Skype's much-debated redesign hits the desktop - TechCrunch

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In June, Microsoft introduced a completely revamped version of its Skype app, designed with a heavier focus on media-sharing, and other social expression tools, like emoji, reactions, and even a Snapchat-like stories feature. Now that new experience is rolling out to desktop users, but in a more limited fashion, Microsoft announced this morning.

The new desktop app introduces an updated user interface that’s meant to give Skype a more youthful feel. Group chats are multi-colored. Bright, squiggly lines are used to indicate when contacts are typing or to separate out unread messages, among other things. Chats are given more prominent billing. Emojis can be used to ‘react’ to what others are saying while in video calls or in text conversations.

These changes, when Skype’s update arrived on mobile, were too radical for many users. The app suffered from poor reviews on the App Store and Google Play, with many accusing the company of having Snapchat envy.

But there are some additions that will be useful in the new Skype desktop, despite all this social app envy. For example, a new media gallery can be viewed on the right side of a group chat, which makes it easier to locate shared files, like documents, spreadsheets, photos or other media, that had been posted into the group.

However, this gallery is a bit too jazzy…when it’s empty, it has a busy, squiggly line-filled background that seems entirely unnecessary.

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Google tests a version of its Search app for data-lacking locales - Engadget

This pilot app works when connections are sluggish and uses less data. It also has features that work offline. Along with Google search capabilities, it also has icons that easily get you to things like news, weather and a translation page and you can personalize those icons so the page only shows features you're interested in.

Other lite apps that have been released included versions from Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, all of which are geared towards emerging markets. But as we know, the US has some pretty serious gaps in internet coverage and these sorts of apps could be very welcome in certain regions. However, for now, Search lite is only being tested in Indonesia.

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LG's V30 looks a little bit awesome - The Verge

The V30, LG’s next flagship-class phone, is set for an official debut in two weeks’ time, but that’s not stopping it from making public appearances already. And that’s all to the good, because the phone looks to be a very attractive refinement of the LG G6 introduced earlier in the year.

In a photo posted by Evan Blass today, the LG V30 shows off what look to be even thinner top and bottom bezels surrounding what’s already known to be a 6-inch OLED screen. Knowing its 2:1 aspect ratio and the dimensions of the existing G6, the shape of this new device suggests we’re going to get the most compact, refined, and dare I say elegant V-series device from LG yet. Honestly, the glinting metal sides and the minimalist front and rear have me a little bit excited. LG’s prior V10 and V20 phones were behemoths that justified their existence with outstanding camera and audio performance, but now it seems like LG has managed to tame their size (while hopefully keeping its edge in terms of performance).

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Uncharted: The Lost Legacy review: who needs Nathan Drake? - The Verge

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

Since its inception, the Uncharted series has been focused on one man: treasure hunter Nathan Drake. But that changes next week with the release of Uncharted: The Lost Legacy on PS4. The spinoff has everything you’d expect from an Uncharted adventure: high-stakes drama, soaring jungle vistas, ancient tombs filled with secrets, and a few too many gunfights. But Drake’s smirking face is nowhere to be seen. Instead, the game stars long-time series side character Chloe Frazer, alongside Uncharted 4 antagonist Nadine Ross. The pair don’t change the way the game plays all that much, but the new faces help keep the aging Uncharted formula interesting for at least one more game.

The Lost Legacy takes place some time after the events of Uncharted 4. It opens with Chloe — who series veterans will remember dating all the way back to 2009’s Uncharted 2 — in a war-torn Indian city. As part of her search for an ancient relic being held by a notorious militia leader, Chloe partners with Nadine, a former mercenary who has found herself without an army to lead following the events of the previous game. The early moments of Lost Legacy do a great job of separating the game from its predecessors, at least visually. The garbage-strewn city streets are a striking contrast to the lush jungles and ancient temples you typically explore in Uncharted. It’s a dark, harsh-looking place, accented by glaring neon signs in bright purples, pinks, and yellows. As Chloe, you’ll find yourself avoiding the gaze of patrolling soldiers in claustrophobic streets, and bounding across rooftops like some kind of superhero.

But things start to feel more familiar once the quest really gets started. As is the way in Uncharted, the relic Chloe is in search of is actually a key to finding a long-lost city, one thought to hold an even greater treasure called the “Horn of Ganesh.” As soon as you leave the city and head out into the wilderness, The Lost Legacy starts to look a lot like Uncharted 4 — almost identical in parts. You drive a similar-looking Jeep through similar-looking terrain, stopping at similar-looking ruins to fight off similar-looking armed soldiers. The structure remains almost entirely unchanged here. It’s a mix of light puzzle solving and exploration, with lengthy gun skirmishes tossed in. When you enter an area you can tell by looking at it whether you’ll spend the next 15 minutes climbing crumbling statues or ducking behind cover to shoot at waves of bad guys. It’s all well-worn territory at this point.

‘Uncharted’ is a roller coaster ride — but one filled with heart

That may sound like an indictment of the game, but nobody comes to Uncharted expecting surprise. It’s a series built on a foundation of cinematic cliches, from its stereotypical hero to its copious action movie-style set pieces. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t compelling. Uncharted has become a blockbuster series because it’s so incredibly well done. Even when you just know that the stone bridge will collapse beneath you, the ensuing death-defying escape will still make your heart pound. Developer Naughty Dog has an unparalleled ability to turn seemingly cookie cutter sequences into unforgettable moments. Uncharted is a roller coaster ride — but one filled with heart.

All of that is still true in The Lost Legacy. The game doesn’t stray from the formula at all, and if you loved Uncharted 4 — a game that, in my estimation, was the pinnacle of the series’ formula — then The Lost Legacy is simply more of the same. What helps keep it interesting is the new characters. Uncharted 4 introduced incidental dialogue to the series, as characters would chatter in the background while you drove through muddy streams or climbed precariously along the edge of a mountain. The Lost Legacytakes things a step further. The relationship between Chloe and Nadine forms naturally over the course of the game, primarily through that incidental dialogue found in the smaller, quieter moments when you’re doing things other than watching cut-scenes.

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Read Apple CEO's email denouncing white supremacism in Charlottesville - The Verge

Much like politicians, tech company CEOs are nowadays expected to take a position on the big social issues facing their country, and Apple boss Tim Cook has been the latest to join the fray with an email sent to all global employees of the company on Wednesday night, which was obtained by Recode. In the email, Cook provides a strong response to the violence on display in Charlottesville over the weekend, and he goes on to make an unequivocal call about who was in the wrong.

“I disagree with the president and others who believe that there is a moral equivalence between white supremacists and Nazis, and those who oppose them by standing up for human rights,” writes Cook. Like Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Cook doesn’t explicitly address another issue that arose before Charlottesville — namely the memo that was circulated inside Google suggesting biological differences explain why there are more men than women in tech — but he seems to be talking about it in the same breath as he denounced the Nazis of Charlottesville. He underscores equal treatment of all people as fundamental to his own morality and that of Apple, which is expressed through its products and actions.

Apple will make $2 million of donations to civil rights groups working to fight white supremacism such as that on display in Charlottesville, and it will furthermore match employee donations to similar causes on a two-for-one basis. There will soon also be an option added to iTunes for Apple users to contribute to supporting one of Apple’s chosen organizations, the Southern Poverty Law Center. In an apparently related move, Apple Pay has ceased accepting payments on websites selling white supremacist and Nazi gear.

The email in full:

Team,

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