Fitbits Charge 4 can wake you up when you feel well-rested – Engadget

You now have more reasons to wear your Fitbit Charge 4 around the clock. The 9to5Google team reports (via The Verge) that a Charge 4 update has introduced two major features to improve your sleep habits and encourage more exercise. Smart Wake sets alarms based on when you’re likely to feel rested, rather than a set time. So long as you have that leeway, it could help you start your days on the right footing.

The other tentpole addition, Dynamic GPS, switches to your phone’s positioning when nearby to improve battery life. You won’t have to worry about your activity tracker running out of power just because you tracked your latest bike ride. Given that the Charge 4 can’t use its own GPS for more than five hours on a charge, this could get you through more workouts before plugging in.

Microsoft Prepares For A Life With Google – Forbes

When Microsoft introduced the Surface Duo late last year, it confirmed that it would be using Android as the operating system for the dual-screened device. As the official launch date approaches, Microsoft’s implementation of the popular OS looks ready to pass Google’s compatibility check.

The ‘Android Compatibility Program’ ensures that a device using the Android operating system is ‘Android compatible’, ie it can run applications designed for the Android Execution Environment. Think of it as a way to ensure that, even though the code is open source devices that are seen as Android devices can run the same applications. Windows Latest has the details:

“Google sets requirements that manufacturers must follow if they want their phones to pass Android’s Compatibility Test Suite. According to our findings, Microsoft is apparently seeking to get Surface Duo running Android 10 pass Google’s Compatibility Test Suite, which suggests that the launch of the device is imminent.”

Arguably this is a formality for an Android device, but the certification is vital for another part of the Android ecosystem that the public is familiar. Google Mobile Services – which is required to have the Google Play Store (and other associated services such as Youtube) – has ‘Android Compatibility’ as part of its requirements.

As Dieter Bohn noted when the Surface Duo was launched, the Surface Duo will be shipping with Google Mobile Servicesm which ensures the widest possible compatibility:

“All of that means the version of Android that Microsoft is running won’t be a fork of Android like Amazon’s Fire OS. It won’t cause fragmentation issues. That right there is Google’s big win. (It also explains why Google was so eager to tell me about its support for dual-screen devices in Android 10. It seemed odd to be so excited about the then-busted Galaxy Fold. Now it makes more sense.)”

Microsoft has been working to ensure that Android itself is able to support the dual-screened devices, offering code back to the open source project with additions including those to the browser and to the base Android Open Source Project. These support the non-standard display tech that Microsot is relying on to help the Surface Duo stand out.

But what may stand out more than anything else is Microsoft’s willingness to embrace Android as a whole. Rather than try to strike out on its own and develop a new ecosystem from scratch, it;s about bringing more users into Microsoft’s cloud of software and services.

Even if you’ll still need to sign into Google when you first open the Surface Duo.

Now read more about Microsoft’s Android-powered launcher that will be the heart of the Surface Duo…

Google to Dramatically Improve Chrome Impact on Mac Battery Life – MacRumors

Google will address long-standing battery life issues, particularly on Mac devices, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Chrome will improve “tab throttling” by better prioritizing active tabs and limiting resource drain from tabs open in the background. This is said to have a “dramatic impact on battery and performance.” Google has reportedly been performing early tests on Mac laptops in particular.

“This is an ongoing investment in improvements to speed, performance and battery life,” said Max Christoff, director of Chrome browser engineering. Chrome has previously been criticized for poor use of RAM, battery draining, and privacy concerns.

In May, Google set out plans to improve Chrome battery toll by blocking resource-heavy ads. Chrome will also limit the resources that an ad can use before the user interacts with it. In addition to this, Chrome will soon be updated with new optimization that will allow the most performance-critical parts of the software to run even faster.

Google is currently experimenting with the changes, with the intention of releasing the optimizations and improvements to Chrome in a stable release towards the end of August.

Round Up: What Was Announced at Ubisoft Forward? – Push Square

I’m tired of the open world games.
Feels like we played the same damn games since the PS3 era, just with better graphics and bigger worlds.

We need some new ideas and gameplay experiences next gen.

I want shorter games as well.
After 20 hours I’m bored and want to move on to something new.
These 60-100 hour games, just becomes to damn repetitive.

Most Samsung Galaxy 5G phones now come with gifts worth $175, Postmates credit included – PhoneArena

Hoping to convince more customers to buy 5G smartphones,
Samsung this month is giving away interesting gifts with most of its Galaxy 5G handsets available in the US.

