News

Google beefs up AR and VR with stickers and new Daydream View

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Both augmented and virtual reality are starting become true mainstream products, thanks to the efforts of tech companies to push them forward. Google has invested a lot since it introduced AR and VR to consumers, and their latest announcement makes them more fun to use.

Augmented Reality

With the new Pixel 2 phones, Google is pushing AR outside the Tango platform (Google’s design to develop AR phones) and makes it available even without additional special cameras. We saw Apple come up with great AR content with their new iPhones, so Google is not backing down.

According to Google, the Pixel 2’s rear camera is calibrated and optimized for AR. It’s able to track surrounding areas even in low-light scenarios, and render AR objects in a smooth 60 frames per second. To advance this, the company has AR Stickers. They are like your typical emojis or Instagram stickers, but more playful and lively.

You can play with AR food and drinks stickers with the Foodmoji pack, and with AR balloons for a unique birthday greeting. Google promised to release more fun moving stickers in the future, just in time for the upcoming holiday season. Pop culture is also coming to AR Stickers with characters from Stranger Things, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, NBA Stars, and the cast of Saturday Night Live.

Apps and games will also take advantage of the new AR prowess of the Pixel 2 with programs from select partners. With Houzz, you can layout and design your house’s interior through your phone. If you’re a fan of League of Legends, you’ll enjoy real-time action gameplay through an AR map. And lastly, Lego is working on an AR app which lets you build models and make it come to life.

Virtual Reality

Google also announced a newer and better Daydream View headset for VR, which is fully compatible with the new Pixel 2 and other Daydream-ready Android phones.

The new VR headset has high-performance lenses, which promise better image quality and a wider field of view compared to its predecessor. It doesn’t differ much in terms of appearance, but it now has a sleeker two-tone fabric material and also comes in three new colors: Fog, Charcoal, and Coral.

New hardware comes with a larger content library of more than 250 titles. Google releases “only-in-VR” moments with exclusive content for Daydream like front-row seat experiences in concerts, original YouTube VR titles, and IMAX 3D movies — all available on your phone.

The Daydream View will be available later this year for US$ 99.

SEE ALSO: Lenovo introduces Star Wars: Jedi Challenges augmented reality experience

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Entertainment

Netflix is experimenting with livestreaming content

For reality shows and comedy specials

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Netflix is in a bit of a rough patch. After losing subscribers for the first time, the platform is trying other strategies to retain its userbase including more stringent ways to police password sharing. This time, Netflix is trying a more additive approach. According to a report, the company is experimenting with livestreaming content.

First reported by Deadline, the company is currently in the early stages of creating such content. More specifically, Netflix will try the format for its catalog of “unscripted shows and stand-up specials.” There is no timetable for the experiment’s launch, but the company hopes to launch it soon.

A move towards livestreaming does make sense with Netflix’s current catalog of titles. Over the years, the platform has slowly curated an expansive lineup of reality shows and stand-up comedy specials. For example, Netflix’s Drive to Survive quickly became one of its biggest titles in reality television, bringing a lot of eyes to Formula One racing. Likewise, the platform has always been a stronghold for comedy specials since the advent of its popularity.

Besides its strong slate of content, the company has also experimented with user input including shows that mimicked Choose Your Own Adventure books. Under a livestreaming format, the audience might be able to provide input for the title as well, such as voting for (or against) contestants in a game show.

That said, it’s still too early to tell how livestreaming might appear on Netflix. For now, at least.

SEE ALSO: Netflix considers cheaper, ad-supported subscription

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Gaming

Elden Ring ousts Call of Duty for best-selling game

On pace to take the year

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Is it any surprise that the Call of Duty series is still a juggernaut today? Though not a barrier-breaking franchise, the first-person shooter series remains one of the most popular titles for gamers. However, once in a blue moon, a new title breaks through the ranks and unseats the gaming giant. Elden Ring, one of those rare titles, has done just that by snatching the top spot from Call of Duty.

Elden Ring’s popularity is undeniable. Initially starting as a must-have for Dark Souls aficionados, the FromSoftware title rapidly skyrocketed in popularity after its rage-inducing difficulty drummed up even more hype. The game is now the studio’s most popular title, eclipsing the cult following of Dark Souls.

Dark Souls isn’t the only thing it eclipsed, though. NPD’s Mat Piscatella recently tweeted that Elden Ring is now the top best-selling game in the past 12 months, beating Call of Duty: Vanguard. For reference, Vanguard was released in November 2021. Elden Ring, on the other hand, was released months later in February 2022. Despite having a significant head start, Vanguard lost, performing lower than expected.

Very technically, a game overtaking Call of Duty isn’t unheard of. Various games often take the spot from the franchise but only for a month. Call of Duty still grabs the top spot for the year overall. As for the yearly rankings, the shooter series has not lost a year since 2013, thanks to then-debuting Grand Theft Auto V.

Though the year isn’t done, Elden Ring certainly has the pace to beat the franchise, especially if a DLC is coming later this year. It’s already the 12-month leader after less than three months since release.

SEE ALSO: Elden Ring review: Should you play the hardest game of 2022?

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News

A TikTok challenge has caused the death of a child

Her parents are looking to sue

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Social media challenges have existed for a while now. Even now, a lot of social media trends, especially on TikTok, invite users to do something wacky on their own feeds. While most are innocent enough, some of these trends are dastardly harmful. One such trend, called the blackout challenge, has caused the death of one of its users. As a result, the deceased user’s parents are demanding recompense for the wrongful death.

In Pennsylvania, a 10-year-old TikTok user, Nylah Anderson, died after attempting the blackout challenge circulating on the social media platform, as reported by NBC News. The challenge is simple but obviously deadly. Users attempting the challenge have to hold their breath until they pass out. Nylah undertook the challenge and passed out in her bedroom. Her parents found her and rushed her to the hospital. Unfortunately, rushing her to the hospital wasn’t enough; Nylah died seven days after.

As a result, Nylah’s parents are suing the platform for allowing a harmful challenge to circulate on their platform. They are accusing TikTok’s algorithm of making the challenge attractive to young users.

Countering the lawsuit, TikTok alleges that the blackout challenge did not originate from their platform. “We remain vigilant in our commitment to user safety and would immediately remove related content if found. Our deepest sympathies go out to the family for their tragic loss,” the company said in a statement.

Despite the company’s statement, this isn’t the first death attributed to TikTok and the blackout challenge. Deaths have been reported as early as last year.

SEE ALSO: TikTok is experimenting with a dislike button for comments

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