Category Archives: Technology

PlayStation 4 gets a mid-cycle boost with PS4 Pro: all the details inside

Sony announced not one but two new video game consoles this week at its PlayStation Meeting at the newly dubbed PlayStation Theatre in Times Square, New York. The first console unveiled, which was widely expected to launch here,  was the PS4 Slim. Of course, Sony doesn’t call it that officially, but it’s something gamers have become accustomed to during a console’s lifecycle. The updated PS4 is slimmer, lighter, and more energy efficient than the original model–it’s about 30 percent smaller and cuts power consumption by 28 percent to be more precise. Other minor differences: it boasts faster Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac), a third USB 3.1 port around the back, and the optical port’s been removed. Other than that, it’s got the same guts and glory that the OG PS4 always had. The heftier PS4 will phase out of market when PS4 Slim drops September 15. For $299, you get the console fitted with a 500GB HDD, a copy of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, and an slightly updated version of the DualShock 4 wireless controller. The new DS4 features a secondary light bar above the touch pad, as well as USB communication. Preorder today.

Now let’s move onto the most exciting news of the event. “We realized that for the very highly discriminatory gamer, there’s always a desire for advancement and they want it in this generation…We are adjusting and accelerating our innovation cadence,” said Sony’s Andrew House to a crowd full of anticipation. In essence, what House is saying that Sony doesn’t want to make gamers wait any longer for a new, more powerful console. Instead of announcing the PlayStation 5, Sony’s taking a page out of Microsoft’s playbook and making a new console to “complement” the standard PS4 and sit right alongside it. Enter PlayStation 4 Pro. Jump after the break for more. READ MORE PlayStation 4 gets a mid-cycle boost with PS4 Pro: all the details inside

Nintendo celebrates its history with retro NES console release

Nintendo is on a roll. In the midst of surging in popularity thanks to the overnight success of the augmented reality smartphone app Pokémon GO, the house that built Mario has announced a new console. No, it’s not the highly anticipated next-gen NX. Ninty’s playing its most reliable card, nostalgia, by releasing a miniaturized version of its very first video game console, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), which originally debuted in the States in 1985. The company describes it as a “near-identical, mini replica” of the NES and it’s compatible with all modern TV sets as it utilizes an included HDMI cable to display audio and video. In addition to the cable, the package comes complete with an AC adapter for power and one NES Classic Controller for gameplay input. The wired controller is patterned after the iconic rectangular design of the original NES gamepad. You can even connect it to a Wii Remote to play Virtual Console NES games with it on the Wii and Wii U.

Speaking of games, the mini NES, which easily fits in the palm of a hand, comes preloaded with 30 classic and cult NES titles including Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Donkey Kong, PAC-MAN, and Kirby’s Adventure. Though Nintendo doesn’t divulge into details, it seems like your dreams of blowing into cartridges and jamming them into the console’s slot-tray have been dashed here. What is cool, however, is that each game has multiple suspend points, so you won’t have to worry about manually saving your progress and locking it with a password. Additionally, some of the onboard games will support two players, and NES Classic Controllers will be sold separately for $9.99. Update: A Nintendo spokesperson confirmed to Kotaku that the “Chamber Lid” will not accept cartridges or any other kind of physical media for that matter. In addition, the console does not connect to the Internet, so the games library here is capped to the 30 that come preinstalled. Engadget adds that original NES controllers will not work with the new NES due to differing connectors. So there you go.

The Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition hits the market on November 11 at the reasonable price of $59.99. Be sure to jump after the break to view a full list of all the preloaded games, as well as an image of the retro product’s packaging.

Update (7/21): Ninty’s dropped an especially retro commercial to promote the mini console; it evokes its marketing campaign from the 80s with the classic tag, “Now you’re playing with power!”

[Via BusinessWire] READ MORE Nintendo celebrates its history with retro NES console release

E3 roundup: The latest and greatest from Microsoft, Sony & Nintendo inside

Summer’s just around the corner, and gamers know exactly what that means. E3 is in town, and The Big Three console makers are ready to show off the best they have to offer. For 2016, Microsoft took a big swing by introducing loads of new hardware, including a new Xbox console debuting in August, as well as its next-gen beast due out in 2017. Sony and Nintendo, on the other hand, laser-focused on their respective games library. The PS4 is on the verge of transforming into a virtual reality conduit, and Sony packed quite the punch with its PS VR launch lineup. Nintendo, meanwhile, lifted the veil off the next game in the coveted Legend of Zelda franchise and it looks spectacular. If there’s a theme to be had here, it’s that all three companies are churning out visually splendid and heart-pounding experiences coming to systems this year and beyond. It’s a great time to be a gamer.

