Apple has finally confirmed the September 9 event we've all known was coming for a while, sending out invitations to the media for the event that will be held at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts at De Anza College in Cupertino.
The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts has a capacity of just 757, which is where Apple normally hosts its media events, but The Flint Center holds a huge 2400 people. There's not much given from Apple, apart from the tease of "Wish we could say more." It of course teases the 9/9/2014 date, where we should see the company launch either one, or two new iPhones - in 4.7 and 5.5 inches - as well as the purported iWatch.
It looks like we should get excited for the event, but what to expect? Just two new iPhones with an iWatch too? Will we see some true innovations from Apple after years of slight iteration changes to the iPhone? I don't know whether to get excited or not, what about you?
Amazon didn't shell out $970 million for nothing, so it should come as no surprise that Twitch has some incredible viewer numbers. The streaming gaming outfit, when pitted against cable networks, draws more viewers in peak times than the likes of HLN, CNN, E!, MSNBC, TruTV and even MTV.
Twitch's primetime viewers has hit 800,000 this year, but when we go by hours of content viewed per month, YouTube and Netflix blow Twitch away. When these numbers are looked at, Netflix is around eight times larger than Twitch, while YouTube is a massive 24 times larger, according to The New York Times.
There is a new mode in Titanfall, something that was baked into the game for its sixth update, which removes the titans and provides gamers with an 8 vs 8 shootout - no titans, no AI bots, just pure run and gun.
A standard Titanfall match is 6 vs 6, so this is a nice change for those who wanted a slightly bigger player base to play with. Considering the word 'titan' is found in 'Titanfall' it's a weird mode to be introducing into the game, but why not? The new mode is called Pilot Skirmish, which should make it much closer to Call of Duty or Battlefield, which some gamers won't mind.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is suing Half-Life and Counter-Strike developer Valve, claiming that the company is breaching Australian Consumer Law. The reason? Valve doesn't offer refunds of any kind, and now the ACCC is putting its foot down as these actions are against Australian consumer law.
ACCC Chairman Rod Sims explains: "The Australian Consumer Law applies to any business providing goods or services within Australia. Valve may be an American based company with no physical presence in Australia, but it is carrying on business in Australia by selling to Australian consumers, who are protected by the Australian Consumer Law." "It is a breach of the Australian Consumer Law for businesses to state that they do not give refunds under any circumstances, including for gifts and during sales. Under the Australian Consumer Law, consumers can insist on a refund or replacement at their option if a product has a major fault," Sims continued. "The consumer guarantees provided under the Australian Consumer Law cannot be excluded, restricted or modified."
Valve has since responded, with Doug Lombardi saying: "We are making every effort to cooperate with the Australian officials on this matter, while continuing to provide Steam services to our customers across the world, including Australian gamers."
Where it gets interesting, is Valve's refund policy, which states: "As with most software products, unless required by local law, we do not offer refunds or exchanges on games, DLC or in-game items purchased on our website or through the Steam Client. Please review Section 3 of the Steam Subscriber Agreement for more information." Within that refund policy, it reads "unless required by local law" so in this instance, local law requires a refund if the product is deemed faulty. An interesting turn for Australian gamers, and Valve right now.
For fans of the Metro series, you might like to know about 4A Games' upcoming title, where the developer is shifting away from the linear gameplay of Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light, and into the open arms of a more sandbox experience.
4A Games' CTO, Oles Shishkovstov, spoke with Eurogamer earlier this week, where he said: "For the game we are working on now, our designers have shifted to a more sand-box-style experience - less linear but still hugely story-driven. I will not go into details, but it requires some work from programmers as well. Also, we are improving graphics in very different aspects, like recently we did a physically-based global ambient occlusion (instead of local, like SSAO). I will not talk about PBR (physically-based rendering) here, because here we are at the stage when artists are still adapting their mentality to it."
