Samsung testing out Android Pie for Galaxy Note 8

Samsung testing out Android Pie for Galaxy Note 8

While we already have confirmation that the Android 9.0 Pie firmware update will of course be coming to the current flagship lineup of Samsung, namely the Galaxy S9, Galaxy S9+, and Galaxy Note 9, what about the slightly older devices? Well at least for the Galaxy Note 8, we might have confirmation that the Korean OEM is already testing out the Pie build for last year’s phablet. There are no other details though, like when it will be rolled out but given that the flagships are not yet updated, don’t hold your breath.

According to sources, Samsung is testing out N950FXXU5DRK4 for the Galaxy Note 8. While it’s not confirmation that that is indeed the Pie update, the Oreo-based firmware had the CRxx format for the last four letters of the software version. So the D in the last four letters of the firmware being updated suggests that it’s a major upgrade. It’s a stretch and may just be a big feature that will be rolled out, but it’s not unlikely that it is indeed Pie for the Galaxy Note 8.

What is also unclear is whether this firmware will also contain the newly-announced One UI interface, the newest version of Samsung’s popular Android skin. This will replace the Samsung Experience which previously replaced TouchWiz. But Android Authority confirmed that it will also be rolling out not just to the current flagships but also to the Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+, and the Galaxy Note 8.

One UI is currently accepting sign-ups for its beta-testing program. It is expected to roll out the stable version alongside the Android Pie update sometime early next year and as always, it will probably roll out to the current flagships first and it will take some time before the others will get to enjoy it.

As to when the Android Pie, and subsequently the One UI, will roll out for owners of the Galaxy Note 8 devices, that will be determined as to how timely the rollout will be for the newer devices. As we’ve seen the past years though, expect it to not be so timely.

VIA: Galaxy Club

Read More

Nintendo’s Wii Is Getting Rid Of Its Streaming Services

Nintendo’s Wii Is Getting Rid Of Its Streaming Services

While the Nintendo Switch continues to build an impressive library of video games, and slowly begins to lure in non-gaming apps to its line-up of available software, the previous generation Nintendo devices are slowly beginning to lose access to their streaming services, as Nintendo begins to routinely get rid of the Wii’s apps.

TechRadar reports that Nintendo is axing support for the streaming apps on the Wii. This comes in connection with Netflix sending out a letter to Wii users notifying them that the app will no longer be available on the Wii starting January 31st, 2019.

Netflix isn’t the only one leaving the Wii’s app repository. Other apps are also leaving the platform as well, including Hulu, Crunchyroll, and Amazon Prime.

These services going kaput on the Wii will only affect the Wii. The Wii U will supposedly not be affected by these changes. So if you still have the apps installed on the device, you’ll still be able to use them without any problems.

All of the streaming apps being removed from the Wii coincides with Nintendo also shutting down the Wii Shop Channel in early 2019. So all the online apps and services will shut down anyway.

It’s not all bad news, though, if you’re a Nintendo fan. If you’ve already switched over to the Switch then you’re in good hands when it comes to some of the video streaming apps. There’s Hulu, which launched for the Switch back in 2017 and was one of the first non-gaming apps that Nintendo allowed on the Switch. Just recently, Nintendo managed to allow the YouTube app to go live on the Switch, which you can download right now for free.

With Hulu and YouTube on the Switch, there are now rumors beginning to spread that Netflix may soon find its way onto the Switch as well. Since last year, a number of people have been asking about the streaming app appearing on Nintendo’s hybrid console. But there was a lot of deflection whenever the topic came up, mostly because, at the time, Nintendo wanted to focus on first-party software and courting third-party studios. The efforts have mostly paid off, with companies like Epic Games bringing over Fortnite and Psyonix bringing over Rocket League, both of which support cross-play compatibility.

So while the Wii’s services begin to wind down, the Switch’s services are beginning to grow and expand. Netflix still hasn’t quite confirmed any release on the Switch, but we know for sure that the streaming service — along with Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and every other major streaming app — will cease to function after January 2019 on the original Wii.

