FIFA Mobile 2017 Edition Released, Aims to Bring Football to Everyone

FIFA Mobile 2017 Edition Released, Aims to Bring Football to Everyone

FIFA Mobile 2017 Edition Released, Aims to Bring Football to Everyone
HIGHLIGHTS
Download size is less than 100MB
Available on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone
New features include Attack Mode, Leagues, and Plans
Two weeks after the release of FIFA 17, EA Sports has delivered a new update for its mobile counterpart in FIFA Mobile. As always, the game is free with in-app purchases to boot, and is available on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. The game is called different things on the three platforms – on the App Store, it’s called FIFA Mobile Football, on Google Play, FIFA Mobile Soccer, and on Windows Store it becomes FIFA 17 Mobile.

EA Sports says that the game is built for the “mobile gamer”, and hence it has shrunk the download size to under 100MB, so as to reach smartphone owners across the globe, except China – the game isn’t launching in the country. FIFA Mobile contains 30 leagues, with 650 clubs and over 16,000 footballers.

“When developing FIFA Mobile, we focused on giving players the most exciting parts of football in quick and fun bursts while prioritising gameplay and engaging, new ways to play FIFA on-the-go,” senior producer Todd Batty said in a statement. “This meant building a game that was optimised for the mobile player resulting in a fun and social game that loads quickly, runs smoothly on a wider range of devices, and has a small download size relative to the depth of features and content in the game.”

There are three new features, all exclusive to the mobile version. Attack Mode is a new turn-based, asynchronous multiplayer mode which is all about, well, attacking. You’ll be given a bunch of scenarios in which to score from, and ultimately out-score the opponent. The more you score, the more you get in-game “fans” which lets you climb divisions.
Another new feature is Leagues, which allows you to create or join a league with up to 32 players. You will be able to complete “cooperative league achievements, compete for bragging rights in inter-league championships, and challenge other Leagues in FIFA Mobile tournaments”.

Completing the round-up of new features is Plans, which is about making the most of unwanted items to get better ones through in-game rewards.

Ultimate Team mode is getting an overhaul of sorts, too. EA Sports is dropping contracts, training items and other consumables in favour of simple squad building. You can have a total of 27 players in multiple formations and tactics, and switch between those as you like.

The game will be continuously updated with new content that reflects events happening in the real world of football, EA Sports said. Early response to the latest update seems to be heavily negative, according to reviews on Google Play.

Tags: FIFA Mobile, FIFA Mobile Soccer, FIFA Mobile Football, FIFA 17 Mobile, FIFA 17, EA Sports

[“Source-Gadgets”]

Sonos Cuts Deal to Bring Amazon Alexa Voice Controls to Its Speakers

Sonos Cuts Deal to Bring Amazon Alexa Voice Controls to Its Speakers

Sonos Cuts Deal to Bring Amazon Alexa Voice Controls to Its Speakers
Matt Welch began hacking his Sonos Internet-connected stereo system about two years ago, to make it easier for his wife to listen to the radio. One of his favorite creations was a software program that used the microphone on the family’s Echo, Amazon’s talking speaker, as a voice-control input for the Sonos. “Now she could walk into the room and say, ‘Sonos, play NPR,'” said Welch, a computer programmer living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Building the program took him about a week.

Welch wasn’t the only Sonos fan spending time trying to connect Amazon’s and Sonos’s speakers. Guides for hacks began appearing online soon after the Echo debuted in late 2014. It wasn’t that hard to do for tinkerers who could comprehend sentences like this one: “Setup your server to auto-start or daemonize the node-sonos-http-api server.” Everyone else was out of luck.

That will change soon. At an event in Manhattan on Tuesday, Sonos unveiled a system developed with Amazon that will let users ask the Echo to play music on their Sonos speakers. Once the two systems are linked, it basically replaces the Echo’s speakers with Sonos’s own devices for any music applications. A test version will be available to some later this year, with a full-scale release planned for 2017. Antoine Leblond, vice president of software at Sonos, described the deal as a “long-term strategic partnership.”

