Gadgets, Game & Mobile News

Square Enix's 'Forspoken' demo is now available on PlayStation Network

Engadget - Fri, 2022-12-09 08:00

You can now play Square Enix's action RPG Forspoken after several launch delays — as a demo, that is. The developer and publisher has released a demo for the PS5 game on the PlayStation Store at this years Game Awards, where it also announced that Final Fantasy XVI will be available for Sony's current-gen console on June 22nd, 2023. 

Forspoken was originally supposed to be released in May, but it got pushed back to October 11th and then again to January 24th next year. It looks like Square Enix truly is gearing up for the game's release this time, now that we're just a bit over a month before its latest launch schedule. The game puts you in control of Frey Holland, a woman from New York City who's transported to another world called "Athia," where she gains magical abilities. There, she must find her way home while battling monsters and the Tantas, who were once "benevolent matriarchs [that] now rule the lands as evil and maddened sorceresses."

Square Enix says the demo will give you a "deeper look at the devastating effects of the Break," which is the powerful force responsible for corrupting everything it touches, the Tantas included. Forspoken will also be available on PC via Steam, Epic Games and the Microsoft Store, but the demo only seems to be available for the PS5. If you don't have access to the console, you can also watch the game's new trailer below:

Why Apple's Next Big Thing Still Isn't Here - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2022-12-09 08:00
VR badly needed the pizzazz of Apple to serve as a catalyst for the technology. But the tech giant gave it the cold shoulder this year.

Amazon Aims to Kill the Barcode to Help Robots Sort Your Shopping - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2022-12-09 08:00
Exclusive: Amazon built a computer vision algorithm from scratch to identify products without barcodes.

Guillermo del Toro Reimagines 'Pinocchio,' One Frame at a Time - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2022-12-09 08:00
Using stop-motion animation, the director of Pan's Labyrinth delivers a visually dazzling – and decidedly grownup – take on the wooden puppet come to life.

DJI's Mini 3 drone is cheaper, but more limited than the Pro model it's based on

Engadget - Fri, 2022-12-09 08:00

You'd think that after launching a ton of products in 2022, DJI would be finished for the year. However, that isn't quite the case, as it just announced the DJI Mini 3 drone aimed at the consumer market. It's a stripped down version of the Mini 3 Pro, with no forward or rear obstacle detection, no ActiveTrack and video that's limited to 4K 30p. Those compromises are reflected in the price, meaning you'll pay $469 for just the drone compared to $669 for the Mini 3 Pro. 

The company believes the Mini 3 Pro is ideal for first time users, in scenarios like "suburban outings, holiday travel, and urban shooting/exploration with family and friends." In that sense, it's more a spiritual successor to the DJI Mini 2 than a Mini 3 Pro-lite. That said, it's nearly identical to the Mini 3 Pro, apart from the front sensors being removed and replaced with grills and smooth plastic where the rear sensors would be located on the Pro. 

The Mini 3 weighs less than 249 grams so it doesn't require a special permit to fly in many countries. It has the same Type 1/1.3 (9.6 x 7.2 mm) f/1.7 sensor as the Mini 3 Pro, so you can film in 4K HDR and take 12-megapixel photos. However, video is limited to 4K 30p, rather than 4K 60p on the more expensive model. It also offers "true vertical" video and photo shooting, with the camera flips 90 degrees to allow for high quality social media content. 

DJI has ensured 2.7K and full HD captures max out at 60fps, so there's no 120fps as found on the Mini 3 Pro. You can shoot HDR at up to 30fps, and it has dual native ISO for decent low-light performance in a relatively small sensor. 

The Intelligent Flight Batteries provide long flight times, delivering up to 38 minutes with the standard and 51 minutes with the extended batteries (the latter are available in North America but not in Europe and other regions). Those times are under ideal conditions; you'll more likely see around 30-32 minutes. Still, that's excellent for this category and provides a cushion for beginners who may let the drone fly a bit too far away. Despite the small size it has "robust power," DJI says, which helps it handle reasonably stiff winds as well.

As with the Mini 3 Pro, you can get the Mini 3 with DJI's RC controller for an extra $230. That option is well worth it, because it's far more convenient than using a smartphone with the regular RC-N1 controller. It has a similar layout to DJI's other controllers, with the addition of photo and video triggers that automatically switch between those respective modes. The RC controller joysticks can be stowed underneath the controller chassis for travel and while the screen struggles a bit in bright sunlight, it is otherwise sharp and clear.

