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Amazon’s Top Gear rival is The Grand Tour, will be filmed in a tent

Amazon’s rival show to Top Gear has finally got a name. Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond will present a new car show called The Grand Tour, which will start on the Amazon Prime Instant Video this autumn.

Not much has been revealed about the new show yet, although Clarksom himself revealed a small snippet on his Twitter account; it will be filmed in a tent and travel around different countries.

He also asks for prospective viewers to nominate locations around the world for the roadshow to visit.

So, the Grand Tour (GT for short) will come from a tent, which we will put up in a different location every week. Your town?

— Jeremy Clarkson (@JeremyClarkson) May 11, 2016

The Amazon website elaborates on the concept: “Not only will the guys travel to different locations, but for the first time ever the studio audience recordings will travel every week, all housed within a giant tent,” it says.

Amazon customers can get in on the action and win tickets to be in the audience. “Amazon customers will have the chance to be in the audience when tickets are released through prize draws this summer,” reveals the site.

The BBC’s new Top Gear starts at the end of this month, May, so will have a significant head start on the rival show from its old presenting team. Let battle commence.


Nest opens the networking code for its smart home devices

Nest already has a bunch of companies lined up to use its Thread network protocol in their devices (over 30 submitted right now), but it’s not content with what’s on deck. The Alphabet-owned company has created an open source version, OpenThread, that lets anyone implement the smart home-oriented technology in their connected gadgets. In theory, it doesn’t take much work — Thread is already an IPv6 protocol, so any device that handles the 802.15.4 standard (used for low-rate personal networks) should only need a few tweaks to play nicely.

The hope is that OpenThread will become the de facto connection format for Internet of Things devices that aren’t explicitly Thread-certified (the certification program isn’t going away). A smart home startup could not only use ready-made networking code, but submit changes if they think the tech could stand some improvements. Whether or not other companies take it up is another matter. After all, it’s tempting to either cling to the most universal standards (even if they aren’t ideal for IoT gear) or else write proprietary code. Would-be users will have to see that there’s a clear advantage to using OpenThread instead of going their own way.

Source: GitHub


Google Translate now works in apps on any Android phone

If you hate having to paste foreign language text into Google Translate just to understand it, your worries are over. Google has updated Translate for Android to introduce Tap to Translate, an expansion of the translation-anywhere feature it introduced on Marshmallow last fall. Anyone running Android 4.2 or later can now decipher unfamiliar text on the spot simply by copying it — helpful if you frequently run into messages or social posts that aren’t in familiar tongues.

There’s more rolling out over the next few days, including things for the non-Android crowd. Translate for iOS now includes offline support, giving you a way to communicate in other languages when you don’t have data service (say, on vacation). And if you regularly visit China, you’ll be glad to know that camera-based Word Lens translation on both Android and iOS now supports simplified and traditional Chinese. If you’ve ever struggled to make sense of a Beijing restaurant menu or a Shanghai street sign, you can rest easy.

Source: Google Play, App Store


‘Civilization’ reinvents itself again this October

It’s been a long time coming, but a new Civ, Civilization VI, will hit PC this October. Traditionally Civ games have come every four or five years, but the release of the Beyond Earth spin-off in 2014 and its subsequent Rising Tide expansion appear to have pushed things back a little. So… what’s new in Civilization VI? It’s early days still, but the short answer appears to be “lots.”

The biggest change discards a rule introduced in Civilization V: one unit per tile. While you could technically place military units together with civilian ones, you will now be able to combine many units for combat bonuses or protection reasons. This will get rid of some serious pain points from earlier games, but also introduce new tactical elements.

Early in a Civilization V campaign, for example, you had to flank a settler unit with warriors, or hope barbarians did not capture them. Likewise, workers building roads out in the open were a big risk, and you had to keep on moving a warrior along with them. Now, you’ll simply be able to combine a settler or worker unit with a warrior unit to ensure they can’t randomly be jumped. Later on in the game cycle, you’ll be able to combine different military units to create better-rounded armies. Think about combining an anti-tank unit with an infantry unit to cover one another’s weaknesses. You could also combine two units of the same type for a new ultra-powerful “Corps” unit. This will seriously change the way combat works. While older Civ titles let you stack units on a single tile, they did not act as a single unit as they will in Civilization VI.

