OnePlus 3T review: A satisfying update to a fairly new phone

Remember the OnePlus 3? It came out barely six months ago and was the best phone you could get for $ 400. Well, it’s about to be replaced by a faster, slightly more expensive version of itself that the company is calling the OnePlus 3T. (The T doesn’t stand for anything; it’s a cheeky take on the typical “S” suffix denoting many flagship sequels.) The new $ 439 device uses the latest Snapdragon 821 processor to achieve even faster speeds, and packs a beefier battery and sharper front camera — improvements in areas where the original sort of fell short. I say “sort of” because other than battery life, the OnePlus 3 didn’t need much improving. But OnePlus made it better anyway, and now it’s one of the best phones on the market, especially at this price.

Hardware

There isn’t much of a difference, at least externally, between the OnePlus 3T and its predecessor. Indeed, a lot of what I’m going to describe here was covered in greater detail in our review of the original. The most obvious physical change is the new “gunmetal” color, which is a slightly darker shade of gray-silver than the OnePlus 3. A “soft gold” option is also available, just like with the original.

Color aside, the 3T looks exactly the same as its predecessor, which itself is impressive, given that it has a larger battery. It sports the same 5.5-inch full HD Optic AMOLED display, which was sharp and bright enough to watch videos on indoors and outdoors. It also has the same single speaker at the bottom that was loud enough to fill my living room with sound, although it got tinny at top volume.

You’ll find the same fingerprint sensor, USB-C charging port and physical mute switch here as on the OnePlus 3. Just like the previous version, the OnePlus 3T has a dual nano SIM card slot, but no room for a microSD reader. Those who want more storage will have to opt for a new 128GB option, which costs $ 479. Neither phone meets widely accepted water-resistance standards, though the company says the handsets will survive wet weather. It didn’t rain during my review period, so I unfortunately wasn’t able to test that claim.

Software

You probably won’t notice many differences between the OnePlus 3’s version of OxygenOS and its successor’s; the changes here are very subtle. The company resized its app icons so they’re consistent across the home, all apps and Shelf pages, and added some new gestures, such as three-finger screenshots and flip-to-mute, to make the phone more convenient to use.

The OnePlus 3T also gets new apps for weather and voice recording, and allows you to lock specific apps with your fingerprint. It also features a quick-settings panel that’s more similar to what you’ll find on Android Nougat. The changes here aren’t major, but they do make getting around the system slightly easier.

Cameras

I don’t generally need an excuse to go on a selfie-taking binge, but I did appreciate having “testing the OnePlus 3T’s 16-megapixel front camera” as a reason to do so. The new setup is much sharper than the one on the OnePlus 3, which the company says makes for better low-light performance.

This was indeed true when I casually snapped dozens of portraits while traipsing around Manhattan one night, and the camera delivered several crisp images, despite all the motion. Not only were they sharp, but the pictures were also bright and relatively noise-free. I had to take a picture in a dark, poorly lit warehouse before I started to see any graininess. The one thing I wish the OnePlus 3T’s front camera had was some form of flash, for taking clear shots in near-darkness.

Just because they have the same megapixel count, though, doesn’t mean that the front and rear cameras are the same. They differ quite vastly on color quality, thanks to their different sensors and pixel size. The same scenes shot with the front camera looked washed-out and pale compared with those taken with the rear camera, which generally captured vibrant, richly colored images. OnePlus 3T also added a layer of sapphire glass to the back camera to protect it from scratches that could forever mar your shots.

As we mentioned in our review of the OnePlus 3, the rear camera is capable in most lighting conditions, but won’t impress the way the iPhone 7 Plus or many other smartphone cameras would. It delivered sharp, accurately colored exterior shots on sunny days, and rendered a respectable amount of detail in low light, but images looked flat indoors. Still, it’s perfectly adequate, and that front camera will please selfie fans like myself.

Performance and battery life

Most flagship phones released this year use the Snapdragon 820 processor, rather than the newer 821 chip that Qualcomm started offering later in the year. So, only the Google Pixel and LeEco Le Pro3 have it, which makes the OnePlus 3 slightly less competitive on specs (the LePro 3 costs the same as the OnePlus 3). I imagine this is one of the biggest reasons OnePlus decided to drop a new flagship so soon after unveiling its previous one, but still, it’s a smart move.