For the full scoop from Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo at E3, jump after the break. READ MORE E3 roundup: The latest and greatest from Microsoft, Sony & Nintendo inside

WWDC: Apple brings big updates to its four major platforms, including Siri for Mac

Apple kicked off its World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) this year by introducing big updates to its four major platforms: watchOS, which powers Apple Watch; tvOS, the driver behind Apple TV; OS X, the desktop operating system running all Macs; and iOS, the mobile operating system that gives life to iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches. These platforms see updates on a regular basis every year, but with WWDC in town, they aim to change the game in ways in could only imagine. You may be disappointed to hear there were no hardware unveils this time around, but fret not because these software updates demoed today are worthy of their own stage. The breakdown is after the break. READ MORE WWDC: Apple brings big updates to its four major platforms, including Siri for Mac

Microsoft demonstrates virtual collaboration with VR/AR unifier Windows Holographic

Microsoft’s making a point with its latest glimpse into the future. Instead of choosing a side in the race to develop virtual and augmented reality technologies, the Windows maker is embracing a mixed reality, and it’s a vision that aims to break down the barriers between our physical world and the endless potential of a virtual space. Powering the company’s mixed reality is Windows Holographic, a platform embedded inside Windows 10 that enables end-users to transform the physical world around them with interactive holograms. In the video demonstration above, Microsoft promotes a collaborative experience where multiple users can virtually meet up, plan, and execute ideas in real time.

Collaboration is the key here. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the gamer featured in this clip is not wearing Microsoft’s HoloLens hardware. In fact, he’s sporting a VR headset designed by HTC called Vive. It’s one of the more popular VR devices out today, a direct competitor of Oculus’s Rift. So what is it doing here, featured in Microsoft’s mixed reality demonstration? Well, MSFT aims to bridge the gap (see a trend here?) between competing VR and AR offerings by opening up the Windows Holographic platform to partners including HTC, ASUS, Intel, Dell, HP, Lenovo and other pioneers in the PC market. Whether or not Microsoft succeeds in becoming the definitive holographic interface is a question for another day, but you must commend its forward-thinking initiative for inclusivity.

The first step in creating this future was taken in March when Microsoft began shipping out the first HoloLens units to developers. The company says that there are already hundreds of Windows Holographic-infused apps in the Windows Store today as developers continue to mine the headset and its underlying, universal platform for its potential across a multitude of industries including entertainment and education.

With the Rift and Vive out in the wild, and Sony’s PS4-powered PSVR device just around the corner, VR is about to blow up and it sure will be interesting to watch Microsoft respond with a decidedly different approach to our VR AR MR future.

[Via Microsoft] READ MORE Microsoft demonstrates virtual collaboration with VR/AR unifier Windows Holographic

Nintendo looks to the future with more apps, a new console & Zelda

The Wii U, Nintendo’s followup to its revolutionary motion-sensing video game console, the Wii, never quite lived up to its potential. The giant, lackluster GamePad and the system’s inferior specs ultimately drove third-party developers away and the Wii U never gained steam in the console wars against powerhouses Xbox and PlayStation. Ninty is gearing up to turn a new leaf, announcing a broader push into mobile and even a launch window for its next home console.

Last March, Nintendo partnered with Tokyo-based developer DeNA to develop games for smartphones and its first foray became a smash-hit practically overnight. A couple months ago, Nintendo dropped Miitomo into the App Store and today the company’s celebrating over 10 million users. The “social experience” app invites users to create a Mii (or on-screen avatar) and interact with other Miis over the Internet by taking photos and hanging out. This fall, Ninty’s increasing its app count by two with fresh games based on the popular Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing franchises. According to Nintendo, “compared to Miitomo, [these apps] have more prominent game elements, and the game content will tie closely into Nintendo’s dedicated games business.”

Wii U’s successor, codenamed NX, now has an official launch window: March 2017. It will be unveiled sometime later this year, Mario’s maker promises.

Lastly, Nintendo opened up about its plans for the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). This June, the NX will not make an appearance at the annual convention, but the next-gen Legend of Zelda will. In fact, Zelda will be the only playable game at Nintendo’s booth this year. It’s a strange move since Nintendo is typically known to have many of its beloved franchises on-site to demo at the show. The new Zelda is currently in development and will be released simultaneously on the Wii U and NX consoles in 2017.

