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Google launches Android 11 Developer Preview with tons of improvements

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Google launched the Android 11 Developer Preview a little early, as everyone expected it to drop sometime in the second week of March. Interestingly, Google refers to it simply as “Android 11,” which means the company may be dropping the letter from the name, after abandoning dessert-themed names with Android 10 in its marketing last year.

The new version of the mobile operating system that runs on 2.5 billion devices will also have several preview and beta stages in the lead up to release, as the company wants to dedicate more time to polishing new features and ironing out any potential issues.

That means that until Google’s I/O conference in May, you won’t see any major changes to the overall experience when testing the previews. And at least for now, you’ll only be able to install the developer preview images by flashing them on a Pixel 2 and Pixel 3 devices (include the 3a variants). If you don’t have one of these devices, there’s always the Android Emulator.

Android 11 will include some nice system-level additions that will allow developers to make their apps more aware of the type of connection they’re using, especially when it comes to 5G and data usage. Google is also adding support for foldable displays with a unified API, low-latency video decoding for things like Stadia, efficient image formats like HEIF, and an improved API for neural networks.

Google is taking a page from Apple’s book to improve privacy and security, too. For example, it will now ask you for permission to use your location every time an app needs it, while allowing users to choose whether they want that to be the default behavior, or if they want location access to be available only while using the app.

Then there is something called “scoped storage,” which was introduced with Android 10 and will get even more restrictive in Android 11. This essentially isolates apps in silos, preventing them from having easy access to storage beyond their own bubble, unless explicitly allowed by the user. This will likely disrupt a lot of apps, considering that more than 1,000 apps were found to harvest your data even after you deny them permission to do so.

Other security improvements in Android 11 include secure app data storage, platform hardening, support for different levels of biometric authentication and storing your electronic ID/driver license.

Google is also making small tweaks to the Android UI, for example by adding a dedicated section in the notification shade for messaging apps and Activity Bubbles, which are part of the company’s digital wellbeing experiment. But more importantly, it’s advancing Project Mainline, which means the company will be able to update even more Android system components via Google Play.

The company expects to have a stable Android build in June, but that will go through one more round of beta testing before being released to the general public sometime between July and September.

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Coronavirus Concerns Lead to the Cancellation of One of Tech's Biggest Developer Conferences – Gizmodo

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The spread of coronavirus is prompting companies to cancel nonessential travel. That includes trade shows like the smartphone-centric Mobile World Congress, which was scheduled to be held in Barcelona this week but was called off. Now Facebook has canceled its own annual event, the F8 developer’s conference, citing “growing concerns around COVID-19.”

The move is clearly out of an abundance of caution: F8 was scheduled to take place in San Jose, California, May 5 and 6. Now all eyes are on Facebook’s rival companies, Google, Microsoft, and Apple, who also have developer conferences in the works for early summer. Google I/O is slated for May 12 through 14 in Mountain View, Microsoft’s Build is scheduled for the following week in Seattle, and Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference is typically held in the first half of June in San Jose.

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Facebook’s Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, director of developer platforms, wrote in a Thursday blog post that the company is still planning local events and live-streamed sessions for developers to learn about changes and new features.

“This was a tough call to make—F8 is an incredibly important event for Facebook and it’s one of our favorite ways to celebrate all of you from around the world—but we need to prioritize the health and safety of our developer partners, employees and everyone who helps put F8 on,” Papamiltiadis wrote. “We explored other ways to keep the in-person part of F8, but it’s important to us to host an inclusive event and it didn’t feel right to have F8 without our international developers in attendance.”

Microsoft also announced Thursday that it will no longer attend the annual Game Developers Conference, slated for March 16 through 20 in San Francisco. The company joins Epic, Unity, and Sony in withdrawing from the event due to the coronavirus outbreak. Microsoft plans to host an online event that will coincide with GDC for developer sessions and announcements March 16 through 18. It’s unclear if GDC will be canceled or proceed without some of gaming’s biggest players.

It makes sense that voluntary conferences and trade shows be called off to stem the spread of COVID-19. Facebook and Microsoft don’t want to be the reason for a severe outbreak, nor do they want to be in the news for encouraging people to travel when they don’t need to. Developers will miss out on networking opportunities, but they’ll still be able to learn about the latest developments despite the lack of in-person sessions. At this point, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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It "Made Sense" For Baldur's Gate 3's Combat To Be Turn-Based, Says Dev – GameSpot

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Although combat in previous Baldur’s Gate titles has traditionally focused around the use of real-time mechanics, Baldur’s Gate III uses a turn-based system. For developer Larian Studios, it’s always been a no-brainer to make Baldur’s Gate III a turn-based game.