OnePlus 3T OnePlus 3 LeEco Le Pro3 Google Pixel
AndEBench Pro 14,399 13,841 13,354 14,941
Vellamo 3.0 6,144 5,202 6,559 5,343
3DMark IS Unlimited 31,691 30,058 31,753 28,645
GFXBench 3.0 1080p Manhattan Offscreen (fps) 50 48 30 46
CF-Bench 51,262 41,653 42,572 30,997

The Snapdragon 821 processor makes the OnePlus 3T faster than the original, which was already pretty speedy. It’s hard to tell the difference in day-to-day performance, because I’m not a robot and can’t detect minute differences in app-launch times, but overall the 3T was very responsive. Its Vellamo score of 6,144 beat the OnePlus 3, the Samsung Galaxy S7, the HTC 10 and the Google Pixel and Pixel XL, while its AndEBench result trumped the OnePlus 3 and the Galaxy S7 but fell short of the Pixel phones and HTC 10. The OnePlus 3T also bested the field in graphics-performance tests.

This means you’re mostly going to see similar speeds across these phones. Considering the Pixels use the same chip (albeit with less RAM) but cost hundreds of dollars more, the OnePlus 3T really delivers on value here.

The OnePlus 3T has the same 6GB of RAM as the original, which makes for swift multitasking. OnePlus says it also improved the launch speed for large apps and games, so you won’t have to wait quite as long to open these programs. I also found call quality to be perfectly adequate. I called a friend who was in Queens (on T-Mobile’s network), and he was able to accurately repeat a string of numbers that I recited, despite his dog barking in the background, which I heard as well. Unfortunately, as with previous OnePlus handsets, the 3T works only on GSM carriers such as AT&T and T-Mobile.

One area where the company says it received the most negative feedback about the OnePlus 3 was battery life. In addition to simply bumping up the battery capacity to 3,400mAh from 3,000mAh, OnePlus tuned the power efficiency of the CPU so that despite its faster speed, it sips power at the same rate as the previous handset.

I was expecting a slight increment on endurance and wasn’t quite prepared for the 3T’s epic stamina. It lasted 16 hours and seven minutes on Engadget’s battery test, which involves looping an HD video with the screen set to 50 percent brightness until the device conks out. That’s almost six hours more than the OnePlus 3’s runtime, and two hours longer than the Google Pixel XL, which has a 3,450mAh bank.

When the phone does eventually run out of juice, it charges back up to offer what the company says is a day’s worth of power in 30 minutes. After the OnePlus 3T finally died on Engadget’s battery test, I plugged it in and was able to take it on a quick video shoot just 15 minutes after, because it already got back up to 20 percent in that time. Not only is this fast, but that’s enough juice to last at least two hours.

The competition

The OnePlus 3T faces direct competition from the LeEco Le Pro3, which uses the same processor with less RAM for $ 400. But the Le Pro3 suffers from unintuitive software, has a less vibrant display and doesn’t last as long as the 3T.

Google’s Pixel phones also use the same processors, offering similar (if not better) performance in a premium frame. These handsets have better cameras and run the latest version of Android (7.0 Nougat), offering a cleaner interface and helpful new features like Google Assistant. But the Pixel lineup starts at $ 800, which is nearly twice the OnePlus 3T’s asking price. Indeed, the latest OnePlus handset is probably the best handset you’re going to find for around $ 440.

Wrap-up

The OnePlus 3T improves things about the original that were slightly lacking, such as battery life, and amps up on performance and software, making it a strong option for power users. I particularly love the sharper front camera for its solid performance in low light. I’d also argue that the boost in endurance alone is worth the $ 39 price hike, but the previous iteration offered enough stamina for the average user who may not want to shell out for a few extra hours of juice. As a replacement for an existing flagship, the OnePlus 3T is a refinement that not only feels timely, but also well-planned and executed. You’d have a hard time finding a better phone for the price.

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LG V20 review: Great for audiophiles, but who else?

