Engadget

OpenAI will reportedly pay $250 million to put News Corp's journalism in ChatGPT

11 hours 7 minutes ago

OpenAI and News Corp, the owner of The Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch, The Sun, and more than a dozen other publishing brands, have struck a multi-year deal to display news from these publications in ChatGPT, News Corp announced on Wednesday. OpenAI will be able to access both current and well as archived content from News Corp’s publications and use the data to further train its AI models. Neither company disclosed the terms of the deal, but a report in The Wall Street Journal estimated that News Corp would get $250 million over five years in cash and credits.

“The pact acknowledges that there is a premium for premium journalism,” News Corp Chief Executive Robert Thomson reportedly said in a memo to employees on Wednesday. “The digital age has been characterized by the dominance of distributors, often at the expense of creators, and many media companies have been swept away by a remorseless technological tide. The onus is now on us to make the most of this providential opportunity.”

Generative AI has exploded in popularity ever since OpenAI released ChatGPT at the end of 2022. But the quality of the responses provided by AI-powered chatbots is only as good as the data that is used to train the models that power it. So far, AI companies have trained their models by scraping publicly available data from the internet often without the consent of creators. But in recent times, they have been striking financial deals with the news industry to make sure that AI models can be trained on information that is current and authoritative. Over the last few months alone, OpenAI has announced partnerships with Reddit, the Financial Times, Dotdash Meredith, the Associated Press, German publisher Axel Springer, which owns Politico and Business Insider in the US and Bild and Die Welt in Germany, and Spain’s Prisa Media. Last month, News Corp also struck a deal reportedly between $5 and $6 million with Google to train its AI models, according to a report in The Information.

Google and OpenAI aren’t the only companies striking these deals to train their AI models. Hours before the News Corp announcement, Business Insider reported that Meta, which recently stuffed its own AI chatbot into Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram, and also sells AI-powered sunglasses, was thinking about striking its own deals with news publishers to get access to training data.

Money from AI companies is increasingly a growing revenue source for a struggling news industry. But some publishers are still wary of striking these deals. The New York Times has sued OpenAI and Microsoft over using content for training AI systems. And the NYT, the BBC and The Verge have blocked OpenAI from scraping their websites.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/openai-will-reportedly-pay-250-million-to-put-news-corps-journalism-in-chatgpt-214615249.html?src=rss
Pranav Dixit

Bluesky finally has DMs, with encrypted messaging coming ‘down the line’

13 hours 21 minutes ago

Bluesky, the open source social media service that began as an internal Twitter project, has gained a key feature as it looks to compete with X and Threads. The service has finally added direct messaging capabilities more than a year after it started onboarding new users.

Direct messages are now available on both Bluesky’s app and website, the company announced in a blog post. The default setting allows users to receive messages from people they follow, though settings can be adjusted to receive messages from “everyone” or “no one.” For now, it sounds like DMs on Bluesky are fairly basic and only support person-to-person text chats, but the company says it plans to add support for media and group messaging, as well as end-to-end encryption “down the line.”

Until then, the company notes that it will be able to access users’ messages in some situations when it’s “absolutely necessary,” such as an investigation into spam or harassment. “In rare cases, the Bluesky moderation team may need to open your DMs to investigate broader patterns of abuse, such as spam or coordinated harassment,” Bluesky says in a blog post. “This would only be done when absolutely necessary to keep Bluesky safe. Access is extremely limited and tracked internally.”

So, like most other social platforms, Bluesky DMs are probably not an ideal space for sharing sensitive information. But the addition of messaging will likely be welcome news from users hoping to make more connections on the service and have conversations out of public view.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/bluesky-finally-has-dms-with-encrypted-messaging-coming-down-the-line-193235051.html?src=rss
Karissa Bell

Snap brings its AR lenses to Chrome through an extension

13 hours 26 minutes ago

Back when we were all stuck at home in 2020 and had to stay on video calls all day, some companies tried to liven things up with augmented reality filters and background replacements. Maybe they caused someone, somewhere to smile once or twice. Although it's hard to argue that they lifted most people out of the doom and gloom of the pandemic, the filters by and large stuck around. 

That's not entirely true in Snap's case. The company used to have a desktop camera app that included AR folders, but it killed that last year. Now Snap is bringing its AR lenses to the desktop in a different way — via a Google Chrome extension.

Snapchat Camera for Chrome can enable AR lenses directly on your webcam. You can then use them for video calls, livestreams, video recordings and so on. Unlike the previous desktop app, you will need to sign in with a Snapchat account to use the lenses. You'll be able to employ any custom lenses you create too. 

Bringing the lenses to Chrome will give you a bit more flexibility, but they didn't appear from the desktop entirely. Microsoft Teams started using the filters last year.

AR lenses have long been ingrained in Snapchat's identity. They're one of the major features that helped the app stand out alongside the early selling point of ephemeral visual messages. So it makes sense for Snap to make use of them in as many areas as possible. While the lenses might liven things up a bit when you're on a Discord call with friends, it's hard to imagine anyone having a shooting star effect or a virtual frog headpiece in place during a serious conference call.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/snap-brings-its-ar-lenses-to-chrome-through-an-extension-192805977.html?src=rss
Kris Holt

The best way to compost your food scraps

13 hours 53 minutes ago

The EPA estimates each person in the US sends 200 pounds of food to the landfill each year where it disgorges methane and contributes to climate change. Composted, those scraps turn into soil-feeding, carbon-capturing humus instead. If that sounds like the better option, you have a couple choices: compost at home, with or without a machine to help you out, or let someone else do the work. 

The DIY route requires a bit of science and a lot of labor, which I learned first-hand out of necessity living off-grid for five years. Adding a kitchen composting machine to the mix can help take some of the work (and odor) out of the process. But my preference, now that I’ve headed back to civilization, is to have someone else do the composting. That’s easy if you live where there’s a municipal curbside composting program. I don't, so I pay for a local composting service to come pick up my family’s scraps twice a month.

How to compost at home

It’s tempting to think of composting as building a holder, throwing in food and coming back a few weeks later to something you can toss in your garden, but the reality requires much more time, space and effort. For me, the toughest part of composting was the consistency it required. At least a few times per week, any active compost pile needs tending, including adding to it, turning it, watering it in dry climates or shielding it from excess rain. In addition to time, home composting requires the space and materials to build the bins. You’ll also need a regular source of “brown” or carbon-rich materials like dried leaves, untreated paper, cardboard, sawdust or wood chips.

Plenty of people (with more knowledge than I) have put together how-tos on the subject. I followed The Mini Farming Guide to Composting, but these online guides will also serve you well:

  • EPA: Offers a high-level overview of the process and includes a handy chart with examples of green and brown materials.

  • ILSR: A more in-depth guide, complete with illustrations and the reasoning behind each step.

  • NMSU: A science-rich reference with multiple methods and troubleshooting suggestions.

