Aphex Twin’s free ‘sample mashing’ app feeds on your music library

Aphex Twin is finally ready to offer his mutation-driven music software to the world. Pitchforknotes Aphex Twin (aka Richard James) and engineer Dave Griffiths have released Samplebrain, a free "sample mashing" app that turns audio files from your computer into sample blocks you can use for projects. You can recreate a sample using tracks in your music library, or craft a "303 riff" from unexpected sounds.

The app is available in ready-to-use versions for Mac and Windows computers. You can build a Linux-friendly edition as well. As Pitchfork warns, you may need some technical know-how to use the app — this isn't for rookie musicians.

Samplebrain has been a long time coming, to put it mildly. James said he first envisioned the app in 2002, back when Drukqs was his latest release. He revealed that he'd hired an engineer to work on the software in 2014 (when he returned to music with Syro), but didn't say much else until now. There's a good reason for that, apparently. James and Griffiths realized the project became "slightly out of control" as they added more and more parameters, and James admitted he hasn't had much time to "explore [Samplebrain] properly." This is a bid to finally put the tool in creators' hands, even if it's in a rough form.

Meta sued for allegedly dodging Apple’s privacy rules

Felix Krause's discovery that Meta's Facebook and Instagram apps can track iPhone owners across websites hasn't sat well with some people. Bloombergreports users have filed two proposed class action lawsuits accusing Meta of evading Apple's privacy-oriented App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature and consequently violating both federal and state laws barring unauthorized data gathering. Meta supposedly created a workaround by injecting tracking code into websites when you use its in-app browser, letting it monitor activity regardless of whether or not you gave permission to the app.

Apple introduced App Tracking Transparency as part of the iOS 14.5 update released in April 2021. The technology lets you ask apps not to track you, and requires that you explicitly opt in. Meta has been vocal in its opposition. It encouraged users to allow tracking, and warned that ATT might cost it $10 billion in ad revenue this year.

Meta rejected the allegations in a statement to Engadget. The company said both lawsuits were "without merit," and that it would defend itself "vigorously." It further claimed its in-app browsers honor privacy decisions, including for ads.

The lawsuits aren't certain to obtain class action status, which could lead to compensation for many users. Whether or not the suits are successful, they illustrate the tension between Meta, Apple and privacy advocates — Meta is determined to preserve the targeted advertising that fuels its business, even as critics and rival companies raise more objections.

Meta sued for allegedly dodging Apple’s privacy rules

Felix Krause's discovery that Meta's Facebook and Instagram apps can track iPhone owners across websites hasn't sat well with some people. Bloombergreports users have filed two proposed class action lawsuits accusing Meta of evading Apple's privacy-oriented App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature and consequently violating both federal and state laws barring unauthorized data gathering. Meta supposedly created a workaround by injecting tracking code into websites when you use its in-app browser, letting it monitor activity regardless of whether or not you gave permission to the app.

Apple introduced App Tracking Transparency as part of the iOS 14.5 update released in April 2021. The technology lets you ask apps not to track you, and requires that you explicitly opt in. Meta has been vocal in its opposition. It encouraged users to allow tracking, and warned that ATT might cost it $10 billion in ad revenue this year.

Meta rejected the allegations in a statement to Engadget. The company said both lawsuits were "without merit," and that it would defend itself "vigorously." It further claimed its in-app browsers honor privacy decisions, including for ads.

The lawsuits aren't certain to obtain class action status, which could lead to compensation for many users. Whether or not the suits are successful, they illustrate the tension between Meta, Apple and privacy advocates — Meta is determined to preserve the targeted advertising that fuels its business, even as critics and rival companies raise more objections.

iOS 16 review: Apple opens the lock screen

Just in time for the arrival of the iPhone 14 line, iOS 16 is officially here, after spending several months in beta. I’ve spent the last week or so testing out the final version of the software, and there are plenty of new things to try, including customizable lock screens, improvements to the Messages app and some smarter AI tricks. Just as importantly, it’s not buggy. The latest edition of Apple’s mobile OS works with the iPhone 8 and newer models, although some features, demand the relatively recent A12 chip. (More on that later.)

This year’s version of iOS is an update you’ll notice – something that was hard to say about iOS 15, whose most notable features related to media sharing, Focus modes and SharePlay. iOS 14, now two years old, added widgets to the grid of icons and shook up your homepage experience for the first time since the iPhone launched. With iOS 16, Apple finally tackled the lock screen.

