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Nvidia releases hotfix driver to fix disappearing mouse cursor

Nvidia has put out a hotfix driver update for the 431.60 WHQL Game Ready drivers that were released last week. According to the release notes that accompany the hotfix, the reason for the updated driver is because the "Mouse cursor may render incorrectly after exiting a game." which is pretty important, and as far as we can see, the bug only appears to have affected Windows 10 devices.

The driver update is being offered in two flavors: the Windows 10 64-bit Standard Driver and the Windows 10 64-bit DCH variant, with Nvidia further pointing out that the the method of packaging the driver is the only difference.

In addition, the hotfix, which is based off last week's 431.60 drivers, is optimized for Wolfenstein: Youngblood, Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot, Madden NFL 20, as well as the first DLC for Metro Exodus. The Madden game also has an updated SLI profile. Those drivers also included support for three new G-SYNC Compatible monitors from HP and AOC.

You can grab the hotfix at the links below, this doesn't appear to be coming through GeForce Experience yet, and the driver is also not listed when you search for it at Nvidia drivers page, so if you're affected, update.

GeForce Hotfix Driver Version 431.68: Windows 10 - Standard / DCH


Microsoft could be working on a new automated quick task system for Cortana

In recent months, we've reported on a couple of Cortana-related Microsoft patents being published. These include a patent for silent voice commands, and one that envisions voice-input integration for the digital assistant with third-party apps.

In other Cortana-related news, a new app for the digital assistant was discovered on the Microsoft Store last month, and it began working for Insiders last week. The big difference it offers in terms of experience is that its not attached to the Taskbar, as in its current form, and that it will be updated separately from Windows 10.

Now, a newly published patent may offer some insight as to what features Microsoft plans to introduce to the digital assistant. The patent describes an automated quick task notification system that can make it much easier for users to respond to task requests. Notably, however, a number of references have been made to the tech being leveraged through a personal digital assistant, though its usage isn't only limited to that.

Microsoft believes that managing tasks on any device can be quite an inefficient process since there's no single user interface that can help users quickly attend to the growing backlog of pending tasks. For this reason, the tech giant has patented an an audio channel quick task system that essentially handles notification and subsequent actions for all tasks that need to be performed.

It initially extracts quick task from a variety of digital content, that could include emails, text messages, social media posts, to-do lists, word-processing documents, and the like. Users are then informed through an audio message that a certain item requires their attention, and depending upon the response, various actions could immediately be executed. Microsoft has specifically noted its usage alongside digital assistants. As an example, one technique that could be employed would be Cortana prioritizing tasks based upon pre-decided metrics and presenting users with higher-ranked tasks first. It could also provide these services based on the information it has gathered regarding a user, making the actions more personalized.

The major difference to note here is, that while some applications or digital assistants do already offer the capability to remind users about tasks, and to perform actions based on the reminders, there's no single system that not only recognizes required engagements from a variety of applications, but also enables user to respond to them using the same interface. A description of how this process would occur can be observed in the diagram below.

However, this doesn't simply serve as a solution for handling of all possible tasks. The system will itself only select the ones that can be further processed upon by users in the form of a limited amount of actions, or in other words, quick tasks. Other metrics that could satisfy this threshold include the amount of data that would need to be presented. For example, a report that requires approval may also need the user to thoroughly review an accompanying document. In this case, the audio quick task system obviously won't be a suitable tool to help perform this task.

A slightly similar idea was patented by Microsoft a couple of days ago, though that had more to do with collaborative work, rather than a system incorporated with personalized digital assistants. In any case, this patent was filed last year, and it may still end up getting integrated with the new Cortana app. But, there's currently no guarantee that the company is working upon or plans to work upon it any time soon.


Chinese division Alibaba reveals its first IoT-focused chip

Known for being one of the leading companies in China and standing out in the e-commerce market, Alibaba has announced that it has officially begun developing its first IoT processor.