  • Joe Gardener: A multi-page, highly detailed PDF from Joe Lamp’l, the host of PBS and DIY Network gardening shows.

Each source gives the same basic advice: build your bin, collect your food scraps, stockpile brown materials, maintain your ratios, monitor and amend moisture and aeration levels, then let a full heap finish for six to eight weeks (so yes, you generally need two piles).

As you can see, composting correctly isn’t as easy as chucking scraps into a bin and letting time handle the rest. Of course, if the process appeals to you (and it is pretty fascinating) that’s not a drawback. Gardeners in particular, who are out in the yard anyway, make excellent candidates for keeping up healthy piles — not to mention, they also have the most use for the finished product. People without yards, however, are out of luck (unless they’re comfortable hosting an indoor worm farm).

Photo by Amy Skorheim / Engadget

Kitchen composting machines

Calling them “composters” is a misnomer, since these devices don’t actually create compost – that requires microbial processes that take weeks. Instead, these appliances chop and dehydrate food, creating an odor-free material that’s substantially smaller in volume than what went in. You can even include meat and dairy – an advantage over home compost piles in which animal products are generally not recommended. As for what comes out, it can be added to your backyard pile, spread in your garden, added to houseplants or thrown in the green bin or trash – where it will take up less room and won’t stink anything up.

I haven't tested any of these devices, but after researching from the perspective of a fairly informed composter, here’s what I see as the pros and cons of a few of the more popular devices on the market.

Mill ($40 to $65 per month with USPS pickups, $30 - $50 per month without pickups)

I like that Mill offers a solution for the substance it produces and that it’s large enough to hold the scraps an average family might generate over the course of a few weeks. Instead of buying the machine outright, you sign up for a subscription, which includes the Mill bin and USPS pickup for the “grounds” it creates. Add food throughout the day and the dehydration and mixing cycles run automatically each night. …Once it's full, you empty the contents into a prepaid box and ship it to Mill’s facility in Washington where the grounds are turned into food for chickens.

You can also keep the grounds, feeding them to your own backyard chickens, adding them to a compost bin or sprinkling them (sparingly) in your yard where water will begin the actual composting process. If you go that route, you’ll pay $30 or $50 per month, depending whether you pay annually or monthly for the bin itself. For the Mill machine plus pickup for the grounds, you’ll pay an extra $10 per month on the annual plan or $15 each month.

Lomi ($828)

Lomi also chops and dehydrates your scraps. The unit is smaller than the Mill, so you’ll likely have to empty it every few days. It offers three modes, one of which, Grow Mode, uses small capsules of probiotics called Lomi Pods to create “plant food” in about 20 hours. Lomi suggests mixing the results with regular soil at a ratio of one to ten.

If you have a yard, it’s easy enough to add a little here and there to maintain the ratio, and if you’re an apartment dweller with houseplants you can mix small amounts into the soil. But the end product should only be used sparingly, like a fertilizer, so you’ll probably need to do something else with the excess. Lomi suggests adding the excess to your compost, dropping it into your green bin if your city provides curbside compost pickup or throwing it in the trash where it will take up less space and won’t smell.

Vitamix FoodCycler ($400)

All of these devices are basically blenders with a heating element, so it makes sense that Vitamix has a unit on the market. The FoodCycler is smaller than the Lomi, so it’s probably best for households with one or two people. The results can be mixed sparingly into plants, added to your green bins or thrown out. Whichever way, the processed scraps will stink less, take up less space and won’t add more methane rot to a landfill.

Reencle ($499)

Reencle is larger like the Mill bin, and involves microorganisms in the process like Lomi. You can buy it outright or rent it for $30 per month, but that doesn’t include pickup for the results. I like that Reencle is, in essence, a living pile of fermentation, using low heat, grinders and a regenerating bacterial population to break down your food scraps.

Adding scraps daily “feeds” the pile, and when it’s full, you’re only supposed to remove about half of what’s in there, leaving the rest to breed more Bacilli. Again, the material works as a plant food or fertilizer, not like standard compost. Reencle recommends a byproduct-to-soil ratio of one part to four, and that you let the mixture sit for five days before adding to your monsteras and gardens.

Photo by Amy Skorheim / Engadget

Why you should consider a composting service

DIY home composting is a lot of work. Countertop machines are expensive and, from what users say, noisy and often unreliable. Both methods leave you to figure out what to do with the byproduct, whether it’s the finished compost from your bins or the dehydrated proto-compost from the appliances.

If you’re a gardener, you’re golden – compost makes plants happy. But I’ve tried farming and now I’d rather ride my bike to the burrito stand than grow my own food. Since I don’t live in a city that offers municipal curbside organics pickup, I pay for a local service and I recommend it.

Most subscription-based compost pick-up services work the same way: for a monthly fee, they provide you with a bucket and lid. You fill the bucket with leftovers and set it on your front porch/steps/stoop on pickup day. They collect your bucket, leaving you a fresh one on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis. Scraps are then composted on a large scale and the results are sold to local farms or people in the community.

Each service has different rules about what you can add, but most let you throw all food and food-related items in the bucket (including meat, bones, dairy and fruit pits). You can also usually include coffee filters, pizza boxes, houseplants, BPI-certified compostable plastics and paper towels (without cleaning products on them). All services ask that you remove produce stickers and pull the staples from your teabags.

I have our pickup scheduled for every other Tuesday. Does two weeks’ worth of food in a bucket stink? It does. To help with that, we keep our bucket outside with the lid firmly on. I keep a canister on the countertop to fill with scraps throughout the day and empty it into the bucket when the canister is full or starts to smell. I also keep old food in the fridge until right before collection day.

Of course, these services aren’t available everywhere, and they cost $20 to $40 per month, so it’s not a universal solution. I pay $22 for a twice monthly pickup and I look at the cost in terms of time: I would spend more than two hours a month maintaining a compost pile, so if I value my labor at $12 per hour, which is my state’s minimum wage, the cost is worth it.

I like the little perks too, like getting a “free” bag of compost twice per year and having a place to drop off our yearly batch of jack-o-lanterns once the faces start caving in. I also know that some of what I put in eventually goes to the lavender farm up the road from me. That’s a much better end game for my avocado pit than being sealed up for eternity in a landfill.

A sampling of composting services in the largest US markets

Modern tech is making it easier for these services to pop up in more cities. Sign-up is done online and most payments are automatic. My driver told me they use the Stop Suite app to optimize their pickup routes, send out text reminders and handle other customer service functions. Composting may be old as dirt, but the way we’re creating it is brand new.

Of the 20 largest metro areas in the US, nine have or will have municipally-run compost collection programs. Each of the other eleven areas have at least one community composting service available. Here’s a list:

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/how-to-compost-at-home-140047133.html?src=rss
Amy Skorheim

There’s a new Vision show coming to Disney+ with Paul Bettany

13 hours 56 minutes ago

Disney+ has greenlit a standalone show for Marvel’s Vision, as reported by Variety. Paul Bettany will return to portray everyone’s favorite android/synthezoid and reporting indicates that the story will pick up after the events of WandaVision. We have a long time to wait, however, as it won’t air on the streaming platform until 2026.

