Gadgets, Game & Mobile News

New Yorker Cartoonist Asher Perlman Explains How His Work Became a Meme - CNET

CNET News - 2 hours 17 min ago
He's a performer, comic and Emmy-nominated writer for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Air New Zealand's 'Skynest' Bunk Beds Could Make Flying Ultra-Long Haul a Dream - CNET

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The snooze pods will be available to add to economy bookings on the airline's new Dreamliners.

A Pair of Killer Whales Is Terrorizing Great White Sharks Off South Africa's Coast - CNET

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The orcas are attacking sharks and ripping out their livers -- forcing the predators to flee regions they once dominated.

iPhone 14 Rumor: All the Buzz We've Heard So Far - CNET

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We're collecting all the gossip about Apple's next iPhone lineup.

Facebook Settlement in Tracking Lawsuit Gets Preliminary OK From Court - CNET

CNET News - 2 hours 39 min ago
The years-old class-action suit said the company tracked users on other sites even after they logged off Facebook. The company has agreed to pay $90 million.

Developer of Pokemon Go Niantic Lays Off 8% of Staff - CNET

CNET News - 3 hours 47 min ago
The software developer is cutting almost 100 jobs and cancelling four projects.

Pokemon Go Anniversary Event: Shadow Latios, Party Hat Charizard and More - CNET

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Pokemon Go is celebrating its sixth anniversary with a special event.

Best Credit Cards for Good Credit for July 2022 - CNET

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Keeping a good credit score can lead to credit cards with bigger perks, lower rates and more cash back.

Big tech's abortion travel policies do nothing for its contractor workforce

Engadget - 3 hours 52 min ago

The Supreme Court's ruling last week has overnight transformed many states where abortion access was prohibitively difficult to ones where it is now de factoillegal. Congressional Democrats squandered nearly 50 years of opportunities to strengthen the right to bodily autonomy, and now in the wake of a post-Roe nation, large companies have been attempting to perform some form of triage, but their solutions, among tech firms in particular, often exclude the overwhelming majority of their workforces.

Alphabet, Meta, Amazon, Uber, Lyft and DoorDash have all recently announced or reiterated policies for employees that would cover or offset the cost of traveling out of state to seek medical services, including abortions. While, as Vox's Emily Stewart rightly points out, no one should have to choose between a forced pregnancy or disclosing an abortion to their employer's HR department, the situation is significantly more grim for the hordes of contractors who keep these same businesses afloat and have not been afforded the same options.

What's at stake here is a massive number of workers. In many cases far more than the number of full-timers these companies have on payroll. The most recent estimate, in 2020, for content moderators on Facebook was 15,000 — a number which likely does not encompass moderators on Meta's other social platforms, and almost certainly excludes contingent workers at the company's many offices and data centers. (Its full-time staff, meanwhile, are barred from discussing abortion-related issues at work.)

Amazon has boasted about creating 158,000 sub-contracted roles for its network of delivery service providers. Once again this does not include drivers contracted through its internal Amazon Flex program, data center and office support workers or those handling maintenance at the company's over 1,100 warehouses. Alphabet was the subject of critical reporting in 2018 where it was revealed the majority of workers at the tech giant were not employees. The number of temporary workers, vendors or contractors (TVCs in the company parlance) is not publicly reported, but is estimated to be around 150,000.

For "gig" companies like Uber, Lyft and DoorDash the balance is even more skewed. Against its approximately 30,000 employees, estimates on the number of contractor drivers working for Uber range from 3.9 million to five million, with about a million of those operating in the US. The most-cited claim is that Lyft has around 1.4 million drivers across the US and Toronto — though the source of that figure is nearly five years old and is likely to be much larger now. DoorDash's 6,000 employees are dwarfed by a claimed fleet of two million couriers.

It's also highly likely (though at this time still unclear) these policies will be inapplicable to part-time employees since these travel reimbursements appear to be administered through employer-provided healthcare, which part-time workers typically do not qualify for. For this reason it's also unclear if these companies had any input into creating these reimbursement programs, or if the credit belongs to their respective health insurance providers. Meta, Amazon, Alphabet and Uber did not respond to requests for comment, while Lyft and DoorDash declined to answer specific questions and passed along existing statements to press.

