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1
May

Instagram allows you to post to Stories from other apps


Today, Instagram announced a new way to share your favorite moments to Stories. You can now post to your Instagram Story directly from a third-party app, so you can easily share what you’re doing, what you’re enjoying or what you’re listening to without having to leave the app you’re in. Instagram will automatically pull the image into its camera, at which point you can edit or tweak it. The feature will debut with Spotify and GoPro, with more on the way, and will go live today on Instagram and later on Facebook.

It’s always nice to be able to seamlessly use a feature that you love like Stories, but the cherry on top here is that you don’t have to connect your Instagram account with these third-party apps to use it. That means you aren’t required to share your account information or other private data with apps in order to use this feature.

Instagram is also introducing video chat, as well as AR face and world filters for third-party developers, thanks to Facebook’s Camera Effects Platform. The company is debuting the feature with filters from Kylie Jenner, the NBA, Ariana Grande, Vogue, BuzzFeed and more. Of course, more partnerships will be announced in the future.

But wait, there’s more! Instagram also announced a redesigned Explore section, which is to come in the next few weeks. There’s a lot to look forward to, and it will be interesting to see how Instagram implements these various features.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from F8 2018!

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1
May

Oculus TV launches this month with a ton of streaming partners


Given that the main function of an Oculus headset is to let you escape reality for a while, using one to watch TV seems almost pedestrian. Yet it’s a feature that’s often overlooked, until now. Oculus TV is launching later this month and it’s got a raft of entertainment partners on board, including Hulu, Showtime, Red Bull and Pluto TV, with more, including ESPN, in the pipeline.

The company has built a 3D environment specifically for the experience, where you can watch TV solo or with friends on a massive screen from a huge seating area. The platform will also serve as an app-launching area for other VR entertainment apps, including Netflix and Facebook Video app for TV. The exact launch date and complete partner line-up is yet to be announced, but expect it before the month is out.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from F8 2018!

1
May

Instagram adds video chat to its stable of social features


Live video has been a popular feature on Instagram, and now the social network is taking that one step further. Soon, Instagram will roll out video chatting, allowing a user to talk one-on-one or with a small group of people directly through the service.

Starting a video chat will be easy. All you have to do is tap the camera icon at the top of a Direct thread (assuming the recipient hadn’t opted out of using Direct messages). The really fun thing is you can continue video chatting as long as Instagram is open; if you want to scroll your feed while you’re talking, you can minimize the video and keep using the app as you normally would.

It’s an interesting move for Instagram, to be sure. While social networks are all about connecting people, video chatting brings another, more personal level to Instagram. It’s clear that the app is looking to be the place you go to in order to connect with new and old friends alike for a younger generation, whether publicly or privately, and is introducing new features with that in mind.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from F8 2018!

1
May

Facebook Messenger will begin translating English to Spanish soon


Messenger’s built-in AI is getting a new trick. The M digital assistant will suggest translating a message to your native language if you get a message via Marketplace in a different tongue. It’ll start with English to Spanish and roll out to users in the US over the next few weeks. Other languages and availability will come online later. This could make offloading that spare couch of yours a lot easier in the future — especially if you’re trying to communicate with a buyer while you’re on the go.

1
May

‘Jurassic World: Blue’ tells a dinosaur’s story on Oculus VR headsets


Now that Oculus Go is here, you can expect a deluge of experiences built to take advantage of affordable VR — and one of the first will be enticing if you’re a Jurassic Park fan. Felix and Paul Studios (the team behind Jurassic World: Apatosaurus) has returned with Jurassic World: Blue, another VR experience based on the dinosaurs-run-amok franchise. The two-part companion to Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is designed for both the Oculus Go and Rift, and follows its namesake intelligent velociraptor around Isla Nublar as she struggles against other dinosaurs as well as the island itself. Yes, it’s a movie tie-in, but part of the attraction is an improved take on the behind-the-scenes technology.

Simply speaking, it should look nicer than Apatosaurus did. You won’t see ‘holes’ at the very top and bottom of the video sphere, which Felix and Paul says is a first for productions with a live action component. The crew also used its custom VR camera on a remotely-controlled cable cam to improve the immersion, and the image itself has been optimized for more resolution “where it most matters.” As before, Industrial Light & Magic animators helped out with the computer-generated dinos.

