Apps

Travel Frog: The new addictive mobile game

Taking me back to my Neko Atsume days

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If you were into Neko Atsume while it was out, this is the game for you: Tabi Kaeru (旅かえる) meaning “Travel Frog” in English.

If you haven’t heard of Neko Atsume, shame on you — just kidding. It was a mobile game that was developed by Hit-Point Co., Ltd. that was released on October 20, 2014. It grew in popularity by its simple game mechanic of collecting adorable cats. It was difficult to resist trying this game out when the graphics were impossibly cute. This pretty much sets you up for what Tabi Kaeru (旅かえる), a new game developed by the same company, achieves.

Well, here it is: The perfect cute game where, even if you have minimal understanding and not as much involvement, you will feel satisfied. As much as this game is completely in Japanese, it doesn’t quite matter. You can play along with context clues and wander about figuring out what seems to work and what doesn’t.

The game has enough visuals to walk you through most of what you’re meant to do despite not really speaking or understanding Japanese. In fact, Neko Atsume and Tabi Kaeru (旅かえる) make waiting a valuable aspect of the game.

In Tabi Kaeru (旅かえる), you meet an adorable small frog that wanders about, leaves you postcards, and occasionally stays home. You’ll first get bombarded with Japanese instructions once you’ve installed but don’t fret. Most of the things you need to play in this game have context clues and the game is filled with them.

This game is addictive without needing your full and dedicated attention. You collect clovers to buy food, charms, and items to set your frog on his journey. You’ll meet different friends on the way as you’ll occasionally check if your frog has returned home from his travels. I’ll let you know how I progress in the game soon, but there’s just something satisfying about seeing your frog travel around mysterious and cinematic places. Play it with me here (Android, iOS).

SEE ALSO: Razer Phone Review: Best smartphone for gaming?

Apps

Prepare your meals through your phone, fridge using Samsung SmartThings

The kitchen, simplified

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With everything going on in the world, it’s no surprise that people are spending more time in the kitchen and looking out for new recipes.

The good news? Samsung has just the thing to get it sorted quickly and easily. They’re bringing in Family Hub features into mobile users through the SmartThings app.

Samsung’s SmartThings Cooking service helps bring all of your Samsung kitchen appliances together. How? It lets you search, plan, purchase, and meal prep seamlessly through your phone or fridge through the SmartThings app.

On top of that, it recommends customized recipes based on your taste and preferences while considering ingredients available to you. You can scroll through recipe collections when you’re undecided or quickly zero-in on meals that suit your cravings.

SmartThings Cooking, powered by Whisk, is accessible through Samsung’s SmartThings. If you’ve got the Family Hub in your smart kitchen arsenal, there’s no need to fret.

The fridge keeps tabs of what you have and don’t, adding missing ingredients directly to your online grocery cart for at-home deliveries. Not to mention, you can shop through Walmart, Kroger, Instacart, and Amazon Fresh, using the Whisk network.

With SmartThings added to the Family Hub smart fridge, you get to enjoy all the cool features and more! You get to access your other smart kitchen gadgets through widgets on the screen, prioritize most used apps, and feature family photos, notes, and recipes.

And, if cooking is what you’re worried about, Samsung has you covered for even that. SmartThings guides you through easy cooking steps and lets you control cooking modes, temperatures, and time settings with one touch. Leaving you with little room for error.

So, with all that in mind, was it really a surprise to see Samsung’s Family Hub win its sixth consecutive CES Innovation Award this year? For us, not quite.

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Adobe starts blocking Flash content for all users

The final death blow to the once-popular software

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Do you still use Adobe Flash?  Then, you might have to stop using that sooner. Starting January 12, Adobe will all Flash content from running, bringing an end to the once-popular software platform.

Adobe’s process of discontinuing Flash actually began a few years ago, with end-of-life (EOL) notice dating back to 2017. Popular browsers began to drop support for it, with Firefox the first to do so last December 2020.

Adobe officially dropped support for the Flash player by December 31, 2020. Users were still able to run Flash content after that aforementioned date, however. That changes this January when Adobe blocks all content from running.

For most users, the effect will be minimal since Flash players are already disabled on most browsers. Also, most companies have already migrated to alternatives. Web developers, for example, are already using standard HTML5 to provide interactivity for their websites.

Popular in an instant, gone in a flash

This 2021 is the final death blow for the once-popular Adobe Flash. In the early part of 2000, Flash gained widespread adoption thanks to the rich interactivity it provides to the user. Most games found on the web during those times were built with it. Miniclip, for example, used to have a large library of games built with Flash.

The turning point for Flash came during the early 2010s with the adoption of HTML5. This HTML version introduced interactive elements which made Flash redundant in most use cases. Some also believe that Steve Jobs actually played a role in its downfall by not letting earlier versions of iOS support it by default. It also doesn’t help that Adobe had to issue numerous security updates over the course of its development.

So, if you’re still sticking to those old .swf or .flv files, now is the time to move on. Sure, Flash animations were great and quirky (and are still today) but you shouldn’t also risk your device to malware caused by an outdated software. If you are somewhat missing those days of viewing Flash right from your browser, you should check out the Internet Archive’s archive library with hundreds of animation that you can enjoy.

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WhatsApp users move to Signal due to changes in privacy policy

Signal has Musk’s seal of approval

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Over the week, a big change has come to WhatsApp with Facebook updating the messaging app’s privacy policy. As a result of the change, most WhatsApp users are now switching to another encrypted messaging service, Signal.

The whole thing started when WhatsApp notified its users about the updated terms and privacy policy this week. In a nutshell, the updated terms expand the type of data WhatsApp can collect from its users. This includes the user’s account information, contacts, status information, and payment data.

WhatsApp also collects device information, location, and user cookies. To make matters worse, the updated terms even include provisions for collecting ” hardware model, operating system information, browser information, IP address, mobile network information including phone number, and device identifiers” which previous terms don’t contain at all.

As a form of reassurance, WhatsApp will never touch user messages and conversations. The service will continue to encrypt messages end-to-end, and will never display third-party ads in the meantime.

All the data collected by WhatsApp will supposedly help improve Facebook. The data will also improve the services on other Facebook products such as Messenger, Instagram, and the Facebook app itself.

The updated terms also removed the option to opt-out of this data sharing. Users who don’t exactly agree to the terms will have their accounts disabled by February 8, 2021. Those who live in countries covered by the GDPR will continue to see an opt-out option.

See also: Privacy and security tips for your smartphone

Signal gets a heads-up

As a result of the change, Signal — an open-source encrypted messaging service — has seen an influx of users migrating from WhatsApp. The service even got a friendly recommendation from Elon Musk and Edward Snowden. For those clueless about the latter, he is the famous whistleblower who leaked the illegal privacy-invading acts done by the US’ National Security Agency last 2013.

Due to the influx of users signing up, the service has experienced delays in verifying phone numbers, which is critical in the registration process. Since then, the team behind Signal has resolved most of the delays in the past few days.

Users who don’t agree with Facebook’s invasive practices are also encouraged to join Signal. The messaging service boasts of having end-to-end encryption built-in by default and not collecting any user information. It is also run by a non-profit organization, which is different from popular messaging services usually run by large for-profit tech companies. It is available for Android, iOS, and desktop.

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