AfterDawn: Tech news

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AfterDawn: News

Apple removes Hong Kong protest app after China backlash

Written by James Delahunty @ 10 Oct 2019 12:36

Apple removes Hong Kong protest app after China backlash Apple has once against changed its mind on an application used by protesters in Hong Kong, following criticism from a Chinese publication linked to the communist party.

HKMap is an application that provides information on ongoing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, as well as documenting police activity in the region during this troubled period of time. Apple has previously decided not to list the HKMap app on its App Store but had reversed the decision only days ago.

In the meantime, China Daily - a publication owned and operated by the communist party in China - had slammed Apple's decision to allow HKMap to be listed on the App Store. It accused the Cupertino-based iPhone maker of enabling rioters to commit acts of violence by simply allowing the HKMap app to be downloaded at all.

Apple has significant operations in China where much of its gadgets are assembled, and China Daily made sure to remind Apple that it needs to think of the consequences of its decisions.

The developers behind HKMap completely reject the claim that the app aids criminal activity, saying they are not based on evidence. They go on to point out that other apps like Waze continue to be offered on the App Store. Furthermore, social networking apps like Facebook do not get delisted when criminals use the platform for nefarious activities.


AfterDawn: News

Ebook pirate fined and gets suspended sentence

Written by James Delahunty @ 10 Oct 2019 12:29

Ebook pirate fined and gets suspended sentence A man has received a suspended prison sentence and has been fined for copyright infringement related to ebook piracy activity.

The 26-year-old Danish man has been handed a 20 day suspended sentence and received a fine for admitting to illegally selling pirated copies of textbooks through a buy-and-sell outlet in the country. The case initiated with an investigator working for Rettighedsalliancen (Rights Alliance) using Den Blĺ Avis (The Blue Newspaper) - Denmark's largest buy and sell outlet - to purchase a PDF copy of a textbook.

He paid through MobilePay and then received the illicit PDF copy of the textbook from a Google Drive link and then contacted the police in the country to make a complaint.

As a result, the Copenhagen based man was charged with selling 228 copies of textbooks without permission. The textbooks sold for prices ranging from $12.50 to $88.00. The prosecution sought a custodial sentence for copyright infringement.

Judge Poul Bisgaard-Frantzen at the Court of Fredericksberg instead found it appropriate to impose a 20 day suspended sentence on the accused, as well as ordering the confiscation of 27,640 kroner (just over $4,000) obtained through the activity.


AfterDawn: News

Nintendo Switch passes 10 million in Europe, hardware sales jump in 2019

Written by James Delahunty @ 10 Oct 2019 12:26

Nintendo Switch passes 10 million in Europe, hardware sales jump in 2019 After disappointing its investors when it missed its sales targets by the end of 2018, Nintendo has good news to share about the performance of the Switch console and its software sales.

Launched in 2017, the Nintendo Switch console has now sold more than 10 million units in Europe alone. A big factor in that sales milestone is the launch in September of the Nintendo Switch Lite. Overall, sales of the Switch are up more than 30 percent this year compared to the same period of 2018, and up more than 40 percent over 2017.

In the calendar year of 2019, the Japanese games maker predicts it will sell around 18 million Switch units. At the end of 2018, the total global figure for the device stood at over 32 million units.

In addition to its positive hardware sales news, Nintendo also revealed that it nine first party titles have amassed more than a million sales a piece in Europe alone. Those titles are:

  • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
  • Super Mario Odyssey
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  • Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee!
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
  • Splatoon 2
  • Super Mario Party
  • New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe
  • 1-2-Switch

AfterDawn: News

October Xbox Update improves Parental Control, Mixer, Capture, and more

Written by James Delahunty @ 09 Oct 2019 9:14

October Xbox Update improves Parental Control, Mixer, Capture, and more The October update for Xbox One consoles is rolling out this week and it addresses quite a range of features on the console.

For starters, Xbox One is included in Microsoft's push for parents to more easily control the time their children can spend gaming and using apps. Parents can now set usage limits at the app or game level. So if a parent sets an hour limit per day for a game, that limit applies to every device so that switching devices won't let kids cheat on their time limits. Once parents make a setting at a game or app level, it applies to all Microsoft devices in the home that are configured.

Microsoft has also improved the Mixer experience in Xbox One. Players will no longer need to navigate to another app for Mixer streams as the October update integrates it right into the Xbox One dashboard, making it much easier and faster to find and watch a stream you want.

