Welcome to a fresh new week at Engadget. Over the weekend, you may have missed Uber's latest sketchy tale, a rallying call for truth and science, and a love letter to the Galaxy S8 from a once-Samsung hater.
How should politicians connect with younger voters? How do you cut through the relentless waves of promises, speeches and the rest? If you're South Korean presidential candidate Moon Jae-in, you take to Starcraft. Perhaps even more surprisingly, he's actually a legitimate, tenable candidate who could well be the country's next leader, according to recent polls. Moon Jae-in has launched two free maps on his campaign blog, a clever idea in a country that loves it some Starcraft.
Source: Moon Jae In Camp (Korean)
Oh, and, yes, I am that sex robot guy.
With each new editor at Engadget came a new direction, meant to reflect the state of technology. In those early days, we were the go-to place for exhaustive hardware news, and as gadgets went mainstream we followed suit. We broadened our vision beyond the narrow scope of gadgets, pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a tech blog. We took on gaming, entertainment, politics, culture and science. We acquired the archives and expertise of early digital publishing pioneers like TUAW, Joystiq and gdgt. We moved away from aggregating press releases and started focusing on original reporting, invested heavily in new formats like video and social. Some of those changes paid off; others proved to be a distraction.
Of course, innovation doesn't occur in a vacuum, and what happens today can change the course of tomorrow. The future is an exciting and unexpected place and our editors have front-row seats to the action. That's why, after 13 years in the game, we're leveraging our history to bring the future into focus. You'll see more on the next phase of Engadget in the coming months, but in the meantime, allow me to introduce you to the people leading the charge.
Terrence O'Brien, news junkie, voice of the Engadget Podcast and our current managing editor, will remain in his position to oversee our East Coast headquarters. He'll be joined by resident drone expert and audiophile James Trew, and Mat Smith, previously our man in Japan, who will oversee our West Coast and European operations, respectively.
Nathan Ingraham is moving up to become our deputy managing editor and will be joined by Senior News Editors Billy Steele and Richard Lawler in steering our daily news efforts. You already have these guys to thank for our 24-hour news coverage, breakneck event updates and liveblogs ... all the liveblogs.
Evan Rodgers, formerly of Vice, The Verge (because everything comes full circle) and a short retreat to the Deep South recently joined us as our social media manager.
And then there's you. As we look to the future, your input is more important than ever. You can get at us in the comments, on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and wherever quality, ad-supported media is found. We may be strange, but don't be a stranger.
Valve is changing the way Dota 2 is played, at least on a meta level. Beginning May 4th, players will be required to register a unique phone number to their accounts in order to queue up for ranked matches. That's one account per phone number, ostensibly placing a hard limit on the number of ranked accounts that any one player can have.
Before you get any fresh ideas, Valve says online services that provide virtual phone numbers won't work in this new system. Nice try.
Source: Dota 2
The idea that learning another language should be free is the core idea behind Duolingo. Over the past few years, the app has strived to make learning a new tongue convenient, portable and fun. Now the company's trying to turn its free language learning tools into a profitable business by introducing a premium service. Don't worry, though -- Duolingo Plus doesn't take away your free language course, it just gets rid of its ads.
Source: Gigazine (Japanese)
The next Call of Duty returns to the series' roots with a storyline set in World War II. Sledgehammer Games is working on the new title, dubbed Call of Duty: WWII, and the studio is expected to drop details in a livestream on Wednesday, April 26th at 1PM ET.
Source: Call of Duty: WWII
You don't need to be a member of Twitch's exclusive group of Partnered streamers to start making money broadcasting on the service anymore. "Twitch will invite creators to join the program who fit the criteria, based on time spent streaming, viewership and followers," the company said in a statement. That starts with opening its "Cheering with Bits" functionality up to more people.
Hey, good morning! You look fabulous.
Welcome to Friday, friends. A few changes are afoot at Engadget, Elon Musk has plans for brain-machine interfaces in a few years, and HTC made a phone that is rumored to be squeezable. Meanwhile, a high-end, WiFi-connected juicer with mountains of funding is also feeling the squeeze.
If Grand Theft Auto: Online's last big event, the sophomorically named Cunning Stunts, stoked a flame in your racing heart, next week's add-on might set it ablaze with nostalgia. For a few different reasons, no less. With April 25th's "Tiny Racers," the camera reverts to a top-down point of view like the GTA games of yore. More than that, Tiny Racers is a pretty overt homage to the Micro Machines series of stunt-minded arcade racers from the 8-and-16 bit era. I mean, just look at the name; that wasn't an accident.
Source: Rockstar Newswire
Rick and Morty is one of the funniest shows on television -- and it's also one of the weirdest. Co-created by Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon (Community), the series is like a demented spin on the Doc Brown/Marty McFly relationship from Back to the Future. Rick Sanchez is a dimension-hopping alcoholic genius who's the grandfather to Morty, a nebbish kid who's always in over his head. Comedy! While I was initially worried that the show's first VR experience, Virtual Rick-ality, might not live up to the series' wildly inventive attitude, it didn't waste much time proving me wrong.
