posted 15 days ago on ars technica
The FAA had barred search-and-rescue volunteer Gene Robinson from flying this five-pound Spectra styrofoam drone to find the missing. mahapix studio New documents released by the Federal Aviation Administration show that there are now more entities than ever that have been granted permission to fly drones—from military grade models all the way down to an inexpensive hobbyist drones. According to the June 2014 list that was released this month to MuckRock and published this week by Motherboard under a Freedom of Information Act request, there are now over 700 military units, universities, government agencies and local law enforcement that have applied for a Certificates of Authorization (COA). Over 500 of those applications are currently active, with the remainder pending. Previously, such a list had not been publicly updated since January 2013. “Anyone who wants to fly an aircraft—manned or unmanned—in US airspace needs some level of authorization from the FAA to ensure the safety of our skies,” Ian Gregor, a FAA spokesman for the Pacific Division, previously told Ars in a statement. “The FAA authorizes UAS [unmanned aircraft system] operations that are not for hobby or recreation on a case-by-case basis. Public entities (federal, state, and local governments and public universities) may apply for a COA, which, when approved, provides authorization for UAS operations in the [national airspace system]." Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 15 days ago on ars technica
EIA The net energy consumption of the US has held fairly steady for nearly 20 years. Over the past decade, however, there's been a large increase in production of energy within the US. As a result, the US government's energy figures for the first half of this year show that the differences between production and consumption have dropped to the lowest level in 29 years. This represents a net drop in energy imports by 17 percent compared to the same period a year earlier. According to the Energy Information Agency, the boost in energy production came from a variety of sources. Natural gas was the largest, accounting for just over half of the annual increase. Coal accounted for another quarter, renewable energy for 12 percent, and petroleum for eight. The EIA also notes that energy use this year was unusually high due to the intense cold that hit most of the nation in the first few months of 2014. The vast majority of the country's imports come in the form of petroleum products and crude oil. These imports have been decreasing as new sources of oil are tapped and automotive efficiency standards are tightening. Refined petroleum products remain the largest US energy export; smaller quantities of coal and natural gas are also shipped overseas. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 16 days ago on ars technica
We've been expecting the next version of Windows to work differently when it comes to updates and upgrades, and with the release of the Windows 10 Technical Preview, Microsoft's intentions are a little clearer. The current Windows update model is superficially simple, but it has a few complexities. Every so often, the company releases a major update to Windows. In theory, that version of the operating system remains essentially unaltered for its lifetime. It receives critical (security) updates on a monthly basis (Patch Tuesday), and periodic non-security bug fixes (both monthly and as larger Service Packs), but significant functional changes are reserved for the next operating system version. This policy, with rules such as "Service Packs don't add features," was publicly propagated. But it was never really true. Service Packs didn't add new features, except when they did. Windows XP Service Pack 2 was, in modern parlance, "Windows XP R2," or perhaps "Windows XP point 1." It was recognizable as Windows XP, but it included a bunch of new, security-oriented features in the core operating system and Internet Explorer 6. It also made some breaking changes to enhance security at the possible expense of application compatibility. Read 20 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 16 days ago on ars technica
Google Google says it has removed 170,706 URLs in the wake of a European high court ruling in May requiring search engines to take down “inadequate, irrelevant, or no longer relevant” materials from search results upon request by EU citizens. In all, the search giant said it has already been asked to remove about half a million URLs from its search results, and it has removed about 42 percent of them, according to its latest Transparency Report published Thursday. "In evaluating a request, we will look at whether the results include outdated or inaccurate information about the person," the report said. "We’ll also weigh whether or not there’s a public interest in the information remaining in our search results—for example, if it relates to financial scams, professional malpractice, criminal convictions or your public conduct as a government official (elected or unelected). Our removals team has to look at each page individually and base decisions on the limited context provided by the requestor and the information on the webpage. Is it a news story? Does it relate to a criminal charge that resulted in a later conviction or was dismissed?" Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 16 days ago on ars technica
