posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Enough paper-thin preview events, enough alphas, and enough betas: As of midnight early Tuesday morning, we at Ars finally began fulfilling our Destiny. The long-hyped online shooter from Bungie launched on four consoles simultaneously overnight, and with no major press or critical preview period to speak of, we are only a brief number of missions, multiplayer battles, and public events into our loot-loaded, outer-space quest. We'll return later this week with enough spent ammo beneath our feet to fuel a full review of the game, but for now, we're stepping away from our controllers for a moment to describe what we've played so far—and whether we think it merits madly dashing to your retailer of choice for a day-one plunge. Déjà vu For those who dove into the game's beta, which eventually became free and available on all four platforms for a limited time, prepare for a serious case of déjà vu. The first slew of missions, set in the game's Old Russia landscape, are essentially identical to July's tease. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 9 days ago on ars technica
The Apple Watch Sport and its blue Sport Band Megan Geuss CN.dart.call("xrailTop", {sz:"300x250", kws:["top"], collapse: true});CUPERTINO, CA—It would be exaggerating to say we got “hands-on” time with the Apple Watch that the company announced this morning. Apple had several tables sprinkled throughout its hands-on booth (the large white building you may have seen in pictures), and you could try on some watches at those tables. But those watches were in a non-interactive demo mode, and the only opportunity we got to see the watches actually working were in carefully guided mini-presentations given by the people at the tables. Those little song-and-dance routines ran us through the same kinds of things that Tim Cook talked about on stage when he introduced the Apple Watch earlier today—using the “digital crown” to scroll and zoom, drawing and tapping out small messages to people in your contacts list, and a surface-level glance at some of the fitness information. We saw what it looks like to change watch faces, and to customize them. We experienced the "taptic" vibration the watch uses to let you know it wants something, and it was indeed as subtle as Cook said it was. We just didn’t get to actually take the watch's software for a spin, something that’s kind of integral for an accessory that you’re meant to have with you all the time. Megan Geuss Apple Watches come in many different colors and sizes. 14 more images in gallery .related-stories { display: none !important; } The one thing we did manage to get a better sense for was the sheer variety of different Apple Watches. The watch itself comes in the standard stainless steel Apple Watch body, the aluminum body of the Apple Watch Sport, and the 18 karat gold body of the Apple Watch Edition (3 options). Each of those types of watches comes in either 38mm high or 42mm high models (six options). Each watch also comes with two different color options (12 options). Each can be paired with one of six different band styles (72 options). Each band comes in a variety of different colors. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 9 days ago on ars technica
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Microsoft is in talks to buy Swedish game developer Mojang, best known for its block-based zombie survival building game Minecraft. Citing a "person with knowledge of the matter," the purchase would value the developer at more than $2 billion. The purchase would be a surprising one. Mojang founder Markus "Notch" Persson has been critical of Microsoft, claiming that Windows 8 could be "very very bad" for indie developers. When Facebook bought VR goggle company Oculus earlier this year, Persson cancelled development of a virtual reality version of Minecraft, saying that "Facebook is not a company of grass-roots tech enthusiasts." The price is also remarkable. Minecraft is the only Mojang game that's reasonably complete. Card strategy game Scrolls is currently in beta, and planned space-based sandbox game 0x10c was cancelled in 2013. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 9 days ago on ars technica
A man harasses a woman while another man kind of stands around doing nothing. A beautiful microcosm of recent events. Feminist Frequency A set of IRC logs released Saturday appear to show that a handful of 4chan users were ultimately behind #GamerGate, the supposedly grass-roots movement aimed at exposing ethical lapses in gaming journalism. The logs show a small group of users orchestrating a "hashtag campaign" to perpetuate misogynistic attacks by wrapping them in a debate about ethics in gaming journalism. The saga grew from a single blog post written by an ex-boyfriend of Zoe Quinn, a game developer who designed Depression Quest. The post was a lengthy diatribe filled with details about Quinn's alleged relationships with men, including a tryst with a gaming journalist who works for Kotaku. Anonymous users on reddit and 4chan spun this material into a story about how Quinn allegedly slept with multiple gaming journalists in return for coverage, though the allegations did not support such a claim. The journalist in question had quoted Quinn, once, months before they dated; he never wrote about her or her development efforts again. Nevertheless, Quinn soon had her accounts hacked and her personal information stolen (experiences she was accused of fabricating). Quinn's opponents tried to turn the entire situation into an ethical debate about the relationship between gaming press and game developers. Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 9 days ago on ars technica
