Ask Slashdot: Should Microsoft Make an Xbox Phone?

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dvda247 writes: Since there’s the Nintendo Switch and previously there was the Sony PSP (Playstation Portable), should Microsoft make an Xbox Phone? There are already ‘gaming phones’ like the ASUS ROG Phone 2, but should Microsoft jump back into the smartphone game to make a phone running Android that is focused primarily on playing Xbox One games? Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Play Anywhere would be huge selling points to make an Xbox Phone. What are your thoughts?

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The First Lightning Security Key For iPhones Is Here, and It Works With USB-C, Too

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Yubico is releasing the $70 YubiKey 5Ci, the first security key that can plug into your iPhone’s Lightning port or a USB-C port, and it’s compatible with popular password vaults LastPass and 1Password out of the box. The Verge reports: That means you may not have to remember your password for your bank ever again — just plug the YubiKey into your iPhone, use it to log into the 1Password app, and get that bank password. At launch, it’ll support these well-known password managers and single sign-on tools: 1Password, Bitwarden, Dashlane, Idaptive, LastPass, and Okta. And when using the Brave browser for iOS, the YubiKey 5Ci can be used as an easier way to log into Twitter, GitHub, 1Password’s web app, and a couple other services.

Notably, the 5Ci doesn’t work with the newest iPad Pros at all, despite having a USB-C connector that fits. And you can’t just plug the Lightning side of the 5Ci into an iPhone and expect it to work with any service that supports the FIDO authentication protocol — our passwordless future isn’t here just yet. Yubico tells The Verge that services have to individually add support for Lightning connector on the 5Ci into their apps.

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‘I Want a Super-Smart Chair!’

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Long-time Slashdot reader shanen writes:
Imagine you had a perfect chair for using your computer. Also a perfect chair for watching TV. And a chair for listening to music, a chair for reading, a chair for napping, a work chair that keeps you awake, and a perfect chair for dinner. Also a massage chair and a diagnostic chair that checks your temperature, pulse, and blood pressure. Is your house full of chairs yet? Wait! what about your spouse’s perfect chairs? Need a bigger house?

What if you had one chair that could be all nine of those chairs? What if you could teach the super-smart modular chair to be more chairs, too? That’s what I want, plus the voodoo chair controller to manipulate and teach the slightly deformable triangular modules (in two or three sizes) that would form all of the virtual chairs for the current real chair.

Anyway, this story ticks me off because I sent that idea to a couple of companies, including IKEA. I’m still waiting. Not holding my breath.

That article shows Ikea promising a new “smart homes” unit — but with no mention of investments in wondrous smart chair technologies.

So the original submission ends by asking how we can bring about such a smart chair revolution?

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Slashdot Asks: Do You Use Your Laptop’s Headphone Jack?

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The headphone jack is increasingly being omitted from smartphones and tablets, but what about laptops? When Apple launched the redesigned MacBook Pro in 2016, it decided to remove the SD card slot, full-sized USB Type A ports, and Thunderbolt 2 ports — but keep the 3.5mm headphone jack, even though it axed the headphone jack in the 2016 iPhone 7. The reason, Apple said, had to do with the lack of wireless solutions for pro audio gear that many users use with their MacBooks. “If it was just about headphones then it doesn’t need to be there,” said Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller. “We believe that wireless is a great solution for headphones.” He added: “But many users have set-ups with studio monitors, amps and other pro audio gear that do not have wireless solutions and need the 3.5mm jack.”

While most laptops today still retain the headphone jack, that trend doesn’t seem like it’ll last for too much longer as the industry moves to embrace wireless audio. Laptop alternatives like Apple’s iPad Pro and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S5e have both ditched the 3.5mm port, meaning it’s only a matter of time until laptops themselves lose the port. Our question to you is: do you use the headphone jack on your laptop? Would you mind if a manufacturer removed the port to make room for a bigger battery or make the device slimmer and more portable? Let us know your thoughts below.

