All posts in “Mobile”

Reigns: Her Majesty lets you rule as Queen and slyly addresses gender roles

App Attack is a weekly series where we search the App Store and Google Play Store for the best apps of the week. Check out App Attack every Sunday for the latest.

With all of the dating apps available out there, we’ve become used to the act of swiping left or right. But what if it was applied to actual gaming as well? This week, we have an app that will put those swipes to the test in an effort to rule with dignity.

Reigns: Her Majesty — available on iOS and Android — is the sequel to last year’s Reigns. This time around, you’ll still have to make important decisions that could alter your dynasty, along with your reputation on the throne. But now you’ll get to experience it from a different point of view — as Queen.

The main controls of the game involve swiping left or right through a deck of cards. At the top, you’ll have a specific question asked by a character within the land, and then two options to choose from. Similar to any dating app, swiping to the left brings you to a negative action or response and swiping to the right is the positive option.

Although I hadn’t played the original Reigns, I was interested to see the different issues that would occur with being the Queen. It was refreshing to see that the game highlighted the controversial portrayals of women in power — having to choose between making necessary, strict, requests but also remaining calm and maintaining a smile.

As Queen, you have to be able to make the appropriate calls when it comes to issues such as raising taxes or abolishing alcohol. You’ll also be asked for favors, which, if you accept, could possibly end in death. When I agreed to help “my” people in need, I actually ended up being crushed to death by the crowd. Thankfully, you’re able to start over to perhaps use a bit more strategy next time.

Many of the cards definitely make you think deep into gender roles. There are cards that ask you to smile, and even ones with comments on your physical appearance. Not only do you have to manage an entire kingdom, but you also have to take into account your reputation, which adds an extra layer to the game.reigns her majesty app attack your 6 jpeg

There were times when I was criticized for having too many wrinkles, and other times where I would also be caught “gossiping too much.” I was also yelled at for being too ruthless — which apparently people dislike as well. Also, who knew it was so important to perform the Coronation Rite correctly?

The interface is aesthetically pleasing, with a cartoonish style that’s charming and fun to sort through. Even those who aren’t familiar with Reigns will find that it’s easy to get the hang of it. The game doesn’t require having a lot of background knowledge in order to successfully play through it. The rather strange sound effects heard while playing also make it that much more entertaining.

The more reincarnations you experience — each time it’s game over — the more you’ll get used to making snap decisions. But the choices do weigh more than you think they do. In the beginning, I swiped left and right only trying to get a reaction out of the people, but quickly realized each swipe of a card determines your fate, even in the smallest way possible.

The game is definitely addicting, not only because you want to prove that the Queen can rule as successfully as the King and still be respected, but because you quickly want to be able to grasp the concept of making the correct choices that will advance you to ultimately comple the game.

Editors’ Recommendations

Qualcomm’s crazy new Snapdragon chips are a lot more than just faster

It’s almost hard to believe that in under a century, computers have advanced from occupying hundreds of square feet, to fitting into the palm of your hand. Even wilder is that the tiny machinery in a smartphone can process far more data, far more quickly than the behemoths of old. Don’t spend too much time marveling at the advances of the past, however, because the future is only going to get more wild. Among the most exciting things coming to smartphones soon is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845, a mighty chip that will enable the next generation of mobile devices to do miraculous things.

Qualcomm showed off the Snapdragon 845 — the successor to its already popular and powerful Snapdragon 835 — at its Snapdragon Technology Summit in December, and it boasts a suite of remarkable features. First, the technical details: The Snapdragon 845 sports a Kyro 385 central processing unit (CPU), with eight cores and a clock speed of up to 2.8GHz, and an Adreno 630 graphics processing unit (GPU).

A Snapdragon 845 device can take pictures with far more shades of color.

For virtual and augmented reality, the 845 supports room-scale tracking to render immersive environments, accurate hand tracking, and “Adreno foveation,” which detects the specific area you are looking at and renders it in more vivid detail (this last feature looks nice, and allocates resources more efficiently).

Shutterbugs (professional or otherwise) will probably love the incredible capturing capabilities of the 845. The chipset supports high dynamic range (HDR) playback, as well as HDR recording. This means you can take photos with far more data in them. For example, instead of capturing 256 shades of a primary color with 8 bits, the Snapdragon’s 10-bit color palette offers over a thousand. Instead of the Rec. 709 color standard, which contains 16 million colors, the Snapdragon 845 supports the Rec. 2020 standard, which encompasses more than one billion colors.

If you like shooting video, the Snapdragon 845 also supports filming 720p video at 480fps. The chip can also create cinemagraphs, still photographs in which certain portions are animated.

