PS5 side plate patent might mean Sony is ready for official custom parts

Ever since the world collectively realized that the plates on the sides of the PlayStation 5 could be removed, there’s been some degree of demand for custom fits and DIY alternatives. Several companies have to capitalize on that demand early only to meant with threats of litigation by Sony, and now we may know why. A Sony patent for PS5 side plates was made public this week. This may suggest that the company plans to offer custom plates of its own.

Official PS5 replacement plates on the way?

The design patent, which was first discovered by the folks over at OP Attack, is brief and to the point, as most design patents are. It mostly consists of illustrations showing off the PlayStation 5’s side plates from several angles. The final illustration in the patent shows the plates attached to a PS5 console.

The full text associated with the patent tells us that Sony filed for it on November 5th, 2020 – just a few days before the PlayStation 5 launched – but it wasn’t published on the USPTO’s website until November 16th. The claim for the patent is short and sweet, describing, “The ornamental design for a cover for electronic device, as shown and described.”

All told, the patent itself is to the point, but the illustrations make it very clear what we’re talking about here. Sony has, essentially, patented the side plates on the PlayStation 5, opening the door to not only launching custom plates itself, but also to potential licensing deals for third-party companies to create and sell their own.

Sony snuffs out unauthorized custom plates

Of course, we’ve known since the very first PlayStation 5 teardown that not only are the side plates on the PS5 removable but taking them off is necessary as the M.2 expansion slot and dust vents are housed underneath. The moment we saw those side plates come off, many of us assumed that we’d see custom plates before long, but a year out from release, there’s still a notable lack of them.

That’s not because companies haven’t tried. We’ve seen at least a couple of companies try their hand at offering custom PS5 plates only to be shut down by Sony. One company, named Platestation at the time, started selling its plates before the PS5 even launched. It was later forced to cancel orders after threats of legal action from Sony, once again before the PS5 was on store shelves.

Skin maker Dbrand also entered the fray with an offering called Darkplates but was forced to pull those under legal threat from Sony as well. After the original Darkplates vanished, Dbrand came back with a new version that featured an original design that trimmed down the overall size of the plates and added vents for better airflow. Darkplates are still available on Dbrand’s website, with the company as insistent as ever that these are legal, original designs that it can’t be sued over.

The fact that Sony has patented the PS5’s plates could potentially make the path to market easier for these companies through licensing agreements. Of course, the big question is whether or not Sony will offer those licensing agreements or simply opt to make its own custom faceplates. Hopefully, now that this patent is out in the open, it won’t be much longer before we find out.

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There’s now an official ‘Minecraft’ gaming chair

Themed gaming chairs aren’t completely new, but this example is rather unusual. According to Windows Central, Microsoft and Mojang have collaborated with Secretlab on a Minecraft chair. The Minecraft Edition Titan Evo 2022 includes the obligatory game logos, but it’s also made to look like you’re sitting on one of the game’s infamous Creepers. That sounds more than a little… creepy, but it might be just what you’re looking for if you livestream Minecraft or otherwise want to advertise your fondness for the classic creative title.

And unlike the in-game Creepers, this chair shouldn’t explode. This is Secretlab’s first special-run chair to use the company’s SoftWeave Plus fabric, which promises to blend durability with comfort. You might not have to worry quite so much about spills or tears ruining your gaming throne.

You can pre-order the Minecraft gaming chair today starting at $549 for small and regular versions, and $599 for XL. That’s a lot to spend on any chair, especially a special edition — you might want to be sure your love of the game is more than just a short-term fling. If it is, though, the expense might be worthwhile to improve your comfort (and hopefully posture) for those lengthy world-building sessions.

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Apple Unveils Official Release Date for MacOS Monterey

In a press release for the new AirPods following the end of the Apple Unleashed event, Apple announced a release date for MacOS Monterey. The new operating system is set to come next week, as the follow-up to 2020’s MacOS Big Sur release, and brings several big enhancements centered around productivity.

