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Tencent left out as China approves the release of 80 new video games – TechCrunch

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Chinese internet giant Tencent has been excluded from the first batch of video game license approvals issued by the state-run government since March.

China regulators approved Saturday the released of 80 online video games after a months-long freeze, Reuters first reported. None of the approved titles listed on the approval list were from Tencent Holdings, the world’s largest gaming company.

Tencent is best known as a the company behind WeChat, a popular messaging platform in China. But much of its revenue comes from gaming. Even with a recent decline in gaming revenue, the company has a thriving business that is majority owner of several companies including Activision, Grinding Gears Games, Riot and Supercell. In 2012, the company took a 40 percent stake in Epic Games, maker of Fortnite. Tencent also has alliances or publishing deals with other video gaming companies such as Square Enix, makers of Tomb Raider. 

The ban on new video game titles in China has affected Tencent’s bottom line. The company reported revenue from gaming fell 4 percent in the third quarter due to the prolonged freeze on  licenses. At the time, Tencent claimed it had 15 games with monetization approval in its pipeline.

China, the world’s largest gaming market, tightened restrictions in 2018 to combat myopia and addiction. Tencent placed its own restrictions on gaming in what appeared to be an attempt to assuage regulators. The company has expanded its age verification system, an effort aimed at curbing use of young players, and placed limits on daily play.

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Amazon Sidewalk is coming – and not everyone will be happy

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Amazon is preparing to launch Amazon Sidewalk, its localized networks for Echo, Ring, and other devices, and it looks likely to be one of the most controversial products from retail behemoth so far. Echo owners have begun being notified by Amazon that Sidewalk shared networks are launching later in the year, along with apparent confirmation that it will be turned on by default.

Sidewalk basically creates a special, separate network, hosted by so-called Sidewalk Bridge devices. That includes certain Echo and Ring models. What distinguishes them from your regular WiFi connection is that proximate Sidewalk devices can collaborate, even if they’re not necessarily your own.

Your neighbors’ Ring camera, for example, could join a local Sidewalk network. The advantage, Amazon says, is that even if your internet connection goes down, things like your Ring security system may still potentially be able to get online using a neighbor’s bandwidth. It also improves range, since Sidewalk devices can in theory fill in gaps in WiFi coverage.

Of course, to do that, Amazon needs to grab some of your internet bandwidth to share. What’s likely to prove divisive is that Amazon will turn Sidewalk on by default, its email to registered users confirmed today. If they don’t want to have their internet connection shared in part, they’ll have to manually turn it off.

“The maximum bandwidth of a Sidewalk Bridge to the Sidewalk server is 80Kbps, which is about 1/40th of the bandwidth used to stream a typical high definition video,” Amazon says. “Today, when you share your Bridge’s connection with Sidewalk, total monthly data used by Sidewalk, per account, is capped at 500MB, which is equivalent to streaming about 10 minutes of high definition video.”

While Sidewalk isn’t active as a feature yet, you can already turn it off in the Amazon Alexa app. That switch is found at More > Settings > Account Settings > Amazon Sidewalk.

Sidewalk is designed so that users don’t actually know what other devices are connected to the network, or indeed what network their own devices are linked with. “Information transferred over Sidewalk Bridges is encrypted and Bridge customers are not able to see that Sidewalk-enabled devices are connected to their Bridge,” Amazon explains. “Customers who own Sidewalk-enabled devices will know they are connected to Sidewalk but will not be able to identify which Bridge they are connected to.”

Of course, for Sidewalk to fully work as Amazon hopes – with the potential down the line, when the networks are sufficiently established, to do things like localized device-finding and more – it needs as many Echo and Ring owners to opt-in as possible.

Nonetheless, it’s likely to raise concerns among both users and security advocates alike. Having a second network running, which has access to your home internet, and which you have only marginal control over seems like a recipe for potential disaster. Even if all works as planned, it requires trusting Amazon to do all the management and security necessary. That may well be a bigger ask than even Echo and Ring owners can stomach.

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Moto E7 serves up a 48MP camera and a solid battery on a budget

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Motorola today revealed the Moto E7, which is the latest in its line of budget devices. Like many of the budget phones Motorola has released throughout the years, the main focus here seems to be on the camera. In fact, Motorola says in its announcement today that smartphone users deserve “an incredible camera system that delivers gorgeous results,” regardless of their budget.

So, does the camera array on the back of the Moto E7 deliver that? That’s ultimately for users to decide, but the phone does come equipped with a 48MP main shooter which has been paired with a 2MP macro lens. Motorola says that the camera has been outfitted with its Quad Pixel tech for better low-light shooting, which is bolstered further by Night Vision mode.

In looking at the specifications that Motorola shared today, the Moto E7 doesn’t seem all that different from the Moto E7 Plus we saw earlier in the year. The Android 10-based Moto E7 is equipped with a 6.5-inch Max Vision HD+ display with a 20:9 aspect ratio, which is nothing to write home about but will get the job done for a budget handset.

One major draw might be the battery, which clocks in at 4,000mAh. Since the Moto E7 uses an octa-core MediaTek Helio G25 CPU and a low-resolution display, that battery can probably last a long time. Motorola, for its part, says that the battery can go for 36 hours on a full charge, so budget-minded customers looking to get a lot of mileage out of their phone’s battery might find a lot to love here.

Obviously, though, this is a budget device by pretty much every definition of the phrase, so we’re not expecting a whole lot. Those expectations extend to price as well, with the Motorola giving the E7 a price tag of €119.99. We’ll see the Moto E7 launch first in “select European countries” before spreading to select countries in Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia in the weeks to come. We’ll let you know if the E7 eventually makes its way stateside, so stay tuned for more.

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Xiaomi foldable smartphone could comes with a pop up camera

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Xiaomi has been working hard on folding smartphone prototypes filing patents that show off potential designs for folding devices coming in the future. A new Xiaomi folding smartphone design has turned up that ditches the thick bezels or notches on the screen featured on smartphones for sensors and cameras. Instead, this folding device uses a pop-up camera.

Xiaomi’s design is neither the first to fold nor the first to have a pop-up camera, but it’s interesting to see the two features combined in a single device. The design patent was filed with The Hague International Design System on September 25, 2020. The application was published on November 20, 2020. Like most other folding smartphones, it folds in half to create a smaller and more pocketable device.

In the renderings, the front screen is small at 4.6-inches and has thick bezels. When the phone is opened, it has a large screen of unspecified size. Considering the smaller front screen is said to be 4.6-inches, the assumption would be that the large main screen is somewhere in the 7 to 8-inch realm, but again that is unclear. Unlike other folding smartphone designs from the company, this new design ditches the band located to the screen’s side for sensors and cameras seen in past designs.

The pop-up camera design allows it to act as the front selfie camera with two lenses, and there are three cameras on the back of the device. Specifications for the camera system are unknown at this time. On the right side of the smartphone are a pair of buttons with one for volume and another on-off button.

The left side has the SIM card slot with a microphone on the top and bottom. The USB-C port and speaker are on the bottom of the phone. We hope this design makes it to production in the future.

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