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Abu Dhabi Now Available for Virtual Exploration

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 Yas Island is ready to be discovered by a global online audience as it launches unique virtual experiences today, allowing users from around the world to digitally explore Abu Dhabi’s premier entertainment and leisure hub and other iconic landmarks in the emirate. The initiative is part of a pioneering collaboration between the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), Aldar, Miral, twofour54, and Ethara (formerly Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management and Flash Entertainment).

The virtual Yas Island experience was developed by Super League (Nasdaq: SLGG) and initially breaks through on the leading platform Roblox, accessible at Yas Island Tycoon – Roblox. Users’ digital avatars take a thrilling journey through key Abu Dhabi landmarks on Yas Island and beyond, including SeaWorld Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina Circuit, Etihad Park, Aldar Square, twofour54’s Yas Creative Hub, and Experience Abu Dhabi dedicated area featuring Louvre Abu Dhabi, Mamsha Al Saadiyat, Sir Bani Yas Island, Al Ain Oasis and Al Jahili Fort. Players will be able to traverse the 25-square-kilometre virtual site and experience a playable, socially engaging world designed to entertain and inform audiences globally.

Through a blend of interactive experiences, immersive environments, games, and soon-to-come one-of-a-kind events, players can explore and build cultural and entertainment attractions within Abu Dhabi. As players progress through the virtual destination and its attractions, they will experience more adventures such as theme park rides, driving across Yas Island in race cars and constructing virtual homes, to name a few. Customisable avatars and surprise awards are part of every player’s personalised adventure.  This gamified experience will continually evolve with new partnerships, collaborations and experiences.

HE Saeed Al Fazari, Strategic Affairs Executive Director at DCT Abu Dhabi, said: “This immersive adventure in the virtual realm is the latest example of Abu Dhabi’s commitment to utilising innovation and creativity to reach ever wider audiences. While we have shared Abu Dhabi with millions of visitors in the real world, today marks the start of a new phase in our journey. Everyone, wherever they are, can experience the emirate from the comfort of their own home. At DCT Abu Dhabi, we have been on a mission to progress, protect and promote the emirate as a leading tourism destination, and by offering virtual experiences, we aim to share Abu Dhabi with the world in a new way, inspiring curiosity and excitement about everything the UAE capital has to offer.”

Taghrid Alsaeed, Executive Director of Group Communications and Destination Marketing at Miral, added: “In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, it is imperative to remain relevant to all guests, including those in the virtual realm. The launch of Yas Island’s digital experience is an exciting step in Miral’s commitment to digital transformation, harnessing advanced technology to deliver highly personalized and memorable experiences. While Yas Island has already solidified its position as a global entertainment and leisure destination, we are excited to be able to welcome a new category of customers, and we look forward to offering exceptional and immersive digital experiences that redefine the boundaries of entertainment.”

Rashed Al Omaira, Chief Commercial Officer at Aldar Development, said: “The virtual Yas Island experience unlocks new opportunities for a global audience to explore the island as a world-class destination to live, visit, and work. The effective use of innovative content creation not only enables us to tell the story of Abu Dhabi but also allows people around the world to become immersed in it. We are excited to see people interact with Aldar’s assets on Yas Island in the virtual world and hope it inspires them to take a trip to Abu Dhabi soon.”

Mark Whitehead, CEO of twofour54, said: “Through our community of leading international and regional media businesses, we see first-hand that demand for content that tells Abu Dhabi’s inspiring story has never been higher. The opportunity to explore one of the emirate’s most vibrant destinations using a highly interactive platform is a perfect way to meet this demand. It is yet another demonstration of virtual content creation happening in Abu Dhabi.”

Saif Rashid Al Noaimi, CEO of Ethara, said “At Ethara, our ambition is to be the gatekeepers of first-to-market events and to unlock unique opportunities in events, activations, and entertainment. We are delighted to be part of this unique and innovative experience and are proud to be leading the way for the event industry in the region. The virtual Yas Island experience is in line with both our vision at Ethara and Yas Island’s to highlight itself as a global creative hub and leading entertainment destination. We are constantly seeking ways to deliver thrilling experiences for our fans, and delivering moments that matter.”

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Safari to Get Smarter? Leaked Code Hints at AI Assistant

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Eagle-eyed developer Nicolás Álvarez has spotted clues in Apple’s backend code suggesting a major upgrade for Safari in iOS 18: a browsing assistant powered by artificial intelligence. MacRumors contributor Aaron Perris confirmed the existence of the code, but details remain scarce.

The assistant might leverage Apple’s privacy-focused iCloud Private Relay to transmit relevant data for analysis, potentially requiring an iCloud+ subscription. This aligns with the rumoured focus on generative AI in iOS 18, aiming to streamline iPhone experiences.

Several browsers already boast AI tools like Microsoft Edge’s GPT-4-powered Copilot and Arc Search’s webpage summarization. Apple’s assistant could offer similar functionality or even go beyond.

