Apple will fix iPhone 6 Plus ‘touch disease,’ for $149

A number of iPhone 6 owners and independent repair techs have been complaining for months about something called “touch disease” killing their phones, and now Apple is responding. The problem’s symptoms have been described as a flickering gray bar across the top of the screen and problems with the touchscreen responsiveness, which continue to get worse until it’s addressed or the phone is unusable. Repair techs like Jessa Jones have reported seeing multiple devices per day afflicted by the same problem, with no end in sight.

Going by Apple’s description of its “Multi-Touch Repair Program for iPhone 6 Plus,” the problem is really the owner’s fault, caused by “being dropped multiple times on a hard surface and then incurring further stress on the device.” Still, if you have the problem and your screen isn’t cracked, Apple says it will fix the issue for $ 149, and its repair program is available for five years after the original sale date.

That’s less than the usual out of warranty repair price of $ 329, but it’s not free, and it does nothing for people who opted to replace their phone instead of fixing it. Some owners have reportedly filed lawsuits against Apple concerning the issue, and it remains to be seen how this will affect their progress. If you’ve already paid to have an iPhone 6 Plus repaired due to the problem, Apple says it will reimburse the difference between that cost and $ 149, if you used its service or an authorized technician.

While some have reported similar problems with the smaller iPhone 6, there’s no indication of a program for owners of that device. In a blog post on iFixit, Jones noted the larger size of the 6 Plus made it more susceptible to the problem, despite reinforcements implemented to resolve the phone’s tendency to bend. The actual problem seems to come from the touch controller chip separating from the phone’s logic board, which is why twisting the device can sometimes fix it for a short time.

Update: iFixit raised the issue months ago, and tonight issued a statement saying that Apple’s program does not go far enough. According to its CEO Kyle Wiens, Apple’s response confirms “the problem is failed solder joints beneath the touch IC components.” But that falls short, he says, because the problem has also been seen on phones that owners claim have never been dropped. In addition, Wiens says an Apple Genius confirmed the company is not repairing the devices at all but simply swapping them out for refurbished phones.

You can read excerpts from his statement below; we’ve contacted Apple for comment and will update this post if there is a response.


Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit:

“Apple’s statement confirms what the independent repair industry has been saying for a long time: the problem is failed solder joints beneath the touch IC components. Apple is correct that dropping the device onto a hard surface could cause this issue. But that’s not the only cause: we have seen this problem on phones that have never been dropped. The underlying problem is insufficient structural support around the logic board.”

“Apple is calling this the “Multi-Touch Repair Program”, but they’re not actually repairing customer’s phones. An Apple Genius confirmed to us that they are swapping customer phones with a refurbished device. The repair service does not transfer your data over to the new device — customers are left on their own to figure out how to backup their important information.

Apple has had chronic issues with Touch Disease on refurbished devices in the past, and this the limited 90-day warranty on this ‘repair’ does not instill confidence that the repaired units will stay fixed.

We appreciate the effort they’re making, but this program doesn’t go nearly far enough. Apple is still charging a lot of money for the device swap. And they’re only replacing iPhone 6 Pluses, even though many iPhone 6 owners have also been affected.

Apple should come clean, admit the manufacturing deficiency, and extend their warranty on this issue to 24 months (the same warranty that iPhones have in Europe) for both the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus. Lawsuits on the matter are still pending.”

Via: 9to5Mac

Source: Apple

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Snapchat’s Spectacles won’t make you look like a Glasshole

You would have thought that after the spectacular failure of Google Glass and the virulent public rejection its users experienced, other companies would be wary of developing and marketing camera glasses. But 2016 has been that kind of year. Earlier this week, Snapchat, they of the wildly popular messaging app, began rolling out its first wearable, Spectacles, through a series of pop-up vending machines. The $ 130 glasses are already a hot commodity, fetching upward of $ 900 on eBay. I managed to get my hands on a pair (don’t ask how) and have some thoughts on the matter.

The Spectacles are sunglasses first and foremost, and they function well in that role. The plastic frames are lightweight with circular lenses and come in a variety of increasingly loud colors: black, aqua and fire-engine red. I personally prefer a nice wayfarer or aviator shape, but the Spectacles still performed an admirable job of shielding my eyes from the sun’s damaging UV rays.

