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Game

Niantic buys gameplay recording app Lowkey to improve its in-game social experience

Niantic has acquired another company to help build out its augmented reality platforms. The company has announced that it’s acquiring the team behind Lowkey, an app you can use to easily capture and share gameplay moments. While you can use any screen capture application — or even your phone’s built-in feature — to record your games, Lowkey was designed with casual gamers or those who don’t want to spend time editing their videos in mind. 

The app can capture videos on your computer, for instance, and sync them with your phone where you can use its simple editing tools to create short clips optimized for mobile viewing. You’re also able to share those clips with friends within the app Snapchat-style or publish it for public viewing like TikTok. Niantic didn’t reveal what the Lowkey team will be doing for its AR games and experiences exactly, but it said the team’s “leadership in this space will accelerate the social experiences [it’s] building in [its] products.” The company added: “We share a common vision for building community around shared experiences, and enabling new ways to connect and play for our explorers.”

The Pokémon Go creator purchased other companies in the past in its quest to build more tools and features for its augmented reality products. In 2017, it purchased social animation startup Evertoon to build a social network for its games. Last year, it bought 3D mapping startup 6D.ai to develop “planet-scale” augmented reality, and just this August, it acquired LiDAR scanning app Scaniverse to create a 3D map of the world.

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Categories
Computing

The Best Free Recording Software

Thanks to advances in computer software, it has never been easier to record your own music from home or on the go. When it comes to the search for a free and reliable Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) to record music, the internet has a lot to offer.

GarageBand is free, easy to use, and comes with an extensive variety of effects and virtual amps to choose from, but it isn’t the only offering on the market. Check out our other picks for the best free recording software below.

Further reading

GarageBand

Although MacOS isn’t always the only platform for great software, when it comes to free recording applications, it has the best of the bunch. GarageBand is an Apple-exclusive program that gives you a full audio-creation suite with features for audio recording, virtual instruments, and even music lessons built right in.

Part of the appeal of GarageBand is how simple it is to get going. Its interface is intuitive and easy to learn, and if you want to record something, you just plug in your instrument or device and get started. There is a wide variety of virtual amps and effects you can use, as well as drum tracks that sound like they were performed by real musicians.

The sound and loop library that’s available for editing into your own tracks is growing all the time, and you can even bring in your iOS devices for wireless control of your setup. GarageBand is the most fully featured free application on this list. While you will need to have an Apple device to run it, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better application that doesn’t force you to get out your credit card first.

MacOS iOS

Avid Pro Tools First

Pro Tools First is a limited version of the main Pro Tools and Pro Tools Ultimate applications, but it’s still pretty capable in its own right. Aimed at singers, songwriters, and musicians who are just getting started with audio recording or want to try out the software before buying, its main limitation is that you can only store three projects in the cloud. You’re also limited to 16 simultaneous audio tracks, four inputs, and 16 instrument tracks.

Beyond that, though, you’ll still have access to a great number of the same features and capabilities as in the other paid versions of Pro Tools, giving you a good idea of what the software can do. For example, you’ll still have access to non-destructive editing, a MIDI editor, and support for AAX Native and AAX AudioSuite.

If you choose to go with ProTools, you will need to pay attention to their system requirements for both ProTools First and the other paid versions: Certain versions of ProTools are not compatible with MacOS Catalina, MacOS Big Sur, or certain versions of Windows 10 at this time.

If you do choose to upgrade to the standard or Ultimate paid versions further down the line, they’ll set you back $30 and $80 a month, respectively.

Windows MacOS

Audacity

best free recording software - audacity

First released in 2000, Audacity has gone on to become one of the most popular pieces of free software around — and for good reason. The open-source program gives users a wide range of options for recording and editing audio, all tied together with a simple interface. Plus, everything Audacity has to offer is free of charge. Compared to other notable DAWs such as ProTools and Sound Forge, Audacity’s layout is very minimalist. There are toolbars for navigating a track, editing it, and mixing. When tracks are loaded, they will appear as waveforms, and users can edit specific sections of a track by highlighting the appropriate section of the waveform.

Of course, no piece of free software is without its shortcomings, and despite Audacity’s many virtues, it has some issues. The most notable problem is that Audacity uses “destructive editing,” which means that when users add effects to a track, they are actually altering the waveform; these changes happen to the original file, so undoing unwanted effects can be tough. This isn’t necessarily a problem if you’re carrying out simple tasks — such as editing pauses out of a podcast — but more complex actions like mixing might be difficult.