DJI's Mini 3 drone is cheaper, but more limited than the Pro model it's based onSteve Dent/Engadget

The Mini 3 has a key feature for social media users, namely DJI's QuickShots. That lets you take short and cute videos without the need to pilot, as the drone does all the work. Some of those include "Dronie" (starting tight on the subject and flying up and away to reveal the background) and "Circle," where the camera moves around the subject. 

However, it lacks many of the AI features found on the Mini 3 Pro like ActiveTrack (following a subject), Timelapse and Mastershots. The fact that it can track a subject with QuickShots suggests that its capable of ActiveTrack, but that the functionality may simply be disabled.

It has other intelligent functions to help beginners. Those include Auto Takeoff, Return to Home (RTH) including Smart RTH, Low Battery RTH and Failsafe RTH, instructing the aircraft to return to its starting point if the battery is low or signal drops. 

DJI's Mini 3 drone is cheaper, but more limited than the Pro model it's based on

That brings us to one big issue with this drone. It does feature a downward vision system and infrared sensing for stable hovering, which is a big help for novice users. However, it lacks forward and rear obstacle detection sensors. That means a user can fly it directly into a tree or building more easily, and as it doesn't have DJI Avata-like propeller protection, you could end up with a broken drone. Even if you're careful, using the RTH function could be risky as the drone could automatically fly itself into an object when trying to navigate home. You'll also want to make sure the area is clear when doing a Dronie or other Quickshots maneuver. 

I received the Mini 3 from DJI, but it was a bit too late to do a video (we'll release a full review soon). However, my drone pilot friend and I had a day to test it, and we found it just as stable and easy to fly as the Mini 3 Pro. The footage quality looks sharp and clear with accurate colors, and I didn't really miss the 4K 60p, as I don't often use that mode anyway.

We were acutely aware of the lack of obstacle sensors, though. We didn't dare wander too far away from base, as a loss of signal could be disastrous — particularly in Europe where laws restrict the transmission distance significantly compared to the US. The lack of sensors also limit what you can shoot, as it would be foolhardy to get it too close to obstacles or fly in tight spaces. 

DJI Mini 3 drone gallerSteve Dent/Engadget

Lastly, I'm wondering about the Mini 3's pricing. If you don't already have a DJI drone, you'll need to pay $559 with the RC-N1 controller, compared to $759 for the Mini 3 Pro. The Fly More Combo (two extra batteries, RC-N1 controller, three-battery charger) costs $718, compared to $948 for the Mini 3 Pro. The Fly More Combo with the RC controller is $858, while the same kit for the Pro model is $1,098.

If you're just having fun or starting out and only need a battery, drone and controller, $559 might be a bit steep for many folks. For just a minor stepdown in capability, the Mini 2 is just $449 in the same configuration, for instance. And, if you want a more serious kit with more batteries and possibly the RC controller, it would make sense to cough up $240 more to get the Pro. 

That said, the Mini 3 Pro is perpetually out of stock, so this one will probably sell like hotcakes regardless of my misgivings. So far it looks like an easy-to-fly drone that takes better video than anything else in this price range — just keep it it well away from obstacles.

The 5 Best Blood Pressure Monitors for 2022: Tested by Our Experts - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2022-12-09 07:30
Take your blood pressure at home with the best blood pressure monitors that meet AHA standards.

The Morning After: All the big news from The Game Awards, including ‘Hades II’ and more sequels

Engadget - Fri, 2022-12-09 07:15

The Game Awards gave us a busy night for gaming news. First up, Idris Elba will star in Cyberpunk 2077’s first big DLC. Phantom Liberty is a spy thriller introducing a new character, FIA agent Solomon Reed, played by Elba. The DLC also includes new missions and a new district in Night City, all of it culminating in "an impossible mission of espionage and survival," according to developer CD Projekt RED. I wonder if he’ll bump into Keanu Reeves’ character.

 Phantom Liberty' showing a character modeled after actor Idris Elba.CD Projekt Red

A Hades sequel might be the biggest reveal. While the game looks similar to the Supergiant hit, you can expect a new female protagonist, Melinoë, training with the witch goddess Hecate, and generally slaying beasts in the underworld. We also got release dates for Final Fantasy XVI (June 22nd), Street Fighter 6 (June 2nd) and Diablo IV (June 6th). In short, June 2023 is shaping up to be a busy month in gaming.

