Letter from the Editor
It’s been an exceptionally busy week in the world of technology, as Engadget had teams of editors in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress, and in San Francisco covering the Game Developer’s Conference. At MWC, we saw all the new phones, including a couple of blasts from the past by Nokia and Blackberry. But amidst all the Androids everywhere, Mat Smith was on a quest to find the future of Windows Phone. As you might expect, it’s not so bright.
Meanwhile, things are really looking up at Nintendo, where the company’s new Switch console has Devindra Hardawar swooning over its innovative design in his review. It’s not perfect, of course, but the new Zelda game just might be. Aaron Souppouris reviewed Breath of the Wild this week, and found it a most worthy evolution of the Zelda series, and perhaps one of the best games he’s ever played.
And though much of the gaming world’s focus was on Nintendo recently, there was plenty of interesting, non-Switch related stuff happening at GDC. Nicole Lee got to play with LG’s prototype VR headset — powered by the same Valve technology used in HTC’s Vive — that aims to be the third option for PC based VR after the Vive and Oculus Rift. The highlight feature is the headset’s flip up eyepiece, and while the design is already looking good, LG will be refining it before it goes on sale. Before you ask, no, LG wouldn’t tell us when you’ll be able to buy one, nor how much it’ll cost. It wasn’t all VR at GDC, however, as Jess Conditt got a look at some of the weirdest controllers you’ll ever see at the Alt.Ctrl.GDC pavilion, and found that we’ll be seeing a lot of excellent sci-fi and cyberpunk themed games from indie devs in the not-so-distant future.
Finally, while Jess was checking out digital dystopian futures, Violet Blue was looking at our emerging dystopian present, where US Customs and Border Patrol can strongarm anyone entering the US into handing over the passwords to their phones and laptops. Oh, and we also got a look at President Trump’s proposed budget for the EPA this week, which will reduce the agency’s funding by 25%. I’m just estimating, but those cuts should correspondingly increase our abilities to destroy the environment by a significantly larger percentage. And, with those newly freed EPA dollars going to what’s already the largest defense budget in the world, we’ll be better equipped than ever to destroy each other!
It’s time.A peek inside the Nintendo Switch
Now that the Switch has hit the streets, we’re finding out even more about it. iFixit took the system apart piece by piece, while a company that makes vinyl wraps has a warning about what you should put on the outside (spoiler: nothing with adhesive.)
Finally, we have some information about how Nintendo’s eShop games work on the new console, and it’s not very good. You can move purchased games from one system to another — as long as you deauthorize them on the old Switch first. Also, save games are locked in system memory, with no cloud backup or moving them to your microSD card.
That’s one way to make a good video game movie‘Sleeping Dogs’ movie will star Donnie Yen
The cinematic adaptation of Sleeping Dogs is moving forward, and now we know that Ip Man and Rogue One actor Donnie Yen will play the lead. It’s not clear if Yen will play the game’s main character Shen — an undercover cop trying to take down gangsters in gangsters in Hong Kong — or someone else. No matter how closely it sticks to the source material, with his catalog of movies, the casting sounds like a good start, even if we’re still skeptical about videogame-to-movie adaptations.
ImpressiveMicrosoft’s differential downloads will make Windows Update downloads smaller
Microsoft already announced tweaks for Windows Update that will (hopefully) keep it from interrupting you at the wrong time, and that’s not the only new thing. After the Creators Update arrives, users can expect much smaller downloads, thanks to differential download packages. Basically, instead of redownloading everything that’s changing, it uses the data from existing files where possible, which saves bandwidth and time.
At the GDC debut of ‘Full Throttle Remastered’Why Tim Schafer keeps remaking his classic games
As it turns out, remixing his obsessions has always been key to Tim Schafer’s style. At GDC the game maker showed off Full Throttle Remastered complete with repainted animation and dialogue mastered from the original recordings. Check out Sean Buckley’s four-minute interview to see everything that’s new and old.
But wait, there’s more…
- Boston Dynamics officially reveals its rolling ‘Handle’ robot
- The Engadget Podcast Ep 30: I Can Change — YouTube TV, Uber’s embarrassing CEO and the Nintendo Switch!
