Microsoft Mesh for Building Mixed Reality Apps Highlighted at Ignite

Mar 03, 2021 - 10:37 AM - by Reverend
The Microsoft Ignite Day 1 keynote presentations were heavy with talk about Microsoft Mesh, a new Microsoft Azure-based platform for building "cross-platform mixed reality apps" for multiple participants, according to a Tuesday announcement.

"Microsoft Mesh connects the physical and the digital worlds, allowing us to transcend the traditional boundaries of space and time," said Microsoft Technical Fellow Alex Kipman during the keynote address, which featured an underwater background equipped with circulating fish, plus Cirque du Soleil stage-design concepts.

Availability of the Mesh Platform wasn't precisely described. Some of its capabilities, which feature artificial intelligence (AI) enhanced aspects, are still months away, according to

"The Microsoft Mesh platform will in coming months offer developers a full suite of AI-powered tools for avatars, session management, spatial rendering, synchronization across multiple users and holoportation to build collaborative solutions in mixed reality," the announcement stated.

"Holoportation" refers to scanning objects in three dimensions, such as persons, and importing them into a shared virtual space.

Some of the technical challenges for developers will be aided in Microsoft Mesh by its AI capabilities. Microsoft listed those capabilities as "immersive presence, spatial maps, holographic rendering and multiuser sync."

Avatars in distinct forms and holoporations are used to address immersive presence issues across devices with Microsoft Mesh. Spatial maps are used to anchor objects in an environment, and... [Read More]
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Microsoft Teams will soon let you pretend to be a news reporter during meetings

Mar 03, 2021 - 10:23 AM - by Reverend
Microsoft Teams is trying to make video calls a little less boring during the pandemic era of remote working with new presenter modes. These allow you to customize how you appear when you’re presenting in Teams. Three new modes will be available soon, including a “Reporter” option that lets you place content above your shoulder as a visual aid, much like a news anchor during a TV segment.

Standout mode lets you float above content as a silhouette on top of a slide deck. And the third option, Side-by-side, displays your webcam feed alongside content you’re presenting. Standout will roll out this month, with Reporter and Side-by-side modes available soon.

All three modes are part of a bigger push from Microsoft to respond to feedback around making meetings more engaging during remote work. “The way I look at it now, is we need to make presentations more like TV shows,” says Nicole Herskowitz, general manager of Microsoft Teams, in an interview with The Verge. “We really have to find ways to make those digital experiences more powerful.”

These new modes take advantage of the technology that Microsoft uses in its Together Mode to remove all the background behind you on a webcam. Together Mode was one of the first big changes to Teams designed for pandemic meetings, placing meeting participants side by side in a virtual environment.

Alongside the new presenter modes, Microsoft is also launching PowerPoint Live in Microsoft Teams today. It’s designed to make presenting with PowerPoint slides a lot easier for both the presenter and meeting participants. Presenters will now be able to see notes, slides, and a meeting chat all in a single view, and attendees can navigate the slides themselves. That’s great if you missed a particular slide and want to skip back, and it’s a huge boost to accessibility for those with learning disabilities who want to read and learn at their own pace.

... [Read More]
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Instagram accidentally hid likes for some users

Mar 03, 2021 - 10:19 AM - by Reverend
An Instagram bug briefly hid likes from some of its users on Tuesday, after the company accidentally expanded a long-running test of the feature.

"We've been testing a new experience to hide likes on... posts," a spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram, told CNN Business. "We unintentionally added more people to the test today, which was a bug — we're fixing this issue and restoring like counts to those people as soon as possible."

Several users reported seeing the change on their profiles Tuesday, with the number of likes replaced with the phrase "and others."

Instagram has been running limited tests of that change for years — in 2019, the company said it would start removing the number of likes from a limited number of accounts in Canada. Instagram has not provided a timeline for when it expects the hidden likes to roll out widely.

While followers wouldn't be able to see the total number of likes a post received, the owner of the account still could, Instagram said at the time. Users could click to see a full list of the accounts who liked the post, but they wouldn't be able to see a number highlighting how many people liked it.

