YouTube Gaming app to close, many features move to main site

In brief: YouTube Gaming, the standalone app dedicated to gaming content, is being killed off in spring next year. The majority of its features, however, will continue through a new page on the main YouTube site.

Appearing in YouTube’s left navigation bar, YouTube.com/gaming is the site’s revamped gaming hub that will highlight personalized content at the top of the page. There’s a carousel of top live games along with new and upcoming live streams from subscribed channels, as well as trending videos and recommended videos based on your subscriptions and history.

There are also Game Pages, letting users view content from across YouTube related to a specific title. This includes live streams along with other games from the same publisher or developer. You can subscribe to individual Game Pages, letting you keep up to date with all the latest videos covering your favorite titles.

The YouTube Gaming app launched back in August 2015 as a competitor for industry leader Twitch. It included many of the Amazon-owned site’s features, such as Game Pages and Channel Memberships, but while gaming was and is one of the most viewed topics on YouTube—over 200 million people watch related content every day—that popularity wasn’t mirrored in the app. 11 million people installed YouTube Gaming across iOS and Android, but daily users paled in comparison to those on Twitch’s app.

“…in 2015, we launched YouTube Gaming, a standalone app for gamers where we tested new features like Game Pages for better discoverability, Super Chat and Channel Memberships to help fans show support for their favorite creators, Dark Theme and even a new live streaming platform based on the gaming community’s feedback,” said YouTube product director Christina Chen.

“The response to these features has been so positive that we brought them over from the YouTube Gaming app to the main YouTube experience. We also want to do more to help our smaller creators grow on YouTube too. So we’ll be highlighting gaming creators who are ‘On The Rise’ on the Gaming destination and in Trending.”

Some of the app’s features, including streaming gameplay live from your phone, aren’t available at the new destination, but the company will work on moving more elements across before the YouTube Gaming app is shuttered in March or April 2019.

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Sony's $100 PlayStation Classic will launch this December

Highly anticipated: The retro revival lives on. Another classic console reimagined as a miniature machine pre-loaded with beloved games is on the way. This time, the company behind it is Sony, and the device is the PlayStation Classic.

After rival Nintendo found huge success with the NES Classic Mini and the SNES Classic Mini, Sony has announced it is also jumping on the mini retro console bandwagon. The Japanese gaming giant has announced the PlayStation Classic, which will feature 20 pre-loaded games including some of the original’s top titles: Final Fantasy VII, Jumping Flash, Ridge Racer Type 4, Tekken 3, and Wild Arms.

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The device will arrive on December 3—24 years after the launch of the original—and cost $99.99 (or €99.99/£89.99). It comes with two original PS1 controllers for local multiplayer with compatible titles and an HDMI cable. As with the SNES Classic, an included USB cable is used for power, rather than bundling it with an AC adaptor.

Compared to the PS1, the PlayStation Classic is 45 percent smaller. Some nice touches of the new machine include using the Reset button to “suspend” games, while the Open button changes titles.

In addition to Nintendo’s mini consoles, a Commodore 64 Mini, which has been available in Europe for a few months, launches in the US on October 9. There’s also the Sega Mega Drive (Genesis, in the US) Mini, but that’s been delayed until next year.

PlayStation fans will no doubt be excited at the prospect of the PlayStation Classic, which is available for pre-order at select retailers across the US and Canada.

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British animatronics engineer builds huge ridable spider-bot

Wow: Matt Denton, an engineer from Hampshire, UK has built a record-breaking hexapod (six legs) robot called “Mantis.” The ridable contraption measures 2.8m x 5m and weighs nearly two tons. The mech made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest ridable hexapod ever created.

Denton told Guinness World Records that he was inspired to become an animatronics engineer by the AT-ATs in the Star Wars movie The Empire Strikes Back, which he saw when he was eight. As an adult, his career has landed him jobs in films like Harry Potter and the more recent Star Wars Episode VII in which he helped design the droid BB-8.

Mantis can be ridden from inside a cockpit or can be controlled remotely via WiFi. Each of its six limbs has three actuators and are driven by a 2.2-liter Perkins turbo diesel engine. It is not fast by any stretch of the imagination. The diesel has enough horsepower to push it along at a snail’s pace of 1km/h.