The first Blue episode should be available through the Oculus Store sometime on May 1st, and the second half will be available sometime in mid-May. It’s bound to be a short experience, but look at this way: if you’re picking up an Oculus headset and want some VR content to get you started, this could be a good way to get your virtual feet wet.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from F8 2018!

Source: Felix and Paul Studios

1
May

GoPro makes it easier to share footage as Instagram Stories


While you can post GoPro photos and videos as Instagram Stories, the process takes quite a few steps to accomplish and sometimes even requires the use of a third-party app. Well, the action cam-maker worked with Instagram to launch a direct way to share your adventures, like say a diving expedition, a trek up the mountain or an ordinary day at home playing with your dog, through the social network’s ephemeral feature. Starting today, you’ll see Stories as an option when you share videos and photos from within GoPro’s application.

If you’re using an iOS device, you don’t even need a third-party editing app, because you can simply drag the image or video left or right to crop it down to the perfect size. You can trim a video to show only the part you want to share — Stories are supposed to be short snippets and not full movies, after all — within the app, as well. After that, you can post the final product as a Story or send it to friends as a Direct message.

“Some of our best stories happen in places or in moments that you’re simply not going to use your smartphone,” GoPro chief Nick Woodman said in a statement. “Now that it’s easier to share straight to Instagram Stories, we can’t wait to see what the GoPro community will post.”

We doubt you’ll have a hard time following those instructions, but you can check out the video below to see how the new feature works:

Click here to catch up on the latest news from F8 2018!

1
May

Facebook is adding AR to Messenger for #brands


Facebook is bringing augmented reality to Messenger. Rather than being a feature you can use when talking to friends though, the first application of the tech is for #brands. Facebook puts it like this: “When a person interacts with your business in Messenger, you can prompt them to open the camera, which will be pre-populated with filters and AR effects that are specific to your brand. This feature leverages the nature of messaging to help people get valuable, instant feedback about purchases, customizations, and more, without ever needing to set foot in a store.”

The functionality is in beta for now, but ASUS, Kia, Nike and Sephora have signed on as early partners. As a tech-minded shoe company, Nike’s first implementation will be releasing a new pair of sneakers. Naturally. Sephora is doing a virtual try-on for makeup, Kia has a car customizer and ASUS will offer a virtual unboxing for a phone.

If you were hoping for info about Messenger Lite coming to iOS from this post, we’re sorry to disappoint you with news that the app is getting even more bloated instead.

1
May

Oculus Go review: Finally, cheap and easy VR for everyone


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The Oculus Go is the most convenient and comfortable VR headset ever made. That might sound like hyperbole, but it’s well deserved. With the Rift, its first headset to reach consumers, Oculus helped introduce us to high-end VR. And together with Samsung, it delivered the cheap Gear VR headset for smartphones. But the $199 Go has a far better chance of getting average consumers into virtual reality, because it’s dead simple to use.

Hardware

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Devindra Hardawar

You can think of the Oculus Go as a self-contained version of the Gear VR. They both have large plastic shells that house their lenses and hardware, but the Go is a huge step forward when it comes to comfort and ergonomics. The faceplate material has a generous amount of foam and is covered in knit mesh. It reminds me of what you’d find in athletic clothes, and it serves a similar purpose: wicking away sweat. (There’s one thing you’ll learn quickly when you spend time in VR: Your face will get real sweaty.) The Go’s three head straps are made of spandex and secured with Velcro. That makes them easy to adjust and stretch over even the biggest of heads.

Since it’s not housing a whole smartphone, the Go is surprisingly lightweight, at just over a pound. That’s a bit less than the Gear VR with a Galaxy S9 attached. Under the hood, it has the same hardware you’d expect from a mid-range smartphone, including a two-year-old Snapdragon 821 processor and either 32GB or 64GB of storage. It also features a 2,560-by-1,440 fast-switching LCD screen, instead of an OLED panel, which is kind of surprising. OLED has pretty much become the standard in every VR headset, due to its responsiveness, but Oculus claims that this LCD technology is similarly speedy. And, of course, it helps keep costs down.

The speakers built into the headset are amplified by the contours of the faceplate. They’re surprisingly loud and clear, but don’t mistake them for headphones — everyone around you will hear what you’re playing. If you want some privacy, you’ll still have to plug in headphones.

