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7
Jul

Looking for a new game to play? Check out these new Indie game highlights



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Looking for the latest mobile gaming addiction? Have you considered trying out an indie game? Independent game studios develop some of the most unique and fun games you can hope to find out there. So we’ve put together a list of new indie games that are worth checking out when you have the time.

From casual puzzlers to startlingly deep storytelling games, you’ll surely be able to find something to munch on.

Shatterbrain

What it is:

Orbital Nine Games has come up with one of the most challenging puzzle games for Android. Called Shatterbrain, it invites players to draw shapes to solve complicated physics puzzles.

Why we like it:

  • Extremely challenging, but also very fun and addicting, Shatterbrain allows you to come up with numerous approaches to tackle each confound.
  • Each level brings a mixture of shapes you have to shatter to make them disappear, as well as others you need to avoid.
  • The game lets you compete with leaderboards for the fastest time or best solution.

Install Shatterbrain

Spider Ball

What it is:

A game developed by TTGame Studio, set on a minimalistic stage filled with obstacles, in which you need to swing past the numerous obstacles.

Why we like it:

  • Easy gameplay. Simply touch & drag to aim in the direction you want to fire your web and release to fire.
  • In the beginning, the controls feel a bit tricky, but as you continue to play you’ll get used to them and be able to control the ball as smoothly as you want.
  • Features different game modes including “Endless Mode” and “Arcade Mode”. In total, you get 45 levels of gameplay and around 40 funny balls to unlock.

Install Spider Ball

Returner 77

What it is:

Created by Fantastic, yes Returner 77 is a puzzle adventure set in a haunting alien world.

Why we like it:

  • Stellar puzzle design and storyline. You play the 77th Returner and your mission is to save humanity by exploring a mysterious alien spacecraft that could quite possibly be the key to the mystery.
  • Collect items and use them to solve challenging and beautiful puzzles.
  • The game also benefits from an immersive, ambient soundtrack, so it’s recommended you play it with headphones on.

Sidenote: This is a paid app. It will cost you $4.99 to download it.

Install Returner 77

Still Here…A cute Adventure

What it is:

Designed by StillHere, this 2D platformer game will have you search for the answer to a very interesting question: Why did mankind leave earth?

Why we like it:

  • It’s a very relaxing tap-to fly game.
  • You control curious little creatures called “Pip” as you explore the environment and try to find out why there are no longer any humans around.
  • 15 beautiful locations to explore and 3 playable characters for you to try out.
  • Customize the look of your Pip and upgrade its qualities (speed, agility, weight).

Sidenote: This is a paid app. It will cost you $3.99 to download it.

Install Still Here…a cute Adventure

Losts.io

What it is:

Developed Replay Entertainment, Losts.io invites you to step into the shoes of a primitive man whose goal is to conquer land and become a powerful landowner.

Why we like it:

  • The game challenge is to seize as much territory as you can by drawing hexagonal shapes with your weapon on the sand. Once you have conquered a piece of land you will need to guard it, because other players can easily take control over it.
  • Use the prize money you get at the end of each round to buy new weapons, badges and even tattoos.
  • 11 different characters to choose from including Poseidon, Dark Lord, Elf or Knight.

Install Losts.io

Beast Brawlers

What it is:

 

Created by PiiK Games, Beast Brawlers is a game that lets you join real-time PvP battles, and create your own collection of cool, unique beasts.

Why we like it:

  • 3D top-down view game with colorful graphics and eye-catching character design and graphics.
  • The game boasts a diverse system of beasts including Dire Hog, Emerald Dragon or Moten Phoenix. The characters are sorted in different rarities, and of course, each has its own set of abilities.
  • 3 main game modes including Emerald Pit (gain points and protect beasts), Dark Forest (explore and pick up Orbs) and Ice Cove (cooperative mode for clan members).

Install Beast Brawlers

Dandara

What it is:

A superb platformer in which you play Dandara, the heroine who is needed to save the Salt world from the forces evil.

