pokemon-go-red

Tired of all those Pokemon Go bugs? Things are getting a little better with the latest update to version 0.31.0, which comes with a plethora of fixes and improvements. Some changes may be more welcomed than others, but at least we know Niantic Labs is working on improving the app.

Here is the full change log: 

  • Avatars can now be re-customized from the Trainer profile screen
  • Adjusted battle move damage values for some Pokémon
  • Refined certain Gym animations
  • Improved memory issues
  • Removed footprints of nearby Pokémon
  • Modified battle damage calculation
  • Various bug fixes during wild Pokémon encounter
  • Updated Pokémon details screen
  • Updated achievement medal images
  • Fixed issues with displaying certain map features
  • Minor text fixes

Definitely one of the coolest changes is that we are now able to customize our avatars whenever we want. This was something we could only do when creating a profile, which meant users had to stick to their avatar and regret their decisions later. Now you can go back and easily change your clothes in the user profile section.

Something else that catches our eye is the removal of the footprints for nearby Pokémon. What’s up with that? How are you supposed to know how close a pocket monster is?! Well, you will just have to keep walking to find out. The footsteps feature became an issue when it stopped working some weeks ago, and of course Niantic thought the best solution was to get rid of it altogether.

The rest of the fixes are more minor, but very welcomed. After all, the popular app seems to be full of issues, so we are happy to see updates coming constantly. As usual, the update is rolling out in stages, so be patient (or not). Now, when will I be able to trade Pokémon?

Android 7.0 Nougat statue copy

We’ve seen a lot of changes in the Android Developer Preview program since its inception in 2014 with Android L. While Lollipop only saw one developer preview, Android M would end up offering three previews. With Android N, Google has upped its game even further, with the fifth and final preview of Android 7.0 Nougat arriving earlier this month. So what’s next for Android 7.0 and its release cycle?

Typically final versions of Android don’t arrive until October, but with the aggressive development schedule we’ve seen with Nougat, we can’t help but wonder if the update will arrive a bit earlier this year. If Evan Blass (aka @evleaks) proves correct, the answer is “yes, it’s coming next month”.

Android 7.0 releases next month, with the 8/5 security patch. Sorry Nexus 5 owners, no Nougat for you 😢

— Evan Blass (@evleaks) July 30, 2016

Further backing up Evan’s claims, a recent post on reddit claims one Nexus 6P user was accidentally pushed to Android 7.0 build NRD90M when attempting to ditch the Nougat developer preview and return to the stable Android 6.0.1 release. For those that don’t know, “R” in the build name stands for release, and so this was likely an internal build that Google is testing out in preparation of the final release. In other words, all signs point to a final release in the very near future.

So what does that mean for Google’s 2016 Nexus phones? Google traditionally releases new Android builds alongside Nexus phones and tablets. Unless Google plans to break tradition and release Nougat to existing Nexus phones first, that means we might be seeing the next generation HTC-made Nexus phones as early as next month. Again, Google has proven more than once that it’s willing to break its own rules, so almost anything could happen.

What do you think of Android 7.0 Nougat so far? Excited that we may seen the final build in just a few short weeks? Do you think Google will also release new Nexus phones early, or will they push the update to existing Nexus phones first and hold off on the new Nexus phones until the fall?

When it comes to smartphone generations, history has proven that sticking to a tried-and-true formula doesn’t work. Consumers expect improvements on almost every front and there’s a huge backlash when these expectations are not met. Even when they are not even possible, the unwavering demand for the new, the improved, the better, is constant.

With this in mind, and in the light of the extensive information we now have on the Galaxy Note 7 ahead of its official unveil, has Samsung reverted to its old ways? Is Samsung in for a painful reminder that last year’s design, yesterday’s specs and an outgrown approach to features are a recipe for disaster?

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 iris scanner registrationSee also: Another Galaxy Note 7 leak: iris scanner setup, S Pen and edge features221

To give you the back story, the Galaxy Note 7 as it has been leaked is exceedingly – and problematically – familiar. It looks near identical to the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, which themselves look a lot like the Note 5 and Galaxy S6. Most of the features it adds, like an IP68 rating and edge features, are nothing new. The full specs that have just been leaked are almost exactly those of the Galaxy S7 Edge, albeit with a slightly larger screen and slightly smaller battery.

The Note 7 we’ve seen so far smacks of the Samsung of old: lazy design, largely pointless features and a failure to innovate.

The Samsung of old

To be critical, this smacks of the Samsung of old: lazy design, largely pointless features and a failure to innovate. You witnessed the immense flack HTC caught for the largely unchanged design in the HTC One M9.

