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Engadget
Jan 22, 2022

Steam Deck will support games with Epic's Easy Anti-Cheat software
Things are looking brighter for Valve's Steam Deck and its potential game library. On Friday, the company announced titles that depend on Epic's Easy Anti-Cheat (EAC) software can now run on the portable. Valve said adding Steam Deck support to titles that utilize EAC is "a simple process." Developers won't need to update their SDK version or make other time-consuming changes. With Valve adding BattlEye support through its Proton compatibility layer for Linux late last year, the company said, "this means the two largest anti-cheat services are now easily supported on Proton and Steam Deck." In practice, that should mean more of your favorite games will work with Valve's handheld when it launches next month.

Of course, it's one thing for Valve to make it easy for developers to ensure their games run without issue on Steam Deck and a completely separate thing for them to do the necessary work to ensure compatibility. To that point, when Valve announced BattlEye support in December, it said all developers had to do was contact the company to enable the software for their title. And yet it's still unclear whether some of the most popular multiplayer games on Steam that utilize BattlEye and EAC, including titles like Rainbow Six Siege and PUBG, will work on day one of Steam Deck's availability. Valve has tried to address some of that uncertainty with its recently announced Deck Verified program. This week, Valve added

Engadget
Jan 22, 2022

Apple pulls verification requirement for US education shoppers
Earlier this week, Apple began requiring that students and teachers in the US verify their identity through authentication service UNiDAYS before they could take advantage of the company's discounted education pricing. The move closed a long-standing loophole that had allowed almost anyone to save money on an Apple device as long as they weren't caught in a random check.

However, mere days after implementing that requirement, Apple has just as quickly removed it. Per MacRumors, you can once again buy discounted Macs, iPads and other Apple products from the company's US education website without the need to verify that you're currently a student or a teacher. The outlet suggests the company may have made the change after some educators and school staff members complained they couldn't verify their status through UNiDAYS properly, and therefore couldn't obtain a discount on a product they wanted to buy.

It's unclear if Apple plans to reimplement the requirement once it sorts out any potential issues with the system. For years, Apple has used UNiDAYS in many other countries, including the UK, to ensure only those who qualify for its education discounts can get them. We've reached out to the company for comment and more information.



Engadget
Jan 22, 2022

Google may already be making another Chromecast with Google TV
Google tends to release new Chromecast models only sparingly (you can still buy a years-old 1080p unit today), but it may be more aggressive with the Google TV model. 9to5Googlesources claim the company is already developing a new Chromecast with Google TV. Documentation and code sleuthing have reportedly revealed the codename "Boreal," while 9to5 understood the Android TV media hub would launch later in 2022.

The purported leak doesn't mention specifications, although newer processing power with broader video support might be necessary. XDA and others have heard Android TV will require AV1 video format support after March 31st, and that's conspicuously absent on the existing Chromecast with Google TV. The company might also use the opportunity to address common complaints, such as the modest storage.

Provided the leak is accurate, the question is whether or not this is a straightforward replacement for the existing Chromecast or a higher-powered separate model. Given that the existing Chromecast already supports 4K HDR, though, a replacement seems more likely. It's clear any changes would be substantial enough to warrant a new internal nickname — Google doesn't typically hand out names for minor revisions.



Engadget
Jan 22, 2022

'Dying Light 2' will include free PS5 and Xbox Series X/S upgrades
After multiple delays, Dying Light 2 will finally arrive on February 4th. If you haven't had a chance to purchase a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X/S yet, developer Techland is making the decision of whether to buy the game now or later easy. In an announcement spotted by Eurogamer, the studio shared this week it will provide free current-gen upgrades to those who buy Dying Light 2 on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One.

What that means is that you'll have the chance to play the game with improved graphics at a later date. Like many recent PS5 and Xbox Series X/S releases, Dying Light 2 will ship with multiple rendering modes, thereby allowing you to configure the game to prioritize either graphical fidelity or better performance. 

If you want the best possible graphics, you can choose between separate "Quality" and "Resolution" modes. As you can probably tell from the name, the latter will attempt to render the game at 4K. Less obvious is the Quality mode, which adds raytracing to the experience. And if all you want is a smooth framerate, the included "Performance" mode will render Dying Light 2 at 60 frames per second or greater. You can see the different modes in action in the video above.

The news comes in the same week Techland announc

Engadget
Jan 22, 2022

Sony will release a movie made using the PlayStation game-builder ‘Dreams'
Sony Pictures Classics has picked up the rights to an animated movie entitled A Winter's Journey, which will be made in part using the PlayStation game-creation tool Dreams. According to Deadline, the film will blend live actors with CG and hand-painted animation and is an adaptation of Franz Schubert's set of 24 songs for voice and piano called Winterreise. It tells the story of a lovelorn poet who embarks on a dangerous journey that takes him across mountains and snow in 1812 Bavaria. 

Dreams was originally created by Media Molecule, the studio behind LittleBigPlanet, for the PS4. The studio pitched it as a way to create "art, movies and video games" from the start, and we once described it as "an engine, learning suite and distribution platform rolled into one." Since then, people have been using it to create their own games, realistic renders of nature, immersive experiences of their favorite movies, among other things. A Winter's Journey, however, will reportedly be the first time Dreams will be used on a feature film.

The movie has yet to get a release date, but shooting is expected to start in June in Wroclaw, Poland, with actors that include John Malkovich and Jason Isaacs. It'll likely take some time before it's ready to premiere. As for Dreams itself, it's currently on sale in the US PlayStation Store for $10, and it includes a rota

Engadget
Jan 22, 2022

Federal Reserve study offers no answers on creating a digital dollar
Don't expect the US Federal Reserve to issue a digital dollar any time soon. CNBCreports the Reserve has published its long-in-the-making study of a central bank cryptocurrency, but took no stances on whether or not it should pursue the technology. The paper instead explored the potential benefits and pitfalls of digital currencies, and asked for public comments.

The Fed cautioned that existing cryptocurrencies tend to be highly volatile, consume lots of energy and frequently have significant transaction limitations. A central bank-backed format might overcome some of those problems, the Reserve said, by serving as a "bridge" between payment services, making finance more inclusive and providing "safe and trusted" money. The Reserve also believed the digital money could improve cross-border payments and protect the role of the US dollar on the world stage.

However, the government also warned that official digital cash would need to account for possible changes to the financial world, such as encouraging more runs on financial companies. It would also need to maintain privacy, protect against crimes like fraud and be resilient. The Reserve floated the possibility of offline capability to enable transactions when internet access isn't available, such as during natural disasters.

The agency stressed its report was a "first step" in discussing the possibili

Engadget
Jan 22, 2022

Hitting the Books: What autonomous vehicles mean for tomorrow's workforce
In the face of daily pandemic-induced upheavals, the notion of "business as usual" can often seem a quaint and distant notion to today's workforce. But even before we all got stuck in never-ending Zoom meetings, the logistics and transportation sectors (like much of America's economy) were already subtly shifting in the face of continuing advances in robotics, machine learning and autonomous navigation technologies. 

In their new book, The Work of the Future: Building Better Jobs in an Age of Intelligent Machines, an interdisciplinary team of MIT researchers (leveraging insights gleaned from MIT's multi-year Task Force on the Work of the Future) exam the disconnect between improvements in technology and the benefits derived by workers from those advancements. It's not that America is rife with "low-skill workers" as New York's new mayor seems to believe, but rather that the nation is saturated with low-wage, low-quality positions — positions which are excluded from the ever-increasing perks and paychecks enjoyed by knowledge workers. The excerpt below examines the impact vehicular automation will have on rank and file employees, rather than the Musks of the world.



MIT PressExcerpted from The Work of the Future: Building Better Jobs in an Age of Intelligent Machines by

Engadget
Jan 22, 2022

Vi from ‘League of Legends' arrives in ‘Fortnite'
Fans of Riot's Arcane have a long wait ahead of them before season two of the animated series arrives. In the meantime, you can at least play a few matches of Fortnite with a new character from the show. Epic Games will add Jinx's sister Vi to the battle royale's in-game Item Shop today (January 22nd) at 7PM ET. You can buy her outfit alongside a handful of themed items, including a punching practice emote.

Unfortunately, Vi won't come with her signature Hextech gauntlets. Instead, Epic will offer Jayce's Warden Hammer, which the company maintains is Vi's "weapon of choice while her gauntlets are being repaired." If you purchase the skin through the Arcane Vi Bundle, you'll also get the rad Piltover's Finest loading screen.

What's more, if you missed the chance to buy Jinx's skin when it debuted back in November, you now have another opportunity to add it to your collection. Epic will relist the outfit, alongside the Jinx Arcane bundle, at the same time it adds the Vi outfit to the Item Shop.



Engadget
Jan 22, 2022

Recommended Reading: Speaking Simlish
Sul SulTwenty Thousand Hertz

This podcast chronicles the fascinating story of how Simlish, the language spoken by characters in the popular game franchise The Sims, was created. And not only the how, but why it worked well and how it became a popular choice for musicians. 

How 'Encanto' explains AmericaTom McTague, The Atlantic

"Having watched the new release (twice) with my little one recently — and then listened to its soundtrack on repeat ever since — the message seems fairly clear: America is broken (but don't worry, all is not lost)," McTague writes.

Caroline Spiegel's porn revolutionAnnie Goldsmith, The Information

The sister of Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel is preaching the gospel of audio porn through Quinn, an app that offers an aural take on erotica. 



Engadget
Jan 22, 2022

US labor board says Amazon illegally fired union organizer in New York
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has determined that Amazon illegally fired former worker Daequan Smith for trying to unionize its warehouses in Staten Island, New York. Smith, who was one of the organizers for the Amazon Labor Union (ALU), was fired in October 2021. The group filed an unfair labor practices complaint with the NLRB after his dismissal, accusing the company of illegal retaliatory firing over Smith's outspoken support for unionization. Now, according to Bloomberg, the board has found merit in the group's allegations and plans to issue a formal complaint against the e-commerce giant if the case doesn't settle. 

The Amazon Labor Union is made of up of former and current company workers and is an independent group not connected with major national unions. While the group failed to unionize Amazon's fulfillment centers in Staten Island last year, it refiled an application with the NLRB in December — a hearing is scheduled for that request next month. 

Smith wasn't the only ALU organizer that Amazon had fired. ALU president Chris Smalls also lost his job after he held a walkout at Amazon's JFK8 facility over the e-commerce giant's handling of COVID-19 safety at the warehouse in 2020. Amazon explained back then that Smalls "received multiple warnings for violating social distancing guidelines."

The company has been adamantly anti-union and had once told Engadget in a statement that it doesn't "think unions are the best answer for [its] employees." It added: "Every day we empower people to find ways to improve their jo

Engadget
Jan 21, 2022

'We Met in Virtual Reality' finds love in the metaverse
Mark Zuckerberg's vision of a sanitized, hypercapitalist metaverse will likely never be as compelling or idiosyncratic as VRChat, the virtual reality community that's been home to anime fans, Furries and a slew of other sub-cultures since 2014. That's my main takeaway from We Met in Virtual Reality, the first documentary filmed entirely in VRChat, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival today.

There's no chance Zuck's metaverse would let people wear trademarked avatars without paying a ton, attend exotic clubs to receive (or give) virtual lapdances, or allow users to build whatever the hell they want. VRChat, as portrayed by director Joe Hunting, is basically a proto-metaverse where anything is possible. And for many, it has served as a crucial social hub during the pandemic, a place where they can forget about the world, relax with friends and maybe find love.

But of course, that's been the nature of practically every online community. We're social animals — people have always been able to connect with each other over BBS, IRC, Usenet and the plethora of forums and chat services that populated the early internet. I spent most of the '90s hanging out in anime and gaming chat rooms, the sorts of places that today's connected youth would probably find quaint. Still, the people I met there helped me survive the worst parts of middle and high school. Those relationships, and the internet itself, shaped me into who I am (for better or worse).

We Met in Virtual Reality proves that the unbridled, experimental sense of online community

Engadget
Jan 21, 2022

Robinhood opens cryptocurrency wallet to beta testers
Back in September, Robinhood announced plans to test a cryptocurrency wallet within its app. At the time, the company said it would open the beta to a small number of people before expanding availability ahead of a full-scale release. If you joined the waiting list Robinhood create, you can now test the wallet for yourself - provided you were one of the first 1,000 people to sign up for the beta.

In a blog post the company published today, Robinhood said it would invite 10,000 individuals to the beta by March, with more to follow later. In addition to storing cryptocurrencies, the company's wallet allows you to move them off the app to other external wallets. During the testing period, the company will limit daily withdrawals to a total of $2,999. It will also limit users to 10 transactions per day, and, to take part in the beta, you'll need to enable two-factor authentication. With today's rollout, the wallet supports Bitcoin, Ethereum and Dogecoin. 

As it works to polish the wallet, Robinhood says it will add "delightful" QR scanning experiences and an improved transaction history interface, among other features. When Robinhood first announced the wallet beta, it told The Verge it planned to make the feature available to everyone sometime in 2022.



Engadget
Jan 21, 2022

Switch versions of 'Life is Strange' remaster and 'Dying Light 2' have been delayed
Nintendo Switch owners will have to wait or look elsewhere if they want to play two of February's more notable new releases. In separate announcements, Square Enix and Techland shared they're delaying the Switch versions of Life is Strange: Remastered Collection and Dying Light 2 to beyond next month. Both games will arrive on time on other platforms as previously planned, with the former slated to come out on February 1st and the latter on February 4th.


Engadget
Jan 21, 2022

Meta and Snap sued by mother over alleged role in her daughter's suicide
In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Crisis Text Line can be reached by texting HOME to 741741 (US), 686868 (Canada), or 85258 (UK). Wikipedia maintains a list of crisis lines for people outside of those countries.