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Google Will Now Let Android Users Log In To Some Services Without A Password

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If you’re an Android user, you can now sign into some of Google’s services using your fingerprint, rather than having to type in a password. “The feature is available starting today for some Android phones, and it will be rolling out to all phones running Android 7 or later ‘over the next few days,'” reports The Verge. “According to a Google help page, the feature also allows you to log in using whichever method you have set up to unlock your phone, which can include pins and pattern unlock.” From the report: Android phones already let you use your fingerprint to authenticate Google Pay purchases and log in to apps. What’s new here is being able to use that same fingerprint to log in to one of Google’s web services within the Chrome browser. At the moment, you can use the functionality to view and edit the passwords that Google has saved for you at passwords.google.com, but Google says it plans to add the functionality to more Google and Google Cloud services in the future.

If you have a compatible Android handset, then you can try the functionality out now by heading over to passwords.google.com using the Chrome app on your phone. This service lets you manage all of the passwords that Chrome has saved for you. If you tap on any one of these saved passwords, then Google will prompt you to “Verify that it’s you,” at which point, you can authenticate using your fingerprint or any other method you’d usually use to unlock your phone. You’ll need to already have your personal Google Account added to your Android device for this to work.

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Google Launches ‘Live View’ AR Walking Directions For Google Maps

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Google is launching a beta of its augmented reality walking directions feature for Google Maps, with a broader launch that will be available to all iOS and Android devices that have system-level support for AR. On iOS, that means ARKit-compatible devices, and on Android, that means any smartphones that support Google’s ARcore, so long as “Street View” is also available where you are. TechCrunch reports: Originally revealed earlier this year, Google Maps’ augmented reality feature has been available in an early alpha mode to both Google Pixel users and to Google Maps Local Guides, but starting today it’ll be rolling out to everyone (this might take a couple of weeks depending on when you actually get pushed the update). We took a look at some of the features available with the early version in March, and it sounds like the version today should be pretty similar, including the ability to just tap on any location nearby in Maps, tap the “Directions” button and then navigating to “Walking,” then tapping “Live View” which should appear near the bottom of the screen.

The Live View feature isn’t designed with the idea that you’ll hold up your phone continually as you walk — instead, in provides quick, easy and super-useful orientation by showing you arrows and big, readable street markers overlaid on the real scene in front of you. That makes it much, much easier to orient yourself in unfamiliar settings, which is hugely beneficial when traveling in unfamiliar territory.

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Samsung’s DeX On Note 10 Brings Phone Apps To Your PC

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Earlier today at Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10 launch event, Samsung announced several new features coming to DeX, an application that transforms your Samsung phone into a “desktop like” interface. The expanded version of DeX on the Note 10 now works with your computer, allowing you to transfer files (including photos), reply to messages and run mobile apps on your Mac or Windows PC. Engadget reports: The Note 10 also touts a Link to Windows option in the phone’s Quick Panel that connects to a Windows 10 PC, sharing your phone’s notifications on your PC screen with no specialized apps required. This concept also isn’t completely new, but it’s still helpful if you’d rather not check your phone for a must-see message or app alert. More Microsoft integrations are coming. You’ll get to make and receive calls right from your PC (it’s not clear if this is just for Samsung phones or for all Android devices). Samsung’s Gallery app, meanwhile, will tie into OneDrive to upload photos to cloud storage. If the company has its way, your phone and computer will feel like extensions of each other.

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Google Pixel 4 Will Have 90Hz ‘Smooth Display and DSLR Camera Attachment

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According to 9to5Google, Google’s upcoming Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL smartphones will feature 90Hz refresh rates, 6GB of RAM, and a DSLR attachment, among other features not reported until now. From the report: First, the basics: There will be a Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, and they will both more or less have the same features. They are phones. As we’ve already seen, they will have glass on the front and back, and a large camera bump. The have a sizable top bezel on the front housing the Soli radar chip, the speaker, a single front shooter, and the suite of sensors for face unlock. Other familiar aesthetic flourishes like a colored lock button and the usual ‘G’ logo on the back are also in tow. Things get a little interesting with the display specs. Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL will have 5.7-inch and 6.3-inch OLED displays, respectively — the smaller is Full HD+, while the larger is Quad HD+. We can confirm now, though, that both will be 90 Hz displays, a feature Google is planning to call “Smooth Display.”

