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WHAT TO EXPECT FROM IPHONE X?

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After months of rumors and leaks, the next iPhone is just days from being unveiled at Apple’s brand new Steve Jobs Theater.

So, what do we know so far? Typical of Apple leaks in recent years, we’ve heard trickles of information on just about every piece of the new device, but, as always, everything is still up in the air. The screen, the camera, the pricing — even the name has been subject to debate in recent weeks.

There does seem to be a bit of clarification on the latter point, courtesy of a massive iOS 11 software leak that hit this weekend. Turns out the reason so many names have been floating around is simple: Apple’s releasing a bunch of phones. In addition to the expected iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, we’ll also likely be getting a third: the iPhone X. Here’s a break down of what we think we know about the phones so far.

Price

Much to Apple’s chagrin, this is going to be one of the phone’s most discussed new features. Samsung took flack for pricing the Note 8 at just under $1,000, and the rumors are true, that’s nothing compared to what Cupertino’s got cooking. Various reports have priced the premium model around $1,000 to $1,200. Of course, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus will almost certainly slot in at cheaper price points, and Apple’s never been known for its cost savings. But this would be in line with the recent trend toward skyrocketing pricing points as companies look to distinguish themselves with flagship features.

Display

No surprise, the screen will be the primary driver of that unwieldy price tag — and a familiar name is behind the hike. Apple’s move to OLED on its premium model could bump its per device cost from ~$50 for LCDs to~$125. So, what does an upgrade get you? More accurate colors, better uniformity across the screen and improved power management among others features. It doesn’t sound like much, but if the LGV30 is any indication, it will be a stunning thing to behold.

And then, of course, there’s the notch. Essential braced us for this a bit with its first phone, but the cutout at the top of the screen looks to be more pronounced on the new iPhone. That said, we didn’t find it a major detriment to using the phone in our experience. Design is at the core of Apple’s DNA, and the company has no doubt been pushing for ways to make it go largely unnoticed. Expect the transition to be easiest on the company’s own apps first, as third parties work to keep up with the design. The good news is there will be a lot more screen real estate jammed into a smaller form factor, including a virtually bezel-free design.

Camera

Of course, dual cameras are expected to be on-board here yet again — though this time out, they’ll stack vertically, rather than horizontally, according to reference designs. The biggest upgrade here is much improved depth sensing. Though it ought to make the camera even better at the bokeh effect the company trotted out on past devices, but the implications are much bigger.

While Tim Cook has afforded virtual reality a little love (including development for HTC and Oculus’s handsets), he’s long said he anticipates that AR will be much bigger in the short term. And if thedeluge of ARKit programs we’ve seen pop up since it went live are any indication, we can expect some really amazing things on that front. But a truly lifelike augmented reality experience is going to require much more robust on-board depth sensing. And from the sound of it, the iPhone X, at least, will be the phone to deliver it.

Face ID

Facial unlock has been one of the most consistent rumors in the lead-up to the new phones, and this weekend, it appears to have finally gotten a name: Face ID. The same leak also points to an animation for setting up the feature that involves the user moving their face around for the camera —not dissimilar to what we’ve all been doing for years now in the fingerprint scanning setup process.

A leak discovered via HomePod, meanwhile, points to the feature’s (then codenamed: Pearl ID) ability to unlock a phone even while lying flat on a table. Face ID also seems likely to feature some integration with third-party apps at or near launch.

The addition of face scanning could mean a couple of things for the old familiar fingerprint scanner. A generation after moving to the more failsafe “taptic engine,” Apple could switch to a virtual scanner housed on the iPhone’s screen — similar to what Samsung does on its Galaxy devices. Newly surfaced rumors also heralded the end of the fingerprint scanner and home button on the X. It would be a bold move and, depending on the efficacy of the technology Apple employs, a potential safety concern. As we pointed out in a piece last week, companies like Samsung don’t regard their own Face Unlock feature as on-par with more advanced biometrics.

That said, the leaked set-up process points to a phone that benefits from added depth-sensing cameras — something Apple is definitely keen to bring on board as it works to boost excitement around ARKit applications. The addition of more complex images with depth reading could ultimately make it much harder to fool Face ID with a simple picture.

Availability

This is bound to be another sticking point among critics. Numerous reports have stated (and we’ve independently confirmed) that the iPhone X is going to ship later than its low end brethren. This appears to be another hiccup introduced when Apple opted to with those OLED units on the premium models. How long the delay will actually be is still up the air — there’s a decent chance the company might not mention an ETA for fear of missing the mark. The delay could impact Apple’s bottomline by pushing more people to buy a cheaper model, but there’s a lot to be said to getting it right the first time.