Sonos has been grappling with the idea of voice controls at least as long as the Amazon Echo has been on the market, according to interviews with a half-dozen current and former Sonos employees. The fitful discussions came during a particularly challenging period in the company’s 14-year history, after a less-than-stellar holiday period for Sonos and a realization that consumers-many Sonos customers among them-really loved the Echo.
Besides partnering with Amazon, Sonos will also let customers of Spotify, and a handful of home-automation makers including Lutron, Crestron, and Control4, to control their Sonos speakers through apps. Taken together, this marks a major pivot for Sonos, which has proudly introduced new products at a glacial pace and maintained the tightest possible control over the software its listeners use to control their speakers.

Sonos, founded in 2002, makes a line of speakers that connect to the internet and one another through their own dedicated Wi-Fi networks. The speakers look good, sound great, and allow for satisfying tricks like playing Spotify in the kitchen, Soundcloud in the bedroom and Pandora everywhere else in the house-all from a single smartphone application. The company’s fans tend to exhibit enthusiasm bordering on cultishness.

When Amazon began selling the Echo in late 2014, executives at Sonos didn’t see it as a threat. Other voice-controlled platforms like Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Kinect controller for the Xbox had experienced only mixed success. Also, Amazon’s track record on hardware was spotty, and the brass at Sonos doubted a device with such inferior sound quality would tempt their core users. By last year, the idea of voice-controlled speakers had been relegated to its list of projects to get around to at some point in the misty future.

Sonos’s finicky perfectionism had been a point of pride within the company. But while being picky played well with the audio snobs that make up its fanbase, the company’s critics felt it wasn’t keeping pace with the hyperkinetic tech industry. According to four employees who left Sonos this year, the company has always suffered from a default setting of inaction. That’s not to say there aren’t ideas bouncing around its Santa Barbara headquarters. For over a year, Sonos worked on a portable speaker, code-named Hopscotch, according to two former employees. But progress stalled over the inability to decide whether it would be primarily an outdoor speaker that would also work indoors, or vice versa. The project was shelved earlier this year, according to the company.

Patrick Spence, Sonos’s president, says the company often errs on the side of conservatism because it doesn’t want to release products that don’t meet its standards. “Our first value as a company is ‘experience first’. Our second is ‘relentless progressive.'” he said. “I think there’s a natural tension between those two things.” Spence said the company is working to fine-tune that balance.

By late 2014, Sonos thought it was nearing a breakout period. In fact, things were about to get tough. Executives told employees and the public it would cross $1 billion in revenue for the first time the following year. But Sonos had a disappointing holiday season in 2014, and then again a year later. Meanwhile, the Echo was the hit of the 2015 holidays, creating a feeling of urgency bordering on panic within Sonos’s leadership, according to people who were at the company. Sonos felt like it had to do something, and fast.

In March of 2016, the company’s chief executive, John MacFarlane, announced a round of firings and said the company was focused on enabling voice control and catering to customers who pay for music subscription services.

Sonos’s engineers said it wasn’t feasible to add voice control directly to its own hardware any time soon, so the company began aggressively pursuing discussions with Amazon. “We really started to see that holiday in a truly meaningful way,” Spence said. “We’re moving at a faster pace because the market has sped up.”

The result is Amazon’s most significant hardware integration for its voice-control platform, Alexa. Being the only voice-control system to be integrated into the preferred speakers of the nerd set is a nice, but modest, affirmation for Amazon, which continues to enjoy a surprising advantage over competing platforms from the tech industry’s other behemoths.

It’s much bigger news for Sonos, which could benefit from the massive reach of Amazon’s website as it tries to land new customers. While Sonos has succeeded for more than a decade largely on the strength of its own speakers and software, it has become increasingly clear that growing larger involves a more open approach to partnerships.

Up to this point, Sonos users have had to use the company’s own mobile application to play music on the speakers. This meant that new features for music services like Spotify didn’t make it to Sonos users for months. The speaker company’s rigidity has frustrated partners and customers for years. “We’ve worked together for a long time, but we’ve both felt we haven’t been able to bring the best experience,” said Gustav Soderstrom, Spotify’s chief product officer. He says the changes announced Tuesday, which will be available in a test period starting in October, should permanently fix those shortcomings. Sonos plans to build similar integrations for all music services, although it hasn’t publicized a timeline for doing so.