Although Apple didn’t provide a solid launch date, the timing means MacOS Monterey should be expected at the latest by October 30. Apple’s release specifically mentioned that the Airpods 3 only work with Apple devices running iOS 15.1, iPadOS 15.1, WatchOS 8.1, tvOS 15.1, or MacOS Monterey.

Coming as a free update for most Macs, the big feature for most people in this release is Universal Control, which lets you use a single mouse and keyboard to control multiple MacOS and iPad devices. The new feature is separate from Sidecar, which lets iPad users leverage the tablet as a second display for your Mac.

If you’re on MacOS Big Sur, you can check to see if MacOS Monterey is ready for your device by heading to the Apple Menu and choosing System Preferences. You’ll then want to choose About This Mac. From there, you should see Software Update. Click this, and if your Mac is eligible, you’ll see MacOS Monterey listed here and can proceed by hitting the Upgrade Now button.

Other features include AirPlay to Mac, which lets you cast your audio or video from an iPhone or an iPad to a Mac without extra software or servers. Rounding out the list of features in Monterey is a new tab design in Safari, enhanced Shortcuts, a new Focus mode, and support for SharePlay.

Some of the new features in Monterey will be exclusive to Apple M1 Mac models. This includes the portrait mode improvements to FaceTime, which blur the background behind you. Also included is Live Text, which pulls text and phone numbers from Photos. Finally, on Intel Macs, you won’t be able to use the new globe view option or see the expanded details in cities like New York or Los Angeles. This is due to the fact that Intel Macs don’t have the neural engine featured on the Apple M1 chip.

MacOS Monterey was originally announced at WWDC 2021 in June. Since then, the OS was in beta testing through the Apple Developer Program. Members of the general public also were beta testing the OS through the Apple Beta Software Program.

Editors’ Choice

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Why Does So Much Official Video Game Apparel Miss the Mark?

I’ll start this out with something that’s going to make me feel old: I remember when people got teased for wearing gaming-themed clothing or accessories. I remember friends wearing Pokémon T-shirts to school and feeling cool for exactly five minutes until some other kid looked at it the wrong way and made them self-conscious. I went to conventions as a teenager that were filled with fans absolutely covered in gaming paraphernalia, which earned them strange looks from my mom. (I was one of those fans.) It was a rough time. You felt like you couldn’t express yourself or your hobby without earning the ire of someone who thought you were weird.

I’m so glad those days are over. Gaming has become mainstream enough that fandom apparel has become acceptable, even trendy. Most major games have their own shop websites where fans can purchase shirts, loungewear, accessories, drinkware, and any other branded item their heart desires. Even high-profile fashion brands have gotten in on the action: last month, sneaker and apparel brand Puma collaborated to release a line of Animal Crossing-themed shoes and clothing.

This week, Australian store BlackMilk released a Legend of Zeldathemed collection that plastered scenes and iconography from across the series onto trendy leggings, shirts, dresses, and more. Even prominent indie games generally get their own line of apparel, vinyl records, plushies, and other related merch. So … why is so much of it downright ugly?

Merch or die

I’m a self-proclaimed merch junkie: I love buying, wearing, and displaying stuff from my favorite games. My foot-tall Nessie plush from Apex Legends arrived last week and it’s been lighting up my life ever since. I have an endless selection of Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm-themed T-shirts. I own a beret that looks like an Animal Crossing bell bag. Don’t even get me started on my enamel pin collection. I consider myself a merch connoisseur, simply because the first place I go after I discover a game I love is the official store.

As a moderate Zelda fan, I was interested in BlackMilk’s collection. The brand is fairly high-profile, and from the little that I know about actual fashion, it’s considered a respectable place to shop. After seeing thousands of unique fan designs and fan-made apparel on sites like Etsy, Instagram, and Twitter, I was excited to see what a brand with design chops and a big budget could do for Zelda

Upon checking out the collection, I was immediately disappointed: A lot of the designs are simply screenshots or key art from the games plastered onto dresses, skirts, leggings, or T-shirts. There are a couple of interesting patterns, but on the whole, the designs are busy and way too obvious (the map-based designs are particularly egregious.) There’s a time and a place for being loud and proud about your favorite games, but what happened to more subtle or creative fandom clothing?