A personalized lock screen

The lock screen used to feature a clock and not much else. Things are a little different now, but let’s start with the clock. The font is thicker and you can even choose the color of the text and there’s now space for widgets. You might not like how the new default font looks (I don’t), but the good news is that it’s customizable, with several font styles and colors. You can of course choose photos for the lock screen, which isn’t anything new, and you can apply filter styles and even choose a shuffled selection of photos to cycle through. If the images were taken in Portrait mode, you can also enable a multilayered photo effect, with the photo's subject popping out in front of the time. If you do have an iPhone 14 Pro, check out our full review for our thoughts on the Always On Display and, naturally, Apple's new Dynamic Island.

There are two different widget areas you can customize. First up is a slim box above the clock that’s best suited to one-line text (think: the date, chances of rain, or your next calendar event.) Below that, there’s a box that can house up to four different widgets — a mix of 2x1 and 1x1 icons. From the lock screen, you can tap on these to launch into the appropriate itself, but don’t expect to glean any extra information by long-pressing on the icons, which seems like a very Apple way to expand the information offered by these widgets. Maybe in iOS 16.1, or iOS 17?

iOS 16 review
Mat Smith / Engadget

Similar to the debut of home screen widgets on iOS 14, it’ll take time for third-party app developers to get widgets into their updates and onto your phone, but I’m sure productivity, fitness tracking services and others will jump at the chance. Google in particular seems ready to get on board: Its forthcoming Gmail widget will absolutely be getting a place on my lock screen when it becomes available.

The new lock screen keeps some classic features, too. You’ll still see signal strength and battery icons (now with a percentage readout), and both the flashlight and camera shortcuts are still available to tap away at. Oddly, the battery indicator only visually replicates how charged it is when the battery is under 20 percent, which is counterintuitive when you’re at 50 percent, for example.

The lock screen refresh also functions as a renewed way of showcasing an iOS 15 feature that can be pretty laborious to set up: Focus modes. You can now assign a Focus mode to individual lock screens (one for personal, one for work, one for sleep), each with their own custom widget layouts and photos. If you rarely change your wallpaper during weekdays, you could set up, say, a fun weekend image of your family, and assign it to your personal focus mode.

Conversely, I have a pretentious motivational quote on a black background for when I’m crunching away on deadlines and have my phone set to Do Not Disturb. The ability to swipe between Focus modes makes them easier to use in everyday life. Sure, I could have done so in the past from the top-right drop-down menu, but I didn’t. With iOS 16, I’m already using Focus modes more often.

A better messaging experience

iOS 16 review
Mat Smith / Engadget

Apple’s native messaging app gets some unique tricks, including new Visual Lookup features. It now handles image copy-and-pasting, pulling subjects from photos, screenshots and more, turning them into easy-to-share stickers. Long-press on the object / animal / person and your iPhone (if it’s an XS or newer) will endeavor to clip it away from the background, ready to paste elsewhere.

It’s uncannily accurate for such a, well, lazy method. I love it. The Visual Lookup skills in iOS 16 are even more expansive, with the new ability to lift text from video. In addition to videos you take yourself, it should work with full-screen videos in web browsers.

Messages has also expanded its sharing capabilities beyond SharePlay and stickers. You can now send documents, spreadsheets and more, as long as they’re saved in one of Apple’s office software file types. Hopefully, third-party support for Microsoft and the Google Suite will soon follow.

Apple is making up for lost time elsewhere as well. Finally, you can edit and unsend messages on the Messages app – if you’re quick enough. You’ll have up to 15 minutes to edit after you first send the message, with the chance to change your message up to five times. You can see any edited messages from other folks also using iOS 16, which will be grayed (blued?) out underneath the corrected message. Unsend features are only for iPhone-to-iPhone messages. 

Similarly, you can now undo send and schedule emails from the native Mail app. (Finally.) There are also further modern features you are probably already used to on Gmail, like suggestions when you might have forgotten an attachment or recipient. .

iOS 16 review

Apple has upgraded its voice dictation, too. Now when you’re talking into your iPhone, the keyboard will stay on screen, meaning you can type and correct while the dictation takes place – ideal for specific names and places. You can also tap on a word and dictate over them to correct any mistakes. Apple has also added more rigorous auto punctuation to dictation, which generally helped insert commas, periods and the rest without you having to say “question mark” at the end of your text-based requests to friends. It also gleans emoji as you say them, inserting them into your typing. (This feature requires the A12 Bionic chip found in the iPhone XR and newer devices.)

