OnceLost Games announced its first game today, The Wayward Realm. Development on the title is being led by two industry veterans that played a heavy role in the beginning of The Elder Scrolls franchise: Ted Peterson and Julian LeFay.
The studio’s founding was first announced in 2019, but since then, there hasn’t been any news. This is the first peep we’ve heard from OnceLost Games, and for those waiting on a new RPG to sink their teeth into, The Wayward Realms is a promising pitch. According to its Steam page, it’s “a new class of game: The Grand RPG.” The game will be set on a massive archipelago of over 100 “realistically scaled” islands.
While the plot of The Wayward Realms isn’t clear, it seems like it has a lot in common with the Mount & Blade franchise. Players will be able to earn a prominent place in the game’s world by completing quests and defeating legendary enemies. Since this is a game from former Elder Scrolls devs though, the game’s ruling factions and enemies aren’t all humans. Dwarves, Elves, monsters, spirits, and demons can all be found across the game’s world, succinctly called The Archipelago.
Furthering the comparison to Mount & Blade games, The Wayward Realms will also have a virtual game master that keeps the world alive. Player actions will cause NPCs to react, causing endless shifts in power throughout the world with every interaction.
We’ll have to wait a bit longer for the first “Grand RPG” though. OnceLost Games hasn’t announced a release date or window for The Wayward Realms just yet.
If you’re looking for a high refresh rate, HDMI 2.1 monitor to use with an Xbox Series X|S (or a PC), then you might like to know that today Microsoft announced three new displays that fit the bill. The new monitors come from Philips, ASUS ROG, and Acer, and each of them will carry “Designed with Xbox” badges on them when they release later this year.
First up is the 55-inch Philips Momentum 559M1RYV (pictured above), which comes with a built-in soundbar made by Bowers & Wilkins. The display itself supports 4K resolution and has a refresh rate of 120Hz, so it’ll be handy for games where the framerate can exceed 60fps. The Momentum uses AMD FreeSync Premium Pro to reduce screen tearing – a feature PC players can tap into as well – and is VESA Certified DisplayHDR 1000.
It certainly seems like the Philips Momentum 559M1RYV is the centerpiece of Microsoft’s announcement today, but that feature set is going to set you back some cash. The Philips Momentum 559M1RYV will run $1,599.99 when it launches later this summer, though, at the moment, a precise release date hasn’t been revealed.
The 43-inch ASUS ROG Strix Xbox Edition Gaming Monitor XG43UQ seems to have a similar feature set as the Momentum display; only it’s offered in a smaller package. Microsoft says that this one will deliver native 4K@120Hz over HDMI 2.1, a 1ms moving picture response time, DisplayHDR 1000 certification, and AMD FreeSync Premium Pro. It also covers 90% of DCI-P3 and has an Xbox picture mode tuned specifically for Xbox Series X|S. Pricing hasn’t been revealed yet, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it’s only slightly less expensive than the Momentum. Look for it to land this October.
For those who want a more traditional gaming monitor and not a TV-sized display, Acer is gearing up to launch the 28-inch Xbox Edition Gaming Monitor XV282K KV. While this is significantly smaller than the other two displays announced today, it still has some noteworthy features, including a 1ms response time, VESA DisplayHDR 400, and support for 4K resolution at 120Hz through HDMI 2.1.
This is probably a good choice for those who split their game time between Xbox and PC – or those with a workstation comprised of multiple PCs – because it has a KVM switch that allows users to switch between multiple PCs while keeping one keyboard, mouse, and monitor configuration. Acer’s Xbox Edition Gaming Monitor is landing this fall with a price tag of $949.99.
Microsoft also confirmed that it’s working with several cable manufacturers to create Designed for Xbox-branded HDMI 2.1 cables for use with Xbox Series X|S. It also highlighted one such cable today by announcing the launch of the Cable Matters Active HDMI Fiber Optic Cable, which clocks in a whopping 32.8 feet (10 meters) and has support for 4K resolution at 120fps. That cable is available today from retailers like Amazon for $99.99.
