Posts with «arts & entertainment» label

Google is shutting down Duplex on the Web

Another Google service will soon join the company’s graveyard of apps. The search giant quietly announced this week it is shutting down Duplex on the Web. In a support page spotted by TechCrunch, the company notes the service won’t work after the end of 2022. “As we continue to improve the Duplex experience, we’re responding to the feedback we’ve heard from users and developers about how to make it even better,” a Google spokesperson told the outlet. “By the end of this year, we’ll turn down Duplex on the Web and fully focus on making AI advancements to the Duplex voice technology that helps people most every day.”

Google first announced Duplex on the Web in 2019 as an expansion of its Duplex phone reservation AI. Initially, the feature was designed to help Android users buy movie tickets. Duplex on the Web gave Assistant the ability to navigate websites on its own. Provided you had your credit card information stored on Chrome, Assistant could take care of all of the busy work of buying film tickets for you. Google later expanded the feature to protect users against online data breaches. At one point, you could also use it to check into flights and track discounts.

As for the reason why Google is shutting down Duplex on the Web, TechCrunch suggests it may have something to do with the cost of training an AI to parse websites. The feature’s support page notes Google used a special user agent to crawl websites as much multiple times per day. What's more, the performance of Duplex on the Web could suffer significantly if website administrators prevented the crawler from indexing their content.

Stunning ‘The Last of Us' trailer puts Joel and Ellie's relationship in the spotlight

If the wait to watch HBO's adaptation of The Last of Us wasn't long enough already, the network has shared a new trailer for the upcoming series ahead of its January 15th release date. Clocking in at almost two-and-a-half minutes long, the clip offers our best look yet at the Craig Mazin (Chernobyl) production. And for those who may have worried that the series would hew too closely to Naughty Dog's source material, it shows the adaptation's creators weren't afraid to bring something new to the franchise. 

That's on display early on when there's a short scene of Ellie pretending to be a clicker. The exchange that follows is one of the few light-hearted moments in the trailer. Later in the clip, eagle-eyed fans will spot Ashley Johnson, the actor who voiced Ellie in the video games.  

If you're unfamiliar with The Last of Us, the trailer serves as a decent overview of the first game's story. At the center of the narrative are Joel and Ellie, played by Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey in the upcoming HBO series. Joel must escort Ellie across a post-apocalyptic version of the US in the hopes that she may be the key to protecting what's left of the world's population from a fungal infection that turns its victims into aggressive, zombie-like creatures known as the Infected.    

From all the marketing material HBO has shared to promote The Last of Us, it's clear the network has high hopes for the series. Footage from the show capped off a sizzle reel HBO uploaded earlier this year to hype its 2023 slate. 

Netflix's latest 'The Witcher: Blood Origin' trailer teases the appearance of a certain bard

With its latest Witcher franchise spinoff scheduled to arrive on December 25th, Netflix has shared a new trailer for The Witcher: Blood Origin. The approximately two-minute-long clip expands on the teaser the company uploaded last month. After most of Netflix's past promotional material for Blood Origin focused on Michelle Yeoh's character Scian, the latest trailer gives her co-stars, including Sophia Brown and Laurence O’Fuarain, a chance to shine. It probably won't surprise you to find out they're all badasses in their own way.

Set some 1,200 years before the story of Geralt and Ciri, Blood Origin promises to give fans more insight into the creation of the first witcher. You'll want to watch the clip through to the end to catch a glimpse of Jaskier (Joey Batey). It looks like everyone's favorite bard will work alongside Minnie Driver to immortalize the exploits of Scian's band of elves. When Driver announced she was joining The Witcher franchise back in September, she said her character would play a pivotal role "in connecting Blood Origin's past with The Witcher's future."

Blood Origin comes during a period of uncertainty for Netflix'sThe Witcher. The company recently announced that Henry Cavill would not return to play Geralt of Rivia after the show's third season. Liam Hemsworth will carry the series moving forward.

Twitter reinstates account of The Daily Stormer’s infamous neo-Nazi creator

Twitter has restored the account of Andrew Anglin, one of America’s most notorious neo-Nazis. The creator of the white supremacist website The Daily Stormer had been banned from the social media platform for nearly a decade. His return would appear to be part of Elon Musk’s offer of “general amnesty” to users who had “not broken the law or engaged in egregious spam.” Anglin, it should be noted, is currently in hiding while attempting to avoid a 2019 court order to pay $14 million for leading a harassment campaign against Jewish residents in Montana.

Neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin, who was booted off Twitter in 2013, has had his account restored.

— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) December 2, 2022

Shortly after regaining control of his account, Anglin tweeted a defense of Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West. “Saying you love Hitler is not even a big deal,” Anglin said, referencing Ye’s recent InfoWars interview. “No one cares about that. The man died 80 years ago.” Ye’s now-infamous interview with Alex Jones saw the rapper declare his “love” for Adolf Hitler and deny that the Holocaust had ever happened. Anglin later tweeted an endorsement of Ye’s 2024 presidential campaign.