For a brief period 15 years ago, this was console gaming's state of the art. Wikipedia While seemingly the entirety of the Internet was off paying attention to Apple announcing new phones and watch, something weird was happening to my Twitter feed. Apparently, someone had messed with my settings so that my feed displayed tweets on a 15 year delay for a couple of hours. That means that, instead of Apple tweets, my followers got to go back in time and experience a portion of my liveblogging from Sega's Dreamcast launch-day keynote address from September 9, 1999. We figure this technical snafu is as good an excuse as any to look back on the Dreamcast as it existed 15 years ago today, when it hoped to be the savior of a once-proud Sega still recovering from the failure of the Sega CD, 32X, Saturn, et al. Below are my live tweets as they were written 15 years ago, along with some accompanying commentary that has the benefit of a decade and a half of hindsight. [Editor's Note: For those with defective sarcasm genes (or just those feeling a little bit slow today), I will state up front that these are not actually tweets from over six years before Twitter even existed. Sega didn't even have a keynote-style launch event on 9/9/99. I just thought these somewhat jokey "livetweets" would be a fun way to reminisce on the launch of Sega's last console, and reflect on how much technology and the gaming market has changed in the intervening period.] Read 40 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 9 days ago on ars technica
The iPhone 5S, 6, and 6 Plus. Megan Geuss CN.dart.call("xrailTop", {sz:"300x250", kws:["top"], collapse: true});CUPERTINO, CA—Big phones, long the domain of the Android and Windows Phone OEMs, are finally a reality on Apple’s side of the fence. The iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus catapult the iPhone into the large-screen era after two years at the 4-inch screen size introduced by the iPhone 5, and the larger sizes drastically change what the phones are like to hold and to use. Meet the new iPhones Let’s start with some general observations that apply to both the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus. The iPhone 5 and 5S both had flat fronts, sides, and backs with well-defined edges, but those are gone in the iPhone 6. The glass on the front now curves down slightly all the way around the edge to meet the newly-curved sides and back of the phone. It sort of recalls the iPhone 3G or 3GS, which had similar curves but used plastic all the way around instead of aluminum and glass. I’ve long since gotten used to the harder edges of my iPhone 4S and 5S, but the iPhone 6 is softer all the way around. Megan Geuss 12 more images in gallery .related-stories { display: none !important; } The back of the phones are made out of aluminum with some clearly visible cutouts made to allow wireless signals in and out. The design as a whole is more reminiscent of the 2012 iPod Touch than current iPhones, an observation that extends to the slightly protruding camera lens. You won’t notice this bulge if you keep your phone in a case or sit it on a soft surface, but if you set the phone on a hard table it definitely will wobble a bit in place. Both phones feel lighter than you’d expect them to—4.55 ounces for the 6 and 6.07 ounces for the 6 Plus, compared to 5.64 ounces for the 5-inch HTC One M8 or 5.08 ounces for the new Moto X—but they still feel as sturdy as you’d expect from an Apple product. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Microsoft has reached a deal with the US government in which it will agree to be held in contempt of court in order to move an e-mail privacy case on to appeal. The case is over a government demand for e-mails stored on a Microsoft server in Dublin, Ireland, that are related to an investigation into narcotics trafficking. The Obama administration has said that the company must comply with valid warrants for data, even when the data is held overseas. Microsoft say that's wrong and that the ability to enforce US law stops at the nation's borders. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Good day to you, Arsians! How's your computer storage situation? If you're fiending for a reasonably priced SSD upgrade or a massive multi-TB drive to back your SSD up, today's Dealmaster has you covered with options from Intel, Seagate, and Western Digital. Elsewhere in today's listings, find a variety of Dell monitor and laptop options, a few 4K TV sets, and markdowns on Microsoft Office, both in standard and 365 flavors. Featured deal: Intel 520 Series 240GB SATA 6Gb/s 2.5-Inch SSD for $109.99 with free shipping (list price $299.99) Hard drives and SSDs: Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Artist's conception of a watery Mars. NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center It’s become clear in recent years that Mars had lots of water in its distant past. But that raises the question—when did Mars stop being so Earth-like? And what happened to cause the change? One way to address such questions is by analyzing rocks from different times in the planet's history. While no samples from the red planet have ever been brought back, meteorites have landed on Earth that scientists identified as originating on Mars. One such meteorite is called Northwest Africa (NWA) 7533. This dark, glossy meteorite originally formed some 4.43 billion years ago, not long after Mars itself finished accreting. And, crucially, it contains zircon grains, which provide clues to the planet’s past. Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Intel Free Press Motorists popped for texting-while-driving violations in Long Island could be mandated to temporarily disable their mobile phones the next time they take to the road. That's according to Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, who says she is moving to mandate that either hardware be installed or apps be activated that disable the mobile phone while behind the wheel. The district attorney likened the texter's punishment to drunk drivers who sometimes are required to breathe into a device before turning on the ignition. "Like ignition interlock devices, transdermal alcohol monitoring ankle bracelets, and personal breath testing instruments, DA Rice believes that available technologies must be employed in criminal sentences to change behavior and save lives. The cost of each of these devices would be borne by the offender," the prosecutor said in a press release. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 9 days ago on ars technica
