Category Archives: Everything Mobile

News, Analysis and Reviews of Mobile Phones and Tablets including smart watches

SEGA Forever Collection brings SEGA classics to Android and iOS for free

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Many of US remember the classic SEGA games that we grew up with as kids. In order to keep these games relevant (and in order to keep making it money), the Japanese company is launching SEGA Forever to bring back “nearly every SEGA game ever released from every console era – Master System, Genesis/Mega Drive, and Dreamcast – SEGA’s last system before deciding to stop making hardware altogether.

Games will be free to play and ad-supported, though SEGA will likely provide an option to pay a subscription for no-ads. These ads would briefly play before you start playing a game. You’ll also be able to sync your game progress online and there will be an online leaderboard for a somewhat social touch.

In addition, you’ll be able to play the games without an internet connection and Controller support is also included with the games. You’ll be able to use your favorite Bluetooth controller to play the game, which is great seeing as console games aren’t very fun with on-screen controls.

SEGA is releasing 5 games at launch. New games will be added to the collection every other week.

Launch titles include:

  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Altered Beast
  • Phantasy Star II
  • Kid Chameleon
  • Comix Zone

You can search for the games the App/Play Store now. Searching “SEGA Forever” will list all the games available from the collection.

Which SEGA game are you most excited to play on your mobile device?

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Google's Android O could be “oatmeal cookie”, but could also still be Oreo

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Every year we get excited about which dessert could possibly be named the next version of Android. It’s honestly such a trivial piece of information that hard-core Android enthusiasts get riled up about. A new theory suggests that the next version of Android, 8.0, could be named oatmeal cookie.

The theory is strengthened by a couple of hard pieces of evidence. The first piece of evidence was found in Android’s source code as “oc-dev” which was used on several occasions, the most notable of which is the code which states that a Google Pixel devices is running the Android O Developer preview or ‘oc-dev’. “OC” could mean “oatmeal cookie”, which is blatantly written in the next and older piece of evidence.

The second piece of evidence stems from this year’s Google I/O presentation over a month ago. There were mentions of “oatmeal_cookie” in sample code that was used in a presentation slide.

While many folks are hoping that Android O will be named “Oreo” chances are it probably won’t be unless Nabisco (or Kraft, depending on where you live) makes a deal with Google for the cross-promotion of Oreos and Android. The only time we saw this happen was with Android KitKat, which used an officially named dessert instead of a generic name.

Remember, even with Android K, there were teases involving key lime pie at Google I/O 2013. Perhaps it was meant as a placeholder/fallback in case the deal with KitKat didn’t work out. We all know what happened with that “K” though!

For all we know, (and based on history) Google could be currently trying to get permission to use the “Oreo” name and is using “oc” as a fallback/placeholder in case Google doesn’t get the green light to use it. The presentation slide could just be Google trolling us big time and “oc” is probably “Oreo cookie”, after all.

What do you think Android “O” will be named?

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This is why your iPhone storage is filling up faster than ever

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When it comes to smartphone ownership, there are few moments more frustrating than running out of storage space. You can’t just delete a few old photos or an app you never use — you’ll go on a cleaning spree so that your phone won’t fill up every time you try to put something new on it.

But is it starting to feel like you’re running into this issue more often than you used to? If so, you’re not imagining it: The storage space on your iPhone simply doesn’t go as far as it once did.

According to mobile analytics firm Sensor Tower, the most-installed iOS apps are, on average, 12 times bigger than they were in 2013. For example, Snapchat, which is one of the ten most popular apps on the App Store, launched with a download size of just 4 MB back in 2013. Four years later, Snapchat takes up 203 MB on your phone. That’s a 51x increase, but still doesn’t make Snapchat the biggest app.

The honor of “popular app that takes up the most space on your phone” belongs to Facebook, which currently clocks in at 388 MB. Back in May 2013, it only required 32 MB of space. In fact, a single update last September bumped the size of the Facebook app up by 100 MB. That’s space you’ll never recover.

