This week on The Shift, Jawn Jang and I talked about Twitter Blue, the new subscription service, highlights from Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference, and the stellar PS5 game, Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart.
Technological World for June 9: Twitter Blue launches in Canada, Apple's WWDC highlights, Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart is a triumph
This week, announcements from Apple’s WWDC 2021 and Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart is a triumph. But first, welcome to Twitter Blue, Canada.
Canada and Australia are the first countries to get Twitter Blue, the new subscription service
You’ve been asking for a way to edit your posts on Twitter. You still can’t edit your posts. But if you subscribe to Twitter Blue you’ll be able to undo a Tweet before it posts. You get 30 seconds to decide.
The new service, which costs $3.49 per month in Canada, also gives you access to bookmark folders so you can organize all those posts you’ve saved, and a “reader mode” which collects long threads into one screen.
You will still see ads.
At the moment, Twitter Blue is only available in Australia and Canada and for iOS devices. If you’re interested, you can sign up from your profile menu in the Twitter for iOS app.
Hey Canada, you’re in.
Be one of the first to explore
TwitterBlue</a>, a new subscription service on iOS. <a href="https://t.co/wV2wn8lXln">pic.twitter.com/wV2wn8lXln</a></p>— Twitter Canada (TwitterCanada) June 3, 2021
Highlights from Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference keynote
The annual conference for developers of software and apps for the Apple ecosystem kicked off this week with the computer, device, and services company announcing updates to its various operating systems, macOS Monterey for computers, iOS 15 for iPads and iPhones, and watchOS 8 for the Apple Watch.
Here are some of the most notable features coming to your Apple devices.
Mail Privacy Protection
Available in Apple’s Mail app, across all your Apple devices, Mail Privacy Protection extends Apple’s privacy support from your browser to your email. With this feature enabled, organizations and individuals who have sent you email cannot collect information about you.
This new functionality is coming to both iOS and macOS and allows you to quickly and easily disable notifications so you can put your head down and get some work done. When you’ve enabled Focus on one of your devices, it will automatically activate across the others.
Watch parties with FaceTime
SharePlay with FaceTime allows you to share movies and TV shows and music with people sharing a FaceTime call with you. Apple is making the function available to third-party developers who want to integrate FaceTime into their apps.
Sharing content across your Apple devices
Universal Control is a new feature that allows you to use a keyboard and mouse with both a Mac and an iPad at the same time. And you can now AirPlay from your iPhone or iPad to your Mac computer.
Ratchet and Clank continue to charm in astounding Rift Apart
We’re on the verge of summer, and the first big game of the season has arrived in Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart.
The sequel to the sort-of reboot that was 2016’s Ratchet & Clank, this adventure game brings together the best of action and role-playing and puzzles and platforming and ties it up nicely with a strong narrative and the kind of character development that we’ve come to expect from Insomniac Games.
Insomniac, which is also responsible for the two Spider-Man games in the past few years, is in top form with this PS5 exclusive, making good use of the DualSense controller and the horsepower of Sony’s next gen console.
There’s almost no load time, for one thing. And your resolution and frame rate options are varied. You can choose fidelity to play in 4K at 30 frame per second, or performance to play in up to 4K at 60 frames per second, and you can enable ray-tracing in performance mode by sacrificing a bit of resolution.
And the environments – there are more than a handful of completely different worlds to explore – are jammed with detail, brimming with bright lights and characters as far as the eye can see.
The story picks up where the last game left off. Ratchet and Clank, the furball and robot duo who always seem to be saving the universe, are being celebrated for doing exactly that. Before the parade is even finished, though, the evil, villainous Doctor Nefarious has ruined things, and in doing so has created dimensional rifts that reverberate throughout all the dimensions.
Which is how we come to meet Rivet, a female Lombax, who resides in another dimension and has her own version of Nefarious to resist.
Ratchet and Clank end up in this alternate dimension and are separated during the journey. Rift Apart will have gamers playing as four different characters during the game, engaged in a variety of missions. There’s plenty of traversal and platforming through the different worlds, each radically different from the other, and there are plenty of enemies to resist.
Success in combat comes from strafing while firing non-stop. You’ll rarely run out of ammunition for all your guns – there are plenty to collect and improve – and there’s lots of fun to be had trying out all the wacky weapons, which is something of a hallmark for the series.