“It was never really a question,” Baldur’s Gate III design producer David Walgrave said, according to USG. “We’ve been doing turn-based for a while now. We’re pretty good at it. Dungeons & Dragons is turn-based in itself, so it makes a lot of sense.

“Even after we implemented the Dungeons & Dragons ruleset, the result was so different from what we concocted with Divinity: Original Sin that we saw that the combat designers would have to do it completely different, so that was a challenge,” Walgrave continued. “And we’re doing things that we haven’t done before, so, for us, it was the best choice.”

Though the implementation of a dice roll is definitely Dungeons & Dragons, the turn-based gameplay of Baldur’s Gate III is very reminiscent of Larian Studios’ Divinity Original Sin series–it makes sense for the developer to return to what it knows. “Part of the decision is that we know turn-based, and secondly, it’s that Fifth Edition [D&D] is played in rounds, so it kind of made sense,” Baldur’s Gate senior writer Adam Smith told VG247.

“It lets you do things like separating the party and having one person on high ground and one person on low ground,” Smith added. “It means when the combat starts, there’s a better sense of, ‘I’m going to get a sense of the tactical situation. I’m going to send this person over here, I’m going to do that, I’m going to send this person behind and shove an enemy.'”

In our own coverage of Baldur’s Gate III, creative director Swen Wincke spoke about how he hopes for Larian Studios to transcend the legacy of the game, and also discussed the challenges of creating the game and working with Wizards of the Coast.

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Facebook Cancels May F8 Developer Conference Due to Coronavirus: What Does That Mean for WWDC? – MacRumors

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Facebook today announced that it has canceled its F8 developer conference that was set to take place at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California on May 5 and 6.

In a statement, Facebook said that given “growing concerns” about COVID-19, the in-person component of F8 has been nixed. Instead of F8, Facebook is planning locally hosted events, videos, and live streamed content.

This was a tough call to make – F8 is an incredibly important event for Facebook and it’s one of our favorite ways to celebrate all of you from around the world – but we need to prioritize the health and safety of our developer partners, employees and everyone who helps put F8 on. We explored other ways to keep the in-person part of F8, but it’s important to us to host an inclusive event and it didn’t feel right to have F8 without our international developers in attendance.

F8 is an event that’s on the same scale as Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, and last year, it attracted 5,000 attendees. It was also set to take place on May 5 and 6, which is just about a month ahead of when Apple is likely planning to host WWDC 2020 at the same venue. Whether Apple is considering a similar cancelation remains to be seen as WWDC is a month later, but with F8 canceled, there’s a possibility.

For the last few years, Apple’s WWDC events have been held at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center in early June. No concrete dates or clear indications of when the event will take place have been discovered as of yet this year, but based on past event dates, we believe June 8 to 12 is the most likely week for WWDC 2020.

The coronavirus outbreak has already caused the cancellation of major events. Mobile World Congress, a huge trade show event that takes place in Barcelona each February, was shut down. The annual Game Developers Conference in San Francisco is coming up in March and thus far, many major game companies have dropped out such as Sony, Unity, Microsoft, Kojima Productions, Facebook, and EA.

Despite the dropouts, GDC is “moving forward as planned,” even though a state of emergency has been declared in San Francisco. Last year, GDC had close to 30,000 people in attendance. Pax East, another gaming convention that kicked off today, also saw many gaming companies drop out, but the event went forward.

Other events around the world are also being canceled due to coronavirus fears. The Geneva watch show (April 25-28) was canceled, according to Bloomberg, as was an event that Swatch planned to hold in February. The Baselworld trade fair (April 30 – May5) is also said to be mulling a cancellation.

Apple in mid-February said that its March quarter revenue will fall short of expectations due to device supply shortages and store closures in China caused by the coronavirus. Apple CEO Tim Cook says that Apple’s “paramount concern” is its employees, partners, customers, and suppliers in China and its first priority is the health and safety of employees, customers, supply chain partners, and the communities in which it operates.

Apple has also said that it is closely monitoring the coronavirus situation.

COVID-19 has infected more than 82,000 people and there have been over 2,800 deaths, primarily in China. Earlier this week, the CDC warned Americans that it expects the virus to spread in the United States, and just yesterday, UC Davis announced that it is treating a patient in Northern California who is the first person in the U.S. believed to have contracted the virus from community exposure.

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