Named Piegtouge Xuantie 910, the new chip is based on RISC-V, an open-source architecture developed by a consortium of researchers and technology companies, serving the simplest functions, especially for internet access.

The main advantage of betting on RISC-V as opposed to buying some patented option is precisely to avoid the risks of government sanctions that may occur sometime in the future, similar to what happened to Huawei when the US government decided to embark on making it difficult to negotiate with ARM.

"Chinese companies that rely on RISC-V need not rely on vendors like Arm or Intel. There is no threat of them losing access to a fundamental part of this design." - Stewart Randall, who monitors China's semiconductor industry at Intralink Consulting 

 According to Alibaba, the intention is to obtain royalties from its intellectual property by making the technology available to chip makers. However, it is confirmed that some of their code will be made available in the well-known GitHub developer repository to stimulate the creation of chip-related applications at some point in the future.

For now, there is no information about the arrival of products with this embedded chip and whether there are already companies working with Alibaba for launch in the near future.


Team Fortress 2 hat economy in disarray as bug guarantees Unusual items from loot crates 

Many Team Fortress 2 players are either currently having their best day or worst day, depending on who you ask, as the rarest commodity in the game's economy, Unusual Hats, have suddenly become a common drop from Supply Crates (loot crates).

Following a small update to the game that was pushed by Valve yesterday on July 25, players have found some Supply Crates are dropping Unusual quality items 100% of the time. These items are a 1% drop normally, and go for hundreds to even thousands of dollars in both the Steam Community Market and other trading websites.

Looking into the Community Market right now, crates that were selling for $0.03 are now soaring in the $10-15 range. Meanwhile, many Unusuals that were dealing in the hundreds of dollars, have now fallen to $5-10 ranges. For instance, one Unusual Modest Pile of Hat item sold for $770 on June 26, but now it can be had for just around $10. Not a good day for those who've purchased these items for lavish prices previously.

Popular third-party trading websites, like Scrap.TF, have also been affected, with them disabling several Unusual Item related features. Even the Team Fortress 2 subreddit has been locked down until the "economy situation is resolved."

We will have to wait and see what Valve does regarding this absurd situation when the relevant development team realizes what that small update has done. We expect to see quite a lot of rollbacks and refunds.


MediaTek Helio G: mobile gaming SoCs should arrive on July 30th

MediaTek's new mobile SoC family dedicated to gaming could be the protagonist of the event that the chipmaker will hold in a few days, on July 30th. The series should be called Helio G (G as Gaming, of course) and a first model has already been sighted. In fact, a teaser published a few days ago spoke of Helio G90 , without revealing any technical details. Also the new teaser, visible here on the side, has a clearly gaming matrix, which supports the theory that Helio G will be the protagonists of the event.

The niche of mobile hardware specialized in gaming is expanding: even if it was not without improved aspects ( updates in the first place ), the arrival of the first dedicated smartphones (including ASUS ROG Phone 1 and 2 , Xiaomi Black Shark 1 and 2 , Razer Phone 1 and 2 ) gave the market a shock that even the chipmakers seem to have noticed. The main advantages of some of the latest SoCs presented, such as Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Plus and HiSilicon Kirin 810, are found just on the GPU side. Appointment then in a few days to find out how the Helio G. family will be structured.


Apple announces acquisition of Intel's cellular modem business for a billion dollars

Earlier this week, it was reported that Apple would be acquiring Intel's smartphone modem business. Today, Apple announced the billion-dollar deal. The original report was pretty spot-on, with the deal being worth $1B and it including patents, employees, and equipment. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year.

“This agreement enables us to focus on developing technology for the 5G network while retaining critical intellectual property and modem technology that our team has created,” said Intel CEO Bob Swan. “We have long respected Apple and we’re confident they provide the right environment for this talented team and these important assets moving forward. We’re looking forward to putting our full effort into 5G where it most closely aligns with the needs of our global customer base, including network operators, telecommunications equipment manufacturers and cloud service providers.”