A Meta spokesperson told Engadget, "We intend to offer travel expense reimbursements, to the extent permitted by law, for employees who will need them to access out-of-state health care and reproductive services. We are in the process of assessing how best to do so given the legal complexities involved."

“It’s paramount that all DoorDash employees and their dependents covered on our health plans have equitable, timely access to safe healthcare," a spokesperson told Engadget. "DoorDash will cover certain travel-related expenses for employees who face new barriers to access and need to travel out of state for abortion-related care.”

"Lyft's U.S. medical benefits plan includes coverage for elective abortion and reimbursement for travel costs if an employee must travel more than 100 miles for an in-network provider," Kristin Sverchek, Lyft President of Business Affairs, wrote in a blog post published June 24. When asked if the company is doing anything for its fleet of drivers, a spokesperson instead pointed to a section of the same blog post where Sverchek wrote that the company is "partnering with [Planned Parenthood] to pilot a Women’s Transportation Access program." No recent mentions of Lyft or the phrase "Women's Transportation Access" appear anywhere in Planned Parenthood's press releases, and the organization did not respond to a request for comment by time of publication. Lyft would not comment on who the program would cover, what access it would provide, what funding it had, where it would operate or when it is projected to launch.

The hollowness of these gestures towards abortion access have not been lost on some workers. The Alphabet Workers Union, a sub-group of the Communications Workers of America, issued a statement yesterday criticizing their namesake company for failing to extend these new policies to contingent workers. "Google announced that full-time employees would have access to relocation services following the overturning of Roe v. Wade. What this fails to address is the needs of the hundreds of thousands of Alphabet temps, vendors and contract workers, who are more likely to be living in states with restricted abortion access, more likely to be workers of color," Parul Koul, a AWU member and Google software engineer wrote.

What has been echoed widely over the past several decades of the Republican project to restrict abortion access is that new barriers — closing down clinics, enacting gestational bans and now the overturning or will not stop abortions from being carried out, they merely make safe abortions harder to obtain. Current projections suggest the number of abortions is only likely to drop around 14 percent. It is all but certain the burden of forced pregnancy will overwhelmingly fall on those who are at an economic disadvantage: those without stable work, good pay, employer-sponsored healthcare or the time and savings to take off from work to seek an out of state abortion. In many cases, the situation described here overlaps precisely with the circumstances of contractors these new reimbursement policies implicitly exclude, and in a sense it makes these companies complicit in the two-tiered access Republicans have largely succeeded in making a reality. Tech companies cannot promise to build the future while vast numbers of their workforces are trapped in 1972.

1,100-HP Red Bull RB17 Hybrid Hypercar Coming in 2025 for $6M - CNET

CNET News - 5 hours 32 min ago
Red Bull's first stand-alone road car will be developed by Adrian Newey, who worked on the Aston Martin Valkyrie.

Satellite Snaps Wowza Space Selfie With Off-the-Shelf Camera - CNET

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NanoAvionics raises the bar for self-portraits in space.

Best Credit Cards With No Foreign Transaction Fees for July 2022 - CNET

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You can save the typical 3% foreign transaction fee if you use one of these cards while traveling abroad.

Facebook Groups Gets Facelift with New Dedicated Channels - CNET

CNET News - 6 hours 7 min ago
Meta describes the subgroups as more focused spaces "for people to connect in smaller, more casual settings."

Tips for Playing Junker Queen in the Overwatch 2 Beta - CNET

CNET News - 6 hours 23 min ago
The new tank hero can deal a lot of damage, but you need to know how her abilities work together.

Niantic is laying off about 90 employees and canceling four projects

Engadget - 6 hours 30 min ago

Pokémon Go developer Niantic is laying off eight percent of its workforce, which is said to be around 85-90 jobs. The augmented reality game company has also canceled four projects. CEO John Hanke reportedly wrote in an email to employees that Niantic was “facing a time of economic turmoil” and had to “further streamline our operations in order to best position the company" to weather any future economic turmoil.

