Finally! A date! Google Chromecast UK release date set for March 19

Finally! A date! Google Chromecast UK release date set for March 19

We just had Ash Wednesday, now it's time for Cast Wednesday

After months of waiting and procrastinating, the long-awaited Google Chromecast streaming dongle will finally go on sale in the UK this coming Wednesday 19 March, according to leaked retail inventory.

Hours after a retail source told TechRadar the HDMI stick would be going on sale "very soon," a leaked screenshot, purportedly from Dixons' internal systems, emerged showing the actual launch date.

The screenshot obtained by Android Police explains how stock of the device is showing up at retail locations, but "must not go on sale before 9am on Wednesday."

Just yesterday, a Twitter user posted an NDA-smashing photo of "a box of Chromecasts," apparently from a Curry's or PC World store. Unsurprisingly, the picture has since been deleted.

Google recently updated the Chromecast Android app with support for over 50 languages, seemingly signalling that the international roll-out is imminent.

Worth the wait?

The update comes after the retail source strongly hinted the device would be on sale for £30. It costs $35 (around £21) in the United States. Brits will seemingly have to pay a little more for the privilege of owning a Chromecast dongle.

Will you be snapping up Google's streaming stick this week? Is it worth the wait? Let us know in the comments section below?

Source : techradar[dot]com

Google Maps for Android is becoming a neat 'what's on' app too

Google Maps for Android is becoming a neat 'what's on' app too

Show us those jazz hands...

Google has rolled out a new version of Google Maps for Android, which won't just tell you how to get to your venue, but also what's happening when you get there.

Launched this week, the free update now features upcoming event listings for featured venues.

In theory, for those seeking something to do this weekend, the app becomes a 'what's on' guide, for local venues.

As the company points out on the Maps Google+ page, users can also search for specific genres of entertainment and see what's happening in their locale at any given time.

Jazz... nice!

"Like jazz? Find jazz. See a list of upcoming events and performances where listings are available," the company wrote.

As one commenter pointed out, the feature could be improved by allowing users to see events that are happening in the area rather than searching the individual venues. From there, the firm could potentially access one-touch directions to the venue.

Perhaps that's something Google is planning to integrate into a new version of Google Maps, but for now Android users have a neat new feature at their disposal.

Source : techradar[dot]com

The inevitable Samsung Galaxy S5 Zoom may have a hexa-core chip and huge display

The inevitable Samsung Galaxy S5 Zoom may have a hexa-core chip and huge display

So far the Zoom series has failed to entice phone or camera fans

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is yet to hit shelves, but there's already talk of the inevitable flock of variants that are sure to follow later this year.

On this occasion, it's the Samsung Galaxy S5 Zoom, the likely next instalment in the company's rather strange part phone, part fully-fledged digital camera device that's the subject of speculation.

Benchmarking tests of the model SM-C115, which boasts a way-too-big-for-a camera-sounding 4.8-inch screen, 8GB of storage, 2GB RAM, Android 4.4.2 KitKat and, interestingly, Samsung's Exynos 5 Hexa chip.

According to the tests, uncovered by Italian site, the rear-facing camera will be a whopping 20-megapixels, while the front of the device will feature a 2-megapixel camera sensor.

Surely this device can only be the S5 Zoom?

Gap in the market?

The Galaxy Zoom range, despite photographer-friendly specs and full access to the Google Play store has failed to gain much critical and commercial traction to this point.

The Galaxy S4 Zoom, the second in the series, came with a more reasonable 4.3-inch display, dual-core display, 10 x optical zoom and a 16-megapixel sensor, earned a 3.5 star review from TechRadar in 2013.

"We really want to like the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom but we're just not sure there's a gap in the market for it. If the camera or phone part was better or the price tag was lower then it would make sense, but right now it's a poor compact married to a mid-range phone at a high end price tag," our reviewer wrote.

Can the Galaxy S5 Zoom buck the trend and be a hit? Do you really want a camera with a near 5-inch screen? Is a hexacore processor really that necessary for a snapper? Let us know your thoughts.

