunKeeper, MyFitnessPal and more.

  • What makes this deal worth considering? – This price drop marks a new all-time low on this item and is significantly lower than it has sold for recently. The average selling price on this smart scale is closer to $111, so you won’t want to miss out on this deal. There are apps for both Android and iOS that allow you to view your results and track your progress.
  • Things to know before you buy! – Withings makes one of the best smart scales out there. I’ve been using one for years to track my weight, and love that you can set user profiles for different people in the family. Beyond your weight, this scale can keep track of your heart rate, the air quality, and more. This discount is available for only the black version right now.

See at Amazon

21
Nov

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp — Beginner’s Guide


New to the Animal Crossing kingdom? Don’t worry, we’ll help you through the basics!

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is now available on iPhone, iPad, and Android. If you’re new to the Animal Crossing kingdom, there’s a lot to learn.

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For the most part, you’ll pick up on the basics fairly fast. Without some background knowledge, though, you might make some big mistakes early on that you wish you could go back and change. That’s were we come in. We’ve got a comprehensive beginner’s guide to help you avoid mistakes and explain some of the leveling activities that might not seem obvious to you at first.

Download Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp (free)

  • Sign in with your Nintendo Account
  • Create your character
  • Choose your style
  • The basic gameplay
  • Check the map
  • Crafting items
  • Your Market Box
  • Upgrade your campsite to increase max friendship levels
  • Taking out Loans
  • Call Cards and Request Rickets
  • The game runs in cycles

Sign in with your Nintendo Account

If you’ve played Miitomo, Super Mario Run, Fire Emblem Heroes, or any game on a Nintendo device, its likely you have a Nintendo account. When you first start the game, you’ll be asked to sign in to your Nintendo Account or Nintendo Network ID. This is the only way to save your game data, so be sure to sign in. If you don’t have a Nintendo account. Now is the time to get one. You can follow the on-screen instructions to create a Nintendo account before starting the game.

Create your character

After your sign into your Nintendo account and pick your theme, you’ll be able to create a character. This is your avatar that you use to play the game. You can pick a boy or girl, select a particular hair style and color, and a specific eye style and color. Everything can be changed at any time after you start the game except the gender of your character.

You can later change the hair style and color or eye style and color by tapping More in the bottom right corner of your menu screen. Then select Settings and tap on Edit Character.

Choose your style

At the beginning of the game, you’ll meet Isabelle She’ll ask you a question about your ideal campsite. Depending on how you answer the question, she’ll suggest a particular theme for your campsite. You can choose Natural, Cool, Cute, or Sporty. This doesn’t mean a whole lot, but it does determine the items you’ll receive for your starter Campsite setup. Don’t worry, you’ll be crafting materials for all of the themes, and can completely change how your Campsite looks any time you want. But, this is just the starting point. The style you pick determines the first camper to join your Campsite. Starter villagers are as follows:

  • Apollo: Cool
  • Goldie: Natural
  • Jay: Sporty
  • Rosie: Cute

The basic gameplay

Your role in Animal Crossing Pocket Camp is the acting manager of a campground. Your job is to help out visiting animals (AKA: villagers), getting them the items they want in order to make their stay with you comfortable and pleasant.

In exchange for your help and generosity, villagers will give you materials. Use these materials to craft items that you can place in your campsite or camper van.

One of the goals of the game is to invite villagers to your Campsite. Villagers will only visit your Campsite if you own certain “creature” comforts. Each animal has a specific list of items they’d like before they will visit your Campsite.

You can get these furniture and edible items by crafting them. Once you’ve crafted all of the items an animal requests, it will visit your Campsite and stay (unless your Campsite is already full). You can rotate different villagers in and out of your Campsite once you’ve welcomed them.

Crafting costs materials. You can earn materials as rewards by completing tasks for villagers at your campsite and in the campground. Villagers will ask for items like fish, fruit, and bugs. You can farm these items at different locations in your campground.

In exchange for fish, fruit, and bugs, villagers will give you materials like cotton, wood, steel, and preserves. Use these materials to craft the necessary items to convince an animal to visit your campsite.

Once you meet a villager, you become friends with it. The villager’s happiness level will increase the more you help out your new friend. The goal is to level the happiness to 20 for each of the animals in the game. This is not an easy feat. The higher the happiness level is, the more difficult the tasks the villagers ask you to complete. You may only have to get a couple of shells for a friend that’s at level 3, but at level 10, you’ll be asked to find rare items or a larger quantity of items, which makes growing your friendship much more difficult.

You’ll also receive special rewards for performing timed goals and stretch goals. Timed goals include things like giving other players “kudos” at their campsite or collecting a certain number of specific items. Stretch goals are available throughout the existence of your game and include such things as expanding the size of your van or making a certain number of friends in the game.

