Posts with «media» label

Google is shutting down Duplex on the Web

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

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

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

‘The Callisto Protocol’ patch attempts to address PC performance issues

One day after releasing The Callisto Protocol to mixed reviews, developer Striking Distance Studios is rolling out a patch to address the PC version’s stuttering issues. The studio promised the hotfix would “improve performance,” adding that “a number of additional updates” were on the way.

We’re aware that some users are experiencing stuttering issues on the PC. We’ve got a patch that will be available in a few hours to improve performance, with a number of additional updates on the way.

— The Callisto Protocol (@CallistoTheGame) December 2, 2022

Since its release, PC players have taken to YouTube, Reddit and other online forums to complain about The Callisto Protocol’s performance issues. On Steam, the game currently holds a “Mixed” score after nearly 10,000 player reviews, with the majority of negative posts complaining about the game’s technical shortcomings.

Digital Foundry details the problems in its recent video on the game. According to the outlet, The Callisto Protocol doesn’t precompile its shaders. That’s a big no-no for an Unreal Engine 4 game on PC. Nearly every time The Callisto Protocol introduces new assets or shows something for the first time, players can expect massive stuttering, with the effect worse on PCs with older and less powerful CPUs.

How much the first patch fixes the shader compilation issue is hard to say. Some Twitter users report a “huge” difference, but note the problem isn’t completely fixed. Watching the few YouTube videos that document how the update affects performance, you can still see still plenty of micro stutters. If you want to play The Callisto Protocol on PC, I would say your best bet is to wait before buying the game.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Alex Kaplan (@AlKapDC) November 30, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

Meta Quest Pro’s first update adds mixed reality screen recordings

The Meta Quest Pro is a classic case of the early adopter’s dilemma. Although the headset offers a wealth of potential for virtual reality enthusiasts, it also requires a $1,500 investment for something that — at least for now — doesn’t have the software to justify its price. Although today’s v47 update doesn’t fix that problem, it does take a small first step by adding mixed reality (MR) capture and background audio playback.

The first update since Quest Pro’s launch lets you record your real-world environment combined with virtual elements. Previously, you could only capture in-game action and the real-world elements would be reduced to a black background.

The feature doesn’t appear to require any settings changes. After installing the update, you can record MR video by pulling up the headset’s Quick Action Bar, navigating to Camera and tapping “Record Video.”

Background audio is another addition. While playing any game, you can stream audio from the headset’s browser or any 2D panel app (progressive web apps optimized for Quest), and you’ll still hear it when you jump into a game. The feature lets you listen to your favorite music or podcast while playing an otherwise serene VR game (fishing, golf and meditation experiences come to mind).

Meta also added several feature updates for its entire Quest lineup (also including the Quest 2 and the original Quest). Horizon Home, the cozy hub you see when you first put on the headset, now makes it easier to change your avatar’s appearance. It also includes a virtual mirror to check out your avatar’s makeovers in real-time. Additionally, the Meta Quest mobile app received a few updates. You can now make your game wish lists public to send to friends and family as a not-so-subtle holiday gift nudge. The mobile app also makes it easier to see friend activity and adds widgets for starting a Cast, including viewing your headset and controller’s battery life.

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

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

Listen below or subscribe on your podcast app of choice. If you've got suggestions or topics you'd like covered on the show, be sure to email us or drop a note in the comments! And be sure to check out our other podcasts, the Morning After and Engadget News!



  • Kindle Scribe review – 1:13

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

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

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

  • Working on – 43:58

  • Pop culture picks – 45:30


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

Ye's Twitter account suspended again following swastika tweet

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

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

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

'The Mandalorian' season 3 arrives on March 1st

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

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

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

— The Mandalorian (@themandalorian) December 1, 2022

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