We also have word on the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL camera specs. There are two sensors on the rear, one of which is a 12MP shooter with phase-detect auto-focus. Also, confirming details that we unearthed in the Google Camera app, the other rear sensor on the Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL is a 16MP telephoto lens. Another interesting tidbit on the camera side: We’re told Google is developing a DSLR-like attachment for the Pixel 4 that may become an available accessory. In other Pixel 4 specs, the smaller 5.7-inch Google Pixel 4 will have a 2,800 mAh battery, while the larger model will have a 3,700 mAh battery. That means, compared to last year, the smaller Pixel will have a slightly smaller battery (down from 2,915 mAh), while the larger Pixel will have a notably beefier one (up from 3,430 mAh). Both devices will pack the Snapdragon 855, get an appreciated bump to 6GB of RAM, and will be available in both 64GB and 128GB variants in the United States. Finally, we can confirm that both Pixel 4 models will have stereo speakers, the Titan M security module that was introduced with the Pixel 3, and of course, the latest version of Android with 3 years of software support. We’re also told to expect that, like previous years, Google will show off some new Assistant features that will be exclusive to Pixel 4.

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Samsung Unveils Galaxy Note10, Note10+, and Note10+ 5G

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At an event today, Samsung announced not one, but two versions of its flagship Galaxy Note 10 smartphone: the regular Note 10 and the jumbo Note 10+. The Note10’s and Note10+’s frames are made from scratch-resistant aluminum that’s IP68 rated to withstand 1.5 meters of water for 30 minutes, and their protective glass shielding — Corning’s Gorilla Glass 6, an upgrade from the Note9’s Gorilla Glass 5 — can withstand up to 15 consecutive drops from 1 meter onto rough surfaces.

The shared specs of the Note 10 and Note 10+ are: Processor: Snapdragon 855; Display: Dynamic AMOLED with tone mapping; Wide-angle camera: 16 megapixels, f/2.2; Main camera: 12 megapixels, f/1.5 and f/2.4 dual aperture, OIS; Telephoto camera: 12 megapixels, f/2.1, 45-degree; Selfie camera: 10 megapixels, f/2.2; Radios: LTE Cat 2.0, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0; In-screen fingerprint sensor. The Note 10+ features a 6.8-inch display with 3040 x 1440 pixels resolution. It comes with 12GB RAM, 256GB or 512GB UFS 3.0 storage (with support for microSD expansion), and 4,300mAh battery. The Note 10 features a 6.3-inch display of 2280 x 1080 pixels resolutions. It has 8GB RAM, and 256GB UFS 3.0 of storage (no microSD expansion), and 3,500mAh battery.

The Note 10 starts at $949 and comes in just one configuration: 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. The Note 10+ starts at $1,099 with 12GB RAM / 256GB storage and you can spend $100 more to get 512GB of storage. Both are available for preorder today and will ship on August 23. The Note 10+ also comes with a 5G variant.

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Samsung Won’t Let Android Tablets Die, Announces the Galaxy Tab S6

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Samsung is one of the only companies still producing tablets to rival Apple’s iPad. Today the company announced the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6, its latest high-end tablet, for $649. Pre-orders start August 23, and the device ships September 6. Samsung says there will be an LTE version available later. Ars Technica reports: The Samsung Tab S6 features a 10.5-inch 2560×1600 OLED display, a 2.84GHz Snapdragon 855, and a 7040mAh battery. The base version has 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, with a higher tier of 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. For cameras, there’s an 8MP front camera, while the rear gets a 13MP main camera and a 5MP wide-angle lens. The device is down to 5.7mm thick and weighs 420 grams. This is Samsung’s first-ever tablet with an in-screen fingerprint reader. Interestingly, it’s an optical reader instead of the ultrasonic tech that the Galaxy S10 uses. Somehow, on a 10-inch tablet, Samsung couldn’t find room for a headphone jack. Even Apple, which ditched the headphone jack two years ago, still puts a headphone jack on iPads. Samsung is apparently declaring war on the headphone jack with this round of updates — the Galaxy Note 10, launching next week, is expected to dump the headphone jack, too.