The reinstatement comes in the same week Twitter suspended Ye for tweeting a photo of the Star of David merged with a swastika. Anglin is only one of a few prominent white nationalists to return to Twitter following Elon Musk’s takeover of the company. One estimate by software engineer Travis Brown suggests Twitter has restored as many as 12,000 accounts since October 27th, including those belonging to Richard Spencer and Patrick Casey.

White nationalist Patrick Casey, who has repeatedly ban evaded on Twitter, (, claimed that he has been reinstated on the platform. Casey thanked Twitter owner Elon Musk for the supposed development.

— Alex Kaplan (@AlKapDC) November 30, 2022

The return of even just one avowed neo-Nazi is likely to reinforce fears from civil rights groups, advertisers and governments over Elon Musk's handling of the platform. On November 26th, the billionaire claimed hate speech impressions had recently decreased compared to October last year. However, findings from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, the Anti-Defamation League and other groups that study online platforms suggest that there’s been a dramatic increase in the prevalence of hate speech on Twitter since Musk’s takeover.

John Wick's creator is writing a movie based on 'Sifu'

John Wick creator Derek Kolstad is working on yet another videogame adaptation. Fresh off the news that he's writing and producing a Streets of Rage film, it emerged that Kolstad is taking on the same duties for a live-action movie based on Sifu.

Kolstad and his partners at media company Story Kitchen have teamed up with Sifu developer and publisher Sloclap, as Deadline reports. The beat-'em-up proved a hit when it was released in February, as it sold a million copies in three weeks — despite Elden Ring and Horizon Forbidden West arriving at around the same time. What makes Sifu stand out from the pact is that every time the protagonist dies in their quest for vengeance, they get older but their enemies stay the same age.

That hook alone gives a screenwriter a lot of intriguing possibilities. The one vs. many aspect of Sifu seems right up Kolstad's alley as well, given his experience with the John Wick franchise and Nobody. As if all that wasn't enough, Kolstad is also behind Netflix's Splinter Cell, an upcoming animated series based on Ubisoft's games.

Engadget Podcast: Kindle Scribe review and the rise of Twitter clones

Finally, a Kindle you can write on! This week, we dive into Cherlynn’s review of the Kindle Scribe, Amazon’s first e-reader that can also capture handwritten notes. The hardware is great, but as usual, Amazon’s software feels half-baked. Also, Devindra and Cherlynn discuss the rise of new Twitter alternatives like Hive Social and Post. It looks like many communities are already splintering off to these services, but unfortunately, they can’t yet replicate the magic of Twitter.

Listen below 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 out our other podcasts, the Morning After and Engadget News!



  • Kindle Scribe review – 1:13

  • Rise of the Twitter clones: Hive Social, Post, and Mastodon – 19:28

  • Amazon will lose $10 billion on its Alexa division this year – 34:12

  • We’ve got a new trailer for the Super Mario Bros. animated movie – 38:01

  • Working on – 43:58

  • Pop culture picks – 45:30


Hosts: Cherlynn Low and Devindra Hardawar
Producer: Ben Ellman
Music: Dale North and Terrence O'Brien
Livestream producers: Julio Barrientos
Graphic artists: Luke Brooks and Brian Oh

Ye's Twitter account suspended again following swastika tweet

Twitter has given Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, a 12-hour suspension after he tweeted a photo of the Star of David merged with the swastika. In a public exchange on Twitter, website owner Elon Musk told the rapper that tweeting a photo of him being hosed down on a yacht is fine, but tweeting the antisemitic image is not. After that, Ye posted a screenshot of his account on Truth Social, the social media platform backed by Donald Trump, showing that his account has been limited for 12 hours for violating Twitter's terms of service. 

Ye also shared a screenshot of his private exchange with Musk, wherein the executive said: "Sorry, but you have gone too far. This is not love." In a couple of follow-up tweets, Musk said he tried his best to communicate with Ye, but the rapper still chose to violate Twitter's rule against inciting violence. Twitter suspended Ye in October for posting antisemitic messages that said he would go "death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE." His account was reinstated in November, along with other controversial personalities', such as former President Donald Trump's and Marjorie Taylor Greene's.

Shortly after he was suspended on both Twitter and Instagram in October, Ye entered a deal to acquire the "free speech" social media app Parler. "In a world where conservative opinions are considered to be controversial we have to make sure we have the right to freely express ourselves," Ye said back then. Yesterday, however, Parlement announced that the acquisition will no longer push through. While Parler said that they had mutually agreed to "terminate the intent of sale" in mid-November, the news came out after Ye's guesting on Alex Jones' podcast InfoWars. During the interview, Ye went on an antisemitic tirade, wherein he denied that the Holocause had happened while praising Nazis and Hitler.

