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24
Mar

How do people really use apps? We asked an expert


The rapid and relentless rise of the smartphone can’t be easily explained because it was driven by the convergence of multiple trends and technologies. But if you were to search for the evolutionary leap from feature phones, it would be hard to look past apps. By making it easy to develop, share, and sell apps, and allowing developers to dig into device functionality in new ways, Apple, and later Google, paved the way for an industry that has claimed a healthy portion of our daily attention.

“Every consumer-facing business is being transformed by apps,” Bertrand Schmitt, CEO, chairman, and co-founder of App Annie, told Digital Trends. “Consumers are spending around three hours a day on their smartphone on apps.”

The mobile app industry is now incredibly diverse and generates enormous sums of money.

Perhaps best summed up by Apple’s fiendishly clever 2009 ad slogan, “There’s an app for that,” the mobile app industry is now incredibly diverse and generates enormous sums of money.

Globally, there were 175 billion app downloads in 2017, and people spent $86 billion in app stores in the same year. App Annie can pull together this kind of data because it has built up an enormous reach that includes more than one million connected apps and more than one million registered users.

“We have many, many different sources of data, from apps, public information, our partners,” Schmitt said. “The big thing is we don’t save user data, all the data we provide is aggregated — it’s an estimate — we never directly share anything.”

The company has passed its eighth birthday and now employs more than 450 people across 13 different countries. Headquartered in San Francisco, it has always covered the whole world in its analysis. With more than 900 enterprise customers, App Annie serves up insights to everyone from big tech companies, gaming companies, and social networks, to major players in retail, travel, and transportation.

Value of an App Store

Schmitt has been involved in the mobile industry for close to 25 years, starting out programming calculators, before graduating to PDAs, the first cell phones, and then smartphones. When Apple’s iOS App Store opened in 2008, Schmitt saw an exciting opportunity.

“I could see the value of the App Store because I could see where the web was not really efficient,” Schmitt said.

While it had been difficult to install and maintain apps on cell phones, the App Store changed all that, making it much easier for users and developers. Schmitt co-founded App Annie driven by a desire to find out what was working, what was growing, and which countries were accelerating fastest. The upward trajectory of the app industry since then has been positively meteoric.

“Your target market definitely has a smartphone now, that can be your base expectation, but a few years back it wasn’t,” he said. “The average user now has around 80 apps installed and uses around 40 every month”.

How do we use apps

Most people use around 10 apps every single day, but there are also apps that we perhaps only dip into once a year – like a travel or airline app. Apps are generally better quality than they were just a few years ago; they have more functionality, and they’re better supported. While most of us have go-to apps that we fire up more than we should, it seems that no one app is dominating the landscape.

“The average user now has around 80 apps installed and uses around 40 every month.”

“I don’t think there is any app where users are spending more than 20 percent of their time,” Schmitt said.

Time spent isn’t always the best measure in any case. A retail app that works well allows people to find what they’re looking for and buy it quickly. If you’re spending a long time on something like a train app trying to buy a ticket, then it’s probably a sign that something is wrong.

There’s a lot of growth across the industry, but games, entertainment, retail, travel, and finance seem to be outpacing other categories. There are significant differences from country to country and there are some areas where the U.S. is lagging.

“In China payments have moved much faster than everywhere else,” Schmitt explains. “It’s impressive that you can now buy anything using the Wechat payment system. You can even use it with street vendors and taxi drivers.”

It may take a while longer for mobile payments to go mainstream in the U.S., but Schmitt agrees that payments on mobile will be widely accepted within a few years. It seems that this kind of gap in development is quite unusual.

“We usually see trends moving rapidly across markets. It might start from one market maybe China, U.S., Korea, or France, but it moves very fast across the world,” Schmitt said. “If someone has a good idea, in two years it will be everywhere. There’s more visibility into what’s working and what’s not working.”

Speaking of what’s not working, Schmitt mentions augmented reality (AR), pointing out that there are only two successful apps in the space so far: Snapchat and Pokémon Go, but even there the AR part is a gimmick on top of a location-based game. He’s also not entirely convinced by VR.

“VR is a great innovation, but the level of hype was way beyond anything I’ve seen that will take such a long time to get to scale. The big question of what it’s for remains, and outside of gaming it’s not clear.”

The conversation drifts into the future of apps and we discuss car apps that can replace keys, and home automation apps — “people want one app to do everything otherwise it’s too complex.” Schmitt agrees that this increasingly means buying into one ecosystem or another, whether it’s Google or Apple, but suggests “It’s a fair fight and it’s good for consumers: Get educated and make an informed choice.”

Whatever does come next, the outlook for mobile apps is extremely healthy. App Annie predicts that by 2021, 6.3 billion mobile users will be spending $139 billion in the app stores, and in-app advertising spend will double from the $101 billion spent last year. Mobile apps look set to be an increasingly important player in our daily lives, replacing things like keys and wallets and enabling us to do more.

