Apps

Facebook Messenger now comes with AR games

Another fun way to have a video chat with friends

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Facebook is rolling out an update for the Messenger app on iOS and Android devices with a brand-new feature. Now, you can play games powered by augmented reality (AR) technology with up to six friends on video chat. These games can be accessible through the video icon on your conversations with your friends.

The first of two games in the update is Don’t Smile. The challenge for the users is pretty straightforward: you smile, you lose. The twist here is that using AR, the loser’s face will be contorted into an exaggerated Joker smile for all your friends to see — like a staring contest.


The second game is Asteroids Attack, a team-based game that allows users to navigate a spaceship through rocks and powerups. In this game, AR detects head movement as a way of navigation.

The Messenger app has already incorporated a gaming feature among friends. Whether you activate the game via emoji or using third-party games installed within the app, you’ve had countless ways to play games with your friends through Messenger. With video chat being one of Messenger’s primary features, Facebook simply wants to add more fun to the whole experience.

Facebook promises to release more games in later updates. For now, the new games will not come with in-game ads, sponsored brands, or in-app purchases, but these are things the company will be looking into. They are considering partnerships with developers outside of Facebook for AR games, as well.

Apps

Google rolls out Dark mode to G Suite apps on Android

A feature meant for Android Q

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Image credit: Google

With Android Q‘s release already on the horizon, Google has started making changes to its core apps to support it. One of its anticipated features is the system-wide Dark Theme. Thankfully, even Google’s first-party apps will have their own Dark mode.

In a blog post, Google announced the rollout of Dark mode for two of its Android apps: Calendar and Keep. Basically, the brightly made Calendar and Keep apps will now be friendlier to use in dim environments with less strain to the eyes.


To activate the Dark mode for Google Calendar, just head over to Settings > General > Theme, and select Dark mode. On Google Keep, simply go to the app’s Settings menu and select Enable Dark Mode.

Dark mode for Calendar is only supported on devices running Android 7 Nougat and higher, while Keep’s Dark mode will work on older phones running Android 5 Lollipop and newer.

Those who have Android Q Beta with Dark Theme activated will have Dark mode for both Calendar and Keep apps turned on by default.

The update will be rolled out to compatible Android devices over the course of 15 days, according to Google.

SEE ALSO: Latest Android Q Beta is now available on Pixel phones and 15 other devices

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Minecraft Earth is like Pokémon Go but with building blocks

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In a move that makes loads of sense, Minecraft is coming to mobile though an augmented reality app similar to Pokémon Go.

It’s called Minecraft Earth and it’s arriving later this year with a beta phase happening during summer. The developers offered this trailer, but it does little to explain how the system would work.


Check it out:

The official website’s FAQ section, however, delves into more of the info we actually care about.

For one, it’ll be free to play and will include several of Minecraft‘s traditional features including world building and discovering/fighting mobs.

Concerning regional availability, the developers aren’t confirming these details just yet. If it’s anything like the issues Niantic experienced with Pokémon Go before, chances are this rollout will be gradual, too.

Finally, for the “Will Minecraft Earth have loot boxes?” question, the website has a definite “No” to answer that.

Minecraft Earth will be available on both Android and iOS. Fingers crossed that there’ll be no delays. 🤞

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Apps

The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World through augmented reality

A new way to experience Lady Liberty on your iPhone

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The quintessential American landmark, the Statue of Liberty is a shining beacon that enlightens the world. Despite today’s polarizing times, she has become a true symbol of liberty throughout the years, not just for Americans but for citizens of the world.

Today on the same island where she is perched, the new Statue of Liberty Museum opens its doors to the millions of tourists that come to see her each year. But in recognition that not everyone can visit, the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation is also unveiling an AR app for your iPhone. Anyone, anywhere, can experience the statue’s grandeur.


A grand view of Libertas’ torch

On her right, the Statue of Liberty holds up a torch which symbolizes enlightenment and the path to liberty. Though visitors could originally climb up and experience the statue from the torch, it has been closed off to the public since 1916. The Statue of Liberty app will allow us to once again enjoy the breathtaking cityscape from this vantage point from sunrise to sunset.

The makings of the statue

Designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi with the framework by Gustave Eiffel, the Statue of Liberty is an engineering marvel. 125 tons of steel and 31 tons of copper comprise the statue which used to glisten like a penny. The current patina green coating comes from copper oxidizing.

See everything with your own eyes via the Statue of Liberty AR app: how the color changed, how the insides were built, and even a life-sized model for scale.

A look throughout the years

Strategically built at the “gateway to America”, the Statue of Liberty has born witness to a significant chunk of New York’s history. On the app you can look through her eyes in an almost 180-degree field of view and watch the changing of the times from 1886 to the present day. Watch the Manhattan skyline rise and fall including that poignant moment from 2001. It’s all there, 200 years of change and progression from the viewpoint of Lady Liberty.

The hows and the whys

The creation of the Statue of Liberty was no easy feat. A private venture that maximized crowdfunding efforts not just from the elite, the statue is truly an icon that each American can call their own. Exclusive content on the app tells us the story in detail and narrates the journey from inception, to France, and finally to America.

If you can, you should also check out the 3-part short film at the new museum’s Immersive Theater. One will surely walk away with a better appreciation for Lady Liberty and all she stands for.

Raising the Torch, a limited-series podcast narrated by Diane von Furstenberg, is also now available for your listening pleasure. The saga tells the Statue of Liberty’s history, continuing story, and evolving significance.

You can download the app on the App Store here.

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