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22
Mar

Sony kicks off ‘Makers & Gamers’ docu-series with ‘Journey’


Journey was not a financial success, but the PS3 game — which takes players on a spiritual trip through a quixotic landscape — is undeniably a masterpiece. Considering the deep impression it made on players, it’s fitting that Sony is premiering its Makers & Gamers series with a documentary on the title. The short film details how Journey helped Sophia Ouellette deal with her father’s death from cancer when she was 15. “I needed to tell the people who made it how their game has had such a big impact on me,” she says.

Creator Jenova Chen of Thegamingcompany was touched by the letter and invited Sophia to visit the team’s LA studio. “You’re working on this art for such a long time, you put it out there and you don’t hear anything back … [with Sophia] I felt that all the hard work in the game was heard by someone,” he says. According to Sony VP John Koller, that kind of contact is the essence of the new series. “What if those incredibly talented game creators got the chance to meet their most dedicated fans to keep the conversation going?”

Games like That Dragon, Cancer show the medium’s healing power and Chen wanted Journey to be an emotional, not physical experience. “Once I started to use emotion as a lens to look at games, that’s when I started to realize that I really wanted to … create that bonding experience,” he says. According to Sophia, he and his team succeeded. “This journey within the game reflected the journey I was going through with my Dad. It’s this beautiful example of the end and how it doesn’t have to be a bad thing,” she says. Makers & Gamers: Journey (above) was directed by Jesse Moss, who received wide acclaim for his 2014 documentary The Overnighters.

Source: Sony

22
Mar

HTC’s M10 will have an online launch event on April 12th


April is turning to be a super busy month for HTC. In addition to shipping out the first lot of Vive to consumers, the company will also be launching its next flagship smartphone, the M10 or simply the 10, on April 12th. More interestingly, HTC’s email tells us that this will be yet another online event, just like the one it did with the One A9 (but hopefully with more camera angles and close-ups on the device this time). To watch the stream, tune in at 8am New York time or 1pm London time or 8pm Taipei time that Tuesday.

22
Mar

NASA catches the flash of a supernova for the first time


Spotting supernovae is relatively easy, but witnessing the immediate aftermath of those exploding stars? That’s hard — however, NASA has managed just that. By using the Kepler space telescope to capture the light of 500 galaxy every 30 minutes for 3 years, the agency caught the flash of a supernova’s initial shockwave as a red supergiant (KSN 2011d) met its grisly end. That’s no mean feat when this early burst only lasted roughly 20 minutes, and the target star was a whopping 1.2 billion light years away.

The data helps confirm scientists’ models for how Type II supernovae (where the star is between 8 and 50 times the size of the Sun) behave, but it also uncovered a surprise or two. The team didn’t spot a shockwave in the supernova of a smaller red supergiant, KSN 2011a, suggesting that there’s significant variety in how these explosions take place — the theory is that a gas cloud obscured the blast. Whatever the cause, the findings should help us understand more about the life cycles of stars.

Source: NASA, ArXiv.org

22
Mar

US to give ZTE a break on tech exports


ZTE might not be cut off at the knees by US export restrictions… at least, not yet. An unnamed Commerce Department official tells Reuters that the American government will temporarily lift those restrictions in return for ZTE’s willingness to come to terms, including an agreement to abide by unknown “binding commitments.” It’s reasonable to presume that ZTE won’t be selling US equipment to Iran, which is what got it into hot water in the first place.

Even a momentary break could be crucial for ZTE. While it’s based in China, it still depends heavily on parts from American firms like Intel and Qualcomm — losing those would force it to make costly design switches and possibly miss out on technology that it needs to stay competitive. We doubt that China will be happy until (and unless) the export limits are removed once and for all, but this at least gives it a chance to breathe.

Source: Reuters

22
Mar

Chevy is getting the Bolt EV ready for production


The all-electric Chevy Bolt is on schedule to start being built by the end of the year. The automaker announced today that pre-production of the vehicle has begun. The company is currently finishing up its testing of auto-plant tools and process needed to actually build the car.

Bolt EV Chief Engineer Josh Tavel said, “we’re at another critical and important point in the development of the Bolt EV. We’ve moved from working in math and building cars by hand to building Bolt EV’s on the line.”

With the Tesla Model 3 being introduced next week, 2017 looks to be a busy year for electric vehicles that can drive further than your average commute.

Chevy introduced the Bolt to much fanfare at CES 2016. The four-door vehicle will cost about $30,000 after federal tax credits. No word though on when the car will actually be ready for purchase.

22
Mar

US carriers cover the costs for calls and texts to Belgium


If you’re determined to get in touch with friends and relatives who were in Belgium during the March 22nd terrorist attacks in Brussels, you’re about to get a helping hand. Major US carriers (so far including AT&T, Sprint and Verizon; we’ve reached out to T-Mobile) are all waiving the costs of calls and text messages to Belgium to help you confirm that everyone is safe and sound. The extent of the offer varies — Verizon’s waiver runs through March 23rd, while Sprint will take care of you until March 31st. It’s an all too familiar gesture (carriers did the same following the Paris attacks), but it’s an important one if you need to reassure yourself with a familiar voice.

Source: AT&T, Sprint

22
Mar

YouTube for iOS Updated With Split Screen Support on iPad


Google’s YouTube app for iOS devices was today updated to version 11.10, adding support for Slide Over and Split View on compatible iPads. With Slide Over and Split View, the app can run alongside another app or with the Slide Over panel open, allowing people to multitask while watching YouTube videos.

The third split screen feature available on Apple’s iPads, Picture in Picture, has not been added to the YouTube app despite being a feature that many YouTube users have been hoping for.

