Subscribe to Engadget feed
Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics
Updated: 20 min 5 sec ago

Virgin Orbit officially shutters its space launch operations

3 hours 29 min ago

Virgin Orbit’s days of slinging satellites into space aboard aircraft-launched rockets have come to an end Thursday. After six years in business, Virgin’s satellite launch subsidiary has announced via SEC filing that it does not have the funding to continue operations and will be shuttering for “the foreseeable future,” per CNBC. Nearly 90 percent of Virgin Orbit’s employees — 675 people in total — will be laid off immediately.

Virgin Orbit was founded in 2017 for the purpose of developing and commercializing LauncherOne, a satellite launch system fitted under a modified 747 airliner, dubbed Cosmic Girl. The system was designed to put 500 pounds of cubesats into Low Earth Orbit by firing them in a rocket from said airliner flying at an altitude of 30,000 - 50,000 feet. Despite a string of early successes — both in terms of development milestones and expanding service contracts with the UK military, LauncherOne’s first official test in May of 2020 failed to deliver its simulated payload into orbit.

According to telemetry, LauncherOne has reached orbit! Everyone on the team who is not in mission control right now is going absolutely bonkers. Even the folks on comms are trying really hard not to sound too excited.

— Virgin Orbit (@VirginOrbit) January 17, 2021

A second attempt the following January in 2022 however was a success with the launch of 10 NASA cube sats into LEO, as was Virgin Orbit’s first commercial satellite launch that June. It successfully sent seven more satellites into orbit in January 2022 and quietly launched Space Force assets that July.

In all, Virgin Orbit made six total flights between 2020 and 2023, only four successfully. The most recent attempt was dubbed the Start Me Up event and was supposed to mark the first commercial space launch from UK soil. Despite the rocket successfully separating from its parent aircraft, an upper stage “anomaly” prevented the rocket’s payload from entering orbit. It was later determined that a $100 fuel filter had failed and resulted in the fault.

As TechCrunch points out, Virgin Group founder, Sir Richard Branson, “threw upwards of $55 million to the sinking space company,” in recent months but Start Me Up’s embarrassing failure turned out to be the final straw. On March 16th, Virgin Orbit announced an “operational pause” and worker furlough for its roughly 750 employees as company leadership scrambled to find new funding sources. The company extended the furlough two weeks later and called it quits on Thursday.

“Unfortunately, we’ve not been able to secure the funding to provide a clear path for this company,” Virgin CEO Dan Hart said in an all-hands call obtained by CNBC. “We have no choice but to implement immediate, dramatic and extremely painful changes.” 

Impacted employees will reportedly receive severance packages, according to Hart, including a cash payment, continued benefits and a “direct pipeline” to Virgin Galactic’s hiring department. Virgin Orbit’s two top executives will also receive “golden parachute” severances which were approved by the company’s board, conveniently, back in mid-March right when the furloughs first took effect.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/virgin-orbit-officially-shutters-its-space-launch-operations-231755999.html?src=rss

E3 2023 has been canceled

5 hours 35 min ago

Microsoft, Nintendo, Ubisoft and other major players in the game industry have all confirmed that they would have no presence on the E3 2023 show floor. Now the event itself won't happen at all.

According to IGN, the Entertainment Software Association has begun notifying members that while the show "remains a beloved event and brand," the plans for E3 2023 "simply did not garner the sustained interest necessary to execute it in a way that would showcase the size, strength and impact our industry." 

News on #E32023 from the source. pic.twitter.com/BK7TUlb8mZ

— E3 (@E3) March 30, 2023

The ESA has also published a statement from ReedPop's Global VP of Gaming, Kyle Marsden-Kish:

This was a difficult decision because of all the effort we and our partners put toward making this event happen, but we had to do what’s right for the industry and what’s right for E3. We appreciate and understand that interested companies wouldn’t have playable demos ready and that resourcing challenges made being at E3 this summer an obstacle they couldn’t overcome. For those who did commit to E3 2023, we’re sorry we can’t put on the showcase you deserve and that you’ve come to expect from ReedPop’s event experiences.

The event was supposed to run from June 13th to 16th in Los Angeles, and would have been the first in-person E3 event since 2019.

While the event may be cancelled, there will likely still be plenty of video game news to look forward to in June: Ubisoft previously announced that it would be hosting its own event around the same time, and Nintendo and PlayStation typically run digital events of their own in June. Microsoft previously pledged to be part of E3's digital show, and may still have announcements in spite of the lack of an E3 event itself. And, of course, there's always Geoff Keighley's Summer Game Fest on June 8th in Los Angeles, albeit without the competition. 

