Posts with «finance trading» label

The Morning After: Will EA be the next gaming giant to sell itself?

Electronic Arts is actively courting buyers — or another company willing to merge with it, according to insider news site, Puck. The video game company reportedly held talks with several potential buyers or partners, including major players Disney, Apple and Amazon.

EA remains a company of its own for now, but Puck said it’s more proactive in its quest to find a sale since Microsoft announced it's snapping up Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion. In short, it shows that some companies are willing to throw around enough money to buy a gaming giant like EA.

The company, arguably best known for its legion of sports games, recently parted ways with FIFA for its soccer/football series. It’ll be called EA Sports FC going forward. No, it is not catchy.

— Mat Smith

The biggest stories you might have missed

Leica’s latest smartphone collaboration is with Xiaomi

The camera brand has already worked with Sharp and Huawei.

Xiaomi

Xiaomi finally confirmed its "long-term strategic cooperation" with Leica, and that they've been co-developing a flagship smartphone for launch in July 2022. Teaming up with camera companies has been done several times over – especially by Chinese phone manufacturers trying to stand out from the crowd. In 2020, Vivo joined forces with Zeiss, while Oppo and OnePlus started releasing handsets jointly developed with Hasselblad, including the Find X5 series and the OnePlus 10 Pro.

Harder to stand out when everyone is doing the same thing, though.

Continue reading.

Amazon beamed its new Prime Video sci-fi show into outer space

Why?

Amazon beamed the first episode of sci-fi series Night Sky out of Earth's atmosphere. It’s calling it "the first-ever intergalactic premiere for a TV series."

Prime Video’s press release said the transmission won't be caught by broadcast satellites and sent back to terra firma, as is usually the case. "Theoretically, this makes the broadcast available to anyone open to receiving satellite signals 384,000 kilometers away from Earth and beyond — the equivalent distance from Earth to the Moon."

Theoretically.

Continue reading.

Watch the first 8 minutes of 'Stranger Things' season 4

The last episode will be longer than some movies.

Netflix

Netflix is trying to build up hype for Stranger Things season four in a not-so-subtle way: sharing the first eight minutes of the introductory episode. It’s heavy on the flashback, but there should be enough to hook intrigued parties.

Watch here.

The FCC has a plan to boost rural broadband download speeds to 100 Mbps

Some users could get a 20-fold speed increase.

The FCC wants to boost rural broadband internet speeds through proposed changes to the Alternative Connect America Cost Model (A-CAM) program. It wants to crank up download and upload speeds to 100/20 Mbps in areas served by carriers that receive A-CAM support. The current baseline is 25/3 Mbps.

Last week, the Biden administration launched a $45 billion project to bring all Americans online by 2030.

Continue reading.

Peloton teases its first connected rowing machine

Peloton is still busy expanding its connected fitness lineup despite its ongoing financial woes. The company has teased plans to introduce its first rowing machine, promising a mix of cardio and strength training. The company didn't go into detail during its Homecoming 2022 event, but a sneak peek video (below) shows that it's largely what you'd expect — a minimalist rower with a large screen to show classes and stats.

ICYMI pic.twitter.com/49VBKux2wz

— Peloton (@onepeloton) May 13, 2022

There was no mention of a release date or price for the rowing machine. Peloton previewed features for existing products, though. You can soon schedule workouts with friends through the app, Bike or Tread. Blind and low-vision users will get to navigate the Tread's interface through the Google TalkBack screen reader. And you'll finally have the option to track cycling, running and other workouts through the Peloton app. You won't have to participate in a class just to have exercise count toward member challenges and streaks.

The expansion comes just days after Peloton revealed a massive $751.1 million loss in its latest quarter, not to mention dropping revenue. The company has been struggling to adapt to the pandemic recovery as people return to gyms and the office, and the combination of price cuts and the Guide camera hasn't done much to turn things around. The rowing machine is a gamble in that regard, as Peloton is clearly hoping more aggressive investments now will pay off in the long term.