'The Mandalorian' season 3 arrives on March 1st

Mandalorian fans, you can now fire up your calendars and add a very important reminder for March 1st, 2023. The third season of The Mandalorian will premiere that day and will be available for streaming on Disney+, the show's official Twitter account has revealed. Disney was originally aiming for a February 2023 release date, as Ars Technica notes, but a short delay isn't too bad. 

The company released its first teaser trailer for the show at this year's D23 Expo in September, showing Grogu (formerly known as baby Yoda on the internet) and Mando (or Din Djarin) reunited. If you'll recall, the Grogu left with Luke Skywalker by the end of season 2 to finish his Force training at the latter's Jedi Temple. The trailer also gives us a glimpse of Mando dealing with the consequences of removing his helmet and showing his face to other people, which is a huge no-no for members of his religious sect

The Mandalorian and Grogu return March 1 only on @DisneyPlus.

— The Mandalorian (@themandalorian) December 1, 2022

By the time season 3 comes out, it would've been over two years after the release of the show's second season. That said, Mando and Grogu were featured in The Book of Boba Fett, which was a spin-off of The Mandalorian released last year. Grogu also got the Hayao Miyazaki treatment for the Lucasfilm-Studio Ghibli animated short Zen - Grogu and Dust Bunnies that was released for streaming in November. 

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates Jerry Lawson, the ‘father of the video game cartridge’

Google’s interactive Doodle today celebrates the life and accomplishments of video game pioneer Gerald “Jerry” Lawson on what would have been his 82nd birthday. The Doodle lets you play five retro pixel-art platformers in your browser — with two even letting you play as Lawson. The Doodles’ creators want to inspire young people to follow in his footsteps, and it includes a built-in level editor and creator to nudge them on that path.

Lawson was known as the “father of the video game cartridge,” which he developed as Director of Engineering and Marketing at Fairchild Semiconductor. In 1976, the company released the Fairchild Channel F home console, with Lawson serving as lead developer. The Channel F (the “F” stood for “fun”) was the first system with interchangeable game cartridges, a novel concept in an era when games were permanently coded into hardware. Interchangeable ROM-based cartridges were a massive breakthrough that let users build entire libraries rather than playing one game ad nauseam.


Today’s Doodle includes games from guest artists and game designers Davionne Gooden, Lauren Brown and Momo Pixel. “The concept starts with the player as a little Jerry Lawson,” explained Brown. “This takes us through anecdotes about Jerry’s life, parts of his journey that he went about to create the cartridge. Once you complete the level, you then get to create your own game with an editor that allows you to reimagine the level design and innovate like Jerry Lawson did.”

Along with the cartridge advancement, Lawson’s Channel F was the first console with an eight-way joystick and a pause menu. Although it wasn’t a commercial success, Channel F’s innovations would influence later systems that dominated home gaming over the following decades — it was a predecessor to platforms like the Atari 2600 and the Nintendo Entertainment System. Even in today’s world of always-online digital games, the top-selling console — the Nintendo Switch — still (optionally) uses a form of cartridges.

Lawson faced considerable challenges during his early years at Fairchild as an African-Amercan man in a field that wasn't known for being racially diverse. He noted that working as an engineer as a 6-foot-6-inch Black man would surprise people, with some reacting with “total shock” when they saw him for the first time. Additionally, he was one of only two Black members of the Homebrew Computing Club. This group included Apple co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, along with other Silicon Valley pioneers.

The Estate of Jerry Lawson

After his innovations at Fairchild, Lawson left in 1980 to start his own company, VideoSoft, one of the first Black-owned video game development firms. VideoSoft closed five years later, and Lawson consulted engineering and video game companies for the rest of his career. He passed away in 2011 at 70 from diabetes complications.

“When people play this Doodle, I hope they’re inspired to be imaginative,” said Anderson Lawson, Jerry’s son. “And I hope that some little kid somewhere that looks like me wants to get into game development. Hearing about my father’s story makes them feel like they can.”

LinkedIn's Focused Inbox sifts through spammy DMs so you don't have to

I don’t know about your LinkedIn experience, but each time I visit the website I find my inbox flooded with messages. Most aren’t even worth reading, but a few inevitably promise new career opportunities and the chance to work with interesting people.

LinkedIn wants to make it easier to find those messages quickly. Starting today, the social network is rolling out a new feature called Focused Inbox. It separates your inbox into two tabs titled “Focused” and “Other.” A machine learning algorithm will then do its best to flag messages that include the most relevant outreach to you and push them to the top of the Focused tab. If you don’t find the feature useful, you can switch to the old interface at any time.

LinkedIn’s hope is that the feature helps people be more productive. The Focused Inbox comes at a time when the company says more of its users are turning to its instant messaging feature to communicate. In the last year, LinkedIn says it has seen a 20 percent increase in those types of chats.