All posts by Ida Torres

Hivemapper raises $3M seed funding, launches beta app 

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We have a handful of navigation apps for cars like Waze, HERE, Google Maps. But what about for drones? Okay, they aren’t as ubiquitous as cars of course, but wouldn’t it be cool if those who have drones will be able to use an app to navigation those little fliers? The creators of Hivemapper sure thought so, and now they are launching a beta app and what’s more, they were able to get $3M in seed funding from investors led by Spark Capital and Google Ventures.

Basically it wants to become for drones what Waze is for cars. Using the app on your smartphone, you’ll be able to see what your drone is seeing as it flies. You will also be able to see some pop up items like building distances, the altitude that it is currently flying at, as well as points of interests that it is flying over. And to make sure that you won’t be flying in a no fly zone, the app also uses data from the FCC and FAA.

Hivemapper has basically already created detailed data for footprints of over 20 million buildings, the height of 10 million buildings, tens of thousands of no fly zones, and around 15 million points of interest. This is according to Mo Kofyman, the General Partner of Sparks Capital and a new Hivermapper board member.

Of course these figures only cover the US. Some other features like 5,000 waypoints and over 500 launch points refer to the SF Bay Area. If they want to be as big as Waze, they will probably go the crowd-sourcing route as well. You can download the Hivermapper beta version for free from the Google Play Store. That is of course, if you have a drone.

SOURCE: Spark Capital

Google Play Books updated to be optimized for comic books

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A lot of people are saying it’s a great time to be a comic book fan now. People who love the movie and TV adaptations are discovering the joy of reading it, while long time comic geeks are enjoying the validation of their geekdom (well, some aren’t that happy but well…). Reading digital comics though can sometimes be a challenge, especially if you don’t have a tablet but will just rely on your smartphone. Google Play Books has updated its app so that reading a comic will be seamless and enjoyable.

The update brings a vertical scrolling experience now for readers and all you have to do is turn it into landscape mode by flipping it on its side. The comic book will now then be easily scrollable through quick vertical swipes instead of you having to constantly zoom in to read the text or something. It is now optimized so that it feels more natural as you read through your digital comic, just like you would a physical one.

It’s also now easier to find comics on the Google Play Store since it has a “new comics destination” organized by volumes, issues, and other editions. There is even a beautifully curated series pages where you can see titles from DC Comics, Marvel, Image, IDW, and Dark Horse. Of course there will also be recommendations for you based on your previous purchases so you can discover new characters and new series as well.

Over the next few days, there will also be free comics from The X Files, Lazarus, and Jem and the Hologram among others. The updated Google Play Books will roll out in the next few days to users in the US, Canada, Australia, the UK, India, Singapore, Ireland, New Zealand and South Africa. No word on whether it will also expand to other countries.

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SOURCE: Google

Spotify brings concert dates of your favorite artists

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While listening to your favorite playlists and artists on Spotify is nice, de-stressing, and a perfect way to end the day or begin one, true blue music lovers would still want to enjoy the energy and joy you get from watching your favorite musicians and singers live. That’s why Spotify’s new feature will help you not miss out when your favorite artists come to town or where to catch them when you’re traveling.

The Concerts feature can be found when you open your Browse tab. There you will see not a list of all artists playing near your area, but rather a personalized one showing only those that you listen a lot to or artists that you choose to follow on the music streaming channel. But just like the Discover Weekly feature, it will also show you artists you may not know but which Spotify thinks you’ll like based on the type of music that you listen to.

If you’re in a different area than where you live or work or you will travel somewhere far, you can change your location so you can see the concerts happening all over the world. And if you decide that you actually want to buy tickets for specific concerts, you can buy them not directly of course but with just a few clicks that will lead you to their ticket partner Songkick.

The Concerts tab on your Spotify browser will start rolling out today to Android users. Don’t yet panic if you don’t have it as it may be a gradual rollout.

SOURCE: Spotify

Kill them all with fire (or guns) in Crimsonland 

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You know how in movies when a group of bad guys come after one good guy and they keep taking turns when attacking, almost like they’re doing a choreographed routine? Well anyone who plays video games know that real villains don’t wait their turn and will just pounce on you. Crimsonland is one such game where wave after wave of monsters, aliens, mutant lizards, and giant spiders will attack you and you’ll try to survive with all the weapons you can get.

