Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Game developers take a stand against Trump's immigration ban

iNK Stories, the studio behind one of our favorite games from last year, 1979 Revolution, has announced it will donate sales sales proceeds to the ACLU. That’s for purchases made between February 1st and the 10th.


“While it’s easy to be immobilized by hurt and hopelessness, I believe that now more than ever we are confronted with an obligation, where we must dig in, resist and unite,” 1979 creator Navid Khonsari said in a statement.


As Mashable points out, Khonsari isn’t alone. On Saturay, developer Vlambeer’s Rami Ismail (Ridiculous Fishing, Super Crate Box) tweeted that for 24 hours, all revenue would be donated to the ACLU. In an op-ed for The Guardian, Ismail wrote that thanks to this executive order, many Muslims who spent years of their savings to make the trip to the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco would no longer be able to attend.


“Even if they’d be allowed into the US, many are afraid of anti-Muslim sentiment from a population that can elect a president like Donald Trump, especially in the country with the highest homicide rate with guns in the Western world,” he said.



Dain Saint of developer Cipher Prime (Duet, Auditorium) penned a blog post on Medium advising people to be selfish — but in a way that benefits others. For America, Saint said to make the country’s future “the brightest it can be by stealing the best and brightest from every country on the planet.” He further said to steal the best minds from other nations. “Lure them in with the promise of freedom, and keep them here with high-paying jobs.”


The folks behind mobile puzzlers Dots, Two Dots and Dots and Co. temporarily changed the splash screen of their games to include the following message:


“Everyone welcome. We welcome players from all over the world.


As an American company, we value the diversity of our team and players. We believe America should be a welcoming place, particularly for those most in need, wherever they come from and whatever their religion.


Please join us in standing up for civil rights.”



Below that was a link to the ACLU’s donation page.


CNN reported that as of Monday, January 30th that the ACLU racked up $24.1 million in donations over the weekend — some 600 percent more than the organization gets in an average year. It’s important to note that actors and musicians were also imploring their social media followings to donate to the ACLU as well.


Over the weekend, there was also a “NerdWalk” from the PAX South convention to the offices of Texas Senator John Cornyn, Ars Technica reported. Of the two reasons for the march, one was the immigration ban. The other was the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act. The organizer, Cards Against Humanity‘s self-described “businesswoman,” Trin Garritano, said that storming the office to have the senator sign a bill wasn’t the goal.


“That was never the idea, it was just to show solidarity,” she said.



Over the weekend, Insomniac Games’ CEO Ted Price joined the masses of tech companies railing against the immigration ban. The Entertainment Software Association (the governing body responsible for the Electronics Entertainment Expo, or E3 for short) also spoke out, asking the White House to “exercise caution with regard to vital immigration and foreign worker programs.”

Fallout 4 1.9 Update: What to Expect




A new Fallout 4 update is confirmed for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC and it’s a big one. Today we want to take a look at everything console and PC owners need to know about the incoming Fallout 4 1.9 update and its release.


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Its been awhile since the last Fallout 4 update for the PS4, Xbox One and PC. Bethesda’s 1.8 patch arrived in November and since then gamers have been left wondering when the developer would update the game again. Fallout 4 problems are still an issue for many people.


Fortunately, we now have an official answer as Bethesda’s confirmed its next Fallout 4 update for all three platforms.


fallout-4-mod-october-2016-3


The focus (at least for the moment) of the update isn’t on lingering Fallout 4 problems. No, it’s on something much different.


The Fallout 4 1.9 update is confirmed and the patch is scheduled to arrive sometime next month for Xbox One, PS4 and PC. The update will deliver some impressive changes to the game though only those with certain specifications will be able to take advantage of them.


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Here’s a look at the Fallout 4 1.9 patch and its release. We’ll continue to update this with new information as we, and others, receive it.


Fallout 1.9 Beta


If you want to help Bethesda test the Fallout 4 1.9 update ahead of its release you can do that now via Steam.


The developer’s released a 1.9 beta for PC users and those who download it are encouraged to share their feedback via Bethesda’s forums.


To get the Fallout 4 1.9 beta on board your machine, you need to follow a few simple steps. Here’s what to do:


  1. Log into Steam.

  2. Right Click on Fallout 4 in your Library.

  3. Select Settings.

  4. Select Betas.

  5. A drop down menu will appear. Select Beta.

  6. Select OK.

  7. Wait a few minutes and Fallout 4 should update.

  8. When done, Fallout 4 should appear as Fallout 4 [Beta] in your Library.

Remember, beta software is typically riddled with issues, something to keep in mind before you dive right in with the 1.9 beta.


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Fallout 4 1.9 Release Date


The next Fallout 4 patch is just a few short days away.


In its announcement, Bethesda’s confirmed a Fallout 4 1.9 update release date for next week. Specifically, it says that its “rolling out new updates for both Fallout 4 and Skyrim Special Edition across Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.”


Typically, Bethesda staggers its Fallout 4 update releases (PC is usually first followed by consoles) but it looks like it will release the 1.9 update for all platforms in and around the same date.


Look for more details to be confirmed next week.


Fallout 4 1.9 Release Time


A quick note about the Fallout 4 1.9 release time.


Fallout 4 updates typically arrive in the morning and we’d expect Bethesda to follow protocol when it releases the 1.9 update next week.


The developer typically doesn’t release its patches on the weekend so look for a release in the morning (Eastern & Pacific) Monday-Friday.


Fallout 4 1.9 Update


That’s what we expect from the release. Here’s what you can expect from the 1.9 update for Xbox One, PS4 and PC.