It does have a relatively broad range of movement though. Two three-axis joysticks and 28 buttons give the hexapod 18 degrees of freedom. The controls are managed by a Linux-based PC “brain” that controls the hydraulics system.

Denton started by designing small toy-sized hexapods in 2009 — 20 in all. He built them out of various materials, and the biggest one was about 50cm. One of his early designs was used in a Harry Potter film to animate a six-legged turtle.

Guinness reports that later Denton was commissioned to build a 200-ton hexapod for underwater use. Yes, you read that right — 200-tons. He created the two-ton version as a prototype to work out problems he might encounter trying to build one 100-times larger.

Mantis took him three years to build and is actually Mantis MK II. The Mantis MK I was constructed in a year an a half, but the hydraulics immediately broke when he tried to get it to stand.

“I had very little experience with hydraulics, but had to figure out how the engine, hydraulic pump, and tank would work together,” said Denton. “I had to become an expert in multiple areas, so I spent a lot of evenings reading!”

If he does manage to overcome the obstacles of creating a 200-ton version of Mantis, not only will it be another record-breaker, but will also be a sight to behold — a real-life giant mech straight out of an anime or video game.

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Netflix is producing a 'reimagined' live-action reboot of 'Avatar: The Last Airbender'

If you’re in your late twenties or early thirties, you’ve probably noticed that quite a few of your favorite childhood cartoons are being re-made as live-action shows.

Titans” is one example of this. The series is expected to launch on DC’s new “DC Universe” streaming platform October 12, and it will be based on the original Teen Titans cartoon – but with a much darker atmosphere.

Soon, Avatar: The Last Airbender could be getting the same treatment. On Twitter today, streaming giant Netflix announced that it will be producing an exclusive, “reimagined” live-action version of the show for its platform.

Not much is known about the upcoming show at the moment. All we really have to go on is a piece of concept art provided by Netflix’s “See What’s Next” Twitter account, and confirmation that the show’s original creators — Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko — will be at the helm of this reboot.

We don’t know which characters the story will focus on, nor do we know how different the show will be regarding tone and atmosphere compared to the original series.

As such, it’s tough to say whether or not Netflix’s live-action version will live up to the nostalgic memories many have of the show.

Regardless, it doesn’t matter much right now. As of writing, Netflix hasn’t announced a release date (or even a release year) for the live-action Avatar remake, so it could still be quite a ways off.

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EU proposes scrapping daylight saving time across Europe

It’s just dumb: I’m not going to try to pretend that I’m not biased on this subject, so let’s just put it out there. Daylight saving time is stupid, especially in a modern world that operates 24/7. It just doesn’t make sense anymore.

The European Union has decided that it doesn’t think seasonal time changes make sense either. Reuters reports that the European Commission issued a draft directive proposing to abolish seasonal clock changes.

If approved by the European Parliament, the last required EU clock change would occur on Sunday, March 31, 2019. After that time each member state of the EU would have the choice of whether to remain on “Summer Time” (as it is called over there) or they can switch back to Winter Time on Sunday, October 27, 2019. After that, no further clock changes will be recognized.

“Either we will stay with summer time or those countries that decide to go to winter time, they will switch to winter time in October (2019) and that will be it,” said Commissioner Violeta Bulc in a press conference.

The proposal comes on the heels of an EU survey asking citizens if they were for seasonal time changes. The citizenry responded with a resounding “nay.” Eighty-four percent of the record 4.6 million respondents said that they opposed the bi-annual time change.

“We are clearly heading toward smart cities, smart buildings and smart solutions which will bring much more savings than changes of the clock.”

The concept was first proposed clear back in 1895 and was first implemented on a national basis in 1916 by Germany and Austria-Hungary. Other European nations soon followed, and the US partially adopted the standard in 1918, and then more fully implemented it during the 1970’s oil crisis to “conserve” energy.

The thought was to use more light during the day to cut back on electricity usage. During the early days, it was found to only conserve about one percent of energy consumption. More recent studies between regions that observe DST and areas that stay on standard time show no observable energy savings at all.

Indeed, it is the Commission’s opinion that daylight saving time has outlived its usefulness.

“Newer studies confirm that the energy savings are nowadays marginal,” said Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic. “We are clearly heading toward smart cities, smart buildings and smart solutions which will bring much more savings than changes of the clock.”