For user experience, several feature changes and improvements have been made. When an item on a player's Wish List gets a price discount, for example, then the user will receive a notification. The update also makes it possible for Xbox Game Pass subscribers to recommend titles to a friend via a message, or to your whole community through your activity feed or share to a club.


AfterDawn: News

Google simplifies shifting streaming music between devices with voice, apps, or touch

Written by James Delahunty @ 09 Oct 2019 9:12

Google simplifies shifting streaming music between devices with voice, apps, or touch Many homes now have multiple media and entertainment devices spread throughout, and Google wants to make it easy to switch the device you are listening to music or watching YouTube videos on.

With updates rolling out, users of Google Home products like Chromecast, Google Home Mini, Nest Hub Max, and others will be able to easily switch music, podcasts, and YouTube videos around devices. That can be achieved either by speaking out voice commands, using the Google Home app on a smartphone, or a touchscreen on a Nest smart display.

If music playing on a device in the kitchen like the Google Home Mini, a voice command of "Hey Google, move the music to the living room speaker" will transfer the stream to the living room device.

Alternatively, if using the Google Home app, one has to tap the cast button to see all the devices in the home, and then choose one to move the streaming audio to.

YouTube videos are also supported for quick switching. Either a voice command or the cast control on the screen of the Nest Hub Max can move YouTube videos to a Chromecast-connected TV. If you have more than one Google Home and Nest smart speaker or display, you can set up a speaker group in the Home App.


AfterDawn: News

Call of Duty Mobile smashes download record in first week

Written by James Delahunty @ 09 Oct 2019 9:09

Call of Duty Mobile smashes download record in first week Call of Duty Mobile leaves Fortnite, PUBG, and Mario Kart Tour in its wake in a wildly successful week starting on its October 1 launch day.

According to Sensor Tower, Call of Duty Mobile racked up more than 100 million downloads around the world in its first week of availability. This beats the previous record set by Mario Kart Tour, which clocked up 90 million downloads in its first week.

On the surface it dramatically outperformed both Fortnite and PUBG, which accumulated 22.5 million downloads, and 28 million downloads, respectively, in their first weeks. However, it is noteworthy that Fortnite was initially only available on the iOS platform, and PUBG rolled out more slowly by region.

Call of Duty Mobile had a wider roll-out, though it has not launched in China despite being developed by Tencent's TiMi Studio in Shenzhen.

Sensor Tower finds that Call of Duty Mobile saw 56.9 million downloads for iOS devices and 45.3 million downloads for their Android competitors. Its best performing territory is the United States with 17.3 million downloads, followed by India (13.7 million), and Brazil (7.1 million).


AfterDawn: News

VIDEO: Spotify maintains Apple criticism despite Siri support

Written by James Delahunty @ 08 Oct 2019 3:48

VIDEO: Spotify maintains Apple criticism despite Siri support The ability for Spotify users to control the music app through Siri on Apple devices has not softened Spotify's criticism of Apple.

The Swedish streaming pioneer has been running its "Time to Play Fair" campaign against what it alleges are unfair business practices from Apple for a while. This week, Spotify users on Apple platforms gained the ability to control their music using Siri commands, which is a nice boost. It hasn't softened Spotify's attitude toward Apple however.

In fact, Spotify went to the trouble of modifying an animated video criticizing Apple's business practices and alleged abuses of its position. Previously, the video had scalded Apple for not allowing users to control Spotify with Siri but now acknowledges that Apple device owners finally have this ability but not to use it as their default player.

The rest of the video deals with the existing complaints Spotify has against Apple, including the so called "30 percent Apple tax" and how Apple's red tape keeps Spotify from offering promotions and features.

You may have seen most of this video before. If not, here is the modified version updated this week by Spotify.


AfterDawn: News

IPTV Smarters app disappears from Play Store

Written by James Delahunty @ 08 Oct 2019 3:09

IPTV Smarters app disappears from Play Store A popular Android app used for IPTV service on devices has disappeared from the Play Store, and not for the first time.

IPTV Smarters is one of the more popular IPTV player solutions for Android devices like smartphones, tablets, TV boxes and smart televisions. It can be used with third party IPTV services and provided a good user experience through its GUI and Electronic Programming Guide and other features.

However, it has disappeared from Google's Play Store and not for the first time. According to the developer of the application, the removal is due to a false complaint.

"It's normal [to receive such complaints] and [it has] happened three times so far. We had it sorted out last time and this time. We have executed the same procedure with the help of our lawyers," Amanpreet Singh, told TorrentFreak. Singh did not reveal the source of the false complaint.

