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?

Apps

10 good photography apps for your iPhone

Always get great shots

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Most photos we post and look at today are shot through the lenses of a handset. Gone are the days of big, bulky cameras and smartphones have replaced most shooters.

The great thing about shooting with your iPhone is that the creative process for your photo taking doesn’t end when you tap the shutter. There are so many things you can do with your photos; all you need is a good app.

Here are ten photography apps that you should check out.

VSCO

Price: Free!

Easily one of the most popular editing apps out there, VSCO is pretty easy to learn and simple to use. It allows you to edit photos, add presets, and even share your work to the VSCO community.

Download here.

Adobe Lightroom

Price: Free!

Think Adobe Lightroom on your computer but in mobile form. And yes, you get all the different tools and presets. If you upgrade to premium, you’ll be able to edit images across all your devices.

Download here.

Snapseed

Price: Free!

Another crowd favorite, Snapseed is an in-depth photo editing app. It can do all your basic editing on your iPhone, easy.

Download here.

Polarr Photo Editor

Price: Free!

Polarr boasts being an app that both photography pros and newbies can use. It has everything you’ll ever need for top-notch shots.

Download here.

Darkroom

Price: Free!

Another great app, Darkroom will level up your editing skills on mobile and give you tools to make sure your photos are always 👌🏽

Download here.

Afterlight 2

Price: US$ 2.99

This app offers basic editing, overlays, stylized filters, and even artwork text! It also provides free updates and new content monthly after that one time fee.

Download here.

Mextures

Price: US$ 1.99

Make photo editing easier with Mexture’s layered workflow. Add more texture to your photos and even edit existing formulas and presets with this app.

Download here.

Touch Retouch

Price: US$ 1.99

This app removes unwanted objects in your photos, easy peasy. Just trace the offending shape and you’re done! Definitely editing magic that you need.

Download here.

Portrait by img.ly

Price: Free!

Your portraits will never be the same again. Choose from different portrait styles, make selfie collages, and more!

Download here.

Enlight Photofox

Price: Free!

Not your basic editing app, Enlight not only gives you basic tools, it also allows for effects like double exposures, graphic elements, and even unique special effects.

Download here.

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Apps

What I learned about myself using Android Pie’s Digital Wellbeing Dashboard

Am I on my phone too much?

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When Android Pie was unveiled and released last week, I pretty much craved pie because everyone was talking about the delectable dessert. But, I was also very excited about one particular feature: The Digital Wellbeing Dashboard.

Image of me actually eating pie the day after the Android Pie unveiling

Announced earlier, this dashboard was supposed to be a ticket to a healthier lifestyle — well, at least in theory. In an effort to curb unhealthy phone user habits, a dashboard that tracks app usage is built in to Android’s newest operating system. Although not available to everyone as of writing, Pixel users (like yours truly) are able to try out the beta version of the dash. Since I’m a sucker for self-actualization and information that may potentially heal (and hurt) me, I tried it out for the last week or so and here’s what I learned.

I’m on my phone — a lot

No sh*t, Sherlock.

I know I’m always looking at these tiny screens but I didn’t realize I was literally living my life in front of it. A record day saw me looking at the screen for — get this — 11 hours and 55 minutes. That’s half a day! Legitimately, that’s the whole time I’m not sleeping. And take note, I review phones so this isn’t the only screen I look at in a day.

Given these numbers, I’m honestly unsure how I get anything else done in my life.

I get a ton of notifications

I mean sure, technology connects people, but I didn’t realize just how connected we are.

According to my data, I get around a minimum of 250 notifications per day and this number varies. At some point, there was a whopping 620 notifications. Let’s think about that for a minute; that means around 51 messages per hour in a 12-hour day. There are only 60 minutes per hour so that means almost a message for each freaking minute.

On average, Facebook Messenger tops the list for these notifications followed by Gmail and Telegram.

I check Instagram more than I should

Now, this is funny because as you just saw, Instagram isn’t on that list of top app notifiers. But, this might also be because I turned off IG notifications because they were distracting me (yay for being self-aware?). This health dashboard tells me that I unlocked my Instagram app most, with as many as 153 times in one day. This was, on average, followed by Facebook and Twitter.

The top three apps I spent time on are Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, which just tells me that I’m ‘gram crazy and I’m on social media too much (which isn’t really news to anyone).

Grayscale is annoying and I hate it

Part of the dashboard is a feature aimed at curbing being on your phone before bed (which I do a lot 🙄). Wind Down allows you to set such times and then gives you an option to turn on Do Not Disturb and a Grayscale that makes browsing less desirable for people who should be sleeping and not looking at their phones.

The mess of an app IG becomes on grayscale

Reading tweets on grayscale is weird and browsing through Instagram is just plain wrong. I guess, in that way, this function is effective in getting me to stop being on my phone — until I turned it off the next day and never turned it on again.

I refuse to turn on the app timer as I justify social media use as work

Say what you want because it’s true. 😅

See, there’s a timer option on the dash that allows you to limit app usage time. Thing is, I’ve never turned it on. Why? Because I work on the internet and turning it on may amount to catastrophic consequences.

I will keep using this to justify my action of disallowing app time limits, so what’s your excuse?

It must be noted that, as mentioned earlier, I use more than one phone on a daily basis and am on social media on my laptop a lot, too. That being said, it’s worth pointing out that this still isn’t a complete picture of my daily phone and internet habits. Even though this data only shows a fraction of the grand picture, it already says a lot.

As with everything in life, the choice is in your hands (er, on your phone). Though I am ultimately left to decide what to do about my phone habits, knowing is always the first step.

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Apps

US FDA approves first contraceptive app

Can an app stop you from getting pregnant?

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I now truly believe that there’s an app for everything. 😱

Last week, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the very first app to be marketed as a method of contraception. Yes, ladies, you read that right. Not a period tracker, but an actual birth contraception method.

Natural Cycles is a phone application from a European startup. For EUR 65 per year, it works by using the fertility awareness method via basal body temperatures and menstrual cycle information to tell whether a woman is fertile or not. It then advises which days you should “abstain” or “use protection.”

According to the US FDA, “consumers are increasingly using digital health technologies to inform their everyday health decisions, and this new app can provide an effective method of contraception if it’s used carefully and correctly.” They report that clinical studies have shown that the app has a “perfect use” failure rate of 1.8 percent (meaning 1.8 in 100 ladies get pregnant in spite of using the app correctly) and a “typical use” failure rate of 6.5 percent (which accounts for wrong app usage, etc).


To put in context, the US CDC pegs the typical use failure rate of birth control pills at nine percent and condoms at 18 percent. Interesting enough, this same information gives fertility awareness-based methods, the same method being used by Natural Cycles according to the FDA statement (though, in this case, unassisted by apps or algorithms), a typical use failure rate of 24 percent.

The FDA warns that “no form of contraception works perfectly, so an unplanned pregnancy could still result from correct usage of this device.”

The contraceptive app is not one without their share of controversies. Early last year, they were certified as the very first contraceptive app by the Europen Union. It has since been reported, however, that out of the 668 women who sought abortions from September to December 2017 at one of Stockholm’s biggest hospitals, 37 were relying on Natural Cycles as a contraceptive method.

Natural Cycles claims that they are “responding to each reported case,” and that “as [their] user base increases, so will the number of unplanned pregnancies coming from Natural Cycles users. This is an arithmetic truth applicable to all contraceptive methods.”

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