Daily News Roundup: Walmart’s Game Streaming Service, Facebook’s Password Snafu, and More

The past 24 hours have been filled with some interesting tidbits with rumors of a Walmart game streaming service and Facebook’s improper storage of passwords, but that’s just the beginning. Here’s a look at the biggest stories for March 22, 2019.

Apple News: AirPower…Maybe

It’s been a surprisingly busy week for Apple, with new iPad, new iMacs, and new AirPods all hitting the scene ahead of the company’s big announcement on Monday. Things have been quiet on the Apple front this morning, but there are a couple of rumors worth talking about.

  • Apple secured the trademark for “AirPower,” the company’s long-awaited multi-device wireless charging mat. [MacRumors]
  • The better news? We might see it launch “in late March” (finally). Been a long time coming. [Digitimes]
  • In new unrelated to AirPower, Apple Music got a nice little update and makeover to the Browse section that should make it easier for users to find new tunes. Dig it. [MacRumors]

AirPower has been an unusual product for Apple because it was initially announced back in 2017 with an expected 2018 launch. There hasn’t been anything concrete from Apple since then, which is pretty unusual for a company as consistent and reliable as it is. Still, it’s something that most Apple users have been longing for, and it looks like the time may finally be close. Maybe, anyway.

Microsoft and Windows News: The Return (and Demise) of Clippy

It seems like every day there’s at least one Microsoft-related thing worth talking about. Today, it’s Clippy, the long-loathed talking (and annoying) paperclip from back in the day.

  • Microsoft brought back Clippy as part of an animated sticker pack for its Teams collaboration and chat app. Then, it quickly killed it off. The little guy just can’t get a break. [The Verge]

It turns out that after bringing Clippy back, the “brand police” weren’t pleased. Even in something as simple and otherwise harmless as a sticker pack, I guess Clippy is still so offputting that no one wants to see his stupid little face ever again. Poor Clippy.

Google and Android News: Hidden Video Ads and Drained Batteries

Ah, Google. Even when it seems like nothing else is going on in the tech world (even though there’s always something) we can all count on Google and Android news for something to look at and ponder on.

  • There’s a new scam that lets advertisers run hidden video ads in the background, making them dollars off you while also killing your phone’s battery. What a time to be alive. [The Verge]
  • Android Auto recently got an update for widescreen head units that will allow two apps to show in split-screen format at one time. This is such a killer update I’m jealous of everyone who gets it and isn’t me. [9to5Google]
  • Google is dropping IFTTT support in Gmail as part of a program to increase privacy and security. This is undoubtedly going to come as a hit to anyone who relies on IFTTT for automation in their email. Support will be removed on March 31st. [9to5Google]
  • There was an update to Samsung’s “Notification” app, which apparently bothered some people? Turns out it’s fine. Like, fine. [Android Police]
  • Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy A90—which should be announced at the company’s April 10th event—is said to have a “notchless infinity screen.” So…where’s the front camera going to be? [The Verge]
  • eBay added support for Google Pay on Android and the web. I think that’s cool. [9to5Google]

The most troubling thing here is the whole “video ads in the background” garbage. Apparently this is no fault of the developers of affected apps, however—it’s an ad company doing shady ad company stuff. According to Buzzfeed, the source of this crap was traced back to OutStream Media. At this point, any developer using OutStream for ad services should probably find a new ad provider, because this is pure garbage. If you’re experiencing this issue, best just to let the developer know what’s going on and realize that they probably don’t know either.

Review Roundup: Nintendo Labo VR

The Nintendo Labo VR headset got the hands-on treatment from a handful of different sites, and the response was overwhelmingly positive.