This is the story of a click wheel. Jacqui Cheng When apple.com returned after the event announcing Apple's new iPhone 6, 6 Plus, and Apple Watch, one of its longest-standing members was gone: the iPod classic. Along with it goes the 30-pin dock connector, marking a complete transition to the Lightning connector for Apple's entire mobile device fleet in exactly two years. The iPod classic was part of Apple's lineup starting in October 23, 2001. The product hadn't been updated since the 6th generation version was released in 2009; over the last five years, it has existed as a single solitary $249 160GB model. Now that Apple is able to offer iPhones in 128GB solid-state storage options, the iPod classic would have felt particularly redundant as a product. It was also the last existing product not to use the Lightning connector that Apple introduced with the iPhone 5 in 2012. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Taramisu Thirty-three companies that make equipment used by Internet service providers today called on the US to avoid regulating Internet service as a utility. IBM, Cisco, and Intel signed the letter to US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, along with Alcatel-Lucent, Arris, Broadcom, D-Link, Ericsson, Panasonic, Sandvine, and others. “The Administration must act to protect against calls for utility-like common carrier regulation that would threaten demand for Internet infrastructure, reduce incentives for investment, hinder innovation and jeopardize [the Internet’s] success,” the companies wrote. Consumer advocates have called upon the Federal Communications Commission to reclassify broadband as a utility and ban “fast lanes” in which Web services pay ISPs for faster and more reliable access to consumers. The FCC has proposed rules that would require ISPs to provide a minimum level of service to all legal applications, but without banning fast lanes or classifying broadband as a utility under Title II of the Communications Act. The FCC's plan instead relies upon its weaker “Section 706” authority. Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 9 days ago on ars technica
It's been more than two-and-a-half years since he was charged, so it's easy to forget that the US still sees Kim Dotcom as an Internet fugitive. The US Department of Justice still hopes to extradite him from New Zealand and bring him to trial on criminal copyright charges for inducing piracy through actions he undertook at his former company, Megaupload. Dotcom is still fighting to stay out of the US, and an extradition trial is now scheduled for February 2015. Now, Dotcom has won an interim victory—thanks to a ruling from the New Zealand Court of Appeal, he's finally going to get some of the data that was seized from his computers and other devices when his house was raided in January 2012. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 9 days ago on ars technica
The 40-year-old federal rules that support the National Football League's TV blackout policy could finally be eliminated this month. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler today scheduled a vote for September 30 on "a proposal to get rid of the FCC’s blackout rule once and for all," he wrote today. "There is no better example of an FCC rule that has outlived its usefulness and deserves to be eliminated than our sports blackout rule," Wheeler wrote. "In 1975, the Commission enacted rules barring cable from airing a game that has been blacked out on the local television station because it was not sold out—strengthening the NFL’s blackout policy. Today, the rules make no sense at all." Pro football doesn't need the government's help to boost ticket sales, "and we at the FCC shouldn’t be complicit in preventing sports fans from watching their favorite teams on TV," he continued. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Do you have any of these older iPhones? Here's our advice on whether it's time for a replacement. Andrew Cunningham A new iPhone is here. You've spent most of the day watching Apple's announcement, the coverage around it, the reaction to the announcement and the coverage, and the reactions to those reactions. It's the standard tech news rigmarole, which can be fun, but ultimately doesn't really help people make purchasing decisions. Let's assume you're a current iPhone owner, and you're being tempted by the new one's wiles. We're here to throw some water on the early adoption fire, to be the voice of reason that tells you whether it's really practical to upgrade or not. Here's a list of all the phones that are going to run iOS 8, and what you should be thinking about if you're looking for a replacement. iPhone 5S owners: Keep your phone This recommendation doesn't surprise anyone, right? If you have an iPhone 5S, you didn't buy a phone all that long ago. Your iPhone supports pretty much every iOS 8 feature, from Handoff, to the performance-boosting Metal graphics API, to 64-bit apps, to TouchID. Given Apple's reputation for secrecy even among different internal teams, it's a safe bet that a whole bunch of iOS 8 was developed on an iPhone 5S, for an iPhone 5S. Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 10 days ago on ars technica
Apple CEO Tim Cook went the "one more thing" route at the end of the company's Flint Center media event today and revealed the Apple Watch, the company's first-ever dedicated wearable. Cook said that Apple had to go back to the drawing board in order to create interfaces that worked with a tiny screen, meaning that the company had a lot to reveal—and explain—during the (long) presentation. Apple Watch launches "early next year" at a starting price point of $349, so in-depth reviews won't appear for some time. For now, though, we have gathered the few pictures we do have into one place. Together, they illustrate many common functions of the watch. Ars reporters on site at Apple's media event will weigh in later today with hands-on pictures and impressions of the new device. Read on Ars Technica | Comments

Read More...
