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Uber wouldn't be where it is without good ride estimates, and it's clearer than ever that the company knows this. The app-based transportation outfit just bought deCarta (its first ever public acquisition), a firm that specializes in mapping, navigation and local search. As a spokesperson tells Mashable, this is a bid to "fine-tune" any feature that depends on maps -- Uber wants better arrival time calculations, more effective carpooling routes and similar upgrades. Of course, it's probably also relevant that those features are currently powered by Uber investor/frenemy Google. The improvements will only take place behind the scenes, but don't be surprised if the Uber app's future ETA predictions are uncannily accurate.

[Image credit: Getty Images]

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Along with a slew of new Steam Machines, Source Engine 2 and VR news, Valve announced an interesting add-on for anyone interested in in-home streaming for their PC games: Steam Link. These $50 boxes (in the US, international pricing is TBD) will stream content from your PC or Steam Machine, as long as they're on the same WiFi network. Adding a Steam Controller will cost an extra $50 when they launch in November, and can handle gaming in 1080p at 60Hz with low latency. Sony's Remote Play game streaming is a couple of generations old, while Microsoft just announced the feature for Windows 10, and now Valve has a cheap hardware solution too. The boxes were listed on the Steam store for a moment (see it in Google's cache here), and pictures showed a slim design, with three USB ports (one up front, two in the back) along with Ethernet, HDMI and power.

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Half-Life 2. Counterstrike: Source. Team Fortress 2. Left 4 Dead. Portal. Besides being developed by Valve, what else do those games share? They all run on the company's Source Engine that's been used since the first two released 11 years ago. Well, Valve has a new engine coming, officially, and it's aptly dubbed Source 2. Valve says that the focus of the engine this time 'round is "increasing creator productivity." The idea is to democratize game development and make it easier for amateurs (and budding indies) to use the toolset and enable them to, as Valve tells it, participate in the creation and development of their favorite games. In fact, the company specifically calls out the importance of user-generated content as a reason for making the engine easier to work with, which, undoubtedly plays into the millions of dollars its paying out to Steam Workshop creators.

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Valve continues to put console gaming in its crosshairs with news that a dozen new Steam Machines are hitting this November. Prices aren't concrete, but the company promises higher performance than game consoles starting at "the same price point." What's more, new units from Alienware and Falcon Northwest are on display at this year's Game Developers Conference, with the latter showing off Unreal Tournament running on a 4K monitor.

Don't miss out on all the latest from GDC 2015! Follow along at our events page right here.

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We already saw the new Vive virtual reality headset that Valve and HTC are working on, but they're not stopping there. Hardware engineer Alan Yates says that its Lighthouse room-scale tracking system brings the "high-resolution, high-speed tracking" that you need for a quality VR experience. According to Yates, the system is cheap enough to integrate into TVs, monitors, headsets, input devices or mobile devices. There's not a lot of detail on what exactly it includes, but it sounds a lot like the extra LEDs Sony just revealed on its new Project Morpheus prototype, and its PS Move controller. Those let the system track it with a camera to see how the wearer is moving in greater detail. Valve will make Lighthouse available to hardware manufacturers "freely," and we'll probably be looking for VR-ready stickers on our next TV or monitor.

Don't miss out on all the latest from GDC 2015! Follow along at our events page here.

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The new Project Morpheus at GDC 2015

I just used Sony's newest version of the PlayStation 4 virtual reality headset, Project Morpheus. Rather, I should say that I just faced down a burly, British would-be-torturer before being whisked away to a first-person gunfight in a well-appointed London manor. That's "The London Heist," one of the new demos from Sony's London Studio being shown off this week at GDC 2015. It's intense, and demonstrative of the new prototype's upped specs.

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People really like the PlayStation 4. How many, though? Over 20 million. As of March 1st, Sony says that it's sold through (not shipped, sold) 20.2 million of its latest console. It's going to be hard to judge just how far Sony's ahead of chief rival Microsoft and the Xbox One, however, until the latter releases numbers of it own. And, with a dearth of killer exclusive games, it's going to be interesting to see how long Sony can maintain this lead.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sony's PlayStation 4-powered virtual reality headset, Project Morpheus, has new specs and a slightly different look (seen above). Okay, it doesn't look that different. What's new? For one, the screen resolution is improved: it's now 1,920 x RGB x 1,080. The refresh rate is doubled from last year at 120Hz, and the new 5.7-inch screen also has a higher field of view (nearly 100 degrees). Oh right! It's got a new, bigger screen at 5.7 inches! But you already guessed that. Further upping the specs is lower latency, now under 18 milliseconds.

Most importantly, the unit will launch at retail in "the first half of 2016." That's... kinda soon? Almost?

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HBO, Starbucks and Chase Present

Dust off your tape players, folks: cassettes are still making a comeback. A number of independent artists have already leveraged the classic format, and Metallica is looking to join the bandwagon. The metal act recorded the seven-track No Life 'Til Leather demo back in 1982, and the effort will be released on April 18th as a limited-edition cassette. If you tossed out that boombox a long time ago, the remastered tunes will be available on CD and vinyl this summer. This is the first time that any of the band's demo material has been officially released, and it's the first in a series of reissues planned through Blackened Recordings, a Metallica-owned label.

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Community will get its 13-episode sixth season (and eventually, maybe a movie?) on Yahoo Screen October 19th March 17th, and now we have the first trailer. It looks like the gang are up to their usual Dan Harmon-written schemes, but it's still missing something without Troy, Shirley and Pierce. Fortunately the rest of the cast is in their usual places, and the trailer even makes light of some of the missing members. Overall, Greendale doesn't seem any worse for wear after jumping to the internet, er, Age of Yahoo, so we guess that $2 million per episode budget is holding up. Our only question now: will we see Yahoo Screen apps for a few more connected TV devices by the time the show debuts?

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