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Google Play App Roundup: Flychat, The Banner Saga 2, and I am Bread

There are far too many apps flowing into the Play Store on a daily basis to find all the good stuff yourself. This is the problem that Google Play App Roundup seeks to solve. Every week we tell you about the best new and newly updated apps in the Play Store. Just click the app name to head right to the Play Store and check things out for yourself.


Facebook has come up with a lot of ideas over the years, but few of them have had the staying power of chat heads. These floating messaging icons were unveiled as part of the now-defunct Facebook Home interface, but chat heads came to the Messenger app, and subsequently were adopted by various other apps. Flychat is an app that essentially adds chat heads to all of the top messaging apps on Android, so you can have the benefit of chat heads without using Facebook Messenger.

The app supports 10 chat clients so far including Hangouts, WhatsApp, Telegram, and more. In setting up Flychat, you'll have to grant the app access to your notifications. This allows it to read messages as they come in and replicate them in the floating bubble. That means you won't get full chat history from the apps it supports, only the messages that have come in since you started using it.

When messages from a valid app come in, the bubble will appear unless you're in an app that you have blocked Flychat from appearing on top of. Tap on the bubble, and you get a full chat window from which you can reply. When you exit, the bubble remains so you can easily access the chat. To close, drag it down to the bottom of the screen. The app produces a separate icon for each app it supports, assuming you use more than one. It can be a useful way to unify all the various chat apps you are forced to use.

Because Flychat is handling the on-screen notifications, you'll probably want to disable peeking notifications on any compatible chat apps you use to avoid duplicates. However, you can also choose to enable and disable the various chat apps Flychat supports. So, you can use Flychat for Hangouts, but continue using WhatsApp as you always have.

Flychat is free to use with some ads in the settings, but a $0.99 in-app purchase gets rid of that. The full version also unlocks more customization like changing the bubble sizes and custom colors.

2001: A Space Odyssey 1/6th Scale Figures

Discovery astronauts Dave Bowman and Frank Poole finally get sixth scale interpretations in these deatiled figures from Executive Replicas. We chat with the company's co-founder to learn about the making of these space suits and figures, and the plans to make a full-size spacesuit replica for sale in the future.

Hands-On with Superhot VR

Norm and Jeremy play Superhot VR, a virtual reality shooter that turns the concept of bullet time into almost a puzzle game. We show how the innovative mechanic seens suited for VR, discuss our different play styles, and then chat with the game's developer about the scope of Superhot VR.

Toward the Unknown: The North American X-15

This story originally appeared on The High Frontier and is republished here with permission.

By any measure the North American X-15 was an amazing aircraft. By the end of the decade long, 199 flight programme the three aircraft had pushed airspeed and altitude records way beyond all previous marks. Many X-15 pilots qualified astronauts on their high altitude flights and the wealth of operational knowledge that was gained continues to influence aerospace programmes to this day.

Yet for all this, the X-15 is often overshadowed by NASA's other activities during the 1960s and its legacy overlooked. It could never go as high or as fast as the capsules launched from the Cape, but the fact remains, at the time it was designed the X-15 looked like it would provide America's first forays in human spaceflight and as Tom Wolfe points out in The Right Stuff, they would FLY their vehicle there and back.

The X-15 ready to go under the wing of the NB-52 (credit: NASA)

Mach 1 and beyond

The story of the X-15 really starts as an extension of the high speed research programs being carried out by the NACA, Air Force and Navy beginning at the end of World War 2. Following the advent of effective liquid-fuelled rocket propulsion, the development of the jet engine and advances in aerodynamics during that conflict, it became clear that aviation would be pushing into new flight regimes. Famously the Bell X-1 (originally the XS-1) marked the first in a long line of experimental aircraft constructed to explore these new regimes and gather data which could later be applied to the design of operational aircraft.

Although research aircraft of the time were not exclusively concerned with high speed flight, many of the early X-planes such as the X-1 series and their Navy equivalents the Douglas Skystreak (D-558-1) and Skyrocket (D-558-2) were designed to examine the transonic and supersonic region. These designs tended to be purely functional and highly conservative serving to access a flight regime and gather the data safely while offering high margins of structural strength to cope with any unknowns that may be encountered. They weren't generally designed to act as prototypes for future operational types – their role was to gather data and extend knowledge. Very rapidly though, the contemporary fighter types of the late 1940s and early 1950s began to match and often exceed the performance of the early research aircraft calling their practicality into question, but while designs such as Kelly Johnson's F-104 Starfighter could now reach speeds in excess of Mach 2 on a routine basis, it was recognised that it would take a rocket powered research craft to probe speeds above Mach 3 and altitudes in excess of 100,000ft.

