Gaming news summary for May 20, 2015
Welcome to the Game Replay, the twice-weekly post where MacNN and Electronista writes about some of the major stores in the wider world of gaming that developed over the last few days. In today's edition, more characters invade Lego Dimensions, the digital TV tuner for Xbox One goes on sale in the US and Canada, and a request for cheaters to apologize on YouTube in order to reinstate their banned accounts.
Filemaker Pro 14, Cox Cable's cap testing, Xbox bricking, and more
Episode 15 of The MacNN Podcast is on the air! Regular shenanigans ensue, even if not perpetrated by the regular crowd. This week, we talk about Microsoft up to its old tricks with six versions of Windows 10 at retail, Xbox consoles bricked by Microsoft (or not), Cox Cable's cap testing, and much more!
Carriers will be unable to delay Windows 10 for Mobile update releases
Microsoft will be attempting to make Windows 10 for mobile devices more secure than Windows Phone has been previously, by excluding device manufacturers and carriers from the process entirely. The software giant will be directly applying patches to smartphones running Windows 10 Mobile, potentially eliminating some of the operating system fragmentation that occurs when carriers delay the release of upgrades produced by manufacturers.
Ad blocking plans could result in request by carriers for advertising revenue cut
European carriers are allegedly working on blocking mobile advertising from major advertising networks, including those from Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo. A report claims the current plans to remove the online advertising from smartphone browsers in order to save on bandwidth costs, though it will also apparently have the ulterior motive of trying to force the advertising networks to share some of their revenue with the carriers themselves.
Gaming news summary for May 17, 2015
Welcome to the Game Replay, the twice-weekly post where MacNN and Electronista writes about some of the major stores in the wider world of gaming that developed over the last few days. In today's edition, Blizzard brings back Diablo's "Cow Level" secret, Ubisoft gives up on previous-generation consoles, and Candy Crush Saga will be heading to Windows 10.
Microsoft clarifies stance on free Windows 10 upgrade qualification
Microsoft will not be providing the free Windows 10 upgrade to owners of pirated operating systems, the software giant has clarified. A blog post by operating systems vice president Terry Myerson doubles back from earlier comments suggesting users of pirated software would receive the update, with the affected users now being required to pay for a full Windows license before receiving Windows 10.
Xbox Live ban for game testers leaking early details of Microsoft remake
Microsoft's rumored remake of the Gears of War franchise is being marred form accusations that it is being overprotective of its intellectual property. A game testing company has alleged that Microsoft is making some of its staff's Xbox One consoles unusable as a punishment for the leaks, a claim that Microsoft has refuted, denying it has 'bricked' the consoles in question.
Still not revealed are specifics of free upgrade program, fate of virtualization users
Microsoft has taken the wraps off of some more of its plans for Windows. In a blog post heralding the imminent arrival of the new version of the operating system, Microsoft has revealed no less than six versions of the operating system, including versions for mobile.
Real-time voice-based Skype translation available in English, Spanish, Italian, Mandarin
Microsoft is making its Skype Translator available to all users of the video messaging service. Open to everyone, instead of being available to people signing up to take part in the preview, the tool provides near real-time translation of spoken languages, allowing participants to easily speak to each other with little in the way of additional conversational gaps between participants.
x86-powered Surface 3 offers more possibilities
Perhaps the most notable aspect of the launch of the Microsoft Surface 3 is the apparent death of Microsoft's Windows on ARM for tablets experiment, otherwise known as Windows RT. Instead of being powered by an ARM-based chip design like the iPad and most Android tablets, the Surface 3 is now powered by an Intel x86-based Atom chip. The main benefit of this change in approach is that, unlike the original Surface and Surface 2, the Surface 3 runs the standard and full version of Windows 8.1. This means that desktop applications like Apple's own iTunes for Windows PCs can be installed on the Surface 3, along with any other applications compatible with Windows 8.1 and the specifications of the machine. So does this finally make the Surface 3 seriously warrant your attention?
