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Will bigger iPhones end great one-hand games?

Segun Balogun

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Will bigger iPhones end great one-hand games?

According to CNN Apple might be readying its largest iPhones ever. Regardless of how you feel about that, it could mean one unequivocally crappy thing for all of us: The extinction of great, casual one-handed games.

The usual trickle of pre-release rumors suggests the iPhone 6 could come in two sizes: 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches. Enlarging the form factor ostensibly would help Apple better compete with already-huge Android handsets. But it also would jeopardize the iPhone’s promise of comfortable one-handed use — and that’s where the problem arrives with respect to games.

If designers can’t be sure we can grasp our phones with one hand, with our thumbs free to tap most of the screen, will they still spend their time making games that demand these conditions? If one-handed phones die out, why wouldn’t we assume one-handed games will follow?

Bennett Foddy, the gamemaker behind the Flash sensation QWOP and its iPhone incarnation, recently sparked the discussion on Twitter. A mega-iPhone would be a “massive mistake” on Apple’s part, he wrote. “I don’t really care as a consumer, mind you. But it matters to me as an iOS game developer, where it’s just going to be a design nightmare.”

How Fragmentation Affects Game Design

On one hand, the problem bigger iPhones pose to well-crafted games is simply one of fragmentation. It’s something that’s been a mounting challenge to exacting designers and developers since the initial iPhone.

“At the most basic level, good game design is concerned with the micro details of interactions,” Foddy explains. “How does it feel if I put this button 1.2 inches from the edge of the screen instead of 1.1? Does it feel nice and natural to swipe my finger in this particular arc?”

In the early days of smartphones, when there was a single touchscreen form factor to develop for, it was easy to work out those tiny details. Today, Foddy says, you just can’t achieve that level of tactile fine-tuning.

To make money, designers must put their games on as many screens as possible. As a result, many settle for making the experience “adequate” on devices large and small, Android and iOS. Effectively splitting the iPhone market into three sizes (including legacy 4-inchers) would only add to this problem.

But larger iPhones could mean an even more significant shift in the mobile games landscape. While you can find one-handed games for your gigantic Android phone, the majority of truly novel, thoughtfully designed portrait-orientation games arrive at least initially and often exclusively on the iPhone.

Think Threes, Ridiculous Fishing, Letterpress, Device 6. These are the types of games most at risk amidst the great smartphone embiggening.

The Gaming Use-Case That’s at Risk

It helps to remember that smartphones gave rise to a fundamentally new type of game, making way for the titles that have distracted us from our line-waiting miseries for the past several years. “Knowing that someone can touch most of the screen with one hand, you can design apps or games that live in the busiest parts of a person’s life,” Foddy says. “On the train, or at the bank, I can play Flappy Bird or Threes or Letterpress, but I can’t play a 3-D shooter.”

But if the next generation of iPhones are indeed 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches diagonally across, as has been rumored, it would mean that a significant number of iPhone users won’t be able to comfortably touch the whole screen with one hand. It makes those “busiest part of your life” games a much trickier proposition—and potentially bad business.

“If I make an app in portrait orientation, I have to assume half my customers will be holding it with two hands,” Foddy says. And if he wanted to make a game explicitly designed for one hand, “I basically have to give away a large portion of the market.”

Asher Vollmer, co-creator of the hit portrait-orientation numbers puzzler Threes, thinks Foddy’s concerns are legitimate. “One of the biggest complaints I get on Threes is that the retry button is too far away,” he says. “It’s in the top left of the screen. I can just barely get away with this because you don’t restart games too often, but if I released a game that required area-specific touch controls I would be in a lot of trouble with newer, gigantic phones.”

Is Awkward Gaming Inevitable?

Vollmer does point out that portrait games like Threes and Temple Run might ultimately be safe because their main gameplay controls work anywhere on the screen. But in a mondo-phone future, games with area-specific controls like Cut the Rope will have a more difficult route ahead.

It’s possible games will adapt, moving their controls to a thumb-friendly interaction zone in the bottom-right (or bottom-left) corner of the screen, but that isn’t the most elegant use of a huge touchscreen, nor will it work with every type of title. (Plus, the problem with larger displays isn’t just thumb-reach; it’s that one-handed operation of any sort becomes fraught at a certain size. You get people pinching the side with their palms, accidentally triggering taps on the screen, or else grasping them two-fisted like a Game Boy. All this uncertainty adds challenge for game designers.)

While a wave of bigger iPhones could be a death knell for a certain type of one-handed, casual game, there’s evidence that these sorts of games are already on the way out. Just look at the bestseller charts for Android Play and the iOS App Store. As of writing, there was exactly one portrait-mode game to be found among the top twenty bestsellers on both stores.

It’s a glossy update of  Tetris for the iPhone, an old game that just happens to have lived in a long, tall rectangle all its life. By comparison, App Store records for the same week in 2010 show that a full half of the top-selling paid games for the iPhone were portrait-orientation.