Check the map

Your campground is made up of eight locations. There are four farming locations, the Market Place, OK Motors where you can upgrade your camper van, your campsite, and Shovelstrike Quarry where you can play a mini-game to earn a large quantity of a specific type of materials.

Each farm location has one animal in need of attention and yields a specific type of materials. Check the map when you first log in to see which animals you can help out. There will be a check mark next to the animal if you already have the materials needed to help them.

You can tap on an animal to get more details on what they want. If you tap on Kid Cat and see that he is requesting a Monarch Butterfly, you can hop on over to Sunburst Island to gather the necessary materials to help out.

Each farming location also has a player visiting. Talk to players in order to visit their campsite to give Kudos, buy from their Market Box, and get some decorating ideas for your own campsite.

Your Campsite

Your campsite is the main hub of activity for the game. One of your biggest goals is to get your animal friends to want to visit you, which is a little harder than you might think. Your new friends won’t visit your campsite until you’ve crafted certain items for them. You don’t have to keep the items in your campsite, but you’ll need the items they requested just until you’ve welcomed them. You can then remove them.

I recommend using the automatic placement and removal of setups for welcoming new friends. That way, you don’t have to mess with your perfectly crafted campsite.

You can have up to eight friends in your campsite. Here’s where things get interesting: In order to level up your friendships, get the most materials, and increase your character’s level, you’ll need to figure out which friends to keep in your campsite and which ones to send away.

You can add and remove any friend you’ve welcomed. If there is no more room in your campsite after you’ve welcomed someone, they will head out to the campground where you’ll be able to help them with tasks in the wild. Whenever you want to move a friend into your campsite, just kick someone out and invite them in. They don’t have to be within the campground to invite them back once you’ve welcomed them the first time. Just invite them and they’ll appear in your campsite.

The key to getting through the game with all the materials you could possibly need is to know what material each animal gives as a reward and maintain your in-campsite/out of campsite relationship closely.

Lost Lure Creek

Lost Lure Creek is one of two fishing spots. As soon as you enter this location, your character will pull out a fishing pole. You can expect to find fish in the creek, but you can also pick fruit from the trees. You can only pick fruit in each location every three hours, but you can fish much more often. Every few minutes, the creek will replenish with new fish.

Pro Tip: Rare fish can be recognized by their size. The shadow of a rare fish is always larger than smaller fish in the water. Olive Flounder are the exception. They are flat, wide fish, and so look large in the water, too.

To see which types of fish you can catch in Lost Lure Creek, tap the Found Here icon on the map next to the name banner.

Breezy Hollow

Breezy Hollow is where you do most of your tree picking. Here, you’ll find peaches, cherries, apples, oranges, and pears. You can only pick fruit from the trees every three hours unless you use a Fertilizer to reset the fruit tree immediately.

Pro Tip: You can only pick fruit every three hours. If you shake a tree but don’t pick up the fruit that has dropped, the countdown for the replenish will begin immediately, but you won’t have to fill up your item storage with fruit until you need it.

To see which types of fruit you can pick in Breezy, tap the Found Here icon on the map next to the name banner.

Saltwater Shores

Saltwater Shores is the other fishing spot in the campground. You can also pick up coconuts and three different types of shell. While the coconut only replenishes every three hours, shells and fish replenish every few minutes. If you’re in need of one of these items, clear the beach and wait just a couple of minutes and the Shore will be filled with items again.

To see which types of fish you can catch or shells you can pick up, tap the Found Here icon on the map next to the name banner.

Sunburst Island

At Sunburst Island, you can collect butterflies and beetles. There is also one coconut tree at this location. Similar to the speed that fish replenish, bugs replenish every few minutes, too. The key is to make sure you’ve collected everything on the island, though. If you need more Monarch butterflies, grab the fruit beetles off of the trees, too, or the other bugs won’t replenish. Grab everything.

To see which types of bugs you can catch while in Sunburst Island tap the Found Here icon on the map next to the name banner.

Shovelstrike Quarry

All of the map locations are free to visit and interact with except one: The Shovelstrike Quarry. To enter this area, you’ll need to either pay 20 Leaf Tickets (which are premium in-game currency) or convince five of your friends to help you out.

When you enter the Shovelstrike Quarry, you’ll play a mini-game where you get to break open five rocks. You don’t get to keep the swag that is inside the rock, but the Quarry manager will pay you for your hard work with whichever materials are part of the reward at the time. The quarry rewards change every few hours.

The Market Place

In the Market Place, you can buy or sell premium items. The booths change every few hours, so you can shop for different items throughout the day. Select from an array of clothing and accessories, or deck out your campsite or camper van with some unique furniture.

OK Motors

Your campervan starts out as a vintage van (not unlike the VW Westfalia #vanlife!), which you can upgrade with a new paint job (first one’s on the house!). As you level up, you can expand your van into a small camper. You can also increase the space inside. None of the animals will visit it, but decorating your camper van is part of the fun of playing ACPC.

