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What the “OLED Model” means for the future of Nintendo Switch – Ars Technica



Where is my 4K “Switch Pro” upgrade?

The most surprising thing about the Switch’s newly announced “OLED Model” might just be what it’s missing. Namely, it’s missing a new chipset that bumps up the processing power above what’s available on existing Switch hardware.

That lack of improved internals is surprising mainly because of a number of reports that promised the next Switch would support a bump to “4K graphics when paired with TVs,” as Bloomberg phrased it is as recently as March. Bloomberg’s reporters tend to be reliable when it comes to this kind of insider Nintendo reporting, including an early 2019 report that predicted a “lower-priced” Nintendo Switch Lite months ahead of its announcement. Bloomberg also got the other details right about the OLED Model, including the 7″ OLED screen that maintains the original Switch’s 720p resolution and the general timing of when manufacturing would begin.

Maybe Bloomberg’s reporters just got ahead of themselves on this one detail and assumed 4K support that was never really in the cards. More likely, though, is that Nintendo just changed its plans for a processing-power boost at some point after Bloomberg’s sources first leaked the information.

That theory would line up with the worldwide semiconductor shortage that has plagued the global supply chain in recent months. That’s the same shortage that Sony and Microsoft have already admitted could limit supplies of their next-generation consoles through the end of the year, suggesting that Nintendo probably isn’t immune to the same forces.

As the extent of those shortages became clear in recent months, Nintendo may have been faced with two options. The industry giant could delay its “Switch Pro” plans until the chips it needed for a more powerful system were available at an acceptable cost (likely meaning pushing back to a 2022 launch). Or it could scale back its plans, make use of readily available OLED screens, and launch a more limited redesign that kept the same basic internal hardware architecture in time for the 2021 holidays.

I don’t have access to Nintendo’s decision process here, so the actual considerations may have looked very different. But these kinds of changing circumstances would provide a plausible explanation for why expectations and early reporting on a “Switch Pro” didn’t match reality in this case.

Does the Switch really need a power boost?

Even when the Switch launched in 2017, it was underpowered compared to its console competition. Now that the console is quickly approaching its fifth anniversary, its raw hardware power is absolutely dwarfed by fully 4K systems like the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S.

Here’s the thing, though: there’s no real evidence that’s a problem for Nintendo.

Despite the lack of power, the Switch is still selling extremely well, pushing nearly 29 million systems worldwide in the last fiscal year. Bloomberg’s Takashi Mochizuki points out that it is currently on track to sell 100 million units faster than any other home console (though portable systems like the Nintendo DS sold even faster)

Those kinds of sales numbers don’t suggest an immediate need for a midgeneration power-boosting redesign. The system’s mix of first-party exclusives, a wide range of indie and third-party titles, and a hybrid portable/TV form factor is obviously still a hit with gaming audiences, even without the raw hardware power of the competition.

Sure, Switch owners miss out on some high-end blockbusters that require the latest-and-greatest processors to power their worlds. But some publishers are working around those limitations with visually downgraded ports or even streaming options that run high-end games on powerful remote servers.

Even with an upgraded system-on-a-chip, though, a 4K “Switch Pro” would still, in all likelihood, be full of visual compromises compared to the competition. These days, getting true 4K performance in a console requires a lot of space for components and heat dissipation, as we’ve seen with the relatively gargantuan PS5 and Xbox Series X. Even approaching that kind of performance on a system with the Switch’s portable form factor would have been difficult, if not impossible. That’s true even if the system leaned heavily on “smart” 4K upscaling from Nvidia’s DLSS, as reports suggested it might.

Maybe this kind of internal power upgrades (and maybe a resolution-bump for the Switch’s screen?) are still a possibility for a real “Switch Pro” update in coming years. But there’s nothing to suggest that any of these features are necessary to keep the Switch relevant in today’s gaming market.

Is the Switch a portable first or a console first?

The value proposition of the OLED Model Switch is very different depending on how you use the system. When compared to the standard $300 Switch model, players who use the OLED Model away from the TV get an improved screen, improved speakers, and a heavily upgraded kickstand for “tabletop” play. OLED Model players who use the Switch while connected to the TV, on the other hand, get… a better-looking dock with a wired Ethernet port (both sets of players also get more internal storage).