“We are heading in the right direction to where we have one device to rule them all.”

Editors’ Recommendations

  • What is Netflix Roulette, and how exactly does it work?
  • Fight temptation and protect your Android against in-app purchases
  • How to block calls on an iPhone — let us count the ways
  • Can you really trust app store ratings? We asked the experts
  • How to delete a user on a Mac


24
Mar

10 of the most annoying Wear OS problems, and how to fix them


Simon Hill/Digital Trends

After a clunky start, Wear OS (formerly known as Android Wear) is beginning to hit its stride. Smartwatches are improving with every iteration, and Google rolled out a host of welcome improvements in Android Wear 2.0. Despite going in the right direction, however, it hasn’t gotten there quite yet. If you’ve running into Wear OS problems, then you aren’t alone. We’ve put together a list of the most common problems plaguing Wear OS users, along with advice on how to fix or get around them.

You should also read up on our Wear OS tips and tricks, and if you’re in the market for a new technological timepiece, then check out our picks for the best smartwatches.

Glitch: Rapid battery drain on phone

A lot of users on the Google product forums have been complaining about the battery on their connected smartphone draining faster than it should. This is probably the most commonly reported problem that people are encountering with Wear OS. Take a look under Settings > Battery on your phone and you may be able to see where the problem lies. There are various potential causes.

Workarounds:

  • Look for problem apps causing excessive battery drain and consider uninstalling them.
  • Some people report a significant drop in battery drain after turning off Google Now. To do this go to Settings > Accounts > Google > Search and tap Now cards at the bottom, then toggle it off.
  • Reducing the screen brightness will reduce battery drain. Swipe down from the top of the screen and tap Settings > Display > Adjust brightness.
  • It’s a good idea to turn off any notifications you don’t need on your smartwatch. Open the Wear OS app on your phone and tap the gear icon for Settings, then Block app notifications.

Potential solutions:

  • Start off by rebooting your watch and your smartphone and see if it makes a difference. Go to Settings > Restart on your watch.
  • Make sure you’re running the latest version of the Wear OS app that corresponds with Android or iOS.
  • Try resetting your watch to factory settings and pairing it from scratch. Remember that you’ll lose any data on the watch, so sync first. When you’re ready, go to Settings > Reset device on your watch. Try uninstalling and re-installing the Wear OS app on your smartphone. Now try pairing your watch with your smartphone again.
  • It’s possible that a Wi-Fi network is causing the issue. Some people have discovered the battery drains when connected to specific Wi-Fi networks. Test to see if the problem occurs when the phone is connected to your cellular data network. If the drain occurs when you’re connected to your work Wi-Fi then ask IT if they are limiting outbound connections, it may be that the app is continually trying to connect to a blocked port. You can either persuade IT to open them or use a VPN client to bypass the restrictions.

Issue: Watch won’t connect to phone

This 489 post thread is full of people having trouble getting their Wear OS device to connect to their smartphone. In order to ensure that your phone is definitely compatible go to g.co/WearCheck on your phone.

Potential solutions:

  • Make sure you have Bluetooth turned on.
  • Try restarting your watch and your phone.
  • Open up the Google Play Store app, tap menu at the top left and choose My apps. You want to make sure that Google Play Services, Google Search, and Wear OS are up to date. Have a look for them in the Updates list and update them, or just tap Update all at the top.
  • If your device was previously connected, open up the Wear OS app on your phone and tap Menu > Disconnect and then Menu > Connect.
  • Go to Settings > Apps and find the Wear OS app on your phone and tap Clear cache.
  • You could also try resetting your watch to factory settings via Settings > System > Disconnect & reset on the watch.

Glitch: Notifications not coming through

A number of Wear OS users are having trouble with inconsistent notifications. The watch will just randomly stop receiving notifications even though it says it is connected. This can happen multiple times in a day. Sometimes it will seemingly resolve itself, other times it won’t.

Workaround:

  • Restarting the watch seems to work for most people in the short term, but the problem can reoccur, sometimes quite quickly.

Potential solutions:

