Tech round-up for September 11: Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, a new iPad, three models of iPhone 11, compromised biometrics database, Gears 5 flexes

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Categories Consumer technology | Video games

This week, what do you do if your fingerprints are stolen? And a look at Gears 5, the latest shooter from Vancouver studio, The Coalition. But first, all the announcements made by Apple in Cupertino yesterday.

Apple TV+ coming in November, Apple Arcade next week

Apple TV+, the company’s video subscription service, will cost $6 a month when it begins broadcasting on November 1.

Anyone purchasing an AppleTV, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, or Mac computer, though, will get a year for free.

There are nine original series that will debut when the service bows, including Oprah’s book club, For All Mankind, from Ronald Moore, who rebooted Battlestar Galactica, See, starring Jason Momoa, and The Morning Show, produced by and starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston.

Apple Arcade, a subscription service that delivers gaming experiences to AppleTV, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, and Mac computers, also costs $6 a month, and launches on September 19.

Notable titles available on that date include Pac-Man Party Royale, the platformer Rayman Mini, and Super Frogger, an updated version of the classic game.

Sayonara Wild Hearts comes from Simogo, which created Year Walk and the wondefully odd Device 6. Skate City is a skateboard game from Toronto’s Snowman, which made the Alto freerunners. Noodlecake, from Saskatoon, has created The Enchanted World. And Vancouver’s RAC7 gives gamers a chance to become a hairy beast in Sneaky Sasquatch.

New iPad, three new iPhones, and Apple Watch 5 unveiled by Apple

iPhone 11 will come in three flavours when it releases on September 20.

iPhone 11 is the base device, coming in six colours starting at $979. It has a 6.1-inch Liquid Retina display and is equipped with an improved Face ID authentication. There are two cameras with wide and ultra wide lenses that can shoot 4K video and high dynamic range.

The iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max add a telephoto lens and the three cameras are designed to work together to deliver better photos and much improved low light performance.

The Pro models use a custom OLED display, 5.8-inch on the iPhone 11 Pro and 6.5-inch iPhone 11 Pro Max. The handsets use Apple’s A13 Bionic chip and promise improved battery life by up to four to five more hours over the iPhone Xs counterparts.

Pricing starts at $1,379 for the iPhone 11 Pro and $1,519 for the iPhone 11 Pro Max.

Apple is also updating it’s basic iPad. Priced starting at $429, the seventh-generation tablet gets a bigger screen, 10.2-inch, and supports the first-generation Apple Pencil and smart keyboards. It will be in stores on September 30.

The big feature of Apple’s new wrist computer, the Series 5 Apple Watch, is that the display is always on (although dimmed until you raise your hand). The models with cellular also allow for emergency calling in over 150 countries without needing an iPhone close by or the cellular watch plan having been activated.

Apple Watch Series 5 comes in a range of case styles and materials, including titanium, aluminum, and ceramic. Pricing starts at $529 for GPS and $659 for GPS and cellular and they will be available on September 20.

Biometrics data collected by European law enforcement and financial firms left unprotected

If your password is compromised, you can change your password. What do you do if your fingerprint or facial recognition data are hacked?

You can’t very well change those.

The Guardian reported last month that two security researchers in Israel found a database being used to store biometrics data was “unprotected and mostly unencrypted”.

Details about the breach were published at vpnMentor: “Instead of saving a hash of the fingerprint (that can’t be reverse-engineered) they are saving people’s actual fingerprints that can be copied for malicious purposes.”

Gears 5 opens up the world of Sera while delivering heart-pounding action

Anyone with an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription has been playing Gears 5 since September 6. Everyone else playing on Windows or an Xbox One got access to the game yesterday.

It’s outstanding.

Coalition studio head Rod Fergusson said that Gears of War 4 was intended to honour the franchise and find new fans.

Gears 5 expands on that intent by delivering the story and gameplay that is expected of a Gears of War game, but also introduces some new elements that modernize the series.

There are elements here that will be a comfort to those for whom the franchise is beloved. Gears 5 is filled with clever writing, witty dialogue, and rich characters that burst from the screen. It delivers the intense, cover-based combat that gamers expect, with a variety of enemies to defeat and an assortment of weapons to wield.

But the latest game in the series that includes five previous titles also introduces some new things that open up the experience a little bit. The most obvious is the addition of open world exploration in some of the game.

It’s very similar to what Sony’s Santa Monica Studio did with 2018’s God of War. In Gears 5, two of the game’s protagonists, Kait and Del, are free to explore the countryside, engaging in side missions as well as discovering the story’s path.

They roam using a wind-powered skiff that is a joy to control. Like a dog-sled with a breeze-catching parachute at the front, the developers at the Coalition use visuals and sound to make you feel like you’re really zipping along.

The plot picks up where Gears of War 4 left off and reveals more of the dark history of the planet Sera and the creatures which populate it.

In addition to the campaign, which can be played solo, cooperatively online, or locally with up to three players, there are three other multiplayer modes available.

Escape features three players trying to get out from within an enemy base. Versus pits teams of players against each other, with one side playing as COGs and the other as Swarm. And Horde has a group of five friends holding out against increasingly powerful waves of enemies for as long as possible.

Visually, Gears 5 is stunning. The game was built to deliver high-resolution graphics and dynamic range, and the artwork and animation capitalize on that opportunity. Vistas are breathtaking, character faces and facial movements are extraordinary. Combined with the dialogue and acting, Kait, Del, and the rest of them become real to us, facing the kinds of world-ending problems that the heroes we like to play must confront.

We can only hope there’s more where this came from.


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