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Amazon’s Echo Show 10 rotates to follow you

The Echo Show 10 uses audio beamforming technology and computer vision to figure out where you are in the room and rotate the screen towards you. That data is all processed on the device itself rather than on Amazon’s servers.

You can turn off that smart motion feature using Alexa. The Echo Show 10 has several other privacy options, including a camera shutter. You can decide whether or not to save voice recordings linked to your Amazon account, or ask Alexa to wipe them all.

As you might expect given the name, Echo Show 10 has a 10-inch HD screen. At long last, you’ll be able to watch Netflix on an Amazon smart display when this the device arrives later this year. You can browse, search and play titles from Netflix’s library using your voice.

Like many of the other wall-powered devices the company revealed today, the latest version of the smart display will support low-power mode as part of Amazon’s sustainability efforts.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/amazon-echo-show-rotating-base-173941904.html

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Amazon’s Luna cloud gaming service arrives next month

The controller also features an Alexa button, which, when held down, allows users to boot up specific games via voice commands.

With Luna, Amazon is targeting cloud gaming at up to 4K and 60fps, though initially, the service will be capped at 1080p and 60fps, Luna head of engineering and technology George Tsipolitis said. Amazon recommends internet speeds of 10 Mbps for 1080p, or 35 Mbps for 4K.

Luna is a subscription service, though it’s not exactly a one-stop shopping experience. Access to the baseline Luna experience, Luna+, is $6 a month, and this channel will feature a broad selection of games from various developers. By the end of early access, Amazon is aiming to have around 50 games in Luna+, including Control, Resident Evil 7, Tacoma, Metro Exodus and The Sexy Brutale.

Subscribers will have the option to pay more for additional channels, each of which will support curated or publisher-specific games. The first publisher on the Luna train is Ubisoft, and its channel will have around 50 games in early access, including same-day releases of upcoming titles like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Far Cry 6 and Immortals Fenyx Rising.

Between Luna+ and the Ubisoft channel, Luna is on track to support more than 100 games by the end of early access.

“So more than Stadia, less than Game Pass,” Luna business development manager Lisa Schwenke said. Microsoft recently added xCloud to its Game Pass Ultimate subscription service, offering more than 150 streamable titles. Stadia has about 90, some of which are purchased individually.

Schwenke continued, “The goal is to continue to have something for everyone, see what customers are enjoying and try to bring more of that. So definitely starting out a little bit smaller during early access.”

There’s also Twitch integration in Luna — after all, we are talking about Amazon here. On day one in early access, Luna subscribers will see videos on individual game pages showcasing streamers playing that title, and clicking on one will start Twitch. On Twitch, if a streamer is playing a game in the Luna library, viewers will be able to click a link and start playing it via Luna themselves, as long as they’re a paid member of Amazon’s cloud gaming service.

These are similar to the still-missing YouTube-connected social features that Google outlined at the launch of Stadia.

Though Luna will be available on iPhones and iPads from day one, it’s not a native iOS app. Luna is a progressive web application (PWA), meaning it’s technically a browser-based program that only looks like a standard app. With Luna as a PWA, Amazon is bypassing Apple’s App Store rules and fees — again. For more on Luna and what it means to be a PWA amid a flurry of mobile antitrust lawsuits, read our additional coverage here.

Update (2:20 PM ET): This story originally undercounted the number of games available on Stadia, and has been updated to reflect the correct amount.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/amazon-cloud-game-streaming-luna-reveal-173946193.html

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A closer look at Luna, Amazon’s cloud gaming service

First up, this whole “Android coming soon” business.

Android availability

Initially, Luna will launch in early access on Fire TV, PC, Mac and iOS devices, including iPhones and iPads. Notably, it won’t be available on Android right away. The Android version should go live within “weeks” of the early access launch, according to Luna head Marc Whitten.

Whitten and other Luna executives don’t attribute the temporary iOS exclusivity to Amazon's mysterious sweetheart deal with Apple, which allows Prime Video to sell media directly on the App Store without giving Apple 30 percent of its sales. The 30 percent cut is standard for essentially every other paid program on the iOS marketplace, and it's one of the main reasons Epic Games is suing Apple this year. 

Executives also don’t attribute the iOS-first launch to xCloud's provisional exclusivity on Android platforms. Microsoft’s game-streaming platform, xCloud, isn't available on iOS because of that 30 percent fee and the fact that Apple “consistently treats gaming apps differently, applying more lenient rules to non-gaming apps,” according to Microsoft.

With Luna, Amazon has discovered another way to circumvent Apple’s App Store fees. Luna is a progressive web application (PWA), which means it’s actually a browser-based program masquerading as a native iOS app. You’ll download the PWA from the Luna website, and the resulting icon on your iPhone’s home screen will function like a shortcut to Amazon’s cloud gaming portal on the web. 