Popular social and productivity apps like Snapchat, Gmail and YouTube aren’t the only offenders. Games have increased in size as well, even relatively simple games like Candy Crush Saga, which jumped from 48 MB in 2013 to 223 MB this year. But it’s not just game updates — games in general are larger than ever, with graphically-intensive title like Injustice 2 taking up 1 GB or more on their own.

Thankfully, Apple is implementing new features and functionality to deal with this runaway train. With the release of iOS 11, Apple will introduce a new format that will cut down on the file size of photos and videos. Additionally, your iPhone will begin to suggest that you remove apps that have gone unused for months, while offering users the option to offload them: Keep the settings and preferences but remove the actual app. That way, if they ever want it back, they can pick up where they left off.

Sling TV extends cloud DVR to iOS devices

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AFP/Getty Images

Sling TV’s cloud DVR service is now available for iPhone and iPad. The streaming service’s DVR “First Look” option costs an additional $5 per month and gives you 50 hours of DVR storage.

The iOS devices now join the growing list of DVR-supported systems, which includes AirTV players, Amazon Fire TVs and tablets, Android TVs and mobile devices, Apple TVs, Roku™ streaming players and TVs, Xbox consoles and Windows 10 devices.

Sling TV began beta testing its cloud DVR option last year and started rolling it out to users in April. This month, the feature got an upgrade with an added option to protect recorded shows from being deleted.

However, there are still a number of channels that don’t allow DVR recordings. Those channels are ABC, Freeform, Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney JR, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Goal Line, ESPN Buzzer Beater, ESPN Bases Loaded and the SEC Network as well as any on-demand only channel.

An app update released today will enable the new service on iOS devices for those with the “First Look” subscription.

 

 

The OnePlus 5’s camera does a bad job of copying the iPhone 7 Plus

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The OnePlus 5 is one of the most anticipated phones of the season, and you can already buy it in various markets. But that doesn’t mean the new flagship from the “Never Settle” smartphone maker is perfect, and we already have a couple of controversies, not including that iPhone 7 Plus design.

Recent reports discovered that OnePlus 5 is cheating in benchmark tests, something the company explains as an optimization meant to show users the theoretical capabilities of the hardware. But benchmarks won’t affect your daily use of the phone.

The camera experience, on the other hand, is a different thing. The OnePlus 5 features a dual lens camera similar to the iPhone 7 Plus’s camera when it comes to design an even user interface. The camera also comes with a special bokeh effect for portrait photos, just like Apple’s best iPhone to date.

But there’s one iPhone camera feature OnePlus could not replicate. The iPhone 7 Plus does 2x optical zoom, which is what you’d expect from the OnePlus 5 as well. It turns out, however, that OnePlus is claiming 2x lossless zoom, not optical, according to Carl Pei, who clarified the matter on Twitter.

Optical zoom stops at 1.6x, while the rest of the way to 2x is done through a trick called SmartCapture multiframe technology. In other words, it sounds like just one other thing the OnePlus 5 “settled” on.

That’s a bit surprising considering that the camera is the main selling point of the phone, and OnePlus insisted on the various photo features during the presentation. In fact, the launch keynote seemed to imply that 2x is the maximum optical zoom, although OnePlus never claimed that 2x represents pure optical zoom.

Image Source: OnePlus

OnePlus never said that 1.6x is the maximum optical zoom either, and walking away from that presentation I’d be inclined to believe that 2x represents optical zoom, regardless of whatever software tricks OnePlus would use to enhance the picture. Why else highlight 2x zoom as they did during the presentation? Why not focus on any other zoom level if both optical and digital zoom are working together?

Here’s the zoom-related part of the keynote:

New video answers important question: will the Samsung Galaxy S8 fry?

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You may have lived thus far while thinking that the most important question one could ask about a smartphone was “Will it blend?”. But apparently you were wrong. “Will it fry?” is much more relevant we’re told – at least in Scotland.

So what are some enterprising chaps from Glasgow to do then? Naturally, coat the Galaxy S8 in authentic Scottish chip shop batter mix, and then place it into an electric fryer (with oil preheated to 200 degrees Celsius). The phone was left in there for a total of 60 seconds, and you can see what came out in the video below, which documents the whole ordeal.