Source : techradar[dot]com

50 best iPhone games: fantastic free and paid games

50 best iPhone games: fantastic free and paid games

Rayman - one of the best iPhone games

Gaming on iOS is so big that the platform is becoming so dominant it is threatening the likes of Nintendo and Sony, previous kings of the mobile-gaming hill.

Yet for all iOS's gaming prowess, there's no escaping the fact the App Store has a lot of dross. Apple's relative openness, in enabling anyone to develop for the system, means there's no quality control; the flip-side is previously undiscovered indie talent finding an outlet for frequently innovative fare.

Too often, though, people focus only on the negative, mistaking stories about in-app purchases and low-quality clones for thinking that there are no good games on iOS. But there are. In fact, the best games on iOS are among the very best available, mixing traditional fare with titles that could only have appeared on a capable multitouch device. Here are our current favourites…

1. Asphalt 8 (free)

At some point, a total buffoon decreed that racing games should be dull and grey, on grey tracks, with grey controls. Gameloft's Asphalt 8: Airborne dispenses with such foolish notions, along with quite a bit of reality. Here, then, you zoom along at ludicrous speeds, drifting for miles through exciting city courses, occasionally being hurled into the air to perform stunts that absolutely aren't acceptable according to the car manufacturer's warrantee.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around
Asphalt 8

2. Badland ($3.99/£2.49)

This darkly humorous title at its core echoes copter-style games, in you prodding the screen to make your avatar fly. But the hazards and traps are devious and plentiful, imaginative and deadly contraptions in silhouette, ready to eliminate any passing creature. Your retaliation in Badland comes via cloning your flying monster, and figuring out how to manipulate the environment to bring as many clones home as possible.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

3. Beat Sneak Bandit ($2.99/£1.99)

One thumb is plenty when a game's so cleverly designed. Beat Sneak Bandit is part rhythm-action, part platformer and part stealth game, with the titular hero aiming to steal back the world's clocks from the nefarious Duke Clockface. You move on the beat, rebounding off walls, and avoiding guards and alarms. It's clever, charming and brilliant.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around
Beat Sneak Bandit. Blackbar. Bejeweled

4. Blackbar ($2.99/£1.99)

As much a warning about digital surveillance as a word-based puzzler, Blackbar is a unique and compelling iOS classic. The game comprises single screens of communications, many involving your friend who's gone to work in the city within what you soon learn is a worryingly oppressive society. You literally fill in the blanks, while becoming immersed in a stark dystopian reality that's fortunately still peppered with warmth, humour and humanity.

5. Bejeweled (free)

We've lost count of how many gem-swappers exist for iOS, but PopCap's Bejeweled has a long history, its maturity reflected in this iPhone release. Along with a polished standard mode, where you match three or more gems with each swap, there's Diamond Mine (dig into the ground), Butterflies (save insects from spider-ronch doom), and Poker (make 'hands' of gems).

6. Beyond Ynth ($1.99/£1.49)

This fantastic platform puzzler stars a bug who's oddly averse to flying. Instead, he gets about 2D levels by rolling around in boxes full of platforms. Beyond Ynth hangs on a quest, but each level forms a devious test, where you must figure out precisely how to reach the end via careful use of boxes, switches and even environmental hazards.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around
Beyond Ynth

7. Bit Pilot ($1.99/£1.49)

A pilot finds himself trapped inside a tiny area of space frequented by an alarming number of deadly asteroids. You must stave off death for as long as possible. Bit Pilot is the best of the iOS avoid 'em ups, with precise one- and two-thumb controls guiding your tiny ship, effortlessly dodging between rocky foes — until the inevitable collision.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around
Bit Pilot

8. Boson X ($1.99/£1.49)

In what we assume is a totally accurate representation of what boffins in Geneva get up to, Boson X finds scientists sprinting inside colliders, running over energy panels and then discovering particles by leaping into the abyss. It's equal parts Super Hexagon, Tempest and Canabalt, and it's very addictive indeed.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around
Boson X

9. CRUSH! ($0.99/69p)

CRUSH! is deceptive. At first, it appears to be little more than a collapse game, where you prod a coloured tile, only for the rest to collapse into the now empty space. But subtle changes to the formula elevate this title to greatness: the tiles wrap around, and each removal sees your pile jump towards a line of death. So even when tiles are moving at speed, you must carefully consider each tap.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around
CRUSH! Device 6. Dark Nebula 2 HD

10. Device 6 ($3.99/£2.49)

Device 6 is first and foremost a story — a mystery into which protagonist Anna finds herself propelled. She awakes on an island, but where is she? How did she get there? Why can't she remember anything? The game fuses literature with adventuring, the very words forming corridors you travel along, integrated puzzles being dotted about for you to investigate. It's a truly inspiring experience, an imaginative, ambitious and brilliantly realised creation that showcases how iOS can be the home for something unique and wonderful.

