Saturday, December 9, 2017

Microsoft Edge has been downloaded over one million times on Android

Microsoft surprised folks back in October when the company released its Edge browser for Android. We say “released,” but the app was in preview up until almost two weeks ago. Even so, Microsoft hit an important milestone as Edge officially surpassed one million downloads on Android.

We realize how minuscule that number can be when compared to Microsoft’s other offerings on the platform. For example, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneDrive have all surpassed the 100-million-download threshold. Even Microsoft’s Authenticator app, which provides a two-step authentication process for Microsoft products and services, as well as multi-factor authentication for other services, already passed the one-million-download threshold.

Even so, Edge’s one million downloads is an impressive feat. For one, it was available in preview form for almost two months before shedding its beta tag not too long ago. Also, thanks to the number of downloads, Edge is the third most-popular free communication app on the Play Store, with Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp the only apps in front.

Editor’s Pick

Personally, I’ve grown to like Edge on Android, thanks to its use of Chrome’s Blink engine. This gives Edge the same feel as Chrome on Android has, which lends to its snappy nature.

Edge also includes a solid number of features, such as Favorites, Reading List, New Tab Page, and Reading View. There is also a dark mode, in case you don’t want your retinas to burn in low-light scenarios, and “Continue on PC,” which lets you pick up where you left off on your Windows 10 version of Edge.

That’s where Edge really becomes useful, though it stands just fine on its own as a solid Android browser alternative to Chrome. It might not feature extension support, something I really miss when navigating through ad-heavy webpages, but Edge is a solid alternative to the likes of Firefox and Opera.

You can give Edge a download at the link below, if you want to give it a spin, and let us know in the comments if you’ve given Edge a shot.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Google to make gaming more diverse via its Change the Game initiative

There’s a problem in the mobile gaming industry that not a lot of people like to talk about. Women are vastly under-represented in games despite making up about half of gamers. Google is on a mission to change this and has rolled out a new initiative to make gaming more inclusive. The initiative is called “Change the Game,” and through it, Google is planning diversity programs, new partnerships, and research through 2018.

According to a study commissioned by Google, 49% of gamers in the United States are women. That includes 65% of women aged 10 – 65. Women are also more likely to prefer mobile games over other platforms like PC or consoles (64% to 38%). The study also discovered that 43% of women play mobile games five times per week or more; only 38% of men do the same. The top reasons women gave for playing mobile games include entertainment, stress relief, and restful moments.

Editor’s Pick

Despite all of these facts showing how engaged women are, games tend to court more male players. For instance, there are more male characters featured in game icons in the Play Store. In fact, of the top 100 grossing games on Google Play, 44% more of the apps feature male characters over female characters. Women think that 30% or fewer of all mobile games are made for them due to this prominent featuring of male characters.

And this is just the issue with female representation within games. It gets even worse when you look at female representation among those who make games. Just 27.8% of those in the gaming industry identify as a female, transgender, or another gender identity. Google argues, “the industry’s lack of diversity limits its ability to build games that resonate with a wide and diverse audience.”

So, those are the problems, but what is Google planning to do about it? First, it’s promoting diversity in and of games. Google is highlighting games with strong female characters in the Google Play Store’s Indie Corner. It also created Infinity Deviation: Games to help more people get in on the processing of making games.

Google is also shining a light on female players. When you’re as big and powerful as Google, people pay attention when you talk. Google will use this influence to spread the word that not all players are men. If more people know that women game and more women feel comfortable talking about their games, attitudes can start to change.

Google’s final goal is to get more girls coding. It’s teaming up with Girls Make Games to create opportunities for girls to “envision, design, and develop mobile games.” Through Google’s Made with Code, its introducing teen girls to computer science and teaming them to develop games, make music, create entertainment, and fashion through coding. Google says going forward, it will continue to build and scale programs for skill development, career opportunities, and mentorships.

