Technological World for March 17: Samsung's Galaxy A52 and Galaxy A72, Twitter Spaces, Starlink internet, Bethesda + Xbox

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Categories Consumer technology | Video games

This week, audio on Twitter with Spaces, Starlink’s internet service is open, and Bethesda games are now part of the Xbox ecosystem. But first, new handsets are coming from Samsung.

Samsung announces three new mid-range handsets

In an online event today, Samsung showed off the latest updates to its A series of mid-range smartphones.

The Galaxy A52, Galaxy A52 5G, and Galaxy A72 have brighter screens and faster refresh rates compared to last year’s A51 and A72 models.

Specifically, the A52 and A72 have a 90 Hz refresh, while the A52 5G goes up to 120 Hz.

The two A52 units have a 6.5-inch super AMOLED screen, which is 6.7 inches in the A72.

One enhancement that is uncommon in mid-tier handsets is optical image stabilization, which helps improve the quality of photos and videos, especially in low light conditions.

The cameras in the new A series are also improved, with a 64 megapixel main camera, a 12 MP ultra-wide, and a 5 MP macro lens. The A52 and A52 5G have an additional 5 MP depth sensor, used to enhance images, while the A72 replaces it with an 8 MP telephoto.

Pricing and specific Canadian availability have not been disclosed.

Twitter Spaces brings audio to the social platform

While everyone, it seems, has been talking about Clubhouse, Twitter has quietly soft launched Spaces, a feature where people can hold “live audio conversations”.

Twitter Spaces enables people using the Android or iOS versions of Twitter to listen in to conversations that people hosting Spaces are having.

For the past few months, Twitter has allowed “a very small feedback group” to test drive Spaces. The company plans on launching Spaces for all users in April.

Twitter records all the conversations that happen in Spaces and hosts can download the audio as well as a transcription, which enables podcasting options.

Until you can host your own Spaces, you can access those being hosted by people you follow at the top of your timeline where Fleets are displayed.

Starlink’s satellite internet is up and running and people are mostly happy

Starlink, the SpaceX spinoff venture to create a constellation of mini satellites around the Earth to provide internet services, has launched its beta phase.

In an article for Fast Company, Rob Pegoraro reports on “early adopters” sharing their experiences on Reddit are mostly happy with what they’re getting.

It’s not for everyone. Cable and fibre are faster and more reliable and the current configuration of Starlink satellites means that service is only available to more northerly locations.

And it’s not cheap. The equipment to get set up costs more than $750 and a montly subscription to the service is $150.

But for those with DSL or old satellite connections and in rural areas were internet connections are tenuous, Starlink may be an option. The company has more than 1,000 devices zipping around at an elevation of about 550 km.

The Fast Company article quotes Leigh Phillips from Kelowna as being “more than satisfied” with the service.

Bethesda officially becomes part of Xbox, 20 new games available on Xbox Game Pass

Microsoft has completed its acquisition of video game developer and publisher ZeniMax Media, and last week we learned more about what that means for the industry.

ZeniMax was home to Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, and others, developers of some of the most notable franchises of the last 20 years including The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Dishonored, Doom, and Wolfenstein.

The deal provides an instant boost to Xbox because 20 games, many from those franchises, are now available to anyone with an Xbox Game Pass subscription.

For those with a subscription to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. 16 of those games can be played on Windows, an Xbox console, or on mobile devices.

For those with an Xbox Series X/S, five of those titles – Dishonored, Skyrim, Fallout 4, Fallout 76, and Prey – benefit from FPS Boost, which provides an improved frame rate to nearly 60 frames per second.

Which only serves to make the Xbox Game Pass (and Ultimate) the best deal in gaming. For the price of $17 Cdn a month, players get access to more than a hundred games.

When the Microsoft acquisition was first announced, the big question was what this would mean for fans of these games who play on Sony’s Playstation consoles. Xbox head Phil Spencer clarified this in an online event from Bethesda’s headquarters.

Bethesda head of marketing Pete Hines asked Spencer outright about whether new games were going to be exclusive.

Spencer did not mince words. “If you are an Xbox customer, the thing I want you to know is this is about delivering great exclusive games for you that ship on platforms where Game Pass exists,” he said, adding, “That’s our goal. That’s why we’re doing this. (The quote comes at 9:34 of the video here.)

So if you want to be playing the next chapters of the Elder Scrolls or Fallout, you’ll be doing it on an Xbox console or Windows computer.

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