Split View is compatible with the iPad Air 2, both iPad Pros, and the iPad mini 4. Slide Over is compatible with the iPad Air and up, the iPad mini 2 and up, and both iPad Pros.

Other new features in the update include relocated home tabs when in landscape mode on an iPad and a fix for a bug that prevented URLs in video descriptions from opening.

YouTube can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]
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22
Mar

iPad Air 2 Smart Covers Not Recommended for 9.7-inch iPad Pro


The 9.7-inch iPad Pro and the iPad Air 2 are the exact same size and thickness, measuring in at 9.4 inches by 6.6 inches by 0.24 inches (6.1mm), but Apple accessories designed for the iPad Air 2, such as the Smart Cover and the Smart Case, are not fully compatible with the 9.7-inch iPad Pro.

With the launch of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, Apple also released a line of Smart Covers specific to the new device, which are being sold alongside Smart Covers for the iPad Air and the iPad Air 2. Given that many people may already own an iPad Air Smart Cover, there was some question as to whether it would fit on the 9.7-inch iPad Pro.

Because of the Smart Connector on the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, the magnet alignment in the Smart Cover is different, something an Apple representative confirmed to Macworld. For that reason, using the iPad Air Smart Cover with the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is “not recommended.”

As for the Smart Case designed for the iPad Air 2, while it may fit, it isn’t designed for the Smart Connector, the rear flash, or the four speakers on the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, making it technically incompatible.

With Apple’s own iPad Air accessories ill-suited for the new iPad Pro, it stands to reason other third-party cases and covers designed for the iPad Air and iPad Air 2 are also not going to work with the 9.7-inch tablet, requiring adopters to purchase new accessories.
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22
Mar

A9X in 9.7-Inch iPad Pro is Underclocked Compared to 12.9-inch iPad Pro


The new 9.7-inch iPad Pro adopts the same powerful dual-core 64-bit A9X chip that was first introduced in the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, but the two tablets are not on par when it comes to performance. Based on information on Apple’s website, it appears the A9X in the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is slightly underclocked compared to the A9X in the 12.9-inch iPad Pro (via AppleInsider).

On its iPad comparison page, Apple lists the specs of the A9X in both of the iPad Pros, comparing them to the A7 chip in the iPad Air, iPad mini 2/3, and iPhone 5s. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro lists a 2.5x faster CPU and 5x faster graphics, while the 9.7-inch iPad Pro lists a 2.4x faster CPU and 4.3x faster graphics.

Apple has a history of underclocking the chips used in smaller devices. The iPad mini 2 and the iPad Air both used the same A7 chip, but while the iPad Air clocked in at 1.4GHz, the iPad mini 2 ran at 1.3GHz.

It’s likely Apple is underclocking the A9X chip in the 9.7-inch iPad Pro due to its smaller body, which may be unable to dissipate heat as well as the larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro, The performance difference between the two tablets is likely to be unnoticeable in real world conditions, and even underclocked, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is offering some significant performance improvements over the 9.7-inch iPad Air 2.

Aside from the slightly lower clock speed, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro has several features that set it above the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, including a 12-megapixel camera with a rear flash and a new True Tone display feature that adjusts the screen’s temperature based on ambient lighting.

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro will be available for order starting this Thursday, with in-store availability and shipments starting the following Thursday, on March 31. Pricing for the new iPad Pro starts at $599.

Update: Geekbench benchmark testing conducted by TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino suggests the A9X processor in the 9.7-inch iPad Pro runs at 2.16GHz, compared to 2.24GHz in the 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

Here’s a single Geekbench run with stats on iPad Pro 9.7″ pic.twitter.com/vwqlKtsIUm

— Matthew Panzarino (@panzer) March 22, 2016

The new iPad Pro received a single-core score of 3022 and a multi-core score of 5107. In comparison, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro sees average scores of 3224 on the single-core test and 5466 on the multi-core test. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro may not be quite as powerful as the 12.9-inch model, but it did significantly outperform the iPhone 6s and the iPad Air 2 on the Geekbench test.

Related Roundup: iPad Pro
Buyer’s Guide: iPad Pro (Buy Now)
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22
Mar

9.7-inch iPad Pro and iPhone SE Both Have 2GB RAM


Apple never announces the RAM in its iOS devices, so that metric often remains a mystery until a device teardown or benchmarking tests. TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino has an iPhone SE and a new iPad Pro on hand, and was able to use a memory checking app to determine the RAM in both devices.

Based on his testing, it appears that both the iPhone SE and the 9.7-inch iPad Pro include 2GB of RAM.

2GB RAM puts the iPhone SE on par with the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus, both of which also include 2GB of RAM. As for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, 2GB RAM means its performance isn’t going to measure up to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which is equipped with 4GB RAM.

As was recently discovered, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro also features a slightly underclocked A9X processor, another factor that will impact its performance compared to the larger tablet.

Geekbench testing by Panzarino suggests the iPhone SE is not underlocked compared to the iPhone 6s, with the A9 in the device running at 1.85GHz. On the test, the iPhone SE received a single-core score of 2538 and a multi-core score of 4421, on par with or slightly better than tests conducted on the iPhone 6s.

iphonesegeekbench
Given that it includes the same processor and the same RAM, the iPhone SE is as powerful as the iPhone 6s despite its much smaller form factor and lower price. The new iPad Pro, while less powerful than its larger sibling, has its own unique features, including a 12 megapixel camera with rear flash and a unique True Tone display.

Related Roundups: iPad Pro, iPhone SE
Buyer’s Guide: iPad Pro (Buy Now)
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