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24
Mar

Sony PlayStation 4K: What is PS4.5, when is it coming and how will it affect VR?


It might not seem that long ago but it was back in 2013 when Sony first gave us the PlayStation 4. Time for an update? It’s early for a console but developers are talking about a PlayStation 4.5 or PS4K, that’s being developed right now.

According to developer sources the PS4.5 is under construction at Sony HQ. It’s rumoured to be dealing out a major graphical processing boost.

It’s unclear if this will be a new console, an upgrade to the current model, or some halfway software advance between the two. Although it sounds like the GPU at least is getting an overhaul.

There is also the chance that it will simply be a slimmer PS4 as appeared with the PS3.

So what can we expect from the PS4K and when will it be here? And why is Sony reportedly working on it already?

Sony PlayStation 4K: What will it bring?

The developer sources that have talked about Sony’s PlayStation 4.5 plans have affectionately referred to it as PS4K. This is, obviously, because it has a big focus on 4K content.

The current PS4 can manage to play 4K video and images for personal content only. But owing to HDCP 2.2 issues support for streaming content like Netflix still isn’t available, let alone HDR and HFR support. Neither is 4K gaming with current power limitations.

The PS4.5 could be a new console that offers 4K video streaming for the likes of Netflix with support for future advances in HDR and HFR. It could also hail the advent of 4K console gaming.

Sony PlayStation 4K: How will it arrive?

The thought of an entirely new console so soon after the first is a bit much. More likely, since developers are talking about Sony offering more processing power, it’ll be a GPU upgrade.

Sure, this might still come in the form of a new console packing the latest GPU, and likely new HDMI 2.0a ports that play nice with HDCP 2.2.

As a fix Sony might offer a trade-in program for older consoles. Or, as a fan-friendly affordable option Sony may release a hardware add-on. This extra unit could upgrade the GPU for power, plus it could feature the correct ports for outputting to 4K UHD screens.

Sony PlayStation 4K: Gaming in 4K

One thing you can’t do right now with a PS4 is game in 4K. While PCs are able to support that resolution, to cram that kind of hardware into a console sized unit is tough, at a reasonable price.

A GPU upgraded console or add-on should allow for game developers to push harder graphically. We’re still skeptical about full frame rate 4K gaming being supported though. That said, this whole PS4.5 leak has come from game developers sharing that Sony is promising more 4K power from its future hardware.

Sony PlayStation 4K: Enhanced VR support

Sony will release its PS VR headset in October to bring virtual reality to consoles. While a host of titles have been announced for release, to coincide with the hardware arrival, there are still ways to improve.

Latency and resolution are important when you’re looking at a headset right in front of your eyes. By enhancing power on the console the VR experience of the future should be more convincing for the viewer, theoretically.

Power has certainly been the centre of conversations surrounding competing PC-based VR systems and a boost to the console’s capabilities will also help PS VR remain competitive.

Sony PlayStation 4K: When will it arrive?

While we’re tempted to say that Sony could release the PS4K in time for the company’s PS VR release, and also in time for Christmas, that’s being hopeful.

The original source of the PS4K leak said the device felt “exploratory” so there is the chance that it may not even be released this year.

READ: PlayStation VR preview: Virtual reality for the gamers

24
Mar

Google might be making an Amazon Echo-like device for the home


Amazon Echo has been getting so much attention lately that Amazon decided to launch new models of the connected speaker last month, and now Google apparently thinks it can do better or at least steal some of the spotlight away.

According to The Information, Google is working on a similar device meant for the home. The report described the device as a “secret Google project”, and it’s supposed to directly compete with Echo. There’s no other information about what it might feature or when it’ll release, as the report is mostly about how Nest isn’t doing so well since being acquired by Google roughly two years ago.

READ: Amazon Echo vs Amazon Tap vs Echo Dot

Nest hasn’t exactly rolled out a massive product lineup since joining Google. Still, it allegedly wanted to be involved with the new project. The Google team spearheading the whole thing denied the company’s request however. Nest was once thought to be the future of Google’s smart home efforts, but its grand plans appear stalled, as it can’t even get access to this speaker.

We’re assuming Google’s Amazon Echo-like device is a speaker of course – and that it’ll include Alexa-type functionality. It would certainly be interesting to finally see a voice assigned to Google Now or some sort of voice control that works with Google’s personal assistant.

Either way, we might hear more at this year’s I/O conference in May… Or not, as this is all just a juicy rumour for now.

24
Mar

Top Gear drag races the BMW i8 and M4 to decide the future


The BMW M4 and i8 represent two every different expressions of the performance car. The M4 relies on its turbocharged six-cylinder combustion engine to spin the rear wheels. Conversely, the i8 packs a turbo three-cylinder and electric motors for its cutting-edge all-wheel drive system. Top Gear is the latest publication to put the pair together to find out which ethos is quicker.

