PayPal sunsets two in-store payment options

PayPal sunsets two in-store payment options

Feb 27, 2018

Alas… being able to use your PayPal app as an in-store point of sale option in specific stores is no more.

PayPal pulled the plug on phone number/PIN and payment codes options, meaning these cannot be used in stores like Home Depot and Dollar General.

These options go away on March 31st.

In an email to customers, PayPal stated:

Going forward, PayPal will continue to innovate and provide you with new payment choices at your favorite stores. And whether it’s in-store or online, you can still pay using PayPal in a variety of ways including our new business debit card that earns you 1% cash back on all qualifying purchases! Visit www.paypal.com/debitcard to get your card today or you can pay with your mobile device via tap and pay on eligible Android devices supporting Google Pay.

PayPal states that is is working on partnerships going forward.

My App Addiction: Evernote

My App Addiction: Evernote

Feb 26, 2018

Like this needs any clarification…

Long, long ago, when I first got into mobile computing — styli devices were the rage — I really made an effort to do without physical paper. Every major platform at the time (including Palm, WinMo, etc.) had some sort of proprietary note taking utility, which was great… until you needed/wanted to leave the platform for another for whatever reason.

Nothing hurts more than losing collated inspiration to a computer crash or a hotsync failure.

It got better, and with the advent of true smartphones and cloud-computing, great cross-platform apps became more prevalent. This is how I originally found Evernote.

Why did it work for me? Well, on its own, it was a really well-designed app, and continued to get better. More importantly, the Evernote mobile app became my go-to almost anywhere I needed it: on my smartphone, on the web, in the cloud. As long as I had access to a portal, I was golden.

Still am.

Typically, I’ll write a note, snap a photo or make a sketch within the app on the go. If it needs more work, as in the first part of a complex project, I can then pull up the rudimentary entry and add detail, or convert it to something else as needed.

I also am somewhat beholden to the cottage industry of compatible hardware, like Moleskine notebooks that work with Evernote. On any given day, I can revert to handwriting and still save up my notes that way. There are a few apps that have native compatibility, and on Android, the app is almost always one of the top choices in the share menu.

Yes, there are other alternatives, and I can see where the developer may very well limit more of the free features to drive users to get a premium subscription; such is the world of mobile app monetization these days. That’s the thing: it pays to be early, and it pays to be good early.

New Samsung flagships unveiled!

New Samsung flagships unveiled!

Feb 25, 2018

We’ve waited, speculated, and created mock-ups… finally, we see that they are here.

Say hello to the Samsung S9 and S9+, which officially stepped out from behind the curtain today at Unpacked on the eve of Mobile World Conference.

Major deets:

  • The baseline versions of the S9/S9+? $720/$840 (keyword: baseline)
  • The camera is new and (seemingly) truly improved
  • Android Oreo on deck
  • AKG/Dolby Atmos collaboration on the speakers
  • AR emoji? Take that, Apple!
  • Bixby gets beefier, with live language translation, camera interoperability and more
  • The fingerprint sensor moves again (to a better position we feel)
  • All good…

    According to the presser, preorders begin on March 2nd (with a March 16th available date). In the US, it will be available on the all the major networks.

    Video intro:

    Color lineup:

    samsung lineup

    [via Samsung News]

Pokémon GO Legendary Week is on now

Pokémon GO Legendary Week is on now

Feb 23, 2018

Pokémon GO fans: this one is for YOU!

Niantic, the company behind some of the cooler augmented reality games out now, along with The Pokémon Company have some major news: it is officially Pokémon GO Legendary Week!

This event is on now and runs through March 5th.

Major points? It brings back Groudon and Kyogre alongside Rayquaza to Raid Battles. It also includes a global challenge: if trainers are able to defeat Rayquaza more than both the other mentioned characters, they;ll get special rewards.

The rewards are listed HERE.

