Apple boss drops heaviest hint yet about future device

Apple is famous for keeping its cards close to its chest when it comes to upcoming products, so comments made by CEO Tim Cook this week have surprised many observers.

Speaking in an interview with China Daily USA, Cook gave the clearest hint yet that Apple is working on a high-tech headset.

Discussing AR technology, Cook said, “Stay tuned and you’ll see what we have to offer.”

Yes, that was pretty much it, but for Cook that’s saying a lot. It’s funny that he actually said, “sort of stay tuned …,” as if he couldn’t quite bring himself to be emphatic about it, because that’s not the Apple way.

Rumors about Apple’s interest in a headset have been swirling for a long time, but Cook, despite often expressing an interest in AR technology, has until now been careful not to give anything away.

Sure, we still have no concrete details on the product, but the person at the top has all but confirmed that a head-based device is on the way.

Speculation over the last few years has pointed toward Apple developing one but two products. A pair of AR glasses and a mixed-reality headset that incorporates both AR and VR.

To put it simply, a VR (virtual reality) headset offers an immersive experience in a digital world, and is popular for gaming. AR (augmented reality) specs, on the other hand, place digital overlays of text or images over what you’re seeing in the real world. An AR/VR headset (mixed-reality) combines both technologies.

In this week’s interview, Cook only ever talked about AR, saying he was “incredibly excited” about the technology and adding that he believes “we’re still in the very early innings of how this technology will evolve.”

He continued: “I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities we’ve seen in this space,” before finishing off with his line suggesting folks “sort of stay tuned.”

Many expected that Apple might unveil its first headset at its Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this month, but it wasn’t to be. Recent reports have suggested the tech giant could unveil an AR/VR headset toward the end of this year, while the AR specs might not land until 2024. Perhaps that’s what Cook meant by “sort of stay tuned.” The expression usually suggests something will be along soon, but Cook’s unusual choice of words is perhaps his way of saying, “But don’t stay too tuned ‘cos it’s gonna be a while.”

To find out everything we think we know about Apple’s headset plans, Digital Trends has a carefully curated page featuring all of the incoming news.

Editors’ Choice

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Xbox boss Phil Spencer wants the whole industry in on emulation

Game preservation has become something of a big topic in recent years. As time goes on, some people are worried about old physical media and hardware wearing out, coupled with those who would like to play classic games on modern platforms without breaking the bank. While backward compatibility helps with some of that a little bit and has become an increasing area of focus for some platform holders, we haven’t seen a holistic approach to game preservation. That’s where Xbox boss Phil Spencer thinks that a major push for emulation could help.

Image credit: robtek/Shutterstock

A big voice sounds off on a controversial topic

In a recent interview with Axios, Xbox chief Phil Spencer said he would like to see a larger push for legal emulation from the industry’s biggest players. Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony have all supported emulation to some extent on modern consoles and consoles of the past, but there’s never been a unified, focused effort to make sure that games of the past aren’t lost as we transition to newer platforms.

“My hope (and I think I have to present it that way as of now) is as an industry we’d work on legal emulation that allowed modern hardware to run any (within reason) older executable allowing someone to play any game,” Spencer told Axios. It’s a big hope, but it could ultimately be a good thing for the industry to strive for from the perspectives of both consumer happiness and game preservation.

“I think in the end, if we said ‘Hey, anybody should be able to buy any game, or own any game and continue to play,’ that seems like a great North Star for us as an industry,” Spencer added. But, of course, pursuing such a goal is not without its issues, as Axios points out. Not only would platform holders need to build this support into their platforms, but rights holders to the games in question need to be willing to play ball as well.

Legal emulation could be a game-changer for retro gaming

Still, emulation could be the best bet at preserving past games and allowing modern customers to play old games affordably. Emulation is a popular way to play old games, but it isn’t strictly legal from a copyright standpoint. However, if Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony, developers, and publishers worked together to come up with some sort of approved emulation that allows old games to run on modern platforms, it could be a win-win for everyone involved.