posted 10 days ago on ars technica
Aurich Lawson When Apple announced that it would finally make a large iPhone to compete against all the large Android phones, my first thought was, "Will it even fit in my pocket?" It's hard to get a sense of what things look like in real life from seeing them on a computer screen, even when they're placed next to other objects for scale. So I grabbed Apple's official press shot of the iPhone 5S compared with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and I whipped up some quick wireframe drawings to scale. You can print them out, cut around the edges with a pair of scissors, and hold the paper outlines in your hand to see just what each size really feels like. Spoiler alert: the iPhone 6 Plus feels huge. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 10 days ago on ars technica
On Tuesday, Apple finally unveiled the Apple Watch, the company's first dedicated wearable device. Once rumored for an October reveal, the Watch was only recently linked to today's iPhone announcement event, and while it follows devices from the likes of Samsung, Motorola, and LG, the Watch stands out thanks to its total integration with the iPhone and iOS ecosystem. The Apple Watch comes in two different sizes—one larger and one smaller. According to CEO Tim Cook, the Apple Watch has been in development for a considerable amount of time and required a reassessment of how users interact with devices. Not content to take the iPhone experience and simply shrink it to wrist-like proportions, the Apple Watch discards traditional gesture controls like pinch-to-zoom, since they are impractical in the tiny form factor. Instead, the primary means of interaction is with the "digital crown," the tiny dial on the watch's side. Per Cook, it lets you interact with the watch without blocking its screen (although, confusingly, a screen-obscuring swipe appears to be the most common gesture used with the Watch). A press on the "digital crown" returns you to the home screen. Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 10 days ago on ars technica
Megan Geuss On Tuesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled Apple Pay, a new mobile payment platform built into every iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. It will launch in October as a free update to iOS 8. "Our mission is to replace your wallet, starting by focusing on payments," Cook said before showing a brief demonstration video of an iPhone user holding the phone up to a sensor at a payment kiosk. "That's it!" Cook said, then showed the video once more for those who may have "blinked and missed it." Apple's Eddy Cue confirmed that iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models will support Apple Pay thanks to NFC, along with a new chip called the Secure Element that stores payment information in encrypted, secure fashion. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 10 days ago on ars technica
Apple CUPERTINO, CA—Apple has officially announced a release date for iOS 8, the latest version of the operating system that powers iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches. The new software launches on September 17, and as we've written before it will be available on the iPhone 4S, 5, 5C, and 5S; the iPad 2, both Retina iPads, the iPad Air, and both iPad minis; the fifth-generation iPod touch; and all revisions of the third-generation Apple TV. While iOS 7 was all about a complete, comprehensive visual refresh, iOS 8 focuses more on the underlying components of the operating system. The most important of these are the new Extensions, which will allow third-party applications to do many things they couldn't do before. Third-party applications can now provide widgets for your notification center, share data with other applications, and even edit photos and other documents inline without leaving the application you're working in. iOS has long had a reputation for being more locked down and inflexible than Android, its biggest competitor in the mobile space, but Extensions help to remove many of those barriers. For example, one type of Extension allows for third-party software keyboards, something Android has allowed for a long time. There are still restrictions on what these Extensions can do and how they behave, but it should enable more useful apps and a more customizable user experience. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 10 days ago on ars technica