This is a 2014 Moto X, but use your imagination. Andrew Cunningham There are tons of rumors swirling around about the release date of the next Nexus phone, but one of the few reliable sources out there, The Wall Street Journal, says that the device is due out "this month." The Journal doesn't seem to take much stock in the name "Nexus 6," as it only refers to the device by its codename, "Shamu." The device is expected to be a Motorola-built 5.9-inch phablet that shares a lot with the 2014 Moto X. We've even seen pictures of something matching that description and running a never-before-seen build of Android L. In the less-reliable category: there have been a few murmurs that say October 15 is the magical day—one day before Apple's iPad/Yosemite launch. Of course, this time last year, various rumors pegged the Nexus 5 launch for nearly every day on the calendar. Last year, we saw articles claiming Nexus day was October 14, October 15, October 18, October 21, October 24, October 28, October 30, October 31, November 1, and November 14. Eventually it ended up being October 31—Halloween. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 16 days ago on ars technica
It's been an interesting week for people who like to quantify the technical and graphical performance of games. It's also been interesting for Ubisoft, which has been busy walking back statements after inadvertently setting off a debate regarding how hardware power, frame rates, and artistry all factor in to modern game design. The issue began on Monday, when Assassin's Creed Unity Senior Producer Vincent Pontbriand told Videogamer.com that Assassin's Creed Unity was being locked at a 900p resolution and 30 frames per second on both the PS4 and Xbox One. That's somewhat noteworthy in itself, given the interest in counting pixels and frames as a way of comparing the two systems' power, but it was Pontbriand's stated reasoning that really gave the story legs. "We decided to lock them at the same specs to avoid all the debates and stuff," Pontbriand told VideoGamer.com. Read 20 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 16 days ago on ars technica
A species of damselfish. Klaus Stiefel Apart from strengthening the greenhouse effect, our emissions of carbon dioxide also affect the chemistry of the oceans. When CO2 dissolves in water, it lowers the pH, which makes it more difficult for organisms to make calcium carbonate shells. The low pH also has some direct physiological effects on other marine organisms like fish. The big question mark for the future is whether these organisms can adapt or evolve to better deal with a higher-CO2 world. A new study in Nature Climate Change digs into the adaptation part of that question. The study, led by Megan Welch at James Cook University, follows up on a previous experiment we covered in 2012. In that work, researchers put spiny damselfish hatchlings in tanks with varying levels of CO2 and tested several behaviors. First, researchers put the fish in a split tank with one side containing the odor of a predator, and then they measured how much time the fish spent in each side. High CO2 made the animals much less likely to avoid the predator cue. Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 16 days ago on ars technica
A class of coding vulnerabilities could allow attackers to fool Windows system administrators into running malicious code because of a simple omission: quotation marks. The attack relies on scripts or batch files that use the command-line interface, or "shell," on a Windows system but contain a simple coding error—allowing untrusted input to be run as a command. In the current incarnation of the exploit, an attacker appends a valid command onto the end of the name of a directory using the ampersand character. A script with the coding error then reads the input and executes the command with administrator rights. "The scenario... requires a ‘standard’ user with access rights to create a directory to a fileserver and an administrator executing a vulnerable script," Frank Lycops and Raf Cox, security researchers with The Security Factory, said in an e-mail interview. "This allows the attacker to gain the privileges of the user running the script, thus becoming an administrator." Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 16 days ago on ars technica
Hewlett-Packard has alerted some customers that it will be revoking a digital certificate used to sign a huge swath of software—including hardware drivers and other software essential to running on older HP computers. The certificate is being revoked because the company learned it had been used to digitally sign malware that had infected a developer’s PC. An HP executive told security reporter Brian Krebs that that the certificate itself wasn’t compromised. HP Global Chief Information Security Officer Brett Wahlin said that HP had recently been alerted to the signed malware—a four-year old Windows Trojan—by Symantec. Wahlin said that it appears the malware, which had infected an HP employee's computer, accidentally got digitally signed as part of a separate software package—and then sent a signed copy of itself back to its point of origin. Though the malware has since been distributed over the Internet while bearing HP's certificate, Wahlin noted that the Trojan was never shipped to HP customers as part of the software package. “When people hear this, many will automatically assume we had some sort of compromise within our code signing infrastructure, and that is not the case,” Wahlin told Krebs. “We can show that we’ve never had a breach on our [certificate authority] and that our code-signing infrastructure is 100 percent intact.” Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 16 days ago on ars technica
