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Unity’s ‘2017’ game engine will focus on artists and designers

Before that arrives, though, the Unity 5.6 release will provide further resources for devs who want to create 360-degree experiences, as there's now support for a 4K video player within the engine. Unity also incorporated something called Navigation Mesh, which uses artificial intelligence to help developers easily control game characters who need to navigate a giant world. This version is scheduled to arrive at the end of next month, on March 31st.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from GDC 2017!

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/02/28/unity-2017/

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Amazon outage breaks large parts of the internet

If your favorite website or internet service isn't accessible today, it's probably not just you. Amazon Web Services' S3 cloud storage is experiencing "high error rates" that have caused chaos among many of the sites that depend on AWS to work. Our own website is one of them, but the failure has also affected some or all of Giphy, Medium, Slack, Quora and a slew of other websites and apps you likely use. Some connected home devices aren't working correctly, either. Even Amazon's ability to report problems was broken for a while -- the AWS dashboard wasn't changing color because its issue was "related" to S3's problems.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/02/28/amazon-aws-outage/

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YouTube TV is Google’s live TV service

Available networks include CBS, Fox, NBC and CBS along with cable players USA and FX. Sports networks include ESPN, Fox Sports and NBCSN -- there's a total of 10 sports networks available. You can also add on Showtime for an additional fee. The local affiliates for your city will also be included, so you can news and programming broadcasts from the same channels you'd see over the air. All in all, the total of "more than 40 networks" is comparable to options like Sling TV and PlayStation Vue, although each has service varies (YouTube TV's channel lineup is below).

Still, there are a lot of major networks missing. Most notable are channels from Viacom, Discovery, AE, AMC and Turner (including TBS and TNT). CNN is also notably absent from the news networks available. This is a place where PlayStation Vue has an advantage -- the $35 plan from Sony includes CNN, TBS, TNT, AMC and a number of other channels that YouTube TV doesn't offer.

YouTube TV includes unlimited cloud DVR storage, so you can add any series or sports team to your favorites and it'll save all of them for you. Naturally, YouTube will also use the massive amount of data is has on your interests to help serve you recommendations thanks to its machine learning network. YouTube TV will also eventually work with Google Home, so you can ask Home to start playing a show on your Chromecast and it'll "just work."

The mobile app features three main sections: live, library and home. The live tab shows everything currently being broadcast organized by network. As you scroll, you'll see a live preview of what's being broadcast on each channel. If you want to watch, you can just tap and it'll start playing. If you want to watch something later, you can tap the plus icon and start recording a show. When watching in portrait mode, you'll see recommendations down below it, but you can of course flip the phone on its side to go into full screen mode. There's also an ever-present "cast" button if you want to send video to your Chromecast or a compatible TV.

The app's search page lets you see recommendations by genre and network as well as specific categories tailored to your viewing habits. You can also search for something like "time travel" and get a list of movies or TV shows that feature time travel in the plot. Typing in a specific show will take you to a page listing out all the episodes available to you at any given time. The library is pretty self-explanatory. It features all the shows you've recorded, sports teams you're interested in and also lets you view everything scheduled to be recorded on your DVR.

Lastly, the "home" tab is similar to what you currently see when using the basic YouTube experience. It's full of things you've watched recently, recommendations based on what you watch, things you've been watching that you might want to resume, and so on.

The company also wants to offer excellent customer service, something a YouTube executive said is one of cable's biggest pain points right now. You'll be able to contact customer service through the YouTube app any time, either via text chat or voice chat.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said that the company was doing this as a way to reach the many younger people who don't want TV on a standard TV screen. People are watching plenty of TV content on YouTube already -- particularly clips from late night shows and sports -- but the company wanted customers to be able to get more TV content in that fashion. Wojcicki said that YouTube wants to offer customers TV "whenever they want, on any screen, on their terms."

