Sony’s next State of Play will highlight 10 PS4, PS5 and PS VR2 titles

Sony’s next State of Play preview event is going down on Tuesday, September 13th at 6pm ET, the company announced via Twitter Monday. “We’ll have some great updates from our amazing Japanese partners and developers all around the world,” Sony noted in a subsequent tweet. “Expect about ~20 minutes covering 10 upcoming games.”

Further details regarding which games will be showcased were not provided, however Sony has repeatedly focused on PS VR2 titles during the past two events, seemingly intent on teasing all of the nearly two dozen “major” titles — including from the Among Us and Horizon franchises — which are scheduled to launch alongside the next generation headset.  

The State of Play will live stream through PlayStation’s Twitch and YouTube channels. Gaming fans will be in for a treat tomorrow, as this afternoon event follows Nintendo’s next Direct stream, which is happening Tuesday morning, at 10am ET.

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Twitter tests a special tag to highlight phone number-verified accounts

Elon Musk’s bot-baiting aside, Twitter has had many people call for changes to how it identifies accounts and what can be done to call out which ones are more legit than others. Now engineer Jane Manchun Wong has dug up a Twitter label that would put a mark on accounts with a verified phone number. She also noted another test feature showing view counts for tweets, which some users already have access to for their own tweets under the label of “analytics.” However, she said it’s unclear if this would be limited to the author or visible to everyone.

Linking an account to a number is one way to highlight that it was created with more effort than the simplest macro and could be used to filter out which tweets appear the most prominently or make it through the various levels of quality filters. Twitter also allows people to have the same phone number associated with up to ten different accounts, while developers can label automated accounts to let people know there isn’t a human behind each post.

Verified “blue check” accounts are already required to have a verified phone number or email address attached. When then-CEO Jack Dorsey talked about plans to allow verification for everyone, he mentioned having people verify facts about themselves, which could’ve been similar to how services like Airbnb and Tinder use phone numbers as part of their account verification processes.

However, encouraging users to link phone numbers to their accounts and display the status means securing that data becomes an issue. On August 5th, Twitter announced the details of an incident that allowed an attacker to discover 5.4 million account names associated with particular phone numbers and email addresses. By the company’s own account, the privacy flaw was introduced in a June 2021 update, wasn’t reported to Twitter until January, and Twitter was not aware the information had been stolen until July when media reports circulated that someone was trying to sell the database.

The 2020 hack that allowed attackers to tweet from Jack Dorsey and Joe Biden’s accounts about Bitcoin came about after the attackers social-engineered their way to using Twitter’s internal tools. Another report by Bloomberg noted that some contractors had used Twitter’s tools to spy on celebrity accounts, and earlier this month, a former employee was convicted on charges of spying after he used his position to “access the email addresses, phone numbers, and birth dates of users who were critical of the Saudi government.”

In May, Twitter agreed to a $150 million settlement for improperly using phone numbers and email addresses collected for two-factor authentication in its ad targeting, showing how leaky the data can be.

With midterm elections around the corner, there is pressure to make sure information posted on social media comes from real people or at least someone actually in the country they claim. The phone number tag could play a part in judging an account’s trustworthiness, but it’s unclear if or when Twitter could roll it out widely.

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How to make Instagram highlight covers

If you’ve ever looked at another person or brand’s Instagram account profile, you’ve probably noticed a series of little circles on them. They’re usually colorful and often seem designed with a purpose. But they’re not just there to be aesthetically pleasing.

If you tap on them, they’ll usually open up what’s known as an Instagram Highlight. A Highlight is basically just an Instagram Story that’s been picked to be featured permanently on a given user’s profile. Stories usually only last for 24 hours, but if you choose to feature them as a Highlight, they can kind of live forever on your profile.

But back to those circles. They’re called highlight covers. And they’re kind of an important entry point, right? Especially if you’re a brand, you’ll want those covers to reflect who you are as a company or person and attract people to watch those featured Stories.

If that’s your goal, we can give you some pointers on how to up your Instagram highlight cover game so you can reach it. In this guide, we’ll go over what a highlight cover is, how to make one, and then how to add your highlight cover to your Instagram highlight.

What’s an Instagram highlight cover?

Put simply, an Instagram highlight cover is one of those little circle icons on an Instagram account profile that, when you tap on it, opens up its related Instagram Highlight. The image you see featured in the cover is usually (but not always) the first image in the Highlight slideshow itself.

The highlight cover usually defaults to whatever that first image is. (There are other ways to pick another image to be your cover, but more about that later.) But either way, you’ll want to make sure that image looks as aesthetically pleasing and as relevant to your brand or storytelling as possible. In the next two sections, we’ll go over how you can do that.

How to make an Instagram highlight cover

In the following steps, we’ll go over the basics of what it takes to design your own Instagram highlight cover. Instead of just defaulting to the first image in your Story, you can create your own highlight cover image and then use that as the first image in your Story so that it appears first in your Highlight, and is then used as your highlight cover. Or you can create your own highlight cover image and then add it as a cover when prompted by the app. This way, the cover image doesn’t have to be a part of your Highlight.