Amazon adds Prime Stations to Echo wireless speaker
Amazon has updated the Echo portable wireless speaker to work with Prime Stations. An email sent to Prime subscribers owning the device advises that the Alexa digital assistant can be commanded to play a personalized ad-free station from Prime Music. The verbal command "Alexa, play the Bruno Mars Prime Station" will start streaming the relevant station through the speaker, with "Alexa, thumbs up/thumbs down" rating the track for further personalization, and "Alexa, what song is this?" to receive more track details.
Comments suggest regular updates instead of milestone Windows releases in future
Windows 10 will be the "last" version of the operating system, a Microsoft developer evangelist has claimed. Speaking at the Ignite conference earlier this week, Jerry Nixon told attendees "Right now we're releasing Windows 10, and because Windows 10 is the last version of Windows, we're all still working on Windows 10," suggesting Microsoft will be taking an alternative path to upgrading the operating system.
Desktop-style apps on mobile unlikely to woo switchers, but still points new direction
Although Microsoft is lagging as very distant third in the smartphone space, it has not yet given up on the hope that it can eventually gain some market traction. At its Build developers conference last week, the Redmond software giant revealed the shape of things to come from its smartphones in the near future. The most intriguing features demonstrated for Windows 10 on smartphones was Continuum, its new desktop mode for a smartphone connected to a monitor, keyboard and mouse. Although it hasn't been revealed in its final form, Continuum promises to reconfigure a Windows 10 smartphone interface on-the-fly so that users can interact with its apps in a desktop environment much as they would do with a PC. Is it a game changer?
JetBlue bringing Amazon Instant Video to in-flight Wi-Fi service
JetBlue passengers will soon be able to use Amazon Instant Video during flights. While most in-flight Internet services either block or are not capable of high-bandwidth applications, such as streaming video, a partnership between the airline and the retailer will let Amazon Prime subscribers view Prime Instant Video content through JetBlue's satellite-based "Fly-Fi" service at no extra cost. Passengers without a Prime subscription will be able to buy and rent shows during the flight, with Amazon.
Microsoft barred from registering european trade mark for Skype
Microsoft has suffered a second trademark-related blow from satellite broadcaster Sky, following a second ruling against the software producer in an EU court. The ruling declared that the Skype name is too similar to Sky's own trademark, and therefore could easily confuse consumers signing up for the service, expecting something produced by the broadcaster.
Devices codenamed Cityman, Talkman said to have QHD displays, run Windows 10
Microsoft may be working on a pair of high-specification Lumia smartphones meant to showcase the upcoming Windows 10 operating system. Details relating to two upcoming smartphones have apparently leaked, with a report claiming one device codenamed "Cityman" has a 5.7-inch QHD display, while the "Talkman" will have the same resolution but use a smaller 5.2-inch screen.
Gaming news summary for May 3, 2015
The Game Replay is a twice-weekly look back at the wider world of gaming from the last few days. Today's edition includes Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella revealing a reason behind the purchase of Mojang, a bomb threat at a GamerGate meeting, Yooka-Laylee exceeding expectations on Kickstarter, and Bungie using Destiny's community to help a charitable effort.
Microsoft ends upgrades of Windows Media Center for next operating system
Windows Media Center will not form part of the upcoming release of Windows 10. Microsoft has no intentions of bringing the software over into its latest operating system, meaning that users who have it running on Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 will no longer be able to access it if they decide to accept the company's offer of a free upgrade to Windows 10.
Stylus technology could help Microsoft improve handwriting input in apps
Microsoft has acquired the technology behind the Surface Pen used in the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 and Surface 3. The acquisition from Israel-based patent holder N-trig allows Microsoft to invest in improvements to the stylus, as well as making it harder for other tablet manufacturers to use the same technology in newer tablets, without Microsoft's agreement.