The camera itself is mounted on the tip of the left temple arm, where it meets the eye wire. The camera unit is entirely self-contained and runs on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. And, like Apple’s wireless AirPods, the Spectacle’s case doubles as a charging station that can fully fill a dead battery in about 90 minutes. The camera, while not nearly as powerful as what you’d find on an iPhone 7 or Android Pixel, is good enough for what most people use Snapchat for.

And what they lack in image quality they make up for in ease of use. By not requiring you to have your phone in hand, the Spectacles can be used in a much wider range of situations. Suddenly, all of those action sports shots for which you previously had to break out the GoPro can be done in 10-second increments. Really, any two-handed activity would benefit from using these glasses. Take note, however: The glasses are not waterproof and are also susceptible to temperature extremes, so be sure to leave them back at the ski lodge this winter.

Pairing the Spectacles to the Snapchat app is super-simple. You simply put on the Spectacles, look at your snapcode and tap the “record” button on the glasses. Downloading data from the specs is straightforward, too. Just navigate to the Memories screen, pick the Specs tab from the top bar and select the correct Snap from the list. We’re not sure if there’s an upper limit to how many Snaps you can record on the device before syncing with the app, but we got north of 10.

I noticed that the app routinely failed to properly download video from the glasses to the phone, but usually did so on the second try. It’s a bit of a hassle, but an easily remedied one. Aside from being unable to actively monitor what I’m recording or reframe a shot, using Spectacles wasn’t all that different from using my phone. At least with the Specs, I never had to worry about my thumb covering the lens. Plus, if the worst happens, I’d rather drop a pair of $ 130 novelty camera-glasses than my $ 600 smartphone.

Now, whether I, as a 35-year-old attention-averse adult, would ever be caught dead wearing them in public is an entirely different question. See, I remember the dark days of the Google Glasshole. Even in techtopias like San Francisco, Glass wearers were publicly mocked. One lady was even physically assaulted at a bar in the Lower Haight. Many fine drinking establishments throughout the city still ban them outright. Granted, the Spectacles can capture only 10 seconds of video at a time, but I’d be very hesitant to show up to a place like Molotov’s or the Lucky 13 with these on my face.

Another question is: Where do you actually use them? They’re clearly geared for people who are out and about in the daylight hours (hence the sunglasses the camera’s built into). But what of Snaps taken indoors or at night? The camera is subtle enough that you won’t attract attention, but the bright-ring LED that flickers on to indicate that you’re recording — not to mention that you’re wearing electric-blue sunglasses in a bar at 11PM — is likely enough to draw quizzical looks from other patrons and questions from management.

Overall, though, these are a clever, relatively inexpensive wearable. They’re a tenth of the price of Google Glass, they actually function beyond serving as a way to strap a camera to your face and, depending on your age bracket, they could even be considered stylish. Getting your hands on a pair is going to be a challenge in the immediate future, but for those of us with active Snapchat followings, these Specs will prove invaluable.

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‘Super Mario Run’ arrives on iPhone and iPad December 15th

At the iPhone 7 event, Apple and Nintendo revealed that Mario would make his way to iOS devices this December. Well, today Nintendo revealed the exact date: December 15th. That’s the day Super Mario Run will be available to play on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. The app can be downloaded for free, but you’ll only be able to play parts of the game’s three modes without handing over additional funds. To unlock the full game, you’ll have to pay $ 10.

When the time comes, Super Mario Run will be available in 151 countries (full list here) and 10 languages including English, Japanese, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Russian and traditional Chinese. If you happen to live in one of those locales, you’ll just need to make sure you have a device that runs iOS 8.0 or later in order to leap over obstacles, take on enemies and collect coins in a few weeks.

Don’t worry, Android faithful: Nintendo says you’ll get a chance to play the mobile game as well. Unfortunately, the company hasn’t announced when, just the vague “at some point in the future.”

