Apps are getting dumber — and that’s a good thing

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They’re using the best practices of interaction design and psychology to build products with your brain in mind. Here’s how they’re doing it: Be a feature Famed venture capitalist Fred Wilson insists that successful mobile products need to do just one thing well. App designers often forget the speed and attention constraints people experience while using their products. Testing your app in the office, while it’s connected to wi-fi and is the focus of your attention, hardly represents the hectic, real-world conditions experienced by most users. Mobile services not only compete for our attention with the other umpteen things we could do…

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Another Thing That Climate Change Takes From Us: Our Beaches

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Poles without ice. Oceans without oxygenAreas of the planet without people.

These are just some of the effects of a rapidly warming planet.

Add to the list: coasts without beaches.

You might assume this will happen sometime in the distant future, when sea levels rise. But it’s already happening. Climate change is taking beaches away from humans — in a physical way, as rising seas erode them, and in the way humans interact with them, as several governments have closed beaches to visitors to limit further damage.

Just this week, the Thai government announced that it was closing one of its most famous beaches for four months out of the year. Its rationale? To allow nearby coral reefs to recover from the effect of millions of visitors, which range from pollution to physical destruction from boats and human hands. And as the ocean grows warmer, stressed coral ecosystems like these recover more slowly from these intrusions.

Several other Southeast Asian islands have done the same, closing off beaches to allow their marine inhabitants to recover with some peace and quiet.

Thailand's Maya Bay, a white sand beach with turquoise water ringed by mountains. This is one of many beaches being closed thanks to climate change.
Thailand’s Maya Bay. Ah it’s so beautiful. Too bad no one will get to go there. Image Credit: Mike Clegg / Wikimedia Commons

I know: this sucks. And that’s fair — many people think of beaches as a universal public right. But beaches are also bigger than you and your summer plans.

Organisms in, above, and next to the water dwell there, even if you don’t see (or eat) them. Without beaches, most of these animals would lose their homes, risking extinction.

If you live near the ocean, you can thank beaches for keeping your water drinkable and keeping your house where it is. Beaches and sand dune ecosystems are a vital barrier between the powerful seawater and shore-based ecosystems. They also stop salty ocean water from leaching into fresh groundwater.

Protective closures like the ones in Southeast Asia also mean tens of thousands of jobs could be lost, many in developing countries that rely on tourism to survive, as The Outline reports.

Southeast Asia may seem far away, but the problem is global, and happening faster than you might expect. Without human intervention, up to two thirds of beaches in Southern California will disappear from erosion within the next century, a 2017 U.S. Geologic Survey study found.

By 2100, sea levels may rise between 0.2 and 2 meters (0.66 to 6.6 feet), depending on how much the Earth warms. That could swallow the majority of beaches worldwide.

Banning beaches is disappointing for humans. But it might be worth giving up a chill place to sunbathe and sip out of coconuts to save an ecosystem.

The post Another Thing That Climate Change Takes From Us: Our Beaches appeared first on Futurism.

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EU residents now have access to the same online content anywhere in the EU as they do back home, but that’s not necessarily a good thing

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Anyone who’s traveled to another country knows how frustrating it is to be geoblocked from streaming content that’s available back at home. Due to licensing restrictions, content providers like Netflix aren’t always able to provide the same viewing experience across different countries, and so some countries get access to a worse content library than others. Hypothetically, this shouldn’t happen within the European Common Market (to which the European Union belongs), which seeks to “guarantee the free movement of goods, capital, services, and labour,” but in reality there’s always some gap between theory and practice.

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EU residents now have access to the same online content anywhere in the EU as they do back home, but that’s not necessarily a good thing was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Arbtr wants to create an anti-feed where users can only share one thing at a time

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At a time when the models of traditional social networks are being questioned, it’s more important than ever to experiment with alternatives. Arbtr is a proposed social network that limits users to sharing a single thing at any given time, encouraging “ruthless self-editing” and avoiding “nasty things” like endless feeds filled with trivial garbage.