This tracks with Disney CEO Bob Iger’s recent announcement that it would start being much more picky when it comes to Marvel content. The current plan is to reduce the number of shows from four per year to two. 

As for Vision, it’s not being helmed by Jacqueline Schaeffer, who created WandaVision. Showrunning duties fall to Terry Matalas. He created the criminally underrated 12 Monkeys TV show and acted as showrunner for the final season of Star Trek: Picard, which was miles better than those early seasons. Schaeffer was working on an earlier version of the concept before moving to the forthcoming spinoff Agatha All Along.

While the presence of Matalas may be good news for Marvel fans, it’s bad news for Star Trek fans. Ever since the breakout success of Picard’s final season, fans have been pushing Paramount to greenlight a show they have been calling “Star Trek Legacy” with Matalas at the helm. This would be a continuation that follows the events of Picard season three, spotlighting Star Trek: Voyager’s Seven of Nine and other returning characters from the 1990s era of the franchise. Now that Matalas has been snatched up by Marvel, this is unlikely to happen. Between that and the recent cancellation of Star Trek: Lower Decks, it looks like 90s Trek is just about over and done with. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/theres-a-new-vision-show-coming-to-disney-with-paul-bettany-185730521.html?src=rss
Lawrence Bonk

New research places the sun's magnetic field close to the surface, upending decades of theories

14 hours 33 minutes ago

New research indicates the sun’s magnetic field originates close to the surface and not deep within the star, according to findings published in the journal Nature. This upends decades of prevailing scientific thought that placed the field more than 130,000 miles below the surface of the sun. It also brings us closer to understanding the nature of the sun’s magnetic field, which has been on scientist’s minds since Galileo.

The study, led by Northwestern University and a team of international researchers, suggests that the magnetic field actually generates 20,000 miles below the surface. This was discovered after the team ran a series of complex calculations on a NASA supercomputer. It’s worth noting that these are just initial findings and more research is required to confirm the data.

The sun’s magnetic field fluctuates in a cycle that lasts 11 years. During the strongest part of this cycle, powerful winds and sunspots form at the solar equator, along with plumes of material that cause the aurora borealis here on Earth. Previous theories that place the magnetic field deeper within the sun have had a difficult time connecting these various solar phenomena. Scientists hope that, given further study, they’ll be able to use this theory to not only explain the creation of solar events, but more accurately predict when they will occur.

Each second, 1.5 million tons of solar material, traveling at 100 miles per second, shoot off the sun. Earth's magnetic field deflects most of it, but not all. The solar wind, a stream of charged particles, flows at 447 km/s (1 million mph), and while the magnetic field protects… pic.twitter.com/40CSNZYesU

— Historic Vids (@historyinmemes) January 1, 2024

This could lead to more than just earlier predictions of the next aurora borealis event. The sun’s intense magnetic energy is also the source of solar flares and eruptions of plasma called coronal mass ejections. When these ejections travel toward Earth, all kinds of bad things happen. This famously occurred back in 1859, when a giant geomagnetic storm created the largest solar storm in recorded history.

This is called the Carrington Event, attributed to British astronomer Richard Christopher Carrington. The solar flare, which was actually a magnetic explosion on the sun’s surface, briefly outshone the sun and caused colored lights to erupt all over the planet, similar to the aurora borealis. It also supercharged telegraph cables, shocking operators, and set telegraph paper on fire. It was pretty nasty.

Now, this was 1859, before the modern use of electricity and before computers and all related technologies. If something like the Carrington Event were to occur today, we’d have it much worse. The emitted X-rays and ultraviolet light would interfere with electronics, radio and satellite signals. The event would cause a solar radiation storm, which would be deadly to astronauts not fully equipped with protective gear.

It would also lead a coronal mass ejection to bump up against Earth’s magnetic field, which would shut down power grids, cell phone satellites, modern cars and even airplanes. The resulting global power outages could last for months. Last month’s smallish (relatively speaking) storm messed with electronics and that was no Carrington-sized event. Even worse? We are absolutely due for this to happen. It’s basically a ticking time bomb.

So these findings could, in theory, be used to prepare new early warning methods for large-scale solar flares hitting Earth. Someday, we might have solar flare warnings alongside hurricane warnings and the like. The research has already demonstrated some interesting links between sunspots and the sun’s magnetic activity.

“We still don’t understand the sun well enough to make accurate predictions” of solar weather, lead study author Geoffrey Vasil of the University of Edinburgh told The Hill. These new findings “will be an important step toward finally resolving” this mysterious process, added co-author Daniel Lecoanet of Northwestern University.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/new-research-places-the-suns-magnetic-field-close-to-the-surface-upending-decades-of-theories-182059055.html?src=rss
Lawrence Bonk

INDIKA weaves a mature tale of absurdity, hypocrisy and sexual violence

14 hours 33 minutes ago

This story contains discussions of sexual violence.

Multiple scenes from INDIKA are seared into my brain. A palm-sized person crawls out of a nun’s mouth and runs down her arm, frenzied, in the middle of a Catholic ritual. A man is suspended in the air, his torso impaled on a strip of curling rebar, while a guitarist gently encourages him to die. Dozens of bus-sized fish dangle on rotating spits above a blazing silo. The mangled head of a feral dog flops repeatedly against the gears of a mill, neck limp and tongue lolling. The sudden glimpse of a demon: gray skin, too many arms and joints bent the wrong way, bug-like and hulking. When I move, it moves.

Back at home in front of my PC, my skin prickles with goosebumps. INDIKA generates visceral reactions effortlessly and always with a tinge of surprise. It’s a (mostly) third-person narrative adventure set in an alternative 19th century Russia, and it stars an ostracized nun, Indika, who has the devil’s voice in her head. From this foundation, the game offers a flurry of whimsical absurdity and raw human suffering, and even as its visual and mechanical styles shift from scene to scene, everything comes together in a cohesive package. INDIKA is a masterful example of maturity in video games.

Odd Meter

The devil is Indika’s constant companion. As she travels from her convent to deliver a letter in another village, the voice in her head gleefully vocalizes her cruelest thoughts and points out the hypocrisies built into Catholicism, her chosen religion. The devil speaks like he’s narrating a children’s book, a Rumpelstiltskin glee dripping from every syllable as he tells Indika how weak, unloved and naive she is. Indika debates him and, at a few points, he splinters reality around her, opening deep cracks in the scenery, revealing new pathways and filling the world with a red glow. Players can hold down a button to pray, keeping his machinations at bay. To progress in these scenes, Indika has to shift between the devil’s reality and her own, inviting him in at specific moments to make use of his hellish platforms. Indika becomes more comfortable with the devil in her mind as the game progresses, and the “press X to pray” moments are just the first examples of their uneasy alliance.