  • Tom’s Guide said the Labo VR is “exactly what virtual reality needs,” which is a pretty strong recommendation. [Tom’s Guide]
  • PC Mag called it “more Google Cardboard than Virtual Boy,” which just kind of makes sense. [PC Mag]
  • The Verge went all out with its Labo VR review. Seriously, it’s exhaustive. [The Verge]
  • Engadget said it’s “the perfect gateway to VR.” Makes sense to me. [Engadget]
  • Gizmodo’s take was fun and lighthearted (as Giz often is), but still offers all the info you want. It’s a good read. [Gizmodo]

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Android Weekly: Shoddy Antivirus Apps, Android Q Features, and More

Last week saw the release of Android Q, and a lot of new features to go with it. The week of March 16th through 21st brought even more of that, along with a few Pie updates, Google’s new gaming announcement, and more.

More Android Q Features

We had a massive list of Android Q features in last week’s Android news roundup, and of course more of that sort of thing continued to trickle out this week. While the list isn’t quite as long, there’s still a lot of interesting stuff here.

  • Android Q may get chat head-like notification bubbles for other apps. This sounds interesting, useful, and potentially annoying all at the same time. [XDA Developers]
  • Along that same line (but opposite), Google is cracking down on full window overlays like chat heads. This permission will be heavily restricted on sideloaded apps, but a little open with things installed from the Play Store. [Android Police]
  • There’s a hidden setting in the Pixel Launcher on Android Q that brings more iOS-like gesture navigation. Please, Google, for the love of all that is holy, steal this feature. The iPhone gesture navigation is so good. [XDA Developers]
  • Do Not Disturb settings are customizable in Android Q. Cool. [Android Police]
  • The squircles are coming! While not directly tied to Android Q, Google is changing Play Store requirements to make every icon a squircle. Okay then! [XDA Developers]

Android Q has been out for more than a week now. I’ve been running it on my Pixel 1 XL for testing, and it’s honestly…just fine. It’s this weird blend of “this feels just like Pie,” but is also loaded down with a bunch of new, subtle features. Improved permissions are a real highlight for me, with iOS-like options of being able to permit apps location (and other) permissions only while in the foreground. That’s a boon for privacy. I’ll be interested to see what else comes with Q as it progresses towards a stable build.

Google News: Google Stadia, the Future of Gaming (maybe)

Google announced Stadia this week, its new game streaming platform. Honestly, it’s a lot cooler than I think anyone was expecting. Here’s the skinny, followed by some thoughts.

  • If you want to know what Stadia is all about, Review Geek has you covered. [Review Geek]
  • If you want the CliffsNotes version, Google released a four-minute version of the live announcement. Thanks, Google! [YouTube]
  • Since Stadia is going to need content, there’s a partner program that offers free development hardware. That should make for a good start. [9to5Google]
  • We covered (at our sister site, Review Geek) three things Stadia needs to succeed. [Review Geek]
  • Kotaku asked the Stadia Boss Phil Harrison some stuff about the service. He even answered some of it. [Kotaku]

So, here’s the thing: Stadia looks amazing. The promise of 4K 60fps gaming—something my PS4 Pro can’t do, mind you—streamed over the internet is a mind-blowing concept. But that’s the thing: it’s still basically a concept. There’s a lot we don’t know, like pricing, required internet speeds, game catalog, and model. Is it going to be a flat monthly rate where you can stream all you want, or will you have to buy games one-by-one? That’s the first question that has to be answered, and I’ve seen several differing opinions on how different journalists think this will work.

Similarly, if it is an all-you-can-eat model, it needs to be priced aggressively. If it’s over $14.99 a month out of the gate, it’ll likely be dead in the water. $9.99 (or less!) would be a great starting point; then prices can rise as it gets more features and games.

But the biggest question on my mind? Will Google actually support Stadia? I’ve been covering Google services and Android for nearly a decade, and if I’ve learned anything in that time, it’s that Google is bad for announcing products or services with grandiose plans, only to never deliver on any of it and let the service die two or three years later. I sincerely hope that this isn’t the case with Stadia, because this is a service that not only makes a lot of sense but could potentially have an incredibly bright future.