Source: Nintendo (Business Wire)

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Moto Z Play review: Buy it for the battery life

You should’ve seen this one coming. Of course Motorola wasn’t going to just release two versions of the Moto Z and call it a year. While the first two — the Moto Z and Moto Z Force — had to bear the weight of flagship expectations and justify the lack of a headphone jack, the Moto Z Play merely had to be inexpensive and not terrible. Well, mission accomplished … mostly. At $ 449, the Z Play isn’t the cheapest mid-range phone out there, but it clears the “not terrible” bar with more room than I imagined.

All right, all right, there’s no point in being coy. The Moto Z Play is actually pretty great.

Hardware

Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way: The Moto Z Play looks almost identical to the Moto Z Force, the hardy modular flagship I tested earlier this year. That’s a good thing. From its dimensions to its fingerprint sensor to the signature camera hump around the back, the Moto Z Play looks and feels like a phone that costs almost $ 300 more.

The phone’s familiar design also means the return of certain annoying design quirks, like the fingerprint sensor that looks, but doesn’t act, like a home button. (I can’t complain about that too much, though, since the sensor actually works very well.) Even stranger, the so-called Moto Mods that magnetically connect to the Z Play’s back don’t feel quite as seamless as when they’re connected to other Moto Z’s. That said, most people probably won’t know the difference.

These kinds of missteps are offset by a general feeling of sturdiness, thanks in large part to the phone’s solid metal rim. My colleague Aaron rightfully gave last year’s Moto X Play some grief because Motorola didn’t pay close attention to the fine details. That’s true here too, but the caliber of construction here still elevates this mid-range phone into more premium territory. While devices like the Moto G series always felt a little chintzy compared with the more premium Moto X line, that sort of quality gap doesn’t really exist here. That doesn’t mean you can treat the Z Play as harshly as you could a Z Force, though — there’s no ShatterShield display, and the Play’s back is made not of metal, but of easily scratched glass.

The differences don’t end there. The Z Play packs a 16-megapixel camera and a 5.5-inch Super AMOLED screen running at 1080p; the regular Z and Z Force both feature Quad HD displays. That dip in screen resolution was inevitable given the Z Play’s price, but who cares — this thing has a headphone jack sitting next to its USB Type-C port. Motorola is still convinced that a single socket for power, audio and everything else is the way of the future, and its bet was vindicated when Apple did the same with the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. So what gives? Motorola’s rationale is simple: The design of the Z Play’s logic board had room for the port. The mixed message is a little confusing, but hey: No dongles necessary this time.

You wouldn’t know just by looking at it, but the Moto Z Play sits lower on the performance totem pole than either of the Moto Z’s that came before it. There’s an octacore Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 chipset inside, an Adreno 506 GPU and 3GB of RAM, all of which last for a very long time when paired with the Z Play’s 3,510mAh battery.

Remember: The Moto Z Play is modular (as evidenced by the multi-pin connector on its back), so you could strap on a magnetic battery mod for even more battery life. If only Motorola were as generous with the storage options: There’s 32GB of room on board, and only 24GB is available to you from the get-go. At least the micro-SIM tray has a spot for a microSD card with support for up to 2TB of additional space.

This isn’t my first time taking the Moto Z Play for a spin, but this version is different. It’s a fully unlocked GSM model, ready for action on AT&T and T-Mobile in the United States. If you’re a Verizon customer and don’t see yourself switching anytime soon, there’s also a version of the phone just for you — it’s physically identical but packs all of Big Red’s usual bloatware. (More on that later.)

Display and sound

It used to be that buying anything less than a flagship phone meant you got stuck with a lousy screen. Oh, how times have changed. Case in point: The Moto Z Play packs a 5.5-inch AMOLED panel offering respectable viewing angles and great clarity; I never missed the extra resolution on the Moto Z and Z Force. This screen does seem a little dim compared with the Z and Z Force displays, but you’d be hard-pressed to spot the difference when you’re just sitting around inside. Taking the phones outside is a different story, though: The Z Play’s screen is merely passable under bright sunlight, while the Z and Z Force can dial up the brightness quite a bit further. Guess Motorola had to cut corners somewhere.

I’m also fond of how the Z Play renders colors right out of the box: Sunsets and close-ups of wood seem suitably deep, as do the blues and greens that always pop up in landscape photos. If slightly oversaturated colors aren’t your thing, though, you can change things with a trip to the settings (the phone’s display mode is set to “vivid” by default). Toggling the feature to standard mode results in visuals that, while probably a little more accurate, are a lot less fun.