This onslaught of enemies doesn’t mean just 20 or 30 at the same time, but we mean in the hundreds. The top-down dual stick shooter has you trying to survive any which way you can, mostly by just blasting to bits everything in your path. If you play in the Quest Mode, you have sixty missions to unlock, with each one more difficult than the other of course. For the survival mode, there are five ones that you can play, and see how good you are through the Google Play leaderboards.

The game has around 30 unique weapons that you can unlock and choose from. There are also 55 perks that you can enjoy every time you do well on a quest. And if you’re into collecting Google Play achievements, there are 21 available in this game.

You can download Crimsonland from the Google Play Store for $9.99. It may be a steep price, but that’s all in, with no more in-app purchases to tempt you.

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Destroy evil and save your land with Heroes Curse

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To be honest, sometimes, it is hard to distinguish all these RPG games from one another, but I guess if this is right in your wheelhouse and you enjoy trying out all these different kinds of games, then you’ll enjoy them even if they’re almost all the same. If you do, add another one to your collection with Heroes Curse, a combination of classic RPG elements together with hack and slash gameplay.

In this game (like with many other RPGs), you can choose which character you want to be: a mage, archer, or warrior. The game has massive levels, random loot that you can pick up along the way, and various themes per level, with a different “boss” (not the good kind) waiting for you at each one. Level difficulty is of course progressively increasing and there are four modes that you can or have to get through.

To be able to buy stuff or upgrade them, your currency are coins and gems. There are over 100 items to choose from so you can equip your characters with the proper gear as they try to defeat the evil forces that are wanting to take over your land. You will face various Demon and Monster battles all throughout the game, as well as Boss fights at the end of each level.

You can download Heroes Curse from the Google Play Store for free. There are in-app purchases available so be careful not to spend too much or else you’ll get a heart attack from your credit card bill.

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Tag team your enemies in Blade Waltz, now on Android

blade1When you’re fighting against monsters, it’s always nice to know that someone has your back. But of course, with most games, you have to fight against the demons yourself. Well, now you can have a tag team battle in Blade Waltz, an action RPG from South Korea available in 153 countries and in 16 different languages, with an immersive storyline, stunning visual graphics, and interesting characters to play around with, all on your Android device. The game has several modes available like PvP, Boss Raids, Material Dungeons, and as we mentioned earlier, the Tag Team Battles. There are three different characters that you can choose from: Starfell, a strong swordsman; Gordon, with his heavy mechanic armor; and Ellie, the bounty hunter. You have deep customization, signature themes, full 3D costumes, plus the options to mix and match. The tag team mode is probably the most interesting part of this game. It’s more than just a group of warriors fighting against the enemy. You can actually switch from among the three main characters and even change their weapons, all in the middle of strategic combat. So if you feel like one of the characters is weakening and needs reinforcements, just switch to the other one who has rested a bit more. You can download Blade Waltz from the Google Play Store for free. There are in-app purchases available, so if you feel like fast forwarding to some powers, then you can choose to spend money on it. blade2 blade3 blade4 blade5

Telefonica is first carrier to offer Cyanogen OS devices in Europe

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While Android is still of course the most widely-used platform right now in the kingdom of mobile devices, we’re seeing a lot of iterations of it, some OEM-based and some from the community itself, since of course Android has a customizable and open source nature. One of the most popular mods out there is Cyanogen, and now, a Spanish carrier called Telefonica has the distinction of being the first one in Europe to offer a device running on this mod.

Telefonica will be bringing BQ’s Aquaris M5, a 5-inch smartphone that is running on Cyanogen and with a Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 412 processor. With its 2GB RAM, 16GB internal storage, 13MP main camera, 5MP front facing camera, 2900mAh battery, it sounds like just any other mid-tier smartphone. But what makes it stand out is the fact that it is running on Cyanogen, which is a modified Android-based operating system that is compatible with all apps downloaded from the Google Play Store.

The modifications here include a pre-installed TrueCaller with caller ID, spam blocking and detection; AudioFX for better sound quality with its 24-bit uncut audio; Privacy Guard to protect your data shared with 3rd party apps; PIN scramble and Protected Apps for added security; Live Display which adjusts your display settings depending on the time of day; and other adjustments as well.

