Posts with «author_name|mat smith» label

The Morning After: Google is shutting down Stadia, its game streaming service

Despite denials until mid-2022, Stadia is winding down. The technically impressive game streaming service, which delivered current-gen games through smartphones, PCs, tablets and even Chromecast, is the latest victim of Google’s long list of service casualties. Google said the service "hasn't gained the traction with users that we expected." That’s entirely true. Google closed its internal game development studios early last year, and the company sadly failed to turn things around, even as rumors swirled that Stadia wasn’t long for this world. It’s a shame, as the service worked incredibly well, especially at the nascent beginnings of cloud gaming.

The good news is if you invested in the standalone games, Google "will be refunding all Stadia hardware purchases made through the Google Store, and all game and add-on content purchases made through the Stadia store." This was outlined by Stadia vice president and general manager Phil Harrison in a blog here.

If you subscribed to Stadia Pro and built up a catalog of games, there are no reimbursements. You’ll be able to play your games until January, but it’ll serve as a reminder that streaming services, if they go, can leave you with nothing. Except maybe a Chromecast.

– Mat Smith

The biggest stories you might have missed

James Webb and Hubble captures pictures of NASA’s spacecraft−asteroid collision

The first time both telescopes observed the same celestial target at the same time.

NASA made history this week when it slammed its DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) spacecraft into an asteroid nearly seven million miles away. Now, we can see the test from afar, thanks to the James Webb and Hubble space telescopes. JWST and Hubble picked up different wavelengths of light (infrared and visible, respectively), and NASA says that observing data from multiple wavelengths will help scientists figure out if big chunks of material left Dimorphos' surface or if it was mostly fine dust. This is an important aspect of the test: The ultimate aim is to develop a system that can divert incoming asteroids away from Earth. Like 1998’s Armageddon, just with less Bruce Willis and Aerosmith.

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Sonos Sub Mini review

The practical sub we’ve been waiting for.


Finally, after only 10 years, Sonos has launched the Sub Mini, and at $429, it’s relatively affordable. It’s perfectly sized for apartments and small rooms, and it’s a simple upgrade to your Sonos Beam or Ray. Finally, you have a viable, moveable way of beefing up your sound, which isn’t obscenely expensive. Check out our full review.

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Meta's new Make-a-Video AI can generate quick movie clips from text prompts

Even more complicated AI-generated art.

Meta unveiled its Make-a-Scene text-to-image generating AI in July, which, like Dall-E and Midjourney, can create fantastical depictions based on written prompts. On Thursday, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed Make-a-Scene's more animated contemporary, Make-a-Video. Functionally, Video works the same as Scene – combining natural language processing and generative neural networks to convert non-visual prompts into images – it's just pulling content into a different format.

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Teenage Engineering's PO-80 Record Factory both cuts and plays vinyl

Why not both?

Teenage Engineering

The Swedish brand, best known for electronic music toys and tools, has released the decidedly more analogue PO-80 Record Factory. As the name implies, it can cut vinyl records as well as play them back. The orange and white design is cute, as is the simplicity. You just need to plug an audio device into the 3.5mm jack and start recording. You're limited to monophonic sound, and you won't be cutting more than a single with a B-side. The Record Factory is available for $149.

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Musk's texts with Jack Dorsey and Parag Agrawal detail tumultuous Twitter negotiations

Dorsey asked Musk to join Twitter's board long before he tried to buy the company.

A tranche of Elon Musk’s private messages has been made public as part of his ongoing lawsuit with Twitter. The messages, revealed in a court filing Thursday, shed new light on Musk’s behind-the-scenes negotiations with Twitter’s leadership, discussions with former CEO Jack Dorsey, and how Musk talks with CEO Parag Agrawal quickly soured. The messages include the moment Musk tells Agrawal he wants to acquire Twitter and take it private, rather than join the board, as well as Agrawal confronting Musk about an April 9th tweet questioning if "Twitter is dying."

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The Morning After: You can write on Amazon’s newest Kindle

Amazon’s barrage of new hardware included something many of you might have been waiting for: a Kindle e-reader with stylus support. Yes, the Kindle Scribe comes with a magnetic stylus and a 10.2-inch, 300ppi display. You won’t need to charge or sync the Scribe's stylus, and you can use it for jotting notes, journaling and annotating any books you're reading. Starting next year, you’ll also be able to send Microsoft Word documents to Kindle Scribe. Kindle Scribe will start at $340 and arrives November 30th.


Yesterday, Amazon also revealed an expanded Fire TV Omni line. It’s added two premium 65- and 75-inch QLED models, along with a redesigned Fire TV Cube. There’s a new sleep tracking gadget, more Echo speaker updates and refreshed Ring cameras, too. There was… a lot.

– Mat Smith

The biggest stories you might have missed

Sony's PlayStation loyalty program debuts in the US on October 5th

It follows the recent launch in Asia.

Sony says its loyalty program will debut in the Americas on October 5th, while Australians and Europeans will have access on October 13th. The program is free, but you’ll get some benefits if you're a PlayStation Plus member. You’ll be able to earn rewards by completing activities and campaigns ranging from the very basic (playing any game once a month) to the challenging (being one of the first to score a game's platinum trophy in your region). Those loyalty points can be put toward your PlayStation Network wallet, digital collectibles and, hopefully, real-world products.

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The Polestar 3 electric SUV will debut on October 12th

With a dual-motor drivetrain and air suspension.