See you at E3!

[Via Nintendo]

Apple reports first quarterly revenue decline in 13 years

On April 26, Apple reported its 2016 second quarter financial results, and for the first time in 13 years, it is facing a decline in quarterly revenue. We’re so used to seeing record revenues from Tim Cook’s company, but you cannot deny that you didn’t see this coming. A quick look at the numbers will shine a light on where this inevitable slump sprouted from.

Apple posted a quarterly revenue of $50.6 billion and record quarterly net profit of $10.5 billion. Compare this to one year ago, that’s down from revenue of $58 billion and net profit of $13.6 billion. Says CEO Tim Cook in a press release: “Our team executed extremely well in the face of strong macroeconomic headwinds. We are very happy with the continued strong growth in revenue from Services, thanks to the incredible strength of the Apple ecosystem and our growing base of over one billion active devices.”

iPhones took a hard hit this quarter, with 51.2 million units sold, compared to 61.2 million in the year-ago quarter. iPads also went on a noticeable decline, with 10.3 million units sold, compared to 12.6 million. Same story for Mac, with 4 million units sold, compared to 4.6 million. Across the board, as you can clearly see, Apple had a tough time living up to its record-breaking numbers this quarter across all three of its major product categories including phones, tablets, and computers.

Now, there is a bright spot among this dour news, and you’ll find it in a category Apple calls Other Products. Though Apple does not report units sold for iPod, Apple TV, and Apple Watch, it does share the overall revenue those products accumulated in the quarter. Other Products amassed $2.2 million in Q2 ’16, up from Q2 ’15’s $1.7 million. In addition, and as Cook mentioned in his quote, Apple’s Internet-connected Services sector (read: iTunes & App Stores, Apple Music) is also on the rise reaching $6 million in revenue, up from the year-ago quarter’s $5 million.

Despite the optimism there, however, Apple’s stock dropped some points following news of the overall quarterly revenue decline. With Apple’s Wordwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) around the corner, here’s to hoping the tech giant (and still the world’s most valuable company) has some exciting announcements up its sleeve (iPhone 7? iOS 10? The shrouded in mystery Apple Car?) to pick up some forward momentum!

Looking ahead to the third fiscal quarter of 2016, Apple CFO Luca Maestri expects revenue between $41 billion and $43 billion.

[Via Apple]

Snapchat encourages cohesive communication in latest app update

The ever-evolving social media and communication platform Snapchat received a major update today, and this one effects the way users chat with friends. Typical software updates have enhanced the app’s flagship feature, you know, sending snaps; fun filters, lenses, and geofilters make snaps unique and even more personal. This latest update, however, focuses on a completely separate section built into Snapchat, one that has been yearning for an overhaul for some time now. I’m talking, of course, about Chat.

When we first launched Chat, our goal was to emulate the best parts of face-to-face conversation. Chat 1.0 was all about the joys of being here — when most apps told you when your friend was typing, Chat let you know that your friend was listening. Two years later, we’ve learned a ton about how people talk, but our goal remains unchanged. We want Chat to be the best way to communicate — second only to hanging out face-to-face.

Chat 2.0 is here. So, what’s new? Click on to find out. READ MORE Snapchat encourages cohesive communication in latest app update

Apple announces newer, smaller iPhone & iPad, springs fresh Watch band collection

Today, Apple CEO Tim Cook led a town hall meeting packed with press to introduce new products including expected, iterative updates to iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Though the presentation did not include many surprises, it was still an exciting affair, especially for those of you who are still clutching your 4-inch iPhone 5s for dear life. Looking to upgrade your iPad but the iPad Pro is too big for you to lug around town? You too will also like what you see here. Own an Apple Watch and want to spice up your band collection? Look no further. Go on, jump after the break for a full breakdown of all the major announcements coming out of Apple’s latest keynote. READ MORE Apple announces newer, smaller iPhone & iPad, springs fresh Watch band collection

Sony solidifies PlayStation VR launch details with bundles starting at $399

Virtual reality is on the cusp of going mainstream. While VR innovators Oculus and HTC are readying their headsets, Sony is prepared to attack the market with PlayStation VR. You see, the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive require powerful computers to run effectively, and not everybody invests in such pricey machinery. PS VR, formally known as Project Morpheus, simply requires a PlayStation 4 video game console to run, and Sony has the most potential to succeed here first because it can rely on its 36 million PS4 units sold since the console’s release in 2013. No doubt about it–advantage: Sony.