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Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote has finished, and it brought with it a deluge of new products, software features, and general tech goodness. But there were plenty of things widely rumored to make an appearance at the blockbuster show that did not.
That could mean they are just expected at a later date this year, or it could signify a much longer delay to the products in question. Either way, here is everything Apple did not announce at WWDC 2021.
New MacBook Pro 14 and MacBook Pro 16 models
One of the biggest rumors going into the event was that Apple had MacBook Pro revamps up its sleeve. According to the rumblings, the MacBook Pro 13 was getting completely overhauled and replaced with a 14-inch variant. The MacBook Pro 16, meanwhile, was due to get a more modest update but would still feature a new chassis and Apple Silicon chips for the first time.
However, there were indications before WWDC that these rumors might not be quite on the money. Nikkei Asia reported in March that the production of two MacBook Pro models had been put back to the second half of 2021, and it looks like that report — apparently referring to the MacBook Pro 14 and MacBook Pro 16 — was accurate. Apple traditionally releases new MacBooks in the fall, so that is probably now the most likely target for their release.
A miniature Mac Pro
Apple’s Mac Pro is by far its most powerful Mac — and its most expensive — but it has not been updated since its 2019 debut. There was talk that Apple was working on an updated Mac Pro (possibly with Intel chips) before this year’s WWDC, as well as a half-sized Mac Pro with a potentially beastly Apple Silicon chip. In the end, neither was announced at WWDC.
It could be that Apple wants to announce both new Mac Pros together and to do that it needs to make sure its pro-level Apple Silicon chips are ready for the demanding workloads their users will put them through. Apple must also ensure enough professional apps are ready in time. It seems the company did not feel the chips and apps were at that stage.
New Mac Mini with an updated design
The Mac Mini has only just transitioned to Apple Silicon chips, but that did not stop the murmurs that Apple was already planning to reveal a redesigned version at WWDC. According to leaker Jon Prosser, itwould feature an aluminum body with an acrylic top, a slimmed-down profile, and an updated Apple M1X chip.
We never saw this redesign at the WWDC show, though. The M1 Mac Mini launched less than a year ago, so perhaps Apple felt it was too soon to undercut it with a fresh new look.
A resurrected iMac Pro
Apple unceremoniously ditched the iMac Pro in March 2021, and with a little hindsight, it seems the company was clearing the way for the M1-equipped 24-inch iMac. But with rumors of upgraded Apple Silicon chips launching imminently, a new idea formed: Could Apple resurrect the iMac Pro with upgraded Apple Silicon chips?
It looks like the answer is no, at least for now. The iMac Pro was a no-show at WWDC 2021, and Apple is likely content to keep it that way for the time being. Once its pro-level chips are ready (and third-party developers have updated their professional apps), the iMac Pro might reappear on the scene. We will have to wait and see.
Redesigned AirPods and new AirPods Pro
There is no doubt that AirPods have become wildly popular since their launch, and AirPods Pro, their high-end cousin, have found their own successful niche, too. Given that achievement, updated versions at WWDC felt like a distinct possibility. That idea was boosted by the slate of rumors surrounding the devices, including that the AirPods would be redesigned and the AirPods Pro would boast health-tracking features.
In the end, Apple announced a slate of new software features for the AirPods range, but no hardware changes. A clue why might be found in the upcoming Beats Studio Buds. These wireless earphones are also owned by Apple, and it could be that the company did not want to launch them so close to the AirPods and have each device cannibalize the sales of the other.
New smart home devices
It is rare for Apple to spill its own secrets, but it might have done just that in a recent job posting that mentioned a system called HomeOS. Could Apple be working on a new operating system for home devices? And if so, does that mean new compatible devices are right around the corner?
Well, no one outside Apple knows for now, because nothing came of it at WWDC. As with AirPods, there were software updates relating to smart home devices, but they were all for existing systems like the Home app and Siri integration. Whether HomeOS means an updated HomePod Mini with new features, a better way to control HomeKit devices, or something else entirely, we will have to wait a little longer to find out.