If Sonos is going to remain relevant in such a fast-moving market, it felt it needed to better leverage the advances being made by other companies, said Brian Blau, an analyst at Gartner. The deal with Amazon doesn’t necessarily remove the need for Sonos to integrate voice control into future versions of its own hardware, but it does buy the company more time to figure it out. “It’s more of a full partnership between today and the day when they have the full-featured solution,” he said.

Last year in North Carolina, Welch continued to spend his evenings and weekends tinkering with his Sonos system. Eventually, friends introduced him to engineers at the company. By September, he had accepted a job at Sonos Welch says he played a tangential role in the official Echo integration, and continues to work on other projects for the company, although he’s still using his home-brewed version in his house and likes to try out new Sonos features on his family.

One of Welch’s more recent hacks was to create a series of cards that resemble baseball cards that emit radio signals. Each card is programmed to ask Sonos to play a specific children’s song, so when his young son lays one on a receiever, it plays the song pictured on the card. “That was all in the line of my exploration of new ways to control Sonos,” Welch said. But don’t expect this idea to become an official Sonos product-or even a lasting part of Welch’s household. His son quickly realized he could continuously tap the card for the Octonauts, a British children’s show, against the receiver, and keep the house buzzing with its theme song. His kid loved it. “My wife wasn’t quite as enthused,” Welch said.

© 2016 Bloomberg L.P.

Share a screenshot and win Samsung smartphones worth Rs. 90,000 by participating in the #BrowseFaster contest.

Tags: Sonos, Amazon Echo, Spotify, Alexa, Internet, Speakers, Home Entertainment

[“Source-Gadgets”]

5 Hacks for Mission Impossible: Bring Back Your Facebook Organic Reach

Facebook Organic Reach is NOT Dead -- 5 Hacks to Bring it Back

Ladies and gentlemen. We come together today to once again mourn the loss of Facebook organic reach, to share the grief all of us marketers feel. And perhaps, in that sharing, we can find the strength to look toward the future with some hope.

Facebook Organic Reach Takes a Big Hit

Yes, organic reach on Facebook is abysmal and getting worse, thanks to the latest announcement from the social network that’s visited by more than a billion users every day. Facebook will show more funny videos and baby pictures posted by family and friends instead of news and other marketing content from brands, businesses and publishers.

How bad is organic engagement on Facebook? On average, it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of less than one percent.

Yikes.

Every once in a while, one of your posts might still get tons of organic engagement. But it’s fast becoming mission impossible.

Facebook: Unhackable.

Facebook Organic Reach is NOT Dead -- Your Mission

Bottom line: if people really love your content and engage with it, then they are more likely to see more of that type of content in the future. The reverse is also true — if you post garbage, and if people don’t engage with it, then those people are even less likely to see your stuff in the future.

More engagement (i.e., shares, comments, Likes) means more visibility in Facebook’s news feed. Facebook’s algorithm is more likely to give more visibility to posts that resonate well, to audition it in front of more people.

In fact, Facebook Ads, Google AdWords and even organic search work the same way.

So what’s the solution?

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to mitigate the loss from the latest Facebook newsfeed algorithm. You must raise your organic engagement rates.

Let’s meet your new weapons — the five crazy hacks that will help you do what’s said to be impossible: hack the Facebook newsfeed algorithm.

Note: Some of these hacks involve spending a little bit of money. Others are totally free. All of them are totally worth your time.

Facebook Organic Reach is NOT Dead -- Your Weapons

Facebook Newsfeed Hack #1: Preferred Audience Targeting

Listen up: Preferred audience targeting is a brand new Facebook feature that works just like ad targeting, but for your organic posts. That’s right, this new feature lets you target your organic updates as if they were ads, for free. Facebook lets you target your update so only the people who are most likely to be interested in your update will see it.

Here’s where the preferred audience targeting option can be found:

Facebook Organic Reach is NOT Dead -- Preferred Audience Targeting Start

This feature is so powerful because not everyone who follows your Facebook page is going to care about every single update you publish. If you want to start raising your organic engagement, you need to stop broadcasting to all of your followers and focus on those people who are most likely to engage with specific updates.

Think about it. Why do people follow huge companies like IBM or GE? It could be for any number of reasons.

Facebook’s preferred audiences feature is pure genius for companies that have a variety of products and divisions, or that operate in multiple countries. You can narrow the targeting based on users’ interests and locations to reach the people you really want without bothering the rest of your followers.

