Posts with «author_name|mat smith» label

The Morning After: The best fitness trackers

Happy Friday! In yesterday’s newsletter, I explained how Apple was thriving in the world of wearables, but not everyone wants so many notification pings and a watch that needs charging daily. There is still very much a place for simpler wearables, and as we’re approaching holiday season, most of them are also less pricey than the high-end options from Apple, Samsung and Garmin.

Fortunately, we have Valentina Palladino on staff. She’s written about wearables for years, even before joining the Engadget team. She's now laid out what fitness trackers are capable of in 2021 and whether you should go for one or shop around smartwatches instead. Spoiler alert: Our top pick is a Fitbit.

— Mat Smith

Nanoleaf Lines are customizable smart light bars

Create line drawings or pretty patterns along your wall.

Nanoleaf Lines

Nanoleaf’s stylish light-up tiles adorn plenty of modern homes (and YouTuber backdrops), but the company has added an even more customizable shape: lines. The Nanoleaf Line is a backlight LED light bar roughly 11 inches long. It can join to its siblings at either end or at a 60-degree angle. Nanoleaf Lines are available to pre-order today, with the nine-line starter kit setting you back $200, while three-line add-on packs will cost $80.

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Planet orbiting a dead star teases our own solar system's fate

Astronomers discovered a Jupiter-sized planet orbiting a white dwarf.

Scientists have spotted a Jupiter-like exoplanet orbiting a dead star that was once like our sun. According to a paper in the journal Nature, the white dwarf star and planet around 6,500 light years away provides a preview of what will happen to our own solar system in approximately five billion years. The finding indicates that planets with wide orbits are probably more common than inner planets. It also shows that some of our solar system's worlds may survive the Sun's death. Probably not Earth, however.

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What to expect from Apple’s October 18th Unleashed event

It’s Mac time.

Engadget

On October 18th, Apple will hold its second event of the fall, and judging by the rumors, it’s likely to be a Mac-centric show. Let Igor Bonifacic walk you through our preview, from MacBook Pros to possibly cheaper AirPods.

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Apple extends repair program for crackling AirPods Pro buds

It's now active until October 2022.

Last year, Apple launched a repair/replacement program for AirPods Pro units experiencing sound issues, such as crackling or static. It was only supposed to last for two years after the buds were first sold on October 30th, 2019, which means the program was going to come to a close in a couple of weeks. As first noticed by someone on Reddit, though, Apple has quietly updated its program's information page to extend its availability. "The program covers affected AirPods Pro for three years after the first retail sale of the unit," the updated page reads. Funnily enough, I got my own crackling AirPods Pro fixed just last weekend.

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HTC’s Vive Flow is a lighter VR headset built for entertainment and wellness

It’ll cost $500.

HTC

As the rumors earlier yesterday suggested, HTC has revealed a new kind of VR headset. The HTC Vive Flow is a pair of glasses weighing just 189 grams (6.6 ounces). They pair with a smartphone to let you play VR content or simply watch TV. It’s pitched as both entertainment and a meditative device.

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The biggest news stories you might have missed

Engadget Deals: A bunch of Bose headphones and earbuds are on sale at Amazon right now

Volvo reveals its first vehicle made of fossil-free steel

Microsoft to shut down LinkedIn in China over 'challenging operating environment'

Spotify opens its Car Thing waitlist to all US users

The 'Lower Decks' season two finale is Star Trek at its best

Missouri governor threatens to prosecute journalist for sharing web security flaw

US Army delays Microsoft's $22 billion HoloLens deal

Ghost Robotics strapped a gun to its robot dog

The Morning After: Apple Watch Series 7, reviewed

Apple still dominates the world of wearables. Over the last year, research company Canalys noted that smartwatch sales have actually overtaken basic bands and now account for 62 percent of all wearable shipments. And Apple’s versions lays claim to just under a third of all smartwatches sold.

Engadget

That’s interesting because you need an iOS device to setup and use an Apple Watch, so the company has discounted all the Android phone users that might be interested in an Apple smartwatch. I’ve played with Fitbits, Samsung Galaxy Watches and the occasional Garmin, even, but nothing quite offers the capabilities and premium build-quality of an Apple Watch. (And this comes from someone who was averse to — and still bought — the first Apple smartwatch.)

So here we are for round 7. Apple’s Watch Series 7 goes on sale this Friday, and there seems to be a lot of interest in the bigger-screened watch, with pre-order screens soon showing early November delivery dates when Apple opened up orders. If you’ve already pre-ordered, well you probably don’t care about reviews! For the rest of us, Reviews Editor Cherlynn Low has put the wearable through its paces for the last week. We’ll take a closer look at her review below.

— Mat Smith

William Shatner becomes the oldest person to reach space

The Star Trek legend's Blue Origin flight went smoothly.

William Shatner has become the oldest person to fly to space. The 90-year-old Star Trek icon was one of four crew members aboard Blue Origin's NS-18 mission as it flew to an altitude of 66 miles. The sci-fi actor and random Engadget nemesis (there was a whole Twitter beef) edged out 82-year-old aviation pioneer Wally Funk, who set the previous age record just a few months ago.

