YouTube will increase security at all offices worldwide following shooting

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In the aftermath of the shooting at YouTube’s headquarters in San Bruno, California yesterday, the company has announced plans to increase security at all of its offices worldwide. This is intended to “make them more secure not only in the near term, but long-term,” YouTube says. The move reflects a growing concern in Silicon Valley that the effects of increasingly toxic and partisan online behavior may translate into violent offline actions.

YouTube’s statement was released through Google’s Twitter account for communications; it’s not clear whether Google itself will be implementing stronger security measures beyond YouTube. The Verge has contacted Google for comment.

The shooter, 39-year-old Nasim Aghdam of San Diego, died yesterday…

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PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is rolling out on mobile worldwide

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If you’ve been hankering to start kicking ass and taking names in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds aka PUBG, you’ll be glad to know that the blockbuster multiplayer game is now available on Android and iOS for free in the US and 122 other regions across the globe. The 100-player-battle-royale title previously soft-launched in Canada last week. China’s Tencent Games, which developed the mobile version in collaboration with PUBG Corp., is gradually rolling it out worldwide; although the company officially announced only the US release, I found it to be available on Google Play here in India at the time of writing. The true…

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Digital Strategy Board Game ‘Armello’ Finally Available Worldwide on the App Store

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League of Geeks’ digital strategy board game, Armello [Free], has finally completed its long and winding path to mobile, and is out now worldwide! The game actually started as an iPad tile early in development, before its development took it to PC and consoles, where the title has grown a sizable userbase and sees a ton of content released for it regularly. But after so long, the mobile version is finally here, and you can play it on your iPhone or iPad.

This is kind of a 4X board game, where you play as one of four heroes in the kingdom of Armello. The king is dying of a corruption called the Rot, and players have several ways to win, which are basically to kill the king, cure the king of the rot, or have the most prestige points when the king dies. You earn prestige by completing actions like quests, killing the Banes that spawn, or by killing othr players on the board. Your strategy might vary based not just your character, but your particular circumstances. There’s a lot of decision-making, but the game is fairly easy to get into once you get past the tutorial prologues.

The mobile adaptation is free-to-play, and it’s a bit of a convoluted monetization scheme. You can buy new characters and customization items with in-game currency (in both soft and hard ‘premium’ variety), as opposed to just paying for the game and then DLC like on PC. However, you can also buy a subscription to unlock everything. The base price is $ 5.99 per month, but you can also go up to a year subscription for $ 35.99 per year and just unlock everything. The game does support online multiplayer to go along with the singleplayer. If you want to play for free, you’ll get access to the singleplayer and online multiplayer, so this is rather generous free offering.

We’ll have a full review of Armello soon but if you want to check the game out for yourself, you can download it for free now.

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Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference begins June 4

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Enlarge (credit: Apple)

This year’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple’s annual software-focused event, will run from June 4 to June 8. Like last year’s WWDC, 2018’s conference will take place at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California.

Members of Apple’s Developer Program and its Developer Enterprise Program can apply for conference tickets now through March 22. Tickets will be issued through a random selection process. Other attendees will have to pay $ 1,599 per ticket, the same as a ticket was to last year’s WWDC.

This is the second year that Apple will host WWDC at the McEnery Convention Center. In previous years, the company held the conference in San Francisco at the Moscone West Convention Center. The number of people attending WWDC has grown so much over the years that Apple needed to move it to a larger location to accommodate all the attendees.

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Black Panther has crossed the $1 billion mark worldwide

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Marvel’s Black Panther is continuing its winning streak at the box office. This weekend, it crossed the $ 1 billion mark in its worldwide box-office totals, after beating out the four-day totals of Disney’s last big movie, Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Box Office Mojo says the latest installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the first to stay in the top box-office slot for four straight weeks. The film was helped by a solid debut in China this weekend, where it earned $ 66.5 million in its first three days, according to Variety. The massive box office haul only adds to the impressive set of records that the film has already shattered: the largest February debut of all time (beating Deadpool), the second largest Marvel debut (after The…

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SUV Sales Rise Worldwide, Despite Their Effect on Climate

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Most drivers only need a sedan to navigate the sometimes pothole-ridden, but relatively flat, big city roads. But for many consumers, larger vehicles that could nail an off-road test drive seem to remain a must. And despite the fact that these often-massive sports utility vehicles (SUVs) not only cost more, but also pollute more, SUV sales continue to climb.

According to the latest data from an automotive research firm Jato Dynamics, the global demand for SUVs hit a new record in 2017, totaling 34 percent of global car sales for the year. The vehicles were particularly popular in North America, Europe, and China, despite the fact that all three regions struggle with severe air pollution — a problem that more fuel-guzzling SUVs is unlikely to solve.

“Everyone is jumping on SUVs,” said Matthew Weiss, JATO Dynamics’ president for North America, The New York Times reported.

The New “Family Car”

Since the 1970s, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tried to reduce air pollution by requiring automakers to improve vehicles’ fuel efficiency. However, for off-road vehicles and SUVs, pollution restrictions have remained lax.