Power Tip: When you have Giovanni upgrade your van, he won’t tell you how much it costs. Instead, he’ll do the work and create a loan for you.

Crafting items

In order to convince animals to visit your campsite, you’ll need certain items. You can find out what items a camper wants by tapping on their name in the Contacts section. Crafting takes time and materials. Different items will need different materials, and harder items will need more and rare materials.

You can have up to three items crafting at a time, plus you can make or upgrade a new tent. Some items are finished fast, while others can take half a day.

You can tell what you’ve got in your item storage and what you still need to craft by noting the tiny bag icon next to them. If you have a crafted item, you’ll see the bag. If not, you won’t see it.

You can also tell when you have enough materials to craft an item because you’ll see a big banner next to it that reads, “Craft It!.”

Your Market Box

You’ll pick up, fairly quickly, that your item storage will fill up fast. You can make space by selling surplus items either directly to the game’s Market Place or to other players in the game. The first way, through the Market Place, yields you a relatively low return, about 10 Bells per item. The other way, you can raise the price of items and place them in your Market Box. These items will be available for other players to purchase when they need to. You can sell items at such prices as 100 Bells for one item, and players will pay for it if they’re in need.

The problem with selling items to friends from your Market Box is that, once they go into the box, you can’t get them back. If you don’t sell the items, and you need to make room to sell more, you have to throw those items away.

My recommendation: Sell fruits like oranges and apples. Sell them in small amounts (players aren’t going to have enough storage for 10 fruit), about three or four per stack.

Don’t sell your super rare items, like the Football Fish, in your Market Box. No one needs them (at least so far in the game, no one has come across a task that requests them), and no one is going to pay 30,000 Bells for one. It’ll take up space in your Market Box and you’ll just have to throw it away when you need the extra room.

Upgrade your campsite to increase max friendship levels

You will start your campsite with one standard tent based on the style you choose when talking to KK at the beginning of the game. Before you upgrade or build a different type of tent, your friendship levels will max out at seven. To increase the max friendship levels, you’ll need to upgrade your current tent or build a different style of tent.

Friendship level caps are based on the type of tent and style of the friend. Friends that prefer cool stuff needs a cool tent, cute friends need a cute tent, sporty friends need a sporty tent, and so on.

As your animal friends get closer to maxing out their friendship level, it’s time to start planning your tent building. It takes 12 hours to build a new tent, so plan ahead.

I suggest saving up as much of the necessary materials as possible right from the start. By the time you need to build the various tents, it won’t be so painful on your pocketbook (in other words, you won’t have to fork over as many Leaf Tickets).

Taking out loans

If you’re going to go big as far as your campervan is concerned, it’s going to cost you a lot of Bells. Luckily, for some big-ticket items, like an upgrade to your camper van’s interior size, you can take out a loan and pay it off when you have a few extra Bells. Your loan can be found in the More tab under Loans. When you’ve got money to spare, drop $1000 – $5000 on your loan until its paid off. You can’t get any more upgrades until a loan is paid off, so be sure to make payments on it whenever you can.

Campervan size increases significantly from one to the next. You’ll be paying off the biggest upgrade for a very long time.

Call Cards and Request Rickets

Call Cards allow you to call an animal that is not within the campground at the time. These cards can be useful if you want to invite a camper to your campground, but that animal is not nearby.

Request Tickets reset the task list for an animal. If you’re in need of a certain number of materials and this one camper can get you to the number you need with just a few more tasks, use a Request Ticket to trigger a new list of items that animal wants and will reward you for.

The game runs in cycles

As the day grows long, your game will also change. Daytime, evening, and nighttime are represented in the game. Additionally, you’ll notice the seasonal changes in the game, too. As fall gets into full swing, the leaves on your trees will turn a beautiful shade of red.

But, that’s not the only cyclical changes that take place in Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. The game’s activities also run in cycles. Whether you’re waiting for your animal friends to move around on the campground or you want to check out the Market Place for new items, the basic structure of the game changes every few hours. Below is a list of the cyclical changes in the game.

  • Shovelstrike Quarry: Every 24-hours
  • The Market Place: Every 6 hours
  • Animal request/movement: Every 3 hours
  • Campsite animal chats: Every hour

Stay tuned for more!

We’ve got some Animal Crossing tips and tricks to getting the most out of your game. Keep an eye out for more.

21
Nov

Tips and tricks for Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp


If you want to get the most from your villagers in Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, we’ve got some tips and even a few tricks to help you win the day!

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is about more than just running tasks for your animal friends. It’s also about planning, strategizing, and making the most out of your chats with villagers.

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If you’re new to the game, be sure to run through our beginner’s guide, but if you’re looking for some more advanced tips and tricks, this is the guide for you.