It wasn’t a bad run for the system, given that it came out way back in 2006 and has been supported by said services for the last 12 years. Typically, game consoles are supported at a max for maybe a decade, with the longest generation being the seventh, which extended from 2005 up until 2013.

With the Wii prepping to finally have all of its services retired, don’t be surprised if the Wii U will be receiving those same messages about app support coming to a close sometime in the near future.

Read More

Google needs to break up its all-or-nothing approach to permissions

Google needs to break up its all-or-nothing approach to permissions

For a company that is making the right sort of moves around mobile permissions, even if years after Apple showed it how, Google has a massive blind spot on its assistant and assistant-promoting products like the Home Hub.

At its heart, Google wants to get as much data as it possibly can from its users, and it clearly thinks that data will be handed over for the convenience of recommended content and reminders.

It’s nice to be told the road to work is clogged, or you need to leave right now to make that 2pm appointment — but to tell Google every search term I enter, or every web page I visit in Chrome whether on my mobile or using a desktop in return for such information is too much to ask.

As it currently stands, it is all or nothing with Google; you cannot dip in or dip out of the deal. Only want assistant updates on your calendar? Forget it.

This scenario enters the realm of full-on head scratching when it comes to the Google’s smart assistant with a screen, the Home Hub, a device that Google wants to be at the centre of your smart home.

Google Home: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic) | Google makes it easier to clear your recent Search activity | How Amazon and Microsoft will oust Google to become our next Android overlords | G Suite Team Drive access levels: What managers need to know (TechRepublic)

Unless you hand Google the web and app history permissions it desires, good luck getting any music out of this thing, because it hard blocks YouTube and Google Play Music until you do.

Right now, you could be using any computer or smartphone in the world, type in YouTube’s URL, and play pretty much any video you like, but there is no such luck on the Home Hub.

The irony really kicks in when within Google’s app to control the Home Hub, it will pick up paid YouTube and Google Play accounts; but, even so, Google’s own hardware prevents the use of services that are paid for.

See: Best Google Home Hub alternatives you can buy right now

“In order to provide the full Assistant experience, Google Assistant requires certain levels of permission,” a Google spokesperson told ZDNet.

“Since Google Home Hub uses the Google Assistant to interface with YouTube, web and app activity is a required permission to enable voice actions.”

At this point, it needs to be noted that the Home Hub is a voice-first device, and without it, the only way to play YouTube or Play Music is via casting to the device, which makes the Hub essentially a Chromecast with a screen and microphone.

It is an extraordinary state of affairs that a Home Hub buyer could fork out AU$200 for a device that refuses to work in few of the advertised ways because Google is not allowed to openly track them.

Also read: Google Home Hub first impressions: A weekend of entertainment

There seems to be little technical reason why Home Hub couldn’t work with individual access to Google calendar, Gmail, YouTube, and other Google properties without the demand to slurp up everything, but data addiction is a helluva drug.

The option to gracefully degrade services for those who choose to opt out of Google’s data collection seems a bridge too far for the search giant — business is business, and the company has made its decision.

ZDNet’s Monday Morning Opener

The Monday Morning Opener is our opening salvo for the week in tech. Since we run a global site, this editorial publishes on Monday at 8:00am AEST in Sydney, Australia, which is 6:00pm Eastern Time on Sunday in the US. It is written by a member of ZDNet’s global editorial board, which is comprised of our lead editors across Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America.

Previously on Monday Morning Opener:

Read More

New ‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’ Trailer Brings Together Tons of Fighters

New ‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’ Trailer Brings Together Tons of Fighters

Nintendo’s newest Super Smash Bros. Ultimate trailer teases more fighters, battles, and fun with an animation brings together tons of fighters both new and old.