Perhaps surprisingly, the Galaxy S8 still works after being subjected to such a treatment. It’s not all perfect, though – the sole area of the phone that wasn’t covered in batter (because it’s the part The Fryer was holding with his glove) has a gold shine when the screen is off and a yellow cast when it’s on. Additionally, the fingerprint sensor is pretty much toast.

Otherwise, though, things aren’t bad – the device even rang just a few seconds after coming out of the fryer. So if you thought you saw it all when it comes to smartphone torture tests, well, think again.

OnePlus is pushing ads for the 5 on older phones, and owners are not happy

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The OnePlus 5 is just days away from making its retail debut, but the highly anticipated smartphone is already looking like it might be a tough sell. It’s not quite on par with the latest Samsung handsets, and it does a middling impression impression of an iPhone 7 Plus, all while being only marginally cheaper than either of its more capable competitors. Now, in a rather transparent effort to generate hype ahead of its retail debut on June 27th, OnePlus is sending push notification advertisements to owners of the OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T, and they’re not even remotely happy about it. 

Reports from OnePlus owners regarding the intrusive ads began popping up a couple of days ago on social media and sites like Reddit, and the rage has finally reached a point where it can’t be ignored. “This is not okay,” one Redditor comments, while others have far harsher words for OnePlus’s decision push unblockable ads on its customers base. Here are a few choice opinions from the OnePlus Reddit page:

“One of the main reasons I went with OnePlus is to get away from that Samsung level bullshit.”

“This opens up the possibility for them to push other types of notifications as well. Except for customer pushback, what’s stopping them from pushing ads for non-Oneplus products? If they can push notifications they can easily make those notifications look like whatever they want as well. Who’s to say they can’t make fake notifications to push products and services?”

“They specifically called out “new push system” in their latest patch notes. No customers asked for this. This is the kind of bullshit you do for yourself, not for your customer.”

“I don’t want spam on my phone, that includes spam from my phone manufacturer.”

“It’s especially egregious since I just bought the 3T a couple months ago and the online store makes it obvious that most 3 and 3T accessories have not been available because they filled the pipeline with 5 accessories. Fuck current customers I guess.”

At the moment, there doesn’t seem to be any way for OnePlus owners to opt out of the notifications, and it’s unclear how the company plans to handle these types of notifications going forward. If they intend on issue unblockable push ads, it’s pretty obvious that the pushback will only get even worse.

OnePlus 5 teardown exposes the phone's innards

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Maybe you’ve heard that the OnePlus 5 got official a couple of days ago? Just in case our review or the controversies surrounding its cameras, benchmark cheating, and using the same screen as its predecessor haven’t quenched your thirst for OnePlus 5-related news, we’ve got you covered.

The handset has undergone a comprehensive teardown over at MyFixGuide. The entire thing (complete with dozens of images) can be found at the Source linked below, but here’s the gist of it.

The OnePlus 5 was found to feature a solid build overall, but it apparently does have some weak spots. While its “strict sealing design” and the “thickening process” employed on the back corners are reminiscent of tactics applied by such companies as Apple, Samsung, Oppo, and vivo, some connectors inside the OnePlus 5 aren’t fixed with metal plates which means they could get loose. This is especially true for the camera connector.

Hopefully you won’t be in a situation where that fails. The “systematically sealing design” of the OnePlus 5 hides a Li-polymer battery made by ATL, a 16 MP Sony IMX371 f/2.0 front camera, and a dual rear setup made up of a 16 MP f/1.7 Sony IMX398 and a 20 MP f/2.6 Sony IMX350.

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If you can’t wait for iOS 11, new ‘Holo’ app gives us a taste of what’s to come

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On a surface level, many of the iOS 11 announcements Apple made at WWDC this year were of little to no interest to mainstream consumers. The reality, though, is that Apple with iOS 11 introduced a number of new tools and frameworks that will help developers take the iOS user experience to new heights. The most obvious example of this is ARKit, a new framework that allows developers to create incredibly immersive and breathtaking augmented reality experiences. Just a few weeks removed from WWDC, developers have already released a number of quick and dirty ARKit demos which have us counting down the days until iOS 11 finally ships.

