August 04, 2015
Mammoth Gravity Battles
Mammoth Gravity Battles is a game of skill and turn-based strategy with gravity, planets, physics, black holes, missiles, mammoth explosions, crazy weapons and best of all, woolly mammoths (in flying saucers). A game based on the classic gravity wars; played in turns with ships aiming deadly weapons at each other, trying to adjust for the effects of gravity from the planets, stars and asteroids that make up the current sector.

Black holes, wormholes, turrets, bases and other exotic stellar objects are randomly generated to make for a varied game. You can play the single player story campaign or enjoy chaotic four player battles against friends - pass and play, using one device. There are lots of crazy different weapons to discover and use to blow up enemies or even destroy the odd planet or two.

The 3D mode is where Mammoth Gravity Battles really shines, never before has so complex an artillery game been presented. The planets all move under each others gravity in a realistic physics simulation meaning the player has to adjust for the changes in a three dimensional gravity field - we are talking NASA rocket scientist hard.

Fortunately there is a gentle campaign to get you up to speed, and the multi player battles can be played in either full-on 3D mode, or a simpler planar mode which makes for quicker easier games.

If you are interested in Astronomy, like artillery games, or enjoy games that make you think, you will love Mammoth Gravity Battles.
Bouncy Bubbles
The good old PANG game (pretty much completely) remastered. Renovated graphics, new characters and abilities, 2 game modes. The uniqueness of this app is in the commands: no buttons or knobs, just accelerometers-based controls perfectly engineered, making it user-friendly as you have never tried.

PLAY STORE: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.cosmicpie.bouncybubbles
August 02, 2015
Sunday Debate: How Can We Get a No-Compromise Phone?
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Join us in a fun Sunday Debate on Compromises. Come with your opinions and feel free to read some of our thoughts, then pick your side or play devil’s advocate to get your voice heard and engage in friendly discussion. You can read our food-for-thought or jump straight into the fray below!


 


 


Getting an upgrade is a big deal to us power users: it’s our little Android Christmas, where after a long time (for plenty of us, at least) of carrying a device we intensely research and drool over something new. But many, XDA writers included, feel that flagship upgrades today are more of a gamble that they have ever been, as many features or key aspects are sacrificed to boost others, or they are simply forgotten in the course of smartphone evolution. This leads to the nasty compromises that have us weighing every pro and con throughout days of pondering and anticipation.


Many phones this year have prevented users from leaving their older devices for the latest and greatest — often because the latest was not too great. The industry’s global context is likely at fault: affluent markets are approaching saturation, emerging markets are shifting the prices towards the low-end and mid-range, many technologies are hitting (sometimes momentary) plateaus and many reviewers and consumers seemingly demand premium quality instead of thorough technological advancements. These are, however, not the only factors, and we must keep these and more in mind to find a solution to the problem of smartphone compromises.


We are framing this as an open debate where you can suggest a way to minimize smartphone compromises in your upgrades, be it through expanded  repertoires of offerings and availability, user-selected specifications through modularity and online stores, or whatever you might think of. Please try to explain your suggestions and solutions to make them understandable so that we can all engage in healthy discussion. Feel free to check some of our ideas below or jump straight into the comments!


 


Possible Solutions & Alternatives

 


Keep in mind that these are hypothetical scenarios and not necessarily isolated; many of them are currently happening to some degree, and they are happening at once. None of them are mutually exclusive!


 



  • Phone modularity: With Project Ara coming soon, we might see the rise of phone modularity. If Android allows you to have a customizable, personal software experience, Ara is its hardware counterpart. This means that users have plenty of freedom when choosing the hardware they want, as they can quickly slide out the modules they don’t want to replace them with those they do want. This way they can adjust the phone to their use case without paying extra for the things they know they don’t need. Another benefit is that phones can last longer and that users do not need to get rid of an entire piece of hardware over an outdated component or because they desire, for example, a new processor or camera.



  • Component Selection: With online stores such as Moto Maker gaining a bigger presence, we could see devices come with more hardware variations other than just storage. Many devices now offer the option of coming with more RAM, such as the ZenFone 2, OnePlus 2 and Moto G 2015, but we could extend that to cameras, (the S6 already comes with two kinds of sensors), battery sizes, and more. It might lead to slight complications from a software perspective, but being able to choose your preferred specifications in your preferred device could be a good way to alleviate the problem by allowing consumers to upgrade certain components they want to be upgraded and get a better-suited purchase, while leaving the rest intact.