You can find out more at Google’s Change the Game website.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

These gifts look like something out of Star Trek

This holiday season there are plenty of great phones, tablets, and other gizmos worthy of your spending dollar. But many of these products seem a bit too familiar. It’s 2017 and the future is here! Tech from settings like Star Trek are quickly becoming reality. So why be content with the same old boring toys? 

If you’re looking for something that truly looks like it belongs in the future, we’ve gathered up a list of gifts that stand out in a sea of sameness, offering a glimpse of a future that once seemed like something relegated to the realm of Sci-Fi. 

ZTE Axon M: A phone that’s more than just a phone

For years we’ve heard about how the future of smartphones and tablets will include ones with flexible or foldable displays. It’s 2017 and finally someone decided to move past concepts and actually deliver. That someone is ZTE.

The ZTE Axon M might not have a truly foldable display, but it’s a real-world solution that gives us a taste of this promised future. 

The ZTE Axon M uses two 5.2-inch IPS Full HD panels that are connected to a hinge that, when it is folded out, turns the device into one that can be used as a single, 6.75-inch tablet-like device.

Editor’s Pick

As you can imagine, this phone stands out in a crowd. One moment you have an ordinary device, but with the flip of a hinge you get a product that brings mult-tasking to a new level. With the Axon M you can not only extend your apps onto both displays, but you can run two different apps at the same time. You can even fold it in a tent-like mode and watch a movie while a friend can see what you are seeing on the second screen.

Without a doubt, this is one of the most unique phones you can buy right now. You can get it via AT&T for $724.99 without a contract, or for $24.17 a month for 24 months. 

learn more at ZTE

Asus ZenFone AR: Blend reality with the virtual world

Virtual reality and augmented reality are two technology trends that are slowly but surely gaining traction. The recently released ASUS ZenFone AR is well equipped to handle both. It is the first, and will likely be the last, smartphone that incorporates support for both Google’s Daydream View VR headset and the company’s Tango AR platform.

Editor’s Pick

The VR part of the phone is pretty straightforward. Owners can buy one of Google’s Daydream View headsets, connect it to the phone, and run any Daydream VR game and app. The Tango features are more complicated. The ZenFone AR has special sensors and cameras that are designed to map out the space beyond the phone and use it for AR apps made especially for Tango. You can, for example, map out your living room and then use a Tango app to place items in the space that you mapped, so you can see how they would look if you added them in real life. You can imagine this as a primitive form of Star Trek’s tricorder.

The bad news is that Google decided to retire the Tango platform just a few weeks after the ASUS ZenFone AR launched, in favor or ARCore, which lets developers add AR features in Android apps without the need for special hardware and sensors in phones. The ZenFone AR is still a pretty powerful phone on its own, however, so you can still use it as a regular handset, while also checking out its more futuristic features. You can get it unlocked for the starting price of $599.99.

Nintendo Switch: It’s a console, no it’s a portable. No, it’s both. 

Nintendo tries to do new and different things with its home consoles, and its most recent release, the Nintendo Switch is no exception. It’s been designed so that it can turn quickly from a high-end game console that you hook up to your TV over to a portable handheld console.

When on the go you can play for up to six hours thanks to a built in battery. You can also play it with two of the console’s Joy-Con controllers, one on each side, or you and a friend can play games on the portable screen, each with a Joy-Con in their hand. You can even put a pair of these new controllers in a Joy-Con grip accessory, if you want a more old fashioned console experience.

One day we will all play games like this, switching from a mobile device over to the big TV screen. The Nintendo Switch offers a chance to get in on the ground floor on what we think will be the future of video games. You can get the Nintendo Switch right now for $299.

Lenovo Yoga Book: Part tablet, part laptop, all future

While tablets are great for watching movies and otherwise checking out media content, they are not so useful for work. Lenovo wanted to bridge the gap between tablets and regular laptops with the innovative Yoga Book. Available in versions running on either Android or Windows 10, the Yoga Book’s biggest feature is its Halo keyboard. It can project a virtual full-sized laptop keyboard for work, but that keyboard can also completely disappear. Owners can then use the included stylus on the secondary screen’s Create Mod, for writing notes or for  drawing artwork that can be saved on Lenovo’s own note app.