Mods


There are now thousands of Fallout 4 mods available for PC, Xbox One and PS4 and we expect the list to grow as we push into 2017. For a list of over 150 of the best Fallout 4 mods, see our extensive list for Xbox One and PS4.


fallout-4-mods-sanctuary


Bethesda continues to refine its mod platform for Fallout 4 and Skyrim Special Edition and the 1.9 patch will deliver some unnamed improvements to both platforms.


The company notes that 1.9 is “bringing new features to Mod content.” Here are those changes in detail:


  • Added Featured category for mods

  • Added ability to sort Highest Rated and Most Favorited filters by today, week, month and all time

  • Added number of ratings count to Mods Browsing Menu

  • Added number of favorites count to Mod Details page

  • Added required dependencies to Mod Details page

  • Added latest version number and notes to Mod Details page

Look for all of these to make it to the final version of the 1.9 update.


Fallout 4 PS4 Pro Support


We’ll see some improvements to mods and we’ll see some bug fixes and tweaks. That said, the crown jewel of the Fallout 4 1.9 update will probably be the support it brings to the PS4 Pro.


The Fallout 4 1.9 update will deliver support for the PS4 Pro.

The Fallout 4 1.9 update will deliver support for the PS4 Pro.



After a lengthy wait, Bethesda’s finally upgrading Fallout 4 with support for Sony’s powerful version of the PS4.


The Fallout 4 1.9 update brings enhanced lighting and graphic features to the PlayStation 4 Pro. They include:


  • Native 1440p resolution

  • Enhanced draw distance for trees, grass, objects and NPCs

  • Enhanced Godray effects

That’s it for new features at this point.


Bug Fixes


There are also going to be a few bug fixes included in the Fallout 4 1.9 patch including general performance and stability improvements, improvements to reporting mods categories, a fix for occasional crashes while scrolling through Load Order menu, and improved Bethesda.net error messaging.


We don’t expect this list to grow much between now and the final release so many Fallout 4 problems will likely linger on past the 1.9 update’s release.


High Resolution Pack for PC


Bethesda’s also planning to release a free Fallout 4 High-Resolution Texture Pack for Windows PC alongside the 1.9 update. The 1.9 update will deliver the support needed to use the texture pack on your machine.


Fallout-4-Texture-Pack-PC

Bethesda will release a Fallout 4 texture pack for PC alongside the 1.9 update.



Those who meet the requirements will be able to download the Fallout 4 High-Resolution Texture Pack sometime next week.



Note that the High-Resolution Texture Pack is like a DLC in that it’s an optional download. Bethesda won’t force anyone to download it.


Recommended PC Specs


As the name suggests, the pack will enhance the game’s graphics. Unfortunately, only select users will be able to take advantage of the gift.


If you want to use the High-Resolution Texture Pack you’ll want to make sure your “system meets/exceeds the recommended specs” listed below. This comes straight from Bethesda.


  • Windows 7/8/10 (64-bit OS required)

  • Intel Core i7-5820K or better

  • GTX 1080 8GB

  • 8GB+ Ram

If you try the textures and you a) don’t like them or b) discover your system can’t handle them, you can always return to the original textures in the game’s launcher menu.


58GB of Free Space


On top of these requirements, the High-Resolution Texture Pack requires an additional 58GB of storage space on your hard drive. That’s a big number for a lot of people.


If you plan to use these textures and you’re running out of space, now would be a good time to do some cleanup.




Facebook may be coming to a TV set-top box near you

best new android apps


If you like to watch videos on Facebook with your phone or tablet, you may be soon get that same experience on a bigger screen. A new report claims that Facebook is working on a video-themed app specifically for TV set-top boxes, along with plans to license long-form TV content.




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The report comes from The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources. It states that this new app is part of Facebook’s overall plan to move to a “video-first” business. The company has already been pushing its Facebook Live video streaming features for some time. An app specifically for TV set top boxes like the Android TV-based NVIDIA Shield could also generate more ad revenues for the company compared to ads displayed on its standard News Feed.


The story says that in addition to video content created by its many users, Facebook may also try to license out longer form TV content from media companies. That could also include scripted shows and sports events that would be exclusive to the Facebook app.


All of this sounds like Facebook wants to compete head-to-head with the current leader in the online video space: Google’s YouTube. In fact, the company is reportedly experimenting with adding brief video ads inside its live videos. Unlike YouTube’s ads, which normally appear just before the main clip begins rolling, Facebook’s video ads would start about 20 seconds after the main clip begins, and would last about 15 seconds. The story claims Facebook plans to run these ads as part of all of its videos eventually, but there’s no word on if the company also plans to offer an option to turn the ads off for an extra fee, as Google does with its YouTube Red service.


How do you feel about the prospect of watching Facebook Live videos on your big-screen living room TV, with ads? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Super Mario Run Earnings: $53 Million, Not Enough Players are Paying




Super Mario Run earned more than $53 million for Nintendo since the company released the iOS game in December, but that’s not enough to satisfy the company’s chief. While iPhone and iPad  users downloaded Super Mario Run more than 78,000,000 times over the past two months, only around 5% of the users have paid $9.99 for the full version of the game.


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Read: Super Mario Run Tips and Tricks


Like many of the most popular iPhone games, Super Mario Run is free to download and play. While many games repeatedly ask players to pay small amounts of real-world money for in-app purchases, Nintendo takes a different approach and charges a one-time fee of $9.99 to unlock the entire game.


super mario run logo and Mario

Super Mario Run’s Earned More than $53 Million


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Nintendo CEO Tatsumi Kimishima told the Wall Street Journal that the company hoped that a double-digit percentage of players would pay the $9.99 fee.


