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Apple will temporarily stop taking a 30 percent cut on Facebook event fees

Earlier this year, Facebook launched a new feature that let small businesses create paid online events. The company framed it as a way of helping organizations struggling with lost revenue during the pandemic, and said that because of the exceptional circumstances, it would not collect any fees on purchases for these events until August 2021. But the social network also stressed that any payments made on iOS would be subject to Apple’s standard 30 percent platform fees, noting this meant less money for small businesses. As Fidji Simo, head of Facebook’s main app, said at the time: “We asked Apple to reduce its 30% App Store tax or allow us to offer Facebook Pay so we could absorb all costs for businesses struggling during COVID-19. Unfortunately, they dismissed both our requests and [small businesses] will only be paid 70% of their hard-earned revenue.” Small businesses can use Facebook Pay, avoiding Apple’s 30 percent cut Facebook’s framing of this policy as Apple vs the little guy seems to have worked, and the social network now says Apple will let it process payments for online events using Facebook Pay. That means no 30 percent fee for Apple and more money for businesses, at least in the short term. Facebook says all businesses are eligible except Facebook Gaming creators and that the policy will also only last until the end of 2020. Apple confirmed the news to The Verge and said that collecting a fee from apps offering services that take place outside…Continue readingApple will temporarily stop taking a 30 percent cut on Facebook event fees

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Turn your Xbox One controller into a throttle-and-stick setup with these 3D-printed parts

Microsoft Flight Simulator has got a lot of people hankering to take to the virtual skies. But for many the experience isn’t complete without a flight stick of some sort. With lots of these now sold out that can be tough. But here’s a solution: 3D-printed parts that snap onto an Xbox One controller for a DIY conversion into a hands on throttle-and-stick or HOTAS. This amazing little mod is the work of Akaki Kuumeri, a 3D printing tinkerer who maintains a YouTube channel showing off some of his creations. Kuumeri has made a video for this mod, too, and it’s well worth a watch, just for the groanworthy selection of puns alone. The mod takes just $10 and “an afternoon of your time” to make If you want to made the mod yourself, Kuumeri has uploaded the plans to Thingiverse to download for free. You’ll need to have access to a 3D printer, of course, but Kuumeri estimates it’ll cost no more than $10 and “an afternoon of your time” to print and assemble the various parts. Everything just snaps together, and there’s even the option to fit elastic bands inside the linkages to adjust the spring force on the stick and throttle. Some caveats: responding to questions on Reddit, Kuumeri notes that the parts don’t work with the Xbox 360 controller or PS4 controller (though he says he may work on the latter if there’s enough interest). By his own account, though, the whole setup works surprisingly smoothly.…Continue readingTurn your Xbox One controller into a throttle-and-stick setup with these 3D-printed parts

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Yes, Amazon Luna dodges Apple’s cloud gaming rules — when will Nvidia and Google?

You might be wondering: “Did Amazon just break Apple’s App Store guidelines by bringing a cloud gaming service to iPhone?” And I can understand why, given that I told you just last week how Apple doesn’t permit Google Stadia in anything close to its current form, and Amazon’s just-announced Luna is a lot like Stadia. Wouldn’t the same rules apply? But the truth is that Amazon has a simple way to get around Apple’s App Store rules entirely — and it’s making me wonder how long it’ll be before Google, Nvidia, Microsoft and others follow suit. The short version: Amazon Luna on iOS is not a traditional app. It’ll never appear in the App Store, and it doesn’t need to. As Engadget reports, it’s a progressive web app (PWA), which is mostly a fancy name for a website that you can launch and run separately from the rest of your web browser. Engadget says it can even appear as an icon on your home screen, making it look like a normal app before you tap it. Being a web app makes it exempt from Apple’s App Store rules, a fact that Apple itself is well aware of — because two weeks ago, Apple actually mentioned this idea in its updated rules. I’ve bolded the important part: 4.9 Streaming games Streaming games are permitted so long as they adhere to all guidelines — for example, each game update must be submitted for review, developers must provide appropriate metadata for search, games…Continue readingYes, Amazon Luna dodges Apple’s cloud gaming rules — when will Nvidia and Google?