11. Dark Nebula 2 HD ($2.99/£1.99)

One of the first titles to truly make use of the iPhone gyro, Dark Nebula was a beautiful tilt-based steampunk adventure and dexterity test, leading a strange craft through maze-like levels. The sequel ramped up the beauty and complexity, and the HD reissue added iPad and Retina support. The title still feels fresh and is perfectly suited to mobile, rewarding speed-runs and careful exploration of each level alike.

12. Death Ray Manta ($0.99/69p)

Akin to what Robotron might have looked like had its developer managed to recreate a 24-hour sherbet binge on-screen, Death Ray Manta is a wonderful, eye-searing twin-stick shooter. But whereas you initially think KILL ALL THE THINGS, each level contains a collectable 'tiffin'. Death Ray Manta therefore becomes both shooter and puzzler as you attempt to score the maximum 64 — and you've only got one life.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around
Death Ray Manta

13. Drop7 ($2.99/£1.99)

One of the earliest iOS puzzlers, Drop7 is these days in need of some TLC, but it remains as compelling as ever. You drop discs into a well, and they disappear when in a row or column that matches their number. The key to success is to set up chains of destruction — especially tough when 'junk' levels arrive frequently.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around
Drop 7. Eliss Infinity. Gridrunner

14. Eliss Infinity ($2.99/£1.99)

Eliss was the first game to truly take advantage of iOS's multitouch capabilities, with you combining and tearing apart planets to fling into like-coloured and suitably sized wormholes. Eliss Infinity, a semi-sequel, brings the original's levels into glorious Retina and adds a totally bonkers endless mode. Unique, challenging and fun, this is a game that defines the platform.

15. Gridrunner (Free)

Jeff Minter is a shoot 'em up genius, and his Gridrunner series has a long history, starting out on the VIC-20, at the dawn of home gaming. This update riffs off classic Namco arcade machines but also shoves modern bullet-hell mechanics into a claustrophobic single screen, and in this version's survival mode, you have just one life. Argh! The 69p/99c 'Oxtended Mode' IAP adds the rest of the standard game.

16. Frisbee Forever 2 (Free)

We already covered Frisbee Forever on this list, with its Nintendo-like fling-a-plastic-disc about larks. Frisbee Forever 2's essentially more of the same, but prettier, smoother and with wilder locations in which to fly through hoops and collect stars. It's lovely and costs precisely zero pence, so download it.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around
Frisbee Forever 2

17. Hero Academy (Free)

Most developers create games from code, but we're pretty sure Hero Academy's composed of the most addictive substances known to man all smushed together and shoved on to the App Store.
The game's sort-of chess with fantasy characters, but the flexibility within the rule-set provides limitless scope for asynchronous one-on-one encounters. For free, you have to put up with ads and only get the 'human' team, but that'll be more than enough to get you hooked.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around
Hero Academy

18. Hundreds ($4.99/£2.99)

Stark and minimal, Hundreds is both playful and brutal at its core. The aim is to inflate discs until the magic 100 figure is reached, but any collisions while a disc is inflating (and a volatile red) spells the immediate end of your go. Initially simple, Hundreds rapidly throws hazards into the mix, forcing deep thinking and quick fingers.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

19. Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage ($0.99/69p)

There are more famous swiping games on iOS — Cut the Rope and Fruit Ninja spring to mind — but Icebreaker has oodles more charm, loads more character and, importantly, better puzzles. The animated, cartoon-like world feels alive under your fingers as you cut ice blocks, rope, slime and more to return helmeted chums to a waiting boat.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around
Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage

