Carl Pei deletes “learn to love the notch” tweet after outcry from fans

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Yesterday, Carl Pei talked up the decision to add a notch to the OnePlus 6. He even tweeted “Learn to love the notch” with a link to his interview with The Verge. Now that tweet is gone, deleted. Pei’s timeline doesn’t mention even a peep about a notch. Here’s a copy of the deleted tweet: Learn to love the notch 😉 https://t.co/Rd9lkcksJV — Carl Pei (@getpeid) March 28, 2018 Understandably, there was an outcry from fans – they didn’t like the new design direction. Admittedly, that’s not uncommon, every new design has its detractors. Still, there must have been quite the…

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Apple HomePod Review: 5 Things We Love About Apple’s Smart Speaker, & a Few We Don’t

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Apple rarely invents new products. Instead, it typically waits for other companies to enter an industry, learns from their mistakes, and then releases a finished product that is superior to anything else on the market. When Apple released the Apple I computer in 1976, for example, the company was far from being the first personal computer firm established, and yet the Apple I was the most polished product of its kind on the market at the time. When Steve Jobs created the original Macintosh computer, he took the idea for the mouse and graphical user interface from Xerox. The iPod and iPhone are also great examples: AT&T released the first portable media player five years before the iPod came out, and the iPhone was released more than a decade after the first smartphone came out in the mid-‘90s. So, when Apple released the HomePod almost three years after Amazon released the Echo and almost one year after Google released the Google Home, it felt like a familiar formula.

The problem this time around, however, is that while the smart speaker market is still relatively new, Amazon has already proven to be a formidable competitor. Amazon’s Alexa platform now has over 25,000 third-party voice apps (called skills.) Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and CEO, claims that Amazon has already sold over 20 million Alexa devices. The Google Home can also perform a ton of tricks that the HomePod currently cannot, such as controlling your TV (through Chromecast integration) and recognizing multiple voices. The question is whether Apple has done enough to differentiate the HomePod from the competition. After spending a month with the HomePod, here are my firsthand experiences.

Audio Quality

Apple has decided to position the HomePod as a speaker first and a smart device second. As a result, the HomePod is in a different tier than the Echo and Google Home when it comes to sound quality (as well as price.) Personally, I like that Apple has chosen to focus on sound quality. One of the main reasons I hadn’t purchased an Echo up until now, despite hearing good things, was that I didn’t want to listen to my music on a terrible speaker. I did at one point purchase an Echo Dot, but it proved to be a hassle to connect to my existing speakers.

The HomePod has an impressive bass and a rich sound that comfortably fills a room without causing distortion. During setup, it automatically analyzes the space it’s in and customizes its audio to take advantage of the acoustics in the room. Before the HomePod came out, many websites claimed that the audio was comparable to a high-end audio system worth thousands of dollars. I have found the sound quality of the HomePod to be good but not great. It certainly is not comparable to a high-end audio system. While the speaker’s bass is very impressive for such a small speaker, the mid-range is a little muddled, and the high notes are underemphasized, which leaves guitar and vocals sounding a little muddy. Overall, it had a comparable sound quality to other mid-level speakers such as the Libratone Zipp and Sonos One, both of which retail for around $ 200 and have Amazon Alexa built in. The HomePod uses Apple’s AirPlay system to stream audio to your phone over Wi-Fi. AirPlay has higher quality audio compression than Bluetooth, and you don’t have to pair the speaker with your phone like you do with Bluetooth. When testing AirPlay with other speakers in the past, I’ve experienced frequent connectivity issues that caused the audio to cut out periodically. The HomePod, however, has been very consistent. A big downside is that, unlike with Bluetooth, AirPlay will not work unless you’re connected to Wi-Fi.

Using Hey Siri

I often struggle when using Siri on my iPhone. Half the time my phone doesn’t wake up when I say, “Hey, Siri.” And when it does, it frequently mishears my request. Because of this, I was a little concerned about how the HomePod would perform. I’ve been pleasantly surprised though by how well the speaker handles commands. The microphones are designed to pick up your commands even while the speaker is in use. I’ve found that Hey Siri works pretty reliably, and there are far fewer misunderstandings than when I use Siri on my iPhone. The only problem I occasionally encounter is that I have so many Apple devices in my room that when I say “Hey, Siri,” the wrong device is sometimes activated. Apple has said that multiple devices in a room communicate with each other when you make a command, and will figure out which one should be activated, and will mostly default to the HomePod. For the most part this is true, but every once in a while, my iPhone will activate instead.