It's final: the Rockstar patent case will be heard in a court near Google's headquarters in Northern California. bubbletea1 It's been nearly one year since Rockstar Consortium, a patent holding company owned in part by Microsoft and Apple, launched a major patent assault against Google. Now, the issue of where the case will be heard has finally been resolved—in Google's favor. Google took the case to the nation's top patent court to get it out of East Texas and back to its home state, California. The matter of venue isn't a mere sideline skirmish. East Texas courts are generally considered tough on patent defendants, with few cases resolving on summary judgment, stringent discovery rules, and last-minute scheduling decisions. Google's Texas case was scheduled to be heard in front of US District Judge Rodney Gilstrap, who hears far more patent cases than any other district court judge in the nation. Rockstar v. Google: A brief history Nortel, a Canadian telecom company, went bankrupt in 2009. Two years later, the company's patents were auctioned off. Microsoft, Apple, RIM, Ericsson, and Sony, grouping together as "Rockstar Bidco," spent $4.5 billion to buy the whole batch. Google bid $4.4 billion, seeking to beef up its patent portfolio, but it wasn't enough. After the auction, Google's top lawyer called the purchase a "hostile, organized campaign against Android." Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 16 days ago on ars technica
President Barack Obama yesterday said he is still “unequivocally committed to net neutrality” and that he wants the Federal Communications Commission to issue rules that prevent Internet service providers from creating paid fast lanes. “There are a lot of aspects to net neutrality,” Obama said in response to a question at an event hosted by Cross Campus in Santa Monica, CA. “I know one of the things people are most concerned about is paid prioritization, the notion that somehow, some folks can pay a little more money and get better service, more exclusive access to customers through the Internet. That’s something I oppose. I was opposed to it when I ran; I continue to be opposed to it now.” Obama pointed out that the FCC is “an independent agency” but said he wants the commission to prevent paid prioritization. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 16 days ago on ars technica
Found the play (10:02 left 4th qtr) when Kyle Orton said he was hit with a laser pointer. No doubt about it. #Bills pic.twitter.com/4y9k0jDvCU — Prescott Rossi (@PrescottRossi) October 8, 2014 A 17-year-old fan accused of pointing a green laser in the eye of the visiting team's quarterback at an NFL matchup over the weekend was cited Thursday on allegations of disorderly conduct and banned from Detroit Lions games. The incident is similar to one that happened in June at the World Cup, when Russian coach Fabio Capello blamed his team’s 1-1 draw with Algeria on a laser pointer fired at his goalkeeper during the game. In the latest incident, the Buffalo Bills were in Detroit, and the fan, identified by ESPN as Marko Beslach, tweeted about pointing a laser at quarterback Kyle Orton. "You see a green light on any of the bills players just laugh cause it's me," one of the tweets said. Another said, "Got Kyle Orton complained to the ref when I got him with the laser." Beslach is also accused of pointing the laser at Buffalo placeholder Colton Schmidt. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 16 days ago on ars technica
The Yoga 3 Pro showing off its elaborate hinge in action. Lenovo Lenovo is doubling down on its Yoga brand, unveiling a bunch of new tablets and laptops sporting the name today. The highlights were the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro, a 13.3-inch Android tablet with an integrated pico-projector, and the Yoga 3 Pro, a 13.3-inch Windows tablet with a 360 degree hinge that contains more than 800 parts. Many of Lenovo's Yoga tablets have been a little unusual, as tablets go. Instead of simple cuboids, they've had a bulge along the bottom that's housed a hinged stand to prop the screen up. In the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro, this bulge is used to house a tiny projector that can cast a respectable 50 inch picture onto a nearby wall, so if the 13.3 inch, 2560×1440 LCD isn't big enough to watch a movie on, the wall may do the job. The Yoga 2 Pro with its projector all lit up. Lenovo The Android 4.4 tablet unusually sports a 4 core Intel Atom processor running at up to 1.86GHz. It pairs this with 2GB RAM and 32GB storage (with a microSD slot for adding another 64GB). Connectivity comes from dual band 802.11/b/g/n, and in some countries, optional 3G/4G. It has dual cameras; an 8MP rear and 1.6MP front device. The whole package weighs just over 2lbs. The battery lasts up to 15 hours on a charge. It'll be available from the end of the month starting at $499. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 16 days ago on ars technica
Satya Nadella at Thursday's Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. On Thursday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella issued an apology on his personal Twitter account after making comments about the gender pay gap at a women-in-technology conference, and he followed that up with a lengthy internal Microsoft memo. Re/code published the memo, which saw Nadella acknowledge his mistakes during a conversation with Harvey Mudd president Maria Klawe (herself a Microsoft board member). "Toward the end of the interview, Maria asked me what advice I would offer women who are not comfortable asking for pay raises," Nadella wrote. "I answered that question completely wrong." His memo continued by acknowledging industry-wide initiatives meant to "close the pay gap," then added, "when it comes to career advice on getting a raise when you think it’s deserved, Maria’s advice was the right advice. If you think you deserve a raise, you should just ask." Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 16 days ago on ars technica