Health and Fitness

Apple’s Health and Fitness apps are relative newcomers to the native app family, and they continue to evolve. The Health app has a new Medications feature that helps log what you take and when. You can set up multiple meds for different time-of-day reminders and frequencies and your iPhone will ping you when it’s time. Another addition to the Health app is the ability to enable notifications if your logged menstrual cycles show a pattern of infrequent periods and other signs of possible abnormalities.

On a more light-hearted note, depending on how serious an athlete you are, Apple has also added a My Sports tab to its News app, dedicating a section to your favorite sports teams. This encompasses news, results, related stories and upcoming game reminders. A word of warning: Some of the stories may be locked behind Apple’s News+ paywall.

One of the best updates is one you might miss. I did too, until I perused Apple’s iOS 16 lengthy release notes: Haptic typing is here, on an iPhone, several years late. Until now, if you wanted typing vibrations on an iOS device you’d have to install Gboard – yes, Google’s third-party keyboard – to get this functionality. Now, mere days later it’s hard to imagine going back to typing on glass without it. Android users have had it good.

Everything else

iOS 16 introduces some potentially life-saving personal safety updates as well. Emergency SOS, which sounds an alarm on the phone before automatically calling emergency services, can now be activated by rapidly pressing the side button five times. Crash Detection, enabled in settings, will take data from the motion sensor, gyroscope, accelerometer, GPS, barometer and microphone, and combine it with algorithms to estimate if you’ve been in a car crash. When detected, a warning will flag up on both your iPhone and your Apple Watch. If you're still responsive, you can swipe the screen to call emergency services or close the alert, if it was a false alarm. Like the SOS call, the iPhone will automatically dial emergency services after 10 seconds have passed.

iOS 16 review
Mat Smith / Engadget

It wouldn’t be an Apple update with at least a few security updates. Perhaps the most noticeable addition is Safety Check, which can decouple your iPhone from specific contacts, gadgets and services. From here, you can uncheck permissions and even nix the connection completely with “Emergency Reset” or “Select All and Stop Sharing.” You will need to use your passcode or FaceID for these more extreme measures.

Apple is also touting what it calls Passkeys: digital keys that use your iPhone’s security features to securely log in to websites and devices like your smart TV. These aren’t an Apple invention, but with Passkeys on iOS devices this should lead to wider uptake and, well, a chance to use them. That said, I haven’t yet found any opportunities yet to test them out.

And there are even more notable features:

  • Apple Maps includes support for multi-stop routing, which can also be synced with your Mac. Travel fares are also displayed when you’re riding public transport.

  • Camera-wise, you can add foreground blur on Portrait mode photos, and Apple has improved cinematic mode video capture – at least on select devices. You’ll get cinematic mode on the iPhone 13 series and newer.

  • The Home app has been streamlined, with categories for lighting, speakers, TV and more. The tiles have been redesigned to make it easier to discriminate between all your connected gadgets. And, of course, there are now Home app lock screen widgets.

  • Apple has expanded the Fitness app to everyone; you no longer need an Apple Watch to use the activity tracking parts. Your iPhone’s motion sensors will estimate your steps, distance and workouts to offer up a rough calorie burn figure, too.

  • New accessibility features include Door Detection in the iPhone’s Magnifier mode – if you have a device with LIDAR, anyway. (That’s ‘Pro’ iPhone models starting with the iPhone 12 Pro.) A new detection mode offers more detailed descriptions in Magnifier, as well as people detection and image descriptions.

  • Apple finally lets you hang up on calls with Siri, hands-free. It sounds incredibly abrupt, sure, but hang-ups required a physical tap until now. You can also adjust Siri's wait time before it responds to your voice commands.

Wrap-up

iOS 16 marks another notable evolution for Apple’s often slow-to-change mobile OS, this time enriching your iPhone lock screen in several ways. I focused on the lock screen in this review because it’s an inescapable part of the iPhone experience. Changes elsewhere are small, but there are an awful lot of them, and they add up. (Apple has added seven more nose options for Memoji, FYI.)