Download Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp (free)

  • Your Market Box
  • Animal friends want to help you out
  • Human friends can help, too
  • Upgrade your tent before your animal friendships max out
  • Extra Tips
  • And the tricks, too

Your Market Box

In Pocket Camp, you have your own personal seller’s market; there, you can either sell items to the Marketplace for a low price, or try to get a few Bells more by selling them to your friends. For example, you can sell a peach to the in-game Marketplace for 10 Bells, or list it for players at 100 Bells. While that seems ridiculous, remember that players need different materials for their game: 100 Bells can be a small price to pay for a player trying to get something they can’t quickly farm themselves. When you sell to friends, those items in your Market Box can be seen and purchased by players whenever they want.

Here are some tips for listing items for sale in your Market Box:

  • List items that players can’t farm fast: Bugs and fish replenish often, but fruit only drops from trees every three hours. List a couple of oranges, peaches, or pears and you’re more likely to sell them than a stack of Horse Mackerel.
  • Sell semi-rares: If you are lucky enough to farm semi-rare items that you don’t need, like a Red Snapper or Horned Dynastid, list them in the Marketplace for friends to earn a few extra Bells. It’s slightly harder to find these items, and players may be willing to pay the extra cost to get these items quickly instead of attempting to farm them themselves. That being said.
  • Don’t fill up your Market Box with ultra rare items: No one is going to want to buy your 30,000-Bell, ultra-rare Jewel Beetle. Listing it in your Market Box is just going to fill up a space that could be used to sell cheaper, more useful items to other players. Currently, no animal asks for super rare items, even at the higher levels, so they’re not highly sought after by players. If you are lucky enough to find an ultra rare item, keep it in case future animals request it, or sell it to the in-game Marketplace if you really need the room
  • Don’t sell large quantities of the same item in one box: Most people only need a couple of items at any given time, and won’t necessarily want to spend the extra dough on your stack. Drop two or three of the same items into a Market Box at maximum.

Animal friends want to help you out

Pocket Camp runs in cycles. Every few hours, tasks renew, the Market changes, and your animal friends move in and out of the campground. It’s important to know where your animal friends are in order to get the most out of their friendship.

First, get to know your animal friends. Each new animal you meet will give you materials as gifts. These materials are used to craft items, which are needed to welcome more animals to your campsite. Each camper offers different materials. So if you run low on a specific type of material, you can visit that friend and complete tasks.

Campsite chats happen every hour. The countdown triggers after you talk to the first animal at your Campsite. If you swap out someone from the Campsite before the end of the countdown, the countdown is triggered again and you won’t be able to chat with any animals in your Campsite for another hour. Talk to everyone in your Campsite after the countdown has ended and before you swap out any animals.

To get the most out of your animal friends, rotate the ones that offer materials you need between your Campsite to the campground for the chance to get more items from them. Here’s how: While in your campsite, complete any requests they need, then kick them out of your campsite just before the cycle changes (and the animals move). If those friends then spawn in the campground, you can complete three more tasks from them. Once you’ve done that, add them back to your Campsite so that you have the chance of getting items from them every hour; it can possibly double the number of materials you get from any one animal.

Here’s an example of the best way to make use of an animal that has materials you need:

I keep Jay in my Campsite because he gives Preserves. I talk to Jay once per hour while he’s in my campsite in order to try to get as many Preserves from him as possible (he doesn’t always give Preserves, but he’s there to chat with once per hour). Just before the animal move cycle changes, I chat him up one last time, then kick him out of my Campsite. I check the campground after the cycle changes to see if Jay is in one of the locations. If he’s there, I’ll talk to him to complete his tasks. Then, I immediately put him back into my Campsite so I can continue talking to him every hour. If he doesn’t spawn in the campground, I put him back in my Campsite immediately so I can continue talking to him every hour.

Human friends can help, too

Don’t be picky about accepting player friendships, or asking for them. The more friends you have, the more opportunities you have to buy and sell items in the Marketplace. You’ll also need friends in order to enter the Shovelstrike Quarry without having to spend precious Leaf Tickets. You’ll need five friends to agree to help you per entry. Agreeing is simply a matter of tapping “yes” when asked, but that means your friends need to play the game within the timeframe of your request and notice your request and agree.

Giving Kudos as part of your daily goal is the only way to earn Friendship powder, which is a material needed to craft certain items, so be sure to make new friends and give them Kudos whenever you come across them in the game.

Upgrade your tent before your animal friendships max out

Each amenity (tents or activity areas) has three tiers, and each of those tiers can be upgraded a certain number of levels. Before you move to the next tier, you must upgrade the current tier to its max level. For example, the Natural tent has three levels to upgrade before you can unlock the Picnic Set. The Picnic Set has five levels to upgrade before you can unlock the Tree House, which also can be maxed out to level 5.