Emulation is even more attractive these days as the cost of retro games seems to be skyrocketing. Unfortunately, as time goes on and cartridges and CDs become worn out, destroyed, or otherwise lost, the cost of existing copies will increase even further. Getting into retro gaming with legitimate hardware and physical copies of old games is already cost-prohibitive for some, and I personally worry that as time goes on, it’ll keep getting cost-prohibitive for an increasing number of people.

While modern Xbox consoles use emulation for backward compatible Xbox and Xbox 360 games, Nintendo was at one point the king of emulation through its Virtual Console service on Wii, Wii U, and 3DS. Sadly, the Virtual Console vanished with the transition to the Switch, and in its place, Nintendo now offers retro game collections to Switch Online subscribers. With all three major platform holders tapping emulation at various points in the past, Spencer might be onto something here.

At the very least, it’s nice to have a voice as impactful as Spencer’s going to bat for legal, approved software emulation, but for now, he can only control what Xbox does and hope for more in the future. Hopefully, Sony and Nintendo will give serious consideration to his suggestion, because it would be great to see as many old titles as possible playable on modern hardware.

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Valve boss says ‘very aggressive’ Steam Deck pricing was ‘painful’

Yesterday, Valve revealed the Steam Deck, a handheld gaming PC that is meant primarily for playing Steam games on the go. In its announcement, Valve confirmed that the Steam Deck will use a custom AMD Zen 2 CPU and a discrete RDNA 2 GPU, yet announced a starting price point of $399. That’s a pretty low price to pay to get into PC gaming, and it seems that Valve is going to feel it, as Gabe Newell has described that pricing as “very aggressive” and “painful.”

Speaking in an interview with IGN, Newell said that the most important thing about Steam Deck was getting the feel and performance correct, with pricing playing second fiddle. “I want to pick this up and say, oh, it all works,” Newell said. “It’s all fast. It’s all… and then price point was secondary and painful. But that was pretty clearly a critical aspect to it. But the first thing was the performance and the experience, [that] was the biggest and most fundamental constraint that was driving this.”

Newell told IGN that “very aggressive” pricing is needed to get ahead in the mobile space, and that’s precisely what the Steam Deck has. While he didn’t say how much profit Valve is making on Steam Deck – if it’s making any – it’s hard to believe that there’s much of a margin at all on a device with the Steam Deck’s spec sheet priced at $400.

Regardless, Newell told IGN that Valve is attempting to set the Steam Deck up for long-term success, even if that means slim or nonexistent margins. “Nobody has ever said, ‘Oh, we have a giant success where clearly there’s huge demand for this, but our margins are too thin.’ Right? And a lot of people have overpriced things and killed the opportunity, and sort of convince people that it’s an uninteresting category from the get-go,” he said. “So we’re definitely… our view is… we’re doing this for the long haul. And there’s a lot of opportunity.”

Of course, platform holders losing money on device sales – especially in the early days of their device’s lifespan – is nothing new in the gaming industry. However, it’s also worth keeping in mind that even if Valve will lose money on each Steam Deck sold, it still takes a cut of every game sold on Steam and every microtransaction processed using Steam’s payment systems. So if the Steam Deck ultimately helps sell more games through Steam, the Valve stands to make a pretty penny despite whatever losses it might experience on the hardware itself.

Steam Deck reservations open later today, though there’s some fine print you should consider before you reserve a handheld for yourself. Valve expects to begin shipping out Steam Deck purchases in December 2021 but hasn’t given us a specific release date yet.

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Pokémon Snap: All Boss Tips

New Pokémon Snap doesn’t have any traditional boss battles like you’d find in most games, or even most Pokémon games for that matter. This Pokémon safari is not about battling, or even catching, your favorite pocket monsters — unless you count capturing them on film, that is. Even so, there are still boss equivalents to find and photograph on each of the game’s six islands. Technically, there’s no way to lose when you encounter them, but getting the best picture is by no means easy.

Boss Pokémon, or Illumina Pokémon as they’re called in the game, appear only at Illumina Spots. These are the final locations in each of the six islands, and making sure you have Illumina Orbs at the ready is key to triggering all those unique poses that Professor Mirror will go wild for. If you need some advice on how to get these top-quality shots, check out our tips for all the bosses in New Pokémon Snap.