Hideo Kojima was also ready to reveal his next project, Death Stranding 2 – yes, another sequel. Both Norman Reedus and Léa Seydoux will reappear in the game, headed for PS5. Kojima added that his studio is also working on a second, completely new project with an experimental edge. So, not a sequel?

We’ve pulled together all the other big gaming headlines right here. But which game won? FromSoftware’s Elden Ring, of course. It beat games like God of War Ragnarok, Horizon Forbidden West, Stray and Xenoblade Chronicles 3 to claim Game Of The Year.

– Mat Smith

The Morning After isn’t just a newsletter – it’s also a daily podcast. Get our daily audio briefings, Monday through Friday, by subscribing right here.

The biggest stories you might have missedIKEA's latest Sonos Symfonisk speaker is a $260 floor lampIt’s the most expensive member of the Symfonisk lineup.TMAIKEA

IKEA and Sonos’ floor lamp collaboration, at $260, is the most expensive speaker in the Symfonisk lineup. Current models range from $120 for a bookshelf speaker (with less than stellar audio) to $250 for musical wall art. And your investment in the floor lamp could creep even higher if you want something other than the included bamboo shade. It’ll launch in January 2023.

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Google merges its Maps and Waze teamsBut it says apps will remain separate.

Google is planning to merge its Waze and Maps divisions, The Wall Street Journal has reported. The move aims at reducing duplicated work across the products, but Google said it will still keep the Waze and Maps apps separate. Waze and Maps have been sharing features ever since Google acquired Waze for $1.1 billion back in 2013. "Google remains deeply committed to Waze’s unique brand, its beloved app and its thriving community of volunteers and users," a spokesperson told the WSJ. Waze CEO Neha Parikh will leave her role after a transition period, but there will reportedly be no layoffs.

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Google says it's making Chrome less of a battery and memory hogTwo new modes should help lighten the load on your desktop or laptop.

With a new Memory Saver mode, Google says Chrome will reduce its memory usage by up to 30 percent on desktop. The mode frees up memory from open tabs you aren't using. Google says this will help to give you a smoother experience on active tabs. Chrome will reload inactive tabs when you switch back to them. The company has also revealed a Battery Saver mode, which Google says can kick in when you're using the browser and your device's battery level drops to 20 percent. Chrome will limit background activity, including tabs with videos and animations. Google says all users will have access to them in the coming weeks, and it's rolling out the build already.

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EU sets December 2024 deadline for USB-C wired charging on new phonesExpect to see a USB-C iPhone by 2025 at the latest.

The European Union has set a firm deadline for manufacturers to adopt USB-C charging for most electronic devices sold in the region. New phones, tablets, headphones, portable speakers and many other types of devices will need to adopt the standard for wired charging as of December 28th, 2024. Laptop makers will need to switch to USB-C by April 2026.

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Why Pizza Ovens Are the It Kitchen Gift for 2022 - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2022-12-09 07:00
Home pizza oven sales are booming, and these fun and easy backyard cookers are teed up as a top gift for food fans this year.

Best Travel Tech Gifts: Gadgets for the Journey and the Destination - CNET

CNET News - Fri, 2022-12-09 07:00
Whether you're buying for an international jetsetter or an occasional traveler, there's a good gift idea on this list.

Riot Games sues Chinese tech giant NetEase for allegedly copying 'Valorant'

Engadget - Fri, 2022-12-09 05:58

Riot Games has sued Chinese tech giant NetEase, calling its mobile game Hyper Front "a copy of substantial parts of Valorant," Law360 has reported. On top of matching the format, NetEase also replicated parts of its character designs, game maps, weapon designs and more, Riot claims. It brought the case to the high court of England and Wales, but is also launching complaints in Germany, Brazil and Singapore, according to Polygon

Like Valorant, Hyper Front is a free-to-play first-person shooter that pits teams of five against each other in different modes. In its claim, Riot noted that Hyper Front began development shortly after it revealed an early of Valorant dubbed "Project A" in October of 2019. NetEase, meanwhile, showed off a beta version of Hyper Front under the code name "Project M." 

The release of Hyper Front in Singapore and other countries prompted complaints from users that it was essentially a "copy" of Valorant. That led to NetEase making modifications to the games, but the level of infringement goes beyond that, Riot said. The modified version of Hyper Front is currently available on Android and iOS stores, boasting more than one million downloads and 48,000+ reviews on Google Play. 