After the unabashed wackiness of its G5, LG had a real conundrum on its hands: Does it keep up the modular streak for its 2016 V-series flagship phone and risk lousy sales, or try something a little more traditional? As it turns out, LG chose the latter and built a more conventional kind of powerhouse: the V20. None of that means the phone is boring, though. Between its stellar audio, a neat dual-camera setup and a second screen, there’s theoretically enough charming weirdness here to help the V20 stick out from the competition. The bigger question is whether all those disparate bits come together to form a compelling whole. As is often the case, the answer depends where your priorities lie.

Hardware

LG V20 Review

It’s funny how little the V20 ($ 672+) looks like its predecessor. Last year’s V10 all but shoved its rugged design in your face, with its rubbery DuraSkin rear and a pair of stainless steel bars flanking its display. The design looked better in person than I thought it would, but it definitely wasn’t for everyone. The V20, meanwhile, is more subdued in its style, even though it’s rated to handle 4-foot drops, just like the V10.

Now, don’t go confusing “subdued” with “attractive” — the V20’s aesthetic is best described as utilitarian, and I’d be surprised if anyone felt the blow-to-the-gut pang of attraction that sometimes comes with seeing finely crafted gear. In fact, when I first laid eyes on the V20, I couldn’t help but point out visual similarities between it and the BlackBerry Z10 — not exactly a comparison LG should be proud of. Regardless, the V20 is plenty sturdy: It’s made of 6013-series aluminum capped on the top and bottom with a tough polycarbonate to help it deal with drops.

It’s also huge. The 5.7-inch Quantum LCD display is a handful as it is, but the V20 also has a tiny secondary display above the main screen. For the sake of comparison, the V20 is just a hair longer and thicker than the iPhone 7 Plus, which is itself a whopper of a smartphone. Both of these phones also coincidentally share a dual-camera setup (which I’ll dive into later), but the V20 is noticeably lighter. It’s too bad that the V20 isn’t water-resistant like some of its rivals, but the trade-off might be worth it to some people. You see, LG is one of the few flagship smartphone makers who still let users remove their batteries. To that end, there’s a button low on the phone’s left side that pops off the V20’s metal battery cover, revealing a 3,200mAh battery and a combination SIM/microSD slot. The phone takes memory cards as large as 2TB, by the way, though the 64GB of included storage will probably be enough for most.

Sitting directly above is the standard rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, which is among the fastest I’ve used on a smartphone. Many people seem to appreciate its placement on the back of the phone, and I’m slowly becoming one of them. Sure, it would be nice to be able to unlock the V20 with a touch while it’s sitting face-up on a table, but I like that the sensor is in the perfect spot for my finger to rest on it when I pull the V20 out of my pocket.

Displays and sound

As mentioned earlier, the main screen is a big ol’ 5.7-inch IPS LCD running at Quad HD, and it’s noticeably brighter than the panel on the G5. As a result, legibility and color reproduction are also better under direct sunlight than on the G5 or the V10, though I’d be shocked if they weren’t. Speaking of colors, they’re rendered well across the board and look surprisingly natural, thanks to LG’s Quantum display tech. When LG first embraced quantum displays in the G4, it claimed it offered a more accurate take on colors. That may be true, but the V20’s screen might not be for everyone right out of the box; it’s quite cool, so there’s a tendency for whites to look a little blue. You don’t get the visceral vividness and deep darks that come with AMOLED screens, but hey — it’s ultimately a matter of personal preference.

More important, the secondary display is back. To be clear: It’s not actually a separate screen — just an extra bit that juts out from the top of the main panel. In theory, the 1040×160 overflow area is a neat idea: It acts as a dedicated zone for the time and notifications when the main display is off, and offers shortcuts to apps and actions when the main display is on. I have a few issues with LG’s multiscreen implementation, but let’s just get the big one out of the way first: As with the V10 and even Samsung’s Edge line, very little about this second display is essential.

Most of the shortcuts — like toggling WiFi and Bluetooth and grabbing a screenshot to mark up — exist in the Quick Settings tray above the notifications shade anyway, so you’re rarely saving time. Ditto for app shortcuts: I’ve found it much easier to leave my most used apps on the bottom row of a home screen rather than scoot up my hand (or use my other one) to tap on an app icon in the overflow area. Still, it’s not like the second display is without merit entirely. The best part is having a set of music controls available while the phone is locked. Your mileage may vary, but I’d have given up on the second screen completely were it not for that.

