First Playdate shipments delayed, but for a good reason

It seems that the hardware delays just keep on coming. In a week where we’ve learned that Valve’s Steam Deck has been delayed and that Sony possibly had to cut PS5 production estimates because of the global parts shortage, we’re now learning that the initial orders for Panic’s Playdate handheld have also been delayed. There is a silver lining to this one, though, so at least in the end, it isn’t all bad news.

Playdate’s delay has a good reason behind it

In an email sent out to customers who purchased the initial batch of Playdate handhelds (which can be read in full over on Playdate’s website), Panic explains that the first and second groups of Playdate shipments have been pushed back from late 2021 to early 2022. Unfortunately, those two groups comprise orders for the first 20,000 units, so this is a pretty significant delay.

What happened? If your first guess was the global silicon shortage, you’d actually be wrong for the first time in months. In the email, Panic explains that the first batch of 5,000 handhelds it received from the manufacturer had defective batteries that didn’t last as long as the company expected them to.

Panic then sent the bad units back to the manufacturer to receive new batteries from a new supplier. The company says that the new batteries are “exactly what we’re hoping for, if not even better than before,” and that they’ll deliver on the long battery life that was originally promised to buyers. So, even though initial Playdate shipments were delayed, at least Panic didn’t wind up sending handhelds with bad batteries to consumers.

Playdate still isn’t immune from supply shortages

While this particular delay isn’t necessarily down to global supply shortages, the Playdate is not immune to those either. In another section of that lengthy email, Panic explains that while it was able to secure components for these early production runs, some of the parts needed for Playdates produced in 2022 and beyond were subject to significant delays.

The CPU, in particular, was a significant pain point, as Panic notes that it wouldn’t have been able to receive more CPUs for a further two years beyond these initial production runs. With that in mind, Panic says that it has finished a revision of Playdate’s mainboard that features a new, more easily obtainable CPU. So, while it still expects to fulfill 50,000 Playdate orders by late 2022, the company says that any orders beyond those will likely land in 2023.

The company also announced today that a public beta of its browser-based Pulp game development tools should be available in January 2022, while the full Playdate SDK will be available in February of that same year. Once those are out in the open, users will be able to craft their own games for Playdate, which is intended to be an open platform. So, while Playdate has hit a few snags, there was also some good news in today’s message to customers. We’ll let you know when Panic starts shipping out Playdates to early purchasers, so stay tuned for more.

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Evil Dead: The Game delayed, but there’s a good reason

The iconic Evil Dead franchise will soon be available in the form of a video game, but fans will have to wait a bit longer to get their hands on the title. Saber Interactive, the developer behind the game, has announced a delay that will push the release into 2022, though assuming everything goes as planned, it’ll hit shelves by February.

Evil Dead: The Game is based on the Evil Dead franchise, which includes both movies and a TV show. The title will offer multiplayer/co-operative gameplay, as well as a player versus player mode, giving fans the opportunity to fight the dead as Ash Williams and his friends.

In a couple of tweets, the developer behind the title revealed that Evil Dead: The Game is now scheduled for release in February 2022. This will, according to the team, give them more time to add a single-player option so that fans can play even when the co-op mode is not an option.

As well, the additional time will give the developer the chance to polish the game and ultimately ensure it releases a finished, quality product. Once it arrives, the game will be available on the PS4 and PS5, the Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, the Nintendo Switch, and Windows PCs.

This won’t be the first game based on the Evil Dead franchise; there’s the 2005 title Evil Dead: Regeneration, for example, and the 2003 title Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick. This will be the first Evil Dead game made for the latest-generation gaming consoles, however.

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OnePlus has a lame-ass reason for secretly throttling top apps on latest flagships

OnePlus raves on about the smooth performance of its phones every year… but the company was caught red-handed throttling the performance of over 300 apps on the OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro. The company has gone on the defensive now, saying this step was to “ensure better battery life.”

The issue came to the fore when AnandTech published a detailed report into OnePlus’ sneaky performance-limiting practices. Reporter Andrei Frumusanu first found issues with benchmarks of Chrome browser, which were unusually low for Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor designed for high-end phones.

Further investigation found that the Chinese manufacturer possibly has a list of apps whose performance is limited, including WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat. Surprisingly, AndandTech’s report found OnePlus’ own apps in this list.

