Quantic Dream unveils Detroit: Become Human for the PS4

Detroit: Become Human

Game developer David Cage announced that Quantic Dream is making a new PlayStation 4 title about androids dubbed Detroit: Become Human.

He made the announcement at the Sony press briefing at the Paris Game Week event today. The title should stir a lot of excitement, as Quantic Dream’s 3D graphics always push the edge of realism.

In the trailer, a synthetic human narrates the story. She talks about how Detroit was where it all began, and we see the creation of the human. It’s a lot like the television series Humans, where people can purchase artificial humans as servants. As these beings become sentient, though, things tend to go wrong. That appears to be the storyline of Detroit: Become Human.










Minibar Alcohol Delivery Service Launches Subscriptions So You Can Keep Drinking

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 2.39.03 PM Minibar, the digital service layer connecting delivery liquor stores with consumers, has today announced the launch of a new subscription feature, letting users set up recurring deliveries. With subscriptions, users can place a particular order on repeat for once a week, once every two weeks, once every three weeks, or once a month. These deliveries are scheduled for the same day of the… Read More

Podcasts are coming to Google Play Music on Android

The interface for uploading podcasts to Google Play.

Google today announced that it will start offering podcasts in the Google Play Music service.

The addition will “give podcasters access to millions of new listeners on Android phones and tablets,” Google Play Music product manager Elias Roman wrote in a blog post on the news.

This should be a big deal to companies like SoundCloud that offer easy access to podcasts. Also Apple, the company whose iPod got the podcast movement going in the mid-2000s, should be paying attention.

Google already has several podcast providers on board for the new initiative: 5by5, Dan Carlin, Dave Ramsey, Earwolf, Feral Audio, Gimlet Media, HBO, Head Gum, HowStuffWorks, Loud Speakers Network, Nerdist/Legendary, Public Radio International, Radiotopia/PRX, Sideshow Network, Slate/Panoply, StarTalk Radio, This Week in Tech, and Tim Ferriss.

Of course, Google wants more podcasts. It’s now accepting uploads of podcasts from people in the U.S. It’s as simple as providing a link to an RSS feed for podcasts. Interested parties can find out more here.

It’s unclear how the podcasts will become available on other mobile platforms or on the Web. “We’ll have more details to share in the coming months,” Roman wrote.

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Weebly targets Europe with localized support and services for its drag-and-drop website builder

Weebly-Built Website

Weebly, a website-builder and web-hosting service based in San Francisco, has announced a major localization program for Europe that will see the company cater specifically to businesses in the U.K., France, and Germany.

Weebly Android App

Above: Weebly Android App

Founded in 2006, Y Combinator alum Weebly has built a solid reputation in the web-building realm, with a drag-and-drop interface that lets anyone create and edit websites across mobile and desktop. Today it counts more than 30 million users in 170 countries, and it has raised north of $35 million to date, the bulk of which came in April 2014 in a round led by Sequoia Capital and Tencent Holdings.

Though Weebly first internationalized way back in 2010 with the launch of localized languages, today’s news sees the company go a few stages further.

While it already allowed merchants to accept payments from their customers in multiple currencies, Weebly itself has hitherto only accepted payments in U.S. dollars from its own customers — now, it will accept euros and U.K. pounds as well.

And there will also be a dedicated local support team based in Berlin who will deal with queries and problems via live chat and email for France, Germany, and the U.K. Phone support will be added in early 2016, and a local team will be built out in London in the future.

Though the main operational hub is in Germany for now, the U.K. is a key market for the company, with two million customers and a 40 percent rise in the last year alone. “I truly believe it has never been easier for someone to take their idea and bring it to life online,” said Weebly CEO David Rusenko. “It’s inspiring to help entrepreneurs build an online store and immediately reach consumers across the globe, bring their website to the world and subsequently change their lives. The boring 9-5 is dead. It’s time to do what you love.”

Given that web hosting is a core part of Weebly’s offering, the company is also now offering localized domain names. Before now, it offered only .com, .net, and .org domains; moving forward it will offer .co.uk (U.K.), .de (Germany), .nl (Netherlands), .fr (France), .es (Spain), .eu (Europe), .us (U.S.), .ca (Canada), and .info.

It’s also worth noting that Weebly will be accommodating the so-called E.U. Cookie Directive by letting users add a notification to tell visitors about the use of cookies on their website.