Instagram framed the move as a way to help reduce pressure to rack up likes on the platform. Likes, which appear as hearts on Instagram, are often used as a measure of popularity.

  0 Replies | 78 Views

Twitter is considering letting users pay accounts they like

Feb 26, 2021 - 9:35 PM - by Reverend
Twitter is exploring a way to allow users to become paid subscribers to Twitter accounts they really like.

The company teased the feature, which it's calling Super Follows, during its Analyst Day presentation on Thursday. If implemented, users would have the ability to pay creators for additional content within their Twitter feeds, including exclusive announcements and newsletters.

"We're rethinking incentives and exploring solutions to provide monetary incentive models for creators and publishers to be directly supported by their audience," Twitter said in its presentation. A company spokesperson told CNN Business that Super Follows are not available yet but Twitter will "have more to share in the coming months."

The social media company has been exploring subscription options in recent months, in an attempt to make money from its users and diversify beyond its core advertising business. Last month, it announced the acquisition of newsletter company Revue.

The concept of users paying for exclusive content from creators has become increasingly popular with the rise of platforms such as OnlyFans and Substack.

  0 Replies | 301 Views

Epic Games will settle Fortnite loot box lawsuits in V-Bucks

Feb 23, 2021 - 10:40 AM - by Reverend
Epic Games will give Fortnite players 1,000 V-Bucks if they ever purchased an in-game loot box, presented within the game as “loot llamas” containing randomized items, as part of a proposed class action lawsuit settlement to be approved later this week.

While Fortnite’s massively popular battle royale mode has never contained randomized loot boxes, the game’s cooperative survival mode, “Save the World,” did — at least until 2019 when Epic changed its loot box system to allow players to see the item inside prior to purchase.

Now, anyone who purchased a randomized loot box prior to their discontinuation will have the 1,000 V-Bucks (roughly $8) deposited automatically into their accounts over the next two to three days. The decision is part of a broader move from Epic to settle blind draw loot box lawsuits it’s faced over the last few years.

In this case, the developer on Monday received confirmation from a judge of preliminary approval for its class action settlement in the Superior Court of North Carolina, which is why Epic says it will begin distributing the rewards today. The move is unusual, as class action lawsuit settlements typically require claimants to file claims to receive benefits. But Epic says it’s giving out benefits early because it feels its current position on loot boxes is the right one, and that its players are owed something for having bought randomized ones in the past.
"Epic will deposit V-Bucks and Rocket League credits automatically "

“For one, it’s the right thing to do and we feel strongly about random item loot boxes. And two, we feel good about the settlement,” said Jeffrey Jacobson, a partner at the law firm Faegre Drinker representing Epic, tells The Verge in an interview. “We hope our players agree with us.” A final... [Read More]
  0 Replies | 355 Views

Huawei unveils folding smartphone with an 8-inch-wide screen

Feb 23, 2021 - 10:36 AM - by Reverend
Struggling under U.S. sanctions, Huawei unveiled a folding smartphone with an 8-inch (20-centimeter) -wide screen Monday to show off its tech prowess but said it will be sold only in China.

The Mate X2 highlights the challenges for Huawei Technologies Ltd. after Washington cut off access to U.S. processor chips and Google services. Last year, Huawei fell from the top-selling global smartphone brand to sixth place.

Huawei says the Mate X2, its third folding phone, has crisper visuals and better sound for movies and games. It runs on Huawei’s most advanced processor chip, the Kirin 9000.

The phone offers “a truly immersive experience,” the president of Huawei’s consumer unit, Richard Yu, said at a launch event broadcast online.

Huawei, China's first global tech brand, was battered by being put on an export blacklist by then-President Donald Trump in 2019 as a security risk, an accusation the company denies. Huawei sold its budget-priced Honor smartphone brand in November to focus resources on higher-end models.

The Mate X2 will start at 17,999 yuan ($2,785), according to Yu.

Fox Business
  0 Replies | 239 Views

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