Come to think of it, this is a bit like the PADD devices you might have seen on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

While reviews have claimed that the keyboard takes some getting used to, this kind of functionality will likely become more commonplace for smaller tablets and/or notebooks. The ability to write and draw without the need to access the main display could be seen in future products. At the moment, the Android versions of the Yoga Book is available for $313 at Amazon, while the Windows 10 version is priced at $393.

Sense with Voice Sleep System

Everyone is looking for new and better ways to sleep better at night. A recently launched product called Sense is designed to not only help you sleep better, but it can even monitor your activities while you are sleeping. The Sense device itself, which looks a bit like the inside of a golf ball, is placed on your bed table or nightstand, while a Sense clip is fastened to one of your pillows. The Sense device can generate ambient sounds and white noise designed to make you fall asleep faster and more soundly, and its alarm can wake you up in the morning when you are sleeping the lightest.

The clip sensor collects data based on your movement at night, and with the included smartphone app, can give you the numbers on your specific sleep cycles so you can know what steps to take to optimize your bedtime experience. You can get the Sense device right now at Amazon for $55.

Amazon Echo: control your digital life with nothing more than your voice

Perhaps more than any other product, the Echo connected speakers from Amazon can make you feel like you are in a Star Trek episode. With the speaker’s use of Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant, you can simply ask it for information, or to play music, or to watch a movie in natural language. You and members of your family can also connect Echo speakers to smart home products like light bulbs, locks, cameras and more and command them with your voice.

The standard Amazon Echo is now in a second generation version, and the smaller and cheaper Echo Dot provides much of the same features. The recently launched Echo Plus combines a smart speaker with a smart hub for more direct control of connected devices in the home. The Echo Show adds a 7-inch display for watching videos and even making video calls. Finally, the upcoming Echo Spot (which starts shipping in mid-December) is a smaller puck-shaped version of the Show with its own display.

If you don’t have a lot to spend on gifts, the $50 Amazon Echo Dot is a really great starting point. 

Samsung CHG90 Series Curved 49-Inch Gaming Monitor: this beautiful curvy beast is straight out of Sci-Fi film

We don’t have Star Trek’s holodeck yet, but PC gamers who want to truly get an immersive experience without having to put on VR glasses should check out Samsung’s huge 49-inch curved gaming monitor. In very basic terms, you are getting the equivalent of two 24-inch curved screens merged into one, with a resolution of 3,840 X 1,080 and an 32:9 aspect ratio. The massive screen, combined with its curved design, means that if you are playing the latest Call of Duty game, you will be literally surrounded by the the battlefield, directly in your eye and in your peripheral vision as well.

In addition to its sheer size, this monitor from Samsung includes support for HDR10 and its own QLED Quantum Dot technology to make sure that the image is the best it can be. If you own an AMD Radeon graphics chip, the monitor also supports its FreeSync 2 tech that helps to sync up the display refresh rate with little to no image tearing in games. As you might expect, this kind of tech doesn’t come cheap; you can buy the monitor at Amazon for $1,430, but it may be worth it if you really want to feel inside the game.

You don’t have to settle for boring tech. As the above gifts show, there are plenty of great looking tech items out there that truly look like they are from a Sci-Fi movie set. Even better, they open up new possibilities that just weren’t possible even a few years ago. 

Disclosure: E-Commerce Content is independent of editorial content and we may receive compensation in connection with your purchase of products via links on this page. This post may contain affiliate links. See our disclosure policy for more details.

Monday, December 4, 2017

iOS 11.2 Problems: 5 Things You Need to Know

Apple’s iOS 11.2 update delivers fixes for lingering issues, but it’s also brought some frustrating problems to iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users.

