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Perhaps Google has started preparing for the launch of its upcoming Nest camera products, which is why they showed up on the company's store for a very brief period. While the listings are no longer available as of this writing, The Verge was able to catch a glimpse before they disappeared. Apparently, the tech giant will launch a battery-powered Nest camera good for indoors and outdoors, another camera that comes with floodlights and a wired camera for indoors. There's a battery-powered Nest doorbell among the leaked products, as well.Google (screenshots courtesy of The Verge)
Unfortunately, the listings didn't link to individual product pages and only took curious users back to the main Google Store page. We'll have to wait for official information to know more about the devices. By releasing a battery-powered Nest doorbell and a floodlight-equipped camera, however, Google will finally be able to offer a veritable rival to Amazon's security devices. When the tech giant first announced that it'll launch a new Nest lineup back in January, it didn't say when the products will be available. It did say, however, that the lineup is for 2021, so they'll most likely be out for purchase in the coming months.
Until recently, there was only one smartphone on the market equipped with an under-screen camera: last year's ZTE Axon 20 5G. Other players such as Vivo, Oppo and Xiaomi had also been testing this futuristic tech, but given the subpar image quality back then, it's no wonder that phone makers largely stuck with punch-hole cameras for selfies.
Despite much criticism of its first under-screen camera, ZTE worked what it claims to be an improved version into its new Axon 30 5G, which launched in China last week. Coincidentally, today Oppo unveiled its third-gen under-screen camera which, based on a sample shot it provided, appears to be surprisingly promising — no noticeable haziness nor glare. But that was just one photo, of course, so I'll obviously reserve my final judgement until I get to play with one. Even so, the AI tricks and display circuitry that made this possible are intriguing.Oppo
In a nutshell, nothing has changed in terms of how the under-screen camera sees through the screen. Its performance is limited by how much light can travel through the gaps between each OLED pixel. Therefore, AI compensation is still a must. For its latest under-screen camera, Oppo says it trained its own AI engine "using tens of thousands of photos" in order to achieve more accurate corrections on diffraction, white balance and HDR. Hence the surprisingly natural-looking sample shot.Oppo
Another noteworthy improvement here lies within the display panel's consistency. The earlier designs chose to lower the pixel density in the area above the camera, in order to let sufficient light into the sensor. This resulted in a noticeable patch above the camera, which would have been a major turn-off when you watched videos or read fine text on that screen.
But now, Oppo — or the display panel maker, which could be Samsung — figured out a way to boost light transmittance by slightly shrinking each pixel's geometry above the camera. In order words, we get to keep the same 400-ppi pixel density as the rest of the screen, thus creating a more consistent look.Oppo
Oppo added that this is further enhanced by a transparent wiring material, as well as a one-to-one pixel-circuit-to-pixel architecture (instead of two-to-one like before) in the screen area above the camera. The latter promises more precise image control and greater sharpness, with the bonus being a 50-percent longer panel lifespan due to better burn-in prevention.
Oppo didn't say when or if consumers will get to use its next-gen under-screen camera, but given the timing, I wouldn't be surprised if this turns out to be the same solution on the ZTE Axon 30 5G. In any case, it would be nice if the industry eventually agreed to dump punch-hole cameras in favor of invisible ones.
Diablo Immortal may be a game for tiny screens, but that doesn't mean it's a small feat of development. For precisely this reason, Activision Blizzard has delayed the release of Diablo Immortal to early 2022.
The action RPG was originally supposed to hit iOS and Android devices this year, but developers need more time to fine-tune PvP content, improve PvE experiences and implement additional accessibility options, according to Blizzard. Here's how developers put it in their blog post:
Following feedback provided by test participants of the Closed Alpha, our team has been tuning core and endgame features. For example, we’re iterating on PvP content like the Cycle of Strife to make it more accessible, alongside late-game PvE content like the Helliquary to make it more engaging. We’re also working to provide controller support for those who want to play our game in a different way. However, these changes and additional opportunities to improve our gameplay experience will not be realized in the 2021 timeframe we had previously communicated. So, the game is now planned for release in the first half of 2022, which will allow us to add substantial improvements to the whole game.
Blizzard goes on to describe specific features it'll focus on, such as adding PvE Raids, adjusting Bounties and making Challenge Rifts more exciting. In terms of PvP adjustments, Blizzard will work on improving matchmaking, earning rankings, class balance, time to kill and other elements of the Battleground system, plus it'll spit-shine the Cycle of Strife endgame content. All of this joins a raft of changes to progression and XP caps.
It seems developers are still in the early stages when it comes to getting Diablo Immortal to play nice with gamepads.
"We're still working through the challenges of adapting the touch screen controls to a controller seamlessly," the blog reads. "Making our game more accessible is top of mind, and we’ll share more progress on this front as we approach the beta in the future."
Blizzard has other things on its plate right now, too. Activision Blizzard is facing a sexual harassment and gender discrimination lawsuit from the state of California, and Blizzard president J. Allen Brack left the company today amid allegations that he overlooked abuse in the workplace for years. Blizzard's head of HR, Jesse Meschuk, also left the studio this week. A second lawsuit was filed by shareholders today, claiming Activision Blizzard failed to disclose potential regulatory issues related to the company's discriminatory, frat-house-style culture.
WhatsApp is adding disappearing photo messages to its app. Called “view once” photos, the new feature allows users to send photos and videos in chats that can only be viewed a single time before disappearing.
The Snapchat-like feature is similar to Instagram and Messenger’s disappearing photo features. When snapping a picture in WhatsApp, users can select the timer icon to set the photo to “view once.” Unlike regular photo or video messages, the “view once” images won’t preview in the chat and can’t be downloaded to your device.
Facebook is billing the feature as one for “private moments” or for sending potentially sensitive information like Wi-Fi passwords. As always, people should be wary of just how “private” these kinds of messages really are. In a help article, the company notes that the recipient can still take a screenshot or record their screen while opening a “view once” photo and, unlike Snapchat, WhatsApp won’t let the sender know when a screenshot has been taken. The company also points out that “view once” photos that are reported will be made visible to WhatsApp.
A harassment and discrimination lawsuit from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) isn’t the only legal battle Activision Blizzard has to worry about anymore. Ahead of the company’s Q2 earnings call on Tuesday, a firm called Rosen Law filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of investors who traded in Activision Blizzard securities between August 4th, 2016 and July 27th, 2021.
The firm, the same one that’s behind a similar lawsuit against CD Projekt RED over the disastrous launch of Cyberpunk 2077, accuses Activision Blizzard of intentionally failing to disclose its ongoing problems with sexual harassment and discrimination. In doing so, Rosen Law alleges the company put itself at greater risk of regulatory legal scrutiny and enforcement. The suit names Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, as well as several other executives, as defendants and seeks to recover damages for investors under federal securities laws.
The suit comes on the same day the company announced J. Allen Brack was “stepping down” from his role as president of Blizzard Entertainment. In its lawsuit, the State of California accuses Brack of taking “no effective remedial measures” to curb the “bro culture” that enabled individuals like Alex Afrasiabi to harass the company’s female employees. Taking his place are Jen Oneal and former Xbox executive Mike Ybarra, who will oversee the studio as co-leaders.