The Aquaris M5 will be available in Spain through the Movistar commercial network for 209 euros, but if with financing for 24 months, it will be as low as 8.7 euros per month. Telefonica will also be bringing this plus other Cyanogen devices to Germany and UK in the next few weeks, then to other countries in 2016.

SOURCE: Telefonica

PowerUp FPV turns your paper plane into a drone

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Making paper planes and “flying” them was one of the simplest, but greatest joys of children who lived before the digital age. But now, who says you can’t marry both? We now have a Kickstarter project for the world’d first paper airplane drone with a live camera. The PowerUp FPV (first person viewing) lets you experience what it’s like to actually be on that paper plane swooshing through the air for like forever. Or at least 10 minutes at the most.

The PowerUp FPV was developed by PowerUp Toys and Parrot to create this project that will thrill those of us who had childhood dreams of actually flying on the paper planes we created as well as give another generation a virtual experience of flying through the air. The plane is equipped with a wide-angle camera so you can stream your flight onto your smartphone or Google Cardboard. You can even use it to create the ultimate selfie as you get the rear-view shot when you launch it.

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The plane has a 300ft WiFi live streaming range and you can capture the photos and videos. You can upload them directly as well to your Facebook, YouTube, or other video sharing service. The plane can be controlled in a number of ways. You can have a head mounted display, like Cardboard, and you can tilt your head lightly wherever you want it to go. You can also manual touch control your paper plane through an app on your smartphone. Or if you feel like giving up control, you can set it to full autopilot or auto pilot assist. You can get 10 minutes of continuous flight out of this plane.

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PowerUP FPV has already reached its funding goal of $100,000 with 57 days more to go in the campaign which launched just on November 10. If you’d still like to support it and get your own, the lowest you can pay is $159 to get the FPV itself.

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SOURCE: Kickstarter

This is a crowdfunded project, and as such may not deliver what its creators initially promise. Most crowdfunding sites, like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, have policies about what happens to your money if the project fails to deliver on its goals, but choosing to back a project is inevitably a risk. Android Community's reporting on crowdfunded projects should in no way be seen as an endorsement, unless specifically stated, and we recommend closely examining the terms and conditions to understand your individual rights as a backer before making a pledge.

Don’t worry about dropping your phone in the water with Comet

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If you’re the type of person who has to change their smartphone every few months or so because you keep dropping it in the water when you’re paddle boarding or jet skiing or taking a bath, then you better pay attention as the world’s first buoyant phone is coming soon to a store near you. It is actually an IndieGoGo project called Comet, and it has already met its funding goal, so yes, this floating smartphone is happening soon.

Aside from the fact that it has an IPx7 certification, meaning it’s water-resistant/water proof and dust proof, it has a lot of things going for it as well. If you like taking selfies, then you’ll be happy to know that it has a dual 16MP camera. Yes, both the main cam and the front facing shooter are at 16MP, so you can take high quality photos and HD videos whichever way your smartphone is facing. It also has an LED notification light so you’ll be quietly alerted when you have important messages. It even detects your body temperature and gauges your user emotion and have a different color for happiness, excitement, love, enthusiasm, etc.

The 4.7-inch HD Amoled display smartphone runs on an ultra fast Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, 2 GHZ Octa-Core Processor. It has 4GB RAM and 32GB or 64GB internal storage as well as a 2800 mAh battery that can last you a pretty long time, although if you constantly use your Comet, of course the battery capacity will be lower. And in terms of security, it uses Military Grade 256 bit AES when encrypting voice messages and QLock which will protect your messages, if both sender and receiver are using a Comet smartphone.

There are 3 days left in its IndieGoGo campaign, but they’re already safe as they’ve met 114% of their goal. The Super Early Bird Comet, which will give you a 32GB device, is at a $249 discounted price (retail will be at $399) so you better get on that if you want a buoyant smartphone.

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SOURCE: IndieGoGo

This is a crowdfunded project, and as such may not deliver what its creators initially promise. Most crowdfunding sites, like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, have policies about what happens to your money if the project fails to deliver on its goals, but choosing to back a project is inevitably a risk. Android Community's reporting on crowdfunded projects should in no way be seen as an endorsement, unless specifically stated, and we recommend closely examining the terms and conditions to understand your individual rights as a backer before making a pledge.

