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Titanfall Will Be Discontinued and Removed from Services

After originally releasing seven years ago and sparking the franchise that would eventually lead to Apex Legends, developer Respawn Entertainment is discontinuing new sales of Titanfall.

A note about Titanfall. pic.twitter.com/Ew232HkUIo

— Respawn (@Respawn) December 1, 2021

In a statement released on Twitter, the developer did not say why it is halting sales of the game, which it describes as “a beacon of innovation that we strive for in all of our games.” At the time of writing, Titanfall Deluxe Edition is still available for purchase on Steam for $20. Titanfall will still be available via subscription services, although only until March 1, when it will be removed from those as well.

Respawn also clarified that even though it won’t be selling any more new copies of Titanfall going forward, that it is not ending support for the game. “We will, however, be keeping servers live for the dedicated fanbase still playing and those who own the game and are looking to drop into a match,” reads the developer’s statement.

However, not many players may want to get into a game of Titanfall. The game, as well as its sequel, has been plagued by hackers for some time now, rendering the game unplayable for others in some cases. Currently, Titanfall‘s average user review score on Steam is “mostly negative.”

While Respawn is going to stop selling new copies of Titanfall, the company has previously indicated that it isn’t done with the franchise. Following reports that the Titanfall franchise was being left behind by the developer, it sent a tweet out hinting that it had other plans in store.

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Tech News

Popular Google Play Store apps removed for stealing Facebook passwords

Ever since they became popular, app stores have become one of the most common and highly advised ways to get apps for various platforms. Official app sources like Apple App Store and Google Play Store offer a selection of software and games that have passed their scrutiny, offering a sense of security that these apps are safe for use. Unfortunately for Google, the credibility of its sanctioned Android app marketplace has been put into question time and again, and a recent incident shows how popular apps can still pose a security risk for users.

Google Play Store is home to hundreds of apps of varying qualities. There are, of course, popular apps from big names, but, once in a while, a few obscure utilities rise above nearly identical apps. Unfortunately, just because they have been downloaded thousands or even millions of times means they are what they claim to be.

Dr. Web reveals at least nine such apps on Google Play Store that were specifically designed for one purpose. Offering actually useful and valid functionality, these apps housed trojans that deceived users into giving their Facebook credentials so that the apps’ developers, or at least the authors of the malware, could then compromise those users’ social media accounts.

The apps probably passed Google Play Store’s review process because they did work as advertised. The trick was in the offer to either remove ads or access more functionality by signing into a user’s Facebook account. It showed the legitimate Facebook login page in an embedded WebView but with injected Javascript to intercept the user’s login details.

The apps have already been removed from Google Play Store, but only after the apps were discovered and reported. Unfortunately for the presumably thousands of users of these apps, it might already be too late, and are advised to scan their phones and reset their Facebook passwords. Hopefully, Google will be able to use the data from this incident to better improve Google Play’s machine learning and block similar apps before they can even get in.

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Game

Final Fantasy 5 and 6 Remakes Will Be Removed From Steam

Square Enix updated the Steam pages of its Final Fantasy 5 and remakes with a message announcing that the two titles are being removed from the popular digital gaming marketplace. After July 27, both Japanese roleplaying games will no longer be purchasable. “Instead, please purchase the pixelated remaster version of “Final Fantasy VI,” coming soon,” Square stated.

The Final Fantasy 5 and remakes were widely panned by fans due to both of them being ports of the mobile version, which were poorly received as well. Redone art and gameplay quirks made the experience inferior to the original versions and the Gameboy Advance ports.

While players are usually quick to disagree with a decision like this, it’s the right way to go about ushering in the new Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster collection. The mobile-ported remakes on Steam always came off as a cheap cash grab, and their technical inferiority to the new pixelated remasters will push them to the wayside come release.

The move should remove potential confusion for buyers, as the upcoming remake won’t be on shelves with the old version at the same time. This choice from Square gets rid of the middleman and keeps things as simple as possible while hopefully providing a better product.

Now all we have to do is hope that the new pixel remasters turn out better than previous efforts. Thankfully, Square is already taking a step in the right direction by keeping the sprite work intact. However, the lack of a confirmed console release and sparse details have fans worried.

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Tech News

Xiaomi will be removed from a US blacklist according to court documents

A new report has surfaced that Xiaomi Corp. and the US government have come to an agreement that will remove the Chinese company from a blacklist it was placed on by President Trump. By being on that blacklist, Xiaomi was banned from any American investment and was unable to procure any hardware designed in the US. Earlier this year, the Chinese smartphone maker sued the US government after the US Department of Defense issued an order designating the firm as a Communist Chinese Military Company.