The S-Pen comes with the tablet but doesn’t stow away inside the body; instead, a groove on the back of the tablet gives it a spot to magnetically attach to. Of course, don’t expect the tablet to sit flat on a table with a big pen attached to the back. As with other newer Samsung devices, the S-Pen now comes with a battery and some Bluetooth functionality, allowing it to do things like work as a remote shutter button for the camera. A new “Air action” gesture system lets you do things like change the camera mode or scroll through pictures with a flick of the pen.

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On the Benefits of Speedy Software, and How It Affects User Perception of Engineering Quality and Overall Usability

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Craig Mod: I love fast software. That is, software speedy both in function and interface. Software with minimal to no lag between wanting to activate or manipulate something and the thing happening. Lightness. Software that’s speedy usually means it’s focused. Like a good tool, it often means that it’s simple, but that’s not necessarily true. Speed in software is probably the most valuable, least valued asset. To me, speedy software is the difference between an application smoothly integrating into your life, and one called upon with great reluctance. Fastness in software is like great margins in a book — makes you smile without necessarily knowing why. […]

Speed and reliability are often intuited hand-in-hand. Speed can be a good proxy for general engineering quality. If an application slows down on simple tasks, then it can mean the engineers aren’t obsessive detail sticklers. Not always, but it can mean disastrous other issues lurk. I want all my craftspeople to stickle. I don’t think Ulysses (a popular text editing application) is badly made, but I am less confident in it than if it handled input and interface speed with more grace. Speed would make me trust it more.

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The Video Game Industry Can’t Go On Like This

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How much bigger can video games get? Video games are only getting more costly, in more ways than one. And it doesn’t seem like they’re sustainable. From a report: There’s the human cost, which Kotaku has chronicled extensively. Contract workers are continually undervalued and taken advantage of, as Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 developer Treyarch is reported to do.[…] That’s only the start of it. When you adjust for inflation, the retail cost of video games has never been cheaper, and it’s been this way for some time. The $60 price point for a standard big-budget release has held steady for nearly 15 years, unadjusted for inflation even as the cost to make big-budget video games has risen astronomically with player expectations. Since changing the price point seems to be anathema, we’ve seen the industry attempt to compensate with all manner of alternatives: higher-priced collector’s editions, live service games that offer annual passes or regular expansions a la Destiny, microtransactions, and free-to-play games. Then you have loot boxes. […]

Let’s run down the Big Three. We’re more than halfway through 2019, and Electronic Arts has only published one single-player game, the indie Sea of Solitude. Last year was much the same, with two indies as its only single-player releases: Fe and Unraveled 2. Activision’s portfolio of single-player games looks even thinner: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is the only exclusively single-player, non-remake game that the publisher has released since 2015’s Transformers: Devastation — which itself is no longer available, thanks to an expired licensing agreement. Ubisoft is an exception, regularly releasing entries in single-player game franchises like Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed. But it buttresses them with aggressive microtransactions and extensive season pass plans. (And the occasional diversion like Trials Rising and South Park: The Fractured But Whole.)

The big-budget single-player experience is now almost entirely the domain of first-party studios making marquee games for console manufacturers, which bankroll games like Spider-Man and God of War. The economics of first-party exclusives are totally different — they’re less about making money by themselves and more about drawing players into the console’s ecosystem. This is worth considering, because as big publishers prioritize live, service-oriented games, the number of games on their schedules has dropped. If you look at the Wikipedia listings for EA, Ubisoft, and Activision games released by year, you’ll get a stark — if unscientific — picture of how each big publisher’s release slate has thinned out in the last five years, relying on recurring cash cows like sports games and annualized franchises and little else. In 2008, those three publishers released 98 games; in 2018 they released just 28, not including expansions.

