PS4 Slim with Horizon Zero Dawn, Ratchet and Clank, Driveclub, and Three Months PS Plus Membership Now Available in India

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The latest PS4 Slim bundle costs Rs. 28,990
  • It comes with three highly rated games
  • Expect more bundles from Sony India in the months to come

The PS4 Slim has received yet another bundle for India. This time around Rs. 28,990 gets you a PS4 Slim 500GB console, Horizon Zero Dawn, Ratchet and Clank, and Driveclub.

In addition to this, Sony India is also throwing in a three month subscription to PlayStation Plus (PS Plus) – Sony’s online service that allows you to play multiplayer and grants you access to an assortment of games each month.

PS4 Slim with Horizon Zero Dawn, Ratchet and Clank, Driveclub, and Three Months PS Plus Membership Now Available in India

While the likes of Amazon India list the PS4 bundle for a May 31 release date, several offline retailers have confirmed with Gadgets 360 that it is available in stores right now.

Considering that Horizon Zero Dawn retails for Rs. 3,999, Ratchet and Clank is priced at Rs. 2,750 (finally making it officially in India after months of Sony deciding otherwise), and Driveclub at Rs. 1,999, this is a stellar bundle. That is before factoring in the Rs. 1,599 cost of a three month PS Plus subscription.

If you’re looking to get a PS4, this is the bundle to buy. You may want to act soon though. According to multiple sources at retail, this specific bundle will be short supply much like the previous PS4 Slim Horizon Zero Dawn Bundle.

Don’t expect it to be Sony’s last first-party bundle either. With Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, Gran Turismo Sport, and God of War expected this year, we could see more to come from the company.

Nintendo at E3 2017: Super Mario Odyssey, Rocket League, and The Legend of Zelda DLC

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Super Mario Odyssey releases October 27
  • Rocket League will have local multiplayer on Nintendo Switch
  • The Legend of Zelda’s first DLC, Master Trials, coming June 30

Nintendo’s E3 2017 event was the shortest of the lot, in part because it was a pre-recorded stream. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t enough to be excited about, including a popular third-party title, updates for Nintendo games on the way, and announcements for new games in development. If you don’t have time to watch the half-hour video, here’s a round-up of the biggest news.

Super Mario Odyssey is coming October 27
Though its existence has been known since the start of the year, a new trailer for the exploration-based Super Mario Odyssey shed light on what players can expect from the game: set outside the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario travels to a whole bunch of locations, including lush green tropical forests, deserts with palm trees, mountains, and of course its New York-inspired New Donk City.

While Mario will sport his immediately recognisable red-and-blue jumper for the most part, he’ll don new costumes – such as an all-white three-piece suit among others – during his time in Odyssey. One of the big surprises was the presence of a dinosaur, so there’s no limit to what you can expect from the game.

Super Mario Odyssey will release October 27 for the Nintendo Switch.

Rocket League will have Mario hats and local multiplayer
Since its launch, sport-driving hybrid Rocket League has exploded with the gaming community, being one of the most popular multiplayer titles across Steam and PlayStation at any given time. Now, it’s coming to the Nintendo Switch, where the game will release with exclusive Nintendo-themed items, such as Mario and Luigi hats.

It’ll also support cross-platform play, with players on PC and Xbox One. Much more importantly, Rocket League will have local multiplayer on the Nintendo Switch, which will be unique to that console. It’s great to see Nintendo pushing developers to create LAN multiplayer in their titles, something that has mostly vanished in lieu of online multiplayer.

Rocket League will release during the holiday period for the Switch, so expect it November-December.Nintendo at E3 2017: Super Mario Odyssey, Rocket League, and The Legend of Zelda DLC

Link’s adventures continue with first DLC for The Legend of Zelda
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was a launch title for the Switch, and the initial lack of games for the new Nintendo console meant most owners have more or less finished the game. If you’re one of those, you’ll be happy to know that Nintendo has its first DLC on the way. It’s called The Master Trials, and it will send Link on lots of new adventures.

Aside from new quests, The Master Trials will include The Trial of the Sword, Hero’s Path Mode, and Master Mode, as well as new armour and items. There are four new amiibos on the way too, featuring different in-game champions.