Why we like it:

  • The game’s lack of traditional gravity is unique. As the heroine, you get to jump across floors, walls and ceilings. Dandara’s leaps have limited range and you can only latch on to certain places, so navigation becomes a small puzzle in itself.
  • Dandara is a metroidvania, the world is open, but you need to unlock new skills in order to unlock some parts of it. It offers a lot of room for exploration
  • Lovely handcrafted pixel art graphics and original soundtrack compositions make sure you’ll never forget the experience of playing Dandara.

Sidenote: This is a paid app. It will cost you $14.99 to download it.

Install Dandara

7
Jul

How to take better pictures with your camera’s automatic mode


Photography experts are always imploring people not to rely on a camera’s full-automatic mode – you know, that magic green icon that makes our lives easier by not asking us to fuss with the settings. After all, having control over how the camera shoots lets you produce better-looking photos. But what if your point-and-shoot camera offers only an auto mode? Can you still take great photos with a digital camera that lacks any advanced features?

Absolutely.

When you shoot in full-auto mode, you are telling the camera to pick what it thinks are the best settings. That means your camera decides everything concerning light sensitivity (ISO), aperture and shutter speed, focus, white balance, and even when to fire the flash. Auto mode is easy to use and convenient, but it isn’t foolproof, and a few simple tips can help you make the most of it. Here’s how to shoot great-looking photographs, even when the camera is doing all the work.

Hold steady

Camera shake causes blurry images. The slightest vibration to the camera as it’s capturing an image can affect how sharp the photo looks. Keeping still is even more important in low-light situations, because the camera keeps the shutter open longer to take in as much light as it can. Some new cameras offer image stabilization to help compensate for shaky hands, but it isn’t perfect. Here are some things you can do to prevent blurry photos:

Use a tripod

A tripod keeps a camera steady, but it’s not always a convenient accessory to lug around (mini desktop tripods like Joby’s GorillaPod, however, are great tools to keep in a camera bag). As an alternative, find a level, non-moving surface to stabilize the camera, like a kitchen counter, a ledge, or a stack of books.

Don’t move

Keeping your body still before, during, and after pressing the shutter button will help minimize image blur. Because a digital camera continues to process the image after clicking the button – especially if it’s gathering light in dark environments – you want to remain motionless for a few seconds afterward, depending on your camera’s lag time between shots. Of course, no person can stay completely stiff, so look for extra support (like keeping your back against a wall or leaning against a pole) to stabilize yourself.

Use the camera’s self-timer

By using the self-timer, you give yourself a few seconds to position yourself and avoid any movement from having to press the shutter button. You can also use this feature when using a tripod or any stable surface, as it would eliminate nearly any vibration caused by your body.

Bring the camera closer to your body

If you’re using the camera’s LCD screen to frame a picture, hold it with two hands and bring it as close to your eyes as possible (without affecting your vision), tucking your elbows and arms all the way in. You can minimize body movement this way, as opposed to having your arms stretched out.

Focus on the subject

Before you press the shutter button, you need to focus on the prize: your subject. Nearly every digital camera utilizes autofocusing, but here’s how to use it properly.

Press halfway and hold it

To tell the camera where to focus, lock in on the subject by pressing the shutter button halfway without letting go (you can feel when the button is physically at the halfway point). The camera will signal when something is focused with an audible beep or green indicators on the LCD display, for example. When you are ready to shoot, press the shutter button all the way. The key is to never let go of the shutter button from the halfway point, unless you want to refocus or reframe your shot.

Point the camera at what you want to be in focus

A digital camera doesn’t always know what to focus on in the frame. If you want to focus on a subject in the side of a frame, for example, your camera might focus on something dead center in the background instead. The easy way to fix this is to center your subject in the frame and then focus. Without letting go of the shutter button, you can pan around until you are happy with the shot, keeping your intended subjects focused wherever they end up in the frame.