Of course, the chipset is largely about potential. It will be up to smartphone manufacturers to take advantage of the 845’s robust suite of features.

David Cogen — a regular contributor here at Digital Trends — runs TheUnlockr, a popular tech blog that focuses on tech news, tips and tricks, and the latest tech. You can also find him on Twitter discussing the latest tech trends.

Editors’ Recommendations

Best new songs to stream: Benjamin Booker, King Krule, Ty Segall, and more

Every week, there are thousands of new songs hitting the airwaves — and it’s just too much for your two ears to handle. With all those options, you can’t be wasting your time on tracks that deserve a thumbs-down click — you want the best new songs to stream right now.

But don’t worry, we’re going to save you the hassle. We listen to some of the most-hyped and interesting songs each week, and tell you which are worthy of your precious listening time.

Here are our five best new songs to stream this week. And don’t forget to subscribe to our Spotify page for a playlist of our weekly picks, which can also be found at the bottom of this post. Not sure which streaming service is best for you? Check out our post about the best music streaming services, or go in depth and learn the differences between Apple Music and Spotify to better weigh your options.

Benjamin Booker — The Slow Drag Under and more, live on KEXP

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Benjamin Booker brings his signature vintage soul aesthetic to this live performance at Seattle’s KEXP radio station, performing four classic-sounding singles from his catalog. On the first track, The Slow Drag Under, we hear bluesy guitar licks over a fat drumbeat, with Booker’s gravelly voice slithering calmly through the center. We can’t think of anything better to unwind to after a long week.

King Krule — Midnight 01 (Deep Sea Diver) and more, live at NPR

Guitarist and songwriter Archy Marshall (aka King Krule) has been making big waves with this year’s release The Ooz, an album that’s garnered much critical acclaim for its use of mixed musical textures. An interesting blend of acoustic and digital instruments showcase the album’s complex layers during this recent appearance at NPR’s headquarters, as jazzy guitar lines and saxophone solos are joined by whirling audio samples and vocal effects.

Ty Segall — Fanny Dog

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Rock and roll isn’t dead: Ty Segall is still making it. A big and musically skilled band dressed in white backs up the garage rock icon during this performance of a hilarious, yet powerful song about his dog on Conan. If you need something to pick you up this week, this tune — one of the first released tracks from Segall’s upcoming album Freedom’s Goblin — is sure to do the trick.

Phoebe Bridgers — Would You Rather, live on KCRW

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Warm slide guitar and piano hold together this live performance from LA-based songwriter Phoebe Bridgers, whose emotional ballads have garnered much acclaim this year. A love song with compelling story-style lyrics, it’s perfect for sunsets or remembering the ones you love.

Twin Peaks — In The Meadow

Chicago rockers Twin Peaks have been releasing two songs a month as part of their Sweet ’17 Singles series, a group of songs that will eventually be compiled onto a full 12-inch vinyl release early next year. One of the last songs in the series, In The Meadow, is a guitar-fueled single with subtle distorted lyrics. An excellent driving song, this is a great one to put on when you head out for your weekend adventures.

That’s it for now, but tune in next week for more songs to stream, and check out the playlist loaded with our recent selections below:

Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Folding helmets and emojis for your carna

At any given moment, there are approximately a zillion different crowdfunding campaigns happening on the web. Take a stroll through Kickstarter or Indiegogo and you’ll find no shortage of weird, useless, and downright stupid projects out there — alongside some real gems. We’ve cut through the fidget spinners and janky iPhone cases to round up the most unusual, ambitious, and exciting new crowdfunding projects out there this week. That said, keep in mind that any crowdfunding project — even the best intentioned — can fail, so do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.

Isolite — light modifier for photographers

You know those “light field” Lytro cameras that allow you to take a picture, then adjust the focus later? Isolite works on basically the same principle, but rather than allowing you to adjust the focus of an image after you’ve shot it, the system allows you to adjust the lighting of the scene. That might not sound particularly impressive on its own, but think about that for a second. Focus is controlled by the camera, but lighting is controlled by the light source, and generally isn’t something you can change after you’ve done your exposure. Isolite changes that.

“It fits on your light like any soft box or beauty dish,” creator Christ Gergley said. “But what makes Isolite unique is these special optical components that encode the light. These are used generally in scientific and medical imaging, but never before in conventional photography. All the information is captured in a single RAW file. The isolate hardware encodes the light into very specific wavelengths, and then we can easily decode it with our software, essentially splitting them into editable layers. Once you’ve adjusted the light, you edit as you would any other photo. Instead of pushing pixels, you’re playing with light.” 