It's also some good publicity for Blue Origin. Jeff Bezos' private spaceflight outfit is currently grappling with accusations of a toxic work environment, not to mention the fallout of its legal tussle with SpaceX over NASA's Moon mission contract.

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Apple Watch Series 7 review

It’s all about the screen

According to Cherlynn Low, just a little bit more screen makes a huge difference on a device this small. Though it’s otherwise not a huge upgrade over its predecessor, the Apple Watch Series 7’s bigger screen makes it more user-friendly than ever. It’s a solid choice for anyone new to smartwatches or who's upgrading from a much older device. If you’re a Series 6 owner, however, you could probably wait until the next update. And if you’re looking for substantial sleep tracking, the Apple Watch still won’t be the right wearable for you.

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Apple may be exploring ways to use AirPods as health devices

They could potentially take your temperature and even check your posture.

Oh, the other wearable. Wall Street Journal sources claim Apple is exploring multiple ways it can use AirPods as health devices. It might use the buds as hearing aids, but it could also use the motion sensors to correct your posture. A prototype would even include a thermometer to check your core body temperature.

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HTC Vive Flow headset images leak days before reported launch

The device will set you back $499, according to the leaked images.

Evleaks

HTC is expected to launch a new VR headset within the week, but some leaked images have spoiled the party. A collection of Vive Flow images made its way online, courtesy of Evleaks over on Twitter, before the launch event. Looking like a lightweight steampunk VR fantasy, the goggles appear to be more for media viewing and light gaming than more substantial (or business-centric) capabilities. The images suggest the Vive Flow will be available for pre-order starting on October 15th, with shipments going out in early November.

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Facebook’s latest effort to curtail leaks immediately leaked

The social network is trying to lock down access to sensitive info.

Facebook is ramping up its fight against leakers following the disclosures of whistleblower Frances Haugen. According to a report from The New York Times, Facebook is limiting access to some internal groups that deal with “sensitive” issues like safety and elections. The change, which was made to prevent further leaks, immediately leaked. Which is hilarious.

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Bowers & Wilkins' new Zeppelin speaker was built for streaming

It'll come with built-in Alexa and cost $799.

Bowers & Wilkins has launched a new version of its iconic Zeppelin speaker, and the company says it was reimagined for the streaming age. It describes the new Zeppelin as "smarter and more flexible" than its predecessors, with built-in support for Amazon's Alexa.

B&W plans to give it multi-room capability in early 2022 through a software update. Once that arrives, users will be able to link several Zeppelins together or link a Zeppelin with other B&W speakers in a multi-room environment. A chain of Zeppelin speakers isn’t a cheap endeavor, however. Each new speaker will cost $799.

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Fujifilm launches its first wide-format Instax Link smartphone printer

Print Polaroid-like snapshots from your smartphone.

Fujifilm

Fujifilm has revealed a new Instax printer that supports its wider, more Polaroid-like film. The Instax Link Wide Smartphone printer connects to your smartphone and prints out camera roll photos twice as wide as the credit-card-sized images from the original Instax mini Link printer. You can also directly transfer and print images from Fujifilm's X-S10 mirrorless camera.

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The biggest news stories you might have missed

Sony's new zoom lens has features designed for video creators

Anker's audio glasses pair swappable frames with 'surround' sound for $200

Bose's new rugged Bluetooth speaker floats in water

Riot Games disables all chat in 'League of Legends'

'Call of Duty: Warzone' and 'Vanguard' anti-cheat updates include a kernel-level driver

Roland SP-404MKII sampler hands-on: Dragging an iconic sampler into the modern age

AMD's Radeon RX 6600 is a $329 GPU for 1080p gaming

The Morning After: Someone made a USB-C iPhone

Years ago, I wrote this piece about how I really wanted the iPhone to adopt USB-C and retire its Lightning connector. This was just after the advent of the company’s first iPhone Pro models with pro level features, like surgical-grade stainless steel and, er, three cameras. Fast-forward to now, just after the launch of the iPhone 13 series, and I still don’t have my USB-C iPhone. Fortunately, there are engineers that like a challenge. 

On his YouTube channel, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology student Ken Pillonel teased an iPhone X with a USB-C port, promising a full video later on how it was done. In an earlier video, he also explained how he reverse-engineered the Lightning connector, pulling out an integrated circuit from a third-party cable and hooking it all up to a USB-C connector. Yes, this is not something most of us should attempt. 

It’s certainly possible for Apple to do the same, given the iPad Pro and new mini have USB-C ports. Europe recently proposed USB-C charging as standard for all phones and electronic devices — which may speed up Apple’s adoption. 

— Mat Smith

Google countersues Epic Games for sidestepping fees on in-app purchases

It said the company ‘willfully breached’ its Play Store developer agreement.

Google has countersued Epic Games over in-app purchases on Fortnite, saying it "willfully breached" its Play Store developer agreement. Epic originally sued Google in August, shortly after it filed a complaint against, and was countersued by, Apple. "Epic has alternatively been unjustly enriched at Google's expense," the company said in its complaint. 