A Connecticut mother has brought a lawsuit against Facebook and Instagram parent company Meta, as well as Snap, claiming the platforms to cause the sort of addiction her late daughter suffered prior to taking her own life at age 11 last July. 

Social media companies have been the target of various lawsuits over the years related to alleged harm to minors — oftentimes for failing to adequately prevent that harm, as in the case of teen who was bullied via an anonymous messaging app within Snapchat, leading to his eventual suicide. Tammy Rodriguez is instead making the case that the sort of "stickiness" these platforms are built to engender is inherently harmful, especially to young users like her late daughter Selena. 

Selena "struggled for more than two years with an extreme addiction to Instagram and Snapchat," the suit notes, a claim apparently backed by an outpatient therapist who had "never seen a patient as addicted to social media" during their evaluation. Although technically too young to be on either platform per their terms of service — Instagram and Snapchat state their minimum age for account creation is 13 — the mother points to the absence of parental controls, as well as the lack of strong age verification checks, which made policing her daughter's access to the services nearly impossible. "The only way for Tammy Rodriguez to effectively limit access to Defendants' products would

Engadget
Jan 21, 2022

Twitter's security leads are leaving the company
New Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal is continuing to revamp the company's leadership. After removing the chiefs of engineering and design last month, Agrawal is bringing in new leaders for the security team.

The company confirmed to The New York Times that former head of security Peiter Zatko has departed, while chief information security officer Rinki Sethi will leave Twitter in the coming weeks. Agrawal is said to have told employees this week that the personnel decisions were made after "an assessment of how the organization was being led and the impact on top priority work."

Twitter hired Zatko, who's known as "Mudge" in the hacker community, in November 2020 in the wake of an incident that compromised many high-profile accounts. He previously worked at DARPA, Google and Stripe, and was a member of hacker group Cult of the Dead Cow in the '90s.

Sethi, a former IBM vice president of information security, also joined the company in the wake of the July 2020 Bitcoin hack. According to the Times, Twitter's head of privacy engineering Lea Kissner is taking over Sethi's former position on an interim basis.

Agrawal, who was previously chief technical officer, has wasted little time in reshaping Twitter after taking over the top job from Jack Dorsey in late November. The following month, Michae

Engadget
Jan 21, 2022

The latest 'Star Trek: Picard' season two trailer teases a time-traveling adventure
The wait is over. Following a first-look trailer back in June of last year, ViacomCBS has finally released a new clip from Star Trek: Picard. And there's a lot to unpack here. Through the machinations of Q, Picard and the crew of the La Sirena find themselves in 2024. Setting season two of the series in the near future may seem like lazy writing, but if you've seen Deep Space Nine, you know that's an important year in Star Trek's in-universe history that the franchise has explored in the past.


Engadget
Jan 21, 2022

Google files motion to dismiss four charges in antitrust lawsuit
Google has filed a motion to dismiss most of an ad tech-focused antitrust lawsuit brought forward by a group of state attorneys general. It has requested that a federal court dismiss four of the six charges with prejudice, which would prevent them from being brought back to the same court.

"The complaint misrepresents our business, products and motives, and we are moving to dismiss it based on its failure to offer plausible antitrust claims," Adam Cohen, Google's director of economic policy, wrote in a blog post. The company says the plaintiffs failed to provide evidence of wrongdoing for several of their allegations and that much of the suit "is based on outdated information that bears no correlation to our current products or business in this dynamic industry (and in any event never amounted to a violation of antitrust laws)."

The AGs, who are led by Texas AG Ken Paxton, claimed Google abused its power to shore up its position in the online ads market. They said the company agreed a "sweetheart deal" in 2018 that gave Facebook parent Meta a boost in ad header bidding (a type of tech allows publishers to solicit bids from multiple ad exchanges simultaneously) in exchange for support for Google's Open Bidding method of selling ads.

Google said the deal was above board and that it wasn't a secret, as Facebook Audience Network (FAN) was

Engadget
Jan 21, 2022

Court orders persistent 'Roblox' troll to stay off the platform
A court in California has ordered Benjamin Robert Simon to pay $150,000 in damages to the creator of Roblox, reports Polygon. Roblox Corporation sued Simon in November, accusing the YouTuber of harassing its player base and repeatedly skirting its efforts to keep him off the platform. At the time, the company initially sought $1.65 million in damages from Simon.

Roblox Corporation's allegations against Simon, who is better known as Ruben Sim on YouTube, were numerous. The company said it had originally banned him from Roblox for using homophobic and racist slurs, as well as sexually harassing other players and uploading photos of Adolf Hitler.

The court ordered Simon to stay off the platform. He has also agreed not to make or publish "false threats of terrorist activity relating to Roblox." One of the most serious accusations the game's developer leveled against Simon was that he posted "false and misleading terrorist threats" that led to a temporary shutdown of the 2021 Roblox Developers Conference in San Francisco. The company claims it cost $50,000 to investigate the threat and secure the venue.

Simon has also been ordered not to go near the company's offices. In its original complaint, Roblox Corporation accused Simon of glamorizing a 2018 shooting incident at YouTube's headquarters in San Bruno, California, and threatening a copycat act of violence at its own office in nearby San Mateo.

Simon told Polygon he plans to upload a video about the complaint on his YouTube channel sometime in the "next couple months." The Roblox Corporation declined to co

Engadget
Jan 21, 2022

Godzilla is headed to Apple TV in the MonsterVerse's first live-action series
Legendary Pictures has been trying to make the MonsterVerse a thing for a while now, and following Godzilla and King Kong's return to the movie theaters back in 2014, kaiju are now heading to the small screen in an upcoming series on Apple TV .

Not content to simply feature the King of Monsters, the still-untitled show is set after a battle between Godzilla and other Titans reveals new info linking the monsters' attacks to a secretive organization called Monarch. In case you haven't kept up with the MonsterVerse, Monarch has made an appearance in a number of recent Godzilla and King Kong movies dating back to 2014's Godzilla, with Monarch typically serving as the multi-national organization overseeing the research and tracking of MUTOs (massive unidentified terrestrial organisms).

While neither Apple nor Legendary has yet to provide a cast list or release date for its upcoming Godzilla series, the show will be helmed by showrunner Chris Black (Outcast, Star Trek: Enterprise) and Matt Fraction, who is best known for his writing on the 2012 run of Marvel's Hawkeye comics. However, the big deal for kaiju-lovers is that the upcoming Godzilla show on Apple TV will be the first live-action series set in the MonsterVerse, and only the second TV show following the upcoming Skull Island anime on Netflix.

Currently, it's unclear how the new Apple TV series will tie into existing MonsterVerse movies - particularly last year's Godzilla vs. Kong which saw the big green dino team up with King Kong to battle a range of foes both ancient and modern. And despite 2019's Godzilla: King of the Monsters sometimes being deemed a disappointment due to middling ticket sal

Engadget
Jan 21, 2022

A group of Activision Blizzard workers is unionizing
Call of Duty: Warzone quality assurance workers at Activision Blizzard studio Raven Software have announced plans to unionize with the Communication Workers of America (CWA). They have asked the company to voluntarily recognize their group, which is called the Game Workers Alliance. The 34-person unit had the support of 78 percent of eligible workers, according to Polygon.


Engadget
Jan 21, 2022

Leak offers a glimpse at Microsoft's canceled Andromeda OS for dual-screen devices
Before Microsoft announced the Surface Duo in 2019, the company spent several years working on an operating system codenamed Andromeda. It was envisioned as a reboot of Windows Phone with an emphasis on inking. The company worked on the software until it eventually decided to instead include Android on the Surface Duo. Until now, we've only seen glimpses of Andromeda in things like patent filing. But Windows Central recently obtained an internal build of the operating system and installed it on a Lumia 950.

Outside of a rare look at an unfinished project, what's interesting about seeing Andromeda after all these years is how many of the ideas Microsoft was working on then either made their way to the Surface Duo or apps the company has released since. On the lock screen, for instance, you can see an early version of the Surface Duo's peek functionality. Meanwhile, a lot of the features you see on the "Journal" home screen eventually made their way to the company's Whiteboard app, and that's something you can download from the

Engadget
Jan 21, 2022

iRobot's Roomba j7 is $250 off, plus the rest of the week's best tech deals
A bunch of new tech sales cropped up at the start of the week for things like robot vacuums, game controllers and more, and many of them are still around today. A trio of iRobot devices remain discounted, with the most affordable of the bunch coming in at $179. Some of Amazon's Fire tablets are up to 50 percent off, while Xbox's Elite Wireless Series 2 controller is back down to $140. Here are the best tech deals from this week that you can still get today.

iRobot Roomba j7 The new Roomba j7 is $250 off right now and down to $599 at both Amazon and Wellbots. The higher-end Roomba s9 is also $250 and down to $850. The former just came out at the end of last year and has 10x the suction power of a standard Roomba plus advanced obstacle avoidance, which means it will avoid things like pet poop more easily than other models. The s9 , on the other hand, has 40x suction power and a more corner-friendly design. Both also support automatic emptying and come with clean bases, too.

Buy Roomba j7 at Amazon - $599Buy Roomba j7 at Wellbots - $599Buy Roomba s9 at Amazon - $849

Engadget
Jan 21, 2022

'The Legend Of Zelda: Majora's Mask' joins Nintendo Switch Online in February
Soon after adding Banjo-Kazooie to Switch Online's Expansion Pack, Nintendo is preparing to bring another classic game to the service. In February, The Legend Of Zelda: Majora's Mask will join the lineup.


Engadget
Jan 21, 2022

DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman leaves Google
Mustafa Suleyman, a co-founder of artificial intelligence research company DeepMind, has left Google to join venture capital firm Greylock Partners. Suleyman has brought to an end an eight-year run at Google, where he was most recently the company's vice president of AI product management and policy.

He joined Google when it bought DeepMind in 2014 and became the latter's head of applied AI. Suleyman was reportedly placed on administrative leave in 2019 following allegations that he bullied employees. Suleyman, who moved to Google at the end of that year, said on a podcast with Greylock partner Reid Hoffman this week that he "really screwed up" and that "I remain very sorry about the impact that that caused people and the hurt that people felt there."

As The New York Times notes, Suleyman was among those who resisted Google's AI endeavors with the US Department of Defense. Google ended up backing out of that project, though in November it said it was making a bid for the Pentagon's Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability cloud contract.

DeepMind may be best known for its AI systems that can

Engadget
Jan 21, 2022

Samsung's 1TB T7 Touch SSD is $50 off at Amazon
Samsung's handy T7 Touch portable SSD is cheaper right now than it was during the holiday shopping season just a couple of months ago. The 1TB black model is down to a new low of $140, which is $50 off and the best price we've seen it. Most other versions are also discounted, including the 500GB model for $105, but you'll get the best deal if you go for the black 1TB drive.

Buy T7 Touch (1TB) at Amazon - $140Storage gadgets are some that are useful to keep around, but often expensive to get your hands on. That's why we recommend waiting for a sale like this one to pick up an extra drive, SD card and the like while you can get them for less. Samsung's T7 Touch is a palm-sized portable SSD with read speeds up to 1,050 MB/s and write speeds up to 1,000 MB/s, plus features like Dynamic Thermal Guard to control heat levels. While the drive supports optional password protection, the kicker here is its built-in fingerprint reader that you can use as an extra layer of security.

The T7 Touch's compact design helps it fit into nearly any bag you may be carrying, plus its shock- and drop-resistant aluminum unibody should protect it from too much damage if it accidentally takes a tumble. We also appreciate that it comes with both USB-C to C and USB-C to A cables, allowing you to use the drive with most laptops, smartphones, tablets and even some game consoles.

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.



Engadget
Jan 21, 2022

German Bionic's connected exoskeleton helps workers lift smarter
We're still quite a ways away from wielding proper Power Loaders but advances in exosuit technology are rapidly changing how people perform physical tasks in their daily lives — some designed to help rehabilitate spinal injury patients, others created to improve a Marine's warfighting capabilities, and many built simply to make physically repetitive vocations less stressful for the people performing them. But German Bionic claims only one of them is intelligent enough to learn from its users' mistaken movements: its 5th-generation Cray X.

The Cray X fits on workers like a 7kg backpack with hip-mounted actuators that move carbon fiber linkages strapped to the upper legs, allowing a person to easily lift and walk with up to 30kg (66 lbs) with both their legs and backs fully supported. Though it doesn't actively assist the person's shoulders and arms with the task, the Cray X does offer a Smart Safety Companion system to help mitigate common lifting injuries.

"It's a real time software application that runs in the background and can warn the worker when the ergonomic risk is getting too high," Norma Steller, German Bionic's Head of IoT, told Engadget. "For example, recommending a break because we know that… the repetition and the overall stress can lead to fatigue, and fatigue can lead to injuries. This is something we want to prevent."

The SSC not only collects granular telemetry information — what load is being lifted, ergonomic risks such as twisting while lifting, and potential environmental factors — it uses a machine learning algorithm to analyze that data to adapt the exoskeleton to the worker wearing it

Engadget
Jan 21, 2022

Engadget Podcast: James Webb's eye in the stars, Microsoft buys Activision
Now that the James Webb Space Telescope is safely on the way to its orbital home, Cherlynn and Devindra chat about why it's so important with Space.com editor-in-chief Tariq Malik, as well as science and technology journalist Swapna Krishna. They dive into why it's such a big upgrade from Hubble, as well as the discoveries astronomers hope to make about exoplanets, black holes and our own solar system. Also, Senior Editor Jessica Conditt joins to chat about Microsoft's mammoth $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Is more consolidating a bad thing for the video game industry? (Spoilers: Probably.)