This is a separate product offering from YouTube Red, which the company launched in late 2015 as a way to give users an ad-free YouTube experience. It also features some original programming, but overall it's been more in keeping with the personality-based content rather than longer, high-end productions you might find from the big networks. However, YouTube TV will contain all of YouTube Red's original programming.

Despite the in-depth presentation YouTube gave today, there are a few questions about how YouTube TV will work in practice. Most over-the-top services have some restrictions about what episodes of shows from different networks are available or if you'l be able to save content indefinitely. There may end up being some catches, but YouTube said that users will be able to save "virtually" anything they watch on YouTube TV.

The company focused its big-screen conversation around streaming to your TV with a Chromecast, and in a follow-up conversation a YouTube executive said that would be the only way to get content to a TV for starters. Chromecast and cast-enabled devices will be compatible, but other devices like Apple TV, Roku, the PS4 and Xbox One will be excluded for starters. However, YouTube did indicate that it would work with other companies to get YouTube TV on other platforms in the future.

As for when this will get to consumers, YouTube isn't saying just yet -- it shouldn't be too long, though. The company says YouTube TV will be available for customers in the next few months.

Update, 4:30PM ET: YouTube executives answered a few questions for the press during its event. The company confirmed that the service will only work in the US and noted that while you get access to YouTube Red content, you don't get the full ad-free YouTube experience. The company also confirmed that because of Verizon's deal with the NFL, you won't be able to watch NFL games on your phone. You'll be able to on the desktop or a TV, but not on mobile.

Fortunately for those of us who hate ads, you can fast forward or rewind DVR content, so you can skip right over commercials.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/02/28/youtube-tv-is-googles-live-tv-service/

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Wink’s connected home tech uses Alexa to lock your doors

To get started, add your smart locks to the Wink app. Once you set unique names for each one (if you have multiple), you'll need to enable the Wink skill inside the Alexa app. After linking that Wink account and saying "Alexa, discover new devices," you should be good to go in less than a minute. You can then ask Amazon's virtual assistant to actually lock the door or to check and see if you forgot to do so. Now you don't have to leave your seat when your dinner guests leave.

Update: This post originally stated that the new capability could lock or unlock your smart door assemblies. That was incorrect, the system can only lock them and confirm that the deadbolts are engaged.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/02/28/wink-compatible-smart-locks-alexa-control-iot/

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Amazon wants Alexa to answer customer service calls

Amazon Web Services has reportedly codenamed the new software package "Lily" and it is expected to be formally announced around the middle of March. Baked into Lily's suite of products are Lex and Polly -- two AWS developer services that use the same natural language processing as Alexa to power third-party apps as well as voice and text chatbots. The software is designed to be completely self-service from a caller's perspective, although companies will still need to hire (or outsource) service representatives for matters that need a human touch. The service also integrates with Salesforce and promises a real-time access to a customer's call history, so frustrated callers should be able to skip the endless phone menus when they dial that customer service line the second or third time.

On the other hand, it's been a rough day for AWS, so Amazon may have a hard time getting companies with time-sensitive customer service needs to put their trust in a cloud-based solution.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/02/28/amazon-aws-alexa-customer-service-call-centers/

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Expect four new expansions for ‘Battlefield 1’ this year

This first expansion has you joining the fight as a French soldier to battle across four new maps including Verdun Heights, Fort De Vaux, Soissons and Rupture. There's a new game mode, too, called Frontlines, which has two teams fighting for control points in what EA calls "a tug-of-war frontline." The pack also includes two new tank units, an elite trench raider soldier class and a new stationary weapon, the Siege Howitzer.

The three other expansions, titled "In the Name of the Tsar," "Turning Tides" and "Apocalypse" feature Russian battles, amphibious warfare, and the most infamous battles of the Great War, respectively.

The $49 Premium Pass will give you all current and future expansions, 14 superior Battlepacks (in-game loot), two-week early access to expansions as they release and 16 new multiplayer maps. In addition, you'll be able to play with new elite classes, armies, 20 new weapons and extra game modes.

