Saturday, October 17, 2020

Among Us is officially a hit on every gaming plaform

Among Us has been one of the biggest games of the year, and thanks to new data from Sensor Tower, we have an idea of just how huge it has been on mobile: it was the top game on both the iOS App Store and Google Play in Q3 2020, according to Sensor Tower’s data. Sensor Tower also estimates that Among Us — which was first released in 2018 — passed 100 million downloads just in Q3 2020, significantly eclipsing the more than 68 million downloads for the next highest-downloaded game, My Talking Tom Friends.

Among Us

It seems likely that the game will continue to be massively popular for the next little while. As I write this, it’s still at the top of the App Store and Google Play free games charts. And on PC, where it costs $4.99, Among Us is currently the fourth-most-played game on Steam, sitting below only Counter-Strike: Global OffensiveDota 2, and PUBG.

Among Us has also been a hit on Twitch, up a full 650 percent in hours watched from July to August. The game’s popularity has also trickled over to Discord, which has seen a huge spike in mobile downloads. Developer InnerSloth has canceled a planned Among Us sequel to focus on the first game.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Pre-Order the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro 5G

 Apple’s newest iPhones — the iPhone 12, 12 mini, 12 Pro, and 12 Pro Max — were announced earlier this week, and they’ve generated a lot of interest from iPhone fans. In fact, with this many iPhone models, it can be a bit overwhelming to decide which iPhone 12 model is best for you.

iPhone 12 Pro Max

Preorders for the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro begin today, and both phones will be released on Friday, October 23rd. Below, we tell you where you can preorder them and what deals you can get from each vendor.

And if it’s the iPhone 12 mini or the 12 Pro Max that you’re after, preorders for both phones start on Friday, November 6th with shipments slated for Friday, November 13th. We’ll have preorder links and pricing details for each carrier as we get closer to the release date.

  • You can preorder the iPhone 12 directly through Apple’s website starting at $799. If you have an iPhone 11 Pro Max, you can get up to $500 in credit toward your purchase thanks to Apple’s trade-in program.
  • Verizon is offering a $30 discount if you purchase an iPhone 12, knocking the starting price down to $799 or $33.33 per month for 24 months. It’s offering up to $550 in trade-in credit for other select phones, including the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.
  • Like Verizon, AT&T is offering the iPhone 12 starting at $799 or $26.67 per month for 30 months. AT&T is offering a promotion that will allow customers to get the phone for $0 with a trade-in on an eligible device.
  • T-Mobile is offering the iPhone 12 with a starting price of $829. If you are a new customer or you are adding a line to your account, T-Mobile will give you up to $850 in bill credits towards your iPhone 12. For existing customers, you can get up to $500 off when trading in an eligible device. If you have been with T-Mobile or Sprint (pre-merger) for more than five years, you can receive and additional $200 off your iPhone 12 preorder.
  • Best Buy is offering the iPhone 12 for $799 with Verizon or AT&T, or $729.99 with Sprint if you add a line or create a new account. If you have a phone to trade in, Best Buy is offering the iPhone 12 for free with eligible trade-ins.
  • You can buy the iPhone 12 at Target, but the only carrier it’s currently offering is AT&T.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

iPhone 12 is officially launched and offers OLED and 5G

 It might be happening a bit later than usual, but Apple has just announced the iPhone 12. Featuring the same 6.1-inch display size as the iPhone 11 and iPhone XR before it, the latest “main” iPhone — and likely the model most people will gravitate toward — is making the transition from an LCD screen to OLED. And as rumored, the phone has flat aluminum sides for an overall look that more closely matches the iPad Pro and iPad Air (plus the iPhone 4 from years ago).

iPhone 12 (Mini, 12, Pro, Pro Max)

The iPhone 12 will come in black, white, blue, red, and green. Pricing starts at $799. Preorders start this Friday, and the iPhone 12 will be available on October 23rd. Aside from the flat sides, it still largely resembles the iPhone 11. There’s still a notch at the top that houses Apple’s Face ID technology, though the bezels around the screen have been reduced — another perk of the OLED switch. Around back, the iPhone 12 has two cameras housed in a matte glass squircle, which makes for a nice contrast with the rest of the glossy back panel.