Our The Legend of #Zelda collection is LIVE ~

What epic pieces did you get?#blackmilkclothing @NintendoAUNZ @NintendoAmerica

— BlackMilk Clothing (@BlackMilkTweets) October 11, 2021

BlackMilk isn’t the only shop with gaming-themed clothing that misses the mark. The Apex Legends official shop struggles with its T-shirt designs. Many of them are just white T-shirts with the game’s logo plastered on the front. In most cases, it’s not even a transparent background logo, like on this Olympus-themed T-shirt, which looks like a sleep shirt at best. The rest of the Apex clothing line is mostly black or white shirts and pants with a little bit of text and the triangular logo on them.

Puma’s Animal Crossing sneakers are cute, but there was only one women’s shoe design in the entire group, which seems like a huge oversight for a fan community that’s predominantly female. Overwatch used to have some fun clothing, including this D.Va bomber jacket that’s still sold at Hot Topic, but as the game’s popularity has waned (and Blizzard’s reputation has hit rock bottom), all that’s left are the less inspired designs.

The big cash-in

As much as I love merch, I’m not oblivious to its purpose: To make money and promote the game. People like me, who walk around wearing Overwatch T-shirts, are essentially free advertising for the game. The ZeldaBlackMilk line wasn’t supposed to break any barriers in fashion or try anything original; its goal was to sell Zelda-themed clothing to slightly more fashion-forward people who are already fans and inspire other BlackMilk shoppers to check out the games. Despite the line’s less-than-stellar clothing, the BlackMilk site still struggled under the load of people who tried to check out when the collection launched. This kind of stuff sells, and it sells well, which is why most companies have merchandise lines for their biggest properties in the first place.

That doesn’t mean that companies can’t try to do better. Merchandise designers and publishers would do well to take inspiration from fan designers, who have been making incredible creations since the early days of gaming. Instead of doing it for cash, these artists, designers, and creators do it because they love Zelda, or Animal Crossing, or Overwatch, or thousands of other games and franchises. The designs are unique, subtle, and incorporate deeper references than most official merchandise does.

The reason there are so many fan designers in the first place is that there’s demand for designs that cater to different, unique fashion styles. Fan designs might be a little more expensive than official merchandise — and are more likely to be cracked down on by famously inflexible companies like Nintendo — but they more often come from a position of genuine love and joy than official merchandise does, and I think that ultimately results in a better product.

The gaming merchandise phenomenon shows no signs of slowing down. Big developers and publishers with lots of money will continue to foster high-powered collaborations with clothing and merchandise brands in order to make a few extra bucks and promote their game, and the designs will generally be mediocre to bad. We can only hope that they follow in the steps of smaller fandom creators and take a more subtle, nuanced approach with their clothing designs. Not everyone wants to walk around with Zelda’s gigantic face plastered on the back of their bomber jacket.

Editors’ Choice

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Krispy Kreme has created official Xbox-branded doughnuts

Gaming promos are getting zanier all the time. The days of grabbing a Mountain Dew or a pack of Doritos for a chance to win an Xbox One are long gone. In our attention-zapped world, it has to be new or else it’s DOA. With that in mind, Krispy Kreme has come up with the “Nexus Level” doughnut as part of a new Xbox cross promotion in the UK and Ireland. That’s it above in all its icing-covered glory.

Buy a box of the Xbox-branded doughnuts between August 2nd and 22nd for a chance of winning an Xbox Series S and a month of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (if you’re a new subscriber). To check if you’ve snagged the console, you need to scan the QR code on the box and enter your unique code. 

It’s not as madcap as the Destiny toaster or KFC’s bucket-shaped gaming PC, or even the Xbox Mini Fridge. But, you can’t actually eat any of those. Krispy Kreme is clearly in on the joke. An accompanying video features actors as the team behind the doughnut, with corporate titles like “product innovator” and “quality assurance guru,” touting its “revolutionary design” and “ergonomic form.” 

