Monday, January 17, 2022

New Pokémon Legends: Arceus Gameplay Preview Offers Best Look Yet At What This Game Actually Is

Nintendo and The Pokémon Company have released a new gameplay preview trailer for Pokémon Legends: Arceus and it’s a 13-minute look at what we’ll actually be doing in the game when it launches on January 28.  It offers the best look yet at this new take on the Pokémon formula, which is especially exciting because as of late, Nintendo has been churning out trailer after trailer showcasing essentially the same content. Not to mention, no official public hands-on previews have happened for this game so we don’t even know what playing Arceus feels like. However, today’s gameplay preview video provides some answers to a lot of the questions we had.  Click here to watch embedded media Exploration The trailer doubles down on the open-hub nature of the Hisui region, citing that each biome has different Pokémon to catch, terrain to traverse, and raw materials to gather. These raw materials can be used to craft items such as healing items, lures, smoke bombs, Poké Balls, and more, and the narrator says your Pokémon can help you find these materials too.  Wild Pokémon Different Pokémon appear based on the time of the day and weather conditions. Plus, different species have different temperaments. Some are skittish and might run away. Others are aggressive. If a Pokémon detects you, it will be in an alert state and it will deflect all Poké Balls you throw at it. In order to catch an alert Pokémon, you’ll need to battle it with one of your own.  You can distract Pokémon with things like food, too. Also, if you encounter aggressive Pokémon, they might immediately attack you and if you take too much damage, you’ll blackout and lose some of the items you were carrying.  Pokédex  As part of the Survey Corps, your job is to fill out the Pokédex. This doesn’t just consist of catching Pokémon – that will only get some of the survey report filled out. You’ll need to witness them doing certain moves or observe them at different parts of the day to learn more about the species and ultimately, complete their Pokédex entry.  Traversing The Hisui Region Because of how large the Hisui region is, you’ll have access to special “blessed” Pokémon that you can ride on. For example, you can ride Wyrdeer to navigate land faster, but you can also immediately hop onto the back of a Hisuian Braviary to fly through the skies, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire-style. Basculegion lets you skim through the rivers and seas of the Hisui region, too.  Jubilife Village Jubilife Village is the center of operations for the Galaxy Expeditions Team, which is a group of people who have set up camp in the Hisui region to learn about it and the Pokémon within. They’re made up of the Survey Corps, Security Corps, and Medical Corps. Jubilife is your home base and it’s here you’ll collect tasks and turn in completed ones. You can also purchase crafted items and clothes here, and trade Pokémon with other players here, too.  Missions and Requests Part of the gameplay loop of Arceus is completing missions and requests. The latter are small tasks to help the people of Hisui while the former is how you progress through Arceus’ story. You can use your Arc Phone in a very Sheikah Slate-way to set waypoints, map out the region, and more as well.  Battle As expected, battling in Pokémon Legends: Arceus is turn-based, like the traditional Pokémon games. However, there’s a twist in the form of different move styles. If you use an Agile-Style move, it raises the user’s action speed, which means their next move might happen sooner but the move will be weaker. Strong-Style moves, on the other hand, cause your Pokémon to sit out for a move and in return, hit stronger the next time they attack.  Alpha Pokémon will be tough to battle but easily spotted thanks to their large size and glowing red eyes. Catching them will be tough, but it will be worth it.  Customization You can customize your character with a variety of clothing items at the Clothier in Jubilife Village. As you progress through the journey of Arceus, you’ll unlock more and more items including hairstyles, shirts, pants, and more.  Noble Pokémon Noble Pokémon are special frenzied creatures that rampage across the Hisui region. They’re easy to spot, too, as they glow gold. These are essentially boss battles. Depleting their health won’t end the fight. Instead, you’ll need to throw special balms at them made of their favorite food. In between throwing balms, you’ll need to dodge its attacks to survive. At some point during the fight, the Pokémon will reveal an opening and then you can attack. Now, you have to actually defeat it in battle before you can finally catch it. The narrator promises that these will be some of the toughest battles in the entire game.  And that’s where the video ends. Pokémon Legends: Arceus will hit the Switch on January 28. While waiting for its release, catch up on some of the recently-released trailers, starting with this Pokémon Legends: Arceus trailer that introduces the Diamond and Pearl clans to the game. Watch this trailer for a better look at the environments, NPCs, and Pokémon we’ll be catching after that, and then watch this one for a better look at the crafting in the game.  Are you excited for Pokémon Legends: Arceus? Let us know in the comments below!
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    Google updates Gmail along with other iOS apps for the very first time in months

