Sony, Microsoft Planning Advanced Digital Game Consoles

Sony’s next gaming console, dubbed the PlayStation 5, will not debut in 2019 — although Sony has stepped up deploying software development kits to video game creators. Still, it’s set to become the console that’s “more revolution than evolution,” featuring an eight-core CPU based on the third generation of AMD’s Ryzen line’s new 7nm Zen 2 microarchitecture. Sony’s PS5 will also be the first game console to offer ray tracing. Microsoft, meanwhile, will debut a console that completely eschews physical media. Continue reading Sony, Microsoft Planning Advanced Digital Game Consoles

Private Facebook User Data Made Public on Amazon Cloud

Cybersecurity firm UpGuard has discovered that Facebook user data has been publicly available on Amazon cloud services. UpGuard was unable to determine how long the personal data was vulnerable, but Mexico-based Cultura Colectiva, for example, stored account names, identification numbers, comments and reactions in 540 million records of Facebook users, which anyone could access and download. The discovery makes it clear that Facebook user data is still insecure, even after the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Continue reading Private Facebook User Data Made Public on Amazon Cloud

Epic Games Demos Digital Human and Offers SDK, Grants

At the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Epic Games demonstrated “Troll,” featuring digital humans built with Unreal Engine by studios Goodbye Kansas, Deep Forest Films, and 3Lateral. The scenes created in “Troll” use high-level real-time lighting and animation effects. Epic also announced it is providing its Epic Online Services software development kit (SDK), originally built for “Fortnite,” to game developers for free. Additionally, the company announced $100 million in grants to anyone working to “enhance 3D graphics and inspire creativity.” Continue reading Epic Games Demos Digital Human and Offers SDK, Grants

Nvidia Demos New Products at Deep Learning & AI Confab

Nvidia made a number of compelling announcements at this week’s GPU Technology Conference (GTC 2019) in San Jose, California. The company unveiled its GauGAN AI image creator that uses generative adversarial networks (GANs) to turn sketches into nearly photorealistic images. As part of its cloud pursuits, the company unveiled its latest RTX server configuration that is designed for Hollywood studios and those who want to create visual content quickly (each server pod can support up to 1,280 GPUs). Nvidia also announced partnerships with 3D software makers including Adobe, Autodesk and Unity to integrate Nvidia’s RTX ray-tracing platform. Continue reading Nvidia Demos New Products at Deep Learning & AI Confab

Microsoft SDK to Bring Xbox Live to iOS and Android Games

Microsoft plans to debut a cross-platform mobile software development kit (SDK) that would allow game developers to bring Xbox Live features to iOS and Android games. With new Xbox Live functionality, developers would be able to pick and choose among features including GamerScore, achievements, hero stats, friend lists, cubs and “even some family settings,” all of which will be activated with a single Microsoft Account sign-in. Microsoft gaming cloud chief Kareem Choudhry described Xbox Live as “the heart of our gaming community.” Continue reading Microsoft SDK to Bring Xbox Live to iOS and Android Games

Spotify Brings Beef Against Apple to European Commission

Spotify filed a complaint with European regulators accusing Apple of violating antitrust laws by crushing companies that compete with its services, including Apple Music. Apple charges a fee of up to 30 percent on anything sold in its App Store. Spotify reported to the European Commission that Apple’s policies are a “tax” that violate competition laws, and chief executive Daniel Ek complained that Apple gives itself “an unfair advantage at every turn.” It is uncertain if the complaint will lead to a formal EC investigation. Continue reading Spotify Brings Beef Against Apple to European Commission

Developers Are Struggling to Create Alexa-Centric Killer App

Four years after launching its program to allow outside developers to write apps for Alexa, Amazon’s voice system has some 80,000 “skills” — but no huge hit. In fact, most people with Alexa-enabled smart speakers still use them only to listen to music or make simple requests. That compares to Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store, each of which are home to over 550,000 apps, many of which have been huge successes for developers. But voice-centric apps are challenging to build and don’t appear to attract consumers. Continue reading Developers Are Struggling to Create Alexa-Centric Killer App