As we inch closer to fall, Sony’s finally made some key launch details known. PS VR releases this October starting at $399. At that price you’ll get the VR headset and all of the required cables plus stereo headphones. On launch day (still TBA), the PlayStation Store will offer a free copy of The Playroom VR so new owners of the headset will have an immersive game to demo when friends come over.

What doesn’t come in the $399 package is the PlayStation Camera and PlayStation Move motion controllers, the former a required PS4 accessory to make PS VR work. The Camera tracks your movement and the controllers bring your arms and hands into the action. The Camera ($49.78 at Amazon) and Move motion controllers ($28.85) have always been sold separately from the PS4. When PS VR comes out, however, Sony has also prepared a “launch bundle” that will include the Camera and two Move motion controllers, in addition to an exclusive title PlayStation VR Worlds. This $499 package will be available to preorder starting Tuesday, March 22 at 10AM ET at participating retailers, including Amazon. The aforementioned “core bundle,” which assumes that you at least already own the Camera, will not be available for preorder at this time. Update: Sony’s performed an about-face here and has decided to make the core bundle available for preorder on Tuesday, March 29 at 10AM ET.

Launch lineup and spec talk after the break. READ MORE Sony solidifies PlayStation VR launch details with bundles starting at $399

Facebook extends the Like button with new Reactions, Twitter adds GIFs & Snapchat offers on-demand geofilters

The Like button has been a Facebook staple since 2009. It gives the social network’s massive user base a quick and easy way to react to posts shared. Over the years, the Like button has heavily influenced the way we interact with media across other social platforms including Facebook-owned Instagram and competitors Twitter, Periscope, and Vine. Simply tap to tell a friend you acknowledge and like what they’re saying. But therein lies the issue, and today Facebook took a major step to remedy it.

Say your best friend is having a bad day because his family pet passed away, or she didn’t get accepted into her first-choice college. “Liking” posts of this nature really doesn’t make any sense now does it? And yet we still do it, since clicking that thumbs up button tells your friend that you’ve read and sympathized with them (without you having to actually comment on the matter).

Introducing Reactions, “an extension of the Like button” that gives Facebook users more ways to react to a post. Now if it’s not appropriate to “like” something, you can express love, humor, excitement, sadness, and anger. The Like button remains, but now if you hold down the Like button on mobile or hover over it on desktop, you’ll be presented with a heart icon representing Love and four emoji faces aptly named Haha, Wow, Sad, and Angry. It’s almost as if the cast of Pixar’s Inside Out came to save the day!

It’s interesting to note that Facebook put a lot of effort into choosing these specific reaction emotions. “For more than a year we have been conducting global research including focus groups and surveys to determine what types of reactions people would want to use most,” says company Project Manager Sammi Krug in a blog post. “We also looked at how people are already commenting on posts and the top stickers and emoticons as signals for the types of reactions people are already using to determine which reactions to offer.”

Curious as to why they simply didn’t add a “Dislike” button? “It would have been too binary,” Krug told Engadget. “This way, though, you’ll have more ways to express yourself. That’s the goal.”

Want to try out the new Reactions? Facebook is rolling out the new feature across its desktop and mobile platforms worldwide starting today, so be on the lookout for it!

Learn about new updates at Twitter and Snapchat after the break. READ MORE Facebook extends the Like button with new Reactions, Twitter adds GIFs & Snapchat offers on-demand geofilters

Help Leonardo DiCaprio grab the Oscar in hilarious button-mashing browser game

There are those of us who are just as desperate as Leonardo DiCaprio to see the actor win the Oscar. And then there’s The Line, a London-based animation studio who has gone out of its way to create a hysterical and addicting platformer that puts you in control of Leo’s chase for the gold. Leo’s Red Carpet Rampage is a free-to-play arcade-style browser game that has you button-mashing your frustrated feelings away as you make The Revenant star run down the red carpet towards Oscar. But watch out for the many distractions including pushy photographers, icebergs, and Lady Gaga. Along the way you’ll earn Golden Globe, Emmy, SAG, and BAFTA combos. Things get intense during bonus games including “Quaalude Overdose,” “Act Harder,” and “Find the Black Nominee.”

Though the Oscar might seem like a lock for the veteran and wholly deserving actor, anything can happen come the Academy Awards. Help Leo finally win the big prize! The game’s an absolute riot. Click here to play now.