    Google has updated the Gmail iOS app for the first time in months, along with Meet, Sheets, Docs, Calendar and Tasks. Aside from Tasks now supporting widgets on iOS 14, these are minor updates centered around bug fixes and performance improvements. It's the first time Google has rolled out new versions of these apps since Apple started forcing third-party developers to submit privacy nutrition labels. It updated several YouTube apps in February. Some other major Google iOS apps are still on ice, however. The company hasn't made any changes to the Chrome app since November. Google rolled out the most recent version of the Drive iOS app on December 7th, the day before Apple made the privacy labels mandatory. The Drive App Store page now includes a privacy label, but Chrome's does not.

    Another generation of wearables is a privacy minefield

    Facebook recently gave us our best glimpse yet into its augmented reality plans. The company will be piloting a new set of glasses that will lay the groundwork for an eventual consumer-ready product. The “research project,” called Project Aria, is still in very early stages, according to Facebook. There’s no display, but the glasses are equipped with an array of sensors and microphones that record video, audio and even its wearer’s eye movements — all with the goal of helping scientists at Facebook’s Reality Labs “figure out how AR can work in practice.” Though the project is in its infancy, Facebook is clearly enthusiastic about its potential. “Imagine calling a friend and chatting with their lifelike avatar across the table,” the company writes. “Imagine a digital assistant smart enough to detect road hazards, offer up stats during a business meeting, or even help you hear better in a noisy environment. This is a world where the device itself disappears entirely into the ebb and flow of everyday life.” But if you’re among those who believe Facebook already knows too much about our lives, you’re probably more than slightly disturbed by the idea of Facebook having a semi-permanent presence on your actual face.  Facebook Facebook, to its credit, is aware of this. The company published a lengthy blog post on all the ways it’s taking privacy into consideration. For example, it says workers who wear the glasses will be easily identifiable and will be trained in “appropriate use.” The company will also encrypt data and blur faces and license plates. It promises the data it collects “will not be used to inform the ads people see across Facebook’s apps,” and only approved researchers will be able to access it.  But none of that addresses how Facebook intends to use this data or what type of “research” it will be used for. Yes, it will further the social network’s understanding of augmented reality, but there’s a whole lot else that comes with that. As the digital rights organization Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) noted in a recent blog post, eye tracking alone has numerous implications beyond the core functions of an AR or VR headset. Our eyes can indicate how we’re thinking and feeling — not just what we’re looking at. As the EFF’s Rory Mir and Katitza Rodriguez explained in the post: How we move and interact with the world offers insight, by proxy, into how we think and feel at the moment. If aggregated, those in control of this biometric data may be able to identify patterns that let them more precisely predict (or cause) certain behavior and even emotions in the virtual world. It may allow companies to exploit users' emotional vulnerabilities through strategies that are difficult for the user to perceive and resist. What makes the collection of this sort of biometric data particularly frightening, is that unlike a credit card or password, it is information about us we cannot change. Once collected, there is little users can do to mitigate the harm done by leaks or data being monetized with additional parties. There’s also a more practical concern, according to Rodriguez and Mir. That’s “bystander privacy,” or the right to privacy in public. “I'm concerned that if the protections are not the right ones, with this technology, we can be building a surveillance society where users lose their privacy in public spaces,” Rodriguez, International Rights Director for EFF, told Engadget. “I think these companies are going to push for new changes in society of how we behave in public spaces. And they have to be much more transparent on that front.” In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson said that “Project Aria is a research tool that will help us develop the safeguards, policies and even social norms necessary to govern the use of AR glasses and other future wearable devices.”  Facebook is far from the only company to grapple with these questions. Apple, also reportedly working on an AR headset, also seems to be experimenting with eye tracking. Amazon, on the other hand, has taken a different approach when it comes to the ability to understand our emotional state.  Consider its newest wearable: Halo. At first glance, the device, which is an actual product people will soon be able to use, seems much closer to the kinds of wrist-worn devices that are already widely available. It can check your heart rate and track your sleep. It also has one other feature you won’t find on your standard Fitbit or smartwatch: tone analysis.  