After teasing the Internet with a poorly-worded Twitter announcement earlier in the week, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk will this evening unveil a new optional powertrain configuration for the entire line of the company's flagship Model S sedans: dual motors, powering all four wheels. This image of a P85D's hindquarters leaked prior to the event. The event is still getting started, but USA Today appears to have jumped the gun with their announcement summary. According to their report, all-wheel drive will be an available option on all Model S trim levels and the new top-end P85D version will have a 0-60 time of 3.2 seconds. It will also feature a small increase in range, to 275 miles, over its rear-wheel drive predecessor. This is a developing story and we'll have more details from the event once things get underway. Read on Ars Technica | Comments

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posted 16 days ago on ars technica
Tracking the planet's output as it completes an orbit. Hubble Since the discovery of the very first exoplanets, it's been clear that there are lots of worlds out there that are markedly different from our solar system: hot Jupiters nearly skimming their host stars' surface, super-Earths, mini-Neptunes. But we don't know exactly what these worlds look like. For the most part, we've been left to infer their properties using indirect measurements. This week's edition of Science contains a description of one of the exceptions. The Hubble Space Telescope has imaged light from a hot Jupiter called WASP-43b, detecting temperature differences between the planet's day and night sides. The results suggest that the planet has an eastward jet stream that redistributes some of the heat from its host star, but otherwise there's very little circulation of heat. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 16 days ago on ars technica
Peter Kaminski Google is asking the US Supreme Court to reverse an appeals court ruling that said Oracle's Java API's were protected by copyright. Google told the justices in a petition [PDF] this week that assigning copyright to the code—the Application Programming Interfaces that enable programs to talk to one another—sets a dangerous precedent. The appellate court's May ruling, Google said, allows "copyright monopolies over the basic building blocks of computer design and programming." Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 16 days ago on ars technica
On Thursday afternoon, giant antivirus firm Symantec announced that it would split up into two separate, publicly traded companies: one focused on security and one focused on information management. Symantec is the company that produces The Norton antivirus security suite. This is this third giant technology company to announce a split into two separate companies in ten days. Last week, eBay announced that it would spin off its PayPal division so that the two companies could pursue different strategies. Then on Sunday, HP announced that it would separate into “Consumer” and “Enterprise” companies, with the consumer side focusing on PCs and printers and the enterprise company providing corporate hardware and services. Symantec, it seems, is adopting a similar philosophy, saying that the two sides of the company as it stands face unique challenges. “Taking this decisive step will enable each business to maximize its potential. Both businesses will have substantial operational and financial scale to thrive,” Michael A. Brown, symantec president and CEO said. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 16 days ago on ars technica
Apple If you follow Apple news closely, at some point in the last week you've probably seen the graph above. It's from Apple's Developer Support page, and the company calculates the figure by looking at the iOS versions of devices accessing the App Store. Like Google's analogous developer dashboard for Android, it's meant to give developers a broad look at OS usage so they can use that data to determine which OSes to support with their apps. The problem with the graph above isn't that it shows iOS 8 and iOS 7 with the same amount of share, but that the number for iOS 8 has climbed just a single percentage point since the last measurement was taken on September 21. Apple's data mirrors what a number of other independent firms have been claiming virtually since launch day—Chitika's data shows that iOS 8 had rolled out to 7.3 percent of the iOS userbase after 24 hours of availability, while iOS 7 had already hit 18.2 percent in the first 24 hours after its launch. More recent data from Fiksu shows an adoption curve closer to iOS 5 (the last version you needed iTunes to upgrade to) than to iOS 6 or iOS 7. Fiksu's data shows iOS 8 with 40 percent of the iOS pie after 22 days, compared to nearly 60 percent for iOS 7 and iOS 6. Fiksu Though the Ars audience is generally more tech-savvy than the general populace, our own data shows that you guys are embracing iOS 8 less enthusiastically than you picked up iOS 7. Here's data from iOS 7's first two full weeks (running from September 22 of 2013 to October 5) compared to data from iOS 8's first two full weeks (September 21 of 2014 to October 4). Around 70 percent of our site visits came from iOS 7 in that time period, compared to about 60 percent from iOS 8. Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 16 days ago on ars technica
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. Steve Jurvetson Amazon plans to open "its first brick-and-mortar store" in Manhattan, with the possibility of expanding to other cities, The Wall Street Journal reported today. The store would open in time for the holiday shopping season. "Amazon’s space at 7 West 34th Street, across from the Empire State Building in Midtown, would function as a mini-warehouse, with limited inventory for same-day delivery within New York, product returns and exchanges, and pickups of online orders," the report said. "A customer could, for example, order a pan in the morning and pick it up that evening in time to use for dinner... Amazon also may consider using the space to showcase inventory, particularly its devices like the Kindle e-readers, Fire smartphone or Fire TV set-top box, according to people familiar with the company’s thinking." Amazon already offers same-day delivery in New York and other big cities and has set up temporary "pop up" shops and lockers for receiving orders. Rumors of a non-temporary retail store have been floating for years. Seattle was intended to be the location of Amazon's first physical store in 2012, but those plans were scrapped. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 16 days ago on ars technica