With this deal, 2,200 Intel employees will join Apple, and the company says that it will now hold more than 17,000 wireless technology patents, now that it has absorbed Intel's patents.

Interestingly, Intel will still be able to make cellular modems, just not for smartphones. That means that if you buy a PC that connects to a 4G LTE network, it could have an Intel modem.

But Intel's entire cellular business has been struggling. Back in February, Intel announced that its 5G modem would be delayed until 2020. After Apple and Qualcomm settled their legal disputes, Intel said it was canceling its 5G plans altogether, just hours later. 5G PCs are coming next year, and Intel clearly won't be a part of that, so while the firm can continue to make modems for PCs, it clearly won't be a part of that next generation.

While today's deal should give Apple what it needs to get involved with 5G without relying on Qualcomm, don't expect to see it this year. After all, new iPhones will be announced in about a month and a half, and this deal won't be finalized until the fourth quarter of this year. 2020 or 2021 seems more likely for a 5G iPhone, and most customers won't have access to the technology until then anyway.


Leaked Galaxy Note10+ 5G image shows inclusion of free Note10 with Verizon pre-orders

There has been no shortage of leaks regarding Samsung's upcoming flagship phone, the Note10. Over the course of the past few months, we've seen reports on one of its variants sporting a quad-camera set-up on its rear, leaked images indicating there will no headphone jack, and even a spec sheet for both the Note10 and the Note10+ being revealed.

Now, prolific leaker Evan Blass has tweeted (protected account) a promotional image of the phone, showcasing an interesting deal, specifically with regards to Note10+ 5G pre-orders.

Apparently, Verizon will once again be the first U.S. carrier to start shipping the handset. This makes sense, given its nearly two-month period of exclusivity for the Galaxy S10 5G. While Verizon offered it in May, other carriers like T-Mobile only started rolling it out nearing the end of June. As such, it seems like something similar could occur in the case of the Note10+ 5G as well.

There's further information revealed through the image as well; apparently, people who pre-order the phone from Verizon will be getting a standard Note10 for free. This is also probably the reason why both variants have been showcased in the image, with the front-facing one being the Note10+ 5G, while the other one with its backside being displayed looking to be the Note10, given their difference in size.

The promotional offer hasn't been officially announced by Verizon yet, and there's no guarantee that this leak turns out to be accurate. However, we should learn more about it in the coming weeks. Samsung's Galaxy Unpacked event will be held on August 7, and it's all but confirmed that the headlining device for the event will be the Note10. You can watch the live stream here, starting at 4 p.m. EST / 1:30a.m. IST.


Pre-registrations are now open for Pokémon Masters on Android and iOS

The Pokémon Company and DeNA's upcoming mobile game, Pokémon Masters, is still without an official release date, but you can now pre-register to be notified when it's available later this summer. The game will be available on Android and iOS, and pre-registrations are open on both platforms through the Play Store and App Store, respectively.

Along with the announcement, The Pokémon Company has released six new trailers for the game on YouTube. The trailers offer an overview of the game, moves, the battling system, sync pairs, and training.

Additionally, while the game doesn't have an official release date, the two companies behind it have announced an early test run for some regions. Users in Singapore will be able to preview a limited version Pokémon Masters starting later today, and those in Canada will also be able to test it soon. Sometime after that, the official version should be available worldwide, and those who tested the game can carry over their data to the official release.

The upcoming title will take players on a journey to beat the Pokémon Masters League, facing and teaming up with other trainers along the way. The game features 3v3 battles, as opposed to the more traditional style of battle in Pokémon games. Recently, it was also revealed that there will be an evil team, and it will be known as Team Break in Japanese, as reported by Serebii.


U.S. Justice Deptartment is opening an antitrust investigation on big tech companies

There have been many antitrust mishaps in the technology world recently, be it due to poor protection of private user data or anti-competitive practices, which have resulted in investigations and fines the show up every now and then. Now, the United States Justice Department is opening up another investigation, but this one is broader than the ones we usually see.

