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Google has discontinued the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL

A Google spokesperson confirmed the changes with Android Police, saying its online store has sold out its entire inventory of Pixel 3 devices. The only phones you can find now are the 5.7-inch Pixel 4 for $799 and the $899 Pixel 4 XL.

The Pixel 3 and 3 XL were key phones for Google, introducing its new camera technology like Night Sight, Top Shot and Photobooth. Despite a few flaws, it produced the best smartphone photos around when it launched in 2017. While these devices have effectively been put out to pasture, users should still get Android updates for the foreseeable future.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2020/03/31/google-stops-selling-pixel-3-3-xl/

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Houseparty says it wasn’t hacked, offers $1 million for ‘smear campaign’ proof

On Monday, a number of claims appeared online from users saying they were unable to access other applications such as Netflix, Spotify and online banking after they had downloaded Houseparty. Other users claimed Epic Games -- which purchased Houseparty in 2019 -- was preventing the removal of the app from phones.

In a statement reported on the BBC, however, a spokesperson for Epic Games refuted those claims, saying, "We've found no evidence to suggest a link between Houseparty and the compromises of other unrelated accounts."

It's not clear who Houseparty suspects is behind the alleged sabotage attempt, but it could not have come at a worse time for the platform. Video-calling has taken on an unprecedented focus in recent times. With people around the world consigned to their homes because of the coronavirus outbreak, platforms such Houseparty have become the go-to way of staying in touch. Indeed, according to Apptopia, downloads of Houseparty rose from an average of 130,000 per week in mid-February to two million a week in the middle of March.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2020/03/31/houseparty-not-hacked-1-million-proof-smear-campaign/

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Samsung’s display business will stop producing LCD screens this year

Samsung Display will stop producing liquid crystal display (LCD) panels in China and South Korea at the end of the year in order to concentrate on the new generation of "quantum dot" (QD) screens, Reuters reports. Any LCD orders made before the end of the year will still be fulfilled.

Samsung made its plans for QD tech known last year, when it announced its $11 billion investment into a plant capable of manufacturing true QLED TV screens that self-illuminate. Traditionally, Samsung's quantum dot LCD tech puts LED backlights behind a filter (so the display doesn't match up to the likes of say, LG's OLED TVs), but research at the end of 2019 helped mitigate some development problems, such as burn-in. Samsung's forthcoming QD tech instead relies on indium phosphide instead of toxic cadmium, and has a lifetime of up to a million hours.

The multi-billion dollar investment will take place over five years and will see Samsung convert one of its existing South Korean LCD lines into a facility to mass produce these screens. Falling demand for LCD products and a manufacturing supply glut means Samsung is obviously looking for new avenues, so for the company to essentially do away with a tried-and-tested technology and go all-in on another suggests that QD screens are very likely to feature in our viewing futures.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2020/03/31/samsung-display-stop-producing-lcd-screens-2020/

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The Morning After: Are classic Mario games coming to the Switch in 2020?

The subscription service is evolving beyond productivity apps.Office 365 is turning into Microsoft 365 as it moves into your life

On April 21st, Microsoft is renaming its Office suite service to Microsoft 365 as it adds more AI- and cloud-powered tools to make you more productive. It all costs the same -- $7 a month/$70 a year for personal use and $10 a month/$100 a year for the family plan -- but the scope of the service is much broader. For one, Microsoft is launching a new Family Safety app for tracking screentime and other aspects of your digital life.

New features include expanded functionality for Microsoft Editor, the company's AI tool for writing help. You can use it on Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome with a browser extension and highlight a sentence to get some rewriting suggestions. Meanwhile, PowerPoint's Presenter Coach will also monitor your pitch and suggest speech variations to add some sparkle to your sales deck. PowerPoint Designer is also adding access to over 8,000 images and 175 looping videos from Getty.

Will anyone call in a ringer from the NBA 2K League?NBA reportedly plans 'players-only' 2K tournament that will air on ESPN

If Yahoo NBA reporter Chris Haynes' league sources are right, then today we should hear more about an NBA esports tournament. According to the rumors, a 10-day 16-player tournament will pit representatives from each team against each other in NBA 2K20 while the league itself takes a coronavirus-induced hiatus.

While the NBA's existing esports league probably has better video game players, putting basketball stars on the sticks could -- like Fox's NASCAR/iRacing broadcasts -- bring even more exposure to this as a viable spectator sport. Here's hoping they don't run into any gamebreaking bugs during the ESPN broadcast.

Spice up your quarantine with an airstrike or two.'Modern Warfare 2' remaster reportedly goes on sale... today?

If you prefer the 2009 edition of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, then stay tuned -- a leak on the German PlayStation store indicated that a remastered version for modern consoles is going to be released today.