Polestar's first electric SUV will get its official unveiling on October 12th. The company teased several premium features you can expect to see, including air suspension, active dampers and torque vectoring, putting it up against other SUV EVs, like the Mercedes-Benz EQS and Tesla’s Model X. The company said it's shooting for a 372-mile range on the European WLTP cycle (considerably less in EPA terms). It'll also include a semi-autonomous driving system for highway driving.

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DALL-E's AI art generator is now (sort of) available to everyone

No more waiting list for ‘kitten sleeping in a shoebox’.


OpenAI's well-known image generator is now available to everyone. If you want to create art, you just have to sign up and describe the pieces you'd like to produce. You’ll get a finite number of credits that will get topped up monthly. It's still not clear if AI-generated art is fair use or stolen. Getty Images recently banned the material out of concern it might violate copyright.

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Oura's third-generation smart ring adds a more comfortable design

And costs a little more.

After many years of trying, Oura has finally managed to sand out the flat edge from its smart ring. The company is updating the third generation of its ring, originally released at the end of 2021, with a perfectly round body. The Oura (Gen3) Horizon keeps the same suite of advanced sensors as the existing model. The new Horizon is available to order right now for $349, while the existing ring is still $299.

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Apple pulls Russia's biggest social media network from the App Store

It was due to UK sanctions against Ukraine's sham referendums.

Russia has removed all iOS apps from VK, the second largest tech company in Russia. That included its social media app, which is the fifth most popular in Russia, and others like and VK Music. The move was made in response to UK sanctions against the Russian government. Apple confirmed it removed the apps and shut down VK's developer accounts. "These apps are being distributed by developers majority-owned or majority-controlled by one or more parties sanctioned by the UK government," a spokesperson told The Verge.

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The Morning After: Does Samsung have another phone-battery problem?

A few years ago, Samsung had major battery issues when several faulty Galaxy Note 7 phones had exploding batteries. The devices were recalled, and the company spent a lot of time over the following years outlining all the rigorous battery tests it did to ensure it didn’t happen again.

Now, YouTuber Mrwhosetheboss, as well as others, have noticed batteries in Samsung phones are swelling up at a disproportionately high rate. This usually affects older devices, but some are only a couple of years old – the 2020-era Galaxy Z Fold 2, for instance.

Samsung hasn’t formally responded yet, but battery swelling isn't a new problem, nor one unique to Galaxy phones. As lithium batteries age, their increasingly flawed chemical reactions can produce gas that inflates battery cells. Many companies suggest you keep device batteries at a roughly 50 percent charge if you won't use it for extended periods.

– Mat Smith

The biggest stories you might have missed

Department of Transportation approves EV charging plans for all 50 states

$1.5 billion is available to fund charging stations along highways.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law earmarked $5 billion in funding over five years to help states install chargers along highways, and that process just took an important step forward. The Department of Transportation has approved EV charging plans for all 50 states, Washington DC and Puerto Rico. The proposals cover 75,000 miles of highways.

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The latest iPadOS 16 beta brings Stage Manager to older iPad Pro models

An M1 chip is no longer required, with a caveat.

The biggest change with iPadOS 16 may be Stage Manager, a totally new multitasking system that adds overlapping, resizable windows to the iPad. The latest iPadOS 16 developer beta can run Stage Manager on several older devices: It'll work on the 11-inch iPad Pro (first generation and later) and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro (third generation and later). However, there is one notable missing feature for the older iPad Pro models – Stage Manager will only work on the iPad's built-in display. You won't be able to extend your display to an external monitor.

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Intel's 13th-gen CPUs offer up to 24 cores and 5.8GHz speeds

The Core i9-13900K sounds like a beast.

Intel's 13th-gen Core chips, AKA Raptor Lake, have landed. The company's new top-end chip, the Core i9-13900K, sports 24 cores (eight performance cores and 16 efficiency cores) and can reach up to a 5.8GHz Max Turbo frequency. Last year's i9-12900K offered 16 cores and a maximum speed of 5.2 GHz. Intel claims the new 13900K is 41 percent better for multi-threaded work, like video encoding. If you skipped last year's chips or are running even older Intel hardware, the 13th-gen CPUs look like the update you've been waiting for.

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Volvo has developed the world's first interior radar system for cars

It’s a new safety feature.

Set to debut on its upcoming flagship EX90 electric SUV, Volvo's new radar system monitors both the cabin and trunk, to prevent a car from being locked while anyone is inside. The idea is to guard against situations where pets or children may be inadvertently trapped inside a car on a hot day, with the car surfacing reminders if it recognizes there are occupants inside when being locked. Volvo says the multiple radars in the trunk, in the car's overhead console and in roof-mounted reading lamps can detect "sub-millimeter" movements.

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Apple Watch SE review (2022)

The best smartwatch $250 can buy.


Apple, of all companies, delivering the most competitively priced smartwatch you can buy in 2022? Apple’s starter smartwatch offers a comprehensive suite of health and fitness tracking tools, emergency features and snappy performance. As long as you’re not extremely clumsy or impatient, you won’t miss features like the hardier screen, dust resistance or the always-on display found on the more expensive models.

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Chipotle is moving its tortilla robot to a real restaurant

The chain is also piloting AI that tells kitchen staff what to cook.