As a piece of religious criticism, INDIKA plays all the hits. Its jokes about the manipulation, hypocrisy and rigid inhumanity of Catholicism are clear and sharp, though not particularly revelatory. The devil's laughing tone makes every line sound like a lullaby, and to my ears — an atheist who grew up Catholic and was extremely confused by the gaudy, culty exclusion being preached every Sunday — INDIKA is soul-soothing. The game never fully explains whether Indika is experiencing a psychotic break or is truly possessed by the devil in this world; everything exists in the gray area where both of these states meet. Psychosis or Satan, it’s all incredibly real to Indika.

INDIKA is underpinned by a delirious tension between levity and agony, and the developers at Odd Meter got the rhythm just right. Indika’s reality is a frozen hellscape filled with pain, betrayal and isolation, but it also has laugh-out-loud moments that feel more like a rom-com than a psychodrama about a sad nun. The game also slips into a lighter visual style as it delves into her past, mining memories out of pixelated platformers in sun-drenched environments. These contrast sharply against the 3D brutalism of the main scenes, and they’re incredibly engaging, offering smooth jumps with tricky timings.

Odd Meter

This is a game that requires an escape every now and then, and moments of reprieve are built into its progression, perfectly positioned to ease the anxiety as it reaches a fever pitch.

About a quarter of the way through the game, Indika encounters a blood-chilling scene: Through the crack of a doorway, she sees and hears a man attempting to rape a woman, scuffles and screams spilling into the hallway. Indika freezes, accidentally makes a noise, and then hides in a closet as the assaulter turns his attention toward the interruption. The devil taunts Indika — "Did you see the size of that thing?" and "Maybe you wanted to join them?" — as the man searches for her. The danger of the situation bursts through the screen, heavy and white-hot.

This is horror.

Minutes later, Indika is driving a steampunk motorcycle with a trailer full of corpses down a winding path, an unexpected friend perched on the bodies behind her, throwing out cheeky one-liners. Suddenly, it feels like the beginning of a buddy-cop movie. The shift in tone is a huge relief, and this balance of extremes is something that INDIKA does with incredible deftness, time and time again. The (first) sexual assault scene is quick and powerful, showing enough to drive home the depravity of the situation without becoming gratuitous. After I played through it, I took a deep breath, collected myself, and then dove back into the game, eager to uncover more of its commentary. The handling of this topic increased my trust in the developers’ artistic instincts and their ability to reveal the nature of true terror; it made me more invested in the rest of the game.

Odd Meter

Of all the memorable visuals in INDIKA, one remains particularly vibrant in my mind’s eye. Indika is kneeling in a prison cell and a guard enters alone, his intentions clear. He puts his hand on the back of Indika’s head and reality breaks like it often does in this game — but this time it’s softer, slower and all-encompassing. The screen becomes a red pool, and in the center, Indika and the devil float around each other like amoebae in a petri dish, quietly discussing the injustices of human existence. Indika dissociates while her body experiences violence, and the scene lingers on the red womb, providing space for players to absorb the situation from an artistic and philosophical distance. It’s authentic and powerful. It’s oddly calming.

INDIKA stands out for these moments of sexual violence, each so delicately handled. The video game industry in particular is built on a foundation of physical violence — guns, war, blood and murder — but there aren’t many games that broach the subject of sexual abuse. This is largely for the best, as sexual violence is a topic that we’re still learning how to talk about on a cultural scale. It’s the ugliest side of humanity, the most uncomfortable to address, yet it’s pervasive. Sexual abuse is as worthy of compassionate discussion as gun violence, but for a multitude of societal and individual reasons, it’s much harder to look at directly.

Interactive media in particular can be a powerful vessel for immersion and revelatory storytelling. Sexual violence demands empathy if it’s going to be included in any piece of entertainment media, and this is particularly true in video games, where players are acting out the events, placing themselves in the character’s shoes, getting lost in their second-to-second actions. There’s high risk in telling a story about sexual abuse in a video game, and it’s not only about alienating or offending a portion of the audience. The risk lies in the potential to literally retraumatize players. Mishandling a topic like rape can be damaging and perpetuate harmful messages about power, autonomy and self-worth in the real world.

Odd Meter

The best outcome for creators who don’t know how to approach the topic is to leave it alone, and for the most part, video game developers have. The alternative — adding sexual violence to a game without understanding the cruelty of the act, using it for shock value or lazily turning it into a point of motivation for a separate character — will always be much more upsetting.

For example, Immortality. This is one of the few contemporary games that uses sexual violence as a plot point, and, to me, its lens feels lecherous rather than poignant. Immortality employs real-life actors and puts the abuse itself center-screen, using the guise of edgy commentary to let the camera linger on extended scenes of softly lit molestation, the woman’s body in greater focus than her pain. The sexual abuse in Immortality feels like voyeuristic fantasy.

INDIKA, on the other hand, centers the person receiving the violence and reveals the true horror of the act. INDIKA demonstrates how a video game can tell a strange and beautiful story that involves sexual abuse, and proves it can be done without overwhelming the narrative or flow. These scenes add layers of insight and emotional heft to Indika’s journey, revealing truths about her psyche and her world. It’s encouraging to see these themes explored so deftly in a piece of interactive art.

INDIKA is not solely about sexual violence. The bulk of the game is filled with puzzles, platforming and witty wordplay from the devil, and most of it plays out in engaging and ridiculous ways. Plenty of segments in INDIKA are downright jovial, with a warped sense of humor that reminds me of Alice in Wonderland (or, more appropriately, American McGee’s Alice). However, it doesn’t shy away from the dark realities of Indika’s world, where rape is as pervasive as gun violence, war and religious oppression. The assault scenes — presented alongside running themes of death, manipulation, isolation, shame, guilt and cruelty — solidify one of INDIKA’s core messages: With a world like this, how much worse can Hell really be?

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/indika-weaves-a-mature-tale-of-absurdity-hypocrisy-and-sexual-violence-182019378.html?src=rss
Jessica Conditt

Volkswagen indefinitely delays the ID.7 electric sedan’s arrival in North America

14 hours 54 minutes ago

Volkswagen has delayed the launch of its ID.7 sedan in the US and Canada. Before Wednesday’s indefinite postponement, the automaker had slated the EV’s North American launch for this year. The ID.7, which was set to be Volkswagen’s first electric sedan in the US, has seen high demand in Europe, where it arrived last year.

“As market dynamics continue to change, Volkswagen is delaying the introduction of the ID.7 sedan in the U.S. and Canada,” the automaker wrote in a press release announcing the delay. Volkswagen added that its Microbus is still slated for a Q4 2025 stateside arrival. The company also touted in its press release how well its electric SUVs did in North America during Q1 2024.