In addition, the second annual Pokémon GO day is slated for February 24th; it will be a worldwide event that lasts three hours, and will feature temporarily increased spawning rates for the rare Dratini. During this time, Pokémon GO players who evolve Dragonair to Dragonite will also pick up the powerful Draco Meteo move as a bonus.

pgl

[Source: Pokémon GO Blog]

Round and about the Steel Media world (February 23)

Round and about the Steel Media world (February 23)

Feb 23, 2018

Another week and… yep, you guessed it: another batch of great mobile news coverage from the Steel Media family of sites.

We say that with all humility.

As we tend to do, we’re bringing you some of the best stuff from our other sites, because we know how hard it is to keep abreast old all this content; so much information, never enough time and all that.

Here are some heavy hitters from our sister sites:

Pocket Gamer

YAY! Shout to the skies… the latest installment of the topnotch Pocket Gamer podcast is LIVE! Episode 432 has the Pocket Gamer staff waxing astutely on Alto’s Odyssey (more on this game elsewhere) and Layers of Fear: Legacy. Bonus material? Why, yes… there’s an interview with the creators of the latter, plus the usual valuable chatter on relevant updates, upcoming releases and more.

And what might be better than playing Angry Birds? Well, checkout Pocket Gamer’s quick-hitter on Rovio’s new tournament version, which allows you to fling birds for money.

148apps

148apps is up to its usual iOS-centric goodies self, with Campbell Bird’s in-depth review of Alto’s Odyssey being one you definitely do not wanna miss (hint: it made a great impression). Then, you get player’s guide for Battle of Polytopia in the mix as well — get at this to become adept at running your virtual world.

We know you like relationship adventure Florence; it made this list last week. Well, the folks at 148apps went ahead and collated a few more games like it.

AppSpy

Look, James Gilmour’s voice is worth paying to hear. On AppSpy’s YouTube page, you get to hear his take on DAFT JUMP for free. On the “regular” site, you can take in Christian Valentin’s latest hidden gem Dark Echo.

And there you have it, for this week. Check back next week for our next installment of our inter-site rundown.

Kid Watch: Scooby-Doo Mystery Cases

Kid Watch: Scooby-Doo Mystery Cases

Feb 23, 2018

When it comes to iconic franchises (and detectives), few match the name recognition of the forever-hungry, anthropomorphic Great Dane Scooby-Doo. Heck, I grew up singing “Where are you?” on Saturday mornings.

Scary movies adaptations aside, it’s a great series to stay attached too, if not for nostalgia alone, then also for those of us mired in that wondrous thing called parenthood. We can always share simple pleasures like Scooby-Doo Mystery Cases.

This one is a Sunday-easy hidden object mystery thriller. Of course. What better way to re-introduce those meddling kids?

Those familiar with the recent incarnations of the cartoon will know and most likely appreciate the fun artwork; the whole gang makes an appearance in one form or another, in familiar gear, and help move the game along. It utilizes smooth animations and effects, and the sound matched nicely.

And then… it boils down to the aforementioned hidden object caper. It’s leveled, and the idea is to find object cleverly concealed in background still images. The idea is to find said objects — preferably as quickly as possible and without helpers — so as to get to the next part of the mystery.

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The art is well done here, and the objects are not that hard to find. There is a decent amount of repetition… you can repeat levels, and while they repeated levels are usually not completely identical, there there is a good deal of overlap: just enough to keep a young person engaged/challenged without being too frustrated. There are limited hints, but, as hinted at earlier finishing without using them (and under the premium time) leads to three stars.

It’s good enough to not be too childlike; I was able to get some enjoyment, and even able to challenge the my two (12 and younger) to timed battles of sorts.

It’s an easy game, easy to like and pleasant to play — and even might span generations. Not bad at all, for kids and kids at heart.

Five of the coolest games on Android now (Feb 21)

Five of the coolest games on Android now (Feb 21)

Feb 21, 2018

Here we go…

Welcome to the first installment of our list of some games you’d do well to check out now.