The iPhone 12’s OLED screen has a peak brightness of 1200 nits and supports Dolby Vision, HDR 10, and HLG. The glass is coated with what Apple describes as a “ceramic shield” for better durability. Water resistance has also been improved.

Apple’s latest iPhone is powered by the company’s new A14 Bionic processor, which the company says is the first smartphone chip built on a 5nm process, leading to improved performance and efficiency. Apple claims it’s “up to 50 percent faster” than the leading chips in Android smartphones. Same goes for the GPU, which Apple says is the best in any mobile phone.

The iPhone 12 represents Apple’s first major foray into 5G cellular technologies. Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg was on hand during the event to announce the nationwide launch of the carrier’s sub-6 5G network. Apple says it has designed the iPhone 12 lineup to achieve ideal network performance while balancing battery life. A “smart data mode” uses LTE when your current activity doesn’t demand 5G speeds. Apple says it has tested 5G performance with 100 carriers across 30 countries to ensure a smooth launch.

The iPhone 12 has a 12-megapixel f/1.6 main camera — the fastest aperture in any iPhone yet — and a 12MP ultra-wide. Apple says low-light performance has improved, and the company has continued its advancements in computational photography to maximize detail and dynamic range. The front camera on the iPhone 12 is gaining Night Mode, as well.

Alongside the 6.1-inch iPhone 12, Apple also introduced a smaller 5.4-inch model that it calls the iPhone 12 mini.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Samsung announced their lowest priced 5G phone

Samsung has announced the Galaxy A42 5G, the latest in its lineup of more reasonably priced and lower-specced A-series phones. The A42 is now Samsung’s cheapest phone with 5G, selling for £349 (about $455 USD). That puts it £80 below the Galaxy A51 5G, which was previously the cheapest way to buy into Samsung’s 5G lineup at £429 (or priced at $500 USD in the US).

Samsung A42

The Galaxy A42 uses the Snapdragon 750G, a middle-of-the-pack processor that was just announced by Qualcomm last month. It’s supposed to be a step up from the Snapdragon 730G, seen in phones like the Pixel 4A, but it isn’t quite as powerful as the Snapdragon 765G, seen in the Pixel 4A 5G and OnePlus Nord.

The phone has a 6.6-inch OLED display with a teardrop cutout for a 20 megapixel camera at the top, 4GB to 8GB of RAM depending on the model, 128GB of storage expandable by MicroSD, a 5,000 mAh battery, and a fingerprint sensor built into the screen. On the back, there are four cameras: a 48 megapixel wide, 8 megapixel ultrawide, a 5 megapixel macro, and a 5 megapixel depth sensor for creating portrait effects.

It comes in three colors — black, gray, and white — each with a dense grid pattern on the back that darkens in stages as it rises up the phone. The phone launches in the UK on November 6th.

Samsung’s Galaxy A42 will compete closely with OnePlus’ Nord, which sells for £379, or just £30 more. For that extra £30, the Nord includes a faster processor, more RAM, a 90Hz display, and a second selfie camera, and it’s received generally positive reviews, too. That said, it’s likely the A42’s price will drop — the Galaxy A51 5G is already on sale in the US for $325, or $175 off, which makes it even cheaper than the A42 while the sale lasts.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Here's the OnePlus 8T

 Following an earlier leak of the OnePlus 8T from the front, we now have a pretty good idea of what the phone will look like around the back as well. CEO Pete Lau has posted an official picture of the Aquamarine Green colorway to the OnePlus forums, while leaker Ishan Agarwal has followed up with more renders including the Lunar Silver variant.

OnePlus 8T

Lau says that the glossy green cover is the result of four months’ experimentation to land on the right finish. “This version takes advantage of diffuse reflection, a form of light refraction that scatters light in an expansive array of angles and directions, to produce a clean, gleaming surface that effectively mitigates the buildup of fingerprints,” he writes.

