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Game

The Xbox app for PC now has ‘HowLongToBeat’ built in

Microsoft has . The September update adds . If you’re not familiar with the website, it’s a resource where you can find out how much time you may need to complete a specific game. What makes HowLongToBeat so helpful is that it has separate estimates for players with different playstyles.

Using  as an example, HowLongToBeat estimates most people will need about 50 hours to complete the main story, and another 30 or so hours to play through the game’s side content. If you want to see everything RDR2 has to offer, that will take about 174 hours.

Microsoft suggests the integration will make it easier to decide what game you want to play next since you’ll have a better idea of the time commitment it wants from you. The company also notes you can click “View Details” to submit your own play times and help other players decide how to spend their time.

Even if you don’t end up using the HowLongToBeat integration much, the September update will help you save time. According to Microsoft, the Xbox app is now 15 percent faster at launching. Additionally, there should be significantly fewer instances of crashes and games failing to download or install successfully. Lastly, the search functionality should produce results about 20 percent faster.

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Security

Hackers caused a massive traffic jam in Moscow using a ride-hailing app

Hackers caused a major traffic jam in Moscow after exploiting the Russian ride-hailing app, Yandex Taxi, to summon dozens of taxis to the same location at the same time (via Vice). The attack occurred on September 1st and had traffic heading towards Kutuzovsky Prospect — an already busy boulevard — stuck at a standstill.

A video showing lines of taxis seemingly trying to get to the same destination was shared widely on Twitter and Reddit on Thursday. While Moscow is known for its heavy traffic — it ranked number two as the world’s most congested city in the world last year — this incident wasn’t related to the capital city’s typical traffic patterns.

“On the morning of September 1, Yandex.Taxi encountered an attempt by attackers to disrupt the service — several dozen drivers received bulk orders to the Fili region,” Yandex Taxi said in a statement to the Russian state-owned outlet TASS. The ride-hailing service, which is owned by the Russian internet giant, Yandex, added that the jam lasted about 40 minutes, and that its “algorithm for detecting and preventing such attacks has already been improved to prevent similar incidents in the future.” Yandex didn’t immediately respond to The Verge’s request for comment.

Yandex has yet to confirm who carried out the attack, but the hacktivist group Anonymous, claimed responsibility for the jam on Twitter. It says it worked with the IT Army of Ukraine, a loosely organized group of hacktivists that Ukrainian vice prime minister Mykhailo Fedorov helped form when Russia first invaded Ukraine. Anonymous declared a “cyber war” against Russia earlier this year, and later claimed it hijacked Russian TV channels with footage of the war that’s considered “illegal” in the country. Hacktivists have since leaked troves of data and terabytes worth of emails belonging to the country’s government agencies and major corporations as part of an ongoing cyber campaign against Russia.



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Categories
Game

Meta is shutting down the standalone Facebook Gaming app

Meta has started notifying users of its standalone Facebook Gaming app that it will soon no longer be available. In an in-app notification (as shared by social media consultant Matt Navarra and other publications), the company has announced that both iOS and Android versions of the application will stop working on October 28th. Meta is also giving users the chance to download their search data and reminding them that Facebook Gaming isn’t going away entirely. Users will merely have to go to the Gaming tab in the main Facebook app to watch their favorite creators’ livestreams.

The company released the dedicated Gaming app in 2020 to better compete with Twitch and YouTube. Meta (still known as Facebook back then) designed the app to highlight content from streamers and to provide users with a group chat and other community features. It didn’t say why it decided to shut down the standalone app, but it could be part of its cost-cutting efforts meant to help it weather what Mark Zuckerberg calls “one of the worst downturns [the company has seen] in recent history.”

Over the past year, streaming tool providers such as StreamElements reported that Facebook Gaming comes only second to Twitch when it comes to hours watched on a game streaming platform. However, we examined data from CrowdTangle, Meta’s analytics service, and found that the platform is flooded with spam and pirated content masquerading as gaming livestreams. Back then, a spokesperson told Engadget that Meta was “working to improve [its] tools to identify violating content” so that users can have “the best experience.”

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Game

Valve is testing a redesigned Steam mobile app

For over a decade, Valve has offered access to Steam through Android and iOS clients. In recent years, however, the Steam mobile app hasn’t gotten much attention from the company. Not only does it look dated, but it’s also a pain to use. I only keep it on my iPhone to take advantage of Steam Guard verification.

The good news is that Valve is working on a new version of the mobile app. In a blog post spotted by , the company invited “invested Steam users” to beta test its redesigned Android and iOS client. “We’ve rebuilt the app on a new framework and modernized the design. (2015 called and wanted their app back,)” Valve wrote. 

In addition to previously included features, the redesigned app adds more intelligent notifications, multi-account support and a new way to log into your Steam account. Instead of inputting your username, password and Steam Guard verification, you can use a QR code to simplify the process. It’s probably the most useful feature added by Valve.