Become the best tavern with the best soda in Soda Dungeon

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If this game sounds like you’re going on an expedition to find the best soda and make your business prosper because of the quality of your drinks, then you’re just about right. Soda Dungeon is finally available for Android devices, and if the premise sounds a bit silly, if you like the dungeon crawl type of games, then you will still want to try this out even if the quest for soda may not be at the top of your list of most heroic things you can do in a mobile game.

But yes, the backstory behind your epic adventure is that you own a tavern and you want to get the best drinks you can sell to attract more customers. But in order to do that, you have to fight monsters as you go through various dungeons and enlist the help of several heroes, some of which may be your customers in the tavern.

You get to earn treasures, gold, loot, etc which you can eventually use to upgrade your tavern because after all, it’s not just drinks that will attract people to your business. The turn-based style of gameplay sees five different environments with various monsters and dungeons to deal with. You get to manage your team of adventurers, get new party members along the way, and eventually, if you’re good at playing this game, succeed in getting the best sodas for your tavern.

You can download Soda Dungeon from the Google Play Store for free. There are in-app purchases available as well, in case you’re too impatient to earn the upgrades you want and just want to buy them.

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Z Launcher Beta now includes synonym apps in your scribble

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The Z Launcher from Nokia apps, despite still being in beta mode, is a bit different from the other launchers available in the market. Instead of letting you customize your home screen, it actually studies which apps you use most often and puts them where you can access them easily. It also has a scribble function that lets you launch apps without having to go through the whole app list. An update to the app now makes it easier than ever to use this function because of synonyms.

So now if you scribble the word music, all the music apps that you have installed in your device, whether it’s Spotify, iRadio, or even a video app that has audio like YouTube will appear and you can tap which one you want to use. Scribbling email will bring up all other email apps, browser will give you Chrome, Firefox, etc. So and so forth and you get the picture. But since this is a new feature and the app is still in beta, the choices seems to be a little limited for now. But hopefully it will improve.

Another new feature for the updated app is the inclusion of WhatsApp contacts in the scribble points, so that when you write one of their names, the contact itself or the conversations you’re having with them will show up. But you need to use this one a lot so that it can study your pattern and so your contacts will appear faster.

Of course the update also brings you the usual performance improvements and bug fixes. If you haven’t tried out the app yet, you can download Z Launcher Beta for free from the Google Play Store.

Lost Echo adventure game now available for Android devices

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There are adventure games, and there are adventure games. Lost Echo is one of those that would want to be known as the latter, meaning it is a prestige point and click mystery with excellent graphics, a haunting soundtrack, and amazing feedback from those who’ve already played it over on the other side. Now, after a pretty long time, it is finally available for Android users so they can see what the fuss is all about.

The backstory for Lost Echo is pretty simple. Greg’s girlfriend mysteriously vanishes and now he is desperately searching for her. The only thing is that no one seems to remember that she actually existed. Was she just in Greg’s head all the time? These are just some of the mysteries that you’ll be dealing with when you play this point and click game. But it isn’t just a simple game where you point here and you click there.

The game uses fully 3D environments with detailed and realistic graphics. The developer even says that this kind of high quality visuals is rarely see on mobile games. It also has a soundtrack that was created specifically for the game and adds to its atmosphere as you play. You also get to interact with various characters along the way, but whether they’re friend or foe is up in the air.

You can get Lost Echo from the Google Play Store for $2.99. That is an all-in price as there are no more in-app purchases needed.

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Go rugged with XSlate D10 Android tablet computer

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While you’re probably already enjoying your Android “ordinary" tablet for some time now, if you work in an industry that is a bit tougher than most or if you like doing rugged, outdoorsy things, then you probably at one time or another damaged the device you’re using. That is why Xplore believes you should switch to an Android tablet computer that is meant to be in rugged environs and survive to tell the tale. They’ve recently launched their XSlate D10, the Android version of the Windows-powered Slate B10.

Even though it is indeed an Android tablet, it actually “pushes the boundaries” of what we usually expect from such a device. For one thing, it has two USB 3.0 ports, an RJ-45 port, even an optional HDMI input and others, making it more of a laptop than a tablet. And of course, it is built to be a good example of what a high-quality rugged tablet should be, with an IP65 rating for dust and liquids, MIL-STD-810G with a 5’ drop spec, and Class I, Zone 2 (US, CAN), ATEX Zone 2 safety classification. But it also doesn’t mean it’s as heavy as two tons of bricks. Rather, it is pretty lightweight, weighing just 2.4 lbs. so you can bring it around with you.

