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Game

PS5 update rolls out globally with 1440p support, gamelists and new party features

Sony has rolled out the latest PlayStation 5 system update globally with a much-requested feature: 1440p video output. The feature, first previewed in beta last July, will finally provide an option between less-sharp 1080p and demanding 4K that can reduce framerates. It will be especially beneficial to users with PC monitors that natively support 1440p QHD (2,560 x 1,440) resolution. 

Your monitor or TV will need to support 1440p/60Hz or 1440p/120Hz, Sony said. You can select the setting from the “Screen and Video” menu in the settings, and a “Test 1440p Output” button lets you check to see if your monitor is supported. However, using 1440p will disable variable refresh rates (VRR) that sync game and monitor framerates. That means you may see screen tearing and other issues that reduce smoothness.

The update also includes Gamelists, essentially folders to store games. You can have up to 15 Gamelists with 100 games each that include a mix of digital and disc games. Other new features include the ability to request a Share Screen from a fellow party member, view new friends’ profiles and receive notifications to help you join a friend’s game from a party chat. A new feature in preview in the UK and US, meanwhile, lets you do YouTube searches using Voice Command from anywhere on PS5, including during gameplay.

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Game

‘Rocket League Sideswipe’ rolls out globally on iOS and Android

After launching into pre-season earlier this month, the mobile game Rocket League Sideswipe is rolling out to iOS and Android users around the world, 9to5Mac has reported. The side-scrolling car soccer game was unveiled earlier this year as a mobile, 2D version of Rocket League that lets you play solo or team with friends for two vs. two matches.  

Like the original, Sideswipe is all about that car soccer life, but with a 2D side-on instead of a 3D view. It uses touch controls designed to be easy to master, with advanced control mechanics available for better players. Like the original, there’s a ranking system and numerous car customization options. 

As with the pre-season trailer, the official gameplay video brings a similar look and feels as the original but adapted for simpler mobile play. Logging in with an Epic Games account for online matches will let you earn extra XP across both the regular Rocket League game and Sideswipe. The game launched in pre-season in Oceania to shake out any bugs, but it’s now available to everyone for free on the iOS App Store and Google Play

Update 12/1/2021 11:14 AM ET: The article originally stated that Rocket League Sideswipe was free with in-app purchases, but there are no in-app purchases. It has been updated with the correct information.

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Computing

Microsoft Rolls Out Windows 10 November 2021 Update

If your PC is one of the many that are unable to officially run Windows 11, then you might want to get ready for the next big Windows 10 Update. Microsoft just announced that it is taking final steps and getting ready to launch the Windows 10 November 2021 Update.

This next version of Windows 10 underwent over five months of testing with Windows Insiders and is now in its final phases. There aren’t any big features that come along with it, but Microsoft notes that build 19044.1288 is the final build for the November 2021 Update.

It also has released ISO files for those who are willing to clean install the near-final version of the last Windows 10 featured update for the year 2021. And for Windows Insiders, anyone who is enrolled in the Release Preview Channel and is unable to run Windows 11 can find the November 2021 Update today by going to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update and choosing to download and install Windows 10, version 21H2.

The Windows 10 November 2021 Update is more catered to enterprises and “productivity, management, and security,” according to Microsoft. The update adds WPA3 H2E standards support to Windows 10 for enhanced Wi-Fi security,  Windows Hello for Business simplified password-free deployment models, and GPU compute support in the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL).

Today’s news is centered around Windows Insider beta testers, but it should not be too long till everyone else sees the Windows 10 November 2021 Update. It is being delivered just like a routine security patch, and should not take too long to install. There’s still no word yet on when an official release date will be announced, but last year’s November 2020 Update came on October 20.

Microsoft has mentioned that it is committed to releasing Windows 10 updates and patches through the year 2025. It’s unclear if Windows 10 will see some of the bigger features in Windows 11, as well as bigger redesigns, but one thing confirmed for Windows 10 is the new Microsoft Store.

Judging from the past, now that the last Windows 10 update for 2021 is near complete, you can expect Microsoft to look ahead to releasing another update in the spring. Windows 10 is set for twice-a-year updates, but it has been confirmed that Windows 11 is on a once-a-year schedule.

