Russia is convinced that Google's policies on pre-installed Android apps are anti-competitive, and it's now drawing a line in the sand. The country's regulators have ordered Google to remove restrictions on bundled third-party apps by November 18th if it wants to avoid stiff fines, which could include up to 15 percent of its Russian revenue from last year. That means allowing device makers to load directly competitive apps and search widgets, even if it means bumping Google's own software to lesser positions on your home screen.
Today Amazon started delivering their new tablet models to customers who had pre-ordered in the UK. I received my £49 Amazon Fire 7″ (2015), and this is my unboxing. Yes, you did read that correctly, it’s just £49.
quad-core processor and 1GB RAM
7″ 1024×600 display
8GB storage with Micro SD expansion slot for up to 128GB
Amazon Fire OS based on Android 5.0
Packaging has been simplified and is now less refined and solid than previous Fire tablet models. Simple, lighter cardboard in an arier box than before probably is one of the factors in enabling Amazon to reduce the price too.
Just as with the packaging of previous models, cardboard is the main material with little or no plastics involved, apart from the sheathing of the tablet itself.
The hardware of the tablet itself is as simple as it gets: all controls and ports are lined across the top, just round the corner from the front facing camera which is placed centrally in the upper bezel.
The device is currently undergoing a software update. Keep your eyes on Coolsmartphone.com for the full review of this surprisingly affordable Amazon tablet running Fire OS, Amazon’s flavour of Android.
Anxious to know when Android 6.0 Marshmallow will reach your existing devices? Google is more than happy to oblige. Existing Nexus devices will start getting Marshmallow next week, including the 5, 6, 7, 9 and Player. And of course, if you spring for the shiny-new Nexus 5X or 6P, you'll get Marshmallow right out of the box. There's no word on third-party device updates just yet, but we'd expect news from some manufacturers in the near future. Be prepared to wait longer than Nexus owners, though -- other companies' customized takes on Android typically require more time in the oven.
Get all the news from today's Google event right here.
Fans of Apple's smaller iPad Mini caught a tough break last fall when the company unveiled its new tablets for the year. Although Tim Cook & co. lavished plenty of attention on the faster, slimmed-down iPad Air 2, the upgraded iPad Mini 3 was regarded as a mere afterthought. The list of changes was so short, in fact, that some of us wondered why Apple would introduce a performance gap between the Air and Mini lines. Still more people wondered when they'd get a Mini with enough power to match its larger sibling. Turns out, the answer was "a year later." I've been testing the new iPad Mini 4 for over a week now and can say with confidence this is the Mini we should've gotten last year.Slideshow-323041
The launch of iOS 9 was supposed to be a joyous occasion if you own an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch, but it didn't always work out that way. A bug left some stuck on the "slide to upgrade" screen, preventing them from using their gear unless they rolled back to iOS 8 or started fresh. If you're one of those glitch victims, you'll be glad to hear that relief is in sight: Apple has released an iOS 9.0.1 update that (you guessed it) makes sure you get past that upgrade screen. It also tackles a few other hiccups that could sour your initial experience, including one that prevented some alarms and timers from playing. As such, you'll probably want to check for the update right away. And if it's too late to avoid the worst, Apple's support site (linked above) has a guide to getting your device back to normal.
You may have fond memories of playing games on the family TV as a kid, but the next generation might not feel the same way. The NPD Group has published a report showing that more 2- to 17-year-olds in the US are playing games on phones and tablets (63 percent) than on consoles (60 percent). That may not sound like a big gap, but it was only two years ago that consoles captured 67 percent of young eyeballs. They're playing more often on those mobile devices, too, at an average 6 hours per week. And sorry, PC gamers, your platform of choice isn't as popular as it once was. Computer gaming has fallen from a heady 67 percent adoption back in 2013 to 45 percent today.
Apple may have taken a long while to get users upgrading to iOS 8, but it isn't having any such trouble with iOS 9. The iPhone maker has revealed that more than half of all iOS devices are already running the new software less than a week after it launched. That's the fastest adoption rate yet for the platform, if you ask the folks in Cupertino. That's certainly better than on Android, where just 21 percent of users are running Lollipop, but it's not really that surprising when you realize that Apple has bent over backwards to put iOS 9 on as many devices as possible.
Yesterday there was yet another shooting in America. That, in itself, isn’t unusual and will probably continue for quite some time yet. What was different was the fact that the double murder occured on live morning TV. Footage from Virginia has already appeared on news bulletins all over the world but then, just to make matters even worse, the shooter uploaded another video – one he’d recorded on his smartphone from behind the gun. It is, let me tell you, shocking.
The video shows WDBJ7 TV reporter Alison Parker getting shot from close-range by the killer – disgruntled ex-employee Vester Lee Flanagan, aka Bryce Williams. She screams and hits the floor as more bullets sink into her back. It’s all captured in HD before the gunman turns his attention to cameraman Adam Ward, killing him too.
The gunman went on the run, posting updates on Twitter. The social network quickly blocked the account after he started tweeting his grievances and “reasons” for the murders. However, the information was already out there and he’d even had time to post his sick Call Of Duty-style video onto Facebook.
Facebook is a social network which has already courted controversy, blocking pictures of mothers breastfeeding but allowing photos of beheading. Whether the video was removed it not, it was all too late. People had already grabbed the footage and uploaded it elsewhere.