My name is Christopher Trout, your new editor-in-chief. You may not recognize my name, but chances are you've read something I've written. When I arrived at Engadget nearly seven years ago, I was a freelancer fresh off of unemployment, our rivalry with Gizmodo was going strong and Josh Topolsky was planning an exit to start The Verge. In the coming years, I'd serve under three other editors, first as a full-time writer, then as the executive editor of our award-winning digital magazine, Distro. I've also been the managing editor of the whole damn thing, and, most recently, the main site's second-in-command.
Hey, good morning!
Google getting into the ad-blocking business? A SNES Mini console? A Sony camera built for pros? It's as if all the good news has come at once. Come join us for the last 24 hours in tech.
If you're eager to regularly support a partnered Twitch streamer beyond the usual $5 per month subscription, you don't have many options. You can send them some bits, of course, but you're otherwise left contributing to a Patreon campaign or some other outside fund. However, you'll soon have a way to show an extra level of kindness. Twitch is launching an opt-in subscriptions beta that adds $10 and $25 monthly options. Naturally, it's not just the stream host that benefits -- you'll get some perks as well.
Source: Twitch (Medium)
Recapturing the feeling of playing video games of bygone eras is no easy task. Sure, a simple emulator can technically drag ancient software to modern television screens, but anyone who grew up playing 8-bit games can tell you the experience isn't always the same. Pixel-perfect presentations can sometimes lack the nostalgic charm of the distorted, fuzzy tube TVs old games were originally designed for. That's one of the things that makes Capcom's Disney Afternoon Collection so special. It doesn't just collect Ducktales, Rescue Rangers and other iconic NES Disney games in convenient one package -- it wraps them in the style, context and visual limitations of the 1990s.
In terms of sheer minutes watched, League of Legends has been the most popular game on Twitch ever since the livestreaming platform launched in 2011. In fact, there are so many channels for the game, Twitch had to build out a special interface just so users could navigate them all. As of today, users jumping into the League of Legends directory will see a new set of discovery tools allowing them to filter and sort those channels by rank or champion.
Nintendo's decision to retire the NES Classic left many fans disgruntled. The system, a reimagined version of the iconic 80s console, was a hit last Christmas -- for those that could find one, that is. Stock problems meant it was notoriously difficult to acquire, and rather than solve these supply issues, Nintendo decided to kill the product completely. While frustrating, there could be a silver lining: Eurogamer reports that a SNES Mini is in the works. Citing anonymous sources, it says the new hardware is scheduled to launch this holiday season, and that development is already underway.
This morning, we put Samsung's Galaxy S8 through its paces, finally seeing why Facebook bought VR company Oculus, and started replaying a 20-year-old game. (Because it's free.) Welcome to the Morning After.
Mechanical keyboard aficionados may extol the virtues of their chosen device like speed and feel but often downplay how much that luxury will cost you. Many good mechanical keyboards run between $150 and $200, with gaming-centric models jacking up the price thanks to features like RGB lighting and programmable keys. Logitech's new G413 hopes to indoctrinate the less hardcore by eschewing most of the bells and whistles, delivering a quality gaming deck that will cost you only $90.
At the tail end of March Blizzard announced plans for StarCraft: Remastered, which is due later this year with updates including 4K graphics and modern online features. Buried within that release, it also mentioned that gamers could expect to see the original game and its Brood War expansion released for free along with the 1.18 update for the game. That day has come, and nostalgic gamers can dive back in as soon as their copy finishes downloading (PC here, OS X version here) like it's 1998 again and Gettin' Jiggy Wit It isn't just a dated reference.
Source: Starcraft, PC, Mac
When Nintendo pulled the NES Classic from its website and retailers in the US, we knew it was only a matter of time before the same happened on the other side of the Atlantic. It took four days, but the company today confirmed to Eurogamer that the tiny retro console is no longer on sale in Europe, meaning it's now been discontinued worldwide.
Sure, it's simple enough to swap out the standard 500 GB hard drive in your PlayStation 4 for a bigger one, but sometimes you just don't want to go through the hassle. Well, thanks to the PS4 Slim being packed with a 1 TB drive as standard equipment now, that shouldn't be an issue in the future. Amazon is already cutting prices on the 500GB models (from $300 to around $250), and the 1TB flavor rocks a $300 MSRP. A 1TB PS4 Pro is still $400, however, and depending on your situation, might be the better buy at this point.
Samsung was first to mobile VR, but Google's Daydream View headset beat it to motion controls. Now, the Korean electronics giant is fighting back with the Gear VR controller. And, with a bit of help from Oculus, it's even managed to outdo Google when it comes to delivering a believable virtual experience. Best of all? Existing Gear VR owners don't need to buy a whole new headset to take advantage of this upgrade.
Esports will form part of the 2022 Asian Games, set to be held in China. The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) said it wanted to reflect "the rapid development and popularity of this new form of sports participation." It marks an evolution from next year's 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, where eSports will debut as a demonstration sport. Come 2022, however, it will be a medal event, given equal footing with long-established athletic events and sports. The move is in part due to a partnership deal between e-commerce beast Alibaba (well, its eSports arm) and the OCA.