Engadget · James Webb's eye in the stars, Microsoft buys ActivisionListen above, or subscribe on your podcast app of choice. If you've got suggestions or topics you'd like covered on the show, be sure to email us or drop a note in the comments! And be sure to check ou

Engadget
Jan 21, 2022

YouTube deactivates two Oath Keepers channels after seditious conspiracy charges
Two YouTube channels linked to the far-right extremist group Oath Keepers have been deactivated by the website, the Google subsidiary told Axios. It wasn't exactly due to the content of their videos, however, but because some of the group's members were charged with seditious conspiracy over their role in the January 6th, 2021 US Capitol breach. One of the deactivated channels was named "Oath Keepers" and had fewer than 45,000 subscribers, while the other belonged to group leader Stewart Rhodes and had fewer than 20 subscribers. Rhodes (pictured above) was arrested for his role in the attack and was one of the members who were charged.

YouTube spokesperson Ivy Choi told Axios that the channels broke the platform's creator responsibility guidelines. According to those guidelines, YouTube may terminate a channel if there's "significant evidence presented in a court of law against a creator for a very egregious crime" and that channel's "YouTube comment is closely related to the crime." YouTube said that the termination "follows evidence presented in federal indictments against the Oath Keepers and the charges against them and their role in the Jan. 6 attacks."

According to the Justice Department, the Oath Keepers discussed their plans to seize the Capitol building using encrypted messaging apps and social networks. The group has long used online platforms to disseminate information, including COVID-19 conspiracy theories with QAnon hashtags and threats of violence. Twitter banned the group back in 2020 for violating its policies on violent extremist groups. In addition to removing two channels, YouTube will n

Engadget
Jan 21, 2022

Beats Fit Pro earbuds are 23 percent off right now
If you've been looking at a set of AirPods but hesitate due to concerns about fit, don't forget about the Beats Fit Pro earbuds. They have the many of the same perks including ANC and spatial audio, but offer a more comfortable design. If you've been hesitating due to the $200 price, you can now pick up a pair at either Amazon or Walmart for $153.11, for a savings of 23 percent.

But Beats Fit Pro at Amazon - $153.11Buy Beats Fit Pro at Walmart - $153.11The Beats Fit Pro wireless earbuds earned an excellent 87 Engadget review score for their solid around performance. On the comfort front, the "fit wing" tip can bend to a wide range of ear shapes while keeping the buds firmly in place. They also offer physical buttons to answer calls, control volume, play/pause music and skip trac

Engadget
Jan 21, 2022

The Morning After: Peloton denies pausing production on its bikes
New Year fitness resolutions aside, many of us are cautiously making our way back to the gym. What about our home workout spaces? What about your Peloton bike? Following reports from CNBC that the company had put production on hold for its standard Bike and Tread (treadmill) products, as well as looking to cut costs, Peloton says it's not halted production. However, and note the choice of words, Peloton CEO John Foley said in a letter to employees that the company is "resetting [its] production levels for sustainable growth."

And what to do if you've moved on from your Bike? My dad used his stationary bike almost daily when I was growing up. And when he didn't, it made a pretty functional clothes rack.

— Mat Smith



Why are airlines and telecoms fighting over the 5G rollout?5G tech has the potential to disrupt sensitive aircraft avionics.Today, as carriers expand their 5G networks across the country, they're faced with a dangerous prospect: That one of 5G's spectrum bands may interfere with the radio altimeters aboard commercial aircraft below 2,500 feet, potentially causing automated landing controls to misjudge the distance from the ground and crash. This forms the basis of a fight between the US airline industry and the country's phone carriers.

Continue reading.



Oura's third-generation Ring is more powerfulBut not for everybody.

Engadget
Jan 21, 2022

US surgeons implant genetically altered pig kidneys in a brain-dead patient
A group of surgeons from the University of Alabama at Birmingham has proven that it's possible to genetically alter a pig so that its kidneys can be used on human transplant patients. The doctors have transplanted kidneys from a genetically altered pig into the abdomen of a brain-dead man, and as The New York Times has reported, the procedure was described in a paper published in the American Journal of Transplantation. 

According to the doctors, the kidneys from the pig started producing urine as soon as 23 minutes after the procedure and continued to do so for three days. The patient's kidneys were fully removed, and his body didn't show signs of rejecting the transplanted organs. This is the latest in a series of developments wherein organs from genetically altered pigs were successfully transplanted into humans. In late 2021, NYU Langone Health doctors attached a pig kidney onto the blood vessels of a brain-dead patient's upper leg. And, just a few days ago, doctors at the University of Maryland School of Medicine transplanted a pig's heart into a live patient as part of an experimental procedure.

The UAB surgeons performed the procedure with consent from the family of the recipient, James Parsons, who wanted to be an organ donor. They're now naming this type of study after him. While the recipient was brain dead in this case, it's a big step towards a clinical trial involving live patients that they're hoping would start later this year. Dr. Jayme Locke, the team's lead surgeon, said this wasn't a one-off experiment, and that the hope is to "advance the field to help... pa

Engadget
Jan 21, 2022

The Xbox Series S is 7 percent off at Woot
If you've been trying to buy a next-gen console, you're no doubt aware that it's been quite a challenge due to component shortages. However, Microsoft has done a great job making the Xbox Series S model available over the past few months, and now we're starting to see our first real discounts. It's on sale at Woot for $280, which is $20 or 7 percent off the regular $300 price. That's not a lot, but given that they haven't been available at all until recently, any discount is appreciated. 

Buy Xbox Series S at Woot - $280We said that the Xbox Series S was a "formidable next-gen console wrapped up in an adorable package" in our Engadget review, while also noting that it was an "incredible value." That's thanks to the compact design (looking at you, Sony PS5), improved game performance and the huge backward-compatible library. 

More specifically, the console can handle games at up to 1440p and hit variable refresh rates up to 120fps, though not many games can do both at the same time. It can't handle 4K like the Xbox Series X or PS5, but refresh rate is a more important issue for most gamers. You also get dramatically faster load times thanks to Microsoft's new Xbox Velocity architecture and custom 512GB SSD, though the relatively paltr

Engadget
Jan 21, 2022

Blizzard chief promises to 'rebuild trust' ahead of Microsoft takeover
Blizzard Entertainment boss Mike Ybarra has promised in a blog post to "rebuild your trust" in the studio, marking his first comments since Microsoft's proposed $68.7 billion acquisition of Blizzard Activision. The developer of blockbuster titles like World of Warcraft and Overwatch has been under pressure since it was sued by the state of California, which accused it of being a "breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women."

Ybarra promised new measures to improve the company's culture, starting with tying executive and management compensation to "our overall success in creating a safe, inclusive and creative work environment at Blizzard," he said. He also outlined new roles designed to address discrimination and other issues, including: 

"A Culture leader who will help us maintain the best aspects of what we have today, and change and evolve where needed to ensure everyone brings their best self to Blizzard; a new organizational leader for Human Resources who will build trust, empower our teams, and help foster a safe, positive work environment for everyone; [and] a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) leader solely focused on our progress across multiple efforts in this area."


Engadget
Jan 21, 2022

Intel is spending $20 billion to build a massive chip-making facility in Ohio
Intel has revealed its plans to build a massive semiconductor facility in Ohio to Time — one that company CEO Pat Gelsinger is expecting to become "the largest silicon manufacturing location on the planet." The company is earmarking $20 billion to build the site on a 1,000-acre land in New Albany, located on the outskirts of Columbus, Ohio. Intel's initial plans include building two semiconductor fabrication plants (or fabs) on the property that would employ 3,000 people. Construction on the site is scheduled to begin this year, and Intel expects the fabs to be operational by 2025.

A Bloomberg report back in late 2021 claimed that the White House "strongly discouraged" Intel from ramping up chip production in China. The administration has been pushing for companies to manufacture chips in the US in order to address the ongoing global shortage. In turn, companies have been lobbying the president to fund semiconductor research and manufacturing. It's worth noting, though, that since building new plants takes years, projects like this won't be able to help address supply chain shortages anytime soon.

Intel said it looked at 38 different sites in the US for the facility but ultimately chose Ohio, because of all the space it could use. The company doesn't want to build in places where it could displace residents, since that's what ultimately killed Amazon's plans to build a second headquarters in NYC. When the fabs are done, Intel will use them to manufacture both its own chips and chips for clients under the Intel Foundry Services. The company announced its foundry services when it

Engadget
Jan 20, 2022

Instagram will now reduce the visibility of 'potentially harmful' content
Instagram is taking new steps to make "potentially harmful" content less visible in its app. The company says that the algorithm powering the way posts are ordered in users' feeds and in Stories will now de-prioritize content that "may contain bullying, hate speech or may incite violence."

While Instagram's rules already prohibit much of this type of content, the change could affect borderline posts, or content that hasn't yet reached the app's moderators. "To understand if something may break our rules, we'll look at things like if a caption is similar to a caption that previously broke our rules," the company explains in an update.

Up until now, Instagram has tried to hide potentially objectionable content from public-facing parts of the app, like Explore, but hasn't changed how it appears to users who follow the accounts posting this type of content. The latest change means that posts deemed "similar" to those that have been previously removed will be much less visible even to followers. A spokesperson for Meta confirmed that "potentially harmful" posts could still be eventually removed if the post breaks its community guidelines.

The update follows a similar change in 2020, when Instagram began down-ranking accounts that shared misinformation that was debunked by fact checkers. Unlike that change, however, Instagram says that the latest policy will only affect individual posts and "not accounts overall."

Additionally, Instagram says it will now factor in each individual user's reporting history into how it orders their feeds. "If our systems predic

Engadget
Jan 20, 2022

Samsung will unveil its next Galaxy S flagship in February
After introducing S Pen support to the Galaxy S21 Ultra and not launching a new version of the Note series last year, Samsung's next Unpacked event would be a timely opportunity to address concerned fans. Though the company has yet to confirm an exact date beyond the month of February (rumors suggest it might take place Feb. 8th), president TM Roh has written a blog post on what we can expect at the launch. Samsung has also shared a teaser trailer.

"We know many of you were surprised when Samsung didn't release a new Galaxy Note last year," he wrote. "At Unpacked in February 2022, we'll introduce to you the most noteworthy S series device we've ever created." The company is expected to unveil the Galaxy S22 series this year.

Roh also said "the next generation of Galaxy S... [brings] together the greatest experiences of our Samsung Galaxy into one ultimate device." He teased nighttime photography, power and performance as some areas to look out for, ending his post with "Get ready for the ultimate Ultra experience." That could mean the best upgrades could be limited to the Ultra model again, as in previous years.

The rest of Roh's post is mostly recap of its S and Note series, as well as vague allusions like "we haven't about these [Galaxy Note] experiences you love." There aren't any details on what exact Note-esque features we might see in the next S flagship, and our biggest clue is the use of the word "noteworthy" to describe the upcoming product.  

Finally, Samsung also announced today that tomorrow (Jan. 21st) at 10am ET, it'll open its Reserve Now offers ahead of time

Engadget
Jan 20, 2022

New Android game uses a smart vibrator as a controller
In October, roboticist and software engineer Allison Liemhetcharat announced that she had been working on a game that would use a smart vibrator as a controller. Specifically, the Lioness smart vibrator, which gathers bio-data like body temperature and pelvic pressure. Liemhetcharat said she was partly inspired by the Perifit kegel exerciser, which also uses games and a device to help people strengthen their pelvic floor. The game, an endless runner called You Are What You Eat, has been in beta since then. Today, Liemhetcharat has released the Android version, which you can now download from the Google Play Store. 

Liemhetcharat told Engadget that You Are What You Eat is based on her family's favorite activity. "Our running joke is that we eat everything," she said. By itself, the game is an endless runner, with the objective of eating as many creatures as possible before dying. You begin as a blob, then grow and morph depending on what you ingest. That will also affect what you can continue to consume, as some creatures will subsequently become "inedible" based on what you've become. A WebGL version of the game is available. 

But for those who own the Lioness smart vibrator, you can use it to control your slimeball. Squeeze the dildo's head (where the pressure sensors are) to jum

Engadget
Jan 20, 2022

NASA's Swift Observatory may have suffered an attitude control failure
NASA's Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory has run into difficulties after 17 years of largely smooth service. The orbiting explorer has entered safe mode after detecting a "possible failure" in one of the six reaction wheels used to change attitude. While it's not clear exactly what (if anything) went wrong, NASA has halted direction-based scientific observations until it can either give the all-clear or continue operations with five wheels.

This is the first potential reaction wheel problem since the Swift Observatory began operations in February 2005, NASA said. The rest of the vehicle is otherwise working properly.

The Swift Observatory has played an important role in astronomy over the past two decades. It was primarily built to detect gamma-ray bursts and detects roughly 70 per day. However, it has increasingly been used as a catch-all observer across multiple wavelengths, spotting solar flares and hard-to-find stars. NASA won't necessarily run into serious trouble if Swift has a lasting problem, but it would clearly benefit from keeping the spacecraft running as smoothly as possible.


Engadget
Jan 20, 2022

All-in-one diabetes devices could take the hassle out of insulin injections
People with diabetes have more than a few hassles, particularly at meals. They not only have to measure their blood glucose levels and inject the right amount of insulin, but carry all the relevant equipment with them. MIT and Brigham and Women's Hospital researchers might soon eliminate many of the headaches, though. They're developing all-in-one devices (not pictured) that measure glucose, calculate the necessary insulin dose and inject you accordingly.

