Father of Xbox Ed Fries Discovers the First Arcade Game Easter Egg

Ed Fries is known to many a video game buff as the one of the main creators of the original Xbox that marked Microsoft’s entry into console gaming. And while he’s been away from the spotlight for some time now, his blog plays host to his findings in an attempt to catalogue and preserve arcade classics from an era that’s forgotten by most.

Father of Xbox Ed Fries Discovers the First Arcade Game Easter Egg

In doing so he has, inadvertently, stumbled upon one of the first Easter eggs in video game history. Easter eggs refer to an unexpected or undocumented feature in a piece of software such as a game, included as a joke or a bonus. And according to Fries, the first one ever from an arcade game called Starship 1.

Fries interviewed Ron Milner — co-inventor of the Atari 2600 who also worked on Starship 1.

“That was the first and only game that I ever programmed and I think it was maybe one of the first games with a backdoor in it. I didn’t tell people about this, even within Atari, for at least 30 years, but I had some code in there that if you did a certain sequence of controls it would say ‘Hi Ron!’ and give you 10 free games,” said Milner to Fries.

What followed next was a painstakingly documented account of Fries trying to prove that this was indeed the case. From examining Star I’s code to obtaining and repairing a Star I arcade cabinet, the outcome was successful. And the process is well worth checking out on Fries’ blog.

“In my opinion, Starship 1 is the earliest arcade game yet known that clearly meets the definition of an Easter egg and the clever young programmer who put it there, Ron Milner, deserves our recognition and respect. Still, there were more than one hundred arcade video games released before Starship 1. Maybe somewhere deep inside one of them lies another even older Easter egg just waiting to be discovered,” a post from Fries reads.

Google Unveils Android Wear 2.0 Developer Preview 3; Stable Release Delayed to 2017

Google Unveils Android Wear 2.0 Developer Preview 3; Stable Release Delayed to 2017You may be disappointed to note that Google has delayed the stable release of Android Wear 2.0 until early 2017. Google had announced Android Wear 2.0 back at its annual developer conference I/O this year, and has since been testing it in the form of developer previews. Alongside the delay announcement, Google has released the Android Wear 2.0 Developer Preview 3.

Android Wear 2.0 Developer Preview 3 is one of the planned beta versions until Google finally releases the update to the stable channel in early 2017. After running studies with users, the new developer preview brings a major feature – Google Play, which is now directly accessible on the Android Wear. Google, in its developer blog post, has said that the preview is designed for developers to help them reach more users. That said, this will make your Android smartwatch independent from your smartphone to manage apps. Notably, iPhone users will be able to install Android apps directly on the smartwatches without requiring an Android phone. Phone apps are no longer necessary in Android Wear 2.0, thus, enhancing support for non-Android devices like the iPhone.

With Google Play for Android Wear, Google allows users to “browse recommended apps in the home view and search for apps using voice, keyboard, handwriting, and recommended queries, so they can find apps more easily.” Users can switch between multiple accounts, no matter if they are part of alpha and beta tests, and manage apps easily in the ‘My apps’ section. The apps will be downloaded over Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or a mobile data connection. However, paid apps still need to be verified on your phone.
Other significant additions are complication permission, scrollable lists, inline actions for notifications, and Smart Reply. Smart Reply provides users with a “fast (single tap), discreet (no speaking aloud), private (messages received by a user never leave the watch), and reliable (no Internet connection needed) way to respond to chat messages.” You can read the entire list of changes in Google’s release notes.

The smartwatches that are currently eligible to receive the third developer preview are LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition and Huawei Watch. It is worth noting that both the OEM partners, i.e., LG and Huawei have no plans to launch their next smartwatches any time soon in 2016.

Google will release another developer preview before maturing Android Wear 2.0 into the stable channel. Early 2017 is a significant delay but it’s worthwhile given that Google is investing time to improve its Android Wear platform with new features.

Swatch Partners With Visa for Contactless Watch Payments

Swatch on Monday announced its partnership with Visa to introduce a contactless payment service in the US, Switzerland, and Brazil. The technology will debut with Swatch’s upcoming watch dubbed Bellamy next year.

It is worth noting that the company showed-off its Swatch Bellamy watch in China in October this year, with a price tag of CNY 580 (roughly Rs. 6,000). The smartwatch will be rolling out in China in coming months. Swatch says it will be using NFC technology for transactions. “Like a prepaid bankcard, a Swatch Bellamy watch allows customers to pay for items using merchants’ contactless POS terminals,” said the company.

Also mentioned was that ‘pay-by-the-wrist’ transactions in the watch will require no energy from the watch itself, resulting in battery life similar to regular watches.