Initial preview of Windows 10 for Raspberry Pi can use some universal apps
Microsoft has brought a preview version of Windows 10 to the Raspberry Pi 2 microcomputer, but not the typical desktop version some were expecting. The Windows 10 Internet of Things (IoT) Core preview allows users to remotely access the components of the Raspberry Pi 2, as well as Intel's Minnowboard Max, with Microsoft also working with Arduino to get the operating system communicating with its hardware.
Augmented reality HoloLens headset can run Windows 10 apps
HoloLens, Microsoft's augmented reality headset, also received some attention at the Build keynote, among updates to Windows 10. A brief demonstration showed how the headset could be used in industry for visualization and management of complex systems, as well as how it handles running Windows 10 apps, taking into account the available 3D space.
Future Windows 10 smartphones can offer larger work area with monitor connection via Continuum
Future smartphones running Windows 10 will be capable of performing some of the same tasks as desktop PCs when they are connected to a television, Microsoft has revealed. Demonstrated at Build, Continuum will allow mobile users to run some of the universal apps installed on their device on the larger display, giving them more space and freedom to work.
Project Spartan browser renamed as Edge, accepts Chrome, Firefox extensions
The incoming Windows 10 release was teased further at the Build developer conference, with Microsoft showing off more of what to expect from the operating system. New changes to the Cortana virtual assistant were previewed, while the Spartan browser replacement for Internet Explorer has been renamed Edge and given a few neat tricks its predecessor does not have.
Developers offered variety of ways to bring apps to Windows
Microsoft has used Build to reveal to developers what to expect when they develop apps for the incoming upgrade to Windows 10, both for mobile and desktops. More details about universal Windows apps was issued, as well as new ways for developers to create new apps or port existing apps from other platforms, including iOS and Android.
Free version of Windows development suite heads to other platforms
Microsoft is bringing its Visual Studio suite to more platforms, the company announced at its Build conference keynote today. Visual Studio Code is a lightweight version of the long-standing code editing suite, with the new cross-platform version being made available in preview not only for Windows, but also OS X and Linux systems, and as a free download to developers.
Company in the middle of model shift from Windows to services revenue
Microsoft today announced that revenues for the quarter that ended March 31 grew to $21.7 billion. Net income, however, was a bit less than expected, coming in at $5 billion -- a 12 percent drop from the same quarter a year ago. These financial results include $190 million of integration and restructuring expense related to Microsoft's turnaround plan, and the ongoing integration of the Nokia Devices and Services business.
Gaming news summary for April 22, 2015
The Game Replay is a twice-weekly look at the wider world of gaming by the staff of MacNN and Electronista, noting a few of the major stories in the industry from earlier this week. Today's story collection includes incoming Xbox One changes, Gearbox Software's loss of the Borderlands creator, and more Halo content
Smart document scanning app comes to iOS
Didn't we just do this one? At first glance, if you compare the new Microsoft Office Lens to Evernote Scannable, you might conclude that one is red and one is a sort of cyan blue. Otherwise, they do the same job of scanning documents very quickly, they do the same job of processing them, and they do a very similar job of passing that data on to other applications. In the case of Office Lens, that is chiefly anything beginning with Microsoft, and with Scannable, that is chiefly Evernote.
Gaming news summary for April 19, 2015
The Game Replay is a twice-weekly look by MacNN and Electronista on the wider gaming landscape, highlighting some of the more notable stories from the last few days. Today's list includes improvements to security on Steam, "Timewalking" in World of Warcraft, and the small matter of a new Star Wars game.
Skype, Microsoft Office, other apps will be included in future Cyanogen releases
Users of CyanogenMod will soon find more Microsoft apps on their devices. Cyanogen and Microsoft have announced a strategic partnership between the two companies, which will see the Android ROM producer adding Microsoft-created apps to Cyanogen OS, including Bing services, OneDrive, OneNote, Outlook, Microsoft Office, and Skype.