The first device includes the blood-drawing lancet, glucose test strips and an insulin needle. Users would first take a photo of their meal using a smartphone app to estimate the food volume and carbohydrate levels. After that, they'd start the automated process of collecting blood, calculating glucose (again through the app) and delivering the appropriate amount of insulin.

The second gadget would only need one needle jab — it would build the glucose sensor into the insulin needle and inject the appropriate amount of insulin. You'd have to wait five to ten seconds, but you wouldn't have to stick yourself twice.

The technology is still some ways off. While the first device would use parts that were already FDA-approved, it hasn't been tested in humans. The second, meanwhile, uses a new sensor type that will likely require more work to be testable with humans. Scientists have filed patents for both devices and are hoping to work with companies on further development.

There's a strong motivation to bring these devices to market, at least. People with diabetes would only need to use one device at meals, and with the hybrid sensor/needle might suffer less pain. That, in turn, could encourage consistent treatment that improves your overall wellbeing.



Engadget
Jan 20, 2022

TikTok joins Instagram in testing creator subscriptions
Soon after Instagram started rolling out paid subscriptions for creators, TikTok says it may be following suit. The service is exploring a feature that would allow influencers to paywall at least some of the content they share on the app, as The Information first reported.

TikTok's subscriptions are being tested on a limited basis, so you may not see your favorite creators using them anytime soon. The platform didn't provide more details about how the feature works. "We're always thinking about new ways to bring value to our community and enrich the TikTok experience," a TikTok spokesperson told Engadget.

As with the likes of Twitch, Twitter and YouTube, TikTok allows viewers to send tips to influencers who are enrolled in the Creator Next program. Users can also buy and send virtual gifts to creators.

Given its other monetization options and that rival platforms have embraced subscriptions, it's hardly a surprise that TikTok is following that path too. In 2020, TikTok announced a $200 million fund to support creators.

Meta is also spending heavily on influencers. The company said last

Engadget
Jan 20, 2022

NBA games in 4K are coming to YouTube TV
The view from your couch will look a little more like sitting courtside in the days to come, as Streamable reports on Thursday that YouTube TV will begin offering select NBA matchups in 4K. 

The only, ahem, hoop viewers will need to get through in order to watch is having a YouTube TV subscription with the 4K Plus add-on. YTTV on its own is $65 a month, the 4K add-on will set you back an additional $12/mo for the first year before nearly doubling, up to $20/month thereafter. Not every game will be made available in the high definition format though Saturday's game between the Cavs and Thunder will.



Engadget
Jan 20, 2022

Twitter brings NFTs to profile photos, but only for Twitter Blue subscribers
Twitter is giving NFT enthusiasts a new reason to pay for a Twitter Blue subscription. The company is testing a new feature that allows NFT owners to authenticate NFTs displayed in their profile photos.

The feature, which is being offered as an early stage "Labs" feature for Twitter Blue subscribers, allows NFT owners to connect their crypto wallet to their Twitter account and display an NFT as their profile photo. While many NFT owners already use the art in their profile photos, the Twitter Blue feature will also add an icon indicating that the NFT has been authenticated and that person behind the account is the official owner of the piece.

Though only Twitter Blue subscribers can access the feature, the authentication symbol will be visible to everyone on Twitter. And other users will be able to tap on the hexagon symbol in order to learn more about the NFT in the image.

TwitterWhile Twitter has previously indicated that it was working on an NFT authentication service, it's notable that it would choose to offer the feature to Twitter Blue subscribers first, The company debuted the $3/month subscription service in November, in a bid to appeal to power users who might pay for specialized

Engadget
Jan 20, 2022

Airbnb will offer travel insurance this spring
Airbnb knows you might be reluctant to book a stay while the COVID-19 pandemic makes trips risky, so it's planning to offer some protection of its own. The rental service has revealed it will introduce custom travel insurance for guests sometime this spring. While the terms aren't available, Airbnb will team with a "reputable" insurer to offer coverage.

The company has also launched a Guest COVID Support Program that partly compensates travellers if border closures, quarantine periods or other government policies make existing reservations impractical. If a host won't provide a full refund, Airbnb will offer a travel coupon worth 50 percent of whatever hasn't been refunded so far. The program applies to all stays with a check-in date of December 1st, 2021 or later, so you might want to talk to Airbnb if your holiday plans fell apart.

There's no mystery behind the strategy. Airbnb's business has been hit hard by the pandemic as a whole, and COVID-19's Omicron variant is only increasing the worry for hosts and guests who were hoping the worst was behind them. First-party insurance and coupons might persuade some would-be adventurers to book stays when they would have otherwise stayed home.



Engadget
Jan 20, 2022

Peloton is reportedly pausing Bike and Tread production amid lower demand
Peloton is reportedly pumping the brakes on Bike and Tread production as demand for the home fitness equipment is said to be slowing.

It's said to be putting production of its standard Bike and Tread (treadmill) products on hold for two months and six weeks, respectively. The company stopped building Bike units last month and it doesn't plan to pick up production of that more expensive model until June, CNBC reports. As for Tread , Peloton reportedly doesn't expect to build any more of those in its 2022 fiscal year.

According to CNBC, Peloton said in an internal presentation that there's been a significant drop in demand due to consumer "price sensitivity" and increased competition from rivals. On top of that, gyms are open again in many regions following COVID-19 lockdown measures. After being cooped up at home for the better part of two years, it wouldn't be surprising if fitness fans wanted to work out elsewhere. Meanwhile, research firm M Science said it hasn't seen evidence of a rise in demand for at-home fitness amid the surge of the Omicron variant.

As things stand, Peloton is said to have overestimated demand and thousands of its products are in warehouses and on cargo ships. It reportedly needs to sell many of those before making more bikes and treadmills.

Meanwhile, per the presentation, Peloton G

Engadget
Jan 20, 2022

Peloton is reportedly pausing Bike and Tread production amid lower demand (update)
Peloton is reportedly pumping the brakes on Bike and Tread production as demand for the home fitness equipment is said to be slowing.

It's said to be putting production of its standard Bike and Tread (treadmill) products on hold for two months and six weeks, respectively. The company stopped building Bike units last month and it doesn't plan to pick up production of that more expensive model until June, CNBC reports. As for Tread , Peloton reportedly doesn't expect to build any more of those in its 2022 fiscal year.

According to CNBC, Peloton said in an internal presentation that there's been a significant drop in demand due to consumer "price sensitivity" and increased competition from rivals. On top of that, gyms are open again in many regions following COVID-19 lockdown measures. After being cooped up at home for the better part of two years, it wouldn't be surprising if fitness fans wanted to work out elsewhere. Meanwhile, research firm M Science said it hasn't seen evidence of a rise in demand for at-home fitness amid the surge of the Omicron variant.

As things stand, Peloton is said to have overestimated demand and thousands of its products are in warehouses and on cargo ships. It reportedly needs to sell many of those before making more bikes and treadmills.

Meanwhile, per the presentation, Peloton Guide was delayed from October to next month, and the pro

Engadget
Jan 20, 2022

Facebook takes down fake Iranian accounts that posed as Scottish locals
Facebook disabled a network of fake accounts that posed as English and Scottish locals, but were actually an Iran-based influence operation. The company detailed the takedowns in its latest report on coordinated inauthentic behavior on its platform.

The network was relatively small — eight accounts on Facebook and 126 on Instagram — though it had amassed about 77,000 followers, according to the company. Facebook's security researchers didn't indicate exactly who in Iran was behind the effort, or what their motives were, but said some of the people involved had a "background in teaching English as a foreign language."

"This network posted photos and memes in English about current events in the UK, including supportive commentary about Scottish independence and criticism of the UK government," Facebook writes in its report. In a call with reporters, Facebook's Global IO Threat Intelligence Lead, Ben Nimmo, said that it's not the first time the company has caught Iran-linked fake accounts targeting Scotland, but that the latest network stood out for its "artisanal" approach to the fake personas.

"What was unique about this case was the effort that the operators took to make their fakes look like real people," Nimmo said. He noted the accounts spent considerable time posting about their "side interests," like football, in an attempt to boost their credibility. Some of the accounts also lifted profile photos from real celebrities or media personalities, and regularly updated the images in order to appear more real. Other accounts used fake photos generated by AI programs.

Overall, Facebook says that the fake accounts weren't particularly successful as the most popular account had only reached about 4,000 followers, about half of whom were actually located in the UK. "In a way, this is more like an old fa

Engadget
Jan 20, 2022

Senator Klobuchar's major tech reform bill advances out of committee
A major tech reform bill that would prevent the industry's biggest players — Apple, Amazon, Google, and their ilk — from discriminating against smaller businesses that rely on the big platforms' services is one step closer to passage on Thursday after passing from committee on a bipartisan 16-6 vote. Senators Mike Lee, John Cornyn, Ben Sasse, Tom Cotton, Thom Tillis, and Marsha Blackburn all voted against it.

The American Innovation and Choice Online Act, which was sponsored by Senator Amy Klobuchar, would prohibit Amazon from promoting its own Amazon Basics gear over similar products in search results. Similarly, Apple and Google would be barred from pushing their in-house apps over those from third-party developers in their respective app stores. The bill passed out of both the antitrust subcommittee and the primary judiciary committee with the support of that vote and will now be put forth on the Senate floor.   

Unsurprisingly, the platforms impacted by these proposed regulations are none too pleased with the recent proceedings. Apple's Tim Cook has reportedly been personally lobbying against the bill while Amazon has released the following statement:


Engadget
Jan 20, 2022

New 'Wallace & Gromit' and 'Chicken Run' movies are coming to Netflix
After a hiatus of more than a decade, the world's favorite fictitious British inventor (or possibly second after Q from James Bond) and his lovable canine sidekick are making a comeback. Today as part of its ongoing partnership with Aardman Animations Netflix announced the arrival of a new Wallace & Gromit movie and the long-awaited sequel to Chicken Run.

Due out sometime in 2023, Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget picks up after Ginger and Rocky's daring escape with the hatching of the couple's new chick Molly at their new island sanctuary home. And while Julia Sawalha and Mel Gibson won't be reprising their roles as the leading chickens, Dawn of the Nugget's cast will still feature some big-name stars including Thandie Newton (Ginger), Zachary Levi (Rocky) and Bella Ramsey (Molly), the latter of whom is also set to play Ellie in HBO's upcoming live-action TV adaptation of The Last of Us.


Engadget
Jan 20, 2022

Casio made a super fun singing keyboard
Casio hasn't been a serious player in the world of synthesizers for some time. Gone are the days of the beloved CZ series, while the current lineup lacks the lo-fi charm of classic keyboards like the SK-1 and VL-1. But for the last few weeks the company has been teasing what seemed like a return to real-deal synths, possibly with a vocoder.

Well, bad news: The CT-S1000V is not a return to Casio's analog glory days. Nor is it a vocoder. And the $450 list price is a little hard to swallow.

So what exactly is the CT-S1000V? It looks like a midrange Casiotone that uses the company's flagship AiX engine, with vocal synthesis tossed in as a bonus. In short, it's a singing keyboard. Frankly, the novelty of being able to whip up some lyrics in the companion app, send them to the CT-S1000V, and then play the words as a melody was more than enough to pique my interest. I'm a sucker for vocoders, over-the-top autotune and talkboxes, so a singing synth is right up my alley.

Before we dig too far into the vocal synthesis side of things, let's quickly cover the AiX engine and the hardware. AiX made its debut in 2018 and its strength supposedly lies in recreating acoustic sounds. And look, credit where credit is due: The piano sounds on this are pretty decent. Can I say the same about the o

Engadget
Jan 20, 2022

AR and VR hardware sales more than doubled in the US this holiday
Virtual (and augmented) reality appear poised to take off after years of modest demand. The NPD Group reports unit sales for AR and VR hardware more than doubled in the US during the 2021 holiday season (between Thanksgiving week and Christmas), jumping 180 percent compared to 2020. The growth wasn't quite so brisk for the full year at 'just' 163 percent, but there was clearly a lot of demand for immersive worlds.

Raw revenue also climbed 153 percent during the holidays and 137 percent for the year. That suggests people were buying lower-cost or discounted AR and VR devices.

NPD executive director Ben Arnold was quick to caution that AR and VR "likely benefitted" from console shortages — if you couldn't gift a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X, a Meta Quest 2 might have served as a stand-in. He noted that people were still looking for "unique" entertainment, however. We'd add that the lingering pandemic may have encouraged people to stay inside and try virtual experiences at a time when in-person equivalents like gyms and nightclubs might be seen as too risky.

This doesn't mean buyers are embracing the metaverse or similar high-minded concepts. It does hint at a brighter future for AR and VR, though. NPD already expects a 32 percent jump in revenue in the first half of 2022, and upcoming headsets like Meta's

Engadget
Jan 20, 2022

The first movie studio in space could be attached to the ISS in 2024
A module that hosts a film studio and sports arena could be connected to the International Space Station by December 2024. Space Entertainment Enterprise (SEE), which is co-producing a Tom Cruise movie that will partly be shot in space, is behind the project. If and when SEE-1 is up and running, it plans to host TV and film productions, as well as music events and some kind of sports, which can be filmed or livestreamed, according to Variety.

Axiom Space, which two years ago won a NASA contract to construct the first commercial ISS module, will build the station. All going well, SEE-1 will be connected to Axiom's arm of the ISS. Axiom Station is scheduled to split from the ISS in 2028 with SEE-1 still attached.

Whether SEE and Axiom can make good on their plan remains to be seen. SEE hasn't said how much the facility will cost, for one thing. It's currently planning a fundraising round.

Last year, a Russian crew shot a feature-length fiction film in space for the first time, beating Cruise and his director Doug Liman to the punch. That film, The Challenge, is expected to be released this year. Cruise and Liman, meanwhile, are expected to shoot their movie on the ISS later in 2022.



