Tech round-up for February 6: Apple and Facebook and Microsoft, OpenMedia is in your corner, Bell maybe isn't, Apex Legends is a new battle royale extravaganza

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Categories Consumer technology | Video games

This week, Bell lobbies the regulatory framework to get things working in their favour, while OpenMedia works for the people. Plus, Respawn surprises with the new game, Apex Legends. But first, Apple flexes and Facebook flounders, while Microsoft is all smiles.

Apple plays well with others when they play nicely

Last week, after finding out that Facebook had been circumventing the app publishing process to get user data, Apple revoked some permissions.

That left many Facebook employees unable to work.

In stark contrast, Apple and Microsoft have never been better friends, with the former adding Office 365 to the Mac App Store for the first time ever.

It’s an acknowledgement by Apple that office productivity is owned by Microsoft, and by Microsoft that it can best serve customers by giving them the services they need, on the devices they use.

OpenMedia worked to keep the internet free in 2018

OpenMedia is a non-profit set up to “safeguard the possibilities of the open Internet, and toward informed and participatory digital policy”.

Last year, the organization was involved in a number of initiatives.

For example, it led the protest against Bell’s FairPlay Canada scheme which aimed to give it and other internet service providers the ability to independently blacklist websites. Representatives also drove efforts to have Canada’s Privacy Act reformed to prevent Statistics Canada from accessing financial data on citizens.

In 2019, Canada’s Broadcast and Telecommunications Act is being reviewed and this has implications on the amount we pay for mobile and internet services, as well as how free and open those platforms remain.

OpenMedia submitted a brief to the committee.

You’re lucky you’ve got them in your corner.

Bell asked government to block virtual private networks as part of NAFTA renegotiations, documents show

Last week, news broke that Bell asked the federal government to include virtual private networks (VPNs) in its NAFTA renegotiations.

Originally reported by the Wire Report and covered by Torrentfreak, the submission from Bell Canada Enterprises makes it clear the company wants a ban on VPNs that can be used by Canadians to access the U.S. Netflix library, for example.

The USMCA did not include anything on VPNs.

Electronic Arts surprises gamers with free-to-play Apex Legends

Respawn, a game developer that is part of Electronic Arts, surprised everyone this week when it dropped Apex Legends, a free-to-play battle royale game. Player Unknown Battlegrounds and Fortnite have some competition.

This is rarely done in the video game industry. With big budgets and big teams, normally games are announced a year in advance, and publicity campaigns carefully designed to trickle out information.

With Apex Legends, gamers were treated to a fully-formed experience. And Respawn, which has some of the creators of the Call of Duty games on its roster, has taken the battle royale genre and made it just a bit different.

It’s team-based, for one, pitting groups of three against each other. And players can be regenerated while the game is going on, as opposed to having to wait and watch after getting sniped.

Apex Legends is set in the Titanfall universe, which Respawn created, and while there are no big suits of weaponized armour to wear, the slick run-and-gun mechanics that are part of that series are also here.

The game has got great character design and is free to download and play on PS4, Windows, and Xbox One. You can pay real money for cosmetics and to progress faster, but it is by no means necessary.

And just in case you might be thinking that this game means no more Titanfall, don’t worry. Respawn head Vince Zampella says more Titanfall is coming this year.

Apex Legends had a million players before launch day had ended.


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