Chipotle's tortilla-making robot is moving to a real restaurant. In October, the machine will start cooking tortilla chips in Fountain Valley, California. Feedback from customers and workers will help the company decide on a national rollout. Artificial intelligence will influence some human cooks, too. Chipotle is piloting a demand-based cooking system that uses AI to tell staff what and when to cook based on forecasts for how much they'll need.

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Fujifilm X-H2S camera review

The most powerful APS-C camera yet.


With the X-H2S, Fujifilm has a new flagship camera. It features a new 26.2-megapixel stacked sensor that delivers shooting speeds up to 40 fps in electronic shutter mode. At the same time, it has the most advanced video features of any APS-C camera, with up to 6.2K video. It also offers in-body stabilization, a high-resolution EVF, CFexpress support and more. The main drawback: The autofocus still isn’t quite as fast as rival cameras.

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The Morning After: Netflix is building its own game studio

Netflix is forming its own in-house game studio and plans to not just rely on third-party developers to bolster its game catalog. The studio, based in Helsinki, Finland, plans to create "world-class" original games without ads or in-app purchases.

Netflix’s move into gaming has involved buying multiple developers, including the creators of Oxenfree, Night School Studio. In the last 12 months or so, the company has offered some well-regarded titles, including Into the Breach and Poinpy. But it hasn't built a developer from scratch. Until now.

However, when it comes to original games, Netflix says we won't see the first fruits of this internal studio for "years." Meanwhile, UsTwo’s Desta, launching later today exclusively on Netflix, is the latest addition from the makers of Monument Valley

– Mat Smith

The biggest stories you might have missed

NASA successfully hurled its DART spacecraft into an asteroid

The impactor vehicle was traveling at roughly 14,000 MPH when it struck.


After nearly a year in transit, NASA's experimental Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission, which sought to answer the question: "Could you potentially shove an asteroid off its planet-killing trajectory by hitting it with a specially designed satellite?" The answer seems to be … maybe. It successfully collided with the Dimorphos asteroid. Results and data from the collision are still coming in, but NASA ground control confirms that the DART impact vehicle has intercepted the target asteroid. The vending machine-sized vehicle traveled at roughly 14,000 MPH when it crossed Dimorphos' path nearly 68 million miles from Earth.

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Watch the first trailer for HBO’s 'The Last of Us' adaptation

98 seconds of post-apocalyptic gloom.


HBO revealed the first trailer for its highly anticipated adaptation of the hit Naughty Dog game. The clip features the leaning building from an early level and a bombastic opening outbreak sequence, as well as the unmistakable sound of a Clicker. Nightmare fuel for 2022.

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Big Audacity update makes it a much better audio production tool

It adds non-destructive editing, real-time effects and more.

Audacity is best known as a free audio app for quick edits and recording audio, but the latest update makes it more viable as a full-on production tool for your podcast ambitions. The most welcome addition is non-destructive audio capabilities that allow you to adjust effects without the changes being permanently baked into the audio file. It also supports real-time playback of effects and crossfades as you adjust them, allowing for more accurate edits. And it’s still free.

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Apple Watch Ultra teardown confirms it's rugged, but not easily repaired

You'll still have to leave repairs to the pros.

The Apple Watch Ultra is built to survive adventures outdoors, but if you push it beyond its limits, you’re going to struggle to repair it yourself. iFixit reports that the Ultra isn't significantly more repairable than its regular counterparts. While there are external screws on the back, you might wreck a waterproofing gasket if you pry the rear open. And don't even think of getting through the front – you might break the screen.

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Aphex Twin's free 'sample mashing' app feeds on your music library

Samplebrain has been on Richard James' mind for 20 years.

Aphex Twin is finally ready to offer his mutation-driven music software to the world. Samplebrain is a free "sample mashing" app that turns audio files from your computer into sample blocks you can use for projects. You can recreate a sample using tracks in your music library or craft a "303 riff" from unexpected sounds. However, you may need some technical know-how to use the app.

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Meta tests easier account switching between Facebook and Instagram

It’ll give you a view of all your notifications.

On Monday, Meta began rolling out a new interface on Android, iOS and on the web for switching between accounts on Facebook and Instagram. Provided you’ve added your credentials for both to the same Accounts Center, you can use the feature to switch between the two apps. Meta will also notify you every time you use an existing account to create a new one or you add an account to the Accounts Center.

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The Morning After: We might get an iPhone ‘Ultra’ next year

According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, next year’s iPhone could introduce a change to Apple’s naming convention. It could call its largest and most expensive device in 2023 the iPhone 15 Ultra instead of the iPhone 15 Pro Max. Gurman expects the iPhone 15 to feature USB-C, among other “bigger changes” – which he didn’t elaborate on at this point.


Interestingly, Gurman thinks Apple might not hold another event this fall. He says the company will announce new Mac mini, MacBook Pro and iPad Pro models before the end of the year, but that they’ll likely be iterative and land without the Apple event fanfare.

– Mat Smith

The biggest stories you might have missed

In ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader was voiced by an AI so James Earl Jones could retire

Respeecher recreated the actor's voice as it was in 1977.


James Earl Jones has said goodbye to Darth Vader. At 91, the actor recently told Disney he was “looking into winding down this particular character.” That forced the company to ask itself how do you even replace Jones? The answer Disney eventually settled on, with the actor’s consent, involved an AI program. Respeecher can use archival recordings and a “proprietary AI algorithm” to create new dialogue featuring the voices of “performers from long ago.”