20. Impossible Road ($1.99/£1.49)

A roller-coaster ribbon of road winds through space, and your only aim is to stay on it and reach the highest-numbered gate. But Impossible Road is sneaky: the winding track is one you can leave and rejoin, if you've enough skill, 'cheating' your way to higher scores. It's like the distillation of Super Monkey Ball, Rainbow Road and queue-skipping, all bundled up in a stark, razor-sharp package.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around
Impossible Road

21. Letterpress (Free)

What mad fool welds Boggle to tug o' war Risk-style land-grabbing? The kind who doesn't want anyone to get any work done again, ever, that's who. Letterpress is, simply, the best word game on the App Store.
You make words to win points and temporarily 'lock' letters from your opponent by surrounding them. The result is a tense asynchronous two-player game with plenty of last-move wins and general gnashing of teeth when you realise 'qin' is in fact an acceptable word.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around
Letterpress. Micro Miners. Magnetic Billiards

22. Micro Miners ($1.99/£1.49)

Marrying the elegance of digging games like Where's My Water? with the semi-controllable critters from Lemmings, Micro Miners is a superb real-time puzzler. Initially simple, the game is soon complicated by the need to switch the colour of miners, collect objects, and avoid or utilise deadly gas and lava. It's extremely tough later on, but you'll see it through to the bitter end.

23. Magnetic Billiards (free)

A game that could have been called Reverse Pool For Show-Offs, Magnetic Billiards lacks pockets. Instead, the aim is to join like-coloured balls that cling together on colliding. Along the way, you get more points for trick shots and 'buzzing' other balls that must otherwise be avoided. 20 diverse tables are provided for free, and many more can be unlocked for $1.99/£1.49.

24. Limbo ($4.99/£2.99)

A boy awakens in hell, and must work his way through a deadly forest. Gruesome deaths and trial and error gradually lead to progress, as he forces his way deeper into the gloom and greater mystery. Originating on the Xbox, Limbo fares surprisingly well on iOS, with smartly designed controls; and its eerie beauty and intriguing environments remain hypnotic.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around

25. Mikey Hooks ($1.99/£1.49)

If iOS is supposed to be no good for traditional 2D platform games, it's a good job no-one told the developer of Mikey Hooks. The mechanics aren't a million miles away from Nintendo titles starring a certain plumber, but Mikey's also armed with a rope that can attach to hooks dotted about the levels, enabling him to speedily swing to glory. An emphasis on time-attack racing and surprisingly solid controls round out a first-rate title.

50 best iPhone games: the greatest free and paid games around
Mikey Hooks

Source : techradar[dot]com

Samsung's latest accessories include ultrasonic cover, print-reading stand

Samsung's latest accessories include ultrasonic cover, print-reading stand

The Core gets more Advanced

Samsung is introducing three new accessibility-oriented accessories for the Galaxy Core Advance made specifically to help the disabled or visually impaired.

The first, and perhaps most impressive, of the three is an Ultrasonic Cover that uses sound waves to detect people and objects ahead of the user.

It's nowhere near a bat(man)'s echolocation, but it can send out obstruction-sensing sound waves up to two-meters away.

After detecting an object, the cover will inform visually impaired users if they're getting close through vibration and spoken alerts.

Ultrasonic detection to help the blind

Smartphone, tell me a story

Another accessory Samsung announced for its low cost smartphone was the Optical Scan Stand. It's essentially a scanner set on a stand that reads any printed materials passing in front of its sensor.

Once the user taps the Optical Scan application on the Core Advance, the device will automatically recognize and read the text out loud.

Samsung, Optical Scan Stand, Optical Scan Stand, Ultrasonic Cover, smartphone accessories, Newstrack
The Optical Scan Stand was defintiely made for home use

Samsung's last little helper is called the Voice Label, which allows the user to identify objects with their phone and make notes or tag voice labels to them.

Voice labeling works with all NFC-enabled electronics and it's meant to help the visually impaired with distinguishing their devices and recording a short explanation on how to use them.

The new Galaxy Core Advance accessories are already available and Samsung noted it has plans to expand the accessibility to its other Galaxy devices in the future.

  • Samsung's new flagship smartphone is here; see our hands on with the Galaxy S5

Source : techradar[dot]com

It's free