It’s bad enough that the full un-cut footage from the live TV feed is on YouTube, but what makes matters worse is that the full un-cut footage from the killer’s smartphone is there too. It’s been uploaded dozens and dozens of times, perhaps more, and is now grabbing the catchy handle of “WDBJ7 Shooter POV” (Point Of View). If you haven’t seen it, just ask your kids. If they’ve got a device that’s not in your sight then they’ve probably seen it. You can put all the blocks and age restrictions you want on their account, but if they can get to YouTube then they’ll probably find gore, horror, destruction and death very easily.
YouTube has their own special way of dealing with inappropriate videos. Firstly, they’ll need “the community” to flag them, and then they’ll probably wait until quite a few people have flagged it before taking action. They’ll also rely on their own tech, which looks for re-uploads of footage which has already been classed as “inappropriate”. Trouble is, people are aware that they can just re-edit the footage, rename it a bit and then get it online again.
Having age restrictions is simply useless on YouTube, because the community decide what’s appropriate and what isn’t. With so many videos and so many re-uploads of this horror show, it’s a constant game of whack a mole. Plus, even when that community does decide that a video is inappropriate, someone at YouTube then has to agree.
Basically, if you want to see a video and it’s blocked, you’ll probably find a slightly different but equally disturbing version which hasn’t been blocked yet.
To show you how easy all of this is, I took to YouTube just a few hours after all this happened to show the problem…
I’m not blaming parents, I’m not blaming kids. The kids are inquisitive and parents, even when we’re trying our best to protect kids, need to know just how insanely easy it is for kids to see this.
No, I’m not going to preach. Perhaps it’s just me. I think we’re all becoming a little desensitized now. Is it REALLY a good thing for us all to be able to watch people being murdered so easily? Is it right that the iPod or iPhone you got your child can show that at the click of a button without you ever knowing?
We live in a world where new reporters just regurgitate Twitter posts and YouTube videos, looking for the most shocking headline just to keep the precious visitor count up.
We live on a world where social networks and video sharing sites rely on users to moderate and filter an endlessly huge amount of content. It’s a system which simply does not work. It’s like trying to herd cats or trying to push water uphill with a rake.
We live in a world where kids have phones with access to YouTube, a site where you can see dismembered bodies after searching for a “crash aftermath” or “fatal accident” with little or no concern for the person watching. Screw it. Hits and adverts, that’s more important to a website than protecting your child. That’s more important than twisting up the next generation to such a point where filming the aftermath of a car or plane crash is more important than actually, you know, helping people. Oh no, wait. That’s already happening, right now.
Samsung is reportedly working on a tablet so big that it may even make Apple's rumored 12.9-inch iPad Pro seem minuscule by comparison. According to SamMobile, the company that popularized the phablet is now hard at work on a tablet with a gargantuan 18.4-inch display.
Based on information obtained by the site, the rumored tablet will sport a TFT LCD display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080, an octa-core 64-bit 1.6GHz Exynos 7580 processor, 2GB of RAM, a respectable 32GB of storage, and to top it all off, a microSD card slot. Rumored to run Android 5.1 Lollipop, the device will reportedly feature an 8 megapixel rear facing camera and a front facing 2.1 megapixel camera.
My house at the moment sounds insane. My wife and son are both obsessed by the new Angry Birds 2 game that recently launched. It’s not quite the hysteria of the first one, but it’s definitely proving to be a big hit. What I’ve also found, after briefly managing to “borrow” the family iPad yesterday, was that we’re “subscribed” to several reoccurring monthly packages. These range from “clubs” to special “packages” within apps that are either 30-day free trials or deals which someone clicked on in order to advance further within a game.
App developers are having to take this approach because advertising revenues just aren’t enough unless your app is hugely popular, so in-app purchases and subscription payments help. Apple are also seeing app store revenue increasing. Games are beginning to take the lion’s share of the market. In fact, Apple raked in $15 billion in total sales last year, a big jump from $10 billion in 2013. This shows that the App Store’s continual success is rivalling that of traditional console game retailer Nintendo. My son has a Wii U but rarely uses it. So what exactly is happening to the gaming sector?
I try to ensure that my son only uses the iPad when someone is checking what he’s doing, but as they get older, children start getting their own gadgets. It could be an iPad, an iPhone or some other kind of smartphone. Nearly every adult has one too, so games can be in your pocket all the time. There seems to be no need to drive home, fire up a console and then find that game from a drawer – as it’s ready instantly.
In America, 60% of the adult population own a smartphone. Which means in theory, 60% of the adult population almost always have a gaming device close to them at any given moment. The opportunity is there, and any “dead time”, such as waiting for a bus or sitting on a train is the perfect moment to advance a few levels on your favorite game. Have a look next time you’re on the train or in a queue at the supermarket. Someone will be playing a puzzle game or perhaps playing Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, QuizUp, or something similar.
Those games are largely offered as “free” at the point of download. This is done, as I mentioned earlier, thanks to a mix of advertising and in-game purchases. Companies such as Browsergamez are able to offer a wide range of free games in a similar way and these games will appeal to hardcore and casual gamers alike. As with the app stores, there’s strategy, action, and RPG options – all easily accessible.
What I’ve become aware of recently, especially when monitoring my son, is how games are marketed and geared towards male adult gamers. Game of War uses risqué advertising and, if we look at more traditional consoles, blood splattering shooter games are one of the biggest genres. 18-rated games are regularly played by children many, many years younger and you’ll probably see Call of Duty or the Halo series in their bedrooms across the world.
However, a report in The Guardian shows that schools and parents want better enforcement of ratings, so we’ll hopefully see less bloodthirsty games played by younger children, and instead see them playing games more suited to their age. With that, I won’t have to spend all day saying, “No, you can’t play that one.”