  • A few have found success after clearing all data for Google Play Services. To do this, tap Settings > More > App manager, then swipe to the All section and tap Google Play Services > Clear cache or Clear data.
  • If your phone runs Android 7.0 Nougat, go to Settings > Notifications > Settings > On the lock screen. Check to see if the Show all notification content option has been enabled.
  • Check the priority settings on your Android phone
    • Go to Sound > Do not disturb > Priority only allows. On this page, you can set your priority notifications, which includes Alarms, Reminders, Events, Messages and Calls.
    • Check to see if Priority Mode is on. In your Quick Settings, tap Do not disturb > priority only. From here, you can set Priority Mode to last for a specific length of time, or until you manually turn it off.
  • On iPhone, go to Settings > Notifications to adjust your notification settings, or go to Settings > Do Not Disturb to see if the feature has been enabled.
  • Check nothing is muted in the Android Wear app on your phone under Settings > Block app notifications.
  • Check the Show notifications box is ticked for the app in question via Settings > Apps > All on your phone or tablet.
  • Make sure that Theater or Cinema mode is turned off on your watch. You can turn it on and off by pressing the power button on your watch twice quickly, or swipe down from the top of the screen then swipe right to left until you see Theater mode.
  • Get rid of old Bluetooth profiles via Settings > Bluetooth on your phone. If you have other devices listed under Paired devices then tap the gear icon at the right and choose Unpair or Forget.
  • Try disconnecting the watch and forget the Bluetooth connection on your phone. Uninstall the Wear OS app on your phone. Reset your watch to factory settings via Settings > System > Disconnect & reset. Restart your phone and reinstall the Wear OS app and then set up the connection afresh.
  • If you’re still having issues then you may have to contact support.

Glitch: Wear OS keeps crashing

Several Wear OS users have been experiencing random crashes, sometimes with the “Unfortunately, Wear OS has stopped” or “Unfortunately, Android Wear has stopped” message. These can be frequent, or intermittent, with no obvious cause. There are a few different things you can try:

Workaround:

  • Some people have had success by removing Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync accounts. It may also be related to a recurring appointment in your calendar, or to the security policies on your Exchange account. Unfortunately, there isn’t a great deal you can do about this beyond removing the recurring appointment, or, if that doesn’t work, removing the account.
  • Another suggested workaround, if you’re using an iPhone, is to turn on Airplane Mode/turn off Wi-Fi, and enable Bluetooth before launching the Wear OS app. However, turning on Wi-Fi can cause the app to crash again.

Potential solutions:

  • Make sure that the Wear OS app is up to date on your phone by opening up the Google Play Store and tapping the menu icon at the top left, then My apps.
  • Make sure that you have the latest updates from Google in Settings > About > System Updates.
  • Try going to Settings > Apps, swipe over to the All tab and find Wear OS. Tap Clear cache, Clear data, and Force close, then try again.
  • Try deleting the connection, uninstalling the Wear OS app, reinstalling it, and then setting the connection up again.

Problem: Can’t connect to Wi-Fi

A few people have had issues connecting to Wi-Fi directly on their Wear OS device. Not every Wear OS device will actually support Wi-Fi, so check with your manufacturer.

Official solution:

  • On February 2, a community manager for the Google Products forums stated the Wi-Fi issue had been solved in a recent update to the Wear OS app. Those affected should update the Wear OS app for their Android or iOS device.

Potential solutions:

  • If you’re sure that your device supports Wi-Fi, then open up the Wear OS app on your phone and tap Settings > Privacy & Personal Data > Cloud sync and make sure it’s turned on. Next, go to Settings > Connectivity > Wi-Fi on your watch, and make sure it’s set to Automatic. You can also check saved networks in here and add new ones.
  • It’s possible that your watch doesn’t support the channel your router is set to. This was a problem for some LG Watch Urbane owners, because the watch could only go up to channel 11, but it was supposed to be fixed by a software update. Take a look in Settings > System > About > System Updates, to make sure you have the latest OS version. You could also change the channel on your router to a lower channel.

Bug: ‘OK Google’ appearing on watch face

Some Wear OS users have found that the “OK Google” phrase is present on their watch face when the screen comes on. Thankfully, it’s easy to get rid of.

Solution:

  • Just say “OK Google” three or four times and it will disappear.

Problem: Voice commands trigger search instead of app

Quite a few Wear OS users have encountered an issue with voice commands. They’ll say a command expecting it to relate to an app, but it actually just returns a Google search. This can happen when trying to set a reminder, an alarm, or launch a specific app.

Potential solution:

  • Open up Google on your phone and go to Settings > Search language. Try setting it to English (US) and see if it works. It seems that certain commands are not working in other languages. Here is a list of the voice commands that you should be able to use.
  • If you’ve signed up to beta test the Google app, the beta version may be the cause of the issue. Installing a stable build of the app has been said to alleviate the issue.

Problem: Can’t use or update to Wear OS 2.0 (Android Wear 2.0)

Despite Wear OS 2.0 (Android Wear 2.0) being the latest version of the app to come to Android smartwatches, some users are unable to use, or even install, the update. There are some people who have said they’ve downloaded the update, but their watch continues to show the incorrect version numbers. Others are curious about their watch’s compatibility, after being unable to receive the 2.0 update. In both cases, however, there are very simple explanations.