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Don’t Put Your Work Email on Your Personal Phone

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Many of us have given up on the idea of carrying around a dedicated work phone. After all, why bother when you can get everything you need on your personal smartphone? Here’s one reason: Your work account might be spying on you in the background. From a column: When you add a work email address to your phone, you’ll likely be asked to install something called a Mobile Device Management (MDM) profile. Chances are, you’ll blindly accept it. (What other choice do you have?) MDM is set up by your company’s IT department to reach inside your phone in the background, allowing them to ensure your device is secure, know where it is, and remotely erase your data if the phone is stolen. From your company’s perspective, there are obvious security reasons for installing an MDM on an employee’s phone. But for employees, it’s difficult to tell what these invisible profiles are collecting behind the scenes, as they provide people at your company with invisible control over your device. That’s why when it comes to your phone, no matter how much you trust your IT department, it’s a good idea to keep work and pleasure separate.

MDM profiles, paired with device management tools, allow companies to track employee phones in a single dashboard. They can mitigate security breaches or potential harm from a rogue employee; if you work for a law firm, say, and your boss worries you’re leaking sensitive emails from your smartphone, they could remotely wipe your data. MDM profiles can also force you to use a long password on your device, rather than a simple PIN, among other policies.

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Asus Unveils High-End ‘ROG Phone II’ Smartphone With 120Hz Display, Snapdragon 855 Plus, and Giant Battery

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Asus has unveiled a spec-heavy gaming phone called the ROG Phone II. When it launches later this year, it’ll be one of the only phones to feature Qualcomm’s new gaming-focused Snapdragon 855 Plus processor, a 120Hz AMOLED display, and massive 6,000mAh battery. PhoneDog reports: The ROG Phone II features a 6.59-inch 2340×1080 AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate and it’s the first phone to include Qualcomm’s gaming-focused Snapdragon 855 Plus processor. Both the CPU and GPU in the SD855 Plus are clocked higher than in the standard SD855, helping you get better performance. ASUS has crammed 12GB of RAM inside the ROG Phone II’s body, too. Another gaming-centric feature of the ROG Phone II are its AirTrigger buttons. Located on the side of the device, they give you extra buttons for your games and an improved software algorithm over the first ROG Phone that lets you rest your fingers on the AirTriggers, meaning you can react more quickly since you’re not having to move your fingers to reach for the buttons.

Other notable features of the ROG Phone II include a 48MP main camera with Sony IMX586 sensor, a 13MP ultra wide rear camera with a 125-degree field of view, and a 24MP front camera. There’s up to 512GB of built-in storage available, an in-display fingerprint reader, dual front-facing speakers, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Powering the whole package is a whopping 6000mAh battery. There are two USB-C ports on the ROG Phone II, with one in a traditional place on the bottom of the device and the other on the side of the phone so that it doesn’t get in your way when you’re gaming and charging. Both ports support Quick Charge 3.0, but the side port can charge more quickly with QuickCharge 4.0 support. It also includes support for 4K video output using DisplayPort 1.4. We don’t have an official price or release date yet, but it’s likely to start shipping later this year at around $899, which was the cost of the original ROG Phone.

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‘The Raspberry Pi 4 Needs a Fan’

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Author and programmer Jeff Geerling explains in a blog post why the new Raspberry Pi 4 needs a fan. Unlike previous Pis that didn’t require a fan or heatsink to avoid CPU throttling, the Pi 4 is a different beast and “pretty much demands a fan,” writes Geerling. “Not only does the CPU get appreciably hot even under normal load, there are a number of other parts of the board that heat up to the point they are uncomfortable to touch.” After 5 minutes at idle, he recorded the CPU/System-on-a-Chip (SoC) was around 60C, and it climbed to the 60-70C range when using the USB ports.