Further reading:

Florio Boss – Meganium

The Illumina Pokémon at the end of the Florio Illumina Spot, a large field of blue and purple flowers, is Meganium. You can get one-, two-, and three-star photos normally, or by using Fluffruit, but a four-star picture requires the Illumina Orb. To get the best shot, toss one of the orbs at the crystabloom to lure Meganium over to smell it, then hit the Pokémon itself with an orb to make it glow. Meganium will strike a unique pose you want to capture here for that top-quality shot.

Maricopia Boss – Wishiwashi

To even reach the Illumina Spot on this island requires a few steps. First, you’ll have to unlock the Lental Seafloor route by reaching the research levels of Blushing Beach and Maricopa Reef to level two. Next, as always, you need to get your hands on the Illumina Orbs for this island, plus unlock the alternate path on the Seafloor level. Wishiwashi is a bit unique among the Illumina Pokémon since you can encounter it as a single Pokémon or as part of a school. Pictures of just one Wishiwashi won’t cut it, so use your Illumina Orbs to have them form a school, or hit the Illumina Flowers to trigger any Wishiwashi nearby all at once. If you hit the school with enough orbs, they will eventually start spinning around and cause an underwater tornado. Snap a pic of this to earn a four-star rating.

Belusylva Boss – Milotic

Another unique one, this Illumina Pokémon doesn’t technically have an Illumina Spot in Founja Jungle as you’d expect, but rather is in the Elsewhere Forest course at Research Level two. Once you get there, you have to draw Milotic out of the water by nailing it with a well-aimed Fluffruit. Hit it with two Illumina Orbs to get it glowing and ready for its close-up. To get the four-star shot, you will need to keep on tossing Fluffruit to keep it above water, and more orbs to keep the Illumina effect going until it starts to sing and call out some Magikarp. Keep tossing orbs until it launches up out of the water high up, so be ready to pan upward, and capture the moment.

Voluca Boss – Volcarona

Pokémon Snap Volcarona

This is another Illumina Pokémon that will take some work before you can encounter it. Your first step is to reach Research Level 2 on the Fireflow Volcano stage, and then go through the alternate route that opens up. While on this new path, get a picture of the Ancient Ruins to unlock the Fireflow Volcano Illumina Spot. Once there, Volcarona actually needs to be fought a bit before you can get any pics. It will appear with a fire shield raised that you need to pepper with Fluffruit until it drops, at which point you can start hitting it with your Illumina Orbs.

Getting a four-star shot is a real challenge and can only be done once this stage is at Research Level 2. Once it is, start by tossing Fluffruit at the Volcarona that shows up to your left to make it open an alternate path. Ride along into another chamber with two more Volcarona you need to hit with Fluffruit to get rid of their shields, plus tag them with Illumina Orbs before they get away. Once both are glowing, throw an orb at a crystabloom in the area to make the two start to dance with one another. Watch until one does a move that surrounds it in fire for the most points.

Durice Boss – Steelix

Steelix is a frustrating Pokémon to get on camera, and there’s not much you can do about that. Once you unlock the Illumina Spot in Outway Cave by getting to Research Level 2 and taking the alternate route, you need to lure out Steelix by throwing Fluffruit into holes in the ground and hoping that the one you hit is the one it is actually in. Getting a four-star shot, however, is even more obscure.

Start out by getting to the second large cave called the big chasm and use an Illumina Orb on the crystabloom right at the entrance to spawn a Crobat. Watch it fly to the right side and use your Fluffruit to draw out the Steelix below the Crobat. It will fly up and bite a stalactite, which is the moment you’re looking for. Be ready, because this happens very quickly.