Official solutions:

  • The exact date you get the update depends on your your hardware manufacturer.
  • As for future Compatibility, new smartwatches moving forward will come with Wear OS 2.0 (Android Wear 2.0) preinstalled. The update will support some older models, save for the LG G Watch, Samsung Gear Live, Moto 360 V1, Sony Smartwatch 3, and the Asus ZenWatch V1. To see a full list of compatible models, look no further than our Android Wear 2.0 guide.
  • Additionally, make sure your smartwatch is on its charger, paired with your smartphone, and connected to Wi-Fi. Otherwise, you won’t be able to download the update when it arrives.

Problem: Unable to install Google Play Music app

LG Watch Sport users have reportedly been unable to find or install the Google Play Music app on their Wear OS device. When searching for the app on the watch’s version of the Google Play Store, the music app does not appear.

Solutions:

  • Open the Android Wear app on your phone. Tap Settings > Your smartwatch > Resync apps.
  • If you’ve recently used Google Play Music on your phone or a previous watch, open the Google Play Store on your watch and go to Apps you’ve used. Here, you may be able to find and install the Google Play Music app.

Glitch: Apps and updates won’t download

Some people are having trouble downloading apps or app updates from the Play Store on their Android smartwatch. The download just hangs with a “Download pending” message, according to posts on the Google support forum and Reddit.

Workaround:

  • Try turning Wi-Fi off on your smartwatch as that has worked for some people. Go to Settings > Connectivity > Wi-Fi and turn it off.

Possible solutions:

  • Open the Wear OS app on your phone and tap the gear icon for Settings, then tap your smartwatch name, Q Explorist, for example, and tap Resync apps.
  • Try going to Settings > Apps on your phone, find Google Play Store and tap Storage > Clear cache and Clear data. Repeat the process for Google Play services and Wear OS in the Settings > Apps list.
  • If that doesn’t help then it’s time to factory reset. On your watch, go to Settings > System > Disconnect & reset. Uninstall the Wear OS app on your phone. Go to Settings > Bluetooth on your phone and find your smartwatch under Paired devices then tap the gear icon at the right and choose Unpair or Forget. Try wiping the cache and data for Google Play Store and Google Play Services again, as described in the last possible solution above. Open Play Store on your phone, tap the three horizontal lines at the top left and tap My apps & games, then Update all and wait for it to complete. Once you’ve done that, reinstall the Wear OS app on your phone and set up your smartwatch as new.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Check out 25 of the best Wear OS apps for your smartwatch
  • Google’s Wear OS is here, and these are the smartwatches receiving the update
  • Check out 25 of the best Android Wear apps for your smartwatch
  • Not on my watch: How to fix the most annoying Apple Watch problems
  • Here are the 16 most annoying LG G5 problems — and how to fix them


24
Mar

Do you want to live forever? 6 ways tech could extend your life


Death, as one of Neil Gaiman’s Vertigo comic books of the 1990s pointed out, is the high cost of living. But just because it’s always been like that doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.

With that in mind, here are six ways that technology and technologists could wind up extending your lifespan, anywhere from a few decades to, well, the end of life as humankind knows it.

The digital “mindfile”

In some ways, the least ambitious option on our list, this at least has the benefit of being the most readily achievable in the short term. The idea of a “mindfile” isn’t that it would necessarily continue your consciousness, but rather that it could present a digitized version of you, equipped with all your memories, opinions and personality traits.

To model an accurate mindfile of a person, it might be necessary for an individual to answer around 100,000 questions about themself, and then for these answers to be modeled as an A.I., with weighting carried out according to each answer’s relative importance to an individual.

Numerous attempts to model a real life human in the form of an A.I. exist. Perhaps the most famous, however, is Bina48, a robot created by Martine Rothblatt and David Hanson. Modelled on Rothblatt’s real life wife, Bina Aspen Rothblatt, the goal of the Bina48 project is to build a cyber-consciousness as close to the real person as possible.

You would no longer be “you,” but your descendants and other interested parties would be able to consult you for as long as they wanted.

Preserving your brain

While “mindfiles” may aim to preserve your mind, a new startup offers to take things one step further — by literally embalming your brain after death. A new startup being shepherded by startup accelerator Y Combinator, Nectome aims to preserve brains in microscopic detail using a process called aldehyde-stabilized cryopreservation.

You’ll have to be dead for this to happen (at least initially), but the idea is that, once the embalming process is complete, it’ll be possible to bring you back at some future juncture ,once technology has advanced enough to make this possible. You can sign up now for a fully refundable $10,000 deposit.

Turning you into a robot (or hologram)

Despite having a name that makes it sound like a sci-fi conspiracy movie from the 1970s, the 2045 Initiative has some serious backing. Founded by Russian billionaire Dmitry Itskov in 2011, the nonprofit organization is dedicated to the goal of life extension.

In the group’s own words it wants to, “create technologies enabling the transfer of an individual’s personality to a more advanced non-biological carrier, and extending life, including to the point of immortality.”