They believe Instacart hasn't offered enough COVID-19 protections.Instacart workers go on strike after rejecting mild concessions

Instacart didn't have success trying to avert a strike over a lack of COVID-19 protections. The Gig Workers Collective declared Monday that a shopper strike was "still on" after asserting that Instacart's concessions were inadequate. That included a change that set the tip default to a customer's previous amount, which will likely offer "no meaningful benefit," the shoppers said, as that previous amount will most likely have come from the pre-outbreak era. Add to that no sick pay for workers who have to stay home due to health conditions and the lack of hazard pay discussions. An average pay per order of less than $10 still leaves shoppers "risking their lives for pocket change."

It could include 'Paper Mario,' 'Super Mario 64' and 'Galaxy' re-releases.Nintendo is reportedly planning to remaster classic Mario games this year

This year marks the 35th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. and Nintendo is reportedly working on several Mario games for this year, including remastered versions of some classic titles, to mark the occasion.

While there are a few old Mario games already available through the NES and SNES Switch Online services, Nintendo plans to remaster "most" of the Mario back catalog, according to Video Games Chronicle. That could include Super Mario Galaxy and a deluxe version of Super Mario 3D World, Eurogamer reports, with the latter including some additional levels. A new Paper Mario game is also said to be in development, along with re-releases of Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine. Was this Nintendo's big E3 reveal?

A premium Chromebook that Google didn't make?Samsung's 4K OLED Chromebook arrives April 6th for $999

When Samsung's Galaxy Chromebook arrived at CES 2020 with a beautiful body and 13.3-inch 4K OLED display, we were smitten. Samsung's model will be one of the cheapest OLED notebooks on the market and packs more power than other Chrome OS machines thanks to a 10-generation Core i5 chipset along with 8GB of LPDDR3 RAM and a 256GB SSD. It goes on sale April 6th at Samsung's website and Best Buy for $999.

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Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2020/03/31/mario-galaxy-cromebook/

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Snapchat users can finally post Stories from other apps

With the update, Snapchat users who also use App Stories-enabled apps can connect their accounts and share Stories posts directly from Snapchat to the other apps. The Stories themselves should look familiar to Snapchat users -- goofy face filters, doodles and all -- though each app can use the feature a bit differently. And app developers can opt to keep Stories posts live for up to seven days, rather than the standard 24-hour limit.

Music video app Triller, for example, will allow its users to view Stories from friends and artists they follow. And video chat app Squad lets users watch Stories together during group calls. Hily, a dating app, already has its own version of Stories, and will integrate Stories created in Snapchat into its existing "Hily Stories" feature. On augmented reality app Octi, Stories will show up in users' profiles.

For Snap, App Stories could be one of the most important pieces of its still nascent developer platform. Putting Snapchat content directly in already-popular apps like Triller could fuel more growth as Snapchat tries to grow its user base.

"This gives people even more reasons to use the Snapchat camera to create and it also opens up our content to potentially new audiences," says Snap's VP of partnerships Ben Schwerin.

App Stories isn't the first time the company has looked to its in-app camera to drive growth. Snap previously credited the popularity of its AR lenses with helping drive its biggest uptick in daily users in more than a year after its "gender swap" lens went viral.

The feature also offers Snap the opportunity to potentially expand its advertising outside of its own app. Though Stories posted in third-party apps won't have ads to start off, Schwerin notes that another not-yet-released product announced during last year's Partner Summit is showing promise in early testing: Ad Kit, which allows app makers to run Snap's ads in their own services. And while Snap isn't saying when Ad Kit may launch, it's not hard to imagine that apps using Stories could also want to run Snap ads alongside them.

"There's definitely going to be potential in the future to create monetization opportunities for Snap and for our partners through these products," Schwerin says.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2020/03/31/snapchat-opens-app-stories-third-party-apps/

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Spotify’s standalone Kids app is now available in the US

Spotify is clear that the app is still very much in the beta phase. It continues to focus on updating the software while keeping things safe and relevant for the younger audience. However, the goal remains to offer a separate app that not only looks more inviting for kids, but that offers human-curated content for them. And, importantly, their listening habits will no longer impact how their parents use Spotify. I can tell you as the father of a Kindergartener who gets obsessed with the soundtrack to every movie he sees (currently bumping Spies in Disguise daily), this is a welcome relief.

"Spotify Premium Family, now with Spotify Kids, helps families listen both together and individually," Spotify's chief Premium business officer Alex Norström explained. "Parents can reclaim their own Spotify libraries and all the personalization that they love, while their kids can develop a love for music and stories through an experience that's designed just for them."