So yeah, the second screen is of dubious value. The V20’s audio performance more than makes up for it, though: The phone is kitted out with a Quad DAC and support for 24-bit high-resolution audio. I’ve been a little dismissive of this stuff in the past, but the V20 has helped me turn a corner. With the DAC enabled and headphones plugged in, your audio will automatically sound at least a little richer and fuller. The differences can be harder to suss out with certain songs — particularly ones you stream — but the changes stemming from the DAC are almost universally welcome. LG’s choice of DAC also means the V20 supports 32-bit audio and lossless formats like FLAC, if that’s something you’re down with, though it goes without saying that the V20’s single speaker won’t come close to doing them justice.

Chances are you won’t see them, but the V20 also plays host to a trio of microphones for high-quality audio recording. They’re technically what are called acoustic overload point microphones, and I’ll spare you the drawn-out explanation — just know they’re designed to keep distortion to a minimum in very loud situations. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how crisp and clean the resulting records have been, and while these microphones would really shine at concerts and right next to musicians, they’ve also been great for recording interviews and conversations for work.

Software

LG pulled off a neat coup with the V20: It’s the first smartphone that shipped with Android 7.0 Nougat preloaded. Google made that victory a hollow one when it launched the Pixel and Pixel XL with Android 7.1, but whatever: Nougat is still surprisingly hard to come by, and I’ll take it where I can get it. (You can check out our full Android 7.0 review here, by the way.) All of the new little — and not so little — Nougat tricks are here and ready to play with. Even LG left some facets of Nougat almost completely untouched, like the notifications shade and the quick-settings panel above it. Nicely done.

That said, not every Nougat feature works as Google intended. Android 7.0 lets you play with the display size, for instance, allowing you to adjust the size of text and app icons. When left untouched, Nougat gives you five display options to help you find the perfect size, but LG’s implementation gives you only three. Fine, that’s probably not the biggest deal, but it’s a sign that Google’s word still isn’t gospel for OEMs. At least the horsepower on display here makes the V20 an efficient multitasker; not every app works with Google’s new multiwindow mode, but the ones that do run smoothly.

Of course, Nougat is only part of the equation — LG painted over it with an updated version of its custom interface, called LG UX 5.0+. For the most part, it’s a rehash of the interface on the G5, but there’s at least one big change to keep your eyes peeled for. By default, the V20 doesn’t have a traditional app drawer; all of your stuff gets splashed across your home screens by default. Seeing a flagship Android smartphone ship in the US without an app drawer is a little unusual because these setups are more popular in Asia, but it’s easy enough to revive the launcher if you miss it.

The rest of LG’s custom skin is as bright and inoffensive as always. I do wish LG would pare back its paint job to let stock Android shine through, especially since there’s a tendency for some of the company’s first-party apps to feel clunky. It doesn’t help that my review unit is a Verizon model, which means it’s loaded with bloatware I couldn’t wait to uninstall or disable. At least Verizon was kind enough to shove most of its apps in a folder for easy decimation.

The cameras

Remember the G5’s fascinating dual-camera setup? The one that was eventually overshadowed by the iPhone 7 Plus even though they aspired to the exact same thing? Well, LG tweaked the formula for the V20, swapping in different sensors. All told, the 16-megapixel main sensor and 8-megapixel wide-angle camera next to it are fun to use in tandem, even if the resulting photos aren’t as good as what competing devices are capable of.

Most of the time, you’ll be using that 16-megapixel camera with its f/1.8 aperture and optical image stabilization and more often than not you’ll get photos that look pretty good. Other phones do better with color representation and detail — here’s looking at you, Galaxy S7 and Google Pixel — but the V20 puts up a decent fight. The larger problem here is one of consistency. When shooting in Auto mode — which many people will be doing — the V20 often gets the exposure a little wrong or gets a little too ambitious when it tries to automatically reduce noise. Low-light performance is decent too, but not even a wide aperture, image-stabilization and multiple autofocus methods can prevent grain and ghosting.

The smaller, 8-megapixel sensor has to grapple with these issues too, plus the barrel distortion that becomes prominent when you’re shooting from a distance. It also would’ve been nice if LG tightened up the transition between the cameras when you’re zooming in and out on a subject. There’s still about a one-second pause while the phone makes the switch, which could make the difference between nabbing the shot you wanted and missing it completely.