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'The Witcher: Blood Origin' debuts December 25th on Netflix

Meanwhile, season three of ‘The Witcher’ arrives next summer.

The Witcher: Blood Origin, a prequel to Netflix's live-action adaptation of Andrzej Sapkowski's fantasy novel series, will debut on December 25th. Set thousands of years before the story of the Witcher Geralt and Ciri, Blood Origin will center on the moment in the Witcher universe when humans, elves and monsters all come to inhabit the fantasy world of the series. Actress Michelle Yeoh stars as Scian, the elven protagonist. Originally slated to run six episodes, Blood Origin will instead be four episodes long.

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'Oxenfree II: Lost Signals' is delayed until 2023

Night School Studio needs more time to make the sequel ‘truly special.’

The sequel to 2016’s Oxenfree won’t arrive until next year, the developer announced on Saturday. “To make Oxenfree II truly special and add more localizations, we’re moving our release window to 2023,” the studio posted on Twitter. News of the delay came shortly after Netflix announced subscribers could download the original game for free. Yes, more than six years after its PC debut, Netflix is making Oxenfree available freely to those with a subscription to its streaming service.

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UK police arrest alleged ‘GTA VI’ hacker

The 17-year-old may also have been responsible for an Uber cybersecurity incident.

Police in the UK have arrested a 17-year-old suspected hacker, with reports connecting it to the Rockstar Games hack that led to a major Grand Theft Auto VI leak. The individual may have been involved with an intrusion on Uber as well. The arrest is the result of an investigation involving the City of London Police, the UK's National Cyber Crime Unit and the FBI. According to reports, he was arrested earlier this year for hacking Microsoft and NVIDIA.

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Amazon will hold a Prime Early Access Sale on October 11th and 12th

The holiday shopping season will begin earlier than ever this year.

Amazon plans to hold a second sales event this fall, exclusively for Prime members. The second Prime Day of the year, dubbed Prime Early Access Sale, will be on October 11th and 12th in the US, UK, Canada and 12 other countries, following the same two-day format as the original event. That said, we don’t know what sort of discounts this event will include. There will probably be a Kindle or two, though.

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Watch the trailer for NieR: Automata's spinoff anime

It arrives this January.

A1 Pictures.

Square Enix’s genre-twisting RPG, NieR Automata was a cult hit in 2017. Now, an anime adaptation is almost here. Titled NieR: Automata Version 1.1a, it will debut in January 2023. NieR creator Yoko Taro shared the release window, adding that the anime's story would differ from its source material.

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The Morning After: Google's cheaper $30 Chromecast with Google TV

Google has unveiled another streaming dongle. The Chromecast with Google TV (HD) device manages to offer a lot of the features from the $50 4K model at a significantly cheaper $30 price. Unlike the older $35 Chromecast, it comes with a remote control that eliminates the need for a smartphone, though you can still control it with your phone. There is a drawback – that lower 1080p resolution – but there’s HDR support. It also comes with six months of Peacock Premium, free.

The lack of a remote controller was a frustration for many people looking for a plug-and-stream stick, and at this price, it’s a pretty tempting streaming solution if you haven’t already picked up a Chromecast, Roku or something else.

– Mat Smith

The biggest stories you might have missed

Apple’s 2nd-gen AirPods Pro review

Big improvements, all on the inside.


Yes, they still have stems. Yes, there’s still active noise cancellation. Yes, they might be worth upgrading from the original AirPods Pro. Apple has included of the conveniences from the 2019 model, alongside additions like Adaptive Transparency, Personalized Spatial Audio and a new touch gesture in tow. There’s room to further refine the familiar formula, so read on for the full review.

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This $799 turntable can connect to any Sonos speaker

If you love vinyl and streaming music, the Stream Carbon might be for you.


A lot of connected smart speakers don’t work with turntables, which can make things complicated during the continued resurgence of vinyl. Victrola, which has made record players for more than 100 years, is mostly known for entry-level turntables with built-in speakers, but it’s now revealed the Stream Carbon, a $799 turntable that can directly connect to a Sonos system, which means you’ll be able to stream your records all over your home. Victrola says this is just the first of more planned devices in the Stream lineup.

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The FDA may have unintentionally made 'NyQuil Chicken' go viral on TikTok

TikTok says interest spiked only after the FDA's warning.

You’ve probably heard something about “NyQuil Chicken,” a supposedly viral TikTok “challenge” of cooking chicken in a marinade of cold medicine. Not only disgusting, as the FDA recently reminded the public, it’s just as toxic as it looks. The agency’s bizarrely timed warning may have backfired, making the meme more popular than ever. TikTokconfirmed that on September 14th, the day before the FDA notice, there were only five searches for “NyQuil chicken” in the app. But by September 21st, that number skyrocketed “by more than 1,400 times,” according to BuzzFeed News.

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Instagram is working on 'nudity protection' technology

It’s focused on unwanted DMs.

An early screengrab tweeted by researcher Alessandro Paluzzi indicates that Instagram is working on "Nudity protection" technology that "covers photos that may contain nudity in chat," giving users the option to view them or not. Instagram parent Meta confirmed to The Verge that it's in development. Meta said the aim is to help shield people from nude images or other unsolicited messages. As further protection, the company said it can't view the images itself nor share them with third parties.

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Facebook violated Palestinians' right to free expression, according to Meta

Many users' accounts were hit with "false strikes" last year due to Meta's policies.