You can get the first DLC for The Legend of Zelda by getting the expansion pass for the game, which costs $19.99 (about Rs. 1,300). Master Trails will be available June 30 on Nintendo Switch.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 will release later this year
An open-world Japanese role-playing game sequel first announced earlier this year, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 kicked off the Nintendo E3 2017 event with a new trailer. The two protagonists are teenagers – a boy and a girl – who will encounter different enemies during their long journey. As expected, the trailer had multiple references to a “blade” – it’s called Xenoblade – but didn’t provide an exact release date.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is sticking to the holiday 2017 release date for the Switch.
Fire Emblem Warriors is out in autumn 2017
Nintendo provided another look at its hack-and-slash addition to the Fire Emblem canon, which will put you in control of multiple characters, including original duo Lian and Zion. Characters will show up from other Fire Emblem games too – Awakening’s Chrom, Shadow Dragon’s prince of Altea Marth, and three from Fates: Ryoma, Xander, and Corrin.

Fire Emblem Warriors will release sometime in the autumn, for the Switch and the New 3DS.
A new Pokemon game, and Metroid Prime 4 are in development
Extremely short on details, but important to players and shareholders, Nintendo announced that a new “Pokemon RPG”, and Metroid Prime 4 are now in development. The first is being made by developer Game Freak, which have crafted every Pokemon game since Pokemon Red and Blue in 1996. Pokemon Company’s Tsunekazu Ishihara said it’s in the early stages, and not to expect release for another year.

The sci-fi exploration-based Metroid Prime 4 got an announcement trailer, on the other hand, which disappointedly featured only the game’s logo. That means the game is early in development, so don’t hold out a release before the end of 2018.
Two working titles called Kirby, and Yoshi
Nintendo showed off a new side-scrolling game called Kirby at its E3 2017 presser, which finds the little pink ball going on adventures with melee weapons, changing its shape, and even being joined by his friends, with up to three other characters. Knowing the Switch, it’s very likely the game will have on-device and/or local multiplayer.
The other working is called Yoshi, which seems to be inspired by Yoshi’s Woolly World. Carrying eggs and collecting coins, it seems to perfectly fit Nintendo’s family-friendly aesthetic and style. The Yoshi game too seems to allow for local multiplayer, with the trailer showing two different-coloured Yoshi characters helping each other complete the courses.

There are no release dates for both titles, except to say they will release sometime in 2018.

 

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild DLC Details and Release Date Revealed: E3 2017

 

HIGHLIGHTS
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild got two DLC packs
These will be available on the Nintendo Switch and Wii U
The DLC packs are available under an expansion pass for $20
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has become one of the most successful games Nintendo has ever made. Making a Zelda game a launch title for the Nintendo Switch now looks to be a masterstroke as it was welcoming towards newbies and experienced players alike. Prior to the game’s release Nintendo stated that the game would get a season pass. Details at the time on what exact this would entail were sparse. That is of course until now.The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild DLC Details and Release Date Revealed: E3 2017

The first of these is called The Legend of Zelda: The Master Trials. From the gameplay trailer we saw at E3 2017, this features a series of challenges where you tackle monsters of all sizes and continue your adventures in the kingdom of Hyrule. The footage shows Link taking on various monsters with a bunch of new armor types and even a new mask called Korok Mask. There’s even a Master Mode, where you take on tough challenges such as taking on what appears to be a golem.

The second DLC is called The Legend of Zelda: The Champions’ Ballad. The trailer footage starts with a sepia-tone montage and some sorrowful music telling the story of champions of the Zelda universe. These champions include Mipha, Daruk, Revali, and Urbosa. All four are available as amiibo for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Both these DLC packs are available under a single expansion pass for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. This pass will cost $19.99 (roughly Rs. 1,300). The Master Trials DLC Pack 1 will be available on June 30, 2017, while The Champions’ Ballad – DLC Pack 2 will be available during 2017’s holiday season. Both DLC packs will be available for Nintendo Switch and Wii U.

 

Jed Whitaker’s top lit and or turnt games of 2016 fam

 

ing cat dressed up as your favorite Nintendo characters that can drive a cat-sized tank, so there is that.

Boy, that sequel to Nier looks fantastic, eh? Well, what if I told you that there exists a budget-priced title that plays very similarly to the first game, has a nice big map, an incredible story, and tight combat? I’d imagine you’d be inclined to believe me since it is in my top games of the year and is called Anima: Gate of Memories. Just be warned, the first 30 minutes almost made me shut the game off, but after a rough start it hits its stride and is addicting.