When it comes to internal specs, it’s pretty powerful as well, running on an Intel® Bay Trail E3845 Quad Core 1.91GHz Processor and coming with Android 5.1 Lollipop out of the box. It also has 4G RAM and 64GB internal storage, so that’s pretty great on its own, as compared to others in its category. And the battery life itself can last up to 8 hours and even extend to 20 hours if you use a hot-swappable external battery.

Now as to how much this will all cost, that is still a question mark seeing as they didn’t include it in the press release. It also doesn’t say when it will be available, so let’s wait for further announcements while we’re hiking up a mountain trail and going cliff diving or something.

SOURCE: Xplore Tech

Twitch now offers two-factor authentication for account safety

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Twitch may not be the most high security risk app out there, but it always pays to be safe than sorry later on. With reports going around almost every day of hacking into accounts and apps, some people may be more paranoid than usual, even if it is with a simple video game streaming account. And so Twitch is now introducing an optional two-factor authentication for those who want to keep their accounts secure.

If you activate this two-factor authentication, you would need to undergo two steps before you can log in to your Twitch account. First, you’ll have to enter your password (just make sure your password isn’t 123456 or ABCDEF or worse, password) and then a unique code will be sent to the mobile phone that you linked to your account. So if somehow your password was compromised, they won’t be able to authenticate it with the second step.

Setting it up is pretty easy. Head on over to settings and look for the security section and just select the two-factor authentication option. You will then be asked to enter your password and then the mobile number you want to receive the unique code. Then enter the verification code that you’re supposed to receive through SMS. If you’re using Authy, a password token service, you can also add your Twitch account to it so you won’t need to receive text message but instead get a push notification with the verification code.

But as we mentioned earlier, this is a voluntary step. If you feel secure enough, you can stick to your traditional password only log in and not go through an extra step just to be able to access your Twitch account.

SOURCE: Twitch

Blocks modular smartwatch to get US connectivity through AT&T 

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The Blocks smartwatch, which has the distinction of being the first modular wearable device, was a huge success on Kickstarter, reaching $1.2 million in crowdfunding. They will now be heading to the US and they are partnering with AT&T who will be their official carrier in the country. They also have several new agreements and partnerships, bringing even more customizable options for those who want their smartwatches to become their own creation (well, sort of).

Aside from the AT&T deal, they have also struck deals with several companies to bring more options should the features they offer is something you need or will appeal to you. You can have an advanced heart rate monitoring module which includes a tai-led pulse sensor, courtesy of Pixar Imaging. BioConnect Entertech Systems will enable your smartwatch to have Biometric Authentication through a fingerprint module. Design-wise, they’ve also struck a deal with British luxury jeweler, Tateossian for customizable and removable covers for your wearable.

What’s great about Blocks is that, aside from being modular, it is open platform so that means anyone can develop modules for it. The first phase has already started, bringing in these consumer and enterprise companies into the fold, as evidenced by the deals struck with the aforementioned brands. The second wave will start after the first shipment of products, scheduled for May of next year, and this will be opening up public access for even more variety of modules.

This open design, open hardware, and open software platform is truly innovative for this brand, and given that they reached their $250,000 funding goal in just 56 minutes and then $1 million in just a week, it looks like a lot of people need a smartwatch like this. Let’s see when the actual device hits the market whether or not people will be truly satisfied.