Look ahead of moving objects

Most of the aforementioned tips require the subject to remain stationary, but what if you are trying to capture your kid playing ball or some sort of action scene? Most digital cameras that lack user controls, especially entry-level models with slow autofocusing, have a hard time capturing these types of scenes. To achieve this, autofocus on a point where the object in motion will end up, then snap the photo when the object reaches that point. With some luck, you’ll get that shot.

To zoom or not to zoom

Through software enhancement, fixed-lens cameras use digital zoom as a way to get closer to a far-away object. Cameras with an optical lens also use digital zoom to go beyond the physical max zoom. When should you use it? Never, because the resulting image taken with a digital zoom will always be pixelated. If you can, you should physically get up-close to a subject instead of zooming in digitally.

Use scene mode

In addition to a full-auto mode, some cameras include a selection of scene modes. Although scene modes aren’t manual controls, they offer the user a way to tell the camera what type of shooting environment it’s in, such as low light, under direct sunlight, portrait, and landscape. The camera then adjusts its settings for these conditions.

Some cameras may also let you adjust the exposure compensation. If available, use this option to play with the lighting conditions.

Master the flash

Digital cameras tend to always fire the built-in flash when in auto mode, whether it’s necessary or not. But camera flash is not always a bad thing. The best way to know your camera’s ability is to experiment by taking photos in various conditions with the flash on and off.

In dark scenes, the camera may activate the flash to compensate for weak low-light performance, but this could cause your subjects to look way too intense when lit. Without a flash, your photos could look fuzzy due to the lack of light. You can achieve better results by deactivating the flash and using all available light in the room. Hold the camera as still as possible until it has finished taking the photo (see earlier).

Believe it or not, the flash works well for bright conditions. For example, shadows on a subject’s face that’s caused by strong sunlight can be compensated with the use of the flash in “forced flash” mode.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • How to photograph fireworks and capture the color of Independence Day
  • Photography 101: exposure, aperture, shutter speed, and ISO
  • How to photograph kids
  • Samsung Galaxy S8 camera tips that will make you a better photographer
  • Galaxy S9 Plus camera guide: Master the Galaxy with these tips and tricks



7
Jul

How to download songs from SoundCloud


Music discovery is a hot term these days, and while platforms like Spotify and Apple Music offer ways to find you new music to fall in love with, they tend to lean toward established artists. SoundCloud, on the other hand, is home to a ton of up-and-coming artists who use the platform to distribute their work. If you’re a fan of electronic music or are looking to dive deeper into a given subgenre, this is the way to do it.

But what do you do once you have found a new favorite artist and want to add their music to your collection? SoundCloud offers apps on various platforms, but it isn’t always convenient to hop from app to app depending on what you want to hear. That is why you’ll probably find yourself wanting to download tracks, and we’re here to help you do just that.

The official way to download songs from SoundCloud

If you’re looking at this guide, chances are good that you’re already aware that there is an official way to download tracks from SoundCloud, albeit with some limitations. On the off chance that you weren’t aware, downloading tracks using the official, SoundCloud-sanctioned method is incredibly easy.

Simply look below the track you’re playing, in the same area that you would go to comment on the track. On some tracks, you will see a button here marked “Download.” Just click that and you’re good to go.

This is the only way SoundCloud intends for users to download tracks, but you’ll notice that not all tracks can be downloaded. This is by design, as artists have the option to allow or disallow downloading of their tracks. You’ll also notice that you can only download one track at a time — downloading entire playlists isn’t an option.

The unofficial way to download songs from SoundCloud

If the tracks you’re looking to download aren’t available for download directly from the SoundCloud website, you’ll need to turn to alternative methods. This isn’t endorsed by SoundCloud and is actually forbidden in the company’s terms of use. To date, it doesn’t seem that the company has banned users for downloading via third-party means but do be aware that it isn’t officially supported.