Credit: OnePlus 9 Pro
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Apple releases iOS 14.5.1 with a good iPhone privacy reason to update

Apple has released iOS 14.5.1, fixing a glitch with its newest privacy system that was preventing some iPhone users from adjusting the app tracking settings. Added with iOS 14.5 – which was released late last month – App Tracking Transparency requires apps to request permission from users before they collate data across multiple services, or sell personal data to brokers for advertising purposes.

It’s proved to be a controversial introduction. Apple originally intended to launch the system earlier than iOS 14.5, but met with push-back from developers and ad networks. It was only ever delayed, however, and – despite Facebook and others protesting – it went live in April 2021.

The way App Tracking Transparency is meant to work is that users are offered the option to allow tracking or opt-out of it. If they choose to opt out, but the app developer continues to use the data anyway, they can be excluded from the App Store.

By default, App Tracking Transparency is meant to come with the setting to allow apps to make those requests turned on. However with the release of iOS 14.5, some iPhone users found that the toggle in the Settings page was grayed-out and couldn’t be switched on. That meant apps weren’t able to request permission.

It’s something Apple addresses in today’s iOS 14.5.1 release. “This update fixes an issue with App Tracking Transparency where some users who previously disabled Allow Apps to Request to Track in Settings may not receive prompts from apps after re-enabling it,” Apple explains in its release notes.

The update also includes bug fixes and security patches, Apple says. It’s a fairly small download in comparison to iOS 14.5, at only around 114 MB in our experience.

iOS 14.5 delivered more than just App Tracking Transparency, of course. The software also enabled Apple’s long-anticipated Face ID enhancements for those wearing a mask, which allowed iPhones to be accessed as long as the user’s unlocked Apple Watch was nearby. In addition, it enabled AirTag support, which is required not only to pair a Apple’s new tracker to an iPhone, but also to receive alerts if a foreign AirTag is near to you and potentially tracking you surreptitiously.

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If this March Apple event leak is true, OnePlus has reason to worry

Now that March is here, we’re getting into spring reveal event territory, and today we may have learned the date for the next Apple event. Assuming today’s rumor turns out to be true, that event could just be a couple of weeks away. We’re also hearing about the devices Apple might announce during this event, so thanks to think leak, we could already have a very good idea of what to expect from Apple’s next event.

On Twitter today, Youtuber and noted leaker Jon Prosser suggested that Apple’s next event will be happening on March 23rd. Previous leaks suggested a March 16th date for the event, so even though the leaked information seems to agree that the event is happening at some point in March, Prosser’s leak moves the date back a bit.

In a follow-up tweet, Prosser says a “reliable source” told him that AirTags, iPad Pro, AirPods, and Apple TV are all “ready.” We’re told to “take that however you like,” though the suggestions certainly seems to be that any or all of these products could be revealed during Apple’s event.

It’s worth pointing out that, should this date turn out to be correct, Apple won’t be the only company hosting a reveal event on March 23rd. OnePlus has also confirmed that it will be fully revealing the OnePlus 9 lineup on March 23rd, so if Apple is indeed plotting the same date for its own event and neither company reschedules, that will be a packed day in the world of consumer technology.

We’ll see what Apple announces, but if this event is happening at some point in March, then we should get official word of it soon. We’ll let you know when that official word comes down the pipeline, so stay tuned for more.

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Google is speeding up Chrome updates later this year for a big reason

Google announced today that it will be speeding up Chrome releases later this year. Currently, Google pushes major updates out to Chrome on a six-week timeline, but this fall, that’ll switch to a four-week timeline. Google said today that this won’t necessarily speed up the rate at which new features are added to Chrome, but it will allow the company to push bug fixes more regularly.

That’s important too, because it was only earlier this week that Google issued a patch for a zero-day vulnerability that has an active exploit in the wild. By moving to a four-week release cycle for major Chrome versions, Google will be able to patch those vulnerabilities on a much more regular basis.

The first new Chrome update on this schedule is expected to be Chrome 94, which Google says will release on September 21st, 2021. That makes Chrome 93 the final release in the current six-week structure, and gives it a release date of August 31st, 2021. In a separate blog post, Google says that it will be rolling out a new “Extended Stable” option that will update with a new milestone release every 8 weeks.

The Extended Stable option will be put in place for “enterprise administrators and Chromium embedders” who can’t manage Chrome releases on a four-week timescale. Bug fixes, however, will be delivered on a two-week basis to Extended Stable users, so they don’t have to worry about getting bug fixes on an eight-week schedule as well.

So, later on this year, we’ll see Chrome get updated with major releases once a month, which is a pretty big change for Google. Hopefully that means a secure browser overall, even if doesn’t mean new features on a faster basis.

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