If you find that your animal friends are maxed out – that is, you can’t be any friendlier with them – it’s likely because your Campsite tent needs to be upgraded or you need to build a specific style of tent. In order to unlock higher level friendship max, upgrade your tents!

It’s important to note that you have to build or upgrade the type of tent that a particular animal prefers. If an animal prefers “cool” stuff, upgrade the cool tent. If an animal prefers cute stuff, upgrade the cute tent.

Upgrading tiers takes a long time, so plan ahead. You don’t want to have a bunch of maxed out friendships and days before you can increase their level cap.

  • It takes 12 hours to build a new themed tent.
  • The Tier 1 upgrade takes 24 hours.
  • The Tier 2 upgrade takes 48 hours plus another 48 hours for level upgrades.
  • The Tier 3 upgrade takes 72 hours.

I recommend you build all four types of tents to start. That way, your max friendships across all animals will be level 7. Then, upgrade your tents as you have materials.

Miscellaneous tips

Cosmetic furniture

While the 250 Leaf Ticket cost for each of the special Tom Nook and KK Slider chairs are cool, they are nothing more than a cosmetic addition to the game. If you buy and place Tom’s chair. He’ll show up in your Campsite to sit in his chair and sleep. KK will show up and play music. They’re cool additions, but absolutely unnecessary to the overall game progression. If I had to pick one, I’d go with KK because he plays music.

Also, if you have both Tom and KK’s chair in you Campsite at the same time, only one of them will show up at a time. You won’t get both KK and Tom in your Campsite together.

Amenities

You can have two different types of amenities at your Campsite. For example, you can have the Cool tent and the Natural Picnic Set or the Sporty tent and Cute tent side-by-side. You’re not locked into a theme. Have fun!

Making the most of maxed out friendships

If an animal friend is maxed out, you won’t get any more experience points for them. It’s a good idea to “trap” them in your Campsite so tasks around the campground can be freed up for lower-level friendships.

Bonus points

When you unveil a new Amenity, five random animals in your Campsite will get 5 Experience Points. If any animals in your Campsite are maxed out, kick them out and replace them with lower-level friends so those animals have a chance to gain the +5 points.

Collect fruit later

  • Shake the fruit off of trees but leave them on the ground. If you don’t immediately need fruit you’ve shaken off of a tree, you can leave it behind, saving storage for other items. You can then go back and collect the fruit later. In the meantime, the fruit tree timer will already be counting down to replenishment.

Miscellaneous tricks

A big shout out to the ACPocketCamp subReddit for finding these great in-game tricks and Easter eggs.

  • If you set up your campsite with nothing but lamps, your visiting campers will each walk up to one of the lamps and turn them on and off.

  • Log into the game on your birthday to get birthday wishes from all of your animal friends.

  • Closets have framed photos on their backsides, so you can use them to create interesting looking walls in your campsite or camper van

What are your favorite tips and tricks?

How do you get the most out of villagers in Animal Crossing: Pocket camp? Put your suggestions in the comments to help us out!

21
Nov

Why spending $1000 on a Pixelbook was the right decision


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The Pixelbook is the best view of Chrome today, with an eye towards what the platform will become in the future.

“It’s absurd to spend $1,000 on a web browser.”

That’s what I’ve been hearing a lot in relation to Google’s new Pixelbook laptop. But calling Chrome OS “a web browser” is a plain wrong, though I do understand the sentiment. A Chromebook doesn’t do all the same things a Windows or Mac laptop can do. That’s fine when we’re talking about a $200 machine, since Macs don’t exist in that price range and Windows laptops in that range are an exercise in frustration.

But let’s say you’re the type of person who knows a Chromebook is the perfect fit for you. You may have used a Chromebook through high school or college, and you’re already familiar with the strengths and limitations of the Chrome platform. You may also be like me and already have a desktop for all your heavy-duty needs, but want something lightweight and fool-proof for mobile use.

For the past few years, this mobile device may have been an iPad or Android tablet. That’s perfectly sufficient for most people, but a Chromebook would allow access to Android applications and a full desktop browser on the same device. That may sound trivial, but it makes for a great all-round device that can go anywhere and do almost anything.

Enter Pixelbook.

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The Pixelbook represents Google’s tablet future.

There’s also another angle from which to consider the Pixelbook: Android tablets have, by and large, failed. Android on tablets has been reduced to that $50 Amazon Fire tablet that’s near the checkout aisle in Best Buy next to snacks, soda, and other crap nobody really wants or needs. Android’s tablet-esque future isn’t on “traditional” tablets; it’s on Chromebooks. Manufacturers need a halo device for this context, and developers need a machine to build their applications for. In the past, we had the Nexus 7. Now have the Pixelbook.