Meta has released the findings of an outside report that examined how its content moderation policies affected Israelis and Palestinians amid an escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip last May. The report said that Facebook’s approach appears “to have had an adverse human rights impact on the rights of Palestinian users to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, political participation, and non-discrimination, and therefore on the ability of Palestinians to share information and insights about their experiences as they occurred.”

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The Morning After: The rollable smartphone that never was

At CES 2021, LG revealed it was working on a phone with a rollable display and that it was going to be available later that year. Unfortunately, the company shuttered its mobile business before that happened. Now, a hands-on video by Korean tech reviewer BullsLab shows just how close LG’s Rollable got to launching.

The Rollable went a different way with flexible screen tech. Instead of folding, the screen, well, rolled out of the device. The screen was able to stretch out until the phone becomes a small tablet. In the video, you'll see how responsive the device is and how quickly it expands after the YouTuber swipes at the screen with three fingers. The reviewer even shows how strong the motor is, inching books away from the phone as it unfurls. Alas, it was never meant to be. I’d definitely be concerned that anything motorized would also struggle with longevity – there’s a reason that motorized pop-outselfie cameras quickly disappeared from smartphones.

Oppo also showed off a rollable phone prototype back in 2021, but that project has also gone silent. Maybe CES 2023?

– Mat Smith

The biggest stories you might have missed

Logitech’s cloud gaming handheld costs $350 and launches in October

Preorders for the device went live a little early in Canada.


Logitech has revealed all the details of its handheld console. Logitech and Tencent (who built the device together) collaborated with Microsoft and NVIDIA to ensure there's native support for Xbox Cloud Gaming and GeForce Now. You can also use the Steam Link app to play games from your PC remotely, while the Xbox app supports remote play from consoles.

You'll be able to stream games in 1080p at up to 60 frames per second on the seven-inch, 450-nit touchscreen.The system will be available from Amazon in the US, where it costs $350 USD, or $300 if you preorder. That's fairly pricey for a dedicated cloud gaming handheld, though it also has access to the Google Play Store to play Android titles.

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Take a look at the best image of Neptune's rings in decades

The images from James Webb Space Telescope are already providing new insights.

Researchers have shared the James Webb Space Telescope’s first image of Neptune, offering the best view of the planet’s rings in over 30 years. The picture is not only clear, but offers the first-ever look at the dust-based rings in the near-infrared spectrum. At these wavelengths, the planet doesn't look blue — it absorbs so much infrared and visible red light that it takes on a dark, ghostly appearance. Neptune is a particularly important target for scientists. At roughly 2.8 billion miles from the Sun, it's far enough to deal with conditions that aren't present for nearer planets, such as very low temperatures and a very long (164-year) orbit.

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Google lets you request removal of search results that contain personal data

Results with your address, phone number or email will be reviewed 'more quickly.'

Google is releasing a tool that makes it easier to remove search results containing your address, phone number and other personally identifiable information. It first revealed the "results about you" feature at Google I/O 2022 in May, describing it as a way to "help you easily control whether your personally identifiable information can be found in Search results."

If you see a result with your phone number, home address or email, you can click on the three-dot menu at the top right. That opens the usual "About this result" panel, but it now contains a new "Remove result" option at the bottom of the screen. It’s rolling out to users in the US and Europe now.

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Microsoft will host its next Surface event on October 12th

Our first proper look at the Surface Pro 9 and Surface Laptop 5?

Microsoft isn't going to be left off the fall hardware event calendar. The company will hold a Surface event on October 12th at 10AM ET. While it's not completely clear what Microsoft plans to show off beyond "devices," we may get our first official look at the Surface Pro 9 and Surface Laptop 5. It’s going to be a chaotic couple of weeks: Amazon has a hardware showcase on September 28th, Google has set a Pixel event for October 6th and Meta is expected to show off its next-generation VR headset on October 11th.

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Study: Surgery patients wearing VR headsets needed less anesthetic

Virtual worlds could distract you from the pain.


Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center researchers in Boston have published a study indicating that patients wearing VR headsets required less anesthetic during hand surgery. While the average conventional patient needed 750.6 milligrams per hour of the sedative propofol, people looking at relaxing VR content (such as meditation, nature scenes and videos) only required 125.3 milligrams. They also recovered quicker. The scientists claimed VR distracted the patients from the pain that would otherwise command their full attention. Researchers admitted that the headset wearers may have gone into the operating room expecting VR to help, potentially skewing the results. Further trials are planned.

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The Morning After: Peloton’s smart rowing machine is here

After all the rumors and teasers, Peloton’s $3,195 rowing machine is finally official. It packs a 24-inch HD display and electronically-controlled resistance. That kind of resistance, which typically feels different to Concept2 rowers in your local gym, doesn’t mean it’s particularly small, however – you might want to check you have the space in your home. Peloton claims the Row can offer on-screen feedback on your form as you work out.

That will have to be some incredible coaching, given that its price tag is far higher than its rivals. The aforementioned (and benchmark) Concept2 rowing machine doesn’t have a screen, Bluetooth or any digital tricks, but it’s also under $1,000. Hydrow’s cheapest rower, the Wave, is priced at $1,495, while the premium model is still hundreds of dollars less than the Peloton Row. It’s an expensive gambit for a company still getting its house in order, adjusting its prices and reconsidering its approach.

Preorders for the Row start today in the US. The company expects to ship the machines in December – just in time for those 2023 fitness resolutions.