I bought in hard to VR and I honestly regret it. Out of all the games I’ve played I’d say there’s one or two tops on each headset worth playing, but nowhere near the asking prices of the “privilege goggles.” The Gallery: Call of the Starseed is one of those games. It’s a dark fantasy adventure puzzle game that hearkens back to films from the 1980s, as another game on this very list does. If you get a chance to play it, take it. Rumor on the street is the rest of the series is going to be loosely based on classic dark fantasy films such as Labyrinth, and The NeverEnding Story. I’ll dust off my Vive for sequels for sure.

The more colorful and fun (in my opinion) lovechild of Nuclear Throne and Binding of Isaac is the adorable yet difficult Enter the Gungeon. If you’re into randomly generated levels, hoping good weapons drop, and tons of secrets and unlockables in Zelda-esque dungeons, you gotta give this one a play. I especially love the dodge roll mechanic that makes you temporarily invulnerable and the ability to flip over tables to hide behind as you push them about. Simple but effective.

Oxenfree, the other 1980s-inspired dark fantasy adventure game on my list, has a killer soundtrack, gripping story with plenty of twists and turns, and the best writing of any game I played this year. This is the Stranger Things of video games, and sadly it seems most people passed up on it. The story is essentially The Goonies meets Stephen King’s It on an island with ghosts. Sold yet?

Surprise! One of the best games of the year is objectively Metroid Prime: Federation Force, regardless of any petitions for fans wanting some other mythical game they made up in their heads.

Check it, it has all the makings of a good game: an engaging story mode that can be played solo or with three other players (local or online), a frantic competitive online mode that combines soccer with a genre you wouldn’t expect (just like the highly popular Rocket League), and tons of unlockable skins. All things that people love in 2016! Plus it feels like the most authentic Metroid game I’ve played since the other Prime games, especially when played alone. You get that sense of wonder and loneliness the series is known for. Honestly, it’s the best FPS on the 3DS, though it doesn’t have strong competition.

You’ll notice that the microtransaction carrot dangler Overwatch isn’t on my list because obviously, Battleborn is better than it is. Thing is, they are completely different games in adjacent genres and play nothing alike. Battleborn is more of a MOBA with a story mode and various multiplayer modes without all the hassle of most games in the genre. The characters are chatty Cathys but oh so loveable with tons of much catchier and entertaining lines than Overwatch.

If only the publishers hadn’t pitted these games against each other and let them exist on their own without some stupid war like the whole “Halo killer” Killzone bullshit, Battleborn probably would have done alright. Now there is basically no one playing on PC and the console versions are hideous and hard to play at an ancient 30fps. Even so, I love Battleborn and I just wish everyone gave it a chance instead of doing what everyone was good at in 2016: picking sides and hoping the other one dies.

My personal pick for game of the year unsurprisingly goes to Owlboy, a game that I consider perfect, which is unsurprising thanks to its nearly 10-year development. The pixel art is some of the best I’ve ever seen, the soundtrack is up there with Zelda and Cave Story as one of my favorites of all time, the story is gripping, and the characters are memorable, lovable, and downright charming. I love Owlboy so much that I’d even go as far to say that not only is it the best game of the year, it is certainly in my top three games of all-time, if not my favorite game of all time. Please, buy it, love it, and support it. D-Pad Studio legit has earned and deserves your money.

So there we have it, another perfect list of games in a very shitty year. Some notable games are missing from this list other than Overwatch, but you can mostly assume I just haven’t had the time to play them like Doom and Titanfall 2. Also, Hearthstone is still one of my top games, but why tell you the obvious in a giant paragraph? I look forward to my list of games in 2017 that will surely include many Nintendo Switch games and a bucket-load of Steam games.

Hitman FREE – First episode of game free on PS4, Xbox One and PC from today

 

The first episode of Hitman from today will be free on PS4, Xbox One and PC
The first location in the IO Interactive game, the Playground, features two story missions, two Escalation contracts and more than 40 challengers.Hitman is completely free to play on the PS4, Xbox One and PC from today and is NOT a limited-time offer.

The first episode will be free to download from 5pm BST today, or if you’re in other European countries 6pm CEST.

If you choose to buy the full game your save data and everything you earn during your Hitman playthrough will carry over.

You can also get 60 per cent off the price of the full Hitman game this week on all platforms.