Download via a browser extension

The simplest way to download from SoundCloud is to use a browser extension. There are a few out there, but we like SoundCloud Downloader Free for Chrome or SCDL SoundCloud Downloader for Firefox. The instructions here will be for Chrome since it’s so popular, but the steps are very similar for Firefox.

Step one: Install the SoundCloud Downloader Free extension for Chrome (or SCDL SoundCloud Downloader for Firefox).

Step two: Find a track you want to download from SoundCloud.

Step three: Click the download button that now appears below every track, or hit the download button at the top to download a playlist.

A word of caution

While these extensions may be handy if you’re downloading a lot of files from SoundCloud, they do run the same risk of infecting your computer with a virus that any browser extension does. Be careful about what you click and what you install.

Download via a third-party website

If you’re only downloading infrequently, there is an easy way of downloading from SoundCloud that doesn’t require installing anything. Instead, you just copy the URL of a given song from the top of your browser and head to a website that handles the rest for you. There are a ton of sites that promise to do this, but the one we’ll use for this example is KlickAud, which is a fairly common one. As with browser extensions, you’ll want to be careful about which sites you trust.

Step one: Find a track you want to download from SoundCloud and copy the URL from the address bar at the top of your browser.

Step two: Head to the KlickAud website.

Step three: Paste the URL and hit the Download button.

Next steps

It’s worth mentioning that the reason a number of artists don’t want their tracks available for download is that they’re trying to sell them somewhere else. If you fall in love with an artist, consider looking to see if they have a Bandcamp page. Not only does buying tracks this way help to support the artist, but you’ll often end up with higher fidelity. In the case of Bandcamp, you’ll be able to download FLAC versions of the song, which don’t suffer from the same compression artifacts you’ll find from sites that convert SoundCloud songs to MP3.

Once you have yourself a fair amount of tracks to listen to, you will want to make sure you’re listening in style, so be sure to take a look at our headphone buying guide and our list of the best headphones you can buy.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • How to pin a website to the taskbar
  • Here are the best free music download sites that are totally legal
  • The best web browsers
  • How to change your language in Google Chrome
  • How to send a text message from a computer



7
Jul

8 months after its release, the iPhone 8 outsells the new Galaxy S9


It looks like Apple’s back on top. The company may have had a few down months thanks other companies’ upgrade cycle, but it has again locked in the top-selling smartphone spot for May — though Samsung’s Galaxy S9 Plus wasn’t too far away from beating it, according to Counterpoint Research.

It makes sense that Samsung came so close — the company released the Galaxy S9 in March, and the Galaxy S9 Plus held the top spot for April as a result. Both of the two devices ended up with 2.4 percent of the smartphone market share, but in the end, the iPhone inched ahead. Of course, the iPhone 8 wasn’t the only phone to show up on the list — the iPhone X also appears, coming in third place. In fourth was the Xiaomi Redmi 5A, and the iPhone 8 Plus came in fifth. Other phones in the top 10, in order, include the likes of the standard Samsung Galaxy S9, Huawei P20 Lite, Vivo X21, Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus, and Oppo A83.

It’s a pretty big deal for Apple to grab three of the top five spots on the list and it comes after a series of big advertising campaigns for the company. For example, a new ad campaign was launched for the FIFA World Cup highlighting “How to shoot on an iPhone,” which has reportedly helped generate a lot of interest for the device, especially in Europe.

Even more notable about the fact that the iPhone 8 and iPhone X are so successful is that we’ll be getting a slew of new iPhones in a matter of a few months. Apple normally refreshes the iPhone in September, and that’s when we’re expecting to see a follow-up to the iPhone 8 and iPhone X. Apple is rumored to be moving to a lineup of three phones with the iPhone X design this time around, which could help generate even more sales. It’s likely the gap between the top-tier iPhone and the Galaxy S9 won’t be so close in a few months, when the new set of iPhones launch and Apple is expected to absolutely dominate the market — as it usually does.