The new version of iOS 11 brings a long list of changes including key bug fixes and enhancements, but some users are reporting installation problems, abnormal battery drain, Wi-Fi problems, lag, and issues with Bluetooth.

In this guide we’re taking a look at the iOS 11.2 problems plaguing Apple’s devices. We also want to help those of you running into bugs and performance issues.

This walkthrough will show you where to find potential fixes for the most common iOS 11 issues and provides some resources that could come in handy if your version of iOS 11 starts acting up.

Our walkthrough also takes you through how to downgrade from iOS 11.2 and a few things we expect from Apple and is iOS updates going forward.

iOS 11.2 Problems

It’s early, but we’re already seeing and hearing complaints about iOS 11.2. Some of these problems are brand new, others have carried over from the previous versions of iOS 11.

iOS users have run into various iOS 11.2 installation problems including errors in iTunes and stuck downloads. If your iOS 11.2 download gets stuck, hard reset your phone or tablet.

iOS 11.2 users are also reporting heavy battery drain, lag, AirPlay issues, random reboots, Touch ID problems, touchscreen issues, problems with sound, issues with Siri, problems with first and third-party apps, and issue with Face ID. If Face ID isn’t working on your iPhoneX, a simple reboot should alleviate the problem.

Apple’s official discussion forums, Reddit, and social media sites like Twitter are starting to fill up with complaints about iOS 11.2 and we expect to see new problems emerge in the weeks ahead.

You can’t predict what kind of performance you’ll see on your phone or tablet and that’s why we recommend doing some prep work before you install iOS 11.2 on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

We’ve put together a step-by-step process and our checklist will take you through everything you should do before jumping to iOS 11.2. A little prep work can go a long way toward preventing issues.

Where to Find Feedback About iOS 11.2

As we push away from the iOS 11.2 release date it’s important to keep your eyes on feedback coming from your fellow iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch owners.

Digging into ongoing iOS 11 feedback will alert you to potential benefits and potential problems. The problems discovered today are just the tip of the iceberg.

We’ve put together some reasons to and not to install the iOS 11.2 update to help get you started. If you’re on the fence about making the move to iOS 11.2, start there.

We also recommend keeping an eye on YouTube, Apple’s discussion forums, social media sites like Twitter/Facebook, and the MacRumors forums for additional feedback about the current version of iOS 11.

We’ve also put together some first impressions of iOS 11.2 on the iPhone and we’re in the process of publishing mini iOS 11.2 reviews for the iPhone X, iPhone 7, iPhone 6siPhone 6, iPhone 5siPhone SE, and the iPad.

How to Fix iOS 11.2 Problems

If you start running into trouble on iOS 11.0, iOS 11.0.1, iOS 11.0.2, iOS 11.0.3, iOS 11.1, iOS 11.1.1, iOS 11.1.2, or iOS 11.2 there’s no need to panic. You can manually fix most issues from the comfort of a computer chair or couch.

Before you take your phone or tablet down to an Apple Genius you should try fixing the problem on your own.

We’ve put together a list of fixes for the most common iOS 11 problems. The list is a great starting point for those of you dealing with iOS 11 issues.

We’ve also released a list of tips that could help you improve your device’s performance and some ways to fix iOS 11 battery life problems.

If you’re unable to find a fix for your issue in those guides, you should go to Apple’s discussion forums for help. If Apple’s forums aren’t helpful, you can get in contact with Apple Support via Twitter or via the company’s website.

If Apple’s online support can’t help, you should schedule an appointment to see a Genius at your local Apple Store. They should be able to diagnose your issue and provide you with a fix or a replacement depending on your warranty.

You Can Downgrade from iOS 11.2

You can also try downgrading back to a previous version of iOS 11 if you think that might help.

Apple is still signing off on iOS 11.0.1, iOS 11.0.2, iOS 11.0.3, iOS 11.1, iOS 11.1.1, and iOS 11.1.2 which means you can drop back down to an older version of iOS 11 in an effort to improve your device’s performance.