There are some features that I haven’t been able to test, including accessibility upgrades for LIDAR-capable phones and Passkey support. As with many iOS updates, you might not notice all of the improvements. Many will find the medication reminder features useful and simple; others won’t even know it’s there. Sports fans might love the dedicated News app tab, but on the other hand, you also might not care about sportsball? You can test out the lock screen widgets, set up some Focus modes. Or not. But please turn on Haptic typing, and never let your iPhone make those typing sound effects ever again.

iOS 16 review: Apple opens the lock screen

Just in time for the arrival of the iPhone 14 line, iOS 16 is officially here, after spending several months in beta. I’ve spent the last week or so testing out the final version of the software, and there are plenty of new things to try, including customizable lock screens, improvements to the Messages app and some smarter AI tricks. Just as importantly, it’s not buggy. The latest edition of Apple’s mobile OS works with the iPhone 8 and newer models, although some features, demand the relatively recent A12 chip. (More on that later.)

This year’s version of iOS is an update you’ll notice – something that was hard to say about iOS 15, whose most notable features related to media sharing, Focus modes and SharePlay. iOS 14, now two years old, added widgets to the grid of icons and shook up your homepage experience for the first time since the iPhone launched. With iOS 16, Apple finally tackled the lock screen.

A personalized lock screen

The lock screen used to feature a clock and not much else. Things are a little different now, but let’s start with the clock. The font is thicker and you can even choose the color of the text and there’s now space for widgets. You might not like how the new default font looks (I don’t), but the good news is that it’s customizable, with several font styles and colors. You can of course choose photos for the lock screen, which isn’t anything new, and you can apply filter styles and even choose a shuffled selection of photos to cycle through. If the images were taken in Portrait mode, you can also enable a multilayered photo effect, with the photo's subject popping out in front of the time. If you do have an iPhone 14 Pro, check out our full review for our thoughts on the Always On Display and, naturally, Apple's new Dynamic Island.

There are two different widget areas you can customize. First up is a slim box above the clock that’s best suited to one-line text (think: the date, chances of rain, or your next calendar event.) Below that, there’s a box that can house up to four different widgets — a mix of 2x1 and 1x1 icons. From the lock screen, you can tap on these to launch into the appropriate itself, but don’t expect to glean any extra information by long-pressing on the icons, which seems like a very Apple way to expand the information offered by these widgets. Maybe in iOS 16.1, or iOS 17?

iOS 16 review
Mat Smith / Engadget

Similar to the debut of home screen widgets on iOS 14, it’ll take time for third-party app developers to get widgets into their updates and onto your phone, but I’m sure productivity, fitness tracking services and others will jump at the chance. Google in particular seems ready to get on board: Its forthcoming Gmail widget will absolutely be getting a place on my lock screen when it becomes available.

The new lock screen keeps some classic features, too. You’ll still see signal strength and battery icons (now with a percentage readout), and both the flashlight and camera shortcuts are still available to tap away at. Oddly, the battery indicator only visually replicates how charged it is when the battery is under 20 percent, which is counterintuitive when you’re at 50 percent, for example.

The lock screen refresh also functions as a renewed way of showcasing an iOS 15 feature that can be pretty laborious to set up: Focus modes. You can now assign a Focus mode to individual lock screens (one for personal, one for work, one for sleep), each with their own custom widget layouts and photos. If you rarely change your wallpaper during weekdays, you could set up, say, a fun weekend image of your family, and assign it to your personal focus mode.

Conversely, I have a pretentious motivational quote on a black background for when I’m crunching away on deadlines and have my phone set to Do Not Disturb. The ability to swipe between Focus modes makes them easier to use in everyday life. Sure, I could have done so in the past from the top-right drop-down menu, but I didn’t. With iOS 16, I’m already using Focus modes more often.

A better messaging experience

iOS 16 review
Mat Smith / Engadget

Apple’s native messaging app gets some unique tricks, including new Visual Lookup features. It now handles image copy-and-pasting, pulling subjects from photos, screenshots and more, turning them into easy-to-share stickers. Long-press on the object / animal / person and your iPhone (if it’s an XS or newer) will endeavor to clip it away from the background, ready to paste elsewhere.

It’s uncannily accurate for such a, well, lazy method. I love it. The Visual Lookup skills in iOS 16 are even more expansive, with the new ability to lift text from video. In addition to videos you take yourself, it should work with full-screen videos in web browsers.