With that said, it may be a shrewd move. The smart rowing machine market is relatively small, with brands like Echelon and Hydrow leading the pack. Peloton might carve out a signification position in that market through name recognition and its well-known classes.

The Pixel Tablet is coming in 2023

Google's last tablet was the ill-fated Pixel slate, a device that was widely criticized — so much so that in 2019, Google said it wouldn't make tablets anymore. In classic fashion, though, the company is changing its tune. Today as part of its hardware presentation at Google I/O, Google has announced the Pixel Tablet, a premium Android-powered device that's set to arrive sometime in 2023. 

As this product is months away from being released, Google is only giving us scant details right now. Rick Osterloh, Google's SVP of devices and services, said that the Pixel Tablet was a "premium" device that'll run on the company's custom Tensor chips, just like the latest Pixel phones. What we haven't heard is how much it'll cost, how big the screen is or when it'll be released. We can say that, based on the renders we saw, it looks a bit like someone just took the screen off a Nest Hub.

Naturally, the new tablet will run Google's version of Android specifically built for larger screens, an initiative that's been in the works for a while now. Historically, the big knock against Android tablets is that the software never feels like it's built for the bigger screen, and that apps aren't optimized to use this bigger view. Even with changes made to Android to support larger screens, it doesn't necessarily mean developers will build their apps to take advantage of that space. 

But Osterloh told reporters in a briefing ahead of I/O that Google has clearly heard that users want a larger-screen Pixel experience to compliment their phones — so the company is at least seeing some level of consumer demand for such a device. Whether that leads into market adoption is another question entirely, as neither Chrome OS nor Android tablets ever caught on in a significant way. Samsung has had some success with its Galaxy Tab line and Amazon's budget lineup of Fire tablets have both stuck around, but Apple's iPad remains dominant. 

Given that this device won't be out until sometime in 2023, it's far too early to predict if Google has learned from its past mistakes in the tablet arena. But the company made a commitment at I/O to rebuild more than 20 of its apps for large-screen devices, and huge developers like Facebook, TikTok and Zoom are on board as well. If more third-party developers get on board by the time the Pixel Tablet arrives, it could have a shot at redefining what we think of when it come to premium Android tablets.

Follow all of the news from Google I/O 2022 right here!

Netflix's ad-supported plan and password sharing fees may arrive this year

Although Netflix had long said its service wouldn't include ads, it revealed last month that it will actually roll out a cheaper, ad-supported plan. Co-CEO Reed Hastings said on an earnings call that plans for that tier would be firmed up "over the next year or two." However, it seems the company is looking to offer the option even sooner. It reportedly suggested in an internal memo that an ad-supported version of the streaming service will emerge later this year.

Executives told staff in the note that they want to introduce an ad-supported plan in the last three months of 2022, according to The New York Times. What's more, the note suggested the tier will be introduced around the same time as an extra fee for subscribers who share their passwords with people living at different addresses.

In the memo, Netflix is said to have noted that, outside of Apple TV+, every major streaming platform offers a lower-cost, ad-supported plan. Those include Hulu, HBO Max and Peacock. The company reportedly said that some of its competitors have still been able to “maintain strong brands" while showing commercials.

Meanwhile, Netflix recently said that more than 222 million households are paid subscribers. However, it claimed more than 100 million households are watching Netflix on someone else's account without paying for access. On the earnings call, chief operating officer Greg Peters said that while the company is “not trying to shut down that sharing," it is "going to ask you to pay a bit more to be able to share.” Netflix started testing an extra fee for account sharers in Peru, Chile and Costa Rica in March.

After years of impressive growth, Netflix suddenly has a big issue when it comes to subscriber numbers, which fell for the first time last quarter. It lost 200,000 members (largely due to shutting down its service in Russia) and it thinks it may lose as many as another two million this quarter. With its stock nosediving by over 50 percent in the last month, the company is hoping an ad-supported tier and extra charges for password sharing will help increase revenue.

'Star Trek: Picard' could only exist on a streaming service

The following contains mild spoilers for the finale episode of ‘Star Trek: Picard’ season two.

