December 10, 2019

Google won’t exempt Fortnite from the Play Store’s 30% cut

Fortnite has been available on Android for quite a while now, but you can’t download the app from the only place you should ever install apps on Android, the Google Play store. That’s because Epic wanted to avoid paying Google any fees on in-app purchases and provided users direct access to the game, which is sort of a security issue you shouldn’t bother with. Since then, Epic has tried to get Google to exempt the popular game from the Play store’s 30% cut, but Google refused. While you might think Google’s move is anti-consumer, that’s probably the right way to deal with the matter, for the time being, especially given how Epic went about the launch of Fortnite on Android. By comparison, you can only play Fortnite on iPhone and iPad after you download it from the App Store, which means Epic is perfectly fine with Apple’s App Store cut on a platform where it doesn’t have any other choice. Google told The Verge that the revenue that Google Play makes is reinvested in the platform.
Android enables multiple app stores and choices for developers to distribute apps. Google Play has a business model and billing policy that allow us to invest in our platform and tools to help developers build successful businesses while keeping users safe,” a Google spokesperson tells The Verge. “We welcome any developer that recognizes the value of Google Play and expect them to participate under the same terms as other developers.
There’s an entire debate about the cut that Apple and Google take from developers outside of Epic’s dealings with Google. Consumers could benefit from Apple and Google lowering their cut, but that doesn’t mean the two giants aren’t entitled to a sales percentage from the App Store or Google Play, no matter what that percentage we’d be talking about. Epic’s request to bypass it altogether doesn’t sound reasonable, again, in light of the way it handled the initial Fortnite rollout on Android. In a comment to the same blog, Epic said that it didn’t seek a special exception:
Epic doesn’t seek a special exception for ourselves; rather we expect to see a general change to smartphone industry practices in this regard. We have asked that Google not enforce its publicly stated expectation that products distributed through Google Play use Google’s payment service for in-app purchase. We believe this form of tying of a mandatory payment service with a 30% fee is illegal in the case of a distribution platform with over 50% market share. We note that Google Play’s Developer Distribution Agreement (https://play.google.com/about/developer-distribution-agreement.html) does not require developers use Google payments. It merely references a number of non-contractual documents asking developers to do so. Further, Epic operates a major PC storefront and payment service and we do not force developers using our store to use our payment ecosystem.
Fortnite on Android is only available as a sideload installation. And, like before, we’d advise you against installing any apps on your Android device from outside the Play store, Epic’s hugely popular game included.
December 9, 2019

Roku will stream the first season of ‘Game of Thrones’ for free

If you and your nearest and dearest have been meaning to check out Game of Thrones but haven't gotten around to it yet (or don't have an HBO subscription), you can stream the first season for free on Roku over the holiday season. The monstrously popu...
December 9, 2019

Louis Vuitton’s ‘League of Legends’ biker jacket can be yours for $5,650

Louis Vuitton's League of Legends apparel line is here, and as you'd expect, it is expensive. On the lower end, there's a $670 t-shirt with League of Legends champion Qiyana on the front and back. On the other end of the spectrum, you can nab a $5,65...
December 8, 2019

The incredible Roomba that empties itself when it’s done vacuuming is down to its lowest price ever

This is it, ladies and gentlemen, the holy grail of robotic vacuum cleaners. The iRobot Roomba i7+ Robot Vacuum doesn't just clean your hard flooring and low-pile carpets and rugs better than any other robot vacuum out there, it also empties itself when it's done! You can let this puppy do its thing without thinking about it literally for months, because it has a brilliant base that sucks up all the dirt and dust when the i7+ docks to charge. Then, after a few months, you get a notification to empty the base and you can quickly go back to never thinking about it again. It's fantastic, but it's pricey at $1,000 — unless you buy one today while it's back down to Black Friday's all-time low price!

