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17Oct/190

Fractal Bits drum synth app uses algorithms to produce billions of sounds

The app is the latest project from developer Alexander Zolotov, creator of the popular multi-platform music studio software SunVox which runs on just about any OS -- even Windows CE. Fractal Bits is somewhat multi-platform too, being available on both iOS and Android.

The software can produce over four billion unique drum sounds, which are "created by fractal algorithms." Each sound is designated by its own eight-character hexidecimal code, so you can easily copy and paste presets or save them for later. There's also a random function to help you page through all the sound options to find one that's just right.

The app is a very affordable $2, and is available now from the App Store and the Google Play Store.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/10/17/fractal-bits-drum-synth/

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17Oct/190

Senator Wyden pushes his ‘Mind Your Own Business’ privacy act forward

As The Verge reports, the bill would allow the FTC to set minimum privacy and cybersecurity standards for tech companies, issue fines up to four percent of a company's annual revenue and make it a crime for senior execs to lie to the agency regarding privacy issues. It would empower state attorneys general to enforce the regulations and let users opt out of data tracking for targeted ads. It would require some platforms to offer paid "privacy-protecting" versions, and it would use the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Lifeline program to make sure low-income people had access to those versions.

"Mark Zuckerberg won't take Americans' privacy seriously unless he feels personal consequences," Wyden said in a statement. "A slap on the wrist from the FTC won't do the job."

Wyden has taken a strong stance against big tech. He's questioned the FCC, asked carriers who they're selling customer data to, put pressure on Facebook and more. So it's not surprising that he's the driving force behind this bill. Other lawmakers in both the House and Senate have introduced similar data privacy legislation, but so far, none of them have been put to a vote.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/10/17/data-privacy-bill-senator-ron-wyden/

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17Oct/190

BBC winds down its in-house VR production team

"After that project though, the VR Hub will be wrapping up its commissioning and production work," writes Zillah Watson, the head of the division. Watson goes on to state that the BBC will continue to "identify audience opportunities for VR," in addition to licensing its existing catalog. For the next year, the British public will also have the chance to experience the broadcaster's work thanks to a cross-country tour of the UK's public libraries. However, with only one last production in the pipeline, it's safe to say the BBC is ready to move on.

The news comes just days after Google announced its new smartphones, the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, won't support Daydream VR, effectively spelling the end of the platform. "[There hasn't] been the broad consumer or developer adoption we had hoped, and we've seen decreasing usage over time of the Daydream View headset," the company told Engadget in a statement. If Google doesn't plan to support virtual reality, it makes little sense for a cash-strapped public broadcaster to carry the torch.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/10/17/bbc-vr-hub-winding-down/

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17Oct/190

HTC Vive Cosmos review: Too late, too expensive

Once I worked through the software issues, the Vive Cosmos managed to deliver a solid high-end VR experience. In the shooter Raw Data, the high-res displays made the environments look crisper and more detailed than on the Vive. It was also a great test for the Cosmos's tracking and motion controllers, since it involves a lot of fast-paced shooting with a variety of weapons. The headset didn't have any trouble keeping up, even when I was desperately trying to avoid getting killed by evil robots.

Superhot, which is still my favorite VR game, runs like a dream on the Cosmos. It's slower paced, but it also involves plenty of movement and precise combat. Clearly, HTC didn't lose much accuracy by moving to inside out tracking. The only major issue I had was its need for a ton of light. I would occasionally get error messages in-game saying my environment needs to be brighter. HTC is aware of that issue, but so far, the company has just reduced the amount of error notifications that pop up. Hopefully it figures out some way to optimize its sensors for low light soon, though.

The Vive Cosmos's controllers, meanwhile, feel serviceable yet unremarkable. You'll notice they look a lot like Oculus's touch controllers, with contoured handles, analog sticks and gamepad-like buttons. There are two trigger buttons at the top, as well as a grip button.

At this point, Oculus is on its second generation controllers, and Valve is exploring completely new VR interaction methods with its finger tracking controllers. HTC just seems to be playing catch up, with a design that clearly bites from what Oculus did four years ago, and no major innovations. The controllers work fine, but everything about them just feels cheap and a step behind the competition. It was also annoying to hold them for long, since they're so big. That's another area where the Index beats out the Cosmos. Since its controllers are physically strapped to your hands, holding them is literally effortless.

Valve's headset also offers superior audio with its near-field speakers. The Cosmos's headphones sound fine, but I had a lot of trouble getting them to sit close to my ears. Thankfully, you can easily remove them if you'd rather use your own headphones.