In another shake-up, the way cities expand is changing. In previous Civ games, a city itself took up a single tile, with only the land borders around it expanding. Now, cities will physically expand to consume tiles around them. You’ll be able to plan out the layout of each settlement, making individual cities more unique — a military city might have a very different layout to a farming town. You’ll have to craft cities based on the terrain around them to take full advantage of nearby resources.

Diplomacy and Research are also seeing an overhaul. Your conversations with other leaders will change significantly depending on which age — stone, bronze, etc. — you’re in. This makes a ton of sense compared to the static diplomacy of the past. Expect primitive interactions in early game, and more conflict and war, to give way to complex alliances and negotiations as your society progresses. For Research, you’ll now be encouraged to explore new lands and develop the local environment. Doing so will unlock boosts that advance the speed topics are researched.

Finally (for now, at least), there are tweaks coming to accessibility and multiplayer. While the game is designed for long-time Civ fans, a fresh tutorial system is promised that will ease new players slowly into the myriad aspects of a campaign. For multiplayer, a new mode is coming based around scenarios. This as-yet unnamed mode can be played both cooperatively and competitively, and is designed to be “easily completed in a single session.”

Expect to hear a lot more about Civilization VI soon. The game is scheduled for release on October 21st. Previous titles have also come to OS X and Linux, but as of now it’s only confirmed for PC. We’re likely to learn about new features, tweaks and release plans for additional platforms over the coming weeks months leading up to the launch.

Correction: This article has been modified since publishing to better explain the way unit combination will work in Civilization VI. It previously stated that having more that one unit per tile was new to the series. While unit combination is a new feature addition to the Civilization series, prior to Civilization V, multiple units could be stacked on a single tile. The two features are very different, but the original statement was nonetheless incorrect, and we apologize for the error.


Nintendo’s new mobile games will be free-to-play

Nintendo’s upcoming smartphone renditions of popular franchises Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing will be free to play, according to DeNA’s Chief Executive Isao Moriyasu.
The actual terminology Moriyasu used is “free-to-start,” meaning you won’t have to pay anything to get started with either game, but they will of course be monetized. Given Nintendo’s efforts in the handheld realm and the increasing number of mobile apps arising from the partnership between Nintendo and mobile company DeNA, this could very well be the norm going forward.

Unfortunately no additional details were given surrounding how the apps will utilize the free-to-play model. Animal Crossing on its own uses “bells” as a currency for players to purchase items, pay off their in-game homes and more, so it’s very possible there could be a similar model in the mobile app. Fire Emblem is a strategy role-playing game notorious for featuring game modes where members of your party can succumb to permadeath, but perhaps a freemium model could offer options to bring them back for a fee.

This is an unsurprising move given the company’s recent track record of releasing games like Pokemon Shuffle and Pokemon Rumble World as freemium options, both available via 3DS/2DS and mobile titles. Both rely on “energy” to continue playing if you run out of the allotted currency. Games like Nintendo Badge Arcade offer free plays each day and dangle additional badges to collect in the faces of those unwilling to pay further to explore, and Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball gives players the option to haggle to purchase in-game minigames.

It’s not clear how Nintendo will handle these high-profile franchises just yet, but free-to-play will almost certainly get more consumers invested than premium pricing. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.

Source: WSJ


Tumblr Labs lets you experiment with new, optional settings

Care to take some risks with your personal Tumblr? Well, today’s your day as the microblogging platform’s launched a new Labs feature to let users opt-in for “experimental features.” The option, accessible via Tumblr’s web interface, adds four settings offering varying levels of usefulness. There’s one, themed posts, which the company cheekily notes will turn your Tumblr into a “beautiful illegible rainbow” since it aligns the color of your Tumblr with that of your posts (see? questionable utility). The other three available settings will, respectively, give users the ability to add a button to posts to track reblog history; add granular scheduling options; and grant access to something cryptically referred to as “Inside Tumblrs.”

