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Google Meet video conferencing is now free for anybody – The Verge



Google is opening up its Google Meet videoconferencing service to anybody who wants to use it, instead of just offering it to enterprise and education customers via G Suite. The company says anybody with a Google account will now be able to create free meetings of up to 100 people that can last any amount of time — though after September 30th it may restrict meeting length to 60 minutes.

That Google account requirement is a hard one, however. People won’t be able to just click a link and join a meeting — they’ll need to be logged in. That is so meetings can be better controlled by their hosts, hopefully eliminating the possibility of Zoombombing. Google will also introduce other safety measures: people not explicitly added to a meeting via a calendar invite will be automatically entered into a green room when they try to join a meeting, and only be let in when approved by the host. The free version will also not offer landline dial-in numbers for meetings.

Those safety-focused caveats are Google’s way of differentiating its Meet product from Zoom, which has had a meteoric rise that over the past few months and caught both Google and Microsoft flat-footed. The increased attention on Zoom revealed a litany of security problems, which the fast-growing company has scrambled to address. But Google is seemingly hoping there’s still an opening for people who distrust Zoom.

Google has trust problems of its own when it comes to conferencing and messaging products. Google Meet only became “Google Meet” earlier this month — before that the service was called Hangouts Meet. That’s a legacy of the fractured and convoluted history of Google’s messaging and video apps the company is still trying to escape. Hangouts Chat, Google’s Slack and Teams competitor, was also recently renamed to Google Chat.

Some Google users may remember (or still be using) Hangouts Video chat, another one of those legacy products. Google says that product will be transitioned to Google Meet over time, so that there’s just one platform for both consumers and enterprise customers. Google’s slow-and-steady progress is laudable for enterprise users looking for stability from a company once famous for its product-killing Spring cleanings, but at this point it’s past time to fully sunset the Hangouts brand.

Google Meet recently updated to support “Gallery view,” the Brady Bunch-style of putting all participants in a single grid that Zoom largely popularized. The new mode is available in apps on mobile platforms and inside browsers on the desktop.

That’s unlikely to change anytime soon — unlike its competitors, Google is keeping G Suite and its related product as web-first apps. That allows them to be always-updated and easier to manage than native Windows or macOS apps, but the approach can introduce hassles like losing your meeting in a sea of tabs or accidentally exiting out of it.

Alongside the consumer availability for Meet, Google is unveiling a new tier for G Suite that it’s calling “G Suite Essentials,” which includes Meet and also Google Drive, but not Gmail. All current G Suite customers will still have free access to Meet through September 30th.

Lastly, Meet is also getting integrated into Gmail — both G Suite versions and regular consumer Gmail addresses. In the same way that Microsoft has leveraged its Office dominance to drive people to Teams, Google is fully utilizing Gmail’s power to push its integrated video conferencing app.

Zoom may have captured the zeitgeist, but Google and Microsoft are going to do their best to make sure it doesn’t capture any more of the market.

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A new free-to-play game from Tencent is poised to be the next billion-dollar franchise – CNBC



Promotional image of Valorant

Source: Riot Games

The excitement surrounding VALORANT, a new game by Tencent-owned Riot Games, could cement Tencent’s acquisition of the games developer as one of the best tech deals ever inked. 

That’s according to Roundhill Investments CEO Will Hershey as VALORANT launched on Tuesday. It’s Riot Games’ attempt at entering the free-to-play online first-person shooter (FPS) games market, where two teams of five players face off against each other with characters known as “agents,” each with their own special abilities.

It’s also the developer’s first game with a whole new IP that deviates from the League of Legends universe, which Riot introduced to gamers over 10 years ago. Since then, League of Legends has grown into a worldwide sensation, and that has fueled the anticipation and curiosity around Riot’s new release. 

The developer revealed last week that VALORANT’s closed beta pulled in an average of almost 3 million players daily. It also set record stream viewership numbers thanks to a beta key drop campaign on Twitch, driving players to watch hours upon hours of VALORANT gameplay in hopes of getting early access to the game. 

This makes VALORANT not only a likely strong addition to the Riot Games portfolio, but it would also build on the immense success of the multiplayer online battle arena game (MOBA) League of Legends that initially prompted Tencent to take a stake in the developer.

Tencent originally paid $400 million for a 93% stake in Riot Games in 2011, a year after the games developer released League of Legends. The company bought the remainder of Riot Games four years later for an undisclosed amount. 

Even 10 years after its launch, League of Legends is the most-played PC game in the world, drawing in about 8 million concurrent players daily while still hauling in over a $1 billion for Riot Games every year. The game has reportedly generated $20 billion in revenue over its lifetime.

A member of Gen.G’s “League of Legends” team practices ahead of a match.

Source: Gen. G

Hershey, whose firm runs the Roundhill BITKRAFT Esports & Digital Entertainment ETF (NERD), said that together, the sustained success of League of Legends, its extensions and now the addition of VALORANT have made Tencent’s investment in Riot Games more than worthwhile.  