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The Last Dead End: Azerbaijan’s first horror game

The Azeri Times

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The creators of the game are also responsible for Azerbaijan’s first shooter

Video games don’t seem to last long in Azerbaijan. The few that are released are mostly for smartphones, while the rest run up against a number of oftentimes absurd issues.

There was a first-person shooter game by the name of Operation Caucasus, but it ended up embroiled in an LGBT scandal when the Azerbaijani studio Dream Games refused to provide game access to a person who had a rainbow avatar on Facebook. The cherry on top – the company cussed him, too.

The game was deleted from Steam – the largest internet game store available online, and the studio was closed.

Azdimension came out with its Ishgal Altinda [Az. Under occupation] series about the Karabakh war. The project was sponsored by the government. Much to the credit of the developers, they wanted to be known for more than just creators of a game that manipulated feelings in regards to such an important topic. Thus, in 2018, they released the action/horror game Sonuncu Dalan – The Last Dead End.

Young archaeologist Farhad returns to Baku after a lengthy absence where he meets his childhood love Bahar. He also comes into contact with the Avesta, the holy book of the Zoroastrians. Its empty pages come to life as soon as Farhad touches it. Afterwards, gamers run through dungeons, destroy monsters, save the world and somewhere amidst it all, falls deeper and deeper in love with Bahar.

The game was also sponsored by the Azerbaijani Ministry of Sports and Youth, with the possible intent of creating a good PR opportunity for Azerbaijan. The subject is closely connected to Azerbaijan’s history and culture: the name of the protagonist is Farhad (as in Azerbaijani fairytales), while the action takes place in Baku’s historic old town, Icheri Sheher. The game’s mystical elements to the game is also patriotic – Zoroastrianism is the religion of Azerbaijan’s far-removed ancestors.

Farid Haqverdiev is the main programmer and director of the studio:

“I have long wanted to do a game involving old Baku – its narrow and entangled streets work perfectly for a fantasy storyline. And what could be more mysterious than the ancient religion of the fire-worshippers, Zoroastrianism? We found a lot of interesting ideas with our story writers in the Avesta, the holy scripture of Zoroastrianism.”

Developers tried to reproduce Icheri Sheher as accurately as possible. “Even the stars in the sky are a real map,” said Farid Haqverdiev.

I think the studio’s choice in genre was a good one.

Usually, small studios go for horror-themed games, and often the game ends up being some a sort of simulator in which the player barely has the ability to survive the onslaught of monsters.

In this way, The Last Dead End is quite different from its rivals: Farhad makes beautiful use of various weapons, destroying zombies and slashing snakes with enormous axes – and overcoming bosses.

The bosses really turned out spectacularly. An unprepared gamer is unlikely to expect such strong boss battles, and this pushes the player to completing the game.

But here’s where Azdimension failed: in the graphics. The textures are not quite at a modern level, the animations are strange, the streets of Icheri Sheher are empty (this is particularly offensive!) and the few non-player characters are ‘clones’. It is immediately apparent that the budget did not allow for much. However, the developers obviously tried: the darkness hides certain flaws, and reflections have been well-accounted for. Farhad is more or less decent as a character, and the snow levels in Icheri Sheher have been well-replicated, reminding many Azerbaijani gamers of their fond feelings for the location.

Still, we have to admit that the game does not quite reach the same levels as that of its foreign competitors.

The sound was also a bit lacking. A strange decision was made for an Azerbaijani game: it was released in English, and was recorded with poor quality and actors. There are no emotions, with the text simply being read without even a drop of enthusiasm. While fighting with werewolves, cyclopes and zombies, his reactions would lead one to believe that this is just another day for him.

But that’s not to say that the game is all bad. First off, its an original game, not comparable to much else, thanks to its national symbols and motifs, and a reasonably well thought-out story. While the game isn’t necessarily inventive in its use of certain gaming elements, the pieces fit well together and provide coherence.

Secondly, its not every day that gamers have the opportunity to walk about in Icheri Sheher. And third of all, the main thing is that the game has a volatile and exciting atmosphere which it retains until the very end. Not all western games are able to accomplish this.

