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20Mar/190

Watch Google’s GDC 2019 event in 14 minutes

Earlier today at GDC 2019, Google officially revealed Stadia, a game-streaming service that will be available later this year in US, Canada, the UK and Europe. There's a lot Google didn't cover -- like pricing and an exact launch date -- but the company did show off a custom-built controller for the service that has a dedicated button for Google Assistant. It also demoed fancy style transfer tech that can use AI to change the look of a game in real time. Don't rely on my terse summary though, we've condensed all the highlights down to a 14-minute clip to get you caught up in a flash. And be sure to follow all of the latest news from GDC in San Francisco right here.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/03/19/google-stadia-gdc-2019-event-supercut/

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20Mar/190

House committee chair calls for FTC antitrust investigation into Facebook

Cicilline also argued that the FTC wasn't doing its job. Advocates warned "for years" that Facebook was likely violating the FTC's 2011 privacy consent order, but the commission allegedly didn't enforce that order. It didn't block acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp that helped Facebook "extend its dominance," Cicilline added.

He further argued that Facebook might be stifling innovation. It bought promising startups like tbh only to shut them down later, and blocked Vine to prevent Twitter's video service from gaining ground.

We've asked Facebook for comment. While an opinion piece doesn't equate to tangible action, this might give the company reason for concern. As the head of the House subcommittee governing competition issues, Rep. Cicilline has some power to make things happen -- Facebook ignores his actions at its peril.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/03/19/house-committee-chair-asks-ftc-to-investigate-facebook-over-mono/

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20Mar/190

Waymo is building a new service center for its self-driving fleet

The location is no surprise. Waymo opened its first branch in Chandler, Arizona in 2016. The Alphabet-owned company appears to like driving in the sunny Phoenix area, which has "broad, yet complex, city streets" and a car-dependent suburban population. Eventually, the company will use the new, 85,000-square-foot facility to hire hundreds of employees, too.

In the first few months of this year, Waymo has been busy. Since December, customers in the metro Phoenix area have been able to use the autonomous Waymo One much like they would a ridesharing service. In January, Waymo received approval for a factory in Michigan, which will be the world's first factory dedicated to mass-producing Level 4 autonomous vehicles. Waymo is reportedly in talks with the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance on self-driving taxis. For people who may be nervous about the safety of autonomous cars, Waymo has been making strides there, too. According to the California DMV, the rate of human intervention required in Waymo's cars fell in 2018.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/03/19/waymo-self-driving-car-service-center/

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20Mar/190

Netflix’s latest interactive series for kids is ‘Battle Kitty’

There's no mention of a release schedule for the show.

The streaming giant has been branching out into other genres with its interactive material, most notably Bandersnatch, but it's not shocking that the company would return to kids' programming. Children might be more likely to embrace the technology (it's not that far removed from a game, after all), and it's potentially easier to create branching storylines when you don't need the nuances of a storyline aimed at adults. This could be a viable way for Netflix to experiment with interactivity before it's ready for a deeper commitment.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/03/19/netflix-battle-kitty-interactive-series/

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20Mar/190

‘Anthem’ was the top-selling game in the US this February

It's not a completely surprising figure. EA had been hyping the game for the better part of two years, and there were strong incentives to pre-order. The real litmus test will likely be the March NPD figures -- you'll know Anthem lost momentum if there's a sharp drop in sales. Nonetheless, BioWare could see this as a chance to grow the game and edge closer to fulfilling its lofty promises.

February also marked a good month for Nintendo. The Switch gave the company its best February and year-to-date dollar sales (not units) since 2011. That's despite a relatively grim market where overall hardware spending dropped 12 percent versus a year earlier. NPD didn't offer an explanation as to why, but it may be a virtue of console cycles. The Switch is still young, while the PS4 and Xbox One are nearing the end of their respective heydays. Buyers may be reluctant to spring for the Sony and Microsoft consoles knowing that something new is on the horizon, at least outside of the usual holiday shopping frenzy.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/03/19/anthem-tops-game-sales-february-npd/

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20Mar/190

Pandora Modes gives you more listening options for music stations

When listening to a Pandora station based on a song or an artist, you'll have five different modes available. For the same experience that you've always gotten out of Pandora, there's "My Station." If you'd like to know what's popular among other listeners and getting lots of thumbs up, try the "Crowd Faves" option. "Deep Cuts" surfaces the stuff that you don't normally hear, songs that have been buried in an artist's discography. To listen to artists you wouldn't normally hear on a station, try the "Discovery" mode. Basically the opposite of that mode, there's "Artist Only," which will only play songs from the artist the station is based on. Finally, there's "New Releases," which makes a concerted effort to bring you fresh tracks.