Volkswagen

Volkswagen confirmed to Engadget sister site Autoblog that it doesn’t currently have a new timeline for the delayed ID.7 in North America, not an encouraging sign for folks who were eagerly waiting for the sedan. The Verge notes that the model would fill a gap in the American electric industry’s offerings: a decently affordable electric sedan. Right now, most non-SUV electric vehicles in the American market sit on the high end of the pricing spectrum, starting at around $70,000.

The European ID.7 is an “upper mid-size” EV sedan that merges a powerful and efficient 282-hp motor with a 77-kWh battery. Rated for around 300 miles of range, it was expected to start at around $50,000 in the US.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/volkswagen-indefinitely-delays-the-id7-electric-sedans-arrival-in-north-america-175929524.html?src=rss
Will Shanklin

Starliner’s first crew mission gets pushed back yet again, this time with no new launch date

16 hours 23 minutes ago

The first crewed flight of Boeing’s Starliner capsule still hasn’t launched more than two weeks after its originally scheduled liftoff date, and as of right now, there’s no telling when it will. In a statement emailed to members of the press late on Tuesday, NASA announced it was calling off the launch attempt set for May 25. Starliner’s maiden crew mission has already been rescheduled multiple times, but in this instance, NASA hasn’t set a new launch date. “NASA will share more details once we have a clearer path forward,” the agency said in its statement, per SpaceNews.

The first attempt at the beginning of the month was scrubbed due to the discovery of a faulty oxygen relief valve on the ULA Atlas V rocket carrying Starliner. Engineers replaced the valve and Starliner was slated to fly later that week, but that attempt was postponed, too. On May 14, NASA revealed that engineers were working to resolve a helium leak in the spacecraft’s propulsion system. In an update a few days later, NASA said the leak was “stable and would not pose a risk at that level during the flight.” A new targeted launch date was set at that time and ultimately rescheduled once more, but it seems the problems are ongoing.

“The team has been in meetings for two consecutive days, assessing flight rationale, system performance and redundancy,” the agency said in the latest update, according to SpaceNews. “There is still forward work in these areas, and the next possible launch opportunity is still being discussed.” Delays have defined Starliner’s development up until this point, but since two astronauts — Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams — will be on board for this mission, the stakes are especially high; now isn't the time to start cutting corners.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/starliners-first-crew-mission-gets-pushed-back-yet-again-this-time-with-no-new-launch-date-163020007.html?src=rss
Cheyenne MacDonald

Sure, why not: China built a chatbot based on Xi Jinping

16 hours 55 minutes ago

Chatting it up with a fake ScarJo not doing it for you? Why not try a conversation with the leader of China? There’s a new chatbot in town and it's based on Xi Jinping. As a matter of fact, it was trained using the ‘thoughts’ of the Chinese leader. I put thoughts in quotes because researchers didn’t use some kind of new mind-reading technology. Chinese officials just used a bunch of his books and papers for training purposes, according to a report by The Financial Times.

His political philosophy is collectively known as “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” or, simply, “Xi Jinping Thought.” This ideological doctrine has been created during his tenure as leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). With that in mind, the chatbot was trained on official literature that falls under that umbrella, including more than 12 books allegedly written by Xi Jinping himself. The training set also includes government regulations, policy documents, state media reports and other official publications.

A single document examined by The Financial Times used to train the chatbot contained over 86,000 mentions of Xi Jinping, with language that urges citizens to “ensure that in thought, politics, and action, we are always in high alignment with the Party Central Committee with General Secretary Xi Jinping at its core.” This chatbot must be really fun at parties.

The technology hasn’t rolled out to the general public yet. It’s being used at a research center under the purview of the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), though it may eventually be released for wider use. The model can answer questions, create reports, summarize information and translate between Chinese and English. It’s a basic chatbot, though one that’s likely to disseminate Xi’s ideas on politics, economics and culture.

This move comes amid extensive efforts by Chinese officials to promote the philosophies of Xi and his authoritarian state. As previously mentioned, more than a dozen books are attributed to the leader and they typically take center stage at the country’s book fairs. Popular news apps from companies like Tencent and Netease reserve slots at the top of feeds for articles from official state media, and most of these posts feature Xi. Children as young as ten are required to study his political philosophy, so the chatbot could find a use there.

The major Western AI models aren't available in China, as the CAC mandates that generative AI providers “embody core socialist values” and that the output from any chatbot must not “contain any content that subverts state power.” So there’s no ChatGPT, Google Gemini or anything like that. Chinese companies like Baidu and Alibaba must ensure that their models strictly control generated content related to Xi or any sensitive issue.

This is a huge challenge for these companies, as most groups train their models with some English language data. This introduces the potential for responses that run afoul of the country’s speech regulations. To get around this, Chinese chatbots will typically restart the chat when asked about sensitive topics. The country is, however, leading the way in the “chatbots based on deceased relatives” department. With that in mind, Xi Jinping could very well espouse his philosophy from now until the end of time.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/sure-why-not-china-built-a-chatbot-based-on-xi-jinping-155828456.html?src=rss
Lawrence Bonk

Anker power banks are up to half off ahead of Memorial Day weekend

17 hours 33 minutes ago

Many people will be traveling this Memorial Day weekend as the summer unofficially gets underway. It’s important to keep smartphone, tablet and laptop batteries topped up, but you can’t always rely on finding an outlet as you're on the move. So it’s always useful to have a power bank on hand. As luck would have it, Anker’s power banks are on sale for up to 50 percent off. The Anker MagGo Power Bank 10K, for instance, has dropped to $70. That's $20 off the usual price.

This is our pick for the best MagSafe power bank so if you have an iPhone 12 or later, it’s definitely worth considering. It's Qi2 certified, so it can wirelessly charge other supported devices as well, albeit at a slower rate than the 15W speed you'll get on a MagSafe-ready iPhone.

Anker claims the MagGo Power Bank can wirelessly charge an iPhone 15 from zero to 50 percent capacity in 44 minutes. With a 10,000mAh capacity, it can charge an iPhone 15 Pro up to 1.8 times over. It has a built-in stand, so you can prop up your phone to watch videos on a train or plane as it charges. There's also a smart display that'll show you the battery level and remaining usage time of the power bank.

Elsewhere, you can snap up the Anker Prime Power Bank for a record low of $125. That’s $55 less than the usual price. This model has a far larger capacity than the MagSafe offering at 27,650mAh — that's enough to charge a 13-inch, M2-powered MacBook Air 1.28 times or an iPhone 14 around 4.67 times, Anker says.

The power bank has fast charging support for multiple devices at the same time via its dual USB-C and single USB-A port array. Anker claims it can charge a 16-inch M2 Pro MacBook Pro to 50 percent in 28 minutes.