Lex Machina Data produced by Lex Machina shows that patent lawsuits reached a near-record low in September, down 40 percent from September in 2013. The month's numbers for new lawsuits filed are lower than any other month in recent years, going back to 2011. The drop comes shortly after new patent rules came down from the Supreme Court. Most notably, the Alice v. CLS Bank decision made it clear that courts shouldn't accept "do it on a computer"-type patents as valid. That's resulted in nearly a dozen patents being tossed out in a short period of time, and some patent trolls with dubious patents aren't bothering to fight it out anymore. "It is an interesting coincidence to me it lines up with Alice this way," said Brian Howard, Lex Machina's legal data scientist. "I'm not sure I can say Alice caused this, yet. but it is an interesting correlation." Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 17 days ago on ars technica
And a good Dealmaster day to you, too, fellow Arsians! We come to you today bearing a meaty, 37 percent discount on the i3 iteration of Dell's Inspiron 23 line, along with a cool 25 percent off a 65-inch Toshiba Smart LED set, a smattering of Dell desktops and laptops, and plenty more. Top deal: Dell Inspiron 23 4th-gen Core i3 23" 1080p Touch All-in-one PC for $749.99 with free shipping (list price $1,089.99 | use coupon code T$VTLCJNZ37MC8) Desktops: Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 17 days ago on ars technica
New Jersey wants to protect the information on black boxes in cars. Chris Yarzab New Jersey looks set to become the next state to enact privacy laws [PDF] regarding who can view the data stored on a vehicle's black box—technically called an event data recorder or an EDR. Over 90 percent of all cars and light trucks in the US are now equipped [PDF] with EDRs that can track a vehicle's technical status and operational performance, making the information particularly useful to law enforcement and insurance companies when crashes happen. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has made EDRs mandatory on all new cars. New Jersey's potential new rules are outlined in two identical bills before state legislature—one was unanimously recommended for passage by the state's Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee last week, and the other is pending before the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee. If enacted, the law would prevent access to a driver's EDR data unless law enforcement had a warrant, or EDR data could be accessed via a discovery order if the driver were involved in a civil lawsuit. Car repair shops also sometimes use EDR data to diagnose troubles with cars—in those instances, the repair facility would have to secure the owner's consent before downloading the information. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 17 days ago on ars technica
The Z3v. It has a 5.2-inch 1080p LCD. 17 more images in gallery .related-stories { display: none !important; } NEW YORK CITY—Sony has typically been slow to bring its flagship devices stateside, but today the company is showing the US some love and announcing the Xperia Z3v as a Verizon exclusive. The Z3v is basically a merger of Sony's flagship Xperia Z2 and Z3 phones, supplemented with wireless charging and a big Verizon logo on the front. You can view the device as a Z2 design with slightly upgraded Z3 specs. It has a 5.2-inch 1080p LCD, a 2.5-GHz Snapdragon 801 SoC, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a 20.7MP camera, and a 3200 mAh battery. That's 16GB of extra storage and 100 mAh more battery than the Z3. The Z3v is waterproof—it carries an IP65/68 dust/waterproof rating—and Sony even had a working model hanging out in a fishtank. The waterproofing functions in part through a series of flaps that hide the microSD slot, micro-USB port, and the SIM slot. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 17 days ago on ars technica
When I first heard about the iPhone 6 Plus during Apple's announcement last month, my mind immediately jumped to the 3DS XL. That 2012 update to the portable platform made 3DS games both more comfortable to look at and the system itself much more comfortable to hold in adult-sized hands. The super-sized iPhone 6 Plus does the same thing for what has become one of the most popular gaming platforms ever, giving new life to games that could feel a bit cramped on smaller iPhone screens. Apple isn't the first to discover the mobile gaming potential of a bigger screen, of course—Android and Windows Phones have sported displays as big or bigger than the iPhone 6 Plus for years. While those platforms are slowly catching up to iOS in terms of game selection and features, the iTunes Store still has a number of important gaming exclusives and a huge back catalog of great games, which make it the platform of choice for mobile gaming. After our own Andrew Cunningham took a deep dive into the iPhone 6 Plus' capabilities as a productivity and communications device, I put the phone through its paces as a portable gaming machine. After a week tapping, swiping, and tilting through dozens of games, I found the iPhone 6 Plus a bit unwieldy for games designed to be played with one hand—but a thorough improvement over previous iPhones for just about everything else. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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