The latest games, apps and gadgets news, brought to you by Pavel Barter.
The Long Dark
PS4 (Hinterland Studio)
There are a thousand ways to perish in the wilderness. Cold. Starvation. You might fall off a cliff or get kicked to death by a badger. Since The Long Dark is set in the Canadian outback, random moose attacks are a possibility. You play a pilot who crash lands in the aftermath of an environmental apocalypse. This is survival of the fittest, as you search for branches to build a fire and craft bandages to put on your wounds. Dawdle too long and your vital stats will plummet, turning you into a grizzly bear’s breakfast. The lack of a decent tutorial means you’re likely to encounter the Grim Reaper a few times before learning the ropes.
In narrative story mode, meet other survivors and learn how the world became banjaxed. In survival mode, the game comes to life. You might find yourself in a cave, cowering in the shadows while wolves stalk outside, or trekking through a blizzard back to your cosy hide-out. The Long Dark’s untold narratives will make you feel one with nature.
The boardroom no longer needs to be a, ahem, bored-room with the introduction of Samsung’s interactive digital flip chart. Rolling into an office space on a four-wheeled stand, this an evolutionary step after paper flip charts and analogue boards.
Up to four people can contribute content to the chart at once, using a two-sided stylus. The content can be broadcast to PCs, smartphone and tablets: wirelessly or through USB, PC and mobile ports. Users can send their own content back to the display screen.
The display can be controlled with palm swipes, accessing up to 20 pages of writing space at once. Search functionalities make it easier to find specific content. The display securely stores all content on an external memory. Don’t expect this to help divvying up duties in a student digs, though. At €3,400, the Samsung Flip is strictly business.
Google Home Max
Smart speakers are lacking in design. Apple HomePod, some suggest, resembles a roll of toilet paper. Google Home Max, with its bulbous style, looks like something a nappy-heavy child might perch upon in a crèche. There’s no screen on this expensive foot stool, just touch controls for volume and playback, and an LED array that reveals the volume level.
You can plug Max into a television, through a 3.5 aux input, using him as a soundbar, and stream audio through his fleshy jowls from a phone or tablet via Bluetooth. Max works with Spotify Connect and Google Cast apps. Don’t tell Alexa – she might get jealous – but the best way of communicating with Max is through voice recognition. At the risk of questioning your own sanity, “OK Google” gets him fired up. Other commands adjust volume, etc. Paranoid about big tech surveillance? Fear not. The device’s microphones can be muted. Sound-wise, Google promises this speaker goes to the max. It sports two 4.5-inch woofer drivers and has enough bass to blow the bloody doors off. For now, Google Home Max is only available in the UK from Google Store. Until its eventual release in Ireland, lend your ears to the €59 Google Home Mini speaker.
Want to be starting something?
Fresh-faced Irish businesses won’t have to use a search engine to learn how to kickstart success. Google has launched its Autumn Adopt A Startup programme, which sees 26 Irish startups undergo a 12-week mentoring programme by industry experts. Following the programme, eight start-ups will pitch their business to a panel of judges. The winner will receive €10,000 in AdWords credit and enter the Google Cloud programme. This year’s entrants include technology, beauty, educational, entertainment and recruitment businesses.
Hands up, you’re surrounded
Surround sound usually means a few random speakers scattered around the room. A new audio research project, however, could lead to voices from beneath the sofa and the sound of car chases coming from the drinks cabinet. The sound design, known as “object-based production”, enables everyday devices (smartphones, tablets, PCs etc) to incorporate sounds, creating an eerily immersive experience. The BBC is collaborating with universities in the UK to develop this tech. The Vostok-K Incident, a science-fiction story that trials this sound system, can be found at bbc.co.uk/taster/pilots/vostok
Go west, young man
Spurs and stetson at the ready, as one of gaming’s greatest open world adventures comes galloping onto consoles on October 26. Red Dead Redemption II brings the wild west back to life. Set in 1899, the game tells the story of Arthur Morgan and his Van der Linde gang who are on the run from federal agents and bounty hunters after a botched robbery. As Arthur, you prowl the prairies on your trusty steed, juggling your own priorities with the needs of your comrades. From the creators of Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption, this shoot-em-up promises to open up a new frontier for open world adventures.
APPS TO DOWNLOAD
What’s the best way to make the Instagram generation interested in art? Comparing selfies to magnificent gallery works. ART SELFIE, part of Google’s Arts & Culture app, finds characters from famous artworks that most resemble your own appearance. Be warned. You might wish for da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, only to end up with Munch’s The Scream.
Holiday postcards were a step closer to retirement, following the recent closure of 159 rural post offices around Ireland. However, a Clare-based app developer is breathing new life into this classic means of communication. POSTASELFIE, developed by Storm Technologies, transforms photographs into picture postcards. Users press send through the app and a physical postcard is instantaneously sent to the respondent.
A new Irish app gets back to nature in time for the chilly months ahead. Enable Ireland’s THE SECRET GARDEN explores the joys of flora, enticing us to chill out amidst trees and shrubbery. The three secret garden apps feature 360 videos of the Enable Ireland Bloom Garden, the War Memorial Gardens in Dublin 8 and the National Botanic Gardens in Kilmacurragh, Wicklow. To get your hands dirty, visit enableireland.ie
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