Like the Gear VR, the Go supports three degrees of freedom, meaning it can track your head movements. It can’t monitor your position in space, like higher-end VR offerings, which offer six degrees of freedom tracking. You’ll have to wait for the Oculus Santa Cruz to get that feature in a wireless and self-contained headset, and there’s no word yet on when that’ll arrive.

The Go feels sturdy overall. Credit for that goes to both Oculus and its manufacturing partner Xiaomi, a company that’s made a name for itself by building reasonably priced hardware that feels more expensive. You’ll still want to use some sort of case if you’re traveling with it, though. Those screens are just too delicate to leave exposed. And, unlike with a smartphone, you can’t really use a VR headset with a cracked display.

The included motion controller feels like an evolution of the Gear VR’s — it’s light and fits into the contours of your hand. There’s a trackpad on the top, which doubles as a button, as well as back and home buttons below. Your index finger sits on a trigger, something that’s an essential feature for interacting with VR environments.

In use

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Brian Oh/Engadget

Before using the Oculus Go, you’ll have to pair it with an iOS or Android companion app to connect it to WiFi. It also serves as an easy way to manage your headset’s software library. You can always browse the Oculus Store in VR and download apps directly, but the app is helpful when your headset is out of juice.

As a VR veteran, I didn’t have much trouble putting on the Go. It easily fit over my glasses, and I was able to readjust the head straps in a few seconds. Even people new to VR were able to quickly find a good fit. There’s also a glasses spacer in the box, which will help if you have very large frames. Oculus says you’ll eventually be able to order prescription lenses that sit atop the Go’s displays. That’s convenient, but it’ll make sharing your headset with friends a bit tougher.

From the get-go, I noticed that everything looked a bit sharper compared with the Rift. That made me curious about what streaming video would look like on the Go, so I headed over to the Netflix app to check out a few shows. Before I knew it, I had watched more than an hour of Chef’s Table. I’ve tried watching video in VR before, but it was always a bit too cumbersome, since it had to be tethered to my computer or I would risk draining my phone’s battery.

The Go has none of those issues. Sure, you still have to worry about charging it, but it’s not as if you’ll be cut off from the world if you use up the battery. It also helps that it simply feels great to wear. The faceplate never felt like it was pushing too hard against my face, and it did an admirable job of minimizing face sweat. I appreciated that I didn’t have to worry about putting on headphones — I was alone in my office, so I could just sit back and enjoy. After my Netflix binge, I hopped into the Within app and checked out some 3D 360-degree videos, like This Is Climate Change. That docuseries already looks fantastic on the Rift and Gear VR, so I wasn’t too surprised that it was still sharp and immersive on the Go.

As for games, I had a blast with Racket Fury: Table Tennis, which made great use of the motion controller. I was surprised to find that it recognized fine movements for different types of swings. While it’s no replacement for actual table tennis, it’s a solid example of what’s possible with the Go, even if it’s limited to mobile hardware. Similarly, CloudLands: VR Minigolf played smoothly with the controller. Just be prepared to look a bit silly while putting and swinging.

I also briefly tried out Oculus Rooms, which lets you hang out with friends in VR and play a few games or watch some movies. It’s ideal if you have friends who live far away — being able to chat together while watching the latest Netflix show in a virtual space seems like a fun way to stay connected. Rooms got a major redesign for the Go, with a more elaborate living area, higher-quality avatars and games from Hasbro. It’s getting Boggle this month, with Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit to follow later.

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Oculus

For the most part, what struck me about the Oculus Go was how easy it was to use. I didn’t have to worry about mounting my phone, as with the Gear, or getting my desktop primed for a VR session. It simply sat on my coffee table, always ready for action. That simplicity also made it something my friends and colleagues wanted to use. And because it was so comfortable, I also found myself using it far longer than most other headsets. It’s perfect for lounging in bed or on the couch. (Just a PSA, though: You can’t use most apps while lying down flat. That’s something Gear VR owners have been asking about for years.)

While you’re still a bit removed from the real world while wearing the Go, I appreciated being able to quickly lift it up to check my phone’s notifications. That’s much harder with the Gear VR, since it would mean completely removing your phone and exiting your VR apps.

Oculus claims that the Go will get 2.5 hours of battery life while you’re watching video, and a little over two hours while playing games. During my testing, which usually involved a mixture of those activities, the Go typically lasted around two hours and 15 minutes. In comparison, the 2017 Gear VR crapped out at under two hours and leaves you phoneless. You might be tempted to just keep the Go plugged in and charging if you’re using it in bed or on the couch, but Oculus reps strongly discouraged that. That’s partially because the charging cable connects awkwardly on the headset’s side.