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Official Fortnite tweets tease massive island change may arrive this week

The latest and arguably greatest season of Fortnite Chapter 2 may experience some big changes in a future update expected to arrive this week. Rather than unofficial details from data-miners, Epic has teased the changes in a series of tweets — but it’s easy to miss them if you don’t know where to look.

Epic operates multiple Fortnite Twitter accounts, the most notable being the main English-language @FortniteGame account. That same account recently dropped a “Hot Saucer Leak” indicating that alien troops may soon appear on the island in a big way (below).

That’s the only teaser about whatever is coming if you look at the English-language account. However, fans have noticed that other Fortnite social media accounts, including the ones for Russia and the Middle East, have also shared their own teasers with additional details.

For example, the FortniteME account tweeted a similar message, noting that an intercepted call confirms alien ground forces are moving across the island starting from the west. “All island residents should take the utmost precautionary measures,” the tweet warns.

Notably, the FortniteME tweet includes an image of what appears to be an old crashed UFO in a large underground space, perhaps a cave. Two island agents dressed like shady government officials are visible overlooking the object. Epic doesn’t state what the alien ground troops are marching toward, but the image may tease the season’s wider storyline: perhaps a UFO had crashed on the island and the aliens arrived to retrieve it.

Meanwhile, the Spanish-language Fortnite Twitter account also shared the same message, but with an image of a crop circle.

Though the crop circle image isn’t anything new — Epic used crop circles as a pre-Season 7 teaser — the image shared on the FortniteME account is new. It’s unclear whether the account was supposed to include that particular image, but regardless it indicates an entirely new POI that may arrive next week.

Some fans speculate the crop circle image could also indicate either a new POI or a big change to an existing destination. The reason is that though Epic has previously used crop circles as promotional imagery for this season, the large field of green crops where it is located doesn’t appear to be anywhere currently on the battle royale island.

It’s difficult to say whether the image is meant to represent an actual POI or if the large corn field was simply used to showcase a crop circle as a generic photo related to the season’s theme. Epic hasn’t yet announced when the next game update will drop, but one is expected to arrive Tuesday — and assuming new POIs are coming, the patch is likely to be huge.

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Tech News

Official Seinfeld Soundtrack arrives decades after sitcom’s finale

Seinfeld, the show about nothing and arguably the most popular sitcom ever, finally has an official soundtrack. Yes, it has been more than 20 years since the show’s controversial finale, but that doesn’t diminish the album’s excellent tracks and the role they played in emphasizing the show’s ample humor.

If you’re a Seinfeld fan, you’ll likely recognize many of the tracks on the Seinfeld Soundtrack, including notable pieces like “Jerry vs Newman Chase,” “Jerry the Mailman,” “Kramer’s Pimpwalk,” and “George’s Answering Machine.” The album has a total of 33 tracks, including the show’s theme song.

The soundtrack was released by WaterTower today, July 2, and was curated by the sitcom’s composer Jonathan Wolff. You’ll notice tracks from episode scenes that are popular with fans, the ones that may trigger vivid memories of episodes you haven’t seen for years but that are still as funny as the day they aired.

Wolff talked about his work on the show’s music in an interview with Deadline, touching on topics about the iconic nature of the tracks and the role the music played in the comedy. Among other things, the composer said:

My goal was to create a sonic brand that, when someone hears it, even from another room with their head in a refrigerator, a Pavlovian response occurs. “Ooh, that’s Seinfeld. Let’s watch that show.” Part of my job on Seinfeld was to create music that helps make people ready to laugh.

If the soundtrack gets you in the mood to rewatch the series, there’s a bit of bad news. Seinfeld left Hulu at the end of June and is destined to land at Netflix. However, for reasons that are unclear, the transition wasn’t seamless and Netflix has delayed adding the show to its platform.

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Bungie begins selling its official Destiny toaster

You can now buy a Destiny toaster to go with your future purchase of an Xbox Mini Fridge. Yes, we’re getting another gaming-themed appliance and this one cranks up the zany dial to the max. As Bungie points out, the toaster actually toasts a Tricorn emblem onto your bread. Plus, it comes with a free container to house all your Destiny-themed sandwiches.