“[I]magine if you’re truly using the Pi 4 as a desktop replacement, with at least one external USB 3.0 hard drive attached, WiFi connected and transferring large amounts of data, a USB keyboard and mouse, a few browser windows open (the average website these days might as well be an AAA video game with how resource-intense it is), a text editor, and a music player,” writes Geerling. “This amount of load is enough to cause the CPU to throttle in less than 10 minutes.” So, Geerling did what any programmer and DIYer would do and decided to add a fan himself to the official case — and in addition to the blog post describing the process, he made a 22-minute-long video showing you what he did. From the post: Without any ventilation, it’s kind of a little plastic oven inside the Pi 4 case. A heat sink might help in some tiny way, but that heat has nowhere to go! So I decided to follow the lead of Redditor u/CarbyCarberson and put a fan in the top cover. […] After installing the fan, I booted the Pi and ran “stress –cpu 4” and let it go for an hour. The entire time, the CPU’s temperature stayed at or under 60C (140F), a full 20C lower than the throttling point.

There are some other options which may be even easier than modifying the official case, like the Fan Shim from Pimoroni or purchasing a 3rd party case with a fan built in. But this option was easy enough and all I needed to complete the project was a $4 fan and a $7 hole saw drill bit (which I can use for other projects in the future).

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Nintendo Unveils New Switch Model With Better Battery Life

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This August, Nintendo is releasing a new Switch model with a longer battery life. It will be priced the same as the current model and, aside from the improved battery, feature the same specs. From a report: The new model’s battery life will last between 4.5 and 9 hours, depending on the game. For Breath of the Wild, for example, the battery life will last for an estimated 5.5 hours. In comparison, the current model has a battery life that’s between 2.5 and 6.5 hours, depending on the game. Once again, for Breath of the Wild, the battery life is 3 hours.

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Nokia 2.2 Brings Back the Removable Battery

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HMD is bringing the latest version of the Nokia 2, called the “Nokia 2.2,” to the U.S. For $139, it features a notched camera design, a plastic body, and a removable battery. Ars Technica reports: HMD is delivering a good package for the price, with a fairly modern design, the latest version of Android, and a killer update package with two years of major OS updates and three years of security updates. On the front, you have a 5.71-inch, 1520×720 IPS LCD with a flagship-emulating notch design and rounded corners. There’s a sizable bezel on the bottom with a big “Nokia” logo on it, but it’s hard to complain about that for $140.

This is a cheap phone, so don’t expect a ton in the specs department. Powering the Nokia 2.2 is a MediaTek Helio A22 SoC, which is just four Cortex A53 cores at 2GHz. The U.S. version gets 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage version with an option to add a MicroSD card. The back and sides are plastic, and on the side you’ll find an extra physical button, which will summon the Google Assistant. The back actually comes off, and — get this — you can remove the 3000mAh battery! Speaking of unnecessarily removed smartphone features from the past, there’s also a headphone jack. Unfortunately, it’s missing some key features to keep the price down. There’s a microUSB port instead of a USB-C port, no fingerprint reader, and cameras that have low expectations.

Since it is a GSM phone, it will be supported by T-Mobile and AT&T networks, along with all their MVNOs.

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They’re Making a Movie Based On the 1978 Game ‘Space Invaders’

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The 1978 arcade game Space Invader will become a major motion picture, reports Engadget. “The writer behind the ‘Mortal Kombat’ reboot is involved.”

Deadline reports:
It will take work fleshing this into a full-fledged alien-invasion movie, but the title is certainly a brand. In the game, a series of blocky aliens descended from the top of the screen to the bottom, and players basically blasted them until their thumbs cramped, or the invaders succeeded in overwhelming the slow-triggered defender of earth.

“Nothing surprises me any more,” adds the headline at Io9.
Once, I would be surprised and bemused by the things Hollywood tries to turn into major franchises in 2019. I might observe how the truth now matches what we used to make up as parody. But, look, Battleship is a real movie and Rihanna was in it and that was seven years ago… Since the arcade game is entirely devoid of plot, except for the riveting narrative of shooting up until your thumbs cramp, it’ll probably be some entirely original plot about alien invaders, maybe something Independence Day-esque, with some inevitable cute nods to the original thrown in… [W]e’ll keep you posted as long as you keep putting quarters into the machine.