"As it's just a video player, that's why it will be back very soon," he added.

IPTV Smarters is only a software application itself. It does not provide any IPTV streams as is, and instead has to be used with another service. The developer does not endorse its use by any third party provider that violates Intellectual Property laws.


AfterDawn: News

PS4 gets Remote Play on Android, improved Party experience

Written by James Delahunty @ 08 Oct 2019 2:51

PS4 gets Remote Play on Android, improved Party experience Sony's PlayStation 4 (PS4) console software updates to version 7.00 this week and brings some notable improvements for user experience.

The first thing to mention is that Remote Play is now supported on Android 5.0 (or newer) devices. All you have to do is get the Remote Play app from the Play Store. On iPhones and iPads, Remote Play can now also display the controller at all times or lock the screen orientation if the user deems either necessary.

Additionally, a DualShock 4 controller can be used for Remote Play on Android, iPhone, iPad, and Mac using Bluetooth. For that functionality you require Android 10, iOS 13, iPadOD 13 or macOS Catalina.

The software update also improves the Party experience on PlayStation 4. Once updated, the maximum number of Party users is doubled from 8 to 16, while the audio quality is also of higher quality. Connectivity issues should also be alleviated due to back-end changes made by Sony to its network infrastructure.

Accessibility is also improved for the Party feature with the inclusion of Chat Transcription. This is initially available in the United States and only in the English language. Party voice chats can be converted to text and will display on the PS4 second screen app on your smartphone or other mobile device. Furthermore, it supports speech to text so users can speak aloud and have their speech transcribed to text and sent to other Party participants.


AfterDawn: News

Fortnite: Epic settles lawsuit with teenager over cheats

Written by James Delahunty @ 08 Oct 2019 2:23

Fortnite: Epic settles lawsuit with teenager over cheats Epic Games has settled a lawsuit with a 14 year old boy who sold cheats for Fortnite online, and demonstrated them in videos.

The boy is identified only as CBV in court documents. He was targeted by Epic Games for copyright infringement as he made cheats available for sale through an online forum. On his YouTube channel he demonstrated how the hacks work and linked his more than 14,000 subscribers to where they were made available.

Epic Games maintained that the cheats and their marketing was unfair and unlawful, and that they altered the copyrighted work of Epic and effectively resulted in a new version of the game. The dev also claimed that while CBV claimed he would cheat for fun and entertainment, and not to steal from those who work hard for what they do, he still benefited financially from the activity.

Game developers and publishers have been cracking down on cheats and on modding of games and those who sell them, as they can create a skewed experience for other players and also provides incentive for others to cheat as well.

Epic Games may face a class action lawsuit in Canada that alleges the gamemaker deliberately made Fortnite as addictive as possible and did not disclose the health risks of the game.

AfterDawn: News

Sony confirms PlayStation 5 launch details

Written by James Delahunty @ 08 Oct 2019 10:01

Sony confirms PlayStation 5 launch details Sony has confirmed that its next-generation PlayStation 5 will launch for the holiday season next year, and also confirmed more details about the system.

The first thing to note is that the next-generation in the console series is in fact called PlayStation 5. It will launch in time for Holiday 2020, according to Jim Ryan, President & CEO, Sony Interactive Entertainment. Some other details were also spilled by Ryan today, including a big change to the controller for the PS5 console.

Ryan says that the company wanted to re-imagine how the sense of touch can add to the immersion of video games. To that end, the new PS5 controller will scrap the long-lasting "rumble" technology in the DualShock line, and replace it with haptic feedback. This means that there is a wider range of feedback from the controller, so that "crashing into a wall in a race car feels much different than making a tackle on the football field."

Another change to the PS5 controller is the incorporation of adaptive triggers. This has been incorporated into the L2 and R2 triggers on the controller and will enable developers to "program the resistance of the triggers so that you feel the tactile sensation of drawing a bow and arrow or accelerating an off-road vehicle through rocky terrain."


AfterDawn: News

Sony dumps Facebook integration on PS4

Written by James Delahunty @ 07 Oct 2019 9:08

Sony dumps Facebook integration on PS4 Sony has announced that Facebook integration is no longer supported on the PlayStation 4 system. So what does that mean for users?

From today, Facebook integration has been scrapped on the PS4 console. This means that players will no longer be able to record and then upload their gameplay clips to the social network for their friends to see. Trophy unlock activity also can no longer be shared with Facebook friends. Friend finder is also out, which was a feature that used your Facebook account information to help you find friends on Sony's network.