Here are the bullet points from the product page:

  • Empties on its own : you don’t have to think about vacuuming for months at a time; Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal with AllergenLock bag holds 60 days of dirt, dust and hair
  • Power Lifting Suction delivers 10X the air power for improved pick up performance; Premium 3 Stage Cleaning System cleans the dirt and pet hair you see and the allergens and dust you don't; (Compared to Roomba 600 Series)
  • Intelligently maps and remembers multiple floor plans to clean your entire home; Patented iAdapt 3.0 technology with vSLAM navigation actively captures thousands of precise measurements each millisecond to optimize coverage
  • Imprint Smart Mapping enables the robot to learn, map and adapt to your home, allowing you to choose which rooms are cleaned and when; Keep Out Zones offer added control to actively avoid specific areas and objects in your home.
  • Ideal for homes with pets; High Efficiency Filter and AllergenLock bags trap 99 percent of pollen, mold, and dust mites so they don’t escape back into the air
  • Unique Dual Multi Surface Rubber Brushes don't get tangled with pet hair; Brushes adjust and flex to stay in constant contact with carpets and hard floors
  • Imprint Link Technology allows Roomba i7+ and Braava jet m6 robots to automatically clean in sequence: vacuuming and then mopping
  • "Roomba, clean my kitchen”; Customize and control how you clean with the iRobot HOME app, Alexa or the Google Assistant
  • Box Content: 1 Roomba i7+ Robot Vacuum, 1 Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal, 2 Dirt Disposal Bags, 1 North American Line Cord, 1 Dual Mode Virtual Wall Barrier, 1 Extra High-Efficiency Filter, 1 Extra Side Brush
  • iRobot does not certify the quality or authenticity of products purchased from non authorized resellers on Amazon, and will not cover claims, provide service or offer replacements for products purchased from these sellers
December 8, 2019

Anti-vaxxer arrested in Samoa as measles outbreak claims over 60 lives

The island nation of Samoa is in the midst of a measles outbreak that shows no signs of slowing down. Thousands of been infected and over 60 people have already died. Most of the deaths are in children under four years of age, and the government of Samoa has shut down in an effort to direct all available resources to a widespread vaccination campaign. Now, with anti-vaccination conspiracy theorists continuing to spread propaganda across social media, law enforcement has decided to take action against those who are actively fighting against health officials and their efforts to combat the disease. The official Facebook page of the Samoan government has been active in the fight against the measles outbreak, directing citizens to locations where they can receive vaccinations and issuing updates. Some in the country aren't on board with the vaccination campaign and one man, in particular, has taken it upon himself to spread anti-vaccination propaganda on social media. After already warning the man that he was skating on thin ice, officers arrested him this week and charged him with "incitement against the government vaccination order," according to a statement by the Samoan government. The statement reads, in part:
The allegation is that the individual, publicly stated with reference to the current vaccination drive "I'll be here to mop up your mess. Enjoy your killing spree." The AG confirmed that "this person who had previously been warned by the Police, has been charged and his bail is opposed for risk of reoffending." He is therefore in custody until the first available court date.
Much of the anti-vaccination movement in Samoa is blamed on the deaths of two young children who died shortly after receiving their measles vaccines in early 2018. The government shut down its vaccine program and investigated, eventually reaching the conclusion that a different medication, incorrectly administered, was to blame for their deaths. By the time vaccinations resumed, many in the country were fearful of the treatment. Parents across the country opted to not have their children vaccinated. Today, the country is paying the price and infections are claiming the lives of dozens of children.
December 8, 2019

Ericsson will pay over $1 billion to settle US corruption charges

Tech companies have been caught in corruption scandals before, but seldom on this scale. Telecom giant Ericsson has settled with the US Justice Department and SEC for just under $1.1 billion over charges of extensive corruption in several cou...
December 8, 2019

Apple’s redesigned Mac Pro will be available to order December 10th

After half a year -- or two years, if you really think about it -- Apple's reworked Mac Pro is close at hand. The company has notified interested customers that both the workstation and the Pro Display XDR will be available to order on December 10th...
December 7, 2019

Noir detective game ‘Blacksad’ will be out for consoles on December 10th

Blacksad: Under the Skin has been available on Steam since mid-November, but don't worry about buying it if you'd rather play on a console -- you only have a few more days to wait. The noir detective game, based on a graphic novel series, will be out...
December 7, 2019

Free money alert: These cash back credit cards basically pay you for using them

BGR has partnered with The Points Guy for our coverage of credit card products. BGR and The Points Guy may receive a commission from card issuers. Please note: the offers mentioned below are subject to change at any time and some may no longer be available. We cover a wide assortment of credit card products that offer benefits ranging from mileage and points to access to online shopping portals. But with the year drawing to a close -- and the arrival of the holiday shopping season -- we’d like to take a look back at 2019 and rank what we think are three of the best credit cards currently available on the basis of a much simpler benefit: Money in your pocket! (i.e., cash back.) Many of the best travel credit cards out there let you earn cash back on your purchases, but you’re sometimes forgoing better value redemption options to do so. Our hope is that you’ll use this run-down as a guide to some of the best cash-back cards of 2019 and use it to help you do your own ranking of cards where cash back is the value redemption that provides the best or most sought-after return. We’ll sort these cash-back cards on the basis of who they’re best for, like -- just to go ahead and dive right in -- the Citi® Double Cash Card, which we think is the best card on this list for anyone mostly interested in flat-rate cash back.

