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Nintendo makes the old new again with Mario, Zelda, Tetris titles for Switch – TechCrunch



The afternoon brought an eventful series of announcements from Nintendo in one of its Direct video promos, and 2019 is looking to be a banner year for the Switch. Here’s everything the company announced, from Super Mario Maker 2 to the unexpected remake of Game Boy classic Link’s Awakening.

The stream cold opened with a look at the new Mario Maker, which would honestly be enough announcement for one day. But boy did they have more up their sleeves.

First the actually new stuff:

Shown last but likely to garner the bulk of the internet’s response is the remake of Link’s Awakening, which came out more than a quarter of a century ago on Game Boy. I admit to never finishing this, but I loved the feel of it, so I’m dying to play this new tilt-shifted, perspective-switching 3D version.

Platinum has an intriguing new game called Astral Chain, in which you appear to control two fighters at the same time in some crazy-looking robot(?)-on-robot action. Talent from The Wonderful 101, Bayonetta and Nier: Automata ensure this will be worth keeping an eye on.

The recent trend of battle royale and perhaps the best game ever made, Tetris, combine in Tetris 99, where 100 people simultaneously and competitively drop blocks. It looks bonkers, and it’s free on Switch starting right now.

And on the JRPG tip:

Fire Emblem: Three Houses got a long spot that introduced the main characters, whom you’ll no doubt ally with and/or be betrayed by. Romance is in the air! And arrows.

From the back-to-basics studio that put out I Am Setsuna and Lost Sphear comes Oninaki, an action RPG that looks like a good well-crafted bit of fun, if not particularly original.

Dragon Quest 11 S — an enhanced version of the original hit — and DQ Builders 2 are on their way to Switch later this year, in Fall and July respectively.

Rune Factory 4 Special is another enhanced, remastered classic in a series that I adore (though I wish they’d remaster Frontier). It was also announced that RF5 is in development, so thank God for that.

Final Fantasy VII is coming at the end of March, and Final Fantasy IX is available now. I’m ashamed to say I never played the latter but this is a great opportunity to.

Sidescrollers new and old:

BOXBOY! + BOXGIRL! is a new entry in a well-like puzzle platformer series that introduces some new characters and multiplayer. Coming in April.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night got a teaser, but we’ve heard a lot about this Castlevania spiritual sequel already. Just come out!

Yoshi’s Crafted World comes out March 29, but there’s a demo available today.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker gets an update adding multiplayer to its intricate levels, and soon, a paid pack for new ones. I might wait for a combined version but this should be fun.

Miscellaneous but still interesting:

The new Marvel Ultimate Alliance is coming this summer and I can’t wait. The second one was a blast but it came out way too long ago. A good co-op brawler is a natural fit for the Switch, plus being a superhero is fun.

Daemon X Machina, the striking-looking mech combat game, is getting a demo ahead of the summer release. They’re going to incorporate changes and advice from players so if you want to help shape the game, get to it.

Disney Tsum Tsum Festival… I don’t know what this is. But it looks wild.

Deltarune! It’s the sequel-ish to the beloved Undertale, and you can get the first chapter on Switch now. Play Undertale first, or you won’t get the dog jokes.

There were a few more little items here and there, but that’s the gist. Boy am I glad I have a Switch!

You can watch the full Direct here.

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Apple won’t have to allow iPhone apps to use third-party payments tomorrow after all



Enlarge / A Fortnite loading screen displayed on an iPhone in 2018, when Apple and Epic weren’t at each other’s throats.

Apple has won a last-minute stay on an injunction that would have required it to imminently begin allowing iPhone and iPad app developers to direct users to alternative payment options.

The requirement to allow in-app linking to third-party payment systems was ordered in a September 10 ruling by the judge in the ongoing Epic Games v. Apple lawsuit. This was one of the few wins for Epic, while Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled in favor of Apple on most points.

The judge gave Apple until December 9 to make the necessary changes to allow outside payment systems, so this stay comes at the last possible moment. When Judge Gonzalez Rogers rejected Apple’s initial request to stay the ruling, the company went on to appeal to the ruling to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. It is that appeal that has led to this new development.