– Mat Smith

The biggest stories you might have missed

NVIDIA's $1,599 GeForce RTX 4090 arrives on October 12th

The GeForce RTX 4080 will start at $899.

NVIDIA's 40 series GPUs are finally here. The company unveiled the GeForce RTX 4090 and GeForce RTX 4080 today at its GTC 2022 keynote. Taking full advantage of its new "Ada Lovelace" architecture, NVIDIA says the two GPUs offer significantly better ray tracing performance – and generally a lot of power for a lot of money. The first of the new GPUs will arrive next month when the GeForce RTX 4090 goes on for sale for $1,599 on October 12th. There will be two different variants of the RTX 4080. The base model will start at $899 and features 12GB of GDDR6X memory and 7,680 cores, while a 16GB version with 9,728 cores will set you back a cool $1,199. Both configurations will arrive sometime in November.

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iOS 16 review

Apple opens the lock screen.


With iOS 16, Apple has focused on modernizing the iPhone lock screen, making it a more useful part of how you interact with your phone. These changes also make it easier to use the iPhone’s Focus modes, which remain a little complicated to set up. Overall, the company has made lots of minor changes that add up to a better iPhone experience. Apple’s Messages app continues to improve, and the increasingly useful Visual Lookup feature is something an Android device can’t quite replicate — yet. These iOS updates are usually followed by a few extra tweaks – and Apple has already fixed its weird battery percentage indicator. Was it my review? (It wasn’t.)

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Spotify dives into audiobooks with a library of over 300,000 titles

Each one requires a separate purchase.

Spotify has officially added audiobooks as yet another listening option in its app – for when you run out of podcasts, right? Starting today, US users will see a dedicated section for the format that allows standalone purchases via a web link. The company says its library will contain over 300,000 titles at launch. As well as their own section alongside music and podcasts, audiobooks will show up in your recommendations on the main page.

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YouTube’s ‘dislike’ button barely works

That’s according to a new study on recommendations.

If you’ve ever felt like it’s difficult to “un-train” YouTube’s algorithm, you’re not alone. One major issue, according to new research conducted by Mozilla, is that YouTube’s in-app controls such as the “dislike” button, “prevent less than half of unwanted algorithmic recommendations.” Of the controls available on YouTube, the most effective was “don’t recommend from channel,” which prevented 43 percent of unwanted recommendations, while “not interested” was the least effective and only prevented about 11 percent of unwanted suggestions.

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The Windows 11 2022 update is here

But should you care?


It’s already been a year since Windows 11 launched. Somehow. It’s a good time for an update, then. Much like the improved Windows Update experience, the vast majority of new features in this 2022 update are under the hood. Those include a slew of accessibility upgrades including system-wide live captions and a preview of improved voice commands for using your PC and transcription.

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TikTok reportedly gives 'a bit more leniency' to popular accounts

A two-tier moderating system.

As recently as last year, TikTok used a two-tier moderation system that gave preferential treatment to its most popular users, according to Forbes. The publication obtained an audio recording of a September 2021 meeting where the company detailed an internal feature called “creator labels” that was reserved for accounts with more than 5 million followers.

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iOS 16 review: Apple opens the lock screen

Just in time for the arrival of the iPhone 14 line, iOS 16 is officially here, after spending several months in beta. I’ve spent the last week or so testing out the final version of the software, and there are plenty of new things to try, including customizable lock screens, improvements to the Messages app and some smarter AI tricks. Just as importantly, it’s not buggy. The latest edition of Apple’s mobile OS works with the iPhone 8 and newer models, although some features, demand the relatively recent A12 chip. (More on that later.)

This year’s version of iOS is an update you’ll notice – something that was hard to say about iOS 15, whose most notable features related to media sharing, Focus modes and SharePlay. iOS 14, now two years old, added widgets to the grid of icons and shook up your homepage experience for the first time since the iPhone launched. With iOS 16, Apple finally tackled the lock screen.

A personalized lock screen

The lock screen used to feature a clock and not much else. Things are a little different now, but let’s start with the clock. The font is thicker and you can even choose the color of the text and there’s now space for widgets. You might not like how the new default font looks (I don’t), but the good news is that it’s customizable, with several font styles and colors. You can of course choose photos for the lock screen, which isn’t anything new, and you can apply filter styles and even choose a shuffled selection of photos to cycle through. If the images were taken in Portrait mode, you can also enable a multilayered photo effect, with the photo's subject popping out in front of the time. If you do have an iPhone 14 Pro, check out our full review for our thoughts on the Always On Display and, naturally, Apple's new Dynamic Island.

There are two different widget areas you can customize. First up is a slim box above the clock that’s best suited to one-line text (think: the date, chances of rain, or your next calendar event.) Below that, there’s a box that can house up to four different widgets — a mix of 2x1 and 1x1 icons. From the lock screen, you can tap on these to launch into the appropriate itself, but don’t expect to glean any extra information by long-pressing on the icons, which seems like a very Apple way to expand the information offered by these widgets. Maybe in iOS 16.1, or iOS 17?

Mat Smith / Engadget

Similar to the debut of home screen widgets on iOS 14, it’ll take time for third-party app developers to get widgets into their updates and onto your phone, but I’m sure productivity, fitness tracking services and others will jump at the chance. Google in particular seems ready to get on board: Its forthcoming Gmail widget will absolutely be getting a place on my lock screen when it becomes available.

