Animal Crossing: New Horizons is on track to become one of the best-selling video games of all time in Japan, according to sales figures released by Famitsu. The game managed to sell 1.88 million physical copies in its opening three days in Nintendo’s home market, a number far bigger than any other Switch game or Animal Crossing title to date. Famitsu doesn’t track digital sales, so the actual total will be significantly higher.
The game’s launch also propelled Switch hardware sales to new heights, despite Nintendo’s prior warning that the coronavirus pandemic would affect hardware production and shipments. More than 392,000 consoles were sold in Japan last week, the highest seven-day total ever for the Switch, and one that means it’s now sold more than the Wii in Japan. (The Switch is still far behind the Wii in global sales, however — the latest official total was 52.48 million units sold worldwide as of the end of 2019, while the Wii reached 101.63 million in its lifetime.)
Hardware sales were undoubtedly helped by the launch of two new variants: the Animal Crossing-branded Switch, and the coral pink Switch Lite. The cheaper, portable-only Switch Lite made up roughly 70 percent of all Switch sales last week, according to Famitsu’s data.
New Horizons is a relaxing adventure that sees you move to a desert island and hang out with your animal friends (or IRL buddies), making it perhaps uniquely suited for the challenging COVID-19 situation right now. “We’ve been planning this release for quite some time, so it’s unfortunate that this timing overlapped with what’s currently happening in the world,” producer Hisashi Nogami told The Verge. “I am very disheartened and saddened by the events happening across the world. Considering the timing, we hope that a lot of the Animal Crossing fans will use this as an escape, so they can enjoy themselves during this difficult time.”
Zoom calls are not end-to-end encrypted, even though it says they are – Techradar
Zoom Video Communications has seen usage of its video conferencing service spike as a result of the coronavirus but a new report from The Intercept has shed light on the fact that its claim that its meetings have end-to-end encryption are not true.
On its website and in a security-related white paper, the US-based video conferencing company boasts about end-to-end encryption. However, The Intercept discovered that the service actually uses transport encryption instead.
Transport encryption is a Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol which secures the connection between a user and the server they are connected to. TLS is also used to help secure connections between users and any website they visit with HTTPS protocol.
However, the main difference between transport encryption and end-to-end encryption is that while others won’t be able to access your data, Zoom will still be able to.
In a statement to The Intercept, a Zoom spokesperson revealed that the service is unable to provide end-to-end encryption at the moment, saying:
“Currently, it is not possible to enable E2E encryption for Zoom video meetings. Zoom video meetings use a combination of TCP and UDP. TCP connections are made using TLS and UDP connections are encrypted with AES using a key negotiated over a TLS connection.”
Basically the company clarified that its use of the phrase “end-to-end” in its white paper is in reference to the connection being encrypted between Zoom endpoints. This means that other people can’t access the data shared during Zoom video calls but the company itself still can.
Despite its recent surge in popularity, a number of privacy issues have come to light surrounding the service such as how its iOS app was found to be sending data to Facebook without explicit user consent. Thankfully Zoom recently removed the code that was sending data to the social network.
Additionally a new report from Bleeping Computer revealed that it is possible for hackers to steal passwords through Zoom’s Windows client.
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Slack launches new integrations for Microsoft Teams calls – MobileSyrup
Slack now has an app to integrate Microsoft Teams call features into its own chat app.
The new Microsoft Teams Calls beta app arrived mere days after Slack revealed it was working on the integration. However, the app only allows Slack users to launch Teams calls from Slack. It doesn’t allow Slack users to participate directly in a Teams call through the Slack app.
Regardless, the new integration will certainly be a welcome one, especially in workspaces where smaller, individual teams may use Slack while the organization as a whole uses Teams.
Slack users can set Microsoft Teams Calls as the default calling provider with the app. Further, they can see who’s already in a call and when the call started before they join it. On top of that, Event reminders from the Outlook Slack app will support the ability to join Microsoft Teams calls direct from Slack.
However, Teams isn’t the only new integration coming to Slack. The chat platform will launch VoIP phone integration with Zoom, WebEx, Jabber, RingCentral and DialPad. Slack users will be able to call phone numbers directly within the app using these VoIP providers.
The new integrations come as Slack says calling has grown 350 percent in its app. The increase happened over the last month, fueled by businesses transitioning to remote work in response to COVID-19. Further, Slack says it’s having a record-breaking surge in users.
All the new integrations will be available starting today. The Teams Calls app is already accessible from Slack’s website.
Further, the company is in the process of rolling out a major redesign of its platform, which is hitting new users first before making its way to existing users.
Source: The Verge
Chinese scientists seeking potential COVID-19 treatment find 'effective' antibodies – Reuters
BEIJING (Reuters) – A team of Chinese scientists has isolated several antibodies that it says are “extremely effective” at blocking the ability of the new coronavirus to enter cells, which eventually could be helpful in treating or preventing COVID-19.
There is currently no proven effective treatment for the disease, which originated in China and is spreading across the world in a pandemic that has infected more than 850,000 and killed 42,000.
Zhang Linqi at Tsinghua University in Beijing said a drug made with antibodies like the ones his team have found could be used more effectively than the current approaches, including what he called “borderline” treatment such as plasma.
Plasma contains antibodies but is restricted by blood type.
In early January, Zhang’s team and a group at the 3rd People’s Hospital in Shenzhen began analysing antibodies from blood taken from recovered COVID-19 patients, isolating 206 monoclonal antibodies which showed what he described as a “strong” ability to bind with the virus’ proteins.
They then conducted another test to see if they could actually prevent the virus from entering cells, he told Reuters in an interview.
Among the first 20 or so antibodies tested, four were able to block viral entry and of those, two were “exceedingly good” at doing so, Zhang said.
The team is now focused on identifying the most powerful antibodies and possibly combining them to mitigate the risk of the new coronavirus mutating.
If all goes well, interested developers could mass produce them for testing, first on animals and eventually on humans.
The group has partnered with a Sino-U.S. biotech firm, Brii Biosciences, in an effort “to advance multiple candidates for prophylactic and therapeutic intervention”, according to a statement by Brii.
“The importance of antibodies has been proven in the world of medicine for decades now,” Zhang said. “They can be used to treat cancer, autoimmune diseases and infectious diseases.”
The antibodies are not a vaccine but could potentially be given to at-risk people with the aim of preventing them from contracting COVID-19.
Normally it takes around two years for a drug even to get close to approval for use on patients, but the COVID-19 pandemic means things are moving faster, he said, with steps that would previously be taken sequentially now being done in parallel.
Zhang, who posted the findings online, hopes the antibodies can be tested on humans in six months. If they are found to be effective in trials, actual use for treatment would take longer.
Other experts urge caution.
“There’s a number of steps which will now need to be followed before it could be used as a treatment for coronavirus patients,” Hong Kong University infectious disease specialist Ben Cowling said when the finding was described to him by Reuters.
“But it’s really exciting to find these potential treatments, and then have a chance to test them out. Because if we can find more candidates, then eventually we’ll have better treatment,” Cowling said.
Additional reporting by Roxanne Liu; Editing by Kim Coghill; Editing by Tony Munroe, Kate Kelland and Kim Coghill
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