“Throughout development, we tried and tested hundreds of films before landing on the ideal type, which contains seven layers, to complement the high-gloss finish and bring out the unique shade between green and blue. We never could have achieved this if we had followed the conventional development process of producing color films, but I’m proud to say that our efforts paid off. For the OnePlus 8T, we were able to produce one of the most advanced films in the industry, achieving a high-quality finish that raises the OnePlus standards for beautiful design.”

The 8T itself has a pretty straightforward design, with a hole-punch camera cutout in the display and a quad-sensor camera bump on the back. It’s set to include a Snapdragon 865 processor and a 120Hz screen, like the OnePlus 8 Pro, but unlike last year there won’t be an 8T Pro model accompanying it. Still, we concluded that the 7T was a better phone than the 7 Pro, so the 8T will hopefully hold up pretty well next to the 8 Pro.

The 8T will be announced on October 14th 

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Best Buy black Friday sales start next tuesday. Gear up for mad discounts ;)

 Best Buy has announced that it will be kicking off its Black Friday deals not on the Friday following Thanksgiving in the US, but next Tuesday, October 13th. This two-day deal fest will last through October 14th.

Best Buy

Of course, it’s no coincidence that this window of time matches when Amazon’s Prime Day 2020 takes place. Best Buy usually runs anti-Prime Day deals each year, though this year’s Prime Day is different since it’s happening so close to the other big shopping holidays, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, instead of in the middle of the summer. So here we are, writing about “Black Friday” deals in October.

As far as what deals you might expect to get next week, Best Buy’s only providing a tease. It’s touting a 70-inch Samsung 4K television for $530 — a deal so good, Best Buy says, it will grace the cover of its Black Friday ad when it launches later this month. $530 for a 70-inch TV does seem good, though we don’t know if it’s this model that’s already $600 outside of any sale or a slightly more expensive model that’s currently $750.

Best Buy is also touting laptops that start at $120. There are no other specifics provided in terms of what brands or models will be up for grabs at this price. I definitely wouldn’t expect too much out of whatever laptop ends up selling for this price, but we’ll be sure to let you know about it once we know more.

Lastly, the JBL Free wireless headphones will be $70. Best Buy claims that this is $80 off the original price, which seems notable. We’ll have to see if Amazon matches it during Black Friday.

Speaking of price matching, Best Buy is addressing what happens if something you buy now in October sells for a better price during Black Friday. Simply put, it’s going to refund you the difference, presumably automatically. But it’ll only do that for items that have “Black Friday Price Guaranteed” messaging on the product page and only for purchases made while signed into a free My Best Buy account. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Mercedes's new electric car under wraps

 Mercedes-Benz unveiled a lineup of new electric vehicles built on a scalable architecture that will enable the automaker to tailor its production to a variety of vehicle types and shapes.

Mercedes Benz

The new models are:

  • The flagship EQS luxury sedan, which Mercedes said would be part of the automaker’s S-Class segment and will go into production in 2021
  • An SUV version of the EQS, the EQS SUV, coming in 2022
  • The EQE sedan, not unlike Mercedes’ E-Class vehicles and described as the “business limousine of the future”
  • An SUV version of the EQS

In addition, the Mercedes EQA, a compact SUV based on the automaker’s GLA series, will go into production later this year, followed by the EQB crossover SUV in 2021. That’s a total of six new electric vehicles released over the course of the next two years. This will go a long way toward helping Mercedes realize its goal of releasing 10 new EVs by 2020. The EQS will be the first built on Mercedes’ new modular electric vehicle platform.

Mercedes is still keeping a lot of details about these vehicles under wraps, literally and metaphorically. The automaker said the EQS is expected to get 700 kilometers (430 miles) of range based on the European WLTP testing standards. You can probably extrapolate some of the specs and design features of the EQS based on the Vision EQS concept car that was released last year.

The announcement came during a broader strategy presentation by Daimler, Mercedes-Benz’s parent company, during which executives outlined plans to slash 20 percent of operating costs by 2025 and cutting vehicles from the automaker’s lineup. The cost reductions will almost certainly result in further layoffs, after Daimler announced it would cut 30,000 jobs over the summer.