In case you forgot, Epic sued Google when it removed Fortnite from its Play Store after a Mega Drop update gave players a way to bypass Play and get discounted items.

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Apple is holding its next event on October 18th

Didn’t we just have an Apple event?

Apple

Apple will hold a second fall product event on October 18th at 1 PM ET. The invitation for the virtual Unleashed presentation doesn't provide many clues, but we’re expecting to see 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros, powered by souped-up M1X processors.

Apple might also introduce third-generation 'basic' AirPods — headphones we thought we’d see at the iPhone just months ago.

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Motorola Edge (2021) review

Improvements where they were needed most.

Engadget

Motorola’s Edge, updated for 2021, still makes compromises but in adding a fast 144Hz display, a more consistent fingerprint sensor and better software support, it addresses many of the shortcomings of its predecessor. If you can forgive the middling camera and its missing wireless charging, there’s a lot to like about this phone. For now, the unlocked 256GB model is $600, but it will eventually cost $700. Another strong midrange phone is here.

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Tile teases its first ultra-wideband tracker to go up against Apple’s AirTags

The company has also upgraded its existing lineup.

Tile is making a tracker that uses both ultra-wideband (UWB) and Bluetooth and will work across both Android and iOS. UWB devices can transmit directional and spatial data to narrow down their location more accurately than over Bluetooth alone.

The Tile Ultra tracker's Point and Locate feature lets you use augmented reality to find the item with turn-by-turn directions and a visual indicator of where the tracker is. Tile's working with Google to refine the feature for Android 12 and UWB-capable phones. It’s set to arrive in early 2022.

Until then, the company has announced the new Tile Pro, as well as revamped versions of Sticker, Slim and Mate trackers. The Pro is the company's most powerful tag to date, with a finding range of 400 feet.

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Netgear's new quad-band WiFi 6E mesh router costs $1,500

For that premium router feel.

Netgear

How much would you pay for the fastest home wireless networks possible? At least it’s a three-pack.

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VanMoof's fastest e-bike yet tops out at 31MPH

The company plans to start shipping its first hyperbike in late 2022.

VanMoof

E-bike maker VanMoof wants to get riders from A to B more swiftly with its first high-speed model. The VanMoof V is the company’s first hyperbike, which will be able to hit a top speed of 31MPH (50KMH).

VanMoof is pitching this as a car replacement for city life and longer commutes, but as speed limits for e-bikes vary across cities and counties, the e-bike will have matching integrated speed settings. As it develops the VanMoof V, the company plans to work with lawmakers and governments on e-bike rules, including geofencing and speed regulations.

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The biggest news stories you might have missed

Withings' ScanWatch is finally coming to the US after FDA clearance

LG will cover nearly the entire cost of GM's Chevy Bolt EV recall

1Password's new feature lets you safely share passwords using just a link

Google will stop trying to make its iOS apps look like Android apps

Lucid details the Air's semi-autonomous driving features

G4 will return to TV on November 16th

The Morning After: 15 years of Google Docs

Google Docs is one of the company’s slow-burn hits. When it appeared 15 years ago, most of us (definitely me) were doing our word processing on Microsoft Office’s Word. It was the defacto option whether you were dealing in PC documents as a worker or a student.

Then Google’s Docs and Sheets, cloud-based applications that let you collaborate with others in real-time, appeared in beta. Deputy Managing Editor Nathan Ingraham has charted the course of Google Docs so far, as well as where it might go next, but I recall being an early adopter of Google’s Office rival.

Due to health issues, I had to repeat a year of my degree studies and split my time between my university and my hometown, which were hundreds of miles apart. It was a time of desktop PCs, library computers and generally anything to do with a PC was more work! I used Docs to draft, write and publish my final-year economics dissertation, even using Sheets for my provincial theories and data analysis on financial returns to higher education.

It was a revelation — Docs, I mean, not my project. I didn’t have to fear a USB drive not working on public PCs and could open the document wherever there was a PC and an internet connection. Of course, from then on, whether it was studies, work or personal projects, the biggest challenge 15 years ago was convincing others to make the switch from the costs-real-money Microsoft Word. That battle continues to this day.

— Mat Smith

Roving bands of Ford ‘Charge Angels’ will repair EV charging stations

The first ones will hit the road later this year.

With the F-150 Lightning set to debut early next year, Ford plans to employ a group of Charge Angels to ensure its EV owners can find reliable charging when they need it. In an interview with Automotive News, the company introduced the Charge Angels technicians. They’ll travel the US in specially equipped Mustang Mach-Es to test charging stations where connected vehicle data and “angry social media posts” indicate they may not be working properly.

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Ford's Mach-E GT is an American muscle car for the 21st century

Testing the 480 horsepower Mustang EV.

Engadget

Talking of Mustangs, can an EV offer the thrill of a muscle car of the past? As Andrew Tarantola puts it, nostalgia is a hell of a drug and he has fond car memories from tearing up San Francisco’s streets in a 65 outfitted with a drag racing suspension. For him, it’s difficult to reconcile that the Mustang is now an SUV and, despite its overwhelming power, it still drives like one.