Apple will only sign off on these updates for a short time which means you’ll need to move quickly. It won’t announce anything ahead of time.

The company is no longer signing on iOS 11.0 or iOS 10.3.3 which mean there’s no going back to iOS 10. Once you move to iOS 11, you’re stuck.

If you’re curious about the downgrade process and how it works, take a look at our detailed walkthrough.

What’s Next

Apple hasn’t confirmed an iOS 11.2.1 update so it could be a few days before we see the next bug fix update.

If Apple follows the pattern it used with iOS 10, we might have to wait until next year for the next bug fix update. Apple released iOS 10.2.1 in late January. The company also released the first iOS 10.3 beta in early 2017.

For now, those of you struggling with iOS 11 problems are you’re on your own.

4 Reasons Not to Install iOS 11.2 & 8 Reasons You Should

Install iOS 11.2 for Better Security

Install iOS 11.2 for Better Security

Apple hasn’t outlined the security patches on board the iOS 11.2 update, but we expect those details to emerge soon. We expect it to have new patches for potential exploits. 

If you skipped iOS 11.1.2, iOS 11.1.1 and iOS 11.1, you’ll probably want to download the iOS 11.2 update today or sometime in the near future.

The iOS 11.1 update delivered eight security patches including a fix for a serious Wi-Fi vulnerability called KRACK or Key Reinstallation Attack. KRACK is an exploit that targets the common WPA2 encryption protocol.

If you’re just now making to move from iOS 10 (or whatever you’re on) to iOS 11, your iOS 11.2 update will come with additional security features.

Apple’s first iOS 11 update delivered several patches for potential exploits. iOS 11 also comes with new security features aimed at keeping your data safe. Elcomsoft recently discovered a change to the way iOS deals with trusted devices.

In iOS 11 you can’t establish trust with a PC using fingerprints alone. You’ll also need to put in a full passcode in order to gain that trust.

If you skipped older versions of iOS, your iOS 11.2 update will come with an even longer list of security patches.

Apple’s iOS 10.3.3 update delivered 24 security patches addressing potential issues with Contacts, Messages, Notifications, and Safari. It also included a patch for a potentially dangerous Wi-Fi exploit called “Broadpwn.”

If you skipped iOS 10.3.2 you’ll get 23 additional patches in iOS 11.2. And if for some reason you missed iOS 10.3, you’ll get 60 security patches with your version of iOS 11.2.

If you want to protect the data you store on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, you should make your move to iOS 11.2 soon.

This is particularly important for those of you running older versions of iOS.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Google is cracking down on apps collecting info they don’t need

Google is rolling out a number of changes designed to protect users on Android. Earlier this week, we reported on new rules that banned apps from displaying ads on your lock screen. These could potentially trick users into downloading unwanted software or sharing data that they don’t want to. Now, Google is cracking down on apps that share information it shouldn’t.

The Safe Browsing team is laying out new restrictions on how apps collect a user’s data. Under the new policy, apps must provide their privacy policy and prompt users to share their data. This applies to everything from a user’s phone number to the list of apps installed on the phone.

Applications which collect and transmit personal data not required for the app to function must tell users how the data will be used.

If an app collects and transmits personal data unrelated to the functionality of the app then, prior to collection and transmission, the app must prominently highlight how the user data will be used and have the user provide affirmative consent for such use.

The new requirements will apply to all functions of an app. For example, if an application wants to send analytics or crash reports, it cannot transmit the list of installed packages unrelated to the app unless it discloses that and gets permission from the user.

Editor’s Pick

Interestingly enough, apps downloaded outside of the Play Store are subject to this policy too. No matter where it comes from, the app must follow the policy or Google Play Protect will show a warning whenever it tries to collect your data without telling you. Google will also show the familiar red warning boxes when you try to visit a website that distributes an offending app.

Developers and webmasters have 60 days to implement changes before Google will step in and warn users.

What do you think about these changes? Will they cut down on the number of apps that take your information without telling you? Let us know down in the comments.


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