Here's 15-year old me at the first-ever E3 in 1995.

E3 meant so much to me and to so many of you too.

Four years ago, I realized that E3 wasn't evolving as it needed to compete in a global, digital world. So we started building what’s next. See at @summergamefest June 8. pic.twitter.com/wSZqpz3wjY

— Geoff Keighley (@geoffkeighley) March 30, 2023

Engadget has reached out to the ESA for comment.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/e3-2023-has-been-canceled-211201976.html?src=rss

NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 4070 will reportedly cost $599

5 hours 46 min ago

RTX 40-series graphics card prices may soon come down to Earth... if ever so slightly. VideoCardzsources claim NVIDIA will price the standard GeForce RTX 4070 at $599. That's decidedly more affordable than the $799 RTX 4070 Ti, but just as much as the RTX 3070 Ti from 2021. The days of paying $500 or less for an x070 GPU are over, apparently.

You may get more for your money than any 3070 card, at least. The GeForce RTX 4070 will reportedly have the same 5,888 CUDA core count as the regular 3070 and a narrower 192-bit memory bus, but a much higher 1.92GHz base clock speed (even the 3070 Ti tops out at 1.58GHz), more RAM (12GB versus 8GB), and a higher 29 teraflops of 32-bit floating point computing power (versus 22 for the 3070 Ti). And did we mention that it should use less power than a 3070? While the core tally and clock speeds are noticeably lower than for the 4070 Ti, it could still provide tangible gains over the last generation.

NVIDIA is said to be releasing the 'plain' GeForce RTX 4070 in mid-April. If accurate, the $599 price tag could finally make Ada-based GPUs more accessible to gamers who've balked at paying $799-plus just to get DLSS 3 upscaling and other benefits from the latest GeForce lineup. However, it would also continue the trend of increasing prices across the range. Every RTX 40 GPU to date has a reference price at least $100 higher than its RTX 30 equivalent. That's not a huge issue if you're simply looking for the best card within your budget, but it could prove painful if you want the closest-possible parallel to an earlier high-end model.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/nvidias-geforce-rtx-4070-will-reportedly-cost-599-210058860.html?src=rss

Audible is now testing ads in your audiobooks for some reason

7 hours 52 min ago

Amazon-owned Audible has started putting ads in audiobooks, potentially indicating a sea change within the industry. The company says it is “conducting limited testing” on a select user base with the advertisements and that this step is currently reserved for non-paying members, giving them “ad-supported access to a limited set” of titles. For now at least, paying subscribers seem immune to the change.

The ads pop up while listening to traditional audiobooks, podcasts and Audible original content. The company says the providers were informed of the change and given the chance to opt out of ads. Audible notes that a maximum of eight ads will play within a 24-hour period, regardless of what you are listening to. That isn’t so bad, but does set a troubling precedent for many ad-averse consumers.

As to why this test was taking place at all, the company's help page offers nothing but empty buzzwords. “Audible is dedicated to continuously optimizing how we deliver audio programming to listeners everywhere,” it states. “From time to time, Audible tests new products and services to gain knowledge about the evolving needs of our customers and partners.” Thanks for clarifying!

Does this mean an ad-supported subscription tier is forthcoming? Engadget has reached out to Audible for some clarification on this move but has yet to hear back. We will update this post when we do.

Customers have long grown-accustomed to paying for audiobooks in exchange for a pure ad-free experience, but maybe that is slowly changing. A couple of years back, Spotify purchased audiobook distributor Findaway for $119 million and, a year later, former Chief Content Officer Dawn Ostroff suggested that the company was “looking at bringing ad monetization into audiobooks.”

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/audible-is-now-testing-ads-in-your-audiobooks-for-some-reason-185337088.html?src=rss

Paramount+ orders new Star Trek series set at Starfleet Academy

8 hours 16 min ago

Paramount+ is ordering a new Star Trek series set in one of the franchise’s most iconic locations. Star Trek: Starfleet Academy will follow a new class of recruits at the San Francisco training facility as they grapple with friends, rivalries, first loves and “a new enemy that threatens both the Academy and the Federation itself.” Production is scheduled to begin in 2024.