Facebook engineers’ next hack: a Super Mario Maker level

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 9.02.10 AM

Nintendo’s fall sensation Super Mario Maker will get a software update next month, and among the improvements will be a new level designed by two Facebook engineers. This inclusion is thanks to a new feature called Event Courses that features partner creators from outside Nintendo — Facebook is the first with a corporate relatinship to the gaming company to participate.

Called “Ship Love”, the course was conceived at an August hackathon event at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California. While the overall goal was to develop the official level for Super Mario Maker, only one team would get theirs in the game. Engineers Doug Strait and Roy McElmurry presented their level to a panel of judges from Nintendo and Facebook, including Bill Trinen, Krysta Yang, Rachel Kroll, Ime Archibong, and Scott Moffitt.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 9.02.24 AM

Super Mario Maker differs from other Mario games in that players can create and share levels, with tools to build stages from a variety of previous games starring Nintendo’s beloved plumber. It quickly sold 1 million copies shortly after its release last month, and it was one of the best-selling games of September. It also shows that Nintendo, a company that has long had issues with online gaming, can find a way to engage its players in new ways. In addition to creating and sharing stages, Super Mario Maker players are putting thousands of levels up on YouTube.

Judges thought the “Ship Level” was frustrating to play at first — but otherwise enjoyable. Others said that it took advantage of what was unique about Super Mario Bros., but also had a puzzle piece that was akin to what you’d encounter in The Legend of Zelda (another hit Nintendo game franchise). Strait and McElmurry were among two other finalists. All of the submissions had to epitomize what makes Nintendo and Super Mario Bros. special but also the openness and connected-ness that Facebook seeks to share with the world.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 9.02.36 AM

Nintendo says that more partner-created levels will be added on an ongoing basis. “Ship Level” will be available on November 4.

You can watch the results of the hackathon below:

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Google starts early access program to let developers try its Brillo OS for connected devices

Google's Brillo operating system for connected devices.

Google today announced the launch of an early access program for Brillo, the open-source Android-based operating system intended for Internet-connected devices.

Google first talked about Brillo at its I/O conference in May. Now developers can now sign up to try Brillo here.

“Brillo brings the simplicity and speed of software development to hardware by offering you a lightweight embedded OS based on Android, core services, a developer kit, and a developer console,” Googlers Gayathri Rajan and Ryan Cairns wrote in a blog post today. “You can choose from a variety of hardware capabilities and customization options, quickly move from prototype to production, and manage at scale with over the air (OTA) updates, metrics, and crash reporting.”

Brillo works with Intel, MIPS, and ARM-based chips, but for now Google is steering people toward Brillo-certified boards. The OS gets small updates every six weeks, and bigger “long term support” updates come twice a year, according to a new video about it:

Brillo includes Google’s Weave communications protocol, which has a software development kit (SDK) for iOS and Android. Weave can run centrally as a cloud-based tool. Google has a new compatibility program for Weave, Rajan and Cairns wrote.

Microsoft is also interested in embedded devices. The company released Windows 10 IoT Core for free in August.










Google starts early access program to let developers try its Brillo OS for connected devices

Google's Brillo operating system for connected devices.

Google today announced the launch of an early access program for Brillo, the open-source Android-based operating system intended for Internet-connected devices.

Google first talked about Brillo at its I/O conference in May. Now developers can now sign up to try Brillo here.

“Brillo brings the simplicity and speed of software development to hardware by offering you a lightweight embedded OS based on Android, core services, a developer kit, and a developer console,” Googlers Gayathri Rajan and Ryan Cairns wrote in a blog post today. “You can choose from a variety of hardware capabilities and customization options, quickly move from prototype to production, and manage at scale with over the air (OTA) updates, metrics, and crash reporting.”

Brillo works with Intel, MIPS, and ARM-based chips, but for now Google is steering people toward Brillo-certified boards. The OS gets small updates every six weeks, and bigger “long term support” updates come twice a year, according to a new video about it:

Brillo includes Google’s Weave communications protocol, which has a software development kit (SDK) for iOS and Android. Weave can run centrally as a cloud-based tool. Google has a new compatibility program for Weave, Rajan and Cairns wrote.

Microsoft is also interested in embedded devices. The company released Windows 10 IoT Core for free in August.