That designation would’ve led to Xiaomi being delisted from US exchanges and deleted from global benchmark indexes. According to a court filing in the US this week, the Department of Defense has reportedly agreed that a final order vacating the designation would be appropriate. Neither the Pentagon nor Xiaomi has offered any comment on the move.

The court filing stated that both parties in the matter have agreed on a path forward that resolved the litigation without the need for a contested briefing. The court filing also noted that the parties are negotiating over specific terms and will file separate joint proposals before May 20. The news was enough to push shares of Xiaomi stock up 6.7 percent in Hong Kong trading.

While Xiaomi is mostly known for smartphones, it makes a range of products, including robotic vacuum cleaners, wearable devices, and electrified bikes. President Trump had led a charge to place the company on a blacklist due to fears that its ties with the Chinese government could lead to a potential for hacking and data theft in the US.

Xiaomi had filed a suit in US courts, and that suit resulted in a temporary halt on the ban in the US. The judge had noted that Xiaomi was likely to win a full reversal of the ban as the litigation unfolded, and an injunction was issued to prevent what the judge called “irreparable harm” to the company.

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Roku removed the YouTube TV app, but Google has a way around it

It seems Roku and Google are the latest platforms in a squabble over YouTube, this one concerning the YouTube TV app in particular. A dispute between the two companies resulted in Roku removing the YouTube TV app listing from its platform around a week ago, but now Google is back with a change to the main app that gets around the issue.

Roku users can no longer find the YouTube TV app on the platform, but existing installations of the app remain. That means if you’re a new YouTube TV customer who hasn’t already downloaded the app, you’ll have to look to other platforms to use it…or take advantage of the new YouTube TV feature within the main YouTube app.

Only days after the app’s removal, Google has updated its main YouTube app on the Roku platform to include direct access to the YouTube TV platform. This means the service’s customers will no longer need to download a dedicated YouTube TV app in order to watch the live TV offering with their Roku set-top box, stick, or smart TV.

If you’re a Roku device owner and YouTube TV subscriber, you’ll be able to access the subscription in the main YouTube app on Roku in the next few days. If this sounds familiar, that’s because this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a company use a workaround in the midst of a dispute.

Back during the Amazon and Google feud in 2017, Google removed YouTube from the Fire TV platform, but Amazon got around this by prompting YouTube users to open the video platform’s website in its web browser. It’s unclear how long this fight between Google and Roku will last, but until then, look for the YouTube TV link in the left-hand side of the main YouTube Roku app.

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Tech News

Apple removed Shadow game streaming app to block Microsoft xCloud

Apple has very strict app store policies that it credits as the reason that it is able to offer high-quality and safe experiences on iOS. Those policies, however, have also been criticized by developers are self-serving, inconsistent, and monopolistic, traits that Epic Games is using against the iPhone maker in its high-profile lawsuit. The game developer, however, isn’t the only big company that had problems with Apple’s App Store rules but, in an almost odd turn of events, Microsoft inadvertently got a competing game streaming app banned when it was making its case for Project xCloud on iOS.

Of Apple’s many App Store policies, the most notorious is perhaps the restriction on offering any kind of store within an app. That’s the reason why Amazon’s Kindle and Comixology apps don’t allow buying anything from within the app in contrast to the experience on Android. That policy, however, has become the bane of the new breed of game streaming services like Google Stadia and Microsoft Xbox Game Pass’ service, formerly known as Project xCloud.

Both companies as well as some third-party developers have tried to work around those limitations but Microsoft tried to also convince Apple to let xCloud into the App Store. In email exchanges last year between the two companies that were revealed as part of the Epic Games vs. Apple lawsuit, Microsoft argued that apps like Netflix and Shadow did exist in the App Store. The latter was also a cloud gaming service that suddenly found itself pulled from the App Store probably because Microsoft used it as an example.

Fortunately for Shadow’s users, that ban was only temporary. The developers successfully argued that they didn’t really offer an alternative content store because what they ultimately provided was remote access to a gaming PC. This would be the same line of reasoning Valve would use in order to get Steam Link approved once and for all.

To date, Stadia and Xbox Game Pass streaming remain absent on iOS and this trial will hardly change that. Not unless Epic Games is able to win its case and force Apple to open up its mobile platform to competing content stores and payment systems.