Engadget
Jan 20, 2022

Google reportedly plans to release an AR headset in 2024
Google might have ditched its Daydream VR headset years ago, but that doesn't mean it gave up on headsets altogether. The Vergesources claim Google is developing an augmented reality headset, nicknamed Project Iris, that it wants to release in 2024. The standalone wearable would use a custom Google processor, outward-facing tracking cameras and run Android, although a custom OS is a possibility given job listings. It might also rely on cloud-based rendering to overcome the processing power limitations of a headset.

Clay Bavor, the manager for the Project Starline 3D telepresence booth (also said due for 2024), is understood to be overseeing the highly secretive project. The tipsters also said the AR headset team included Google Assistant creator Scott Huffman, ARCore manager Shahram Izadi and Mark Lucovsky, the former leader of Meta's in-house OS development. The Pixel division is also believed to be involved in some hardware work.

We've asked Google for comment, although CEO Sundar Pichai hinted in October that AR was a "major area of investment" for the company. The headset is supposedly very early in development without a clear market strategy, suggesting that the 2024 target isn't firm.

The headset might seem unexpected from a company burned by its initial take on an AR wearable. It's not a shock given the evolving landscape, however. Apple is widely rumored to

Engadget
Jan 20, 2022

PlayStation's Wrap-Up is back to break down your PS4 and PS5 stats for 2021
Sony has at last flipped the switch on its PlayStation 2021 Wrap-Up, allowing players to delve into their PlayStation 4 and PS5 stats for 2021. After you log into your PSN account, you'll be able to see how many hours you spent on PlayStation games last year, the five titles you played the most and how a breakdown of the trophies you scooped up.

The tool breaks down your playtime by PS4 and PS5 games, how long you spent playing on a console vs. Remote Play and how many hours you used PlayStation VR. You'll also see the number of games you played and get a code for four avatars as a bonus.

Sony took the opportunity to promote some of its games by highlighting some global community stats. In Death Stranding Director's Cut, for instance, players collectively traveled more than 45 million kilometers and delivered more than 9.4 million packages. They played more than 12 million hours of Returnal in total, while 34.6 percent of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart players unlocked all of the weapons.

Users need to be aged 18 or over and have played at least 10 hours of games on PS4 or PS5 to access their Wrap-Up. It may not work for PS5 players who haven't enabled full data collection and those who haven't consented to "Additional Data" collection on PS4 in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Australasia, India and Russia.

While the PlayStation's year-end wrap-up feature is emerging much later than ones for other platforms and services, at least it takes th

Engadget
Jan 20, 2022

Peacock adds live local news channels to its streaming lineup
NBCUniversal's Peacock isn't going to let the live news from rivals like CBS go unanswered. The streaming service has added free, around-the-clock local news from NBC stations for all users. The broadcasts are initially available from stations in Boston (including the New England Cable Network), Chicago, Miami and Philadelphia. New York City and Los Angeles channels will be available in the "months ahead."

The platform already has live and on-demand news from NBC's self-branded services as well as Sky and Telemundo. You can also watch live entertainment TV from 11 local NBC stations, including those from cities in the news rollout.

The decision may have been an easy one to make. Airing existing news channels won't cost much more, and could help Peacock serve cord-cutters who may still want local events in between The Office marathons. There's also increasing competition. Live news is quickly becoming a selling point, including through Amazon's free app on Fire TV devices. The NBC stations could reduce the temptation to switch to other channels and services.



Engadget
Jan 20, 2022

Instagram now lets you create TikTok-like remixes using any video
You no longer need to dive into Reels to create TikTok-style collaborative videos on Instagram. The social network has expanded its remix feature to let you make collaborations and similar reworks from any video on Instagram. So long as the video was released after the update, you can choose "remix this video" from the three-dot menu to create your response to the clip. You'll still need to share the result through Reels, but you'll also have the same editing tools to create collaborations, voiceovers and effects.

Instagram is also doing more to court livestreamers. You now have the option of highlighting your next Instagram Live broadcast on your profile, giving viewers an easy way to set a reminder. You won't need to attach a regular feed post to the scheduled stream, either. While you can't yet tease later streams, this could help you build hype for an interview or ask-me-anything session.

The expanded remix feature could be important. Instagram hasn't been shy about wanting to counter TikTok, and the Duet feature is a significant factor in that rival's success. The option to remix any video potentially gives Instagram users a wider pool of videos to choose from than TikTok, including footage that wasn't originally meant for that short-but-sweet format.



Engadget
Jan 20, 2022

'Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga' will arrive on April 5th
Two years after the game was initially supposed to debut, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga will finally arrive on April 5th. The long-awaited title from TT Games adapts all nine movies in the Skywalker Saga, and you'll be able to choose which trilogy to start with (so you might want to get the prequels out of the way first).

Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is coming to PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch and PC. It's said to be the biggest Lego game to date, and publisher Warner Bros. Games provided an in-depth look at what's in store with a gameplay trailer.

There are new combat mechanics, including ways to string attacks together and defend yourself with counter moves "in styles tailored to your favorite characters." Expect fresh blaster mechanics, with an over-the-shoulder perspective and third-person aiming reticle, and a cover system. Of course, there'll be a ton of lightsaber action, space dogfighting battles and many opportunities to use Force powers as well.

Many levels will have multiple paths to explore and you'll be able to take on side missions. Class-based abilities are upgradable and there are more than 300 playable characters to unlock. There's also a Mumble Mode, which will replace intelligible voice lines with mumbling, à la previous games in the series.

Based on the gameplay trailer alone, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga seems like a huge game. However,

Engadget
Jan 20, 2022

Oura's third-generation Ring is more powerful, but not for everybody
The wearables business is hard, especially if you're a small startup with a device you could, perhaps uncharitably, call "niche." Oura, which makes activity-tracking rings worn endorsed by a numberof celebrities, recently released its third-generation model. This new hardware is a technical marvel, packing many of the features that most wrist-worn devices take for granted. But the need to keep the cash rolling in has seen Oura, like Fitbit, Apple, Wahoo and others, pivot to a recurring-revenue model. Oura says that this is key to shift from the idea of buying a device that never changes, to supporting its broader goals of building an evolving fitness ecosystem.

HardwareDaniel CooperBefore we get into the specifics of this new Oura ring, let's take a moment to remember that this device is still a marvel of engineering. Taking the sensors from a smartwatch or fitness tracker and shrinking them into a ring is worthy of enormous praise. For all of its imperfections, it's amazing to see Oura push the limits of what is capable in such a small form factor. And there's much more tech crammed in this time around, despite the size and weight remaining the same as the second-generation version. The headline features these new sensors enable include continuous heart-rate tracking, temperature monitoring, blood oxygenation and period prediction.

The sizing process is the same for pretty much every smart ring I've ever tried: The c

Engadget
Jan 20, 2022

What we bought: a rice cooker whose greatest trick isn't actually rice
Every month, Engadget features what our editors are currently into, whether it be video games, podcasts or gadgets. These are not official reviews; they're simply our first-hand experiences. This week, Senior Editor Nicole Lee gives her take on the Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy rice cooker.

A long-standing joke among my family and friends over the past couple of decades is that I'm not a true Asian. Why? Because I didn't have a rice cooker. Since rice is a staple of the Asian diet, rice cookers are commonplace in most Asian households. But for years, I refused to get one. That is, until recently, when I finally gave in and got a $195 Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy rice cooker. And ironically, what I ended up liking most about it isn't rice at all.

The reason I held off was mostly that I didn't think I needed it. Since I only live with my husband, I told myself I didn't need a single-purpose appliance. After all, I could already make rice on the stove with just a saucepan. I've become adept at making small portions of rice over the years. Plus, it only takes 18-or-so minutes. A rice cooker, on the other hand, can typically take 35 minutes or longer. So even though I enjoy rice enough to make it regularly, I just couldn't quite justify the seeming inconvenience.

This, however, was challenged over this past winter break. We had our family over on Christmas Eve, so I ordered takeout from a local Chinese restaurant. At one point, we ran out of rice, so I set about making more on the stove. I had to make rice for around 10 people, which I'm not used to doing

Engadget
Jan 20, 2022

Why airlines and telecoms are fighting over the 5G rollout
Rollouts of new wireless technologies and standards have not always gone well. When the GSM system debuted, it caused hearing aids to buzz and pop with static while early cell phone signals would occasionally disrupt pacemakers. Today, as carriers expand their 5G networks across the country, they are faced with an equally dangerous prospect: that one of 5G's spectrum bands may interfere with the radio altimeters aboard commercial aircraft below 2,500 feet, potentially causing their automated landing controls to misjudge the distance from the ground and crash.

Sticking the landing is generally considered one of the more important parts of a flight — which is, in part, why you never hear people applaud during takeoff. As such, the FAA, which regulates American air travel, and the FCC, which controls the use of our telecommunications spectrum, have found themselves at loggerheads over how, when and where 5G might be safely deployed.

5G is shorthand for 5th generation, referring to the latest standard for cellular service. First deployed in 2019, 5G operates on the same basis as its 4G predecessor — accessing the internet and telephone network via radio waves beamed at local cell antennas — but does so at broadband speeds up to 10Gb/s. However, because 5G can operate on the C band spectrum, there's a chance that it can interfere with radio altimeters if within close proximity to airports, especially the older models lacking sufficient RF shielding.

"The fundamental emissions may lead to blocking interference in the radar altimeter receiver," a 2020 study by

Engadget
Jan 20, 2022

Facebook and Instagram may help you create and sell NFTs
Meta might be the next to hop on the NFT bandwagon. The Financial Timessources claim Meta is developing ways to create, display and sell NFTs on Facebook and Instagram. The company's Novi wallet technology would power much of the "supporting functionality," one tipster said. Instagram is reportedly testing a way to showcase NFTs, while Meta is also said to be discussing a marketplace that would help you buy or sell these digital collectibles.

The company has already declined to comment, and the sources cautioned the effort was still early and could change.However, Instagram leader Adam Mosseri said in December that his social network was "actively exploring" NFTs. The technology is on the company's mind, at least.

A dip into NFTs would make sense. While companies sometimes abuse the link between NFTs and the metaverse (merely offering NFTs doesn't mean you're creating a metaverse, folks), Meta might want a framework for them so that residents of its virtual worlds can sell unique digital goods. This could also help Meta prevent third-party platforms like OpenSea's market from gaining too strong a hold if NFTs prove to be more than a short-lived trend.



Engadget
Jan 20, 2022

'Zero Trust' is the guiding principle of Sikur's latest security-focused smartphone
Security-focused smartphone maker Sikur is back with its latest handset. The Android 11-powered Sikur One, which was developed with the help of Brazilian manufacturer Multilaser, follows the Zero Trust approach to security.

The Zero Trust concept is, in a nutshell, self explanatory. It assumes that no one can fully be trusted from a security perspective. A company or organization typically has control over a Zero Trust setup, which requires users to be authorized, authenticated and continuously validated for them to retain access to apps and data.

The Sikur One is designed primarily for corporate and government use, with organizations having the ability to control each device in line with their policies. Sikur says the device is compliant with European GDPR and Brazilian LGPD data privacy standards.

Using a system called Sikur ID, the Sikur One can carry out a password-less authentication token function. The company says that will prevent malware and phishing attacks. The phone can be locked or wiped remotely if it's lost or stolen. Users can restore data from the cloud on another device.

SikurData is encrypted at the source Users won't be able to install apps from unsecured third-party stores and Sikur One will switch off location services by default. The company will strip out unneeded system applications, while the Sikur One will be up to date with over-the-air patches. The company says that won't leave "any room

Engadget
Jan 20, 2022

Amazon one-day sale knocks up to 40 percent off Anker chargers and accessories
You can grab a bunch of Anker accessories from Amazon for up to 40 percent off just for today only. One of the products on sale is the Anker Nano II 30W GAN charger, which is currently listed for its all-time low of $25, down $9 from its usual retail price of $34. The adapter works with the latest iPhones, Samsung Galaxy phones S8 and later, iPads, the Apple Watch, AirPods cases and even the 2020 MacBook Air. It's much smaller than an original MacBook adapter even though it works with the laptop, because it uses GAN II technology that gives it an efficient way to disperse heat. The technology enables small chargers to operate at faster speeds without overheating. 

Buy Anker Nano II 30W GaN charger at Amazon - $25The Anker 2-in-1 wireless charging stand for the iPhones 12 and 13 is also currently on sale for $34, down $16 from its original price of $50. This magnetic stand can securely prop up an iPhone — vertically or horizontally — while charging it and the AirPods or other earbuds you place on its base. It works with MagSafe cases for the iPhone 13, as well.

Buy PowerWave Magnetic 2-in-1 charging stand at Amazon - $34Another Anker item on sale worth mentioning is its

Engadget
Jan 20, 2022

The Morning After: Apple closes education discount loophole
Apple has finally closed a loophole in the US that allowed most buyers to claim education pricing, even if they weren't actually a student or a teacher. First noted on Reddit, the US Apple Store now requires buyers to verify their status via UNiDAYS to be able to purchase MacBooks, iPads and other devices from its education portal. The change appears to have happened over the past few days.

I'm based in the UK, where Apple has long required proof through the UNiDAYS platform to nab that often substantial discount on some of the company's priciest devices. For legitimate students and teachers, you'll have to click through to the UNiDAYS' partner page for Apple first and sign in before you get to those discounts. Not that anyone can go too crazy: shoppers are limited to one desktop, one Mac mini, one laptop, two iPads and two accessories per year. Still, that's a lot of Macs.