Another downside of the HomePod is that it doesn’t support third-party apps yet and has a limited number of commands it responds to. Most of its commands are for Apple Music, which is, of course, only helpful if you are an Apple Music subscriber. I am a Spotify subscriber, so all of the Apple Music functionality is of very little use to me.

Apple’s Ecosystem

The biggest advantage the HomePod has over the competition is Apple’s ability to tightly integrate the smart speaker with the rest of its ecosystem. This advantage is made apparent right out of the box. To set up the HomePod, you simply plug it in and hold your iPhone nearby. A prompt will pop up on your iPhone walking you through a simple setup process. Apple also has the ability to support phone calls and text messages, something that Alexa does not support for iPhones. The integration is particularly helpful for Apple Music subscribers, who have a myriad of voice commands available to them. Surprisingly, Apple did not take advantage of the integration as much as it could have. Many of Apple’s built-in apps are not yet supported by the HomePod. The most glaring omission to me is the Calendar app. I schedule appointments via Siri on my phone all the time and would’ve loved to be able to use the HomePod for that. I also would have enjoyed having the HomePod read me my schedule for the day. While it does support the Podcasts app, I didn’t find it to work very well. Currently, you can only sync the HomePod with one Apple ID at a time. Because a speaker is typically a device used by an entire household, this creates a host of problems. First of all, you can only access one person’s Apple Music profile, which contains the playlists and musical preferences the HomePod uses. Also, because the HomePod does not distinguish between voices, anyone walking by the speaker can effectively read any of your text messages or send a message to anyone in your contact book on your behalf. You can turn off access to Messages, but then you are effectively turning off one of the few features that Apple has that the other smart speakers do not.

5 Of My Favorite HomePod Commands

1. Weather:

It’s surprisingly convenient to have Siri read the weather to me as I get ready in the morning.

2. Smart Home Management:

I have two space heaters plugged into smart plugs. I’m consistently yelling at my HomePod to, “Turn on the bathroom heater.”

3. Audio Management:

It’s really nice to be able to tell Siri to rewind thirty seconds, adjust the volume, or ask what song I’m listening to (which works even when I’m streaming Spotify).

4. The News:

The HomePod can play you a news snippet from several publishers, including NPR, The Washington Post, and Fox News.

5. Unit Conversion, Timers, and Alarms:

I keep my HomePod in my bedroom, so I don’t use this functionality as much as if it were in my kitchen, but I will occasionally have my HomePod convert Fahrenheit to Celsius, tell me the time in a different country, or set a timer or alarm.

Should You Buy the HomePod?

Answering this question is particularly complicated because the HomePod is still so new. It feels a little like evaluating a painting before the paint has even dried. Over time Apple will build out its functionality, add multi-voice recognition, and support third-party apps. The question then becomes, should we evaluate the HomePod based on how it currently ships or on the potential it holds? If you’re invested in Apple’s product line, I believe that the Homepod‘s integration with the rest of the ecosystem presents a huge advantage over the competition. However, its current feature set is not making the most of these advantages. Despite the audio balance being a little off, the HomePod’s hardware is pretty solid. Thus, most of the improvements Apple will make will likely be on the software side and will be available to existing owners.

If you own an iPhone (or other Apple device) and are interested in getting a smart speaker, I’d recommend the HomePod over the Amazon Echo, despite the Echo having so many skills. In my opinion, the advantage of having a smart speaker that is integrated into Apple’s ecosystem trumps the ability to access Alexa’s ecosystem of 25,000 apps. Apple will likely add an App Store for the HomePod, but Amazon can never integrate with the ecosystem in the same ways. This is especially true if you are an Apple Music subscriber. If you own Apple products but aren’t interested in being an early adopter and aren’t in a hurry to buy a new speaker, then I would recommend waiting to see what improvements Apple makes in the next year. If you aren’t committed to Apple’s products, then you probably want to buy a more device-agnostic smart speaker, such as the Amazon Echo so that you can take advantage of the more robust feature set. Personally, despite not being an Apple Music subscriber, and despite the speaker’s somewhat limited functionality, I am really enjoying owning the HomePod. I remain convinced that in the future, voice will be one of the most common ways that we interact with our devices. These are still early days, and smart speakers are probably still best suited for early adopters, but even in its current iteration, the HomePod is very useful and a great addition to Apple’s lineup.