Now if the United States would just follow the EU’s lead, maybe we could all stop worrying about a 100-year-old rule requiring us to change our clocks twice a year. What do you think?

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Comparison video proves The Boring Company's 'Not A Flamethrower' isn't a flamethrower

Bottom line: We’ve known for some time now that Elon Musk’s “flamethrower” isn’t a true flamethrower (It’s called Not A Flamethrower, after all) but to get a real sense of just how much of a novelty item it is, you need to see it perform alongside some true flamethrowers.

The Boring Company, the tunnel construction outfit Elon Musk founded in 2016, launched a unique fundraising campaign earlier this year in which it sold “flamethrowers” at $500 a pop. Legally dubbed Not A Flamethrower (and technically, it’s not – it’s just a roofing torch with an air rifle cover), Musk managed to sell 20,000 copies in less than four days, resulting in a quick $10 million.

To prove just how much of a flamethrower it isn’t, DriveTanks.com earlier this month took the device out along with some proper flamethrowers to create a comparison video. As you’ll see, The Boring Company’s gadget truly is a novelty in terms of performance compared to the real deal.

Found is a TechSpot feature where we share clever, funny or otherwise interesting stuff from around the web.

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Gwent's massive 'Homecoming' overhaul launches October 23, alongside 'Thronebreaker' singleplayer campaign

In brief: Developer CD Projekt Red’s (CDPR) focus on consumer-friendliness has always been evident in its games, and that approach has extended to the company’s own card combat game, Gwent. After realizing their game wasn’t meeting player expectations, CDPR decided to completely revamp it, dubbing the project “Gwent Homecoming.” CDPR today announced that Homecoming will launch on October 23, alongside the “Thronebreaker” singleplayer campaign.

Geralt’s story may be over after the Witcher 3 and its DLC launched to the public in 2015 and 2016, but that doesn’t mean the franchise is dead in the water.

While the bulk of developer CD Projekt Red’s staff is focused on the highly-anticipated sci-fi RPG Cyberpunk 2077, a sizable team continues to plug away at Gwent, the standalone card game based on the minigame of the same name in the Witcher 3.

Technically, the standalone version of Gwent arrived quite some time ago and has been playable ever since. However, the game has been undergoing a major revamp for several months, dubbed “Gwent: Homecoming.

Homecoming is set to overhaul numerous game systems, while bringing a completely remade user interface, as seen above. Better yet, Homecoming’s multiplayer updates aren’t the only things players can look forward to.

Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales” is arriving alongside Homecoming, and it will take the form of a full-length, narrative-focused singleplayer game that combines Gwent’s card battles with puzzle-solving gameplay and role-playing elements.

After months of waiting, CD Projekt Red has finally given us a release date for Thronebreaker and Homecoming – both the multiplayer overhaul and the singleplayer campaign will launch on October 23.

Unfortunately, console players will have to wait a bit longer due to certification requirements, pushing back the release date for Homecoming and Thronebreaker on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 to December 4.

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Sega Genesis Classics bundle arrives on the Nintendo Switch this winter

What just happened? A collection of Sega’s classic Genesis games has been available on other platforms for a while now but they’ll finally be making their way to the Switch in December complete with modern upgrades like online multiplayer and save functionality.

Sega ahead of the annual Tokyo Games Show announced a 50+ classic game bundle heading to the Nintendo Switch this winter.

The aptly-named Sega Genesis Classics bundle (known as the Sega Mega Drive collection in Europe) packs several fan favorites including Sonic the Hedgehog, Streets of Rage, ToeJam & Earl and Virtua Fighter 2, just to name a few.

Sega launched a similar bundle for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One earlier this year. The bundle is also available for the PC over on Steam (and has been since 2010) priced at $29.99. GameStop is accepting pre-orders for the Switch version priced at $29.99 which it says will launch on December 7, 2018.

