Apple Reveals the Best in Apps, Games, Music for This Year

French social media app BeReal, which has users post unfiltered daily selfies at random times and is now available in eight languages, took App of the Year honors from Apple’s 2022 App Store Awards, which recognized 16 global “apps and games that inspired users to engage more deeply with the world.” Fitness tracker Gentler Streak won in the Apple Watch category, with genealogy program MacFamilyTree 10 voted best Mac App of the Year, while Spanish-language app ViX took the TV App of the Year category. GoodNotes 5, which takes digital note-taking to the next level for Apple Pencil support, was named best in class for the iPad. Continue reading Apple Reveals the Best in Apps, Games, Music for This Year

Apple Said to Be Developing 3D Content for realityOS Headset

Information continues to trickle out regarding Apple’s new reality altering headset, expected to hit the market next year, possibly as soon as April. Bloomberg reports it will be powered by a Mac-level M2 chip, with more than 10 cameras facing both outward and inward and “the highest-resolution displays ever featured in a mass-market headset,” although the price tag, forecast as between $2,000 and $3,000, doesn’t sound mainstream. The first version of realityOS the company has developed is codenamed Oak. Apple is also reportedly developing 3D content for the new platform. Continue reading Apple Said to Be Developing 3D Content for realityOS Headset

Netflix Expands Games Initiative with a New Studio in Finland

Netflix has made some budgetary cuts recently, but not in gaming. After three acquisitions, the company is building its first game studio from scratch. The new unit will be Netflix’s second gaming outfit in Finland, and the company has hired Zynga’s Marko Lastikka to run it. Earlier this year, the streamer acquired the Helsinki-based Next Games. The company’s mobile games portfolio also includes developers Boss Fight Entertainment in Allen, Texas and Glendale, California’s Night School Studio. Helsinki “is home to some of the best game talent in the world,” according to Netflix VP of game studios Amir Rahimi. Continue reading Netflix Expands Games Initiative with a New Studio in Finland

Nvidia Debuts New AI Model That Quickly Generates Objects

Nvidia Research is introducing a new AI model that largely automates the process of creating virtual worlds, making it easier for developers to populate games and VR experiences with a diverse array of 3D buildings, vehicles, characters and more. Trained using only 2D images, GET3D generates 3D shapes with high-fidelity textures and complex geometric details. GET3D can generate “a virtually unlimited number of 3D shapes based on the data it’s trained on,” according to Nvidia, which says the objects can be used in 3D representations of buildings or the great outdoors, in games or the metaverse. Continue reading Nvidia Debuts New AI Model That Quickly Generates Objects

Roblox Targets Advertisers, Diverse Users with New Features

As it seeks to build-out a metaverse, online game platform and game creation system Roblox is courting brands as well as older users (54 percent of the platform’s daily active users are said to be age 12 and below). The popular gaming platform is adding facial capture for users and offering advertisers digital billboards and links to branded destinations. Roblox has been trying to divide its users by age, and added authentication for those 13 and above last September for access to more adult content. As part of the content diversification critical to both initiatives, Roblox is increasing its Game Fund to $35 million. Continue reading Roblox Targets Advertisers, Diverse Users with New Features

Inworld Raises $50M to Create AI-Powered Virtual Characters

Virtual character developer platform Inworld AI has raised $50 million in a Series A funding round led by Section 32 and Intel Capital. The Mountain View-based startup — one of six companies chosen to participate in the 2022 Disney Accelerator — will create virtual characters for games, the metaverse and other entertainment and marketing applications. Because it is focused on providing an interior life, or “mind,” Inworld AI is platform agnostic, with APIs that work across Unity, Unreal Engine, Omniverse and others. Another convenient feature: it lets developers build characters by describing them in natural language. Continue reading Inworld Raises $50M to Create AI-Powered Virtual Characters

Thirdweb Attracts Investors for Its Web3 Development Toolkit

Thirdweb — licensor of a development toolkit that simplifies creation of Web3 products including games, smart contracts, NFTs, marketplaces and more — has raised $24 million in a Series A funding round with buy-in from Shopify, Coinbase, Polygon and Haun Ventures. The new investment translates to a valuation of $160 million for the startup, which provides cost-effective turnkey solutions for non-coders (or coders that want to save time) to try Web3 while waiting for it to hit critical mass. The company currently has operations in London, San Francisco and Brooklyn. Continue reading Thirdweb Attracts Investors for Its Web3 Development Toolkit

Immersive Gamebox Pacts with Netflix for IRL ‘Squid Game’

