Instagram has announced that it is launching its new instant messaging app, Bolt, in three countries today: New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa. Bolt allows you to send one-tap photo and video messages to your friends.
An Instagram spokesperson explained why we have a limited launch of Bolt: "We decided to start small with Bolt, in just a handful of countries, to make sure we can scale while maintaining a great experience. We expect to roll it out more widely soon". Users will be able to sign up to Bolt using their phone number, without requiring an e-mail address.
From there, they can add friends to their list, and start tapping away to send photos and videos to their friends. Bolt also includes support for text captions, and you can also reply with text, or photos. Bolt works similar to how Snapchat works, where it throws messages away after you've swiped them to the side.
When Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is released later in the year, there will be three different versions, with three different prices. Starting at $59.99 for the standard version, to $79.99 for the limited version which will include some extra content, all the way up to $119.99 for the Atlas Pro Edition, which will include the game's season pass add-on content.
Normally we receive some ridiculous things in these expensive bundles, but Activision is providing digital incentives this time around. The $79.99, gamers will receive the Atlas Limited Edition, which includes the game itself, a SteelBook metal case, a physical manual for the game, and a bunch of digital goods: the game's soundtrack, two weapons, an upgrade for the military exoskeleton for the single-player mode and more. Also included is the Atlas Gorge multiplayer map, which is a re-made map from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, where it was known as Pipeline.
The massively expensive $119.99 version of the game includes all of the above content, but it also throws in the Advanced Warfare season pass, which includes four downloadable content packs for 2015. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare launches on November 4 for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4 and PC.
Connected Data, the company behind the Drobo line of storage products, has announced a new product in the Drobo family: Drobo Mini with SSDs. Drobo Mini is capable of taking four SSDs, and is the one of best solutions on the market for portable SSDs for a wide variety of storage enthusiasts, including filmmakers and photographers.
The Drobo Mini hooks up to your PC through Thunderbolt or USB 3.0, and can take four 2.5-inch SSDs with an mSATA accelerator as an option. Coming in at less than three pounds, it's one of the lightest storage options on the market today. Better yet, it protects your data even in the case of multiple SSD failures. In this case, the Drobo Mini automatically repairs itself, returning to its protected state while providing the user with full access to their data, without the performance of the device being affected.
The new Drobo Mini with SSD is available right now in three capacities: 1TB, 2TB and 4TB with a starting price of $1199.
VR is really picking up steam, and with this, NVIDIA is putting some effort into the R&D of high-resolution screens for VR devices. The company is researching cascaded displays, using low-res displays, but many of them, to provide a high-res image.
NVIDIA has used two normal 7-inch 1280x800 panels (which is identical to the one used in the Rift DK1 unit), layering one of these panels on another, which allows one pixel on the top layer to lie above the quarters of four different pixels on the layer beneath it. A single backlight is used to illuminate both layers of the "Cascaded Display".
The company has also created some software which allows for the pixels on the front LCD to turn on and off, which allows just a particular quarter of the lower pixels to be shown. On its second pass, the front panel will change the displayed pixels, while the rear panel changes its colors. This allows for the quarter pixels to be displayed, which provides us with a higher resolution image.
EA has just announced a new subscription service exclusive to the Xbox One, known as Access. EA's new Access service will offer a bunch of EA games for a single, flat rate. Access launches in beta form today, but will soon be rolled out to all Xbox One users.
The Access beta will include four games for the moment, with FIFA 14, Madden NFL 25, Peggle 2 and Battlefield 4, with more games on their way. EA Access membership also includes 10% discount on all of EA's digital content, even full games sold through the Xbox Games Store. Access members will also receive early access to trials of games, including Madden NFL 15, NHL 15, FIFA 15, NBA Live 15, and Dragon Age: Inquisition, up to five days before these games hit retail.
EA will be offering Access for $4.99 per month, or $29.99 yearly. Game retailers like GameStop will also be offering Access memberships, something that will be made available across the US, Europe and Canada.
Valve has released a statement regarding its DOTA2 championship tournament, The International, where the company saw over 20 million people tuning into the $10 million tournament.
Last year's The International had around one million peak concurrent viewers, but this year Valve said that it had "well over 2 million" peak concurrent viewers. This year's The International tournament was also streamed through Twitch in multiple languages, with channels that were tailored to newcomers who wanted to watch the tournament "spoiler free" and at their own pace.
The International may have had huge viewership this year, but it still fell behind the numbers that the recent League of Legends season finals pulled. Riot Games, the developer behind League of Legends, has said that its game pulled in 32 million viewers last year, with 8.5 million peak concurrent viewers. Comparing these numbers against established, mainstream sports such as the Super Bowl, which drew 111 million TV viewers and around 2.3 million streaming it online.
NVIDIA launches its kick ass new Shield Tablet today, and alongside it the company has launched its new GeForce 340.52 WHQL drivers. The biggest feature of the new GeForce 340.52 WHQL drivers is Shield Tablet support, as the company needs to update its drivers to bake in support for GameStream for its Shield Tablet.
The latest drivers are GameReady, which will include support for the upcoming Metro: Redux which arrives on August 26, and the Chinese launch of Final Fantasy XIV. There's not much else included in this release, other than the usual bugfixes. We do have WHQL goodness here, instead of a beta release that most people were running prior to the launch of 340.52 WHQL. You can grab the new drivers right here, or if you're like me, GeForce Experience will download them for you.
We've already seen Samsung launch its behemoth of an Ultra HD TV in its 105-inch $120,000 screen, but now fellow South Korean rival LG has launched its new 105-inch 4K TV, too.
LG is calling its unit a 5K TV, as it runs a resolution of 5120x2160, with something LG calls CinemaScope 21:9 aspect ratio. We're looking at nearly the same price as the Samsung unit, driving up into a price of $117,000 - so this is for the rich and famous, or the 1%. It has an integrated speaker which makes it better value for money, and yes I'm kidding with that last part about it being better value for money with the integrated speaker.
The Hilton chain of hotels is set to adopt smartphones as room keys as of next year in over 4,000 of its properties.
Digital check-in and room selection will be available across 11 brands, and work for Hilton Hhonors in over 80 countries. According to Hilton, its members are looking for alternative ways to control their experiences during their stays, and this approach could be the one of them. Although Hilton has run a trial of digital check-ins for some time, this is by far the biggest rollout it has attempted. Hilton is aiming for all of its hotels to offer the digital room key service by the end of 2016.
"Travelers can use their smartphones as boarding passes to get to their seats on an airplane, so it is only natural that they will want to use them as a way to enter their hotel rooms," Hilton's chief exec Christopher Nassetta said in a statement. "We have spent the past few years testing a number of different options to make this vision a reality, and we are developing proprietary technology that is safe and reliable for our guests to use, and cost-effective for our hotels to install."
A study from a British university has claimed some gamers who play for extended periods of time begin to hear sound effects in their heads, including "maddening" screams.
Nottingham Trent University explored something referred to as game transfer phenomena, when players find that gaming influences either their perceptions or behaviors out in the real-world. Of the 1,244 players who were surveyed, one in ten experienced auditory hallucinations after they'd put down the controller, including the whistling of bullets, the pew pew of lasers, beeping or the sound of vehicles.
In one of the more extreme cases, a gamer heard the word 'death' whispered over and over again for days, and another heard the words 'go, go, go' whenever he was near crowds. "These experiences can sometimes result in illogical thoughts and behaviors," a psych researcher from Nottingham Trent, Angelica Ortiz, said. "It's important to help gamers understand their experiences since re-experiencing sounds and voices may provoke distress, especially when associated with dangerous situations in the game."