The among testers is that the new app is a welcome improvement over its predecessor. It does have the usual blemishes you find in beta software, including sluggish performance and plenty of bugs, but it’s a step forward. “The sooner we get your feedback on a product, the better,” Valve wrote. “This is especially important when the app can be used on so many different phones and devices.”

There’s no public release date for the redesigned app yet. However, the beta is open to anyone who wants to take part. You can find installation instructions on the , but note that the iOS beta is limited to 10,000 concurrent participants due to Apple’s TestFlight restrictions.

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Categories
Computing

Mac app concept reimagines a classic that needs a revamp

One of Mac’s most used apps hasn’t seen a significant redesign in years. While the Contacts app works just fine, there are plenty of ways it could be improved, as shown in a fascinating new concept that reimagines it after being given the same treatment as many other apps bundled in MacOS.

First spotted by 9to5Mac, the new concept was recently created by BasicAppleGuy and posted on their website, hopefully inspiring Apple to rethink the outdated design of the Contacts app.

MacOS Ventura is already out in beta release and, unfortunately, the Contacts app retains the same look and features as MacOS Monterey. As BasicAppleGuy points out, the design hasn’t really changed much since 2003.

The reimagined MacOS Contacts app isn’t simply a visual makeover. The designer envisions added features that make better use of existing Apple technology, such as Siri Suggestions to identify related details from other system apps, shared groups similar to the new shared Tab Groups in Safari, and shared photo albums in MacOS Ventura.

Thumbnails are more widely used in the imagined MacOS Contacts app concept, which would make it much easier to locate people you know at a glance. A serious amount of thought and effort went into the redesign effort. An enhanced sharing toolbar would speed communication by offering buttons to start a call or message a contact via Slack, Twitter, Whatsapp, and other installed apps.

The great thing about BasicAppleGuy’s design is the way it integrates with the look and feel of some of the best Mac apps that are preloaded on every machine. The odds of this exact redesign being used by Apple are quite slim but perhaps some of the functionality will make its way into a future version of MacOS.

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
Game

Discord’s overhauled Android app will shorten the wait for new features

Discord has begun rolling out an overhauled Android app that addresses one of the most consistent complaints with the software. If you follow the company, you’ve probably seen it often announce new features only to note they will launch on iOS and desktop first before arriving on Google’s operating system. We saw that recently with the release of . According to Discord, that’s about to become a thing of the past.

In a published on Monday, the company said it recently rebuilt its Android app using React Native. Discord has employed the framework for iOS development ever since Meta first open sourced React in 2015. Now that both of Discord’s mobile apps are on the same underlying codebase, the company notes Android users can expect feature consistency.

Comparison screenshot showing Discord's new Android interface. The new UI more broadly aligns with its iOS counterpart thanks to Discord's move to React Native.

Discord

Additionally, the company says Discord users will see a more consistent user experience across platforms. As one example, the Android app will feature a larger default font that is more in line with the iOS version of the software. Discord also anticipates it will release future updates faster.

“As Discord continues to grow across platforms, we want to find ways to support you and your communities as quickly and efficiently as possible, regardless of which device or platform you happen to be using,” the company said. “Utilizing React Native across every mobile platform Discord is on is just one of the tools that helps us support what you do, and we can’t wait to show you how.”

If you already have Discord installed on your Android phone, the company says you can expect the overhauled app to arrive on your device in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, new Android users can download the software from the Google Play Store.

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Computing

Google is officially killing yet another chat app

Google Hangouts is finally, really going away for everyone in November of 2022, and Google Chat is ready to step in as a full-featured replacement. Once reserved for Google Workspace subscribers, Chat generally offers more capabilities, so it’s a good trade.

Every change involves learning how the new system works, and the fine details can sometimes be frustrating. Getting an early start is the best way to take control of the situation and manage the transition on your own schedule.

Google began phasing out Hangouts for Workspace customers in February 2022 and is now encouraging all Hangouts users to make the switch to Google Chat by November. In most cases, Hangouts’ messages and contacts should appear within Chat automatically, making it easy to continue current conversations and reference past information.

When opening Hangouts in a web browser, a message will appear near the top of the page with a link to open Google Chat and another that provides additional information. A similar transition is being recommended when using the Hangouts Chrome extension, with the Google Chat progressive web app being offered as an alternative to simply loading Chat in a tab. The Hangouts mobile app is also being shut down in November, and a Google Chat app is available for iPhone and Android phones.

The Google Chat transition warning in the Hangouts window.

Chat offers more features, including easy access to Google Meet — its video conferencing solution — and Google Spaces — an environment that allows Google Drive files and Google Tasks’ lists to be shared among multiple people and integrated with text, photo, and video messaging. In Gmail settings, Chat can be enabled on a sidebar so that it’s accessible without loading a separate webpage.

As far as forced changes go, moving to Chat is really not that bad. One of the few drawbacks is that video call ringing only works in the Gmail mobile app; however, a Google Meet invitation can be sent from Chat to get a similar result.