Hakan Abrak, CEO of IO Interactive, said: “I’m proud to announce that our first hello as an independent studio is to invite all gamers to play the beginning of HITMAN for free.“There is a lot of love out there for HITMAN and with this offering we hope that many more will fall in love with the game. We believe that this is Hitman at its best. So jump in and give a try.”

The offer comes after IO Interactive on Friday secured an agreement with Square Enix to become an independent studio.

They also retained the rights to the Hitman franchise.After the agreement last week was announced, Abrak said: “This is a watershed moment for IOI.

“As of today, we have complete control over the direction for our studio and the Hitman IP – we’re about to forge our own future and it’s incredibly exciting.

“We are now open to opportunities with future collaborators and partners to help strengthen us as a studio and ensure that we can produce the best games possible for our community.”

The latest version of the Hitman franchise initially received backlash from fans after taking a new, episodic release structure. The full season was later released as one standalone title.

However, the game has since received a warm reception from critics and fans, with a strong 84 per cent rating on Metacritic based on 40 different reviews.Hitman free on PS4, Xbox One and PC

HITMAN FREE – WHAT YOU GET IN FIRST EPISODE• The ICA Facility will be available as a free download on PS4, Xbox One and PC
• The download includes everything released for that location
• Two story missions (including all cut-scenes)
• Two Escalation Contracts
• More than 40 challenges
• 17 achievements and trophies
• Plus thousands of player-created missions in Contracts Mode
• Players who download the ICA Facility for free will be able to keep all of their progress when they upgrade to the full game

 

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 Launched in India: Price, Release Date, Specifications, and More

 

HIGHLIGHTS
Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 was globally unveiled at MWC 2017
It sports a 9.7-inch QXGA Super AMOLED display
It was launched in Wi-Fi only and LTE variants
Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 was launched in India on Tuesday at an event in Bengaluru. The productivity-focused tablet was first unveiled at MWC 2017 in Wi-Fi and LTE variants. It will be made available in India via offline retail stores and the Samsung India site from Tuesday itself.

The highlight of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is the inclusion of the S Pen stylus (featuring a 0.7mm tip and 4,096 pressure levels), as well as an all-new glass design. The tablet also offers HDR video playback capabilities, and a quad-speaker system that has been tuned by AKG.

Other Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 features being touted by the company include the Galaxy Game Launcher (with Power Saver, Mute Games, and Ongoing Calls modes). The tablet also supports a Keyboard Cover that’s sold separately. Finally, the company is touting the up to 12-hour battery life, powered by the 6000mAh battery onboard.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 price in India and launch offers
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 price in India is Rs. 47,990 for the LTE variant. The company has not brought the Wi-Fi only variant to the country. The tablet will be available in Black and Silver colour variants. The Book Cover has been priced at Rs. 2,999, while the Keyboard Cover has been priced at Rs. 8,499. The S Pen is bundled in box.

As for launch offers, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 gets a double data offer for Reliance Jio users, providing 28GB + 28GB per month at Rs. 309 – this offer is valid till December 31. The company is also offering a one-time screen replacement at Rs. 990 for tablets bought before July 31, for 12 months from purchase.

samsung galaxy tab s3 india launch gadgets 360 samsung
samsung galaxy tab s3 india launch gadgets 360 samsung

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 specifications
Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 specifications include a 9.7-inch QXGA (2048×1536) Super AMOLED display; a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 (2.15GHz + 1.6GHz), 4GB of RAM; a 13-megapixel rear camera with autofocus, an f/1.9 aperture, and LED flash; a 5-megapixel front camera with an f/2.2 aperture, and 32GB of storage that’s expandable via microSD card (up to 256GB).

Moving along, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 connectivity options include 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth v4.2, USB Type-C (3.1) port, and a 3.5mm audio jack. As we mentioned, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 battery is rated at 6000mAh. It measures 237.3x169x6mm, and weighs 429 grams for the Wi-Fi only variant, and 434 grams for the LTE variant. The latter variant supports Nano-SIM cards. It bears a fingerprint sensor on the Home Button. The tablet runs Android 7.0 Nougat.