Messages has also expanded its sharing capabilities beyond SharePlay and stickers. You can now send documents, spreadsheets and more, as long as they’re saved in one of Apple’s office software file types. Hopefully, third-party support for Microsoft and the Google Suite will soon follow.

Apple is making up for lost time elsewhere as well. Finally, you can edit and unsend messages on the Messages app – if you’re quick enough. You’ll have up to 15 minutes to edit after you first send the message, with the chance to change your message up to five times. You can see any edited messages from other folks also using iOS 16, which will be grayed (blued?) out underneath the corrected message. Unsend features are only for iPhone-to-iPhone messages. 

Similarly, you can now undo send and schedule emails from the native Mail app. (Finally.) There are also further modern features you are probably already used to on Gmail, like suggestions when you might have forgotten an attachment or recipient. .

iOS 16 review

Apple has upgraded its voice dictation, too. Now when you’re talking into your iPhone, the keyboard will stay on screen, meaning you can type and correct while the dictation takes place – ideal for specific names and places. You can also tap on a word and dictate over them to correct any mistakes. Apple has also added more rigorous auto punctuation to dictation, which generally helped insert commas, periods and the rest without you having to say “question mark” at the end of your text-based requests to friends. It also gleans emoji as you say them, inserting them into your typing. (This feature requires the A12 Bionic chip found in the iPhone XR and newer devices.)

Health and Fitness

Apple’s Health and Fitness apps are relative newcomers to the native app family, and they continue to evolve. The Health app has a new Medications feature that helps log what you take and when. You can set up multiple meds for different time-of-day reminders and frequencies and your iPhone will ping you when it’s time. Another addition to the Health app is the ability to enable notifications if your logged menstrual cycles show a pattern of infrequent periods and other signs of possible abnormalities.

On a more light-hearted note, depending on how serious an athlete you are, Apple has also added a My Sports tab to its News app, dedicating a section to your favorite sports teams. This encompasses news, results, related stories and upcoming game reminders. A word of warning: Some of the stories may be locked behind Apple’s News+ paywall.

One of the best updates is one you might miss. I did too, until I perused Apple’s iOS 16 lengthy release notes: Haptic typing is here, on an iPhone, several years late. Until now, if you wanted typing vibrations on an iOS device you’d have to install Gboard – yes, Google’s third-party keyboard – to get this functionality. Now, mere days later it’s hard to imagine going back to typing on glass without it. Android users have had it good.

Everything else

iOS 16 introduces some potentially life-saving personal safety updates as well. Emergency SOS, which sounds an alarm on the phone before automatically calling emergency services, can now be activated by rapidly pressing the side button five times. Crash Detection, enabled in settings, will take data from the motion sensor, gyroscope, accelerometer, GPS, barometer and microphone, and combine it with algorithms to estimate if you’ve been in a car crash. When detected, a warning will flag up on both your iPhone and your Apple Watch. If you're still responsive, you can swipe the screen to call emergency services or close the alert, if it was a false alarm. Like the SOS call, the iPhone will automatically dial emergency services after 10 seconds have passed.

iOS 16 review
Mat Smith / Engadget

It wouldn’t be an Apple update with at least a few security updates. Perhaps the most noticeable addition is Safety Check, which can decouple your iPhone from specific contacts, gadgets and services. From here, you can uncheck permissions and even nix the connection completely with “Emergency Reset” or “Select All and Stop Sharing.” You will need to use your passcode or FaceID for these more extreme measures.

Apple is also touting what it calls Passkeys: digital keys that use your iPhone’s security features to securely log in to websites and devices like your smart TV. These aren’t an Apple invention, but with Passkeys on iOS devices this should lead to wider uptake and, well, a chance to use them. That said, I haven’t yet found any opportunities yet to test them out.

And there are even more notable features:

  • Apple Maps includes support for multi-stop routing, which can also be synced with your Mac. Travel fares are also displayed when you’re riding public transport.

  • Camera-wise, you can add foreground blur on Portrait mode photos, and Apple has improved cinematic mode video capture – at least on select devices. You’ll get cinematic mode on the iPhone 13 series and newer.

  • The Home app has been streamlined, with categories for lighting, speakers, TV and more. The tiles have been redesigned to make it easier to discriminate between all your connected gadgets. And, of course, there are now Home app lock screen widgets.