Citi Double Cash Card

Who it's perfect for: Anyone hunting for a flat cash-back rate. Welcome bonus: No welcome bonus, unfortunately. However ... Annual fee: $0, which is always nice! Rewards rate: You'll earn 2% cash back, as follows -- 1% when you buy something, plus another 1% when you pay your bill each month. What else to know: Citi's Double Cash Card is arguably one of the most straightforward and rewarding cash-back cards you'll find in this guide. As we noted, you've got two opportunities to earn cash back. What's more: Cardholders can now convert the cash back they earn on the card into ThankYou Points via a linked ThankYou account. This converts into an effective 2x ThankYou Point earning rate on all purchases. All in all, definitely a solid card here offering simple, long-term value.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

Who it's perfect for: Regular travelers Welcome bonus: 30,000 points once you've spent $3,000 in the first three months of owning the card. Annual fee: $0 Rewards rate: Earn 3x points on dining, travel and select streaming services, while earning 1x on everything else. What else to know: We put the Wells Fargo Propel American Express card on our list for its points earnings rate that's worth 1 cent apiece toward statement credits, travel, gift cards or charity donations. The card also offers cell phone protection and the ability to boost the value of your point redemptions toward airfare to 1.75 cents per point if you have the Wells Fargo Visa Signature® Card AND if you spend at least $50,000 on it in a year.

Chase Freedom

Who it's perfect for: Anyone new or just starting out in the world of credit card rewards Welcome bonus: $150 cash back after you've spent $500 on purchases within the first three months of owning the card. Annual fee: $0 Rewards rate: Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases on rotating quarterly bonus categories each quarter you activate. If you activate the bonus categories through the end of December, the categories you’ll earn 5% cash back in are department stores, PayPal and Chase Pay purchases. What else to know: We think this is a great card for beginners -- as long as you don't mind keeping an eye on the different quarterly bonus categories, that is. The great thing about them, though, is that they're generally seasonally-appropriate, which is why you see department stores, for example, as a bonus category during the end-of-year holiday shopping season. Note: With this card, you can only earn $300 in bonus rewards each year, but that turns into 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you pair this card with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve or Ink Business Preferred. At which point, you can then redeem those points at a higher rate through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal, or you can transfer them to travel partners for additional value.

A few more things to note

When taking a closer look at these (or any other cash-back cards), here are some of the things you should keep in mind: Factors to consider include whether the card offers an annual fee. We’ve listed the annual fees or lack thereof above. It’s important to note this, in case the cash back you earn is offset by what you’d end up paying for the annual fee. Also, check for additional perks. Some cards don’t incur foreign transaction fees, while others include added protection for your purchases and/or trips, which can add lots of value to a card. The earnings rate -- again, as we noted above -- is another significant factor to look at. Not every card offers a return that’s consistent across all purchases. Finally, we’d also suggest familiarizing yourself with terms of your card’s redemption. Some cards post rewards automatically to your statement, while others earn you points and/or miles that can be redeemed for cash back.

The final word

Cash-back credit cards like the trio we highlighted above (the Citi Double Cash Card, Wells Fargo Propel American Express, and Chase Freedom) are great for travelers of all kinds, from beginners to travelers who don’t have a lot of time or patience to sort through all the different rewards and redemption options out there. And unlike perks, cash doesn’t have a specific use attached to it -- when you’re given cash, you can do whatever you want with it! Even though many travelers ignore the world of cash back credit cards in favor of cards that earn points and miles, earning cash back is generally a much simpler and straightforward proposition, and we hope this guide gives you plenty of food for thought in deciding on the next credit card to make room in your wallet for.
December 7, 2019

Google is ending support for the Explorer Edition of Glass

Google is rolling out one more update for the Explorer Edition of Glass before cutting off support for its old wearable. The tech giant introduced Project Glass back in 2012, opening it up for preorders for $1,500 each. Despite people raising ...