Apps

You can now play Pokémon Go in the U.S.

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The wait is over for Americans. After a shaky 24 hours in Australia and New Zealand, where it was first made available, Pokémon Go is now out in the U.S.

Developed by Niantic Labs in partnership with Nintendo, Pokémon Go is a free augmented reality game for Android and iOS phones that lets you live out your dream of catching pokémon in the real world, using your phone’s camera and location sensors.


In way, it’s a very clever fitness app because the game requires you to explore your surroundings and local places of interest to capture Pikachu and more than a hundred different creatures in the wild. It’s also highly addictive, like caffeine, tobacco, and smartphones, judging from what we’ve seen on our Facebook feeds lately.

Obviously, catching pokémon in Go isn’t the end game for the title. You also have to train them, and then (when the update arrives) pit them against other players at landmarks in your area.

You can also trade creatures and hatch them (again, when the update drops). In other words, Go is designed to give you the full pokémon trainer experience.

But that’s not to say it won’t cost you money. Despite the free-to-play tag, the game features a number of microtransactions that you can purchase with real money and will cost you anywhere from $1 to $100.

A watch-like companion device called Pokémon Go Plus alerts you of nearby pokémon, and will ship later this month for $35. And while the hardware isn’t essential to playing Go, it may add to your gaming experience.

As for the rest of the world, Nintendo says Pokémon Go is “also coming soon to Canada, Europe, and South America.” Whether it will come to Asian markets outside of Japan has yet to be determined.

[irp posts=”10698" name=”Pokémon Generation 2 is out”]

Source: The Verge

Apps

Even Microsoft listens to your Skype and Cortana recordings

Absolute privacy is a myth

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A couple of weeks back Apple admitted it listens to accidental triggers of Siri to analyze and improve user experience. They also added that none of the recordings are associated with the user’s identity. However, contractors tasked to listen to these recordings admit coming across clips that revealed personal data.

Now, even Microsoft admits it uses human contractors to review its users’ audio. The list of “listening” companies also includes Amazon, Facebook, and Google. If you want absolute privacy, going off-the-grid may be your only option.


Microsoft uses third-party contractors to listen to your voice conversations on Skype and virtual assistant Cortana. The updated privacy statement says a human review is used to help build, train and improve the accuracy of its artificial intelligence systems.

Motherboard was the first one to come across the new updated policy and company pages for Skype Translator, Cortana, and Microsoft Support now also contain similar disclosures.

While other companies like Facebook, Google, and Apple have suspended these collections, Microsoft says it will “continue to examine further steps we might be able to take.” In simpler terms, “Screw you, we’ll continue doing it.”

The company also says the recordings may actually be subject to “transcription of audio recordings by Microsoft employees and vendors.”

Users are increasingly worried about online privacy since the Cambridge Analytica scandal was revealed. Technology companies have a huge chunk of our daily lives and many aren’t comfortable with it. Especially when privacy policies are complex and security loopholes are widely abused.

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Facebook will have dark mode for mobile

Things are looking bright for our eyes

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It seems Facebook is keen in joining the dark side, together with its fellow popular apps. Jane Manchun Wong, an app researcher, uncovered the tech giant’s plan to release the much-awaited dark mode.

Wong came across the unreleased dark mode for Android by looking in the code underneath, indicating that the tech giant has recently started implementing the feature. However, it seems that Facebook’s dark mode is still in its early stage of development.


While some users declared having it already on Facebook Watch, Wong emphasized that the dark mode is underway across the whole Facebook app.

There are no words yet from Facebook regarding dark mode nor its timeline for implementation. However, things are looking bright for our eyes that are hurt by bright lights should the tech giant implements the much-awaited feature. It’s only a matter of time before we embrace the dark.

See also:

Explaining OLED screens and Dark Mode
Here’s how you can enjoy Dark Mode on Facebook Messenger
Dark mode for Google Chrome is now available for Mac

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Creative hacks to improve your Instagram Stories

Using only Instagram and native phone apps

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Instagram has become an outlet for a lot of creatives over the years. It’s evolved from a platform where we share mundane photos of food and moods to hyper-curated grids — until Instagram Stories was introduced, that is. If you’re one of those people who barely post anything other than stories, here are some easy and not-so-simple ways on how they can look better so you can tell your stories better:

Use the native camera app

Photos taken with the Samsung Galaxy Note 10’s wide angle camera, ultra-wide angle camera, and night mode

Most phones released in 2019 now have at least two different cameras — a combination of wide angle and telephoto, or wide angle and ultra-wide angle. Some even have up to three or four in total. Take advantage of these lenses by taking your photos on the native camera app instead of going straight to Instagram. By using an ultra-wide angle lens you can fit more in your shot without walking several steps backwards. If your phone has a built-in night mode, your low light shots will also turn out much better when you take them using the camera app instead of  Instagram’s camera.


“Wrap” your caption around shapes

If your caption is a bit long, get creative by wrapping them around your subject’s shape. If you have a photo of food or coffee for example, you can type the letters one by one around the plate or cup.

Apply your video camera’s built-in filters

Smartphone cameras are getting more and more features each year. On the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 for example, there’s a feature called Live Focus Video where you get a TV glitch filter. This adds a retro, vaporwave aesthetic to your videos without having to install a third party app.

Add doodles

Make your subject pop by doodling around it. You can add dots, lines, hearts, stars, or broken lines around it — whatever you can think of! Doodles can also add a better narrative to your story than captions when Spider-Man appears out of nowhere for instance.

Animate your captions 

By simply adding small GIFs like stars around your caption, or integrating word GIFs into your caption can make it look like it’s animated. If you have a Samsung Galaxy Note 10, you can also get animated handwriting with the S  Pen using the phone’s native editor whether that’s on a photo or a video.

“Mask” your subject 

Another way to make your subject stand out is by “masking” lines or handwriting behind it. Simply write over your subject using any of the pen shapes, then erase parts of the lines or handwriting to make it seem like it appears over and under the subject.

Mix fonts with your handwriting

Instagram’s font selection may be limited but doesn’t mean your imagination should be. Pick any font to write your caption with — ideally anything but Neon — then pick one word to replace with your handwriting. You can also play around with tracking by simply adding spaces in between letters.

The trick in making your Instagram Stories look better is to not overshare and not overdo any of the effects. Just because you can add GIFs doesn’t mean you should plaster the entire screen with them. While it should feel more raw than your posts, be more purposeful in what you share — always try tell a story whether you’re sharing a photo or a video. It’s called Instagram Stories for a reason.

How do you make your Stories different? Share your tips with us in the comments section below.

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