Picard has always been an outlier in the Star Trek franchise. It’s not a show about a particular ship and its crew; the title indicates that at its heart, it’s about this one character and any unresolved issues he may have had with his life. It hasn’t been the most compelling premise, and its output so far has been divisive among fans. But as the series finishes up its second year and rolls into its third and final season, its ultimate purpose has become more clear, a purpose that wouldn’t have worked for a broadcast show but fits right in with the more intimate confines of a streaming service.

In its first two seasons, Picard has felt rather directionless. Season one was about artificial life, while season two decided to delve into time travel and emotional trauma. It may be a serialized program, but the plotlines and tone have gone all over the place (mostly notably in “Stardust City Rag,” which starts off with a gory torture scene but by the halfway mark the crew is all wearing silly disguises). But between the departures of cast members at the end of season two and the announcement that The Next Generation crew would be appearing in the series in its last season, however, a clear pathway for the program seems to have emerged from the fog.

CBS

The final TNG movie (Nemesis) is generally considered to be awful, with a weak nonsensical plot, some out-of-character moments and just a bad sendoff for fan favorite characters like Data. Picard has sought to heal some of those wounds by giving Data a proper death, Troi and Riker a proper family, and Jean-Luc himself some needed character growth. That last one was a particular sticking point since the finale of the show, “All Good Things,” ended with a message that Picard needs to grow as a person. And then in the films… he just didn’t.

It’s hard to imagine creating a network television show just to fix some problems with a series of films made twenty years ago, which is why Picard is most definitely a product of the streaming model. I’ve talked before how streaming affects the creative development of shows in both good and bad ways. A streaming program is given a full season order before it starts, meaning that creators know they have at least six or 10 or 13 episodes to play with. It’s a big part of why serialized storytelling is even possible, since showrunners no longer fear being cut off in the middle of an ongoing story (like the recently canceled Legends of Tomorrow on the CW, which ended on a big cliffhanger).

CBS

There are also some drawbacks, to be sure; without audience feedback, it means a creator can’t fine-tune a show as it goes along. They can’t make changes at all until the new season starts production. And if the show hasn’t been renewed for another season, they can’t seed plot points in the current season and be sure they’ll pay off. At least with broadcast shows, they may hear of their renewal while still in production, allowing them to add in some hook for the next season.

But as I said, Picard doesn’t have to worry about any of this. The show was intended to be three seasons and no more, and they’ve already shot the entire thing. Many lapsed fans have publicly stated they intend to jump on board merely for the presence of their TNG faves, meaning Paramount+’s streaming strategy does seem to be working in this case.

CBS

And it’s because the show has such a limited life span, because it’s ending up to be less a tentpole than it is a nice little coda for long-time fans, I find it easier to make peace with the show’s existence. Like many viewers I’ve had problems with Picard, some I’ve written about. The same goes for Discovery. But as the Star Trek universe expands and more options become available, each show has a lot less weight to carry.

They no longer have to try to meet every expectation; instead fans have a fuller menu to choose from. Discovery can be for those who like a quirkier Trek with a progressive cast, Picard is for TNG diehards, Lower Decks is for fans who like the sillier aspects of the franchise, Prodigy is for kids and Strange New Worlds is trying to be an old-fashioned-style Trek for fans who literally hated everything else on this list. And I don’t think any of this would have been possible without the streaming model. There may be too many shows to keep up with, but at least it’s easier to find something that fits your unique taste. Whether the growth of streaming is sustainable is yet to be seen (RIP CNN+) but for now, we can enjoy the plethora of options at the buffet.

Hackers are reportedly using emergency data requests to extort women and minors

In response to fraudulent legal requests, companies like Apple, Google, Meta and Twitter have been tricked into sharing sensitive personal information about some of their customers. We knew that was happening as recently as last month when Bloombergpublished a report on hackers using fake emergency data requests to carry out financial fraud. But according to a newly published report from the outlet, some malicious individuals are also using the same tactics to target women and minors with the intent of extorting them into sharing sexually explicit images and videos of themselves.

