Fully Charged: Facebook’s VR News Feed, free-to-play Halo, and the UK's autonomous car future

Surely you need some tech news to start off the morning. You’re in luck

Facebook adding VR elements to its News Feed

Facebook getting a VR twist

At its F8 conference yesterday, Facebook revealed that it’s preparing 360-degree videos that’ll be embedded in the News Feed. Such clips will be best experienced with a VR headset, letting you look freely around the environments - and Facebook, of course, owns Oculus, so surely the company will be happy to provide the hardware as well.

Engadget says that these videos will also be viewable without VR headsets, letting you drag your mouse pointer around to view the terrain in a less immersive fashion, but it seems clear that this is the company’s first step towards bringing its famed social network into a virtual future.

[Source: Engadget]

Free-to-play Halo launching in Russia

Halo Online

Halo’s track record on the PC has been pretty spotty - only the first two games ever made the leap to computers, and late - but this probably isn’t the “Halo coming to PC” news you were expecting. In short, Microsoft is making a free-to-play spinoff, and it’s coming to Russia.

Halo Online is built on a modified version of the old Halo 3 engine, so it’ll run on lower-end devices, and it’ll be a microtransaction-driven online shooter inspired by the core series. 343 Industries is developing it, but at present, it’s only slated to release in Russia. It’s in closed beta there, and 343 says “any expansion outside of Russia would have to go through region-specific changes to address player expectations.”

But we highly doubt it’ll hit Europe or America - the main games do well enough in those territories, and this is likely to be more akin to Call of Duty Online in China: it’s a big franchise slapped onto a lower-end approximation of the hit formula, targeted at different kinds of markets than the usual entries. It’s an interesting surprise, though!

[Source: Halo Waypoint via Kotaku]

Idris Elba: Star Trek 3 villain?

Idris Elba

According to Variety, Idris Elba (The Wire, Luther) is in discussions to star as the main villain in Star Trek 3, the upcoming follow-up to Star Trek: Into Darkness. Rumours claim that Klingons will feature heavily in the film, but nothing’s been confirmed yet, and talks with Elba are reportedly still early.

The third entry in the reboot series is due out on 8 July 2016, with production slated to begin this June. Justin Lin, best known for directing a few Fast & Furious films, will fill the director’s chair (as J.J. Abrams is now working on Star Wars), with Simon Pegg and Doug Jung penning the script. Pegg will join Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and the rest of the primary series cast, who are all returning.

[Source: Variety]

Will connected cars boost UK jobs?

Just this morning, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) released a study analyzing the potential benefits of both connected and driverless cars, and the group believes that such advancements will create 320,000 jobs in the UK by 2030.

Additionally, the study claims that some 2,500 lives will be saved by smarter and self-driving cars by that year, via 25,000 accidents prevented. By 2030, the group believes that every single new car produced will have smart connectivity, while a quarter will be fully self-driving. If it pans out, the next decade and a half are sure to bring about big change in the automotive world, and the UK looks to be a big part of that.

[Source: SMMT]