It’s interesting that Samsung was able to get so close to Apple in May — new reports indicate that the company has missed profit estimates and suffered a 0.7 percent decline in sales year over year.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • How to buy the Apple iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus
  • 15 handy iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus tips and tricks
  • Key settings you need to change on your brand-new iPhone X, 8, or 8 Plus
  • This is what Apple’s new (Red) iPhone 8 and 8 Plus look like
  • The Xiaomi Mi 8 does the one thing Apple could never figure out



7
Jul

How to choose the right Chromebook


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Knowing what to look for before you buy will make you happier and can save you money — which also makes you happier.

Whether you’re buying your first Chromebook or upgrading from an older model, you need to know what to look for before you part with your cash. Really, most purchases are this way — especially electronics of any sort. We can help you figure out which Chromebook features are right for you so you can be an informed buyer.

If you’re not yet sure that Chrome OS will work for you, go cheap.

Before you begin, you should set your budget. Thankfully, a fully capable and future ready (if not future-proof) model can be had for well under $300 if you don’t want to go for the top-shelf. And realistically, you don’t. Chrome OS runs well on hardware that might not have enough “oomph” for another operating system. In fact, there’s a good chance your phone will have more cores, be clocked higher and have more memory than a Chromebook that can do everything it’s intended to do. That’s not to say you won’t benefit from having a more premium model with better specs, but it’s certainly not necessary.

And that makes the first thing on our buyer’s checklist easy: if you’re not yet sure that Chrome OS will work for you, go cheap.

One of the top-selling Chromebooks on Amazon (and a pick for “Amazon’s Choice”) is the Acer Chromebook CB-3. It sells new for $178 (as of December 2017). And while it’s not the nicest laptop you’ll ever see, it has a great IPS screen and runs the very latest version of Chrome OS. And runs it pretty well. You will see things get bogged down a little if you’re trying to do too much at one time, but a browser session with a handful of tabs open or a few Chrome apps or documents open won’t be a problem at all. It’s a perfect way to see how Chrome will handle doing the things you want it to do.

More: Best Chromebooks

Amazon is also a great place to look for refurbished models that still carry a full warranty. I have seen Chromebooks for as little as $99 for Amazon Prime accounts, and any of them would be a good way to try a taste of Chrome OS, so you know if you’re ready to spend a little more.

See at Amazon

If you’re already sure you want a little better hardware or are looking forward to Android apps, you still don’t have to spend a lot of money. But you do need to know what to look for.

Android apps will change how we use a Chromebook.

Android apps have changed how we use Chromebooks. Adding almost 2,000,000 apps to one of the fastest and safest operating systems available also makes it one of the most capable for many of us. Don’t expect to run specialty programs like Adobe Photoshop or a CAD program, but for things like light video editing or 3D drawing, you’ll find a handful of apps that can handle the task.

Chromebooks weren’t designed for folks who need to use a high-end desktop or laptop. But most of us don’t need a high-end desktop or laptop and will be served well with a Chromebook. If Android apps are going to be important to you, here are a few things you need to look for.

