iPhone “Pause” app is designed around your brainwaves and Tai Chi to help you relax

Your phone may be a constant source of distraction, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Amid endless notifications and bombardment of visual stimuli, it may be hard to conceive your smartphone as a place of peaceful refuge. However, ustwo (the creators of the massively popular Monument Valley game) set out to turn that conception on its head.

Introducing Pause, ustwo has created an app that aims to help you relax to a calmer state of mind. Pause brings “focused attention” to your iPhone’s screen, and is grounded in cognitive psychology and physiology resulting in a patent-pending technique to activate the restoration process and relaxation response.

Pairing up with PauseAble, the app is inspired by Tai Chi with slow and continuous movements. Essentially, it’s Tai Chi for your thumb, using a mix of sound and stimulation to keep your attention away from distracting and stressful thoughts.

Learn more about the app at its website here, and purchase it for $2 USD on the App Store.

Free Sakura app means cherry blossoms could be blooming on your monitor right now

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As of yesterday, it’s officially cherry blossom season in Tokyo, with media outlets reporting the first flowers of the year spotted inside the capital. While we’re still a week or two away from the sakura being in full bloom, their incredibly short life span means they’ll be gone before you know it, so most people are looking to spend as much time watching the delicate pink flowers as they can in the coming days.

Much as we’d like to, though, most of us can’t spend all of the next few weeks stretched out on the grass under a cherry tree. But should you find yourself stuck in front of a computer monitor with work or social responsibilities to take care of, you can still soak up a bit of the cherry blossom atmosphere with this app that produces a cloud of sakura petals on your desktop.

Developer Studio-Kura doesn’t throw any curveballs in the naming of its newest Mac app. The program is called Sakura, and that’s exactly what it gives you.

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Given the short window in which cherry blossoms bloom, it’s always a roll of the dice what sort of conditions you’ll be able to see them in. The Sakura app gives you a bit more control, though. By adjusting a series of sliders, you can increase or decrease the volume of petals flittering down from the top of your monitor, adjust the force of the wind blowing them about, and even make the pink flowers more opaque or translucent, depending on your preferences. There’s also a toggle that allows you to choose whether the sakura appear in front of or behind inactive windows.

Previously, Studio-Kura had been distributing the program directly, but Sakura is now available here on the Mac App Store, free of charge. Just be careful not to spend so long staring transfixed at the beautiful virtual cherry blossoms that you miss your chance to see the real ones.

McDonald’s Japan to release “complaint app” to help restore faith in the company

RocketNews 24:

The once mighty fast food chain McDonald’s has fallen on hard times in Japan lately, suffering a heavy blow when it become entangled in an expired meat scandal about a year ago.

Although other establishments were also implicated in the problem, the public in Japan seems to be holding an especially big grudge against the golden arches. On 9 March, the company announced that Japanese sales were down 28.7 percent from the same month in the previous year.

In response, McDonald’s Japan is looking to improve its customer service and restore public faith in the company. How? By releasing a new app for smartphones that will allow customers to lodge complaints with more convenience and speed than ever before!

Yes, much like the chain’s machine-like efficiency at serving up burgers and fries, it will now be just as quick and easy to tell them how much you are worried you may have Ebola because of something you read on the internet.

Up until now, McDonald’s has operated a call center for complaints and requests, but it was only open during standard business hours of nine to five. And as we all know, customer rage can strike at any time of the day.

The new app will allow disgruntled customers to deliver piping hot Mc-beefs to the fast food giant 24 hours a day. McDonald’s intends this feature to also allow customers to make suggestions about the direction in which the company should head in the future. This means that they can expect me to be constantly badgering them from the comfort of my bed about bringing back McPizza.

The McMoanin’ application is sure to be great fun for drunks and belligerent RocketNews24 writers alike, but it’s hard to say how well it will fly with the public at large who have been turning their backs on McDonald’s in droves for 13 straight months of poor sales.

 

 

Filipino American co-founder of Snapchat, 26-year-old Bobby Murphy, is 2nd youngest billionaire in world

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Snapchat co-founder Bobby Murphy

ABS CBN News:

The Filipino-American co-founder of Snapchat is the world’s second youngest billionaire on Forbes’ Billionaire list. 

Bobby Murphy, 26, is estimated to be worth $1.5 billion, according to Forbes magazine. The baby-faced Murphy made his fortune from Snapchat, along with his friend Evan Spiegel, who at 24, is the world’s youngest billionaire.

Snapchat is a popular temporary photo messaging app. It is currently valued at $10 billion and has 100 million users a month. Forbes estimates both Murphy and Spiegel have a 15 percent stake each in Snapchat.