Ardour

best free recording software - ardour

Ardour is an open-source DAW available for Linux, MacOS, and Windows. Its developer, Paul Davis, also invented the Jack sound server for Linux and worked previously as one of the original programmers at Amazon.

Ardour has highly versatile multi-track recording features that include the ability to import video for film scoring purposes, to record and edit non-destructively, and to prepare any combination of individual tracks for recording. Its use of Jack makes it compatible with a number of outside applications, as well. However, unlike other DAWs, Ardour does not come with any built-in effects or instruments and relies instead on the installation of third-party software.

Windows MacOS Linux

Zynewave Podium Free

best free recording software - zynewave podium

In 2005, programmer Frits Nielsen left his position as a user interface designer with TC Electronic. He wanted to focus his efforts on a recording application he began developing back in the early ’90s. Nielsen started a company called Zynewave and released a program called Podium. Podium was a fully functional DAW with a 64-bit sound engine, MIDI capabilities, VST, and third-party plugin compatibility. Ahead of its time, Podium also had several other advanced functions. Plus, its price was a mere $50.

Zynewave now offers a free version of its software called Podium Free. Granted, it comes with some limitations — Zynewave has disabled Podium’s multiprocessing capabilities. The block hinders the program’s performance under pressure, which is one significant drawback. Zynewave also disabled the surround-sound playback capability. Other freezes on the 64-bit mixer engine and ReWire also limit the scope of the program. Further, the MIDI interface setup only allows one input and one output. Otherwise, though, Podium Free is identical to Podium. The learning curve might be steep here, due to the program’s quirks.

Once users learn how to use it, they will find that Podium Free offers an interface that excels in customization. It provides a suite of effects and other features on par with premium DAWs.

These days, you don’t have to book a professional studio session to get high-quality recordings. Today’s advanced technology allows anyone to obtain a polished studio sound. With the wide variety of free recording software available and affordable equipment, anybody can own a recording studio.

Although you may not think you can get much out of free recording software, there are still many powerful, free programs out there. You can always upgrade for a feasible price if you get frustrated with the free version’s limited capabilities. Take some time to experiment with each recording platform to see which one would work best for you.

Generally, free software is useful for more than just beginners. Many of these options can benefit both experienced music producers and dabblers.

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
Game

Amazon GameOn clip recording app arrives on iOS App Store

Mobile gaming is a big and lucrative industry these days but few have tried to grow it beyond just the act of gaming. Social platforms around games exist on consoles and PCs but the very few that try to bring that on mobile mostly revolve around live streaming games only, something that only more hardcore gamers and personalities are keen on doing. Amazon is aiming to make that social aspect of gaming more accessible to everyone with its new GameOn platform that has finally arrived on iPhones and iPads months after it launched.

Although it already owns one of the market’s largest live streaming platforms for gaming, Amazon still opted to grow a new platform late last year. While Twitch centered around long videos last hours, GameOn was focused on sharing short video clips up to five minutes long. Think of it like the TikTok of gameplay videos compared to Twitch’s YouTube.

Amazon GameOn went live November last year but was limited to the Android platform. That was probably due to some technical and legal issues Amazon still had to iron out, considering Apple has stricter restrictions when it came to screen recording apps. For the growing community of GameOn users, the wait is finally over and the app is now available on Apple’s App Store.

GameOn lets players record video clips from 30 seconds to five minutes, showcasing special moments in-game or even brief tutorials. Rather than just immediately uploading these clips to the cloud, the app also lets gamers edit the videos to add commentary or even your face using the front-facing camera. A Recall Recording feature can also save your last 30 seconds up to 2 minutes of play.

It does, however, depend on the game being played but GameOn boasts that it is compatible with over a thousand mobile titles, including PUBG Mobile, Crossy Road, and even Angry Birds 2. Amazon, however, still has to release some stats showing how much the social platform has grown in the past four months since it launched.

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Categories
Computing

How to Use Loom for Screen and Video Recording

Working from home is an important part of many people’s everyday lives. To help them stay in touch with colleagues, video conferencing and recording software are a must. There’s a wide selection of free video recording applications, but one of the most popular is Loom, and with good reason. You can even get the professional version for free if you’re a teacher or student. The interface is very straightforward and can be mastered with minimal effort.