Netflix has licensed “Squid Game” rights to location-based game destination Immersive Gamebox, which will launch an interactive — and safe — version of the deadly competition, at U.S. locations including Manhattan, Dallas, Salt Lake City and San Jose, as well as overseas sites in the UK and Germany. Fans who purchase a ticket for $24.99 to $39.99 (£20.62 to £32.98) can participate in all six challenges from the show using 3D motion tracking visors and touchscreens placed around the room. Players that don’t “survive” will lose “lives,” while winners “earn money in the piggy bank,” though not actual cash.  Continue reading Immersive Gamebox Pacts with Netflix for IRL ‘Squid Game’

Legal Questions Loom as OpenAI Widens Access to DALL-E

OpenAI is expanding its beta outreach for DALL-E 2 by inviting an additional one million waitlisted people to join the AI imaging platform over the coming weeks. DALL-E users will receive 50 credits during their first month of use and 15 credits every subsequent month, with each credit redeemable for an original DALL-E-prompted generation (returning four images) or an edit or variation prompt (which returns three images). Additional credits may be purchased in 115-generation increments for $15. Starting this month, users get rights to commercialize their DALL-E images. However, the move highlights the legal implications of AI and possible copyright infringement. Continue reading Legal Questions Loom as OpenAI Widens Access to DALL-E

‘Minecraft’ Developer Mojang Rejects Blockchain, NFT Tech

Mojang Studios, creator of the wildly popular “Minecraft” game, has taken a public stance banning NFT integrations and blockchain functionality. The Stockholm-based company, owned since 2014 by Microsoft, stated this week that “integrations of NFTs with ‘Minecraft’ are generally not something we will support or allow.” Mojang says it is updating terms of use with further details explaining its position, but a blog post emphases ensuring “Minecraft” players have “access to the same content.” In a blog post, Mojang concludes NFTs “can create models of scarcity and exclusion that conflict with our guidelines.” Continue reading ‘Minecraft’ Developer Mojang Rejects Blockchain, NFT Tech

Twitch Users Can Soon Ask Guests to Join Their Live Stream

Twitch is rolling out a new feature called Guest Star that allows users to invite up to five guests to join their live stream. Guest Star will at first deploy to a small group and expand to all users by the end of the year. Anyone with a Twitch account will be able to join a stream from their desktop or mobile app. Previously, those who wanted to have guests join a stream had to do it through a third-party platform like Discord. Creators using Guest Star will be able to host their guests directly within Twitch Studio or Open Broadcaster Software (OBS). Continue reading Twitch Users Can Soon Ask Guests to Join Their Live Stream

Amazon Glow on a Mission to Help Families Stay Connected

Following last year’s “invitation only” rollout, Amazon has released the Glow projector for kids in the U.S. The touch-sensitive 19-inch Glow image can be used for gameplay, arts, storytime and more. It also has an 8-inch LCD screen for video calls, making it a way “for little ones to enjoy hands-on activities while adults simultaneously — and remotely — join in the fun” using a free app for smartphones and tablets. The $300 price includes a 1-year Amazon Kids+ subscription featuring thousands of books, games and the ability to chat with popular Disney characters. Continue reading Amazon Glow on a Mission to Help Families Stay Connected

Netflix to Introduce Daily ‘Trivia Quest’ Game Show on April 1

Netflix will premiere daily interactive quiz series “Trivia Quest” on April 1. Based on Etermax’s hit game “Trivia Crack” — which Netflix says is “the No. 1 multi-platform trivia franchise in the world” — the streaming animated show will feature 24 questions (12 standard, 12 difficult) across categories including science, history, entertainment, sports, art and geography. As with Netflix’s prior interactive specials, “Trivia Quest” has a “narrative twist,” taking players on a mission to help Willy “rescue the animated citizens of Trivia Land from the Evil Rocky, who’s bent on hoarding all the knowledge in the world.” Continue reading Netflix to Introduce Daily ‘Trivia Quest’ Game Show on April 1

Apple Is in a Patent Infringement Dispute Over Siri in China

Shanghai Zhizhen Network Technology Company was recently granted a Chinese patent for a voice assistant similar to Apple’s Siri. It has also filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against Apple, with about 10 billion yuan ($1.43 billion) in potential damages. The suit stated that Apple products violate a virtual assistant patent with technical architecture similar to Siri’s that is owned by a Chinese artificial intelligence company. Apple responded that Siri’s features are different from those described in the Chinese patent. Continue reading Apple Is in a Patent Infringement Dispute Over Siri in China

Home Robot ‘Moxie’ Teaches Kindness and More to Children

Although most home robots have failed, iRobot’s Roomba, the autonomous vacuum cleaner, became the most successful one thus far. People began to relate to the device like it was a person, even giving it names. Former iRobot chief technology officer Paolo Pirjanian explains, “there’s something innate in our mind that triggers when we see something move on its own.” He is now founder/chief executive of Embodied, which is in beta with Moxie, a robot designed to help children improve basic social and cognitive skills. Continue reading Home Robot ‘Moxie’ Teaches Kindness and More to Children