Here’s what the creators did and did not like about their own game:

“We worked on the storyline the most; we changed the scenario and script a few dozen times until it became coherent, interesting and logical,” says Farid Haqverdiyev. “For that reason, players and myself like the storyline most of all – there almost hasn’t been a single negative review in that regard. I like the atmosphere of the game, the graphics in several locations and the fighting system to a certain extent. I will openly say that I don’t like the graphics in some parts of the game and the animations during the cut-scenes.”

It’s unlikely that The Last Dead End will become this year’s hit, mostly due to a lack of funding. However, it’s still good to hear that Azdimension is working with such ambitions in mind.

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Bungie files mysterious trademark for Matter

A trademark filing in the EU has revealed an unannounced Bungie project: “Matter.” Filed by a UK law firm representing the American company, Matter is filed under the classifications for “video game software” and “electronic games services provided by means of the internet or other communication network.” In other words: It’s a videogame. Will it be…

The Azeri Times

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Bungie files mysterious trademark for Matter

A trademark filing in the EU has revealed an unannounced Bungie project: “Matter.” Filed by a UK law firm representing the American company, Matter is filed under the classifications for “video game software” and “electronic games services provided by means of the internet or other communication network.” 

In other words: It’s a videogame. Will it be a PC Game? Hopefully. It’s probably worth noting that the second classification can also indicate a service which allows the downloading or playing of games, as unlikely as Bungie launching its own Steam competitor or eSports tournament service seems.

The only other thing of note is the image accompanying the filing, likely the service or game’s tentative logo, which looks like somebody put some words in front of a bunch of exploding spray paint cans.

Thanks to the eagle-eyed posters of Resetera for spotting the filing. 

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Technology

Porsche pays homage to Le Mans history with track-only 935

Remember Moby Dick? No, not the “Call me Ishmael,” Herman Melville Moby Dick. Instead that whale-tailed glory that was the Porsche 935/78 that took to the track for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1978, complete with Martini livery. Well, Porsche’s decided that retro liveries are the way to go, and have just unveiled…

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Porsche pays homage to Le Mans history with track-only 935

Remember Moby Dick? No, not the “Call me Ishmael,” Herman Melville Moby Dick. Instead that whale-tailed glory that was the Porsche 935/78 that took to the track for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1978, complete with Martini livery. Well, Porsche’s decided that retro liveries are the way to go, and have just unveiled the modern-day Porsche 935 at the Rennsport Reunion at Laguna Seca.

It’s what they’ve described as a 70th birthday present from them, to fans. Only 77 lucky people, however, will get to buy one such Porsche 935. And given that it costs a whopping €701,948 (that’s approximately Rs 7.08 crore), it comes with quite a price tag, and it’s unlikely that most of us have that kind of change lying around in our piggy banks.

This version of the Porsche 935 is a track-only machine, but it’s not really all racecar. It is, in fact, the 911 GT2 RS, with the same 700PS 3.8-litre twin-turbo flat-six engine, mated to a seven-speed PDK gearbox. The fact that it makes 700PS means the original Moby Dick out-horsed (or should we say out-whaled it) by 150PS. Incidentally, the original 935 was a racing version of the factory racing version of the 911 Turbo.

But the 935 certainly looks the part. It has a carbon-reinforced plastic bodykit that mimics the 935/78’s iconic shape. And gives it that classic whale-tail look. The wheel-arch vents on the front fairings are meant to increase down force. And the fact that there’s that massive rear wing on it, aids aerodynamic balance, and let’s face it – looks pretty darned good. Add to this the LED lights on the rear, and rear wing endplates straight from the 919 Hybrid LMP1 race car, and the Porsche 935 really is something else. They’ve even acknowledged the 911 RSR that took class victory at Le Mans this year by lobbing on the side mirrors from that very car, and the exposed titanium tailpipes are like those from the Porsche 908 from 1968.

Inside, too, there are several little bits that make one nostalgic about erstwhile Porsche racecars. There’s the knob on the gearshift lever with a laminated wood design that is reminiscent of racecars like the 917, the 909 Bergspyder and the Carrera GT Super Sports. The carbon steering wheel and colour display are from the 2019 911 GT3 R. And the car comes with a safety cage, racing bucket seats and a six-point safety harness.

Like the road-legal 911 GT2 RS, the 935 is equipped with PSM (Porsche Stability Management) including traction control as well as an anti-lock braking system (ABS), all of which can be adjusted separately or switched off completely (we hear maniacal laughter), if the need arises.

Price (Ex-Delhi)

Starts Rs 1.38 Crore

Displacement

3996cc

Transmission

Automatic

Max Power(ps)

500

Max Torque(Nm)

460

Mileage

8 Kmpl

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