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The Verge

We have a few questions about Amazon’s flying indoor security camera drone

Should we invite Amazon’s internet-connected cameras and voice assistants into our homes? That’s been a contentious topic for years — but today, Amazon effectively said “screw it” and announced an entire automated flying indoor robot security system. Yes, that’s right: Amazon’s Ring division now has a camera that can theoretically go anywhere in your home, not just the direction you initially point it. Or, in Amazon’s words: An Innovative New Approach to Always Being Home. Needless to say, the staff of The Verge has a few questions about that. In no particular order and without naming names: Can it go up and down stairs? Why does it look like an air humidifier? What’s battery life like? Does the drone play slap bass? How does it map your house, anyhow? Where do those pictures go? Could someone at Ring HQ fly this camera drone around my house? Could one of Ring’s employees abroad fly this camera drone around my house? Could hackers fly this camera drone around my house? Could the cops fly this camera drone around my house? What if they had a court order? Is Amazon really going to say no? Is it a good cat toy? Can I program it to follow me around and say “HEY! LISTEN!”? How far can it fly? How far can I throw it? What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow? How well does it dodge Nerf darts? No particular reason for asking. Can it be decorated for parties? Does Amazon’s…Continue readingWe have a few questions about Amazon’s flying indoor security camera drone

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Don’t worry, you can still buy a dot-shaped Amazon Echo Dot

Amazon unveiled a radically redesigned $49.99 fourth-generation Echo Dot smart speaker today that doesn’t look like a dot at all — instead, the new Dot is shaped like a ball, or maybe an orb. The new design is a notable departure from the look of previous Echo Dots, which were short, puck-like cylinders that could be said to resemble, well, dots. If you just can’t get on board with having a ball-shaped smart speaker but are in the market for a new Dot, I have good news for you: Amazon is still selling that dot-shaped third-generation Echo Dot. Amazon confirmed to The Verge that it’s keeping the older Dot in its lineup in part to provide an option for those who want to mount their Dot to a wall. An Echo Flex, a small Echo speaker that plugs right into a wall outlet, is another option. And as of this writing, the third-gen Dot is also the cheaper Dot, though it’s one of those Amazon listings with a price displayed as $49.99 $39.99, so I’m not totally sure if that cheaper price is going to stick around. We haven’t gotten to try the orb-shaped Dot yet, so we don’t know if the new model will be a better buy than the dot-shaped Dot. But in his review of the third-gen Echo Dot, my colleague Dan Seifert found that it had surprisingly loud and rich sound for its compact size, so if you’re in the market for a small smart speaker…Continue readingDon’t worry, you can still buy a dot-shaped Amazon Echo Dot

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Amazon’s new Ring drone stops the world’s most hapless thief in bass-slapping ad

Ring’s flying drone camera, the Always Home Cam, was easily the most surprising hardware announcement at today’s Amazon event. It won’t actually be available until next year, but the company has already put together a short ad to demonstrate how the camera can give you a flying, go-anywhere perspective on whatever’s happening in your home. In the video, we see Ring’s security system tripped when a burglar breaks in, and the homeowner immediately dispatches the Always Home Cam to check in. As soon as the careless thief sees Ring’s “compact, lightweight, autonomously flying indoor camera,” he immediately flees. If you were hoping to get an idea of just how noisy the Always Home Cam is, well, this doesn’t really provide that. You can hear the regular drone buzz, but it’s drowned out by a very loud audio track with a lot of slap bass. Not that Ring is positioning the Always Home Cam as quiet; hearing the drone approaching is the point. The company claims “it’s privacy you can hear.” Unfortunately, we also barely see the thing flying at all apart from takeoff, a couple seconds of movement, and landing. Source linkContinue readingAmazon’s new Ring drone stops the world’s most hapless thief in bass-slapping ad

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Leaked Google marketing image shows the Pixel 5 in green

The Google Pixel 5 is rumored to launch in a new green color (green-ish? green-like?) in addition to black, but you don’t have to wait until later this month to see what that will look like. That very configuration of Google’s upcoming flagship phone seems to be laid bare in a leaked marketing shot, spotted by WinFuture (via 9to5Google). The phone is face-down on its screen, leaving its rear fingerprint sensor and all-plastic back visible, and both details line up with the rumors so far. Somewhat unsurprisingly, given how much Google tech tends to leak, this image also serves up yet another look at Google’s Nest Audio smart speaker and its new Chromecast running the refreshed Google TV interface. Both products were recently spotted at retail stores in the US, so not only does this leak seem to be legitimate, but their release is likely imminent. Nice job, Google! WinFuture claims this is the new green-colored Pixel 5WinFuture Looking at this one image should get you pretty caught up as to what we’re expecting Google to launch at its next hardware event on September 30th. But to recap, Google’s Pixel 5 is its new flagship phone, and the rumored specs include a six-inch OLED screen, a 5G-ready Snapdragon 765G processor, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of internal storage, a 4,080mAh battery, IP68 waterproofing, and 18W USB-C fast charging. The Pixel 5 is said to debut alongside the Pixel 4A 5G, a higher-end version of the Pixel 4A that can connect to…Continue readingLeaked Google marketing image shows the Pixel 5 in green