So sure, the Vive Cosmos isn't perfect, but on the whole I think it's a solid high-end headset. That $699 price, however, makes it incredibly hard to recommend. While it's a better experience than the Rift S, but it's not $300 better. And the Cosmos is even harder to swallow when the $400 Oculus Quest offers great standalone VR, and soon it'll even run PC virtual reality over a cable. And if you've got the money to burn, the $1,000 Valve Index is a far better play at next-level VR, even though it requires setting up sensors.

If HTC released the Cosmos a year ago, I would have sang its praises. But today, now that inexpensive VR is getting better and high-end VR is more innovative, I'm not sure who the Cosmos is actually for.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/10/17/htc-vive-cosmos-review/

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17Oct/190

Watch the first trailer of ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ for PC

Rockstar will release Red Dead Redemption 2 for PC on November 5th. You can pre-order the game right now through the Rockstar Games Launcher. Starting on October 23rd, you'll also be able to pre-order through the Epic Games Store, Green Man Gaming, the Humble Store, Gamestop and "additional retailers." If you want to get the game on Steam, you'll have to wait until December.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/10/17/red-dead-redemption-2-pc-trailer/

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17Oct/190

Chrome for Android update protects against Spectre-like chip hacks

Most users and developers won't notice that Site Isolation is running behind the scenes, but there is a slight performance trade off. To keep Site Isolation from using too much memory in the resource-constrained environment of Android, the mobile version will only run on "high-value sites" where users enter passwords. That should protect sites with the most sensitive data, like banks and shopping sites, without slowing the overall browsing experience.

Google does expect three to five percent memory overhead, but it promises that it's working to optimize the behavior to keep Chrome both fast and secure. It will only run Site Isolation on Android devices with a sufficient amount of RAM, currently 2 GB. In the future, it plans to bring Site Isolation to other sensitive sites, not just those that require a password.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/10/17/chrome-77-android-site-isolation/

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17Oct/190

Google Voice users can start calls and send messages with Siri

It'll surely be a welcome update for Google Voice users who have an iPhone or iPad, particularly since Siri can learn your calling and messaging preferences, but it leaves the service in a strange place on the voice assistant front. Sure, it works with Siri, but you still can't send messages or start Google Voice calls with Google Assistant. Perhaps the Siri support is a bellwether for Google enabling Assistant control for the service in the near future, but for now, Voice has a curious dichotomy going on.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/10/17/google-voice-siri-support-assistant/

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17Oct/190

Is the OnePlus 7 Pro worth the upgrade from its predecessor?

Richard called the 7 Pro "easily my favorite OnePlus phone to date" and gave it an impressive score of 91 (two points higher than the score for the 6T). If you bought the 7 Pro, do you agree with Richard's assessment? What is your favorite feature of the phone? How were the AMOLED screen and Dolby Atmos stereo speakers? Would you recommend the 7 Pro to others? Give us the details in a user review on our OnePlus 7 Pro product page! Remember your review could be included in an upcoming user review roundup, so don't leave out any details.

Note: As usual, comments have been closed on this post. We'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions on our OnePlus 7 Pro product page though!

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/10/17/oneplus-7-pro-user-reviews-wanted/

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17Oct/190

Venmo will launch its first credit card in 2020

Today, Venmo announced that it's launching a credit card in partnership with Synchrony. The card should be ready in the second half of 2020, and users will be able to apply for, use and manage it through the Venmo app. Cardholders will get real-time, granular alerts and be able to easily split and share purchases.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/10/17/venmo-credit-card-2020/

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17Oct/190

HBO Max will stream ‘Spirited Away’ and other Studio Ghibli movies

WarnerMedia struck a deal with Ghibli's American distributor GKids for the exclusive streaming rights. In one fell swoop, HBO Max grabbed a selection of much-loved animated movies. That might help it in the battle for streaming supremacy against the likes of Disney+, which will have a huge library of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios films.

"We are excited to be working with HBO Max to bring the complete collection of Studio Ghibli films to streaming audiences in the U.S. As a premium content brand, HBO Max is an ideal home for our films," Koji Hoshino, chairman of Studio Ghibli, told Variety in a statement. "Upon launch of the service this spring, existing Ghibli fans will be able enjoy their favorites and delve deeper into the library, while whole new audiences will be able to discover our films for the first time."

It might seem surprising that Disney didn't grab the Studio Ghibli movies for its own upcoming streaming service. The company was responsible for dubbing many of the films into English, and held theatrical and home video distribution rights for them until 2017 when GKids took over.

In fact, it's surprising that the Ghibli movies will be available to stream at all. Polygon reported on Wednesday about the reluctance of the studio and Hayao Miyazaki (its co-founder and the creative force behind many of the films) to distribute their movies other than via theatres, DVD and Blu-ray. However, Ghibli has clearly relented on that stance.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/10/17/hbo-max-studio-ghibli-streaming-deal/

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