Now if you’re keen on getting a taste of what augmented reality on the iPhone might be like and have no interest in patiently waiting until September for the iOS 11 launch, there’s a new app that might help tide you over. Originally brought to our attention via The Verge, an app called Holo lets you “add holograms of real people and animals into your world” and then take photos or video of your newfound creations.

Currently available for iOS and Android, Holo doesn’t provide the type of advanced augmented reality experience that ARKit will ultimately offer, but it certainly does a solid job of giving us a preview of what’s to come.

There’s a burgeoning “store” inside the app where you can download different 3D objects, but they’re all either people or animals at the moment. There’s a skateboarder, a dancing wrestler, a few different versions of Spider-Man (sponsored by Marvel, of course), and for those of you clamoring for topical augmented reality, a fake Donald Trump.

If you do some digging around on sites like YouTube and Twitter, you can find more than a few examples of what Holo brings to the table, with one Spiderman-themed example embedded below.

Now is the mapping and all the other bells and whistles that ARKit offers available with Holo? Not quite.

Still, for an app that you can download right now, today, it certainly worth checking out if you have even a passing interest in augmented reality.

As for what the future holds for Holo, Fast Company relays that the app will soon feature “video-cutting tools like those in Vine.”

WhatsApp will soon let you share any type of file

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Facebook-owned WhatsApp isn’t really known for quickly adding new features, unlike Facebook-owned Instagram or even Facebook Messenger. But WhatsApp is currently testing some new functionality that is sure to be welcome by its many users.

When this goes live for everyone, you’ll be able to send any type of file to your contacts or groups. That’s a marked improvement compared to what the situation is now: while you can send files, you’re limited to specific types, like PDFs, Word documents, spreadsheets, and slides.

It’s unclear why this limitation has existed so far, but the good news is that it’s almost gone. The new feature letting you share any file type is currently undergoing testing with a limited subset of users, and the rollout is very slow. So while it’s pretty certain that you will get this, what’s less clear cut is when. Still, it’s on the way.

Do note that you’ll be limited to a maximum file size of 128MB on iOS, 100MB on Android, and 64MB on WhatsApp Web. We don’t know how those arbitrary limits came to be, but we assume they have something to do with WhatsApp not wanting its servers to crash under the load of millions of people’s shared 4K videos.

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Google Photos removes ability to have backups performed only when charging

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Hopefully you have a pitchfork within arm’s reach at all times – because you need to be ready for this one. Now grab said pitchfork and start protesting: Google has quietly removed a feature from its Photos apps for both Android and iOS.

What it did was only allow photo and video backups to ‘the cloud’ to happen while your device was charging. So if you enabled this, you didn’t have to worry about Google Photos eating up your battery while uploading those 25,000 selfies you took within the past 12 hours. You were safe in the knowledge that it all took place while your phone was charging.

Not anymore, though. The option has simply vanished from the Settings section of Google Photos. Now all you can do is tell it not to perform any backups while you’re roaming. As always, you are also able to choose whether to back up photos and videos while connected to cellular data – if you turn both of those toggles to Off, then backups will only happen over Wi-Fi.

This is your best bet for replacing the now-defunct “only when charging” feature – just turn off cellular data backup, since when you’re on Wi-Fi you’re probably at home or somewhere with a charger close by. A lot of people have been irked by Google’s move, so who knows, maybe if enough users complain it will bring the lost feature back.

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New BlackBerry model with Snapdragon 625 or 626, 1080p screen spotted

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We may soon see another new BlackBerry smartphone on the market, following the successful launch of the KeyOne. The new model’s existence has been revealed through a glance at some user agent profiles (UAProf) on one of TCL’s websites. TCL, as you may know, is the Chinese company that’s building BlackBerry branded devices nowadays.

The UAProf doesn’t out a lot of details about the upcoming phone, but it does tell us that it has a screen with 1,920×1,080 resolution. That’s 1080p in 16:9 aspect ratio, so chances are that this device will be touch-only and won’t come with a physical keyboard (unless we’re looking at another slider like the Priv).

