Facebook's 'real names' policy has drawn fresh criticism following reports that some Native Americans are unable to use their traditional names on the service.

Staff at the social network have banned users for using "made-up names" such as Kills the Enemy and Creeping Bear.

The issue has been affecting Native Americans on Facebook for some years, but anti-racism group Now Colorlines has highlighted a spate of recent cases.

Facebook's naming policy has previously landed it in hot water with the drag queen community, and was hit by a petition demanding the sanctioning of stage names.

The company has made numerous changes to improve gender and racial equality, including the option to choose between 50 different genders, but admits that there is still work to be done.

"Over the last several months, we've made some significant improvements in the implementation of this standard, including enhancing the overall experience and expanding the options available for verifying an authentic name," a Facebook spokesperson told The Telegraph.

"We have more work to do, and our teams will continue to prioritise these improvements so everyone can be their authentic self on Facebook."

Digital Spy

read full article...

Google is to acquire photo and back-up service Odysee.

The web giant will merge the team behind the mobile app with its Google+ operations, but is yet to indicate why it bought out the firm.

"Odysee's vision was to be the easiest way for everyone to capture unlimited memories and access them everywhere. We are very excited to join Google where we'll continue to focus on building amazing products that people love," said the Odysee team in a statement.

"Our deepest thanks to every one of our users. To help you with the transition, the Odysee service will continue till February 23, and soon after that all your photos and videos will be available as a downloadable archive."

There acquisition adds fuel to rumours that Google is planning to separate its photo services from Google+ and offer them as standalone apps.

The Odysee apps have been removed from online storefronts and the service will be shuttered on February 23.

Digital Spy

read full article...

Qualcomm has been hit with a record $975 million (£640m) fine from the Chinese authorities following an anti-trust investigation.

The US chip maker will also be forced to lower its royalty rates on patents licensed to Chinese manufacturers, after being penalised for violating anti-monopoly laws.

The company must now charge royalties based on 65% of a phone's selling price in the Chinese market, rather than the entire cost.

Qualcomm has issued a statement expressing its disappointment in the ruling, but confirmed that it will comply with the order.

"Although Qualcomm is disappointed with the results of the investigation, it is pleased that the NDRC (National Development and Reform Commission) has reviewed and approved the company's rectification plan," said the company.

Qualcomm, the world's biggest supplier of smartphone chips, derives around half of its global revenue from China.

Digital Spy

read full article...

The government has rolled out superfast broadband to two million more homes and businesses.

Figures released today (February 9) show the latest progress of plans to deliver access to broadband at greater than 24 Mbps to properties not covered by existing commercial networks.

Culture secretary Sajid Javid said: "Today, there are two million more UK homes and businesses with access to superfast broadband than there were two years ago as a result of this ambitious project.

"This is a tremendous result that is already making a huge difference to millions of people."

He added: "We want everyone in the UK to be able to enjoy the benefits of superfast broadband. That's why we've begun work on reaching the last 5% of communities not covered by existing plans."

CEO of BT's local network business Openreach Joe Garner said: "We're proud to be delivering this great British success story in partnership with the government, and have committed up to £1billion of our shareholders' money to the projects.

"The programme is on schedule overall and our people continue to work flat out on connecting homes and business in the UK's hard-to-reach areas.

"If we come in under budget, savings can be reinvested to take coverage even further. Funds will also be released if take-up exceeds expectations, all of which is further great value for the taxpayer."

The government aims to have 95% of properties with access to superfast broadband by 2017. The current figure is around 80%.

£1.7 billion has been invested in the scheme, with around 40,000 additional properties a week getting access.

Digital Spy

read full article...

Google's advisory council has decided that the 'right to be forgotten' ruling should not go beyond the EU.

The internet giant set up an eight-person committee back in May to look into demands for a global roll-out of the rule, reports TNW.

At present, only citizens of EU countries can apply to have anything related to them removed from the search engine's European domains.

Regulators have been pushing to get Google to apply the rule globally, but the majority of the committee has spoken against such calls in a new 44-page report.

Among the those on the committee is Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, who argued: "I completely oppose the legal situation in which a commercial company is forced to become the judge of our most fundamental rights of expression and privacy, without allowing any appropriate procedure for appeal by publishers whose works are being suppressed."

Not everyone agreed however, with former German federal Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger saying: "The internet is global, the protection of the user's rights must also be global. Any circumvention of these rights must be prevented."

The report also points out that committee members were only paid expenses and had no contractual or non-disclosure agreements with Google.