  • More Phone Variants: In a way, this ties in with what was seen above. We now see that many manufacturers are splitting their smartphone lines into multiple models. For example, the Moto X was split into the Style and Play and the OnePlus 2 comes in two models as well. These “tiers within the top tier” allow consumers to have more alternatives, and in Motorola’s case, it allows them to opt for different use-cases as well (given the Moto X Play has a much bigger battery at the expense of processing power and other features). Samsung will seemingly do the same with their S6 Edge Plus and Note 5, so that those who want a Note get a Note, and those who want a big S6 Edge can get one. While this can lead to fragmentation if not done right, it can help consumers get closer to what they want.



  • Throughout Upgrades At High Prices: The easy way out would be to just sacrifice price and provide upgrades to most if not all components to ensure a balanced and cutting-edge flagship. This would, in turn, keep those who cannot afford such upgrades at bay. However, if implemented with other models above such as multiple variants or the ability to reach the through upgrade through picking components in an online store, the notion of paying extra becomes easier to swallow. But even in itself, there is still a market for those who want the best of the best, and there is a growing space for those who are willing to provide a no-compromise experience and actually achieve it.



  • Greater Availability & Competition: Despite our globalized world, many manufacturers have not made it to important markets, and many are simply unable to have a shot at them for various reasons. Now that Chinese manufacturers are breaking into new regions and markets, we might see the spike in competition bring forth new phone alternatives that seek to provide the best experience possible. Conversely, we are also seeing manufacturers cut down costs to compete with the new players. Plenty of OEMs such as LG and Motorola opted for pricing their phones more competitively, and Samsung has revised pricing as well. But there is still demand for expensive phones, especially if they check all the boxes. With greater availability and more options incentivized by fierce competition, phones might once more seek to please everyone to reign the market.


 


There are many, many other alternatives and solutions, so feel free to bring them up!


 


Debating

There will never be a smartphone that is perfect for everyone, but the new models of pricing, hardware sales, and phone manufacturing might get us there, or at least closer to that. Availability, competitions, a bigger range of products, modularity and customization can all be relevant factors in the path towards a new model that is flexible enough to satisfy a bigger number of consumers. So keeping all of this in mind, we ask you the following questions:


 



  • How do you think OEMs can balance out costs while giving consumers what they want?

  • How can OEMs maximize consumer satisfaction?

  • What alternative models would allow consumers to get the phone that suits them?

  • How do you see the industry evolving with the rise in online stores, modularity, and globalization?


 


August 01, 2015
CloudPlayer: DIY HiFi Music Streaming Solution
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In our Helpful Guide to Music Streaming Services, we mentioned several different services that offer ways to stream catalogs of music directly to your device. While each service has their benefits and drawbacks, the common theme among them is to give you access to a vast library of music without the need to store your own, and charge you a monthly fee for the privilege. But what if you already had access to your own catalog of music? Sure, there are many music locker services out there that allow you to upload and stream your own files. Google Play Music allows you to upload up to 50,000 tracks at no cost, and Amazon Music can even store them for you automatically when you purchase music on a physical medium. But what if you wanted to bypass the re-encoding that these services do to your files? What if you wanted to use the cloud storage services you already pay for? Enter CloudPlayer, the newest app from developer doubleTwist.


Simply stated, doubleTwist’s CloudPlayer allows you build your own music streaming service from the files you already have, using the cloud storage services you already use. The app links to your Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive accounts, as well as pulls from local storage, and scans each for compatible media. Then, it builds from all available sources to create a database, and organizes it into one music library, complete with album art, tags, and metadata.  It supports MP3, AAC, OGG, M4A, WAV, and WMA files, and as of version 1.0.4, also supports FLAC files, including those at higher resolutions (up to 24-bit, 192kHz audio). This is probably the biggest reason to use CloudPlayer over other digital music locker services, as most others re-encode lossless or high-resolution files to some type of lossy format. At any time, you can make any file or playlist available for offline playback, and restrict the data needed for streaming to WiFi networks only. There is Chromecast and Apple AirPlay support, and Last.FM scrobbling is built-in.


CloudPlayer is a free download from the Google Play Store, however a one time in-app purchase of $4.99 is needed to unlock the most desirable features, including the cloud storage functionality itself, Chromecast and AirPlay support, and the equalizer and other sound processing features. Upon first opening the app, you are greeted with this information, and can proceed with a 7-day free trial of these “premium” features by logging in with your Google account.


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The app itself borrows a lot of visual and operational cues from Google Play Music, which isn’t a bad thing. It offers Material design, and revolves around a gesture-based interface for navigating around your music library. The hamburger menu pops out and allows quick and easy access to sorting options, such as Albums, Artists, Playlists, Songs, Genres, and Composers. From here, you can also show only tracks you’ve downloaded for offline playback and have stored locally, as well as access the settings menu. From the settings menu, you can link to or re-scan your cloud storage services, which include Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive, toggle the use of cellular data on or off, change the default sorting option, set up Last.fm scrobbling, or reset the music database.