The standout Chromebooks this year have been the Asus Chromebook C302 and the Samsung Chromebook Plus/Pro. I’ve used all of these at some point during the year, and they’re great devices. However, they’re not without compromises. Both of these feel like laptops first and tablets second. This is particularly true of the Asus Chromebook, which has a 16:9 aspect ratio screen. This aspect ratio is great when the device is used as a laptop, but it makes the device too tall as a tablet.

pixelbook-second-opinion-4.jpg?itok=MMRo The Pixelbook is much more comfortable as a tablet than other convertible computers.

The Samsung Chromebooks are better in this regard, but not without their own issues. The 3:2 aspect ratio of the display makes them much better as a tablet, and the display is gorgeous, but the keyboard is awkwardly cramped and not backlit, and the trackpad always left me wanting. Are these huge issues? Not really, but the keyboard and trackpad are the elements you’ll interact with most on a laptop.

The Pixelbook has two elements you want from a high-end laptop: a beautiful screen, and a fantastic keyboard.

I’ve been using the Pixelbook for at least three hours a day since purchasing it from Best Buy on release day. I already knew I liked Chrome as an operating system before buying it, and I would suggest anyone interested in the Pixelbook to at least try a less expensive Chromebook first.

What about the Pixelbook itself makes it worth trying? It’s a lot of little things. The screen is drop-dead gorgeous (though using the same panel and tuning as the Samsung Chromebooks). The keyboard has just the right amount of firmness and travel. I use a mechanical keyboard with typist-friendly Cherry Blue switches at my desk at home. Whenever I used to write out a long-form article or review, I’d always write at home with my full keyboard. Now, I’m just as happy using the Pixelbook’s keyboard as I am my mechanical keyboard, and that’s no small feat. And the silicone wrist rest around the keyboard is dirt-free, though I’d expect that to change in the years to come.

pixelbook-second-opinion-5.jpg?itok=QzdJ The Pixelbook keyboard and trackpad are the best I’ve used on any laptop.

Similarly, the trackpad is the best I’ve used on any device — Windows, Chrome or Mac. I used to bring a wireless mouse with me everywhere I went with my laptop, and I still have my Logitech M720 Triathlon paired to my Pixelbook. After the first time I paired it though, I never used it. The trackpad is that good. Gestures are effortless, scrolling is nice and smooth and the larger size of the trackpad makes it a joy to use.

The Pixelbook feels lighter than any other Chromebook I’ve used, and I’ve used a lot.

Then there’s the flip side. Literally. The specs sheet for the Pixelbook and Samsung Chromebook Plus list them at the same 2.4 lbs, but the Pixelbook feels so much lighter. I don’t know what voodoo Google did with the weight distribution of this device, but it doesn’t feel anywhere near that heavy. That may sound like a minor detail, but it goes a long way when using the device as a tablet, or even just when carrying it around. It’s hard to get this across in a review, and while this sounds like a cop-out, it really needs to be experienced to find out how dramatic of a difference it is compared to other devices.

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In terms of general performance, there’s nothing that stands out about the Pixelbook compared to other Chromebooks. An Intel Core i5 and 8GB of RAM is absolutely overkill for Chrome, and it doesn’t start up or perform noticeably better than a $250 Acer Chromebook 14. The most intense Android game I’ve played so far has been Monument Valley 2. I’m sure a title like Asphalt 8 would be more smooth on the Pixelbook than a lower-end Chromebook, but I don’t play games like that. Battery life is sufficient, but not earth shattering: I get an average of 10 hours of screen on-time with five or so tabs open at a time, or about eight hours of video watching.

As mentioned previously, I don’t have any desire to use the Pixelbook pen. If it were included I’d probably give it a try, then put it back in the box. I also don’t care that the Pixelbook is the first Chromebook with Google Assistant. It’s great for Google, but Assistant is the kind of service that will come to other Chromebooks. For me, my phone is always close enough to use for Assistant. Other complaints include the lackluster front facing camera (which records at only 720p), and speakers. I can also understand some users wanting a USB Type A port for older flash drives and mice dongles, but that would have been too thick to include in such as svelte chassis.

pixelbook-second-opinion-8.jpg?itok=zgLS The Pixelbook design mirrors that of the Pixel phones.

One last note is that the Pixelbook will be Google’s platform for new features for Chrome going forward. For those that like to tinker (and I’m one of them), this may be an important point. I don’t think it should weigh into anyone’s buying decision though. Buy a device for what it does today, then be happy with new features that get added in the future.

In the end, I can’t recommend the Pixelbook to anyone. At least, not without them trying a less expensive Chromebook first. If that Chromebook meets that person’s needs for a mobile device, and they’re willing to spend the money for a fantastic keyboard and trackpad, the best Android tablet experience out there, and the great design, then I’d say go for it.

The Pixelbook is the perfect laptop for me, and if you’re already a fan of Chrome it’s probably the perfect laptop for you.