Another intriguing discovery by Álvarez was “Encrypted Visual Search” within the code. While details are sparse, it could be related to last year’s leak of a “Visual Search” feature for Apple’s unreleased Vision Pro headset. This feature allowed copying and pasting real-world text into apps. Perhaps Apple is refining the technology for a secure iPhone debut, or it might be an extension of the existing Visual Look Up feature for identifying objects in photos.

With Apple’s WWDC keynote scheduled for June 10th, we can expect official details on these potential features in just a few months. So, get ready for a potentially smarter Safari experience in iOS 18!

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Android Gets Supercharged Find My Device Network: Locate Lost Devices Even When Offline

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Android users rejoice! Google has finally launched its highly anticipated Find My Device network, offering a significant upgrade to lost device recovery. This new feature goes beyond the limitations of the previous Find My Device setting, which only worked for powered-on and connected devices.

The key lies in Bluetooth. This new network leverages Bluetooth signals to locate missing phones, smartwatches, earbuds, and even trackers, even if they’re disconnected from Wi-Fi or cellular data. It’s like a digital bloodhound, sniffing out your lost tech.

Here’s what the network offers:

  • Offline Tracking: Lost your phone with a dead battery? No problem. The Find My Device network can locate Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro phones even when powered off.
  • Expanded Range: The network finds any compatible Android phone or tablet, regardless of online status.
  • Bluetooth Tracker Integration: Starting in May, use the Find My Device app to locate items like keys or luggage attached to Chipolo and Pebblebee Bluetooth tracker tags. These tags are designed specifically for the network and offer additional security features, like unknown tracker alerts across Android and iOS devices.
  • “Find Nearby” Feature: (Also coming in May) Can’t find your phone under a pile of laundry? Use Bluetooth tags to pinpoint its location, even if it’s hidden nearby.
  • Nest Integration: The Find My Device app will show you the location of a missing phone or item relative to your home Nest devices, giving you a helpful reference point.
  • Sharing Device Tracking: Permit trusted individuals to track your device with you.

This launch comes after a delay announced in September 2023. Google prioritized user privacy and addressed concerns about the potential for misuse of Bluetooth trackers. Reportedly, the upcoming iOS 17.5 beta includes security measures that address these concerns, paving the way for Google’s network launch.

While only Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro benefit from powered-off tracking, the network itself works with any Android phone running Android 9 or later.

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Google’s Vids: Aiming to Be the Next Big Productivity App

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For years, the office grind has been dominated by the trinity: documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. But Google is throwing a wrench in the mix with Vids, a new app designed to make creating collaborative, shareable videos easier than ever. Forget fancy editing software – Vids is all about practicality. It’s built for the everyday tasks we juggle at work: pitching ideas, updating teams, or explaining complex concepts. Think of it as Google Slides transformed for video.

“Anyone who can make a slide deck can make a video with Vids,” says Kristina Behr, Google’s VP of product management. “No video production experience needed.” The process is refreshingly simple. Drag and drop assets from Drive or other sources, arrange them in a timeline, and add your voiceover or on-camera segments. The result? Think recorded presentations, video calls, or those ubiquitous training videos with a talking head and supporting graphics. Vids might not win Oscars, but they can churn out a variety of useful content.

But Vids is more than just a creation tool. Share your creations with colleagues, and they can comment, leave notes, or even jump in and edit themselves. It’s all about seamless collaboration, much like Google’s other productivity apps. “Imagine a spreadsheet, but in video form,” says Behr. Sharing a Vid isn’t just handing over a file – it’s opening a conversation.

Vids isn’t the first player in this space. Tools like Loom and Descript offer similar video-focused functionality. Even project management platforms and Vimeo are getting in on the act. Google might be late to the party, but their bet is clear: the future of work is video-centric. With remote work on the rise and video communication booming, Google believes employees will spend less time hunched over emails and more time crafting impactful videos. Their secret weapon? Tight integration with the existing suite of Google tools, with even more to come, including mobile support.

One surprising omission? YouTube, Google’s video giant. While there’s some shared technology under the hood, Behr emphasizes the distinct purposes: “The audience and use cases are completely different. Vids is for work, by workers. We’re laser-focused on that specific need.” Vids is slated for a public beta launch this summer. Early testers within Workspace are already seeing trends emerge – short, focused videos under three minutes, perfect for pitches, training, team updates, or celebrating achievements. Behr herself has ditched her email recaps in favour of Vids, finding that viewers appreciate the added layer of personality.

Vids could have easily been bolted onto Slides or Docs. But by giving it its own space, Google sends a clear message: this isn’t just another presentation tool, it’s a paradigm shift in information sharing. While Google’s app graveyard is vast, the Docs-Sheets-Slides trio remains a tech titan. Vids aspires to join those ranks, permanently altering how we communicate in the digital age.

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