As a PWA, Luna is not involved in the App Store at all. 

“Just to be super transparent, on iOS, it is through the browser,” Whitten said. “So it's not a native app in the App Store.”

Epic tried something similar when it sold Fortnite outside of Google Play starting in 2018. For 18 months, the only way for Android users to play Fortnite was to visit the game’s website and download a proprietary launcher from there, or get it through the Samsung-only app store. It was an inelegant solution, and in April of this year, Epic reluctantly added Fortnite to Google Play, accepting the 30 percent fee on all transactions. 

At the time, Epic told The Verge, “Google puts software downloadable outside of Google Play at a disadvantage, through technical and business measures such as scary, repetitive security pop-ups for downloaded and updated software, restrictive manufacturer and carrier agreements and dealings, Google public relations characterizing third party software sources as malware, and new efforts such as Google Play Protect to outright block software obtained outside the Google Play store.”

Epic didn’t even attempt to launch Fortnite outside of the App Store ecosystem, citing Apple’s ulta-restrictive policies on third-party marketplaces and its monopolistic control of the iOS platform. Both Epic and Microsoft are aware of the existence of PWA -- Microsoft and Google are even collaborating on a project to improve PWA experiences on the Play Store -- but they’ve been unwilling or unable to take this route for their mobile gaming services. 

And honestly, that’s not surprising. As the Fortnite experiment demonstrated, both Epic and Microsoft have faced regular roadblocks from Apple and Google, even when attempting to operate outside of the App or Play stores. On September 11th, Apple revised its App Store guidelines in a show of deference to game-streaming services like xCloud, but even these new rules are impractical. They require users to download a container for each game they want to play individually from the App Store, even when attempting to access them through a streaming service like xCloud. This mandate doesn't apply to Luna.

Microsoft responded to the rule change that same day, saying, “This remains a bad experience for customers.” xCloud still isn’t on iOS, and Fortnite is no longer available on the App Store or Google Play as Epic is embroiled in lawsuits with Apple and Google. 

With the Luna PWA, Amazon is once again sidestepping a hurdle that has proven insurmountable for companies like Microsoft and Epic.

“We worked with the Safari team to ensure that some of the things that weren't there are there, and that allowed us to kind of get to where we are today,” Luna head of engineering and technology George Tsipolitis said.

It’s unclear if Luna will remain a PWA after its stint in early access, or if it will eventually join the app stores under the standard 30 percent fee.

“We'll continue working with Apple,” Whitten said. “We'd love to do a native experience. They're evaluating what their policies are there, they keep talking about them. And when we can come up with a good experience there, we'll ship that one, too.”


Luna will cost $5.99 -- at least -- in early access. That price unlocks access to Luna+, the baseline channel that will feature a mix of games, including Resident Evil 7, Control, Tacoma, Rez Infinite, Metro Exodus, The Sexy Brutale, Overcooked! 2 and others. Not all of the titles listed up there will be available on day one, but they’re all on the early access docket.

Luna will have more channels with curated content, each available at an additional, as-yet-unknown cost. The first confirmed channel comes from Ubisoft, and will include a broad selection of games from the publisher’s catalog, plus same-day releases of upcoming titles including Far Cry 6, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Immortals Fenyx Rising

Amazon is aiming to have about 100 games available during the early beta period, spread between Luna+ and the Ubisoft channel.

“So more than Stadia, less than Game Pass,” Luna business development manager Lisa Schwenke said. Microsoft recently integrated xCloud into its Game Pass Ultimate subscription service and offers more than 150 streamable titles, while Stadia has about 90, some of which are purchased individually. Schwenke continued, “The goal is to continue to have something for everyone, see what customers are enjoying and try to bring more of that. So definitely starting out a little bit smaller during early access, I think there'll be about 50 titles in our Luna Plus channel and about 50 in the Ubisoft channel, and just growing that over time consistently.”

The channeled approach to game streaming was borrowed from Amazon’s Prime Video experience, which offers certain stations as paid additions. That said, Luna will evolve as early access carries on and the feedback rolls in.

“You may even see other types of channels like a genre-based channel,” said Marc Whitten, Amazon’s head of Luna. “Or other ways to think about specific pieces of content that might be very attractive to a certain set of customers.”

Amazon specifies that $5.99 a month is the price of a Luna+ subscription during early access, so this base price is likely to change with the launch of Luna 1.0.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/luna-amazon-cloud-gaming-interview-pwa-apple-173948922.html

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Amazon’s Fire TV Stick Lite offers HD streaming for $30

As expected, Amazon just announced a new low-cost streaming media player. When the Fire TV Stick Lite becomes available later this month, it will set you back a mere $30. For that price, you get a streaming device that supports Full HD playback with HDR and comes with a redesigned Alexa Voice Remote that skips on volume and power buttons.

