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Computing

Microsoft Teams update could finally solve chat woes

Microsoft has plans to bring several new features to its Teams app in the coming weeks, including a translation-focused update and a new pop-out feature for shared meeting content.

The brand added these features to its Microsoft 365 Roadmap page, stating that they are on track for an August update for Teams; however, the roadmap is more like a list of ideas Microsoft is currently developing rather than guaranteed updates.

Microsoft is working on an Intelligent translation feature that will allow you to more intuitively translate languages while text chatting in Teams. Neowin suggests that the feature will likely work in tandem with the inline chat translation that is already available on Teams for Android and iOS. With this update, Teams will be able to detect messages that are not your native language and suggest you translate them to your language, in their entirety. The update will be available only for Android and iOS users.

The other feature that might come to Teams in August is one that allows you to separate shared content into a pop-out window while in a meeting. Neowin also expects this feature might work similarly to how you can pop out standard chats in Teams into their own windows. This would likely help keep content from getting lost as it scrolls by in a chat, so you can refer back to it later. The feature will be available for web, desktop, and Mac users.

While these features might not be certain for Teams, Microsoft did introduce several A.I.- and machine learning-based features in June. The voice-focused features include echo cancellation, dereverberation, interruptibility, and background noise suppression.

Microsoft has been putting a considerable amount of effort into building out Teams in 2022, especially since it added the app to its Microsoft Store as a downloadable application in mid-May after the program spent five years as a manual download.

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Tech News

Boeing 737 MAX hit with $17m FAA fine as 787 Dreamliner woes continue

Boeing faces a further $17 million in fines from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) over the 737 MAX incident, the penalties announced amid rumors that 787 Dreamliner deliveries have again been delayed. The aircraft-maker saw 737 MAX planes return to service late in 2020, after nearly two years of being grounded following two fatal crashes.

The incidents forced Boeing to reexamine some of the key safety technology it had integrated into its most recent iterations of the 737 fleet. The changes – made in part to deal with repercussions of wing adjustments intended to save airlines on fuel costs – left the 737 MAX potentially overruling pilot intentions during takeoff.

Boeing addressed the situation with updates including secondary sensors and new pilot training. However, in the meantime, a production issue saw 759 new 737 MAX and NG aircraft improperly equipped with unapproved sensors. Boeing also “submitted approximately 178 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft for airworthiness certification when the aircraft potentially had nonconforming slat tracks installed,” the FAA says, “and improperly marked those slat tracks.”

The FAA has levied a $17 million penalty, which Boeing has 30 days to pay after signing the agreement with the agency. It also has a list of corrective actions that must be undertaken, including strengthening its parts validation procedures, and undergoing Safety Risk Management analyses to flag any potential oversight lapses as it readies an increase of 737 MAX production. It will also need to change its production monitoring to give the FAA more access to assessments, and improve oversight of its suppliers.

If Boeing doesn’t convince the FAA on all those points, within the agreed timeframe, the company could face up to a further $10.1 million in extra fines.

It wasn’t a one-off issue, either. According to the FAA’s investigation, for almost five years ending April 2019, Boeing had been installing head-up guidance systems on the 737 NG and 737 MAX which had sensors neither tested nor approved as being compatible.

“The FAA alleges that Boeing violated Federal Aviation Regulations when it certified these aircraft as airworthy when they were not in conformance with their type certificate,” the FAA said back in March 2020. “The agency further alleges that Boeing failed to follow its own Business Process Instructions, which are in place to help prevent such situations from occurring.”

Meanwhile, Boeing’s run-in with the FAA hasn’t been limited to the 737. Deliveries of the 787 Dreamliner have been halted, the WSJ reports, after air-safety regulators demanded more information about how Boeing would address other recent quality issues. Boeing has not publicly acknowledged any delay specifically, though the company said it was working with regulators around information on undelivered aircraft, but sources tell the newspaper that at least one plane which was scheduled to be handed over to American Airlines this week is now unlikely to see that happen until next week at the earliest.

That new hurdle – which comes just after a five month suspension of 787 Dreamliner deliveries – could end up a costly one, at least in the short term. Aircraft purchases usually see the bulk of the cost of the plane transferred when it is handed over, the newspaper says.

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Game

PlayStation 5 off to unexpectedly strong start despite stock woes

Sony’s financial results for the 2020 fiscal year are in, and it seems that the PlayStation 5 is hitting some big milestones in terms of sales. Obviously, we’d expect Sony to report that the console is selling well since it’s impossible to find available stock anywhere, but today, Sony revealed how many consoles it has sold despite the stock shortages. These financial results make it clear that the PlayStation 5 is off to a strong start.