Google has been notoriously unclear about which messaging app to use for any situation, often launching several competing solutions at once. A single well-considered answer to the common need to communicate with friends, family, and co-workers probably would have been much more popular and perhaps cutting Google Talk, Duo, and Hangouts will help to solve the confusion once and for all.

Google Chat and Meet are the future and integrate more fully with other Google apps and services, so you should start the transition now.

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
Game

The Xbox app will tell you how a game will perform on your PC

is adding a useful feature to the Xbox PC app that should help save you some time if it turns out your setup won’t be able to run a particular game. The company the game performance indicator in December and it’s rolling out the tool now. 

“The app compares the game’s performance on PCs with similar specs to yours to show a prediction of how well we expect the game to run,” Tila Nguyen, senior product manager lead for Xbox Experiences, wrote on . “If your PC isn’t up to the task of running a graphically demanding game, you’ll be able to view the game’s system requirements to get more details on what you need to run the game.”

You may not see a performance check for every game, since Microsoft might not have enough information from other players’ PCs to be able to make a recommendation. This is particularly the case for new titles with a smaller install base.

A screenshot of the Xbox PC app's game performance label. It shows the page for the game Sea of Thieves with text reading

Microsoft

This is a handy tool that should save you some wasted effort, even if you might be disappointed to find out a game you were excited for won’t work on your system. It could be especially welcome for those with a data cap. The feature should help them avoid wasting precious data by prompting them to refrain from downloading a game they can’t actually play.

It may also save players from resorting to third-party system requirement checkers, such as Everything they need to know should be right there in the Xbox app.

In addition, the blog post notes that Microsoft recently improved navigation in the app. Navigation is now all in the sidebar and you can view game install progress via a queue on the bottom left of the window. You’ll get a notification when a game finishes installing too. Search is said to be better as well. It now includes and titles in the results.

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Categories
Computing

This simple app makes brilliant use of the MacBook notch

Few people love the placement of the MacBook’s notch, but what if it had a more practical use? A new app that’s being developed does exactly that, making a simple drag and drop gesture to the MacBook notch start an AirDrop, sharing those files with another Apple device.

The app also includes nice visual feedback, placing a flashing yellow glow around the MacBook notch when dragging begins to indicate the drop target and turning green when the mouse reaches the notch. Letting go and dropping the files initiates the AirDrop. The app was recently demonstrated on Twitter by developer Ian Keen.

Got inspired to build a little airdrop helper app tonight. pic.twitter.com/ywzJzKR0O8

— Ian Keen (@IanKay) June 16, 2022

While it’s not available for download yet, a TestFlight beta version is planned and should become available in a few days according to Keen.

A version is also being developed for Mac computers that do not have a notch and it looks quite similar. Keen notes that there will be some options to control the appearance which is a good idea since the flash and glow might become tiresome after a few days of use.

What do ya'll think about this 'notchless' variant? pic.twitter.com/rW3zsy01ub

— Ian Keen (@IanKay) June 17, 2022

Full details of the app are not available. It’s unclear how the user can specify which device will receive an AirDrop if there is more than one Apple device in range. The developer seems responsive to ideas so anyone interested in a specific feature should comment on the Twitter feed and share their ideas.

It’s an intriguing and fun app that has garnered a fair amount of interest, racking up over a thousand likes in less than a day. At the moment, it’s a work in progress that might be ready for beta testing soon.

Editors’ Choice




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Computing

Why Zoom is shutting down its Chromebook app

Zoom has plans to shut down its Chrome app in August, to enable it to focus on its other applications.

9to5Google recently discovered a notice in the Zoom app detailing that the brand is directing users to begin using the Chrome PWA (progressive web app) ahead of its discontinuation of the Zoom app for Chromebooks.

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

“This app will no longer be officially supported after August 2022. Please use the new Zoom for Chrome PWA to join meetings on ChromeOS,” Zoom said in the notice.

The Zoom video conferencing platform, which became popular during the pandemic in 2020 has been compatible with most computing systems. Chromebooks have been especially popular with schools and universities due to their low cost and compatibility with Google’s ChromeOS, TechRadar noted.

However, Google has had plans since August 2020 to discontinue its Chrome apps on all platforms across the board, culminating with the end of support for Chrome apps on ChromeOS in June 2022.

But with the option of either the Chrome PWA or the Android app, accessing Zoom shouldn’t be a problem. Zoom plans to provide some app updates to the web app that makes it easier to use, with a look and feel similar to other platform versions such as Windows and MacOS. It also has various advanced chat features, such as background blur, 9to5Google added.

PWA installation is fairly easy and can be done through most web browsers, such as Chrome. Typically, you can find the installation option by accessing the three-dot icon located at the top right corner of the browser.

Have the app or program you want to install open in the browser tap. If there is no “apps section” in the drop-down menu, you should be able to go directly to an “install app” option. Select install and it should do so automatically.

Once installed, many popular apps will show up as icons on the system dock for easy access. To uninstall just go back to that setting and select uninstall.

Editors’ Choice




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