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Netflix launches first games on smartphones

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bbc– Netflix is launching its first games worldwide as it seeks to break into the game subscription market.

Starting Tuesday, the company will roll out updates to its Netflix app on Android smartphones, showing what games are available for download.

To begin with, five mobile games are included for Netflix subscribers.

The company is promising more to come – with no adverts in the game and no in-app purchases like those common in other mobile games.

Of the five games launching with the service, two are linked to the streaming giant’s popular Stranger Things series:

  • Stranger Things: 1984
  • Stranger Things 3: The Game
  • Card Blast
  • Teeter Up
  • Shooting Hoops

“While this is just the beginning of a long journey, we’re excited to provide a gaming experience that is differentiated from what is available today – exclusive mobile games with no ads, no in-app payments, included with your Netflix membership,” the company said.

While the initial games have relatively simple graphics and casual gameplay, Netflix says it is in very early stages, but plans to eventually create games “for every kind of player”.

“Whether you’re craving a casual game you can start from scratch, or an immersive experience that lets you dig deeper into your favourite stories, we want to begin to build a library of games that offers something for everyone,” wrote Mike Verdu, the company’s head of game development.

Mr Verdu was a major hire for Netflix, having worked at games giant EA and later at Facebook, where he worked on augmented and virtual reality.

Apple coming soon

This week’s release is only for Android phones and tablets. Netflix said that games would come to iOS devices “in the coming months”.

Apple has previously resisted attempts by other companies to put “stores inside stores” – particularly around gaming.

  • Squid Game helps Netflix subscriptions pick up
  • Netflix: Four things which have driven its success

When Microsoft initially launched its Game Pass streaming service in 2020, Apple blocked the app from appearing in the iPhone App Store, arguing that the roughly 100 games included should all be listed in its store individually. Microsoft eventually resorted to streaming through Apple’s mobile Safari browser instead.

Netflix did not say it was facing any similar issues with Netflix Games, saying that Android arriving first was down to the launch being “still in its early stages”.

Despite the delay in reaching Apple customers, Microsoft has become the dominant figure in the game subscription market to date.

Its Xbox Game Pass service includes most of Microsoft’s own game studio releases on the day they go on sale, many of which can be played on an Xbox, a gaming computer, or streamed over the internet to phones and tablets.

It is estimated to have tens of millions of subscribers paying between £7.99 and £10.99 a month, depending on the features they need.

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BLACKBERRY PHONES TO STOP WORKING AS COMPANY FINALLY PULLS PLUG

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independent– BlackBerry phones, once the height of mobile devices, are finally being shut off.

The company announced that services for the older devices will be brought to an end on 4 January. At that point, they will “no longer reliably function”, BlackBerry said, and will be unable to get data, texts or make phone calls, including to emergency numbers.

It is just the latest in a series of endings for the once equally beloved and hated name, which helped drive the mobile revolution and was at the forefront of business and technology. While the BlackBerry has been declared dead a number of times before, the latest move means that the phones themselves will actually stop working.

In 2016, after its phones had been replaced largely by smartphones from Apple and others, BlackBerry announced that it had transitioned away from phones and into making software and that it would focus on providing security tools to companies and governments. It has sold the BlackBerry brand to other companies, who have created devices bearing the name.

In 2020, BlackBerry said that with that move complete, it would start taking offline the legacy services that allowed those old devices to keep working. Phones that run any of BlackBerry’s own operating systems – BlackBerry 7.1 OS and earlier, BlackBerry 10 software – were given an “end of life or termination date” at the start of 2022.

Next week, that date will finally arrive and support will end. While the phones will still be able to perform some of their functions without BlackBerry’s services, many of their central features will be removed, and the phones will not work reliably.

BlackBerry said the support was being removed in recognition of the fact that it now works in security software and that the old products did not reflect its business. It had prolonged support in the years since that transition “as an expression of thanks to our loyal partners and customers”, it said.

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70 Jupiter-sized ‘rogue planets’ discovered in our galaxy

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independent– A team of astronomers discovered at least 70 ‘rogue’ planets in our galaxy, the largest collection ever found to date.

While conventional planets (like those in our Solar System) orbit a star, rogue planets roam freely without travelling around a nearby star.

“We did not know how many to expect and are excited to have found so many,” said Núria Miret-Roig, an astronomer at the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Bordeaux.

­It would usually be impossible to detect rogue planets because they are hard to spot far from a star’s light. One key fact of their existence made them visible: these planets still give off enough heat to glow millions of years after their creation, making them visible to powerful telescopes.

This heat allowed the 70 planets – each with masses close to that of Jupiter – to be discovered in the Scorpius and Ophiuchus constellations.

“We measured the tiny motions, the colours and luminosities of tens of millions of sources in a large area of the sky,” explained Ms Miret-Roig. “These measurements allowed us to securely identify the faintest objects in this region, the rogue planets.”

The astronomers’ study suggests there could be many more elusive, starless planets yet to be discovered, numbering in the billions in the Milky Way alone.

By studying these planets, astronomers believe they could unlock clues as to how the mysterious objects come to be. It is hypothesised they are generated from the collapse of gas clouds too small to create stars, but they could also have been ejected from a parent system.

“These objects are extremely faint and little can be done to study them with current facilities,” says Hervé Bouy, another astronomer at the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique. “The ELT [Extremely Large Telescope, currently being built in Chile] will be absolutely crucial to gathering more information about most of the rogue planets we have found.”

The exact number of rogue planets discovered is vague, because the observations made by the researchers do not allow them to measure the mass of the objects. Bodies with a mass 13 times greater than that of Jupiter are unlikely to be planets, but relying on brightness makes this figure unclear.

The brightness of these objects is also related to age, as the older the planet is the dimmer it will be. The brightest objects in the sample could have a mass greater than the upper limit but be older and therefore dimmer. Researchers estimate there could be as many as 100 more planets yet to be discovered because of this uncertainty.

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Sign up to The Independent’s free cryptocurrency expert panel event

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independent– The price of cryptocurrency is seemingly in constant flux which causes a gauntlet for investors to run week to week and day to day.

Bitcoin remains in limbo following last week’s flash crash, which some analysts mistook for the start of a bear market that would see its price continue to tumble in the short term.

None of this is new with cryptocurrency making headlines for years, but its unpredictable nature and complex myriad of currencies means for many it is an area too daunting to delve into.

For those who have taken the plunge and invested there have been those who have become millionaires and even billionaires as a result, while there are those who have also lost a considerable amount as the price proves to be a constant rollercoaster for investors.

To decipher exactly how cryptocurrency works, how to invest and what the future looks like for the likes of bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH) and Cardano (ADA),The Independent is hosting an expert panel to explore the ins and outs of digital money.

The virtual event, which is free to attend, will be hosted by our own crypto expert, tech writer Anthony Cuthbertson and he will be joined by digital currency leaders who will be able to give their first-hand account of trading in the online market.

One of the panellists is none other than Fred Schebesta, a co-founder of financial comparison website Finder, self-made entrepreneur with an estimated net worth of $214million.

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