  • Make sure it’s on the list. You’ll find a list of Chromebooks that will be able to run apps from Google Play. Existing models will be listed if they’re going to support them. All new models support Android apps. If you’re not sure, you can ask us — if we don’t know, we’ll find out.
  • More storage is better. This goes without saying, but we are saying it anyway. Chromebooks were designed as a cloud-centric device. Because of this, many don’t come with a lot of storage space. Android apps can change how much you’ll need. Consider some games for Android (which will play just fine on your Chromebook) are up to 2GB or more in size, and you’ll see why. You can store a lot of data or documents or photos on the SD card, but apps will go to the actual device storage. Ideally, you’ll want 64GB or more, but 32 can work if you’re not interested in any games.
  • Know how you plan to use it. Some of us want a convertible model that we can use as a tablet. Others want a traditional clamshell-style. Spending a little more to get something you’ll find more useful is worth it. Screen size comes into play here, too. If you’re on the go a lot, you might want an 11-inch model. Or the 14-incher would be better for your desk. Think about how you’ll be using your Chromebook before you buy one.
  • Get a model with a touchscreen. Using a touchscreen for “normal” computing kinda sucks. Editing something in Google Docs or writing a long email just isn’t designed for touch input no matter the platform. That’s why the people who make tablets also make keyboard covers. But that changes when you add in apps originally designed for a phone. They are built for a great experience when poking and swiping with your finger, and that translates well from a 5-inch screen to a 13-inch screen. While you can use the trackpad for most any of it, it’s just not as good.
  • How much memory do you need? That’s determined by what you plan to do. A model with 2GB will be enough to have a few tabs open in the browser as well as an app or two running, but if you’re the power-user type you’ll want to go with 4GB. The video experience benefits from more memory, too. A 1080p video on YouTube or Google Play Movies can get a little stuttery with 2GB, but 720p runs great.
  • How premium do you want to go? Every other item on this list can be had in a sub-300 dollar Chromebook. You can also spend $1,000 on a Pixelbook. The $300 model will handle most anything you throw at it, but the Pixelbook just feels better. I won’t toss a silly car analogy in here, but only you know how much a nicer look and feel is worth. Of course, more expensive models tend to have nicer displays and smoother trackpads, too.

More: Best Chromebook for students

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You’ll have to decide which Chromebook is best for you, but we can toss a couple recommendations out. The Lenovo 500e is a great buy. $300 gets you a Chromebook that not only does everything a pricier one will, but is built for the education market, which means it’s ultra-rugged and has a spill-resistant keyboard.

See at Lenovo

If you’re ready to go all-in with Chrome and don’t mind spending a little more, The ASUS Chromebook Flip C302 is one of the best Chromebooks for the money available today. A fast processor and plenty of storage mean you’ll have it for years, too.

See at Amazon

Of course, new Chromebooks are coming out all the time and something coming up may be even better. You can keep up to date on our Best Chromebooks page, and keep an eye out for our reviews. And as always, the forums are a great place to learn more about anything Chrome.

Chromebooks

  • The best Chromebooks
  • Chromebooks in education: Everything you need to know
  • Should you buy a Chromebook?
  • Chromebook Buyers Guide
  • Google Pixelbook review
  • Join our Chromebook forums

7
Jul

Portable speakers, messenger bags, robotic vacuums, and more are all discounted today


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

We found plenty of great deals today that include big discounts on a portable speaker for the Echo Dot, a Eufy robotic vacuum cleaner, a Timbuk2 messenger bag, and more! Time’s running out to take advantage of these prices, so hurry!

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!

7
Jul

MacRumors Giveaway: Win Crossfade 2 Wireless Headphones from V-Moda


For this week’s giveaway, we’ve teamed up with V-Moda to offer MacRumors readers a chance to win a set of Crossfade 2 Wireless headphones.

Priced starting at $330, the Crossfade Wireless headphones fit over the ear with memory foam ear cushions for comfort even when listening for long periods of time. The hexagon shape is designed to reduce force on the head and ears while minimizing gap for a solid fit, and the steel frame is durable and comfortable.

There are built-in “V-Port” vents that allow for air circulation when working out or using the Crossfade on stage or in other warm environments. Passive noise isolation features are included to cut down on unwanted ambient sounds.


Inside, the Crossfade 2 features 50mm dual-diaphragm drivers engineered in Japan, which V-Moda says separates bass from bleeding into mids and highs for “extraordinary sound quality.”

According to V-Moda, the Crossfade 2 headphones have been instrument engineer verified, offering clean deep bass, lifelike vocals, and clear cymbals.


The Crossfade 2 can connect to an iPhone via Bluetooth, but there’s also an option for a wired connection so it’s versatile and will work with all of your devices. When connected wirelessly, the Crossfade 2 offers 14 hours of wireless listening.

