Apple can patch bugs, but its largest Apple Watch problem can not be fastened

Apple Watch Series 3The structure of the Apple Watch is unchanged since 2014.Reuters

Apple’s new Watch made plenty of headlines on Wednesday — but for all the improper causes.

The hottest version of the company’s wrist-worn gadget — the Apple Watch Collection 3 with LTE — was found to have an uncomfortable glitch.

It turns out that the watch’s LTE cellular connectivity, which is supposed to allow buyers make phone phone calls specifically from their wrists and has been touted by Apple as a key offering place, would not always work quite well. 

Actually, it truly is a bug with the watch’s Wi-Fi, but the conclude-consequence is the very same: LTE would not get the job done the way it truly is supposed to. Critiques of the unit, which hits merchants shelves on Friday, ended up cruel. Apple’s inventory fell as significantly as 3% at just one place on Wednesday. 

Apple is doing work on a fix, which will be delivered in a future software release, an Apple spokesperson told Business Insider. 

But the problems with Apple’s new look at don’t stop at terrible critiques, inconsistent wireless, or even a shorter battery lifestyle. (It can only take care of an hour of discuss time when applying LTE.)

The problem with the Apple Watch Collection 3 with LTE is that it truly is a indication that Apple has shed sight of the principle that led to its meteoric increase: Apple would not provide engineering for technology’s sake. It figures out what individuals want to do (even when individuals really don’t know it them selves) and delivers engineering to make it possible. 

“Section of the most difficult thing about coming up with new products and solutions is to figure out a seriously amazing set of systems that you can employ it with and make it effortless, but also figuring out a thing that individuals want to do,” late Apple CEO Steve Positions once explained.  “We’ve all observed products and solutions that have come out that have been interesting but just fall on their face since not sufficient individuals want to do them.” 


Apple WatchAppleHarvard Business College professor Clayton Christensen places this very same idea in a related way he phone calls the “employment to be accomplished” principle. In an more than-simplified nutshell, customers really don’t purchase systems or products and solutions, they decide on points that can entire specific employment for them. 

And lately, at minimum just one Wall Road analyst has advised that Apple has shed its capacity to find new employment to be accomplished. 

“[Apple chief design officer] Jony Ive’s Industrial Design and style Group has proven a knack for identifying employment even ahead of customers know of their require. The iPod’s ‘1,000 songs in your pocket’ was an instance. Also, Apple’s practical firm and metrics show up to align with the employment to be accomplished approach. Nevertheless, the company seems to be having difficulties to determine the employment for Apple Watch and Apple Pay,” UBS analyst Steven Milunovich wrote last 12 months. 

Past beach front bums

apple watch marketingApple/ScreenshotSo what’s the Apple Watch Collection 3 With LTE’s task? 

Here is the advertising and marketing duplicate Apple wrote on its web site:

Solution a phone from your surfboard. Request Siri to deliver a information. Stream your preferred songs on your operate. And do it all when leaving your phone at the rear of.

Are these seriously employment that customers are trying to fill? Hardcore surfers who want to answer pressing company phone calls in the ocean seems like a specialized niche.

Siri can currently deliver a information from an Apple iphone, and there isn’t really a ton of proof that which is a popular characteristic on the phone, anyway. Having the capacity to depart your phone at home is a major deal for runners but which is even now a subset of the general populace. 

Here is how Apple COO Jeff Williams introduced the new look at previously this month:

Now you have the flexibility to go any place with just your Apple Watch. This has been our eyesight from the quite commencing and we consider developed-in cellular make Collection 3 the top expression of Apple Watch. Now you can go for a operate with just your look at and even now be linked. You can depart your phone when you go to the beach front or just operate a quick errand. And it is seriously wonderful to know you can be reached if desired when keeping in the minute.

For Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, we designed a custom wireless chip, we phone W2. There is very little else like it. It delivers up to 85% more rapidly Wi-Fi when remaining 50% a lot more energy economical for both of those Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. And we have included a barometric altimeter. So now you get flights of stairs climbed and elevation gains immediately after a workout. We’re also releasing an app for builders. This can be terrific for snowboarding and snowboarding functions. 

Of system, the largest problem of all was introducing cellular. You see, our minor look at is currently packed, and you have to add antennas, radios, energy amplifiers, a SIM card. And if you really don’t do it appropriate, it gets so major it appears to be like a dwelling arrest bracelet and you’re not likely to want to put on it.

Aside from this specific use case Apple keeps repeating that consists of a beach front bum who also needs to decide on up critical phone calls from the shore, the main sales pitch is concentrated on how remarkable the unit is technologically.

Apple Watch Series 3Apple

Offering the improper thing

Sure, it’s an achievement that Apple figured out how to make LTE wireless work on a this kind of a modest unit, and managed to do it with very same sized-battery as the previous, non-LTE product. But most individuals really don’t purchase $400 devices since the cellular chip is so technically remarkable.

Just one hour of “discuss time” battery lifestyle could essentially be a substantial accomplishment provided how energy-hungry an LTE modem is. But for the ordinary customer, just one hour of discuss time appears like a weak point, not a offering place.