In addition, the Anker Magnetic Power Bank 5K is 50 percent off in this sale, having tumbled to $35. This has a smaller capacity of 5,000mAh (which is good for 0.8 full charges of an iPhone 13) and it doesn't have a screen like the other two models mentioned above. But it's a handy way to keep your phone's battery topped up while you're on the move. It has a built-in kickstand and you can recharge while using it via a USB-C cable.

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter and subscribe to the Engadget Deals newsletter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/anker-power-banks-are-up-to-half-off-ahead-of-memorial-day-weekend-152054276.html?src=rss
Kris Holt

Marvel's What If...? for Apple Vision Pro gets a trailer and release date

17 hours 54 minutes ago

Earlier this month, Marvel and ILM Immersive announced that What If...? would be coming to the Apple Vision Pro in the form of an "immersive story" based on the Disney+ original. The original announcement didn't offer much in the way of detail but now we've got an official trailer and release date, with the title arriving on May 30.

The mixed reality game's trailer features the Watcher who needs help fighting "dangerous variants from across the Multiverse." Can you guess whose been chosen for this mission? That's right, you. Soon Wong appears and the Watcher tasks them with teaching you to cast spells and harness the Infinity Stones' power — which Wong reluctantly agrees to do. You will also meet game versions of Thanos, Hela, Red Guardian and more characters. 

Overall, What If...? should take you on quite a journey. "As they step into breathtaking environments, they will cross between mixed and virtual reality as they enter new and iconic MCU locations," ILM Immersive stated in a release. "Fans will use their hands and eyes to interact with the world around them, becoming immersed with stunning visuals and spatial audio, and work to save the fate of reality as they live out their narrative journey. Together, these groundbreaking features and more will remind them that time, space, and reality are more than a linear path."

What If...? will be available on Apple Vision Pro starting May 30 and you'll be able to grab it as a free app for a limited time. However, you will need to have dropped $3,500 for the device so it's still going to cross you a pretty penny to play. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/marvels-what-if-for-apple-vision-pro-gets-a-trailer-and-release-date-150008952.html?src=rss
Sarah Fielding

Panasonic S9 hands-on: A powerful creator camera with a patented LUT simulation button

18 hours 53 minutes ago

Panasonic’s mirrorless cameras have always been popular with pro video shooters, but to date the company hasn’t directly tackled a key segment: influencers. Today, it’s finally jumping in with the S9, a small and stylish full-frame camera with similar capabilities to Sony’s ZV-E1. The S9’s key feature is a dedicated LUT button and app that let you quickly select custom and preset video looks, much like you can with Fujifilm’s simulations.

With the same 24-megapixel sensor as Panasonic’s S5 II, the S9 supports up to 6.2K 30p video and comes with Panasonic’s latest phase-detect and AI-tracking autofocus. It also has advanced in-body stabilization that promises gimbal-like smoothness.

There are a few things missing, though, like a viewfinder and mechanical shutter. Finally, there’s the $1,500 price, which isn’t much less than the more-capable S5 II. So does Panasonic’s first camera for influencers deliver? I tested a pre-production version of the S9 in Japan to find out.

Stylish and petite

At 486 grams (17.1 ounces), the S9 is light for a full-frame camera and just three grams heavier than the ZV-E1. I’ll discuss Panasonic’s new 26mm f/8 lens soon, but with that, the whole system is small enough to slip into a bag and is actually a bit lighter than Fujifilm’s X100 VI.

The S9’s design is cute, but the polycarbonate body doesn’t feel nearly as premium as, say, Fuji’s X100 VI. It comes in a choice of red, blue, green and black in a faux leather covering. It’s not as pretty as Fujifilm’s offerings, but is more stylish than most Lumix cameras.

With that smooth design and no handle, though, it’s a bit hard to grip. This isn’t a problem when using lightweight lenses, but with larger ones like the Lumix 24-70mm f/2.8, the S9 could slip right out of your hand. Panasonic did give us a dedicated SmallRig grip that helps a lot, but that’s not included in the price.

The S9 has stripped-down controls compared to most Panasonic cameras. With no top rear dial or joystick, it's trickier to change settings than on larger models like the S5 II.

What it does have that we’ve never seen is a LUT button that Panasonic actually patented. Those letters stand for look-up table, and pressing the button brings up a choice of built-in or custom simulations.

Steve Dent for Engadget

The flip-around screen is great for vlogging, but the S9 lacks an electronic viewfinder, much like Sony’s ZV-E1. It has just a cold shoe on top, so it can't power flashes, microphones, a viewfinder or other accessories.

It’s also missing a headphone port, which is unfortunate for a camera dedicated to video. And while the Fujifilm X-T30 supports a headphone via the USB-C port, the S9 doesn’t have that option, nor does it support wireless sound. As for storage, the single SD card slot enables UHS-II speeds, but is located inconveniently next to the battery compartment

Photography

For a hybrid camera aimed at videographers, the S9 isn’t bad for stills. You can shoot at 9 RAW frames per second, and the buffer will hold up to 55 shots. The S9 doesn’t have a mechanical shutter, though, and distortion can be problematic with fast-moving subjects.

Continuous autofocus for photos works well, though it’s still behind Canon and Sony. The AI is good at locking onto human faces, bodies and eyes, and also works with animals, cars and motorcycles. It’s not a sports or wildlife camera by any means, but the majority of my photos were in focus.

Like the S5 II, the S9 shoots 14-bit RAW images in single-shot mode but drops to 12-bit RAW for burst shooting. As this was a pre-production camera without the final firmware, I was unable to test RAW quality, but I’d expect it to be in line with the Panasonic S5 II.

Photo quality otherwise is good from what I've seen so far, with realistic colors and skin tones. In low light, I wouldn’t go past about ISO 6400 as noise can get bad compared to cameras with similar sensors, like Nikon’s Z6 II.

Steve Dent for Engadget

I liked the S9 as a street photography camera, as it’s discreet, silent and lightweight. However, the new $200 pancake lens that helps make it so light is manual focus only and has just one f/8 aperture setting which may turn off buyers. On top of that, with no electronics in the lens, the zoom window doesn’t pop up to aid focus. As such, you need to rely on the focus peaking assist.

Video

As a video camera, the S9 is generally excellent, but has some pluses and minuses compared to the ZV-E1. On the positive side, the higher-resolution sensor allows for up to 6.2K 30p or supersampled 4K 30p video using the entire sensor width. It also supports full readout 3:2 capture that makes vertical video easier to shoot.

4K 60p requires an APS-C crop, and to get 120 fps video you need to drop down to 1080p. Like the S5 II, it supports a number of anamorphic formats with supported lenses.

Steve Dent for Engadget

The ZV-E1 has half the resolution, so video isn’t quite as sharp, but Sony’s camera can shoot 4K at up to 120 fps and rolling shutter isn’t nearly as bad.

One potential issue with this camera for creators is the limited continuous recording time, which is capped at just 10 minutes at 6.2K and 15 minutes at 4K. That’s due to the small size and lack of a fan, but you can start recording again immediately after it stops — so this would mainly affect event shooters needing to do long takes. We'll see if these recording times remain in the final firmware.