- Google Photos automatically fixes your pictures’ white balance
- Let’s play ‘Horizon Zero Dawn’
- Bad Password: The Border Patrol can take your password. Now what?
- Toyota unveils its next-gen autonomous test vehicle
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NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft and Phobos would have arrived at an intersection in their orbits within seven seconds of each other on March 6th. Phobos is the larger of the two Martian moons, and MAVEN would most likely crash into it if the space agency left it on its own. Thankfully, the mission’s scientists have been keeping a close eye on all the celestial bodies that cross the spacecraft’s path. They were able to predict the scenario in advance and were able to perform the spacecraft’s first collision avoidance maneuver to prevent the disaster from happening.
MAVEN carried out a rocket motor burn on Tuesday to boost its velocity by around just a little bit less than one mile per hour. That’s enough for the probe to miss the innermost Martian moon by two-and-a-half minutes. The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution spacecraft left the planet in late 2013. It arrived in late 2014 and have been orbiting Mars ever since in an effort to determine why its atmosphere and water vanished over time.
Apple is currently promoting Vantage Calendar as its Free App of the Week on the iOS App Store. Notable for its novel visual approach to calendar presentation, the app also features a number of lively design options for highlighting upcoming events in the user’s schedule.
Central to Vantage is a 3D vertical timeline that users scroll up and down to move forwards and backwards through their calendar. Navigation is also mirrored by a horizontally scrolling strip across the top of the interface, which can be expanded to a monthly view with a single tap, or two taps for a more detailed view that fills the screen.
Adding an upcoming event is achieved by scrolling to the appropriate day and tapping the plus symbol, which causes an event card to expand fullscreen, where options exist to adjust the usual event options, as well as apply a color, sticker, and even a particular font to the event to make it more prominent in the timeline.
Vantage also includes a 2D horizontally scrolling hourly view of each day of the week, as well as a vertically scrolling flat panel view of the days ahead, both of which are accessible via a tab on the right of the main screen.
In addition, several different color themes can be found in the app’s settings, which include a number of other visually impacting options.
Usually $3.99, Vantage Calendar is currently free on the App Store and is available to download for iPhone and iPad. [Direct Link]
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Many of us have dreamed about building a robotic servant, but jumping into that level of circuitry right off the bat isn’t exactly feasible. It’s best to start with simple circuits — things that control lights and buzzers — before moving onto more complex builds. What you need is an Arduino kit that starts at the bottom and moves up to more advanced projects through hands-on experiments.
Become a robotics pro with this Arduino bundle! Learn more
Right now, Android Central Digital Offers has a deal on the 2017 Arduino starter kit and course bundle. Instead of the regular $474, you’ll pay only $75 — that’s 84% off the regular price! If you’ve always been interested in circuity and creating your own electronic and robotic builds, now is the time to take the plunge.
The ARDX Arduino starter kit comes with everything you need to start tinkering, including 13 circuits, each with a breadboard layout. Once you’ve mastered the basics and feel confident enough to proceed, you’ll be able to crack open one of eight eBooks full of projects and blueprints. Get started on robotics, wearables, and much more.
Become an Arduino pro now! Learn more
Ready to get started with Arduino? This starter kit and eBook bundle is the best way to immerse yourself in the world of circuitry. And at only $75, there’s no better time than the present. Don’t wait too long; this offer won’t last forever.
“Don’t read the comments” is a cardinal rule of the internet. They’re often hotbeds of toxicity and abuse, and rarely does a person come away from them feeling enlightened. Jigsaw, a subsidiary of Alphabet, is working to combat this problem through a project called Perspective, an API that uses machine learning to spot harassment online. But, researchers have discovered that it’s easy to game the system.
Perspective assigns a “toxicity score” to comments based on the perceived impact they might have on a conversation. Type the sentence, “It’s stupid and wrong,” for example, and Perspective might rate it 89 percent toxic. Researchers at the University of Washington’s Network Security Lab found they could trick the API into consistently lowering the toxicity score, however, by subtly modifying phrases. They added intentional misspellings (“iidiot” instead of idiot) and inserted punctuation into words (“stu.pid” or “s c r e w”). They also discovered that a benign phrase like “It’s not stupid and wrong” scored almost as high as the abusive one.
