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Friday, April 12, 2024

Finding a PlayStation 5 Is About to Get Easier

If you still haven't been able to get your paws on a PlayStation 5 (and you are not alone) then get ready to join the party. Sony says it is ramping up production of the console, which has been notoriously difficult to obtain since its release in late 2020 because of lingering supply chain issues.

On a call with investors this week, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan said the materials shortages that were keeping PS5s off of shelves were "improving" and that Sony is planning "heavy further increases" in production.

According to a Reuters report of the call, Ryan says Sony hopes to produce 18 million consoles in 2022, compared to 11.5 in 2021. That's a 57 percent jump.

The news comes as some cities in China institute new lockdowns to slow the spread of Covid-19, which analysts fear could further disrupt manufacturing schedules and continue to gum up global consumer product shipments. Sony says that its own manufacturing pipeline is improving despite these new developments.

Sony also announced that another State of Play event is taking place on Thursday, June 2. Tune into the live broadcast to see trailers and teasers for new PlayStation titles, as well as updates on games coming to PlayStation VR2.

Here's what else happened this week.

Xdongle Cometh

Microsoft has confirmed that it's working on a streaming stick. Whispers of a Chromecast-like device that connects to Microsoft's Xbox Cloud Gaming service have been floated for years, and now the company has told Jez Corden at Windows Central that such a thing is indeed coming.

Microsoft's code name for this device is Keystone. We don't know what it looks like or any other details, but the concept is clear: connect a low-cost dongle to your television's HDMI port, then use it to access Xbox games that live in the cloud. This would not only allow Xbox fans to play all their games anywhere (in their dorm, at home, at a friends house) but it would also open up console-style gaming—and Xbox Game Pass subscriptions—to people who don't own an expensive Xbox console.

Microsoft didn't give any details about pricing or a release date, though you should not expect to see this thing until next year at the earliest.

Watch This, Google

If you're one of the millions of people who own a Samsung Galaxy Watch4, glance at your wrist real quick and check your notifications. An update to WearOS rolled out this week that adds support for Google Assistant on the wearable. So now you can talk to your Assistant by speaking into your carpus or by pressing and holding the home button. The update (which became available on May 23) also adds Google Pay, YouTube Music, and Maps to the Galaxy Watch4's list of amenities.

Our own Julian Chokkattu reviewed the Galaxy Watch4 and Watch4 Classic last year. These watches were Samsung's first after ditching its homegrown Tizen mobile OS in favor of Google's WearOS. That change earned the watches a 7/10 rating and the coveted "WIRED Recommends" badge. Huzzah.

Surrounded by Sound

In 2017 I visited a very cool music venue here in San Francisco called Envelop. It's a room designed for experiencing spatial audio, with 32 speakers built into eight stacks that are arranged in a wide oval around the audience. It's fully immersive and totally dreamy. One of the coolest parts about attending a concert at Envelop is that you can walk up to each individual speaker stack to hear different details, then find a spot in the room to stand or sit that gives you a unique mix based on your position in the 3D space.

The eponymous nonprofit that runs Envelop also makes software plug-ins digital musicians can use to arrange their compositions for 360-degree audio environments. Now that same crew has developed a streaming version of the experience called Envelop Stream that allows anyone in the world to virtually attend the venue's concerts through a web browser.

Metaversal attendees can buy a ticket to an event, surf on into a simulacrum of the Envelop space complete with virtual speaker stacks, then navigate around the room and remix the streaming audio on the fly by changing their position. Check out a demo. It works best with 5.1 surround systems or quadrophonic setups, but headphones work too.

A bunch of events are on the summer schedule, including sound baths, immersive soundscapes, listening parties for popular artists, and a DJ set by Tycho. The shrooms are strictly BYO.

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