— Mat Smith



Anemia could make space travel to Mars a challengeIn space, your body destroys more blood cells than it makes.NASAA new study has found that "space anemia" caused by weightlessness in space is not a temporary issue as once thought, the CBC has reported. "As long as you are in space, you are destroying more blood cells than you are making," said the University of Ottawa's Guy Trudel, who led

Engadget
Jan 20, 2022

Crypto.com loses $34 million in hack that affected 483 accounts
In an interview with Bloomberg TV, Crypto.com's Chief Executive Kris Marszalek has admitted that 400 customer accounts were compromised by hackers. He said his team detected unauthorized transactions made from the accounts, but that they'd fixed the issue immediately and fully reimbursed the affected users. Now, the company has published a report revealing details from its post mortem. Apparently, 483 accounts were affected and the unauthorized withdrawals totaled 4,836.26 ETH, 443.93 BTC and approximately $66,200 in other currencies. Based on current exchange rates, that's $15.3 million of ETH and $18.7 million of ETC for a total of $34 million in losses. 


Engadget
Jan 20, 2022

Amazon is opening its first physical clothing store
Amazon is opening its first-ever Amazon Style physical clothing store with the promise of a high-tech shopping experience, confirming a rumor from last year. It will offer brands consumers "know and love," according to Amazon, and an app will let you choose an item, size and color and send it directly to a fitting room or pickup counter. The first store is coming to The Americana at Brand in Los Angeles sometime "later this year," the company said.

Amazon said it will offer "hundreds of brands" chosen by fashion creators and "feedback provided by millions of customers shopping on Amazon.com." It didn't specify which, but its online store currently carries products from designers like Oscar de la Renta, Altuzarra and La Perla. However, many luxury and high-end brands have resisted listing goods online with Amazon.

The stores will offer double the number of styles of traditional stores, while not forcing customers to search manually for the right size or color. Instead, if you see a clothing item you like, you can scan its QR code using the Amazon Shopping App to see sizes, colors, customer ratings and other details. You can then se

Engadget
Jan 20, 2022

Canon's EOS R5C is a hybrid cinema camera with 8K video and 45-megapixel stills
Canon has revealed the EOS R5C, a new member of its cinema camera line that looks like a good choice for photos, too. It strongly resembles Canon's EOS R5 mirrorless camera, but has a big hump in back to accommodate an active cooling system. As such, it offers most of the benefits of the EOS R5 with none of the overheating issues when shooting 8K or high frame rate 4K video. 

On the video side, the EOS R5C can shoot 8K at up to 60fps in Canon's 12-bit RAW LT format using the entire width of the sensor, a big step up from the 8K 30p RAW available on the R5. Better still, it can work at that setting "indefinitely," while the R5 is limited to just 20 minutes at 8K 30p due to overheating issues. It can also handle RAW 5.9K/60p with a Super 35mm crop, 2.9K/120p with a Super 16 crop, and 4K at up to 120 fps with no crop and full AF capability. 

It also supports ProRes RAW output to an external recorder via the HDMI port at up to 8K/30P. "Proxy data can also be simultaneously recorded to an SD card in-camera, helping to provide efficient post-production operations," Canon said. Unfortunately, it uses micro HDMI rather than a full-sized port — not ideal for a dedicated cinema camera. 

Unlike the R5, however, the R5C doesn't have in-body stabilization — so any optical shake reduction for stills or video will only be available via supported lenses. However, the optical lens stabilization can work in concert with Canon's electronic stabilization, with a 1.1x image crop.

Canon

Engadget
Jan 20, 2022

'Shenmue' anime premieres February 5th on Crunchyroll
The Shenmue anime series is almost here, over a year after it was announced at the Virtual Crunchyroll Expo. It will premiere on February 5th 9:30PM PST/February 6th 12:30AM EST, with Crunchyroll offering its subscribers the Japanese subbed version outside of Japan and China. Meanwhile, the English dubbed version will air via Adult Swim's Toonami anime block. Shenmue tells the story of Ryo Hazuki, who journeys from Yokosuka, Japan to Hong Kong to find his father's killer. 

The first Shenmue game was developed and released by Sega for the Dreamcast in 1999, and the second one was launched for the same console a couple of years later. Its third installment came way later in 2019. Series creator Yu Suzuki debuted the project at Sony's E3 press conference in 2015 and relied on fans' support via crowdfunding to make it happen. Shenmue III easily reached its $2 million goal and ended up raising over $6 million on Kickstarter.

Shenmue the Animation was directed by Chikara Sakurai (One Punch Man Season 2) and will be 13 episodes in all. Kensuke Ishikawa (Tower of God) served Chief Animation Director, while Kento Shimoyama (BLEACH) wrote its script. Masaya Matsukaze and Austin Tindle voice Ryo Hazuki in Japanese and English, respectively. Lan Di, a leader of the Chinese cartel Chi You Men, is voiced by Takahiro Sakurai (Japanese) and Scott Gibbs (English).



Engadget
Jan 20, 2022

Wandercraft's latest exoskeleton lets paraplegics walk with a more natural gait
Paris-based Wandercraft has announced that it's latest "Atalante" exoskeleton has been updated to give paraplegic and other patients a more natural gait during rehabilitation exercises. It also received a Medical Device Regulation (MDR) certificate in Europe, allowing patients and medical staff to use the device more widely. Finally, it's taken a step closer to personal exoskeletons with additional funding.

The last time I saw Wandercraft's first-generation exoskeleton was over four years ago, which is ages in the field of robotics. However, I recently got a chance to see the latest model in use with paraplegic patients, and chat with them and the team behind Atalante. 

Steve Dent/EngadgetExoskeletons (or exos, as they're called in the industry) are powered "wearable robots" adapted to each user, designed to aid in walking rehabilitation treatments and restore a patient's mobility. Atalante is Wandercraft's second-generation exo with a more advanced design and features than the original model. It comes with a remote to operate it and a new app that lets a physiotherapist and patient fine tune movements and exercise programs. It uses two sets of removable batteries that allow for continuous use.

The latest model is much smaller, more streamlined and more comfortable for patients, thanks to new hardware, tweaks in the fit and more intelligent software. It's now self balancing, so it's easier to control for both pa

Engadget
Jan 20, 2022

Consumer Reports now rewards driver monitoring, but only Ford and GM pass muster
With more automakers including driver assistance systems in their cars, Consumer Reports is changing how it grades those vehicles. Starting this year, the outlet will add an additional two points to a car's overall score if its included driver assistance system encourages safe driving. Moving forward, it will also deduct points from a vehicle's total score if it finds the opposite is true, starting with two points in 2024 and then four points in 2026 and beyond.

"We believe it's time to recognize vehicles that have found a safer way to deploy this technology," said Jake Fisher, senior director of the publication's Auto Test Center. By its own estimation, Consumer Reports says an adequate driver monitoring system is one that will "reliably" detect when the driver has become inattentive and alert them to that fact. It adds the system should escalate those warnings and eventually stop the car if it finds they're not responding.

Consumer Reports said it would also take into account an automaker's privacy policy when evaluating a driver monitoring system, and may not award additional points in some instances. The outlet reasons strong privacy protections are essential to convince drivers to use the feature.

The outlet will put the new ranking guidelines into action when reveals its 2022 Autos Top Picks on February 17th, but it gave an early preview of what to expect on Thursday, noting only cars from Ford and GM earned additional points for their driver assistance features. The outlet said BMW, Ford, GM, Tesla and Subaru all claim their systems can detect and prevent driver inattention, but notes it found some "serious flaws" in those systems through its testing.

Beyond mentioning the automaker, Consumer Reports didn't call out Tesla specifically, but the two have an

Engadget
Jan 19, 2022

Google Play Games are available on Windows in a three-country beta
You can now play Google Play Games on Windows — if you live in the right country. Google has launched a registration-based beta offering access to "popular" Play Games titles on Windows PCs in Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan. If you get in, you can hop into titles like Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and Summoners War without reaching for an Android phone or Chromebook. You can take advantage of the larger screen and extra input options, and your progress will still sync across platforms.

Google said it would offer details of later betas and expansions "soon." It previously committed to a generic 2022 rollout.

This still leaves many gamers without access, and the current catalog won't thrill players who want to play any Google Play title they want. Even so, it's a big milestone for Google. While the company has long made Google Play media services available to Windows (if typically through the web), games have been a glaring exception. Not that the loosened requirements will necessarily hurt Google — the goal is to provide a seamless leap from an Android phone or Chrome OS machine, so the company wins regardless of how you play.





Engadget
Jan 19, 2022

CONCACAF will use VAR during remaining 2022 World Cup qualifiers
Soccer's Video Assistant Referee (VAR) is seemingly here to stay, at least in some parts of the world. CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football) has revealed it will use VAR to help refs in numerous 2022 competitions. You can expect the technology in all remaining CONCACAF qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the men's and women's U20 Championships and the W Championship.

The organization's decision was prompted in part by success with VAR in 2021 competitions like the CONCACAF Champions League, Gold Cup and Nations League Finals. The Confederation said progress on VAR had been "considerably" delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but now has enough VAR-qualified referees and venues to expand the technology's use.

VAR still has its critics despite receiving FIFA's approval for World Cup use in 2018. Enthusiasts are concerned the requests for video reviews can slow down matches, and that the use of centralized review hubs could be used to skew decisions. Soccer already has plenty of drama over tackles and handballs, they argue — VAR just draws out those disputes and takes away from the thrill of the game.

However, the arguments against the system appear to have lost some momentum. VAR helped reverse 17 out of 20 bad calls during the 2018 World Cup, and some backers have contended that video reviews would have overturned other mistakes if they had been used more consistently. Like it or not, tech is more likely to loom in the background of soccer matches than it has before.



Engadget
Jan 19, 2022

Video reviews will be used in 2022 North and Central American soccer tourneys
Soccer's Video Assistant Referee (VAR) is seemingly here to stay, at least in some parts of the world. CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football) has revealed it will use VAR to help refs in numerous 2022 competitions. You can expect the technology in all remaining CONCACAF qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the men's and women's U20 Championships and the W Championship.

The organization's decision was prompted in part by success with VAR in 2021 competitions like the CONCACAF Champions League, Gold Cup and Nations League Finals. The Confederation said progress on VAR had been "considerably" delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but now has enough VAR-qualified referees and venues to expand the technology's use.

VAR still has its critics despite receiving FIFA's approval for World Cup use in 2018. Enthusiasts are concerned the requests for video reviews can slow down matches, and that the use of centralized review hubs could be used to skew decisions. Soccer already has plenty of drama over tackles and handballs, they argue — VAR just draws out those disputes and takes away from the thrill of the game.

However, the arguments against the system appear to have lost some momentum. VAR helped reverse 17 out of 20 bad calls during the 2018 World Cup, and some backers have contended that video reviews would have overturned other mistakes if they had been used more consistently. Like it or not, tech is more likely to loom in the background of soccer matches than it has before.



Engadget
Jan 19, 2022

'Splitgate' is getting a map builder and new modes on January 27th
Splitgate, the sci-fi portal shooter that transported me back to carefree Quake 3 Arena days, is getting a slew of updates on January 27th with its Beta Season One update. There's a map builder for constructing and sharing stages with friends, a 100 level battle pass, as well as new One Flag CTF and Evolution modes. (The latter gives the losing team of every round increasingly powerful weapons.) Developer 1047 Games also says the Foregone Destruction map is getting a major fidelity bump, which should be a sign of similar upgrades coming to other maps.

"Our custom map creator will continue to evolve alongside the rest of the game," Ian Proulx, CEO of 1047 Games, said in a statement. "We're looking at the map creator as an evolutionary tool driven by the community — it's a robust feature for fans to play with day one of our new season, and we're really interested in hearing feedback from the community regarding the types of features and tools they want."

All of this sounds like great news for Splitgate fans—at least, the few who've stuck around. According to SteamDB, the game is currently seeing 1,000 to 2,500 players per day, a far cry from its 67,000 player peak five months ago. I'd wager the launch of Halo Infinite's free multiplayer mode in December didn't help (that's where all my free time has been spent lately), but Splitgate's popularity has also steadily dropped since its open beta last August. 

Sure, it was impressive that Splitgate hit 10 million downloads in under 30 days,

Engadget
Jan 19, 2022

Twitter Communities hits Android four months after its debut
Twitter Communities, a topic-based groups feature that landed on iOS and the web last year, has arrived on Android. In the latest version of Twitter's Android app, you'll be able to find groups related to your interests and chat with like-minded people.


Engadget
Jan 19, 2022

Airstream's concept electric camping trailer propels itself
Even Airstream is getting in on electric vehicles. According to Autoblog, the Thor brand has introduced a pair of EV concepts that include the eStream, a self-propelled camper. The dual-motor trailer not only reduces the burden on the towing vehicle, but can be remote-controlled from your phone to help you hitch up, reverse or simply move your camp site. You can even use the motors to shift the weight distribution, so you might not need a special hitch to handle certain trailer loads.

The other concept, the Thor Vision Vehicle, is a Ford Transit-based electric RV. The design is conventional, but Thor teased a "best in class" 300-mile range along with a digital cockpit that includes extensive tools to find chargers along your route.

There's no mention of whether or not the eStream or TVV will lead to ready-to-buy models, let alone timeframes for production. However, it's easy to see both reaching customers. Campers and other trailers significantly limit the range of any towing vehicle, and often demand extra power. While an electric camper like the eStream would have its own challenges (the weight and wear of its batteries, for instance), it could limit the overall impact on range and make towing an option for vehicles that would normally struggle.