Swatch CEO Nick Hayek in August said Swatch plans to add to its new smartwatch range. He said the company would launch Touch Zero Two at next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. “Our product is called Touch Zero One and that gives enough room for Zero Five, Zero Nine,” Nick Hayek was quoted as saying by Switzerland’s Tages-Anzeiger newspaper. “The Touch Zero One is not the end of the progression.” Swatch in August also said it plans to open between 30 and 40 shops in India after receiving permission from the country’s commerce ministry. The Swatch-branded stores will open over the next three years in a country where watches currently sell via dealer networks and third-party stores.

Apple Watch Launched in India Starting

The Apple Watch is now available to buy in India from authorised resellers. As Gadgets 360 exclusively reported last month, the Apple Watch prices in India start from Rs. 30,900 (38mm) and Rs. 34,900 (42mm).

The wearable comes in Apple Watch Sport, Apple Watch, and Apple Watch Edition variants. The base model price of the 38mm Apple Watch Sport is Rs. 30,900 (Silver Aluminium Case with White Sport Band), while the Apple Watch starts at Rs. 48,900 (Stainless Steel Case with White Sport Band), and Apple Watch Edition at Rs. 8,20,000 (18-Carat Rose Gold Case with White Sport Band).

As for the 42mm Apple Watch models, the Apple Watch Sport starts at Rs. 34,900 (Silver Aluminium Case with White Sport Band), Apple Watch at Rs. 52,900 (Stainless Steel Case with White Sport Band), and Apple Watch Edition at Rs. 9,90,000 (18-Carat Rose Gold Case with White Sport Band).

To put that in perspective, the 38mm and 42mm Sport models of the Apple Watch start at $349 (Rs. 22,700 approximately) and $399 (Rs. 25,900 approximately) in the US respectively, before taxes. The Apple Watch starts at $549 (approximately Rs. 35,600) for the 38mm model, and $599 (approximately Rs. 39,400) for the 42mm model, while the Apple Watch Edition starts at $10,000 (approximately Rs. 6,58,100) for the 32mm model, and $12,000 (approximately Rs. 7,89,700) for the 42mm model, once again before taxes.

In the Gadgets 360 review of the Apple Watch, we concluded that if you have an iPhone and if you want a smartwatch, the Apple Watch is your best choice in the smartwatch market. Despite Google’s recently rolled out Android Wear support for iPhone, it would be hard for app and platform developers to provide the same level of functionality on a rival platform. Other products like the Pebble Time and Fitbit Surge have limited interactivity with iPhones due to Apple’s software restrictions.

Overall, we felt the Apple Watch feels very polished for a first generation device and its trade-offs (battery life, lags) are minor and shouldn’t stop you from buying the device. The company in Septemberreleased watchOS 2 as well, the updated system software for the Apple Watch, which brought featureslike activation lock, native apps, and more.

Finally, we found the Apple Watch’s price was high especially if you pick one of the more expensive variants, but then it is a mistake to think of those Apple Watch variants as technology products. They’re luxury products for those who can afford them. For most people, the base variant with the sport band will work just fine

TataSky Looks to Get More Interactive Services on Board

Direct-to-home operator TataSky is betting big on interactive services to expand its offering as it has plans to have 16 such channels on its platform by the end of this fiscal.

TataSky, which has recently introduced Transfer service for its customers allowing them to watch its recorded feed on handheld devices will add one new interactive service every month till March 2016.

“That is the focus area for us… Now, we are shifting to newer audience, both in cities and rural areas. We need to add more services relevant to those customers,” TataSky CEO Harit Nagpal told PTI.

The company had last week added a new interactive service – Actve Fitness – which allows a viewer to feed details and get suggestions on lifestyle.

“This is just an indicator of the kind of new interactive service that one is likely to see from us. There will be a series like this. Apart from fitness, we are building content on many other subjects. That’s the focus of this year. Almost every month, one new service will come,” he said.

TataSky is running 10 interactive services on subjects ranging from cooking to English, Fun Learn to Javed Akhtar and Smart Manager to Vedic Maths.

Moreover, TataSky, which has over 10 million active subscribers, is also witnessing fast growth from non-urban regions.

“Currently, 60 percent of our subscribers are from the city and 40 percent out of the city. But for new customers, this is reversed. Now, 60 percent of new customers are from out of city and 40 percent from city,” he said.

On 4K resolution channels, Nagpal said it will increase in coming years as its availability would grow. “4K is exactly at a stage at which HD channels were five years before when we had started. We had 20,000 customers and now, we have in millions and 50 HD channels,” Nagpal said.