Carwink — emoji-based car communication

When someone drives like a prick and cuts you off in traffic, you have a wide variety of non-verbal communication methods to express your feelings: you can flip that idiot the bird, lean on the horn, or just sit there and quietly fantasize about murdering him with a cheese grater. But what happens when somebody does something nice on the road, like giving you room to merge comfortably when you enter a busy freeway?  Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to express your gratitude? That’s precisely where Carwink comes in.

Carwink is a voice controlled, solar powered, emoji-based car-to-car communication device. “Designed with both form and function in mind, CarWink sets out to break the boundary between vehicles by using simple and pure communication methods,” the device’s Kickstarter page explains. “Gone are the days of rude hand gestures, sailor mouths and reckless driving. With CarWink’s hands-free voice control, drivers can now use a wide variety of emojis to communicate with one another.”

Want to give gratitude for lane change? Just say “Thanks!” and Carwink will display a smiley face to show how you feel. Accident ahead? Say it out loud, and Carwink will alert the cars behind you with an animated display.

Swytch Kit — ebike conversion system

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If you’re looking to upgrade your traditional bicycle to an ebike, then you generally have two options: either install a complicated retrofit kit, or ditch your analog bike altogether and buy a ready-made electric one. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were an easier option? Well, thanks to the Swytch Kit, there finally is. Unlike most of other retrofittable ebike kits out there right now, the Swytch is designed to be installed in just a few minutes. Using basic hand tools, the device can be affixed to just about any bicycle. Once you’ve got the kit on, the system’s electric drive module can be clipped on or off in seconds.

The secret to Swytch Kit’s success is a small electric motor that’s hidden inside a special front wheel. This wheel is available in all standard sizes, so no matter what kind of bike you have, Swytch has a setup that’ll work for you. This wheel is then linked up with a lightweight and removable power pack that sits between the handlebars — like a basket you can’t fill with anything. Inside the power pack is a battery, user display, controls, front light, and USB output for charging other devices.

Skateboard Surf Adapter — wave-simulating trucks

There are countless longboards that claim to give you a very surf-like feel while you ride, but the Skateboard Surf Adapter might be the first product that truly makes you feel like you’re riding a wave. It’s basically a swiveling truck system that’s specifically designed to make your land board feel like it’s cruising on water. And the best part is it’s just an adapter — not an entire board. You don’t have to dish out big bucks for a completely new setup. Just buy the little metal bracket, attach it to your existing skateboard, and start shredding.

So what’s so special about it? Well, unlike a normal board, a skate deck equipped with a Surf Adapter doesn’t need to be pushed. Instead, it can be powered by pumping, similar to how you might pump on a wave in the water. The front truck is designed with a slope that matches the direction of momentum, while also allowing for freedom of movement.  The rear two wheels work similarly to surfboard fins, providing stability in the tail of the board. You can attach it to practically anything, from a short deck to a giant land cruiser.

Lid — collapsible helmet

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Riding your bike without a helmet is a bad idea — but many people forego one simply because lugging around a cumbersome helmet when you’re not riding the bike is inconvenient. Helmets just aren’t easy to stuff in a backpack or tuck in a purse, so you’re forced to clip them awkwardly onto exterior straps, or just wear them around and embrace the fact that you look like a doofus. But what if that wasn’t the case? What if there was a helmet that could not only offer protection for your melon, but also collapse and fit inside a backpack? Good news: there finally is, and it’s called the Lid.

“Our research told us that ‘helmet hassle’ is the No. 1 reason why cyclists opt not to wear a helmet, and also that safety concerns prevent many commuters from cycling altogether,” creator Sam Terry told Digital Trends’ Luke Dormehl in an interview. “We went about changing this and developed an eco-friendly helmet which would bring ‘safety with convenience’, by folding to a size and shape which would slip easily into a backpack, satchel, or handbag. We’ve designed Lid with clean lines and an urban profile, so we think it also looks great too.”

The 20 best Google Pixel cases to protect your phone

The Google Pixel phone may no longer be the fit young upstart now the Pixel 2 is out, but it still features an interesting, aluminum design with a 5-inch display and a glass section on the back. With snappy performance, a great camera, and Google Assistant onboard, there are plenty of reasons to buy one. But these impressive specs also carry a premium price tag, which makes opting for a proper case all the more important. Those curved edges could chip or scuff if you drop your new Pixel, and even toughened glass can scratch and crack easily. Fortunately for you, we’ve rounded up the best Google Pixel cases, many of which are as stylish as they are durable.

To get more from your phone, check out some other recommended Google Pixel accessories and master its capabilities with our Google Pixel tips and tricks.

