Tag Archives: Gadget Reviews

Xbox Live update makes co-op live streams a reality

Previously, Xbox owners had to choose from pre-defined images for their player photo Gamerpics. With the new update, you can upload any digital image from your console, Windows 10 PC, or mobile phone to use as your on-screen avatar or club profile and background image. Nelson urges you to “keep it clean,” though, as everyone can see what you upload.

Xbox’s Mixer (née Beam) is the platform’s game streaming system. With the new update, you can now stream along with up to two other people, called co-streaming. “With co-streaming, you and up to three of your friends can broadcast together to create a shared, multi-view experience on Mixer.” You can invite any other user (or your whole game party) to co-stream on your console and stream together in perfect harmony.

Xbox owners will also be able to connect a single controller as their default sign in device. When you turn on the linked controller, the console will sign into that account. This could make it much easier in a multi-account household where everyone has their own controller, for sure. Killer Instinct fans can now create their own custom tournaments via Live’s Club system, too.

The mobile Xbox apps are also getting updates, including more exposure for “looking for group” (LFG) messages. When you create a LFG from any game hub on the console, you can share it out to the Activity Feed or a pre-defined group of friends via Messages. In addition, mobile users can browse all the titles they’ve subscribed to with Xbox Game Pass. You can install the games to your console from within the app, too. You can now set your region on your phone to match that of your Xbox console, which gives you access to the content from different regional Xbox stores. Finally, the Xbox app for Android gets a bonus feature: Chat Bubbles. When a new message arrives, a new chat bubble will appear on your phone, no matter what app or game you’re currently using. It’s a handy way to keep on top of your Xbox messages and Club chats.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/07/13/xbox-live-update-co-op-live-streams/

Pokémon Go celebrates first birthday with events across the globe

During the Challenge Windows, trainers at Grant Park will have to catch monsters that will give remote players various perks, such as reducing the distance needed to hatch an egg. Trainers elsewhere in the world will then have to do their part and catch as many critters as they can to extend the duration of the perks unlocked by the participants in Chicago.

In addition to Pokémon Go Fest, Niantic will also hold several Safari Zone events in Europe featuring monsters previously unavailable in the region. And if you’re in Japan from August 9th to 15th, you can use the game as an excuse to attend the annual Pikachu Outbreak in Yokohama. The gamemaker is promising a special experience for players during the event. A word of warning, though: you might get tad distracted by the thousands of Pikachus marching and dancing around.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/07/13/pokemon-go-first-birthday-global-events/

Audi’s AI future tackles autonomous driving one solution at a time

To help understand where the company is right now and where it intends to go (and when), we spoke with Dr. Miklos Kiss, head of predevelopment and driver assistance systems at Audi. The automaker is tackling the tough problems by taking on simpler solutions for the various levels of autonomy (Level 0 is basically manual driving, Level 5 is full autonomy).

What is the state of AI within Audi?

“AI within Audi means Audi intelligence. That means we present more functionality than the customer would expect. That differs very much from the AI topic that is just machine learning. What we are presenting right now is that Audi has the first passenger car that is ready for Level 3 driving, an automation level where, for the first time, we take over the whole responsibility of the driving task.

So the driver no longer has to monitor the driving task in a traffic jam up to 60 kilometers per hour (37 miles per hour); you just sit back and relax. That’s new. Therefore we needed a new architecture. We now have a central computing unit for drivers’ assistant systems that gathers all the sensor data in one unit.”

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How is that different from what Audi’s been doing before?

“It differs very much from what we did before where certain systems didn’t talk to each other. So we had a system responsible for the longitudinal under control. We had the Audi Lane Assist responsible for lateral control and these were two completely independent systems. Now we brought them together into an integrated system. That does longitudinal and lateral and lack of control. This gives us much more possibilities to new scenarios in traffic.”

Right now you have Level 3. What do you see for the future? Is Level 4 just around the corner?

“Well the first thing is the levels of automotive driving. The second thing is the scenarios of automated driving. For the highway scenario, we see Level 3 for the next couple of years. It’s very hard to get to Level 4 because we would have to come up with any conceivable situation on any highway in any country. That’s quite a hard one. On the other hand, a Level 3 system on the highway is very comfortable for the driver. So it’s a valuable system.

When you think about the automotive parking garage pilots, a Level 3 system wouldn’t help very much because the driver would have to go to the store and then walk out to their car just as before. But a Level 4 system in the parking garage would be the comfort system. Exit the car at the entrance, go on your way and the car would park itself. That would be nice. So this is a limited-use case for low speeds that we can think of for a Level 4 system that’ll come much earlier than driving on a highway.

So the important thing is to separate the levels from the functions.”

How do you train these systems?

“Well, they’re two different things. We have object detection algorithms and we train them with pictures and video streams we have from all over the world. Lots of data. The second thing is the algorithm for the maneuvering itself. This is physical. We have no trained algorithms in the car right now because we describe them in physical algorithms that come from engineers. So this is the big difference. There’s no self-learning car that drives on AI data.”