“We recently decided to stop production on some projects and reduce our workforce by about eight percent to focus on our key priorities,” a Niantic spokesperson told Bloomberg, which first reported the news. “We are grateful for the contributions of those leaving Niantic and we are supporting them through this difficult transition.”

One of the games that has been shelved is Transformers: Heavy Metal. Niantic and Hasbro announced that title in 2021 and had been testing it in some markets since last summer. Niantic has also canned an immersive theater project called Hamlet. It was working on that project with theater group Punchdrunk, which is behind an immersive production of Macbeth called Sleep No More. The other two shelved projects are called Blue Sky and Snowball.

Niantic hasn't yet been able to recapture the lightning-in-a-bottle success of 2016's Pokémon Go. The company shut down an AR game based on Harry Potter earlier this year. Bloomberg notes that titles based on Catan (which shuttered last year) and Nintendo's Pikmin haven't been successful either.

News of the layoffs and project cancellations comes one day after Niantic announced NBA All-World, a basketball game it's making in collaboration with the NBA and the league's players' association. Meanwhile, the company will soon release an app that will help Pokémon Go players chat with each other. It's also working on an original game called Peridot and collaborating with other companies on AR apps.

Formula E's Gen3 car will make its race debut on January 14th

Engadget - 6 hours 45 min ago

Formula E’s Gen3 all-electric car will make its race debut on January 14th, 2023 in Mexico City. The Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) announced the date on Wednesday and shared the preliminary schedule for Formula E’s upcoming ninth season.

Before the official start of the competition in January, teams will have three days in December to test their new ride in Valencia, Spain. With today’s preliminary schedule, Formula E plans to host 18 races across 13 cities. That’s two more contests and three more stops than its 2022 slate. What’s more, for the first time, the Formula E circuit will visit Hyderabad in India and São Paulo, Brazil.

If you take a look at the schedule, you’ll notice a few gaps. Most notably, Formula E has yet to announce a New York City date. A spokesperson told Engadget the organization is working to organize races in South Africa and the US.

Season 9Formula E

"New York has been the home of Formula E in the USA since Season 3, with the exception of the Covid-hit Season 6 in 2020, and has delivered some epic races in front of full grandstands,” said Formula E chief championship officer Alberto Longo. “Major construction work in the Brooklyn area will make it a challenge to use the current track layout next year which is why we have not announced a specific date on the provisional Season 9 calendar. However, we will continue to work closely with our local partners in Brooklyn to explore solutions for racing in New York next season.”

Next year’s racing debut of the Gen3 is exciting for a couple of reasons. Not only is the car faster than its predecessor, but Formula E also designed it to be more agile. That’s something that should lead to more wheel-to-wheel dueling between drivers, and make the resulting races more entertaining.

Justice Stephen Breyer to Retire From Supreme Court on Thursday - CNET

CNET News - 7 hours 13 min ago
Breyer will step down as the tumultuous court term comes to a close.

Google’s Switch to Android app on iOS now works with all Android 12 devices

Engadget - 7 hours 20 min ago

Google is making it easier for new Android users to transfer their data from an old iPhone. As of today, the company’s Switch to Android app on iOS will work with all Android 12 devices. Previously only compatible with Pixel phones, the software is useful if you're about to move from iOS to Android.

Once you have your new phone, connect it to your old Apple one. Your best bet is a Lightning to USB-C cable, but you can also link the two devices together over WiFi. Once they’re connected, select what data you want to be moved over. Your options include apps, contacts, photos, videos, music and messages. At that point, the software will take care of the rest.

The timing of the wider availability of Switch to Android is interesting in part because WhatsApp recently made it easier for new iOS users to move their chat histories over from an old Android phone. Obviously, Google's app won't help if you switched to Android before today's announcement, but if the headache of transferring your data is what held you back previously, now you have one less reason to wait.    

Best Samsung Galaxy S22, S22 Plus and S22 Ultra Cases for 2022 - CNET

CNET News - 7 hours 20 min ago
If you're looking for a case for your Galaxy S22, here's an assortment of our top picks.