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Once you connect your cloud storage accounts and allow CloudPlayer to access them, a database is built and organized using track metadata and album art. While browsing the library, overflow menus can be used to make tracks or selections available offline, added to an existing or new playlist, added to the play queue, or deleted. Selecting something for playback will take you to the Now Playing screen, or you can slide it up from the bottom to access it from anywhere within the app. This screen is nicely laid out and functional, and includes high quality album art, play/previous/next buttons, shuffle and repeat controls, a scrolling title bar in ‘track name-artist name’ format, and elapsed/remaining track times. You can swipe left and right on the album art to quickly advance through the playlist, or tap the album art to be able to rate the currently playing track. The bottom of the Now Playing screen houses an ‘Up Next’ section, allowing you to view and quickly jump around the entire playlist. The overflow menu button brings up the 10-band equalizer, SuperSound settings (simulated surround sound settings for headphones), browse currently playing artist, browse currently playing album, and clear play queue options.



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The app supports lock screen controls, displaying the album artwork fullscreen, and also has a persistent notification with quick controls. Also available are three home screen widgets: A full 4×4 widget, and two 4×1 widgets: a dark-themed widget, and a lighter-themed one.



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Performance is fluid and fast, with no detectable stuttering or dropped frames while navigating through the app. I had no issues getting playback to start with both MP3 and FLAC formatted files from any of the supported cloud storage services, but do keep in mind that there is a very slight delay of a second or two while streaming from them, as the app accesses the track and buffers it. The only time I noticed any significant amounts of delay is when I quickly skipped around a song numerous times, forcing it to re-buffer entirely, but this should not be an issue for most.


There are some notable features which are missing, such as the lack of crossfade or gapless playback support, the lack of ChromeCast support for music that is stored on Google Drive, the inability to add or edit track metadata or album art, and the inability to upload music from your device to the cloud from directly within the app. These features, however, are all listed as coming soon in the Play Store description. One missing feature that I would have liked to see is the ability to view any sort of file information, such as the type of audio file, bitrate, sample rate, and bit depth information. As it stands now, If you have mixed file types or qualities in your music library, you will not be able to differentiate between them. CloudPlayer is a relatively new app, however, so we can be sure that doubleTwist is working on adding features and keeping the app well-supported for the foreseeable future.


Despite the missing features and a $4.99 price, CloudPlayer greatly excels at what it sets out to accomplish. The benefit of being able to connect to multiple cloud storage services means that one could have the space to support a pretty large music library using only the free storage provided by each of the three services, without having to pay for monthly storage from just one of them. And while Google Play Music and Amazon Music are great services on their own, you won’t get the ability to stream lossless audio tracks from them, as both re-encode uploads to lossy file formats. doubleTwist has released a very competent, well-designed, and great performing music player here, and their take on music streaming is one that a lot of people would be quite pleased with.


You can grab doubleTwist’s CloudPlayer from the Play Store.


You can also learn more about CloudPlayer from doubleTwist’s product page.



Have you tried CloudPlayer, or any other music locker service? Let us know your impressions in the comments!


YotaPhone 2 Not Coming to USA After All
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The clever two sided, e-ink backed YotaPhone 2 is in fact not coming to the USA. This morning YotaPhone canceled their ($300,000!) Indiegogo campaign and will offer either an international model or a refund to backers. YotaPhone has stated they will have a new manufacturing partner for the next model.


July 31, 2015
magicApp
With magicApp you can choose your own phone number to get unlimited calling to the U.S, Canada, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands and unlimited text messaging to any U.S. mobile number for only $1.99/month or $14.99/year. Make calls and send/receive texts over WiFi and 3G/4G/LTE. Turn your WiFi-only device into a phone to talk and text.

Premium Upgrade Features:
• U.S phone number
• Unlimited calling to the U.S. and Canada
• Unlimited text messaging to U.S. mobile numbers - your friends don’t have to download the app to text!
• Unlimited calling and messaging to other magicApp customers
• Caller ID
• Voicemail and Call Forwarding

One phone, two numbers. Life just got easier with magicApp. With a second line manage your business calls on your same device and still keep your personal life personal.

Don’t want to upgrade your account? You can also use magicApp for free to make unlimited local and long distance calls to the U.S, Canada, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands. Call family and friends on magicApp worldwide and save on international calling at the lowest rates.