Digital Spy

read full article...

Microsoft is reportedly working on a new Office assistant app that is Cortana-enabled.

A prototype app called Work Assistant has emerged on the Windows Phone store, which integrates with Microsoft's digital assistant, reports The Verge.

The service - which can't be installed by the general public from the store - will apparently accept voice commands via Cortana, to open, edit and share documents.

As Office is now available on iOS and Android, integration could go beyond desktop and see some of Cortana's features make their way onto rival platforms in the future.

In a recent AMA on Reddit, Bill Gates revealed he is involved in the development of a new 'Personal Agent'.

"One project I am working on with Microsoft is the Personal Agent which will remember everything and help you go back and find things and help you pick what things to pay attention to," he explained.

"The idea that you have to find applications and pick them and they each are trying to tell you what is new is just not the efficient model - the agent will help solve this. It will work across all your devices."

Such a service is reminiscent of '90s digital assistant Clippy, although the Cortana version is expected to be more subtle and useful.

Digital Spy

read full article...

Asteroids: Outpost has been announced by Atari.

The publisher describes the title as a re-imagining of the arcade classic shooter, which was first released in 1979.

Asteroids: Outpost is also billed as an open-world, sandbox-style, survival experience where players mine, build and defend their base and grow their fortune.

"Asteroids is one of the most iconic titles in Atari's portfolio of more than 200 games and franchises, and we're looking forward to ushering the game into today's digital gaming era," said Atari CEO Fred Chesnais.

"We're paying homage to the original Asteroids by incorporating classic features such as asteroid blasting capabilities, while introducing a completely new premise and gameplay."

He added: "Asteroids: Outpost will appeal to both fans of the classic Asteroids as well as enthusiasts of immersive survival games and expansive MMOs."

Players will be tasked with facing the challenges of exploring a massive asteroid, collecting resources, scavenging for ore, crafting equipment, and expanding their territory as they build highly customised bases.

Asteroids: Outpost will be available later this year on PC, and it will hit Steam Early Access 'soon'.

A version of the original Asteroids where players can shoot desktop files and folders was released a few years ago.

Digital Spy

read full article...

Resident Evil HD Remaster has become Capcom's fastest-selling digital title in history.

The HD rendition of the original survival-horror game has also broken the record for the biggest-selling day-one digital title on the PlayStation Network.

"It's been great to see so many positive comments from fans that have enjoyed this new release," said producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi.

"The team here at Capcom Japan have worked hard to bring the game to the latest generation of consoles and we are thrilled at this news on its performance."

Resident Evil HD Remaster was released on January 20 for PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC.

On PlayStation platforms, it is available as a cross-buy purchase.

Digital Spy

read full article...

Nintendo reportedly wanted exclusive access to the Harry Potter video game rights.

According to a report on Unseen64, Nintendo of America's NST studio came up with a pitch for two games back in the late 1990s.

With a week to come up with ideas, the studio was split into two teams, one of which was said to be working on third-person games that would coincide with the release of each book, while the other wanted to make a quidditch game.

It is believed Nintendo lost out on the license because bosses wanted to adopt a Japanese/Manga art style, while JK Rowling wanted to keep things "strictly British".

"It went against all my instincts based on what I had read quotes from JK about keeping it strictly British, and I had to revamp my initial designs and go more manga/Japanese," a former artist explained.

"I had a big fight about that, but my boss insisted."

Warner Bros eventually secured the video game rights for reported £1 million, and would task Electronic Arts with creating a series of games to coincide with the release of each film.

Digital Spy

read full article...

The Halo 5: Guardians beta recorded 20 million matches in three weeks.

Multiplayer beta users racked up 2.5 million hours of game time, and made more than 181 million kills.

As a result of the beta, Halo 5 developer 343 Industries has announced plans to adjust Spartan Abilities, weapons, rankings and more.

Executive producer Josh Holmes said: "This was a huge endeavour for everyone on the Halo 5 team and one that we approached with nervous excitement.

"We're thrilled with the results - the level of engagement and response from our community shattered all of our expectations.

"Throughout the beta we monitored feedback channels including web forums, reddit, Twitter, Facebook and our newly launched Halo Community Feedback Programme.

"The team has spent the past few weeks poring over player feedback from the aforementioned sources and from this we have developed an extensive list of improvements for the game, including adjustments to Spartan Abilities, Weapons, Competitive Skill Ranking and much more."

Halo 5: Guardians is expected to launch during the 2015 holiday season.

Digital Spy

read full article...