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Friday, July 12, 2024

Nintendo Reportedly Gave Private Switch 2 Demos to Developers

The Nintendo Switch 2 is near, at least if reports about some backroom shenanigans are to be believed. This week, news broke that Nintendo gave private demonstrations of the alleged Switch 2 hardware to developers at the Gamescom event in Cologne, Germany, at the end of August. The news was first reported by Eurogamer and corroborated by VGC. From there, it exploded across the internet.

There are no concrete details about hardware, device size, or whether current Switch games will be compatible on the updated console. VGC reports that there’s possible support for some advanced graphics options like ray tracing and Nvidia’s image-enhancing Deep Learning Super Sampling tech. Apparently, Nintendo showed off the enhanced gameplay of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the new system, as well as a Matrix-themed demo of the Unreal Engine 5 that was originally meant to show off the power of PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles.

Rumors about a Switch 2 have been swirling for years, and since the original was such a hit, a refresh feels inevitable. Nintendo has sold more than 129 million Switch devices since it launched in 2017. Previous rumors have hinted at the possibility of the Switch 2 being timed for a 2024 release. The fact that Nintendo gave developers a glimpse of the tech suggests that it is far enough along to begin developing games for, but there’s been no official announcement about a release date.

Here’s some more gadget news.

Pixel Sus

Google has offered a first look at its upcoming Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro phones. Google shared images of the handsets in a YouTube video on Thursday, likely in an effort to get the news out before Apple sucks up all the oxygen in the phone space next week. Google also showed off the new Pixel Watch 2 in a separate post on X, the social network formerly known as Twitter. The company will spill the full details about both devices at its upcoming hardware event on October 4.

The Pixel 8’s design is curvier than its last iteration. There are two color options, and a new ecommerce landing page for the devices shows a still image of both phones. Inspecting the alt text of that image reveals that the official names of those colors are Rose and Porcelain. The phone keeps the raised camera strip along the back like the past couple generations of Pixel. Altogether, the phone’s design makes it look something like an Among Us character. There are no hints about the internals specs, so we can’t tell you whether you should be excited about the device or send it out the airlock.

The Pixel Watch 2 announcement is similarly light on details, other than that the device will look very round and very smooth. Expect much more to be revealed at Google’s October event or, more likely, leaked well beforehand.

Duolingo Gets Musical

The language learning service Duolingo announced that it is adding a new subject to its DIY education platform: music lessons. There aren’t many details about how the lessons will work—whether they’ll just offer music theory instruction or also incorporate actual instruments. But Duolingo says the service will have hundreds of bite-size lessons, based around recognizable songs. It seems like a sort of Yousician lite, but it’s not clear how effective it will be for music education. (Your mileage with digital digital music learning tools may vary.)

These music lessons aren’t Duolingo’s first foray into a discipline other than linguistics. Duolingo launched math lessons and brain teasers in August 2022. Both music and math will be available on one app, though Duolingo hasn’t said when that app will emerge. The company says it will reveal the full details of its music lessons at its upcoming Duocon event in October.

Roblox for Adults

Roblox is all the rage for the kids these days. The gaming platform focuses on creativity and interaction and has only grown more popular as a social space over the past few turbulent years. But as that audience grows up, Roblox is keen to appeal to an older crowd. Two months ago, it launched an age-limited (17 and older) experience to Roblox. And this week, Roblox announced it has added video chat to its platform, aimed at teens and adults looking to communicate in the virtual world.

While Roblox still likely wants to be seen as kid-friendly, it is also subject to all the same ills that befall other social platforms, like bullying, exploitation, inescapable NFTs, and the machinations of fascists. If Roblox wants to appeal to people who are older, it's going to have to become more mature itself.

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This week’s episode of the Gadget Lab podcast is all about how Roblox plans to entice older users, grow its platform, and monetize its way to compete with the other metaverses out there.

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