“[Tencent’s] investment in Riot Games might be its best investment yet,” he told CNBC. “In fact, one could make the case that Tencent’s acquisition of Riot is among the best tech acquisitions of all time.” 

Aside from Riot Games, Tencent holds a 40% stake in Epic Games, creator of Fortnite. It has also invested in other notable publishers like Bluehole (creator of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds), Activision Blizzard, Ubisoft and mobile games developer Supercell. 

For comparison, Fortnite Battle Royale amassed over 10 million players in the first two weeks following its release in 2017. Last year, Fortnite was the highest-earning game, generating $1.8 billion in revenue, according to SuperData, Nielsen’s video game arm.  

This means that Tencent has its hand in the world’s two highest-earning games.  

Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter says that together, VALORANT and League of Legends could generate “over $2 billion in a year or so” for Riot Games, although he cautions that “some cannibalization of the [League of Legends] core” may occur. 

He also said that as much as VALORANT can give Tencent another foothold in the growing Western first-person shooter (FPS) games market, competition is steep.  

“This is a growth industry, but a zero-sum business,” he said. “If overall free-to-play is growing 10% on a $40 billion base, there’s $4 billion available for VALORANT to capture. But it’s competing with [Call of Duty] Mobile, Warzone, Diablo Immortal, and anything else that’s going to launch this year, in addition to growth from the existing competitors.” 

“It’s hard to cede $1.5 billion to VALORANT without someone else growing more slowly, and I don’t think we can assume that the shiny new object captures all of the industry growth,” added Pachter. 

Riot Games co-founder Marc Merrill, however, told CNBC that VALORANT’s reception during the closed beta “exceeded expectations” and that the developer’s long-term dedication to the game will put VALORANT ahead of the competition. 

He also emphasized that the studio’s history of working with a free-to-play monetization model – where players elect to pay for additional game content over time – has set Riot up to be more responsive to user feedback than many other publishers, which contributes to the longevity of a game as is the case with League of Legends. 

 “We want to make VALORANT the first truly global shooter,” said Merrill. “We created a global community with League of Legends, and we’re confident we can repeat [that worldwide success] with VALORANT.” 

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Valorant Patch 1.0: New map, map changes, and how they affect the game – Sportskeeda




Modified 02 Jun 2020, 13:49 IST

<img class="lazy-img" width="800" height="450" data-img="" alt data-img-low="" src="data:image/svg+xml,”>

New Map and Map changes (Riot Games)Taken from Dexerto

Patch Notes 1.0 for the Valorant Episode 1: Ignition is out, and they are very comprehensive. 

Even before certain regions like North America, LATAM and South America got their Valorant servers up and running, Riot Games has already released their first official patch notes for the game.

Valorant Patch Notes 1.0 bring in a lot of changes to the game. From Agent nerfs to buffs, and from bug fixes to a new map, there is a lot to be aware of. 

If you want the complete Valorant patch notes in detail, you can always check out Riot’s official website. But for now, let us focus solely on the map changes and how they are going to be affecting Valorant gameplay in the future.

The New Valorant Map: Ascent

<img class="lazy-img" width="647" height="340" data-img="" alt data-img-low="" src="data:image/svg+xml,”>

Ascent map

Valorant’s official launch comes with a new map called Ascent. 

Its aesthetics are set in Italy, and it comes with a ‘large, open middle area that both teams can skirmish over.’ It seems that the gameplay around this new Valorant map will rely more on abilities than actual gun battle, and the middle of the map, which is termed ‘playground’, will be the most strategic position.

Ascent will be in heavy rotation during matchmaking, as Valorant officials want players to get familiar with the map as soon as possible.

Changes in Split in Valorant

In Patch Notes 1.0, the Valorant devs have decided to remove the mid choke point on Split. 


This will allow for more balanced gameplay for both the attacking and defending sides. Previously, the attacking side had more of an advantage in the map, because the large wall on their side acted as a big flank that gave them a significant boost over the defending side.

This will not let the defending Agents in Valorant be as exposed or as vulnerable as they used to be.

“We felt like Defenders were able to effectively plug up the main choke point in mid for a large percentage of the round. The new layout hopes to alleviate this issue,” Riot said.

“These changes open up the space quite a bit and provides an additional path to get around stalling abilities on the stairs. It also gives Attackers a few different angles to help siege B Tower and Vents.”

Old Split Mid (Riot Games) <img class="lazy-img" width="800" height="433" data-img="" alt="Old Split Mid (Riot Games)" data-img-low="" src="data:image/svg+xml,”>
Old Split Mid (Riot Games)
New Split Mid (Riot Games) <img class="lazy-img" width="800" height="433" data-img="" alt="New Split Mid (Riot Games)" data-img-low="" src="data:image/svg+xml,”>
New Split Mid (Riot Games)

Exploits removed in Haven, Blind, Split, and Ascent

These changes are sort of an indirect nerf to Cypher, who made the most out of all the exploit points on the map. 

In Patch 1.0, Valorant devs has removed all the exploits, along with blocking off several spy cam points for Cypher. His ability can’t be abused in any of the maps from now on.