Facebook Organic Reach is NOT Dead -- Set Preferred Audience

This feature also has benefits for smaller companies and publishers. Take me for example. I post updates on a wide variety of topics, including online advertising, entrepreneurship, social media marketing, SEO,branding, and growth hacking.

Preferred audience targeting allows me to decide who sees my posts — or who won’t see my post, using audience restrictions:

Facebook Organic Reach is NOT Dead -- Restrict Preferred Audience

Here’s another example. Let’s say you’re a French clothing retailer with locations in France, Poland and Germany. You could make it so that only French-speaking millennial females who live near your locations will see your post announcing your latest deals.

Remember: everybody who likes your page isn’t your target market. Plenty of random people will like your page over time, but then never engage with your updates, visit your website or buy from you.

If you can only reach one percent of your audience, you should more narrowly target the people who are truly interested in what you have to offer. Giving people what they’re interested in is what great marketing is all about — and, in the process, it will help you raise your Facebook engagement rate significantly.

Facebook Organic Reach is NOT Dead -- Preferred Audience Reached

Facebook Newsfeed Hack #2: The Unicorn Detector Pyramid Scheme

The Unicorn Detector Pyramid Scheme is the process you can use to separate your content unicorns from the donkeys.

What is a content unicorn? Well, content becomes a unicorn when it is clearly among the top one to two percent of all of your content. These are your most rare and beautiful pieces of content that attract the most shares, engagement and views.

A content donkey, on the other hand, doesn’t stand out at all. At most, it’s average. Ninety-eight percent of your content will be donkeys that get average engagement — again, less than one percent is the average organic engagement on Facebook, which is insanely low, right?

To raise your organic engagement rates on Facebook, you need to post fewer, but better updates. You can test out your content organically on Twitter. Here’s how it works.

Facebook Organic Reach is NOT Dead -- The Unicorn Detector Pyramid Scheme

Post lots of stuff on Twitter — somewhere around 20 tweets per day. But imagine that every tweet has been infected with a virus, one that will ultimately kill them without the antidote within less than 24 hours.

The only cure for these infected tweets? They need to get a significant number of retweets, clicks, likes and replies.

Examine your top tweets in Twitter Analytics. Those tweets with the most engagement — your top 5 or 10 percent — have survived!

Your content that got the most engagement on Twitter is also highly likely to generate similar engagement on Facebook.

Facebook Organic Reach is NOT Dead -- Unicorn Detected

Facebook Newsfeed Hack #3: Post Engagement Ads

You can use Facebook’s Post Engagement Ads to give your posts a bit of a push. Yes, that means you’re spending a little money to “earn” some free reach in the news feed.

Facebook Organic Reach is NOT Dead -- Post Engagement Ads

For example, let’s say I posted the above update only on my wall. The engagement is going to be pretty low. Maybe a few hundred people will see it.

So what happens if I spend just $20 to promote it? In this case, I paid for more than 4,400 impressions (clicks, follows, likes, etc.), but also got more than 1,000 organic engagements for free as a result.

How? Whenever someone shares your promoted post, it results in more people seeing it organically in their newsfeeds and engaging with it.

Facebook Organic Reach is NOT Dead -- Engagement Ignited

Facebook Newsfeed Hack #4: Add Engaged Followers

Did you know there’s a way you can selectively invite people who have recently engaged with one of your Facebook posts to like your page? This is a valuable but little-known feature available to some (but not all) pages.

You want people who engage with you to become part of your Facebook fan base. You know these people like you and are more likely to engage with your content because they’ve done so in the past.

Facebook Organic Reach is NOT Dead -- Add Engaged Followers

Does it work? Yep. Between 15 to 20 percent of the people I invite to like my page are doing so.

Oh, and did I mention it’s totally free? You can read more about the Facebook invite button here.

If you want to further increase your Facebook following, you could run a remarketing and list-based Facebook Fan / Page Promotion campaign, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I don’t think it’s a good investment unless you have a ridiculously low number of followers. You’re better off doing nothing.

Our goal is to increase engagement rates to increase earned organic engagement. Attracting the wrong types of fans could hurt, rather than help, your engagement rates.