So all share options (screenshots, videos, music, trophy details, links, broadcasts, etc.) can no longer be shared from your PS4 console to your Facebook account and friends. Profile pictures imported from Facebook will no longer be used either, so if you imported your profile picture from Facebook you will have to set up a new one.

The support page for the change does not give any reason why Sony has abruptly ended support for Facebook integration. However, Kotaku did reach out to Facebook and it seems that the social network is hoping to restore the integration soon.


AfterDawn: News

Rare 'Nintendo PlayStation' console for sale

Written by James Delahunty @ 07 Oct 2019 8:32

Rare 'Nintendo PlayStation' console for sale A one-of-a-kind 'Nintendo PlayStation' console - a relic of a rocky and ultimately doomed partnership between Sony and Nintendo - is up for sale.

In the 1980s, Sony and Nintendo were collaborating on games console hardware. Nintendo had partnered with Sony to produce a CD-ROM add-on that could be used for the standard SNES console. It would use a format called Super Disc with the rights retained by Sony in agreement with Nintendo. Along with the add-on for the SNES, Sony was developing its own Play Station system, which was a hybrid containing the standard cartridge port for Nintendo games and the CD-ROM drive for games on Super Disc.

Trouble started however when Nintendo realized that Sony had an upper hand in software licensing as it retained control of Super Disc, and the Japanese gaming giant then approached Philips seeking a more favorable agreement over a partnership. As a result, the 1991 consumer electronics show saw both the introduction of the hybrid Play Station system from Sony, and the surprise announcement of a new partnership between Nintendo and Philips (which Sony had no prior warning about).

Despite trying to repair their issues over the next couple of years, Nintendo and Sony ultimately went separate ways with Sony deciding to focus on a new console for the next generation of gaming which we now know as the original PlayStation. During the negotiations as many as 300 prototypes were reportedly developed of Sony / Nintendo console hardware.


AfterDawn: News

Fortnite: Epic faces lawsuit due to addictive game

Written by James Delahunty @ 07 Oct 2019 7:27

Fortnite: Epic faces lawsuit due to addictive game A legal firm is seeking a class action lawsuit against Epic Games because its popular Fortnite game is too addictive.

Calex Légal is representing the parents of two children in arguing that Fortnite is designed to be addictive, and that Epic Games did not warn customers about the dangers. The firm, based in Montreal, is seeking authorization for a class-action lawsuit and inviting parents concerned about their children's dependence on the video game to come forward.

"We dug into it and we realized there was a strong case for it," said Alessandra Esposito Chartrand, a Calex Légal attorney, reports the CBC.

The suit cites a decision made by the Quebec Superior Court in 2015 that determined tobacco companies had not warned customers about the dangers of smoking their product. This duty to inform is what Calex Légal is focusing on. Furthermore, Chartrand claims that the game is actually made purposely to be as addictive as possible.

"Epic Games, when they created Fortnite, for years and years, hired psychologists -- they really dug into the human brain and they really made the effort to make it as addictive as possible," she said. "They knowingly put on the market a very, very addictive game which was also geared toward youth."


AfterDawn: News

South Park 'apologizes' to China for mocking censorship

Written by James Delahunty @ 07 Oct 2019 4:59

South Park 'apologizes' to China for mocking censorship The creators of South Park have 'apologized' to China after the show is reportedly banned in the country and it's exactly what you expect.

It has been reported that South Park is banned on the Chinese Internet, after last week's episode "Band in China". The episode follows dimwit Randy Marsh - father of Stan, a geologist, the voice of pop sensation Lorde, and the entrepreneur behind Tegridy Weed - on a journey to China to find more customers for his product. His visit instead gets Randy sent to a work camp where he has to speak praise of the communist party.

At the same time, Randy's son Stan is trying to film a biopic for his several-weeks-old death metal band Crimson Dawn, but finds out that he has to censor topics ranging from Winnie the Pooh to the Dalai Lama in order to appease Chinese censors and make money in the country.

The episode even shows a Chinese censor in military uniform erasing things that Stan writes down, or erasing things he types on his laptop.

Apparently, the Chinese authorities didn't see the humor in the episode and reports are that South Park is now banned on the Chinese Internet. Matt Stone and Trey Parker responded to the news in a fashion we've come to expect over the years from the minds behind South Park. While it clearly makes fun of the Chinese reaction to the episode, it also takes aim at the NBA.


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