Android Updates: Pie for Nokia, ASUS Falls Short, OnePlus Starts Testing

While Android Q is being tested on Pixel phones, several other manufacturers are either just now pushing or testing Pie on their devices. It’s easily the most significant pain point for most Android users: if you don’t buy Pixel, you have no choice but to wait for updates.

  • Nokia is pushing Pie to the 3.1. [Android Central]
  • It also released Pie for the 5.1. [Android Police]
  • ASUS, on the other hand, backslides on its Pie update, pushing it back to mid-April for many Zenfone models. Ouch. [Android Police]
  • OnePlus started testing the Pie update for the 3/3T in China, which means a global rollout is probably also coming soon. [9to5Google]
  • In non-Pie news, The Razr Phone 2’s unique Chroma feature got a nice little update with Wave lighting. [XDA Developers]

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Daily News Roundup: iPad Mini Reviews, AT&T CEO Gets a Robocall, and More

Apple just announced the updated iPad Mini and new Air at the beginning of the week, but the reviews are already starting to roll out. We take a look at those and more in today’s news briefing for March 21, 2019.

Apple News

Apple has announced a new product per day for the first three days of the week, but not today. Instead, we got a handful of reviews for the new iPads.

  • Rene Ritchie from iMore had a good take on the Mini (and threw some thoughts on the new Air in there too). [iMore]
  • Furthering the Air’s replacement of the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, Engadget called the new Air “just Pro enough.” Nice. [Engadget]
  • Engadget also went hands-on with the new iPad Mini, calling it “great” but “not as important as it used to be.” Tough, but fair. [Engadget]
  • On the opposite side of that coin, The Verge’s Nilay Patel loved the Mini, saying it has “no competition” (truth!) and generally just praising the little guy. [The Verge]
  • Six Colors also seemed to enjoy the Mini, giving it the headline “a modern version of a small classic.” Sounds right to me. [Six Colors]
  • Finally, Wired called it an “old friend” and welcomed the Mini back with open arms. How sweet. [Wired]
  • In news unrelated to the iPad Mini, a new pair of zero-day Safari exploits were found, one of which allows a full takeover of a Mac. Oof. [9to5Mac]

Overall, the reviews for the Mini are unsurprisingly positive. Back in the day I had the second generation (maybe?) Mini, and I loved it; this new one looks quite appealing, but with the 9.7-inch model costing less, I feel like it’s still going to be a tough sell for most users.

Microsoft and Windows News

Like most days, Microsoft has been quiet today. But there’s one little thing…

  • If you dream of a disc-less Xbox One, you may be in luck come May 7th. Oh boy. [The Verge]

That’s pretty much that. I’m still personally on the fence about my feelings on a disc-less console, but hey, it’s worth a shot. As long as manufacturers want to offer both versions for us old curmudgeons who will give up our discs when you pry them from our cold, dead hands, I’m into the idea.

Google and Android News

Google Maps on the web is getting prettier, there was an Android vulnerability that went unpatched for five years, and Google Podcast got some love.

  • Google Maps on the web has looked the same for a while, even as its mobile counterparts saw prettifying updates. Today, the web version of Maps is getting a Material Makeover. ‘Bout time. [Androd Police]
  • Speaking of Google’s web apps, the Google Podcasts app is now available on the web! It’s pretty basic right now, but so is the Android app, so it makes sense. [9to5Google]
  • Bad news: An Android vulnerability went unfixed for five years—it was present in every version from KitKat (4.4) and above. Good news: it’s fixed now. That was a close one. [Wired]

All joking aside, a vulnerability left unpatched for half a decade is…pretty bad. Especially when you consider the reach of the threat: it was a Chromium-based flaw, so it affected several different browsers on Android. Pretty scary stuff, but at least it’s fixed now.

Everything Else

Let’s talk about something vital here: Cuphead. It’s coming to Switch. Also! There’s some new Dyson stuff, like a lamp. The handheld vacuum got a nice little update too. The best thing in this little section, however? The AT&T CEO got a robocall during a presentation. What a time to be alive. Also, that’s my favorite piece of news from the last 24 hours.