Facebook’s Latest Misstep: Culling Data From Popular Apps

Many smartphone users provide personal data to apps, from intimate health information to shopping habits. What the users don’t know is that Facebook culls the data seconds after they enter it, even if they have no connection to Facebook. Eleven popular apps, which have been downloaded millions of times, have been sharing data with Facebook — without any obvious disclosure to users providing that sensitive data. The revelation of that information has created a shakeup at Facebook and the involved apps. Continue reading Facebook’s Latest Misstep: Culling Data From Popular Apps

LinkedIn Launches Beta of Its Live Video Broadcast Feature

Microsoft’s LinkedIn is the latest social platform to pursue the growing popularity of online video. The network, now touting nearly 600 million global users, is launching a live video feature that allows individual users and organizations to broadcast video in real-time to select groups or the LinkedIn community. “LinkedIn Live” will initially be offered as an invite-only beta test in the U.S. with plans for a contact form in upcoming weeks for others interesting in trying the new feature. LinkedIn is partnering with several developers of live streaming services to help creators produce more polished video content. Continue reading LinkedIn Launches Beta of Its Live Video Broadcast Feature

Microsoft Advocates For Washington State AI Regulation Bill

Washington State has introduced a bill to regulate facial recognition software, and tech giant Microsoft is advocating for its passage, while e-commerce leader Amazon remains undecided. Amazon asked state senator Reuven Carlyle, who sponsored the bill, for clarification as well as a change to the requirement that AI software developers claiming the ability to identify faces must allow third parties to test it. Carlyle explained he would examine all submitted requests and introduce a revised version of the bill. Continue reading Microsoft Advocates For Washington State AI Regulation Bill

Apple Continues Push into Services With Subscription Plans

Apple is reportedly planning a new subscription service that would serve like a Netflix for games, according to people familiar with the initiative. The company began private meetings with game developers during the second half of last year. Insiders suggest Apple has also discussed potential publishing partnerships that could provide the tech giant with control over distribution, marketing and other areas. Plans are believed to be in the early stages and details, including cost of a possible subscription service, are not yet available. Meanwhile, Apple has also been working on subscription video and magazine services. Continue reading Apple Continues Push into Services With Subscription Plans

Facebook Introduces Open-Source Image Processing Library

Facebook unveiled Spectrum, an open-source image processing library to help improve the quality and reliability of images uploaded through its own apps. Spectrum, which Facebook first showed publicly and launched in beta in November, is now on GitHub, available to the developer community. As higher quality cameras on smartphones have become a key selling point, consumers are dealing with larger image files, which can be a stumbling block since they eat up more device memory and more network bandwidth. Continue reading Facebook Introduces Open-Source Image Processing Library

Sony Increases 3D Chip Supply to Meet Demand for Phones

After receiving interest from Apple and other customers, Sony plans to rev up production of its next-generation 3D sensors, which power front- and rear-facing 3D cameras. Sony sensor division head Satoshi Yoshihara reported that the company accelerated production of the 3D chips in late summer to meet the demand for several smartphones slated to debut in 2019. Although he did not provide production targets, he said Sony’s 3D business is already profitable and will impact earnings for the fiscal year beginning in April. Continue reading Sony Increases 3D Chip Supply to Meet Demand for Phones

Samsung Likely to Enable Third-Party Assistants in 2019 TVs

At CES 2019, when Samsung introduces its latest line-up of TVs, it might also unveil plans to integrate Google Assistant into its 2019 TV sets, according to sources. The company is expected to place a bigger emphasis on audio quality, and might also offer features in its TVs that are similar to Apple’s HomePod, which “tunes” music to its environment. Samsung wouldn’t comment on these plans, but did highlight the 2019 models of its Frame and Serif TVs. In 2018, Samsung added Bixby, its own voice assistant, to that year’s TV lineup. Continue reading Samsung Likely to Enable Third-Party Assistants in 2019 TVs

Facebook Discloses Breach of User Photos to Third-Party Apps

Facebook said it discovered a bug that allowed unauthorized access to third-party apps of private photos, impacting about 6.8 million users. Facebook engineering director Tomer Bar said the company fixed the issue that allowed such apps “access to a broader set of photos than usual.” Starting with the Cambridge Analytica harvesting of user data, Facebook has had a string of problems related to data privacy, most recently with a serious hack in September that compromised the Facebook accounts of millions of users. Continue reading Facebook Discloses Breach of User Photos to Third-Party Apps

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