Stage one of the project aims to build robots capable of being controlled by the human mind. Stage two will then create robots able to host a physical human brain, installed by surgical transplant. After this, they hope to upload the contents of the human brain into a robot. Ultimately, the goal is to replace the robots with holograms.

“Such research has the potential to free you, as well as the majority of all people on our planet, from disease, old age and even death,” Dmitry Itskov wrote in an open letter to some of the world’s richest people. Hey, if billionaires can get crazy rich in one lifetime, what could they do with a whole bunch of lifetimes?

Reverse-engineering the brain

Announced by President Barack Obama at his State of the Union address in early 2013, BRAIN is a somewhat redundant acronym standing for Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies.

Its goal is to map the brain at the level of its electrical pathways and, in doing so, to shed light on neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, depression and traumatic brain injuries.

The reason this is necessary is because, despite some massive advances, right now neuroscientists still don’t know everything there is to know about the brain. While they know roughly what neurons do and how they communicate with other neurons, they can’t say decisively what it is that’s being communicated.

The immediate goal of BRAIN isn’t to allow mind uploading. However, mapping the brain in this level of granularity could lead to the kinds of breakthroughs that will make mind uploading a reality.

Genetic modification

The California Life Company sounds more like some kind of trendy organic yoghurt-and-yoga store than a $730 million long-term research project funded by Alphabet and pharmaceutical company Abbvie. As you’ve probably guessed, however, it’s the latter.

An ultra-secretive skunkworks project comprising biotechnology, artificial intelligence and more, Calico (as it’s known to its friends) aims to discover why we only live as long as we do — and whether the human lifespan can be extended beyond this. While very little is known about Calico’s work, one of the company’s first employees, Cynthia Kenyon, has previously managed to double the lifespan of roundworms in the lab by modifying their genetic code.

Okay, so it’s not quite living forever, but at least this way Google won’t have to worry about replacing CEOs due to old age quite so often.

3D bioprinting

One way to extend the human lifespan would be through genetic modification. Another method could involve 3D bioprinting, the use of additive manufacturing technology to print organs which could replace those that no longer work.

While this also wouldn’t be a permanent way of fending off death, the ability to produce a comparatively limitless number of fresh transplant organs, with (theoretically) no chance of organ rejection, would have a significant impact on lifespans. Add in surgical robot assistants and the ability to use VR to practice complex procedures ahead of time, and this could be transformative.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Science of the Lambs: We can now grow human cells in sheep
  • It may look like a car part, but this is actually a working artificial heart
  • In new breakthrough, CRISPR tools target RNA to tackle dementia
  • 14 major milestones along the brief history of 3D printing
  • You can control this robot as it trawls the Chicago River picking up trash


24
Mar

Ditch your cable company for the $30 Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote


Stick to streaming and saving cash instead.

Amazon has its Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote on sale today for only $29.99. This deal saves you $10 off its regular price and is sure to last a limited time only.

The Fire TV Stick lets you get rid of the cable company and monthly cable bill by giving you access to over 500,000 movies and TV episodes via Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, HBO and other streaming services. It also lets you visit websites like Facebook and Reddit.

fire-tv-stick-clone.jpg?itok=05r_56tO

The included remote can be controlled with your voice and the best part is this stick can be plugged into any TV that has an HDMI port. Just connect it to your home Wi-Fi network and you’re ready to start streaming.

See at Amazon

24
Mar

Google Pixel 3 wish list: What we want to see from Google’s 2018 flagship


The Pixel 2 is already the best Android phone you can buy, but it can always be better. Here are the things I would like to see in the Pixel 3.

I’ve had my Pixel 2 XL since a week after release, and while a small number of early units had some issues, most owners have reported being happy with their device. I didn’t encounter any of the hardware issues that other early owners experienced, and I’ve been enjoying the phone quite a bit since receiving in the mail.

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Having said that, there are some things I would change about the phone. Nothing major, but a few little things that would add up to a better device (in my eyes). I know the Pixel 3 will feature the newest processor, an even better camera, and whatever software features come in Android P. But some pieces aren’t certain, and I hope these all make it into the Pixel 3.

Broader retail availability

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This one doesn’t matter much for me, since I’ve been buying my phones unlocked for years. But I’m not most people. Most consumers — at least in North America — still go to their cellular carrier’s stores to play with a device in hand before buying it. Which mostly means those consumers are buying iPhones and Galaxies. That’s not to say those are bad choices, but if Google wants to improve the Pixel line’s sales numbers, the phone will need to be sold by all carriers. I’m not sure how long Verizon has a retail exclusive for the Pixel phones, but hopefully 2018 is the year they will be available in more stores.

Should you use your Google Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL on Project Fi?