Facebook Organic Reach is NOT Dead -- Followers Increased

Facebook Newsfeed Hack #5: Use Video Content

The decline of organic reach almost mirrors the rise of video on Facebook.

Users watch more than eight billion videos every day on the social network. And these videos are generating lots of engagement.

Just look at this recent research from BuzzSumo, which examined the average total number of shares of Facebook videos:

Facebook Organic Reach is NOT Dead -- Average Total Shares of Facebook Videos

Facebook is doing its best to try to kill YouTube as the top platform for video. If you haven’t yet, now is the time to jump on the bandwagon.

Stop sharing vanilla posts that get little to no engagement. Add some video into your marketing mix! That should help improve your organic engagement because engagement begets engagement.

Facebook Organic Reach is NOT Dead -- Viewers Engaged

Closing Thoughts on the Facebook Newsfeed Algorithm

Facebook organic reach is pretty terrible. That’s why you should start treating your organic Facebook posts more like a paid channel, where you have to be pickier and optimize to maximize engagement, in the hopes of getting more earned organic engagement.

We’ll never get back the Facebook organic reach we’ve lost over the past few years. However, these five hacks will help dramatically increase your organic engagement and mitigate your losses from the latest Facebook news feed change.

Facebook Organic Reach is NOT Dead -- Mission Complete

Google to Bring Password-Free Logins to Android by 2016 End

android_devices_io2015.jpg

HIGHLIGHTS
Google introduced ‘Project Abacus’ at I/O 2015.
The system learns user patterns and builds its trust score for unlocks.
Google will test the ‘Project Abacus’ with banks as well.
Google at its annual developer conference last year revealed plans to get rid of passwords in favour of a new system dubbed ‘Project Abacus’ that will verify user’s identity based on various patterns. At I/O 2016, Dan Kaufman (seen above), Director of Google’s ATAP team, in a low profile announcement updated about the project saying that it will be available to developers by end of 2016.

(Also see: Google Unveils Project Soli 2.0, Radar-Based Gesture Tracking for Wearables, IoT)

To recall, ‘Project Abacus’ was initially introduced by Google last year and was seen as an improvement over two-factor authentication. Google had last year announced that the project was in trials and it tied up with 33 universities to test the feature. The company had stressed that passwords are hard to remember and the ‘Project Abacus’ was said to be aimed at learning the user patters such as typing, walking, location, and more.

android_devices_io2015.jpg
According to a report by TechCrunch, Kaufman has confirmed that with ‘Project Abacus’, users can unlock a device or sign-in to an app based on “Trust Score.” The score is calculated by various user patterns.

Detailing about the project, Kaufman said, “We have a phone, and these phones have all these sensors in them. Why couldn’t it just know who I was, so I don’t need a password? I should just be able to work.” He added that engineers at Google have turned the “Trust Score” to “Trust API.”

Google will test the “Trust API” with “several very large financial institutions” next month. “And assuming it goes well, this should become available to every Android developer around the world by the end of the year,” the report quoted Kaufman.

Download the Gadgets 360 app for Android and iOS to stay up to date with the latest tech news, product reviews, and exclusive deals on the popular mobiles.

Tags: ATAP, Google, Google ATAP, Google IO, Google IO 2016, Project Abacus

Garden Art Can Bring Drama and Design to Outdoor Spaces

If you came across any of Barbara Sanderson’s work in a garden, you might think you’d stepped into Alice’s Wonderland. The Seattle-based glass blower crafts flowers, arbors, lights and fountains for natural settings, aiming to create a magical, otherworldly tableau.

“I love to add another dimension to what already exists,” she says.

Art created for the outdoors can bring drama and design to a garden or patio. Sheila Jeffrey, a landscape designer from Collingwood, Ontario, suggests thinking of outdoor space as you would a room, with a floor, walls and ceiling.

“As with interior art, consider the overall theme or feel of the space when you’re choosing outdoor accents,” she says.

“Walls or fences are often overlooked and are a great place for an interesting focal point.”

For wall art, consider vintage objects, such as picture frames, mirrors, cast iron grates, architectural elements or antique signs as outdoor wall art.

Arrange groupings of small vessels like planted terra cotta pots, buckets or paint cans. Put themed vignettes on shelves.