The S9 has excellent in-body stabilization, with up to 6.5 stops using supported lenses. Like the S5 II, it offers a boost mode that’s best for handheld shooting with limited movement, and an electronic mode with a 1.4x crop in the “high” setting.

Steve Dent for Engadget

The latter can smooth out footsteps and other jolts well enough to replace a gimbal in a pinch. It does a better job than the ZV-E1 with abrupt movements, but the latter crops in slightly less at 1.3x.

Autofocus mostly keeps subjects sharp, but it can occasionally lag. The AI-powered face-tracking stays locked on a subject’s eyes and face, though sometimes the autofocus itself doesn’t keep up. However, these could be pre-production issues. 

With the same sensor as the S5 II, quality is very similar. Video is sharp and colors are realistic, with pleasing skin tones. It’s not quite as good in low light as other 24MP cameras like the Canon R6 II, with noise starting to become noticeable at ISO 6400. The ZV-E1, in comparison, can shoot clean video at ISO 12800 and even beyond.

Steve Dent for Engadget

I enjoy shooting Panasonic V-log video as it’s easy to adjust in post and offers excellent dynamic range. It’s one big reason Panasonic cameras are so popular with professional videographers, so it’s nice to see this on a less expensive model.

So what about the new LUT feature? To get the most out of it, you have to go into the new Lumix Lab app. Panasonic has a handful of presets to get you started, or you can load custom LUTs from a variety of creators. You can also make your own in an editing program like DaVinci Resolve.

Steve Dent for Engadget

Applying the LUT bakes the look into the video, which makes it hard to adjust it later on. However, you can shoot standard or V-Log footage and use the LUT as a preview, then apply that same look in post without being locked in.

The LUT button is a clever idea, as it allows creators to create cool shots without the need to futz around in post. However, many may not even be familiar with the term “LUT,” so Panasonic has an uphill battle selling the benefits. By comparison, many influencers understand the advantages of Fujifilm’s simulations.

Wrap-up

Steve Dent for Engadget

With the S9, Panasonic is trying to attract influencers with a small, stylish camera that makes it easy to create interesting video looks quickly. At the same time, it has nearly all the capabilities of higher-end models like the S5 II.

It does have some flaws that make it a hard sell for photographers. And I’m concerned about the $1,500 price tag, as that’s just a bit less than the S5 II, which has an EVF, mechanical shutter, extra card slot, better ergonomics and more.

So far, it comes out well against the ZV-E1, though. I like the extra resolution and sharpness, and it has superior stabilization. It’s also cheaper, but only by about $300 at the moment. It looks like a good first try and I have a few quibbles, but I’ll know more once I’m able to test the production version.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/panasonic-s9-hands-on-a-powerful-creator-camera-with-a-patented-lut-simulation-button-140046910.html?src=rss
Steve Dent

Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses can now upload photos directly to Instagram Stories

19 hours 53 minutes ago

Meta has updated its Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses to give it more hands-free capabilities, starting with a new feature that lets you share images as Instagram Stories without having to take out your phone. You can just say "Hey Meta, share my last photo to Instagram," if you've already snapped the photo you want. But you can also say "Hey Meta, post a photo to Instagram" if you want to be more spontaneous and take a picture to upload as a Story on the spot. It's for those moments you don't mind sharing with your followers, unedited, in real time. 

In addition, you'll now be able to get your glasses to quickly play your tunes on Amazon Music. Just say "Hey Meta, play Amazon Music" to start listening through the smart glasses' open-ear audio system. And yes, you'll be able to control the audio with the device's touch controls or with your voice. If you have a Calm account and need to decompress, you can listen to guided meditation or mindfulness exercises on your smart glasses instead. To do so, just say "Hey Meta, play the Daily Calm." And if you don't have a Calm account, you can get a three-month subscription for free if you follow the on-screen prompts in the Meta View app. All these features are "rolling out gradually," so you'll eventually get access to them if you don't have them yet. 

Last month, Meta also rolled out multimodal AI for the Ray-Ban smart glasses after months of testing. It enables the smart glasses to act as a personal AI gadget outside of the smartphone, similar to the Rabbit R1 and the Humane AI Pin. Thanks to that update, you can now ask the smart glasses to describe objects in the environment, identify landmarks and read signs in different languages, which sounds especially useful for frequent travelers. Meta also gave the device the ability to make hands-free video calls with WhatsApp and Messenger.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/ray-ban-meta-smart-glasses-can-now-upload-photos-directly-to-instagram-stories-130019041.html?src=rss
Mariella Moon

Airbnb hosts can get discounts on EV chargers

20 hours 24 minutes ago

You might start to see more Airbnb properties with EV accommodations in the future. The online platform is teaming up with ChargePoint to get more Airbnb hosts to install EV chargers, Business Wire reports. The partnership means Airbnb hosts can access an exclusive ChargePoint package and save money. 

ChargePoint is giving Airbnb hosts 25 percent off whichever charger they pick and another $100 off installation fees. Chargers start at $399, meaning customers will get at least $100 off on that purchase alone. However, the installation deal is only available when purchased through the Airbnb page on ChargePoint's website. Airbnb is also giving another $200 off charging hardware for the first 1,000 Airbnb hosts to make purchases.

The partnership could lead to greater success for hosts. According to Airbnb, searches for properties with EV chargers increased by over 80 percent between 2022 and 2023. Also, it claims that, on average, listings with EV chargers get more income and nights booked than those without one. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/airbnb-hosts-can-get-discounts-on-ev-chargers-122954626.html?src=rss
Sarah Fielding

What we bought: Our favorite small kitchen essentials

20 hours 53 minutes ago

While many of us at Engadget are passionate about cooking, it turns out that tech blogging isn’t the most efficient path to owning a large kitchen. No matter: We try to make the most of our cramped apartments regardless, and we’ve managed to (mostly) stay sane along the way thanks in large part to a few space-spacing appliances and cooking tools. If you’re in a similar situation and have been trying to fend off the urge to order out every night, we’ve rounded up a handful of our favorite small kitchen essentials below.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/small-kitchen-essential-gadgets-irl-154530643.html?src=rss
Engadget

Emory University awarded two students $10,000 for their AI study tool, then suspended them

20 hours 53 minutes ago

Individuals and organizations are still struggling with how and how much to integrate AI into daily life. Rarely has that been more clear than a case out of Emory University in which the school went from awarding students with an entrepreneurship prize worth $10,000 for their AI-powered studying tool to suspending them for it, 404 Media reports. No, the students didn't suddenly misuse the tool, known as Eightball, in any way; they did just as they said they would, and all the while, Emory promoted them — until they didn't.