In a statement first reported by Ars Technica and confirmed to Engadget, Perspective’s project manager, CJ Adams, praised the study:
It’s great to see research like this. Online toxicity is a difficult problem, and Perspective was developed to support exploration of how ML can be used to help discussion. We welcome academic researchers to join our research efforts on Github and explore how we can collaborate together to identify shortcomings of existing models and find ways to improve them.
Perspective is still a very early-stage technology, and as these researchers rightly point out, it will only detect patterns that are similar to examples of toxicity it has seen before. We have more details on this challenge and others on the Conversation AI research page. The API allows users and researchers to submit corrections like these directly, which will then be used to improve the model and ensure it can to understand more forms of toxic language, and evolve as new forms emerge over time.
It looks like websites like Engadget will be waiting a while before unleashing Perspective on our comments sections.
Via: Ars Technica
Source: University of Washington (.pdf)
Now that Nintendo’s newest console is on store shelves you may be familiar with the outside of it, but what’s inside? The crew at iFixit has completed its teardown of the Switch, pulling apart the console and those Joy-Con controllers. Within, they predictably came across its NVIDIA Tegra CPU, a total of 4GB of RAM and a 16Wh battery.
It appears that things came apart rather easily, so if you should happen to drop one while using it in tablet mode then repairs may not be that difficult. There’s a small fan, along with a heatpipe and metal casing that serves to diffuse heat along the rear. They even dug into its base, complete with x-ray shots, if that’s what you’re into.
Source: iFixit (YouTube), iFixit
Why it matters to you
Facebook is giving select users a way to source travel recommendations and reviews in one convenient place on its app. Here’s how you can find out if you have access to the new City Guides tab.
Facebook is testing a “City Guides” feature on its mobile apps that offers travel recommendations in the vein of TripAdvisor.
As is the norm for the company’s experiments, the update is tucked away in the “more” navigation tab on the Facebook app. It’s actually a neat little feature that curates local sights and places (such as bars, restaurants, and attractions) using city Pages data and tagged locations your friends have visited. You can bookmark the listings you’re interested in, which will then appear in their own “saved” tab — the bookmark function wasn’t working for us when we tried it out on iOS, so hopefully Facebook will get around to fixing it.
More: Give your friends a Glympse of you location with this helpful GPS app
The recommendations are split into several sections: at the top are places your friends have been, which can be accessed by tapping on the circular tiles that correspond to each person’s profile. Below that are places locals go, and at the bottom of the display are popular attractions. Tapping on a suggestion will bring up its Facebook Page, allowing you to then access its location on a map, find contact details, see photos, read reviews, and more. If you don’t see the city you’d like to explore on the tab’s home page, you can find it via the search bar at the top.
An earlier version of the feature was first spotted in December by The Next Web’s Matt Navarra. It is unclear at present if City Guides is being tested out in select regions. Facebook did not give us any details on the range of the experiment, but a spokesperson for the company did say the following: “We’re testing a redesigned surface on city Pages that showcases information about your city. This content already exists on Facebook, and during this test we’ll be centralizing it in a way that is more personalized and relevant…So, this new feature can help people get a better sense of their city, or a city they’re visiting through their friends’ eyes.”
The best way to check if you have the feature is to log in to the app, head into the “more navigation” tab, and select “see more” from the “Explore” section. City Guides is located at the bottom of the list.
Seven months after snapping up Twitch competitor Beam, Microsoft is unveiling a major update to its interactive tools for video game streamers. Called Interactive 2, the new system is “built from the ground up” to improve interactive features for both game streamers and the folks who watch them, starting in March of this year.
The newly announced features focus on removing the friction between streamer/content providers and their audience. Beam already has low-latency technology that allows easy, real-time communication as well as rewards for watching streams. You can earn experience points as well as “sparks, which let you level up your account and act as currency for the Beam community, respectively.
Interactive 2 focuses even more on the interactivity front, with tools that empower influencers to give their audience more control over the game being played. You can add new buttons and interactive elements that float over your stream video, and new controls will let you know who’s pushing your buttons while they watch. You can also group your players into teams to provide them with a customized set of controls for each group, and you can use either the new Interactive Studio or a web-based system to set up your stream for interactivity. The Beam team is also providing new and updated SDK access to the platform as well.