  • Pretty soon you’ll be able to play Cuphead—which has long been an Xbox/Windows exclusive game—on Switch. It’s going to have Xbox Live support too. That’s pretty rad. [The Verge]
  • AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson was speaking at an event in Washington D.C. when he got a call. A robocall. Maybe they’ll actually start to do something about this crap now? [9to5Mac]
  • Dyson is releasing a daylight tracking lamp that matches the light outside. This way you never have to go outside again. [Gizmodo]
  • Dyson also announced some updated vacuums with the usual stuff: more suction power, better battery life, etc. The coolest part? The higher end model has an LCD screen with a battery readout. Welcome to the future. [Engadget]
  • If you use Facebook Messenger for group messages, you’ll soon be able to use an excellent feature to break your conversations up: threaded replies. Now to just convince your friends and family to use it. Godspeed. [Engadget]
  • If you want to work on Square’s new upcoming cryptocurrency, and if you really want it, the company will pay you in bitcoin. Wow. [Engadget]
  • Windows Central writer Russell Holly went hands-on with the new Oculus Rift S, where he called it a “modest but critical update.” Judging by the smile on his face in that header image, though, I think he really liked it. [Windows Central]

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Morning Briefing: Second-Gen AirPods, Google’s EU Android Solution, and More

Morning Briefing
Kaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock

Good morning! A bunch of stuff happened this morning, with Apple quietly announcing new AirPods, Google’s solution for its EU Android woes, some interesting takes on Google Stadia, and more. Here’s your morning briefing for March 20th, 2019.

Apple News

Apple has been on a slow roll of announcing devices updates every day this week, and today is no different—new AirPods are here!

  • The second generation AirPods have a wireless charging case, better battery life, and support for Hey Siri. That’s pretty much what everyone wanted, right? [Review Geek]

Google and Android News

The big news here is actually from yesterday: Google Stadia. Here’s a roundup of related information and interesting takes regarding this new game streaming platform. Oh, there’s some non-Stadia stuff in here too.

  • Google announced Stadia, and it is wild. [Review Geek]
  • It also released a nice little four-minute recap of the announcement if you want to get the gist without watching the full one-hour presentation. [9to5Google]
  • There’s a partner program for Stadia, offering free hardware and resources to help game developers get started with Stadia. Good, good. [9to5Google]
  • The Verge has some interesting thoughts on what Stadia means for the future of gaming. This could very easily be the first real model of what’s to come. [The Verge]
  • Similarly, our own Michael Crider talked Stadia and what it needs to succeed. It’s a great read. You can find it in your feed. I hope I don’t have to plead. Okay, I’m done (and sorry). [Review Geek]
  • While most details were scant (catalog, internet speed, price), Google told Kotaku that Project Stream—Stadia’s test phase—needed “at least a 25 Mbps connection” to run games at 1080p. Curious. [Kotaku]
  • In other news, Google is going to implement a browser and search ballot in Android devices in the EU. [Ars Technica]
  • Like the Google Doodle? Good, because it might be coming to your Android home screen. Cute. [Android Police]
  • Opera for Android now has a free, built-in VPN. Surf safely, my friends. [9to5Google]

Other News

NVIDIA is going to make you a great artist, Pandora offers more ways to find music, and more.

  • NVIDIA showed off tech that takes MS Paint drawings and turns them into some legit Bob Ross stuff. Dude. [Engadget]
  • Pandora now gives you five options for finding new tunes. Dig it. [Engadget]
  • Netflix’s new series “Battle Kitty” is an interactive show for kids. Because they don’t already watch enough TV. [Netflix]
  • Speaking of, the first trailer for Stranger Things Season 3 is here. Because we don’t already watch enough TV. [YouTube]
  • Amazon announced a new Kindle with an adjustable front light. And higher price tag. [Amazon]
  • In less happy news, a bunch of people got scammed because of a fake eBay ad in Google Search last week. Oof. [Bleeping Computer]

Daily News Roundup: New iMacs, NVIDIA’s Raspberry Pi Competitor, and More

For the morning of March 19th, 2019, Apple unveiled an updated iMac, NVIDIA showed off a Raspberry Pi competitor, Instagram will let you buy things without leaving the service, Call of Duty is coming to mobile, and a lot more.