Some important HUD and UI changes to the Valorant maps

  • The Valorant devs have added new VFX to abilities, kills feeds and ceremonies like Ace and Clutch to the player HUD in each of the maps.
  • The Spike will also have an updated visual in the inventory. Will look more prominent than it did in the closed beta.
  • Armor icons have now been added to the shop, for visual diversity.
  • In-game Valorant character portraits have also gotten an update in each of the maps. 
  • Added chat message regulation so that only send one chat message is sent when multiples of the same ping or VO command are used in rapid succession

All Valorant in-game, map, and character bug fixes

  • Fixed a bug with “rewinding” for Hit Registration that could cause the client to slightly disagree with the server on where a target was when you pulled the trigger. This affected all players slightly, but scaled up in severity at lower FPS.
  • Fixed an issue where client-side tracers desynced when yaw switching
  • The server and client would sometimes disagree on where shots were landing when firing extended bursts.
  • Fixed a bug that let you shred the gnar at supersonic speeds using Viper’s Toxic Screen as a projectile boost
  • Fixed the ability to activate Viper’s Poison Cloud mid air if it has been picked up.
  • Removed slow from Viper’s Snakebite tooltip.
  • Cypher’s Spycam now shows the direction it is looking right when it is possessed.
  • Fixed more unintended Cypher Spycam locations
  • Fixed Sova’s arrows sometimes unpredictable bouncing
  • Fixed Sova arrows from revealing through some walls
  • Fixed a bug with Jett’s lower body popping out of place during her glide—thanks physical therapy!
  • Fixed an issue where blood was disabled
  • Fixed an Observer bug where dead players appeared as Phoenix on the HUD when an entire team was dead
  • Fixed a spectator issue where Cypher’s tracers would appear inaccurate if the spectator swapped to him after he had entered/exited his camera
  • Fixed an issue where a team could all disconnect on side swap rounds to surrender, but they would receive a win instead of a loss
  • Fixed a bug that allowed Bucky’s right click to penetrate through world geography
  • Fixed a bug for the comms halo above a player’s head, it should now activate with both Party chat and Team chat
  • Fixed an issue where credits on the HUD appeared to be much higher than the 800 you receive on side swap rounds
  • Fixed an issue with the scoreboard that would show enemy team above the credit cap
  • Fixed a bug where players were fully movement inaccurate after being resurrected or respawning
  • Fixed overruns on interactable objects like orbs or the Spike
  • Fixed an issue where ally loadouts appeared to show damaged allies at full health
  • Fixed issues with HUD prompts that would be cut off if the key to activate the prompt was bound to a key with more than one letter
  • Fixed a bug where the buy phase announcement would always say to press B to buy, even if the key to open the Armory was bound to a different key
  • Fixed an issue where reconnect messages would spam every round start
  • Fixed an observer bug where text would overlap in the buy phase announcement
  • Fixed an observer bug where some abilities were not appearing on the minimap properly
  • Fixed a bug where the ping wheel on the megamap would not grey out when ping limited
  • Fixed a bug in the Armory where weapon details would vanish after purchasing a weapon
  • Fixed a bug where the Equip Last Equipped Weapon hotkey was not functioning properly after using an ability
  • Fixed overlaps with instability indicators (i.e. High Ping) and the Spectator widget
  • Fixed overlaps and overruns in the Combat Report
  • Fixed an issue with dead player models occasionally flickering
  • Fixed an issue with animations when aiming with the Odin for spectators
  • Fixed flickering mouse cursor in a few places
  • The tooltip pointing at Contracts can now be dismissed FOREVER
  • Fixed a Valorant bug where half the Arsenal page would fade in when clicking on the Collection tab
  • Fixed a Valorant bug where the personalized Store offers would blink before fading in
  • Fixed a Valorant bug where various menus could overlap the lobby screen after a queue dodge

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Google is sending Android 11 updates to some Pixel 4 owners early – Engadget



SpVVK via Getty Images

Google seems to have given select users access to a beta version of Android 11 even though it canceled the mobile platform’s beta launch on June 3rd. According to XDA Developers’ Mishaal Rahman, some users received an OTA update for the OS on their Pixel 4 devices on the same day (as Droid Life notes) the Android 10 security patch for June came out. Rahman listed some of the features that dropped with the accidental release, including the media player users can display in and control from Android’s Quick Settings menu.

Users are also getting three new icon shape choices and the option to get app suggestions on the bottom row of their Home screen.

They’ll now also be able to access controls for connected devices by holding the Power button, provided they switch on the option in Settings.

If they choose to, they can also enable bubble notifications under a new menu, which allows conversation alerts to show up as floating icons on top of other apps.

Unfortunately, the rollout seems to be unplanned, so those who haven’t gotten it will probably have to wait until the beta’s official release. Google doesn’t have a new date for its rollout yet, though: when the tech giant canceled its June 3rd launch event, it only said that it will be back with more details on Android 11 “soon.”

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