The company wants to reposition Mercedes-Benz as a “luxury” brand, as opposed to a “premium” segment where it has existed for decades. In other words, more like Rolls-Royce and Bentley than Audi, BMW, Jaguar, and Lexus.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Venmo launches their first credit card and offering 3% cashback

 Venmo has launched its first credit card (the aptly named Venmo Credit Card). It’s rolling out today to “select customers,” according to the company, but it will be available to everyone in the coming months. You can apply through the Venmo app, provided that you’re at least 18, live in the US, and have a Venmo account in good standing that’s been open for at least 30 days.

Venmo Credit card

The Visa card can be managed directly in the Venmo app. You’ll be able to view your spending activity, track your rewards, make payments (you can use your Venmo balance to pay off the card), and split purchases. You can also use a virtual card to shop online, even before your physical card arrives.

Like Venmo accounts, Venmo cards will have a unique QR code on the front that others can scan with their phone camera to send or request money. They also come with an RFID chip to allow for tap-to-pay transactions. You can choose one of five designs.

While many programs structure cash back incentives based on categories they’ve selected (Amazon’s credit card, for example, gives up to a 5 percent rebate for Amazon and Whole Foods purchases; 2 percent at gas stations, restaurants, and drug stores; and 1 percent for everything else), Venmo’s card rewards cash back based on your own spending habits.

Venmo will sort your purchases into a number of categories, including dining and nightlife, travel, bills and utilities, health and beauty, grocery, gas, transportation, and entertainment. You’ll earn 3 percent cash back on your “top spend” category (the one where you spend the most money during your statement period), 2 percent on your second-highest spend category, and 1 percent on everything else. The card doesn’t charge an annual fee, but there are other typical fees for things like cash advances and late and returned payments as well as interest.

Fossil brings out a more affordable Gen 5E smartwatches

 Fossil’s new Gen 5E smartwatches are paired-down versions of last year’s Gen 5 series, but they come in more sizes and at a more affordable price. As well as three new 44mm styles, the new Gen 5E is available in a new 42mm size, which features smaller bezels to maintain the same 1.19-inch OLED display. Both sizes of the Gen 5E will retail for $249, compared to the $295 starting price of the Gen 5.


At that price, you’re still getting most of the same features as the existing Gen 5 Wear OS smartwatch. The Gen 5E watches come complete with the sleep tracking, battery saving, and fitness features that came to the Gen 5 via a software update in August. They’re equipped with a speaker and microphone that allow you to make calls via a tethered Android or iOS phone or to make Google Assistant queries. They also include heart rate and activity tracking.

Unfortunately, the similarities also mean that you’re still getting a Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor, rather than this year’s updated Wear 4100 chipset. The Gen 5E have 1GB of RAM and a 300mAh battery. Water resistance is rated as 3ATM, which means they’ll be able to handle splashes or being used in the rain but not swimming, and they can also handle mobile payments via NFC.

As the lower starting price suggests, the Fossil Gen 5E smartwatches don’t come with all the bells and whistles of last year’s Gen 5. The crowns on the right-hand side of the watch faces don’t rotate on the new Gen 5E models, and there’s no standalone GPS so you’ll have to tether to your phone for the watches to know your location. Storage is reduced at 4GB compared to 8GB last time around, and there’s also no ambient light sensor, no altimeter, and no compass.

When we reviewed the Fossil Gen 5 last year, one of our biggest complaints was its price, which was too expensive at $295. At $249, the Fossil Gen 5E series is certainly more affordable, and it’s great to see more size options. It’s just unfortunate that they’re now running on a previous-generation chipset and still use a wearable OS that’s increasingly in need of a revamp.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

The Asus Zenbook flip S review

 There’s one really strong argument in favor of buying the ZenBook Flip S: the screen. This $1,449 2-in-1 has a 4K OLED panel, and it’s one of the best displays you can get on a 13-inch notebook.