With Picard and Discovery winding down, the network is apparently looking to a teen / young adult coming-of-age story to invite a new generation of viewers to the franchise. The series “will introduce us to a young group of cadets who come together to pursue a common dream of hope and optimism. Under the watchful and demanding eyes of their instructors, they will discover what it takes to become Starfleet officers.”

CBS studios will produce the upcoming series with Secret Hideout and Roddenberry Entertainment. No casting decisions have been announced. Deadline first reported on the series’ development last month before Paramount’s official announcement today.

Alex Kurtzman and Noga Landau, who will serve as showrunners and executive producers, released an announcement in the voice of a Starfleet recruitment bulletin. “For the first time in over a century, our campus will be re-opened to admit individuals a minimum of 16 Earth years (or species equivalent) who dream of exceeding their physical, mental and spiritual limits, who value friendship, camaraderie, honor and devotion to a cause greater than themselves,” the announcement reads. “The coursework will be rigorous, the instructors among the brightest lights in their respective fields, and those accepted will live and study side-by-side with the most diverse population of students ever admitted.”

Although the series shares its name with a late 1990s PC simulation game, its creators haven’t specified whether the two are related. We don’t even know in which era it will take place, among Star Trek’s centuries-spanning lore. The Starfleet Academy has been mentioned or featured in numerous Trek properties, including the original 1960s series, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine (among many others).

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/paramount-orders-new-star-trek-series-set-at-starfleet-academy-183059826.html?src=rss

Github ordered to identify user who leaked Twitter source code

8 hours 32 min ago

When portions of Twitter's source code appeared on Github earlier this year, the social media company asked the court to compel the collaborative programming network to reveal the identity of the user who posted it. Now, Twitter is getting it: the US District Court for the Northern District of California has issued a subpoena to Github compelling it to identity GitHub user "FreeSpeech Enthusiast," including "name(s), address(es), telephone number(s), , email address(es), social media profile data, and IP address(es), for the user(s) associated with."

According to the New York Times, sources within the company say that Twitter executives suspect a disgruntled former employee is responsible for the leak. Depending on what information Github provides, Twitter will be able to determine if the source code was posted by one of the thousands of workers that were laid off following Elon Musk's purchase of company last year.

In addition to information about the leaker themselves, the order asks Github to identify users who "posted, uploaded, downloaded or modified the data." Github has until April 3 to produce the data.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/github-ordered-to-identify-user-who-leaked-twitter-source-code-181504256.html?src=rss

Waymo's driverless taxi fleet will soon be completely electric

8 hours 41 min ago

You won't have to worry about burning fossil fuels if you hail a Waymo One ride in the near future. Waymo is phasing out its hybrid Chrysler Pacifica vans in the Phoenix East Valley area in favor of the Jaguar I-Pace EV, making its autonomous ride-hailing fleet completely electric as of late April. The company's fifth-generation Driver AI is coming to the region at the same time.

The Alphabet-owned brand is unsurprisingly eager to tout the environmental perks. As Waymo's cars are much more active than the typical personally-owned ride, the switch to EVs should have a noticeable impact on emissions. Waymo adds that it exclusively uses renewable energy to power the EVs.

There are also practical advantages, Waymo claims. The move to rely solely on the I-Pace helps "optimize" operational and technical support while the company prepares to add future EVs like Geely's custom-built Zeekr. The consistency should also improve the trustworthiness of Driver as Waymo grows.

Waymo launched One in Phoenix in 2018, and went completely driverless in the area in 2019. Service didn't start expanding in earnest until 2021, when the company started offering rides in San Francisco using the I-Pace. It began testing service in Los Angeles just last month. The switch to an all-EV fleet now provides a familiar experience regardless of where Waymo operates — Phoenix-area passengers won't feel left behind.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/waymos-driverless-taxi-fleet-will-soon-be-completely-electric-180526724.html?src=rss

‘Scott Pilgrim’ is coming back as a cartoon with the film’s entire cast

9 hours 1 min ago

Rumors of an animated Scott Pilgrim show have been swirling around for years, though Netflix officially confirmed those rumors last year by announcing it was working on something. More details just dropped, however, and not only is the Scott Pilgrim anime a real thing, but it is currently in production and features the entire cast of the original 2010 movie.

We mean the entire cast, including Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ellen Wong and Mae Whitman. Some cast members have become major stars in the years since the film’s original release, but they are also returning. In other words, expect to hear the dulcet tones of Chris Evans, Brie Larson, Kieran Culkin and Aubrey Plaza as they reprise their original roles.