The potential of the Apple Watch is effortless to see. If it failed to have any battery problems, and it ended up a little bit a lot more highly effective, it truly is effortless to imagine it changing a phone for some individuals. If and when it gets packed with a lot more state-of-the-art sensors, it could become a significant resource that absolutely everyone needs to preserve an educated eye on their health. And someday, if engineering breaks the appropriate way, you could depart your keys at home and use your look at as your common ID to do every thing from commencing your automobile to unlocking the doorway at the workplace. 

But customers really don’t purchase the potential of a product or service, they purchase a device to fill a specific job in their life currently. And introducing LTE to the Apple Watch would not seriously solve any further use cases, other than perhaps for a runner. Instead, it seems like Apple unveiled this cellular look at since it was on a components roadmap from two several years ago — “this has been our eyesight from the quite commencing” — and since it could.

And which is finally a significantly even bigger problem with the Apple Watch than some pre-release glitches. 

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Feature: The PlayStation Store’s Content Problem

There are nearly 30 new games on the PlayStation Store this week. Among these titles are juggernauts like NBA 2K18, standalone expansions such as Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, and remasters like Baja: Edge of Control. Amid the madness is Time Recoil, a new top-down shooter from one of PlayStation’s most prolific indie supporters, 10tons. But as the wealth of software on Sony’s digital storefront increases, PR coordinator Jaakko Maaniemi notes that it’s getting harder and harder for titles to get noticed.

“We’re superbly aware this is the worst time of the year for indies to launch games, and we’d certainly pick another time of the year if we could,” he tells us. “Quite often it just so happens that we, like many indies, find that we don’t have the financial luxury of postponing a release three to six months to be in a less competitive time window. Competition isn’t exactly weak at any time of the year. It’s important to realise this isn’t meant as a complaint per se. I’m just depicting how it is.”

As if competing with almost 30 new releases wasn’t bad enough, Maaniemi points out that many products have multiple SKUs – all of which eat up valuable PlayStation Store real estate. It’s true, too: a quick glance at the plaza reveals that there are three versions of NBA 2K18, three versions of NHL 18, two versions of PES 2018: Pro Evolution Soccer, and even three versions of Dishonored: Death of the Outsider. “For a small indie game like Time Recoil, it means that the title is found only on the 13th row of the new releases list in North America,” Maaniemi sighs, though things are a little better in Europe.

But what can be done? There have been calls for heavier curation on the PlayStation Store from some more vocal industry pundits, with the intention being to eliminate lower quality releases – but it’s unclear how such a process would be policed properly at the platform holder’s level. Maaniemi thinks that taking steps to accommodate more titles could be the solution.

“Visibility is the first step in getting towards the chance of taking that bite out of the revenue stream,” he says. “Pretty much everyone has added storefront real estate; in other words, more categories and more feature slot types. It’s great: more slots means there’s more to share on any given week or day. But of course the returns on this start to diminish pretty fast. If there’s only ten games on display, each one of them gets a lot of attention. With 20 games, some start to get no more than a glance. With 50 games…”

Maaniemi believes that algorithms could be used on the PlayStation Store to look at players’ buying habits and promote content based on their tastes and interests. “Steam is probably the most progressive and hard working on this,” he admits, “as they clearly do make an effort to guarantee some visibility to everyone, and nowadays they even try to show games to the customers who they believe would be interested in the game.”

But for now, developers like 10tons are using different tactics to keep their titles in the PlayStation Store promo reel for longer: discounts. “It’s better than nothing for sure, but unfortunately it also pretty much educates the active games store customer to never buy anything at full price,” Maaniemi adds, “which, of course, could very well throw off a flawed recommendation algorithm about the desirability of a game.” Clearly, this is an incredibly difficult problem for all parties to solve.

It’s an interesting challenge because, as PlayStation Store consumers, we demand to see a vibrant storefront filled with a variety of different products to purchase. And it’s that kind of environment that drives virtual foot traffic to the plaza in the first place. But with such intense competition, it’s extremely difficult for any one product to stand out, and Maaniemi is clear about the consequences: “The rule of thumb a decade ago was that 90 per cent of games fail financially, and it’s the 10 per cent that fund their development. Now it seems like 99 per cent of games fail financially, so the chances of getting that 1 per cent game […] are not great.”

Do you think the abundance of content on the PlayStation Store is starting to become a problem – and what can be done to ensure every game gets the necessary attention it deserves? Try not to get lost among the cavalcade of comments below.

Problem with FB timeline

Hey Reddit I have an issue with Facebook since 2 weeks. Actually all pages I like have disappeared from my timeline. I only see posts of my friends and that’s it. Try to check my settings but I have not found anything and I did not change it. I used Facebook to check articles but now everything disappeared except my friends’ new post. Any idea?