So why the dearth of popular portrait titles on the charts today? It might be that we’re just increasingly coming to think of smartphones as sideways, two-handed gaming devices. As phones have become more powerful, games have become more cinematic, and cinema always looks better in widescreen. Plus, we now have other portrait-mode diversions like Twitter and Instagram to fill those idle moments in line and on the subway. The addicting pleasure of “pull-to-refresh” even lends some of those apps a game-like element of their own.

Looking at those App Store charts, Foddy can’t help but see evidence that mobile gaming has turned on its side.

“The days of DoodleJump and SpellTower and Letterpress are gone,” he says. “Everything is in two-handed landscape mode, a mode for people who are sitting down or lying in bed, and devoting all their attention and manual capability to the game.” In other words: Bigger, better, brighter phones have lead us to bigger, better brighter games.

The demise of the one-handed game becomes fascinating when you take this slightly longer view. For a brief spell, the advent of a touchscreen device that fit comfortably in one hand gave birth to an entirely new type of diversion. These were tiny things, just as easy to put down as they were to pick up.

We didn’t have to carve out time to play them; they lived in nooks and crannies of down time during our day. But with the rise of less graspable phones and the abundance of time-wasters we now have for them, the conditions that allowed for those games to exist may well be evaporating.

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Mobile

Tips for Parents Raising Kids in a Digital World

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Raising kids in a digital world is as much of a curse as it is a blessing. Namely, they have the means to learn, grow and entertain themselves, which helps them become more independent early on- Then again, they also grow more and more alienated from the environment. Furthermore, you have no control over what kind of content they’re exposed to and, frankly, with the ever-growing trend of VR, chances are that they might soon be in danger of having a hard time telling the difference between the real and virtual world. Having said that, parents need to be extra careful and take some additional steps of precaution.

1.      Encourage playtime

The first mistake that parents often make is trying to force their kids to play outside or go on playdates. Prohibiting, forbidding and ordering your kids around seldom does the trick. If anything, it will make them enjoy less and even openly defy you. Instead, you need to encourage playtime by coming up with fun activities, organizing playdates that they really want and giving them a reason to go outside. In other words, you merely need to help them develop intrinsic motivation and they will look forward to this playtime in the real world.

2.      Use parental control

In the previous section, we might have gone too hard on the technology and digital environment but these tools and tech trends are a part of the reality that we live in. This means that you’re doing your kids a disservice by pretending like they don’t exist. Instead, you need to guide them by gradually introducing them into this world and the easiest way to achieve this is to introduce some parental control on the device they’re using. Some devices like iPhone have a parental control in form of iPhone restrictions that are so sophisticated that it may help you give your child the ultimate kid-friendly smartphone experience.

3.      Screen time shouldn’t be alone time

Not all content is necessarily bad for your kids when you put it into proper context, which is why you need to ensure that not all screen time is alone time for your kids. Some parents just allow their kids to play with tablets, smartphones and computers, seeing as how this is a (physically) safe activity for them. In other words, they can just leave their kids to the care of these devices and go on about their own business. In parenthood, and in life in general, the easy way out is seldom the right thing to do.

4.      Set a good example

The most important thing of all is that you are a good role model for your kids. To achieve this, you need to set a good example by showing restraint when it comes to the use of these devices. Kids often try to reflect the behavior of their parents, so if they see you looking at the screen all the time or trying to take a picture of everything they do, they might start doing the same. In other words, don’t set any rules or expectations that you yourself can’t fulfill.

5.      Tech-free zones

The last thing you can do is try to gamify this experience by creating tech-free zones for your children whenever and wherever you can. For instance, instead of getting a huge flat-screen TV to serve as the focal point of your living room, you could make it into a tech-free zone. We already talked about the fact that forbidding things to your kids might backfire and give an adverse result. However, by creating a tech-free zone, you’ll make the execution of this rule into something passive and easy to uphold. Your kids will come to accept this as a way of life, instead of seeing it as a stern rule, especially since it doesn’t apply just to them but is something that everyone must uphold.

Conclusion

Raising kids was never easy, to begin with. However, now you’re facing more and more challenges than ever before. However, the end result is always more than worth it and, as a parent, it’s your duty and your obligation to do all that’s in your power in order to help your kids grow into decent and functional human beings. For that reason alone, you shouldn’t be too eager to prevent them from using even those trends that you personally dislike.

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Nigeria recorded low spam calls, messages in 2018: Report

Techcribng

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The top 20 Countries  affected by spam calls in 2018 released by truecaller
Truecaller claimed to have helped users block and identify 17.7 billion spam calls including the identity of 74.1 billion calls.

Nigeria ranked among markets that experienced low spam calls and unsolicited messages in 2018 according to a report analysis breakdown by Guardian Nigeria, a research conducted by Truecaller has revealed. Unlike in 2017, where Nigeria ranked ninth behind India, USA, Brazil, Chile, South Africa, Mexico, Turkey, and Peru respectively in the world’s top 20 list, the country dropped out of the list last year.