The company says Spotify Kids is both COPPA compliant and ad-free. For those two reasons, the app has a separate privacy policy. There are no algorithms at work here: the library of content is reviewed by experts who have experience working with the likes of Disney, Discovery Kids and Nickelodeon. By design, the selections are limited to what that group has deemed safe for children. While the app does display recently played items atop the home screen similar to the regular app, there's no activity tracking that will serve up suggestions along the way. Children can save items to their favorites, but those selections must be made manually by tapping the heart icon throughout the app.

As you might expect, parental controls are a key component. A parent has to grant access via initial consent for a child to use the app. Each child that has their own profile counts towards that six-person limit ($14.99/month). Spotify says it will expand a parent's ability to customize the app and content to their child, but for now, the oversight includes allowing access and locking down settings with a PIN. Like other children's apps, that code will be required to make any big changes. For example, you'll need the number when your child is ready to switch from the younger option to the library for older kids. This code is set when you link your account and grant access.

From there, you enter a name -- which can be anything, even just emoji -- and a birthday. The birthday isn't required, but Spotify says it will help with content curation. The company promises that the info is fully encrypted and will never be shared. Once you hand things over to your child, they can pick from one of a dozen characters that act as a profile image. Those illustrations also dictate the color scheme of the app, so switching it up will trigger further aesthetic tweaks. The artwork for younger kids is simpler and easier to understand while things get more complex on the 5-12 side. Colors also vary for moods. If a playlist is energetic, the art with be loud and bright, while something meant for bed time will be more mellow and muted.

"We heard loud and clear that both parents and kids are craving more content in the app, so we've been increasing the number of tracks available," Norström said. "We've also heard from parents that they want even more control of the content, so we are working on some exciting new features."

In terms of content, there are 125 playlists, over 8,000 songs and over 60 hours of stories. It's a mix of singalongs, soundtracks and more that spans topics like movies/television, top hits, learning, bedtime and others. There's even a "wash your hands" section complete with Baby Shark. Spotify says 50 percent of the content in each region is local. To help tailor the content to specific ages, the app is divided up for younger (0-6 years) and older (5-12 years) children.

Yes, podcasts are coming. That's not surprising, given the company's recent focus on episodic content. It's not quite ready to add those just yet, but it was clear they're on the way. Spotify was also sure to mention that it will constantly add the hottest new thing for kids. Right now, that means there are playlists for both Frozen and Trolls World Tour.

One of the key differences between the younger and older tiers is those top hits. The 5-12 age group will get access to a curated selection of popular songs that have been approved for language and other content. In other words, this group will be privy to the soundtrack from that latest Trolls movie, (some of) the music of Taylor Swift and more. And it's not just pop music, either. Spotify was careful to include other options like Spanish, country, Christian and Motown so kids can listen to the styles they like -- to a certain extent.

Inside, the UI looks like a children's app. The colors are bold and bright with a simplified interface that's easier for a younger audience to understand. There are a lot more images and a lot less words. In addition to the recently played section at the top of the main page, a stream of artist and playlist images comprises a card-like feed. It's much less intense than the combination of vertical and horizontal scrolling the main Spotify app demands in the same area.

The Explore section is available via the magnifying glass icon on the home screen. There's a search box, but it's organized like the Explore section in the regular app: a group of boxes with various options just a tap away. Of course, one of those is "Your Favorites." Spotify says songs that are saved (or "hearted") here will be available for offline playback. Search results are also organized like the main app, with top results, playlists, albums, songs and artists all popping up in response to a query.

Spotify Kids is now available on Android and iOS in the UK, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil -- and as of today, the US, Canada and France. It's free for all Spotify Premium Family subscribers, but access is also exclusive to that plan. The service is currently offering a free month of Premium Family for new Premium subscribers.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2020/03/31/spotify-kids-app-us-canada-france-details-pricing-availability/

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Airbnb vows to partly cover host losses following COVID-19 cancellations

He wrote:

"I deeply regret the way we communicated this decision, and I am sorry that we did not consult you -- like partners should. We have heard from you and we know we have let you down. You deserve better from us."

The company says it will use the $250 million it's setting aside to cover the costs of coronavirus-related cancellations. Hosts will get 25 percent of what they would've typically received for a canceled stay -- if they'd get $400 under their usual cancellation policy, for instance, Airbnb would pay them $100. The company says it will email affected hosts with more details in early April.

Further, the company will now cover canceled stays booked on or before March 14th with a check-in between March 14th and May 31st. That means it's extending its no-penalty cancellation offer by a month-and-a-half. At the moment, reservations with check-ins after May 31st aren't covered by the expanded policy, but Airbnb says it'll give guests the opportunity to either cancel or recommit to them in the coming weeks.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2020/03/31/airbnb-250-million-hosts-coronavirus-cancellations/

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Accidental cross-play makes Star Wars ‘Jedi Academy’ a console bloodbath

The issue was brought up by unhappy Switch players like Max Payment. "Apparently all you have to do is take the server IP from a console match, which is clearly visible on console, and enter it in the PC server browser and join," he noted on the ResetEra forums. "I joined a game where one player was absolutely mopping the floor with us and he had .twitchtv in his username. Sure enough, I looked him up and he was playing on PC in a switch server absolutely decimating everyone."

