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AI

This free web tool is a fast and easy way to remove objects from images

Ever needed to quickly edit something or someone out of an image?

Maybe it’s the stranger who wandered into your family photo, or the stand holding up your final artwork for school? Whatever the job, if you don’t have the time or Photoshop skills needed to edit the thing yourself, why not try Cleanup.pictures — a handy web tool that does exactly what it promises in the URL.

Just upload your picture, paint over the thing you want removed with the brush tool, and hey presto: new image. The results aren’t up to the standards of professionals, especially if the picture is particularly busy or complex, but they’re surprisingly good. The tool is also just quite fun to play around with. You can check out some examples in the gallery below:

Cleanup.pictures seems to be from the same team that made a fun augmented reality demo that lets you “copy and paste” the real world, and is open-source (you can find the underlying code here). Obviously, tools of this sort have long been available, dating back at least to the launch of Photoshop’s Clone Stamp tool, but the quality of these automated programs has increased considerably in recent years thanks to AI.

Machine learning systems are now not only better at the problem of segmentation (marking the divisions between an object and the background) but also inpainting, or filling in the new content. Just last week, Google launched its new Pixel 6 tools with an identical “Magic Eraser” feature, but Cleanup.pictures shows how this feature has become a commodity.

I think my favorite use of this tool, though, is this fantastic series of pictures removing the people from Edward Hopper paintings:

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Game

Huawei App Store Bug Gives Anyone A Free Pass At Paid Apps

Android app developer Dylan Roussel discovered a bug that, while non-trivial to exploit, isn’t impossible either. In a nutshell, Huawei’s AppGallery exposed certain details about an app, including the download link for the Android package (APK). While that may be normal, the bug is that the same link can be used to directly download a paid app without having to pay for it or even having to verify anything.

This bug has two damaging consequences for Huawei’s app marketplace. The first is more obvious in that anyone with a bit of technical know-how can easily bypass restrictions and download paid apps for free. The bigger threat, however, is that the AppGallery makes it too easy to download apps, both paid and free, outside of official channels, which in turn makes it too easy to pirate apps on that platform. This creates a very large deterrent for developers who may not bother putting in the work needed to offer their apps for Huawei’s ecosystem.

This vulnerability was discovered and reported back in February 2022, but it took Huawei 90 days to send a response. The company did apologize for the miscommunication and delay, citing logistics problems in fixing AppGallery across different regions since it apparently works very differently, too. A fix is promised to arrive by May 25, but the bug’s existence still raises concerns about similar issues that may be lurking in the shadows still undiscovered.

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Game

Halo Infinite’s free multiplayer mode is available now

Rumors started swirling over the last few days that Microsoft will release the free Halo Infinite multiplayer mode before the full game. During its Xbox 20th anniversary event, the company confirmed that’s the case. The standalone mode is now available on Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC. Players can access it through Xbox Cloud Gaming later today.

The beta is open to everyone, and Season 1 of Halo Infinite multiplayer, which will run until May, is underway three weeks early. Microsoft and developer 343 Industries have run a few multiplayer test events over the last few months, but now the mode is open to all. You’ll have access to all the Season 1 maps, the battle pass and the core modes.

The Halo Infinite campaign release date is still set for December 8th, and your multiplayer progress will carry over. A few features will be missing at launch, however. The campaign co-op and Forge modes will be released later, because 343 Industries wanted to focus on the quality of the single-player and multiplayer modes.

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Game

Outriders Gets a Free Update Tomorrow, New Campaign in 2022

Outriders is getting an all-new free update titled Outriders: New Horizon on Tuesday, November 16. Additionally, the game will get a new story campaign in 2022 via an expansion.

Outriders is a multiplayer RPG published by Square Enix that released on April 1. It gives players the ability to choose from four unique classes and sets them off on a cooperative story experience with various role-playing elements.

The New Horizon spotlight video revealed that the game is receiving a brand-new campaign expansion titled Worldslayer, coming in 2022. Besides a quick tease and confirmation that it will include a fresh and full story, all other details were kept in the dark.

Along with the expansion, a new endgame is incoming. The overhaul removes the expedition timer and equalizes rewards. The aim is to allow players to experiment with various characters and play styles.

The loot system is also being changed up, with a global 100% increase to all legendary item drop rates. There’s a new anti-duplication system coming, which prevents players from getting loot they already own. Players will also be able to change the visuals of their loot, allowing for more customization that’s non-reliant on the levels or perks of their gear.

Finally, the multiplayer experience will be improved with the update. Not only is there now “fully functional” crossplay across all platforms, but matchmaking rules have been fixed to avoid bad connections, AFK players, and disconnection issues.

Outriders owners can get the New Horizons update completely free on November 16. The Worldslayer expansion is set to launch sometime in 2022.