An all-screen iPad Mini
The ongoing pandemic has spurred a surge in iPad sales as more and more people look to work and entertain themselves from home. With interest in the device revitalized, we started wondering whether Apple would update the iPad Mini at WWDC to try to meet some of this demand. Those hopes were bolstered by reputable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who previously claimed a new iPad Mini was coming in the first half of 2021 with a larger display among its upgrades.
That never came to pass, but it does not mean we will have to wait too long for the iPad Mini’s next update. When it comes to Apple rumors, Mark Gurman is considered one of the most reliable sources, and he recently published a report alleging a new iPad Mini with narrower bezels and possibly lacking the Home button could be released “later this year.” Keep your eyes peeled.
Apple’s mixed-reality experiment
The idea that Apple would launch a mixed-reality headset (one that combined augmented reality and virtual reality) at WWDC always felt like a long shot, and that belief was confirmed when the headset failed to make an appearance at the show. Some things are too good to be true.
But it might not be as far away from being revealed as you might expect. Gurman, who has an excellent record for Apple leaks, reported in March 2021 that Apple was planning to introduce the device “within the next several months.” The kicker, though, is that Gurman says Apple wants to unveil the headset at an in-person event, and as we know by now, WWDC was online-only. Still, we might be getting a taste of Apple-flavored mixed reality sooner rather than later.
A lot of predictions were made about Google I/O 2021, and a lot of those missed the mark. There’s still room for these announcements to be made later in the year, even if they weren’t made official at the huge keynote speech. Here is everything Google didn’t announce at I/O that everyone hoped to hear more about.
Google Pixel 6
Fans waited with held breath for news about the Google Pixel 6, but not a word was mentioned about the new phone. The new flagship model from Google is one of the most anticipated phones so far, but nothing has been said officially.
That’s not to say there is no news at all about the phone, though. A few days ago, details leaked about the Pixel 6 that showed a total redesign of the look of the device. There is also a chance the Pixel 6 will release with its own silicone in it, if the rumors about Google’s Whitechapel are to be believed.
Google Pixel 5a
In addition to the flagship model of the Pixel 6, many people expect a more budget-friendly model of the Pixel 5 to launch. The timeline for the Pixel 5a loosely aligns with Google I/O, so it wouldn’t be particularly surprising to hear news about it — alas, that was not the case.
A leak from Google states that the Pixel 5a is coming later this year, despite rumors that said it might be canceled. The reason little has been said, apparently, is due to the global chip shortage currently affecting a number of different electronic industries.
New Pixel Buds
The Google Pixel Buds are Google’s answer to Apple’s AirPods. There was talk that a new version of the Pixel Buds might be launched this year with an announcement at Google I/O. The keynote passed without news, much to the disappointment of fans of the ear buds.
The Pixel Buds 2 have been out for a year now, so there is a gap in the market a new version could fill. On the other hand, a year isn’t that long between releases of physical hardware like this, so perhaps it’s not great surprise.
Today would have been the perfect time for Google to announce new Nest hardware, perhaps in the form of a security camera, since the aging Google Nest IQ Indoor and Nest IQ Outdoor have been out of stock for a while now on the Google Store. Rumors swirled that the search engine giant might tease the launch of a new piece of hardware. No news or word has been given on any new devices.
Even if it wasn’t strictly a Google Assistant device, the market is poised for a new smart thermostat or other Nest product.
Another rumored announcement today would be a new Chromecast, perhaps one capable of handling Stadia streaming. This wasn’t the case, not that it comes as much of a surprise — the current lineup of Chromecast devices on the market can already handle 4K streaming.
Until 8K becomes prominent (which is not for years to come), there isn’t much need for a new Chromecast for content streaming purposes. As cloud gaming and streaming becomes more popular, though, there is space for Chromecast to improve and become more compatible with that platform.
There have been rumors for quite a while now that Google is working on its own chip to free itself from the Qualcomm market. Google made no announcement related to that, although the Google I/O keynote did focus heavily on a new chip used at Google’s server farms to provide better processing for search engines.
If the rumors about Whitechapel are true, it could open the door for a lot more processing power in Android devices and smart devices. The Whitechapel chip would be optimized specifically for Google devices, rather than adapted from existing chips.