It’s unclear how many fake data requests the tech giants have fielded since they appear to come from legitimate law enforcement agencies. But what makes the requests particularly effective as an extortion tactic is that the victims have no way of protecting themselves other than by not using the services offered by those companies. Law enforcement officials and investigators Bloomberg spoke to told the publication they believe the use of the tactic has become “more prevalent” in recent months.

All the companies that commented on Bloomberg’s reporting, including Google and Snap, said they have policies and teams in place to verify the legitimacy of user data requests.

"We review every data request for legal sufficiency and use advanced systems and processes to validate law enforcement requests and detect abuse,” Meta spokesperson Andy Stone told Engadget. “We block known compromised accounts from making requests and work with law enforcement to respond to incidents involving suspected fraudulent requests, as we have done in this case."

A Discord spokesperson said the company validates all data requests to ensure they come from a “genuine” source. “We are continuously investing in our Safety capabilities to address emerging issues like this one,” the spokesperson added.

Part of what has allowed the fake requests to slip through is that they abuse how the industry typically handles emergency appeals. Among most tech companies, it’s standard practice to share a limited amount of information with law enforcement in response to “good faith” requests related to situations involving imminent danger.

Typically, the information shared in those instances includes the name of the individual, their IP, email and physical address. That might not seem like much, but it’s usually enough for bad actors to harass, dox or SWAT their target. According to Bloomberg, there have been “multiple instances” of police showing up at the homes and schools of underage women.

The issue of fake data requests is reportedly prompting companies to think of new ways to verify legitimate ones. It has also pushed US lawmakers to weigh in on the issue. “No one wants tech companies to refuse legitimate emergency requests when someone’s safety is at stake," said Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon last month. "But the current system has clear weaknesses that need to be addressed."

Apple, Facebook and Discord reportedly gave user data to hackers posing as law enforcement

Apple, Facebook and Discord turned over user data to hackers posing as law enforcement officials, according to a new report in Bloomberg. The demands, which were forged to look like authentic legal requests, reportedly came from legitimate email accounts that had been “compromised.”

According to Bloomberg, both Facebook and Apple turned over “basic subscriber details, such as a customer’s address, phone number and IP address.” Discord provided “the Internet address history of Discord accounts tied to a specific phone number,” according to Krebs on Security. The hackers also targeted Snap, though it’s not clear if the company actually turned over the requested data.

As Bloomberg points out, it’s not uncommon for companies like Apple and Facebook to turn over data to law enforcement, and these companies have dedicated teams to respond to such requests. Typically, these requests are accompanied by a court order, but there are “emergency” cases when law enforcement asks for data without one, like when someone’s life is believed to be in danger.

In this case, the hackers exploited this tactic in order to access personal information about specific targets in order to “facilitate financial fraud schemes.” Using hacked emails tied to legitimate law enforcement personnel, they were able to successfully fool the companies into handing over the data.

In a statement to Bloomberg, Meta spokesperson Andy Stone said that the company has safeguards in place to verify legal requests and detect abuse. “We block known compromised accounts from making requests and work with law enforcement to respond to incidents involving suspected fraudulent requests, as we have done in this case,” Stone said.

Apple and Snap also pointed to company guidelines, saying they have policies to verify the legitimacy of requests for user data. But these safeguards can fall short if the requests appear to be from emails associated with legitimate law enforcement agencies. As Discord told Krebson Security:

“We can confirm that Discord received requests from a legitimate law enforcement domain and complied with the requests in accordance with our policies. We verify these requests by checking that they come from a genuine source, and did so in this instance. While our verification process confirmed that the law enforcement account itself was legitimate, we later learned that it had been compromised by a malicious actor. We have since conducted an investigation into this illegal activity and notified law enforcement about the compromised email account.”

Interestingly, security researchers have reportedly tied some of the people involved in this scheme to another high-profile hacking group: Lapsus$, whose members allegedly hacked Microsoft and Okta. According to Bloomberg, one person involved with forging the requests is also “believed to be the mastermind behind the cybercrime group Lapsus$.”

