Habbo’s ‘Hotel Hideaway’ Now Available After Lengthy, Unorthodox Soft Launch

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The long-running Habbo franchise gets its latest game, out now on mobile, called Hotel Hideaway [Free], and it’s a social MMO where you get to interact with other hotel denizens on a giant, permanent vacation resort. You can do all sorts of stuff. You can spin the wheel for prizes, you can buy new outfits, get a new hair color, mine for new materials from interdimensional rifts…you know, typical vacation stuff. There’s also a whole gesture system where you can combine different body parts and movements to do different things, like shaking a giant foam fist at other people. The whole game’s a lot about interaction and talking with people, so please don’t be a jerk. This hotel is supposed to be classy, don’t go telling people to die! But, as a social MMO, I guess that’s what people are gonna do.

Now, there’s just one catch: Hotel Hideaway has technically been out on the App Store since 2016. It’s ready for prime time now, and I guess this does mean that the game has an established player base now that it’s ready for the general public. But it does show that the idea of what a “release” is, and what constitutes a “soft launch” are dramatically changing.

This is in line with larger attitudes of a “release” in the grand schemes of things. After all, Fortnite [Free] just ran an invite-only event, and the game is still technically “Early Access” though it’s, uh, making money hand over fist. Friday the 13th is technically in soft launch in the United States. PUBG came out of early access on PC, but it’s still got issues, and is nowhere near content-complete.

Of course, you could also say that “Early Access” is kind of a joke now anyway with games-as-service’s dominance as a model for games. Games are always changing and seeing updates, and what’s really the difference between Hearthstone [Free] and Fortnite or Habbo in their release states other than the label?

Even Hideaway Hotel is going to see some improvements in the near future with the addition of augmented reality modes that we saw at GDC. Truly, in the age of games-as-a-service, when does a game truly ever “release,” and when is it “complete?” In this era, are these terms just merely arbitrary words? Perhaps!

It would help if Apple just had an Early Access section the way that Google Play does. Make the apps lightly visible in some form, and available to anyone who’s curious without complicated restrictions. Then, when the developer is ready to make a big deal about it, and think it’s ready for public consumption, they can pull it out of early access and start making a big stink about it. Happens with restaurants, where they might have soft openings where they open but don’t tell a lot of people about it. Still, being “open” for a couple of years like Habbo Hotel Hideaway is perhaps taking things to a ridiculous degree!

Regardless, Hotel Hideaway is now released because Habbo says it is. It’s tough to keep a secret about a game release, but it’s something that people do: maybe they’re involved in something that they don’t necessarily tell the world about, but it might be a big deal to the part of the world they choose to reveal that part of themselves to. Games can do that too, I guess! Habbo Hotel Hideaway is out now, whatever that really, truly means.


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Moto G6 series expected to launch in Brazil on April 19

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Motorola has sent out invites for an event in Brazil on April 10. The event is expected to introduce the new Moto G6, G6 Plus and G6 Play. We have already seen significant details of all three devices leak in the past. For example, we know all three phones will have an 18:9 display, the G6 and G6 Plus will have dual cameras and the G6 Play will have a 4000mAh battery. At this point we are really just waiting to confirm the specifications and find out about international availability and pricing. Source • Via

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IMAX and Conversive launch an AR app with chatty pandas

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While IMAX has become synonymous with enormous theatrical screens, Chief Marketing Officer JL Pomeroy told me the company has “been an innovator at the forefront of technology breakthroughs for the last 50 years” — for example, it recently started creating virtual reality centers.

And today, IMAX is releasing its first augmented reality project, developed in partnership with conversational technology company Conversive and tied to the release of the new IMAX documentary Pandas.

With Pandas AR, children don’t just watch an animated panda in real-world environments — they can also talk to it, getting educated on facts about pandas and taking quizzes about what they’ve learned. The experience is part of a new, free iOS app called Yakables, which Conversive plans to expand with more talking animals.