Why? Well, we know there are so many games — good ones, even — and so little time for you to check them out. It is our civic duty to help you find the ones to check out right now.

The ground rules? Refreshingly few, we think:

  • Premium on free games: we know you like freemium, and so do we.
  • We reserve the right to update this list every week.
  • Rebuttals (and suggestions) are welcome. Mostly.

And we are off… in no particular order:

Mad Skills BMX 2 (freemium)
Here is us trying to pass on our addiction with you. We just got into this off-road biking gem, and feel obligated to share. It can be played in bits or for long periods, and doesn’t necessarily require cash to go far. You’re welcome.

Hero Hunters (freemium)
If you like cover systems, this will be right up your alley. If you’re one of those weird folks that does not like cover systems, then this game should bring you back to the land of the living. It has more than one trick up its sleeve, and you get to take down a power-hungry madman.

Nitro Racing GO (freemium)
Clicker. Racing. Yes. So, this is, uh, non-legal street racing for the faint at heart.

Hostage Negotiator ($3.99)
A board game for those looking to live the topsy-turvy life of a negotiator? Dice plus procedural for the win.

Sonic CD Classic (freemium)
Like this needs any preamble. C’mon…

That’s it for this week. Do you have a recent game that you figure can knock off one of these? Let us know.

Behind the Scenes: The Android Mobile Casino Experience

Behind the Scenes: The Android Mobile Casino Experience

Feb 19, 2018

The Prodigious Growth of the Mobile Market
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Global Mobile Users: Source – ComScore

It comes as no surprise that mobile Internet now outstrips desktop users by a long margin. This was boosted by low-cost Internet (Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G), cost reductions with Android smartphones and tablets, and a burgeoning middle class in China and India.
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Personal Use of Devices: 2017 – Source – OfCom

According to an OfCom communications report, users in the UK and the US spend 66 and 87 hours per month respectively browsing the web on their smartphones. The KPCB statistics for 2015 indicate that US mobile usage accounted for 51% of all time spent on digital media.
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Smartphone Market Share – Source: DAZEINFO

Smartphones dominate over tablets, laptops and desktops by a long margin. This was confirmed by OfCom research in 2017.

Android vs iOS – The Growing Divide

The leading mobile operating systems are Android and iOS. In terms of their worldwide market share, Android has led iOS (iPhone) since 2012. The stats reveal the following:

  • Q2 2012 – Android 69.3%; iOS 16.6%
  • Q2 2013 – Android 79.8%; iOS 12.9%
  • Q2 2014 – Android 84.8%; iOS 11.6%
  • Q2 2015 – Android 82.8%; iOS 13.9%
  • Q2 2016 – Android 86.2%; iOS 12.9%
  • The remaining percentages are filled by Blackberry and Windows Phone OS. There are also strong geographic trends. iOS dominates in Australia, New Zealand, Scandinavia, the United Kingdom, and France. Android is dominant in Mexico, South America, Russia, Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, and Indonesia.

    Android devices are significantly cheaper than iPhones. According to Forbes Magazine, the typical price of an iPhone is around $687, while that of an Android smartphone is $254.

    The Challenges of Mobile for Web Developers

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    AMP HTML, JS, and Cache – Source: AMP

    Web developers face unique challenges when setting up a site that is mobile friendly. Today, websites have adopted a mobile-first policy when it comes to the user experience. Everything begins with smartphone functionality. Website developers that begin with a PC-based platform (desktop) typically encounter problems when they try to optimize for mobile afterwards. Desktop features may be visible to the end user, while they are invisible to the mobile user. The biggest challenge on mobile though is load time. Mobile is significantly slower than desktop and this is problematic.

    Maintain Traffic Flow

    If a website only functions optimally for PC-based users, it stands to lose considerable traffic among mobile users. Web developers must juggle multiple issues such as navigation, functionality, speed, and quality. Menus, clickable links, and design need to be optimized.