BlackBerry KeyOne

The handset has the model number BBD100 and is powered by either Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 625 chipset (the same one found inside the KeyOne), or the newer SD626. The reason for the confusion is that the model numbers for these two SoCs are MSM8953 and MSM8953Pro, respectively, and the “Pro” suffix gets lost when you check UAProf or benchmark databases.

That’s all we know so far, but if TCL really is working on releasing the BlackBerry BBD100 we’ll surely get more information in the coming weeks and months.

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With VR180, YouTube Steps Gingerly Toward Virtual Reality

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Done well, virtual reality feels immediate, immersive, and exciting. Even 360-degree video, which merely surrounds you in a scene you can’t explore, transports you to a place unlike any other. But doing VR well requires tons of money, time, and skill, only to reach the few people with the gear needed to enjoy it. Despite all the proclamations that This Will Be the Year of VR, the tech just isn’t ready.

When it is, though, YouTube wants to be the place you go. To help make that happen, it just announced VR180, an format designed to make creating immersive content a whole lot easier. VR180 cameras from LG, Lenovo, and the Chinese company Yi will follow this winter. The goal is to carve a path between today’s 2-D video and the immersive, interactive stuff of tomorrow.

Of course, VR180 does not in any way qualify as virtual reality. Rather, the format renders 180-degree video in stereoscopic 3-D. The picture appears wider than your field of view (about 135 degrees) so you must move your head slightly to take in the whole scene. Stereoscopy provides a remarkable sense of depth and size, but even at its best, it’s like sitting in a dome theater watching the night sky above you. If you turn around, all you’ll see is black.

YouTube

The upside, says Erin Teague, YouTube’s VR product manager, is ease of use. There’s no need to master new editing techniques, stress about what sits behind the camera, or waste time telling viewers how to move their smartphone around or drag a video on their laptop. Best of all, in a perfect world, VR180 frees people from choosing between making high-quality videos for everyone and making immersive videos for early adopters. Watch a VR180 video on your phone, and it flattens and stretches a bit, no big deal. “They look just like any other YouTube video we have on the site,” Teague says. “So there’s no need to pan around or move your phone around.” Pop it into a Daydream headset, and the footage fills your field of view.

YouTube carries enough clout to invent a video format and expect people to actually adopt it—and others to support it. It worked with Adobe to make sure the video-editing app Premiere can handle VR180, and Teague hopes other video editors like Final Cut and Avid embrace it, too. “We want the entire ecosystem to embrace this format,” she says. We think it’s really powerful.” Beyond that, just imagine the livestreaming possibilities. Tague says 180VR provides some of the immersive properties of VR and with much higher-quality footage because it doesn’t have to stream monsoons of pixels like full 360 video.

YouTube and the Daydream VR team also convinced LG, Lenovo, and Yi to build new cameras, because it’s not like your iPhone rocks a VR180 setting. Look for hardware about the size and price of a point-and-shoot, with the capacity to shoot 180-degree 4K video through a pair of lenses on the front. Best of all, you’ll get a single image—no need to stitch or match anything. Just film, edit, and upload like any other camera.

The new format offers a stark reminder of just how far VR tech has to go before it hits the mainstream. Rather than push even further ahead of users, YouTube pulled back to create something less exciting and less impressive than VR, but far more accessible. That’s exactly what VR needs right now.

Why Net Neutrality Matters

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Next month, Amazon, Netflix, and dozens of other companies and organizations will host a “day of action” aimed at saving net neutrality as we know it. The Federal Communications Commission, meanwhile, is on the verge of revoking its own authority to enforce net neutrality rules, and the country’s biggest telecommunications companies are cheering along. The future of the internet is on the line here, but it’s easy to be cynical about the conflict: What does it matter which set of giant corporations controls the internet?

