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PS4 update is causing WiFi problems for some players

Sony's big PS4 version 4.50 update landed two weeks ago and despite the boost in framerates, some owners are not happy their consoles have been effectively cut off from the internet. According to a thread started on the PlayStation Forums on the same day as the release, the update completely broke WiFi connectivity for a number of PS4 players.

While some users (including at least one Engadget staffer) thought the WiFi issues might be an isolated case, the two-week-old forum thread has gathered about 250 posts, all complaining about the NW-31297-2 error code. Despite Sony's troubleshooting tips, reconfiguring the console's WiFi setup won't fix the problem and some gamers have resorted to begrudgingly buying WiFi extenders with a built-in ethernet port to bridge the console's WiFi gap.

When reached for comment by Engadget, Sony acknowledged the issue but didn't offer a much better solution just yet. "We are aware and are looking into the situation," a Sony spokesperson said via email. So, if you're unable to run a cable between your PS4 and your router, you'll just have to sit tight and hope Sony releases another update in time for that sweet Wildlands DLC.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/03/22/sony-ps4-45-update-wifi-problems/

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Apple hopes cheap, not powerful, will turn around iPad sales

Despite the fact that the rumor mill indicated a late March event with big updates to the iPad Pro, the new iPad was just one of several announcements Apple made yesterday. New red iPhones, new Watch bands and this new iPad all felt like they would have been good lead-ups to a big new product reveal -- but without that, it seems Apple just decided to push everything out in a series of low-key press releases.

Even with this muted introduction, the new iPad says a lot about the company's intentions in the tablet market. It's an admission that Apple needs a true budget-priced iPad with the most popular screen and newer hardware than the aging iPad Air 2 offered. The addition of the A9 chip should give the new iPad enough horsepower to work well for several years, even if the processor is already more than a year old.

But the big corner that Apple cut to hit this aggressive price point is the screen. The new iPad's display is a step backward from the Air 2. It's not laminated to the glass touch surface and it lacks antireflective coating, two characteristics that were included in the Air 2 as well as the existing iPad Pro. What this means is you'll see a small but noticeable air gap between the glass and display, something that diminishes the effect of actually touching on-screen elements.

It's a most unfortunate change, but it's classic Apple: If you want the best hardware, you're going to have to put up the cash and get the Pro. Still, it's surprising to see Apple take a step back in display technology, especially considering how crucial the screen is to the entire iPad experience. This thing is basically a window to the internet, and Apple compromised that window.

In a less crucial change, Apple actually made the new iPad slightly thicker and heavier than the Air 2. Now it has the same dimensions as the original iPad Air from 2013 -- but that's not something to worry about. As someone who's used that tablet for more than three years, it's certainly not a heavy or unwieldy device. If these larger dimensions helped Apple get the price down, it's a trade worth making.

Apple is betting that these differences aren't going to matter to buyers -- and to some respect, I agree with that logic. If you have an iPad older than the Air 2, this new model will likely represent a major upgrade (we'll have to wait until we test it to pass final judgement, of course). Unless you have an original Air, the form factor will be an immediate improvement, and the A9 chip simply smokes the older models. And you'll be able to get that upgrade for significantly less money now than ever before.

With this new model, Apple has also finally cleaned up the mess it made of its iPad lineup. Most potential buyers will pick between the new iPad and the single iPad Mini that Apple now offers. The new iPad is now the cheapest iPad you can buy, not coincidentally in its most popular screen size. And if you need more power or a bigger display or want to use Apple's accessories, the Pro lineup is waiting for you.

The jury is still out on whether or not this will actually turn iPad sales around. New hardware at a lower price is potentially the kind of thing that can get people interested, but the relatively quick rise and fall of iPad sales might indicate that this isn't a growth category right now, full stop. Apple only sold 13.1 million iPads in the most recent holiday quarter (only about half of the 26 million it sold during the holiday season in 2013), and I don't know if this new device is enough to turn around that decline.

Apple has often cited high customer satisfaction rates for the iPad, and the upgrade cycle is clearly longer than the two years we see for smartphones. So Apple's new, cheap iPad might be what it needs to get the many people who bought iPads three or four years ago to upgrade. But even if this latest tactic moves the needle, it seems unlikely that sales will get back to that 2013 peak anytime soon. Apple calls the iPad "the future of personal computing," but it's a future that everyone is still not on board with.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/03/22/apple-new-ipad-cheap-not-powerful/

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Facebook Live makes the overdue jump to desktop

This appears to be Facebook positioning itself as a serious competitor to existing streaming sites like Twitch and YouTube Gaming. Desktop streamers will be able to broadcast video from external hardware and streaming software, just like those services. This means that live Facebook videos can include gameplay footage and the on-screen graphics and picture-in-picture videos that have become a Twitch necessity.

For more casual users, streaming on desktop is just as easy as it is in your phone. Select Live Video from the posting area on top of your News Feed or Timeline. Then, hit "next" and you're ready to broadcast from your computer's webcam.

A major difference between Facebook live videos and Twitch is that Twitch users are able to monetize their efforts. Facebook is working on that, though. The social media giant also has a significantly larger user base than Twitch, but its desktop streaming platform isn't as feature-rich as Twitch's. That's especially true in terms of gaming: Twitch just introduced a new desktop app that adds a lot of gamer-specific functionality that Facebook doesn't offer, like game downloads. For other purposes, however, Facebook looks like a much easier way to share and watch live video.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/03/22/facebook-live-makes-the-overdue-jump-to-desktop/

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NYPD filmed hundreds of BLM and Occupy protests without approval

The recording was technically legal. Police are allowed to record protests where they suspect crime might take place, even if it's unlikely or will be limited to a handful of agitators. If there weren't any approvals or oversight, though, the NYPD would be violating in-house rules meant to preserve transparency and prevent abuse. Officers may have had free rein to film protests for any reason, including malicious purposes like intimidating protesters. Some activists have stopped showing up to demonstrations knowing that they might be targeted if they're caught on camera.