Step 1: Use a service like Canva to design your own highlight covers. If you want to go the route of creating your own highlight covers (but not necessarily totally from scratch), you should consider using a graphic design platform like Canva. Canva has thousands of free highlight cover templates to choose from that you can then customize and use for your own purposes.

And then once you’re done editing your covers on Canva’s online image editor, you can just download them and insert them into your Stories, or when prompted to edit your cover while creating a new Highlight or editing an existing Highlight, you can tap the photo icon to add one of your Canva-designed images as a cover.

The Canva online image editor while editing an Instagram highlight cover template.

Step 2: There are design rules to making highlight covers. So follow them. If you’re not going to use a premade template to create your own highlight covers, you need to make sure that you follow a few design rules first so that your DIY covers still look polished and professional.

According to social media management software developer Buffer, your highlight cover images should have the following:

  • The design elements should be centered so that they all fit nicely when Instagram crops your image into its highlight cover circle.
  • The image size dimensions should be: 1080 x 1920
  • The aspect ratio should be: 9:16
Writing an Instagram highlight cover caption.

Step 3: Don’t forget to make use of the caption under your highlight covers. When you’re creating a highlight, you’ll be given the option to write a tiny caption for your highlight cover. Go ahead and write one if you have a snappy or memorable caption/title for your highlight.

You can add emojis here too. Have fun with it. The caption is yet another way to draw attention to your highlights. Plus, it can give another clue to your viewers about what that highlight will be about.

How to add an Instagram highlight cover

There are multiple ways you can go about adding an Instagram Highlight cover. You can include your desired cover image in your original Instagram Story as the first image, and your Highlight can default to using that as the cover image.

You can choose a different image from your story to be the cover image. You can select an entirely different image from your phone while you’re creating the Highlight. You can even edit the cover of an existing Highlight and choose a different cover image from the highlight story or pick another image from your phone — lots of possibilities. For the purposes of this guide, we’re going to focus on two main methods: One for while you’re creating a Highlight and one for changing the cover of an existing Highlight.

Step 1: While creating a Highlight:

Select your Profile picture icon. Then choose the Plus sign icon > Story Highlight. Choose the images you want to include in your Highlight. Select Next.

On the Title screen, if desired, enter your caption in the area with the blinking cursor. Then select Edit cover if you wish to change the default cover image to a different one.

Then either choose a different image from your Highlight to be the cover or choose another image from your phone by selecting the Picture icon at the bottom of your screen. If you chose to do the latter, choose the image you want from the next screen and then select the Arrow icon in the top-right corner. Then select Done. Then select Done again.

The Edit cover screen on the Instagram mobile app.

Step 2: Changing the cover of an existing Highlight:

Open up the Instagram mobile app. Select your Profile picture icon at the bottom-right corner of the screen. Long press on the Highlight cover circle icon you want to edit.

From the menu that pops up, choose Edit highlight. Select Edit cover.

Then you can either choose a different image from your Highlight to be the highlight cover, or you can select the Picture icon at the bottom of the screen to choose a different image from your phone. If you chose another photo from your Highlight, then select Done. And then select Done again.

On the other hand, if you chose the Picture icon, select the photo you want on the next screen > choose the Arrow icon > select Done. Select Done again.

The Edit Highlight option on the Instagram mobile app.

Editors’ Choice

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Apple’s 2021 App Store Awards highlight ‘connection’

Last year, Apple focused on quarantine life for its App Store Awards. For 2021, it’s continuing that concept with a focus on “connection” as its trend of the year — basically, things that brought us together even though we’re still dealing with a global pandemic. That trend award was bestowed upon five apps, including familiar names like Bumble and Among Us!. But the niche winners are even more interesting: there’s EatOkra, an app that helps you find black-owned restaurants; Canva, which helps anyone create pro-grade designs; and Peanut, a social network focused on connecting women to find support throughout major life events.

You’d probably be surprised by some of the winners for Apple’s mainstay categories too: the Apple TV app of the year was the boxing streaming service Dazn, something I’ve admittedly never heard of. The Apple TV game of the year, Space Marshals 3, also came out of seemingly nowhere. But the strong review scores for both of those apps make it clear that users genuinely enjoy them.

While the App Store Awards are very much a marketing exercise, it’s also a useful way to highlight some of the best apps users may have missed. (And I’m sure developers appreciate the recognition, and the aluminum App Store icon they can display on their shelves.) LumaFusion, the best iPad app of the year, makes complex multi-track video editing easy to do with your fingers. And Carrot Weather, the best Apple Watch app, looks like a truly unique watch face.