Does Symantec Corporation’s (SYMC) Debt Level Pose A Serious Problem? – Simply Wall St News

With a market capitalization of $18.35B, Symantec Corporation (NASDAQ:SYMC) falls in the category of stocks popularly identified as large-caps. These are established companies that attract investors due to diversified revenue streams and ability to enhance total returns through dividends. However, another important aspect of investing in large caps is its financial health. Why is it important? A major downturn in the energy industry has resulted in over 150 companies going bankrupt and has put more than 100 on the verge of a collapse, primarily due to excessive debt. Here are few basic financial health checks to judge whether a company fits the bill or there is an additional risk which you should consider before taking the plunge. See our latest analysis for SYMC

Can SYMC service its debt comfortably?

Debt-to-equity ratio standards differ between industries, as some some are more capital-intensive than others, meaning they need more capital to carry out core operations. A ratio below 40% for large-cap stocks is considered as financially healthy, as a rule of thumb. SYMC’s debt-to-equity ratio stands at 183.00%, which indicates that the company is holding a high level of debt relative to its net worth. In the event of financial turmoil, the company may experience difficulty meeting interest and other debt obligations. No matter how high the company’s debt, if it can easily cover the interest payments, it’s considered to be efficient with its use of excess leverage. A company generating earnings at least three times its interest payments is considered financially sound. SYMC’s interest on debt is not strongly covered by earnings as it sits at around 0.27x. Lenders may be more reluctant to lend out more funding as SYMC’s low interest coverage already puts the company at higher risk of default.

Does SYMC generate an acceptable amount of cash through operations?

NasdaqGS:SYMC Historical Debt Sep 5th 17
NasdaqGS:SYMC Historical Debt Sep 5th 17

A basic way to evaluate SYMC’s debt management is to see whether the cash flow generated from the business is at a relatively high level compared to the debt capital invested. This is also a test for whether SYMC has the ability to repay its debt with cash from its business, which is less of a concern for large companies. In the case of SYMC, operating cash flow turned out to be 0.12x its debt level over the past twelve months. This means, over a tenth of SYMC’s near term debt can be covered by its day-to-day cash income, which somewhat reduces its riskiness to its debtholders.


With a high level of debt on its balance sheet, SYMC could still be in a financially strong position if its cash flow also stacked up. However, this isn’t the case, and there’s room for SYMC to increase its operational efficiency. Although operating cash flow may not be its strength, relative to debt levels, Symantec is a large-cap stock which may offer other attractive fundamentals. Now that you know to keep debt in mind when putting together your investment thesis, I recommend you check out our latest free analysis report on Symantec to see what other factors for SYMC you should consider.

PS. If you are not interested in Symantec anymore, you can use our free platform to see my list of over 150 other stocks with a high growth potential.

Discounted cash flow calculation for every stock

Simply Wall St does a detailed discounted cash flow calculation every 6 hours for every stock on the market, so if you want to find the intrinsic value of any company just search here. It’s FREE.

Xbox One X pre order news: Project Scorpio boost not a problem for PS4 Pro? | Gaming | Entertainment

The tech giant recently confirmed that the Xbox One X is now the fastest-selling Xbox pre order ever.

This was backed up by information from another analyst that suggested the console was off to a good start on Amazon.

US retailer Gamestop also had this to say about the new hardware, adding: “Microsoft has done it again! 

“The innovation and power behind the new Xbox One X console is driving excitement and demand among our customers worldwide.

“The speed at which we sold through our initial pre-order supply surpassed expectations, and what we experienced with pre-orders for the original Xbox One console. This new system is definitely going to change how video games are played!” 

But while this is all good news for the console, there were others that are more skeptical about its initial impact.

The Xbox One X Project Scorpio consoles have done well, selling out at many retailers.

However, it’s unclear just how much stock each retailer had, with Microsoft unlikely to confirm other important sales numbers.

And Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter has also raised a few other points that suggest we may not know the full picture until much later this year.

Speaking on his YouTube show, Pachter added: “Xbox One X is ranked on Amazon in the pre-orders a year to date, last I looked number 66. 

“I believe the NES Classic was at number 23. It sold 2.3 million units lifetime, and you know that the bulk of those units were sold last year, so this year maybe a million, so if Xbox One X is ranked 48th bellow that, it’s not even close to a million, and of course the Amazon allocation is probably five or ten thousand units.

“The original Xbox didn’t have big pre-orders. The Xbox 360, maybe, but honestly, who was pre-ordering consoles back then, so of course this is the most pre-ordered.”

Whatever happens, fans can expect both the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro to duke it out over 2018.

Both consoles will lack exclusives and will mostly rely on the existing content from the baseline Xbox One and PS4 consoles.

Sony have already confirmed that the PS4 Pro has made a good impact for them in sales but it will be interesting to see how the Xbox One X affects this.

Sony Agrees to Problem Refunds Above Phony Xperia Watertight Statements | News & Opinion

Happen to very own a Sony Xperia smartphone or pill? You may possibly be entitled to some money.

Sony has agreed to settle a course action lawsuit, which claimed the business deceptively marketed its Xperia products as “water resistant,” when they, in point, are not – a violation of various point out laws. As aspect of the preliminary settlement, Sony will present a 50 p.c refund of the device’s retail cost to Xperia owners who have filed a drinking water-relevant guarantee declare.

