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Categories Consumer technology | Video games

This week, one of the best new things announced by Apple last week and cycle tracking is a feature in the new iOS and watchOS updates. But first, a look at some games shown at E3 this week to get excited about.

Use your Apple ID to create accounts for apps and websites

When you’re creating an account on a website or a new app, you’ve seen the option to “Sign in using Google” or “Sign in with Facebook”.

Apple wants you to sign in using your Apple ID instead. And the company is playing the privacy card to convince you.

The functionality comes with iOS 13, and what makes Apple’s offering different is that it will protect your privacy by automatically assigning a random email to create the new account.

And that Sign In with Apple data is not used to profile you or track you in any way.

Cycle tracking in iOS and watchOS

A new feature coming to Apple’s operating systems for mobile devices and the Apple Watch is the Cycle Tracking app, which allows females to track menstrual cycles.

This has been a key request, and given what Apple has put into its health tracking features, is a no-brainer.

Games shown at E3 to get excited about

The Electronic Entertainment Expo is underway. Here are some of the games being shown off and talked about that have piqued my interest. In alphabetical order, natch.

12 Minutes

Noamada, Anapurna Interactive
Windows, Xbox One

This game is played in 12-minute increments. You are a man stuck in a time loop trying to figure out why a police detective is trying to arrest your wife. Everything you learn in each 12-minute segment you carry forward into the next loop, and your actions will enable options and dialogue previously unavailable.

Cadence of Hyrule

Brace Yourself Games, Nintendo
June 2019
Nintendo Switch

This is a mashup of The Legend of Zelda and Crypt of the Necrodancer, a music rhythm game, being created by Vancouver studio Brace Yourself Games. You can play as either Link or Princess Zelda.


Arkane, Bethesda

Another time loop game, this one pitting two assassins against each other. One wants the loop to continue, while the other wants it to end.


Electronic Arts
September 27, 2019
PS4, Switch, Windows, Xbox One

Volta Football is a new mode in which you play small-sided soccer in different settings around the world: streets, futsal pitches, and on repurposed basketball and tennis courts.

GhostWire: Tokyo

Tango Gameworks, Bethesda

Tango created two The Evil Within games that were so scary and malevolent that I couldn’t play them. This one seems to be creepy, but not horrific, and you get to play as a character who can fight back. That makes me feel better. The premise is that everyone in Tokyo suddenly disappears. You need to figure out what’s happened.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sequel

Nintendo Switch

No details. No timeline. Just this.

Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga

TT Games, Warner Bros.
PS4, Switch, Windows, Xbox One

This is an all new game that including the events of the nine films, including The Rise of Skywalker coming in December.

Luigi’s Mansion 3

Next Level, Nintendo
Nintendo Switch

In development at Vancouver’s Next Level Games, this stars Mario’s less popular brother. Set in a multi-storey hotel, it’s a Nintendo take on ghostbusting.

Marvel’s Avengers

Crystal Dynamics; Square Enix
May 15, 2020
PS4, Stadia, Windows, Xbox One

Development on this is supported by Eidos-Montreal. It tells the story of how the Avengers need to reassemble after a catastrophe causes the death of Captain America and the banning of superheroes.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order

Team Ninja; Nintendo
July 19, 2019
Nintendo Switch

This Switch exclusive is a throwback to the action RPGs from 2006 and 2009. Isometric adventures in which you would put together a team of four characters from the roster of heroes and villains that you unlock by playing the game. It also comes out next month.

The Outer Worlds

Obsidian, Private Division
PS4, Windows, Xbox One

This first-person sci-fi shooter open world RPG feels like Fallout. There’s good reason for that, as the creative minds behind it, Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky, created the Fallout series back in 1997. Private Division is a new label from Take-Two Interactive.

Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield

November 15, 2019
Nintendo Switch

The big release for Nintendo this fall are the new Pokémon games. One thing we learned at E3 is that if you have a Poké Ball controller, which came with Let’s Go, Pikachu and Let’s Go, Eevee last fall, you can put a Sword or Shield character into the controller. If you take it around with you in the real world “something good might happen”.

The Sims 4: Island Living

Maxis, Electronic Arts
Windows, June 21
Console, July 16

There’s another expansion pack coming to the game that let’s you create entire societies. The Sims 4, first released in 2014, opens up tropical beaches with Island Living.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

Respawn; Electronic Arts
November 15, 2019
PS4, Windows, Xbox One

Taking everything they’ve learned from Titanfall and Titanfall 2, Respawn slides it all into a Star Wars package and we get to benefit. Excellent traversal, solid combat mechanics, and a story set after Revenge of the Sith, when the jedi were all but obliterated.

Watch Dogs Legion

Ubisoft Toronto; Ubisoft
March 6, 2020
PS4, Stadia, Windows, Xbox One

This is the third game in the Watch Dogs franchise, which is all about the surveillance state and a citizen’s response.