It’s seeking funds on Kickstarter and could use a buck or two. I plan to.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Why would I give money to maybe join a social network eventually that might not have any of my friends on it on it? That is, if it ever even exists?” Great question.

The answer is: how else do you think we’re going to replace Facebook? Someone with a smart, different idea has to come along and we have to support them. If we won’t spare the cost of a cup of coffee for a purpose like that, then we deserve the social networks we’ve got. (And if I’m honest, I’ve had very similar ideas over the last few years and I’m eager to see how they might play out in reality.)

The fundamental feature is, of course, the single-sharing thing. You can only show off one item at a time, and when you post a new one, the old one (and any discussion, likes, etc) will be deleted. There will be options to keep logs of these things, and maybe premium features to access them (or perhaps metrics), but the basic proposal is, I think, quite sound — at the very least, worth trying.

Some design ideas for the app. I like the text one but it does need thumbnails.

If you’re sharing less, as Arbtr insists you will, then presumably you’ll put more love behind those things you do share. Wouldn’t that be nice?

We’re in this mess because we bought wholesale the idea that the more you share, the more connected you are. Now that we’ve found that isn’t the case – and in fact we were in effect being fattened for a perpetual slaughter — I don’t see why we shouldn’t try something else.

Will it be Arbtr? I don’t know. Probably not, but we’ve got a lot to gain by giving ideas like this a shot.

Mobile – TechCrunch

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Study shows social media echo chambers might actually be a good thing

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A group of researchers, as part of a social experiment, paid liberals and conservatives on Twitter to follow a bot for a month that tweeted political views from the other side. Shockingly, rather than softening their own views or learning to understand the opposition, most participants dug in deeper. We’re not partisan out of ignorance, it seems, but because we fundamentally disagree. Social media echo chambers take a lot of grief. There’s a popular perception that people get stuck inside their own biased worlds and become oblivious to the ‘reality’ the opposing side understands. But perhaps they’re actually doing us…

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Catan VR gets closer to the real thing than any app

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The first time I played Settlers of Catan was probably 2006. I didn't really know much about board games, aside from old classics like Monopoly, so when a friend brought it out at a party I was intrigued. To my surprise, I liked it. And, it turns out…
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Apple may have fixed the thing that makes you avoid the iPhone X

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iPhone X 2018 Release Date

Apple’s iPhone X is significantly below expectations, some reports say, while others claim the opposite. The $ 999 entry price is one of the main reasons why the iPhone X isn’t selling as good as some expected. There are plenty of ways to make it more tolerable, including trade-in deals and installment plans. But that’s still plenty of money to pay for a smartphone, especially in international markets.

A new report now claims that Apple’s next-gen 5.85-inch OLED iPhone X will be cheaper to produce. But will it be less expensive for customers?

Apple was able to reduce the manufacturing bill of materials by 10% for this year’s cheapest iPhone X model, Digitimes Research analyst Luke Lin discovered. The iPhone X currently costs more than $ 400 to make.

Apple has reportedly finalized its lineup for the 2018 iPhone X series. We’re looking at three smartphones in total, including two OLED-based iPhones (5.85-inch and 6.45-inch) and an LCD model (6.1-inch).

The 2018 5.85-inch iPhone X might be priced as the cheapest option of the three, Lin says, without specifying an actual price quote. Apple could always keep in place the $ 999 price tag for the cheapest iPhone X, but that would mean it would have no brand new iPhone in the $ 650 to $ 850 price range.

Apple had been working on a 5.85-inch LCD iPhone X, the report notes, but that version was recently dropped.

The cost of OLED panels is one reason why the iPhone X is so expensive. But it looks like Apple reached an agreement with Samsung Display to secure “satisfactory terms” that will prevent cost increases in the future. The report also notes that Apple pulled in a lot fewer OELD panels from Samsung than it had committed.