    Most of the plug-ins that are currently available are iOS optimized, and create challenges for the UX on Android. Online gaming platforms are dependent on the audio-visual prowess of their offerings to create a wow factor with players. If the games cannot be seen, or optimized on mobile, the online gaming platform loses out. This concept is known as maximizing on-screen real estate.

    Challenges for Online Casino Webs Developers

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    Web developers must create mobile friendly platforms for all devices. This includes pixel intensity, responsive design (creates increased liquidity for screen adjustments), greater interactivity with buttons, slide and swipe functionality, tilting, flipping and shaking options.

    Leading online casinos are making it easier for players to enjoy a rich mobile casino experience through a single web page for iOS and Android. The mobile game offering can be accessed from a hub page. This is an effective way to promote the mobile casino’s offerings. This presentation and design eliminates many of the challenges that web developers face with mobile users. The Android and iOS apps each have a unique interface. When mobile players click to play, they will automatically be presented with a full range of gaming options optimised for their device.

    Google’s Mobile First Indexing
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    In 2016, Google announced that its search index will rank sites with a mobile-first approach. The algorithmic code of Google’s crawlers understands structured data and ranks pages and sites via the mobile-first index. According to Google, the majority of people are using their smartphones and tablets to access websites nowadays. The lag effect of PC-based ranking remains, however the Smartphone Googlebot is now crawling across websites and ranking them accordingly. Luckily, webpages that have already implemented responsive design and feature dynamic serving are good to go. The mobile first index is here and it’s reshaping the way web developers are creating pages, apps and enhancing their SEO efforts.

    What Are Google AMP Pages and How Can They Help?

    Mobile websites take much longer than PC/desktop to load, and this has been one of the greatest challenges to mobile functionality. A viable solution to the load time challenges with mobile comes in the form of Google AMP pages. AMP stands for accelerated mobile pages, and it is an open source project aimed at enhancing the speed, delivery and quality of mobile functionality. This ensures higher levels of engagement, increased ROI, greater flexibility and quicker load times. Accelerated mobile pages make it much more enticing and engaging for players to go the mobile route.

    Google AMP allows websites to rank better on mobile, and this is good news for search engine optimization (SEO). Since most users abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load, it’s important that sites are mobile friendly. Most mobile sites don’t load in 3 seconds; in fact, most take 10 seconds to load. And if you’re using 3G Internet, this can be as much as 19 seconds. Google AMP is 4 x faster than a standard HTML page and it’s designed for rapid loading. There are no known downsides. To get started, all that’s needed is an extension, plug-in or module on a content management system such as Joomla, WordPress, or Drupal. Then it’s off the virtual casino games – wherever you may find yourself.

    This article is sponsored as part of Steel Media Preferred Partners.

    Round and about the Steel Media world (Feb 16th)

    Round and about the Steel Media world (Feb 16th)

    Feb 16, 2018

    Another week, and slate of great news stories, reviews and features from the Steel Media empire. Because, well, you can never have too much content, and we’re here to help you catch stuff you might have missed.

    So, without too much ado, here is some cool stuff from around the Steel Media world:

    Pocket Gamer

    Pocket Gamer is chock-full of great stuff this week. Creature Quest feens will be happy with the staff generated tips and tricks guide, which should have you dominating in no time. Emily Sowden gets a hat tip for a quick list of the best iOS and Android updates for the week — including Death Road to Canada, The Battle of Polytopia and more. And, for those that have refined ear for interesting audio, the ubiquitous Pocket Gamer Podcast Episode 431 is up.