Apple News

Yesterday, Apple announced a couple of new/updated iPads with the Air and Mini. Today, it surprised everyone with another announcement: an updated iMac.

  • The new iMac looks the same, but its guts got better. This includes 6 and 8-core chips. [9to5Mac]
  • Similarly, you can add up to 256GB of RAM (for Chrome, probably) if you want. Of course, that also adds $5,200 to the price. Oof. [9to5Mac]
  • Oh, and if you want to buy the thing as maxed out as it comes, that will set you back $15,699. What a bargain. [AppleInsider]
  • That rumored Apple TV service that’s expected to be announced next week? Apparently, Netflix won’t be a part of it. Ouch. [MacRumors]
  • Okay, so this isn’t really “news” per se, but The Verge got to take a look at the first iPhone prototype and it is so cool. Since this isn’t really news, is it called “olds”? 🤔 [The Verge]

Microsoft and Windows News

Like pretty much every day, Microsoft didn’t have a lot going on this morning. But there’s always at least one thing, right?

  • Microsoft is letting PC players check out Halo: The Master Chief collections before it’s released. Neat. [The Verge]
  • I’m not sure if this is Google or Microsoft news, so I’m just putting it here. The two companies worked together for a year to understand a new Windows flaw. That’s the level of comittment I think we can all appreciate. [Ars Technica]

Google and Android News

Compared to most days, Google has been pretty quiet this morning. Probably has a lot to do with the fact that the company is expected to announce its new game streaming service at GDC later today. Keep an eye on Review Geek for coverage of that!

  • Google is beefing up Tasks with time-based notifications and better integration with Gmail and Inbox. [9to5Google]
  • Speaking of Inbox, it’s getting shut down “by April 2nd.” Back to Gmail you go. [Engadget]

Other News

Interestingly, some of the biggest stories are coming from the “other” category today. Mostly because of GDC, but still. Some cool stuff, especially from NVIDIA.

  • NVIDIA announced a Raspberry Pi competitor called Jetson Nano. It’s faster, beefier, and $99er. [Liliputing]
  • Also! It’s bringing ray tracing to some older GTX cards, which is beyond cool. Beyond. [Engadget]
  • NVIDIA also announced a bunch of stuff for GeForce Now. So much stuff. [NVIDIA Blog]
  • Call of Duty is coming to mobile! Android and iOS are both getting a mobile version of the game. It’s so cool to see AAA titles like this show up on mobile. Welcome to the future, enjoy your stay. [Engadget]
  • In VR news, Qualcomm is working on a headset that can be connected to a PC or work as a standalone device. It makes a lot of sense when you think about it. [The Verge]
  • Qualcomm also announce da new chip just for smart speakers. Your smart speaker is about to be a smarter speaker. [Engadget]
  • In other VR news, HP announced a new Pro VR headset. [Ars Techinca]
  • Instagram is adding a checkout page directly in the app so you can buy stuff without ever leaving the service. There are so many things I don’t like about this, most of which revolves around how much money it’s going to cost me. [9to5Mac]
  • Firefox hit version 66, which blocks autoplaying videos by default. This is a good step in the war against internet annoyances. [The Verge]
  • Did you watch Black Mirror: Bandersnatch on Netflix? Well the company’s next interactive show is “Man vs. Wild” with Bear Grylls. Insert joke about drinking pee here. [Engadget]

There we go—the biggest stories from this morning. Crazy how much happens before…whatever time it is where you live.

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