The suit arrived right after Sony in 2015 revised its Xperia help site on drinking water and dust defense to warn folks towards using a swim with their gadgets. Prior to that, the business experienced talked up the water resistant capabilities of its Xperia products for several years — even operating marketing and advertising strategies showing folks fortunately utilizing its products underwater.

“Next some stories of screens dying, telephones continuously locking, ruined audio capabilities, and telephones failing completely, Sony modified its messaging,” the suit noted.

The preliminary settlement will involve 24 Xperia products marketed in the US and Puerto Rico, such as: the Xperia M2 Aqua, Xperia M4 Aqua, Xperia ZR, Xperia Z Ultra, Xperia ZI, Xperia ZI Compact, Xperia ZIs (T-Cellular), Xperia Z2, Xperia Z3, XperiaZ3 Compact, Xperia Z3 (T-Cellular), Xperia Z3v (Verizon), Xperia Z3 Twin, Xperia Z3+ Twin, Xperia Z3+, Xperia Z5, Xperia Z5 Compact, Xperia Z2 Pill (WiFi), Xperia Z2 Pill (LTE), Xperia Z2 Pill (Verizon LTE), Xperia Z3 Pill Compact (WiFi), Xperia Z3 Pill Compact (LTE), Xperia Z4 Pill (WiFi), and Xperia Z4 Pill (LTE).

If you very own or owned one of people versions be guaranteed to file a declare to seek out your reimbursement. The deadline to submit statements is Jan. 30, 2018. If you are uncertain no matter whether you are entitled to a reinbursement, phone 1-844-367-8807 to talk with a course action settlement administrator.

In the meantime, if you are not delighted with the settlement, you can voice your feeling due to the fact this is nevertheless just a preliminary settlement that needs last approval. Just be guaranteed to compose to the court about why you will not like the settlement by Nov. 1, 2017. Simply click listed here and scroll down to problem 14 for much more information and facts on how to item to the settlement.

PlayStation Network and Xbox Live have a porn bot spam problem

It’s midnight and I’m watching Ozark on Netflix — as one does in the middle of the night when sleep is evasive — when I see three messages pop up on my TV, all from accounts that I don’t recognize. Normally, I’d ignore them (as they were on my partner’s Xbox Live profile), but we’d encountered a similar set of messages on PlayStation Network earlier the same evening.

These accounts weren’t just spamming him, they were sending somewhat explicit messages in an attempt to entice him to join a private webcam chat with a 22- or 23-year-old woman, depending on which of the six porn bots he engaged with. (You know, for research.)

The porn bot problem isn’t new. It’s a lucrative endeavor, especially when you can hit critical mass on a place like Twitter. But it’s a fairly new issue for platforms like PlayStation Network and Xbox Live. If you’re unfamiliar, PlayStation Network (PSN) and Xbox Live (XBL) both have messaging platforms that allow users to interact with one another. It’s a bit ungainly to type on a controller, but they have mobile apps and Xbox Live is also connected to Windows 10 systems by default.

There’s a greater issue at work here, though: While Twitter, Skype, Facebook and even Snapchat enforce age restrictions, as per the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule, parents are able to create sub-accounts for their little gamers (under the age of 13) on XBL and PSN.

If those sub-accounts are set up improperly (or if chat is enabled), children could be susceptible to receiving these messages and risking exposure to pornographic content before they’re old enough to understand what they’re looking at.

Porn bots on PlayStation Network and Xbox Live: How it starts

The messages started fairly benign, and we immediately knew what we were dealing with based on language alone. It was stilted and misspelled, and while that’s a common issue when typing with a controller, this didn’t feel like your average PSN user.

Something’s not quite right here.

Source: Amanda Farough/Mic

So, in the name of research, we continued our engagement, genuinely curious about where the porn bot would send us. This one didn’t end up sending us anywhere, as we inadvertently shut down the conversation with a flippant remark about “not playing competitive” in response to a “do you want to have good time” comment.

Mistakes were made.

On to the next one.

Yes, we used voice lines from ‘Overwatch’ to further the conversation.

Source: Amanda Farough/Mic

Now we’re starting to get an idea of where we’re going with this particular bot. The real question that we had was — is this is a real “cam girl” or what?

The same conversation, continued.

Source: Amanda Farough/Mic

If you follow the link to, you’ll find it’s a domain mask for I was curious if there was an age gate, like any website that had adult content, so I went ahead and signed up (under a fake name).

Turns out that you need a credit card, which is a fairly effective age gate (unless it’s a teen who has access to Mom or Dad’s card).

Source: Amanda Farough/Mic

So, with the age gate in place, that should be the end of it… right?

Digging into the FlingSociety porn-bot scam is a scam. It’s not a small scam, either. It’s a scam large enough to have built a myriad of bots to hawk its sexy-time wares. For the unlucky ones who have bought into the scam — which, for research purposes, I almost did — they forked over their credit card information and received no digital booty in return.

“They will ask for your credit card information and say they will send you a sexy video of them. It’s a scam, they won’t send the video,” said Reddit user BackdoorAlex2.

There’s no way to get in touch with FlingSociety, either through the website or through the Whois lookup information, which has masked most of the owner’s contact info save for an address and phone number. Masking Whois information is pretty common, especially to protect someone’s name or to keep a domain owner’s email address from being spammed.