“Vintage ’60s metal wall sculptures are a favorite of mine,” says Jeffrey, “and you can often find them at yard sales. Clear-coat them with a good exterior-grade polyurethane before displaying.”

Sanderson’s inspiration for making outdoor pieces comes from fond memories of visiting her grandfather’s English garden as a teenager.

“I spent some time gazing into his pond, appreciating the soothing sound that water makes in a garden setting,” Sanderson recalls. “I returned home determined to create a water feature for myself. That was the beginning of my focus on garden artwork.”

She forms glass into colorful, plump little birds that can be placed in a found nest, or in one of Sanderson’s spun-glass nests. Pitcher plants in vibrant hues of gold and carmine, mounted on copper rods, catch the rain.

There are Seussian fiddlehead ferns and mushrooms, as well as colorful “glacicles” rigged with lights to line a path or poolside.

And for a pond or birdbath, Sanderson has created the “bee preserver,” a glass ball studded with glass nubs so that bees have something on which to rest when they’re drinking. (www.glassgardensnw.com )

Margie Grace, a landscape designer in Santa Monica, California, often incorporates salvaged elements like driftwood, branches and stones into her projects. They can be used to make mosaics and interesting screens. She used an old metal bed as a planter, with flowers as the “pillows” and “quilt.” Her fondness for functional art led her to create a “canalito,” a canal made from stones that carries away storm water, while winding artfully around trees and beds.

“Art can evoke the very nature of a place,” she says, pointing out a kinetic sculpture in a hill-top garden that mimics the pelicans soaring off a nearby bluff. ( www.gracedesignassociates.com )

If your balcony or backyard has no view, consider one of Gizaun Art’s wooden wall panels. The Portland, Oregon-based studio uses all-weather, ultraviolet, translucent inks to apply photo images of flowers and landscapes onto red cedar boards, ready for hanging. Designs include sunflowers, lighthouses and landscapes. ( www.gizaunart.com )

Wind and Weather stocks some backlit, punched art crafted from recycled metal drum lids inBali. Choose from a zodiac, sun and moon, or several whimsical designs like cats on a moonlit fence, or a train chugging through a wintry night. ( www.windandweather.com )

For a small terrace, the Trigg geometric container, designed by Moe Takemura for Umbra, might be just the thing. The sleek, diamond-shaped ceramic or concrete-resin vessels perch inside a slim brass frame. They could hold herbs, succulents or extra keys. (www.allmodern.com )

[“source-Abcnews”]

Square Enix Could Bring Final Fantasy XV to PC

Square Enix Could Bring Final Fantasy XV to PC

While the main draw of Square Enix’s Uncovered: Final Fantasy XV event was Final Fantasy XV (FFXV)’s release date, it was revealed early due to a video leak by Gamespot. However that doesn’t mean there was nothing else of note.

Aside from announcing a companion mobile game, an anime series called Brotherhood Final Fantasy XV, and Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy, a computer-generated movie, there’s also a good chance of seeing FFXV hit the PC eventually.

FFXV director Hajime Tabata told Engadget that the studio isn’t currently working on a PC version of the game. But, Tabata said he was “aware of the big call for a PC version.”

“Unfortunately we weren’t able to do simultaneous development on a PC and console version for XV,” he said. “We had to focus on the console version and our goal was to maximize, optimise everything for the HD consoles. Once that’s done, then we will definitely take a good, hard look at PC and what we need to do, and consider all our options. But right now we aren’t decided, we’re still considering a lot of things.”

We won’t be surprised to FFXV land on PC eventually and perhaps faster than the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy on Steam. Of late we’ve seen Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree’s Woe and the Blight Below available on PC merely months after its PS4 release and I Am Setsuna (earlier known as Project Setsuna) slated for PC around the same time as its release on the PS4 and PS Vita.

Would you play FFXV on PC or console? Let us know in the comments.

Download the Gadgets 360 app for Android and iOS to stay up to date with the latest tech news, product reviews, and exclusive deals on the popular mobiles.

Tags: FF15, FF15 PC, FF15 Steam, FFXV, Final Fantasy 15, Final Fantasy XV, Final Fantasy XV PC, Hajime Tabata,PC Games, PC Gaming, Square Enix, Uncovered Final Fantasy XV
[“source-Gadgets”]