That contrast helps cement a general impression that we’ve had ever since the release of the Switch Lite in 2019; Nintendo seems to be putting more emphasis on the Switch as a portable system than as a TV-based console these days. That’s at least a little surprising considering that, as recently as 2018, Nintendo was saying that docked and undocked playtime for the Switch was “about even” across all players.

Maybe that split has changed in the intervening years. Or maybe Nintendo has simply decided to lean into the portable experience as the Switch’s key differentiator from its more powerful console competition. Either way, Nintendo apparently sees the Switch as a portable system that can optionally be plugged into a TV, rather than the other way around (and despite what Nintendo told Polygon in 2016, when the 3DS still provided Nintendo’s portable hardware focus).

Who is it for?

Even for portable users, the OLED Model’s small improvements over previous Switch hardware might make it hard for existing Switch owners to justify spending a full $350 on an upgrade. But if you’re one of the millions of people who will be in the market for their first Switch this holiday season, a $50 relative price difference for those same improvements might not seem so ridiculous.

Keep in mind that households purchasing their first Switch still accounted for 80 percent of the console’s worldwide sales in the fiscal year that just ended in March. That’s roughly 23 million of the roughly 29 million consoles Nintendo sold in the 12-month period—numbers that help explain who Nintendo probably sees as the core audience for this slightly improved top-end Switch model.

In any case, the old $300 Switch and the $200 Switch Lite aren’t going anywhere for the time being. And the new model plays the same games and uses the same controllers that already exist, meaning it won’t split the Switch hardware or accessories market in any meaningful way. That makes the OLED Model a relatively risk-free way for Nintendo to introduce a “high-end” Switch (with a bit of a high-end price point) without being too disruptive to what’s obviously working well so far.

Listing image by Nintendo

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Google delays workers' return to office, mandates vaccines – St. Albert Today



SAN RAMON, Calif. (AP) — Google is postponing a return to the office for most workers until mid-October and rolling out a policy that will eventually require everyone to be vaccinated once its sprawling campuses are fully reopened.

The announcement Wednesday came as the more highly contagious delta variant is driving a dramatic spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

In an email sent to Google’s more than 130,000 employees worldwide, CEO Sundar Pichai said the company is now aiming to have most of its workforce back to its offices beginning Oct. 18 instead of its previous target date of Sept. 1.

The decision also affects tens of thousands of contractors who Google intends to continue to pay while access to its campuses remains limited.

“This extension will allow us time to ramp back into work while providing flexibility for those who need it,” Pichai wrote.

And Pichai disclosed that once offices are fully reopened, everyone working there will have to be vaccinated. The requirement will be first imposed at Google’s Mountain View, California, headquarters and other U.S. offices, before being extended to the more than 40 other countries where the Google operates.

Various government agencies already had announced demands for all their employees to be vaccinated, but the corporate world so far has been taking a more measured approach, even though most lawyers believe the mandates are legal.

Delta and United airlines are requiring new employees to show proof of vaccination. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are requiring their employees to disclose their vaccination status, but are not requiring staffers to be vaccinated.

Google’s vaccine mandate will be adjusted to adhere to the laws and regulations of each location, Pichai wrote, and exceptions will be made for medical and other “protected” reasons.

“Getting vaccinated is one of the most important ways to keep ourselves and our communities healthy in the months ahead,” Pichai explained.

Google’s decision to require employees working in the office to be vaccinated comes on the heels of similar moves affecting hundreds of thousands government workers in California and New York as part of stepped-up measures to fight the delta variant. President Joe Biden also is considering mandating all federal government workers to be vaccinated.

The rapid rise in cases during the past month has prompted more public health officials to urge stricter measures to help overcome vaccine skepticism and misinformation.

The vaccine requirement rolling out in California next month covers more than 240,000 government employees. The city and county of San Francisco is also requiring its roughly 35,000 workers to be vaccinated or risk disciplinary action after the Food and Drug Administration approves one of the vaccines now being distributed under an emergency order.