Lumia 540 Dual SIM has 5-inch 720p display, quad-core 1.2GHz processor
Microsoft has unveiled a Windows-based smartphone that seems to be a slightly improved version of the recent Lumia 640 for emerging markets. The new Lumia 540 Dual SIM shares much of its specifications with last month's smartphone launch, but it does include a few useful changes, such as a higher-resolution front-facing camera and, as the name suggests, the ability to use two SIM cards.
Audio Description tracks added to Netflix-produced shows
Netflix is making some of its content more accessible to the visually impaired, by adding an alternate "Audio Description" track to shows. Starting with the recently-released Daredevil today and reaching other Netflix-produced shows in the coming weeks, the extra option provides a narration track that describes scenes and important character attributes, such as costumes, facial expressions, and actions.
Trusted Voice Smart Lock option rolling out to stock Android devices
Owners of devices running stock Android will be able to unlock their smartphones and tablets by uttering "OK Google." Following changes to Google Play Services, Android Police reports that the Trusted Voice unlocking option is starting to roll out, appearing in the Smart Lock settings. Users are warned before setting up Trusted Voice that it is "less secure" than a knowledge-based security measure, such as a PIN or a pattern, as "someone with a similar voice or a recording of your voice could unlock your device."
News from the video game industry for the week of April 12
Every Sunday, MacNN and Electronista take a moment to look back at some of the notable stories in the world of gaming. This week, the EFF take on the ESA over potential DMCA exemptions, Microsoft makes the Xbox One less power hungry when switched off, and Blizzard enabled a system for purchasing of in-game World of Warcraft gold using real-world money.
Sprint International Value Roaming includes unlimited free texts, 2G data
Sprint has introduced a new International Value Roaming option that will provide free texts and 2G data to subscribers visiting a list of countries, including the United Kingdom, Japan, and Mexico, with calls in the countries priced at $0.20 per minute. Along with the new add-on, which can be included with a number of plans at no extra charge, travelers can acquire International Speed Data Roaming Passes, providing connections at 3G speeds. The three passes consist of 100MB of data at $15 for one day, 200MB at $25 for seven days, and 500MB of data for $50 for two weeks.
Updated app allows multiple users
Previously on Sway ... we reviewed Microsoft's latest app Office Sway back in January, and not only did we say lots of positive things, we managed to stop ourselves making a "walk this Sway" gag. Now Sway has been updated, and specifically to allow you to collaborate on these online articles with other people.
News from the video game industry for the week of April 5
Every Sunday, MacNN and Electronista take a moment to look at some of the notable stories in the world of gaming. This week, Sony says goodbye to the PlayStation Home virtual world, Blizzard starts up the beta for StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void, a report claims the original Xbox could have been given away as a free console, and Microsoft is discontinuing the second-generation Kinect for Windows sensor.
Office Lens originally launched on Windows Phone, out on iOS, in preview for Android
Microsoft is making an Office app it released last year for Windows Phone available to iOS and Android users. Office Lens is an imaging app that effectively turns a smartphone into a scanner, allowing users to electronically keep track of receipts, forms, letters, and other paperwork using their device's camera, storing it on Microsoft's OneNote and OneDrive cloud services for later retrieval.
HBO joining Sling TV this month, add-on priced at $15
Sling TV will be getting HBO before the new series of Game of Thrones is set to begin on April 12. Confirming a Wall Street Journal report to Slashgear, the Dish-owned service will offer HBO to subscribers of its "Best of Live TV" core package as a $15 per month add-on, bringing the total monthly cost to $35. While there will be only one of HBO's channels available to watch, subscribers will still have access to the broadcaster's on-demand catalog.
Apple, BlackBerry, others partnered on former Nortel patents
The Rockstar Consortium, a group comprised of Apple, BlackBerry, Ericsson, Microsoft, and Sony, will see a windfall on its 2011 purchase of some 4,000 patents from Canadian tech giant Nortel, with Apple expected to gain at least $392 million from the holding, one analyst says. Wells Fargo's Maynard Um has used BlackBerry's reported gain of 17 percent of a base figure in predicting Apple's share of the profits.