Disclosure: Samsung sponsored Gadgets 360’s flight to Bengaluru for the launch event.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (LTE)
Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (LTE)

Rs. 47,990
Buy
KEY SPECS
NEWS
Display
9.70-inch
Processor
1.6GHz quad-core
Front Camera
5-megapixel
Resolution
2048×1536 pixels
RAM
4GB
OS
Android 7.0
Storage
32GB
Rear Camera
13-megapixel
Battery Capacity
6000mAh
BUY AT
Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 (LTE) (Black, 32GB, 9.7 inch with Wi-Fi+4G) – OFFER
Rs. 47,990

 

Sony Xperia X, Xperia X Compact gets Android 7.1.1 Nougat and June security patch update

 

Sony starts rolling out the latest Android 7.1.1 Nougat for Xperia X and Xperia X Compact. Both the smartphones were originally announced with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, however, in November last year, Sony started pushing out Android 7.0 Nougat update for the handsets. And now with Android 7.1.1 Nougat OS onboard, both Xperia X and Xperia X Compact users will get a range of new features and updates.

Well, along with the Android 7.1.1 Nougat update, the Xperia X and Xperia X Compact  devices will also receive June Android security patch update. This is confirmed by Xperia blog. The blog post mentions, “Sony Mobile is rolling a new Nougat update for Xperia X and Xperia X Compact owners that moves them from Android 7.0 to 7.1.1.”Sony Xperia X

Also Read: Sony to focus on flagship Xperia phones, Xperia X and X Compact to be axed

Furthermore, according to Xperia Blog, the new Android Nougat update for Sony Xperia X and Xperia X Compact will come via a new build number 34.3.A.0.194. However, there is no mention if the software update will be rolled out globally, or only to select markets. With the new Android Nougat OS update, Sony will bring a number of features to both Sony Xperia X and Xperia X Compact device.

Picture Courtesy: Xperia Blog

App shortcut, support for circular app icons, fingerprint swipe down gesture, keyboard image insertion, night light, new emojis, split screen mode, quick notification, doze mode and a lot more feature will come to the Xperia devices with Android 7.1.1 Nougat update. Sony is probably rolling out the Nougat update eventually. While some users who have already received the software upgrade have complained about a few features being missing. One user said, “7.1.1’s best feature is app shortcuts and Xperia home doesn’t even support it”, while the another one said, “The Cons: After updating it, I found out that Sony doesn’t even provide the new clock widget for the lock screen! This is so called ‘their pathetic marketing”.

Also Read: Sony Xperia XZ Premium 4K HDR phone with Motion Eye camera launched at Rs 59,990

Some users also said that with the new update, Sony brings New Smart Stamina Mode and Xperia Actions features on the Xperia devices.

Sony recently launched the Xperia XZ Premium with 4K HDR phone with Motion Eye camera. This premium smartphone is launched at Rs 59,990. Xperia XZ Premium is the follow-up to last year’s Xperia X Performance, and succeeds 2015’s Xperia Z5 Premium. The smartphone comes with 19-megapixel Motion Eye camera system on the rear which is further coupled with phase detection and laser autofocus features. The Xperia device sports a 5.5-inch IPS LCD display and runs on Android 7.1.1 Nougat-based Xperia UI. The device is further powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 processor coupled with 4GB RAM and 64GB of internal storage, which is further expandable by up to 256GB via a microSD card and is backed by a 3,230mAh battery and supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0.

 

The 6 Best New Android Apps And Games

 

The phone you have now might be more powerful than a supercomputer from the early 90s, but that won’t do you any good unless you have cool software for it to run. You need good apps and games. The problem, though, is figuring out which of the many new titles in the Play Store are worth your time. Well, here they are. After many hours of toil and testing, these are the best new apps and games you can get on Android right now.

Firefox Focus (Free)

The trend lately has been for browsers to do as many things as possible, but that’s not what Firefox Focus is about. This browser runs on the same engine as other versions of Firefox, but it eschews things like extensions, tabs, and even bookmarks in the name of privacy.

Firefox Focus

Ryan Whitwam

Firefox Focus

When you open Firefox Focus, all you have is a search/address bar. That opens a single tab, and that’s all you get. You can use the floating action button at any time while browsing to close the page and clear data. There’s also a notification that does the same.

Focus defaults to blocking all ads and most trackers. You can shut this feature off in the menu if that breaks a page, but most of the time it just makes pages load faster and use less data. And of course, there’s the privacy aspect. Firefox Focus is free to download.