Currently uploaded to Nintendo’s YouTube channel as an “unlisted” video, the trailer features plenty of fighters, but the amount shown is still just a portion of everyone who’s in the game. Starting with a person looking upwards at the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate banner that’s constantly been updated to include more characters as they were revealed, the banner comes to life to show a clash between different fighters from across all sorts of Nintendo franchises.

Mario, princesses, Pokemon, and others all team up and do battle within the trailer, most of them coming out of the fight unscathed as they dodged or countered each other’s attacks. Captain Falcon wasn’t so fortunate though since he took a fully-charged punch from Donkey Kong that sent him flying right off the screen.

There’s no telling why it’s currently found as an unlisted video in Nintendo’s channel, but it appears to have remained mostly unnoticed until recently. Judging from how brief the video was coupled with the announcer voice at the end repeating the game’s title and release date, it sounds like the video is more of a TV advertisement for the game.

The banner shown in the video appears to have every character that’ll be in the game at launch following Nintendo’s many reveals of more characters both from its brands and those from third-party games who are making guest appearances. Some of the most recent reveals like Ken from the Street Fighter games, the Pokemon called Incineroar, and King K. Rool are shown in the banner alongside the Echo fighters that’ll make for alternate counterparts to their normal characters. Piranha Plant is absent from the trailer and the banner, though that makes sense seeing how that fighter is one of the DLC characters that is to be added post-launch. It was confirmed days ago that all these DLC characters had been finalized, so no further suggestions will sway Nintendo’s decision-making process regarding the fighters that are to come.

This video is also one of the first previews for the game that players have seen since the last Nintendo Direct where the “World of Light” mode was revealed and featured tons of Smash fighters getting eviscerated by a new enemy.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is scheduled to release for the Nintendo Switch on December 7th.

Read More

Microsoft adds RPG makers InXile and Obsidian to Xbox developer stable

Microsoft adds RPG makers InXile and Obsidian to Xbox developer stable

Microsoft is continuing to invest in a broad spectrum of developers for its Xbox gaming ecosystem with the acquisition of Obsidian and InXile, makers of complex RPGs primarily aimed at PC users. The two studios will join four others snatched up in June, significantly bolstering Xbox’s first-party development resources.

The company announced the acquisitions (rumored for some time) at its XO18 event alongside numerous other interesting developments for the Xbox One and Windows gaming platforms. Xbox Director of Programming Larry Hyrb, better known by his pseudonym Major Nelson, welcomed them to the Microsoft Studios team of owned but independent devs:

Of the two studios Obsidian is probably the best known; Fallout: New Vegas is a modern classic of the open world genre, while Pillars of Eternity and its enormous sequel are a welcome revival of the classic isometric PC RPG. InXile is a bit more niche, though also successful: the Wasteland, Torment, and Bard’s Tale games are similarly appreciated by RPG lovers. The studios will, like the others in Microsoft’s stable, be given significant operational independence, not folded into some internal unit.

Microsoft announced the acquisition of Compulsion, Undead Labs, Ninja Theory, and Playground Games in June. But what’s clear from the more recent gets, that the earlier ones didn’t necessarily indicate, is a big focus on core PC gamers. Microsoft has had a rather mixed mission in that it wants to ensure the success of its Xbox One (and future) consoles, but also wants to bring the huge population of PC gamers into the fold somehow. It would help offset the significant but yet necessarily decisive lead Sony has in the ongoing console wars.

Numerous efforts over the years have failed to impress them and some are in fact still ridiculed. But the collection of some seriously PC-first developers commanding a hardcore audience may help bring some PC gaming wisdom to the Xbox world.

Although console exclusives are not as appreciated as they once were — gamers value cross-platform play far more — it doesn’t help to have a couple to sway undecided buyers or even tempt consumers to buy both. These acquisitions suggest an investment in Microsoft’s first-party development platform that could help close the gap, or prepare a real blitz for the next generation of consoles.

The studios issued videos talking about their take on the development, which you can watch below:

Read More