This is the sixteenth Ratchet and Clank game since the first one from Insomniac in 2002, and they have kept true to the family-friendly, quick and witty tone all the way. There’s some real heart to the story and the characters, too. Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart is an outstanding, enjoyable game that deserves to be played.
Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart is available on Thursday, June 10 for the PS5. Rated everyone 10+.
Technological World for June 2: Twitter changing account verification process, PAX Online, Summer Game Fest, E3 2021, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt comes to PS Now, gameplay footage of Horizon Forbidden West astounds
This week I highlight some of the gaming events that are happening online in the next couple of months, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt comes to PlayStation Now, and Horizon Forbidden West astounds with a gameplay reveal. But first, Twitter is changing the way you can ask for your account to be verified.
Twitter changes its approach to verification
Wanting to get the coveted blue check mark on your Twitter account? The company is making it easier for you to request one, but they don’t seem to be making it any easier to get one.
Dear “can you verify me” ––— Twitter Verified (@verified) May 20, 2021
Save your Tweets and DMs, there’s a new official way to apply for a blue badge, rolling out over the next few weeks.
You can now submit an application to request verification in-app, right from your account settings!
-Your verified blue badge source pic.twitter.com/2d1alYZ02M
The new verification application process may not be available to you yet, as the service is rolling out over time.
Twitter is still being strict about who even qualifies for verification, which the company explains is to “help people distinguish the authenticity of accounts that are of high public interest.”
Accounts looking to get verified must fit into one of these six groups:
- companies, brands, organizations
- news organizations and journalists
- sports and gaming
- activists, organizers, and other influential individuals
PAX East gaming convention cancelled, replaced with PAX Online
The PAX East gaming convention, a project of Penny Arcade and ReedPop, usually runs in the spring. Because of the ongoing concerns and restrictions resulting from the covid-19 pandemic, that event was officially cancelled,
Instead, the event will be replaced with PAX Online will run from July 15 to July 18.
The free event will include panel discussions, video streams showcasing creators and influencers, the indie showcase, which highlights Steam games developed by independent studios, and the Pax Arena.
Organizers hope that PAX West, the original show that is held over the Labour Day Weekend in Seattle, will be an in-person event starting on September 3.
Summer of video games begins with Summer Game Fest and E3
The summer of fun gets underway next week with Summer Game Fest, which is hosting and broadcasting video game events throughout the summer.
It all starts on June 10 at 11 a.m. PT, 2 p.m. ET, with a live event hosted by producer Geoff Keighley and featuring a performance by Weezer.
E3 2021 runs online from June 12, with four days of video streams including press conferences from developers, publishers, and vendors, including Ubisoft Forward (June 12) and Nintendo’s Nintendo Direct and Treehouse Live (June 15).
E3 has always had an awards component, with selected media contributing to the decision making. Those awards are going to be broadcast live online on June 15.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt free for PlayStation Now subscribers
PlayStation Now is Sony’s service that provides access to more than 800 games to subscribers for the cost of $13 CAD a month or $80 a year.
The game of the year edition of Wild Hunt includes all post-release content, including the expansions Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine.
Horizon Forbidden West gameplay debut showcases sequel to Zero Dawn
In a State of Play last week, Guerrilla Games showed off nearly 14 minutes of its forthcoming game, Horizon Forbidden West, a sequel to the 2017 action RPG.
Horizon Zero Dawn remains one of my favourite games of all time. It introduced us to a completely new world and the incredible character of Aloy, who lives on Earth hundreds of years after an extinction event.
This new game takes place soon after the events of Zero Dawn, and it’s going to be available for PS5 and PS4, and will be enhanced for PS4 players.
In the video we see Aloy moving about a region in the Forbidden West which is based on the geography of the San Francisco Bay area. She’s got a grappling hook and glider that she can use to traverse the landscape, and we see her take control of one the machines that resembles a raptor. She can also explore underwater.
She’s still got her spear for melee and her bow for ranged attacks, and the video shows Aloy battling groups of raptors and raiders, and taking on a “tremor tusk”, which is a massive elephant-like creature that, like most of the creatures in the Horizon games, is part biological, part machine.
The gameplay was all captured from a PS5. The graphics are incredible, and Guerrilla seems to have really expanded on the world they created. It’s more expansive, more detailed, more dense with sights and sounds.
Sony has not provided a release date for Forbidden West. The game was expected this year, but many big-budget games have been delayed in the past 18 months.