Asus Zenbook Flip S

OLED panels — which made a name for themselves in high-end TVs but are growing more popular in laptops as well — can deliver a stunning picture compared to IPS LCD displays. But all those pixels suck up a heck of a lot of battery, and companies sometimes slap them on laptops that can’t fully fill their power needs. That’s particularly true in thin-and-light 13-inch machines, which are working with really limited space for a battery. And it’s how you end up with releases like the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook, a gorgeous OLED device that can’t make it five hours on one charge.

The ZenBook Flip (which you should be able to buy sometime this month) isn’t quite that bad. It has a bigger battery than the Galaxy and lasts just long enough that life span isn’t a disqualifying factor. Ultimately, though, you’re still compromising on battery life for this screen quality — OLED laptops of this size are uncommon for a reason.

So, to start with the screen: it’s a stunner. There’s no glare, despite its glossy texture, so work in bright settings isn’t a problem. Pictures were vibrant, blacks were deep, and colors were bright — it makes MacBook Pro screens look cheap. In testing, the ZenBook covered 100 percent of the sRGB gamut and 100 percent of the Adobe RGB gamut, and it reached 452 nits at maximum brightness. 

It isn’t hard to find 4K OLED screens in larger laptops — it’s the display quality combined with a compact convertible build that make the ZenBook Flip S such an ambitious device. It’s just 2.65 pounds (1.2kg) and 0.55 inches (13.9mm) thick. Design-wise, it’s a world away from the last major ZenBook Flip release, the UX370 (this model is the UX371) — Asus has brought the line into the modern era with sharper corners, smaller bezels (3.9mm on the sides), a sturdy build, and smooth premium finish. You may not even notice the copper accents or the modest keyboard backlighting unless you’re looking for them, but they round out a very nice professional look.

Occasionally, the screen also didn’t switch out of tablet mode after I swiveled it from the tablet to the laptop position, and I’d have to redo the transition. This is an issue you’ll sometimes have with Windows 2-in-1s — it’s not unique to the Flip — but it can be a headache nonetheless.

Like other modern ZenBooks, the Flip S comes with Asus’ NumberPad 2.0. When you tap a tiny icon in the top right corner of the touchpad, an LED touch-based numpad pops up. (Swiping down from the top left corner also brings up the calculator app, which is handy.) The numpad works really well, and you can also use the touchpad to navigate and click around while it’s up — the ZenBook never mistook my swipes for number inputs or vice versa. It’s worth noting that the touchpad isn’t quite as comfortable of a location for data entry work as the right side of the keyboard, but it’s still the closest thing you’ll get to a numpad on a laptop of this size.

The port selection is fine, except that there’s no headphone jack. Asus says it removed that in the name of thinness, and the Flip does ship with a dongle. But plenty of the ZenBook’s competitors (including the OLED Spectre x360, which is only a tiny bit thicker) have been able to squeeze one in. It’s also missing a microSD slot, which the Spectre also has. Apart from that, there’s an HDMI port, two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports, and one USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A. The laptop also supports Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 — no LTE.

So all in all, a nice display in a nice form factor. What’s the catch? It’s battery life. The ZenBook Flip S comes with a 67Wh battery, which is huge for a 13-incher — and I’m not sure it would be usable with a much smaller tank. With my usual office workflow and brightness around 200 nits, I got just five hours and 15 minutes. Sure, you’ll probably get a better result if you set the screen to 1080p — but if you’re going to be doing that regularly, save your money and get a 1080p screen

The ZenBook Flip S certainly won’t slow you down if you’re just using it for multitasking in Chrome, Slack, Zoom, and other productivity apps. (The bottom did get uncomfortably hot at some points during my testing, though the keyboard only got a bit warm). But this laptop isn’t the best choice for running demanding programs.

Friday, October 2, 2020

TikTok competitor found inflating monthly active users

 Would-be TikTok competitor Triller has allegedly inflated its monthly active user numbers, according to a report published in Business Insider.