Google I/O 2021 served as the home for a slew of announcements, including projects no leak had ever hinted at. Take Project Starline, for instance — it creates an incredibly immersive experience for video conferencing. All of these projects point toward a bright future with Google’s new technologies, but the door is still open for a lot more products to be announced over the year to come.
Most of Google’s new phones launch around September, so only a few months remain for news to release regarding them. Unless the global chip shortage causes a delay in the launch of phones, more word will come out in the months ahead regarding the Pixel and other products.
Sony and Discord today announced that they’re teaming up to bolster the social experience on PlayStation. This partnership between the two companies was announced after Sony made a minority investment in Discord during the company’s most recent round of funding. Now that Sony is part owner in Discord, it sounds like we’re about to see the two companies work together on building out PlayStation’s social features.
Discord, as many gamers out there know, is an app that’s used for voice and text communication. Discord has been primarily targeted at gamers through much of its life, though with 140 million monthly users, its safe to say that it has expanded more into the mainstream these days. As for what this partnership with PlayStation will entail, details are still fairly slim, but Jim Ryan did touch on what the two companies will work on in a post to the Sony Interactive Website today.
“Together, our teams are already hard at work connecting Discord with your social and gaming experience on PlayStation Network,” Ryan wrote. “Our goal is to bring the Discord and PlayStation experiences closer together on console and mobile starting early next year, allowing friends, groups, and communities to hang out, have fun, and communicate more easily while playing games together.”
So, it sounds like Sony plans to integrate Discord with PlayStation’s own chat services, but to which degree is up in the air. Will we see an official Discord app for the PlayStation 5? There’s plenty to be revealed, but it is worth noting that it was just a couple of months ago that we were discussing a potential Microsoft buyout of Discord, only to watch Sony turn around and make an investment of its own.
For now, we know that there’s going to be some level of integration between PlayStation and Discord, but that’s it. Jim Ryan says that more details will be shared in the coming months, so at the moment, all we can do is sit tight and wait for that information to come around the bend.
A group of Google workers have announced plans to unionize with the Communications Workers of America (CWA). The Alphabet Workers Union will be open to all employees and contractors at Google’s parent company. Its goal will be to tackle ongoing issues like pay disparity, retaliation, and controversial government contracts.
“This union builds upon years of courageous organizing by Google workers,” said Nicki Anselmo, a Google program manager. “From fighting the ‘real names’ policy, to opposing Project Maven, to protesting the egregious, multi-million dollar payouts that have been given to executives who’ve committed sexual harassment, we’ve seen first-hand that Alphabet responds when we act collectively.”
Now that the union effort is public, organizers will likely launch a series of campaigns to rally votes from Google workers. Prior to the announcement, about 230 Google employees and contractors had signed cards in support of the union.
Arranged as a members-only union, the new organization won’t seek collective bargaining rights to negotiate a new contract with the company. Instead, the Alphabet Workers Union will only represent employees who voluntarily join, as reported by the New York Times. That structure will also allow it to represent all employees who seek to participate — including temps, vendors, and contractors (known internally as TVCs) who would be excluded by labor law from conventional collective bargaining.
Google contractors have long complained about their unequal treatment compared to full-time staff. While they make up the majority of Google’s workforce, they often lack the benefits of salaried employees. In 2019, roughly 80 Google contractors in Pittsburgh voted to join the United Steelworkers union.
The Alphabet Workers Union plans to unionize with CWA Local 1400, which represents workers in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and California.
The news comes one month after the National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint alleging Google illegally fired two workers who were organizing employee protests. The employees, Laurence Berland and Kathryn Spiers, were organizing against the company’s decision to work with IRI Consultants, a firm famous for its anti-union efforts.
It also follows the firing of prominent AI ethicist Timnit Gebru in December. In a press release announcing the union, the Alphabet Workers Union wrote: “The firing has caused outrage from thousands of us, including Black and Brown workers who are heartbroken by the company’s actions and unsure of their future at Google.”
Google employees who decide to join are committing one percent of their annual compensation to the union. The money will go toward paying legal fees and organizing staff.