Multitasking functionality lets the headphones pair to two devices at one time, such as an iPhone and a Mac with easy switching between the two, and there’s a built-in microphone for use with gaming or phone calls.


Though full-sized over-ear headphones, Crossfade 2 offers a built-in hinge mechanism that allows them to fold up into a small exoskeleton case when traveling.


The Crossfade 2 is available in Black Matte, White Matte, and Rose Gold, with the Rose Gold version offering Qualcomm’s aptX audio codec for improved sound over Bluetooth. All three offer the V-Moda Vamp AMP/DAC technology.


We have two sets of the Crossfade 2 to give away to MacRumors readers. To enter to win the giveaway, use the Rafflecopter widget below and enter an email address. Email addresses will be used solely for contact purposes to reach the winners and send the prizes. You can earn additional entries by subscribing to our weekly newsletter, subscribing to our YouTube channel, following us on Twitter, or visiting the MacRumors Facebook page.

Due to the complexities of international laws regarding giveaways, only U.S. residents who are 18 years or older and Canadian residents (excluding Quebec) who have reached the age of majority in their province or territory are eligible to enter. To offer feedback or get more information on the giveaway restrictions, please refer to our Site Feedback section, as that is where discussion of the rules will be redirected.

a Rafflecopter giveawayThe contest will run from today (July 6) at 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time through 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time on July 13. The winners will be chosen randomly on July 13 and will be contacted by email. The winners will have 48 hours to respond and provide a shipping address before new winners are chosen.

Tag: giveaway
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7
Jul

Siri at Center of Latest Patent Lawsuit Filed Against Apple


Arizona-based speech recognition technology company AVRS, short for Advanced Voice Recognition Systems, Inc., has filed a lawsuit against Apple this week, accusing the iPhone maker of infringing on one of its patents with its virtual assistant Siri, according to court documents obtained by MacRumors.

The asserted patent is U.S. Patent No. 7,558,730, titled “Speech recognition and transcription among users having heterogeneous protocols.” It was initially filed in 2001 but abandoned, refiled in 2007, and granted in 2009. Siri was first introduced alongside the iPhone 4s in October 2011.

The complaint is very exhaustive and technical, but in simple terms, AVRS believes Siri’s ability to process voice commands across multiple protocols and operating systems, such as iOS and macOS, infringes on its patented technology.

AVRS claims that Apple has been aware of the patent since at least 2013, and that Apple has cited it at least 77 times in its other speech recognition patents and in other litigation. AVRS says it also sent Apple correspondence in 2015, but to no avail, as Apple allegedly continues its willful infringement to present day.

AVRS has demanded a jury trial in Arizona district court, where it is seeking damages from Apple, in an amount no less than a reasonable royalty.

AVRS says its speech recognition software was first introduced in 1994, but it does not appear to offer any products or services that incorporate its patented technologies on its website, so it is more than likely a non-practicing entity.

“Our portfolio of intellectual property is the foundation of our business model,” the company’s website acknowledges.

Advanced Voice Recognition Systems v. Apple by MacRumors on Scribd

Apple has yet to formally respond to the complaint.

Tags: lawsuit, Siri, patent
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7
Jul

How to Use the New Augmented Reality Measure App in iOS 12


One of the new features in iOS 12 is an augmented reality app called Measure, which Apple has designed to make it easier for you to measure various real-world objects using 3D spatial detection techniques.

Open up the Measure app.
Follow the on-screen instructions and move your iPhone around the room so that it can get the dimensions of various objects.
Once it’s calibrated, denoted by a white dot in a circle, you’re ready to start measuring.
To take a measurement, line the white dot up with the corner of an object and then press the “+ button to create an anchor point.
From the anchor point, pan the iPhone over to the other edge of the object.
Press the “+” button again to get the final measurement of the line.
You can continue using this method to get the full dimensions of different objects in your room, with the ability to set multiple anchor points if desired.