Editors’ Choice




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Game

Fortnite x Naruto crossover leaks reveal Creative Hub and free rewards

Last week, Epic Games dropped a teaser on its Fortnite Twitter account revealing a Naruto crossover that’ll arrive on Tuesday, November 16. The company pinned the teaser on the account, indicating this may be more than a simple Item Shop drop with a couple of skins. Here to reinforce that speculation are Fortnite data miners with some tantalizing leaks.

Crossovers have become a common activity in Fortnite, and though some of them have been huge multi-week events, many are more limited in nature. Some fans have been asking Epic for a Fortnite x Naruto crossover and that, the company revealed in its teaser image, is finally happening.

Epic doesn’t have much to say about the crossover aside from the November 16 release date. However, game data-miner and known reliable Fortnite leaker HYPEX has published some alleged details about the Naruto crossover, claiming it’ll be more than a skin in the battle royale game’s Item Shop.

According to the account, the crossover will include a Creative Hub featuring the Hidden Leaf Village. As well, HYPEX claims multiple cosmetics will be available in the Item Shop, noting that fans should “prepare” their wallets. Not everything will cost money, however, at least according to the leaks.

HYPEX goes on to claim that a couple of free Naruto-themed rewards will be made available as part of this collaboration, one featuring a Ninja Scroll and the other a bowl of ramen. Players will, the account claims, collect coins in Creative mode to unlock the rewards.

Assuming this is true, it would essentially be the same as the recent Balenciaga collaboration, which had players run around in a themed Creative Hub to find and claim a certain number of sneakers. Whether the Naruto crossover will also include new challenges related to the anime is unclear at this time.

The account also dropped an alleged promo image featuring artwork for the crossover. In it, we see Naruto eating pizza in front of the Fortnite POI Pizza Pit. The artwork has the same look and feel as loading screens offered for other characters — the same loading screens that are often given as rewards for completing challenges. We’ll have to wait until next week’s official crossover launch to see whether players will be able to unlock the artwork as a loading screen, however.



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Computing

Microsoft Sending Out Free Gift Cards Worth up to $100 Each

Microsoft is getting into the holiday mood by sending out tens of thousands of virtual gift cards worth up to $100 each.

Recipients of the free gift are being selected at random, so if you have a Microsoft account then be sure to check your inbox (and junk folder!) to find out if you’re one of the lucky ones.

The gift card can be redeemed in the online Microsoft Store through December 31, 2021 and must be spent within 90 days of redemption.

Confirming the giveaway, a Microsoft spokesperson told The Verge: “To help spread holiday cheer, Microsoft Store has surprised a total of 50,000 U.S. customers with virtual gift cards via email. 25,000 customers will receive a $100 Microsoft Gift Card while 25,000 others will receive a $10 Microsoft Gift Card ahead of this holiday season.”

Reports of Microsoft sending out virtual gift cards started to land on social media earlier this week. Naturally, some recipients wondered if it might be a scammer posing as the tech giant, but the giveaway is real (having said that, be sure to proceed carefully with an email purporting to come from Microsoft or any company that’s claiming to offer a free gift).

The Microsoft Store offers a range of goodies, including deals on Xbox gear, Surface tablets, and PCs.

You can put your voucher toward a pricey item, but if you’ve received the $100 voucher then there’s plenty of tech accessories you can get for “free.” A cursory look through the store shows, for example, Samsung’s Galaxy Buds+ earbuds on sale for $100, down from $150.

If you’ve checked your email and haven’t received a gift card from Microsoft, guess that leaves you having to spend your own hard-earned cash this holiday season. In that case, check out Digital Trends’ handy guide on the best tech deals currently available.

Editors’ Choice




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Game

Google Stadia adds free trials for ‘Control’ and ‘Riders Republic’

Back in October, Google Stadia introduced free trials with its Hello Engineer game. While the service lets users try any game they want with a $10-per-month Pro subscription, it was the first time free users were given the chance to test a game before purchase. Now, according to 9to5Google, Stadia is giving free users the opportunity to take two more games for a spin before they have to buy them. One of those games is Control: Ultimate Edition, which recently just came out for the platform.

Ultimate Edition contains the core Control game, along with the expansions that were released for it. Like Hello Engineer, players will be able to test it out for 30 minutes before they have to decide whether to pay $40 for a copy. The other game is Ubisoft’s recently released Riders Republic, a massively multiplayer extreme sports game, where teams can battle each other on bikes, skis, snowboards and in flying wingsuits. Players will get the chance to try it out for two hours instead of just 30 minutes, perhaps because half an hour might barely be enough to cover tutorials when there are several extreme sports to choose from. Besides, Riders Republic isn’t cheap and costs $60 to purchase.

With the addition of these two games, we can probably expect Google to make more titles available for free trial in the future. It could be an effective way to get people who’d rather own the titles they play interested in purchasing from Stadia instead of from other gaming platforms. 