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Spongebob Squarepants is now an Xbox Series X

I’ll take the Ninja Turtles one.

Microsoft

I never wanted an Xbox Series X. Until now.

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Facebook whistleblower will brief the company’s Oversight Board on cross check rules for VIPs

'Facebook has lied to the board repeatedly,’ Haugen said in a statement.

Members of Facebook’s Oversight Board will meet with whistleblower Frances Haugen as they investigate the company’s controversial cross check system. “In light of the serious claims made about Facebook by Ms. Haugen, we have extended an invitation for her to speak to the board over the coming weeks, which she has accepted,” the Oversight Board wrote in a statement.

Cross check was a central issue in the Oversight Board’s handling of Donald Trump’s Facebook suspension. The board had asked Facebook for more details about cross check, saying the company’s rules “should apply to all users.”

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Our first impressions of 'Forza Horizon 5'

With a heavy Ford Bronco bias.

Microsoft

Playground Games’ open-world racing series Forza Horizon is almost ready for the next generation of consoles — and your PC. As Senior Editor Jessica Conditt puts it, “Horizon is the chill, microdosing cousin of Forza Motorsport, with festival vibes, ridiculous race tracks set in lush environments.”

Forza Horizon 5 is due out on November 9th and will be included in Xbox Game Pass. 

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The biggest news stories you might have missed

Amazon one-day sale takes up to 52 percent off WD and SanDisk storage

Apple's MacBook Air M1 returns to record low of $850 at Amazon

California could ban gas-powered generators and mowers by 2024

Apple's AirPods Max headphones are $100 off at Amazon

Gogoro launches its battery-swapping tech in China

'Prodigy' is a kid-friendly Star Trek show taking the right lessons from Star Wars

GM begins replacing recalled Chevy Bolt batteries

The Morning After: The Internet Archive imagines a grim future of the internet

Browsing the internet has gotten better in many ways. Richer design, more interactivity, embedded media, faster speeds for doing everything. But the internet is also worse in places: more attempts to illegally steal your personal information or legally track your footprints through the web. I click on one Pokémon plushie an Engadget colleague shared with me (guess who), and my embedded ads across sites are now mired in Pokémon detritus.

The Internet Archive has concocted a thought experiment to celebrate its 25th anniversary, imagining how the web might look another 25 years from now. Paste a site’s URL into the Wayforward Machine and you'll see a version of that page covered in pop-ups. The messages include one reading "Classified content. The website you are trying to access features information that the owner(s) have opted to restrict to users that have not shared their personal information."

Another, in Orwellian wording, says: "This site contains information that is currently classified as Thought Crime in your region." The Internet Archive created a subsite that features a timeline of fictional changes, including a law allowing corporations to copyright facts, leading to Wikipedia moving to the Dark Web, which would be pretty incredible.

— Mat Smith

Watch the first trailer for 'Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City'

The reboot hits movie theaters on November 24th.

Sony Pictures

Sony Pictures has provided a taste of what's in store with the first trailer. Writer and director Johannes Roberts (47 Meters Down) said earlier this year he was taking the franchise back to its horror roots, and well, the trailer backs up those comments. Expect lickers, zombie dogs and plenty of good old-fashioned zombies.

Watch here.

YouTube's accessibility upgrades include multiple audio tracks

Automatic captions are now available for streams of any size, too.

YouTube is expanding video accessibility for viewers with sight issues and those beyond the English-speaking world. It’s currently testing the option of adding multiple audio tracks to videos. While this will help international viewers — if you have the ability to add other language dubs — it should also enable descriptive audio for people with little-to-no vision. YouTube said the feature will land in the next few quarters.

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YouTube cancels its divisive Rewind annual highlight reel

It won’t be missed.

In more good news, YouTube has confirmed its annual Rewind video won’t be returning. Rewind debuted in 2010 but struggled in recent years. In particular, with Rewind 2018, many felt the video ignored major creators on the platform, like Pewdiepie, while elevating people who were famous outside of YouTube. Never forget that Will Smith, er, moment.

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Microsoft made a translucent controller for the Xbox's 20th birthday

It will go on sale exactly 20 years after the release of the original Xbox.

Microsoft

Microsoft plans to celebrate the birthday of its first-ever home system by putting out a handful of translucent accessories, including the Xbox Series X/S controller you see here.

According to Microsoft, the translucent design is a reference to the see-through controllers it shipped with the original Xbox debug kit. I have all the time in the world for translucent gadgets, having already installed see-through cases for my Switch’s Joy-Cons. This is a good way to celebrate a console’s milestone.

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Tesla is moving its headquarters to Texas from California

In a state where it can't directly sell its cars to locals.

Tesla isn't just building a factory in Austin, Texas — it's also moving its headquarters there, too.

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Panasonic’s new camera is another cube with a giant lens attached to it

It’s an S1H in a different shape.

Panasonic

In 2020, Panasonic announced the BGH1, its first-ever box-style camera. This was pretty much its GH5S rehoused in a body better suited for video production. Now, it’s time for an upgrade. Panasonic has announced the DC-BS1H. It’s the full-frame S1H in a new body.