Haptic feedback is included in the Measure app, so you’ll feel little haptic taps whenever you set an anchor point, for physical feedback. Haptic taps are also included whenever the app detects an obvious stopping point for a measurement, such as the end of a wall.

To clear your anchor points and start over at any time, tap the “Clear” button.


Once all of your measurements are in place, tap the white camera button to take a photo that displays all of the measurements overlaid on the object you’re measuring.


You can also tap on the arrow of one of the measurements to get a pop up with the current readings that you can copy and paste into another app like Messages or Notes.

Measurement Automatic Detection

For certain square-shaped objects that the Measure app detects, the detection of the dimensions will be automatic. To get an automatic measurement, choose a square or rectangular object and hold the iPhone in front of it.


If it’s going to take an automatic measurement, you’ll see a yellow square appear, which you can then tap to get dimensions. If it’s not going to do automatic detection, you’re going to need to use the tap method to draw individual lines.

Accuracy

The accuracy of the Measure app depends heavily on the precision of where the end points are placed, so there’s room for error.

It’s great for quick measurements to get an idea of size, but where precise measurements are required, it’s probably best to double check with a physical measuring method.

Level Feature

In iOS 12, the Measure app is also home to the Level feature that lets you use the iPhone to detect whether a surface is level. Prior to iOS 12, the Level feature was in the Compass app, so it’s not new, just relocated.


To use it, tap over to the level portion of the app, which is located at the bottom. Hold the iPhone in either portrait or landscape orientation with no case and balance it on an object such as a picture frame to get a reading.

If you tap the screen when using the level app, you can set a 0 degree reference angle to make measurements from, and laying the iPhone flat allows it to be used as a bubble level.

Related Roundup: iOS 12
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7
Jul

Elon Musk sends SpaceX and Boring Company engineers to aid in a rescue mission


The rescue team dedicated to saving the Thai soccer team that has been trapped in a cave for nearly two weeks is growing larger by the day, and its latest members are coming from SpaceX and the Boring Company. According to Elon Musk, who took to his favorite medium (Twitter) to announce the news, engineers from both his ambitious companies will be heading to Thailand on July 7 “to see if we can be helpful” to the rescue operations. It’s unclear exactly what role these engineers will serve, and whether or not their smarts will ultimately be able to contribute to the overall operation. Just a few hours ago, the rescue operation claimed the life of an experienced Navy SEAL diver.

“There are probably many complexities that are hard to appreciate without being there in person,” Musk tweeted. It appears that the executive has been mulling over the decision to send engineers for quite a few days. On July 3, a Twitter user asked the serial entrepreneur for his help in rescuing the soccer team, at which point, Musk responded, “I suspect that the Thai [government] has this under control, but I’m happy to help if there is a way to do so.” Clearly, Musk has found a way, and has already tweeted a number of suggestions as to how best to aid in the mission.

Maybe worth trying: insert a 1m diameter nylon tube (or shorter set of tubes for most difficult sections) through cave network & inflate with air like a bouncy castle. Should create an air tunnel underwater against cave roof & auto-conform to odd shapes like the 70cm hole.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 6, 2018

“We are speaking with the Thai government to see how we can help, and we are sending SpaceX/Boring Company people from the US to Thailand today to offer support on the ground,” a spokesperson for The Boring Company tells The Verge. “Once we confirm what exactly will be helpful to send or do, we will. We are getting feedback and guidance from the people on the ground in Chiang Rai to determine the best way for us to assist their efforts.”

The soccer team, comprised of 12 young boys, along with their coach, were reported missing in late June. They were exploring the Tham Luang cave complex in northern Thailand, which is known to flood during the rainy months of the summer. They were ultimately found by rescuers 10 days after originally becoming trapped in the cave, and luckily, only “light injuries” have been reported in the group. Already, food and medicine have been delivered to the complex, but as flood waters continue to rise, there is a race against time to save the group.

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