Yahoo Movies UK calls the news “apparent proof that Hollywood will literally make a movie out of anything… Also in the pipeline is a live-action outing for Sonic the Hedgehog, which was delayed earlier this year so that Paramount could redesign the character following a fan backlash.”

I’m still waiting for a big-budget Hollywood blockbuster based on Pong.

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Apple Lowers Prices on the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro and Adds New Features

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Apple today announced updates to the MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro. The MacBook Air price is being lowered to $1,099, but it will be offered to college students for $999. From a report: It will be sold in the same configurations as before, starting with 128GB of storage, but Apple updated the screen with new TrueTone technology. That means it sets the colors on the screen to match the lighting of the room for a more comfortable viewing experience. It also includes the updated keyboard design that Apple first launched in updated MacBook Pros back in May. It should help to prevent some of the sticky key problems experienced in Apple’s MacBooks. But this is not the full keyboard refresh that’s rumored to ship with an entirely new keyboard configuration. The new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro starts at $1,299 (or $1,199 for college students.) and includes a quad-core processor in the entry-level model for the first time and improved graphics performance. Like the refresh in May, the entry-level models now also come with new keyboard materials to help prevent sticking keys.

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In New Benchmark Tests, AMD Challenges Both Intel And Nvidia

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“AMD is unleashing an arsenal of products today,” writes Slashdot reader MojoKid.

Hot Hardware writes:
The Zen 2-based AMD Ryzen 3000 series is easily one of the most anticipated product launches in the PC space in recent memory. AMD has essentially promised to address virtually all of the perceived shortcomings of the original Zen-based Ryzen processors, with the Ryzen 3000 series, while continuing to aggressively challenge Intel on multiple fronts — performance, power, price, you name it.

MojoKid summarizes their analysis:
In the benchmarks, performance has been improved across the board. The AMD Ryzen 9 3900X and Ryzen 7 3700X offered superior single and multi-thread performance versus their second-gen counterparts, and better latency characteristics, that allowed them to occasionally overtake processors with more cores / threads in a few multi-threaded tests. On a couple of occasions, the 12-core / 24-thread Ryzen 9 3900X even outpaced the 16-core / 32-thread Threadripper 2950X. Performance versus Intel is more of a mixed bag, but the Ryzen 3000 series still looks strong. Single-thread performance is roughly on-par with Intel’s Coffee Lake based Core i9-9900K, depending on the workload. Multi-threaded scaling is a dogfight strictly in terms of absolute performance, but because AMD offers more cores per dollar, the Ryzen 3000 series is the clear winner here.

Meanwhile, AMD’s Radeon RX 5700 and Radeon RX 5700 XT Navi-powered graphics cards are set to take on NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX offerings in the midrange
There’s more details in the original submission, and PC World writes that AMD’s Radeon RX 5700 and Radeon RX 5700 XT graphics cards “represent a fresh start and a bright future for AMD, brimming with technologies that have never been seen in GPUs before.” But they’re not the only site offering a detailed analysis.

Forbes tested the chips on five high-workload games (including World of Tanks and Shadow of the Tomb Raider) and shared their results:

As usual, things are very title and resolution dependent, but in general, [AMD’s] RX 5700 XT proved to be a slightly better option at 1080p with the RTX 2060 Super mostly matching it above this… However, the 2060 Super was cooler-running and much quieter than its AMD counterpart, plus I’d argue it’s better-looking too… You also get the option of Ray Tracing and DLSS, but even discounting those, the Nvidia card is a slightly better buy overall.

But CNET argues that AMD’s new graphics cards “are very quiet. They are bigger and do require more power than the RTX 2060…but the 2060 Super has increased power requirements as well.”
TL:DR: There’s a chip war going on.

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