You'll need the original game to take advantage of the Premium Pass. The Battlefield 1 standard edition currently retails for $30 with various bundles available for more.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/02/28/four-new-expansions-battlefield-1/

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Google pulls the plug on its Pixel laptops

As TechCrunch notes, Google is trimming down the Pixel line to just the smartphones and the Pixel C tablet for now. Although there may be other devices carrying the name in the future, Osterloh said it was unlikely that its own laptops would be one of them. And don't hold your breath if you were in the market for a Pixel 2 yourself: the company sold out of them back in August and has no plans to restock them. Chrome OS is staying put, however, and users will still be able to buy third-party Chromebooks. "Google hasn't backed away from laptops," Osterloh said. "We have the number two market share in the U.S. and U.K. — but we have no plans for Google-branded laptops."

Click here to catch up on the latest news from MWC 2017.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/02/28/google-no-more-pixel-laptops/

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Vizio’s new entry-level 4K TVs make HDR accessible

This is also your chance at getting a very large Vizio set without paying as much as you might expect, as the E-Series now includes 75-inch and 80-inch models. While we'd say the $3,400 price of the 80-inch set is a bit excessive, the $2,000 you'll pay for the 75-inch set might hit the sweet spot if you want a gigantic picture at a semi-reasonable price.

All of the new sets have Chromecast support built-in, including Google Home integration if you have the smart speaker. The 75- and 80-inch sets are available now, and the rest of the line shouldn't be far behind. The biggest dilemma may be deciding whether or not to forgive Vizio for its recent privacy issues.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/02/28/vizio-2017-e-series-tv/

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Intel meets some of its key diversity goals

The company also says it beat its own hiring target for the year (45.1 percent diverse), and notes that representation for women is up to 25.8 percent, or 2.3 points more than in 2014. Other progress? Intel now has a more diverse roster of vice presidents (41 percent) and decision-making Fellows, and it's spending more money with diverse suppliers.

As happy as Intel is, it's quick to admit that not everything is going smoothly. The ratio of underrepresented minorities has barely moved, growing just 0.2 points to 12.5 percent. Minorities in technical roles even slid a bit -- there's a lower ratio of Hispanic tech workers than there was in the 2015 report. Intel's hiring approach may do well for women and non-technical positions, then, but it still leaves something to be desired.

The findings are leading Intel to switch its focus for 2017. It's going to focus more on improving minority representation, and will start to think about intersectionality between these groups. For example, it's making sure that non-white women will have more opportunities for promotion. Also, every manager will go through training to help them create and run more inclusive teams. Intel isn't certain to hit its 2020 diversity targets by any means, but it at least has an idea as to what needs the most work.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/02/28/intel-diversity-report-for-2016/

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Ford concept uses drones and self-driving vans for deliveries

Autolivery was developed by Shanghai-based Ford designers Euishik Bang, James Kuo and Chelsia Lau for the company's Last Mile Mobility Challenge. Automating the final stretch of the goods delivery process, from curb to door, is difficult, and many companies are working to solve the problem. Ford believes the pressure to develop mobility solutions in urban areas will grow in the near future due to the rise in local deliveries from online sales. Ideas like Autolivery can potentially reduce gridlock and air pollution, and allow people to move about more easily.

"It's all about making life in the city easier. The possibility of harnessing autonomous and electric vehicle technology with drones to quickly and easily send and deliver parcels could help to make life better for everyone," said Bang.

Autolivery is part of Ford's attempt to adapt to a future where fewer people buy cars. It recently invested $1 billion in a relatively unknown self-driving technology startup called Argo AI. Argo's software will be used to pilot fully autonomous delivery vehicles like Autolivery, as well as ride sharing and ride hailing vehicles. Ford plans to have its fleet on the road shuttling packages and people in 2021.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from MWC 2017.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/02/28/ford-autolivery-drones-autonomous-vans/

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