Noreve Tradition B Leather Case ($49+)

Best Google Pixel cases - Noreve Tradition B Leather Case

If it’s quality leather with a plush padded feel that you’re after, then you owe it to yourself to check out Noreve’s wares. Our pick is the folio-style wallet case. There’s room for a couple of credit cards inside, and the cover closes securely with a magnetic stud. A plastic shell holds your Pixel inside, but you’ll find accurate cut-outs for easy access to the ports, buttons, camera, and fingerprint sensor. You don’t have to stick with black — you can choose from a wide range of different colors and styles for the exterior finish.

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Noreve

Zizo Bolt Series Case ($35)

Best Google Pixel cases - Zizo Bolt Series Case

If your top priority is drop protection and your budget is tight, then this Zizo case could be ideal. It has been drop tested up to 12 feet, and it ships with a tempered glass screen protector. The case is a classic combination of shock absorbing TPU with a hard polycarbonate shell on top. There are button covers and accurate cut-outs for the camera, fingerprints sensor, and ports. This case also features a kickstand and comes with a holster and belt clip, though we’re not fans of the big lanyard loop at the top.

Buy one now from:

Amazon Zizo

Supcase Unicorn Beetle Pro Case ($18)

Best Google Pixel cases - Supcase Unicorn Beetle Pro Case

This is another case that offers rugged protection at a reasonable price. The tried and tested mix of TPU and polycarbonate guards against drop damage, and there’s a frame that covers the front of your Pixel with a built-in screen protector for complete coverage. The openings for the camera and fingerprint sensor are generous, there are button covers, and there’s a cover for the charging port to keep dust out. This one also comes with a holster and belt clip.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Carved Satellite Case ($59+)

Best Google Pixel cases - Carved Satellite Case

If you choose to design your own Google Pixel case at Carved, you’ll end up with a truly unique and gorgeous finish for your new phone. They combine real wood grain with swirls of colorful resin to create eye-catching patterns. The underlying black, plastic shell has all the cut-outs you need for uninterrupted phone use, and there’s a texture on the sides that enhances grip. Protection is fairly basic, but these are among the best-looking Pixel cases you can find.

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Carved

UAG Ice Plasma Series Case ($20)

Best Google Pixel cases - UAG Ice Plasma Series Case

Wrap your Pixel in one of Urban Armor Gear’s cases for true peace of mind. These cases combine a hard, transparent shell with a shock absorbing core. Protection is further enhanced by reinforced corners, skid pads, and a rubberized screen surround. The button covers are oversized, making it easy to find and press them, even without looking. You’ll also find generous openings for ports, camera, and other features. Android Pay also still works with the case on.

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UAG

Caseology Parallax Series Case ($25)

Best Google Pixel cases - Caseology Parallax Series Case

The subtle geometric pattern on the back of this case looks great and it adds some grip. The main shell is flexible TPU, which is easy to fit and shock absorbent. Caseology has added a tough polycarbonate bumper frame over the top in a contrasting color. The button covers work well and there are decent-sized cut-outs for the ports, camera, fingerprint sensor, and other features. This case comes in black, burgundy, pink, or blue.

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Caseology Mobile Fun

Lifeproof Fre Case ($90)

Best Google Pixel cases - Lifeproof Fre Case

There aren’t too many options for people seeking a really rugged Pixel case that can stand up to the elements, so the Lifeproof Fre stands out. Stick your Pixel in this case, and it can survive submersion in up to 2 meters of water for up to an hour. It also offers solid drop protection from 2 meters (6.6 feet). This case covers your Pixel from every angle, so nothing is getting in to damage it, but that does also mean you have to tangle with port covers and it definitely adds some bulk.

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LifeProof

Cruzerlite Bugdroid Circuit Case ($10)

Best Google Pixel cases - Cruzerlite Bugdroid Circuit Case

Here’s a simple TPU case that will provide basic protection for a relatively small outlay. There are accurate cut-outs for everything, including the buttons. It’s slim and flexible, with a small lip around the display for added protection. It’s available in a wide range of colors, and features a circuitry design with the Android mascot on the back. It’s a translucent case, so you do see something of Google’s design beneath.

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Amazon

Maxboost PU Leather Flip Wallet Case ($13)

maxboost best pixel cases

You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get the sleek executive style of a wallet case. This one from Maxboost is made of PU leather, which is durable, long-lasting, and easy to maintain. Like most wallet cases, the cover will flip over the front of your Pixel when not in use, keeping it protected, and can be folded down into a kickstand when in a landscape position. An inner TPU case keeps your Pixel from falling out of the cover, and protects the sides from any damage that sneaks between the layers of PU leather. This case proves your phone can look good, even on a budget.

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Amazon