Sony Announces New Smart Home Speaker With Built-In Google Assistant and Gesture Controls

Sony today announced a collection of new products that it plans to showcase during the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin, Germany this upcoming weekend. One of the biggest additions to the company's line-up is a new smart home speaker, called the LF-S50G wireless speaker, which looks similar to Apple's upcoming HomePod, has a built-in Google Assistant, and is being pitched with a "high quality" music-focused message.

Users can start off music playback by saying "OK Google," and from there they can ask the assistant for any information that it normally provides, including basic trivia, unit conversions, nutritional information, recipes, and more. The sides of the speaker have an LED clock display, while the top includes various sensors that support gesture controls for starting a song, skipping a song, and adjusting volume.

"Now you can get Sony’s awesome sound quality and design with the Google Assistant built-in," said Mike Fasulo, President and COO of Sony Electronics. "This functionality is another example of Sony’s commitment to customer choice by delivering new and innovative technologies."
The LF-S50G wireless speaker includes a 360 degree, vertical two-way facing speaker system, which Sony said provides for "maximum sound coverage" in any average-sized room. The device's full range speaker reproduces vocal and treble notes, while a dedicated subwoofer reproduces bass sounds and an omnidirectional two stage diffuser evenly spreads the sound to anyone in the room. For music playback, the speaker supports smartphone pairing through Bluetooth and NFC.

Sony is billing the device as a kitchen assistant thanks to its included clock and timer functionality, as well as its IPX3 splash-proof design and a water repellant surface. Users will also be able to control connected smart home electronics, and connect other supported Sony wireless speakers that have Chromecast built-in, syncing the same music across multiple speakers in one home. The LF-S50G wireless speaker will cost $199.99, and Sony said that it will go on sale this October.

Sony also revealed a trio of new wireless headphones that are coming to the 1000X family of products, each bringing advanced noise cancellation features for users. The collection includes the "truly wireless" WF-1000X with an in-ear design, the WI-1000X with a behind-the-neck design, and the WH-1000XM2 with an around-the-ear design and more sound options to adjust to various noise levels and environments. The WH-1000XM2 headphones are the newest versions of the MDR-1000X from last year.


The first device, the WF-1000X, is similar in functionality to many wireless headphones on the market, like Apple's AirPods. When taken out of the included charging case, the earbuds automatically connect to the user's smartphone, and Sony said that the case allows users to listen to nine hours of music on the go. In terms of price, the WF-1000X earphones will cost $199.99, the WI-1000X will cost $299.99, and the WH-1000XM2 will cost $349.99, and all three devices launch in September.

For more information on Sony's announcements, check out the company's IFA-focused press release here. One of the other notable unveilings centered around three new Xperia smartphones coming this fall, with a flagship feature called the "3D Creator." Sony described this as its in-house solution for 3D object scanning that allows users to create avatars, play with augmented reality camera effects, set a live wallpaper, send to friends as a sticker on social media, print on a 3D printer, and various other AR-related options.

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Amazon Offering $101 Off Sony’s MDR-1000X Noise-Canceling Bluetooth Headphones

Amazon is currently offering $101 off the price of Sony's highly rated MDR-1000X noise-canceling Bluetooth headphones, which came out last October and usually retail at $399.

The headphones boast the same drivers as the company's well-regarded MDR-1A headset made for listening to Hi-Res Audio, as supported by the company's Walkman range and its line of wireless home speakers and in-car audio systems.


They also offer up to 20 hours' battery life, touch controls, and exceptional adaptive noise-canceling, rivaling the likes of Bose's QuietComfort 3 and Sennheiser's PXC 550.

In addition, Sony's headset supports the full range of wireless codecs, including AAC, aptX, SBC, and the company's proprietary LDAC, which transmits up to three times more data than conventional Bluetooth for superior sound on supporting devices.

The cans are available on Amazon for $298 in beige or black. You can read MacRumors' in-depth review of Sony's MDR-1000X headphones here.

Note: MacRumors may benefit from affiliate links clicked in this article.