Speaking of things that aren’t much fun, the sound setup here leaves a lot to be desired. Then again, who didn’t see this coming? Motorola used the same lackluster system in the more premium Moto Z and Z Force, with an earpiece that doubles as the main speaker driver when you crank up the volume. Listening to music on a vanilla Z Play is passable at best -– vocals and mids can sound crisp -– and muddled at worst. I wish the Z Play’s speaker was a little louder too, but considering the sort of quality we’re working with, Motorola might have been doing us a kindness by capping the volume.

Thankfully, we have options. First, you can plug in a pair of headphones –- once more, without a dongle! -– and bypass that speaker entirely. Motorola, meanwhile, would much prefer you use that sweet, sweet Moto Mod connector around the back to magnetically lash a completely new set of speakers onto the phone. JBL’s $ 79 external speaker is the most useful of the multimedia mods available, and while it still focuses on mids and highs, there’s enough heaviness and clarity to its sound that most people I’ve shown it to have enjoyed the experience. You certainly don’t need Moto Mods to use the Z Play, but they are handy.

Software

I’m pleased to report that there isn’t a whole lot to say about the Moto Z Play’s software. Yes, that’s a good thing: It’s fast, familiar and free of the bloatware that comes loaded on the Verizon-branded Z Play. If you’ve used a modern Motorola device, you could probably just leave it at that and move on. If not, well, here’s a little more.

The Motorola that’s endured so much change these past few years still prefers stock Android (in this case, 6.0.1 Marshmallow), leaving us with a software stack that’s largely untouched. That shouldn’t really surprise anyone: Motorola wasn’t going to blaze new software trails on a mid-range version of its flagship device. The look, the app launcher, the underlying functionality — it’s all just Marshmallow.

Motorola’s additions are as subtle as ever, and exist mostly in the form of smart gestures. Waving your hands over the Z Play’s face like a Jedi makes the screen light up, proffering the time and your notifications. Double-twisting your wrist launches the camera, and a relatively new double karate chop fires up the flashlight. (Pro tip: Don’t use your whole arm.)

Relatively new to the mix is a one-handed mode that’s invoked by swiping up from the bottom of the display. Motorola’s implementation isn’t perfect — you can’t resize or move the shrunken window — but it’s really useful if the 5.5-inch screen is a little too big to use with one hand. Perhaps the biggest issue with the feature is that it can be too easy to activate accidentally, which probably explains why it’s not on by default: You’ll have to dive into the included Moto app to enable it. Then there are Motorola’s voice commands, which have steadily gotten more precise since they debuted on the original Moto X three years ago. They’re nice enough to have and work as well as they always did — just don’t expect the same sort of conversational fluidity you’d get from something like the new Google Assistant.

And that’s really it. As a brief aside, this is the first time I’ve used an unlocked version of the Moto Z, and I can’t stress how much nicer it feels to use without all that carrier-mandated bloatware. Android device manufacturers now realize that cleanliness, while not that close to godliness, is a virtue worth exploring when it comes to interfaces. To date, few phone makers match Motorola in its devotion to pure Android, and I’ll keep doling out the kudos as long as the company keeps at it.

Camera

The Moto Z Play’s main camera is a mixed bag, but not for the reasons you’d expect. In terms of pure resolution, the 16-megapixel sensor here sits somewhere between the Moto Z’s 13-megapixel camera and the Z Force’s much better 21-megapixel shooter. Not bad, right? Well, hold on: The Z Play camera works with an f/2.0 aperture, as compared with the f/1.8 apertures used by both of its predecessors. In other words, the Z Play is technically capable of capturing a little more photographic nuance than the bog-standard Moto Z, but lags behind it when it comes to low-light performance. The Z Play’s camera also lacks optical image stabilization, making it slightly more susceptible to blurry edges and obscured faces, especially when it’s dark.

So yes, your poorly lit bar photos won’t turn out great. Even so, the Z Play doesn’t completely drop the ball, and — perhaps more important — it’s capable of producing some really attractive shots when the lights come back up. Colors seem accurately represented (though you might sometimes see whites turn a little blue), and there was often plenty of detail to gawk at. The very act of snapping photos is quick too, with basically zero lag before taking a new shot.

