Technological World for January 27: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, critical update for Apple mobile devices, Xbox Live Gold pricing, Life in a Day 2020, Maiden demo from Resident Evil Village

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This week Apple has an update, Xbox backtracks on a price increase, Life in a Day 2020 is internet crowd sourcing at its best, and I played the Resident Evil Village demo, Maiden, so you don’t have to. But first, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is the flagship of all flagship Samsung smartphones.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is made for shooting videos

Samsung’s got three models of the Galaxy S21 smartphone coming, but the Ultra is the flagship. The frame shares the new approach that integrates the camera array on the back into the metal housing, but the Ultra stands out with its glass back and 6.8-inch screen that can hit 120 Hz.

It’s also compatible with the Samsung S Pen stylus, which is a first.

The Galaxy S21 Ultra is equipped with four lenses:

  • 12 MP ultra wide
  • 108 MP wide
  • two 10 MP telephoto lenses, one with a 3x zoom and one with a 10x zoom

The two telephoto lenses have been designed to work together, delivering a zoom that is effectively 100 times.

There’s a laser sensor that is used for auto focus, and you can shoot 4K video at 60 frames per second video using any of the lenses.

The new Director’s View feature that really sets the line of S21 smartphones apart. I played with two different ways of using this. With what Samsung calls “vlogger” view, I was able to shoot split screen, with the front camera capturing our family dog jumping around in the snow, and the rear camera capturing me describing what was going on. You can also do this as a picture-in-picture if you prefer.

Even cooler is the ability to see the scene you’re shooting through all the lenses at the same time. I was filming my son skiing, and the display showed me what it was looking like through all of the lenses, and I was able to switch from the wide to the telephoto just by tapping on the thumbnail view.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is available in three configurations:

  • 12 GB of RAM with 128 GB of storage for $1650 in black or silver
  • 12 GB of RAM with 256 GB of storage for $1720 in black only
  • 16 GB of RAM with 512 GB of storage for $1890 in black only

Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra, Galaxy S21, and Galaxy S21 Plus all ship on Friday. If you pre-order the Galaxy S21 Ultra before tomorrow, January 28, you’ll get a set of the new Galaxy Buds Pro wireless earbuds and a Galaxy SmartTag locator.

Critical update for iPads and iPhones released

When the director of cybersecurity for the Electronic Frontier Foundation tells you to update the operating system on your iPhone, you do as you’re told. And that’s exactly what Eva Galperin did on Tuesday.

Apple’s information about the update to iOS 14.4 and iPadOS 14.4 is prosaic, but it suggests that the operating systems were recently exploited, and until the update is installed on your iPhones and iPads, your device will be vulnerable.

My advice? Be like Eva Galperin.

In abrupt reversal, Xbox Live Gold pricing to remain the same

At six o’clock in the morning last Friday, Microsoft announced it was increasing the price for Xbox Live Gold subscriptions.

By nine o’clock that evening, not only had the company cancelled that plan and pledged to keep pricing the same, Microsoft is also dropping the Xbox Live Gold requirement for free-to-play multiplayer games.

What a difference a little community outcry can make.

The price increase seemed nominal: $1 USD for a one-month subscription, $5 USD for three-month subscription, and $20 USD for a six-month subscription. But the response from gamers was rapid, and the Xbox team at Microsoft knows how important it is to keep people happy, especially with new consoles – the Xbox Series X and Series S – in the world.

The Xbox Live Gold requirement to play games like Fortnite is not going away immediately. The Xbox team said they were, “working hard to deliver this change as soon as possible in the coming months.”

Life in a Day 2020 showcases crowd sourced footage of lives around the world

If you want evidence of how technology has changed our lives, look no further than the documentary films, Life in a Day.

Directed by Kevin Macdonald (One Day in September, Touching the Void) and produced by Ridley Scott, the idea behind the films is to collect submissions from people around the world, all of whom uploaded their footage through the internet.

The first Life in a Day was released in 2011, and back then, Macdonald had some 80,000 clips to comb through.

For Life in a Day 2020, more than 300,000 people submitted videos for consideration, in more than 65 languages. The footage all came from people’s lives on July 25, when the world was grappling with things like the covid-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests were confronting systemic racism and violence against Black, Brown, and other racialised people.

The film will premiere on February 1 as part of the Sundance Film Festival. It begins streaming on YouTube on February 6.

Resident Evil demo sinks gamers into a mansion where the atmosphere is decidedly creepy

The eighth game in the main Resident Evil series is called Village, and it releases on May 7 for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.

But if you’ve got a PS5 and you’re keen to get a sense of what the experience is going to be like, you can download the free demo now.

It’s called Maiden, and in it you become a poor soul trapped in a dungeon. Your goal is to escape.

The demo will take about twenty minutes, depending on your approach. I found myself crouched in a corner for minutes at a time, dreading what was coming.

In Maiden you’ve got no weapons and there’s no combat. And while you’re moving through the mansion space that is part of Resident Evil Village, you aren’t actually playing the game itself.

It’s plenty creepy, though, and it certainly gives you a sense of what to expect from the game when it comes out on May 7.

The Maiden demo is available for PS5 only, although Capcom says a demo for all platforms will be available this spring.

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