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Game

Epic removed Fortnite’s Battle Lab mode and no one knows why

Battle Lab, the Fortnite game mode that replaced Playground, disappeared from the game with Tuesday’s update. Epic hadn’t commented on the surprise removal and, given the lack of patch notes, there was no clear indication that its absence was intentional. Epic has since confirmed that it removed Battle Lab on purpose, but it still hasn’t explained why.

The Battle Lab game mode is essentially the battle royale game island limited just to the player who launches it and anyone in their party. This gives players the chance to practice strategies, scope out locations, and play their own friends-only battle royale matches without a bunch of other players.

The mode was more robust than Playground, however, enabling players to set a bunch of parameters for creating their own version of the battle royale game. This is distinctly different from Creative, which features fan-created islands and gives players various blank environments for creating their own islands.

Following the update earlier this week, Fortnite players noticed that Battle Lab is no longer listed among the game modes — a surprise considering that it was a ‘permanent’ mode rather than an LTM. Some speculated that a bug may have resulted in a temporary takedown, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Known Fortnite data-miner and leaker iFireMonkey on Twitter has published a statement from Epic Games revealing that the mode’s removal was intentional. It doesn’t seem the company hasn’t any plans to bring it back, which would be bad news for creators who used the mode to create video content.



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Telegram Voice Chats limits removed, making rooms like radio

Telegram updated Voice Chats to a full “2.0” this week by removing all participant number restrictions. Voice Chats are now allowed in Telegram channels, and this update adds a bunch of features to the connected pair of features. Admins for both public groups and channels can activate the ability to host voice chats for unlimited numbers of live listeners.

This update adds features like rich lists of participants in channels and recordable voice chats. Users can work with voice chat titles and use invite links for both speakers and listeners. If you are the admin of a public group or channel, you can create invite links “that open the voice chat right away” – and separate links can be made for listeners and for speakers.

Once you’re inside a chat, users will be able to raise their hand. The admin can then approve them to speak. The “raise hand” animation is a tiny person waving at the admin – neat!

Recording voice chats is simple, now, resulting in an audio file that’s immediately available in Saved Messages. When a voice chat is being recorded in Telegram BY Telegram, a red light appears next to the title of the voice chat.

The latest update to Telegram allows “public figures” to join voice chats as their channels, now, too – adding to the wide variety of ways and means with which public figures can use Telegram to connect with readers and listeners.

If you’re an Android user, your chat list now works with new gestures. If you swipe left on a chat list item, you can choose which chat list action occurs. This can include Pin, Archive, Read, Mute, Delete, or Change Folder.

The Resume Playback feature for videos and audio tracks was added to voice messages. Before now, it was only available for videos and audio tracks, now it’s here for voice messages as well.

This update should be live in the Google Play app store for Android and in the Apple App Store for iOS devices. You should be able to access the same features with your desktop Telegram app as well – go see and/or update before you tap!

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The Great Suspender Chrome extension removed for being malware, tabs lost

Perhaps a bit worse than Google Play Store, the Chrome Web Store for browser extensions has been notorious for hosting malware disguised as useful plugins. Google has started to tighten the noose on these potentially harmful software but some malicious actors have stepped up their game of deceptive strategies. Now, these malware entice users by actually delivering the functionality they promise but with dangerous malware added on top. Such was the case with The Great Suspender that has caused a great uproar because of how Google handled the situation.

It is almost ironic that The Great Suspender actually addresses one of Chrome’s biggest problems. The world’s most-used web browser is notorious for being a memory hog, especially since its users often have dozens of tabs opened all at once. Google is developing ways to reduce Chrome’s memory use for inactive tabs but The Great Suspender offered that functionality for more than a year already.

Unfortunately, the extension has also been labeled as malware that started tracking users last year. After many news outlets covered the situation, Google started warning users about the dangers posed by the extension. Unfortunately, it how now taken the drastic action of disabling and removing the extension but may have unintentionally also caused users more trouble.

The Great Suspender, as its name implies, suspends idle or unused tabs in the background. When Google automatically removed the extension, those tabs remained inaccessible. In other words, those tabs have practically been lost with no direct way for users to get them back.

There is, fortunately, a way to access those tabs again, but it does require a bit of work. That involves searching through Chrome’s history for tabs marked with the extension’s unique “klbibkeccnjlkjkiokjodocebajanakg” and copying only the actual links of the web pages. For people who needed The Great Suspender to keep their dozens of tabs in check, that might be a daunting task nonetheless.

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