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While freemium games are nothing new for iPhone games, at least part of the reason Super Mario Run isn’t seeing more full purchases is because in-app purchases cannot be shared with family members through Family Sharing. That’s the feature that typically allows family members to purchase paid apps once and allow others to access them without having to pay again. In-app purchases however are limited to the user account they’re purchased on. That means a family of four would have to pay nearly $40 if they were all wanted to play Super Mario Run fully unlocked.


Nintendo will release Super Mario Run on the Google Play Store for Android phones and Tablets in March, which will obviously boost the App’s download numbers. However, even a smaller percentage of players will likely make the in-app purchase on Android devices than the 5% or so that are doings so on iPhones and iPads. Android developers have long complained that it’s very difficult to monetize apps in the Google Play store compared to Apple’s App Store.


While the $53 million that Nintendo’s raked in for Super Mario Run might sound impressive, it’s a tiny fraction of the more than $4.6 billion it pulled in last year.





New brain-computer interface breaks through locked-in syndrome

There are degrees to locked-in syndrome. The lesser variety only allows those suffering from it to raise or lower their eyes and blink, they’re fully paralyzed otherwise. Fully locked-in syndrome prohibits even that degree of movement. So rather than rely on optical keyboards as previous studies have, the Wyss team developed a means of reading patient’s minds directly by measuring the flow of oxygenated blood flowing through their brains. The study was published Tuesday on the journal PLOS.



The team relied on the help of four patients who suffer from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease), a motor neuron disorder that progressively destroys the nervous system’s ability to control the body’s muscles. The Wyss researchers first used near-infrared spectroscopy and electroencephalography (EEG) to measure the brain’s blood oxygenation and electrical activity levels. The patients were then asked basic yes or no questions while the machines recorded changes in those metrics.


“The machine records the blood flow… and calculates how (it) changes during “yes” and during “no”, and the computer develops an idea, a pattern,” Wyss neuroscientist, Niels Birbaumer, told Reuters. “And after a while, we know what the patient is thinking, when he thinks “yes”, or when he thinks “no”, and from that we calculate the answer.”


After enough training, the system managed a 70 percent accuracy rate for standard Y/N questions like, “Is this your husband?” More interestingly, when asked “Are you happy?” all four respondents, 100 percent of the time, answered “yes”.


The team hopes to leverage this data into future research in hopes that people paralyzed by disease or injury can lead fuller lives.

Pixel C 32GB model is no longer sold on the Google Store


The Google Pixel C is still one of the best Android tablets you can buy, even after it’s been on the market for over a year. However, it looks like the option to get the cheaper 32GB version is no longer available directly from the company. The Google Store has stopped listing that model of the Pixel C, though the 64GB version is still available for $599.




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While it’s possible that you can pick up the 32GB version of the Pixel C through third-party retailers, the fact that Google is no longer selling the model likely means that it has run out of its inventory and will not be making any more to sell to the public. We suspect the same will happen with the 64GB version in the not too distant future, so if you have been waiting to pick one up, now might be a good time to do so.


You can also still purchase the optional keyboard for the Pixel C via the Google Store, but it will add another $149 to the price tag. The good news is that while it shipped with Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, Google has offered OTA updates to get the tablet up to speed with Android Nougat, including the upcoming 7.1.2 OS update.


As a refresher, the Pixel C has a 10.2-inch LTPS LCD display with a resolution of 2560 x 1800, a 1.9GHz octa-core NVIDIA Tegra X1 processor, 3GB of RAM, an 8MP rear camera, a 2MP front-facing camera and a 34.2Whr battery that is supposed to offer up to 10 hours of battery life. The tablet has Wi-Fi support but no built-in cellular wireless hardware, and it also does not have a microSD card slot, which means you are stuck with its 64GB of storage.


So far, there’s no word on if Google will launch another first-party Android tablet. However, it recently announced that it will soon allow companies to make tablets and 2-in-1 devices with Chrome OS that will be able to run Android apps, so perhaps Android tablets won’t be going away after all.


Get it from Google Store

5 Things to Know About the Skyrim Special Edition 1.4 Update




A new Skyrim Special Edition update is on the way for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Windows PC. Here is everything you need to know right now about the Skyrim Special Edition 1.4 update and its release.


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Its been several weeks since Bethesda rolled out its Skyrim Special Edition 1.3 update. While that update fixed some glaring issues, Skyrim Special Edition owners have been complaining about a number of ongoing issues with the game including problems with quests, NPCs, and performance.


Bethesda’s next patch won’t be a massive bug fixer but it will fix some Skyrim Special Edition problems plaguing Xbox One, PS4 and PC.


skyrim-special-edition-4


The developer’s confirmed a brand new 1.4 patch for the Skyrim remaster. The update’s release date is close and today we want to take a look at the most important things to know as we close in on its release for console and PC.


Skyrim Special Edition 1.4 Beta


Bethesda’s released a Skyrim Special Edition 1.4 beta ahead of the update’s official release. The beta is only available to PC users and won’t be coming to Xbox One or PlayStation 4.


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If you want to test the update ahead of its official release next month, here’s how to get it on board your rig right now:


  1. Log into Steam.

  2. Right Click on Skyrim Special Edition in your Library.

  3. Select Settings.

  4. Select Betas.

  5. A drop down menu will appear. Select Beta.

  6. Select OK.

  7. Wait a few minutes and Skyrim Special Edition should update.

  8. When done, Skyrim Special Edition should appear as Skyrim Special Edition [Beta] in your Library.

Remember, this update can and probably will cause problems. Many of you will probably want to wait for the final, and perhaps more stable, version of the 1.4 update to roll out.