But in the case of a website that doesn’t have any visible contact information, Whois is the next best thing. And if the masking (both in terms of its domain name and its Whois) is the only noticeable thing about a site, the internet is bound to give it some red flags.

Multiple anonymous people on the Scamner page dedicated to have indicated that this is, in fact, a scam. So if you have unwittingly given your credit card information to this porn-bot scam ring already, you may want to cancel that card preemptively.

Can kids can be targeted by porn-bot spam on PlayStation Network and Xbox Live?

Keeping kids safe online is a parental (and sometimes societal) imperative. If our young ones are going to be playing games on the same consoles as grownups, there are a number of tools we can use, including the ones baked into the consoles. But if parents aren’t making use of sub-accounts on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, children could be at risk of receiving these kinds of messages.

We tested out one of the porn bots on Xbox Live to see if age was an actual gate, if the question was asked. Note that age was only asked for twice out of the six bots that we responded to.

If we responded that we were underage, the exchange ended.

Source: Amanda Farough/Mic

Over the course of 24 hours, my partner received a number of messages from these XBL and PSN porn bots; I, however, did not. But it didn’t have anything to do with my gender — I have rigid privacy settings on both my Xbox and PlayStation profile that prevents people I don’t know from messaging me.

One of my sons has his account set up to be private. You can search his profile if you know his username, but you can’t see anything about him. My older son has a more visible account, but it doesn’t accept messages. But recently, it was set up differently, allowing him to talk to people he knew about Overwatch. The privileges were revoked, but prior to that, was there anything stopping a porn bot from messaging a 9-year-old child and engaging in a conversation?

So, what are Microsoft and Sony doing to combat these issues? According to a Microsoft spokesperson, whom I spoke with over email:

“Our code of conduct helps ensure everyone has a safe, secure, and enjoyable experience, and any activity that violates these terms may result in enforcement action. We encourage anyone who receives an unsolicited or spam message to report it to the Xbox Live Policy and Enforcement Team, which will investigate and take the appropriate action.”

Without the age issue, which is something that means a great deal to me as a parent, it’s creepy. Once you throw in underage kids and teens potentially being targeted for this kind of messaging, it veers off into dangerous terrain.

Mic has also reached out to Sony for comment and will update with any response.

More gaming news and updates

Check out the latest from Mic, like this deep dive into the cultural origins of Gamergate. Also, be sure to read this essay about what it’s like to cosplay while black, a roundup of family-friendly games to play with your kids and our interview with Adi Shankar, producer of the animated Castlevania Netflix series.

Campaigners plan ‘Pokémon Go for litter’ to tackle plastic pollution problem

Campaigners want to tap the huge popularity of the mobile phone game Pokémon Go by producing a ‘Pokémon Go for litter’ style app.

This would give users points for photographing, tagging and binning litter in the same way that Pokémon Go players are rewarded with candies and stardust when they capture wild Pokémon superimposed onto a virtual representation on their mobile screen of the street they’re on on.

Peter Kohler, co-director of The Plastic Tide campaign to tackle litter, had the idea recently when he was looking for ways to develop a project to identify, map and calculate the volume and mass of plastic and other litter on Britain’s beaches.

“Picture Pokemon Go but with litter – that’s essentially what we’re aiming for. So you go out with your camera and you spot a bit of litter,”

Peter Kohler

“Picture Pokemon Go but with litter – that’s essentially what we’re aiming for. So you go out with your camera and you spot a bit of litter,” he told i.

“So you click ‘tag’ and it’ll ask what type of litter. You say, for example, bottle, and you get ten points for putting it in the bin,” said Mr Kohler.

The Plastic Tide

The Plastic Tide project is developing an algorithm that can be used to identify and map rubbish from drone photographs. Initially it is focussing on beaches but in the longer term the algorithm could be used to build up a picture of litter in canals and rivers, parks and streets, Mr Kohler said.

But producing an accurate algorithm is a lengthy task requiring millions of images and descriptions of litter to train it up.

So far a team of Plastic Team volunteers have picked up a tonne of rubbish from 4,200 miles of coastline on 30 beaches around the UK. This has been captured in 12,000 drone images which have been uploaded to Zooniverse, a citizen science website.

Thousands of volunteers

Around 4,500 volunteers have logged into the website and classified a million pieces of litter. This has trained the the point where it can identify litter with 25 per cent accuracy. This is a very good start and proves the concept can work – but there is still much work to do, said Mr Kohler.

He wants to get the algorithm to 80 per cent accuracy – a process that will probably involve millions more litter classifications.

This is where ‘Pokémon Go for litter’ comes in. It is just an idea at the moment but Mr Kohler hopes to quickly turn it into reality and has meetings lined up with potential partners.

However, the Plastic Tide campaign is running low on funds and looking to raise up to £150,000 to take the project to the next stage.

Disney Emoji Blitz perfectly captures Android’s emoji problem

Emoji are really, really complicated, and they don’t need to be.