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Fantastical’s new widgets look like the perfect use-case for the iOS 14 update

Mac and iOS calendar app Fantastical has updated its software with 12 new customizable widgets. They look like the perfect use-case for iOS 14’s widget support, giving users access to their calendar, events, and weather forecasts straight from the home screen. These aren’t the sort of widgets you’d use to flex on TikTok, of course: these are practical and straightforward designs for people whose live in their schedules. The widgets look as well-designed as you’d expect from Fantastical, and we particularly like the option to jump into meetings directly. No more searching your inbox for that elusive Zoom invitation. Fantastical’s widgets are all hypothetically free to use, but some features (like quick-joining meetings and multiple calendar sets) will not work unless you’re a paying customer. The app moved to a subscription model earlier this year, and costs $4.99 a month on a rolling basis or $3.33 a month if you commit to a whole year’s subscription. The Fantastical update also adds support for handwriting recognition on iPadOS 14. Despite their ancient lineage on mobile devices, widgets have proved to be the break-out star of iOS 14. That’s thanks to the weirder use cases people have been putting them to: creating themed layouts for favorite bands, anime, and much more. Widgets and custom app icons (created via a less-than-optimal Shortcuts hack) have found such a receptive audience that many think Apple should offer greater support for customization, though it’s unlikely that will ever happen. For more on how to use widgets…Continue readingFantastical’s new widgets look like the perfect use-case for the iOS 14 update

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Microsoft’s Xbox Series X 1TB expandable storage priced at $219.99

Microsoft’s first 1TB expandable storage drive for the Xbox Series X / S will be priced at $219.99. Best Buy has started taking preorders for the accessory, revealing a final price that had leaked recently. These expandable storage cards slot into the rear of both the Xbox Series X / S to match the internal SSD speed and provide 1TB of extra storage. Microsoft’s expandable storage solution is proprietary, and only Seagate has been announced as a manufacturer so far. Microsoft tells me more suppliers and additional sizes will be available in the future, but the $219.99 price will still surprise many potential next-gen Xbox owners. The Xbox Series X ships with 1TB of SSD storage, and the Xbox Series S just 512GB of storage. Microsoft’s pricing means the $299 Xbox Series S jumps to nearly $520 if you want to add the additional storage and bring it up to 1.5TB overall. That may make the larger Series X more appealing to those who need the storage, particularly as games will start to require it once they’re enhanced for the Xbox Series X / S. Games for the Xbox Series S can be 30 percent smaller than the Series X, which will certainly help with storage options. 1TB expandable storage card for Xbox Series X.Photo by Tom Warren / The Verge An alternative to this expandable storage is simply using any USB drive to store games when you don’t need to play them. If they’re not enhanced for Xbox Series…Continue readingMicrosoft’s Xbox Series X 1TB expandable storage priced at $219.99

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Nintendo just announced a new Kirby game for the Switch, and it’s available right now

Nintendo has just announced Kirby Fighters 2, a brand new game in the Kirby series for the Nintendo Switch, and it’s available to download from the eShop right now for $19.99. In the game, you fight against up to three other players in local or online multiplayer. You can play as one of 17 different Kirbys, each wielding one of Kirby’s famous copy abilities (including a new Wrestler ability), as well as other characters including Bandana Waddle Dee, Meta Knight, and King Dedede. In addition, the game offers a story mode where you work your way through a number of battles to eventually take on Meta Knight and King Dedede, and you can play it co-op with a friend. The game also has a “Single-Handed Mode” where you’ll be tasked with clearing nine battles against increasingly-difficult opponents as quickly as you can, all by yourself. I’ll be honest that I had no idea that there was a Kirby Fighters game before this, but Kirby Fighters 2 follows Kirby Fighters Deluxe, which was released in 2014 for the Nintendo 3DS. And Kirby Fighters Deluxe was a standalone game broken out from a multiplayer mode in Kirby Triple Deluxe, also for the 3DS. Source linkContinue readingNintendo just announced a new Kirby game for the Switch, and it’s available right now