As reported by The Wall Street Journal, the Department will be conducting a review of the biggest companies in technology, including Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple. The review can result in additional fines and measures against those companies, on top of the potential consequences of investigations by the Federal Trade Commission, for example.

Unlike the antitrust investigations we usually get, the Justice Department's goal isn't completely clear - instead, it's more of a general review to find any problems that may need addressing. The Department will be looking at how these companies have grown and expanded into additional businesses. What's more, the investigation won't be just about potential antitrust issues. Officials have said that they will be paying attention to any practices that might conflict with other laws, potentially resulting in even more penalties for these companies.

Makan Delrahim, antitrust chief of the Justice Department, said:

“Without the discipline of meaningful market-based competition, digital platforms may act in ways that are not responsive to consumer demands (...). The department’s antitrust review will explore these important issues.”

Big tech companies have been in the sights of many politicians as of late. Some Democratic candidates have called for companies to be broken up, and President Donald Trump has hinted at the possibility of suing them over potential anti-conservative bias. It seems like the threat of some kind of investigation was bound to materialize at some point, and it seems to be happening now.


Apple's rumored 16-inch MacBook Pro could launch in October for $3,000

Back in February, we started hearing rumors that Apple is working on a 16-inch variant of its MacBook Pro. A new report from Economic Daily News (via 9to5Mac) adds some context to the story today, suggesting that Apple could launch the new portable PC this October, with a starting price tag of around $3,000.

According to the report, the new 16-inch model will have a 3072x1920 display, a bump up from the 2880x1800 resolution of the 15-inch MacBook Pro. Of course, it should keep the same pixel density, which is what you'd expect from a screen that Apple calls Retina.

The price is somewhat interesting as well. The current 15-inch MacBook Pro starts at $2,399, so it's unclear if the new 16-inch MacBook Pro is meant to replace its slightly smaller sibling, or if it's meant to stand beside it as a beefier option.

According to the report, Apple is also planning to refresh the MacBook Air and the 13-inch MacBook Pro at the same time. One thing expected for the Pro is an option for 32GB RAM; however, that timeline should also line up with the release of Intel's 10nm Ice Lake processors.


Apple discusses buying 5G modems from Intel

Apple may be close to making a deal to buy Intel-made mobile modem production, The Wall Street Journal reports. The agreement will be announced next week.

In April, Intel announced it would quit mobile modems (chips that support cellular networks) after Apple reached an agreement with Qualcomm, as a result of which the smartphones of the Cupertino company will be equipped with Snapdragon modems. Intel CEO Bob Swan said that without Apple, as a client of the company, there was no point in continuing production.

Intel has reportedly begun searching for a buyer for its dial-up business. Apple is interested in it. Recent rumors about working inside the company on their own modem models confirm this information.

Part of Intel’s business, including a portfolio of patents and key employees, is estimated at $ 1 billion or more.


Apple releases iOS 9.3.6 and iOS 10.3.4 for older devices

Today, Apple released a round of minor updates for all of its supported devices, including iOS 12.4, macOS 10.14.6, watchOS 5.3, and tvOS 12.4. As it turns out though, some older devices - devices that aren't supported by the latest updates anymore - are getting some love as well.

According to MacRumors, iOS 9.3.6 and iOS 10.3.4 are now available. The report states that the former is only available for cellular models of the iPad mini, iPad 2, and iPad 3, all devices that used an A5 processor or a variant of it. It's worth noting that the third-generation Apple TV also got an update today, as that also included an A5 chipset.

As for iOS 10.3.4, that was made available for the cellular variant of the iPad 4 and the iPhone 5. Notable devices left out would be the iPhone 4s, which had an A5, and the iPhone 5c, which was nearly identical to the iPhone 5.

According to the report, the new updates fix an issue with GPS that could lead to the date and time being incorrect. As you'd expect, you can download the updates by heading to Settings -> General -> Software Update.