Raspberry Pi opens for companies to create their own customized boards for mass production

Raspberry Pi

Budding programmers and tech tinkerers will be able to buy customized versions of the Raspberry Pi microcomputer, thanks to a partnership with Element14.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation’s commercial subsidiary, Raspberry Pi Trading, will offer the main Raspberry Pi board to third-party original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) who can create customized versions of the device to sell themselves. This may involve reconfiguring the layout, adding new interfaces, or boosting its memory.

Custome Pis

Above: custom Pis

Element14 has been building the Raspberry Pi devices since 2012, but the latest shift is all about catering specifically for a new market. “We’ve seen increased demand from industrial customers around the world who want to use Pi in end product designs,” said Claire Doyle, global head of Raspberry Pi at Element14.

For the uninitiated, the Raspberry Pi was created three years ago as an easy entry point for programmers, though it was also pitched as an affordable means of “hacking” new technologies in emerging markets. It’s come a long way since its launch, too — it initially supported only a handful of operating systems, including Linux. But a recent processor upgrade allowed it to support Windows, which effectively transformed the credit card-sized contraption into a capable machine.

Though there’s nothing stopping amateur enthusiasts from customizing their own Raspberry Pi, the inherent design and configuration costs will mean this will be best suited for established companies or startups looking to mass-produce their own devices. The burgeoning Internet of Things industry could prove to be one particularly useful area for this.

And, if you’re looking for a screen to go alongside it, the Raspberry Pi Foundation introduced its own $60 touchscreen display last month, though you’d maybe want to seek out wholesale prices instead.










Oracle finally launches Elastic Compute Cloud, 9 years after Amazon debuted EC2

At the 2015 Oracle OpenWorld conference in San Francisco on Oct. 27.

Oracle today announced a slew of new cloud services at its OpenWorld event in San Francisco today, including the Oracle Elastic Compute Cloud. The launch comes nine years after Amazon humbly launched EC2, which has become a standard in cloud infrastructure.

Oracle executives have previously talked about offering infrastructure as a service — and something that could rival the likes of Amazon Web Services, which has grown from the EC2 side business into a business unit that now produces $2 billion in revenue in a single quarter. But now there is an actual IaaS service with actual prices. Here’s a product description from today’s press release:

Oracle Elastic Compute Cloud: Provides customers with two choices: Elastic Compute and Dedicated Compute. Elastic Compute enables customers to leverage elastic compute capabilities to run any workload in the cloud in a shared compute zone. The Dedicated Compute offering also offers customers elasticity but with added capability such CPU pinning and complete network isolation provides predictable, consistent performance with no noisy neighbors. The Compute Cloud is secure, enterprise-grade, fully configurable and provides robust monitoring capabilities. It supports a variety of different operating systems including Linux and Windows.

It’s going to take a whole lot — worldwide data center infrastructure, price cuts, a wide range of instances — to turn Oracle into a cloud provider that can truly compete with Amazon Web Services or public clouds from companies like Microsoft, Google, and IBM. It doesn’t bode well that HP just bowed out of this business. But that’s how things are these days.

Prices for Oracle Elastic Compute Cloud for people in the U.S.

Above: Prices for Oracle Elastic Compute Cloud for people in the U.S.

Image Credit: Screenshot

At least Oracle is announcing a whole bunch of new services today.

In addition to launching the Elastic Compute Cloud — the same exact name as Amazon, by the way — Oracle is also announcing the new Archive Storage service, a File Storage service (NFS v4), a Network Cloud service (VPN, etc.), and even the Oracle Container Cloud for deploying applications packaged up in containers instead of more traditional virtual machines.

Oracle also has new big data services available in its cloud: the Oracle Big Data Preparation Cloud Service, the Oracle GoldenGate Cloud Service, Oracle Big Data Discovery Cloud Service, and the Oracle NoSQL Database Cloud Service.

But wait, there’s more! An Application Performance Monitoring (APM) Cloud Service. A Log Analytics Cloud Service. An IT Analytics Cloud Service.

Last year Oracle announced the Object Storage Cloud Service. Amazon also launched its initial storage service, S3, before releasing its core compute service.

A more well rounded out portfolio should help in Oracle’s cloud campaign. It’s not Oracle’s core competency, though — databases and, more recently, hardware are king at the legacy tech vendor. Time will tell how big the Oracle cloud will become.

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