VIA: Talk Android

Amazon Echo will soon be available in physical retail stores

amazon-echo-lounge-800x420-752x420The acclaimed voice activated device Amazon Echo is not yet a household name, but among the tech-obsessed market, this is a must-have this holiday season. That is why Amazon is spreading the love around and not just have it on their own website. It will soon be available in more than 3,000 stores across the country, giving those who are out early to shop for Christmas presents the chance to get an Echo for themselves or for loved ones. Retail stores like The Home Depot, Staples, Sears, Brookstone, RadioShack, Fred Meyer,P.C. Richard & Son, and a whole lot of other stores will be able to sell the Amazon Echo, getting people more excited about having their very own personal digital assistant that is also a speaker and can hear you across the room clearly. The latter is one of the things that is a selling point for the Echo, as its seven microphones and beam-forming technology has allowed Alexa, the “brain behind Echo” to hear you clearly and act intelligently. In case you didn’t now it yet, you can access information from Wikipedia and other parts of the web,as well as alarms, timer, news, to-do lists, calendar appointments, etc. You can also access music through Amazon Music, Prime Music, iHeartRadio, Pandora, and TuneIn and if you want to stream from your connected device, you can have your Spotify or iTunes play as well. It is also integrated with connected smart home services like Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, WeMo, Insteon, and Wink products so you can control things like lights, fans, heaters, etc. There are so many other things you can do with the Amazon Echo like make IFTTT recipes, re-order products that are Prime-eligible on Amazon, search local businesses through Yelp, and so many more. Currently, you can buy it through Amazon at $179.99 but it will be rolling out to the retail stores across the US in the next few weeks. SOURCE: Amazon

Periscope update: Global maps, skipping for replays, zooming tool

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As more and more people get to try and watch live broadcasts, apps like Periscope are slowly getting traction. And of course with more users, Twitter will seek to bring more features to the app to make people more excited about it. The latest update to the live streaming app gives you a global app that shows broadcast, both live and replay, all over the world, the ability to skip some parts in the replays, and zooming in on a broadcast to see more details.

Since Periscope users are scattered all over the globe, it would be interesting to see where they are broadcasting from. More importantly, the Global Maps feature allows you to take a peek into what’s happening in different parts of the world, aside from where you’re from. So every time you zoom in on a section of the map, Southeast Asia for instance, you’ll be able to see how many broadcasts there are in countries like Indonesia, Myanmar, Cambodia, etc. The red dots represent live broadcasts while the blue ones are replay.

Speaking of replays, there are times when you’re watching one that you just want to get to the good part and skip intros or parts you’re not interested in (because life is too short eh?). Now you can do so because of the skipping feature. When you’re watching a replay of the broadcast, just press down on it or drag it to the left or right to the part where you want to watch. You can also drag it up or down to change the speed.

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Android app users can also now zoom in or zoom out while watching broadcasts, both live and really. The update is slowly rolling out to users so if it hasn’t reached you yet, just be patient a little longer.

SOURCE: Periscope

Bluboo Uwatch may be the cheapest Android Wear device out there

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It may sound like a blubbering mess or a booboo, but Bluboo is trying to make a name for itself in creating really affordable, some may say cheap, Android devices that can be comparable to those devices that are 2-3 times more expensive. After introducing the market to the XTouch, and then showing off the XWatch, its first smartwatch, now they’re bringing the 2nd gen Uwatch. This may very well be the lowest priced smartwatch running on the Android Wear platform.

They introduced the sports-inclined XWatch previously, but it’s still not currently available in the market. Rumor is that it will be released together with the UWatch, which is more for the business or lifestyle minded user. The former is round-faced, has two physical buttons on the side, and an optical heart sensor at the back.

The UWatch meanwhile is rectangular and the build is mainly metal. It also has a capacitive button just under the screen. Despite its positioning as a budget smartwatch, from the pictures alone and with the rumors flying around, it will give off a premium feel to it, comparable to smartwatches from Motorola, LG, etc. Now as to whether the specs can match though is another question.

Bluboo is a small, China-based company, and in a marketplace that is being dominated by Xiaomi, Huawei, etc, they need to stand out fast. Their Xtouch flagship smartphone they released is a pretty decent one and their most powerful yet. Weirdly enough, there is still no pricing details for the XWatch, although the Uwatch may be priced at $49.99, making it the most affordable one in the bunch.

SOURCE: Bluboo

Tumblr now has a chat feature for mobile app and web version

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It’s hard to keep a conversation going on Tumblr due to its comment structure. Yes, you do have a nice back and forth going on someone’s post, but it’s hard to keep track sometimes. The folks over at Yahoo (who bought Tumblr if you didn’t know) believe that all the “cool kids” on the social network/microblogging site need to have an easier way to talk to each other even as they’re sharing or hearting posts. So now they have announced that a chat feature is “on its way” to your mobile app as well as the web version.