Until July 31 (or while supplies last), if you buy select 5G-ready Galaxy devices from Samsung you’ll receive a 1-year Postmates Unlimited subscription (worth $100), $25 in Postmates credit, and $50 in Galaxy Store credit. That’s a total of $175 in freebies.

With Postmates Unlimited you’ll get free deliveries when ordering food, groceries, and other goods through Postmates. As for the $25 credit, you will be able to use this for a meal or anything else that Postmates can deliver.

 

See this deal here at Samsung

Samsung says that the number of available $175 gifts is limited to 16,000. We don’t know how many 5G phones the company is selling per month stateside, but the gifts may run out before the month’s end. In other words, if you find the Postmates and Galaxy Store freebies tempting, you may want to hurry and buy yourself a Samsung 5G handset sooner rather than later.

Google Bans Ads for Snooping Products and Services – Gizmodo

Illustration for article titled Google Bans Ads for Snooping Products and Services

Photo: Alastair Pike (Getty Images)

Google’s banning ads for so-called “stalkerware” apps, invasive programs largely associated with jealous exes or abusive partners to spy on another person without their authorization. Though given that the online search giant already adopted a blanket ban against stalkerware apps in its Play Store, one has to wonder why such ads were still allowed to begin with.

Better late than never, I suppose.

In an ad policy update this week, Google said that beginning August 11 it will prohibit ads for products or services marketed for secretly tracking or monitoring someone. This includes, but is not limited to:

Spyware and technology used for intimate partner surveillance including but not limited to spyware/malware that can be used to monitor texts, phone calls, or browsing history; GPS trackers specifically marketed to spy or track someone without their consent; promotion of surveillance equipment (cameras, audio recorders, dash cams, nanny cams) marketed with the express purpose of spying.

Essentially, any kind of digital surveillance tech that hinges on the person being watched not knowing what’s up. Exceptions to this ban include apps and services aimed at private investigations and helicopter parents looking to monitor their underage children.

Advertisers that fail to abide by this new policy will see their accounts suspended with at least a seven-day warning ahead of time.

Google’s been ramping up efforts to crack down on its stalkerware problem, particularly after a 2018 study found it hosted thousands of ads for hidden surveillance tech specifically calling out to people who wanted to cyberstalk their significant other. Several of the ads discovered included on-the-nose pitches like “How to catch a cheating spouse with his cell phone” and “Track My Wife’s Phone — Want to Spy on your Wife? Track your Wife without her knowing.”

Google’s taken steps to restrict these ads from popping up for some of the more damning search terms an abuser might use, but many continue to slip through the cracks. Despite its blanket app store ban, the company occasionally purges batches of stalkerware apps from its Play Store that managed to avoid being flagged.

The sad thing is, these stalkerware apps are a prevalent problem for a reason. A NortonLifeLock study released in February found that almost half of Americans admitted to cyberstalking a partner or ex in some form. These methods included snooping on their partner’s phone, creating a fake profile to stalk them on social media, or using an app to secretly monitor their online activity and location data—with men being more than twice as likely as women to rely on cyberstalking apps.

Apple’s Surprise iPhone 12 Pro Upgrade Suddenly Confirmed – Forbes

We know a great deal about Apple’s redesigned iPhone 12 smartphones. But now a big piece of the puzzle has just been filled in, and it may result in some users needing to spend more than they intended. 

MORE FROM FORBESApple’s iPhone 12 Redesign Revealed In Striking Renders

Rising Apple insider L0vetodream has revealed that Apple will equip its iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max models with 6GB RAM, that’s 50% more than their predecessors and this should deliver a major increase in multitasking performance. Moreover, acclaimed Apple leaker Jon Prosser has now followed up this information stating that he “can confirm” it as well. But there’s one downside. 

The bad news is L0vetodream states that the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Max (the new names for the 5.4-inch and 6.1-inch entry level models), will stick with the same 4GB RAM as in the iPhone 11. Last year Apple gave all iPhone 11 models matching chipsets and RAM, so it’s something of a surprise to see the company reverse this change (the iPhone XR had less RAM than the iPhone XS) after only a single generation. 

Consequently, those who want absolute peak performance from their new iPhones are going to have to spend more this year. After all, it is Apple’s decision to equip iPhones with considerably less RAM than Android rivals which has seen them repeatedly outpaced in multitasking speed tests

That said, don’t expect any iPhone 12 model to be slow. At their heart will be Apple’s new A14 chipset which looks set to bring the biggest generational leap in years. The 5.4-inch iPhone will also deliver a price/performance ratio unlike anything this small, while the iPhone 12 Pro models will add Apple’s potentially game-changing new LiDAR sensor and 5G is coming to all models (albeit in different flavors). 