    148apps

    And yes, 148apps is still putting out the good stuff this week. There is Campbell Bird’s in-depth review of visual stunner Florence. Then, you can — you SHOULD — check out the updated list of the best games out for iPhone available now. And it’s never too late to get all booed up with the list of Valentine day apps. X’s and O’s…

    eisenhorn-xenos-ios

    AppSpy

    And still even more good stuff. Thanks to Christian Valentin, we know to look forward to upcoming iOS game sequel Alto’s Odyssey. Similarly, AppSpy has us impatiently waiting on cross-platform gravity defying caper Flo, due out on Android and iOS sometime in 2018.

    And there you have it. Great stuff. On tap. Enjoy.

    My App Addiction: Pocket Casts

    My App Addiction: Pocket Casts

    Feb 16, 2018

    I’ll shout it from the rooftops, all day long: I love podcasts. I really, really do.

    They are what FM radio was for me when I was a young buck, but better. There is just so much stuff to listen to out there. All you need is the patience to find interesting content, and the tools to listen to it.

    For the latter, I’ve come to depend on Pocket Casts.

    Pocket Casts is one of those OG Android apps… one that arguably allowed the OS to gain parity with the app haven that was iOS. As a dedicated podcast app, it did one thing, and did it well. Even now, it gets props for being as good a media manager as it is a player, with several features that make it almost indispensable.

    First, it has a bright interface, which allows it to be easy on the eyes. It also has a great discovery system, breaking podcasts into intuitive settings like Trending, Top, and also by subject matter; you can also do a raw search by name. Personally, I’m able to find audio blogs I probably wouldn’t have found otherwise.

    And then, when it comes to managing your discovered podcasts, it’s invaluable. You can manage the number of downloaded podcasts available — reducing bloat — and can auto-download and auto-queue broadcasts. The player itself is just as easy to use.

    Now, I am always a big fan of convergence. For example, I love Google Play Music, which allows me to stream music, play audio files already on my device AND listen to podcasts. Usually, it’s all about getting the fewest apps to do the most things reasonably well. It’s just that Pocket Casts does the podcast thing so well, it’s worth having the extra app around.

    [Our Pocket Casts Review]

    YouTube TV adds new networks

    YouTube TV adds new networks

    Feb 14, 2018

    Surely Google hopes the world is split into two closely related camps: folks who subscribe to its cord cutters beloved service YouTube TV, and those that are on the cusp of signing up for it.

    Here’s great news for the former, as well as maybe even more of a value-added invective for the latter.

    YouTube TV is adding more channels. Now, in addition to the existing lineup, you also get access to live TV content from TNT, TBS, CNN, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, HLN, truTV, and TCM. That’s eight (8) new channels for your viewing pleasure.

    This adds to the existing lineup, which includes staples like ESPN, ESPN 2, FX, Disney Channel, SyFy, Bravo and a host more: a shade under 60 included channels, plus access to premium add-ons for extra.

    The service costs $35 per month; there is still a free trial for those looking to give it a no-risk look. Check out why we found YouTube TV more compelling over time, even more the addition of channels HERE.

    Screenshot 2018-02-14 at 09.54.55 - Edited

    Never-ending street racer Nitro Racing GO launches on Google Play

    Never-ending street racer Nitro Racing GO launches on Google Play

    Feb 14, 2018

    Time to celebrate: Nitro Racing GO: Idle Driving Clicker is live on Google Play, courtesy of T-Bull

    In this one, your street cred is built by passing other competitors during the race; when you pass another racer, you get goodies that can be used to improve your craft. The game boasts dozens of vehicle upgrade opportunities, card play leaderboards and plenty of interesting locales.

    What better way to flex you underground racing muscle? This is 100% safe, too. Add in unlockable vehicles and a free-to-play methodology, and it might be tough to put this one down.

    T-Bull Operations Chief and co-founder Grzegorz Zwolinski talks about the drive to create something that stands out. “Our goal was to do something different with the racing genre – something no one has tried before,” he says. “Nitro Racing GO combines genres to deliver a wholly original and innovative experience!”

    Can’t wait to see if this true.

    Nitro Racing GO is available for free (with optional in-app purchases). Check out the trailer below.