  • Apple has expanded the Fitness app to everyone; you no longer need an Apple Watch to use the activity tracking parts. Your iPhone’s motion sensors will estimate your steps, distance and workouts to offer up a rough calorie burn figure, too.

  • New accessibility features include Door Detection in the iPhone’s Magnifier mode – if you have a device with LIDAR, anyway. (That’s ‘Pro’ iPhone models starting with the iPhone 12 Pro.) A new detection mode offers more detailed descriptions in Magnifier, as well as people detection and image descriptions.

  • Apple finally lets you hang up on calls with Siri, hands-free. It sounds incredibly abrupt, sure, but hang-ups required a physical tap until now. You can also adjust Siri's wait time before it responds to your voice commands.

Wrap-up

iOS 16 marks another notable evolution for Apple’s often slow-to-change mobile OS, this time enriching your iPhone lock screen in several ways. I focused on the lock screen in this review because it’s an inescapable part of the iPhone experience. Changes elsewhere are small, but there are an awful lot of them, and they add up. (Apple has added seven more nose options for Memoji, FYI.)

There are some features that I haven’t been able to test, including accessibility upgrades for LIDAR-capable phones and Passkey support. As with many iOS updates, you might not notice all of the improvements. Many will find the medication reminder features useful and simple; others won’t even know it’s there. Sports fans might love the dedicated News app tab, but on the other hand, you also might not care about sportsball? You can test out the lock screen widgets, set up some Focus modes. Or not. But please turn on Haptic typing, and never let your iPhone make those typing sound effects ever again.

‘Warzone’ is going mobile in 2023

Call of Duty is doubling down on mobile play with Warzone Mobile, a battle royale heading to Android and iOS devices in 2023. Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile will feature 120-player matches with operators, weapons, locations and combat familiar to existing Warzone fans. The game will support a shared Battle Pass, social features and cross-progression with Modern Warfare II and Warzone 2.0, both of which are due out at the end of 2022. The base game will be free.

Activision hasn't shared details about potential microtransactions in Warzone Mobile, but that'll likely be the case. In-game purchases have been built into Call of Duty: Mobile since its debut in 2019, and that plan seems to have worked out just fine for Activision — the studio has made more than $1.5 billion off of Android and iOS players in less than three years, according to SensorTower. Call of Duty: Mobile has been downloaded more than 650 million times globally.

If Call of Duty: Mobile was a test run, Warzone Mobile is Activision's end game. Warzone Mobile is part of a unification scheme for the entire Call of Duty franchise, with Activision pulling the annual installment, Warzone and mobile play into one ecosystem with the same underlying technology. This move unlocks shared progression, socializing and payments across platforms and titles, transforming Call of Duty into more of a state of mind than a video game.

Though the franchise is coming together in new ways, Warzone Mobile will feature mobile-specific playlists, events and content. Activision also promises deep customization options for handheld play. The game is being developed with input from multiple studios, including Activision Shanghai, Beenox, Digital Legends and Solid State Studios. Pre-registration for Warzone Mobile is live now on Google Play.

‘Warzone’ is going mobile in 2023

Call of Duty is doubling down on mobile play with Warzone Mobile, a battle royale heading to Android and iOS devices in 2023. Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile will feature 120-player matches with operators, weapons, locations and combat familiar to existing Warzone fans. The game will support a shared Battle Pass, social features and cross-progression with Modern Warfare II and Warzone 2.0, both of which are due out at the end of 2022. The base game will be free.

Activision hasn't shared details about potential microtransactions in Warzone Mobile, but that'll likely be the case. In-game purchases have been built into Call of Duty: Mobile since its debut in 2019, and that plan seems to have worked out just fine for Activision — the studio has made more than $1.5 billion off of Android and iOS players in less than three years, according to SensorTower. Call of Duty: Mobile has been downloaded more than 650 million times globally.

If Call of Duty: Mobile was a test run, Warzone Mobile is Activision's end game. Warzone Mobile is part of a unification scheme for the entire Call of Duty franchise, with Activision pulling the annual installment, Warzone and mobile play into one ecosystem with the same underlying technology. This move unlocks shared progression, socializing and payments across platforms and titles, transforming Call of Duty into more of a state of mind than a video game.