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Game

PlayStation Plus free games for November include 3 PSVR titles

November is shaping up to be a big month for PlayStation Plus. While we’re getting the usual number of games for consoles, we’re also getting three games for PlayStation VR. So, if you happen to have Sony’s VR headset and you’re subscribed to PlayStation Plus, that means you’ve got a total of six games you can potentially claim in November.

The three console games on deck for November seem to be pretty solid, too. First up is Knockout City, a game all about dodgeball battles. Knockout City launched earlier this year on a variety of different platforms, and it’ll be available for both PS5 and PS4 subscribers next month. We can probably expect that to generate a surge of new players, at least for a little while after it goes free to subscribers.

Knockout City will be joined by First Class Trouble, another game that will be available for PS5 and PS4 subscribers. First Class Trouble sounds like it takes some inspiration from Among Us, putting six players on a “luxury space cruiser” and tasking four of them with shutting down a rogue AI. The remaining two players will have to prevent that through deception.

The final console game up for grabs in November will be Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning. This is an enhanced re-release of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, released in 2012 as the only game from the ill-fated 38 Studios. The Kingdoms of Amalur brand now belongs to THQ Nordic, which is working on an expansion for the game that’s due out at some point next year.

Then we have the three VR titles that will be available through PlayStation Plus next month: The Persistence, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners – Standard Edition, and Until You Fall. Unlike the console games, which will only be available for a month, Sony says the PSVR titles will be available until we’re into the new year. Sony announced today that the trio of console games will be claimable from November 2nd until December 6th, while the PSVR games will be available on the same day and claimable until January 3rd.

Of course, that means PS Plus users will have until November 1st to claim October’s games – Hell Let Loose, PGA Tour 2K21, and Mortal Kombat X. October was a relatively quiet month for PlayStation Plus, but by including six games next month, it seems we can’t level the same criticism at November’s lineup.

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Game

Google Stadia free trial gives you 30 minutes to see what the fuss is about

Game streaming is becoming more or less a staple in the gaming industry, but not everyone is sold on the idea yet. In fact, some might even be apprehensive about trying a 30-day free trial, especially if they’re the type that forgets such a trial automatically charges you at the end of the period. For those who just want to dip their toes into that market, Google Stadia is apparently testing a new experiment that gives you half an hour to test if game streaming is for you.

One of the dreams of game streaming is the ability to simply click on an ad for a game and immediately start playing that game. That hasn’t happened yet, for better or worse, though Google Play’s Instant games come close to that vision on Android. That idealized system would have been a good way not only to test a game but also to test whether you have the hardware or Internet connection to support that game.

Google might be testing out that idea by playing around with a new type of free trial for Stadia. The game streaming service confirmed to The Verge that it is running an experiment where Stadia semi-randomly offers a game to try for a short period of time. That time period is currently limited to 30-minute sessions, but that could also change, depending on Stadia’s whims.

Unlike Stadia’s normal 30-day free trial, the entire library isn’t available for testing. Only one game at a time will be offered, currently Hello Engineer. Different testers, however, might see other titles, but this experiment hasn’t become widely available just yet.

One other key difference with this new free trial is that it only requires signing into a Google account and nothing else. You will still have to go through a couple of pages of notices and confirmations, but that still beats having to provide payment information before getting a game streaming appetizer. It’s still not as instant, but Stadia might eventually move towards that model if this experiment turns out to be successful in turning testers into paying subscribers.

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Game

Everybody gets hats in the first free ‘Bugsnax’ DLC, The Isle of BIGsnax

PlayStation exclusive Bugsnax is getting a lot bigger in a few different ways next year with the Isle of BIGsnax update. Heading to PlayStation 4 and PS5 in early 2022, The Isle of BIGsnax unlocks a new landscape filled with oversized Bugsnax, plus it adds challenges to complete and hut-decorating options back on Snaktooth Island. And of course, the cutest part of the update is the ability to dress up your Bugsnax in various hats. 

The Isle of BIGsnax update will be free for all Bugsnax owners (try saying that ten times fast).

Bugsnax was a PS5 launch title, dropping alongside a tight roster of big names like Spider-Man: Miles Morales and the Demon’s Souls remake. It comes from independent studio Young Horses, which was previously known for making Octodad, a surprisingly heartwarming physics game about an octopus pretending to be a normal father.

Recently, Young Horses has made headlines for establishing a permanent four-day work week, in the interest of cultivating a healthy work-life balance for employees. This is a big deal in the video game industry, where crunch — implementing 100-hour weeks and otherwise overwhelming employees’ lives — is a common business practice.

“While I enjoy making weirdo games, it’s also just very important that I’m making responsible decisions to take care of the people I work with, stuff like that,” Young Horses co-founder Philip Tibitoski told Engadget in January. “That’s become much more of a thing than it used to be, or at least I’ve moved further into a business-y, boss role, I guess. Weird, but feels right.”

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