Engadget
Jan 19, 2022

Nanoleaf has stopped selling its original wall tiles
Nanoleaf is retiring the product that made it into a household name. Starting today, you can no longer purchase Rhythm Light Panels starter kits from the company's website. In a video it uploaded to YouTube, Nanoleaf said it now considers the device as a legacy product. It notes it will continue to support Light Panels within its mobile app "forever," or "a very, very, very long time."

In practice, that means you can continue to use the tiles in conjunction with Nanoleaf's group feature, allowing you to sync them with its current and future lights. A Nanoleaf spokesperson told Engadget the company won't update the device with new features, but it does have future firmware updates planned. "Technology is always advancing and we want to be able to offer the best we can but because Light Panels have older technology (created before Thread) they will not be able to support Thread," they said. 

Should you need replacement parts for your tiles, Nanoleaf will offer those until the end of 2023. If you want to expand your current setup, the company has discounted expansion packs by 30 percent and accessories by 50 percent while supplies last. As you might imagine, not everyone is happy about the news. 

"This is a mistake," says one of the comments on the video the company released. "All Nanoleaf needed to do was release an updated controller that supports Thread to help the connection issues." In both the video and on its website, Nanoleaf says part of the reason it's retiring the Lig

Engadget
Jan 19, 2022

GM aims to use hydrogen fuel cells for mobile power generators
Automakers have been pursuing the dream of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for decades — who wouldn't want a car that runs on renewable hydrogen and only emits water vapor? But many challenges, from designing cars that can easily hold the fuel, to setting up reliable hydrogen distribution, have made it difficult to turn that dream into a reality. But what if you used those fuel cells to set up a remote EV charging station, or to replace a traditional gas or diesel generator for a large camp? That's what GM is planning to do with its HYDROTEC fuel cell technology, the company announced today.

GMGM's Mobile Power Generators, or MPGs, are pretty self descriptive: they'd basically let you bring large amounts of electricity anywhere without burning fossil fuels, or expanding a local power grid. It could be useful for concerts, movie sets, or neighborhoods that frequently lose power. (In my town outside of Atlanta, almost everyone owns a gas generator to deal with storm-related outages.) 

The announcement also makes plenty of sense for GM, as it's already bringing its fuel cell technology to trucking, aerospace and

Engadget
Jan 19, 2022

President Biden signs memo to help improve military cybersecurity
President Biden is following his executive order on cybersecurity with more concrete action. The leader has signed a memorandum aiming to improve digital security for the Defense Department, the intelligence community and national security systems. The notice sets firmer requirements, both for schedules and for the technology needed to lock down government data.

The memo lets the NSA require agencies to take "specific actions" in response to threats and security flaws, and asks the NSA to coordinate with Homeland Security on directives. Agencies will also have to identify their national security systems, report incidents and secure tools that transfer data between classified and unclassified systems. The President's move also sets timelines and guidance for implementing technologies required in the executive order, ranging from encryption to multi-factor authentication.

Biden's move complements an order that was initially signed in response to critical infrastructure cyberattacks. In theory, this will tighten security at some of the most sensitive federal government institutions. As with the order, though, the memo can only accomplish so much without Congress' support. Virginia Senator Mark Warner, for instance, used the signing to ask Congress to pass legislation requiri

Engadget
Jan 19, 2022

Instagram starts testing creator subscriptions
Instagram creators are getting another way to create income from the platform: subscriptions. A very small number of influencers in the US have access to the feature for now as Instagram tests the feature.


Engadget
Jan 19, 2022

Google is discontinuing its legacy free G Suite tier on July 1st
Over the years, Google's productivity suite has had many names. What started as Google Apps became G Suite and is now known as Workspace. Over that same timeframe, the company has offered just as many ways to access that software, announcing new subscription plans while doing away with older ones. It now plans to sunset a tier that had survived the suite's most recent rebranding.

In an email spotted by 9to5Google, the company told Workspace administrators it won't offer G Suite legacy free edition as of July 1st, 2022. The company plans to transition those users to paid accounts starting on May 1st. Google says it will automatically select a subscription plan for users who don't pick one on their own by the start of May, noting it will look at their current usage when making the decision. Any individual or organization the company migrates to a paid subscription plan automatically won't be billed for at least two months. However, the company says it will suspend the accounts of individuals and organizations that don't input their billing information by July 1st.

Business and enterprise Workspace accounts start at a monthly cost of $6 per user. The company will offer "deep" discounts to those affected by the decision. To be clear, if you're using Gmail, Docs, Sheets and other apps through a free Google account, you won't be affected by the move. What's more, Google will continue to offer free Workspace plans

Engadget
Jan 19, 2022

AT&T and Verizon finally switch on their C-Band 5G networks
Verizon and AT&T have at last switched on their C-Band 5G services after a six-weekdelay. While the networks won't be available near many airports for the time being after the companies' tussle with the Federal Aviation Administration and airlines, people in some areas of the US will have access to the services starting today.

AT&T is taking a relatively cautious approach to its rollout. Its C-Band 5G services are live in "limited parts" of eight metro areas, including Detroit and Chicago as well as Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston in Texas. Folks in three regions in Florida — Jacksonville, Orlando and South Florida — can also use AT&T's C-Band network.

Verizon (Engadget's former parent company) says that 100 million more people will gain access to its 5G Ultra Wideband network this month in more than 1,700 cities, including C-Band coverage. So, most metro areas should have at least some C-Band 5G coverage from Verizon in the coming weeks.

The C-Band spectrum has more bandwidth than the low-band spectrum AT&T and Verizon used in their previous 5G rollouts. That should enable faster download and upload speeds than earlier iterations of 5G. Verizon claims its C-Band 5G is up to 10 times faster than 4G LTE, with download speeds that have exceeded 1 Gbps in some areas.

AT&T and Verizon initially planned to switch on C-Band 5G in December, but they pushed back the activation following concerns from the FAA and airlines. The companies

Engadget
Jan 19, 2022

The Weather Channel is coming to YouTube TV later this year
The Weather Channel will come to YouTube TV sometime in 2022. Google and Allen Media Group, the network's owner, announced the move as part of a broader multi-year partnership that sees the media company becoming a Google Cloud client. AMG says The Weather Channel is one of several networks it plans to bring to the service in 2022 and beyond. The company also plans to work with Google on streaming apps for Android phones and tablets, as well as Google TV and Android TV devices. The exact timing of when all of that may happen Google and AMG didn't say. Still, the deal is a significant one for the search giant. It will help it address one of the more notable gaps in its live TV offering.



Engadget
Jan 19, 2022

'Horizon Forbidden West' story trailer teases new characters and machines
Horizon Forbidden West is just under a month away from hitting PlayStation 4 and PS5, and Sony is ramping up its marketing push with a trailer that sheds some light on the sequel's story. The video is, unsurprisingly, packed with gorgeous visuals while offering some details on what seems to be a solid expansion of Horizon Zero Dawn's rich story.

"People are suffering. Soon, they'll starve," protagonist Aloy (Ashly Burch) says at the beginning of the trailer. "The machines, meant to help us, are out of control. I have to find a way to fix it all. The answer is somewhere out in the Forbidden West." We soon learn that, in that part of the world, war is the order of the day, so Aloy clearly has another difficult journey ahead.

Along with some familiar faces like Varl and Erend, there are some new characters in the trailer — both friendly and hostile ones. Angela Bassett plays one of the antagonists, Regalla. She's a rebel leader who "seeks to slaughter all those who've wronged her" and has the ability to control the machines, granted to her by a returning character. The three-minute clip closes with a glimpse of a mysterious character named Tilda. Guerrilla Games told Game Informer that The Matrix star Carrie-An

Engadget
Jan 19, 2022

Cheeky hack-and-slash RPG ‘Nobody Saves the World' is available now
After being pushed back from its original 2021 release date, Drinkbox Studios' playful shape-shifting RPG is available at last on Xbox and PC.

From the makers of Guacamelee and Severed, Nobody Saves the World is crammed with Drinkbox's signature self-aware humor and vivid art style while paying homage to classic RPGs from the 90s. Inspired by Final Fantasy Tactic's Job system, the game's titular hero Nobody can shapeshift into 18 different off-kilter forms including an egg, slug, and even a bodybuilder to complete quests and clear out dungeons.

The game's overworld and top-down aesthetic will be immediately familiar to fans of other classics like Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Drinkbox also tacks new-school twists on the genre with clever level design and quirky combat that includes moves like the magician's confetti bomb. But the fun really amps up once you get the ability to mix-and-match attacks between forms, which unlocks more than a hundred combos to help dispatch foes.

If the game's gorgeous 2D sprites weren't enough to catch your attention, Nobody Saves the World also features a soundtrack from composer Jim Guthrie, whose music has been featured in titles such as Superbother: Sword & Sworcery, Indie Game: The Movie, and others.

Engadget
Jan 19, 2022

Apple's WeWork drama 'WeCrashed' premieres March 18th
Apple is nearly ready to release its tale of WeWork's tragic fall. The company has announced that its Apple TV limited series WeCrashed will premiere March 18th. The eight-episode drama stars Jared Leto as former WeWork CEO Adam Neumann, who wielded hype to earn a $47 billion valuation only to lose most of it (and his job) when the IPO process revealed ugly financials and leadership. Anne Hathaway plays Adam's wife Rebekah, who served as an executive (including the head of WeGrow) and whose relationship with Adam was "at the center of it all," according to Apple.

The trailer sets expectations quickly. The Neumanns portrayed by Leto and Hathaway are full of overly grand visions, portraying WeWork as nothing less than the future, a "movement" aiming to "elevate the world's consciousness." The clip also highlights the cult-like devotion to the company and its notoriously summer camp-like retreats. It's not certain how well the performances will hold up across a whole series, but Apple at least seems to understand how WeWork's reality was never going to match the buzz.

This isn't the first streaming take on WeWork's rise and sudden decline. Hulu's 2021 documentary was an imperfect but prominent take on the Neumann couple. Apple's effort clearly has star power, however, and the behind-the-camera talent has experience with well-received titles like Little America and This is Us. If nothing else, it's clear Apple hasn't given up its TV st

Engadget
Jan 19, 2022

Amazon gives its ‘Lord of the Rings' series a redundant name
Amazon's The Lord of the Rings series is scheduled to debut on Prime Video in September, which might just be far enough away to get used to the unwieldy title. The company revealed the full name of the show — The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power — in a short video.

"This is a title that we imagine could live on the spine of a book next to J.R.R. Tolkien's other classics," showrunners J.D. Payne & Patrick McKay said in a statement. "The Rings of Power unites all the major stories of Middle-earth's Second Age: the forging of the rings, the rise of the Dark Lord Sauron, the epic tale of Númenor and the Last Alliance of Elves and Men."

The video shows what looks like a few valleys with wispy fog before we see what's actually going on. Molten metal fills in the grooves before it's cooled with water. The camera then zooms out to reveal the show's name. The clip was shot using practical effects instead of CGI.

The teaser doesn't feature any characters or provide plot details. There's plenty of time for that in future trailers. However, the narration underscores the fact the show will once again focus on the 20 rings at the heart of the LOTR saga — just in case the title didn't do enough to hammer that home.



Engadget
Jan 19, 2022

Tonga's internet may be cut off for weeks following eruption
The southern Pacific nation of Tonga is struggling following the eruption of a volcano, and that includes challenges getting online. According to Reuters and The Verge, the Tonga government has warned internet access is "down" following damage to the lone undersea fiber optic cable keeping the archipelago online. While the country didn't provide an initial estimate, the Southern Cross Cable Network's Craige Sloots told Reuters it might take as long as two weeks to repair the cable "all things going well."

It will take the repair ship up to nine days to travel from Papua New Guinea to Tonga, according to Sloots. The timing for the repair will also hinge on safety clearance and any lingering activity from the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano. The 514-mile cable is secured through a Fiji relay.

Tonga has been somewhat prepared for incidents like this. It struck a 15-year agreement for satellite internet access with Kacific in 2019 after damage to the underwater cable. However, ZDNetlearned a contract dispute with Kacific kept that access from being activated. Officials said the country's two telecoms were "working on satellite options" to restore service, but didn't provide timelines.

The outage underscores the vulnerability of internet access for island nations and other remote communities. While many countries connect to the rest of the world throu

Engadget
Jan 19, 2022

'Banjo-Kazooie' hits Nintendo Switch Online's Expansion Pack on January 20th
Those who subscribe to the higher tier of Nintendo Switch Online will be able to play another classic on January 20th. That's when Banjo-Kazooie comes to the service. Nintendo announced last month that the platformer would hit Expansion Pack — which offers Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis games on top of NES and SNES titles — sometime in January.

Banjo-Kazooie, which was originally released in 1998, tasks players with finding musical notes and jigsaw pieces in 3D environments so they can progress and ultimately rescue Banjo's sister, Tooty. Here's hoping Nintendo has smoothed out the emulation issues that plagued several N64 titles when Expansion Pack arrived in October.

Banjo-Kazooie will return to a Nintendo system on a busy day for game releases, albeit mainly on non-Switch platforms. Windjammers 2 and Rainbow Six Extraction debut on Thursday and both

Engadget
Jan 19, 2022

I tried Silk's dairy-inspired Nextmilk and wasn't fooled
Ever since Impossible Foodsstole the show at 2019 with its White-Castle-burger-that-wasn't, Engadget has been following the science of plant-based foods. Nowadays, it's not just patties that can do a convincing impersonation of animal products, and it's not just Impossible Foods. Between Impossible and its biggest competitor, Beyond Meat, we've also seen plant-based chicken nuggets, sausage, pork, "KFC" and even taco meat. But you don't often hear about attempts to mimic a different animal-based product: milk.

