Apps

What’s the deal with Mobile Legends?

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Have you been seeing this image on your Facebook feed a lot lately? Wondering what’s the big deal that has your friends actually sharing this stuff online for all their social circles to see? GadgetMatch takes a quick look at Mobile Legends.

So what is Mobile Legends anyway? It’s a multiplayer online battle arena or MOBA. What’s a MOBA? It’s a game where two teams of player-controlled characters, each with special abilities, face off in a large symmetrical level with the goal of destroying the opposing group’s home base, fighting off small AI enemies and toppling turrets in lanes on the way.


Basically, it’s DOTA that you can play on your phone or tablet.

The MOBA problem

Considering how huge DOTA and other MOBAs like League of Legends are worldwide, maybe it shouldn’t be such a surprise how Mobile Legends has become so popular. Just apply the formula to a mobile format, and you gotta have a hit, right?

Not exactly the easiest thing to do. MOBAs are super complex!

I actually never got into them even when the genre first exploded circa 2004 with the original Defense of the Ancients, because it was too complicated even for me, a hardcore console gamer. The highly competitive, testosterone-fueled atmosphere of net cafes was intimidating, too, for my awkward teen self back then.

My experience with Mobile Legends has been the complete opposite. Well, for the most part.

Low barrier to entry

The moment you load up the app, it puts you right into a tutorial that walks you through the basic process of a match step by step with a character you can control. I understood the core concept of the game in the short time it took to complete the tutorial, which I wasn’t expecting at all.

In fact, I was kind of surprised to see the game run in the first place, since I have a low-end smartphone that can’t properly play 1080p videos and struggles with modern, graphically demanding games.

No, it’s not buttery smooth, but the performance is mostly stable and the visuals are only slightly grainy. Characters stand out with their striking colors and flashy abilities. I haven’t had much trouble keeping track of what’s going on, even with my average-sized screen.

Conventional and convoluted aesthetics

However, the overall art design is a generic mish-mash of sci-fi and fantasy tropes. There’s no cohesive aesthetic, and it’s got a disappointingly familiar dose of straight male fanservice. If the guys can be pretty boys, ferocious manbeasts, masked cyborgs, and ghost pirates, why do the females have to be mostly busty, scantily clad supermodels?

The menus outside the actual game modes can be a bit much to navigate for the average person with all the numbers, countdowns, in-game currencies, and promotions they throw at you. After your initial run of Mobile Legends, the app always starts at the Events Hall menu, showing you all the things you can buy with crystals and battle points and emblems. It’s free-to-play, so I get the hard sell. Maybe it works for other people, but I find it a bit of a turn-off.

Thankfully, exiting the shop leads you to the Battle menu where the big red Match Up Mode button is right in the middle, so you can get started on a game ASAP.

Snappy and intuitive gameplay

The standard match goes by quickly compared to PC MOBAs. I’ve had games finish in 10 minutes, with none lasting longer than around 20 when both teams are evenly matched. Contrasted with hour-long battles of DOTA 2 and League, this bite-size experience is welcome for busybodies who still like to have engaging fun on breaks.

Each competition has been satisfying, too! Controls are easy; move with a digital joystick, touch or hold a button to attack the nearest enemy, and just tap on your special abilities when they’re available. With my home internet as well as my mobile data connection, it’s been very responsive either way.

The mid-battle upgrade system in MOBAs are so much simpler here, too, since the game just shows one or two ideal options from a preset loadout of items with clear descriptions when you have the gold to buy them. No rummaging through a huge list, wondering which one is the best to get at the right moment. Pick whatever, and your character will be ultimately more powerful!

I’ve tried 9 of the 37 characters available, playing at least one from each class (fighter, tank, support, etc.), and it’s been very easy getting into the role I needed to assume.

A highly accessible mobile MOBA

I can see the intricacy in higher levels of play with actual teams coordinating strategies with optimal character lineups, too. I’ll never put as much time and effort into mastering Mobile Legends as I have with full-priced premium games I like such as Overwatch and Dark Souls III, but I understand now why some of my friends who don’t even play a lot of games can’t help but broadcast to the world how much they’re into it.

SEE ALSO: Persona 5 review: Can style override substance?