Apple can now maintain the status quo on this particular point until the appeal is settled, likely many months from now.

Here are the key parts of the filing, as shared by 9to5Mac:

Apple, Inc. (“Apple”) has moved to stay, in part, the district court’s September 10, 2021, permanent injunction pending appeal. Apple’s motion (Dkt. Entry No. 19) is granted.

Apple has demonstrated, at minimum, that its appeal raises serious questions on the merits of the district court’s determination that Epic Games, Inc. failed to show Apple’s conduct violated any antitrust laws but did show that the same conduct violated California’s Unfair Competition Law…

Apple has also made a sufficient showing of irreparable harm… and that the remaining factors weigh in favor of staying part (i) of the injunction and maintaining the status quo pending appeal…

Therefore, we grant Apple’s motion to stay part (i) of paragraph (1) of the permanent injunction. The stay will remain in effect until the mandate issues this appeal. The existing briefing schedule remains in place.

In its appeal, Apple among other things argued that the December 9 date was not realistic because it would “take months to figure out the engineering, economic, business, and other issues” involved in the change.

This delay does not mean that Apple will not ultimately have to make the change; it simply means that the debate will continue. Epic Games has also appealed other aspects of Judge Gonzalez Rogers’ ruling, so this legal battle may continue for a long time yet.

It also does not affect the court’s prior order that Apple allow communication with users about alternative payment systems outside of apps using user contact info acquired from within the app.

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Amazon deal discounts top noise-canceling headphones under $100 from Anker



Enlarge / Anker’s Soundcore Life Q30 noise-canceling headphones.

Jeff Dunn

It’s tough to find quality noise-canceling headphones for less than $100, but Anker’s Soundcore Life Q30 are one of the few budget-friendly sets we’ve tested that are worth your while. We named them a top budget-friendly pick in a recent guide to wireless noise-canceling headphones at their normal going rate of $80, but today the Q30 is down to $60 as part of an Amazon “Deal of the Day” promotion.

This is technically $10 higher than the lowest price the headphones have had, but that cut lasted less than a day, and this price matches the best price we’ve seen outside of that. Because this is a Deal of the Day promo, it’s also worth noting that the offer will likely only be available through Wednesday.

As for the headphones themselves, the Soundcore Life Q30 isn’t as effective at neutralizing outside sounds as our top picks like Sony’s WH-1000XM4 or Apple’s AirPods Max, but that’s to be expected. For significantly less cash, we found it to be effective enough at tuning out low-end rumbles, like plane and train engines, and capable of providing at least some resistance to higher-pitched sounds as well. It’s not world-beating, but it’s solid, which is more than we can say for most over-ear pairs we’ve used in this price range.

More than that, we found the Q30 to be lightweight on the head and comfortable to wear for extended listening, even if they could stand to stuff a little more padding on the headband. They aren’t the most premium-feeling headphones in the world, unsurprisingly, but they don’t come off as flimsy, and a useful carrying case for travel is included. There are physical control buttons on the earcups, and you can use the headphones passively over an included cable (though you can’t use their microphone in that situation). The integrated mic isn’t anything special for phone calls, but it’s usable. Best of all, the Q30 headphones get tremendous battery life, lasting more than 40 continuous hours with active noise cancellation (ANC) on and music streaming at moderate volume in our testing. They also charge over USB-C.

By default, the Q30’s “V-shaped” sound signature won’t be for everyone. Anker prioritizes the high and (especially) low frequencies out of the box, which gives the Q30 an excited sound and massive bass but takes away from mid-range detail and clarity. Some may enjoy this lively (if not particularly accurate) profile, but if you don’t, there is a tweakable EQ tool within Anker’s companion app that lets you choose from several other presets and adjust the audio profile a bit more to your liking.

Like many other modern pairs, the Q30 headphones also have a “transparency” mode that layers outside noise over the top of your music for those times when you want to be more aware of your surroundings but not pause your playlist or podcast completely. Its implementation isn’t as smooth as it is on pricier competitors, however, and it does have more of a negative effect on audio quality by comparison. But it works, and it’s at least there in a pinch.