With the sales from the third and four quarters of the fiscal year – the two quarters in which the PlayStation 5 was available – all added up, Sony has managed to sell 7.8 million PlayStation 5 units so far. 4.5 million of these were sold in third quarter (which contained the ever-important holiday shopping season), while a further 3.3 million were sold in the fourth quarter.

The PlayStation 4 was no slouch during the fiscal year either, managing to pull in 5.7 million sales even though the PlayStation 5 arrived on the scene during the year. The PlayStation 4 saw somewhat steady sales throughout the year, selling between 1 million and 2 million units each quarter, though it is worth noting that sales dropped to an even 1 million in the final quarter of the year. Total PlayStation 4 sales now sit at 115.9 million lifetime.

Sony said today that 79% of game sales were digital in Q4, while 65% of game sales were digital for the year as a whole. The total number of PlayStation Plus subscribers remained more or less steady from Q3 to Q4, climbing from 47.4 million at the end of Q3 to 47.6 million at the end of Q4.

From here, Sony says that it’s looking for PS5 sales to exceed the 14.8 million units the PlayStation 4 sold in its second year after launch, which may not be an easy task given that the current silicon shortage isn’t likely to get better anytime soon. We’ll see if Sony manages to hit that goal, but for now, it’s safe to say that the PlayStation 5 is off to a strong start.

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Game

CD Projekt Red reconsiders Cyberpunk 2077 multiplayer after single player woes

CD Projekt, the company behind Cyberpunk 2077, this week published a rather lengthy video in which is breaks down its corporate strategy moving forward. That might sound like a boring watch, especially considering that the video clocks in at just over 24 minutes long, but there were actually some very interesting tidbits of information contained within. While CD Projekt didn’t reveal any new games or detail the DLC that’s on the way to Cyberpunk 2077, it did suggest that it’s rethinking the strategy around Cyberpunk 2077‘s upcoming multiplayer release.

Cyberpunk 2077 multiplayer is something that’s been on the docket for quite some time, and CD Projekt Red has been planning to release it as a standalone product since well before Cyberpunk 2077‘s release. In this strategy update video, CD Projekt Red explains that Cyberpunk 2077 multiplayer was slated to be the company’s next big release, but with the shift in development strategy announced earlier in the video, the company is now reconsidering that decision and, seemingly, Cyberpunk 2077 multiplayer as a whole.

“Previously we hinted that our next AAA would be a multiplayer Cyberpunk game, but we have decided to reconsider this plan,” CD Projekt joint CEO and president Adam Kicinski said near the end of the video. “Given our new, more systematic, and agile approach, instead of primarily focusing on one big online experience or game, we are focusing on bringing online into all of our franchises one day.”

Before that final part of Kicinski’s statement sets off alarm bells, it should be noted that immediately before this statement, Kicinski also said that CD Projekt Red will be doubling down on its identity as a developer of single-player, story-rich games first. The company wants to add online components to all of its games, but Kicinski stressed that CD Projekt does not want to go overboard with online implementations and only wants to add online functionality where it makes sense.

What that means for Cyberpunk 2077 multiplayer is unknown at the moment, but it sounds like CD Projekt’s focus might be shifting away from that standalone release as it works to fix the single player Cyberpunk 2077 and implements changes to its development strategy. Some of those changes include expanding so it can work on more than one major release at a time and also shortening the length of marketing campaigns for its games. You can watch the entire strategy update video embedded above, but otherwise, we’ll keep an eye out for more details about Cyberpunk 2077 and its possibly-scrapped standalone multiplayer release.

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Tech News

Apple can solve our Face ID mask woes by stealing one of Android’s best features

If you own an iPhone X or later and have gone out into the world recently, you probably noticed an unfortunate side effect of the new mask-wearing culture: Face ID doesn’t work.

It is more of a feature than a bug, but the fact of the matter is that if Apple’s True Depth camera system can’t scan your whole face, it won’t unlock your phone. If you’re wearing a mask like most stores and restaurants require, you’re left typing in your passcode whenever you want to check your shopping list or pay your bill.

Apple offered up a workaround with the recent iOS 13.5 update, but it’s hardly a fix. Now, instead of waiting for Face ID to fail a couple times before the passcode screen pops up, you can swipe up from the bottom of the screen to quickly enter your code. That makes things a little less infuriating, but still not ideal.

This isn’t as much of an issue on the Pixel 4 Android phone, and not just because way fewer people own one. While Face unlock is just as wonky as Face ID when wearing a mask, Android has a system in place that lets you bypass it while still respecting your phone’s security and privacy. It’s called Smart Lock, and it’s perfect for these times.

Smart Lock has been around since the days of Android Lollipop but it’s never been more useful. You can set your phone to stay unlocked based on a variety of factors, including whether you’re carrying it or listening to music on a pair of wireless earbuds:

  • On-Body Detection: Keeps your phone unlocked when it’s in your pocket or close by.