TataSky has a limited number of 4K subscribers at present, but he said now more and more 4K TV sets are coming and prices are on the way down.

Besides, TataSky, which has shifted to MPEG4 format from MPEG2 by investing around Rs. 800 crores, added 80 new channels on its platform in the past five months by upgrading compression technology.

“Since May to now, we added close to 80 channels on our platform and now we are carrying 400 plus channels,” said Nagpal.

On plans to go for co-production of set-top-boxes, he said: “We are considering that. We are waiting for vendors. My only concern is quality as we take a few years to bring down the failure rate.”

Fitbit Trackers Reportedly Riddled With Security Flaws; Company Responds

Fitbit’s fitness trackers aren’t as secure as you would like them to be, a report indicates. Security researcher Axelle Apvrille of Fortinet, a multinational company that is popular for selling security-related gears and services, reported that the Fitbit fitness tracker can be hacked using its Bluetooth radio within 10 seconds. Fitbit, on the other hand, has said that the vulnerabilities reported are false.

Apvrille claims to have been able to manipulate data – such as tweaking the number of steps the tracker had logged. She was also able to use the fitness tracker to deliver code to the computers the tracker connected (synced) to. As she noted (via The Register) at the Hacktivity 2015 conference, an attacker can exploit this vulnerability for injecting malware.

The report further reveals that an attacker can infect a Fitbit device by just being within its 15-feet locus, typical Bluetooth range. Once in, a cascade of attacks can be set in just 10 seconds. The company was informed about some of these vulnerabilities in March, but it seems it hasn’t patched the flaws yet.

The only silver lining in the report is that no exploit that aims to target the vulnerability has been reported as of yet, which suggests that your Fitbit model is likely safe for now. The takeaway from the report is that Internet of Things devices can often offer sub-par security sophistication, as evident from the recent breaches, and it’s an area that the concerned companies should be working on.

Speaking to Forbes, a Fitbit spokesperson said that the company believes the security vulnerabilities pointed out by Apvrille are false. “As the market leader in connected health and fitness, Fitbit is focused on protecting consumer privacy and keeping data safe. We believe that security issues reported today are false, and that Fitbit devices can’t be used to infect users with malware. We will continue to monitor this issue,” the company said.

“Fortinet first contacted us in March to report a low-severity issue unrelated to malicious software. Since that time we’ve maintained an open channel of communication with Fortinet. We have not seen any data to indicate that it is currently possible to use a tracker to distribute malware.”

Fossil Launches Its First Android Wear Smartwatch, Other Wearables

Watchmaker Fossil has finally forayed into the smartwatch segment with launch of its first Android Wear-powered smartwatch alongside other wearables.

The American company introduced its Fossil Q line of connected wearables including two types of connected watches (both display and non-display) and two styles of connected bracelets (one for men and one for women). The complete Fossil Q line of products is powered by Intel.

The entire Fossil Q range is compatible with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean and higher, iPhone 5 and above (running iOS 8.2 and higher), and can be connected to smartphones via Bluetooth. It can be synced with all popular fitness apps such as Google Fit, Health, UP by Jawbone, and UA Record by Under Armour. All the devices also feature wireless charging base for wire-free charging.

The company is marketing the Android Wear-based Q Founder as its most premium and high-end smartwatch. Priced at $275 (approximately Rs. 18,000), the Q Founder is expected to go on sale just in time for the holidays. The company says that the Q Founder was developed in collaboration with Intel and Google. Based on Android Wear, the smartwatch is compatible with both Android and iPhone.

fossil_q_founder.jpgThe other two products from Fossil’s Q line include Q Reveler and the Q Dreamer, which are fitness trackers, priced at $125 (approximately Rs. 8,000) each. Both can track various activities such as running, sleeping, and can even notify about incoming notifications via LED lights. Both will go on sale starting Sunday.

Lastly, the Q Grant is the company’s regular watch with some built-in sensors. It can also track fitness, alert about emails, texts, incoming calls and app notifications. The biggest addition to Q Grant is its coloured LED indicators which are placed either side of the watch. It will also go on sale this Sunday and has been priced at $175-$195 (approximately Rs. 11,500-13,000).

Unfortunately, the company has not detailed the innards of its smartwatches.

Announcing the Fossil Q line of connected wearables, Jill Elliott-Sones, chief creative officer at Fossil, said, “Our customers are obsessed with their personal sense of style and staying connected, and we are thrilled to enter into this emerging category with an answer to their needs. Fossil Q is the result of countless hours of meticulous design expressed through a playful curious lens. Our hope is the unique attention to detail in both our connected accessories line and app cue our audience to try new things, be more curious and experience the world around them like never before.”