Opt in and the wearable will passively listen to your voice throughout the day in order to “analyze the positivity and energy of your voice.” It’s supposed to aid in your overall well being, according to Amazon. The company suggests that the feature will “help customers understand how they sound to others,” and “support emotional and social well-being and help strengthen communication and relationships.” Amazon If that sounds vaguely dystopian, you’re not alone, the feature has already sparked more than one Black Mirror comparison. Also concerning: history has repeatedly taught us that these kinds of systems often end up being extremely biased, regardless of the creator’s intent. As Protocol points out, AI systems tend to be pretty bad at treating women and people of color the same way they treat white men. Amazon itself has struggled with this. A study last year from MIT’s Media lab found that Amazon’s facial recognition tech had a hard time accurately identifying the faces of dark-skinned women. And a 2019 Stanford study found racial disparities in Amazon’s speech recognition tech.  So while Amazon has said it uses diverse data to train its algorithms, it’s far from guaranteed that it will treat all its users the same in practice. But even if it did treat everyone fairly, giving Amazon a direct line into your emotional state could also have serious privacy implications.  And not just because it’s creepy for the world’s biggest retailer to know how you’re feeling at any given moment. There’s also the distinct possibility that Amazon could, one day, use these newfound insights to get you to buy more stuff. Just because there’s currently no link between Halo and Amazon’s retail service or Alexa, doesn’t mean that will always be the case. In fact, we know from patent filings Amazon has given the idea more than a passing thought. The company was granted a patent two years ago that lays out in detail how Alexa may proactively recommend products based on how your voice sounds. The patent describes a system that would allow Amazon to detect “an abnormal physical or emotional condition” based on the sound of a voice. It could then suggest content, surface ads and recommend products based on the “abnormality.” Patent filings are not necessarily indicative of actual plans, but they do offer a window into how a company is thinking about a particular type of technology. And in Amazon’s case, its ideas for emotion detection are more than a little alarming. An Amazon spokesperson told Engadget that “we do not use Amazon Halo health data for marketing, product recommendations, or advertising,” but declined to comment on future plans. The patent offers some potential clues, though. Google Patents/Amazon “A current physical and/or emotional condition of the user may facilitate the ability to provide highly targeted audio content, such as audio advertisements or promotions,” the patent states. “For example, certain content, such as content related to cough drops or flu medicine, may be targeted towards users who have sore throats.” In another example — helpfully illustrated by Amazon — an Echo-like device recommends a chicken soup recipe when it hears a cough and a sniffle.  As unsettling as that sounds, Amazon makes clear that it’s not only taking the sound of your voice into account. The patent notes that it may also use your browsing and purchase history, “number of clicks,” and other metadata to target content. In other words: Amazon would use not just your perceived emotional state, but everything else it knows about you to target products and ads.  Which brings us back to Facebook. Whatever product Aria eventually becomes, it’s impossible now, in 2020, to fathom a version of this that won’t violate our privacy in new and inventive ways in order to feed into Facebook’s already disturbingly-precise ad machine.  Facebook’s mobile apps already vacuum up an astounding amount of data about where we go, what we buy and just about everything else we do on the internet. The company may have desensitized us enough at this point to take that for granted, but it’s worth considering how much more we’re willing to give away. What happens when Facebook knows not just where we go and who we see, but everything we look at?  A Facebook spokesperson said the company would “be up front about any plans related to ads.” “Project Aria is a research effort and its purpose is to help us understand the hardware and software needed to build AR glasses – not to personalize ads. In the event any of this technology is integrated into a commercially available device in the future, we will be up front about any plans related to ads.” A promise of transparency, however, is much different than an assurance of what will happen to our data. And it highlights why privacy legislation is so important — because without it, we have little alternative than to take a company’s word for it.  “Facebook is positioning itself to be the Android of AR VR,” Mir said. “I think because they're in their infancy, it makes sense that they're taking precautions to keep data separate from advertising and all these things. But the concern is, once they do control the medium or have an Android-level control of the market, at that point, how are we making sure that they're sticking to good privacy practices?” And the question of good privacy practices only becomes more urgent when you consider how much more data companies like Facebook and Amazon are poised to have access to. Products like Halo and research projects like Aria may be experimental for now, but that may not always be the case. And, in the absence of stronger regulations, there will be little preventing them from using these new insights about us to further their dominance.  “There are no federal privacy laws in the United States,” Rodriguez said. ”People rely on privacy policies, but privacy policies change over time.” In this article: Amazon, wearables, Augmented reality, privacy, Facebook, news, gear All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Comments 193 Shares Share Tweet Share

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