The new lock screen keeps some classic features, too. You’ll still see signal strength and battery icons (now with a percentage readout), and both the flashlight and camera shortcuts are still available to tap away at. Oddly, the battery indicator only visually replicates how charged it is when the battery is under 20 percent, which is counterintuitive when you’re at 50 percent, for example.

The lock screen refresh also functions as a renewed way of showcasing an iOS 15 feature that can be pretty laborious to set up: Focus modes. You can now assign a Focus mode to individual lock screens (one for personal, one for work, one for sleep), each with their own custom widget layouts and photos. If you rarely change your wallpaper during weekdays, you could set up, say, a fun weekend image of your family, and assign it to your personal focus mode.

Conversely, I have a pretentious motivational quote on a black background for when I’m crunching away on deadlines and have my phone set to Do Not Disturb. The ability to swipe between Focus modes makes them easier to use in everyday life. Sure, I could have done so in the past from the top-right drop-down menu, but I didn’t. With iOS 16, I’m already using Focus modes more often.

A better messaging experience

Mat Smith / Engadget

Apple’s native messaging app gets some unique tricks, including new Visual Lookup features. It now handles image copy-and-pasting, pulling subjects from photos, screenshots and more, turning them into easy-to-share stickers. Long-press on the object / animal / person and your iPhone (if it’s an XS or newer) will endeavor to clip it away from the background, ready to paste elsewhere.

It’s uncannily accurate for such a, well, lazy method. I love it. The Visual Lookup skills in iOS 16 are even more expansive, with the new ability to lift text from video. In addition to videos you take yourself, it should work with full-screen videos in web browsers.

Messages has also expanded its sharing capabilities beyond SharePlay and stickers. You can now send documents, spreadsheets and more, as long as they’re saved in one of Apple’s office software file types. Hopefully, third-party support for Microsoft and the Google Suite will soon follow.

Apple is making up for lost time elsewhere as well. Finally, you can edit and unsend messages on the Messages app – if you’re quick enough. You’ll have up to 15 minutes to edit after you first send the message, with the chance to change your message up to five times. You can see any edited messages from other folks also using iOS 16, which will be grayed (blued?) out underneath the corrected message. Unsend features are only for iPhone-to-iPhone messages. 

Similarly, you can now undo send and schedule emails from the native Mail app. (Finally.) There are also further modern features you are probably already used to on Gmail, like suggestions when you might have forgotten an attachment or recipient. .

Apple has upgraded its voice dictation, too. Now when you’re talking into your iPhone, the keyboard will stay on screen, meaning you can type and correct while the dictation takes place – ideal for specific names and places. You can also tap on a word and dictate over them to correct any mistakes. Apple has also added more rigorous auto punctuation to dictation, which generally helped insert commas, periods and the rest without you having to say “question mark” at the end of your text-based requests to friends. It also gleans emoji as you say them, inserting them into your typing. (This feature requires the A12 Bionic chip found in the iPhone XR and newer devices.)

Health and Fitness

Apple’s Health and Fitness apps are relative newcomers to the native app family, and they continue to evolve. The Health app has a new Medications feature that helps log what you take and when. You can set up multiple meds for different time-of-day reminders and frequencies and your iPhone will ping you when it’s time. Another addition to the Health app is the ability to enable notifications if your logged menstrual cycles show a pattern of infrequent periods and other signs of possible abnormalities.

On a more light-hearted note, depending on how serious an athlete you are, Apple has also added a My Sports tab to its News app, dedicating a section to your favorite sports teams. This encompasses news, results, related stories and upcoming game reminders. A word of warning: Some of the stories may be locked behind Apple’s News+ paywall.

One of the best updates is one you might miss. I did too, until I perused Apple’s iOS 16 lengthy release notes: Haptic typing is here, on an iPhone, several years late. Until now, if you wanted typing vibrations on an iOS device you’d have to install Gboard – yes, Google’s third-party keyboard – to get this functionality. Now, mere days later it’s hard to imagine going back to typing on glass without it. Android users have had it good.

Everything else

iOS 16 introduces some potentially life-saving personal safety updates as well. Emergency SOS, which sounds an alarm on the phone before automatically calling emergency services, can now be activated by rapidly pressing the side button five times. Crash Detection, enabled in settings, will take data from the motion sensor, gyroscope, accelerometer, GPS, barometer and microphone, and combine it with algorithms to estimate if you’ve been in a car crash. When detected, a warning will flag up on both your iPhone and your Apple Watch. If you're still responsive, you can swipe the screen to call emergency services or close the alert, if it was a false alarm. Like the SOS call, the iPhone will automatically dial emergency services after 10 seconds have passed.

Mat Smith / Engadget

It wouldn’t be an Apple update with at least a few security updates. Perhaps the most noticeable addition is Safety Check, which can decouple your iPhone from specific contacts, gadgets and services. From here, you can uncheck permissions and even nix the connection completely with “Emergency Reset” or “Select All and Stop Sharing.” You will need to use your passcode or FaceID for these more extreme measures.

Apple is also touting what it calls Passkeys: digital keys that use your iPhone’s security features to securely log in to websites and devices like your smart TV. These aren’t an Apple invention, but with Passkeys on iOS devices this should lead to wider uptake and, well, a chance to use them. That said, I haven’t yet found any opportunities yet to test them out.