Wireless charging

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Way back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, Google’s Nexus line featured Qi charging fairly consistently. That changed when the Nexus 6P debuted with a metal body, and the Pixel line has continued the exclusion of any wireless charging. With the latest iPhones popularizing wireless charging more than ever and the wireless charging standards settling, I’d really like the next Pixels to bring back Qi charging. This will necessitate moving away from the metal back to using glass, but I think the tradeoff would be well worth it. There are some Qi charging adapters that would work with the current Pixels, but that would mean I couldn’t use the USB port to connect to my Android Auto head unit.

Wireless Power 301: What Modern Dad uses in the car

Faster wired charging

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Wireless charging is for when my phone would sit overnight, but when I need to charge in a hurry, nothing works better than just plugging in a cable. While the Pixels currently charge fairly quickly with the right charger, there have a few instances — entirely of my own making — where I’ve needed the phone to top up sooner. The Essential Phone can recharge at a blistering 27 watts, while the Pixels don’t charge any faster than 18 watts. That’s still plenty fast for most situations, but not all.

USB-C needs to get smarter before it gets better

iPhone X-style gesture navigation

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I haven’t had a chance to use an iPhone X, but it seems like everyone who has used one has loved the gesture navigation. OnePlus has started experimenting with similar gestures, which serve as a proof of concept for how gestures could work with Android’s back and multitask system. This feature wasn’t part of the initial developer previews for Android P, but we still have a few more months before things become final.

OnePlus has nearly solved Android’s new navigation future

Some sort of secure face unlock

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This isn’t something I’m likely to use if a fingerprint sensor is also present, but it’d be a good option nonetheless. A secure face unlock system would be great when using gloves during the winter months, especially if it can tie into Google Pay. I still want a fingerprint sensor present, either remaining on the back or built into the screen. Giving users a choice on which biometric system to use would be perfect for me. Android has had insecure Face Unlock for years, but a native solution that plugs into the same APIs that are used for fingerprint sensors would be the best thing for the platform going forward.

More: OnePlus 5T gets OxygenOS 4.7.2 for improved face unlock, fingerprint sensor, and more

No notch

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The first Android P developer preview included support for a software-based notch, presumably to help developers get their apps ready for all of the iPhone X clones that will surely be released over the next year. We have yet to see hardware leaks for the next Pixels, so we don’t have any indication on whether a physical notch would be present. With Google controlling both the hardware and software on the Pixels, a notch may not look bad, but I’d still prefer a smooth top for the display.

More: The notch is fine and you should get used to it

Honorable mention: A 3.5mm headphone jack

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Pretty please?

More: USB-C audio: Everything you need to know

How about you?

What would you like to see in the Pixel 3? Let us know down below!

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

  • Pixel 2 FAQ: Everything you need to know!
  • Google Pixel 2 and 2 XL review: The new standard
  • Google Pixel 2 specs
  • Google Pixel 2 vs. Pixel 2 XL: What’s the difference?
  • Join our Pixel 2 forums

Best Buy
Verizon
Google Store
Project Fi

24
Mar

Today’s best deals you won’t want to miss


Whether you’re looking for new tech gear or household items, we’ve got you covered.

Today you can get great discounts on a variety of iOttie car mounts, Amazon Fire TV Sticks, DIRECTV NOW promotions, and more! Don’t pass these up.

View the rest of the deals

If you want to know about the deals as soon as they are happening, you’ll want to follow Thrifter on Twitter, and sign up for the newsletter, because missing out on a great deal stinks!

24
Mar

Beginners’ Guide to Fortnite: Battle Royale


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Chances are you’ve heard about Fortnite, the battle royale game that’s blazing a hot path and has everyone turning their heads. It recently got soft-launched for iOS with full crossplay compatibility with PlayStation 4 and Windows 10.

If you’re just now picking the game up, and looking for a good way to get started, we’ve got everything you need right here!

What is Fortnite?

Fortnite is a unique video game by Epic that got its roots as a zombie defense shooter, but a little later on in its life it was updated with a “Battle Royale” mode. It’s named after the budding new genre that has everyone addicted.

Battle Royale Games Explained

It’s probably adequate to boil all battle royale games down to one common theme: kill everyone, and survive. Think “Hunger Games,” but available to you in a digital digest on a grander scale.

While each game approaches the concept differently, they all typically exhibit much of the same pattern. You and as many as 99 others spill out onto a map littered with weapons, first aid, and armor. As the free-for-all wages on, everyone is shepherded into increasingly shrunken circles until you’re pretty much forced to go face to face with your opponents. The last man, woman, or team standing wins.

Why are they suddenly so popular?

Battle Royale games actually got their start as mods for existing games such as DayZ and H1Z1. The man behind the original mods – Brendan Greene – took what he learned and set out to make his own standalone battle royale game called PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG for short).

It’s probably adequate to boil all battle royale games down to one common theme: kill everyone, and survive.

So what has everyone going so crazy over it now? Well, those games are getting more mature, and as more people experience the adrenaline rush involved with attempting to steamroll 99 other people to sweet victory, it’s an easy game to fall for.

pubg%20drop.jpg A typical sight in PUBG.

