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    Google Play App Roundup: Motion Stills, Leap On, and Vista Golf

    Grab your phone and prepare to shoot some new apps and games over to it from the Google cloud. It's time for the Google Play App Roundup where we tell you what's new and cool in the Play Store. Just click the links to head to each app's page to check it out for yourself.

    Motion Stills

    Google released an app last year for iPhone called Motion Stills, which jived nicely with Apple's Live Photo feature. Still, Android users like GIF photos, too. So, Google has finally gotten around to releasing an Android version of Motion Stills with an improved image processing pipeline. That means it's faster, and fast things are good.

    Motion Stills is basically a GIF camera, but it's a really good GIF camera. It's got amazing image stabilization, which results in very smooth animations that look like you had your phone on a tripod. All you need to do is tap the capture button, and the app takes a three second video. You can scroll down to see the video, and it's ready instantly. Google's improved processing renders each frame as it's captured to make this happen.

    The clips default to having the super-stabilization on, but you can turn it off just for fun. The app basically crops a bit out of each frame and lines up the action so nothing moves in an undesired way. The videos can be exported as the native MP4 or as GIFs. You'll probably do GIFs because they're more easily shared, and that's what this app is aimed at. Make sure to take a peek at the settings to tweak the GIF quality. You can increase this setting for a smooth GIF and it's only a little bigger.

    The gallery itself is rather mesmerizing after you've taken a few videos. All the clips play as you scroll through with stabilization enabled. It just feels very alive. Sort of like live photos for iOS, but with longer clips and higher quality animation.

    In addition to the motion stills, this app also supports "fast forward" mode. Think Microsoft Hyperlapse, but from Google. Here, you can take videos up to a minute long, then adjust the speed of playback between 2x and 8x. Just as above, you get Google's powerful image stabilization features.

    Motion Stills is a simple app, but it does what it's supposed to do. There's nothing to complain about here, and Motion Stills is free.

    PROJECTIONS, Episode 18: Marvel Powers United VR, Oculus Interview

    In this on-location episode, we attend a preview event to get hands-on time with Marvel Powers United VR, co-op brawler that lets you feel like a superhero. We chat with the game's developer and give initial impressions, and then sit down for a longer interview with Oculus' Nate Mitchell about the state of Rift.

    Making The Lich King Armor for Blizzard!

    Frank shows us his amazing Lich King armor that he made for Blizzard's Hearthstone Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion. This project allowed Frank and his team to take cosplay to a new level, combining clay sculpting, large-scale 3d printing, smoke effects, and chroming to make our jaws drop. Just look at that Frostmourne sword!

    Making a Star Wars Battlefront 2 Inferno Squad Helmet!

    Recently, we had the opportunity to make a replica prop helmet from EA's upcoming Star Wars Battlefront 2. Frank walks us through the steps to fabricate and finish it in his shop, based off of in-game reference. The Inferno Squad Commander helmet belongs to Iden Versio, played by actress Janina Gavankar, and we were able to surprise Janina with it at D23!

    Google Play App Roundup: Camera Roll, A Planet of Mine, and Virtua Tennis Challenge

    We're really getting spoiled these days. There are great Android apps coming out all the time, but it can still be hard to find them amid all the clutter. The Google Play App Roundup is all about clearing the junk out of the way so you can find the best apps. Just click on the app name to go straight to the Google Play Store and pick up the app yourself.

    Camera Roll

    Every phone comes with a gallery app of some sort, but they're usually quite barebones and some are downright ugly. There are several good alternatives in the Play Store, including the new Camera Roll app. The name will probably appeal to recent iOS converts, but it's more than just a name. This is a capable and configurable gallery app.

    The app opens with each folder on your device containing photos displayed as a large rectangle with a thumbnail image. This is only the default, though. There are several different layouts including small cards, large cards, and scrollable horizontal blocks. The dark theme can also be flipped over to light or completely black, if you so desire.

    When you open a folder, Camera Roll starts showing off with some slick animations. The photo grid slides up from the bottom, and the images start as black and white. They re-saturate in about one second as you scroll. It's a neat effect. Tapping on individual photos also offers up a cool zooming animation. When you go back, the photo zooms back out into its place in the grid. Again, so slick.

    Unfortunately, there's no built-in editing for Camera Roll. I'd like to have at least seen some support for cropping. However, tapping the edit button does bring up compatible apps like Snapseed. The info button hides a few interesting surprised, though. Tap this when viewing a photo to get all the EXIF information, along with the ability to edit. At the top, you also have a bar of the most common color swatches from the image. Tapping on any of them copies the hex code. I don't know how useful this is, but I really like it.

    Should you have files that aren't showing up in the app, there's a toggle to show hidden files. Additionally, there's a file browser in the overflow menu. Launch that and you can navigate to any folder on the device to view images.

    Camera Roll is free and has no ads. Give it a shot if your current gallery app is getting old.

