Categories
Game

Watch the Pokémon Presents stream at 3PM ET for updates on ‘Pokémon Scarlet,’ ‘Violet’ and more

The latest Pokémon Presents is livestreaming at 9AM ET today, promising updates on Pokémon apps and games “including Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet,” The Pokémon Company said. It didn’t add more details, but the last Pokémon Presents revealed the Scarlet and Violet release windows, among other news. 

The company also showed off some visuals from the game at the last Pokémon Presents, including a pastoral countryside and urban landscapes, as well as the three new starters Sprigatito, Fuecoco and Quaxly. It also announced a new “Daybreak” update for Pokémon Legends: Arceus.

We now know that Pokémon Scarlet and Violet are coming to Switch on November 18th. A subsequent reveal in June showed two new professors and clues about the game’s open world. In addition, a series of rough screenshots may have shown new battle mechanics and evolutions, as well as clues about the total number of Pokémon. Hopefully, all will be revealed when the trailer drops today at 9AM ET.  

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Categories
AI

Microsoft updates Dynamics 365 Customer Service with first-party voice channel

At its Ignite developers event today, Microsoft announced the addition of a first-party voice channel to Dynamics 365 Customer Service, its end-to-end cloud product offering for customer support. According to the company, the new capabilities enable organizations to provide more consistent and personalized service to customers across channels with data-driven, AI-infused solutions.

“Service leaders know that 80% of consumers are more likely to purchase from companies that provide more personalized experiences. But for many contact centers, ensuring a continuous, personalized experience across all channels is difficult to achieve. Multiple tools and disconnected data silos prevent agents from having a complete view of the customer journey. But no more. No matter how your customers connect with you, now you can deliver a consistent, intelligent, and personalized service experience,” Dynamics 365 customer service and field service VP Jeff Comstock said in a statement.

AI-powered features

Prior to today’s upgrade, Dynamics 365 Customer Service provided case routing and management for customer service agents and add-ons for insights and omnichannel engagement, as well as authoring tools for knowledge base articles. With the addition of the voice channel, Power Virtual Agent chatbots can now be used as an interactive voice response or for responding to SMS, chat and social messaging channels. Dynamics 365 Customer Service affords AI-based routing of incoming calls to the voice agents, consistent with other support channels. And Microsoft Teams is integrated, allowing agents to collaborate with each other and with subject-matter experts on particular customer topics.

“AI is infused throughout our first-party voice channel to enrich the customer and agent experience by automating routine tasks and offering insights and recommendations to increase the agent’s focus on the customer,” Comstock continued. “Dynamics 365 Customer Service breaks down traditional data silos between channels with a single, secure data platform, elegantly connecting customer conversations across all channels.”

The updated Dynamics 365 Customer Service offers real-time transcription and live sentiment analysis in addition to AI-driven recommendations for similar cases and knowledge articles. Transcripts can be translated in real time for agents assisting customers in different regions and across multiple languages, while AI analyzes conversations, identifying emerging issues and generating KPIs and insights that span live chat, social messaging, and voice.

“With the new voice channel, we are delivering an all-in-one digital contact center solution that brings together contact center channels, unified communications, leading AI, and customer service capabilities together into a single, software-as-a-service solution, built on the Microsoft Cloud,” Comstock said. “And, when it comes to [businesses, they] have a choice. We continue to support integrations with key partners such as Five9, Genesys, NICE, Solgari, Tenfold, Vonage, and others who are building connectors to enable their voice solutions within Dynamics 365 Customer Service.”

The enhancements come roughly a year after Microsoft launched Azure Communication Services, a service that leverages the same network powering Teams to let developers add multimodal messaging to apps and websites while tapping into services like Azure Cognitive Services for translation, sentiment analysis, and more. The pandemic has accelerated the demand for distributed contact center setups, particularly those powered by AI — according to a 2020 report by Grand View Research, the contact center software market is anticipated to grow to $72.3 billion by 2027.

Amazon recently launched an AI-powered contact center product — Contact Lens — in general availability alongside several third-party solutions. And Google continues to expand Contact Center AI, which automatically responds to customer queries and hands them off to a person when necessary.

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AI

Microsoft unwraps Viva updates and makes suite available for purchase

In February, Microsoft launched Viva, an AI-powered information hub for enterprises. Nearly a year in, the company is enhancing Viva with new premium features to “help individuals and managers collaborate more effectively,” according to Microsoft 365 corporate VP, Jared Spataro.