Amazon is also refreshing the original Fire TV Stick, which was discontinued recently. According to Amazon, the $40 device features a quad-core processor that is 50 percent more powerful than the one in the company’s previous model. It also features support for HD streaming, HDR, Dolby Atmos (but no Dolby Vision) and support for dual-band 802.11ac WiFi. For that extra $10, you also get a remote that includes TV controls. Like the Fire TV Stick Lite, it will be available later this month.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/amazon-fire-tv-stick-lite-175631085.html

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Alexa can bark at intruders from your Echo for $49 per year

Amazon has announced Guard Plus, a premium version of its Guard service that turns Echo speakers and smart displays into home security devices. Guard Plus can try to deter potential intruders by playing warning sounds like barking dogs and send you a notification if it detects one while you’re away from home. Your device can even listen for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and let you know if they go off.

Guard Plus can also connect you to an emergency helpline staffed by agents who can contact emergency services on your behalf — that could be useful if your phone’s out of reach and an Echo device is close by. You’ll be able to link Guard Plus to other security systems including those from A3 Smart Home, Abode, Resideo, Ring, Scout Alarm and Wyze. It also works with Ring, Blink, Arlo and August cameras.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/alexa-guard-plus-amazon-181027220.html

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Ousted Cambridge Analytica CEO can’t run another company for seven years

Nix previously served as CEO of Cambridge Analytica, the data firm that used a personality quiz to harvest information from millions of Facebook users, which sparked government investigations in the US and UK. He was ousted as CEO shortly after the UK’s Channel 4 published the results of an undercover investigation that showed Nix describing how his firm would entrap politicians and sway elections. 

The Insolvency Service said that its investigations confirmed the companies run by Nix, including Cambridge Analytica, had offered “unethical services.” 

“The unethical services offered by the companies included bribery or honey trap stings, voter disengagement campaigns, obtaining information to discredit political opponents and spreading information anonymously in political campaigns,” the statement says. 

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/alexander-nix-banned-from-running-another-company-185057383.html

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Twitter says its test to get people to read articles before tweeting worked

Twitter’s experiment that prompted people to read an article before tweeting it out has succeeded in getting more people to read before they tweet, the company said. 

The company has been testing the feature since June, when it first started asking some of its Android users if they wanted to open a link before retweeting it. Twitter now says the prompt has been a success. The experiment has led to more people opening articles, and in some cases opting not to send the retweet after all. 

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/twitter-prompt-read-article-before-tweeting-191907421.html

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Sega is working on another Yakuza movie

Sega is developing a live-action adaptation of its popular Yakuza game series, according to Variety. With more than a dozen mainline and spinoff games, and not to mention the new sequel that’s coming to the west later this year, there’s a lot of material the movie could pull from.

Based on a statement 1212 Entertainment, one of the production companies working with Sega on the adaptation, provided to Variety, we can expect the film to star frequent Yakuza protagonist Kazuma Kiryu. “The saga of Kazuma Kiryu has a built-in cinematic appeal – a mix of kinetic action with bursts of comedy, multiple converging storylines, and a gripping journey towards redemption,” a spokesperson for the production house said.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/sega-yakuza-movie-194602353.html

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Facebook takes down more fake accounts linked to Russian intelligence

“While we have not seen the networks we removed today engage in these efforts, or directly target the US 2020 election, they are linked to actors associated with election interference in the US in the past, including those involved in ‘DC leaks’ in 2016,” Gleicher wrote.

“These fake personas posed as editors and researchers to solicit articles for these websites. This network posted primarily in Russian and English about news and current events, including protests and elections in Belarus, Russian and Ukrainian politics, geopolitical conspiracies, Russia-NATO relations, Russia’s relations with neighboring countries, and criticism of US foreign policy, socio-economic issues in the US, and US political candidates on both sides of the political spectrum.”

This isn't the first time Facebook says it found fake accounts linked to Russian state actors. Earlier this month the company took down a handful of accounts tied to Russia’s Internet Research Agency that successfully tricked US journalists into writing articles for a website called PeaceData.

Facebook’s latest takedowns also caught networks of Russia-linked accounts that had targeted Turkey, Syria, Ukraine and other European countries.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/facebook-fake-accounts-russian-intelligence-200635663.html

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GameStop will have more $499 PS5s available to pre-order on Friday

If you didn’t get a chance to snag a PlayStation 5 when initial pre-orders went live last week, you’ll have a chance to try and buy one tomorrow. GameStop says it will have additional PS5 stock available to pre-order on September 25th both online and in store.

In a subsequent tweet, the retailer said it’s working on securing more Digital Edition units for people to pre-order, but tomorrow’s availability will only include the more expensive $499 model with disk drive. Neither tweet mentions when online pre-orders will go live. So we’ve reached out to the company for more information and we’ll update this story when we hear back.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/gamestop-ps5-preorder-restrock-203545363.html

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