I’ve tested plenty of faster, all-around better smartphone cameras this year, but the Moto Z Play’s is nonetheless remarkable in two ways. First, it’s a little more than half the price of those photographically superior phones. More important, the gap between the camera in this mid-range phone and the cameras in the flagship Moto Z’s can be surprisingly small. The Moto Z Force’s more advanced setup has the clear edge, but under the right conditions it’s easy to get similar results out of all three Z phones.

Meanwhile, the 5-megapixel front-facing camera is perfectly adequate, packing a wide-angle lens for squeezing more friends into selfies, and video footage came out clean, if a little unremarkable. All told, Motorola has a potent little photographic package here, though sticklers for premium quality will want to look elsewhere. And hey, if the camera really doesn’t do it for you, Motorola sure would love if you went out and bought one of those $ 250 Hasselblad camera mods — it’ll replace that default shooter with a 12-megapixel sensor developed in part by people known for their crazy-expensive cameras.

Performance and battery life

All right, quick recap: The Moto Z Play has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 chipset, 3GB of RAM and an Adreno 506 GPU ticking away inside it. I can already tell some people’s eyes are glazing over because that chipset’s model number doesn’t start with an “8,” but I’m here to tell you the 625 is a capable little slab of silicon. When it comes to thumbing through open apps, swiping through menus and the rest of the day-to-day actions one doesn’t pay that much attention to, the Z Play moves like a flagship phone: quickly and with a minimum of fuss.

For people who ultimately don’t ask much of their smartphones, the Moto Z Play has more than enough power to keep everything moving at a more than reasonable pace. Things can change pretty quickly when you fire up some graphically intensive games, though. That’s when the occasional sluggishness can set in. Again, that’s not a shocker or anything: Mid-range phones are getting better all the time, but most of the not-quite-high-end phones we’ve played with this year act the same way.

Moto Z Play Moto Z (Droid Edition) OnePlus 3 Moto G4 Plus
AndEBench Pro 8,347 16,678 13,841 16,159
Vellamo 3.0 3,314 5,613 5,202 2,819
3DMark IS Unlimited 13,514 29,117 30,058 9,851
GFXBench 3.0 1080p Manhattan Offscreen (fps) 9.8 49 48 6.6
CF-Bench 94,061 45,803 41,653 60,998
SunSpider 1.0.2: Android devices tested in Chrome; lower scores are better.

There is, however, one big upside to this merely average performance: The Moto Z Play’s battery life is absolutely killer. Motorola claims that the phone can run for up to 50 hours on a single charge, and I’ll be damned if that wasn’t my experience over two weeks of testing. Consider my usual workflow: There’s a lot of Slack messages and emails flying around, not to mention a spot of gaming and some podcasts here and there. On typical days the Moto Z Play would stick around for about 45 full hours before needing a recharge.

That’s not two workdays, but nearly two full rotations of the earth. Hell, with Wi-Fi on and connected, I saw the Z Play creep just a little past the advertised 50 hours over a quiet weekend. Obviously, those figures would tank if I spent more than a little time playing Hearthstone or bingeing on YouTube videos, but there’s a certain sort of liberation to be found when you don’t have to constantly fret about your phone living or dying.

The competition

You probably don’t need me to tell you this, but you can get a lot of phone for not much money. The Moto Z Play is a remarkably polished package for $ 449, but don’t forget to check out these other options too.

The upstarts behind the OnePlus 3 should be proud: They’ve built a flagship-level device that costs only $ 399. As such, it’s perhaps the best alternate for a device like the Moto Z Play — it packs an incredibly fast Snapdragon 820 chipset, a superior camera and a barely modified version of Android into a sleek metal body. And if you’re on the hunt for even better value, you might want to consider Motorola’s Moto G4 Plus. It’s not as handsome or as long-lasting as the Z Play, but it costs a full $ 200 less and provides ample power for people who don’t need a full-on flagship.