“The employee experience is no longer defined by or tethered to a physical location. We need new ways to keep employees engaged and informed, all in the flow of work,” Spataro said in a blog post published during Microsoft’s Ignite 2021 conference. “That’s where Microsoft Viva comes in.”

Microsoft Viva is now available for purchase as a suite, Spataro added, optionally with an add-on for Microsoft’s Glint HR platform.

Viva Insights

Viva Insights is one of the four modules that make up the Viva platform — the other three being Viva Learning, Viva Connections, and Viva Topics. It draws on data and signals from Teams, Outlook, and other Microsoft 365 apps in addition to Zoom, Slack, Workday, and SAP SuccessFactors to attempt to find patterns in data that might affect work outcomes. For example, Insights’ Stay Connected pane gives employees a way to prioritize time for regular one-on-one meetings and keep up with tasks across emails, chats, and shared documents. On the managerial side, Insights provides admins visibility into work patterns that can lead to burnout and stress, such as meeting overload, too little focus time, or time worked outside employees’ chosen work hours.

Now, Insights will deliver tools by way of the Viva Insights app, a daily briefing, and monthly digest emails to help managers “improve personal habits while fostering team culture.” The tools will be joined by a new “effective meetings experience” that’ll let meeting organizers view personalized insights and suggestions to help improve their meeting habits, Microsoft says. Users will also be able to create and share meeting plans to set team meeting norms, such as shorter meetings by default and always including Teams links. In addition, they’ll be able to take advantage of guided meditations and mindfulness exercises in additional languages (French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish) from Headspace in the Viva Insights app in Teams.

Employee analytics software like Viva can veer into controversial territory. In a survey of remote or hybrid workers, ExpressVPN found that 59% felt stress or anxiety as a result of their employer monitoring them with technology, while another 43% said that any surveillance felt like a violation of trust.

Microsoft asserts that Insights is deidentified and leverages safeguards like data aggregation and minimum sharing thresholds to preserve privacy. In an interview with Fortune in September, Microsoft’s general manager of Viva Insights, Kamal Janardhan said that individual worker data on productivity is provided only to that worker — rather than to their boss — and that managers may receive general productivity scores for their entire team but “[only as] a tool … to see how [people] work and improve their work/life balance and their performance.”

Viva Learning

Viva Learning brings together a company’s communications, knowledge, learning, resources, and insights — serving as a hub where employees can discover, share, assign, and learn from content libraries across LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, and third-party content providers. For instance, thanks to integrations with apps like Teams, people can search for and share training from Learning in a chat as they would other types of content. Learning also shows the learning assignments a manager has made, when they’re due, and employees’ reported completion status.

After launching with a few customers and partners earlier this year, Learning is now generally available. Microsoft says that in the coming year, Ally.io — which it recently acquired — will join Viva as a new module to complement Learning and “help people and teams come together to build alignment and achieve better business outcomes.”

Viva Topics

Viva Topics leverages AI (including Alexandria) to reason over an organization’s data and automatically organize content and expertise across different systems and teams. The module funnels data into related subjects like projects, products, processes, and customers, so that when employees see an unfamiliar acronym or project in email or chat, they’re able to hover on the word and pop out a topic card with a description and related experts, documents, and videos.

Topics is expanding with updates that’ll become generally available in the coming months. Soon, the module will search across Outlook email and Yammer communities and offer additional ways for managers to oversee knowledge domains, including automatic grouping of related topics into segments, feedback workflows, and usage analytics. Beyond this, Microsoft says that Topics will gain support to crawl knowledge from content written in French, German, and Spanish and create topics built by the taxonomy services of Syntex, Microsoft’s SharePoint-hosted, AI-powered content processing product.

In related news, Syntex is gaining a content assembly feature that uses AI models to turn existing documents into templates, creatable contracts, invoices, spreadsheets, more. A new contract management capability offers standard clause libraries, workflow-driven approvals, automatic classification, and lifecycle management. And Snytex’s natural language searches for documents based on the automatic metadata and extended columns created by Syntex.

New services

Rounding out the Viva updates are new partner integrations in general availability (see below for the list). In addition, admins can now leverage the Microsoft admin center to access setup guides for deploying Viva modules.