The rest of the Pandora listening experience is basically the same. Even with Pandora Modes in effect, you'll be able to tweak the offerings you receive by giving songs a "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" rating. Pandora will use that information to personalize the songs it plays within the framework of the mode.

Pandora Modes gives the streaming service an answer to some of Spotify's offerings, which have gotten particularly good at introducing listeners to new music with its Discovery Weekly and New Release Radar playlists. Pandora has previously tried to surface newer songs wit hits customized The Drop playlist, but the Modes feature allows listeners to apply a similar filter, plus others, to any station.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/03/19/pandora-modes-stations-feature/

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20Mar/190

Apple backs news literacy programs in US and Italy

How exactly will Apple help these fake news non-profits? Financially, though the company did not disclose the exact details of its contribution. News Literacy Project CEO Alan C. Miller said in a press release that Apple had made the largest corporate contribution in NLP's history. NLP will now be able to expand its media literacy programs and resources for schools, such as Checkology, a virtual classroom that offers lesson plans and live discussions with journalists, a free weekly newsletter for educators, and a program that connects educators and journalists. Common Sense, also a part of Apple's initiative, offers a "Digital Citizenship" curriculum that is taught in more than half of the schools in the US. Finally, Apple is supporting the 18-year old Italian organization Osservatorio Permanente Giovani-Editori, which provides media literacy training and curriculum to Italian high schools.

Apple teaming with media literacy groups is just the latest move by Silicon Valley to address demands that it deal with the barrage of misinformation that is now a daily reality on social media worldwide. Facebook last year gave the News Literacy Project, one of the groups in Apple's initiative, a $1 million grant to revive its teaching tools. Google last year launched MediaWise, an initiative aimed at improving young people's media literacy formed in partnership with the Poynter Institute, Stanford University, and the Local Media Association.

Despite such efforts by Big Tech, combating fake news has proved to be an uphill battle. Fake news engagement appears to be rising at the beginning of 2019, following a drop over the past two years, according to a report released by NewsWhip. Since the problem of fake news appears to be here to stay,the need for schools to address media literacy head-on isn't going anywhere either. That makes these sort of efforts all the more important, even if Apple's motives may be a bit self-serving as well.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/03/19/apple-backs-news-literacy-programs-in-us-and-italy/

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20Mar/190

Leaked Galaxy Fold pops up in a video with a significant seam

A rumor from Bloomberg suggested a visible crease is bound to form once the Fold's screen is flexed more than 10,000 times -- a far cry from the 200,000 figure Samsung touted -- and might cause the company to offer free replacement screens. It's obviously unclear what this device has been through so far, so we can't say with certainty what it will be like once owners have paid the nearly $2,000 price tag. This one could be a test unit, or in some way already deemed defective, but until we put some time in with one ourselves we don't know how prevalent of an issue the seam will be.

On the plus side, the ATT-branded SM-F900U appears to lock solidly open on its hinge and the UI operates smoothly on either screen. It's still sort of chunky when it's closed but doesn't look like it would be difficult to operate one-handed. Whether you're excited about the Galaxy Fold, skeptical or outright rejecting the concept, this just adds to the intrigue ahead of its official US launch on April 26th.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/03/20/galaxy-fold-hands-on-leak/

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20Mar/190

Google will ask European Android users what browser they want to use

In addition to this latest move, Google also created separate licenses for Google Play, Chrome and Search after the commission revealed its decision. That allowed phonemakers to install any app they want to serve as alternatives to Google's own applications, thereby serving as a direct response to the EU's charge.

Google incurred the massive fine due a complaint the EU Commission filed against the company in 2016 for forcing mobile carriers to install Chrome, Google Search and its other apps as the default or as exclusive options. The Commission argued that the practice locked out competitors from the market and created something akin to monopoly for the massive corporation.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/03/20/google-european-android-users-browser-choice/

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20Mar/190

Opera for Android ships with free VPN

If you're unfamiliar with VPNs, the service allows you to create a private connection with a remote server that will communicate with websites that you're visiting. Instead of sending and receiving information over a public network where it could potentially be intercepted by a malicious actor, all of those exchanges are handled by the server. With an encrypted connection between your phone and the VPN server, your data is indecipherable to anyone trying to spy on your actions online.

Opera's built-in VPN uses 256-bit encryption to protect data. It also obscure's a user's true location by connecting to servers located around the world. While the company didn't specify what will be available for locations for its VPN, the beta version allowed users to select servers in America, Europe or Asia, or use a setting to automatically pick the best available connection. Opera is also promising not to keep logs of user activity, so it won't retain any data in a way that might allow someone to identify an individual based on their online activity.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/03/20/opera-for-android-51-vpn/

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