As far as off-the-cuff shooting goes, the V20 could be much, much better. Ironically, the manual-shooting mode LG included might be my favorite on any smartphone. Familiar settings like ISO, shutter speed, white balance and more can be found at the bottom of the screen, but they’re joined by a tremendously helpful manual focus mode that highlights parts of the image when they’re nice and crisp.

The tragically vain will be glad to know that the 5-megapixel front-facing camera is perfectly adequate, and offers a wide enough field of view that squeezing a few friends into the shot should be no trouble. While we’re talking about the perfectly adequate, shooting video with the V20, even in 4K, yielded footage that was pleasant enough. If only LG were better at playing the expectations game. The company spent a decent chunk of its V20 launch event talking about how awesome Qualcomm’s built-in video-image stabilization is. And while it’s certainly helpful, it’s hardly the miracle-worker I was hoping for.

Performance and battery life

For all the V20’s quirks, the stuff under the hood is very familiar. Like the G5 before it, the V20 packs a quad-core Snapdragon 820 chipset paired with 4GB of RAM and an Adreno 530 GPU. It would’ve been nice to see LG give the V20 another edge in the form of the newer Snapdragon 821 chip, but alas, we probably got a little screwed by the intricacies of supply-chain management. Either way, we’re still working with a phone that keeps pace with the best of ’em; the slowdowns I experienced were thankfully rare, even when running graphically intense games.

Google Pixel Google Pixel XL Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge LG V20
AndEBench Pro 14,941 16,164 13,030 13,172
Vellamo 3.0 5,343 5,800 4,152 5,266
3DMark IS Unlimited 28,645 29,360 26,666 27,968
GFXBench 3.0 1080p Manhattan Offscreen (fps) 46 48 47 39
CF-Bench 30,997 39,918 46,290 32719

That’s great, but horsepower doesn’t count for much without a good battery to back it up. Alas, the 3,200mAh cell here fails to impress. Sure, it’s more capacious than the one that shipped with the G5 earlier this year, but that doesn’t mean the V20 lasts any longer on a charge. In my nearly two weeks of testing, the V20 typically powered through 12-hour workdays full of Slack messages, emails, podcasts and the occasional Hearthstone match, and came out on the other side with about 10 percent charge remaining. For those keeping count, that’s almost exactly the same usage I squeezed out of the G5 and its smaller battery.

Now, 12 hours of continued, mixed usage on a single charge isn’t bad, and Qualcomm’s QuickCharge 3.0 tech means topping up the V20’s battery takes very little time. And if that’s not fast enough, you could always carry around a spare battery and just swap it in as needed. Even so, there’s no denying that devices like the Pixel siblings and Samsung’s Galaxy series tend to last longer with their sealed batteries.

That was also true in our video rundown test, where we loop an HD video with screen brightness set to 50 percent while connected to WiFi. The V20 stuck around for 11 hours and 10 minutes — that’s a bit better than the 10.5 hours I got on the G5, but hours behind devices like the Galaxy S7 and Google’s Pixel phones.

The competition

I’ve been making not-so-veiled references to Samsung’s current line of Galaxy phones and Google’s Pixel family, and for good reason. If you’re looking for a new flagship and the V20 is on your shortlist, these devices need to be too — after all, they offer similar horsepower for around the same price. For those who like the idea of the V20’s second screen, there’s always the Galaxy S7 Edge. It packs just as much horsepower as the V20 and an always-on display you can rub to peek at your notifications and the news without having to unlock the phone. In general, its battery life is much better too, though you’ll have to deal with a custom interface and a lack of Android Nougat.

Then again, if it’s great photos you’re after, you won’t do much better than the Pixel or Pixel XL. Both pair impressive 12-megapixel cameras with really impressive (not to mention instantaneous) HDR image processing, which add up to the best point-and-shoot camera experience on an Android device. It doesn’t hurt that the Pixel phones run a clean version of Android 7.1 Nougat, offer access to Google’s clever new assistant, and offer speedy performance.

By now, though, it’s clear the V20 isn’t your average Android flagship. There’s an underlying emphasis on creativity here that extends way beyond what other device makers have attempted. In that regard, no clear competitors come to mind.