SUVs are a middle-class favorite in the U.S., thanks to a marketing operation that successfully bypassed increasingly strict environmental rules. In order to penetrate consumer markets, U.S. automakers pitched SUVs as the new “family vehicle”. The rebranding was so effective that, to date, it still speaks to consumers more than modern electric or hybrid cars do.

Companies like Volkswagen continue to expand their SUV offerings — the German automaker, which currently offers only four off-road models, plans to increase those options to 20 SUV options within the next two years.

China’s Pollution Paradox

The juxtaposition between a global need to address pollution problems and consumers’ love for bigger, less fuel-efficient SUVs takes center stage in China. The pollution crisis choking Beijing and Shanghai  prompted the Chinese government to drop coal in favor of solar and other clean energy sources. As the United States increasingly embraces a pro-fossil fuels agenda, China continues to champion global climate action.

Despite accounting for 43 percent of global electric vehicle (EV) production, China’s appetite for SUVs is increasing. According to the research firm McKinsey, in the last four years SUVs were responsible for 66 percent of the overall growth in China’s car sales.

One one hand, that could be because bigger vehicles are considered a status symbol, particularly among young people, but SUVs could also accommodate China’s growing family size after the government dropped its one-child policy.

A sustained growth in diesel-powered SUV sales, particularly as the vehicles’ electric counterparts struggle to take off, could significantly hamper China’s deliberate environmental conscientiousness.

Transportation accounts for 14 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Industry trends like this one — in which SUVs continue to trump EV — have the power to tip the already precarious environmental scales towards increasing urban pollution, rather than decreasing it.

The post SUV Sales Rise Worldwide, Despite Their Effect on Climate appeared first on Futurism.

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Chinese social media platform WeChat reaches 1 billion accounts worldwide

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Chinese social media network WeChat, which is used for everything from chatting with friends to booking travel and making payments, has reached 1 billion user accounts globally, reports the Financial Times. The sheer number of accounts demonstrates the app’s dominance, though it’s important to note that user accounts means the number of accounts, not individual people. Users can register for more than one account and may open an account for work and one for private use, for instance.

WeChat user accounts grew 15.8 percent annually, Tencent, the company which owns WeChat, reported in September. As we’ve previously reported, WeChat has 902 million daily users, and about 38 billion messages are sent every day on the platform.

The FT cites…

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Signal messenger has been down worldwide for hours

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You might want to move your private chats to WhatsApp or Telegram for the time being: it appears popular encrypted messenger Signal is currently down globally, according to numerous reports from users. The company behind the private messaging platform, Open Whisper Systems, has yet to inform its users what is causing the server downtime. At the time of writing, the Twitter accounts of both Open Whisper Systems and Signal remain silent. In the meantime, tons of users are reporting the service to be unavailable. Signal is down and has no status page. Centralized services suck, especially with opaque administration. This…

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Worldwide smartphone shipments decline 0.5% first-time in 2017, expected to return to growth in 2018: IDC

According to the International Data Corporation’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, smartphone shipments worldwide have declined 0.5% in 2017 making it the first year-over-year decline in the market since the evolution of smartphones. A total of 1.46 billion devices were shipped in 2017 including both Android and iOS. Furthermore, IDC says that it is expecting shipments to fall to a lower single-digit growth in 2018 and the overall market to experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.8% over the 2017-2022 forecast period with volumes forecast to reach 1.68 billion units in 2022. Design changes and innovations are expected to be the impactful requirement of the industry. IDC says that technology advances are becoming less about tangible hardware aesthetics and more about components and software. This shift is making a huge difference as smartphones these days are marching towards bigger screens and smaller bezels. There is a chance in 2018 that phablets out-ship regular smartphones, essentially ending the race for bigger screens. With 5G becoming the next big thing, OEMs, component suppliers, telcos, and services companies are looking to capitalize. IDC expects commercial 5G smartphones to hit the market in 2019, ramping up to account for roughly 18% of worldwide shipments by 2022. In terms of OS …
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Kirby’ and ‘Super Smash Bros.’ Developer HAL Laboratory’s ‘Part Time UFO’ Has Finally Released Worldwide

HAL Laboratory’s previously Japan only game, Part Time UFO [$ 3.99] has finally released in more countries including the United States. If you aren’t familiar with HAL Laboratory, they work closely with Nintendo and have for decades bringing us franchises like Kirby, Earthbound/Mother, and more. Back in November last year, HAL Laboratory released Hataraku UFO which is the first game in their new smartphone development studio called HAL Egg. This game has you control a UFO with a retractable claw like the arcade machines except you do it to help people here. This involves things like moving cargo, stacking people, and more. The possibilities seem endless and I’m glad to see them branch out to more countries because this is exactly the kind of thing more people need to play. Here’s a gmaeplay video of it:

When it launched in November, it was Japan only and now it has released in multiple countries worldwide including the United States and United Kingdom. The full list of countries it is available in can be viewed here. It isn’t just iOS only either. It is available on Google Play and the Amazon App Store.

One thing to note is that this is a premium game. It costs $ 3.99 on the App Store in USA and has no in app purchases at all. If you’d like to see some discussion around it, check out our forum thread for it here. I hope they expand availability even further going forward and can’t wait to see what they put out next.

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