Under the current net neutrality rules, broadband providers like Comcast and Charter, and wireless providers like AT&T and Verizon, can’t block or slow down your access to lawful content, nor can they create so-called “fast lanes” for content providers who are will to pay extra. In other words, your internet provider can’t slow your Amazon Prime Video stream to a crawl so you’ll keep your Comcast cable plan, and your mobile carrier can’t stop you from using Microsoft’s Skype instead of your own Verizon cell phone minutes.

If the Trump administration gets its way and abolishes net neutrality, those broadband providers could privilege some content providers over others (for a price, of course). The broadband industry says it supports net neutrality in theory but opposes the FCC’s reclassification of internet providers as utility-like “Title II” providers, and that consumers have nothing to worry about. But it’s hard not to worry given that without Title II classification, the FCC wouldn’t actually be able to enforce its net neutrality rules. It might be less alarming if the internet were an level playing field with free and fair competition. But it’s not. At all.

If you want to search for anything online, you’ve got to go through Google or maybe Microsoft’s Bing. The updates your Facebook friends share are filtered through the company’s algorithms. The mobile apps you can find in your phone’s app store are selected by either Apple or Google. If you’re like most online shoppers, you’re mostly buying products sold by Amazon and its partners. Even with the current net neutrality laws there’s not enough competition—without them, there will be even less, which could stifle the growth and innovation that fuels the digital economy.

Fast lanes or other types of network discrimination could have a big impact on the countless independent websites and apps that already exist, many of which would have to cough up extra money to compete with the bigger competitors to reach audiences. Consider the examples of Netflix, Skype, and YouTube, all of which came of age during the mid-2000s when the FCC’s first net neutrality rules were in place. Had broadband providers been able to block videos streaming and internet-based phone calls in the early days, these companies may have seen their growth blocked by larger companies with deeper pockets. Instead, net neutrality rules allowed them to find their audiences and become the giants they are today, and without net neutrality, they could even potentially become the very start-up-killers that would’ve slowed or stopped their own earlier growth. Getting rid of net neutrality all but ensures that the next generation of internet companies won’t be able to compete with the internet giants.

The end of net neutrality could also have ranging implications for consumers. Amazon, Netflix, YouTube, and a handful of other services may dominate the online video market, but without net neutrality, broadband providers might try to make it more expensive to access popular streaming sites in an attempt to keep customers paying for expensive television packages. “[Net neutrality] protects consumers from having the cost of internet go up because they have to pay for fast lane tolls,” says Chris Lewis, vice president of the advocacy group Public Knowledge.

Lewis also points out that there are a few other consumer friendly protections in the FCC’s net neutrality rules. For example, the FCC rules require internet service providers to disclose information about the speed of their services, helping you find out whether you’re getting your money’s worth. They also force broadband providers to allow you to connect any device you like to your internet connection, so that your provider can’t force you to use a specific type of WiFi router, or tell you which Internet of Things gadgets you can or can’t use.

“The Internet is as awesome and diverse as it is thanks to the basic guiding principle of net neutrality,” says Evan Greer, co-founder of Fight for the Future, one of the main organizers of the net neutrality day of action, which will take place on July 12 and try to raise awareness about net neutrality across the web. “Getting rid of Title II would lead to even more centralization, handing more power to the largest Internet companies while stifling competition and innovation. In a time when there are too few companies with too much power – we need net neutrality now more than ever.”

Verizon starts selling the Moto E4 for just $69.99

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The first US carrier to sell the recently announced Motorola Moto E4 is Verizon, perhaps unsurprisingly given how the two companies have been cooperating on the flagship Droid line over the past few years.

The smartphone is now available to buy for just $69.99, which is $60 less than its normal price of $129.99. There is a small catch attached, however: to get it at this price, you will need to pick one of Big Red’s prepaid plans.

That being said, since it’s prepaid, you won’t be signing any contracts so you can just give up on the service after the first month – and you get to keep the phone. That’s a solid deal if you want a Moto E4 and don’t mind using it on Verizon.

If you have other plans, then you’ll have to wait until June 30, which is when the unlocked version of the Moto E4 will become available from Motorola’s online store as well as other retailers such as Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, and Newegg. Other US carriers should get the E4 at some point in July.

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