The Morning After: Apple TV+ is the first streaming service to win a Best Picture Oscar

Almost precisely three years after it launched, Apple TV+ has claimed the Best Picture Oscar for a streaming service with CODA. In another historic moment, Troy Kotsur became the first Deaf male actor to win an Oscar. Apple paid $25 million for the distribution rights to the film, which had a limited theatrical run and is currently streaming on Apple TV+.

Reuters

It beat Netflix's favorite in the category, The Power of the Dog, which picked up Best Director for Jane Campion. And while Netflix registered a record 27 nominations for this year’s Oscars, losing out to Apple for arguably the biggest prize probably smarts after years of campaigning for its movies and shows.

— Mat Smith

The biggest stories you might have missed

‘Halo’ wishes it was ‘The Mandalorian’

The show can’t compete with modern sci-fi TV.

Paramount+

Many, many years in the making, the interesting elements of Halo are somewhat outweighed by the show's simplistic writing, stiff acting and sometimes dodgy special effects. If it came out in 2015, when we first expected it to arrive, it would have been more impressive. But with The Mandalorian and other shows like Foundation on Apple TV+, there’s a lot of premium sci-fi TV to get into — and that’s before we even touch all the myriad Star Trek shows filling up Paramount+, the home of Halo.

Continue reading.

Apple may release its next iPad Pro this fall

The tablet will reportedly feature a new chip and MagSafe charging.

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman expects Apple will release its next-generation iPad Pro sometime this fall. Gurman anticipates the new tablet will feature MagSafe charging and Apple’s long-rumored but as yet unannounced M2 chip.

Apple only just updated the iPad Pro last year, adding 5G, Thunderbolt connectivity and its first-generation Apple Silicon system-on-a-chip. Details on the M2 remain sparse, but it has reportedly gone into production.

Continue reading.

Uber secures 30-month London taxi license

The extension ends a long-running spat with city regulators.

Following a years-long dispute with the city’s transit regulator, Uber has earned a 30-month license to continue operating in London. Transport for London (TfL) said the ride hailing service had been granted a London private hire vehicle operator’s license” for a period of two and a half years.”

Uber’s dispute with TfL dates back to 2017 when the agency said the company wasn’t “fit and proper” to operate in the city and revoked its taxi license. Among other issues, TfL said Uber had failed to properly conduct driver background checks and report serious criminal offenses.

Continue reading.

Whistleblower says Microsoft spent millions on bribes abroad

The former employee estimates "a minimum of $200 million each year."

In an essay published on the whistleblower platform Lioness, former Microsoft manager Yasser Elabd alleged Microsoft fired him after he alerted leadership to a workplace where many regularly engaged in bribery. He further alleges that attempts to escalate his concerns resulted in retaliation within Microsoft and eventual termination from his role.

Elabd claims in his essay that he worked for Microsoft between 1998 and 2018 and had oversight into a "business investment fund " — essentially a slush fund to "cement longer-term deals" in the Middle East and Africa. But he grew suspicious of unusual payments to seemingly unqualified partners.

Continue reading.

Ukraine is selling NFTs to support its military

The collection is meant to document the history of the war.

Ukraine's Ministry for Digital Transformation has launched an NFT collection to help fund its military. The project was first announced in early March, but the NFT collection of illustrations by Ukrainian and international artists, called “Meta History Museum of War,” is now live. The collection is meant to be an “NFT museum” documenting the history of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The collection currently comprises 54 NFTs documenting the events of the first three days of the war.

Continue reading.

The Morning After: Fortnite’s new season ditches building (for a moment)

Epic continues to shake things up for the biggest battle royale game. This is a big change, however. It’s temporarily ditched one of the game's core mechanics — building — for Fortnite Chapter 3, Season 2. You can still destroy objects, but you won't receive any wood, stone or metal to create a temporary wall or other fortifications — lest we forget, the game’s called Fortnite. In a suitably meta twist, the loss of the building ability seems to be a key part of this season's storyline.