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Categories
Game

Facebook Gaming rolls out Fan Groups to help streamers and fans stay connected

Facebook is rolling out a new type of group, but only for Gaming creators for now. Streamers can take advantage of several new features in Fan Groups. Among them is a way to organize topics into threaded discussions. Those can be moved into chat channels (similar to channels in a Discord or Slack server). Any badges a viewer earns during a stream will be available in the Fan Group, so they can show others that they’re an engaged member of the community. 

There’s a new type of post called Looking for Players. The idea is to help users find people to play games with from within a streamer’s community, so it’s a looking for group feature. You can state how many people you’re looking to team up with and you’ll see a waitlist when all the spots are full.

Elsewhere, Facebook says it has improved Fan Group discovery, with the idea of helping streamers build their communities and fans to stay connected. When a streamer stops broadcasting, viewers will see a suggestion to join their Fan Group. People who engage with the creator’s page will also be informed about the Fan Group.

This is another move from Facebook to make Gaming a more attractive option for streamers than the likes of Twitch or YouTube. Facebook has billions of users that streamers can tap into in order to build their communities. Fan Groups should help streamers and fans stay connected outside of livestreams — meaning they can keep the conversation on Facebook, instead of moving to a separate platform such as Discord. Additionally, the company recently said it won’t take a cut of creators’ earnings until 2023.

Fan Groups are now available to partnered Facebook Gaming creators. Level Up creators will gain access in the coming weeks.

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AI

Moogsoft rolls out new AIOps features

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AIOps startup Moogsoft this week announced the launch of new product capabilities and updates, including extended integration capabilities, incident workflow automations, and automatic event enrichment. Moogsoft says the features are designed to optimize productivity while enabling developers to focus their time on more involved tasks.

AI for IT operations (AIOps) is a category of products that enhance IT by leveraging AI to analyze data from tools and devices. Research and Markets anticipates AIOps will become a $14.3 billion market by 2025. That might be a conservative projection, in light of the pandemic, which is increasingly forcing IT teams to conduct their work remotely. In lieu of access to infrastructure, AIOps solutions could help prevent major outages, which a study from Aberdeen Research estimates cost $260,000 per hour.

Moogsoft upgraded its Create Your Own Integration service, which lets customers generate custom API endpoints they can send event and metric data to from observability and monitoring tools. Now users have the ability to integrate payloads that include multiple events, ostensibly saving time and resources.

Also new in beta is Microsoft Azure App Insights integration, a cloud-to-cloud integration that provides admins the ability to ingest metric data configured in Azure. Moogsoft analyzes the data to establish normal operating behaviors with an upper and lower threshold. If the metric deviates, an anomaly event occurs, which allows users to understand the difference between normal behavior and a potential issue.

AI-powered features

Auto Classify, another new feature in beta, taps machine learning to analyze data and determine infrastructure elements and types of failure. Meanwhile, the similarly AI-powered Auto Close extends workflow automation to automatically close any alerts or incidents when they meet the criteria users set. For example, when a metric falls back into normal behavior, the alert severity moves to “clear” and the status to “resolved.”

Dovetailing with Auto Classify and Auto Close is automated incident context with tags, which aggregates and deduplicates tags from alerts, including custom tags. New personalization capabilities are also in tow and allow users to change the order of columns, which columns are displayed, and the refresh rate of their UI.

“In a period of immense growth, our team is working harder than ever to allow development, ITOps, and SRE teams to work more efficiently,” Moogsoft VP Adam Frank told VentureBeat. “Simplicity within the user experience continues to be at the forefront of everything we release — from new and improved navigation to the ease-of-use of our industry-leading open and transparent integrations — making it even easier for our customers to take advantage of observability with AIOps and allowing them to develop more and operate less.”

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Game

Steam rolls out Categories to make browsing games less daunting

Despite Epic Games’ attempts to overthrow it, Valve’s Steam remains the king of PC games stores. As such, it has thousands of games under its roof to the point that looking through what’s available can easily become overwhelming. Sure, there is a search function as well as tags but even those can be too generic or require knowledge beforehand. After baking in its Steam Labs since December, Valve is finally rolling out a major new addition to Steam’s interface, organizing games into different categories that seems to encourage exploring the overloaded library of games.

Different gamers like different kinds of games but the usual classification by genre sometimes isn’t enough. Some gamers like RPGs but others prefer certain game mechanics instead of genres. Analyzing how gamers browse its Steam library, Valve discovered that players used three primary entry points which it has now translated to Categories.