If you get a smiling balloon icon on your Tumblr dashboard, that means that you will now have the ability to chat with other users, whether it’s to tell them you like their post, to get to know people whom you think are interesting, or even to let them know that you think they’re wrong (nicely, we hope). When you send a message to someone, that will also activate their chat feature, if they don’t have that chat icon yet.

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The chat feature can also be used as “fan mail” for artists, brands, personalities, etc. You already have the ability to message them of course, but having a chat feature makes it much easier to respond, if you do want to respond to them. Since this is something new of course, Yahoo would like to hear your feedback on whether this is working.

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Don’t panic yet if you don’t see the chat feature yet on your Tumblr page or your Android app. It’s still rolling out to users so it might take some time. Or you can also wait until someone sends an initial chat message to you.

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SOURCE: Yahoo

Google improves Hangouts video calling feature

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If you’re not convinced yet that Google Hangouts should be your default video calling app when getting in touch with loved ones, well the folks over at Mountain View HQ are hoping this latest update would change your mind. There aren’t any major changes to it actually, except that the call quality as well as several other features are infinitely better. This is only rolling out to a select number of users, so you better wait your turn.

One of the things that will change in Hangouts is the fact that calls will start faster instead of that awkward moment when you’re waiting for your call to connect. Hopefully, the higher quality will also stay all throughout the call. The full-screen interface is also part of the update, so you don’t need to get distracted and you will now have a more immersive and streamlined video call experience. When it comes to inviting your friends to a video call, it is now easier as well.

One thing that has disappeared as noticed by one of the early adapters is app support. This means you can’t add cute costumes or funny faces while making a call and you can’t play games together with whoever you’re calling and do commentaries as well. Although Google isn’t saying that removing the app will be permanent, you can still go back to the old version by clicking the menu at the top right and then choosing “Original version”.

The updated Hangouts isn’t available yet for all users and is still rolling out to a small batch. It will be “expanding globally” in the next few days, so just wait and see.

SOURCE: Google

Amazon Underground adds even more apps in their alternative app store

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Almost three months ago, Amazon unleashed its Underground app wherein Android and Amazon users can access apps that used to be paid but are now for free. Even some in-app purchases were given away for free, as long as they were download through the app. Now just a few months later, they have tripled the number of available games that you can choose from, which now includes Monument Valley, Nemo’s Reef, and Dumb Ways to Die.

Launched just last August, Amazon Underground uses a monetization program for developers just like Kindle Unlimited. Instead of paying them per game that users purchased, they get paid for every minute that users stay on and use their app or game. Developers who have allowed their games to be included say that they have seen improvements in the performance of their apps, with some like Halfback Studios saying that they have doubled their downloads and revenues ever since they allowed free downloads of Jetpack Joyride and Fruit Ninja on Amazon Underground.

The new app store has actually tripled the number of apps that they’ve included in the selection, which includes extremely popular titles like Angry Birds Slingshot Stella, Frozen Freefall, Looney Tunes Dash, etc. Currently, there are $10,000 worth of apps, games and in-app items in their roster and with more to come. Their web page even says that movies and music will be part of it, although when we checked which ones, they were actually apps related to movies and music, not actual movies and music.

You can get the Amazon Underground app by going to the source URL and inputting your email address there and you’ll receive the email link. Or you can go to amazon.com/underground from your Android phone.

SOURCE: Amazon (1), (2)

Ascape is your 360° virtual tour companion app

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They say because of the Internet and the digital revolution, the world is getting smaller and smaller. What seemed impossible to go to before is now possible, whether it’s real and actual or virtual. One of the things that has changed is traveling, again both the actual one and the digital one. So if you cannot do the former, the latter is also an option, especially now with all the 360-degree tech and panoramic mapping, etc. Now you have Ascape, a 360° virtual tour app that can bring all these places closer to you.

Of course, nothing beats actually being in a place to experience all its beauty and mystery and excitement. But if things are preventing you from actually traveling, at least you have options like Ascape to fill in the gap. The app has several 360° guided tours in some of the most popular places in the world. Every day, you can inspire yourself with some short 360° virtual tours, like exploring the ancient rituals of India, or walking through the colorful, vibrant city of San Francisco.