Here’s how to use Loom. If you run into any problems with Loom or are looking to learn more tips and tricks for advanced users, we have you covered, too.

How to sign up and use Loom

While the best laptops come with a built-in microphone and webcam, it’s not always easy for people to overcome their tech anxiety when creating a video recording. Rather than having to search through your computer and enable video mode or purchase an expensive recording program, the Loom client makes recording online videos simple and pain-free.

The basic version of Loom is available on their homepage, comes free for anyone to use, and offers users a couple of different options to best match their personal preferences. You can use Loom to record the content on your computer screen, and you can also incorporate footage of yourself narrating or lecturing along with the content.


Several options will enable you to sign up for a Loom account. Users can log in by using their Google account information, linking their Slack account, or providing an email address, password, and name. To access the program, you will need to ensure that you have completed registering your account.

Image of Loom Signup page.
Screenshot/Daniel Martin

You can download Loom on both Windows and Mac and devices running iOS, but the two main ways of using Loom involve either the Desktop Client or the Google Chrome Extension. There are no real disadvantages in one version or the other; it primarily comes down to personal taste. In either case, you can record videos with ease.

How to use the Loom desktop client

To open the Loom Desktop Client, you will need to search for Loom in the Windows search bar or click the red pinwheel Loom logo. Once the client is open, you will select the type of video recording that you want to create.

Image of Loom logo.
Screenshot/Daniel Martin

The three available options for the basic Loom version are Cam Only, Screen Only, and Screen + Cam. As the names of the options imply, Cam Only and Screen Only allow you to record either the content on your screen or yourself via a webcam. Screen + Cam will enable you to tape both yourself and the content so others can see your reactions to the material being recorded in real time.

Image of Loom desktop client.
Screenshot/Daniel Martin

If you want to record your screen, you will have three settings to help you define your video’s parameters. The three options are Full Screen, Window, and Custom Size, and they allow you to tailor your video neatly.

Full Screen records everything on your monitor or display so people can see every mouse click and follow along on their own computers. If you are trying to create a more limited tutorial that cuts out any distractions, you can make use of the Window option to make a recording of a single computer application. Custom Size is only available to users who have upgraded to a Pro account, and it allows them to create custom windows to record specific portions of their computer screen.

You can choose to make use of your device’s built-in webcam and microphone to record your Loom videos, or you can select external devices as needed or desired. Loom recommends that users should make use of high-quality microphones to improve the audio quality of their videos.

How to record videos with the Loom Google Chrome Extension

To use the Loom Google Chrome Extension, you have to download it from the Chrome Web Store and install it. Once you do so, you can activate the extension by clicking on the red pinwheel Loom logo in the browser’s upper right corner and load its user interface.

Image of Loom extension logo
Screenshot/Daniel Martin

Much like the desktop client, you can select between Cam Only, Screen Only, and Screen + Cam. Sadly, users of the Google Chrome Extension are limited to either recording their whole screen or a single tab’s contents.

The Video Control menu is also organized differently from the desktop extension, appearing in the browser window’s bottom left. Users are also only limited to three buttons: Start/End Recording, Pause Recording, and Delete Recording from right to left.

Image of Loom Chrome Extension menu.
Screenshot/Daniel Martin

How to record videos in Loom desktop client

Each mode allows you to use Loom’s camera bubble, which allows you to view and record yourself and a video. There is no upper limit on the video’s length, but you will receive prompts from Loom to ensure you didn’t accidentally keep recording.

Once you have finished finalizing your options, you can direct your attention to the four-button Video Control menu on the left side of your screen. To begin recording your video, press the Recording button at the top of the menu. This button serves two functions: It lets you know that you are recording videos when the button is red, and when clicked for a second time, it stops the recording.

Image of Loom Control Menu and Camera Bubble.
Screenshot/Daniel Martin

The button underneath the Recording button is the Pause button, which pauses your video, though you can also use Alt + Shift + P or Option + Shift + P, depending on your computer. A garbage can icon represents the Delete button, which not only stops the recording but also deletes the video entirely after you confirm your decision via a dialog box.

Finally, we come to the Drawing tool, represented by a pen icon, and requires a Pro subscription. This icon allows the user to create drawings for your video that help focus on particular facts and figures. By clicking the icon and selecting a preset color, you can draw your viewer’s attention to all the important details.

Editors’ Choice




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