Creative Sound Blaster FRee Portable Bluetooth Speaker Launched

Singapore-based audio equipment manufacturer Creative has launched the Sound Blaster FRee portable Bluetooth speaker in India at a price of Rs. 7,999. The device is IPX4 splash-resistant, has two neodymium drivers and twin passive radiators to deliver full-range audio, and also features dual-orientation playback for wider stereo imaging when placed horizontally or 360-degree sound when placed vertically.

“In today’s world, it is the norm for everyone to experience all their music from their smart devices and to share moments with family and friends everywhere they go. The Sound Blaster FRee has been designed to fit perfectly into that lifestyle,” said Low Long Chye, General Manager of Sound Blaster Audio at Creative. “We’ve taken great pains to include everything you would want in a portable speaker – to enjoy music anywhere, to share music, to take calls and more – and we’re offering it at an amazing price. It’s powerful, lightweight, portable, versatile, has up to 10 hours of battery life, and even splash-resistant. So if you’re looking for an amazing speaker companion to take with you through all occasions, look no further – Sound Blaster FRee is made for every moment.”

The Sound Blaster FRee’s connectivity options include Bluetooth 4.0, USB, and auxiliary-in. It also comes with a built-in mp3 player for standalone playback from microSD cards with storage capacity of up to 32GB. The device can also double up as a hands-free Bluetooth speakerphone when paired with a smartphone. The speaker weighs about 0.4kg and promises up to 10 hours of playback on a full charge.

Creative also recently launched the SBS E2800 and SBS E2400 powered 2.1 speaker systems in India, and maintains a wide portfolio of audio and video-based components and consumer products.

Misfit Shine 2 With Improved Sleep and Activity Tracking Launched

Misfit, after launching its Shine activity tracker in India last month, on Tuesday launched the Misfit Shine 2 with improved functions and new features. Available in Rose Gold and Carbon Black, the wearable can be purchased from the company website and would hit other retail outlets worldwide by next month for $99.99 (roughly Rs. 6,500). India launch dates and price are not yet known.

As per the company, the Shine 2 tracks the wearer’s sleep and fitness activity more accurately than its previous version. It uses a 3-axis accelerometer and the new 3-axis magnetometer for tracking. “Now you can see easily see progress and tell time in a halo of rainbow-coloured lights, which provide a platform for nuanced feedback,” adds the company blog post. As seen in Apple Watch, the Shine 2 now includes Misfit Nudge, which would remind users to be active with a vibrational nudge after regular intervals.

In addition, the Shine 2 now supports alerts for texts and calls, something that was missing in its predecessor. Misfit claims the Shine 2 to sport improved touch responsiveness, faster syncing, and extended Bluetooth range (v4.1) along with a ’12 lights display’ including over 16 million colours, which is also visible under direct sunlight.

As usual, the Shine 2 is compatible with Misfit Link app for Android and iOS. The app “lets you communicate with friends, turn your lights on, change your music, take a selfie, and more, all with a triple tap.” The tracker shares the same iconic design but with a thinner T6061 T6 aircraft-grade aluminium body. Despite being thinner at 8mm than the original Shine fitness tracker, the Shine 2 retains its six-month battery life, 50-metre water resistance, and modular design, as per the firm. It is backed by a user replaceable coin cell battery that lasts up to six months.

“We’ve packed a lot into Shine 2, adding more functionality into an even smaller form factor with the same battery life, “said Adam Mack, Misfit’s Director of Mechanical Design during the launch. “We didn’t compromise on craftsmanship or the user experience.”

Last month Misfit entered the Indian market with its Misfit Shine, Misfit Flash, and Misfit Link app. While the Misfit Shine is priced at Rs. 5,499, the Flash costs Rs. 2,499.

Apple iRing Smart Ring In The Works

apple iring

Apple is apparently working on a new smart ring which may or may not end up being called the Apple iRing, it could end up just being called the Apple Ring like they did with the Apple Watch.

According to a recent report by Apple Insider, this new wearable device will come with microphones, motion sensors, bio metric sensors, cameras and even a small display.

Apple has filed some patents for their new Apple iRing with the USPTO, the pictures below are apparently from the patent filing.

Apple Ring

The inclusion of microphones in the device suggest that it could be used for things like the new Apple TV which uses Siri and voice control.

There are a number of precious metals like gold and platinum mentioned in the filing, we wonder if Apple intends to launch similar color options to the Apple Watch.

Apple Ring

As yet there are no details on when Apple may launch this new smart ring, you can find out more details on what was found in the patent filings at the link below.