PUBG’s record-setting launch caught the attention of numerous developers, but none bigger than Epic. Inspired by PUBG, they sought out to create Fortnite’s mode as a more approachable rendition that featured more action, simplified mechanics, faster matches, unique style, and an innovative building system.

Fortnite’s style and casual-friendly gameplay made it an instant hit with Twitch viewers, and word of mouth spread like wildfire thanks to the game’s free-to-play nature. Now, it’s even drawing celebrity attention and remains at the center of the gaming memes world.

What does Early Access mean?

Fortnite is still technically in Early Access. What this means is that the game is not considered finished despite the fact that it’s freely playable and receives regular content and updates.

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The Early Access designation is typically used for games which you can buy in order to play an unfinished copy of early, which is how Fortnite’s original game mode, Save the World, was offered. The Battle Royale game mode, however, launched freely playable for anyone to enjoy, even if they didn’t buy the original Early Access release. You can think of it as more of an open beta in that regard.

That means that while you can enjoy the game, know that Epic is planning on adding more features and making additional changes as time goes on. On a less positive note, this also means that there can be a healthy amount of bugs introduced in each new update and things aren’t guaranteed to work all of the time.

This is all somewhat of a non-issue for PC and console players, but those joining in on the fun thanks to the mobile launch on iOS will get stung by some of these quirks right away. For instance, voice and text chat are currently unavailable. You also can’t use a Bluetooth controller.

How to Play Fortnite

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From the very start, Fortnite is an intense game to get into. 100 individuals, 50 teams of 2, or 25 teams of 4 all fly into an 8x8km map on the groovin’ Battle Bus. You all jump out, rushing to the ground to find your first killing tools.

What’s the Goal?

Your number one goal is to survive as the last one standing. As you’d guess, though, it’s easier said than done. You’ll have to compete with other players who want nothing more than to take you down and empty your pockets.

You also have to contend with The Storm. It’s an evergrowing threat that compels you to seek safety, as if you’re caught in it then you can say goodbye to significant chunks of your health bar.

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The eye of the storm is the only place you and the others are safe, and it gets smaller and smaller (and more deadly) as time moves on.

Getting Your Loot

Your first priority after you’ve jumped out of the Battle Bus is to find a place to land and find your first loot. Loot is anything you can find that’ll help you out in this savage royale.

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This can range from your weapons and their ammo to healing items, traps, and explosives. All these items can be found throughout the world, mostly near or inside pre-built structures. You’ll especially want to keep an eye out for special loot crates as these can contain rarer items.

The first thing you’ll want to find in almost every situation is a gun, especially if you’ve managed to drop at the same location as others. You’ll typically have to shoot your way out of these scenarios.

Taking Your Shots

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Fortnite is a shooter at its core, so those who have some experience in that realm may immediately find comfort. L2 (on PS4) lets you aim down sights, R2 lets you fire the rounds. You’ll reload with the Square button and crouch with Circle. Headshots deal more damage.

Easy. The only thing you really need to worry about is having your aiming skills on point because you’ll be fighting early and often.

Gather Building Materials

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At some point throughout the game, you’ll want to grab some wood, brick, or metal. These materials can be harvested throughout the world using the pickaxe that you start out with.

Aim to have at least 100 pieces of each material by the time you reach the halfway point of the match. That’s because building is a big part of what it takes to be successful in Fortnite.

Build a Path to Victory

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In the mid-to-late game stages of Fortnite, building becomes a pretty big part of the experience. Players use their materials to build and take shelter in sky-high fortresses within the eye of the storm.

They’ll even use the materials during firefights. Being able to build on the fly allows you to build your own cover as you look to engage, or even disengage, enemies. Often, the best builder — and not always the best shooter — can be the deadliest.

Try Fortnite Today

Think you have what it takes to stand tall over 99 others in a battle to the death? You can try Fortnite: Battle Royale right now for free on PS4, PC, and mobile with Crossplay, as well as on Xbox One.

Try Fortnite for Free

PlayStation 4

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24
Mar

Apple’s Tim Cook calls for tougher regulation of personal data


Apple has long positioned itself as a privacy advocate, but it’s ramping up that stance in light of Facebook’s data sharing with Cambridge Analytica. In a discussion at the China Development Forum, Tim Cook said that tougher, “well-crafted” regulation of personal data is likely “necessary” in the wake of Facebook’s crisis. The ability to learn “every intimate detail of your life” through your internet history and contacts “shouldn’t exist,” Cook said.

He argued that Apple had been concerned about just this sort of privacy breach for a long time. It saw that were giving up info without understanding what they were doing, and that companies were creating profiles that would leave people “incredibly offended” when they learned the truth. This has happened “more than once,” Cook added.

