Apple, Google and Amazon—three of the biggest smart home and voice assistant providers—are joining forces to make internet-connected homes easier to set up and safer to use.
The rivals announced Wednesday that they’re working with the Zigbee Alliance, a foundation that promotes standards for the Internet of Things, and its members including Samsung, Somfy and IKEA, on a new standard that will ensure their products work with one another.
While an increasing portion of the home can now be controlled by a voice-activated speaker or remote app, from thermostats to lights and even refrigerators, “the lack of an industry-wide connectivity standard leaves people confused and frustrated when trying to understand what devices work with each smart home ecosystem,” Nik Sathe and Grant Erickson, engineers at Google’s Nest unit, wrote in a statement. “It also places a heavy burden on manufacturers to make sure all devices are compatible with each other.”
Amazon and Google have relatively open systems already, which have allowed tens of thousands of third-party devices to link up with their smart speakers. Apple only supports a few hundred via its HomeKit standard. The global smart home market is projected to grow to $174.2 billion by 2025, according to MarketWatch, up from $55.7 billion in 2016.
But the move could also raise privacy and security questions. For years, Amazon and Google collected data every time someone used a smart speaker to turn on a light or lock a door and asked gadget makers like Logitech to send a stream of information whenever someone engaged in such an action. Bringing more devices together in a home raises the prospect of personal data being shared with a higher number of companies, some of which may have more lax security or privacy standards. Google pared back the number of companies its Nest devices connect to earlier this year due to privacy concerns.
Apple said the project is built around “a shared belief that smart home devices should be secure, reliable and seamless to use.” After lagging behind Amazon and Google, Apple is rebooting its smart home efforts, developing new software and devices with a new team, Bloomberg News reported earlier this year.
The Zigbee Alliance is aiming to have its new joint protocol ready by the end of 2020.
Notably absent from the group is Facebook. The social network’s smart home offering, called Portal, doesn’t have a third-party ecosystem like Apple and the others. Facebook’s voice assistant is also the most rudimentary on the market and uses Amazon’s Alexa to power many of the voice operations.
Major Asian smart home companies such as Baidu, Tmall and Xiaomi are also missing. Trade tensions between China and the U.S. could make such partnerships uncomfortable, and Google and Amazon don’t have much of a presence for smart speakers in the region.
Speedrunner Completes 'Hitman 3' Dubai Level in Just Eight Seconds – HYPEBEAST
Hitman 3 speedrunners have managed to complete one of the game’s new levels in just eight seconds.
The game officially released just five days ago, but speedrunners have already managed to pull off some pretty impressive feats, especially on completing the Dubai-based level “On Top Of The World.” So far, Swedish player Goron sits at the top with a time of just eight seconds, while three other players tie for second place with a nine-second completion time. The incredible times involved players running up the steps of the lobby as soon as the level starts, where you can shoot both your targets right after they spawn, before racing back to the level’s exit. While these record times are for the “Any %” category, even players in the “Silent Assassin” category managed to complete the level in just 16 seconds.
Hitman 3 is now available for the PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Google Stadia and PC.
Elsewhere in gaming, Microsoft has reversed its latest controversial Xbox Live price increases.
Netflix Update to Deliver Better Audio on Android With xHE-AAC Codec – Gadgets 360
Netflix is rolling out a new update that promises better audio quality on Android devices, including a fix for sudden volume changes, better sound in noisy environments, and better performance on slower mobile data connections. The company has implemented the Extended HE-AAC with MPEG-D DRC (xHE-AAC) audio codec on its streaming platform for Android mobile devices running Android 9 Pie and newer software. Although the technical aspects behind the change are quite complicated, the simplest way to explain the change is that Netflix is now promising “studio-quality audio” to go with its already excellent video content on Android devices.
Netflix has listed all of the changes brought about by the xHE-AAC audio codec in detail in a blog post. A key change that will make a difference to users across the world but particularly in India is the variable bitrate for audio streaming. This means that the codec will be able to adapt to the quality of the Internet connection; slower mobile data connections will see the stream scale back a bit to adjust, while maintaining some level of sound quality.