  • Viva Learning: SAP SuccessFactors, Cornerstone OnDemand, Saba, Coursera, Skillsoft, Pluralsight, edX, Udemy, Go1, Infosec, Josh Bersin Academy, Udacity, Harvard Business Review,  OpenSesame, and EdCast
  • Viva Connections: Qualtrics, ServiceNow, UKG, Talentsoft,  StandOut by ADP,  Adobe Sign,  Moveworks, Lifeworks, Limeade, Tribute, Blue Yonder, Zebra-Reflexis, Workday,  DocuSign, EdCast, and Espressive
  • Viva Insights: Headspace, Qualtrics, and Glint

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Categories
Game

Cyberpunk 2077 delays updates, fixes, DLC roadmap to 2022

Shortly after Cyberpunk 2077 released and fans expressed their discontent with the game, CD Projekt Red committed to fixing its various issues. When it made this commitment, it shared a roadmap that detailed its plans for updates, DLC, and the next-gen upgrades for 2021 and beyond. Today, however, we’re learning that the remainder of the roadmap for 2021 has been delayed into 2022, suggesting Cyberpunk 2077 won’t get any more major updates for the rest of the year.

Earlier today, CD Projekt Red updated the original post containing the roadmap and the FAQ regarding the state of Cyberpunk 2077. The new roadmap says that more updates, improvements, and DLCs will be coming in 2022 and states explicitly that the next-gen console update will be landing at some point in Q1. You can check out the updated roadmap below.

Unfortunately, the new roadmap shows patch 1.31 as the final release for 2021. Patch 1.31 went live back in September as a follow-up to the much larger 1.3 update. According to this roadmap, patch 1.31 is the last significant update we’re getting this year.

That doesn’t necessarily mean there won’t be any more updates for Cyberpunk 2077 this year, but it does suggest that any other updates coming down the pipeline will likely be smaller in scope. Of course, we already knew some of the information contained within this new roadmap, as CD Projekt Red recently confirmed that the next-gen updates for both Cyberpunk 2077 and The Witcher 3 had been delayed into next year.

The big question is whether or not we’ll see any more major patches beyond 1.3 at all. Late last year, when Cyberpunk 2077 was still fresh out of the gate and fans were voicing their opinions, CD Projekt Red said that most of the changes for the console version would come in two big patches. Presumably, the company was talking about updates 1.1 and 1.2 there. With updates 1.3 and 1.31, we’ve moved well beyond those first two patches, so it’s entirely possible that CD Projekt Red isn’t planning any other major patches at all.

Assuming that’s the case, we’ll likely see bug fixes ship in smaller (hopefully more frequent) updates. We’ll just have to see what CD Projekt Red announces in the new year. We’ll let you know when those announcements are made, so stay tuned for more.

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Categories
Game

SteelSeries updates its Arctis 7 headsets with longer battery life and USB-C

Since 2019, Engadget has the SteelSeries Arctis 7 as one of the best gaming headsets you can buy. At this point, it’s iconic but with a design that hasn’t changed much since 2016, it recently started to show its age. Thankfully, SteelSeries just announced the Arctis 7+ and Arctis 7P+.

The tweaks the company has made are modest, but they’re ones current Arctis 7 owners will appreciate. Most notably, SteelSeries has replaced the finicky micro USB port you used to charge the headset with a more modern USB-C connection. Using the new port, it’s possible to get three hours of uptime after 15 minutes of charging.

Arctis 7+

SteelSeries

On that note, battery life is also improved. SteelSeries claims you can get up to 30 hours of gameplay on a single charge, up from the approximately 24 hours you got from the previous version. As for the differences between the 7+ and 7P+, there aren’t many. You can buy the latter in both black and white colorways where the former is only available in black. Additionally, the 7P+ includes support for the PlayStation 4 and PS5’s 3D Audio functionality. That said, you can use both headsets with pretty much any system or device other than Xbox consoles.

The Arctis 7+ and Arctis 7P+ are available to buy today from the SteelSeries website. They’ll both set you back $170. That’s an increase from the $150 MSRP of Arctis 7 and 7P, but what’s an extra $20 when you don’t have to deal with micro USB anymore. 

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Categories
Game

‘Call of Duty: Warzone’ and ‘Vanguard’ anti-cheat updates include a kernel-level driver

Activision has unveiled its big, new approach to squashing hackers in Call of Duty: Warzone and Vanguard, and it’s a two-pronged system called RICOCHET Anti-Cheat. The first stage is a series of server-side enhancements that will better identify and remove cheaters from games, and this is scheduled to hit Warzone with the Pacific update later this year. These new server tools will be live in Vanguard when it comes out on November 5th.