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TNW’s Big Spam: Pay me $3M and I’ll tell you about my love life

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Monday freakin’ fun day. Top trending tech news: 📞 Facebook said we allowed it to snoop on our calls (TNW) 🚗 Grab acquired Uber’s Southeast Asia operations (TNW) 📰 Zuck took out newspaper ads to apologize (BBC) What we’re talking about: Verge cryptocurrency asked users for $ 3M to reveal a “potential partnership.” Try using this on your friends next time they bug you about your love life. Over the weekend, the #MarchforOurLives gun control protest took place across the U.S. Teen Vogue reports the rallies had a Spongebob meme theme: There’s a SpongeBob theme running through the #marchforourlives. Madison Kambic, 22, is studying to be a teacher. Her sign…

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Best iPhone X Executive Cases You’d Love to Take a Peek Today

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Having used a couple of really funky cases and also give a go to ultra-svelte covers, I have decided to try out some pro-looking iPhone X cases. Personally, I like the cases with top-of-the-line craftsmanship as they never seem to lose their vintage charm. However, the ones with a bit slimmer profile always turn up the heat on my penchant!

Willing to glance through sophisticated cases designed to make a match with iPhone X? Great! Let me walk along with you to help you choose a better fit for your smartphone.

Best Executive Cases for iPhone XCases

#1. Pure-Hub

Pure-Hub Executive iPhone X Case

Pure-Hub showcases a professional design that looks really appreciable on the iPhone X. The case has been made of top-grade of German Bayer TPU and has got enough strength to offer the needed protection to your smartphone from drops.

All the corners have been further bolstered to enable the case to absorb shock. With the matte fabric touch, you have enhanced grip that ensures you feel comfortable while holding your iPhone in your palm.

Buttons are pretty responsive, while the cutouts are precise to offer hassle-free access to all the functions. Lastly, Pure-Hub comes in two colors: black and crimson blue.

USP: German Bayer TPU
Price: $ 15.95 on Amazon.com
Buy it from Amazon

#2. TurtleBack

If you prefer the class to glamor, TurtleBack can win you over. Crafted with high-quality leather, it’s got an executive profile. Thanks to the soft interior, the case protects your smartphone both from bumps and scrape.

The pouch fits your iPhone with a slim case. Neodymium magnet flap allows you to close the case securely. With the metal belt clip onboard, you can attach the case to your belt to carry your device with complete peace of mind.

USP: Executive profile
Price: $ 29.99 on Amazon.com
Buy it from Amazon

#3. Sasuke

Sasuke Executive Case for iPhone X

Sasuke is primed for the folks who adore a sleek wallet case. Carved with soft PU leather, it has a soft-textured exterior that offers improved grip. With two separate slots, you can also store a couple of cards.

Despite being very slim, it’s able to thwart scrape and also give a good fight to minor falls. You can pick out Sasuke in six nice looking colors like black, blue, brown, red, rose gold and khaki. Moreover, Sasuke wallet case is backed by a solid lifetime warranty.

USP: Soft-textured exterior
Price: $ 20.88 [$ 9.98 on Amazon.com]
Buy it from Amazon

#4. Dockem

Sporting vintage design, Dockem is what you should choose to make your iPhone look suave! Synthetic leather exterior adds a touch of sophistication to its profile. Handmade design brings the vintage charm that you would love to flaunt during your business times.

The case has a couple of separate slots for carrying your cards. You can also store some cash inside the built-in slots to ensure you don’t have to carry the wallet. Another quality that I have found praiseworthy is the slim design that retains the elegance of the iPhone.

USP: Vintage design
Price: $ 11.99 on Amamzon.com
Buy it from Amazon

#5. LippBest

LippBest Executive Case for iPhone X

The moment I had a glance at LippBest, I wanted to see it on my iPhone. Displaying rich craftsmanship, this wallet case is made of genuine cowhide leather. The smooth leather texture feels pretty comfy in the palm, while also enhancing its appearance.

You can comfortably carry a couple of cards and some dollar bills inside the slots. With the steeples stand readily available, you will have multiple viewing angles to enjoy your videos. On top of all, LippBest comes with lifetime warranty.

USP: Genuine cowhide leather
Price: $ 29.77 on Amazon.com
Buy it from Amazon

That’s all, folks!

What’s your pick?

I’m sure you have liked having a look at the cases mentioned above. By the way, which one is going to pair with your iPhone X?

Don’t miss:

Enjoyed reading this article? Download our app and stay tuned with us via Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus to explore more such top iPhone X accessories.