Photo credit: Truecaller

The Truecaller 2017 report put the average spam calls/messages an average Nigerian gets in a month at 10.2 percent.

In the 2018 report obtained by The Guardian, Truecaller found that there are common categories that tie all the spam calls together. They include operator, debt collection, bank, political, health, spam, telemarketing, financial service, scam and insurance.

It explained that the regions span across the world, and even some countries that are on the same continent differ drastically in what type of spam call they receive. Truecaller is a product of Swedish company, True Software Scandinavia AB. It is a mobile app developed to find mobile number details globally given a telephone number either using the app or their synced contacts, and has an integrated caller ID service to achieve call-blocking functionality and social media integration to keep the phonebook up-to-date with pictures and birthdays.

In 2018 alone, Truecaller claimed to have helped users block and identify 17.7 billion spam calls including the identity of 74.1 billion calls. This means that close to every fourth call that the app users receive are spam calls.Compared to 2017, Truecaller said fewer African markets are in the top 20 list: Kenya, Morocco, Egypt, and Nigeria. South Africa is the only country in the list – as a matter of fact the amount of spam calls increased from 15 to 21 spam calls/months – that is a 40 per cent increase!

According to a telecoms expert, Kehinde Aluko, the drop in spam calls and messages could be linked to subscribers’ activations of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC’s) recently introduced Do-Not-Disturb (DND) codes.

NCC had urged subscribers, who are tired of unsolicited text messages and calls to text “Stop” to “2442” or “Help” to “2442” for options.The Guardian gathered that over 12 million subscribers had as at November 2018, activated the code and blocked unwanted messages and calls.

In the 2018 list, Brazil surprisingly took over from India as the most spammed country in the world, with the average Truecaller user receiving 37.5 spam calls per month. This means that Brazil saw an 81 per cent increase in spam calls last year.

The firm cited new markets entered the list including Spain, Canada, Costa Rica, Poland, Dominican Republic, and Israel, adding that there was a big increase of spam calls in European markets like Spain (100%), Greece (54.1%) and Italy (22.7 %.) However, Turkey has seen a decrease of spam calls (18 %.)
Furthermore, Truecaller revealed that a lot of Latin American countries entered the top spam list, and they are seeing the biggest increase of spam calls. Costa Rica was ranked top as country that has seen the highest increase in terms of percentage (330 %.)

Digging deeper into the bigger markets, Truecaller found common categories that tie all these spam calls together. The biggest pattern discovered was that operators across the world are the biggest spammers.“We could also see that telemarketing calls from financial services, debt collectors and insurance related matters are spamming our users globally. Others are political, health, scam, financial service, telemarketing, among others,” the Swedish firm stated.

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Computing

Google Is About To Fix Terrible Lag Issues On Chrome OS Tablets

Techcribng

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So many complaints have been made by users about the Pixel state performance especially when the device is in tablet mode and Users also claim they encounter lagging issues  while in the said mode, apart from having a janky experience overall.

According to report, It seems Google is now aware of the issue, at least. Since the Pixel Slate’s sluggish and stuttery user interface is becoming a deal breaker for most consumers, Google is reportedly planning to roll out an update that will improve the performance of its flagship tablet.

Chrome Unboxed has uncovered that Google aims to address performance problems present on the Pixel Slate, particularly issues with lag. What’s more, the fix might actually be a simple one.

Pixel Slate Lag Issues

For sometimes, Many Developers have noticed that much of the performance issues stems from the performance-intensive way the tablet draws rounded corners, and they especially persist when dragging down to reveal the overview mode.

“A lot of animation jank seems to be coming from the use of Mask Layers to create rounded corners. This combined with background blur adds a lot of additional steps in the paint/rendering pipeline,” according per the bug’s description.

When rounded corners are disabled, the performance allegedly improves, even on the Celeron-based Pixel Slate, which is the entry-level model of the lineup.

“The performance (fps increase) and memory improvement (tiles don’t get discarded and we actually see the content) is quite significant on Nocturne Celeron when rounded corners are removed.”

Of course, turning off rounded corners likely won’t solve every lag and performance issue present on the device, but it’s an easy and uncomplicated start, and should significantly increase performance for users who enter overview mode on a regular basis.

When Will Google Release This Fix?

As to when Google plans to release the fix is another story. The company has labeled the bug as high priority, at least, but bear in mind that the discussion dates back to November 2018, which suggests a solution might not be around the corner. Also, Google hasn’t formally acknowledged the Pixel Slate’s performance issues, making it harder to predict if and when the fix is coming.

That’s quite unfortunate since a number of reviewers liken the Pixel Slate as a successful attempt from Google to reinvigorate the tablet landscape, apart from being a worthy competitor to the Apple iPad. Clearly, Google has quite a room for improvement on the software side of things — and definitely on the hardware as well.

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