At this stage, the only fly in the ointment is ongoing display concerns in what otherwise looks set to be a truly stellar iPhone launch year. 

___

Follow Gordon on Facebook

More On Forbes

Apple Issues Expensive Shock For Millions Of iPhone Users

Apple iOS 13.5.1 Release: Should You Upgrade?

Why Microsoft Believes In Cross-Gen And No Exclusives For Xbox Series X – GameSpot

With the launch of next-generation consoles coming up later this year, Microsoft and Sony are ushering in the next era of gaming. The companies are taking slightly different approaches. Sony has said it plans to release PS5-exclusive titles right out of the gate, while Microsoft has spoken time and again about not doing this with the Xbox Series X, and instead launching titles across its family of devices.

Xbox boss Phil Spencer told GI.biz that he’s so passionate about this because he wants to make Microsoft’s games available to people no matter what device they have. Forcing people to buy new hardware is against what the spirit of gaming is all about, Spencer said.

“As a player you are the centre of our strategy,” Spencer said. “Our device is not the centre of our strategy, our game is not the centre of the strategy. We want to enable you to play the games you want to play, with the friends you want to play with, on any device. On TV, the Xbox console is going to be the best way to play console games.”

The Series X is the most powerful console Microsoft has ever made, and people who play games on that system will get to experience the “best version” of Microsoft’s games when it comes to fidelity and performance, Spencer said. That being said, Spencer said he doesn’t want to exclusive anyone from Microsoft’s games, so the company will continue to release new games on the regular Xbox One, as well as PC.

“Gaming is about entertainment and community and diversion and learning new stories and new perspectives, and I find it completely counter to what gaming is about to say that part of that is to lock people away from being able to experience those games,” Spencer said. “Or to force someone to buy my specific device on the day that I want them to go buy it, in order to partake in what gaming is about.”

“Gaming is bigger than any one device, and that is something as an industry that we’ve embraced all up as we bring more and more players in. I think it’s vital to the role that gaming can play on the planet.”

The difference in policies between Sony and Microsoft in this regard has led to some portion of the audience criticizing Microsoft for “holding back” the power of new games to accomodate older hardware. Spencer thinks this is a bunch of baloney–just look at the PC market, he said.

“Frankly, held back is a meme that gets created by people who are too caught up in device competition,” Spencer said. “I just look at Windows. It’s almost certain if the developer is building a Windows version of their game, then the most powerful and highest fidelity version is the PC version. You can even see that with some of our first-party console games going to PC, even from our competitors, that the richest version is the PC version. Yet the PC ecosystem is the most diverse when it comes to hardware, when you think about the CPUs and GPUs from years ago that are there.”

With Xbox Game Pass and xCloud, Microsoft no longer even needs you to buy any Xbox model to become an Xbox user.

Now Playing: Microsoft’s Secret Weapon For Next-Gen Is Xbox Game Pass

This Weeks Japanese Game Releases: Ghost of Tsushima, Paper Mario: The Origami King, more – Gematsu

This Week's Japanese Game Releases: Ghost of Tsushima, Paper Mario: The Origami King, more

Ghost of Tsushima for PlayStation 4 and Paper Mario: The Origami King for Switch are the highlights of this week’s Japanese game releases.

Developed by Sucker Punch Productions, Ghost of Tsushima is an open-world game set on the island of Tsushima, Japan in 1274. As Jin Sakai, one of the last surviving samurai, you rise from the ashes to fight back against the Mongol Empire’s invasion of the island. Jin must also decide whether to deviate from his samurai path to protect the island and its people by any means necessary.

Paper Mario: The Origami King is the first new entry in the Paper Mario series since Paper Mario: Color Splash for Wii U in 2016. In it, Mario and his new partner Olivia must battle the evil Folded Soldiers via a new ring-based battle system, repair the landscape, and try to free Prince Peach’s castle from the clutches of King Olly.

Other new releases this week include Death Stranding and Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town for PC, Code: Realize ~Wintertide Miracles~ for Switch, and the physical edition of Together! The Battle Cats! for Switch.

Get the full list of this week’s Japanese game releases below. It should be noted that Gematsu will receive a small percentage of money from purchases made through Play-Asia links. You can also save five percent using our “GEMATSU” coupon code.