You can pre-order the toaster right now for $85 from the Bungie store and it will ship between this December and January, 2022. Fittingly, you’ll also receive a free Destiny 2 in-game Burnt Edges emblem. As the toaster is a by-product of a charity event, 10 percent of your purchase proceeds will go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. 

Back in June, the Destiny community raised more than $800,000 for the pediatric treatment center, which specializes in cancer treatment and other life-threatening diseases. To help galvanize fans, Bungie offered to make a toaster if they hit a target of $777,777.77 (the developer has a thing for the number seven). Because nothing fuels a hungry bunch of gamers like the promise of toasted bread.

While the basic two-slice toaster is no match for premium smart and steam-based toasters, it’s clearly meant as a bit of fan service. Destiny players often say “let’s get this bread” when venturing for loot and even refer to the Jötunn rifle as a Toaster.

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E3 2021 reveals official app, details all digital show

E3 2021 is quickly approaching, and after last year’s show was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event is returning this year as an all digital show. Outside of some of the major exhibitors who will be in attendance, the fact that E3 2021 will be an all digital affair is the only thing that’s been confirmed about the show so far. Today, that all changed, with E3 organizers not only announcing a dedicated mobile app for the show, but also detailing how E3’s content will be delivered to viewers.

The Entertainment Software Association – the organization behind E3 – said today that E3 2021’s app and online portal “will be a key hub for the duration of the show.” In both the online portal and the app, viewers will find virtual booths, hosted events, and even online forums. Media access to the online portal will be available starting Monday, June 7th, while public access will follow behind on Saturday, June 12th.

Once the portal goes live for the public, viewers will use it and the app to access virtual booths from exhibitors, which is where special events will be hosted along with VOD content and articles. If you’re looking for the big announcements from E3 2021, you’ll find them in those virtual booths. The portal will also allow attendees to create and customize profiles, chat on forums, hang out in virtual lounges, and even participate in “gamified show elements” that have their own leaderboards – though it seems more details on those gamified portions will be coming later.

The E3 live broadcast will also be streamed through the portal and hosted by Alex “Goldenboy” Mendez, Jacki Jing, and Greg Miller. This is where we’ll see developers exhibit their games after announcing them during E3’s big press events, but we’ll also things things like industry panels and press conferences during the live show as well.

Outside of the app and online hub, E3 will also be broadcasting on Twitch, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. A number of major game companies have already been confirmed for the show, including the likes of Microsoft, Nintendo, Ubisoft, Capcom, and Square Enix. We’re sure that plenty more exhibitors will be revealed by the time E3 kicks off next month, so we’ll let you know when more news is revealed.

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Tech News

Nokia Android 11 update delays made official

Although it does try its best to update its dozens of phone models, it seems that this strategy is catching up to HMD Global. Despite its boast of shipping pretty much vanilla Android, the company is struggling to keep its phones up-to-date with the latest release of Android. Now nearing the middle of the year, HMD Global is releasing a revised timeline for its Android 11 updates and it isn’t looking good for the company’s reputation.

After prematurely revealing it, HMD Global did formally announce its plans for the Android 11 rollout for no less than 14 phones. That schedule would start before 2020 ended and would hopefully be completed by the second quarter of this year. As Nokia phone owners can testify, that never really happened.

As XDA would point out, the Nokia 8.3 5G was the first to get that update and it only happened in the first quarter of 2021. Based on the old schedule, the Nokia 1.3, 2.3, 2.4, 3.4, and 4.2 should have already been upgraded to Android 11. Of course, that hasn’t happened yet either.

Perhaps to manage expectations, HMD Global is releasing a revised schedule that pushes almost all of those by a full quarter. Some, like the Nokia 1 Plus, are staying put, strangely, but now the company’s schedule will last until the third quarter. That means that some Nokia phones will be receiving Android 11 just as Android 12 is announced.

HMD Global is silent on why the updates are being delayed but it is perhaps the victim of its own success. Having so many phone models coming from different ODMs, it might be a logistic nightmare to get all of these updated on schedule.

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