Apple App Store Award on a shelf


Here are the rest of Apple’s App Store Awards for 2021: 

  • iPhone app of the year: Toca Life World

  • Mac App of the year: Craft

  • iPhone game of the year: League of Legends: Wild Rift

  • Mac game of the year: Myst

  • iPad game of the year: MARVEL Future Revolution

  • Apple Arcade game of the year: Fantasian (the incredible RPG from the creator of Final Fantasy)

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Tech News

Dyson V15 Detect cordless vacuum uses laser to highlight dust

Dyson is back with a new vacuum cleaner, one that uses laser light to reveal the dust and debris you may otherwise have failed to notice while cleaning. The cordless vacuum, which is called the Dyson V15 Detect, uses an eye-safe green laser light positioned near the floor to highlight the dirt, something the company says is more effective than ordinary LEDs.

According to Dyson, it made the V15 Detect to detect dust measuring down to 10 microns in size. The model packs an acoustic piezo sensor, which enables the vacuum to monitor the size and quantity of dust picked up by the device. The information is then displayed on the V15 Detect’s built-in LCD.

Of course, the most eye-catching aspect of the new Dyson vacuum is the Laser Dust Detection system, which is a green laser positioned 7.3mm above the ground and angled 1.5 degrees downward. The light highlights dust and debris on the ground in a way someone can easily see, Dyson explains.

When combined, the Dyson V15 Detect enables users to see the dirt that needs to be vacuumed and then provides them with stats about it on the vacuum’s LCD. The model is able to automatically adjust its suction level when it encounters larger quantities of dust, which is made possible with the piezo sensor.

Joining these features is what Dyson calls an anti-tangle technology named Hair Screw, which addresses the issue of hairs tangling around a vacuum’s brush. The hair screw tech works by spiraling hair from the brush and into the bin — it works with both pet and human hair. Rounding out the feature is a high-torque cleaner head with 56 polycarbonate teeth that help prevent tangles.

The Dyson V15 Detect vacuum is available now for $699.99 USD.

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Intel’s new Evo brand will highlight premium ‘Project Athena’ notebooks

The new Intel Evo sticker you’ll see on laptops this fall is Intel’s answer to the question, “So what this makes this laptop PC so special, anyway?”

Ever since Intel launched its Project Athena premium thin-and-light PC program eighteen months ago, Intel and its partners have struggled to communicate what makes their collaboratively designed notebooks better than the rest. Evo is its new signal. In what Intel is informally calling the “Project Athena Second Edition,” Intel told PCWorld how it is prioritizing its new Intel Evo brand as a badge to identify these premium ultrabooks, while redefining what they stand for: cloud- and browser-based work.  

Intel is launching the new Evo brand Wednesday alongside the formal, final unveiling of its 11th-gen Tiger Lake processors. The second edition of the Project Athena platform calls for a minimum specification of either an 11th-gen Intel Core i5/i7 with Iris Xe graphics, alongside a 12- to 15-inch Full HD (or better) display, a chassis 15mm or thinner, and Intel’s Dynamic Tuning technology.

hp elite dragonfly 1 Gordon Mah Ung

The HP Elite Dragonfly was just one of a number of first-generation Project Athena laptops…but would you know it just from looking at it?

Intel Evo badges will accompany four new thin-and-light laptops at launch, with more to come: the just-announced Lenovo Yoga 9i, the Asus Zenbook Flip S, the Samsung Galaxy Book Flex 5G, and the latest version of the Acer Swift 5. (Will there be an actual sticker? We don’t know for certain, but the Engineered for Mobile Performance “visual identifier” used for Athena notebooks was just for in-store displays.)

In all, twenty Evo designs are expected by the end of the year, Intel executives said. Intel Evo stickers will appear on laptops from Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Samsung, as before. But as Intel promised, there will be new additions for 2020: Dynabook, LG, and MSI. Does the latter signify that we’ll see an Intel Evo gaming PC? Intel isn’t saying.

What’s inside an Evo PC?

The fundamental premise of what Intel is trying to accomplish with Project Athena, or Evo, hasn’t changed: work with PC makers to co-design laptops that are quick to respond, always connected, and can last all day on a single charge. Over fifty first-generation “Athena” PCs shipped from Intel’s partners. But the “Athena” designation was never really loudly trumpeted, sometimes appearing on a spec sheet and little more. The new Evo brand may help change that.

project athena intel evo platform requirements Intel

Here are the basic specifications of an Evo PC. Naturally, Intel’s new Intel Tiger Lake processor is a fundamental component.

Intel has promised significant gains in clock speed for its 11th-gen Tiger Lake chip, including delivering what it calls the “best ultraportable gaming experience,” including a doubling of gaming performance over the 10th-gen Ice Lake processor. But productivity still seems to be the focus for the Athena platform and Evo badge: Intel promises 20 percent more performance in office applications than competing platforms, meaning AMD’s Ryzen.

“Evo will be the key focus for the rest of this year and into next year,” said Josh Newman, vice president and general manager of PC Innovation Segments in Intel’s Client Computing Group, in an interview. “These will be the best laptops for getting things done.”

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