We saw Germany’s Auto Bild hold a similar race last year, and the i8 scored a clear victory there. We don’t want to spoil the winner of Top Gear’s attempt, but we can tease that this sprint ends in a photo finish. Pick your favorite, and then watch the video to see which performance coupe takes the checkered flag.

24
Mar

How ‘Pokemon Go’ will work on your smartphone


At last, Niantic and The Pokémon Company are ready to talk about Pokémon Go. Until now we’ve seen and heard relatively little about the game, save for what was shown in its reveal trailer last September. But following a leaked video from SXSW, the pair have finally divulged how the app actually works. As you walk around with your smartphone, it’ll occasionally vibrate to indicate that a Pokémon is nearby. Tapping the screen will throw a Poké Ball, which can be obtained along with other items at a “PokéStop.” These stores will be based at “interesting places” including museums and monuments, encouraging exploration.

Some Pokémon will be limited to their natural habitats. So if you want a Squirtle or Poliwhirl, your best bet will be to head to a river or the ocean. As you play, your trainer will grow in rank, opening up access to new Pokemon and better probability Poke Balls at the PokeStop.

If you catch the same Pokémon multiple times, there’s a chance that one of them will evolve. Furthermore, you can pick up a Pokémon Egg at your nearby PokéStop and hatch it by walking a set number of steps. These mechanics should ensure that your travels are always rewarded — even if you hike up a mountain, only to find yet another Caterpie at the summit.

It’s unclear at the moment if there will be a traditional battle system. Niantic is teasing a competitive element similar to Ingress, its previous location-based smartphone game. You can pick from one of three teams and then assign a specific Pokémon to a gym — if it’s empty, you’ll capture it for your team and fortify its defences, otherwise you’ll be challenging for superiority with one of your favorite monsters. “Using the Pokémon you’ve caught, engage in battle with the defending Pokémon at the Gym to claim control,” The Pokémon Company explains.

If you want to play without peering at your phone all day long, Nintendo will sell you a Pokémon Go Plus. It’s a small, teardrop-shaped device that attaches to your wrist and connects to your phone over Bluetooth. It will notify you of in-game events, such as new Pokémon sightings, using vibrations and an LED light. The button on top supports “simple actions,” but it’s not clear what those are beyond catching Pokémon.

Pokémon Go is still on track for a 2016 release, with an “early field test” scheduled for Japan soon. Alongside Pokémon Sun and Moon, there’s a lot for fans to look forward to during the franchise’s 20th birthday.

Source: Pokemon Go

24
Mar

Feds indict seven Iranians for hacking banks, NY state dam


Just days after accusing Syrian hackers of a wide range of crimes, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch unsealed an indictment against seven Iranian nationals on Wednesday, charging that the men launched dozens of denial of service attacks against targets beginning in 2011. These included the cybersystems of numerous US banks including JP Morgan, PNC and Capital One, as well as the NYSE and AT&T. They are even accused of trying to take control of a small dam in Rye, NY at one point.

The attacks are believed to be in retaliation to revelations of America’s own hacking attempts on Iran, specifically the use of the Stuxnet virus in the nation’s nuclear infrastructure. While the DDoS attacks against US banks and the NYSE did little more than knock those services offline for a few hours, the attack on the dam in Rye marked a worrying shift in their tactics. Though they were unsuccessful in taking over the dam’s controls, this was the first time that the Iranians had attacked a piece of physical infrastructure in the US.

The men — Ahmad Fathi, Hamid Firoozi, Amin Shokohi, Omid Ghaffarinia, Nader Saedi, Sadegh Ahmadzadegan and Sina Keissar — all work for Iranian cybersecurity companies and live in Iran. As such, there isn’t much chance that they’ll actually be tried. It is, as the NY Times points out, more of a symbolic gesture to Iran, a “we see what you did there” move, much like when the DoJ indicted a cadre of Chinese hackers working for the PLA back in 2014.

Via: New York Times

Source: Department of Justice

24
Mar

Apple reportedly designing its own secure servers


Apple’s track record for online services like iCloud has been shaky at best. According to The Information, the iPhone maker has spent years trying to come up with an internal solution that can handle the amount of data that the company needs to keep iMessages, photos, iTunes, Apple Music, the App Store and others running smoothly. More importantly it’s also trying to keep hackers and spies out of its network by designing its own hardware.

The Information notes numerous sources that claim that Apple is aware that off-the shelf and third-party hardware could be tampered with to allow access to data by either nefarious parties or government agencies. It’s become so paranoid (and rightfully so) that it even started taking photographs of motherboards and labeling each chip’s function so that if a board shows up with an additional chip that wasn’t in the original design, it’ll know.