Triller. The famous TikTok competitor

In the last month Triller — a short-form video app that has attracted a number of TikTok stars, including the most popular person on the platform, Charli D’Amelio — announced that it had more than 100 million monthly active users. Speaking to Business Insider, six former employees dispute those numbers, and they told reporter Dan Whateley that Triller’s numbers were shady, based on their experience with the company.

Back in October of last year, Triller said it had reached 13 million monthly active users and 60 million app downloads. A screenshot provided to Business Insider of one of the company’s analytics dashboards, however, shows a different story — only 2 million monthly active users on iOS and around 484,000 monthly active users on Android. It was taken just a few weeks after the company’s public announcement.

“Four of the six former Triller employees Business Insider spoke with confirmed that they had access to the Localytics dashboard and remembered Triller’s MAU count ranging between 1 million to 2.5 million at the time,” wrote Whateley in his story. “The other two said they remembered the MAU count being about that 1-2.5 million range at the time, but did not name Localytics in particular.”

Triller provided a statement to Business Insider, which said that the former employees were “disseminating inaccurate information.”

Meanwhile, the third-party mobile analytics firm Apptopia estimated that Triller had only 52 million lifetime installs this August — a number that’s vastly different than the company’s 250 million. That time, Triller threatened to sue over the difference. Lately, Triller has been drawing a lot of attention because TikTok, its larger rival, has been a target of President Trump’s ire. The president has threatened to ban TikTok because it is owned by a Chinese company, ByteDance.

UK's health system planning to reduce greenhouse gas emissions asap

The UK’s National Health Service released a sweeping plan today to become the first national health system to eliminate nearly all of its planet-heating greenhouse gases. By 2040, it plans to gut all of the emissions it’s directly and indirectly responsible for. That includes pollution from its facilities, electricity use, vehicles, and supply chains for medicines and medical devices.


Health care is responsible for a hefty chunk of greenhouse gases. The National Health Service pumps out between 4 and 5 percent of England’s carbon emissions. Globally, the health care sectors in 36 countries with the largest economies accounted for more than 4 percent of worldwide carbon dioxide pollution — more than aviation or shipping.

Getting rid of all that pollution will play a huge role in slowing down climate change. It will also help the UK meet its larger goal of essentially eliminating greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, a benchmark that scientists believe is important for all countries to achieve in order to stop warming from reaching disastrous levels.

“Unabated [climate change] will disrupt care, and affect patients and the public at every stage of our lives,” Sir Simon Stevens, NHS chief executive, said in a report outlining the coming changes. “We therefore make no apologies for pushing for progress in this area while still continuing to confront coronavirus.”

The UK and NHS set out to reach “net-zero” emissions by 2050 and 2040 respectively, which means they will cut down on pollution and rely on carbon-capturing technology and schemes like tree-planting to offset any emissions they continue to release. By 2045, the NHS aims to go even further by eliminating emissions from patient and visitor travel, as well as medicines and NHS services that people use in their homes.

Making all the necessary changes will be a monumental endeavor. But unlike companies like Microsoft and BP that have recently made similarly splashy climate announcements without many details on how to achieve those goals

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Google moves Play movies & TV app to Google TV but it's an app?

 Along with the launch of the new Chromecast with Google TV, Google is changing the name of the Google Play Movies & TV app to Google TV. The rename is happening on Android phones to start, though you can expect it to change on other platforms eventually as well.

Google Play services

The app is Google’s store for renting and buying movies and TV, and in truth Google is following Apple’s lead here. Apple uses its Apple TV app as the hub for all its video offerings as well, whether they are TV shows or not. Apple also uses the Apple TV branding in multiple ways — as hardware, app, and its own streaming video service.

Google’s TV offerings also are a little confusing. In addition to being the aforementioned app, it’s also the name of the Google software layer that sits on top of Android TV on the new Chromecast with Google TV.

Google tried to create a whole ecosystem of content around the “Play” brand. It’s still there: the Google Play Store is Google’s app store, Google Play Books will let you buy books and comics, and despite several years of starvation and neglect Google Play Music still has yet to completely shut down and be replaced by YouTube Music.