The second prong is a PC kernel-level driver designed to monitor the deepest level of every player’s rig while they’re in-game, in an effort to stop outside software from sneaking in through this back door. The kernel, or ring 0, is the most privileged level of any PC, granting access to every layer of hardware, and generally reserved for things like graphics card drivers and trusted bits of the operating system. The RICOCHET Anti-Cheat kernel-level driver will only turn on when Warzone or Vanguard is active; it’s not an always-on situation.

While operating in the kernel isn’t uncommon for anti-cheat software, this is likely the most concerning part of Activision’s new plans for many players. Riot Games faced scrutiny in 2020 for implementing a similar kernel-level driver in Valorant, though the main issue was that it was always on, operating even when the game wasn’t active. (Confusingly, the Valorant anti-cheat system is called Vanguard).

This isn’t a new worry, either — in 2013, the always-on ring 0 anti-cheat system employed by ESEA was commandeered to turn unsuspecting players’ PCs into a secret bitcoin mining farm.

With these lessons in mind, Activision has stressed that RICOCHET will only be active when the associated game is live, saying specifically, “the driver shuts down when you exit the game and turns on when you start a new game.”

The kernel-level driver will hit Warzone alongside the Pacific update this year, and it’ll come to Vanguard at a later date.

Cheating has been a significant problem in Call of Duty: Warzone for a long while now. Activision has banned more than 500,000 accounts since the game’s launch, though it’s not uncommon for matches to be riddled with aimbots and cheap hacks to this day. Players have been screaming for a robust anti-cheat system in Warzone and other Call of Duty titles, and RICOCHET is Activision’s kernel-level, not-always-on answer.

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Categories
Computing

Unsupported Windows 11 PCs Are Getting Updates After All

Windows 11 just received its first update, and although it’s causing some problems, it carries a glimmer of hope for users with unsupported hardware. Contrary to what Microsoft suggested ahead of the launch, unsupported Windows 11 installations will receive driver and security updates — or at least some of them.

On the ramp-up to launch day, Microsoft suggested that unsupported Windows 11 installs wouldn’t receive critical security updates. Microsoft never flat-out committed one way or the other. Instead, we heard only vague notions about whether unsupported users would be entitled to updates or if they would be guaranteed.

Given Microsoft’s push to uphold the Windows 11 minimum system requirements — and a frightening wavier about unsupported installations — we could only assume that unsupported users wouldn’t receive updates. Imagine my surprise, then, when I booted up my Dell XPS 15 with the unsupported Core i7-7700HQ and installed security, driver, and .NET framework updates just like on any other Windows 11 computer.

It seems that unsupported Windows 11 installs will receive updates, at least for the time being. Microsoft’s vague approach suggests that this isn’t a constant; future updates may only arrive on supported devices, but we’re not sure at this point. For now, though, you can install Windows 11 on unsupported hardware and download the first big patch.

Microsoft caused a fuss when it announced Windows 11’s minimum hardware requirements. The operating system calls for at least a Ryzen 2000 or Intel 8th-gen processor, as well as TPM 2.0, UEFI Secure Boot, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage. The Windows team has offered a path for unsupported users to upgrade, but it originally seemed like a temporary solution — one that Microsoft actively discouraged with the lack of updates.

It seems that fretting was all for nothing. I was able to install the first Windows 11 patch on an unsupported system, and based on a report from HTNovo, others can install it, too.

That doesn’t mean unsupported users will receive every update, though. We can only suspect that Microsoft warned users about updates for a reason — future patches may not arrive on unsupported Windows 11 machines. For right now, though, everything is working as it should, even on unsupported hardware.

Editors’ Choice




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Tech News

WhatsApp betas for Android brings updates to video and image quality

Android users of the popular chat app WhatsApp have a couple of updates to look forward to. The updates are currently in beta and have been submitted to the Google Play Beta Program. The app moves to version 2.21.14.6 in the first update submitted earlier this month.

The big change in this version of the update is an option to choose video quality. The update is currently under development and will be rolled out broadly to users in the future. Currently, the feature is unavailable since it’s still under development.

The video quality update is something that users of the app have wanted for years and will allow users to choose video quality to use in their uploads. Users will have the option between allowing the app to choose video quality under the Auto mode, or they can choose best quality or data saver modes. Naturally, the data saver mode will result in poorer video quality compared to best quality and provide smaller file sizes that are easier to upload.