But this is not going to be a typical sequel, because the creative director here is Clint Hocking, whose work on Far Cry 2 was an incredible experiment in game systems and narrative possibilities.

Legion is set in London and extrapolates out from Brexit, wondering what the world will be like when that episode is far enough in the past that it’s a historical footnote.

The distinguishing feature here is that you don’t play a single character. You can become any character in the game. Each Londoner is fully simulated. And death for these characters is permanent.

As Hocking said in his on-stage appearance at the Ubisoft press event: “However you want to play, whoever you want to be.”

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Categories Video games |

Today, video game hardware news and some details about what Microsoft announced at its E3 2019 briefing.

Microsoft details new console, extensive game lineup

Microsoft will release a new Xbox video game console in the fall of 2020. The company made the announcement on Sunday at its annual pre-E3 press event in Los Angeles.

Codenamed Project Scarlett, the new console will have a custom-designed processor, a solid-state drive, and deliver 8K resolution and graphics with ray tracing. It will also be backwards compatible.

More importantly, Halo Infinite, the latest game in the storied franchise, will be a launch title for Project Scarlett. A story trailer seemed to suggest a return to the themes and settings of the first game, which was a launch title for the very first Xbox back in 2001.

We didn’t learn much more about Gears of War 5, in development at Vancouver game studio, the Coalition, but there is an amazing new trailer for the game that perfectly sets the tone.

Other big news at the event included the revelation that Double Fine Productions, which is led by Tim Shafer and is working on Psychonauts 2 has been acquired by Xbox Game Studios. The Psychonauts sequel will still be published for PlayStation consoles, Shafer insisted.

One of the highlights of the Xbox event was an appearance by Keanu Reeves, who is playing a character in Cyberpunk 2077, an action game being developed by CD Project Red. After he referred to the game as being, “breathtaking,” someone in the audience yelled, “You’re breathtaking,” which not only got a laugh from the actor, but a throw back, “No, you’re breathtaking.”

Other games detailed at the Xbox E3 2019 event included Elden Ring, a new game being developed by FromSoftware and Hidetaka Miyazaki (Dark Souls) that has been co-created by Game of Thrones author, George R.R. Martin.

We also got a first look at gameplay for the new Star Wars video game, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, being developed by Respawn and published by Electronic Arts. It looks positively astounding.

Sony skipping E3 for the first time

Normally, Monday night in L.A. is when all the gaming journalists head to the Sony press briefing. Not this year, as the company opted to skip E3 for the first time since the trade show began in 1995.

We do know what they’ve got in the works, though, as Sony provided high-level details of its next console, expected to be named the PS5, back in April.

It’s going to support 8K graphics, with an 8-core CPU, ray-tracing, and a solid-state drive.

It’s likely that the new PlayStation console will ship in the fall of 2020.

Google reveals launch date and pricing of its Stadia gaming service

Just days before the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo, Google got a jump on all the video game excitement with more details about its Stadia game platform.

The streaming game service launches this November, giving customers all the gaming they want for a subscription price of Cdn$12 a month.

You can play games on the service through any Chrome browser, or on a TV using a Chromecast Ultra streaming device. Bluetooth and USB controllers and mouse and keyboard are supported, but Google has designed its own controller which will retail for $89.

Google has also developed a Stadia app, which is exclusive to the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a smartphones for now. But the company expects to make it available on more smartphones.

Google has opened pre-orders for the $170 Founders Edition package which includes a limited-edition controller, a Chromecast Ultra, a three-month subscription, and all of Destiny 2, including the new Shadowkeep chapter and an annual pass.

You’ll also be able to transfer your guardian from a Destiny 2 game on PC or Xbox One to your Stadia account.

Tied with this, Bungie announced that cross-platform saves are coming to all Destiny 2 players this September.

As for other games, the online briefing opened with a reveal of Baldur’s Gate 3, in development at Larian Studio (known for the Divinity: Original Sin games).

Other launch titles include three titles from Ubisoft (Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Ghost Recon Breakpoint and The Division 2, four titles from Bethesda (Doom, Doom Eternal, The Elder Scrolls Online, Wolfenstein: Youngblood), and four titles from Square Enix (the Tomb Raider trilogy and Final Fantasy XV).

Also coming are Borderlands 3 (2K) and the “Stranger Things-esque” Gylt (Tequila Works).

You don’t have to go with a subscription, either. Next year, Google will add the Stadia Base tier with which you can purchase standalone games that you’re interested in.

Google’s Stadia service promises lag-free gaming over an internet connection, up to 4K, HDR video at 60 frames per second.

Keep in mind that the drawback to this kind of delivery is a drain on your bandwidth. PC Gamer has done the math and determined that you’ll use up 1 TB of your data in 65 hours of gaming. Not good if you’ve got an internet plan with a data cap.

Watch the video of Google Stadia briefing below.