As the company notes in some fine script on the Labs site, these experiments are in-development and therefore prone to not work or suddenly disappear at any given time. So tread carefully if you decide to participate. All you need is an active Tumblr and a desire to microblog dangerously.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: Tumblr


Google’s Nexus update images save you from wiping your device

Google has long made Nexus and Pixel C factory images available for people who just can’t wait to install new Android versions (or want an alternative restore option). However, they’ve always come with a big gotcha: since it’s a complete system image, you have to wipe your phone clean. You won’t have to start from scratch after today, though. Google has posted over-the-air update images for all its currently supported Nexus and Pixel C devices, giving you the satisfaction of an immediate upgrade (no weeks-long waits here) without nuking all your data.

The concept of downloading an OTA image isn’t strictly new. Third-party sites have hosted them for years, and Google itself has offered OTA images for Android N preview users who either run into showstopping glitches or want to roll back to Marshmallow. The difference is that you don’t have to either trust unofficial sources or run pre-release code to give this a shot. If you’re just concerned about getting the latest bug and security fixes as soon as they hit the internet, your life just got considerably easier.

Via: Android Police, 9to5Google

Source: Google Developers


Nintendo 2DS drops to $80 on May 20th

The 2DS is getting yet another price cut on May 20th. Less than a year after Nintendo brought it down to $100, from $130 originally, the company revealed today that its handheld console will now cost $80. That puts the 2DS in impulse-buy territory, so long as you’re willing to live without the three-dimensional effect found on the flagship 3DS. It does come with a digital copy of Mario Kart 7, though, which is about a $20 value on its own.
Yesterday, Nintendo also announced the release date for Pokémon Sun and Moon, in case you’re looking for a reason to spend $80 on the 2DS. Although those games won’t be available until November 18th, there are plenty others coming out over the next few weeks, including Kirby: Planet Robobot and the long-awaited Mighty No. 9.

Source: Nintendo (Twitter)


‘Rock Band VR’ will only let you shred guitar

Abandon all hope, ye Rock Banders who live to bang on the drums, lovingly ‘pluck’ that bass or croon like you’re America’s next top someone — for now, at least. According to UploadVR, developer Harmonix has confirmed that its upcoming Rock Band VR for Oculus Rift will only be playable with the guitar. Harmonix had hinted as much this past March when we attended a Rift preview event, saying that support for those three other instruments would likely be left off the table. But it seems like the effort to put the “band” back together in VR was just too challenging for the developer’s first Rift effort. Instead, Harmonix has decided to perfect the immersive experience using only the guitar, which requires a clip-on Oculus Touch controller to track its placement in the virtual space.

Though the Rift’s now out in the wild for anyone with deep pockets and a compatible PC, there’s no word on when Rock Band VR will be released. But, considering how integral Touch is to the experience, you can bank on seeing it launch sometime in the second half of this year when Oculus brings that controller to market. Only then will you get the chance to shred in VR.

Source: UploadVR


Play ‘Hitman Go’ on Gear VR and Oculus Rift tomorrow

Hitman Go is a smart reimagining of a languishing franchise that lit up mobile devices when it first launched in 2014. It took the painstaking stealth assassinations of the original Hitman series and transformed them into a minimalistic board game. Now it’s headed to VR by way of the Gear VR and Oculus Rift tomorrow, May 12th.
If you’re picking up the Gear VR version you’ll pay $7.99 and if you own an Oculus Rift you’ll pay $9.99 for the updated and expanded Hitman Go, which developer Square Enix advises will feature 90 FPS and “seamless head tracking.”

The VR version will include 91 different levels ranging from classics taken from Hitman: Blood Money and Hitman: Silent Assassin. If you’ve already played through those titles during their initial release, it’s worth going through them again for the new VR perspective as well as their new aesthetic, done up in crisp Hitman Go style.

Source: The Verge

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