    PROJECTIONS, Episode 17: The Past, Present, and Future of VR/AR

    For this special episode of Projections, we're joined by futurist Kevin Kelly to discuss the past, present, and future of virtual reality and augmented reality. Kevin has been following VR since its inception, during his tenure as Editor of Wired and most recently as one of the few people who've used Magic Leap. He also just wrote a book about the inevitable technological forces that will change our world.

    3D Printing Molds for Silicone Masks!

    We're in Frank's new shop to check out his testing of the 3D Platform printer! This commercial-grade printer alows him to make massive 3D prints that are beyond what's possible with home printers, including swords, armor, and even large molds for casting. One experiment Frank has been working on is printing molds for hyperrealistic silicone masks!

    The Basics of RC Flying Etiquette

    The hobby of RC flying has been around for a long time. Over the years, certain informal rules of etiquette have evolved that help make the hobby safer and friendlier when flying with others. The only problem is that many of these guidelines are not intuitive to newcomers. Learning these "rules of the road" is typically an integral aspect of being trained to fly by an experienced hobbyist. However, the advent of GPS-equipped models and artificial stabilization devices has spawned a breed of self-taught RC pilots who may not have the benefit of etiquette mentoring. So here are a few basic tips to help us all share the sky in harmony.

    Toe the Line

    Whether flying at an RC club field or an informal gathering of modelers, you'll find that there are almost always specific areas designated as a no-fly zones. These restricted areas are there for a good reason. That's where people can park their cars, set up their gear, and watch all of the action without having to worry about dodging model aircraft. It's no fun to be unpacking your model and have a plane buzz by dangerously close.

    When you show up to a new flying spot, ask others what the layout is. You need to know where it is okay to fly and what areas you should avoid. Ignoring this fundamental tenet of RC piloting is a surefire way to garner negative attention from your peers and spoil a fun outing.

    Google Play App Roundup: Astro, Mini DAYZ, and All That Remains: Part 1

    A new week has dawned, and with it comes a new list of great things happening on Android. This is the Google Play App Roundup where we tell you what needs to be on your phone or tablet right now. Just click the links to head to Google Play and grab these apps for yourself.


    Google is pushing its AI muscle with Inbox, but not everyone wants to commit to the radically different way of organizing and managing email that comes with that app. The new email app Astro has some similar features, but it's more recognizable as a standard email client. It also supports Office 365 in addition to Gmail.

    Astro has a built-in chatbot that feels a little like Assistant in Allo. When you open the app for the first time, the bot asks what email account you want to add, then fires up the login tool. With that done, the bot also conducts a quick tour of Astro's features. Later on, you can use the bot to send quick emails, set reminders, and more. The bot can also help with things like unsubscribing from mailing lists and "zapping" emails, which appears to be a form of bulk archiving. It is by no means as smart as Assistant, though. The bot can be accessed at any time by tapping the action button at the bottom of your screen.

    The Inbox in Astro is split into two parts; there's the priority side and "other." The split is determined entirely by Astro's AI smarts. Messages from contacts that you often open and reply to are filtered into priority, and everything else ends up in other. It seems to be much more cautious in marking things as important than Gmail's built-in importance filter.

    The AI stuff is fun and all, but I think the mail management in Astro is its biggest selling point. You can swipe to archive or snooze an email. The length of snoozing can be configured as well. There's even an option to "snooze" a notification until the next time you open Astro on your desktop. Then, you'll get the notification for that email immediately. There's also an option to have your emails delayed until a later time. When composing, just look for the options button next to the send icon (a rocket). Set the time, and then let Astro send it for you at a more appropriate time.

    Astro plays nicely with all your existing Gmail labels, and It can handle multiple accounts. It even plugs into Slack so you can search Slack messages, get notifications all in one place, and easily attach files. If you use Amazon Alexa, you can connect that as well. The Alexa skill lets you control your email by voice.

    Astro is free and it's worth checking out if you're a little bored with Gmail.

    How Form Cell's Automated 3D Printing Works

    We visit Formlabs' headquarters where we see a prototype of the Form Cell, a system that combines five Form 2 SLA printers with an industrial robot gantry to automate 3D printing. David Lakatos from formlabs walks us through the system, and we're spellbound by the speed of this room-sized print factory.

    The Best Unlocked and Carrier Android Smartphone (July 2017)

    Smartphones have become indispensable parts of daily life, offering on-demand access to all the world's information, turn-by-turn navigation, voice control, and more. This is one of the things it's okay to spend heavily on since you'll use it every day, but you should make sure you buy the right phone. Ideally, it'll last you a couple years without falling apart or falling behind on updates. There are a lot of phones out there, so let's take a look at the assortment of options available right now and see what the best bet is.

    Carrier phones: The Galaxy S8

    Buying phones from carriers used to be what you did because there were no reasonably priced unlocked options, but not it's the default option for most people because the carriers make it stupidly easy to get a new phone with payment plans, lease agreements, and various other deals. If you go this route, there are two solid choices right now, the Galaxy S8 and the LG G6. These are both good phones, and LG has improved since last year. Still, the Galaxy S8 is an overall better option for most people.