Neon Chrome ($9.99)

There have been plenty of top-down shooters on Android, but I think Neon Chrome is the best one yet. This comes from the developers of the fantastic Crimsonland, and it takes the twin-stick shooter genre to a new place with randomly generated levels, amazing replayability, and deep customization.

Neon Chrome

Ryan Whitwam

Neon Chrome

Your goal in Neon Chrome is to fight your way through 20-something levels to take out the Overseer. This is a tough game, so expect to die a lot at first. Each time you die, it’s game over. However, you can use the credits earned to improve your character for the next run. The game doesn’t get stale, either. All the levels are randomly generated, and various character classes and perks encourage you to try different approaches to victory.

Neon Chrome has a rad cyberpunk style with lots of neon colors (duh), lighting effects, and cool character design. It’s an expensive game at $10, but it’s so worth the price.

Adobe Scan (Free)

You don’t need a scanner anymore, you have a phone. Well, you need an app to make your camera act like a scanner, too. There are several good apps that do that, but the new Adobe Scan might be the best one yet. To scan a document, just set it down and point your camera at it. Adobe Scan automatically finds the edges and captures the image.

Adobe Scan

Ryan Whitwam

Adobe Scan

You can add as many pages as you want to a document, and the app is very good about flattening, sharpening, and transforming the images into something vaguely page-shaped. You can manually re-adjust the crop if you want, but Adobe Scan is extremely good at doing it all automatically.

The documents you create with Adobe Scan can be instantly exported as a PDF, or you can upload them to the Adobe Creative Cloud. The app also runs text recognition on the documents you scan, making them searchable via the Acrobat app. Not bad for a free app.

Spaceplan ($2.99)

Clicker games are usually good for a few minutes of mindless fun, but Spaceplan manages to make a clicker game fun by dressing it up in a sci-fi package and tossing in some excellent writing. So what is the strange animal? As the description says, it’s  “based partly on a total misunderstanding of Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.”

Spaceplan

Ryan Whitwam

Spaceplan

Spaceplan follows the exploits of a lone human (you) and the AI of the spaceship you find yourself stranded on. You’re orbiting an odd planet, and the only way to get home is to generate enough power to scan the surface, investigate your surroundings, and maybe travel through time a little. Amusingly, all the power comes from various forms of potatoes and tapping on the “kinetigen.” That’s the clicker aspect.

Spaceplan has simple geometric graphics, but the game feels very well-crafted. The dialog is witty and you’ll actually care about the story, wacky though it may be. This is the perfect game to play for a few minutes while you’re waiting in line someplace. The $2.99 price tag is a real bargain.

Audvel (Free)

Interested in some auditory entertainment? Podcasts are a good, free way to pass the time. The apps for listening to them often cost a few bucks. The new podcast app Audvel is completely free, though.

Audvel

Ryan Whitwam

Audvel

You need to log into Audvel with either your Google account or another email, but it automatically syncs your subscriptions between devices. That’s one of the essential features of a podcast app for me. No one wants to lose all their subscriptions when they switch phones. You can add new subs from the app’s discovery section, or search for your favorites.

You can stream new episodes or download them for offline playback. When listening, Audvel includes built-in support for increasing playback speed. It also compensates for the increase speed by lowering the pitch. It’s not the most full-featured app, but it’s still very new and completely free. There are supposed to be ads in Audvel, but I haven’t see any yet. A future in-app purchase to remove such ads seems likely.

Card Thief (Free, $1.99 upgrade)

As the name implied, Card Thief is a card game. However, it’s also addictive and hugely intense. That’s not usually something you’d say about a card game. In Card Thief, you play the role of a thief on a heist, and the only way to make off with the loot is to knock the other cards off the board until you reach the end of the deck.

Card Thief

Ryan Whitwam

Card Thief

Card Thief comes with a lengthy tutorial, which a good thing as the rules are somewhat esoteric. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to move your thief around the board, taking out guards, disarming traps, and eventually snagging the treasure chest before beating a hasty retreat. You remain alive as long as you have stealth points, but each actions like extinguishing lights and taking out guards use some of them. The key to success is understanding how to move strategically to maximize your stealth points and avoid the light.

Card Thief has a distinctive hand drawn “gothic” art style, and the animations are more elaborate than you’d expect from a card game. For example, the guard cards emote and change based on their alert status. Card Thief is an extremely well-made game, and you can try it free. If you like it, the ads can be removed for $1.99.