Specifications include a 24.2-megapixel CMOS sensor that can capture footage up to a 6K resolution. Panasonic claims the BS1H’s sensor features more than 14 stops of dynamic range and includes an optical low-pass filter along with dual native ISO, all aimed at reducing moiré and noise.

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The biggest news stories you might have missed


What kind of show was Marvel's 'What If…?' meant to be?

Google turns its AI on traffic lights to reduce pollution

Disney may be developing a 'WandaVision' spin-off starring Kathryn Hahn

US Justice Department forms a cryptocurrency enforcement team

The Morning After: The verdict on Nintendo’s OLED Switch

If you wanted to own a Nintendo Switch, you probably have one by now, unless you were waiting for the long-rumored Pro model. Sadly, the OLED Switch, which we put through its paces here, is not the 4K-upscaling, next-gen Nintendo console we dreamed of.

Engadget

It does, however, pack a bigger gorgeous OLED screen, better battery life (despite what appears to be the same internal parts) and a slightly more modern design. That means fewer bezels, a kickstand you might actually use and a redesigned dock.

The biggest question is: Who is this for? Both the original Switch and the Lite are cheaper and offer largely the same gaming experience — if you play through a TV, it’s exactly the same.

For the early adopters — or handheld gamers — the OLED model appears more attractive. A bigger screen and better battery life are both boons for mobile gamers. But is it enough for you to stump up $350, especially when we’re all waiting for Nintendo to announce a more notable console upgrade. Despite Nintendo's upfront denial, a new console can’t be too far away. The question for would-be OLED Switch buyers is: How long till the next Nintendo console arrives? Read Kris Naudus' full review right here.

— Mat Smith

Twitch responds to massive data breach

It says it was “due to an error in a Twitch server configuration.”

Reuters

Twitch has released an update on a massive hack that appears to have exposed source code, streamer payment figures and other information. It said data was exposed to the internet "due to an error in a Twitch server configuration change that was subsequently accessed by a malicious third party." It added its teams are working with "urgency" to investigate the attack. The streaming site believes no login credentials, including passwords, were exposed.

Yesterday, attackers said they stole the "entirety of Twitch.tv," including the site's mobile, desktop and console Twitch clients. It also accessed proprietary SDKs and internal AWS services. All of this could make Twitch vulnerable to future attacks by letting potential hackers probe for weaknesses.

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Apple says apps must offer a way to delete your account starting in early 2022

Users in some countries have another way to report issues with apps, too.

Developers who let users create an account in their iOS, iPadOS and macOS apps will have to offer a method of deleting accounts in apps from January 31st. Apple announced this requirement, alongside other App Store guideline changes, at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference back in June as part of a push to give users more control over their data.

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One person’s quest for the perfect wireless mouse

Click here.

Engadget

Mice are not sexy computer peripherals. But for those of us tethered to computer screens, they’re often crucial. James Trew, while negotiating some pretty bad RSI, decided it was time to upgrade his setup and tested out mice from some of the biggest companies, including Microsoft and Logitech. His demands were humble enough: a focus on ergonomics. But which mouse won out?

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European Parliament calls for a ban on facial recognition in public spaces

It wants to prohibit private facial recognition databases like Clearview AI.

The European Parliament has called on lawmakers in the European Union to ban automated facial recognition in public spaces and to enforce strict safeguards for police use of artificial intelligence.

MEPs (members of European Parliament) said citizens should only be monitored when they're suspected of a crime. They cited concerns over algorithmic bias in AI and argued both human supervision and legal protections are required to avoid discrimination.

The MEPs also called on EU officials to ban private facial recognition databases (some law enforcement agencies in Europe are using Clearview AI's one), as well as "predictive policing based on behavioral data."

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Google Maps adds a dedicated 'lite' navigation mode for cyclists

You won't need to enter the full turn-by-turn interface to use the feature.

Google Maps is adding a dedicated navigation mode for those who like to travel from place to place on two wheels. Taking the turn-by-turn functionality that Maps is known for, the tool allows you to see important details about your current trip without keeping your phone’s screen turned on. You don’t need to enter the full turn-by-turn interface to use the feature. At a glance, you’ll also see your current ETA.

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HMD's first Nokia tablet features a huge battery and costs $250

The T20 can go nearly 15 hours between charges and offers optional LTE.

Nokia has dabbled in tablets before, like the iPad knockoff N1, but has only released smartphones since the brand was purchased by HMD Global. Now, HMD/Nokia have launched their first tablet together, the 10.4-inch T20, with the key features being a large battery, cheap price and US availability.

While you don’t get bombshell looks for that $250 price tag, the specs, at least, seem respectable for a cheap Android tablet and HMD’s track record with Nokia phones has been pretty strong, offering solid smartphones at pretty reasonable prices. The Nokia T20 is available from today.

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GM unveils a hands-free driving system that works in nearly all of the US and Canada

That includes highways, city streets and virtually any paved rural road.

Since General Motors introduced its Super Cruise driver-assist system back in 2017, GM and Cadillac drivers have apparently traveled more than 10 million miles with their hands off the wheel.