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Sony Introduces New Aftermarket CarPlay and Siri Eyes Free Systems

Sony today introduced its new XAV-AX200 in-car audio receiver, which doubles as an aftermarket CarPlay system.

Sony's previous-generation XAV-AX100 receiver

The double-DIN XAV-AX200 has a 6.4-inch touchscreen, but Sony didn't specify if its capacitive, or resistive like its XAV-AX100 predecessor.

Other key features include both CarPlay and Android Auto support, Bluetooth, SiriusXM satellite radio compatibility, a built-in four-channel amplifier, three external camera inputs, and a built-in DVD player.

Sony also unveiled a MEX-GS820BT receiver that can pair with two smartphones at once via Bluetooth. It doesn't appear to support CarPlay, but it does feature Siri Eyes Free, and similar voice controls on Android smartphones. Sony said the unit has a high-contrast vertical-alignment LCD of an unspecified size.

Siri Eyes Free helps minimize driver distraction with Siri voice recognition, allowing drivers to interact with an iPhone 4s or later without needing to look at the in-dash screen. The feature can be used to make calls, play music, hear and compose text messages, read notifications, use Apple Maps, and more.

Sony said the XAV-AX200 and MEX-GS820BT will be available across North America by the end of the year. Pricing wasn't disclosed. The older XAV-AX100 generally retails for between $499 and $549 in the United States.

Sony's press release did not include pictures, and the company didn't respond when we requested them directly.

Other aftermarket CarPlay systems are available from Alpine, Clarion, Kenwood, JBL, JVC, Pioneer, Sony, and other manufacturers.

Related Roundup: CarPlay
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Sony Announces ‘PlayLink’ With Synchronous Multiplayer Games Communicating Between PS4 and iOS

At E3 this week, Sony announced a new social multiplayer experience for its PlayStation 4 console called "PlayLink," which will use iOS and Android devices as extensions of gameplay happening on the console. The games offered through PlayLink are designed to be played in a group setting, and will be available for purchase through the PS4's PlayStation Store.



To join in on the game, users will be able to download a free PlayLink companion app, which will then sync with the PS4 system and become a "versatile controller" for the game. Announced games include narrative-driven thriller Hidden Agenda, trivia party Knowledge is Power, mini-game collection Frantics, karaoke competition SingStar Celebration, and personalized comedy quiz show That's You!

The games use a variety of the iPhone's features, including taking selfies, doodling on images, swiping through potential answers, and more. Other games have included communication between consoles and iPhones in the past, like the Jackbox games, but this is Sony's first attempt to launch a suite of titles specifically controlled by smartphones.
PlayLink titles are designed to be played in a group setting, allowing for a truly fun and dynamic experience. The collection of PlayLink games vary from gritty crime thrillers to quick-fire quizzes. If you have a smartphone or tablet with the free companion app installed and your PS4 hooked up to a TV, you’re already set.

PlayLink games turn your smartphone or tablet into a versatile controller – you can swipe, pinch, drag, tilt, rotate or even snap selfies and draw crafty doodles, depending on the game. No matter which title you choose from our PlayLink collection, it’s guaranteed to be a slick pick-up-and-play experience.
Sony gave detailed information on Supermassive Games' Hidden Agenda, which tasks up to six friends with navigating a gritty crime drama by guiding a detective and a district attorney through dangerous traps left behind by a serial killer called "The Trapper." Similar to Supermassive's PS4 game Until Dawn, players will have to use quick-thinking decision making to help each character survive to the end of the story, but a voting mechanic will weigh the characters' decisions toward whichever option receives the most votes.


Additionally, each player will get a hidden agenda at the start of the game, requiring them to ensure that they reach a private goal, even if it goes against the group's overall plan. No release date for each game was yet given, but Sony will offer That's You! as a free download for all PlayStation Plus subscribers beginning July 4. Sony said that more PlayLink games will come from more studios following the initial launch.

Mobile devices have become increasingly important for companies with their own video game hardware, with Sony planning to launch more than five smartphone games by March 2018, focusing on Japan and other Asian countries first.