The complete list of Sega Genesis Classics in the bundle is as follows courtesy of Polygon:

  • Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
  • Alien Soldier
  • Alien Storm
  • Altered Beast
  • Beyond Oasis
  • Bio-Hazard Battle
  • Bonanza Bros.
  • Columns
  • Columns 3: Revenge of Columns
  • Comix Zone
  • Crack Down
  • Decap Attack
  • Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
  • Dynamite Headdy
  • ESWAT: City Under Siege
  • Fatal Labyrinth
  • Flicky
  • Gain Ground
  • Galaxy Force 2
  • Golden Axe
  • Golden Axe 2
  • Golden Axe 3
  • Gunstar Heroes
  • Kid Chameleon
  • Landstalker
  • Light Crusader
  • Phantasy Star 2
  • Phantasy Star 3: Generations of Doom
  • Phantasy Star 4: The End of the Millenium
  • Ristar
  • Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi
  • Shining in the Darkness
  • Shining Force
  • Shining Force 2
  • Shinobi 3: Return of the Ninja Master
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2
  • Sonic 3D Blast
  • Sonic Spinball
  • Space Harrier 2
  • Streets of Rage
  • Streets of Rage 2
  • Streets of Rage 3
  • Super Thunder Blade
  • Sword of Vermilion
  • The Revenge of Shinobi
  • ToeJam & Earl
  • ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron
  • Vectorman
  • VectorMan 2
  • Virtua Fighter 2

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Android is the car infotainment system of the future

Bottom line: Google is partnering with the largest automotive alliance in the world to make Android the brains behind over 10 million vehicles. This gives Google a major advantage over Apple while making the infotainment experience more familiar to users.

Google is partnering with the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, the world’s largest automotive alliance, to make Android the operating system powering the entertainment and navigation in vehicles starting in 2021. This includes integration with the Google Play Store to download applications as well as Google Assistant for hands-free operation.

Google has been pushing heavily to make Android the operating system of choice for automakers, however, those same automakers have often pushed back due to Google’s need for customer data. Despite that concern, some automakers such as Honda, Volvo, and Audi, have embraced Google’s services with Honda’s current lineup, in particular, already using Android (albeit dated). Volvo is planning to integrate the Google Assistant and Google Maps natively into their Sensus infotainment system by 2020.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Kal Mos, the alliance’s VP of connected vehicles, is keenly aware of the reluctance to use Google’s services but notes that most customers are already used to Google’s software and feel more comfortable using them over systems created by the automakers themselves.

The alliance sold about 10.6 million vehicles worldwide in 2017 alone and is on track to deliver similar numbers this year. Although the partnership won’t bear any fruit until 2021, adding Android to 10 million cars adds much more credence to Android as a primary operating system and demonstrates just how flexible Google’s OS is.

The terms of the partnership have yet to be revealed although the WSJ says that while Google “will have access to the data generated by its in-car apps, [Google] must get the customer’s permission first before collecting it”. Given Android’s problem with fragmentation on smartphones that are only owned for a couple of years, it’s unknown how Android will stay updated on vehicles that are owned for far longer.

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Logitech announces the 'K600,' a keyboard designed for smart TVs

Smart TVs are all the rage now, and the tech industry has been quick to develop products to suit that trend. Virtual assistants like Alexa have been integrated into the devices, and third-party app developers have created smart TV-optimized versions of their software.

One TV-focused product few could have seen coming is Logitech’s upcoming, aptly-named K600 TV Keyboard. The K600 does pretty much what you’d expect – it combines the convenience of a standard remote with the utility of a dedicated keyboard.

This hybrid functionality should let you maneuver through menus, scroll through pages, and type lengthy URLs or messages with relative ease.

As anybody who regularly plays console games knows, typing using a directional pad or joystick can be a pretty frustrating and time-consuming experience. By letting you type as you would on an actual computer, the K600 could eliminate those issues for many.

The K600 is completely wireless, and it features rounded, chiclet-style keys instead of the standard square-shaped keys you’d see on a normal keyboard. It also contains a sizable touchpad, which will presumably be used to scroll through pages or control on-screen cursors.

As far as technical specifications go, the keyboard will be about 14 inches long, it will have a “15-meter wireless range,” and it will feature 12 months of battery life.

The K600 also connects via Bluetooth, so it’s not limited to use with your smart TV. You can connect it to your Android or iOS-based smartphone, as well as your Mac or Windows PC, at any time.

If you want to snag the K600 for yourself, you can pre-order it now for $69.99, and you should receive it sometime in October. Not sure if your smart TV will be compatible? Logitech has launched a helpful “Compatibility Check” tool to help you figure that out.

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