Pricing and the competition

At $199, the Oculus Go is the easiest way to jump into VR for most people. If you’re looking for more storage, there’s also a 64GB model for $249. Sure, you can get a Gear VR or Google Daydream headset for less than $100, but they work only if you have a compatible phone. Lenovo also has a standalone Daydream headset coming soon, the Mirage Solo. That one’s more powerful than the Go, and it comes with 64GB of storage. But it’s also much more expensive, at $400. And while Google has done a decent job of getting apps on its VR platform, you have many more options with Oculus.

Wrap-up

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Devindra Hardawar

Just when it seemed as though consumer VR was reaching a lull, the Oculus Go arrives to show us something completely new. Ultimately, VR’s future won’t depend on expensive and niche hardware like the HTC Vive Pro. Instead, it’s the cheap and comfortable headsets like the Go that will win hearts and minds.

1
May

Oculus Go standalone VR headset is now available for $199


Oculus’ first stab at a standalone VR headset is finally here after several months of hype. The Oculus Go is now available to order from the company’s website for buyers in 23 countries, with US pricing set at $199 for a version with 32GB of storage and $249 for a 64GB model. Americans can also buy the headset from a mix of online and physical retailers including Amazon, Best Buy and Newegg.

The experience won’t be as advanced as what you’d get on the Rift (which has dual Touch controllers, more freedom of movement and access to a powerful PC), but there’s an obvious appeal here: the Go is self-contained, wire-free and considerably more affordable. You can use it even if you don’t have a PC, a console or a higher-end smartphone. And that could make this the most accessible headset to date. If all you want to do is watch TV in VR or play some basic VR games, you don’t need to invest in secondary equipment or string cables across the room to get fully immersed.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from F8 2018!

Source: Oculus

1
May

Tim Cook Shares Lifesaving Apple Watch Story After Teen Goes Into Kidney Failure


A recent study claimed that the Apple Watch can detect abnormal heart rhythms with 97 percent accuracy, and today Apple CEO Tim Cook shared a new story in which the company’s wearable device did just that, saving someone’s life in the process.

Speaking with Tampa, Florida’s ABC affiliate WFTS, 18-year-old Deanna Recktenwald said that one day her Apple Watch warned her that her resting heart rate hit 190 beats per minute. After staff at a walk-in clinic confirmed a similar heart rate, Deanna was sent to the emergency room where doctors found that she was in kidney failure.

Deanna’s parents gifted her the Apple Watch for Christmas last year, with the family now thankful for its ability to alert them to a condition that might have otherwise continued to go unnoticed. “Now that we have some answers to why this is happening we can prevent something major from happening down the road,” said Deanna.

Deanna’s mother Stacey wrote to Apple, explaining what happened and thanking the company for the Apple Watch.

“After about an hour the blood work came back and the doctors reviewed the results and told us that Deanna was in Kidney Failure. Her kidneys were only functioning at 20%. She had no symptoms of any kidney issues or any other medical issues. If it wasn’t for her Apple watch alarming her about her HR we wouldn’t have discovered her kidney issue.

I honestly feel that your Apple Watch has saved my daughter’s life. She is heading off for college in August and her condition may have been overlooked and if it wasn’t caught now the doctor said she would have needed a kidney transplant. I am forever grateful to Apple for developing such an amazing lifesaving product. Now I can send her off to college and know that she can monitor her HR and seek attention if it alarms her again.

Tim Cook responded to Stacey in an email, and this morning tweeted about the event. “Stories like Deanna’s inspire us to dream bigger and push harder every day,” Cook’s tweet reads. Apple has even teamed up with Stanford for its own study on whether the Apple Watch can detect abnormal heart rhythms and other common heart problems.

In addition to Cardiogram’s study on abnormal heart rhythms, a study published by the company late last year reported that the Apple Watch may be able to accurately detect hypertension and sleep apnea. The study found that Cardiogram’s deep neural network was able to recognize hypertension (aka high blood pressure) with 82 percent accuracy and sleep apnea with 90 percent accuracy. In 2018, Cardiogram’s latest study suggested the Apple Watch can be used to detect the signs of diabetes.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)
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