Beam is already pretty easy to use, and is available on mobile and Apple TV along with Xbox Live, as well as on the web with a Flash-free HTML 5 experience. The new Interactive 2 updates will continue to further Microsoft’s streaming goals, removing even more friction between the technicalities of streaming and the community doing the streaming.
The Xbox One is capable of producing some truly jaw-dropping experiences, and sometimes, you can’t help but stop and marvel at your television display. Whether you’re feasting your eyes on a beautiful in-game vista or celebrating a particularly lopsided victory in online multiplayer, you might want to share the moment with anyone and everyone. Thankfully, the process for capturing screenshots on your Xbox One is extremely simple.
More: How to connect your smartphone to an Xbox One with the Xbox app
Capturing a screenshot using an Xbox One controller
First, double-tap the Xbox button in the center of your controller — aka the big, circular button that lights up. Doing so will automatically capture a screenshot. A menu should then pop up on your display, prompting you to either “save screenshot” or “record that.” In order to save a screenshot, simply hit the “Y” button in the upper-right corner of your controller. That’s it!
You cannot deny Instagram can be a ball-and-chain. Maybe you’re sick of feeling like you have to capture every single moment of existence, or perhaps you’re tired of the strain that comes from juggling multiple accounts or waiting for those minute-long videos to load on the bus. If you’re like us, however, maybe it’s just seeing the sudden influx of minestrone and salad pics flooding your feed that’s suddenly, and understandably, got you caught up in a tizzy.
More: #ThrowbackThursday is only the start: Instagram hashtags for every day of the week
Thankfully, deleting your Instagram account requires nothing aside from a few quick clicks and confirmations on the Instagram website. However, Instagram doesn’t really want you to leave, so it’s requiring you to jump through a few hoops.
Deleting your account isn’t for the faint of heart or those already hesitant about making the plunge, since doing so will permanently delete your account – photos, videos, comments, likes, friendships, and anything else associated with your profile. Instagram claims it cannot — or will not — reactivate your account should you wind up changing your mind three days later when the hashtag withdrawals finally kick in. Likewise, you (nor anyone else) will ever be able to sign up with the same username again. Bum deal.
If you are unsure about the possibility of wanting to regain access to your Instagram account at a later time, Instagram offers a temporary deactivation feature. This allows you to deactivate your account momentarily, all while allowing you to come back to it later. If that doesn’t sound appealing, however, we’ve outlined how to deactivate your account below.
Step 1: Log in to your Instagram account
You cannot delete your Instagram account from directly within the mobile app, meaning you must visit the Instagram website. First, head to the Instagram homepage and click the blue Log In text where it says “Have an account.”
Afterward, log in using your username and password before clicking the Log In button below the text fields. Alternatively, click the blue Forgot and follow the instructions to reset your password. You will need to know your username or the email that’s associated with your account.
Step 2: Access your profile settings
Go to your profile page by clicking on the icon that resembles a person, at the top-right. Click the Edit Profile button located at the top of your profile page, next to your username.
Step 3: Navigate to the “Delete Your Account” page
There is no way to easily navigate to the page where you must submit your deletion request. Instagram would rather you temporarily deactivate your account, so in order to actually delete it, you have to do a bit of work. Follow the instructions below — or click here to jump straight to the “Delete Your Account” page.
First, click on the blue link that says, “Temporarily disable my account.” Once you open that page, you can temporarily disable your account. If you want to completely delete your Instagram profile, however, then you’ll need to change the URL in your browser.
Go to the end of the URL and replace the word “temporary” with “permanent,” as shown below. Then, press Enter to load the”Delete Your Account” page.
Step 4: Permanently delete your account
Once loaded, the “Delete Your Account” page will resemble the image below.
From here, select a reason for deleting your account and confirm your decision. Keep in mind, however, that there’s no way to get it back or use the same username after you’ve done the deed. Once you get through the confirmations, your Instagram account will removed from the social network forever.
This article was original published on November 2, 2013, and updated on March 3, 2017 by Anthony Thurston to account for recent software changes.