You likely remember that pre-Galaxy S6 Samsung was under constant fire for not changing the design of the S Series in any substantial way since the generational shift from Galaxy S2 to S3. You’re familiar with the constant sneers when it comes to Sony’s uninspiring Omnibalance design language.

Even if your recipe is near-perfect you can’t get away without making changes for long. Now, it has to be noted that the Galaxy S7 Edge is the closest I think any manufacturer has ever come to the ‘perfect’ smartphone. But it is still full of compromises. The IP rating makes the speaker terrible, the edge features, following a brief honeymoon period, inevitably never get used again.

The glass back is the among the most disgusting surfaces known to man: a permanently oily mess of fingerprint grease and smudges. It’s incredibly slippery and relatively prone to scratches. There is still plenty of work to be done and the smartphone market has never been tougher.

The Galaxy S7 Edge is the closest I think any manufacturer has ever come to the ‘perfect’ smartphone, but there is still plenty of work to be done.

Galaxy S7 Edge teaser 2

Same specs but different

When it comes to the specs we’ve just seen leaked, releasing a new phone six months after the last with essentially identical specs in a slightly larger format sounds more like a Galaxy S7 Edge Plus than a Galaxy Note 7. Is the simple addition of a stylus really all that is demanded by the Note faithful?

Are Samsung fans – and haters for that matter – really going to accept the Note 7 as a new flagship rather than just a larger S7 Edge with a stylus? Samsung is certainly onto a winning recipe with the S7 so it’s understandable that they don’t want to mess it up. But perhaps by doing nothing new they are flirting with disaster.

From what we’ve seen so far, the Note 7 feels more like a Galaxy S7 Edge Plus with a stylus than the Galaxy Note 7.

When you have two major flagship lines you can’t be expected to completely reinvent the wheel with every new release. This is obviously unsustainable and we’ve certainly seen S series devices and Notes that share more than a few similarities in years past.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, but it’s the kind of attitude that has seen Samsung and other manufacturers tossed under the bus before. It doesn’t matter if it’s unreasonable to expect constant innovation and improvement. That is simply the nature of the consumer beast, whether it’s reasonable or otherwise.

samsung galaxy s6 vs galaxy s5 aa 6

A temporary shakeup

If the specs and renders we’ve seen so far are true, then it’s hard not to feel like Samsung’s big shakeup in terms of design and features we saw following the Galaxy S5 was nothing more than a passing affair. Brought about by a dire sales situation but only temporary in nature and not a permanent indicator of the Samsung to come. That the company now, having achieved monumental success with the S7, is satisfied to let things ride, unchanged, until the next big consumer meltdown.

Is Samsung now satisfied to let things ride, unchanged, until the next big consumer meltdown?

Of course, there may be untold depths of innovative new software features hidden beneath the shiny surface of the leaked press renders. But the leaked system image and Grace UX beta have already shown us that we shouldn’t expect too much from the new UI except lots of white and a cleaner layout.

The battery life might well be amazing, the camera software might be even better. The possibility of a front-facing flash will surely satisfy many but adding an IP rating simply seems overdue. Adding an edge with no flat option is perilous. While an iris scanner is undeniably cool, is it really enough to get consumers lining up, cash in hand? As things stands right now, it’s a little difficult to get truly excited for the Note 7’s arrival.

Is the addition of an iris scanner an IP rating really enough to get consumers lining up, cash in hand?

The chances of failure

Could the Note 7 be a massive failure? Probably not, to be honest. Note users tend to be hugely loyal. The Note 7’s new tick list is sufficiently long that at the very least those dedicated few will be happy with it. Its larger form factor and iris scanner will undoubtedly attract others.

Screen recording and GIF making with the S Pen, downscaling to 720p to save battery, iris unlocking (and probably app locking), double the base storage, edge features, USB Type-C, an app drawer that can be sorted alphabetically…you can see how these add up to something that seems good. But they’re a long way from what I would consider exciting.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 iris scanner registration

Perhaps we’re just at that point now where all smartphones are good enough. That the huge technological advances of years past are long gone (just look at how good flagship cameras are across the board now). That it’s hard to pack brand new features into phones that are already jam packed with features. That we essentially have everything we actually need in a smartphone already.

Who knows. Only time will tell if the Note 7 is held up as an example of refined design, improved performance and enhanced features. Or if it’s ridiculed as the emperor’s new clothes. All I know for sure is that right now it feels like not much has changed from the phone I’ve been using for the last six months; that things are starting to feel eerily familiar, but not in a good way.

What do you think of the Note 7 you’ve seen so far? What phone are you most excited for?