How to Report 1.4 Beta Problems


If you do decide to give the Skyrim Special Edition 1.4 beta a go on your PC make sure you report any problems you encounter back to the developer. This way, it can improve the software in the days between now and the final release.


Providing feedback to Bethesda is pretty simple. Head to the company’s Skyrim Special Edition 1.4 beta forum and tell its engineers about your issue. You’ll want to be as specific (and civil) as possible.


1.4 beta users are already running into issues and we expect complaints to pickup as more people download and install the update on their machine.


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Skyrim Special Edition 1.4 Release Date


You won’t have to wait long for the Skyrim Special Edition 1.4 update’s arrival.


Bethesda hasn’t confirmed a specific release date but it looks like the update will hit all three platforms sometime next week.


skyrim-special-edition-1


In an announcement, Bethesda says next week it’s “rolling out new updates for both Fallout 4 and Skyrim Special Edition across Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.”


In another announcement, the company states that the Xbox One and PS4 will get the update “next week.” So, it sure sounds like we’ll see all three patches push out in early February.


Skyrim Special Edition Mods


The Skyrim Special Edition 1.4 update, in its current state, focuses on two areas: Skyrim mods and Skyrim problems.


The 1.4 update is loaded up with some interesting changes for Skyrim Special Edition mods. Here is the full list of changes:


  • Added Featured category for mods

  • Added ability to sort Highest Rated and Most Favorited filters by today, week, month and all time

  • Added number of ratings count to Mods Browsing Menu

  • Added number of favorites count to Mod Details page

  • Added required dependencies to Mod Details page

  • Added latest version number and notes to Mod Details page

They’re similar to the changes coming to Fallout 4 with Bethesda’s 1.9 update. The Fallout 4 1.9 update is also expected sometime next week.


Bug Fixes


The 1.4 update also delivers some bug fixes for lingering Skyrim Special Edition issues.


ps4-xbox


The change log isn’t long but it currently includes general performance and stability improvements, improvements to reporting mods categories, a fix for occasional crashes while scrolling through Load Order menu, and improved Bethesda.net error messaging.


Don’t expect this to change much between now and the update’s release next week.




Can You Hear Me Scam: Saying Yes Could Cost You Big Time




When your phone rings with an unknown number and you hear someone ask “Can you hear me?” you need to hang up. The Better Business Bureau warns of a sharp increase in the number reports of the Can You Hear Me Scam, that could end up costing you more than you’d believe.


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During the last few days, more than half of the scam reports to the BBB Scam Tracker are from consumers who’ve received calls trying to trick them into saying “Yes”.


At first glance, this sounds like a fake warning. You’re probably wondering what a scammer could do with a recording of you saying, “Yes.” As it turns out there is a lot that can happen with one word.


What you need to know about the Can You Hear Me scam.

What you need to know about the Can You Hear Me scam.



The scammer is not going to use the recording of you saying yes t0 try to get into your bank or any of your accounts. Banks don’t use voice recognition and you’re not Richie Rich, so it’s not to get into your vault or to spoof your identity — but it could still cost you real money.


If you answer “Yes,” to a call that asks “Can you hear me?” or to a similar question at the start of a call you may hand over everything the scammer needs to start billing your phone number for premium services. The BB warns that a, “Yes.” can be, “edited to make it sound like you authorized a major purchase.”


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In these cases, the scammer already has your phone number to attach charges to or may be targeting you specifically based on other information.


Many times the calls are for vacation packages, cruises, warranties and other high-dollar items. You may not know you’ve been charged for quite some time. You can hear an example of a Can You Hear Me Scam below.


The BBB warns users not to answer unfamiliar numbers. Specifically, if someone asks, “Can you hear me?” right away you should hang up. It sounds rude, but many times these are simply robo callers that include pauses to make you think you are talking to a real person.


On the iPhone or Android, you can install the Hiya app which will help you screen calls and even block known scam phone numbers. The app is free and very helpful at screening calls that could cause these problems.


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If you still use a home phone, or if you are trying to keep your parents or another user safe from these types of calls, Ooma is an excellent option. This home phone service is much cheaper than paying a cable company and there is an option to block anonymous calls, known spammers, and suspected spammers so the phone doesn’t even ring.




Everything you need to know about IP ratings


It’s a great time to be a tech lover. Looking back on the smartphone releases of 2016, the biggest problem we might have is that virtually every new device is great. In fact, many of 2016’s releases features a number of the same specs: a Snapdragon 820 processor, a 5.5-inch display (or thereabouts), metal and/or glass construction, fingerprint sensors. We might as well stop using the word “smartphone” and simply call them mobile phones since there’s hardly a single phone that isn’t smart these days.


Interestingly, the high standards exhibited across the entire smartphone market — and even throughout consumer electronics as a whole — has made nitpicking a necessity. If we’re to compare today’s smartphones, pitting them against one another to figure out which is the best, we have to disregard the specs and take out a magnifying glass. As such, many of the defining characteristics of a smartphone, or the features that make a smartphone stand out from the crowd, are frequently not spec-related. In 2016, one of those defining characteristics was IP ratings for water and dust resistance.


We’ve covered IP ratings before, particularly to explain what you can and cannot do, according to your device’s IP rating. However, this time we’re going to take a closer look at actual IP ratings, breaking them down so that you know what a rating means when you see one. By the end of this article, you’ll be able to decipher an IP rating, meaning that you’ll know exactly what kind of water and dust resistance your next device purchase offers.