Additionally, all of this could mean that you’ll be able to watch Netflix movies and TV shows using your smartphone’s speakers — that is, without headphones — and still be able to hear dialogues and other sounds intelligibly even in noisy environments. The Netflix update will also offer a solution for the issue of sudden volume changes that often have users rushing to grab either the volume button or headphones to avoid disturbing others in the household.
The new upgrade is the latest in Netflix’s efforts to offer high-quality video and audio on its streaming platform. While some of its picture technologies such as Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos require supporting hardware and fast Internet connections to work, small tweaks such as xHE-AAC will enable improvements even at the most basic level, especially for users who rely on slower mobile data connections as is common in India.
Can Netflix force Bollywood to reinvent itself? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.
Guilty Gear: Strive 'Game Modes' trailer; more modes detailed – Gematsu
Arc System Works has released a new trailer for Guilty Gear: Strive introducing the game’s various modes, as well as new information and screenshots detailing the offline game modes Story Mode, GG World, and Gallery Mode, and the Online Mode.
Get the details below.
■ Battle System
Cancels your attack, sends a shockwave, and slows down your opponent’s movement. You can use it while attacking to strengthen your offense, or use it defensively to weather your opponent’s attacks. Roman Cancel is a mechanic that can add depth to your matches, depending on how you use it.
Drive the opponent to the edge of the stage and unleash a certain attack to break the wall and blow them away into a different stage with a flashy scene. Not only will they take additional damage from the blow, your character’s attack power and other stats will increase for a limited time.
■ Offline Modes
The fated conclusion!
The story of Guilty Gear finally reaches its climax! The Story Mode loved by fans in previous titles returns in Guilty Gear: Strive! Now with further evolved direction and graphics.
The Guilty Gear series has been around for over 20 years. The story of Guilty Gear: Strive is set in the United States of America. Our hero Sol Badguy has led an unbelievable life, but what will his final choice be…?
Please look forward to more details.
A huge encyclopedia where you can read up on everything there is to know about Guilty Gear!
The Guilty Gear series has over 20 years of history. GG World includes a “Chronology” that shows the series’ history and events at a glance; a “Glossary” where you can read up on character profiles and world settings; and a “Correlation Map” of the relationships between each character. There is a massive amount available that will make even first-time players feel at ease.
Enjoy artwork, music, and movies!
In Gallery Mode, you can view the character illustrations, setting images, and other development materials from Guilty Gear: Strive. There is a lot more to see as well, including trailers and songs from previous Guilty Gear titles.
■ Online Mode
Guilty Gear: Strive uses the same type of network players enjoyed in the previous title Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R (Steam version)!
Rollback netcode allows for a great match experience, regardless of the distance between the players. If you are having trouble finding an opponent, try looking all around the world!
—Customize Your Own Avatar and Battle Against Players Around the World!
Control your own custom avatar and enjoy battles and communication while using emotes and chat.
—A New Rating System Pits You Against Players of the Same Skill Level!
Guilty Gear: Strive‘s Online Lobby assigns you to a floor depending on your skill level. Skill level is determined not only by the outcome of battle, but also by the analysis of your actions during matches. And because players at the same skill level naturally gather on the same floor, everyone from new players to veterans can enjoy tense battles!
—The Floor at the Top of the Lobby Reserved for Only the Most Skilled Players
Only players who continue to achieve good results can enter the “Heaven” floor at the top of the Online Lobby. The entrance to this floor is an extremely narrow gate. It is quite literally the top of the top.
—Use “Quick Start” to Quickly Jump into Online Battles
Guilty Gear: Strive features a “Quick Start” function that allows players to move directly from the menu screen to battle standby. Jump into an online match immediately!
Up to nine players can enter a “Player Match” room, allowing players to enjoy online battles with specific friends.
Guilty Gear: Strive is due out for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and PC via Steam on April 9. The Deluxe and Ultimate Editions will launch for PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4 three days in advance on April 6. Read more about the game here.
Watch the trailer below. View the screenshots at the gallery.
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