In a statement emailed to The Verge, Kara Silverstein, director of people operations at Google, said: “We’ve always worked hard to create a supportive and rewarding workplace for our workforce. Of course our employees have protected labor rights that we support. But as we’ve always done, we’ll continue engaging directly with all our employees.”
Updated 8:53AM ET:Added Google statement and additional clarity on AWU’s members-only status.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated when Google employees would begin paying one percent of their annual compensation to the union. We regret the error.
Last year was a bad time for nearly everyone and every market, even the usually strong smartphone industry. While all companies were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic one way or another, those that were already experiencing financial difficulties were hit even harder. In the mobile industry, the likes of HTC, Sony, and LG have long been regarded to be struggling hard to keep their ships afloat. If this latest rumor is true, however, it might soon be curtains for LG’s mobile communications or MC division.
Of course, it’s hard to take stock in every rumor or supposed insider tip that comes our way, especially depending on the source of those rumors. LG has always refuted those prophecies of doom, though it chose its words carefully to still leave room for some change in direction in the future. In other words, LG’s official word is that there is no official word yet but this new tip puts a Monday date on that official statement.
According to @FrontTron, LG will announce its final move on Monday, April 5, South Korea time. That announcement will largely revolve around how it will be dismantling its phone division with a 4,000-strong workforce. Those will be transferred to LG’s other businesses like appliance and consumer products, as earlier rumors also claimed.
LG will reportedly try to spin this not as a complete withdrawal from the phone market and will most likely commit to continue supporting existing phones. The leaker, however, doubts that LG will be able to actually deliver on this promise, which would mean it won’t be able to update even those phones that are still under support coverage.
… the software updates, it is unlikely to be done in this situation.
It is in many ways unfortunate that the LG phone, which started with the feature phone, ends with the Wing.
Final official statement from LG is expected to be announce next Monday, Korea time. (3/3)
Again, we can’t verify these claims which LG will most likely deny anyway. If true, however, it will definitely be a sad day for the Android market when one of its biggest supporters bites the dust, especially one that has had an important historical impact on Google’s mobile ecosystem.
Cherry MX mechanical switches are famous in PC gaming land, but they’ve never made their way to a gaming laptop. That changes today with the Alienware m15 and m17 R4, the first laptops to feature the chunky, clicky switches under their keyboards.
Of course, you can’t just squeeze the high-travel Cherry MX Red or Blue switches into a laptop without sacrificing modern portability standards — there’s nowhere near enough space.
Cherry says it’s been engineering the solution — its “ultra-low-profile mechanical switches” — for three and a half years, working hand in hand with Alienware on the design. The challenge centered on shrinking down the switches to fit the much smaller form factor without losing the tactile feel of the keypresses.
So, no, these keyboards won’t feel the same as the mechanical keyboard you use with your desktop setup. The key travel is just 1.8mm, which is only 0.1mm longer than on current rubber dome Alienware keyboards. But according to Cherry, you need more than long travel to re-create the feeling of a true mechanical keyboard in such a small package.
The operating point is the main area of contention, which is when the signal is sent to the keyboard. With these ultra-low-profile keyboards, Cherry is using a 0.8mm operating point with a remaining millimeter of overtravel. This long overtravel is what makes a mechanical keyboard feel so different from a typical rubber dome switch, which activates at the bottom of the keypress. For reference, the operating point of a standard mechanical keyboard is 2mm.
Cherry says the switches are closest in feeling to its Blue switches, but mentioned that there would be a learning curve for using the keyboard, whether you’re coming from a desktop mechanical keyboard or from a conventional rubber dome laptop keyboard.
You shouldn’t expect these switches to be as loud as an external mechanical keyboard either. Low-profile switches are already quieter than the original MX switches because of the smaller keycap volume. On a laptop, they’re going to be even smaller. Cherry did say, though, that there’s a noticeable click upon each keypress. You can hear the sound embedded in the tweet below.
Of course, the keyboard change won’t come in the base model of the Alienware m15 and m17 R4. It’s a $150 upgrade to add in the Cherry keyboard, which will still support the per-key RGB backlighting.