App previews for Music, Video available to download in Windows 10 Technical Preview
Microsoft has released preview versions of two universal apps that will ship along with Windows 10, providing access to the user's media. The new Music and Video apps are available to download from the Windows Store beta within the Windows 10 Technical Preview, with Microsoft notably dropping the Xbox branding from the front of both app names.
Surface 3 has 10.8-inch 1080p display, Intel Atom processor
Microsoft has unexpectedly launched a new item in its Surface line. The Surface 3, originally expected to be launched alongside the Surface Pro 3 and previously believed to be scrapped by Microsoft altogether in favor of a smaller device, is a mix between the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 3, though in a notable change from the Windows RT-based range, it will instead run a full 64-bit version of Windows 8.1.
Partition stitching addition widens reach of Windows 10 phone preview
Microsoft is making the technical preview of Windows 10 for smartphones available to more devices, the software giant has advised. Initially available to a small number of Lumia smartphones, the technical preview will be installable on a wider array of hardware, with over 30 Lumia devices on a preliminary list set to receive the software in the next preview release.
Microsoft dodges questions about free versions to pirates, Parallels users
Microsoft has made a passing attempt to clarify some of its policy on free upgrades to Windows 10. In an interview, senior director of product marketing at Microsoft Aaron Woodman detailed what the company has decided about the offering -- and an alarming amount of decisions seem to have not been made yet about licensing the OS.
Google using Microsoft-created API to fix scrolling issues in Chrome
Google is going to be leaning on some Internet Explorer technology to fix scrolling and touch support in its Chrome browser. At the same time, Google has launched an extension for the desktop versions of Chrome which aims to reduce the amount of data used to surf the Internet, a feature that has already made an appearance on iOS and Android versions of the browser.
Disrupting industries is the new black, great apps and fair app prices, bad jokes
The MacNN Podcast episode seven is now available, and this week we looked at the rumor that Apple is preparing to revamp the Apple TV and sweeten the pot with an optional package of channel offerings that don't require a cable subscription; Google's entry into the MVNO space; the recent Microsoft announcements about Windows 10; Facebook getting into inter-site payments; the return of Launcher to the App Store, and the removal of so-called "anti-virus" iOS apps; our latest "Living With" column; and our favorite apps of the week.
Budget-priced Lumia 430 has four-inch display, 1.2GHz processor, 8GB storage
Microsoft has introduced what it calls its "most affordable Lumia" smartphone, priced at $70. The Lumia 430 Dual SIM leans towards the entry-level end of the smartphone spectrum, though despite the price, it manages to pack a 4-inch 800x480 display and runs Windows Phone 8.1 with Lumia Denim, and it will be able to use Windows 10 when it is released.
Microsoft to provide PCs in China running pirated Windows with free upgrade
Microsoft may end up allowing more people to use a free version of Windows 10 than previously thought. One report claims Microsoft is going to be trying to make it easier for Android users to switch to a Windows mobile device by transforming their existing smartphone, and some pirates may also end up being able to upgrade their existing Windows installation to the new release.
Company discovered breach seven months after intrusion
Washington state-based healthcare provider Premera has suffered a massive cyberattack, which has potentially led to the theft of 11 million customers' data. More than six million people affected by the breach live in Washington state, with many employees of Microsoft and Amazon at risk. The initial attack happened on May 4, 2014, with the realization that the system had been breached not occurring until January 29, the same day fellow provider Anthem realized that they had been attacked.
Microsoft partners with Chinese companies to help spread Windows upgrade
Microsoft will be releasing Windows 10 to the public in the coming months, the software maker has confirmed. Exiting its current Windows Insider technical preview program sometime this summer, the latest iteration of the operating system will be shipping in 190 countries around the world in 111 languages, with Microsoft also announcing a greater push into China.