Murphy, whose mother emigrated from the Philippines, grew up in Berkley, California. Murphy and Spiegel met while they were students at Stanford University. They were both members of the Kappa Sigma fraternity. Murphy was a mathematics and computational science major, while Spiegel was in the product-design program.

In an interview with Forbes magazine in 2013, Murphy said they “weren’t cool (in college), so we tried to build things to be cool.”

They first worked together to develop an online software called Future Freshmen, but it didn’t take off. For their next project, a fellow Stanford student and friend, Reggie Brown (who would later sue the company for ownership), came up with suggestion for an app to send disappearing photos.

Spiegel decided to tap Murphy, who had just graduated, to develop the app. It was originally named Picaboo.

After the company received a cease-and-desist letter from a photobook company of the name, they changed the app to “Snapchat.” Spiegel called this the “biggest blessing ever.”

Evan and I got started Snapchat in the summer of 2011, basically understood that visual content that was the most engaging, interesting form of content there was. We wanted to create a way that would enable that to be a means of communication, rather than a piece of content around which communication actually happens,” Murphy said during a Google Cloud Platform Live session in 2014.

Spiegel is the good-looking, outspoken public face of Snapchat, while Murphy, the chief technology officer (CTO), is the brains who developed the app. Little is known about Murphy, who was described by Forbes, as the son of state employees from Berkeley.

I’d describe him almost like a monk,” David Kravitz, Snapchat’s first employee, told Forbes in 2013. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen him upset.”

Snapchat founders Evan Spiegel (left) and Bobby Murphy at the Time 100 gala in New York, April 29, 2014.

HTC (Taiwan) teams up with Under Armour for a fitness wearable

HTC has announced it will be releasing its first wearable with the help of Under Armour, who will be supplying the tracking software for the fitness band. The waterproof Grip wrist band is the first in a series of co-branded products, and will feature a pedometer, GPS and an integrated “Record” tracking portal which aggregates sleep, steps, active time, distance, workouts, calories burned and weight. It can also be connected with a phone to receive and respond to notifications via the 1.8-inch curved monochrome touchscreen.

Though an official release date has yet to be announced, expect the HTC Grip to be available at select retailers in North America beginning in Spring 2015.

Olympus Air A01 offers varying lens quality and connects to your Smartphone

Ronin sets a new standard for turn-based ninja stealth-action tactical platformers

“Oh man, Gunpoint,” the person standing behind me at the demo station exclaimed. “I love Gunpoint!”

I wasn’t playing Gunpoint, though you could be forgiven for thinking so — I was actually playing Ronin, a clever action-platformer from indie developer Tomasz Waclawek, on the show floor of PAX South. One of the game‘s core mechanics — a superhuman, arcing leap, which you can use to smash through windows and knock down foes — is remarkably similar to a mechanic that made Gunpoint a standout game back in 2013. Fortunately, the similarities stop there.

Ronin initially launched last year as a freeware game, which Waclawek has improved upon for the full game, which launches later in 2015. In it, you play a vengeful ninja, who, in addition to super-leaping, can climb walls and ceilings, swing on grappling hooks, drop holographic decoys to distract foes, teleport between said decoys and execute foes with a slice (or a throw) of their sword. It’s as fast and as slick as you’d expect a ninja-led action-platformer to be — unless you’re in combat, when it turns into a contemplative turn-based game.

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In what may just be the most difficult-to-explain scheme ever conceived, entering an enemy’s field of vision brings the game to a screeching halt, giving you an opportunity to execute one of your deadly acrobatic maneuvers. The action, from this point on, takes place in second-long chunks. Enemies spend one turn lining up their shots or charging melee attacks, which are represented by red lines on the screen. During your one-second chunk, you have to devise a plan to avoid those attacks (which kill you in one hit) or incapacitate your potential attackers.

What makes that idea so brilliant is the game’s ninja locomotion itself. You have to be extremely precise with your movements, because your turn can, and most often will, end in the middle of your jump — and if you happen to be in an enemy’s crosshair when that happens, you’re toast. Trickier still is deciding how to spend your next mid-air turn. Do you throw your blade at a distant foe, leaving you vulnerable until you can recover it? Do you Spider-Man swing out of danger? Or do you continue the arc of your original jump into the fray?

It’s a surprisingly exciting combat system, one that rewards deft maneuvers with combo multipliers and score bonuses. It’s also completely optional — if you can stay in the dark, or on ceilings above unassuming foes, you can stealth-kill the lot of them without ever entering into turn-based mode. It’s not nearly as flashy, of course, but it gets the job done.

Ronin will launch this fall on PC, Mac and Linux. It might be easier to understand if you see it in action — which you can do in the trailer posted below.