NetEase is currently involved in a dispute with Korea's PUBG corp. over two NetEase mobile games. Earlier this year, two California judges said NetEase faced an "uphill battle" in challenging a settlement agreement with PUBG. Meanwhile, Riot Games recently settled a class-action gender discrimination lawsuit for $100 million. 

SpaceX's first civilian lunar mission will take BIGBANG'S T.O.P and DJ Steve Aoki to the Moon

Engadget - Fri, 2022-12-09 04:57

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has picked his companions for SpaceX's first all-civilian mission to the Moon over a year after he put out a call for potential private astronauts. He chose eight crew members and two backups from various backgrounds to be part of the mission called "dearMoon," and while application was open to everyone, some of the names will likely stand out when you review the list. One of the people flying with Maezawa on SpaceX's Starship spacecraft is Choi Seung Hyun, better known as T.O.P. from the Korean boy band BIGBANG. 

DJ Steve Aoki is also part of the crew, as well as Tim Dodd, who's known for creating space-themed content as a photographer and host of YouTube channel Everyday Astronaut. The other crew members include Rhiannon Adam, a photographic artist from Ireland who now works in London and the US, and Yemi A.D., a designer, director, choreographer and non-profit org founder from the Czech Republic. Brendan Hall, a filmmaker who directed projects for National Geographic, Karim Iliya, a filmmaker who documents whales, birds and other threatened species, and Dev D. Joshi, an actor from India, round up the main crew list. Meanwhile, snowboarding Olympic gold medalist Kaitlyn Farrington and Japanese dancer Miyu were named as backup crew. 

Maezawa said the project received about a million applications from interested individuals around the world who went through a strict selection process. The inclusion of musicians and other creatives doesn't come as a surprise, since the billionaire originally intended to bring artists with him on the trip in hopes that it would inspire them to create something that promotes world peace. He didn't say why he chose T.O.P. specifically, but the star did rap at an astronaut for one of BIGBANG's music videos.

The dearMoon project was launched in 2018 after Maezawa purchased all the seats for a six-day trip to the Moon from SpaceX. It will fly a single circumlunar trajectory around Earth's faithful companion and is expected to take place sometime next year, though the actual date depends on Starship's development. To prepare for the dearMoon mission, Maezawa flew to the ISS last year and spent 12 days on the flying lab shooting videos about life in space. 

Elon Musk says Twitter is developing a feature that shows if you've been 'shadowbanned'

Engadget - Fri, 2022-12-09 00:29

Elon Musk has announced that Twitter is currently working on a software update that will give you access to a tool that can clearly show whether you've been shadowbanned. The term means different things for different platforms, but being shadowbanned typically makes your posts invisible to other users or makes your profile hard to find without your knowledge. Musk says the upcoming tool will also explain the reason why you've been shadowbanned and will give you instructions on how to submit an appeal. 

Twitter is working on a software update that will show your true account status, so you know clearly if you’ve been shadowbanned, the reason why and how to appeal

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 9, 2022

Instagram has just launched a similar feature with its latest update, letting you know whether you're currently blocked from recommendations. At the moment, it can only show if you've been blocked from recommendations in Explore, Feed and Reels, but Instagram is working on expanding the tool so that you can see if you're also blocked from showing up in "suggested accounts." 

Musk didn't talk about how Twitter will be implementing the feature, but he made the announcement shortly after Bari Weiss released part two of The Twitter Files. In the thread, Weiss said that Twitter used "Visibility Filtering," which is apparently just another term for shadowbanning, on some conservative personalities. Musk once called himself a "free speech absolutist." After taking control of Twitter, he started lifting the bans on several controversial users, including former President Donald Trump, The Daily Stormer'sinfamous neo-Nazi creator Andrew Anglin and other white nationalists. 

Advertisers have been fleeing the platform since Musk took over due to concerns about policy changes and the reinstatement of banned accounts. In a blog post late last month, Twitter assured advertisers that "none of [its] policies have changed." And according to a new report by Reuters, Twitter is gearing up to release a set of ad controls in an effort to lure advertisers back to the website. The controls, which could launch as soon as next week, will reportedly allow advertisers to prevent their ads from appearing above or below tweets with the specific keywords they choose.

FromSoftware's next game is 'Armored Core VI', arriving in 2023

Engadget - Thu, 2022-12-08 23:09

Although The Game Awards didn't bring news of a major Elden Ring expansion, there was another juicy announcement for FromSoftware fans. The revered studio is bringing back the Armored Core series after a decade of dormancy. Best of all, you won't have to wait too long to get your hands on Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon. It's coming to PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and Steam in 2023.