Genres can be quite broad so, unsurprisingly, Steam further categorizes them down to sub-genres. RPGs have, for example, JRPGs and Rogue-likes while Simulation has Building and Dating. These pretty much reflect the tags that are available already in Steam, just with a more visible organizational structure.

More interesting, however, are the Themes and Player Support sections. Themes are overarching topics that can span multiple genres while Player Support revolves around game mechanics or hardware requirements. The latter is where you’ll find Single versus Multiplayer games or LAN versus MMO titles.

Each of these entry points has its own content hub where you’ll be able to see New and Trending games as well as Top titles in each Category. These changes are designed to make the browsing experience smoother for those who want to discover new titles or don’t know what they’re looking for. Others, however, might find it actually a bit more convoluted and might stick to using the old search-based system.

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Categories
AI

Google rolls out new AI-powered features for Meet

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Google today announced a number of updates to Google Meet, including a refreshed user interface, features powered by AI, and tools that aim to make meetings more engaging. Among the highlights is a data saver mode that limits data usage on mobile networks, and Autozoom, which uses AI to zoom in and position participants in front of their cameras.

The pandemic has supercharged video chat usage. Eighty-three percent of businesses with over 250 employees are likely to purchase video calling tools in the near future, according to a survey by Commercial Integrator. Underlining the trend, Meet had over 50 million users as of May 2020, a 900% increase from last March.

Meet’s new Data Saver feature, which launches this month, automatically limits data usage on mobile and other bandwidth-constrained networks. It will arrive alongside improvements to low-light mode for Meet, a capability that leverages AI to brighten video in poorly lit environments. Previously only available for smartphones and tablets, low-light mode will soon work on the web, detecting when users are underexposed and enhancing quality to improve their visibility.

Google Meet

Above: Google Meet’s low-light mode in action.

Image Credit: Google

Meanwhile, Autozoom, which will arrive for paid Google Workspace customers in the coming months, is a feature that taps AI to zoom in and position users squarely in-camera. Autozoom intelligently readjusts as users move, ensuring they remain in the frame, Google says.

Interface improvements

Beyond Data Saver, low-light mode on the web, and Autozoom, Meet will soon allow users to replace their background with an image of a classroom, party, or forest — with more on the way. In the future, Meet for web will also offer greater control over how users see themselves in meetings. For example, they’ll be able to shrink their video feed to a tile in a grid or a floating picture, with the latter resizable, as well as moveable. And if they prefer not to see themselves at all, users will be able to minimize their feed and hide it from view, optionally disabling their self-feed across calls.

Meet will also offer a way to pin and unpin content that will shrink the presentation tile down to the size of the other tiles. And the bottom bar will become easier to navigate — meeting dial-in codes, attachments, the participants’ list, chat, and other activities will move to the bottom right to create more vertical space for participants and content. The “leave call” button will also move away from the camera and microphone buttons to prevent accidental hang-ups, Google says.

Google Meet

Above: The improved Google Meet interface on the web.

Image Credit: Google

This week, Google also updated Google Maps with over 100 AI-powered improvements, like upgraded Live View navigation that enables users to get turn-by-turn directions indoors. Other enhancements include a new routing model that optimizes for lower fuel consumption based on factors like road incline and traffic congestion, as well as a layer that shows current and forecasted weather and temperature conditions.

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Categories
Tech News

TCL teased a phone that both folds and rolls, and I totally love it

The past year or so has been one of the most interesting periods for smartphone design since the early days of iOS and Android. After the bezel wars of a few years ago, we’re now seeing companies explore wackier form factors that break the typical. We’ve seen phones that can fold and phones that can roll, so it was only a matter of time until somebody combined the two.

That’s precisely what TCL has done with its new “Fold ‘n Roll” concept. Behold (start around the 30-minute mark):

The device has a hinge that can both fold as well as unfurl the flexible screen tucked inside the body of the device, going from a 6.87-inch phone to a 10-inch tablet. It also appears to feature a stylus, at the bottom of the device, making it enticing for scribbling on the go.

Now, I should make it clear the Fold ‘n Roll is just a concept device. TCL didn’t give any specs or time frame for release. For all we know, this is little more than something marketing came up with to add a bit of pizzazz to TCL’s presentation; the company did not show off a working prototype, only renders.