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What is an IP rating?


Many of us speak about IP ratings without even realizing that we have no clue what ‘IP’ even means, so before we jump into the rating system, let’s address the water-resistant elephant in the dusty room. When we talk about IP ratings, we’re not referring to internet protocols, intellectual property, inquisitive pigeons, or any other unrelated acronyms. Depending on who you ask, the ‘IP’ in IP rating either stands for International Protection or Ingress Protection, with the latter being the preferred interpretation.


To further clarify, the word ‘ingress’ means the act of going in or entering; therefore, an IP rating is a rating given to indicate a level of protection that an item’s casing has from being breached by liquid and solid debris.


How to read an IP rating


When you look at an IP rating, you’ll notice that it basically consists of a two-digit number. Those who are familiar with IP ratings can tell what level of dust and water resistance a device has by considering the values of each digit separate. The first digit, or the digit on the left, represents solid particle protection while the second digit is for “liquid ingress protection”. Wirefield


As you can see from the diagram above, the digit for dust resistance can be as low as zero or as high as six, with lower digits indicating little or no resistance and higher digits meaning strong or full resistance. There’s a slightly wider range of values for water resistance than for dust resistance since the second value of an IP rating can be as high as eight. Again, lower values mean poor or no water resistance while higher values indicate strong or near-full water resistance.


Let’s consider a couple examples.


IP ratings for water and dust resistance were one of the defining features of high-end smartphones in 2016.




The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus were notably released with an IP rating of 67, which indicates an impressive level of dust and water resistance. The ‘6’ in the IP-67 rating means that the iPhone 7’s casing can keep out all dust and small particulates; however, since liquid damage is a more pressing concern than dust, it’s that second digit that tends to be the most important. Fortunately, owners of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus needn’t fear water too much because a water-resistance rating of 7 means the devices can withstand being fully submerged in water for brief periods of time. In fact, the iPhone 7 can survive in up to a meter of water for at long as 30 minutes.


While the Apple crowd are enjoying their newfound water resistance, Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL were released with IP ratings of 53. As you’ll notice, an IP-53 rating means strong — but not total — protection from dust particulates and barely-there water resistance. In terms of the latter, the Pixels are reportedly safe from splashes of water hitting the phones at angles up to 60 degrees from vertical. Of course, it’s better than having no water resistance at all, but those of us who jumped on the Pixel bandwagon are no doubt still salty due to the Pixel being one of 2016’s only flagships that didn’t come with a respectable IP rating.


Water resistance has become an important differentiator in the flagship smartphone market.



Why is IP rating important?


In closing, let’s take a moment to reflect on IP ratings and why they matter. There will always be those of us who don’t really care about things like IP ratings and water resistance, which is understandable if you’re someone who’s naturally careful with your devices and doesn’t have any inclination to bring your expensive gadgets near water. But it really all boils down to one thing: Resilience.


Historically, electronic devices had many enemies, including water, dust, drops, theft, and so on. There were so many different scenarios that would leave you with nothing but the memory of your expensive investment. Fortunately, we have things like Corning’s Gorilla Glass and the ability to buy insurance plans to add longevity to our tech, but water has long been a smartphone’s kryptonite. So when a device earns a strong IP rating, we have less to worry about and can enjoy our smartphones a little more. We don’t have to wonder whether it’s dangerous to carry our smartphones in our hands while it’s raining or have a heart attack when we accidentally drop our smartphones in the toilet (the question of cleanliness is an entirely separate issue). Instead, we can spend less time worrying and more time actually enjoying them.




Water resistant phones: the essential do’s and don’ts


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Now I’d like to hear from you. What are your thoughts when it comes to smartphone water-resistance? Is IP rating an important consideration when you’re shopping for a new device? Or are you someone that doesn’t feel IP rating is that important? As always, leave your thoughts and feedback in the comment section below.

Best New 4G Android Smartphones to Buy Under Rs. 10,000 in India – February 2017

The Indian smartphone market is already filled with a lot of Chinese brands and the Indian brands are struggling in competing with them. While the high-end smartphone segment is ruled by the major brands like Samsung and Apple, the Chinese players rule the budget category. However, recently few Indian brands like Intex and Lava had launched few affordable smartphones with decent specifications. Below are the few VoLTE supported smartphones that priced under Rs. 10,000 and offers decent specifications.


Xiaomi launched the Redmi Note 4 as the successor to the Redmi Note 3, one of the best selling smartphones in 2016 in India. The base variant of the Redmi Note 4 with 2GB RAM and 32GB of storage is priced at Rs. 9,999. Apart from the Gold and Dark Grey color options, the new Redmi Note 4 also comes in new Black color option. At such a low price, the Redmi Note 4 definitely features the superior build quality. On the front is a 5.5-inch Full HD display with a 2.5D glass laid on top. It is powered by the Snapdragon 625 octa-core processor clocked at 2.0GHz and coupled with Adreno 506 GPU. There is also a 13MP rear camera, a 5MP front camera, and a 4,100mAh battery. The hybrid SIM slot on this device accepts two 4G SIMs or one 4G SIM and a MicroSD card.


Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 – Buy Now   


Intex launched the Cloud Style 4G smartphone in the Indian market priced at Rs. 5,799. The device comes with a 5-inch display with HD (1280n x 720 pixels) resolution. Under the hood is the 1.3GHz quad-core processor along with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. The device runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow and includes several bloatware apps. It comes with an 8MP rear camera with LED flash and a 5MP selfie camera on the front. The 2,500mAh battery makes the Cloud Style last for at least a day of usage. Connectivity options on this device include 4G VoLTE, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, 3.5mm Audio port, and MicroUSB 2.0 port. It measures 145 x 73 x 8.8 mm and weighs 140 grams. The plastic built device comes in Champagne and Grey color options.


Intex Cloud Style 4G – Buy Now   


The Xolo Era 2X is one of the best budget smartphones from an Indian smartphone manufacturer. The device was launched exclusively on Flipkart in two variants. The 2GB RAM variant is priced at Rs 6,666 and the another variant with 3GB RAM is priced at Rs. 7,499. Both the devices come with a 16GB of internal storage that can be expanded additionally upto 32GB. On the front of the Xolo Era 2X smartphone is a 5-inch IPS display with HD (1280 x 720 pixels) resolution. The device is powered by MediaTek MT6737 quad-core SoC clocked at 1.25GHz. It runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS and comes with dual SIM dual standby support. The device also includes 8MP rear camera, 5MP front camera, and a 2,500mAh battery.


Xolo Era 2X – Buy Now   


The Reliance smartphone brand, LYF launched its latest 4G smartphone called LYF Water 3. The device was online exclusive to Flipkart and is available for Rs. 6,599. As seen with the earlier launched LYF smartphones, the Water 3 also comes with two years of manufacturers warranty. It comes with a 5.5-inch HD display, Snapdragon 615 SoC, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage. The device supports dual SIM dual standby and offers 4G VoLTE along with other basic connectivity options. In the camera department, there is a 13MP rear camera and a 5MP front camera. The Water 3 measures just 7.7mm thickness and include a 3,000mAh battery that can give up to 14 hours of talk time and lasts up to 120 hours on standby.


LYF Water 3 – Buy Now   


While the company launched the Galaxy A 2017 smartphones at the CES 2017, in India, the company came up with two new entry-level smartphones called Galax J1 4G and Galaxy J2 Ace. The Galaxy J1 4G is priced at Rs. 6,890 and comes with a VoLTE support and using the Jio 4G SIM. Talking about the other specifications, the device comes with a polycarbonate body with a 4.5-inch Super AMOLED display on the front. It is backed by a Spreadtrum SC7727SE processor along with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of expandable storage. The device still runs on Android 5.1 Lollipop comes with Samsung’s exclusive S Bike Mode, Ultra Data Saving, and S Power Planning features. There is also a 5MP rear camera with LED flash and a 2MP front camera.


Samsung Galaxy J1 4G – Buy Now   

Walter brings foreign prestige TV dramas to the US

The name Walter Presents is in reference to Walter Iuzzolino, an Italian TV producer who serves as chief curator for the service. Iuzzolino, the story goes, is responsible for scouring Europe for prestige dramas that will play well in the English-speaking world. In the UK, Walter was responsible for showing Deutschland ’83, Thicker Than Water and Merciless.


When the service launches, a library of 34 series, sourced from 12 different countries, will be available for you to binge watch. Two additional series will be added to the platform each month, with the company promising it’ll deliver high-quality subtitles with each one. Initial shows in the library include acclaimed French drama Spin and Norwegian thriller Valkyrien.


It’s not the first time that an ostensibly British broadcaster has opted to launch an on-demand platform in the US. The BBC and ITV teamed up late last year to birth BritBox, a similarly Netflix-esque service that’ll showcase the best of the two channel’s output.


Which is, in no way, giving us streaming service fatigue. After all, there’s only a handful of other companies offering a similar product right now. Like Netflix… Amazon… Hulu… Showtime, HBO Now, CBS All Access, Crackle, Crunchyroll, Starz, Vdio, Seeso, Filmstruck, YouTube Red…

Best New 4G Android Smartphones to Buy Above Rs. 20,000 in India – February 2017

In the first month of this new year, we have seen a few high-end smartphone launches in the Indian market. Though these are recently brought to India, all these smartphones are already available in other markets like the U.S and China. While a couple of these devices are already on sale, few devices will go on sale in the month of February. All the devices mentioned below support 4G VoLTE and can be used with Jio 4G SIM.


As announced earlier, Vivo launched its latest high-end smartphone V5 Plus in India. The device is priced at Rs. 27,980 and is available across India via online stores. It is the same device that was launched in China as Vivo X9. The device sports a 5.5-inch display with Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) resolution and is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5. The Snapdragon 625 octa-core processor clocked at 2.0GHz is the only let down; this is the same processor that was also used in the Redmi Note 4 priced at Rs. 9,999. The Vivo V5 Plus also packs 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage that cannot be expanded. On the rear of the device is a 16MP rear camera with LED flash. The USP of this premium device is its 20MP + 8MP dual front cameras with f/2.0 aperture and 5P lens. There is a 3,160mAh non-removable battery, and the physical home button on the front comes embedded with a fingerprint sensor.


Vivo V5 Plus – Buy Now   


Lenovo is one smartphone manufacturer that has been launching quite a few smartphones. Apart from the Moto & ZUK smartphones, the company recently launched the affordable K-series smartphones. A couple of weeks, the latest Tango phone, Phab Pro 2 Pro was silently listed on Flipkart with a price tag of Rs. 29,990. The features a bunch of sensors that makes the Phab 2 Pro perfect for testing Augmented Reality (AR). It comes with a huge 6.4-inch Quad HD IPS display and is powered by the Snapdragon 652 octa-core processor. It also includes 4GB of RAM, 64GB of expandable storage, and a 4,050mAh battery. On the rear, we can find a 16MP RGB camera, depth-sensing infrared camera, and also a motion tracking camera. For selfies, there is an 8MP front camera. It also has the Dolby Audio 5.1 Capture technology for recording 3D sound and Dolby Atmos technology for audio output.


