Greetings, Arsians! Courtesy of our friends at TechBargains, we have another round of deals to share. Today's list is headlined by a number of bargains on high-profile video games, including a trio of popular games for the Nintendo Switch—Super Mario Odyssey, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Splatoon 2 are all down to $45.
These titles have dropped to this price a few times in the past, but they're all still good for a $15 discount. To be frank, we'd like to see their prices sink a bit lower considering they all launched in 2017, but more substantial deals from reputable retailers have been few and far between. Nevertheless, each game is still worth owning. You can read our reviews of each game for more details, but Odyssey's inventiveness, Breath of the Wild's sense of wonder, and Splatoon's colorful multiplayer haven't aged badly at all. Many Switch owners have these games already, but if you just grabbed the console, this might be a good excuse to catch up on some of its early essentials.
If you aren't hitched to the Switch wagon, though, we also have deals on popular games for the PS4 and Xbox One, including Red Dead Redemption 2, Assassin's Creed Odyssey, and Marvel's Spider-Man. And if you don't care about video games at all, one, what is wrong with you, and two, you can catch more discounts on iPads, Amazon devices, ThinkPads, portable batteries, and more below.
Nike users are experiencing some technical difficulties in the wild world of connected footwear. Nike's $350 "Adapt BB" sneakers are the latest in the company's line of self-lacing shoes, and they come with the "Nike Adapt" app for Android and iOS. The app pairs with the shoes and lets you adjust the tightness of the laces, customize the lights (yeah, there are lights), and see, uh, how much battery life your shoes have left. The only problem: Nike's Android app doesn't work.
Android users report that their new kicks aren't pairing with the app properly, and some customers report failed firmware updates for the shoes, which render them unable to pair with the app at all. Nike's app on Google Play has been flooded with 1-star reviews in response to the faulty update.
One user writes, "The first software update for the shoe threw an error while updating, bricking the right shoe." Another says, "App will only sync with left shoe and then fails every time. Also, app says left shoe is already connected to another device whenever I try to reinstall and start over."
SAN FRANCISCO—Samsung presented not one, not two, not three, but four new phones at its Unpacked event in San Francisco yesterday. The devices included three variants of the conglomerate's S-series flagship phones—the Galaxy S10 as the default model, the S10 Plus as a larger variant, and the S10e as an iPhone XR-like lower-priced alternative, though in this case, the more affordable one is smaller than both of the other two. Samsung also introduced the radical (and extremely pricy) Galaxy Fold.
After the public briefing, we were hurried to a crowded demo room to see three of those phones, as well as some wearables and a tablet that Samsung also presented.
Unfortunately, we weren't able to do a whole lot with the devices on a crowded show floor. For example, there was no time to set up a fingerprint to see if the reader is fast enough, and the Adobe Premiere Rush CC app announced during the presentation was not installed on any of the phones. Also, Samsung did not offer hands-on opportunities with the 5G Galaxy S10 or its new folding phone. We were told more information about the folding phone will be released at Mobile World Congress later this month.
YouTube is losing advertising from Fortnite maker Epic Games, Disney, and other companies because of ads appearing alongside videos shared by pedophiles.
YouTube told Ars that it has taken action against users violating its policies this week, including by terminating more than 400 channels, deleting accounts, and disabling comments on tens of millions of videos. YouTube said it has also reported illegal content to authorities, but the company admitted it has more to do. We asked YouTube if it has identified any problems in its algorithms that helped cause the problem but received no answer to that question.
"All Nestle companies in the US have paused advertising on YouTube, a spokeswoman for the company said Wednesday in an email," Bloomberg reported yesterday. "Video game maker Epic Games Inc. and German packaged food giant Dr. August Oetker KG also said they had postponed YouTube spending after their ads were shown to play before the videos. Disney has also withheld its spending, according to people with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified because the decision hasn't been made public."
Remote Assist is an app designed for service engineers operating in the field, letting them show what they can see to a remote expert, who can then use a mixture of voice and AR drawing and annotation on what they see to provide guidance, troubleshooting, and instruction. This feature is already available for HoloLens and is being used by real service engineers. A preview of Remote Assist is coming to Android; while it won't offer the same hands-free convenience as the HoloLens, it also won't require the $5,000 headsets, instead running on a smartphone.
Product Visualize is a sales app that salespeople can use to show customers the products that they're buying in context, letting them see how big machinery and equipment is, check if it will fit in the space they want to use it, and so on. It's similar to, but simpler than, a HoloLens app called Layout, which similarly allows 3D models to be placed and laid out in the real world. A preview of Visualize is being released for iOS; an Android version may follow, depending on customer demand.
Is your Android phone feeling hot to the touch, acting sluggish, in need of frequent charges, or using dramatically more data than it used to? It may be a victim of DrainerBot, a major fraud operation distributed through Google Play apps with more than 10 million downloads, researchers said Wednesday.
The apps catered to a wide variety of interests, from makeup and beauty to mobile gaming. Under the hood, the apps download hidden video ads to the phones that consume as much as 10GB per month of bandwidth. While the videos are never viewed or visible by anyone, the downloads generate fraudulent advertising revenue each time a legitimate end user device appears to view a video while visiting a spoofed but legitimate publisher site.
“DrainerBot is one of the first major ad fraud operations to cause clear and direct financial harm to consumers,” said Eric Roza, senior vice president and general manager of Oracle Data Cloud, which uncovered the scheme. “DrainerBot-infected apps can cost users hundreds of dollars in unnecessary data charges while wasting their batteries and slowing their devices.”
SpaceX is set to launch a Falcon 9 rocket on Thursday night, and while it may not be the primary payload, a small Israeli lunar lander is by far the mission's most intriguing payload.
The 180kg Beresheet spacecraft, privately developed by SpaceIL in Israel and funded largely through philanthropy, will spend more than six weeks raising its orbit and becoming captured into lunar orbit before finally making the first private attempt to land on the Moon. Until now, only the US, Russian, and Chinese space agencies have ever successfully landed on the Moon.
This means there is a lot of pressure on the small Israeli team leading the mission, both in their native country and among the commercial lunar community, which wants to prove that private ventures can do what only nations have done before. "What it means to me is that the responsibility is very high," said Yoav Landsman, a senior systems engineer for the project, in an interview.
So you want to buy an Android phone, eh?
It's often said that a strength of the Android ecosystem is the sheer number of manufacturers out there producing devices, but that also means there is an absolutely intimidating amount of devices to pick from. Over 400 Android devices were released just in 2018—and the idea of buying a single device and then living with it for years can be daunting. Throw in tons of different price points, carrier compatibility, and user preferences, and "What Android phone should I buy?" can be a very complicated question.
We're here to sift through the absolutely crazy amount of choices and point out the phones we think would be best for most people. These are the best Android phones you can buy.