Facebook hasn’t been free from scrutiny, as it has needed permission to collect and share your data through an FTC consent decree from 2011. That’s not the same as all-encompassing regulation, but it’s now facing an FTC investigation over the Cambridge Analytica incident for allegedly violating that decree. Officials may decide that decrees like this aren’t enough to curb privacy behavior.

There’s no certainty that the US government will listen to Cook’s message — China certainly won’t. His views carry a lot of weight, though, and it’s entirely possible that the CEO’s reaction will dictate Apple’s privacy strategy in the long run, including its lobbying efforts.

Source: Bloomberg

24
Mar

Former Apple Sound Designer Discusses History Behind ‘Sosumi’, Mac Startup Tone, and Camera Click


In the late 1980s Jim Reekes began working as a sound designer for Apple, creating some of the Mac’s most iconic sounds like the “Sosumi” beep, startup chord, and camera/screenshot click. In a new interview with CNBC, Reekes discussed the origins behind each of these sound creations, and what he thinks about the current audio design of Apple devices. Reekes has touched upon these topics before, but they remain interesting for anyone who might not have heard about this part of Apple’s history.

Reekes explained that the reason for the name “Sosumi” began with a lawsuit from The Beatles’ record label, also named Apple. At the time, Steve Jobs promised that his company would stay focused on computers and not get involved with music, so that the two similarly named companies could coexist.

After Macs added support for audio recording and MIDI (a standard that connects musical instruments to computers), The Beatles sued and forced Reekes to rename any sound effect that had a “musical-sounding name.”

Reekes’ frustration with the lawsuit eventually led him to the name “Sosumi,” because it sounded like “so sue me.” Today, Sosumi is still available as an alert sound in the Mac System Preferences.

One of his beeps, originally called “Xylophone,” needed a new name. “I actually said I’m gonna call it ‘let it beep’ and of course you can’t do anything like that, but I thought yeah, ‘so sue me.’ And then I thought that’s actually the right name,” Reekes said. “I’ll just have to spell it funny, so I spelled it Sosumi.”

He told the lawyers it was a Japanese word that didn’t mean anything musical. “That’s how that Sosumi beep came around,” Reekes explained. “It was really me making fun of lawyers.”

Reekes also looked back on the Mac’s original startup tone, which annoyed him “immensely” because the Mac crashed so many times that it was easy to equate the tone with a frustrating situation. Although he didn’t have permission to change it, he recorded a new c-major chord in his living room and used The Beatles song “A Day in the Life” as inspiration.

Jim Reekes and the keyboard he used to record the original Mac startup sound via CNBC
Eventually, Reekes managed to sneak the sound into the original Macintosh Quadra computer.

Some engineers at Apple were not happy with the change. “Our excuse was it’s too risky to take it back out at this point because something could crash,” he said. “We just made up some bulls—.”

It stuck, and years later Apple even trademarked the start-up sound. It’s one of the few sounds that’s trademarked, along with the NBC chimes and the Intel signature sound. “Kind of silly right?” Reekes smirked. “I’m playing a c-major chord and it’s famous and it’s a copyright.”

On the topic of startup sounds, Reekes voiced his disappointment in the lack of any startup chimes on most Macs today, and gave his opinion on the company’s current overall sound design. “I haven’t really seen much interesting audio coming out of Apple for a while,” he said. Reekes left Apple in the late 1990s and is now a consultant and “out of the sound design business.”

There are plenty of other tidbits from Apple’s sound design history in the interview, including the origins of the camera click heard on Mac screenshots and in the iPhone’s camera app, taken from Reekes’ old 1970s Canon AE-1. To read more from the interview, visit CNBC’s website.

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24
Mar

Facebook and Cambridge Analytica hit with first state lawsuit


Facebook and Cambridge Analytica are already dealing with numerous private lawsuits over non-consensual data sharing, but they now have to grapple with a state-level lawsuit. Illinois’ Cook County has filed a lawsuit against both companies accusing them of violating the state’s Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. Cambridge Analytica allegedly broke the law by misrepresenting its “thisisyourdigitallife” app as an academic research tool when it was really meant to harvest personal data against Facebook’s agreements. Facebook, meanwhile, was accused of falsely promising to protect user data and doing nothing to stop Cambridge Analytica for years after learning of its behavior.

Cook County didn’t cite an overall claim for damages, but noted that each violation of the Illinois fraud act could carry a penalty of up to $50,000, plus as much as $10,000 more if a given victim is 65 or older. We wouldn’t expect the state to seek the maximum penalty per person when there are reportedly “millions” of affected residents, but it could be a costly lawsuit if successful.

We’ve asked Facebook if it can comment. When Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg have acknowledged problems with handling Cambridge Analytica’s behavior, however, the social network may be more focused on limiting damages than avoiding them entirely. And it won’t be surprising if other states join in — over 50 million people were affected by the data collection, and that’s bound to include victims in other parts of the US.

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