Another WhatsApp beta has also been submitted under version 2.21.14.16. This version of WhatsApp offers improvements in image quality and is currently under development. Since it’s also in beta, end-users won’t see the feature at this time. Like the update for video quality, the photo quality update adds auto, best quality, and data saver options for uploaded photos.

The update will come with the same caveats, and Auto is recommended. Best quality photos will be larger and can take longer to send and download. Data saver images will be smaller and quicker to send but lack quality compared to other settings. There is no clear indication of when these features might exit beta and be available for users on current stable versions of the app.

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Tech News

OnePlus Android software updates expand to 3 years for some phones

OnePlus revealed today that they’d be expanding their software update and support system for new devices and old devices back to OnePlus 8. To make this happen, OnePlus is “working on integrating the codebase of OxygenOS and ColorOS.” According to OnePlus OxygenOS Product Lead Gary Chen, this is a change that users wont likely notice on their phones – meaning there’ll be no major change to the software UI, for now.

Behind the scenes with OPPO

“This is a change that you will likely not even notice since it’s happening behind the scenes,” said Chen. “We now have a larger and even more capable team of developers, more advanced R&D resources, and a more streamlined development process all coming together to improve the OxygenOS experience.”

SEE TOO: OnePlus and OPPO are merging: Here’s what that means

Chen also suggested that the company decided that they’d “best leverage our shared resources with OPPO” by integrating the codebase of OxygenOS and ColorOS. This would, said Chen, “improve efficiency and standardize the software experience across our portfolio.”

The next big change in software, with this new “more stable and stronger platform” will occur in a single OTA update that’ll also deliver Android 12. Devices that are released in the future will have this newly integrated platform right out the box.

OnePlus Android update commitments

OnePlus committed to 3 major Android updates and 4 years of security updates for all OnePlus devices, including T and R series, back to OnePlus 8. If you have a OnePlus flagship device that is a OnePlus 8 or newer, OnePlus suggests you’ll get 3 major Android updates – that effectively means you’ll get the key Android update of the year for the three years after the phone was first launched.

OnePlus committed to 2 major Android updates and 3 years of security updates for the first OnePlus Nord phone and newer Nord/Nord CE devices. The Nord N series, starting with the Nord N10 and N100, will get 1 major Android update and 3 years of security updates.

All OnePlus devices released prior to the OnePlus 8 series will remain part of the guaranteed “2 major Android updates and 3 years of security updates” system. OnePlus also suggested that certain devices may not follow along with the pack in this regard if they are a “carrier version.” Per Chen, “Software update plans for carrier versions will follow the requirements of our carrier partners.”

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Tech News

SWTOR Star WarsThe Old Republic updates Darth Malgus story, 10 years later

The game Star Wars: The Old Republic is about to turn 10 years old. As the game celebrates a full decade online and active, there’ll be a new expansion called Legacy of the Sith. This new expansion will be driven by the renegade Sith Darth Malgus, suggesting this isn’t the last we’ve heard of the most infamous force of evil to never grace the face of a full-fledged Star Wars movie.

This game, SWTOR, is still active, a decade after it was first released and activated. Now the game will expand with a new campaign and redesigned combat styles, a new character-creation system, and a bunch of rebalancing that’ll make the game more playable and accessible than ever before.

The game will drop into Manaan, a water-bound world where a medical resource called kolto is plentiful. The Sith Empire has its eyes set on this resource, and the Republic will need to fight for control of the planet. As a player completes the Manaan storyline, they’ll unlock a new base for their faction. They’ll also unlock a new daily area – for good measure.

Once that bit’s done, users will also access the planet Elom, where a Sith Fortress is discovered having been “mysteriously erased from all records.” Darth Malgus is here too, effectively playing the same part as both Luke Skywalker and Kylo Ren play later in the universe, “on the hunt for ancient relics throughout the galaxy.”

This new storyline will be released in the Holiday Season 2021, and it’ll be available as a multiplayer Flashpoint and as a solo experience.

The Legacy of the Sith update will appear in detail in the months that lead to the holiday season 2021 on both the Star Wars: The Old Republic homepage and on Steam. There you’ll find the updates necessary to make that expansion appear on your computer, too. We’ll be reporting on all the changes as we reach that point!

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