Digitimes says that some of the recent 2018 5.8-inch iPhone X engineering samples adopted “lower-level specifications or lower capacities” than those of the 6.1-inch LCD iPhone, with LPDDR memory being one of the major differences. Does that mean the cheaper iPhone X will have less RAM? Or worse RAM? We have no idea at this point, and these are unconfirmed rumors.

Apple – BGR

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Happy Pi Day, Here’s Some piCoin, piCoin is Actually a Thing

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Happy March 14th, people — it’s Pi Day. And how better to celebrate than investing in, yes, a pi-based cryptocurrency. It’s a gift that keeps on giving, right?

This is not a joke: piCoin is a thing that actually exists. The cryptocurrency launched in 2013 (and then re-launched in 2014) with the aim of creating a crypto with mathematical and educational underpinnings. piCoin’s specifications revolve around the infinite-digit number that gives its name. The maximum number of coins is capped at 31,415,926,535. Its block time (or: how long it takes to solve each transaction in its blockchain) is 314 seconds. And the reward for solving that initial block is 314,159 coins. And so on.

Convinced? Don’t jump for your wallet just yet.

At its launch in March 2014, bloggers seemed to see piCoin as an interesting enough concept. According to a forum post from that time, the founders had lofty goals for this math-oriented concept, hoping to popularize it among “mathematicians, math teachers, math enthusiasts, and every student in the world taking a math course.” And indeed, it had a wild ride! As the coin grew, the founders imagined “opportunities for charitable efforts will arise; math scholarships, education for those in need, and even funding a school in a third world country are all distinct possibilities down the road.”

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Within two months of that 2014 launch, buying had slowed to a dribble, though the coin’s developers claimed to be working on some marketing ideas. Within three months, even enthusiasts of the coin were declaring it officially dead. CryptoSlate currently lists the coin as abandoned.

So it’s probably not a great idea to complete your Pi Day with a heaping slice of piCoin. Instead, use piCoin as a cautionary tale — as crypto continues to surge in popularity and grow as a mainstream interest, it’s probably best to exercise a reasonable amount of caution when approaching new coins with attention-grabby conceits. Or, at the very least, give them more caution that you’d approach, say, an actual pie.

The post Happy Pi Day, Here’s Some piCoin, piCoin is Actually a Thing appeared first on Futurism.

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Space Boobs In Space is the best thing on Prime Video

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Prime Video doesn’t have a show like Netflix’s Jessica Jones. Instead, it has Space Boobs In Space. Where the former’s about a fictional female crime fighter, the other is a low budget piece of body-positive feminism that deserves to be taken just as seriously. Not all heroes wear capes or leather jackets; some wear just enough to cover their nipples. Space Boobs In Space is a film by underground studio Gonzoriffic. According to IMDB it was shot on an estimated budget of about $ 1,000 using smartphones, DSLR cameras, A VHS camcorder, and whatever else director Andrew Shearer and his crew…

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Remembering the MiniDisc: The best thing that never happened to your music

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The cruelest truth in technology is that being better doesn’t always mean being the winner – or even surviving at all. Almost 20 years ago my uncle gave me one of the best pieces of technology I’ve ever owned, a product that still fetches nearly $ 200 on eBay despite the fact that the format it’s built on has been dead for years. Before the iPod, before smartphone-based media players – heck, before smartphones themselves – there was the MiniDisc player, a new generation of Walkman.

The disc that gave the player its name offered the same amount of song time as a CD, but occupied less than half the space in the hand. It also boasted a durable plastic casing to protect against scratches, and it supported a shock memory technology that made vibration-based “skipping” virtually impossible. Oh, and in a world where rewritable CDs had yet to go mainstream, MiniDiscs were also rewritable.

There’s plenty that MiniDisc got wrong, from its high prices to its compression formats … and once hard drive-based PMPs like the iPod hit the scene its fate was sealed. But for the 16-year-old MrMobile at the dawn of a new century, MiniDiscs were the more durable, more versatile alternative to the cumbersome and fragile CD. Join me for a look back at the format (and the player that served me for seven years) in the latest MrMobile Retro Review!

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