The monstrous 6.44-inch Mi Max seems to be an oddity among today’s smartphones, but it certainly can’t be judged on that factor alone. Let us find out whether Xiaomi’s latest smartphone is any good. Read more…

pokemon go razz berry

Brooklyn native and Pokemon Go legend Nick Johnson made headlines last week when he announced that he was the first person in the United States to catch all 142 Pokemon currently available in North America. Now he’s striking out into the world to finish up his collection.

For those not in the know, Pokemon Go has a few serious barriers that prevent players from catching ‘em all. First of all, Ditto is flat out missing from the game, as are a handful of legendary Pokemon (including the Legendary Birds), although Niantic has teased that these will be released as part of special events. However, four particular Pokemon only appear in certain geographic regions.

Pokemon Go Splash screen 2See also: Japanese officials plead with Niantic to remove Pokemon Go sites from Hiroshima memorial24

Tauros, for instance, has only been spotted in the United States. Mr. Mime appears to be a European exclusive, Farfetch’d has only shown up in Asia, and you have to come from a land down under to get the Australian-specific Kangaskhan.

Johnson, who is head of platform for Applico, is setting off on a globe-trotting journey to secure these elusive, regionally-locked Pokemon in order to become the first person in the world to collect all Pokemon currently available in the game. He’ll be taking the journey free, thanks to sponsorships from Marriott Rewards and Expedia.

Johnson and his girlfriend will be hitting Paris to snag a Mr. Mime, Hong Kong for Farfetch’d, and Sydney for Kangaskhan. If you’d like to follow his quest to literally be the very best like no one ever was, check out his Snapchat account nja212.

What are your thoughts regarding this real life Pokemon master? Let us know in the comments below!

pokemon go pokedetectorNext: This app notifies you when Pokemon are near without opening Pokemon Go16

 

lenovo-vibe-p1-turbo-launched

A piece of Lenovo hardware clearly befitting the term “Turbo” just passed through Geekbench, but with Vibe P1 Turbo having launched in India earlier this year, this smartphone’s benchmarks suggests that it’s the rumored Lenovo Vibe P2.

Lenovo’s earlier iteration on its Vibe P1 might have left you wondering what the company defines as “turbo,” considering that the Vibe P1 “Turbo” is nearly identical to the specs of the base Vibe P1, which launched last fall. Now it appears Lenovo is truly turbo-charging the Vibe P family as the company finalizes what we’re calling the Vibe P2 for the time being. Lenovo hasn’t given any official indication that the smartphone exists, so that placeholder is the best we’ve got for now.

Project Tango Lenovo logo2See also: 10 interesting facts about Lenovo24

The Lenovo Vibe P2, its outline illuminated by Geekbench benchmarks, will come with Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow stock. It’ll crunch numbers using a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 clocked at 2.02 GH and backed by 4GB of RAM. That’s a full step up from the Snapdragon 615 used by both the Vibe P1 and Vibe P1 Turbo.

If this is indeed the successor to the Vibe P1, you can expect it to be powered by a hearty battery. The Vibe P1 and P1 Turbo both boasted a 5,000 mAh battery with support for Quick Charge 2.0. The 5.5-inch, full HD Vibe P1 and its turbo version also included a 13 MP rear camera, 5 MP selfie cam, and fingerprint sensor. The RAM is mark that distinguishes these twins, with the Turbo offering a gig more than the base model’s 2GB.

So what do you think? Do you subscribe to the theory that this smartphone is the Lenovo Vibe P2? Let us know your take in the comments!

Lenovo K5 NoteNext: Lenovo Vibe K5 Note to be a Flipkart exclusive in India10

moto-360-2nd-gen-review-aa-4-of-27

Well, looky here! Daily Steals is currently running an incredible offer on refurbished Moto 360 smartwatches. These are the second generation of this device, and they’re currently going for $150. Considering Motorola is currently selling these babies new for $300 or greater on their website, this is a fairly stellar deal.

In the spirit of the Ford Model-T, these Android Wear devices are available in any color you want so long as that color is black. If you’d rather spring for the leather, silver, or gold options for the Moto 360, then you’re going to have to fork over full price at a different retailer. However, these refurbished smartwatches are available in both the 42mm and 46mm variants.

promo268963651See also: Moto 360 (2nd Gen.) review21

If you’ve been wanting to get into the Android Wear ecosystem but haven’t really felt like breaking the piggy bank for it, then now might be your chance to get in on the action and see if smartwatches are for you. This is one of the best prices we’ve seen for a wearable of this caliber, and it’s likely that it will receive the update to Android Wear 2.0.