We don't know if this will be another Metro game, or something completely new, such as new IP. For Metro fans, be sure to check out the Metro Redux from 4A Games that just launched, which features an upgraded look, and some new goodies.
Google's Project Wing effort is tasked with developing drones that can be used to deliver goods and relief aid in case of a national emergency. The drone has four propellers that are electrically driven, with a wing span up to five feet, and weighs under 19 pounds. There have been at least 30 test flights conducted in August alone, as the research team begins analyzing test flight data.
The appeal of delivery drones has piqued the interest of Amazon, and it looks like Project Wing from Google will have the same type of overview. It will still take years of development before Project Wing is able to realistically develop goods, with the potential of receiving products in a short amount of time.
"We're now back in California reviewing what we've learned from the tests and preparing our next set of adventures," Google said in a press statement.
The NASA next-generation Space Launch System (SLS) is a multi-billion-dollar rocket project that is expected to officially debut during a November 2018 space launch. NASA expects to invest an additional $7 billion from February 2014 until the late 2018 test launch, in which the SLS will shuttle an Orion crew vehicle past the moon and back to Earth.
"If we don't do anything, we basically have a 70 percent chance of getting to that date," said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA space operations associate administrator, in a statement to the media. "Our intent is to go look at those (expected) problems and see what we can do to mitigate (them)."
Total cost could surpass $12 billion to develop three variations of the SLS, with billions more needed to fly heavier next-generation boosters into orbit. As NASA and other space nations look beyond the International Space Station (ISS) - mainly to Mars - the SLS could help NASA push research of the Red Planet to a new level.
Internet piracy is helping boost gangs, drug dealers and terrorists, according to a major media conglomerate and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Police officers in Los Angeles County say piracy is a priority and want to clamp down on Internet pirates in neighborhoods they oversee.
"[Piracy is] supporting their ability to buy drugs and guns and engage in violence," said Todd Rogers, Los Angeles County Assistant Sheriff, in a statement to the media. "And then, the support of global terrorism, which is a threat to everybody. To identify bad guys that we need to take out of the community so the rest of the folks can enjoy their neighborhood and their families."
If in doubt, saying there is a link to terrorism and street violence - whether or not accurate - is a good way to gain headlines and try to intimidate casual users away from copyright infringement. However, without offering hard evidence of this reported link, most people will just shrug it off and keep downloading and sharing files.
Online merchants are embracing bitcoin payments from customers, even though the cryptocurrency has been described as volatile by some financial investors. However, retailers admit that bitcoins still don't amount for much of overall transactions, but expect it to slowly grow as more consumers become familiar with owning and using bitcoins.
Overstock.com estimates that it will see $6 million to $8 million in bitcoin-related sales in 2014, and will continue to support its use. Using online bitcoin wallets from services such as Coinbase or Blockchain allow consumers to have easy access to their bitcoins while shopping. Companies using bitcoins allow a bitcoin payment processor to holding the bitcoins, removing a difficult roadblock that has kept some retailers on the sidelines.
"We don't have to deal with the actual holding of the bitcoin: it's the payment processor that takes the currency risk for us," said Bernie Han, Dish Network COO. "That's what makes it appealing for us and I guess for other merchants as well."
The Apple iWatch will reportedly be introduced during a special event on September 9, with the rumor mill and hype machine continually driving interest for the expected announcement. Apple has been under pressure to announce a new product category, with CEO Tim Cook previously stating the wrist could be an ideal place for a new Apple product.
Details regarding the iWatch remain unknown, but previous reports indicated the screen size could range from 1.3" up to 2.5" - and Apple could release multiple screen sizes to consumers. Similar to other smartwatches already available, health and fitness should be major selling points for Apple's announcement next month. However, hardware specifications and pricing details won't be known until September 9, as Apple prefers to remain secretive leading up to its events.
Most smartwatches are designed for Google Android-powered devices, and while the iWatch hype has ramped up in recent months, Apple will have to compete against Samsung, LG, and scores of other competitors in the suddenly crowded market.