As proof, Payment posted a Twitch video created by a user showing the resulting carnage (above). PC players have been on the game since way back in 2003, so they have gobs of experience along with the benefit of a keyboard and mouse. Suffice to say, Switch users new to the game didn't enjoy being massacred by far more experienced players.

On top of all that, PC players are apparently cheating and trolling new users. "Dudes with the n-word as their name are joining your switch public lobbies and spamming keybinds with various slurs," one Twitter user told developer Aspyr.

Others have suggested that cross-play remain in the game, but with better control so that console gamers can join PC games in return and keep out trolls or players with 17 years of experience. So far, Aspyr has yet to respond to the issues.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2020/03/31/star-wars-jedi-academy-pc-user-carnage/

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Roku adds voice command support for Spanish in the US and Mexico

Spanish speakers in the US and Mexico have the most to look forward to with the new software adding voice support for their language. If you speak Spanish, you'll be able to ask your Roku device to launch apps, search for specific content and control playback as needed.

People in the US have several new voice features to check out once the update is available. To start, there's a new interface that will organize voice search results into movie, show and short-form categories sorted by price. There's something for news junkies as well. If you say, "Play the news," your device will launch a live stream of ABC News. You can also ask for an update from a specific source and your device will remember your preference for future commands. When possible, Roku says more than 50 apps will play a movie or show directly from the voice search menu.

Outside of the US, the new software expands the availability of Roku Voice to users in Canada, Ireland and the UK. Additionally, if you live in Canada, Mexico or the UK, you'll now also have the option to integrate your Roku devices with Google Assistant and Alexa.

An updated mobile app with a tweaked interface is also on the menu. The redesigned app features a new navigation bar when you connect to a device that includes voice support. There's also a new dropdown menu that makes it easier to switch between controlling different devices, and a new shortcut to the remote screen. Additionally, you won't have to leave the remote screen to access other parts of the app.

Last but not least, the company is promising performance enhancements, with Roku claiming the update will reduce device boot times and speed up app launch times. The company says the update will also make the home screen more responsive and make navigation faster. Users in the US can also look forward to new theme packs with which they can customize the interface to their liking.

The company will begin rolling out the new software, Roku OS 9.3, to select devices starting this week. If you own a Roku TV from a manufacturer like TCL, Sharp or Hisense, you'll have to wait longer to get your hands on the update, with Roku saying it plans to push the new software in phases to those devices over the next few months.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2020/03/31/roku-spanish-voice-support-update/

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Fitbit finally launches a Charge tracker with built-in GPS

Those who have been eagerly awaiting an activity band that can track their position without a phone will find the Charge 4 compelling. It also offers onboard Spotify support for music controls, a relative blood oxygen sensor, heart rate and sleep tracking, as well a swimproof design. The company promises seven days of battery life on the Charge 4, though I wouldn't expect a full week of juice if you use GPS to track your runs often.

Like the Charge 3, this tracker has an OLED touchscreen on which you can read your heart rate, active time and steps progress, along with message previews or music controls. Don't expect a full smartwatch OS here, though. The Charge 4 uses Fitbit's rudimentary software for its trackers.

Instead of only offering NFC on a special edition version that costs $20 more, the Charge 4 has this feature across all models. Fitbit said its contactless payments are accepted across about 500 retailers in 44 countries, as well as at 10 transit systems including New York's MTA.

Fitbit also launched a new metric called Active Zone Minutes, which uses your resting heart rate and age to calculate the amount of time you spend in various cardio zones. That goes toward a weekly goal of 150 minutes, a target that Fitbit set with recommendations by the American Heart Association and World Health Organization. If that sounds familiar, it's because Apple and Google already do variations of this on their wearable products.

Active Zone Minutes will arrive first on the Charge 4, but will roll out to Fitbit smartwatches soon. The company did not share a more specific timeframe.

Fitbit is also expanding its Premium program with 40 new pieces of free content, and is hoping to attract new users with a 90-day free trial. After that, you'll have to pay the $10 monthly (or $80 annual) fee to continue with the program. The Charge 4 will be available from April 13th for $150. A special edition with a granite reflective or black woven band in addition to the standard black strap will cost you $20 more. If you've been looking for a simple activity tracker to map your isolated runs, this could be worth checking out.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2020/03/31/fitbit-charge-4-gps-price-specs-availability/

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