What are your thoughts regarding this deal? Is this something you’d think about scooping up? If you’re a Moto 360 (Gen 2) owner or have owned refurbished Motorola products, let us know what your experience with them has been like in the comments below. You might just help someone make a more informed purchasing decision!

Check out the deal! moto 360 2nd gen review aa (4 of 27)Next: Best Android Wear watches67

nvidia shield tablet k1 sold out1

So a few days ago we went to do a routine sales options check on the NVIDIA Shield Tablet K1, and we discovered it was out of stock on NVIDIA’s website. Puzzled but not dismayed, we hit up Amazon next only to discover that it was only available from third party sellers. A quick jaunt over to Newegg produced similar results: no Shield Tablet K1 devices to be seen. What gives?

nvidia shield tablet k1 sold out2

NVIDIA has made no formal announcement regarding the tablet’s unceremonious disappearance, and it seems odd for the company to have discontinued the product so relatively early in its lifespan. It’s possible that there have been some issues regarding production further up the manufacturing pipeline. As it stands, it looks like you can currently only get your hands on a Shield Tablet K1 if you go through a third party.

aa-shield-k1 (1)See also: NVIDIA Shield Tablet returns as the Tablet K1, priced at $200 (quick look)23

nvidia shield tablet k1 sold out

We’ve reached out to the company and have been told by a representative that there has been no internal memo regarding the device’s possible discontinuation. The Shield Tablet K1 will allegedly reappear on the NVIDIA website as well as on other retailers’ sites, but NVIDIA could not confirm any timeframe for this reappearance.

aa-shield-k1_front_2Recent coverage: NVIDIA Shield Tablet K1 gets June security patch, Professional Audio requirements and more

What are your thoughts regarding the NVIDIA Shield Tablet K1’s mysterious disappearance? Will we see it return, like a phoenix from the ashes, or is this the end for NVIDIA’s gaming-centered Android device? Let us know your opinion in the comments below!

AALogoVulkanSmall
With the announcement of Android N back a few months ago, Google mentioned that Android would be supporting the new Vulkan graphics API . If you haven’t heard of Vulkan then we have a full rundown in our Vulkan – everything you need to know article, plus we did a deep dive into making high performance 3D apps with Vulkan. One key question is this, how does Vulkan perform compared to OpenGL ES 3.1 and OpenGL ES 2.0? Let’s find out.

Methodology of the tests

At the moment, there is no easy way to test Vulkan versus OpenGL ES 3.1 on Android. My go to 3D engine Unreal Engine does not support the Android-24 API, so while Vulkan is technically supported, I was not able to get Vulkan working on my Nexus 6P to do this.

Instead, I will be using Nvidia’s samples for this article to test Vulkan, OpenGL ES 3.1 and OpenGL ES 2.0 on my desktop for performance tests and Unreal Engine for graphics comparisons between Vulkan on mobile with OpenGL ES 2.0, OpenGL ES 3.1. In the Nvidia tests the CPU and GPU usage will all be monitored and the graphics quality will be noted in the Unreal Engine tests. Let’s get started with graphics.

Graphics comparison

OpenGLES2v3.1small
Vulkan offers greater performance compared to its OpenGL brothers and greater control of the hardware allowing for a boost in graphics quality do to better optimizations. But how does this translate into the real world?

Compared to OpenGL ES 3.1, at least in Unreal Engine made for mobile, there is no difference in graphics. That being said, most games run in OpenGL ES 2,0, and there is a huge difference here, which you can see above. The problem with OpenGL ES 3.1 is that while the graphics look immensely better than OpenGL ES 2.0, the performance hit is so great that games are basically not playable, looking at the image above comparing OpenGL ES 2.0 and 3.1 on my Nexus 6P shows that the exact same scene runs at a third of the frames per second compared to OpenGL ES 2.0. This is where Vulkan comes in, offering at least the same in graphics quality, but with improved performance. So how does Vulkan do?

Performance comparison

VulkanversusOpenGLES31Fish
Vulkan does amazing actually, the results show that Vulkan more than triples the FPS compared to OpenGL ES 3.1. There are a few reasons to why this is. First, it may be hard to see in the picture, but my computer’s CPU usage is more than doubled on all 8 threads and my computer is able to handle two million fish per second compared to around 900 thousand while using OpenGL ES 3.1. The multithreading capabilities are a lot better with Vulkan, allowing for all 8 cores to get a workout, not just one.
CPUVulkanversusOpenGLES31
The CPU usage reported in task manager is more than likely a bit misleading. I believe this is the case because Vulkan spreads out the load of this example across all 8 cores, instead of just one with OpenGL ES 3.1. So while it is technically using more of my CPU, the CPU is not as stressed as the work is spread out between the cores. Notice that the RAM usage does not change between tests as well.