Though the franchise is coming together in new ways, Warzone Mobile will feature mobile-specific playlists, events and content. Activision also promises deep customization options for handheld play. The game is being developed with input from multiple studios, including Activision Shanghai, Beenox, Digital Legends and Solid State Studios. Pre-registration for Warzone Mobile is live now on Google Play.

Controversial social media app Parler is back on the Google Play Store

Parler, the app that's largely associated with Donald Trump supporters, conservatives and far-right extremists, is once again available for download via the Google Play Store. Billing itself as a "free speech network", Parler was banned and removed from the Android app store in January [2021] after the US Capitol insurrection. A Google spokesperson said at the time that the removal was due to the app's lack of "moderation policies and enforcement that remove egregious content like posts that incite violence." 

A Google spokesperson said "As we've long stated, apps are able to appear on Google Play provided they comply with Play’s developer policies. All apps on Google Play that feature user generated content (UGC) are required to implement robust moderation practices that prohibit objectionable content, provide an in-app system for reporting objectionable UGC, take action against that UGC where appropriate, and remove or block abusive users who violate the app's terms of use and/or user policy."

Parler has made substantial modifications to its app to comply with Google's policies. Bloomberg and Axios have reported that the apps' developers have implemented policies to moderate content and remove posts that incite violence, which made it compliant with Google's requirements. Despite its suspension and delisting from the Android app store, people could still download Parler from the company's website and continue to use it.

Parler was reinstated to the iOS app store in May this year, after modifying its AI-based moderation tool to hide content it identifies as "hate." Donald Trump's "Truth Social" has been available on the iOS store since February, though it has yet to launch on Android. Google reportedly has yet to approve that app due to concerns over its violations of standards and inadequate moderation policies.

Controversial social media app Parler is back on the Google Play Store

Parler, the app that's largely associated with Donald Trump supporters, conservatives and far-right extremists, is once again available for download via the Google Play Store. Billing itself as a "free speech network", Parler was banned and removed from the Android app store in January [2021] after the US Capitol insurrection. A Google spokesperson said at the time that the removal was due to the app's lack of "moderation policies and enforcement that remove egregious content like posts that incite violence." 

A Google spokesperson said "As we've long stated, apps are able to appear on Google Play provided they comply with Play’s developer policies. All apps on Google Play that feature user generated content (UGC) are required to implement robust moderation practices that prohibit objectionable content, provide an in-app system for reporting objectionable UGC, take action against that UGC where appropriate, and remove or block abusive users who violate the app's terms of use and/or user policy."

Parler has made substantial modifications to its app to comply with Google's policies. Bloomberg and Axios have reported that the apps' developers have implemented policies to moderate content and remove posts that incite violence, which made it compliant with Google's requirements. Despite its suspension and delisting from the Android app store, people could still download Parler from the company's website and continue to use it.

Parler was reinstated to the iOS app store in May this year, after modifying its AI-based moderation tool to hide content it identifies as "hate." Donald Trump's "Truth Social" has been available on the iOS store since February, though it has yet to launch on Android. Google reportedly has yet to approve that app due to concerns over its violations of standards and inadequate moderation policies.

Meta is shutting down the standalone Facebook Gaming app

Meta has started notifying users of its standalone Facebook Gaming app that it will soon no longer be available. In an in-app notification (as shared by social media consultant Matt Navarra and other publications), the company has announced that both iOS and Android versions of the application will stop working on October 28th. Meta is also giving users the chance to download their search data and reminding them that Facebook Gaming isn't going away entirely. Users will merely have to go to the Gaming tab in the main Facebook app to watch their favorite creators' livestreams.

The company released the dedicated Gaming app in 2020 to better compete with Twitch and YouTube. Meta (still known as Facebook back then) designed the app to highlight content from streamers and to provide users with a group chat and other community features. It didn't say why it decided to shut down the standalone app, but it could be part of its cost-cutting efforts meant to help it weather what Mark Zuckerberg calls "one of the worst downturns [the company has seen] in recent history."

Over the past year, streaming tool providers such as StreamElements reported that Facebook Gaming comes only second to Twitch when it comes to hours watched on a game streaming platform. However, we examined data from CrowdTangle, Meta's analytics service, and found that the platform is flooded with spam and pirated content masquerading as gaming livestreams. Back then, a spokesperson told Engadget that Meta was "working to improve [its] tools to identify violating content" so that users can have "the best experience."