Lenovo Phab 2 Pro – Buy Now   


A few months after launching the Galaxy C9 Pro in China, Samsung launched its first 6GB RAM smartphone in the Indian market for Rs. 36,900. The device was currently available to pre-order and will be on sale starting from February 17th. It runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow based TouchWiz UI, and there is information about the Nougat update for this device. Under the hood is the newly announced Snapdragon 653 octa-core processor along with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. On the front of the device is a 6-inch AMOLED display with Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) resolution. In the camera department, there is a 16MP camera on front and back of the device, where only the rear camera is accompanied with dual tone LED flash. The 4,000mAh battery keeps the device powered on and it also adaptive fast charging. Connectivity options include 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, NFC,  3.5mm Audio port, and a USB Type-C port.


Samsung Galaxy C9 Pro – Buy Now   


Nubia launched few decent smartphones like Nubia Z11 Mini and Nubia N1 in India with very aggressive pricing. The Nubia Z11 is one more smartphone from the company brought to India exclusively through Amazon India.  It is priced at Rs. 29,999 and packs top-notch specifications. It comes in the Black Gold color which looks beautiful with matte finish metal body with gold colored antenna bands and frame. Talking bout the specifications, there is a 5.5-inch Full HD display, Snapdragon 820 SoC, 6GB of RAM, and 64GB of internal storage. There is a 16MP rear camera with OIS and an 8MP selfie camera with wide angle lens. The 3,000mAh battery on this device is mentioned to give 8 hours of talk time. With the Frame Interactive Technology (FiT), the user can access the device with the gestures on the frame. The Nubia Z11 runs on Nubia UI 4.o based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow.


Nubia Z11 – Buy Now   


After the Galaxy Note 7 failure, Samsung offered new Blue, and Pink colored variants of the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge smartphones. But the recently launched Black Pearl color looks much better than the earlier launched Black Onyx color with its glossy finish. The Black Pearl Galaxy S7 Edge also comes with 128GB of internal storage, and it costs Rs. 56,900. While the device runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box, recently the company also released the Android 7.0 Nougat update. The device features a 5.5-inch Quad HD (2560 x 1440 pixels) resolution. As it sports a glass body, the device comes with a Gorilla Glass 4 protection on front and back of the device. The 12MP rear camera with f/1.7 aperture and dual pixel technology makes it one of the best device for smartphone photography. Even the 5MP front camera with the same f/1.7 aperture and screen flash feature to capture better selfies in the low light conditions.


Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Black Pearl – Buy Now   

The LG 5K monitor Apple sells doesn't work near WiFi routers

While reviews on Apple’s site don’t mention this specific problem, it sounds like there are general reliability issues to be had with the new monitor. Plenty of the negative reviews cite erratic performance, particularly when waking up a pair of monitors from sleep. And 9to5Mac cited a review specifically mentioning the router placement issue, which is what clued the writer in to the problem in the first place. I wasn’t able to find that particular review, but an LG customer service representative confirmed that users should keep the display more than two meters from a WiFi router.


Depending on your desk setup, this could be a major pain to resolve. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like LG is treating this as something that needs to be fixed on this display going forward — so it’s definitely something to be aware of before dropping large amounts of cash on it. LG says that only the 5K display is affected, so if you’re OK with a smaller screen, the 21.5-inch 4K display might be worth looking at.


We’ve reached out to both Apple and LG and will update this post with any details they provide.

Android 7.1.2 Nougat public beta update starts rolling out to selected devices

Google has been quite consistent with their software updates for Android lately. While many of the devices are still getting the previous builds, Google has already announced the rollout for Android 7.1.2 Nougat Update. However, one thing which still hasn’t changed with Android is the fact that the confusion among the people on whether or not their device will receive the update? This is something that Apple handles quite well, but that could very well be due to the fact that they have very limited number of devices running iOS. With that said, Android latest software update will not make it to a couple of devices which surprisingly includes few Nexus devices.


First of all, one thing to be noted here is the fact that this Nougat 7.1.2 update is an incremental release and it will only focus on a few bug fixes and software optimization along with a couple of enhancements here and there. But what’s more interesting is the fact that the company is not making this update available to all the Nexus devices. To get it over with, if you have enrolled yourself in the beta program, you will be first ones to get the update. However, you might want to check out the list of devices since it is not particularly a long list.


According to Google, only the Pixel Devices i.e. the Pixel and the Pixel XL along with Pixel C as well as the Nexus 5X and Nexus Player will get the update. Nexus 6P is listed for ‘Coming Soon’ without any definite timeline. However, if you own any other Nexus smartphone other than these, like Nexus 6 for instance, then you are out of luck here. Even Nexus 9 is not on the list, and it is indeed quite shocking since these two devices got the last build which is 7.1.1 and that too both beta and final.


It is expected that these devices will also receive the update eventually but considering the fact that they are not even listed under coming soon, makes it very obvious that the company will take a considerate amount of time to push the update for them. But do make a note that it is not confirmed yet and it could very well be possible that they will release it along stable rollout later with other devices. If you want o stay updated on this, then we suggest you stay tuned to PhoneRadar for details on this.