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21
Nov

OnePlus 5T launch event: A spectacular new view to remember


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On November 16, all eyes were on OnePlus in Brooklyn.

The sun was poking through the clouds on a cold, windy day in New York last week, but there were dozens of fans and enthusiasts lined up outside Villain, a converted warehouse in Brooklyn, to get a chance to meet the OnePlus 5T.

Once inside, fans mingled with tech press and YouTubers, drinking coffee and opening the sweet swag bags they got with the purchase of each ticket.

Then came the main event. The lights went down and members of the OnePlus team came on stage, first to talk about the past — including some mistakes and lessons along the way — and about the future. One big part of the future is the way OnePlus works with its community of closed and open beta testers to make its phones as great and intuitive as they can be. Another is, when designing phones, to give users the best technologies as soon as they are available.

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An attendee trying out the phone.

The fingerprint sensor is incredibly fast, but you’ll be blown away by Face Unlock.

Hence, the OnePlus 5T. Made out of a beautiful piece of machined aluminum, the OnePlus 5T has a gorgeous 6-inch Optic AMOLED display with an expanded 18:9 (or 2:1) aspect ratio. The screen is vibrant and lush, with incredible color detail — way better than some of the other 6-inch screens out there right now 😉.

To accommodate that bigger display, OnePlus moved the fingerprint sensor to the back, which is totally fine because it’s still super fast and incredibly reliable. And to add to the fun, OnePlus added Face Unlock, an awesome alternative to the fingerprint that just works — you turn on the power button and look at the screen and you’re in! It takes roughly 0.4 seconds to get into the phone; it’s so fast you can barely see it working.

Of course, the OnePlus 5T doesn’t skimp on any other features, especially given its $499 price point. You get the latest Snapdragon 835 processor, up to 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage (for an extra $60), a huge 3300mAh battery and Dash Charge to give it half a day’s use in just 30 minutes, as well as features we shouldn’t have to point out but will like a headphone jack and an awesome speaker.

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The OnePlus 5T’s all-new dual camera setup.

Then there’s the all-new dual camera setup, which continues OnePlus’s legacy of amazing photo and video quality with a new 20MP secondary sensor tuned for low light. You’ll have to see it to believe it, but this thing will make sure your food shots are superb even with the lights off.

Here’s the thing, though: these are all just words on paper until you get to see them in person. Which is why OnePlus invited a couple hundred of its closest friends to the launch event to try out everything that the 5T can do, from Face Unlock and Gaming DND Mode.

The features were displayed at four stations around the room, with neon lights decorated to look like — what else — a phone. It was pretty rad. But the stations weren’t just there for show and tell; after a few minutes, OnePlus started giving away free phones to participants, which is super cool. Everyone else who attended also got $40 off the cost of the OnePlus 5T!

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Carl Pei, OnePlus co-founder, on stage to talk about the company at the 2017 launch event.

All in all, there was a lot to like about the awesome OnePlus 5T event. Few companies make their executives available to chat with fans and press in the same room, but Carl Pei, Co-founder of OnePlus, and Pete Lau, CEO of OnePlus, are so approachable that it’s not a big deal.

For OnePlus’s first live event, it’s pretty safe to say it was a big success, mainly because it brought fans together with their tech heroes in one place. The phone is great, but it’s the people surrounding it — the community — that make OnePlus such an important company in the tech space today.

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What was your favorite part of #ANewView?

The OnePlus 5T is available today, November 21, at oneplus.net/5t starting at $499. If you’re thinking of waiting, don’t — there are a bunch of special offers available for the launch!

See at OnePlus

21
Nov

HTC U11 and U11+: Everything you need to know!


The HTC U11 and U11+ represent a new direction for the Taiwanese company, featuring an all-glass build, great camera and squeeze input.

HTC has, to put it lightly, seen better days. And years. In 2017, the company is trying an all-new design language to entice customers. Gone are the solid metal builds from the HTC One lineup, replaced by slick, reflective glass. On the inside, the HTC U11 and U11+ feature standard flagship components for 2017, and the company can finally stand toe-to-toe with competitors’ cameras.

Here’s everything you need to know about the HTC U11 and U11+.

Read and watch our reviews

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The U11 was released in spring of 2017, with the U11+ coming out in the fall. Both are similar enough on the inside, with the U11+ featuring a more modern, small-bezel design. Be sure to check out our review of the U11 and hands-on preview of the U11+.