Emoji are supposed to be easy, cute, and even fun. They’re whimsical ways to communicate with your friends, allowing you to create and converse in sometimes-cryptic pictographic codes. Emoji can say a million things, and while they should translate across platforms and people easily, the truth is, they don’t, especially on Android. This is doubly true for custom emoji keyboards on Android, which are all either massive disappointments or straight-up lies.

No keyboard is this more true for than Disney Emoji Blitz, but it doesn’t have to be like this.

Tweet your magic

Disney Emoji Blitz is two apps in one: it’s a mildly-addictive Disney character-themed match-three game, and it’s a custom emoji keyboard where you can use all the emoji you unlock in the game to communicate with your friends. It’s a great way to incentivize players to level up and complete missions, and the emoji are adorable to see and share, if you can stand the lengthy process of sharing an emoji through it:

  1. You enable Disney Emoji Blitz as a keyboard in your Language and Input settings. This means that Disney can collect and track what you type, just like any other keyboard. It should also be mentioned there is no way to type words of any kind while in the Disney emoji keyboard, the only characters on its keyboard are the emoji you’ve unlocked.
  2. You switch to the Disney Emoji Blitz keyboard while typing in an app and the emoji keyboard appears.
  3. You tap the (up to 3) emoji you want to send.

    Activate the keyboardSwitch keyboardsTap emoji

  4. You tap the share button and select the tiny icon of the app you want to share it to. Yes, even if you’re already typing in the app you want to send it in.
  5. You switch to another keyboard to finish typing the post or message you want accompanying your emoji.
  6. Your emoji are shared to your chosen app as a small, low-res bitmap image.

    Share from these tiny appsSwitch keyboards to type your tweetTweet sent

If you’re on a fewlucky phones, when sending a single emoji through Disney Emoji Blitz the image is automatically sent to the app you’re typing in, but this experience is the exception rather than the norm, and it only occurs when sending a single emoji. If you want to send two or three, you have to tap the first emoji twice — once for the automatic sending to the app, and once to compose the three-emoji image.

This? This nonsense needs to stop.

While Disney Emoji Blitz’s implementation is downright terrible, it’s pretty much par for the course for custom emoji packs. Most emoji “keyboards” on Android are just sticker packs, and are lambasted as such in their reviews. Honestly, a sticker pack might be better than Disney Emoji Blitz’s current implementation because at least you’d have a full-screen interface to draft with instead of the thinnest keyboard I’ve ever seen outside Minuum.

Gifs are awesome

Last fall, I got my hopes up that this situation could be fixed with Android N, which brought with it Image Keyboard Support. This allowed keyboards like GBoard to begin including GIFs and custom emoji in their keyboards that could be sent as images directly from the keyboard, and it is awesome when it works.

Image Keyboard Support is required both at the keyboard level, to send the image, and at the app level, to receive the image data from the keyboard. Most messaging and social media apps have added Image Keyboard Support so that they can offer their users a richer experience. The problem is a lot of emoji apps haven’t. Maybe they thought it was limited to Android 7.1 or higher, even though Image Keyboard support was added to Android’s v13 Support Library, allowing it to be used on devices all the way back to Android 3.2 Honeycomb. Maybe they just wanted to keep things consistent. But in doing so, they’re keeping their emoji app consistently bad.

I want to send her to everyone!

Most emoji “keyboards” on Android are just bad sticker packs.

I’ve played Disney Emoji Blitz for over a year now, having jumped onto the app about a week or two after it first came out. I’ve completed every single challenge event since the game’s inception; I’ve unlocked every Silver Box emoji, Villain emoji, and Rainbow emoji to date (including Yen Sid at Level 100), and over 90% of the Gold Box emoji. I’ve unlocked over a thousand emoji for the keyboard… and it’s almost impossible to use them.

The character emoji are relatively easy to navigate, if a little simplistic, but the item emoji — which vastly outnumber the character emoji and can give immeasurable nostalgia and pleasure — are all lumped into one big, endlessly scrolling, horribly sorted page. There’s no way to search for specific emoji and once you find the emoji you want to use, you’re stuck with a clunky, low-resolution sharing method that takes far more effort than simply using the system emoji or searching for a Disney Gif. The GIF will be higher resolution and animated, anyway.

I want to use this. I just can't.

Disney Emoji Blitz could be an amazing emoji keyboard, but that has to start with it being a legitimate keyboard. It needs the ability to type normal text along with all the emoji it’s packing, and the ability to type letters would also give rise to an important emoji feature most popular keyboards have: emoji predictions/search. If I want Disney’s trident emoji, I should be able to type Trident, select the emoji, and send it to the world.

Using an emoji keyboard should be magical, not monstrous, and Disney, like most custom emoji keyboard on Android, needs to do better.

GTA5 and the problem of privilege

Royal St. George’s College in Toronto is an elite private school, an all boys school with an Anglican-liberal tradition (and a very good choir). With annual fees of around $30,000, it’s a bastion of wealth and influence.

The school recently undertook an experimental educational exercise that sought to address its students’ privilege. It tasked senior students to play Grand Theft Auto 5, to come together in group sessions to discuss how the game frames and expresses their own lives in comparison to the lives of people less wealthy, less white, less male.