  • Google TV (the app). Formerly known as Google Play Movies & TV (and still known as that on phones that don’t run Android). We’ve covered this above, but the key thing to know is that it’s an app for phones. You can use it to rent movies or watch stuff you’ve purchased elsewhere if you’re signed up for Movies Anywhere. I suppose you could also use this app to cast video to...
  • Chromecast with Google TV. This is a new dongle you can use to stream video either directly or via cast. It’s $49.99 and seems quite capable. It runs...
  • Google TVIn the context of running on the Chromecast, Google TV is the interface you left/right/up/down your way through to find something you want to watch. It is, as you might expect, heavily focused on search and the Google Assistant. It’s also going to be offered to other TV makers who’d like to use it. The companies most likely to do so are probably already using.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Xbox Game Pass to get EA Games on Nov 10

 Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers will get access to EA Play just in time for Microsoft’s next-gen console launch. EA Play is arriving on Xbox Game Pass Ultimate on November 10th, the same day that Microsoft launches both the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S consoles. Only Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers ($14.99 per month) will get access to EA Play, alongside the xCloud and bundled Xbox Live Gold benefits.

Xbox Game Pass

EA Play will include access to more than 60 additional EA games, including The SimsFIFAMass Effect, and many more. EA Play is similar to Game Pass but exclusive to EA’s games. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers will also be able to download and play games from EA Play on Windows 10 PCs in December, boosting the collection of games available on the PC side of Xbox Game Pass.

Microsoft is also planning to add Bethesda’s classic franchises to Xbox Game Pass for both console and PC soon. The additions come after Microsoft acquired Bethesda Softworks parent company ZeniMax for $7.5 billion. Doom Eternal will be one of the first additions on October 1st, but Microsoft hasn’t yet revealed the full list of Bethesda games that will make their way to Game Pass.

If you already subscribe to both EA Play and Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft is canceling EA Play subscriptions and any remaining time over 50 days will be “rounded up and converted to the nearest month of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate at a ratio of three to one.” There’s a full FAQ over at Microsoft’s Xbox support site, but essentially if you have up to 3 months of EA Play already on your account, you’ll get 1 month of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate added to your account. Between 4 and 6 months of EA Play left on your account means 2 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate added to your account

Credit: (Verge)

Lenovo announces world's foldable laptop

 Lenovo has announced a ThinkPad like no ThinkPad you’ve ever seen before: the ThinkPad X1 Fold. Think Samsung’s Galaxy Fold, but a 13-inch OLED laptop screen. It’s available for preorder now, starting at $2,499.

Source: Lenovo Forums

The idea is that you can use the Fold like a large tablet when it’s fully unfolded (or divide the screen into two adjacent displays). You can prop the Fold up horizontally to use it like a full 13-inch notebook, with an optional detachable keyboard and easel stand. You can fold the thing up 90 degrees, turn it vertically, and use it like a miniature laptop (a touchscreen keyboard pops up on the bottom half). You can turn it horizontally and use it like a book, with an optional stylus. Or you can fold the whole thing up, and easily carry it around without it taking up much space in your bag.

Lenovo also announced the ThinkPad X1 Nano, which is the lightest ThinkPad ever made at 1.99 pounds. This ThinkPad is based on Intel’s new Evo platform, which is meant to certify that laptops deliver long battery life, fast charging, and a quick boot time, among other features. Evo systems also need to include Intel’s 11th Gen Tiger Lake processors, Wi-Fi 6, and Thunderbolt 4.

The Nano has a 13-inch 2K 16:10 display (with touch and non-touch options). Lenovo says that it’s about the same height as a 14-inch 16:9 screen. And it comes with a number of AI security features: it can detect when you’re walking by and wake itself up, for example, and lock itself when you walk away.