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GDC 2018: ‘Spitkiss: Love Eternal’ is a One-Thumb Precision Platformer with a Love Story

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I absolutely love quirky game ideas and platforming games, so Spitkiss: Love Eternal from Danish developer Triple Topping Games is right up my alley. From their own description, “Spitkiss is a trippy story of boundless love, told through precision platforming. You play as the couple Y27 and B4, sending messages of love and hope back and forth the only way you can: precisely navigating spit through platforming stages.” That’s right boys and girls, these two are demonstrating love by spitting at each other. Neat! What’s really cool about Spitkiss is its one-thumb controls that allow you to fling your character’s spit around each level. With some very well done comic book-style cutscenes telling this strange story, Spitkiss seems like it has a lot of potential to be a winner. Triple Topping is shooting for a release in May which will have 80 levels to play through, and then in August they hope to release a level editor so you can create an infinite number of your own levels.

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Do You Love Cats? 8 Smartphone Games for Cat Lovers

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There’s no denying it, the internet loves cats. Especially when it comes to memes. You may even own a cat or two, or just wish you had your own cat. If it’s the latter, you probably vicariously live through the cat photos posted of others. You poor, non-cat-owning person.

But even if you have a cat, or get your daily dose of feline fun through Instagram or Facebook, sometimes this just may not be enough. You need cats in everything, from clothes and accessories to video games.

While we can’t help you become the next feline fashionista, we do know some great cat-themed games you can play on your smartphone.

1. Super Phantom Cat 2

super phantom cat

If you’re a fan of brilliant platformers, and especially Super Mario Bros., then Super Phantom Cat 2 is a must-play.

The game features colorful and blocky graphics that anyone will find cute and charming. There’s a wide roster of different cats available to play as, each having their own unique costume, and some have special abilities. It takes time to collect all of the necessary hero fragments though, so expect to be playing this for a while.

Super Phantom Cat 2 is level-based, and the goal is to reach the portal at the end to get to the next area. But there are obstacles, traps, and enemies in the way, making it easier said than done. Fortunately, you’ll have the powers of the Phantom World at your side, making the impossible possible.

There are also quests that provide more objectives to complete, as well as neat rewards. These are slightly more challenging than the normal levels.

Super Phantom Cat 2 is a good sequel to the original Super Phantom Cat, and it’s great for cat lovers who want platforming fun.

Download: Super Phantom Cat 2 for iOS | Android (Free)

2. Cat Quest

cat quest

Are you in the mood for an action-packed, real-time dungeon crawling experience similar to Diablo 3? But with cats? Then you’ll love Cat Quest.

Embark on a grand journey full of dragons, magic, and, yep, you guessed it, cats. As an evil creature catnaps your sister, it’s up to you to get her back.

Cat Quest features distinctive 2.5D visuals with a cartoon style that is both endearing and adorable. The world of Felingard is lush and detailed, and has incredibly smooth animations during navigation and real-time battle.

Felingard is a vast world, and players are not limited to linear exploration. You can roam freely around the lands, battling in real-time to level up and become stronger, and delve into secret dungeons. There’s a lot of enemies to claw your way through with melee combat or magical spells, and plenty of loot to collect too.

Download: Cat Quest for iOS | Android ($ 4.99)

3. Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector

neko atsume

Do you want to relax and collect digital cats (or virtual pets like Tamagotchis), especially if you don’t have a real cat to call your own? Then check out Neko Atsume.

The simple art style of Neko Atsume matches the super easy gameplay. All you need to do is place toys and snacks in your yard to attract cats. Eventually, they will come and pay you a visit.

As cats stop by for a visit for free food and playtime, they’ll leave behind some fish as a gift. You spend the fish on new toys and snacks to attract even more cats, and repeat the cycle.

There are 40 different varieties of cats in Neko Atsume. Each one gets attracted by certain toys and food, so you’ll have to change things up every now and then, especially if you want to catch the rare breeds.

Download: Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector for iOS | Android (Free)

4. Cat Bird

cat bird

Maybe Super Phantom Cat 2 isn’t enough of a platformer for you. Or perhaps you prefer your cats to… fly? Either way, Cat Bird should fulfills your needs.

Cat Bird features nostalgic pixel art visuals and chiptunes to appeal to retro gamers. The white cat is also adorable, especially when it takes flight with its stubby little arms.

There are several worlds in Cat Bird packed with a variety of stages. The goal is to help the flying cat reach the portal at the end of each stage so he can go home. It starts out easy enough, but the additional hazards, traps, and enemies make it a challenging task of survival. This one is all about timing.