From and publisher Bandai Namco announced the game with a trailer that shows mechs emerging from the embers of an apocalyptic event. The clip doesn't offer a ton of story details, but it doesn't have to. The footage is gorgeously detailed and richly rendered enough that the plot can easily take a back seat for now.

What we do know is that you'll be able to assemble your own mech and freely explore the environment, seemingly with slow, steady movements. According to the Japanese version of the trailer's YouTube description, you'll be able to utilize more dynamic movements, fire weapons and engage in close combat when you battle enemies. 

This will be the first mainline Armored Core game since 2012's Armored Core V (a standalone expansion followed in 2013). After the mammoth success of Elden Ring, From has set its standards extremely high. But if any studio can clear that bar, it's probably this one.

Idris Elba is coming to 'Cyberpunk 2077' in 2023

Engadget - Thu, 2022-12-08 23:06

The first major bit of DLC for Cyberpunk 2077 — unless you count a buttload of patches — is due out in 2023 for PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X and S. Phantom Liberty is a spy thriller, and it introduces a new character, FIA agent Solomon Reed, who's played by Idris Elba. The DLC also includes new missions and a new district in Night City, all of it culminating in "an impossible mission of espionage and survival," according to developer CD Projekt Red.

Phantom Liberty will be the first batch of paid DLC for Cyberpunk 2077, though there's no word on exactly how much it will cost.

Introducing Idris Elba as Solomon Reed, an FIA Agent for the NUSA. Team up and take on an impossible mission of espionage & survival in #PhantomLiberty, a spy-thriller expansion for #Cyberpunk2077 set in an all new district of Night City. Coming 2023 to PC, PS5 & Xbox Series X|S.

— Cyberpunk 2077 (@CyberpunkGame) December 9, 2022

Cyberpunk 2077 came out in December 2020 and was immediately lambasted as a glitchy, unpolished mess by many players and reviewers. CD Projekt Red released a series of fixes for the game and, over time, it's stabilized and players have found the fun that was hiding there all along.

Elba joins fellow mainstream actor Keanu Reeves in the Cyberpunk universe, and this won't be the last we'll hear of the franchise. There's a fabulous Netflix anime based on the game and CD Projekt Red is already building a full-on sequel, codenamed "Orion."

'Final Fantasy XVI' arrives on PlayStation 5 June 22nd

Engadget - Thu, 2022-12-08 23:03

The next Final Fantasy game has a more tangible release date. Square Enix has announced that Final Fantasy XVI will come to PS5 on June 22nd, 2023. You'll have to be patient if you plan to play the action RPG on anything else — the company warns that the game won't come to other platforms until December 31st.

A new trailer accompanying the news offers only brief glimpses of gameplay, but does highlight the plot and the thread of vengeance running throughout. Humans (the Dominant) are waking up massive monsters, the Eikons, but it's safe to say there will be serious consequences.

The flames of vengeance burn bright and beckon with ambitious hunger. Awaken the Eikons, but will you dominate them or will they dominate you?

Final Fantasy XVI launches June 22nd, 2023. Head to our blog to check out more information:

— Square Enix (@SquareEnix) December 9, 2022

The game is the first in the core Final Fantasy series since XV from 2016, and has had a long, winding development history. It was unveiled in September 2020, but Square Enix revealed in December 2021 that the pandemic had pushed it back by half a year — and clearly, it wasn't close to being ready at that point. The developers said they had a "mountain of challenges" in polishing the game at the time, and it's now clear they weren't joking.

'Crash Team Rumble' expands the Bandicootverse into team-based fruit collection

Engadget - Thu, 2022-12-08 22:30

A new Crash Bandicoot online multiplayer game is on the way. The 4v4 team-based Crash Team Rumble launches on PS5 and PS4, Xbox Series X/S and Xbox One. The game, which supports cross-platform play, will arrive in 2023.

In the game, you team up with three other players to bank fruits into your drop-off zone while trying to defend the opposing team’s goal. You can play in various arenas and choose from heroes like Crash and Tawna Bandicoot or villains Doctor Neo Cortex and Dingodile (among others). Each character has a distinct power, personality and playstyle.

Activision owns the Crash Bandicoot IP after producer Universal Interactive became Vivendi Games before merging with Activision in 2007. Toys for Bob is developing the new multiplayer game after its work on the well-received Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time. Original developer Naughty Dog hasn’t been involved with the series since its PlayStation-exclusive days in the late 1990s.