Grand Theft Auto 5 is set in a fictional U.S. city of Los Santos in which crime and violence are central. Many of the characters in the game are self-mocking stereotypes of the urban American fictional landscape. GTA5 is a celebration of a glamorized criminal class living in a moral vacuum.

The game’s development was overseen by the Houser brothers, who come from an upper middle class white background and who attended a highly rated private school in London.

Los Santos is a long way from Royal St. George’s College. A well-regarded 2009 documentary chronicled the lives of some of RCSG’s students. As one reviewer put it, the film “reveals the pangs of adolescence in the context of social privilege.”

RSGC students are not unaware of their own advantages. In the documentary, a local politician addresses the student body. “You’re among the most privileged people in the world … What you do with that privilege will define you as a person.”

A promotional shot from Royal St. George’s College
Royal St. George’s College

Paul Darvasi is an educator with a keen interest in how games can be used as teaching tools. He runs a website called Ludic Learning. He penned a report for the United Nations cultural arm UNESCO on the usefulness of games.

He’s also a teacher at RSGC, where he specializes in media literacy. He pitched the idea of a course based on GTA5 to the school’s administration, and to the boys’ parents.

“These students are upper middle class white males, a very dominant social group in Northern American society,” he says. “These are the individuals who go on and obtain high powered positions in society, in governments, in politics and industry.”

Wikipedia lists more than 50 “Old Georgian” alumni who have achieved notable careers in politics, the arts, media, medicine, industry and professional sports.

“It’s a group I think that has to be sensitized to other realities,” says Darvasi. “The way they typically encounter these other realities are through mitigated experiences like video games.

“Playing this game under normal conditions can be compared to a colonial experience. They are exercising their privilege playing around with race, playing around with gender.”

Darvasi made his pitch to parents and faculty. Somewhat to his surprise, they all agreed it would be a worthwhile endeavor. Most of the boys already owned a console and a copy of GTA5. Those who did not, including a boy who had never previously been allowed a console at home, managed to borrow what they needed.

Darvasi’s preferred format was open collaboration. The students played the game at home and then wrote about their experiences, or created videos, photo essays and comics. In class, they sat together, shared their work and spoke about how they played and how they interacted with other characters.

He is keen to stress that this lesson was particular to its own time and place, to the outlook of these students. He says his group is “down to earth, pleasant and communicative, and they each battle with their own struggles and demons.”

He adds that the students are smart, liberal, idealistic. They understand that art and culture — including video games — carry significant biases that ought to be understood.

“Problematic games can provide valid and relevant fields from which to have constructive discussions,” says Darvasi. “They open up conversations on violence, misogyny, body image and racism. It’s very important to think critically about our relationship to all these issues.”

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Grand Theft Auto 5
Rockstar Games

One of GTA5‘s main characters is a likable young African American man called Franklin. Raised in poverty, he spends his time in the game as a violent criminal and murderer.

Darvasi says one of his students’ projects sought to change Franklin’s arc. “In the game Franklin tries to leave the gang life, immediately fails and is forced to return to a life of crime. The message is that the gravitational pull of the criminal lifestyle is so strong that you’re never going to escape it.

“So the student used the in-game filming software to tell a story about how Franklin totally leaves crime behind and becomes a successful developer. By retelling that story, he was thinking about the material in different ways.

“The students were creating counter-hegemonic media, which challenged some of the power structures in the game. It’s a methodology of how to have students think about media that could be potentially damaging to certain groups and to re-mediate that representation.”

Darvasi adds that he saw his own role as guiding the students through the issues they were confronting. His job was to show how games are political, not in a sense of partisan dogma, but in how they depict and exploit societal divisions and economic disparities.

“There’s a whole web of social issues and nuances about being a black person that [the students] really hadn’t realized are not present in the game, and it perpetuates a certain stereotype.

“They explored the idea of identity tourism and how they enter these spaces, and how they enter black bodies. It becomes a commodity. They’re adopting blackness as a temporary style.”

A pair of students created a video in which a white man tours Franklin’s neighborhood in a pickup truck. They pitched it as a critique of middle-class players entering the game’s stereotypical representations of economically challenged areas as theme park tourists, ignorant of the real lives they were witnessing.

Darvasi notes that GTA5 uses heavy irony to critique American culture, but that this irony is often missed by younger players who assume that they are playing something that documents class divisions, rather than skewers them.

“Some of the students opened their eyes to this not being a face value game where violence is just violence and stereotypes are just stereotypes. For the first time, they began to access the irony of the text.”

For Darvasi and for his students, GTA5‘s ironic veneer was something to be recognized and more thoroughly explored.

“Even while the game is a satire on gangster movies and hip-hop videos, it’s also a very deliberate assembly of stereotypes,” he says. “[The developers are] covering themselves by saying ‘we’re making fun of these stereotypes’. But for a lot of people, including some of these students, video games and entertainment media are the only way they access these neighborhoods, and so they think it’s realistic.