But the only truly secure hardware and software system would be one created within Cupertino. By being in charge of the design and manufacture of the chips and boards, Apple would have control of its own security without relying on the cloud solutions it currently uses from Amazon, Microsoft and Google.

Apple’s recent fight with the FBI and DoJ only underscore the company’s commitment to keeping its users data safe and away from prying eyes. While the company has and will continue to comply with court orders that don’t require it to break the encryption on user devices, it still wants to make sure information is only available when its legally handed over to authorities.

Via: Ars Technica

Source: The Information

24
Mar

Google is reportedly working on an Amazon Echo rival


Nest might not be building a challenger to the Amazon Echo, but that doesn’t mean its sister company Google is standing idle. The Information’s sources claim that Google is building its own voice-controlled “personal assistant device” to beat Amazon at its own game. Just how it would work isn’t clear (though it would likely rely on Google’s existing voice search tech), but the search giant is believed to be working alone — unlike Google’s OnHub line, you won’t find any hints of Nest technology inside.

Apparently, Nest might only have itself to blame for that absence. The insiders say that Nest has had to delay numerous products in recent times, including Flintstone (an unannounced security system hub), Pinna (the sensors for that system) and Project Goose (its thermostat’s new location-based temperature adjustments). Why would Google or its parent Alphabet rely on Nest when its technology frequently isn’t ready?

It’s supposedly a mixture of frequent design changes and organizational issues that are to blame. Flintstone has been under constant revision, and Nest’s rapid expansion (especially following the Dropcam acquisition) has forced it to shift from an executive-focused culture to one where everyone is encouraged to take the initiative. Nest may be turning things around, but its mistakes may have cost it some key partnerships.

Source: The Information

24
Mar

Hulu’s Gear VR app puts you in a virtual viewing room


Your Gear VR just became a very personal TV. Hulu has launched an app for Samsung’s virtual reality headset that lets you watch conventional movies and TV shows alongside native VR video from the likes of Discovery, National Geographic, Showtime and Hulu itself. If you’re watching plain 2D content, the app will plunk you into a customizable virtual viewing space, whether it’s a posh living room or the beach.

The app isn’t that revolutionary — we’ve seen virtual environments before from Netflix and others, and the handful of VR-specific content (just 25 examples at first) probably won’t have you buying Gear VR just for this. All the same, it’s still a big step toward legitimizing VR. You now have a better reason to don that headgear on a regular basis — you don’t have to wait for sports events or other special occasions to see something new, even if it’s not VR in the truest sense.

Via: Oculus (Twitter)

Source: Hulu (1), (2)

24
Mar

Google enhances Gmail security and beefs up its warning systems


Google is trying to make Gmail as safe as it can possibly be with a few new features designed to prevent phishing, malware and hacking. This week, Google is rolling out an updated warning system on links sent through Gmail that may lead to unsafe sites. If you click a dangerous link in Gmail, you’ll see a full-page warning with routes to more information and ways to protect your computer.

Google is also ramping up its warnings for a rare type of Gmail intrusion: state-sponsored hacking attempts. These apply to fewer than 0.1 percent of Gmail users — generally activists, journalists and policy-makers, Google says — but they require immediate action. Now, suspected targets of these attacks will receive a full-page warning with instructions on how to protect their accounts. This is in addition to Google’s existing warning, which places a red strip with a link to further information at the top of a suspected victim’s Gmail page.

For Safer Internet Day in February, Google rolled out a new visual cue — a broken red lock icon — to alert users when they’re corresponding with an account that doesn’t support encryption. Since launching that feature, the amount of inbound mail sent using encryption has increased by 25 percent, Google says.

Source: Google Security Blog

24
Mar

Apple Now Offering ‘Day One 2’ for Free in ‘Apple Store’ App


Following the launch of iPhone SE and 9.7″ iPad Pro orders, Apple has begun offering popular journal app Day One 2 for free through the Apple Store app for a limited time.

To take advantage of the promotion, open the Apple Store app, scroll down, and tap on the Day One 2 banner. Read the terms and conditions, tap on the green “download now for free” banner, sign in to your Apple ID account, and tap on “Redeem” in the top-right corner. The app will then begin downloading automatically.

Day One 2, normally $4.99 on the App Store, allows you to create a journal your life, ranging from once-in-a-lifetime events to everyday moments. The app features a timeline for browsing through past photos and notes, while you can also record the location, weather, time, and date of your life experiences.

Day-One-2-free
Day One 2 is available on the App Store [Direct Link] for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

Tag: Day One
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