Is the goal to have a self-learning car that learns and it uploads to the cloud in the cloud shares it with other cars?

“We call it a vision, not an actual goal.”

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What is the vision for the next five to 10 years?

“The vision is more complex scenarios. When we envision a future research project of driving in the city, we’re facing complex intersections where there are pedestrians, cyclists, cars and trucks, and distinguishing all the possible situations and do the right hypothesis. I think this is the big thing we can do with AI.

At the moment, there are much more simpler things. For example, describing a parking lot. What is a parking lot? What’s not? That’s very hard to describe to an algorithm. But for a self-learning algorithm we could feed millions of pictures from all the world. That’s a possible solution. So we’re testing simple scenarios and coming to the more complex ones.”

The Audi A8 with Level 3 autonomy will launch sometime in 2018. Check our more of other coverage from the Audi Tech Summit in Barcelona.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/07/12/audi-s-ai-future-tackles-autonomous-driving-one-solution-at-a-ti/

Logitech to snap up console headset-maker Astro for $85 million

Logitech has been releasing accessories for both hardcore and laid back gamers these past few years, but now it’s gotten serious about conquering the space. The company is in the process of snapping up Astro Gaming and has agreed to pay $85 million in cold hard cash for the purchase by early August. Unlike Logitech, which focuses on making accessories for PC, Astro focuses on making headsets for gaming consoles. It’s primarily known for professional-grade premium headphones that cost $250 or more designed for eSports players and the most dedicated enthusiasts. Logitech’s products are typically cheaper than that, though Astro recently released a pair of $60 cans for PCs, consoles and mobile.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/07/12/logitech-astro-console-headset-gaming-acquisition/

Microsoft officially ends support for Windows Phone

Windows Phone 7 was launched in 2010 as Microsoft’s formal response to the iPhone and Android. This was the release that was going to prove Microsoft could make a truly consumer-focused mobile platform instead of catering primarily to the business crowd. The tile-based home screen and other interface elements were breaths of fresh air, but the so-so device lineup (HTC Surround anyone?) and lack of feature parity (it launched without copy-and-paste text) set the tone. It was always a bit lackluster compared to what Apple and Google were doing, even if there were occasional bright spots.

Case in point: Windows Phone 8. It was a huge upgrade, but no Windows Phone 7 device could run it. Millions of users were faced with the prospect of having to upgrade their handset early to stay current, erasing a lot of Microsoft’s hard-earned good will. Windows Phone 8.1 finally provided a truly complete answer to Android and iOS, but it was still a little bit behind and never got the sustained big-name app support that Microsoft had tried so hard to cultivate. And we can’t forget the ill-fated partnership between Microsoft and Nokia, including the eventual purchase of Nokia’s hardware business. It was supposed to be a match made in heaven (Microsoft got a huge, reliable partner while Nokia got a modern OS), but it mostly led to a lopsided Windows Phone market where third parties always played second fiddle to the latest Lumia.

That Microsoft ditched Windows Phone entirely in favor of Windows 10 Mobile says a lot. Just as Microsoft shifted from a dependence on Windows sales to a focus on apps and services, the pocket-sized Windows is no longer intended as an iPhone-beater — it’s more an extension of the desktop PC experience. Even then, it’s fading away as Microsoft cuts its former Nokia staff and has been winding down its mobile plans. Windows Phone produced many fond memories, particularly stand-out devices like the Lumia 1020, but it largely represents a missed opportunity to adapt to an industry where phones, not PCs, are the center of the computing universe.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/07/11/windows-phone-support-ends/

All-you-can-play indie gaming is coming for $10 per month

And yes, you’ll be able to play new games on-demand. Jump uses web-based technology that launches games from the platform’s client, allowing them to run locally without fully installing by loading only the assets it needs on the fly. With a browsing window, curated collection and algorithms recommending titles to players based on taste, the comparisons to Netflix are inevitable.

Over 4000 games were released on Steam last year, representing 40 percent of the total games ever released on the digital marketplace. Those odds are harrowing for small-staffed indie game developers, so the promise of a highly-curated library might be enough to sway them into joining Jump, where players can sample games at will instead of balking at sticker prices.

Developers might even make more money than on Steam, as they’ll get a clearly-defined cut of profits. Jump will take 70 percent of the net revenue of subscription income and divvy it up to developers based on the amount of time their game is played, the company’s chief Anthony Palma told Gamasutra. That amounts to abut 25 to 50 cents per hour of play, per user.

And since the platform is leaning heavily on curation — Palma insisted that only 10-12 games will be added per month at the start, despite the pressure and expectation that streaming services rapidly expand catalogues — games won’t be buried among a hundred other simultaneously-added titles. That means titles will be far more discoverable on Jump than Steam…and you’ll finally be able to sample a service’s whole range of games, not just the most popular that rise to the top.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/07/11/all-you-can-play-indie-gaming-is-coming-for-10-per-month/