Aurus Boss – Xerneas

New Pokemon Snap Xerneas

Our final Illumina Pokémon is none other than Xerneas at the final Illumina Spot in the Ruins of Remembrance. There’s no trick to finding it, but as always, a four-star shot is never simple. The first time you spot Xerneas, you will want to hit him with one of your blue Illumina Orbs, and then a second when it moves over the water in the next area. Next, wake up the pair of Houndoom with some Fluffruit and lead them up to Xerneas with more fruit. Once they’re close, hit Xerneas with yet another orb and scan him. This will cause the Houndooms to pay attention to him and begin howling. Xerneas will rear back in a spectacle of lights — the perfect shot. Capture it and you’ll have gotten your final four-star shot of all the Illumina Pokémon.

Editors’ Choice

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Steam console news teased by Valve boss Gabe Newell

For years now, Steam has been the go-to digital store for PC gamers. To say that Steam is huge in the realm of PC gaming is probably understating the reach that the platform has, even with the Epic Games trying to claw away market share from Valve and grow its own store. After establishing itself as the leader in digital PC sales, it’s now possible that we could see Steam games could come to consoles in some fashion later this year.

While that might be a little hard to believe, Valve boss Gabe Newell has suggested that we’ll learn more about Steam in regards to consoles by the end of the year. A clip of Newell answering questions during a New Zealand panel was uploaded to the Half-Life subreddit by Odysseic, and in that video, Newell is asked if Steam games will ever come to consoles.

“You will have a better idea of that by the end of the year,” Newell said to an audience that quickly picked up on the implications of what he was saying. Newell didn’t give us any other details, so we’re being left in the dark when it comes to what he’s actually talking about here.

It’s hard to imagine Steam having a full-fledged storefront on consoles, simply because Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo have their own stores and probably wouldn’t allow Valve to set up shop. Still, strange things happen in the video game industry all the time, but aside from that, Newell might not even be talking about a console version of Steam. Maybe he’s referencing the impending launch of some Valve games on consoles? Perhaps we could even see Steam offering console keys alongside their PC counterparts?

At this point, no one knows what Newell is talking about, so we’ll have to wait and see what kind of announcements Valve makes toward the end of the year. Even without any kind of context, the indication that Valve and Steam might one day have any involvement with consoles is interesting for sure, so we’ll let you know when more is revealed.

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PlayStation boss Jim Ryan doubles down on exclusives for PS5

Here at the beginning of a new console generation, we find ourselves in an interesting position where all three major console manufacturers are sort of doing their own thing. Microsoft is putting a big focus on services like Xbox Game Pass and cloud streaming, while Nintendo is taking a hybrid approach to console gaming with the Switch. Sony, it seems, is planning to stick with what’s worked for it in previous generations: Exclusives.

Speaking to Nikkei in a recent interview (as translated by Gematsu’s Salromano on Resetera), Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan indicated that Sony is committed to delivering more exclusives for the PS5 than the PlayStation consoles that came before it. In fact, Ryan seems to suggest that this focus on exclusives is part of how Sony plans to answer Microsoft’s buying spree that saw it pay a whopping $7.5 billion for Bethesda and its subsidiaries.

“We have been quietly, but steadily investing in high-quality games for PlayStation,” Ryan said. “And we will make sure the PlayStation 5 generation has more exclusive software than ever before. We have engaged in mergers and acquisitions several times in the past, such as with Insomniac Games. We will not rule out that option in the future.”

So, if you’re looking to get a PlayStation 5 because you enjoyed all of the exclusive games on the PlayStation 4, according to Jim Ryan you won’t be disappointed in what you ultimately get. In that interview, Ryan also indicated that he “would like strengthen” Sony’s partnerships with Japanese developers “and release content for PlayStation 5 suited to the Japanese market.” He also spoke on the supply issues the PlayStation 5 is facing, noting that the “current supply of PlayStation 5 in Japan is comparable to PlayStation 4 in the same period following its launch.”

None of this really comes as a huge shock because many of us probably expected Sony to double down on exclusives for the PS5 after exclusives made the PlayStation 4 an attractive platform, but it is good to have that confirmation that exclusives are a major focus for Sony in the new generation. We’ve got a couple of those exclusives coming up, with Returnal slated to land on April 30th and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart landing on June 11th.