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Apps

BlackBerry Messenger is shutting down

Enterprise version will live on

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Do you still remember your BlackBerry Messenger PIN? Almost a decade ago, BBM was the world’s most efficient solution for instant messaging. Before dependable data plans simplified messaging, BlackBerry offered a free alternative for its users. Years later, the tables have turned. Data packages have popularized other free messaging services like Messenger, Whatsapp, Telegram, and Viber. BlackBerry Messenger became obsolete.

Three years ago, BlackBerry tried a few resuscitation strategies, adding support between other apps. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. Users just flowed liberally to other messaging apps.


Naturally, the end is near. BBM is past its expiration date. Now, BlackBerry has made the funeral official. On May 31, the company will cease support for BBM. Because of a rapidly declining user base, the messaging service will be shut down. At least, for consumers.

Instead, BlackBerry Messenger will live on through its enterprise version. Unlike the consumer version, BBMe — as the enterprise version is called — offers end-to-end encryption and message editing after sending. Initially intended for business users, the service requires a biannual US$ 2.50 subscription fee. Because of the recent announcement, BlackBerry Messenger Enterprise is now available for everyone to download.

“Though we are sad to say goodbye, the time has come to sunset the BBM consumer service, and for us to move on,” BlackBerry said in a blog post. Regardless of its user base now, BBM’s end is a sad day for instant messaging. Back in its heyday, BlackBerry was a major force in the smartphone world, going toe-to-toe with Samsung and Apple. Exchanging BBM PINs was, in itself, a secret handshake exclusive only to BlackBerry users. Whether you were a user or not, BlackBerry Messenger was a huge hit back in the day.

SEE ALSO: BlackBerry KEY2 LE is a toned-down, colorful version of KEY2

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Apps

Video sharing app TikTok has disappeared from India

The company has challenged the ban in court

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The Indian government has ordered Google and Apple to take down the Chinese-owned TikTok video app after a court expressed concerns over the spread of pornographic material.

The Tamil Nadu state court had on April 3 asked the federal government to ban TikTok, saying it encouraged pornography and made younger users vulnerable to sexual predators. Its ruling came after an individual launched a public interest litigation calling for a ban.


In accordance with the ruling, the government asked Google and Apple to remove the app from Google Play and the App Store, respectively. Both companies have complied with the ruling.

TikTok is one of the most popular mobile apps in India and had been trending on app stores for quite some time. Bytedance, the company that runs the app, says it has more than 500 million users worldwide and 120 million of them are from India.

The app allows users to make and share short videos and it can still be used by those who have already downloaded it on their smartphones. Lip-syncing, jokes, Bollywood music, and memes have been a massive hit with the audience. With a 15-second time limit, the app is competing against behemoths like Instagram and even YouTube.

Bytedance has declined to provide a comment, stating the issue is still in court. The company has challenged the court’s decision and the next hearing is set for April 24.

Last week, a 19-year-old was shot dead by a friend in New Delhi as they posed with a pistol to make a video to show on TikTok. These incidents have fueled criticism for the app and unmoderated videos of minors are rampant.

This wasn’t the first time TikTok had been under scrutiny. In February, The US federal trade commission slapped a fine of US$ 5.7 million on the app to settle allegations of child privacy law violations.

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Apps

Plum is a dating app designed for women who want deeper connections

‘Where respect is rewarded’

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Tired (of dating apps)? Lonely? Looking for love — well, at least meaningful connections?

One new dating app will try to redefine the dating app experience.


“Where respect is rewarded” — that’s the tagline forwarded by Plum Dating. The dating app aims to reward respectful behavior by men where things other than just looks are factored in.

The brainchild of Jenna Birch, a dating coach and the author of The Love Gap: A Radical Plan to Win in Life & Love, Plum allows women to rate men they’ve encountered on the app and not the other way around. Also, you can only rate the guy, but only after your date. The scoring system revolves around three core values: Profile authenticity, Communication, and Follow-through. As for men, the higher your rate is, the more visible you’ll be in the app.

In theory, this setup aims to scope out the “nice men” as women navigate a safer dating landscape. Think of it: Women have all the control, including if they want the option to message potential mates first, or the opposite, while men legitly just have to be decent people to score well. As to if it will actually work in real life, we’ll find out this spring, which is when the app is slated to come out.

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