ASUS announces the ROG Phone II with a Snapdragon 855 Plus and 120Hz OLED display

ASUS's original ROG Phone last year included an overclocked model of the Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform, so when the company announced the ROG Phone II today, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the firm used a Snapdragon 855 Plus. The chipset is an overclocked variant of the Snapdragon 855 that's designed for mobile gaming, and along with the faster clock speed, it promises 15% better GPU performance on the Adreno 640.

The firm hasn't yet released official press images of the device, but the design is similar to last year's model. The screen is improved. Rather than a 90Hz OLED display, it now has a 6.59-inch 120Hz 1080p OLED display, with a 240Hz touch sampling rate. It supports 10-bit HDR, but more importantly, the company says that it has the lowest latency of any phone at 49ms.

Other than that, the ROG Phone II packs 12GB RAM, 512GB of storage, a 6,000mAh battery, and a 48-megapixel camera. Pricing and availability in the U.S. aren't official yet, but Engadget reports that it's launching in Taiwan on August 1 for NT$26,990, or about $870 USD. Last year it was more expensive at NT$31,990.

ASUS is also launching some new accessories, such as the TwinView Dock II, which provides a dual-screen experience. There's also a new ROG Kunai Gamepad controller.


Samsung Galaxy Space with Windows 10 spotted on Geekbench with an unannounced ARM processor

Samsung's Galaxy Book2 was definitely one of the better Windows on ARM PCs to be released so far, being one of only three Snapdragon 850 PCs and packing a Super AMOLED display. But it appears that the Korean company might have something new in store from the Windows on ARM department called the Galaxy Space, as was spotted on Geekbench by Windows Latest.

Not much is known about the Galaxy Space, and the Geekbench listing doesn't tell us much. It comes with 8GB RAM, a 2.84GHz octa-core processor with the identifier "Virtual CPU Family 15 Model 4 Stepping 10", and a 32-bit version of Windows 10 Home. It has a single-core score of 2,011 and a multi-core score of 6,047. Nothing that exists fits this profile.

First of all, "Family 15 Model 4 Stepping 10" only refers to some old Intel Pentium 4 desktop processors from circa 2005. While the clock speed is similar, those 90nm processors obviously weren't octa-core.

In fact, the only thing here that implies it's an Intel chipset at all is that it was a 32-bit version of Geekbench running on a 32-bit version of Windows 10. Windows on ARM is 64-bit, and that's what you need to run emulated x86 apps. But this is an octa-core chipset, something that Intel only does with the Core i9, and these cores aren't even close to what you'd get from Intel's most powerful CPU.

A Snapdragon 850 also doesn't make sense here. As you can see from the Galaxy Book2's listing on Geekbench, it has a 2.96GHz clock speed and it scores better in both single- and multi-core. While Qualcomm is still promising more Snapdragon 850 machines, this seems to be a bit lower-end.

The best conclusion to draw from the given information is either that the data is incomplete - something that is somewhat common in benchmarks for unreleased products or products being tested - or that it's using an unannounced chipset. If it is indeed a Qualcomm chipset that's lower-end than a Snapdragon 850, it could be the Snapdragon 7c that was alluded to last year. After all, Qualcomm has long promised multiple tiers for its PC platforms, something it says it would need in order to compete in the mainstream PC space.


WhatsApp: the voice notes can be heard by push notifications on iOS

WhatsApp for iOS could offer the possibility to listen to the voice notes directly from the push notification . To give us some indications, as by now by tradition for the messaging app owned by Mark Zuckerberg, WABetinfo has shared a screenshot on Twitter to show us how this functionality will be managed . Unlike what happens now, thanks to the future function it will be possible to use the push notification to listen to the voice message without having to enter the chat and abandon the app you were previously using.

The new functionality is not yet available and it is not clear when it will be released. However, as specified by WABetaInfo, however, the ability to listen to vocal notes from push notifications could be integrated into an upcoming major update (even in this case no specific date is provided) which should include additional features such as the option to modify the images shared in the chats in tests starting from the past weeks.