    The Galaxy S8 has a 5.8-inch curved display, and you can't get a non-curved version this time. Both the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus have have the curved design that minimizes the bezel. Samsung opted for this after seeing its curved phones selling much better than the flat ones. The GS8 Plus bumps the display size to 6.2-inches, but they both feel much smaller in the hand and have a resolution of 1440 x 2960 pixels. The Plus variant is just a little too tall to be used comfortably in one hand. Samsung's AMOLED displays are still the best you can get, and DisplayMate confirms that Samsung's GS8 panel has the most accurate colors and highest brightness.

    This phone feels great in the hand with the symmetrically curved front and back glass, although the rounded glass frame means it's very exposed should you ever drop it. Broken Galaxy S8s are apparently common, and the glass picks up fingerprints like no one's business.

    Testing the ProBoat Models Alpha Patrol Boat

    If you're a military history buff or a movie aficionado, the new Alpha Patrol Boat from ProBoat Models will probably look familiar to you. This 21"-long RC vessel is made in the image of the PBR (Patrol Boat, River) gunboats made famous during the Vietnam War. A PBR was also a focal point of Coppola's classic film, 'Apocalypse Now'.

    A Look at the Kit

    The Alpha Patrol Boat ($250) is a ready-to-run model. Pretty much everything is built and configured at the factory. A 2.4GHz, 2-channel radio system is included. The only items you'll need to add are batteries and a charger. Four AA dry cells are required for the pistol-grip transmitter. For the onboard battery, you can use either a 6-cell NiMH or 2-cell LiPo battery. I used both types (and more) during my testing with good results.

    The Alpha Patrol Boat is a very accurate RC rendition of the of the PBR gunboats that were made famous in Vietnam (and Hollywood).

    One of the most noticeable features of this boat is the array of scale details. There are machine guns, fuel barrels, pilothouse details, and even working spotlights. It all comes together to make a very convincing PBR replica.

    Even the propulsion system of the full-scale PBR has been replicated. The real PBR used a pair of water jets driven by diesel engines. This system, notable for its lack of exposed propellers and rudders, allowed PBRs to operate in very shallow waters. Swiveling output nozzles provided extreme turning authority and made PBRs very nimble. This downsized version is very much the same except that the diesels have been replaced by brushed electric motors. Small wires over the intakes help prevent the Alpha's water jets from ingesting vegetation or any other unwanted bits.

    Google Play App Roundup: XDA Feed, Enemy Waters, and Turretz

    A new week has dawned, and with it comes a new list of great things happening on Android. This is the Google Play App Roundup where we tell you what needs to be on your phone or tablet right now. Just click the links to head to Google Play and grab these apps for yourself.

    XDA Feed

    XDA is a well-known source of modding and customization chatter, but it can be tedious to dig around in all the specialized forums and articles to find useful things. The new XDA Feed app is a curated list of mods and tips for your phone or tablet, and it's free with no ads.

    Some sites have their own apps that merely replicate the site in a different wrapper. I've never been fond of these when the mobile sites are usually more convenient to use. XDA Feed carves out a niche by limiting what it shows you to the best or most interesting stuff, chosen by the operators. The main page has a list of selected items across a number of categories like ROMs, icon packs, wallpapers, and more.

    XDA Feed is an excellent example of material design. It defaults to a dark UI mode, but there's a light one available in settings. You can move between the main feed, starred items, and a filter list. Filters are handy if you're interested in things like icon packs, apps, and wallpapers, but aren't into flashing ROMs or custom kernels. Although, those last two are big deals on XDA.

    Tapping on an item in the feed brings up all the relevant info from XDA, whether that's an article or a forum post. Everything loads in the app with buttons that can open the source in your browser or download the content. In the case of apps and icon packs from the Play Store, the download button links you to the listing. For wallpapers and other items, it's a direct download.

    The default setting in XDA Feed is to get notifications of new items. So far this isn't too annoying as only a few pieces of curated content are added daily. However, you might want to play around with the settings so you're only notified with certain items are added.

    This app is still in the early stages of development, but it seems solid. I'll be interested to see where it goes.

    PROJECTIONS, Episode 16: Echo Arena Open Beta

    Norm and Jeremy can't stop gushing about Lone Echo's beta for its multiplayer sports game, Echo Arena. Movement around the game's zero-gravity environments feels like a breakthrough for virtual reality, and there's surprising depth in the matches. Plus, Jeremy gives his impressions on Vindicta, a SteamVR shooter he played at E3.

    Removing a Broken Lens Filter with a Band Saw!

    Bad luck befalls Norm as his DSLR suffers another drop and broken lens filter. Adam and Norm attempt to remove the broken filter using a lens wrench tool that Adam found online, but when that fails, it's time to use the band saw. It's utterly nerve-wracking!