With its next-generation hands-free system, Ultra Cruise, GM claims will "ultimately enable hands-free driving in 95 percent of all driving scenarios." Ultra is designed to work virtually everywhere in the US and Canada. At launch, the system should work on 2 million miles of North American roads — that includes highways, city and subdivision streets and paved rural roads — and will eventually expand to encompass some 3.4 million miles of asphalt.

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The biggest news stories you might have missed

Facebook is slowing down product development for 'reputational reviews,' report says

WHO approves the world's first malaria vaccine

T-Mobile wireless home internet service now costs $10 less

Canon created a dual fisheye lens for a new VR video system

Amazon secures giant tax breaks despite record profits and questionable labor practices

JLab's $79 wireless office headset has a removable earcup and a 60-hour battery

AT&T is reportedly One America News' primary financial backer

The Morning After: Facebook's October 4th outage, explained

We’ll get into why Facebook saw its entire business fall off a cliff on Monday, but first: e-readers.

It’s a device category we don’t see much development in — probably because it’s very much a device for reading text and not much else. Amazon’s Kindle, thanks to its powerful online e-book store, generally has the category sewn up, with several e-reader options from luxe to sometimes-$60 slates.

But I love an underdog — and most things with an e-ink display. Like this and this.

Kobo

So I have time for Kobo's new $260 Sage e-reader, which lets you add handwritten notes with a stylus. It has an 8-inch 1,440 x 1,920 e-ink screen that adjusts brightness and color depending on the time of day. You can also convert to plain text your handwritten e-notes made on e-books and PDFs and send them to other devices — a feature Kobo already offered on its larger and more expensive $399 Elipsa.

If you’re looking for an e-reader that doesn’t have Amazon hooks — or you need to take notes on your e-books — you can pre-order the Sage now. It starts shipping on October 19th.

— Mat Smith

Facebook explains how its October 4th outage started

It should have been routine maintenance.

Following the massive service outage that took out all of its services, Facebook has published a blog post detailing what happened. According to Santosh Janardhan, the company's vice president of infrastructure, the outage started with what should have been routine maintenance.

A command was issued that was supposed to assess the availability of the backbone network that connects all of Facebook’s disparate computing facilities. Instead, the order unintentionally took all those connections down. Matters were made worse because the outage made it impossible for Facebook engineers to connect to the servers they needed to fix.

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Microsoft Surface Pro 8 review

It addresses many of our earlier complaints, but that price…

Engadget

The Surface Pro 8 addresses many of the issues we had with the Pro 7, including a gorgeous premium design. Editor-in-Chief Dana Wollman put the hybrid device through its paces, and she particularly loved the 120Hz display.

But the starting price ($1,100) is higher than its predecessor — still not including a keyboard. That makes it tougher to justify picking the Surface Pro 8 over a comparably priced laptop. Especially at a time when there are so many excellent options to choose from. 

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Surface Laptop Studio review

A better Surface Book, a missed opportunity

Engadget

Oh, we’re not done. Microsoft’s Laptop Studio was also in for review. Devindra Hardawar tested it out, and he believes the Surface Laptop Studio is a solid successor to the Surface Book. While it’s faster than the Book 3, and it has a gorgeous, flexible screen, it’s oddly lacking in sheer CPU power compared to the competition. He explains all in his full review.

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The Kingdom Hearts trilogy is coming to Nintendo Switch

But in streaming cloud form.

The three main Kingdom Hearts games are coming to Nintendo Switch. You'll be able to play Kingdom Hearts - HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMix, Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue and Kingdom Hearts III. They're all cloud streaming games on Switch, so you'll need a good internet connection to play them. The news came off the back of the announcement that Kingdom Hearts protagonist, Sora, will be final character to join Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Sora means ‘sky’ in Japanese, so there’s some irony in the game series being streamed from the cloud.

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Google’s Pixel 6 launch event happens on October 19th

Find out all about the company's latest flagship phones.

The company plans to reveal everything there is to know about the Pixel 6 lineup on October 19th at 1 PM ET. Months ago, the company spilled some info on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, including what the phones look like. In August, Google said Tensor, the first system-on-chip it designed, will feature in the new additions to the Pixel series.

Expect some substantial camera upgrades, with the Pixel 6 Pro packing 4x optical zoom and an additional telephoto option. In comparison, Apple’s iPhone 13 Pro tops out at 3x optical zoom.

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The Morning After: Facebook's empire goes offline

I locked myself out of my apartment yesterday. It’s a rare occurrence, but when it does happen, I usually text my building’s WhatsApp group, begging someone to buzz me in. So it was not a great time for Facebook’s entire network, including WhatsApp, Instagram (oh and Oculus), to collapse for six hours.

While it’s unclear exactly what happened, during the downtime, the company’s outgoing Chief Technology Officer, Michael Schroepfer, said it was due to “networking issues.”

Even within Facebook, the issues reportedly led to employees being unable to access emails, Workplace and other tools. The New York Times reported that employees were also physically locked out of offices as workers’ badges stopped working. Poor Facebook.

By 6 PM ET yesterday, most of the services were back, though Facebook for Business Status page still showed "major disruptions" to core services. On Facebook — when it was back online — CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologized for the services going down.