If you live to build, the feature will still be available in competitive, creative and Save the World modes — it's only gone in casual game queues for now. Fortnite’s creators are also supporting Ukraine relief efforts, with all proceeds from V-Bucks sales, Battle Passes and Fortnite Crew subscriptions are being donated through April 3rd.

— Mat Smith

The biggest stories you might have missed

Windows 11 will add a watermark if you use unsupported hardware

It’s trying to stop workarounds to run Windows 11 on older PCs.

The Verge has learned that the most recent Windows 11 Release Preview build applies a watermark to the desktop if you use a workaround to run the operating system on unsupported hardware. Windows 11 officially requires either an 8th-generation Intel Core CPU or an AMD chip based on a Zen+ or Zen 2 architecture. Many believe the cutoff is arbitrary. You just need to add a Microsoft-sanctioned registry tweak to bypass a CPU check to install the OS without a rejection message. Microsoft has warned it might not provide updates to these PCs, however.

Continue reading.

The best tablets you can buy

We’ve got picks for every ecosystem and some affordable options.

Engadget

While tablets don’t always get the same level of attention as smartphones or laptops — landing right in the middle in size and specs — they’ve become an increasingly important category of devices for many, particularly with the recent shift to working and learning from home. Their straightforward designs make them easy to use, while improvements to Windows 11 and iPadOS allow many tablets to pull double-duty as part-time productivity devices.

However, there are a lot of options out there, so it can be difficult to pick the right one. We’ve done a bunch of the hard work for you, and we’ve got our top picks across a range of categories and prices, smartly timed after the release of the latest slates from both Apple and Samsung.

Continue reading.

CD Projekt Red is developing a new Witcher game

And it will run on Unreal Engine 5.

CDPR

Now the developer has run out of platforms to port The Witcher 3 to (it made it, somehow, to the Switch), it’s time for a new game. CD Projekt Red announced the project today with a teaser it shared on Twitter. "A new saga begins," the teaser states, with what looks like a lynx-like Witcher medallion image. The teaser suggests this new game will star a Witcher from the School of the Cat — the last protagonist, Geralt, was from the School of the Wolf. This could mean a different style of game, as these Witchers don't have a policy that stops them from involving themselves in the politics of the Continent. Intrigue abounds!

Continue reading.

DJI's $10k work drone can fly autonomously in harsh weather

This isn’t for glossy wedding drone videography.

DJI has unveiled the Matrice 30, an enterprise-class drone with IP55 dust and water resistance that lets it fly in heavy rain, strong wind and even icy situations. It can fly to altitudes as high as 22,965ft above sea level (with the right propellers) and survive temperatures between -4F and 122F. DJI is taking orders for the M30 today, and M300 RTK drone owners can also buy a new Zenmuse H20N sensor with "starlight-grade" night vision. The base M30 starts at $9,999.

Continue reading.

Heliophysics pioneer Eugene Parker dies at 94

Dr. Eugene Parker, a pioneer in the field of heliophysics, has died at the age of 94. In the 1950s, Parker developed a theory that predicted solar winds. As NASA notes, Parker pushed the field forward throughout his career, "advancing ideas that addressed the fundamental questions about the workings of our Sun and stars throughout the universe."

Heliophysics centers on the physics of the Sun and its impact on the Solar System. In 2018, NASA launched the Parker Solar Probe, the first spacecraft it named after a living person. The probe is tasked with observing the outer corona (or atmosphere) of the Sun to improve our understanding of solar winds and space weather. In December, it became the first spacecraft to enter the Sun's upper atmosphere.

“Anyone who knew Dr. Parker, knew that he was a visionary. I was honored to stand with him at the launch of Parker Solar Probe and have loved getting to share with him all the exciting science results, seeing his face light up with every new image and data plot I showed him," Nicola Fox, director of NASA's heliophysics division, said. "I will sincerely miss his excitement and love for Parker Solar Probe. Even though Dr. Parker is no longer with us, his discoveries and legacy will live forever.”