Download: Cat Bird for iOS | Android (Free)

5. Bread Kittens

bread kittens

Cats and bread go hand-in-hand. Remember the whole “cat breading” meme? The idea is so irresistible that there’s a whole game dedicated to it.

In Bread Kittens, you take the role of a baker. You must stop the evil ChowCorp from turning all cats wild and aggressive with tainted cat food. Cats won’t get adopted and fed when they’re feral, so you have to engage in battles with them until they’re weak enough to get captured through bread.

Yes, you literally use bread like a Pokeball to capture kittens. Then you create bread loaf armor to protect them as you use them to tame other wild cats. Travel with your army of cats, find rare and powerful breeds, and save them from ChowCorp’s grasp.

Download: Bread Kittens for iOS | Android (Free)

6. Nom Cat

nom cat garfield

We all know cats like to eat, so why not turn that into a mobile game?

Nom Cats is a quick arcade style game that tests your reflexes. Just tap-and-hold to make the two cats open their mouths wide to catch and eat endless waves of fish. But you’ll want to watch out for those bombs that got mixed in. The more fish the cats eat, the higher your score.

There’s an impressive roster of famous felines in Nom Cat too, including Garfield, Grumpy Cat, Nyan Cat, Keyboard Cat, and more.

Download: Nom Cat for iOS | Android (Free)

7. Nyan Cat: Lost in Space

nyan cat lost in space

Do you remember Nyan Cat, the internet’s beloved flying cat in a Pop-Tart leaving behind a rainbow trail of awesomeness? There’s a game for this popular meme cat too, and it’s just as random and crazy as you might expect.

Nyan Cat: Lost in Space is an infinite runner with five different game modes. Each of them adds a unique twist to the gameplay that makes it more challenging, or even relaxing. Along the way, help Nyan Cat gather up tasty treats and avoid dangerous hazards like bombs, UFOs, and dogs.

For more Nyan Cat fun, there’s a virtual pet mini-game that awards you prizes quicker if you keep the cat happy. You can also create your own Nyan Cat as well, in case the original isn’t enough cat for you.

And don’t forget about the super catchy “nyan” song.

Download: Nyan Cat: Lost in Space for iOS | Android (Free)

8. Purrfect Date

Sometimes animals are definitely better than people, and that’s proven correct with a dating simulator featuring cats. Say hello to your Purrfect Date.

This creative interactive visual novel combines romance, mystery, and suspense all in one package, and finishes it all off with a lot of cats.

In Purrfect Date, players take on the role of a researcher who gets a new job on this remote island inhabited by felines, appropriately named Cat Island. There’s a mystery afoot, talking cats, and suspicious NPCs. As you try to unravel the secrets of the island, you’ll have the opportunity to get to know a cat on a more personal level. It’s almost like the cats are people, oddly enough.

There are six stories to go through in Purrfect Date, and you have tough decisions awaiting you. It’s a unique (if slightly creepy) game that’s packed with charm.

Download: Purrfect Date for iOS ($ 4.99)

A Purr-fect Way to Pass Time

If you love cats and mobile games, there are certainly a lot of options out there. We just rounded up some of the best feline-themed games for your enjoyment, and hope they help you to get your daily cat fix.

And while we’re all about the cats, don’t forget about these other trendy mobile games while you’re at it. Or you could always use a tablet to keep your cat entertained instead.

Image Credit: Alexmia/Depositphotos

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I still hate email, but I love Canary

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For Mac users, there exist no shortage of great email applications. If you’re keeping score, Newton, Spark, Polymail, and Airmail all deserve high marks. As a bit of a perpetual email client switcher, I’ve used all at one point or another and I think it’s really a preference at this point — so many great options exist. Windows users? Sorry, not so much. After plodding along happily switching from one to the other, and often back again, I was clued in to a relative newcomer that has since become my favorite: Canary. Canary is nice, PGP built in, and the…

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Google Station spreads its public Wi-Fi love to Mexico

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It’s really easy to take internet connectivity for granted: between increasingly capable cellular networks, and high-speed private Wi-Fi access points in our homes and workplaces, staying connected 24/7 is more effortless than it’s ever been. At least, that may be the case for some of us, but wireless infrastructure varies wildly around the globe, and there are millions of fellow users out there who would no doubt love to see their local internet access seriously overhauled.

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iPhone owners just love smart speakers

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Smart speaker sales have exploded, with 47 million Americans now using one, up from about zero two years ago. And Apple fans are leading the trend — they’re 22 percent more likely than Android users to own a smart speaker. These are the findings of voicebot.ai, which performed its study of U.S. consumers in January. […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)

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