 

Location and context advances in Android

 

Google’s annual developers conference in May, Google I/O, featured many announcements, accomplishments and 2017 plans. Of particular interest, the Android Location and Context Team’s talk “Android Sensors & Location: What’s New and Best Practices,” is available online.

This followed a keynote by CEO Sundar Pichai on solving problems at scale with deep neural networks, machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI). He also spoke about a shift from a mobile-first model to AI-first. Google is doing this across every product area, applying AI and machine learning. Other keynotes updated Assistant, Photos, YouTube, Superchat, Android and VR (virtual reality).

The Android Location and Context team — Marc Stogaitis, Wei Wang, Souvik Sen and myself — spoke about background location, location accuracy, activity recognition, Android sensor hub, Android sensors and the future of location and context.

Discussing why battery life is so important, we showed detailed graphs on the costs of accessing different parts of the phone subsystems like WiFi, GNSS and making data connections.

Then we introduced Background Location Limitations (at the 4:30 point in the posted video) coming with Android’s latest operating system in Android O. These limits will prevent applications from misusing Android’s APIs in the background, thus saving its user’s battery. There were examples on how to make your app background ready for these upcoming changes.

We showed plans for location accuracy improvements (12:50) coming later this year and comparisons of existing vs. upcoming solutions for the positioning algorithm.

We covered the tools to help analyze GNSS measurements. How strong are the individual measurements? How accurate are the range measurements? With these tools, developers now have direct insight into the lowest layers of a GNSS receiver. Then came activity recognition algorithms (15:40) and how deep neural networks will improve the precision of these algorithms and help advance the field in activity recognition.

I spoke spoke about the Android Sensor Hub (20:27), how Google is leveraging the capabilities of an always-on low-power processor in Android phones. The sensor hub allows Google to port algorithms such as Activity Recognition, Geofencing and Gestures from the main application processor into the low-power sensor hub. We then went into detail around the new sensor features (25;55) and improvements around the compass (28:34).

Finally, we looked into the future (33:28). I covered Project Elevation, Accurate Indoor Location, and dual-frequency GNSS. Closing thoughts were around how more signals are going to be added into the low-power always-on compute domains so that the phone is more aware and intelligent, simplifying users’ interactions, augmenting human memory and knowledge, and assisting users understanding of themselves and the world around them.

Access to Raw GNSS Measurements

In related news, our new web page is up and operational!  This site provides all the details around GNSS Raw measurements in Android along with our analysis tools for anyone to download. Our previous site was accessible to people who signed up as a partner with Google, but now we have opened up this site to everyone.

Android GNSS Analysis Tool: Shows how you can select and run the analysis on a per satellite basis. This tool now supports multi-constellation and dual frequency (L1+L5) by default

Android apps typically access GNSS chipsets through a filter, which improves the GNSS location output for the majority of use cases. Filters use additional sensors, such as motion sensors, to improve the end user experience. However, filtering is not appropriate for some applications used by professionals such as researchers and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) developers. The Android Framework provides access to raw GNSS measurements on some Android devices. The page lists Android devices that support raw GNSS measurements as well as tools that help you log and analyze GNSS data.

 

Two Nokia feature phones reach TENAA, likely 105 and 130 successors

The new Nokia 3310 was a blast from the past, but HMD is interested in feature phones for more than just the nostalgia. Two new Nokia handsets – TA-1010 and TA-1034 – have landed at the TENAA facilities.

These are believed to be the successors of the Nokia 105 and Nokia 130. They don’t offer much in the way of features, instead they are pure simplicity. The new 105 doesn’t even have a camera! Still, the original 105 used to cost €11 (before taxes), so we’re probably looking at a similar cost here (the new 3310 is kind of pricey).

New Nokia 105 (TA-1010): in Black New Nokia 105 (TA-1010): in Black New Nokia 105 (TA-1010): in White New Nokia 105 (TA-1010): in White
New Nokia 105 (TA-1010) in Black and in White

As for the new Nokia 130, this one does have a camera and is a dual-SIM device (dual-standby). TENAA doesn’t list any more features, though we think the list is pretty complete – again, these are S30+ phones, there is not much to them. It seems that they don’t even have 3G, which could be a problem soon as some carriers have started sunsetting 2G.

New Nokia 130 (TA-1034) New Nokia 130 (TA-1034) New Nokia 130 (TA-1034) New Nokia 130 (TA-1034)