Wrap-up

LG has done a fine job choosing top-tier components and focusing on things like audio quality and manual photography. On paper, that sounds great! In practice, there’s an underlying lack of cohesiveness between these parts. Audio nerds will find a lot to like here, the swappable battery is nice, and there are some great shots to be captured if you’re comfortable tinkering with the shooting settings. If what you need out of smartphone matches LG’s vision, the V20 is a great choice. But for people who value power and polish over a highly specific set of tools, there are more well-rounded options out there.

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The Morning After: Friday, November 18, 2016

Is a folding drone the next must-have accessory in your travel bag? We review the Passport, dig into Snapchat’s Spectacle strategy and investigate news for iPhones old and new. Plus: The old Top Gear crew is back today on Amazon with The Grand Tour — that’s one way to head into the weekend.


Desktops are cool againReview: Microsoft Surface Studio

There’s a new option for desktop all-in-ones, now that Microsoft has released the Surface Studio. The Surface Dial accessory brings a unique twist on interaction and touch control, while its slick design and powerful specs help meet the marks pros are actually looking for in a computer. On the other hand, mobile graphics and a stodgy hybrid storage system, plus its high price and the need for more software support, make it hard to recommend switching right away.


Big phone problemsApple’s repair program for the iPhone 6 Plus will fix touchscreen issues — for a price

We’ve been hearing from iPhone 6 and 6 Plus owners about a so-called touch disease affecting their phones, and Apple’s response is here. Without copping to a problem with the phones, its repair program will fix your iPhone 6 Plus if it’s having problems with flickering or multitouch for $ 149, out of warranty. The only problem? That may not go far enough, as the CEO of iFixit disputes Apple’s claim that the problem comes from dropped phones, and many people have said it affects the smaller iPhone 6 too.


Bring a wind sock tooReview: Hover Camera Passport

Sure, everyone wants a drone, but most don’t have a drone like this. While it’s not as big as the top-flight units from the likes of DJI and GoPro, Zero Zero Robotics’ Hover Camera Passport combines a tiny form factor and foldable case. It’s small enough that you can bring it along easily, without needing FAA registration. Controlled by an app on your phone, it’s also smart enough to do face and body tracking for optimal selfie angles. Of course, small size means small battery, which means short flight time, plus the fact that a strong breeze could blow away your $ 600 machine in an instant.


Popping tagsInstagram tries to pull in advertisers with new shopping tags

Everyone has to make money, and Instagram’s next big idea is the integration of shopping tags for brands like Warby Parker and Kate Spade. Only on iOS in the US for now, it’s just one of Instagram’s business-focused features currently rolling out.


Comcast will ruin this somehowSpaceX wants FCC approval for its satellite-based internet provider

Focused on more things than reaching Mars, Elon Musk’s space company took the next step in its internet project this week. An FCC filing reveals it’s seeking to launch 800 satellites that will provide internet service in the US, then growing its network to 4,425 satellites capable of 1Gbps connections around the globe.


Experiences, not thingsAirbnb’s latest category rents more than just spare rooms

Airbnb has a new “comprehensive” travel venture that goes beyond just putting you up in a stranger’s house for the weekend. A new Experience category promises access to both short events and longer multi-day “Immersions,” as well as features that help guide travelers to interesting places near where they’re staying. The new features are live in 12 cities now, and will be available in more than 50 next year.


The Galaxy iPhoneIs 2017 the year OLED comes to the iPhone?

OLED tech just came to the MacBook Pro, and a rumor from Bloomberg suggests that next year Apple will release at least one version of the iPhone using this display technology. Samsung has relied on these screens for models of its Galaxy phones, but word on the street is that obtaining enough supply for the iPhone could be a problem.


They’re playing hard to getSnapchat is relying on fans to get the word out about Spectacles

The first hardware from Snap Inc. is unique not just because of its glasses-integrated camera, but also in how it’s launching. The slow rollout of Snapbots is driving up the hype about where its vending machines will arrive next, without the usual wave of media reviews.

But wait, there’s more…

  • Sony’s cord-cutting service comes to Apple TV
  • Obama: We have to get serious about facts
  • The Prince estate is suing Jay Z’s Roc Nation, saying Tidal’s streaming rights have expired

The Morning After is a new daily newsletter from Engadget designed to help you fight off FOMO. Who knows what you’ll miss if you don’t subscribe.

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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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