Ah, but the Z Play has an edge … or least, it’ll appear that way to some people. The Moto Z Play works (and works well) with the full range of Motorola’s Moto Mods, so the functionality you get out of the box is far from the functionality you’ll have in six months, or a year. If this appeals to you, know that there’s very little else out there that can satisfy this modular itch. LG’s G5 was the first major flagship phone that leaned into the idea of a modular body, and it certainly deserves props for its chutzpah. While its ecosystem of “Friendly” accessories is broader than what the Moto Z’s have access to, these add-ons are undeniably less elegant. The extra horsepower afforded by the Snapdragon 820 chipset is nice, but Motorola’s approach to modular design is by far the best.

Wrap-up

It can be hard to get worked up about devices that don’t aspire to be the greatest thing you’ll ever slide into a pocket, but even so: The Moto Z Play won me over. Its occasional lack of horsepower can be frustrating (especially if you’re into gaming), but Motorola deserves credit for building a phone that feels like so much more than the sum of its parts. It’s not perfect, it’s not waterproof and it’s not flashy. What it is, however, is “there for you” because of its tremendous battery life. Between that and the flexibility afforded by a slew of Moto Mods, we have a smartphone that almost redefines what it means to be mid-range.

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The Public Access Weekly: Everybody knows

This week, in lieu of an opening paragraph we have some warm and fuzzy GIFs:

And now, as promised last week, on to the Public Access stats from last month!

  • 455 posts went live on Public Access in October — That handily beats Septembers numbers (326) and is more than double August’s tally (217). It also sets a new record for the most Public Access posts ever for the sixth month running! Y’all are literally knocking it out of the park here.
  • 132 total Public Access members wrote and published stories, including 54 new members. Welcome to all those new members!
  • The Public Access member with the most posts published in October is Jagadeesh Dk with a total of 19 articles published. Second place is a tie between Lisa Rachel and Dimitar Najdenov who each published 17; Karthik Krishnan rounds up third with 15 posts published.

The top 10 most read Public Access posts for August (not counting the Public Access Weekly posts) were:

  1. Why Startups Are More Efficient at Product Development than Large Corporations by Karthik Krishnan
  2. Since 2012, The Netflix Library Has Been Cut in Half by Rob Toledo
  3. Where does Samsung go from here? by Matt Porter
  4. Teaching Computers to Understand Language by Karthik Krishnan
  5. Why Kindle 5 is Still My Favorite Gadget by Victor Iryniuk
  6. 3 Companies Using Technology to Disrupt the Music Industry by Brian Horvath
  7. Nokia says it can deliver internet 2,000 times faster than Verizon Fios by Chris Brantner
  8. Chinese company threatens to fire anyone who buys iPhone 7 by Andre Smith
  9. The Role of Social Media in Government by Jeff Klein
  10. Why Boeing will beat Elon Musk in the Race to Mars by Lindsey Patterson

That’s the good news. The bad news is I also had to remove roughly 45 articles, ban four members and change 6 members author status for violating our posted rules and guidelines. So if you are a Public Access member, go here to read the rules. Learn them, love them, live them because we are enforcing them.

Looking for something to read? Check out:

Joshua Thompson’s first article for Public Access examines the connection between Apple’s recently announced MacBook Touch Bar and ideas that were kicked around Microsoft’s applied sciences division years ago.

Another first-time poster, Oliver McAteer, ponders whether or not Amazon’s attempt to handle its problems with extremely shady reviews will prove to be a successful fix by highlighting services that claim to identify fake reviews, discussing the role that incentivized reviews play in the service and the steps the company has taken so far.

If you still haven’t changed your Yahoo password, reading Troy Lambert’s article on data breaches and corporate responsibility may motivate you to do so — Lambert discusses a few high profile 2016 cyber attacks, the resulting fall out for consumers and corporations alike and what consumers have a right to expect when it comes to their online data.

Looking for something to write about? Mull over:

This was obviously a big week in United States politics, with Mark Zuckerberg taking the time to chime in about the role Facebook may (or may not) have had on influencing the election. Do you think social media sites like Facebook played a role in this years political processes? If so, how? And, bonus question, is that a good thing or not?