It’s unclear how many of Google’s workers still haven’t been vaccinated. In his email, Pichai described the vaccination rate at the company as high.

Google’s decision to extend its remote-work follows a similar move by another technology powerhouse, Apple, which recently moved its return-to-office plans from September to October, too.

The delays by Apple and Google could influence other major employers to take similar precautions, given that the technology industry has been at the forefront of the shift to remote work triggered by the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Even before the World Health Organization declared a pandemic in March 2020, Google, Apple and many other prominent tech firms had been telling their employees to work from home. This marks the third time Google has pushed back the date for fully reopening its offices.

Google’s vaccine requirement also could embolden other employers to issue similar mandates to guard against outbreaks and minimize the need to wear masks in the office.

While most companies are planning to bring back their workers at least a few days a week, others in the tech industry have decided to let employees do their jobs from remote locations permanently.

Michael Liedtke, The Associated Press

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Samsung is already updating its Good Lock modules with Galaxy Z Fold 3 exclusive features – XDA Developers



Samsung is set to unveil the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 in a mega Galaxy Unpacked event next month. Both phones will undoubtedly bring along many hardware improvements across the board. They will also be the first to run the newest version of Samsung’s custom skin: One UI 3.1.1. Ahead of the official launch, Samsung has already started updating many Good Lock modules to support One UI 3.1.1 and Galaxy Z Fold 3/Flip Z 3.

Reserve your Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

New modules that have been updated (via TizenHelp) for One UI 3.1.1 and the new foldables include NavStar, MultiStar, Theme Park, and Nice Catch. Some of the newly added features will be exclusive to the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Flip 3, including the new media volume muted history in the Nice Catch module, the ability to import icon packs in the Theme Park module, and so on.

The NavStar module has also been updated with a new Show task stock feature which will allow the Fold 3 and supported tablets on One UI 3.1.1 to quickly switch between apps from the navigation bar.

Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3 may not be an ‘Ultra’ phone, but that’s the right move

Although you can download these new modules right now on your Galaxy device, some features might not work until you update to One UI 3.1.1. We don’t know what kind of new features and improvements One UI 3.1.1 will bring along, but it’s safe to assume it will likely be a minor update. In any case, with the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Flip 3 launch is just a couple of weeks away, we won’t have to wait long to find out what Samsung’s new skin has in store for us.

The Galaxy Unpacked event is scheduled for August 11, and besides the new foldable hardware, we also expect to see the new Galaxy Watch 4 series with Wear OS 3, new Galaxy Buds 2, and Galaxy S21 FE.

Screenshots courtesy: TizenHelp

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OxygenOS for OnePlus 7/7T series brings Widevine L1 fix, June patch – 9to5Google



OxygenOS is now rolling out for the OnePlus 7 and 7T series with a notable fix for Widevine L1 issues plus the June 2021 security patch.

The OxygenOS update was confirmed as rolling out on the OnePlus Forums(1) with this OTA providing quite a few fixes for common issues. With regard to the Widevine L1 problems, some OnePlus 7/7 Pro and 7T/7T Pro owners were unable to view videos in apps like Netflix at resolutions higher than 480p due to this issue. While this patch does resolve the problem, you might actually need to clear your device cache for it to resolve things. It’s annoying, but not quite as annoying as having to watch videos at low resolution.

Also included in the OxygenOS update are fixes for battery and power consumption, better management of device overheating, and blurry viewfinders when launching the camera app in certain conditions. OnePlus has pushed the outdated June 2021 security patch here too, which is a bit disappointing to say the least. You can check out the full changelog below:

  • System
    • Reduced Power consumption
    • Improved overheating control management
    • Fixed the issue of not being able to play high-definition videos on some video platforms
    • Upgraded Android Security Patch to 2021.06
  • File Manager
    • Fixed the crash issue of the application
  • Camera
    • Fixed the issue that the camera is blurred when shooting on fullscreen size
    • Improved the stability
  • Phone
    • Optimized the dialpad UI display effect

The OxygenOS update is rolling out in stages with a small selection of users getting access first before a wider rollout in the coming days. If you are happy to sideload the update ZIP, then it may be worthwhile giving the excellent Oxygen Updater a try.

More on OnePlus:

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