That didn’t help me with my low-priority problem. Fortunately, I gleaned some of my neighbor’s phone numbers from WhatsApp, and sent a few SMS SOSes, ‘00s style. Twenty minutes later, I was finally back in my home.

— Mat Smith

Engadget reviews Windows 11

Microsoft’s most pleasant OS — until it isn't.

Engadget

Windows 11 is almost here, and it is (generally) a solid step forward aesthetically from Windows 10. According to Devindra Hardawar, some of the changes may annoy long-time users. It’s a more secure OS as well, but that also means it’s more restrictive, hardware-wise, and potentially harder to upgrade. For those considering their options, we have a guide to exactly that.

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Facebook whistleblower reveals their identity

She says company 'chooses profits over safety'.

Internal documents published by The Wall Street Journal recently revealed that Facebook allowed VIPs to break its rules, and it was aware Instagram affected the mental health of teens. Now, the whistleblower who brought that information to light has revealed herself as Frances Haugen in an interview with 60 Minutes.

"I’ve seen a bunch of social networks, and it was substantially worse at Facebook than what I had seen before," Haugen told the show. "Facebook, over and over again, has shown it chooses profit over safety."

Haugen joined Facebook in 2019, working on democracy and misinformation issues, while also handling counter-espionage, according to a personal website and Twitter account she and her team set up. She worked as a Facebook product manager and left the company in May.

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Blue Origin will fly William Shatner to the edge of space on October 12th

Going where Bezos has gone before.

After decades of pretending to explore the universe in TV shows and movies, William Shatner is actually going to space. Blue Origin's second tourist spaceflight is scheduled for October 12th. Shatner, 90, is to become the oldest person to fly to space. He'll take the record from 82-year-old aviation pioneer, Wally Funk, who was a passenger on New Shepard's first crewed flight in July.

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Apple Watch Series 7 pre-orders open on October 8th

Ready to wear on October 15th.

Apple

Apple has announced when you'll be able to snag an Apple Watch Series 7. Pre-orders start this Friday, October 8th, at 8 AM ET. The device, which starts at $399, will be available one week later on October 15th.

The biggest change this year is a larger, always-on display. Apple has bumped up the case size options to 41mm and 45mm while reducing the bezel to 1.7mm, meaning it should feel pretty similar to last-generation Watches, but with more screen. The user interface takes advantage of the larger screen, with a full, swipe-based QWERTY keyboard and two additional watch faces.

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The Morning After: What is it with Netflix cropping ‘Seinfeld’?

Welcome to Monday. How was your weekend? For me, a rainy October — England doing what it does — kept me indoors, but fortunately, there was a crop of shows I was planning to watch anyhow.

While I caught up on the cultural phenomenon that is Squid Games, a lot of you dipped your toes into the entire run of Seinfeld, which is now available to stream on Netflix.

You might have noticed the march of progress inadvertently squashing some of the visual gags out of shot. Case in point: The pothole featured in season 8 is literally out of shot to fit the show into the modern 16:9 widescreen format.

Cropped shows have always been an issue: Seinfeld has been on cable TV and Hulu with similar cropping. The popularity of Netflix has simply meant the show is getting more attention at this moment in time. There are solutions. When the entire run of The Simpsons hit Disney+, it was similarly squashed into widescreen. Disney eventually released the seasons that aired in 4:3 in their original aspect ratio.

Will Netflix do the same?

— Mat Smith

Apple’s new MacBook Pro should land this fall

According to rumors, that is.

Engadget

Apple has now updated the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch for the holiday season — we’re still waiting for a launch date for the wearable — but what about the Macs? There have been plenty of rumors about a totally redesigned MacBook Pro coming out this fall, and the reliable Mark Gurman at Bloomberg says an M1X-powered MacBook Pro will arrive "in the next month."

It wouldn’t be a huge shock: Apple has typically held Mac-focused events in October or early November; the first M1-based Macs were announced in early November, last year.

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Toyota's three-wheeled C+walk picks up where Segway left off

It arrives in Japan next month.

Toyota

Toyota’s latest three-wheeler isn’t a bike or a car. Like the headline suggests, it’s more like a Segway, built for pedestrianized areas and more aimed at mobility than sheer A-to-B transport. To that point, it has a maximum speed of just over six miles per hour, though it’s possible to throttle it down to one mile per hour, and includes an obstacle avoidance system. It beeps when it detects something on your path and slows down if a collision is imminent.

Toyota believes the scooter could help elderly workers travel across large facilities, like warehouses, factories and airport terminals.

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Apple, Amazon and others back groups trying to kill US climate legislation

Many tech companies have lobbyists who are fighting the $3.5 trillion budget bill.

Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Disney are among the major companies backing corporate lobby groups and organizations battling a US climate bill, according to a report. That's despite those companies all making pledges to reduce their impact on the environment. The Guardian reports that watchdog Accountable.US analyzed the groups to learn which companies have connections to them.

The United States Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable and the Rate Coalition are three of the lobbyist and business groups that oppose the Democrats' $3.5 trillion budget bill, which includes measures to fight climate change.