 

 

The device also features an ‘outer’ screen, which means it’s more likely to get damaged with a pliable display like this.

Still, I absolutely love the idea. It gives you a bit more flexibility over your aspect ratio and form-factor than a folding or rollable phone on its own, but mostly, it just feels like the type of futuristic phones we might see in a sci-fi movie.

TCL does say it has a folding phone on the way this year, just not this one. One for 2022, perhaps?

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Tech News

TCL smartphone-tablet concept both folds and rolls

TCL is working on a foldable, rollable phone hybrid, which combines two of the biggest trends in smartphone design at the moment. The company – which makes its own displays, and which began pushing its own brand for Android devices in early 2020 – has been working on foldable and flexible OLED panels for some time now, though this new concept device brings them together in as-yet unseen ways.

Roughly twelve months ago, TCL revealed some of the prototype designs it had been developing. That included a double-folding tablet – which had two hinges, and collapsed like a concertina to go from a chunky phone to a relatively large slate – as well as a sliding device with a rollable screen that unfurled from the side.

The concepts designs were, TCL said at the time, experiments in form factor and screen technology. They were also just a sample of the roughly three dozen being worked on, execs at the company confirmed. Come CES 2021, an even more polished version of the rollable design was revealed, along with a larger, tablet-scale version that pulled out into something more akin to a small TV.

Now, new sketches and renders of another iteration of what TCL has been working on have emerged. The device – set to be officially revealed in April, CNET says – combines both a foldable TCL DragonHinge and a rollable screen. As a result, it could potentially deliver a large tablet experience without the overly-thick form factor of the company’s previous double-folding prototype.

There’s no telling whether TCL actually intends to put this design into production any time soon, or if it’s being viewed as another opportunity to showcase the company’s screen manufacturing technology. So far, the TCL-branded Android phones that have actually reached the market have been far more mainstream than its concepts and renders. The TCL 20 Series announced at CES 2021, for example, is expected to go on sale from under $300.

Those phones – and details on their availability in particular – are also said to be sharing the spotlight at TCL’s rumored April 2021 event.

A foldable, rollable phone, in contrast, would undoubtedly be considerably more expensive. Although TCL hasn’t released such a device commercially, Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 2 – its second-generation phone/tablet device – still commands an $1,800 price tag, a small reduction compared to its $2k launch.

Samsung is also believed to be working on something more eye-catching in foldables for 2021. The South Korean behemoth is said to be developing a double-folding phone that could also be revealed later this year, with two hinges allowing for an even larger display when fully opened. At the same time, it’s believed to be working on more affordable versions, seeing foldable OLED as the key to accelerating a new round of upgrades in the smartphone space.

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Tech News

IBM rolls out an all-new Elite Hybrid Cloud Build team for AI partners

IBM today announced the formation of its Elite Hybrid Cloud Build Team. According to Big Blue, this group of AI and cloud computing experts was assembled to help bring its partners into the cutting edge of hybrid solution systems.

What? While Elite Hybrid Cloud Build Team might sound like a crack squad of futuristic Airborne Seabees, the reality is almost just as cool. Per IBM:

The elite engagement team consists of over 100 cloud architects, data scientists, cloud developers, security specialists, and developer advocates who work on the agile co-creation of advanced technology solutions for partners and their clients.

With decades of expertise in Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud, AWS and many more environments, the IBM Hybrid Cloud Build Team helps its ecosystem partners revamp workloads across all cloud platforms and providers while infusing new technologies like AI, 5G, Kubernetes and Edge to optimize business operations and improve client outcomes.

In other words, the EHCBT helps businesses connect their on-premise, on-cloud, and other AI systems no matter what platform they’re on.

Quick take: It’s free… so, there’s not much to dislike. IBM’s heavily-invested in its own ecosystem, so it can afford to do stuff like this. And that’s a good thing for partners and clients who’re looking for a way out of single-vendor solutions.

IBM’s commitment to open-source could also be a factor here, so it’s definitely worth looking into for executives and IT managers who may be considering integrating new tech such as 5G or introducing AI systems to an already-complex stack.

For more information check out IBM’s announcement here.

Published February 4, 2021 — 19:56 UTC



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