Eightball allowed students to turn any coursework or readings into practice tests or flashcards for studying. It also connected to Canvas — the platform professors at Emory use to share course documents with their students. A demo video for Eightball called it similar to ChatGPT but trained on Canvas courses, looking at everything from lectures to slides, rather than students having to upload each PDF individually to the tool. 

Emory's Honor Council accused Eightball's creators of cheating, plagiarizing and helping other students violate the Honor Code in November 2023 and the duo shut the tool down. The Council also claimed Eightball attached to Canvas without permission, despite it being stated during the awards competition in Spring 2023. The body launched an investigation into the students, which found that Eightball hadn't assisted with cheating and that the student creators had never lied about its capabilities.

Yet, the Honor Council recommended a year suspension for one of the students, Benjamin Craver, and expulsion for the other (who ideated Eightball). The Council's director called the situation "unprecedented" due to the harm it could cause at Emory. Craver was eventually suspended for the summer and fall 2024 semesters — after which he would need to apply for readmission. He was also given a mark on his permanent record and required to complete an educational program. His co-creator received a one-year suspension.

Craver filed a lawsuit on May 20 against Emory detailing how Eightball came to be, teachers' support and use, articles promoting it in the university's newspaper and that the students had always been transparent in its use. Among other evidence, the lawsuit also shares words of support from the associate dean of Emory's business school about Eightball following the award and her choice to connect the students with an outside entrepreneur, an Emory Alumnus. "While nothing about Eightball changed, Emory's view of Eightball changed dramatically," Craver's lawsuit states. "Emory concedes that there is no evidence that anyone has ever used Eightball to cheat. And to this day Emory advertises Eightball as an example of student innovation and entrepreneurship."

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/emory-university-awarded-two-students-10000-for-their-ai-study-tool-then-suspended-them-120026233.html?src=rss
Sarah Fielding

The Morning After: We test Sonos’ first wireless headphones

21 hours 38 minutes ago

It’s been a long time coming, but Sonos’ first pair of wireless headphones are now in the hands of our tame audio expert. The Sonos Ace takes all of the company’s audio know-how, packaged in a more skull-friendly way. As well as the usual noise cancellation you’d expect with a pair of high-end cans, they also have some home theater-friendly tweaks.

Billy Steele was deeply impressed with the headphone version of its TruePlay tuning, called TrueCinema, which maps your location for better virtual surround. If you already own a Sonos soundbar, you’ll be able to pull the sound to the Ace in a heartbeat for those late-night movie sessions. Plus, Sonos’ ability to upscale audio that hasn’t been mastered in 7.1.4-channel Dolby Atmos should make even the most mediocre sound, uh, sound good.

Billy’s a fan, and you might be too once you’ve read his write up — so much so that we’ve got all the details for how you can pre-order right here.

— Dan Cooper

The biggest stories you might have missed

The best free games in 2024 that you can start playing today

The DOJ makes its first known arrest for AI-generated CSAM

Disney is laying off around 175 Pixar workers as it pulls back on original streaming shows

Comcast’s bundle of Netflix, Apple TV+ and Peacock Premium costs $15 per month

Apple is battling a $2 billion EU fine over App Store practices

Kickstarter now allows late pledges after a campaign has ended

​​You can get these reports delivered daily direct to your inbox. Subscribe right here!

Wearable AI Pin maker Humane is reportedly seeking a buyer

Yours for the knock-down price of… around a billion.

Humane

Humane, makers of the AI pin that made the wrong sort of splash on its debut, is reportedly up for sale. The underbaked hardware and software was greeted with poor reviews that ensured it probably wouldn’t become a best seller. Now, the startup has called in financial advisers, hoping a deep-pocketed soul will pick it up for between $750 million and a cool billion. There’s an old saying that we die twice in this world, and I think it goes something like this: First, when your major product flops, and second, when someone picks you up for patent-licensing scraps.

Continue Reading.

Ninja Creami review: This machine makes your frozen dreams come true

It’s the dawn of the smart ice cream age.

Photo by Sam Rutherford / Engadget

Ninja has launched a new smart ice cream maker that leverages a recently expired patent used by high-end chef companies. The Creami is, as Sam Rutherford explains, a kitchen-sized drill press that “spins” frozen ice cream bases with your choice of flavors. It may be big and noisy, but he says the quality of product you get out the other end is worth the aggravation.

Continue Reading.

Paper Mario The Thousand-Year Door review: A Switch remake (mostly) befitting a masterpiece

It’s been in the wilderness for more than a decade.

Nintendo

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is a GameCube-era RPG regarded by many as the best title in the series. Sadly, it was never ported to any successive console until now, as lamented by our Devindra Hardawar. He’s put the updated version through its paces to tell you if it’s worth exploring for a first, or second, time.

Continue Reading.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-morning-after-we-test-sonos-first-wireless-headphones-111531630.html?src=rss
Daniel Cooper

Nintendo snaps up a studio known for its Switch ports

22 hours 54 minutes ago

Nintendo is buying (PDF) Florida-based studio Shiver Entertainment from the Embracer Group, which is splitting up its rather messy gaming empire and is letting go of certain assets. Shiver was founded in 2012 and is mostly known for working with publishers and developers to port games to the Switch, including couple of Scribblenauts titles and Hogwarts Legacy. Nintendo will acquire the "boutique-sized studio" in full, making it a fully owned subsidiary that will continue working on Switch ports and developing software for multiple platforms. 

The Japanese gaming company isn't known for gobbling up small studios and developers. In its announcement of the deal, it said it's aiming "to secure high-level resources for porting and developing software titles" with this purchase. By buying Shiver, Nintendo is also showing that it's committed to the Switch platform, which will remain its primary business for years to come

As Nintendo Life notes, Nintendo may have decided to purchase Shiver to acquire its talent, as well. The studio's CEO, John Schappert, is an industry veteran who used to oversee Xbox Live, the Xbox platform software and Microsoft Game Studios. He also served as Chief Operating Officer at EA and at Zynga. Nintendo didn't say how much it's paying for the studio, but it doesn't sound like the purchase will make any considerable impact on its finances. "The Acquisition will have only a minor effect on Nintendo’s results for this fiscal year," the company wrote in its announcement. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/nintendo-snaps-up-a-studio-known-for-its-switch-ports-100003358.html?src=rss
Mariella Moon

The best free games in 2024 that you can start playing today

1 day 1 hour ago

No, you don’t have to spend $60 or more on a brand new title to play a new, good game. These days, courtesy of in-app payments and the ease of offering both a sample of a title alongside its full-fat version, there are actually plenty of great games to play that won’t cost you a dime. And quality has never been higher across mobile, PC and consoles, so regardless of which platform or device you prefer using, you’ll find a number of great free games to choose from. This is our list of the best free games you can play right now, so consider this your no-credit-card-required starting point.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/best-free-games-163045609.html?src=rss
Engadget
Checked
5 hours 57 minutes ago
Engadget
Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics
Subscribe to Engadget feed