Sean Buckley reviews the NES Classic Edition, making me nostalgic for the days when I would spend hours racing through Super Mario levels. Buckley says the throw-back console encompasses both the best and worst of retro gaming — his qualms largely center around unnecessarily short controller cables. If you’re a retro gaming fan, tell us what your favorite video game nostalgia trip is: Galaga? Double Dragon? Oregon Trail? Alternatively, weigh in on whether or not retro gaming love is ruining the industry.

Aaron Souppouris calls RunGunJumpGun a “damn-near perfect mobile game” with intelligent level design. What makes a ‘perfect’ mobile game? Which mobile game have you been really impressed by (or addicted to), and why?
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Microsoft’s iOS app augments hues for color-blind folks

Color Binoculars landed on the App Store today, promising to infuse the real world with color for anyone with the three most common forms of color blindness. This isn’t the first app designed to help color-blind folks see a broader spectrum of colors, but it comes from two Microsoft software engineers (one of whom is color blind), and its straightforward filter method is simple to use.

The app uses the iPhone camera to adjust colors in a way that makes them easier to distinguish for color-blind people. The enhanced image shows up on the iPhone screen, allowing users to pick out flowers, choose matching outfits or take in the beauty of fall, for example.

Tom Overton and Tingting Zhu started working on Color Binoculars during Microsoft’s 2015 Hackathon and they finished it in the company’s Garage program, which helps experimental apps go public. Overton is color blind, so he was both a developer and the app’s main tester.

Tom Overton and Tingting Zhu (Image credit: Scott Eklund / Red Box Pictures)

“It’s an app that helps color blind people distinguish color combinations that they would normally have trouble telling apart,” Overton tells the Microsoft blog. “For example, since I have difficulty distinguishing between red and green, our app makes reds brighter and greens darker so that the difference is more obvious. It replaces difficult color combinations, like red and green, with more easily distinguishable combinations, like pink and green.”

Source: Microsoft

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Google’s defense against anti-trust claims: ‘we’re open’

Google has a response for the European Commission’s anti-trust allegations. In a lengthy blog post, the tech juggernaut addressed the EC’s concerns point by point. That starts with the EC’s stance that Android isn’t in competition with Apple’s iOS mobile operating system, and Google citing the Commission’s own research that 89 percent of survey respondents feel that the two are competitors. That last bit is a recurring theme, with Google pointing toward the survey responses for the EC’s stance on Android’s “stable and consistent framework” across devices as well.

In perhaps the most poignant response, Google made a GIF that illustrates how many apps are typically pre-installed/bundled on Android devices versus the competition — something the EC directly called out. By Mountain View’s count, of the Samsung Galaxy S7 with Android 6.0.1’s 38 pre-installed apps, only 11 were from Google. Contrast that with 39 out of 47 on the Lumia 550 from Microsoft and 39 out of 39 from Apple on the iPhone 7 running iOS 10.0.2.

“Android hasn’t hurt competition, it’s expanded it,” Google’s Senior Vice President and General Counsel Kent Walker said in a statement. “Android is the most flexibe mobile platform out there, balancing the needs of thousands of manufacturers and operators, millions of app developers and more than a billion consumers.

“Upsetting this balance would raise prices and hamper innovation, choice and competition. That wouldn’t just be a bad outcome for us. It would be a bad outcome for the entire ecosystem, and — most critically — for consumers.”

And with that, the battle moves onward. Maybe the EC’s stance won’t leak ahead of the next round. Maybe.

Source: Google

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You can now tell Siri to send money via PayPal

Siri is still very much a walled garden, but Apple has slowly begun opening its voice assistant to third parties. At its WWDC keynote back in June, the company confirmed app makers could let iPhone and iPad users send and receive money via Siri, with Square Cash and Monzo becoming the first to tap into that functionality. Now, bigger players are tapping into hands-free money transfers, after PayPal announced it too now lets users in over 30 countries send and request money via using only their voice.

Sending and receiving is very easy, but you’ll first need to link Siri with your PayPal account. This involves granting PayPal access to your Contacts and confirming via two-factor authentication (a code sent via text message) that you are who you say you are. Once that’s done, you can simply say “Send Alice $ 20 using PayPal” and Siri will display a card summarizing the details of your request before asking you to confirm or cancel the transfer. The device must be unlocked first, so friends won’t be able to steal your phone and send themselves money.