Super Mario Run reaches 78 million downloads, 5% of users buy full game


Nintendo has revealed that Super Mario Run has been downloaded 78 million times since its December release on iOS. The news arrives via The Wall Street Journal, which also revealed that five percent of players had paid the $9.99 fee to unlock the full version of the game.


The free-to-play title has also made more than $53 million in revenue for Nintendo so far, ahead of its release on Android in March. But are these numbers good or bad for Nintendo?


To begin with, Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima said that the company expected a conversion rate which was in double figures, meaning Run achieved — at most — half of what was anticipated in terms of players purchasing the full game.


That doesn’t necessarily mean that it made half as much money as expected, however, because Run might have been adopted by more players than anticipated. Indeed, in its recent financial report, Nintendo said that Run had “elicited a fantastic response,” surpassing “40 million downloads in four days after the release.”




10 best new Android games of January 2016!


10 hours ago



Also, consider that the $9.99 price tag to unlock the extra content is higher than what is usually paid to unlock free-to-play games: most of which are said to have a less-than 5% conversation rate.


Overall, while Super Mario Run doesn’t appear to have been an unprecedented success for Nintendo, it’s not an abject failure, and its upcoming Android release will give it another boost. Meanwhile, Fire Emblem Heroes, arriving this Thursday, and the (recently delayed) Animal Crossing mobile title should also help Nintendo’s success on mobile.


For more Nintendo numbers, check out our examination of last year’s Clash Royale and Pokemon Go revenue.

The Division 1.6 Update Release: What’s New & Changing 




It seems impossible that it’s been nearly a year since the launch of Ubisoft’s The Division, but it has. Just looking at the game’s changelog drives this home. Since it arrived on store shelves developer Massive has refreshed and updated The Division five times. The Division 1.6 Update will mark the sixth time that the studio has rolled out major changes and upgrades to the game’s story mode and player versus player arena.


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When The Division 1.6 Update release arrives, it’ll mean big changes for some of the game’s core mechanics. The Dark Zone, the game’s competitive multiplayer experience, is getting an new area that’s unlike the battlegrounds that preceded it. It’s still one of the most controversial aspects of The Division. Massive also plans to add a new setting for those that now find themselves bored with some of the game’s older missions. The studio is also using the update as an opportunity to tune older weapons and add a few new items.


The Division (4)


The Division takes players to New York City shortly after a virus has devastated its population and left city government in ruins. Ubisoft, the game’s publisher, hopes that the changes Massive is making to the game will help it better attract and maintain a dedicated fan base going into its second year. The two are planning The Division 1.6 Update with The Division Last Stand Expansion that’s expected to launch at the same time.


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Read: The Division Last Stand Expansion Release & Details


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Final release details on the update aren’t yet available, but many of the incoming changes are already available to Windows PC users that have volunteered to test new updates. Massive recently detailed lots of the updates in a post on The Division Blog.


What’s in The Division 1.6 Update: Dark Zone North


Developer Massive had to know early on that the Dark Zone would be controversial. Certainly, it knows so now. Yet again, the developer is making tweaks to the area. As it always has, the Dark Zone allows agents to take on each other and enemies generated by the game. It’s still the best way to get your hands on the game’s best gear.


Dark Zone North is a huge extension coming in The Division 1.6 Update. It’ll roughly double the size of the original multiplayer area. Rather than stay at street level, Dark Zone North will offer more underground and rooftop play spaces. New rewards give gamers a reason to explore Dark Zone North and other areas of the multiplayer experience.


the division dark zone north


The multiplayer space is getting what Massive calls Landmarks with tons of enemies that lurk nearby. Killing them gets players more character extras, but they’ll have to survive waves of deadly enemies to extract the gear that they pick up.


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Dark Zone Contamination Events force players to manage their health as they battle against waves of Cleaners in the area’s underground tunnels and corridors. Filters and masks won’t help players at all. Leaderboards will help players compare how successful they’ve been in the Dark Zone to what their friends have achieved.


What’s in The Division 1.6 Update: Legendary Mission Settings


Players bored with the story mode and Dark Zone have something new to try with The Division 1.6 Update, a new difficulty for some of the game’s missions. Now the Times Square, WarrenGate Power Plant and the Napalm Production Site missions can be set to Legendary Difficulty. With this enabled, the enemies are smarter. They’ll constantly attempt to flank agents. They’ll attack with specific skills too. The amount of enemies in Legendary Missions is directly related to the amount of players on the team.


the division turret


Players that survive all of this can expect what Massive describes as “exclusive vanity items” that won’t be made available to anyone else. Those that manage to survive Legendary Missions will receive Exotic Caches to open once a week.


What’s in The Division 1.6 Update: New Items & Refreshed States


Exotic Caches are coming at the same time as Massive launches new Exotic Weapon Sets and Unique Talents for Exotic Weapons. To be clear, Exotic Weapons are what the game considers Named Weapons today. The Exotic Weapon Sets will require two pieces to unlock their skill. A set of balancing changes will apply to any Named Weapons that players already have on their character or in their stashes.


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Using Premium Credits, players will get to purchase emotes, weapon skins and cosmetic items that have no impact on combat, but will allow players to customize their character a bit more.


the division store


There’s a slew of smaller changes for in-game items and skills planned, but Massive hasn’t finalized that list yet. We’re also waiting for the studio to confirm an official release date for The Division 1.6 Update.


As are all game updates, everything included in 1.6 will come free to owners of the game on Xbox One, Windows PCs and PS4. It’s the extras included in The Last Stand Expansion that’ll require a $15 purchase or The Division Season Pass. GameStop has used copies of The Division for $19.99.


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