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Categories Consumer technology |

This week, Tor celebrates Pride by giving away four digital novellas and Tamagotchis are back to tickle that nostalgic itch you’ve got. But first, news from Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, including a powerful – and expensive – new computer, Apple’s continuing privacy play, and updates to all the operating systems. Also: the death of iTunes.

Apple announces big changes to device operating systems

Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is happening this week in San Francisco, and in a long media event on Monday, the company doubled down on personal privacy and announced a couple of new products.

But the biggest news was about the major changes to all of the operating systems that power Apple products, as well as a new OS to make the iPad even more useful.

tvOS 13

With Apple TV+ on the horizon, the company is creating a better experience on its Apple TV device. The new dashboard previews videos you’re browsing, and supports multiple users so each family member can have their own lists and recommendations.

Apple Music on tvOS will also display lyrics with the music, so you can have your own living room karaoke. And knowing that Apple Arcade is coming this fall, tvOS 13 will enable you to use PS4 and Xbox One controllers.

watchOS 6

Apple Watch is becoming more of an independent gadget all the time, and with watchOS 6 this is even more obvious. You’ll be able to listen to audiobooks directly from your watch, for one thing. Even better, though, is that apps will be able to run independently on Apple Watch without the need for an iPhone app. That warrants an App Store just for the Apple Watch, of course.

Perhaps the best addition, though, is the Cycle Tracking app, which allows females to track menstrual cycles.

iOS 13

Cycle Tracking is also coming to iOS 13 in the Health app.

Dark Mode is new with iOS 13, providing a more comfortable experience when you’re in low-light environments. Also new is swipe typing which, once you get the hang of it, makes it easier to communicate with speed. While third-party apps like SwiftKey have been providing this functionality, now it’s built right in to the system.

You’re also getting updates to photo editing within the Photos app and iOS will report to you on what apps are tracking your location, and apps won’t be able to use your Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connections to figure out where you are.

CarPlay, which works through iOS 13, gets an improved dashboard and Siri support for navigation apps like Waze.


Anyone who’s used an iPad knows that it’s different from a smartphone. Recognizing this, Apple is creating a unique operating system for the tablet device.

iPadOS brings a host of new features, including split-screen views, pop-up previews, and multiple spaces. It also adds computer-like functions like folder sharing and column view for files. You’ll be able to plug in thumb drives and use a mouse or trackpad controller.

iPadOS will work on iPads released since late 2014.

macOS Catalina

The next system update for Apple computers includes a number of updates, the most significant of which is Sidecar, which enables you to use an iPad as a second screen for your desktop or laptop. That means you can extend your desktop, or use the iPad as a drawing tablet when working with creative tools.

The more significant change that’s coming with Catalina is the removal of iTunes as an application. Apple is replacing the media manager with three separate apps: Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, and Apple TV.

iTunes will still exist as a storefront for purchasing music and video, but your mobile devices will now appear on your computer desktop when you plug them in, and will be able to sync media from within each of the new apps.

This carries forward the media-specific app approach that Apple started when it split off books into the Apple Books app last year.

Mac Pro unveiled, brings power, but at a price

The redesigned Mac Pro, which we’ve been talking about for months, has finally been unveiled. It appears as though Apple pulled out all the stops.

The new desktop system can have up to 28 cores, up to 1.5 terabytes of system memory and can process three streams of 8K video. Don’t really know what those numbers mean? They mean that this is one of the most powerful off-the-shelf consumer computers ever designed.

The Mac Pro starts at USD$6,000.

A new monitor, the Pro Display XDR that was designed to work with the Mac Pro, costs USD$5,000. It’s an astonishing 32-inch display. And you’re unlikely to have one on your desk anytime soon.

Free downloads of novellas by Margaret Killjoy, Ellen Klages, Kai Ashante Wilson, and JY Yang

As part of it’s eBook of the Month Club, science fiction and fantasy publisher Tor has bundled up four novellas for readers to download for free.

“In Our Own Worlds” features “The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion” by Margaret Killjoy, “Passing Strange” by Ellen Klages, “A Taste of Honey” by Kai Ashante Wilson, and “The Black Tides of Heaven” by JY Yang.

Each features “LGBTQ+ characters and reflections of queer identity by queer authors” according to the publisher.

The books are available until midnight ET (9 p.m. PT) on June 7.

The return of Tamagotchi

First released by Japanese game and toy company Bandai in 1996, Tamagotchi was a “digital pet” that became a phenomenon in the late 1990s.

The first designs were little more than egg-shaped digital watches – tamago is Japanese for egg – with three buttons that pet owners would use to raise a creature from hatching into an adult.

It was one of the first sims, and the first models rewarded good parenting with creatures that seemed smarter and happier. Those who failed to care for their pet watched them sicken and even die.

Bandai is releasing a new version this summer, the Tamagotchi On. Retailing for US$60, the form factor is much the same, but the functionality is advanced compared to the originals.

With a colour LCD screen and Bluetooth, the new gadgets can talk to others, so your pet can meet up and even mate with others. Once it’s matured to an adult, of course.

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