The feature is now live in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, UK, United Arab Emirates and the United States. It supports a variety of languages and recognizes your friends’ accounts by either their email address or phone number.

Source: PayPal Blog

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Even breastfeeding is getting quantified thanks to Momsense

The health benefits of breastfeeding are well-known, yet for various reasons, many new mothers quit after a few months. Maybe they don’t have the time, they find it uncomfortable or they believe that the baby just isn’t getting enough milk. A new product called Momsense is taking aim at this last problem with a product and app that can keep track of how much a baby is actually drinking, hopefully putting mom’s worries at ease.

We live in an age of smart baby cribs, scales and onesies so it seems only natural that something like breastfeeding would be next. Newborns can nurse eight to twelve times a day, meaning there’s a lot of data for moms to keep track of. So why not delegate it to an app? And, rather than ask moms to guess how much the baby drank (which is what traditional pen-and-paper methods demand), the Momsense’s small sensor handles that task.

The Momsense attaches to the baby, not the mom: It’s a small circle that the mother places under the child’s ear, along their jawline. The Momsense functions similar to a stethoscope, listening to the sound of the baby’s swallows to determine how much the baby is drinking. It’s also smart enough to tell the difference between a real swallow and random gurgles or half gulps. Mom can also listen in thanks to the attached headphones, so she’s not ceding all responsibility to the app — she can still take action if something’s wrong, or she may just feel reassured having all that sensory data available.

I don’t have children, so the sounds in the demo I checked out were a little too visceral for me, but I can see how they might benefit a new mom. By making breastfeeding more immersive, the Momsense monitor might help mothers bond with their offspring even more.

What lifts the Momsense beyond just an ordinary stethoscope is the app that keeps track of all this data being generated. Unlike most health-tracking apps, Momsense isn’t built around a particular goal. Even though it keeps track of feeding time and quantity, it doesn’t say “your baby needs this much milk” or “your baby should feed for this long.” Every baby is different, and adding any kind of metric just puts unnecessary pressure on the mother.

To that point, the app doesn’t present its data like a fitness app would. Fitness apps tend to focus on bar or line graphs a lot, which lets a person easily compare progress over a given period of time. Momsense eschews comparisons by displaying each day as a circle with each feeding as a small bubble that sort of “orbits” around it like a moon around a planet. The larger the bubble, the more consumed during each feeding, and you can click on it to see more details like time spent and a breakdown by individual breast.

The Momsense connects to phones via a traditional headphone jack (sorry iPhone 7 users), so it’s easy enough to just get started and never have to worry about the signal dropping out. When a mom starts a session the Momsense app displays a weird design of interlocking circles that pulses in time with the baby’s swallows. The design feels reminiscent of mammary glands and I personally found it a bit unsettling, but mothers using it will probably be more focused on their babies anyway.

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Right now the app can only handle one baby at a time, so mothers taking care of multiple children will have to rely on workarounds like using alternate mobile devices for different babies or reserving their left or right breast for a particular child. Regardless of how many children they have, they’ll only need one Momsense, which can work with any Android or iOS device. Momsense is available at the company’s website for $ 89, or via stores like Target, Babies”R”Us and Bed, Bath and Beyond, which happen to have baby registries — great for expectant mothers who’d like to give this “quantified parenting” thing a try.


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Apple starts selling refurb iPhones through its online store

If you’ve ever wanted to buy an iPhone straight from Apple but thought that brand new unlocked models were out of your reach, you’re in luck. Apple has started selling refurbished iPhones in its US online store, with hefty discounts depending on what you want to buy. An unlocked 16GB iPhone 6s is selling for $ 449, or $ 80 off the usual price; splurge on a 64GB iPhone 6s Plus and you’ll shell out $ 589, or $ 110 less than usual. The iPhone SE and iPhone 7 are absent, but that’s not surprising given that owners have only had them for several months at best.

This won’t be as big a bargain as you’d get by purchasing an iPhone through a used goods site, an auction or a friend. However, you’ll get both a year-long warranty and the knowledge that there won’t be any rude surprises when you open the box. In short: if the thought of shopping on eBay or Swappa makes you nervous, this is your best bet.

Via: MacRumors

Source: Apple

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