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EA packs in Sims, Star Wars, FIFA, Battlefield, at E3

At the annual E3 games expo, EA unveiled a massive roster of new games, maps and expansions, including major Sims and Star Wars news

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“The Empire won’t stop until every Jedi is purged from the galaxy. As a young Padawan on the run, the odds are against you—but the Force is with you. Discover the Jedi abilities you must master to survive.”

That was the compelling yet somehow familiar rallying call that went with the unveil of the new trailer (above) for the upcoming Star Wars game Jedi: Fallen Order, during this weekend’s E3 games expo in Los Angeles.

It was one of a flood of E3 unveils from Electronic Arts, which also debuted additional extras for Apex LegendsAnthem, The Sims 4Battlefield V, and new EA Sports games.

A highlight was an announcement from EA and Maxis that The Sims 4 Island Living Expansion Pack is coming to PC and Mac on June 21 and to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on July 16. 

In The Sims 4 Island Living, players can trade in the hustle and bustle of city life in exchange for a laid-back lifestyle on the tropical island of Sulani, where Sims can relax on the beach, enjoy water activities on a glistening ocean, become a conservationist to help keep the beaches in pristine condition and experience all of the cultural traditions this island has to offer.

“With Island Living, the development team wanted to give players the chance to escape with their Sims to a peaceful, unique paradise and truly connect with nature,” said Mike Duke, Senior Producer of The Sims 4. “This expansion will enable fans and their Sims to find their bliss, whether it is relaxing under a palm tree on the beach, befriending a mermaid along the coral reefs, or protecting the Sulani environment and ensuring that the island becomes more beautiful than ever.”

The expansion pack introduces the beautiful, sun-soaked world of Sulani, where Sims can enjoy activities in the clear blue waters surrounding the island, setting sail in a peaceful canoe or going on a wild aqua zip ride alongside pods of playful dolphins that surround the island. Sims can also swim, build sandcastles on the shore, or kick back and relax under the sun. Sims immerse themselves into the Sulani lifestyle by learning local folklore, tasting traditional delicacies, dressing in tropical garb or decorating their new oasis with objects inspired by the local culture.

Players can try out a new conservationist career for Sims who want to make a change in their newfound home. The more Sims clean up and care for their environment, the more lush and full of explosive nature it becomes. Or Sims will take on protecting beachgoers as a lifeguard, taking on odd jobs or fishing for their next meal.

Alongside the reveal of The Sims 4 Island Living, The Sims is also celebrating the LGBTQ+ community with a new partnership with the It Gets Better Project, a non-profit organisation and global movement to provide hope and encouragement to LGBTQ+ youth. 

Beginning on June 18, players will be able to access exclusive It Gets Better and pride in-game clothing in The Sims 4 onPC, The Sims FreePlay and The Sims Mobile, as well as a variety of pride items, including a gender-neutral bathroom door in The Sims 4. Look for this content to come to The Sims 4 on consoles in July.

Click here to read about EA Sports FIFA 20, Volta Football, Battlefield V maps and new independent games.

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Huge appetite for foldable phones – when prices fall

Samsung, Huawei and Motorola have all shown their cards, but consumers are concerned about durability, size, and enhanced use cases, according to Strategy Analytics

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Foldable devices are a long-awaited disrupter in the smartphone market, exciting leading-edge early adopters keen for a bold new type of device. But the acceptance of foldable devices by mainstream segments will depend on the extent to which the current barriers to adoption are addressed.

Major brands have been throwing their foldable bets into the hat to see what the market wants from a foldable, namely how big the screens should be and how the devices should fold. Samsung and Huawei have both designed devices that unfold from smartphones to tablets, each with their own method of how the devices go about folding. Motorola has recently designed a smartphone that folds in half, and it resembles a flip phone.

Assessing consumer desire for foldable smartphones, a new report from the User Experience Strategies group at Strategy Analytics has found that the perceived value of the foldable form does not outweigh the added cost.

Key report findings include:

  • The idea of having a larger-displayed smartphone in a portable size is perceived as valuable to the vast majority of consumers in the UK and the US. But, willingness to pay extra for a foldable device does not align with the desire to purchase one. Manufacturers must understand that there will be low sell-through until costs come down.
  • But as the acceptance for traditional smartphone display sizes continues to increase, so does the imposed friction of trying to use them one-handed. Unless a foldable phone has a wider folded state, entering text when closed is too cumbersome, forcing users to utilize two hands to enter text, when in the opened state.
  • Use cases need to be adequately demonstrated for consumers to fully understand and appreciate the potential for a foldable phone, though their priorities seemed fixed on promoting ‘two devices in one’ equaling a better video viewing experience. Identification and promotion of meaningful new use cases will be vital to success.

Christopher Dodge, Associate Director, UXIP and report author said: “As multitasking will look to be a core selling point for foldable phones, it is imperative that the execution be simplified and intuitive. Our data suggests there are a lot of uncertainties that come with foldable phone ownership, stemming mainly from concerns with durability and size, in addition to concerns over enhanced use cases.

“But our data also shows that when the consumers are able to use a foldable phone in hand, there is a solid reduction of doubt and concern about the concept. This means that the in-store experience may more important than ever in driving awareness, capabilities, and potential use cases.”

Said Paul Brown, Director, UXIP: “The big question is whether the perceived value will outweigh the added cost; and the initial response from consumers is ‘no.’ The ability for foldable displays to resolve real consumer pain-points is, in our view critical to whether these devices will become a niche segment of the smartphone market or the dominant form-factor of the future. Until costs come down, these devices will not take off.”

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New exploit exposes credit cards on mobile phones

Check Point Security has found that handsets using Qualcomm chipsets that hold credit and debit card credentials are at risk of a new exploit.

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Now it’s more important than ever to update your phone.
Check Point security has found a vulnerability in mobile devices that run Android, which allows credit card details to be accessed by hackers.

Mobile operating systems like Android offer a Rich Execution Environment (REE), providing a hugely extensive and versatile runtime environment, which allows apps to run on the device. However, while bringing flexibility and capability, REE leaves devices vulnerable to a wide range of security threats. A Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) is designed to reside alongside the REE and provide a safe area on the device to protect assets and to execute trusted code. Qualcomm makes use of a secure virtual processor, which is often referred to as the “secure world”, in comparison to the “non-secure world”, where REE resides. 

But Check Point “fuzzed” a “hole” into this secure world 

In a 4-month research project, Check Point researchers attempted and succeeded to reverse Qualcomm’s “Secure World” operating system. Check Point researchers leveraged a “fuzzing” technique to expose the hole. Fuzz testing (fuzzing) is a quality assurance technique used to discover coding errors and security loopholes in software, operating systems or networks. It involves inputting massive amounts of random data, called fuzz, to the test subject in an attempt to make it crash.

Check Point implemented a custom-made fuzzing tool, which tested trusted code on Samsung, LG, and Motorola devices. Through fuzzing, Check Point found 4 vulnerabilities in trusted code implemented by Samsung (including S10), 1 in Motorola, 1 in LG, but all code sourced by Qualcomm itself. To address the vulnerability, the runtime of Android needs to be protected from both attackers and users. This is typically achieved by moving the secure storage software to a hardware-supported TEE.

Check Point Research disclosed its findings directly to the companies and gave them time to patch vulnerabilities. Samsung patched three vulnerabilities and LG patched one. Motorola and Qualcomm responded, but have yet to provide a patch, and there is no confirmation of a release date yet.

Check Point Research has urged mobile phone users to stay vigilant and check their credit and debit card providers for any unusual activity. In the meantime, they are working with the vendors mentioned to issue patches.

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