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Overwatch boss Jeff Kaplan leaves Blizzard

It’s something of the end of an era over at Blizzard today, as Jeff Kaplan has announced that he’s leaving the company. Kaplan has been at the company for nearly 20 years, and got his start at Blizzard working as a designer and one of the game directors on World of Warcraft and later its first two expansions, The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King. Kaplan is perhaps best known, however, as the lead game designer and game director on Overwatch.

Kaplan’s departure was announced today in a news post to the Blizzard website. Neither Kaplan nor Blizzard revealed why he is leaving the company or what’s next for him, and his statement regarding his departure was somewhat short. You can read it in full below:

i am leaving Blizzard Entertainment after 19 amazing years.

it was truly the honor of a lifetime to have the opportunity to create worlds and heroes for such a passionate audience. i want to express my deep appreciation to everyone at blizzard who supported our games, our game teams and our players. but i want to say a special thanks to the wonderful game developers that shared in the journey of creation with me.

never accept the world as it appears to be. always dare to see it for what it could be. i hope you do the same.


jeffrey kaplan

Kaplan’s important spot on the Overwatch team will be filled by someone who has nearly as much experience working at Blizzard as Kaplan himself does: Aaron Keller. Keller is an 18-year veteran at Blizzard and has been working on Overwatch since the beginning. In addition to taking the reigns on Overwatch, he will also be working on Overwatch 2, and said in a statement today that development on the sequel is “continuing at a good pace.”

Keller added that the Overwatch team has “exciting reveals planned for this year and beyond as we ramp to launch.” We’re told that we’ll begin to see more Overwatch 2 updates and new features for the original Overwatch “very soon.” Fans have been waiting quite some time for more information on Overwatch 2, so Keller’s statement will likely be good to hear.

So, just like that, Jeff Kaplan has stepped away from his role at Blizzard and Overwatch has a new director. We’ll see if Kaplan announces any new projects in the future, but for now, you can read Aaron Keller’s full statement by hitting the link above.

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Xbox boss Phil Spencer gives the clearest answer yet regarding Bethesda exclusivity

Ever since Microsoft’s acquisition of ZeniMax Media was first announced, most gamers have been wondering how Microsoft is going to handle exclusives. It’s a big question, because before this buyout, franchises like The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, and DOOM were some of the most popular multiplatform titles around. Of course, many people assumed that Microsoft would make the vast majority of Bethesda games exclusive to Xbox and PC, and today we got confirmation of that.

During today’s Microsoft roundtable with Bethesda, Xbox chief Phil Spencer indicated that while Microsoft will continue to honor existing exclusivity contracts that were in place at ZeniMax before the acquisition, the main intention is to make Bethesda’s games exclusive to platforms that support Xbox Game Pass.

“So obviously I can’t sit here and say ‘every Bethesda game is exclusive,’ because we know that’s not true – there’s contractual obligations that we’re going see through as we always do in every one of these instances,” Spencer said after being asked about exclusivity by Bethesda VP of marketing Pete Hines. “We have games that exist on other platforms and we’re going to go support those games on the platforms they’re on; there’s communities of players, we love those communities and we’ll continue to invest in them.”

“And even in the future there might be things that have either contractual things or legacy on different platforms that we’ll go do,” Spencer continued. “But if you’re an Xbox customer, the thing I want you to know is this is about delivering great exclusive games for you that ship on platforms where Game Pass exists. And that’s our goal, that’s why we’re doing this, that’s the root of this partnership that we’re building, and the creative capability we will be able to bring to market for our Xbox customers is going to be the best it’s ever been for Xbox after we’re done here.”

So, if you’re a PlayStation adherent hoping that maybe Microsoft would continue to offer major franchises like The Elder Scrolls and Fallout on your platform of choice, Spencer’s statement on the matter doesn’t really paint an encouraging picture. Of course, Spencer did say that the goal is to deliver these games on platforms where Game Pass is available, and that could in theory include PlayStation 5 at some point in the future. Obviously, it doesn’t seem likely that Sony would allow Game Pass on PlayStation 5, but strange things happen all the time in the games industry.

For the moment, though, those looking to play Bethesda games in the future are probably best served by picking up a platform that supports Game Pass, whether that’s an Xbox Series X|S, a gaming PC, or an Android phone.