Pomeroy said she first met with Conversive CEO Kevin Cornish for a general discussion about how IMAX might incorporate AR, but it just so happened that he showed off his platform using a talking panda —  so a collaboration around Pandas seemed obvious. She described the work of Conversive and Cornish’s agency Moth + Flame as “miraculous,” particularly since they had to work on “a very quick timeframe” to get the app ready for the documentary’s release.

In fact, Cornish said that writing the script and finding the right voice actor ended up taking the most time, with the actual animation requiring only a day. That’s because Conversive’s technology can combine motion capture with the “intent” behind an actor’s words to programmatically generate character animations.

“The content can be generated really quickly, at a really low cost, so that having hours of conversational education is actually a realistic thing,” Cornish said.

He also argued that by placing the panda in a real-world environment, the interaction becomes more immersive: “The screen disappears and it becomes about you and this subject.”

And while this is just one project and one app, Pomeroy predicted that we’ll see more AR from IMAX in the future.

“This particular app in support of the documentary Pandas is a great test for us,” she said. “We fully anticipate this will be the first of many.”

Mobile – TechCrunch

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Apple officially confirms that its next-generation modular Mac Pro is set to launch in 2019

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Apple’s overhauled, modular Mac Pro is coming in 2019…. Read the rest of this post here

Apple officially confirms that its next-generation modular Mac Pro is set to launch in 2019” is an article by iDownloadBlog.com.
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Apple’s Revamped Mac Pro to Launch in 2019

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Apple’s redesigned, modular Mac Pro aimed at professionals is set to launch in 2019, according to an update Apple recently provided to TechCrunch‘s Matthew Panzarino, who took a trip to the company’s Cupertino campus.

The team responsible for revamping Apple’s pro product efforts was there to provide updated details both on the Mac Pro and how Apple is shaping it to meet the needs of real professional users.

Apple’s current Mac Pro

Employees in the meeting included John Ternus, VP of Hardware Engineering, Tom Boger, Senior Director of Mac Hardware Marketing, Jud Coplan, Director of video Apps Product Marketing, and Xander Soren, Director of Music Apps Product Marketing.

Panzarino was told in no uncertain terms that the Mac Pro will not be arriving before 2019 as the product is still in development. From Tom Boger:

“We want to be transparent and communicate openly with our pro community so we want them to know that the Mac Pro is a 2019 product. It’s not something for this year.” In addition to transparency for pro customers on an individual basis, there’s also a larger fiscal reasoning behind it.

Apple wants customers to know that the Mac Pro isn’t coming in 2018 so those who are planning to make a purchase decision for a pro machine like the iMac Pro won’t hold off in the hopes of a Mac Pro materializing later in the year.

In the time since Apple announced major changes for the next-generation Mac Pro last year, it has put together a “Pro Workflow Team” led by John Ternus, where employees who focus on pro-level products all work together.

Apple has also been hiring award-winning artists and technicians in an effort to understand the real workflows that creative professionals use to better tailor its products to them. The individuals shoot real projects and then use Apple’s hardware and software to find “sticking points that could cause frustration and friction” for pro users.

Apple’s Pro Workflow Team finds and addresses the issues that come up, even down to tiny details like tweaking a graphics driver, and it’s not just Apple’s products that benefit – the company’s employees are also working with third-party apps. From Tom Bogar, senior Mac marketing director:

“We’ve gone from just you know engineering Macs and software to actually engineering a workflow and really understanding from soup to nuts, every single stage of the process, where those bottlenecks are, where we can optimize that,” says Bogar.

The Pro Workflow team, in addition to improving current Apple products, is also an essential part of Mac Pro development. Their work is “definitely influencing” what Apple’s planning for, with Apple achieving a “much much much deeper understanding” of pro customers, their workflows, and their needs. This understanding is “really informing” the work Apple is doing on the Mac Pro,” according to Bogar.

No details were provided on the shape of the Mac Pro or the internal components that it might include, but Apple is still planning on a modular machine, as announced last year, so plans have not changed. Apple back then said that it was “completely rethinking” the Mac Pro, and that it is “by definition” a modular system. Apple at the time also said a pro display was in development alongside the new machine.

A modular Mac Pro concept from Curved.de

Panzarino says we’re not likely to hear any additional detail about the Mac Pro at WWDC in June, and that he expects Apple will keep quiet about the machine until next year.