Lenovo announced several additions to its ThinkBook line as well. The flagships include the $729 ThinkBook 13s Gen 2 (which is also Evo-verified), the $879 ThinkBook 14s Yoga (the first convertible ThinkBook, which has a built-in pen), and the $549 ThinkBook 15 Gen 2 (which comes with built-in Bluetooth earbuds). The 13s and 15 also have AMD options. They’ll both be available in October; the Yoga is coming in November.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Spotify and Hollywood's Chernin Entertainment to work on Spotify original podcasts

 Spotify wants to turn more of its original podcasts into TV shows and movies. The company announced a partnership today with Chernin Entertainment, the production company behind Ford v Ferrari, Hidden Figures, and New Girl, to develop TV and movie pitches based on Spotify-exclusive and original podcasts. The “first look” partnership means Chernin will get first dibs on developing pitches around Spotify IP. Spotify says its library now consists of more than 250 original shows from which Chernin can work off initially.

“Spotify has one of the largest libraries of unattached IP that exists in the world today and that library is being added to daily,” Chernin said in a prepared statement. “This treasure trove of content plus the acceleration of new voices and stories provides an enormous opportunity to transform these addictive stories and IP into content for the screen.”

Turning podcasts into movies and shows has already proven to be a potential moneymaker for companies. Chernin, Spotify, and Pineapple Street Media are already collaborating on a TV adaptation of The Clearing, and Gimlet Media, which is now owned by Spotify, also turned its show Homecoming into a Prime Video original series.

Podcasts are cheaper and easier to make than TV shows and can prove a story’s worth before studios commit to funding expensive, on-screen production. Even movie stars, like Rami Malek, are starring in fictional podcasts, setting themselves up to be audio stars with the potential to be cast in a visual adaption of their show, too.

Spotify partnering with Chernin means it has a reputable production company at the ready, looking for opportunities to capitalize on the company’s catalog without Spotify having to staff up in Hollywood.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Google bans political ads ahead of US elections on November 3rd

 Google is banning advertisers from running ads related to the election after Election Day. In an email to advertisers, the company said the change is due to the “unprecedented” number of votes that will be counted after November 3rd, as reported by Axios.

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While the winner of the US presidential election is often announced on election night, this year the process is expected to take longer as more people are voting by mail due to the pandemic. That window could give the political campaigns of Donald Trump or Joe Biden a chance to run ads prematurely claiming victory and spreading confusion about the results.

To limit misinformation about the outcome of the vote, Facebook recently announced it will block ads from political campaigns that declare an early victory. The company is also banning new political ads the week before the election.

Google said its policy blocks ads that mention the election, its results, or that target people based on election-related search queries, Axios reports. It will apply to ads running across the company’s ad-serving platforms, which include Google Ads and YouTube.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

OnePlus 8T to have 65W charging confirmed

 The upcoming OnePlus 8T will support 65W fast charging via the company’s new Warp Charge 65 standard, OnePlus confirmed today. The company is advertising that you’ll be able to get “a day’s power in 15 minutes” using the new technology, and it specifically says a 15-minute charge will restore 58 percent of the battery’s power, with a full charge of the phone’s 4,500mAh battery taking just 39 minutes.

Photo: GSMArena

Faster charging speeds tend to mean more heat generation, but OnePlus says the 8T features a “new heat dissipation system” to keep it cool while it charges. The phone apparently has 12 temperature sensors to keep an eye on how hot the handset gets. There’s no mention of whether the OnePlus 8T will support wireless charging, however.

65W fast charging is more than twice the speed of what OnePlus has used in its other phones from this year. The OnePlus 8, OnePlus 8 Pro, and OnePlus Nord all supported its Warp Charge 30T standard. 65W fast charging has previously appeared in Oppo handsets like last year’s Reno Ace or the Find X2 Pro via its SuperVOOC 2.0 standard.

Earlier this week, OnePlus confirmed the upcoming 8T will feature a 120Hz refresh rate display. As for the rest of its specs, Android Central has reported the device will have a quad-camera array on its rear based around a 48-megapixel main sensor alongside ultrawide, macro, and portrait sensors. The phone will reportedly carry a Snapdragon 865 Plus processor paired with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, too.

The OnePlus 8T is set to be announced on October 14th.

Among Us is officially a hit on every gaming plaform

Among Us   has been one of the biggest games of the year, and thanks to new data from Sensor Tower, we have an idea of just how huge it has ...