  • Code: Realize ~Wintertide Miracles~ (Switch)
  • Ghost of Tsushima (PS4) – Launching worldwide.
  • Indivisible (PS4, Switch)
  • Paper Mario: The Origami King (Switch) – Launching worldwide.
  • Rocket Arena (PS4) – Launching worldwide.
  • Together! The Battle Cats! Game & Pouch Set (Switch)
  • Death Come True (PC [Steam]) – Launching worldwide.
  • Death Stranding (PC [Steam, Epic Games Store]) – Launching worldwide.
  • Home Run High (Switch) – Launching worldwide.
  • Hunting Simulator 2 (PC [Steam]) – Launching worldwide.
  • Jake Hunter Detective Story: Prism of Eyes – Rensasuru Noroi (Switch)
  • Neon Abyss (PC [Steam]) – Launching worldwide.
  • Never Breakup (Switch) – Launching worldwide.
  • One Finger Death Punch 2 (Switch) – Already available worldwide.
  • Our Athletic Meet (Switch)
  • Rigid Force Redux (Switch) – Already available worldwide.
  • Rocket Arena (Xbox One, PC [Steam, Origin]) – Launching worldwide.
  • Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town (PC [Steam]) – Launching worldwide.
  • Super Drop Jigsaw Vol. 1 (Switch)
  • Touhou Labyrinth: Gensokyo to Tenkan no Taiju (PS4, Switch)
  • Waifu Uncovered (Switch) – Launching worldwide.

The PlayStation 4 or Switch titles listed above can be purchased through Japanese PlayStation Network and Nintendo accounts using prepaid cards:

Comment Policy

Comments are welcome and encouraged on Gematsu. However, we ask that you follow a simple set of guidelines:

  • Read the full article before commenting.
  • Stay on topic.
  • No drive-by comments, including trolling, baiting, or shit-posting.
  • Know when not to comment. If you do not care about a topic, you do not need to comment.
  • No offensive comments. This includes abusive, threatening, pornographic, misleading, or libelous content / language, as well as general harassment and individual attacks.
  • No port-begging.
  • No console wars.
  • Use spoiler tags when posting spoiler or NSFW (non-nude-only) content. For example: <spoiler>Woe is Leomon.</spoiler> State the subject of the content outside of the spoiler tags.
  • Be respectful towards other commenters. You do not have to agree with each other, but debate politely. If you find that a commenter is not following this simple etiquette, do not carry on the conversation—simply report it.

Gematsu reserves the right to edit or delete any comments without notice. This comment policy is subject to change at any time.

Microsoft and Google team up to improve web apps on Android – SlashGear

There are many operating systems available today, from Windows to macOS to Linux to Android to iOS, a bit far too many for developers, especially lone ones, to support equally. There is also no shortage of frameworks and tools, like Qt or Google’s Flutter, designed to make that a little less painful but the one platform for that truly permeates all of these is the Web. That is basically the appeal of the new generation of web apps, called Progressive Web Apps, and two of the world’s larger software vendors are working together to make PWAs more like first-class citizens of the Google Play Store.

A lot of the most popular apps and services these days are web-based, designed so that they can cover as many bases as they can, sometimes even on mobile web browsers. That doesn’t instantly make them PWAs, though, as those still have to integrate properly with the underlying OS-specific features. That’s what Microsoft’s PWABuilder and Google’s Bubblewrap are designed to do and they are now joining forces to spread the good news of PWAs on mobile.

Google’s Bubblewrap is basically a tool to create Google Play Store packages out of PWAs while Microsoft’s PWABuilder does the same for most app stores. PWABuilder is now using Bubblerwrap under the hood, Microsoft says, and, in turn, it is giving back some integration features to PWAs on Android.

Specifically, PWAs packaged for Google Play Store will be able to support web shortcuts that let users jump directly to specific sections or parts of the web app. On Windows, these shortcuts appear as jump lists when you right-click on the icon in the taskbar. This same list will appear on Android when you hold and press on the app icon. Additionally, PWAs will be able to control the appearance of the status bar, like changing its color to match the app’s theme, just like regular native Android apps.

Google and Microsoft are leaning hard on PWAs for their own reasons. Microsoft is trying to make up for the lack of apps on its Store by letting existing web apps publish there as PWAs. Google, on the other hand, benefits from PWAs by having a single app story that encompasses all its existing platforms and uses the platform that it knows best: the Web.