More: HTC U11 review: Back in the running

Check out the specs

Phones need something inside to make them go beep, and the U11 and U11+ both feature the best internals for 2017:

Operating System Android 7.1.1 with HTC Sense Android 8.0 upgrade rolling out Android 8.0 with HTC Sense
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
Network 4G LTE Cat. 16 4G LTE Cat. 16
RAM 4 / 6GB (Varies by region) 4 / 6GB (Varies by region)
Storage 64 / 128GB UFS microSD up to 2TB 64 / 128GB (Varies by region)microSD up to 2TB
Dual SIM Some regions. Hybrid SIM2/SD slot Some regions. Hybrid SIM2/SD slot
Display 5.5-inch Quad HD SuperLCD 5Corning Gorilla Glass 5 6-inch SuperLCD 6, 2880x1440Corning Gorilla Glass 5
Main Camera 12MP, 1.4μm pixels, f/1.7 lens, OIS, EISUltraPixel 3, UltraSpeed AF, HDR Boost 12MP UltraPixel 3, 1.4-micron pixels, f/1.7UltraSpeed Autofocus, BSI sensor, OIS, Dual LED flash
Front Camera 16MP, f/2.0 with UltraPixel mode 8MP, f/2.0, 85-degree field of viewBSI sensor, HDR Boost
Water/Dust Resistance IP67 IP68
Battery 3,000mAhQuick Charge 3.0 3930mAhQuick Charge 3.0
Audio HTC BoomSound Hi-FiHTC USonicUSB-C + noise cancelling headphones HTC BoomSound Hi-FiHTC USonicUSB-C + noise cancelling headphonesQualcomm aptX HD, LDAC 24-bit high resol
Colors Ice white, brilliant black, sapphire blue, solar red, amazing silver Brilliant black, translucent

The U11+ has a sweet translucent variant

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HTC isn’t one to shy away from exotic colors on its smartphones. The U11 has a fiery red version and I always wanted to pick up the awesome blue HTC One M7. For the U11+, HTC went in a slightly different direction. There’s the standard glossy black variant, but also a really intriguing translucent variant. It isn’t completely clear, but you’d be able to pick out the NFC antenna and other components on board.

More: HTC U11+ hands-on preview: More screen, more battery, translucent body

The squeeze feature is surprisingly useful

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While squeezing the side of your phone may sound gimmicky, it’s actually quite practical. Users can map a short or long squeeze to two separate actions, including custom actions within applications. For example, you can set a short squeeze within Google Maps to zoom in on the map, while a long squeeze could start navigation home. Squeezes can also be used for system functions like launching the camera app, toggling the flashlight or taking a screenshot.

More: The HTC U11 is the most solid phone of 2017 so far

The U11+ is kinda, sorta related to the Pixel XL 2

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Smartphones take about 18 months to develop from start to finish, and along the way, things can get complicated due to supply constraints or a different focus within the company. There were rumors earlier this year that we’d see three Pixel phones: what we now know as the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, and a third device slotted somewhere in the middle. That rumored device had a lot of similarities to the Pixel 2 XL, with a 6-inch 18:9 screen, a rear fingerprint sensor, and the same general proportions. But some of that is table stakes: the Pixel 2 line and the U11+ use similar internal components because they’re using the standard 2017 flagship parts. It’s fun to think about, but it’s unlikely the U11+ was meant to wear the Google badge.

More: HTC U11+ started life as a Google Pixel 2 XL project — but the story isn’t that simple

Be sure to check out our forums!

Want to know more about the U11 and U11+? The Android Central forums are a treasure trove of information, so be sure to stop by there and ask any remaining questions you have!

More: HTC U11 on Android Central forums

HTC U11

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  • Manufacturing the U11: Behind the scenes
  • Join our U11 forums
  • HTC U11 vs Galaxy S8
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21
Nov

YouTube is back on the Echo Show, in a browser, with ads (and Bing) in tow


The best reason to buy an Echo Show is back, even if it’s not quite as good as it was originally.

Our long national nightmare is over. The Amazon Echo Show — Amazon’s $229 Alexa-powered Echo with a touchscreen — can watch dog videos on YouTube once more. Or cat videos. Any videos, actually, on YouTube.

The return (as spotted by VoiceBot and TechCrunch) comes a couple months after YouTube unceremoniously disappeared from the Echo Show, presumably because the native experience bypassed in-video ads. Now you once more can ask Alexa to play something on YouTube.

The result isn’t nearly as immersive, though. Search results don’t look as nice as they one did, and they’re powered by Microsoft’s Bing search engine. (That should pretty much tell you all you need to know about how talks went with Google, right?) Choose a video and you’re taken into a rudimentary browser window. You’ll have to enter a full-screen mode on your own, and you’re greeted by all the display ads — in addition to in-video advertising — that you’d expect from this sort of view.

So @YouTube is back on the #echoshow, in a browser-like experience … powered by @bing 🤔 pic.twitter.com/FBUjykmlt0

— Phil Nickinson (@mdrndad) November 21, 2017

That’s at best a weak compromise, but it’s still better than nothing. The real question is how it’ll stand up against Google’s rumored “Quartz” device — a Google Home with a screen.

Amazon Echo

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