Panzarino’s full piece on Apple’s efforts to tailor the Mac Pro and other pro-level products to meet professional needs, which goes into much greater detail, can be read over at TechCrunch.

Related Roundup: Mac Pro
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Apple modular Mac Pro launch coming in 2019, new engineering group formed to guarantee future of hardware

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A redesigned modular Mac Pro — teased in April 2017 for professionals that want to upgrade faster — won’t ship until 2019, Apple declared on Thursday.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News

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OnePlus might launch its first wireless earbuds soon

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One Plus phone

It looks like OnePlus has a pair of wireless earbuds in the works. As spotted by Nashville Chatter, a listing on the Bluetooth certification site reveals the existence of a product called the OnePlus Bullets Wireless. Since OnePlus already has two pairs of wired earbuds called the Bullets, it’s pretty clear what this product is going to be. The only big question the name leaves is whether they’ll be fully wireless or still include a wire that wraps around the neck.

OnePlus has already gone on record saying it’ll include a headphone jack on its next phone, so wireless headphones aren’t really a necessity for the company. But it’s not a surprising launch either since the headphone industry is moving in this direction, and there are plenty…

Continue reading…

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Google may launch mid-range Pixel smartphone this summer

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Google Pixel 2 XL hands-on

Google’s Pixel phones have all been high-end models, but the company may soon switch things up with a mid-range model.

Google plans to roll out its products in India, and that may include a new mid-range Pixel smartphone. That’s according to four sources speaking to the Economic Times, who add that this mid-range device would be made especially for price-sensitive markets like India.

In addition to this mid-range phone, Google plans to launch its Google Home and Google Home Mini smart speakers, its home automation products, and its Pixelbook laptop in India, says today’s report.

Google is reportedly aiming to launch devices like the Google Home and Google Home Mini at the end of April with prices of Rs 9,999 and Rs 4,999, respectively. The mid-range Pixel device is expected to arrive sometime around July or August.

Google’s Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are great smartphones, but because they’re premium models with high-end specs, they’re rather pricey. A mid-range Pixel could help get Google’s smartphones into the hands on consumers that can’t want to or don’t want to spend the money for a flagship-tier model and get them into the Google ecosystem.

Would you be interested a more affordable, mid-range Google Pixel smartphone?

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Taboola partners with ZTE to launch a news feed for smartphones (and you won’t believe what happens next)

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You’re probably familiar with Taboola, at least in passing. It’s the source of many sponsored news sections on websites. Now, Taboola is looking to become part of your smartphone with its new “content discovery” platform. It looks a lot like the Google Feed, but it’s not. In fact, it could come off like one giant ad on your phone.

Taboola pitches its news feed as a way to get personalized news. Instead of searching for content, you just swipe over to the Taboola screen on your device and start browsing.

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Taboola partners with ZTE to launch a news feed for smartphones (and you won’t believe what happens next) was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Samsung Galaxy J7 (2018) with dual rear cameras, Bixby Home surfaces, could launch in India soon

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Samsung SM-J720F surfaced in benchmarks back in January this year. Now the user manual of the smartphone has surfaced on the official site confirming dual rear cameras, front camera with flash as well as Bixby Home, making it the first budget smartphone from Samsung to come with Bixby support. It also comes with removable battery, micro USB port, fingerprint sensor on the home button and loudspeaker grill on the back, next to the camera. Earlier benchmark listing revealed most of the specifications of the phone, check them out below. Samsung Galaxy J7 (2018) rumored specifications 5.5-inch (1280 x 720 pixels) HD / (1920 x 1080 pixels) Full HD display Octa-Core (2.2GHz Dual + 1.6GHz Hexa) Exynos 7885 14nm processor with Mali-G71 GPU 4GB RAM, 32GB Internal Storage, expandable up to 256GB via micro SD card Android 8.0 (Oreo) Dual SIM 13MP rear camera with LED flash, secondary rear camera 8MP front camera with LED flash Fingerprint sensor 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS Since the user manual has surfaced on Samsung India site, it expected to launch in the country soon. Source | Via
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