And there are even more notable features:

  • Apple Maps includes support for multi-stop routing, which can also be synced with your Mac. Travel fares are also displayed when you’re riding public transport.

  • Camera-wise, you can add foreground blur on Portrait mode photos, and Apple has improved cinematic mode video capture – at least on select devices. You’ll get cinematic mode on the iPhone 13 series and newer.

  • The Home app has been streamlined, with categories for lighting, speakers, TV and more. The tiles have been redesigned to make it easier to discriminate between all your connected gadgets. And, of course, there are now Home app lock screen widgets.

  • Apple has expanded the Fitness app to everyone; you no longer need an Apple Watch to use the activity tracking parts. Your iPhone’s motion sensors will estimate your steps, distance and workouts to offer up a rough calorie burn figure, too.

  • New accessibility features include Door Detection in the iPhone’s Magnifier mode – if you have a device with LIDAR, anyway. (That’s ‘Pro’ iPhone models starting with the iPhone 12 Pro.) A new detection mode offers more detailed descriptions in Magnifier, as well as people detection and image descriptions.

  • Apple finally lets you hang up on calls with Siri, hands-free. It sounds incredibly abrupt, sure, but hang-ups required a physical tap until now. You can also adjust Siri's wait time before it responds to your voice commands.


iOS 16 marks another notable evolution for Apple’s often slow-to-change mobile OS, this time enriching your iPhone lock screen in several ways. I focused on the lock screen in this review because it’s an inescapable part of the iPhone experience. Changes elsewhere are small, but there are an awful lot of them, and they add up. (Apple has added seven more nose options for Memoji, FYI.)

There are some features that I haven’t been able to test, including accessibility upgrades for LIDAR-capable phones and Passkey support. As with many iOS updates, you might not notice all of the improvements. Many will find the medication reminder features useful and simple; others won’t even know it’s there. Sports fans might love the dedicated News app tab, but on the other hand, you also might not care about sportsball? You can test out the lock screen widgets, set up some Focus modes. Or not. But please turn on Haptic typing, and never let your iPhone make those typing sound effects ever again.

The Morning After: Hilton is designing suites for a private space station

Voyager and Lockheed Martin plan to have their private space station, Starlab, up and running by 2027. The latest development is a partnership with Hilton, which will help design astronaut facilities, including the sleeping quarters and other parts of the station. NASA has contracted four private companies to build private space stations ahead of the agency's planned decommissioning of the International Space Station at the end of the decade.

Under the partnership, Hilton and Voyager will investigate marketing opportunities related to Starlab and trips to what could be one of the first space hotels.

– Mat Smith

The biggest stories you might have missed

ASUS' ROG Phone 6D Ultimate has a beefy cooling system

When the fan is attached, the phone’s cooling fins are exposed.


ASUS’ latest hardcore gamer phone, carrying its gaming PC ROG branding, includes a flap that exposes the phone when you attach the bundled AeroActive Cooler 6 – yes a giant cooling peripheral. This blasts 1,000cc of air through the phone per second. The ROG Phone 6D Ultimate will be available across Europe soon, priced at €1,399 (around $1,400) or £1,199 in the UK. No word on US availability yet.

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Rockstar confirms gigantic 'Grand Theft Auto VI' leak

They featured an early build of the game.

That purported Grand Theft Auto VI leak appears to be real. Rockstar Games has confirmed the leak's authenticity in a tweet, noting that a hacker stole confidential data including "early development footage" of the next Grand Theft Auto title. The firm didn't foresee any long-term damage to development or live services like GTA Online, but was "extremely disappointed" that details of the future game were revealed. It was a big leak, including 90 videos of a very early build of GTA VI. The clips appear to confirm rumors from July that a return to Vice City was on the cards, as well as a Bonnie and Clyde-like pair of male and female protagonists.

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Boom's supersonic jet is facing a lack of interest from engine suppliers

Manufacturers say supersonic travel is 'tangential' and are focusing on efficiency instead.

Boom recently lost its jet engine partner for the Overture supersonic jet, and other major engine manufacturers reportedly aren't interested in the project either, according to a report from Insider. After Boom signed an "engagement agreement" with Rolls-Royce for supersonic jet engines back in 2020, the latter announced last week that it had left the project. Another jet engine supplier, Pratt & Whitney, cited efficiency as an issue for supersonic jets, while other manufacturers say they're concentrating on reducing fuel-burn – the primary focus for the industry, given criticism of air travel's contribution to global warming.

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The iPhone 14 is the most repairable iPhone in years

It’s completely been reworked inside.

iFixit has finished a teardown of this year's iPhone 14, and it's clear that the device was reworked from the ground up, with do-it-yourself fixes in mind. The back glass is easier and cheaper to fix, but the metal midframe keeps the front just as accessible. Apple still demands that customers and technicians activate parts after installation, so you can't just use an unofficial back instead of Self Service Repair components. Still, iFixit claims this is the most repairable Apple handset since 2016's iPhone 7. In Fact, the design is more repairable than many Android phones that are only easy to open from the back.

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'Cyberpunk 2077' is a hit on Steam again

Thanks to its Netflix anime spinoff.


With nearly 80,000 concurrent Steam players at the moment, Cyberpunk 2077 is enjoying a resurgence in popularity. While it’s a far cry from the more than one million people that played the game on PC following its troubled launch, it’s still more interest than the game has seen in over a year. That’s likely thanks to the game’s anime spinoff, Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, which premiered on Netflix to critical acclaim.

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