And there's evidence that this abuse is happening. Deputy Inspector Andrew Lombardo, for example, requested footage from a 2014 BLM protest despite being part of the NYPD's protest and counterterrorism unit rather than its legal bureau. He has been accused more than once of singling out law-abiding protesters in a bid to scare them away from future marches, and requests like this suggest he's using the footage to create individual profiles that aid his strategy.

The findings reinforce calls for tough regulation that would require approvals whenever the police want to record a protest. While this wouldn't completely deter abuses of authority, officers would have to offer on-the-record justifications for their actions. They might either think twice about a spurious request or face repercussions if they're caught lying about their reasons.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/03/22/nypd-filmed-hundreds-of-protests-without-approval/

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Researchers break efficiency record for consumer-friendly solar panels

The score is only just barely higher than the previous record of 25.6, but that 0.7 percent gain is no easy feat. Researchers had to analyze what factors in current cell design was keeping the technology from reaching its theoretical limits. The group decided that reducing optical loss was the best path forward, and moved low-resistance electrodes to the rear of the cell to increase the amount of photons that could be captured.

That's a lot of technical jargon, sure -- but the big win here isn't just that the cell is more efficient, it's that the more productive silicon cell was produced using the same kind of production process used for consumer sells. In other words, this isn't just an experiment, it's something we might actually see on the market soon.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/03/22/researchers-break-efficiency-record-for-consumer-friendly-solar/

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Discogs expands its marketplace to help you sell used audio gear

"We've started Gearogs, because gear is so close to records," Lewandowski explained to Thump. "We're launching a marketplace in April."

While Gearogs is just the directory for now, next month users will be able to buy and sell things like turntables, synthesizers, guitar pedals, speakers, headphones, mixers and more -- the item you can look up in the database. "Any equipment that records, amplifies, mixes, or reproduces audio, belongs here," the site's homepage says.

Why expand into second-hand audio gear? Discogs COO Chad Dahlstrom said it's something the site's users wanted. Dahlstrom explained that Discogs' method of cataloging vinyl worked well so collectors wanted to apply the same practice to other items. Of course, audio gear was a logical progression.

Discogs just released a big update to its vinyl app in December and the company is working on ways to make the data on your music collection a lot more useful as well. Right now, information on releases and track lists are plain text and aren't super useful beyond a quick reference. However, Discogs wants to eventually link tracks so users can dive deep into specifics. Eventually you'll be able to find things details like songwriters, alternate versions, any remastering and more based on the metadata in the music directory. Lewandowski admits there's still a lot of work to do, but the results should be worth it.

"We haven't figured it out fully yet, but there will be over a hundred million tracks in our database, so pulling all that information out and then tying it all together is a really big deal," he said.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/03/22/discogs-used-audio-gear-marketplace-gearogs/

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Browse Airbnb’s vacation add-ons from your desktop

In total, Airbnb says they have over 800 active Experiences like surfing off the grid in Dana Point, Fascinators and afternoon tea in London or following Hemingway's footsteps in Havana. Experiences now span more than 73 different countries, with 91% of them receiving five-star ratings. If you're looking for something to do on your next vacation, Airbnb says Paris, Tokyo and Los Angeles are their top destinations for Experiences but LA, London and San Francisco are leading the pack for the most new Experiences being submitted to the platform. On the other hand, it might be a little difficult finding an actual place to stay in San Francisco, now that the site has started complying with local regulations and booting many illegal hosts from its service.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/03/22/airbnb-experiences-desktop/

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‘Super Mario Run’ lands on Android a day early

The Android version is identical to its iOS predecessor -- namely, the app is free to download but you'll need to fork over $10 to get every level past the first three stages. It's launching at version 2.0, so it should have features like Easy Mode included in the last few iOS updates. And sure, opening the game up to Android is going to please a lot of device owners, but it'll probably also make Nintendo a mint: After just over a month, its iOS version had raked in $53 million worldwide.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/03/22/super-mario-run-android-a-day-early/

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Three years later, ‘Diablo III’ Seasons mode heads to consoles

For the uninitiated, Seasons lets you experience Diablo III just like a new player would with a level one character. You'll level up and upgrade your gear faster than with a higher level character, which can be fun for veteran players who have to grind a lot more to see gains. It can also be a great way to take a friend through the game for the first time, since you'll both get to play with a clean slate at the same difficulty level. You can either create a new character or "rebirth" a current one, reverting it to level one and classifying it as Seasonal.

Seasons also includes leaderboards and mission-like tasks in the Season Journey, as well as more difficult Conquest challenges — both only available to new characters created for this game mode. Characters revert to regular status when the Season ends, but you'll get to keep all the loot you gather, some of which will apply to all your Diablo III characters.

In addition, update 2.5.0 brings several rewards, cosmetic upgrades and user interface tweaks, creating a similar experience across all platforms. Though, players are still sequestered to their own platform-specific servers.

The patch itself is available now, so pick up your controller and get ready to smash your way through waves of demons when Seasons goes live on March 31.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/03/22/diablo-iii-seasons-console/

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Google lets sports teams and artists post on its search pages

Remember how Google let American political candidates post content directly to search results last year? You're about to see a lot more of that. As of now, web searchers in the US and Brazil will see content directly posted by people and organizations when looking for movies, museums, sports teams, sports leagues and (currently only in Brazil) musicians. It may be a while before you see many of these updates given that sign-ups have only just begun, but they're likely to be commonplace before long. Other experiments with this format are underway, too.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/03/22/posts-on-google-for-artists-and-sports/

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