While the Q30 is our top pick for over-the-ear ANC headphones under $100, Anker has released a Soundcore Life Q35 model since the Q30 launched. It’s mostly the same as this pair, though, with its main addition being a slightly improved mic and support for Sony’s LDAC Bluetooth codec for high-res audio. We think most people don’t need to pay extra for those, though. If you’re willing to pay more for a better headphone, it may be worth considering the other picks in our ANC headphone guide, but if you’ve been hoping to grab a good pair on the cheap for the holidays, the Q30 are a great value at this deal price.

Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.

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Apple reaches quiet truce over iPhone privacy changes



Enlarge / A privacy notice appears on an iPhone 12 under the new iOS 14.5.1 operating system. Developers of an application have to ask for the user’s permission to allow cross-app tracking.

Picture Alliance | Getty Images

Apple has allowed app developers to collect data from its 1 billion iPhone users for targeted advertising, in an unacknowledged shift that lets companies follow a much looser interpretation of its controversial privacy policy.

In May Apple communicated its privacy changes to the wider public, launching an advert that featured a harassed man whose daily activities were closely monitored by an ever-growing group of strangers. When his iPhone prompted him to “Ask App Not to Track,” he clicked it and they vanished. Apple’s message to potential customers was clear—if you choose an iPhone, you are choosing privacy.

But seven months later, companies including Snap and Facebook have been allowed to keep sharing user-level signals from iPhones, as long as that data is anonymised and aggregated rather than tied to specific user profiles.

For instance Snap has told investors that it plans to share data from its 306 million users—including those who ask Snap “not to track”—so advertisers can gain “a more complete, real-time view” on how ad campaigns are working. Any personally identifiable data will first be obfuscated and aggregated.

Similarly, Facebook operations chief Sheryl Sandberg said the social media group was engaged in a “multiyear effort” to rebuild ad infrastructure “using more aggregate or anonymized data”.

These companies point out that Apple has told developers they “may not derive data from a device for the purpose of uniquely identifying it.” This means they can observe “signals” from an iPhone at a group level, enabling ads that can still be tailored to “cohorts” aligning with certain behavior but not associated with unique IDs.

This type of tracking is becoming the norm. Oren Kaniel, the chief executive of AppsFlyer, a mobile attribution platform that works with app developers, said that when his company introduced such a “privacy-centric” tool based on aggregated measurement in July 2020, “the level of pushback that we received from the entire ecosystem was huge.”

But now such aggregated solutions are the default for 95 percent of his clients. “The market changed their minds in a radical way,” he said.

It is not clear whether Apple has actually blessed these solutions. Apple declined to answer specific questions for this article but described privacy as its North Star, implying it was setting a general destination rather than defining a narrow pathway for developers.

Cory Munchbach, chief operating officer at customer data platform BlueConic, said Apple had to stand back from a strict reading of its rules because the disruption to the mobile ads ecosystem would be too great.

“Apple can’t put themselves in a situation where they are basically gutting their top-performing apps from a user-consumption perspective,” she said. “That would ultimately hurt iOS.”

For anyone interpreting Apple’s rules strictly, these solutions break the privacy rules set out to iOS users.

Lockdown Privacy, an app that blocks ad trackers, has called Apple’s policy “functionally useless in stopping third-party tracking.” It performed a variety of tests on top apps and observed that personal data and device information is still “being sent to trackers in almost all cases.”

But the companies aggregating user-level data said the reason apps continue to “leak” information such as a user’s IP address and location was simply because some require such information to function. Advertisers must know certain things such as the user’s language or the device screen size, otherwise the app experience would be awful.

The risk is that by allowing user-level data to be used by opaque third parties so long as they promise not to abuse it, Apple is in effect trusting the very same groups that chief executive Tim Cook has lambasted as “hucksters just looking to make a quick buck.”

Companies will pledge that they only look at user-level data once it has been anonymized, but without access to the data or algorithms working behind the scenes, users won’t really know if their data privacy has been preserved, said Munchbach.

“If historical precedent in adtech holds, those black boxes hide a lot of sins,” she said. “It’s not unreasonable to assume it leaves a lot to be desired.”

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