It used to be we were just satisfied with looking at photos, but now, all these 360° videos will spoil us, and it’s even on 4K resolution. And it’s not just visual, you will get to experience VR sound technology as well. If you don’t have a VR headset, you can use the full screen mode in your smartphone so that you will still feel the immersion. But if you do have a VR headset, Ascape is compatible with several, including Google Cardboard, Zeiss VR ONE, DoDo Case VR, Homido, Durovis Dive, Fibrum etc.

The problem with the app though is that it doesn’t have a search function, so you’d have to scroll down their list of available virtual tours. Also, it’s also understood that because of its content, it is pretty heavy. But if you have space to spare in your device, this is a pretty sweet app to have. You can download Ascape from the Google Play Store for free.

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SW Battlefront Companion expands your Star Wars world even more

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With Star Wars fans counting the days until The Force Awakens arrives in the theaters, those who also love gaming are also getting pretty excited as more and more apps and games are being released in the lead up to the movie. For those who are also excited about playing the upcoming Star Wars Battlefront, you now have a SW Battlefront Companion to help you prepare for the game, track your game career, as well as give you another card-based game called Base Command.

The Star Wars Battlefront game is a first and third person shooter game that is based on the movie franchise of course, but is still not available in the market (but coming really soon!). But to get you all excited and also prepared, the Battlefront Companion app has already been released and you will be able to see how this will help you in your game campaign, like tracking statistics, seeing how you’ve progressed, connect with teammates and see their stats as well.

You will also be able to play a strategic but lightweight card game called Base Command, which is where you get to defend a rebel base that the empire is trying to destroy. You get to use Star Cards from the main Battlefront game, as your vehicles, weapons, power ups, etc. Conversely, you’ll also be able to earn in-game credits so that you can use them to unlock more Star Cards in the main game.

You can download SW Battlefront Companion from the Google Play Store for free. No news yet as to when the actual Battlefront game will be released, but it will probably be really soon. Meanwhile, you can feast on the game trailer.

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Land’s End game now available exclusively for Samsung Gear VR

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It took them a while to get here, but they finally did. Land’s End, from Ustwo, the makers of critically acclaimed game Monument Valley, has arrived for your gaming enjoyment, but only if you have a Samsung Gear VR. Yes, that’s right, this is one of those rare games that are exclusively for virtual reality headsets, and this might eventually be how some games will be introduced once VR becomes ubiquitous.

Just like Monument Valley, this is a beautifully made and meditative puzzle game. The gameplay makes it obvious that it was created for and is best played with a VR component. You need to create constellations by drawing outlines through a beam of light that will be controlled by your gaze. The object is to lift up the structure you created on the landscape through telekinesis. You will create new formations out of these and open up new paths, further going into the mystery of this ancient civilization you woke up to.

It’s been more than a year actually since they previewed this game back in October 2014, but probably since we’re dealing with a new tech here, it took them this long to bring it to commercial use. The team spent some time learning, testing, tweaking, and eventually finalizing this game, and based on the launch video, it looks amazing.

For now though, only those with a Samsung Galaxy VR plus a compatible smartphone, will be able to play this game. There’s no news yet as to whether they will create a different version of it for other platforms. You can download Land’s End through the Oculus store as of today.

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SOURCE: Ustwo

Pinterest introduces virtual search tool for that hard-to-find object

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Have you ever had a Pinterest experience where you saw an item in the background of one of the pictures you’re looking at, but since it’s not the main picture, you don’t know what it is and where it’s from and so you couldn’t fall asleep until you finally figured it out through intense googling? Well, that will hopefully never happen to you again because Pinterest is introducing a new virtual search tool to make the search much easier.

The tool is very simple but very efficient when searching for items that you cannot describe through words. Simply click on the pin and you’ll see a search tool in the corner. Select the part of the picture that has captured your eye and you can even enlarge or shrink the select tool if you want. Pinterest will then show you pins like it, and you’ll end up finding what you’re looking for (hopefully). You will find out what it’s actually called and you will also discover where you can find it or buy it directly from Pinterest if possible.

You can filter your search by topic if it will narrow down your options so you can find what you’re looking for. You can also resize and move your selector around the pin if there are other items in the image that you also want to discover. This is a pretty handy tool for pins that have a lot going on, like fashion spreads, house images, even food recipes, etc.

The feature is rolling out to Pinterest users starting today, both for the Android app and the web version. Check if you already have it by going to the Google Play page.

SOURCE: Pinterest