Aside from the change in keyboard, the Alienware m15 and m17 remain otherwise unchanged in what is now the fourth generation.
Alienware isn’t the only company to have experimented with more tactile keyboards in gaming laptops. Razer launched a version of its Razer Blade 15 that featured a keyboard that uses the company’s optical light sensor technology to emulate the feeling of a mechanical keyboard. The older Razer Blade Pro also featured a true mechanical keyboard in its larger chassis.
According to a couple of leakers with solid track records, including Chinese leaker ‘Kang’ (via @DuanRui1205) and John Prosser, Apple may hold its next event as soon as March 23. Incidentally, that’s the same day OnePlus is set to launch its new phones.
Apple is expected to announce its long-awaited AirTags — a fancy item-tracking system — as well as new iPads. There’s a chance we’ll see new, third-gen AirPods as well.
AirTags are expected to be a Tile-like item tracking system, but on steroids. It is believed the tags will use the Ultra-Wideband radio introduced with the iPhone 11, which will allow your phone to pinpoint exactly where a lost item is, rather than just providing an approximate location.
The new iPads are rumored to be the first to use a MiniLED display. This technology allows for deeper blacks than currently possible with the regular LCD’s on iPads, thanks to highly localized backlighting that can be shut off in specific zones.
The iPad‘s current backlighting is essentially always on, so the blacks can only get as deep as the LCD screen will allow. MiniLED, while not quite as effective as OLED at creating deep blacks in scenes with complicated lighting, should be able to get pretty darn close.
The March 23 event will almost certainly be all-digital, given the coronavirus pandemic, so it’s no surprise we haven’t heard more concrete rumors until now. It’s likely we’ll hear official word about the event within the next week, as Apple typically sends invites within a week or two before the actual event date.
And if March 23 doesn’t play out, the 30th might still be an option; at this point, it seems extremely likely Apple has something to announce this month, and these events almost always happen on Tuesdays.
The Linux Foundation last week announced it was hosting seven open source projects in partnership with IBM and David Clark Cause’s Call for Code for Racial Justice.
Background: Call for Code for Racial Justice launched late last year to solicit solutions from the global coding community.
The goal of the challenge is to come up with novel open source solutions backed by IBM and partner technologies such as cloud computing and artificial intelligence. There are currently seven “solution starters” which are now hosted by the Linux Foundation.
These applications emerged from an internal IBM program called the Call for Code Emb(race) Challenge, where Black IBMers, supported by Red Hat’s Blacks United in Leadership and Diversity (B.U.I.L.D.) community, and allies designed technology solutions to address the problem of systemic racism.
The seven initiatives, per a Linux foundation blog post, include:
Fair Change: A platform to help record, catalog, and access evidence of potentially racially charged incidents to help enable transparency, reeducation and reform as a matter of public interest and safety.
TakeTwo: [This project] aims to help mitigate bias in digital content, whether it is overt or subtle, with a focus on text across news articles, headlines, web pages, blogs, and even code.
Five Fifths Voter: This web app empowers minorities to exercise their right to vote and helps ensure their voice is heard by determining optimal voting strategies and limiting suppression issues.
Legit-Info: Local legislation can have significant impacts on areas as far-reaching as jobs, the environment, and safety. Legit-Info helps individuals understand the legislation that shapes their lives.
Incident Accuracy Reporting System: This platform allows witnesses and victims to corroborate evidence or provide additional information from multiple sources against an official police report.
Open Sentencing: To help public defenders better serve their clients and make a stronger case, Open Sentencing shows racial bias in data such as demographics.
Truth Loop: This app helps communities simply understand the policies, regulations, and legislation that will impact them the most.
Quick take: Politicians are apparently not going to solve the problem of racial injustice for us no matter how hard we vote. Luckily for us, racism manifests through digitally traceable means more often than not in the modern world. And that means we can fight it with technology.
Call for Code is an unwavering force for good and, just like its previous efforts to combat climate change and mitigate the damage done by natural disasters, this is a necessary target for its endeavors. There are few more pressing problems in society than racial injustice, and arguably none more ripe for attack by an eager global coding community.
For more information check out the Call for Code for Racial Justice website here.