17 more images in gallery .related-stories { display: none !important; } CN.dart.call("xrailTop", {sz:"300x250", kws:["top"], collapse: true});CUPERTINO, CA—As expected, Apple has just updated its iPhone lineup with brand-new handsets. While last year's 5C and 5S were both variants of 2012's iPhone 5, the new phones feature a redesigned chassis made to hold their larger 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screens. The new enclosures are thinner, too, with the iPhone 6 measuring 6.9mm and the Plus coming out to 7.1mm—both thinner than the iPhone 5S's 7.6mm. This is just the second time that Apple has changed the size of the iPhone's screen since the original model was introduced back in 2007, and it's the first time Apple has changed the width of its screens—the 4-inch iPhone 5 design just made the previous 3.5-inch displays taller. The new phones are better-suited to compete against ever-increasing screen sizes from Android phone OEMs like Samsung, HTC, LG, and Motorola. According to Apple slides revealed during the Apple vs. Samsung case, Apple is aware that most of the growth in high-end smartphone sales is coming from large-screened phones. The 4.7" iPhone 6 has a resolution of 1134×750 (326 ppi) and the iPhone 6 Plus is 1920×1080 (401 ppi), They won't be as sharp as displays in many premium Android phones, some of which have 2560×1440 display panels, but as we've seen those panels can be a big drain on the battery. Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 10 days ago on ars technica
Amazon has at long last released a version of its video player for Android devices, according to a report Tuesday from The Next Web. The app release negates some of the video advantage that used to be reserved for Amazon-branded Android products like the Kindle Fire, but it rounds out the list of platforms where Amazon can appear. Amazon has always been a persnickety service about where and how its videos will play. Users can stream to a PC desktop but not always in HD, and they can pin videos for offline viewing but only on Kindle products. Amazon video apps have been available for iOS devices for some time, but Android was always left out. At first, Android users had to use a workaround to get the app from Amazon's Appstore that involved enabling the right permissions. But as of a couple hours later, the app was available directly through the Google play store for users in the US, UK, and Germany. This brings video purchases and rentals as well as Amazon Prime Instant Video streaming to devices including the Nexus 7, one of the Kindle Fire's competitor devices. Read on Ars Technica | Comments

Read More...
posted 10 days ago on ars technica
A variant of the infamous banking trojan Zeus has gone beyond targeting financial accounts, instead striving to collect another type of sensitive business data: customer information. The variant, known as Dyre, is a banking trojan that first came to light in June when security companies warned that the Zeus knockoff found a way to bypass Web encryption, known as secure sockets layer (SSL). At the time, it targeted some of the largest global banks, such as Bank of America, Citibank, Natwest, RBS, and Ulsterbank. A recent version of Dyre, however, has begun targeting Salesforce, a popular cloud service for storing customer information, according to analyses. Other cloud services could just as easily be targeted, according to security firm Adallom. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 10 days ago on ars technica
Newgrounds Publisher Electronic Arts is working to fix an overzealous filtering system that is preventing players of The Sims 4 from sharing characters with names that include gay references, the company told Kotaku. As it currently stands, The Sims 4 doesn't prevent players from naming their virtual Sims however they want. But if a Sim's name includes a word like "gay," "queer," "homosexual," or even "straight," the game will pop up a warning that the character can not be posted in the online Gallery section, as shown in this video from a German player. EA is aware of the issue and working to fix it. "The Sims has a long history of supporting stories that players want to tell, irrespective of gender preference," an EA representative told Kotaku. "The Gallery uses an automated filtering program that filters out certain words, including some of the ones you mentioned below. We are aware of [it and] have been working on a fix, which will be out soon." Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 10 days ago on ars technica
Hey that's not 320 mAh. iFixit/Ron Amadeo iFixit has gotten ahold of the Moto 360 and applied the usual spudgers and heat packs to rip open the little round smartwatch. There weren't too many surprises (everything is round!) except for the battery: it's smaller than advertised. In iFixit's pictures, the 360's battery is only labeled as 300 mAh, 20 mAh less than advertised. The 300 mAh battery has only 75 percent of the capacity of the 400 mAh battery found in the LG G Watch, and together with the OMAP 3 processor, it's not a great combination for all-day battery life. We've asked Motorola for a comment about the smaller battery in iFixit's 360, but the company hasn't gotten back to us yet. We'll update this post if we hear anything. As for the rest of the device, the round LCD looks pretty much the same as it does on the outside, and even the main PCB is round. iFixit managed to nail the processor down to an OMAP3630, which as we suspected is built on a 45nm process. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...