And when you do hear of plant-based milks, it's more likely to be dairy alternatives like almond milk, soy milk or oat milk. Even then, it's rare for a dairy-free version to taste like the real thing. That's exactly the selling point of Silk's new line of plant-based milk, Nextmilk. It will be available in both full fat and reduced fat versions (MSRP is $4.99 for a 59-ounce carton). It's going on sale today in grocery stores like Target, Kroger, Publix and HEB, among others.

I tried a sample of Silk's Nextmilk last week and while it's tasty, I wasn't fooled into thinking it tastes like cow

Engadget
Jan 19, 2022

The Backbone One made cloud gaming on the iPhone feel natural
Whether it's Xbox Cloud gaming, Stadia, PlayStation Remote Play or just a very severe addiction to Apple Arcade, gamepads are a better way to play many games on your smartphone of choice. Normally that means using some kind of smartphone clip to attach your phone to your existing controller, propping up your phone and hoping for the best, or choosing from an increasing selection of controllers that snap directly onto your phone. Instead of demanding compatible phone cases or separate pieces that connect either side of the phone, the $100 Backbone One is a single-piece controller that extends to fit it.

Unlike the Razer Kishi, which we tested in detail here, the One is a single device with a telescopic backplate that fits around any iPhone. (With some help: the One isn't compatible with the iPhone 13 Pro. Backbone has, however, started providing a soft rubberized adapter that slides into the controller, ensuring the latest, bigger iPhones fit snugly and securely.)

Engadget/Mat SmithSo why invest in another controller for your phone when most mainstream console gamepads you probably already own already do the job? There are a few reasons. Backbone One, with its direct Lightning

Engadget
Jan 19, 2022

Netflix's latest mobile games include an open-world card battler
Netflix is still relatively new to mobile gaming, but that isn't stopping it from quickly releasing new titles. What's on Netflixnotes the streaming service has unveiled two new titles for subscribers. The headliner, Arcanium: Rise of Akhan, is an Android and iOS card battler reminiscent of Hearthstone. Supercombo's mobile adaptation of its Steam Early Access game may be single-player, but it adds open-world and roguelike elements you don't often see in titles like this.

The other release, Krispee Street, is billed as a "feel-good hidden object game" for Android and iOS. FrostyPop's newest project is effectively a Where's Waldo?-style character and item hunt based on the Krispee Street webcomic. It's decidedly more relaxed than Arcanium and offers both a daily puzzle and a future "Zen Mode" to help you unwind.

The Netflix game library is still relatively small (these latest additions bring it to nine), and likely won't

Engadget
Jan 19, 2022

iRobot's Roomba 694 is back down to a record low of $179
A robot vacuum can help you stick to that New Year's resolution you made to keep your home a bit more tidy — and it helps that you don't have to spend a fortune to get one of these gadgets anymore. There are many more budget-friendly robot vacuums available today than there were even just a couple of years ago, and iRobot's Roomba 694 is one of the better ones we've tried. Normally priced at $274, the affordable robo-vac is even cheaper right now on Amazon where it's $95 off and down to $179. That's the same price we saw during the Black Friday shopping season last year, so if you missed the gadget when it was previously on sale, you have another chance to grab it now.

Buy Roomba 694 at Amazon - $179This is one of iRobot's entry-level vacuums with a three-button design, mobile app connectivity and the ability to clean both hard and carpeted surfaces well. It earned a spot in our budget robot vacuum guide for those reasons — not only does it do a good job puttering around your home, sucking up dirt and debris along the way, but we also like that you can control it using the on-device buttons or the companion mobile app. iRobot's app is pretty straightforward, so even if you're a newbie to the world of autonomous cleaning robots, it shouldn't be difficult to figure out. The app also lets you set cleaning schedules, which tell the Roomba to automatically clean on certain days of the week and at specific times. The Roomba 694 is also compatible with Alexa and the Google Assistant, so you can control it with voice commands, too.

The Roomba 694 is a great option i

Engadget
Jan 19, 2022

'Valorant' will let players mute words they don't want to appear in text chat
If you'd rather not mute certain Valorant players even though they occasionally make sketchy comments in chat, a new update could solve the problem. The latest Valorant patch 4.01 is introducing a muted words list, letting you enter words or phrases "that you, personally, would not like to appear in-game," developer Riot Games announced. 

Currently, you can only completely mute a player's text chat. The new feature could help you avoid using that nuclear option, allowing for a more bespoke experience. It'll also let you protect yourself based on your own tastes instead of relying on Riot's global watchlists. 

Riot plans to use player muted word lists to "make the chat less toxic by comparing them across regions, and using the data we collect to improve our own detections of bad words." It noted, for instance, that its own filters could catch "Riot" but not necessarily "R1ot" or "R!ot." 

Early last year, Valorant rolled out new behavior detection and penalty updates that included measures for chat-based offenses. The rules allowed mods a bit more leeway to give warnings and comms bans, or issue game and extended game bans if required. By contrast, the muted words list feature gives the player control, even if it's just to mute words or phrases you find annoying or repetitive. 

Along with the muted words list, the latest patch boosts the price for the Ares weapon while changing some characteristics. Riot also tweaked Melee to make aiming more reliable, while fixing some bugs around weapons, esports features and performance. Patch 4.01 is now rolling out globally. 



Engadget
Jan 19, 2022

Apple now requires verification for education discounts in the US
Apple has closed a loophole in the US that allowed buyers to take advantage of its education pricing even if they're not actually a student or a teacher. As noticed by a Redditor, the US Apple Store now requires buyers to verify their status via UNiDAYS to be able to purchase MacBooks, iPads and other devices from its education portal. The tech giant's education discount typically knocks off 10 percent from a device's original retail price. It applies to currently enrolled and newly accepted college or university students, as well as teachers and faculty/staff at a school for any grade level.

The change happened sometime over the past few days, based on snapshots from the Wayback Machine, which don't show the UNiDAYS verification requirement even in its latest record for January 17th. Prior to this change, Apple doesn't require its customers in the US to verify their status unlike its stores for other locations such as the UK that have long required UNiDAYS authentication. It didn't even ask for a .edu email address. The company simply occasionally checks customers at random and then charge the difference to their credit card if it determines that they're not truly eligible for the education discount. 

Now, when buyers go to the Apple Education website, they won't even be able to see the device listings. They'll have to click through to the UNiDAYS' partner page for Apple first, where they need to sign in or register for verification. Once they're in, they can b

Engadget
Jan 19, 2022

The Morning After: Microsoft is spending $68.7 billion on the makers of 'Overwatch' and 'Call of Duty'
Microsoft's been buying up studios for the last couple of years, adding notable developers and game series to the Xbox, righting the wrongs of previous generations of the company's console — namely the lack of exclusive games. And while the purchase of Bethesda last year seemed the biggest deal made in modern gaming, Microsoft picking up Activision Blizzard blows it out of the water. There's been a mixed response, however.

First off, the studio is mired in multiple investigations into allegations of sexual harassment and gender discrimination at the company, with calls for CEO Bobby Kotick to step down. Further, as Senior Editor Jessica Conditt lays out, this puts an incredible amount of industry power — and titles — in the hands of one gaming platform. (Two if you include PC.)



Christian Petersen via Getty ImagesAnd what about exclusivity? In his blog post about the acquisition, Xbox's Phil Spencer didn't address Sony or Nintendo platforms specifically, but he alluded to the possibility of cross-platform support. "Activision Blizzard games are enjoyed on a variety of platforms, and we plan to continue to support those communities moving forward," he said, without getting into specifics. Spencer said

Engadget
Jan 19, 2022

Microsoft's Xbox Elite Wireless Series 2 controller is $40 off again
If you missed your chance to get Microsoft's Xbox Elite Series 2 controller for $140 on New Year's Day, here's your chance to grab it a discount again. The controller is $40 off its usual price of $180 on Microsoft's website right now, and that almost matches its $135 Black Friday pricing last year. Released in 2019, the Xbox Elite Series 2 typically sells for $180 and is aimed towards avid gamers.

Buy Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 at Microsoft - $140Its official page says it was "designed to meet the needs of today's competitive gamers" and that it "features over 30 new ways to play like a pro." The controller is highly customizable and ships with a set of six thumbsticks of different shapes and sizes, four paddles, two D-pads, a charging dock, a carrying case and a USB-C cable. Its battery can last for up to 40 hours, and yes, it can connect to your device via Bluetooth or USB-C to play both Xbox and PC titles. You can also save up to three custom profiles with one default for the controller, so you can easily switch between them, depending on what you're playing. 

While it's the second time the Elite Series 2 has gone on sale this month, it's not usually easy finding it for sale at a discount. It's also out of stock on Amazon at the moment, so this may be the best chance to buy it for much lower than retail price.

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

All products recommended by Eng

Engadget
Jan 19, 2022

Opera launches a dedicated crypto browser
Opera has launched its Web3 "Crypto Browser" into beta with features like a built-in crypto wallet, easy access to cryptocurrency/NFT exchanges, support for decentralized apps (dApps) and more. The aim is to "simplify the Web3 user experience that is often bewildering for mainstream users," Opera EVP Jorgen Arnensen said in statement. 

A key feature is the built-in non-custodial wallet that will support blockchains including Ethereum, Bitcoin, Celo and Nervos from the get-go. It also announced partnerships with Polygon and others. The idea is to let you access your crypto without the need for any extensions, with the option of using third-party wallets as well. You can purchase cryptocurrencies via a fiat to crypto on-ramp, swap crypto directly in-wallet, send and receive it and check your wallet balance. It even has a secure clipboard that ensures other apps can't data when you copy/paste.

The other primary function is support for Web3, aka blockchain-based decentralized internet, aka the buzzy new thing among crypto enthusiasts (and skeptics). On top of providing extra security via blockchain encryption, it allows users to access things like GameFi "where you can earn as you play your way through all sorts of metaverses," Opera notes. It also offers a "Crypto Corner" with the latest blockchain news that also "lets you grow your Web3 skills," according to Opera. 

Opera's rival Mozilla recently announced it would accept cryptocurrency donations, but was hit by a backlash from users including co-founder Jamie Zawinski over the environmental impact of blockchain. Perhaps anticipating a similar reaction, Opera said it wa

Engadget
Jan 19, 2022

Anemia could make space travel to Mars a challenge, study finds
A new Canadian study has found that "space anemia" caused by weightlessness is not a temporary issue as once thought, the CBC has reported. "As long as you are in space, you are destroying more blood cells than you are making," said the University of Ottawa's Guy Trudel, who led a 14-astronaut study carried out by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). 

Normally, the body destroys and replaces two million red blood cells per second. However, the new study found that the astronauts' bodies destroyed three million red blood cells per second during six month missions. "We thought we knew about space anemia, and we did not," said Trudel.

A full year after returning to Earth from the ISS, the astronauts' red blood cell levels had not returned to pre-flight levels, according to the study in Nature. "If you are on your way to Mars and... can't keep up" with red blood cell production, "you could be in serious trouble," said Trudel. That wouldn't necessarily cause problems in a zero gravity environment, but could become an issue once astronauts arrive on Mars or when they return to Earth. 


The researchers said that anemia could even be an issue for space tourism, if the potential travelers are at risk for anemia. The study also noted that "current exercise and nutritional countermeasures of modern space travel did not prevent hemolysis and post-flight anemia" with the astronauts tested. 

The study, first announced in 2016, drew from data gathered during Expedition 10 and 11 missions aboard the In

Engadget
Jan 19, 2022

US labor board reconsiders rule that allow gag orders in arbitration agreements
Back in 2020, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that companies requiring employees to go into arbitration to settle disputes can add a confidentiality clause to the agreement. Now, the agency is rethinking its decision. The NLRB has posted an invitation for the public to submit briefs on whether it should adopt a new legal standard to determine if gag orders in mandatory arbitration agreements violate Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act, as well as other legal issues. 

Section 8(a)(1) states that it's unfair labor practice for employers to "interfere with, restrain or coerce employees" when it comes to exercising their right to self-organization. As Bloomberg Law states, this could lead to arbitration agreements that are more worker-friendly, since the absence of confidentiality clauses means they can talk about their issue publicly and ask help from the appropriate administrative agencies if needed. 

Private arbitrations that force workers to keep mum about their issue and the proceedings are a controversial practice. They prevent workers who may be dealing with the same problem to connect, thereby preventing the public and the rest of a company's workers to see emerging patterns. Companies have landed in hot water for forcing issues like sexual harassment into arbitration in the past, that some have chosen to end the practice. Over 150 Riot Games employees

Engadget
Jan 19, 2022

Amazon sued by family of employee killed in Illinois tornado warehouse collapse
Amazon is being sued by the family of delivery driver Austin McEwan who died in the Edwardsville, Illinois warehouse struck by a tornado last month, CNET has reported. The lawsuit alleges that Amazon was negligent, citing the fact that it told people to keep working through extreme weather warnings. It also makes claims of negligence against contractors who helped build the warehouse. 

McEwan was one of six people killed when the warehouse roof was hit by a tornado and collapsed. The family of victim Deandre Morrow has also retained a lawyer. "Sadly, it appears that Amazon placed profits first during this holiday season instead of the safety of our son and the other five," said McEwan's mother, Alice McKewan in a press conference. 

"Severe weather watches are common in this part of the country and, while precautions are taken, are not cause for most businesses to close down," Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel told CNET in a statement. "We believe our team did the right thing as soon as a warning was issued." The company said that the warehouse was built four years ago in accordance with building code requirements. 

Edwardsville is in a region known as Wind Zone IV, a part of the US most at risk from tornadoes. The National Weather Service warned of a tornado threat 36 hours before they struck, and the morning before the storms, it cautioned of the "likely threat" of "damaging winds in excess of 60 mph."

During the same incident, an Amazon dispatche

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