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Sony’s PlayStation Division to Release 6 Mobile Games for iOS Next Year

Sony is set to release up to six games for iOS in the financial year starting April in the hope of replicating Nintendo's phenomenal success with Pokémon Go (via Reuters).

The upcoming titles will bring popular Sony franchises such as Everybody's Golf to iOS devices for the first time, said the company. Previously Sony has only launched a few games for smartphones through its music entertainment division, but the new games will be "mobile designated" and be produced through its PlayStation business.

Everybody's Golf - Sony game
Everybody's Golf on PlayStation 4

Sony also revealed on Wednesday that it is working on 10 mobile gaming titles, including those to be released next year. The 10 titles include PaRappa the Rapper and Arc The Lad. Japan will be first to get the games, before rollout to other Asian countries and eventually likely elsewhere, depending on initial success.

Despite its huge success in the console market worldwide, Sony is facing increasing heat from mobile in countries such as Japan, the world’s third largest game market where mobile gaming accounts for more than half of the $12.4 billion market, according to games research firm Newzoo.

The announcement comes just a week before Nintendo debuts Super Mario Run on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. The endless runner game goes live on the App Store on December 15 for $9.99.

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‘The Last Guardian’ is a half-broken puppy-rearing simulator

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The Last Guardian is clearly a metaphor for the painfully adorable hellscape that your life becomes when you raise a puppy.

I have a puppy. He’s able to be alone now for long stretches of time without killing himself, but there was a six-month period in his life when it was all I could do to keep him alive, clean, and not murdered. His delightful puppy wriggling and whimpering helped a lot in those darker moments.

There were months of my life where I would commute home from an abbreviated work day with no real notion of what I was walking into. Would the puppy still be breathing? Would he have shit smeared all over him? Would he somehow manage to cover himself in pink makeup, or something equally implausible? Read more…

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10 PlayStation Experience reveals you might have missed

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By now you’ve seen all the big news around  games like Marvel vs. Capcom, The Last of Us, and Uncharted. But there was plenty more revealed during the 2016 PlayStation Experience keynote.

If you want to see everything, just go re-watch the whole keynote. But if you want the TL;DR of it all, read on for six reveals that might have slipped past you in the midst of all the excitement.

1Call of Duty World League 2017 has a huge prize pool

The Call of Duty World League returns in 2017 and it’s got a total prize pool valued at $4 million. There are plenty more details to be revealed about the upcoming season’s lineup of regional tournaments. Keep an eye on Call of Duty‘s esports page for more. Read more…

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Amy Schumer might play IRL Barbie for a Sony movie

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The Lego vs. Barbie debate is as old and divisive as Backstreet vs. N*Sync, and now both toys will have feature films to fight with: Sony is developing a live-action Barbie comedy, and is in talks with Amy Schumer to portray the toy heroine, Mashable has confirmed.

Though no deals have been signed, Schumer and two other prominent female artists are in early talks with the studio for the film written by Hillary Winton. Schumer and her sister will likely be involved in the writing process as well. 

In the film, Barbie gets kicked out of Barbieland for not being perfect enough, and ends up on a live-action adventure in our world, similar to Disney’s Enchanted in 2007. The project emerged from a deal between Sony and Mattel which began over two years ago. Read more…

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Sony Releases PlayStation Communities iOS App

Sony has released a new PlayStation Communities iOS app that allows players to interact with fellow PS4 gamers from their Apple phones and tablets.

The app works much like a forum portal: Players using the app can search for, join, and interact with groups, where they can post messages and images on a community wall. Members can stick to chatting about gaming or join groups to set up multiplayer games.

playstation-communities
PlayStation Communities are places where you can find players who have similar interests and preferences.
Within a Community, you can join parties and launch into games with other Community members, or talk about your shared interests. For instance, if you’re having trouble finding players to tackle Destiny’s newest raid, Wrath of the Machine, a Destiny community may help you fill out your fireteam.
The PlayStation Communities app joins two other Sony apps for its console – a flagship PlayStation app released three years ago, and a PlayStation Messages app released in 2015.

PlayStation Communities is a free download for iPhone and iPad available on the App Store.

(Via The Verge.)


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