    Trusted Places: Lets you add a location (like your home) where your phone will always stay unlocked.

    Trusted Devices: Recognizes a paired Bluetooth device and keeps your phone unblocked when it’s active.

Even before I had to wear a mask, Smart Lock was one of Android’s best features, and it’s been on my iOS wishlist for years. I understand why Apple might be reluctant to embrace it, but short of training its Face ID algorithm to forgive face coverings—which would seriously undermine the security of the system—a Smart Unlock-style system in iOS 14 would be a great way to mitigate the Face ID frustrations caused by COVID-19.

android smart lock IDG

Smart Lock for Android allows you to keep your phone unlocked based on location, movement, or the presence of a Bluetooth device.

Apple probably would make it as “open” as Android does, but even if it was just limited to its own products, it would still be incredibly useful. That way, your phone would stay unlocked as long as you were wearing your AirPods and Apple Watch, so it wouldn’t matter if you were wearing a mask. Your iPhone would stay unlocked in the store or on a run and bypass the lock screen altogether.

Apple already has a similar system in place on the Mac called Auto Unlock. If you have a mid-2013 or later Mac running macOS High Sierra or later, your Apple Watch can instantly unlock your Mac when it wakes from sleep, eliminating the need to type a passcode or reach over to use Touch ID. Your Mac simply recognizes that your Apple Watch is on your wrist and unlocked, and bypass its own lock mode.

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Categories
Game

Fallout 76 update solves players’ storage woes

If you’re a Fallout 76 player constantly bumping up against storage restrictions, then the latest update to the game is definitely for you. Today Bethesda unleashed a new Fallout 76 update aptly titled “The Inventory Update,” which not only makes a bunch of changes to the way various inventories work, but also kicks off 2021 in terms of new content and incoming updates for Fallout 76.

We already had some idea of what was coming along with the Inventory Update thanks to teasers Bethesda published last week, but today, we received full details. The biggest change seems to be a Stash increase, with Bethesda adding 50% more storage to player Stashes. Stashes can now hold a maximum of 1,200 pounds, better facilitating any hoarders that might be roaming the wasteland.

There are also some UI improvements coming to the Pip-Boy, which are essentially down to three new tabs. First up is the “New” tab, which will show users the items they’ve picked up during their play sessions. The “Armor” tab is pretty self-explanatory in that it separates armor from the rest of the game’s apparel, while the “Food/Drinks” tab gives consumables that aren’t Chems and Serums their own special place in your inventory.

There are also some changes to stack weight shipping along with this update, but it isn’t a massive change. Bethesda says that when selecting a stackable item in your inventory, the item details will now show the total weight of the entire stack. Finally, Bethesda has made it so that previewing a vending machine on the map will show you how many legendary items a player is selling in each of the 1-star, 2-star, and 3-star categories.

At the end of it all, this is a pretty simple update that nonetheless adds some big quality of life changes to Fallout 76. The update is available today, so Fallout 76 players should download it and take it for a spin.

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Game

Newegg Shuffle could be the fix to RTX 30-series, PS5 restock woes

It’s not exactly a secret that PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles, along with new PC gaming hardware from NVIDIA and AMD, are all difficult to come by at the moment. Every time this hardware is restocked anywhere, it’s seemingly sold out in seconds, with resellers jacking up prices to insane degrees on sites like eBay. If you’ve tried and failed to get your hands on one of these consoles or CPUs, Newegg might have a fairer way of selling these products.

The company has implemented a lottery system called Newegg Shuffle, and the latest lottery is going on now. Until 2 PM Pacific time today (just about two hours from the time of this writing), Newegg users can head over to the website, pick out any items they’re interested in buying, and then enter into a lottery that will be drawn later today at 3 PM Pacific.

Newegg will notify the winners by email, and those winners will then have from 4 PM PT to 8 PM PT today to make their purchases. If you win the lottery, the hardware you picked out during the selection window will be reserved for you, but only during the buying window – if you don’t purchase the products you picked out during the buying window later today, you forfeit the reservation on them and will have to wait for the next Newegg Shuffle.

In all, there are several items that you can reserve in this iteration of the NewEgg Shuffle – the Ryzen 5 5600X, Ryzen 7 5800X, RTX 3070, RTX 3080, RTX 3090, and the PlayStation 5. Those of you hunting for a PlayStation 5 should be aware that the console is only available in a bundle that includes a PS5 Digital Edition, two DualSense controllers, the PS5 HD Camera, and the PS5 Media Remote, so be prepared to spend a little more on the console if you win the lottery.

Newegg will be running these Shuffle lotteries periodically as time goes on, and while it doesn’t solve the stock issues plaguing all of these products, it does at least make the buying process fairer. If you’re planning to enter the lottery, good luck to you, and we’ll keep our eyes peeled for more restock alerts.

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