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NBCUniversal's channels are staying on YouTube TV

The two companies have settled their spat.

The YouTube / NBC drama is officially over. After reaching a temporary deal to keep NBCUniversal channels on YouTube TV, the companies officially resolved their despite Saturday afternoon. "We’re thrilled to share that we’ve reached a deal to continue carrying the full NBCUniversal portfolio of channels," YouTube wrote on its blog. "That means you won’t lose access to any of their channels, and YouTube TV will continue to offer 85+ networks for $64.99. We appreciate NBCUniversal’s willingness to work toward an agreement, and we also appreciate your patience as we negotiated with them on your behalf."

It was such a potential problem for YouTube TV that the service said it would cut its price by $10 per month if it wasn't able to reach a deal with NBCUniversal. Fortunately for YouTube TV customers, nothing is changing, at least for now.

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The Morning After: The new iPad, reviewed

If you’ve been holding out on a possible iPad purchase (or upgrade), this might be the time to strike. Apple’s newest base model iPad is now on sale, and we’ve got a detailed review on what is an incremental upgrade on what is, at heart, the same design we’ve had for many years now.

Engadget

If you’re looking for an iPad with a design twist — or at least a smaller footprint — there’s the iPad mini, pulling some of the redesigned iPad Pro DNA into a smaller package. That includes something close to an “all-screen” design, with an 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display and power button with TouchID on the edge that supplants the need for a home button.

Meanwhile, the OG iPad design, so very lightly refreshed for 2021, doesn’t put a foot wrong — and it’s the cheapest new iPad you can get. For that $330, as Nate Ingraham’s review lays out, the hardware is powerful and the battery life is outstanding.

It has Apple’s A13 Bionic chip, which first appeared inside the iPhone 11, circa 2019, but still an upgrade from the last vanilla iPad iteration. But yes, it’s not as powerful as the newer chips in the iPad Air and just-updated iPad mini.

If we sidestep the Pro models, tablet shopping will boil down to the iPad mini, Air or this new standard model. You could say this is some degree of choice — I just wish there was more tablet competition that didn’t run an Apple OS. Android tablets are still, typically, cheaper options that always leave me wanting.

— Mat Smith

Amazon settles with employees allegedly fired for criticizing work conditions

The former employees were outspoken critics of many Amazon policies.

Amazon was supposed to defend its decision in court to let Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa go last year. The former Amazon employees were outspoken critics of the company, and both were, according to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), illegally fired. The e-commerce giant didn't have to defend itself, however, because it has settled with the affected parties shortly before the hearing could take place.

The settlement still needs to be approved by the NLRB regional director in Seattle, but Cunningham and Costa are already considering the settlement a victory. In a joint statement, they said the development is a "win for protecting workers’ rights." 

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Watch Subaru reveal the Solterra, its first EV

Huh, that looks a little familiar.

Subaru has shown the first video of its first EV, the 4x4 Solterra crossover, essentially confirming it's a slightly reworked version of Toyota's upcoming bZ4X EV. We’re still waiting on key details, like price and battery capacity. It's set to arrive in the US and other markets next summer. For now, take a closer look at the teaser.

Watch here.

Sonos Beam (Gen 2) review

A bit of Dolby Atmos makes all the difference.

Engadget

Sonos has added Dolby Atmos support to the original Beam, which turned out to be a popular soundbar for those looking to upgrade their TV sound system in a simple way — and introduce them to the Sonos cinematic universe of speaker add-ons and upgrades.

The new Beam, while more expensive than a lot of the competition, is another compact soundbar that sounds far more immersive than you’d expect. According to Devindra Hardawar, it also does a decent job with music and still works well with other Sonos speakers. Read on for his full review.

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Nreal's latest smartglasses were designed for watching YouTube

The Nreal Air also work with iOS devices.

Nreal

Chinese company Nreal has launched a new model of augmented reality glasses called Air, designed with streaming shows and playing mobile games in mind. The glasses still need to be tethered to a phone, like their predecessor, the Light, but they're a lot lighter (77 grams to Light's 106 grams) and look more like an ordinary pair of sunglasses.

Nreal also improved the display, which has the capability to project a massive virtual screen up to 201 inches in size, and refreshes at up 90Hz. The new model has no motion tracking at all, and a company spokesperson told us that, based on Light's usage, Nreal expects most owners to use the Air simply to watch shows on YouTube.

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Razer's new entry-level gear was made for streaming newbies

The Kiyo X webcam costs $80, while the Ripsaw X capture card is $140.

Razer’s latest streaming gear aims directly at newbies, starting with its new Kiyo X USB webcam. As with a lot of current games, you can choose between optimizing your webcam feed for fidelity or framerate with 1080p 30 fps and 720p 60 fps options.

There’s also the Ripsaw X capture card, for footage up to 30 frames per second in 4K. Razer says the device delivers "near-zero latency" through its HDMI 2.0 and USB 3.0 connectivity. You can hook it up to a camera with HDMI output to use it as a high-end webcam or capture gameplay from a console. The Kiyo X cam costs $80, while the Ripsaw X will run you $140. Both are available now.

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