Some of the early research planes at Edwards AFB including the X-1A, Skystreak and Skyrocket. (credit: NASA)

The much delayed Bell X-2 was anticipated to provide valuable data in these areas, but this troubled aircraft didn't manage to make its first powered flight until 1955. On September 7th 1956, Air Force pilot Iven Kincheloe took the X-2 to a new altitude record of 126,200ft and it looked like the X-2 might start to make good on its promise, but on the very next flight just 20 days later, Milburn Apt was killed after reaching a speed in excess of Mach 3. Apt had fallen victim to a high speed aerodynamic phenomenon known as inertia coupling, where the aircraft's control surfaces lose their ability to counteract the inertia of the fuselage resulting in a loss of control and tumbling in all three axis. Chuck Yeager had managed to survive an encounter with inertia coupling after he exceeded Mach 2.5 in the X-1A, but although Apt was able to recover control and separate the X-2s escape capsule, he became incapacitated and was unable to parachute to safety.

Although the X-2 had provided some data on high altitude flight and aerodynamic heating it was clear that much work remained for the next planned research vehicle.

Tested: Hover Camera Passport Drone Review

We review the Hover Camera Passport, a lightweight foldable quadcopter that uses computer vision technology to track your face and body as it flies around you. We love its compact design and ease of use, and take the drone out for test flights around the city. Here's what we think of the resulting footage.

The Character Known As Tory - Episode 51 -10/14/16
On this week's episode of CreatureGeek, Frank and I welcome Tory Belleci formerly of the show Mythbusters and of the upcoming Netflix show "The White Rabbit Project" - starting December 9th. Tory chats about his time being a model maker with ILM and his safety and well being as a Mythbuster. Thanks for listening! Also, If you're digging this show, please head over to and support us with a few bucks. Thanks to our sponsor ScotteVest!
00:00:00 / 53:47
The Android 7.1 Nougat Update Might be the First One You Won't Crave

The release of a new version of Android is usually something Google loves to go on about, but it didn't even mention Android 7.1 Nougat at the Pixel announcement the other day. And yet, that's what the Pixel and Pixel XL will be running when they are released. Google wasn't anxious to talk about the software itself, but the features were discussed at length in the presentation. That's because Android 7.1 is Google's attempt to skin Android.

The Pixel Exclusives

When Google talked about all the neat things the Pixel (and only the Pixel) would be able to do, it was talking about Android 7.1. First and foremost, Android 7.1 will come with the Pixel Launcher pre-installed. This home screen has a simpler vibe with an app drawer that slides up from the bottom and a smaller Google "pill" widget at the top of the screen. It also has Google Now built-in just like the Google Now Launcher.

Maybe you can survive without the launcher, and you'll probably be able to sideload it anyway. Google Assistant will be at the heart of the Pixel's Android 7.1 experience, and that won't be available as a sideload. Instead of binding the Now on Tap contextual search to the long-press home button, the Pixels on Android 7.1 will call up Assistant. It's the same chatbot you get in Allo right now, but it's geared toward voice interaction and is available at any time. You'll also be able to get the On Tap-style cards by swiping up in Assistant. It's the best of both worlds.

The support and backup features of Android 7.1 are exclusive to the Pixel as well. Users will be able to access text and phone support 24/7 from a built-in menu. All your photos and videos in Android 7.1 on the Pixel will be saved to Google Photos at original quality. This is free and unlimited, even for 4K video. The device will also offer to delete old backed up photos on your phone if you start to run low on space.

Adam Savage Incognito as Totoro at New York Comic Con!

Adam Savage walks through New York Comic Con in his newest cosplay: the titular forest spirit from the film My Neighbor Totoro! In portraying this friendly and fuzzy character, Adam strolls through the convention floor receiving hugs and warming hearts. Plus, check out Adam's perspective from a camera mounted on the costume!