Looking at the draw calls, Vulkan allows for a little more than 3 times the amount compared to OpenGL ES 3.1. A “draw call” is how many objects are being drawn on the screen at a time. Usually, you want this number to be lower, as performance can suffer, but in this case, the new API stomps all over ES 3.1 while still having a higher draw call.

Looking at the GPU usage while running these tests, it’s about the same, with about 20 percent GPU usage in Unreal Engine and 4 percent for the Nvidia test. OpenGL ES 3.1 used about an extra percent than its newer brother. While this is essentially nothing to my desktop, on a phone this could be a huge difference and we could see 10-20 percent GPU difference possibly. What is actually giving it better performance is the lower level control and relying on the developer more than the drivers to decide where your device’s resources go.

Looking at this data, Vulkan still will not perform as well as the lower graphics capable OpenGL ES 2.0, as Vulkan displays a lot more on screen and the scenes it can render are a lot more complex, but this is to be expected.

Imagination has also observed similar results in their tests. Showing that the CPU load is spread across the four cores and the FPS increases by quite a bit. This test really shows how well the new API works with multiple threads and how much it benefits from doing this.

What does this mean for Android?

This is an interesting question, as at the time of writing, there are only a few devices that are actually able to utilize Vulkan. While new flagship devices running Android 7.0 will most likely support Vulkan, it will take awhile for developers to integrate the new API into their games, especially since third party engines do not fully have Vulkan integrated for Android, like Unreal Engine. Or not at all, like Unity.

All of this will come with time, of course, but I would not hold my breath, as there are a few stars that need to be aligned before your device supports the new API. For reference, Vulkan will be supported on Snapdragon 8xx and up with Adreno 4xx GPUs and up and Exynos 5433, 7420 and 8890 and presumably everything proceeding those models. Once Vulkan is used correctly, games will see a massive jump in quality with very little to no penalties as the API and hardware advances over the years. This is definitely an exciting time to be a developer and gamer.

Wrap Up

Vulkan looks very promising for not just Android, but also for the desktop. The numbers do not lie, and Vulkan beats OpenGL ES 3.1 no problem. The real question is how fast will developers start implementing the new API in their games. As engines progress and development gets easier, I see no reason why not to.

Let us know in comments what you think of these results!

uber

Hailing a ride on Uber just got easier because you can now book their cab directly using just the Snapdeal app.

While Indian consumers have been enjoying the wave of discounts, bargains, and offers being given by e-commerce companies in their bid to woo customers, the intensifying competition is also forcing the players to enter into partnerships for trading their products and services on each others’ platform.

In April 2015, the online marketplace Snapdeal (Jasper Infotech Pvt. Ltd) forayed into the services space by acquiring Freecharge, a utility bill payments and mobile wallet service provider, for a huge $400 million, marking the biggest-ever acquisition in the Indian consumer Internet history. Snapdeal has now just begun offering flight and bus ticket bookings, hotel reservations, and food ordering services on its platform by entering into partnerships with Cleartrip, redBus, Zomato, and home services provider UrbanClap. Offering a range of services through partnerships, instead of just discounts, opens up additional revenue streams for Snapdeal and also ensures that users remain on the platform.

In its latest tie-up, Snapdeal has partnered with Uber by launching in-app integration with the ride-hailing service. This means that if you book a flight or a hotel from the Snapdeal app, you can now travel to the airport or the hotel in an Uber cab by booking the ride directly from the app without needing to install the Uber app on your device.

Snapdeal is currently offering this service on smartphones sporting Android 4.0 and higher, but has assured us that it will soon roll out the feature for other operating systems as well. If you’ve already installed the Snapdeal app on your Android device, then you’ll need to update it to the latest version in order to take advantage of this new feature.

This isn’t the first time that Uber is accepting bookings from outside its own app. For instance, in the US, Facebook recently tied up with Uber by allowing Messenger users to book their cab directly from its messaging app. Here in India, Google has also recently updated its Maps apps to make it easier for users to search for an Uber or Ola cab close to their location. It’ll be interesting to see if Snapdeal’s Indian rivals, Flipkart, Amazon, and Shopclues, also enter into similar partnerships or focus purely on selling products.

Snapdeal is now also offering a Rs 150 discount on your first ever Uber ride, and Rs 50 cashback on all subsequent rides today. You can download the Snapdeal app from the Google Play Store here.

Let us know in the comments below if you’ll find it convenient to book an Uber cab using the Snapdeal app!

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