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HP Elite Dragonfly review: The corporate laptop that’s too good for your boss

The HP Elite Dragonfly is a corporate laptop made to please your manager—and isn’t that the best way to get ahead in the working world? With a fingerprint-resistant finish, a beautiful cerulean magnesium body, and shoulder-friendly weight, the Elite Dragonfly is sure to earn you permission to leave 15 minutes early on Friday (thanks, boss!).

Just remember, the Elite Dragonfly is designed for the boardroom, not the racetrack, so don’t expect blazing speed. What you will get is a solid configuration with some premium options; good performance, amazing battery life; and let’s not forget the truly classy design. Hmmm, maybe this laptop is too good for your boss? 

This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best laptops. Go there for information on competing products and how we tested them. 

Incredibly light weight, insane battery life

The Elite Dragonfly’s main claim to fame is its weight, which approaches 2.2 pounds when equipped with the base 38-watt-hour battery. The trade-off is that paltry battery capacity. HP also offers a 55-watt-hour battery for additional cost. Personally, we’d opt for the larger battery (supplied in our review unit), which increases the weight by just 3 ounces to 2.5 pounds.

Because your boss is likely to be butter-fingered, the Elite Dragonfly also has a better chance of hitting the floor—and maybe surviving—as HP said it passes nine MIL-STD drop tests in drop, shock, and vibration.

hp elite dragonfly 7 Gordon Mah Ung

HP’s Elite Dragonfly is a lightweight convertible laptop (shown with optional $79 HP Active Tilt pen).

What’s inside still matters, though, and like most corporate premium laptops, the Elite Dragonfly features the top-end, 8th-gen Intel Core i7-8665U. You can view the full details of the Core i7-8665U on Intel’s ARK database, but in performance you get about 200MHz higher clocks in Turbo Boost and 100MHz higher base clocks on paper. Most important is actually the support for Intel’s vPro feature, which enables easier management of the laptop in a fleet environment, where 200 or 2,000 have to be accounted for.

The Core i7-8665U also supports Intel’s TSX-NI and Stable Platform features. Even though the latter promises better performance for multi-threaded apps, it’s supported on very few CPUs despite being introduced four generations ago with the Haswell line. 

hp elite dragonfly 12 Gordon Mah Ung

The 8th gen Core i7-8665U can technically hit higher clocks than the more common Core i7-8565U, but more importantly has vPro support switched on.

HP Elite Dragonfly specs and features

The Elite Dragonfly embraces its executive-laptop status, delivering a feature list that’s first-class all the way. Here are the details:

CPU: 8th-gen quad-core Intel Core i7-8665U with vPro support

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Tech News

Valve boss says brain-computer interfaces will let you ‘edit’ your feelings

The head of video games giant Valve says future brain-computer interfaces could change how players feel.

Gabe Newell believes BCIs will soon create superior experiences to what we can perceive through our eyes and ears alone.

“But that’s not where it gets weird,” he told New Zealand’s 1 News. “Where it gets weird is when who you are becomes editable through a BCI.”

Newell envisions the devices detecting a gamer’s emotions and then adjusting the settings to modify their mood — like ramping up the difficulty when they’re getting bored.

But they could also be applied to everyday aspects of our lives, from turning up our focus to altering our sleep patterns through an app.

[Read: How this company leveraged AI to become the Netflix of Finland]

Valve is currently developing its own BCIs. The company behind Half-Life and Counter-Strike is working on “modified VR head straps” that developers can use to experiment with signals from the brain.

“If you’re a software developer in 2022 who doesn’t have one of these in your test lab, you’re making a silly mistake,” said Newell.

He nonetheless acknowledges that BCIs are fraught with risks:

Nobody wants to say, remember Bob? Remember when Bob got hacked by the Russian malware? Yeah that sucked. Is he still running naked through the forests.

I don’t wanna end up like Bob, but the focus enhancer sounds particularly appealing during the inspiration vacuum of pandemic life.

Published January 26, 2021 — 17:40 UTC

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