“GTA is a point of concentration for many ills in our midst. You can’t pick up a paper today without reading about the collision between police and minorities, and that’s one of the core mechanics in GTA: having confrontations with the police. So they are playing a black character and they’re entering his body and performing this ritual collision between authority and race.”

GTA V starletGTA V starlet

GTA5’s use of sexually suggestive imagery
Rockstar Games

For many, Grand Theft Auto 5‘s portrayal of women is problematic, with a number of the game’s reviewers pointing out its misogynist tendencies. The game allows players to engage and then murder sex workers. Its main female characters are shrews or sex objects.

“Media literacy classes and digital literacy classes are not rare,” says Darvasi. “Every school has an opportunity to do that, and many are rightly addressing the representation of women in media through film, television, comic books and other platforms.

“But instead of the teacher saying ‘here’s how women are represented in this film’, I’m asking the students to play this game, to think about how women are objectified and come present it to the class.”

In class discussions, students talked about the absence of positive female role models in the game. A few suggested that the single-player portion of the game should offer an option to play a female character, as the online portion does.

One noted that the sex workers were bruised and cut, marking their bodies as sites of violence, and perhaps inviting more damage. The students also identified and discussed the damsel in distress trope in a mission where crime boss Michael saves his daughter from a yacht where she parties with alleged porn producers.

“The representation of women and of men is really important because of their conceptions of themselves as males and of masculinity. This can often be presented in a very narrow way which informs their own sense of self identity which can be harmful not just to themselves but to society at large.”

The students focused on how men and women are depicted in the game, and at how masculinity is defined on the streets of Los Santos, and in its private spaces.

GTA5 has sold more than 100 million copies. Most boys in Western countries have either played it, or are aware of its general shape.

“There is certainly 100 percent awareness among the students that the depictions are negative. They are completely aware of that, but that doesn’t stop them from participating in activities within the game, like the killing of prostitutes and touching strippers for prizes.

“During the formative years of their sexuality, they’re developing ideas about women and they are being influenced by GTA5. Meanwhile, schools are outright ignoring these games. We’re setting these kids adrift and not really giving them the support that they need in order to process these problematic representations in a healthy way.”

Darvasi did not choose Grand Theft Auto because he’s a huge fan of the game, nor because he particularly despises it. It just happens to work well as a cultural learning tool.

“I played GTA5 for the study, and it often felt laborious. I admire it as a technical accomplishment, but riding around in cars and shooting people is simply not my bag.

“As a cultural force, I believe it can be damaging, but that is based on instinct, not evidence. I felt it was a means to dialogue with the students about the most pressing social issues of our time.”

Many games played by boys and young men involve some form of violence, and GTA5 is no exception.

Darvasi found that some of the boys used the game to relieve some of the aggression and stress in their lives. Others prefered to explore or to play with vehicles in a non-violent way.

One student built a pink smart-car to ride around in, because he wanted to challenge masculine stereotypes.

Another student created a comic in which he wrote two parallel stories, one where the main character adheres to hyper-masculine stereotypes while a second mirror image character takes a more reflective and communicative approach. The two characters were confronted by the same situations, but each dealt with them in different ways.

Many GTA5 players talk about the game being an open world where they can ‘do anything,’ and Darvasi’s students were no exception. He decided to address the issue.

“The game really doesn’t allow for a great range of communication. When you hit a pedestrian on the street the pedestrian usually says something negative and you have the option to either run, punch them, shoot them, stab them, or use a flamethrower or something.

“What it doesn’t allow you to do is open up a dialogue tree where you can say, ‘hey I apologize for having bumped into you,’ or ‘why are you being so mean to me’.

“That lack of communication is a huge problem with men who are often unable to articulate and resolve problems in an unaggressive way. It’s a prevalent issue.

“By the end of the course, the students started using words like ‘hegemonic masculinity’ in our daily conversations and they started understanding how these representations of men might be problematic.”

Royal St. George’s College in Toronto

For Darvasi and other progressive educators, the use of video games in classrooms is the future. Games are at the center of our culture. Students understand games. They enjoy interacting with them and talking about them.

“Schools cannot ignore these games,” he says. “You can’t just access the ludic systems of a game without thinking about the content beyond its surface value, which is what many players do, especially the millions of children who play these games when they are under the recommended age limit.

“Obviously, we can’t ask schools to bring GTA in. It’s not realistic. It’s not going to happen. This experiment was more a probe than model. I don’t expect other schools to do it in this way, or to actively incentivise their students to play violent or sexist games.

“But there are ways of addressing existing gameplay in healthy and positive ways. This experience provided a rich outlet for meaningful dialogue, which I hope to see in other schools and classes according to what suits their unique cultures.”

He says that this course of lessons was completely particular to the group of students he is working with, and should not be seen as demonstrative of anything at a wider level. He’d also love to see similar experiments with students who come from different backgrounds.

For these boys, he believes they learned something valuable.

“I’m teaching them how to become media literate and to become better citizens, to become better people. This isn’t the end of the journey for many of them. This is the start of the journey. What I’m hoping is to plant seeds about race, about gender and about political ideology and to think about the operations of power, and about interrogating these things. When they go off to their next level of their lives, this will perhaps help them better contextualize their place in the world.”