This is not a drill! This is happening!

After much musing over the years about there being potential for an anime adaptation of ‘Scott Pilgrim’, I’m thrilled to say one is IMMINENT, with the whole cast back together and… you are going to lose your minds. pic.twitter.com/LyB7EIlcUD

— edgarwright (@edgarwright) March 30, 2023

There’s also plenty of behind-the-scenes folks coming back for this animated follow-up. The big name here is original director Edgar Wright, who is returning as an executive producer and seems to be heavily involved if his tweets are any indication. Bryan Lee O’Malley, the original creator of the Scott Pilgrim comic, is one of the showrunners. Wright even tweeted to suggest that the film’s original composers, legendary chiptune band Anamanaguchi, would be back in some capacity.

You will be very happy.

— edgarwright (@edgarwright) March 30, 2023

Netflix has dropped a trailer, but it does not feature any actual footage, so the look and feel of the animation are still unknown. Additionally, no official release date has been announced, so it may be a while before we see what this new interpretation looks like. It’s time to play the waiting game again, but at least we know it’s actually coming this time. In the meantime, there is the original movie to watch, comics to read and a video game to play.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/scott-pilgrim-is-coming-back-as-a-cartoon-with-the-films-entire-cast-174540102.html?src=rss

OpenAI may have to halt ChatGPT releases following FTC complaint

9 hours 18 min ago

A public challenge could put a temporary stop to the deployment of ChatGPT and similar AI systems. The nonprofit research organization Center for AI and Digital Policy (CAIDP) has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleging that OpenAI is violating the FTC Act through its releases of large language AI models like GPT-4. That model is "biased, deceptive" and threatens both privacy and public safety, CAIDP claims. Likewise, it supposedly fails to meet Commission guidelines calling for AI to be transparent, fair and easy to explain.

The Center wants the FTC to investigate OpenAI and suspend future releases of large language models until they meet the agency's guidelines. The researchers want OpenAI to require independent reviews of GPT products and services before they launch. CAIDP also hopes the FTC will create an incident reporting system and formal standards for AI generators.

We've asked OpenAI for comment. The FTC has declined to comment. CAIDP president Marc Rotenberg was among those who signed an open letter demanding that OpenAI and other AI researchers pause work for six months to give time for ethics discussions. OpenAI founder Elon Musk also signed the letter.

Critics of ChatGPT, Google Bard and similar models have warned of problematic output, including inaccurate statements, hate speech and bias. Users also can't repeat results, CAIDP says. The Center points out that OpenAI itself warns AI can "reinforce" ideas whether or not they're true. While upgrades like GPT-4 are more reliable, there's a concern people may rely on the AI without double-checking its content.

There's no guarantee the FTC will act on the complaint. If it does set requirements, though, the move would affect development across the AI industry. Companies would have to wait for assessments, and might face more repercussions if their models fail to meet the Commission's standards. While this might improve accountability, it could also slow the currently rapid pace of AI development.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/openai-may-have-to-halt-chatgpt-releases-following-ftc-complaint-172824646.html?src=rss

Sam Bankman-Fried pleads not guilty to latest fraud, bribery charges

9 hours 52 min ago

FTX founder and former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried (aka SBF) pleaded not guilty to five additional criminal charges this morning, according toCNBC. Prosecutors accuse the disgraced crypto exec of fraud and bribery for conspiring to send at least $40 million to Chinese government officials so they would unfreeze more than $1 billion in cryptocurrency, which he allegedly used to fund loss-generating trades.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) unsealed the third round of criminal charges against SBF in a superseding indictment; SBF has now pleaded not guilty to all 13 charges. Additionally, he faces civil charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). His attorney, Mark Cohen, claimed he would file a motion that SBF can’t be tried on charges brought after his extradition from the Bahamas in December.

Federal prosecutors allege SBF and his partners tried “numerous” legal and personal methods to unfreeze the funds before moving forward with the bribe. They say SBF directed Alameda Research, FTX’s sister company, to transfer more than $40 million to a private wallet. Of course, it’s illegal for US citizens to bribe foreign officials to generate business. The new charges ramp up pressure on the 31-year-old Bankman-Fried, who reportedly “arrived at the courthouse about an hour before the hearing, looking disheveled after an intense media scrum.”

Three former FTX executives, Caroline Ellison, Zixiao “Gary” Wang, and Nishad Singh, have pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy charges and have agreed to cooperate with the prosecution. There’s no word yet on the judge’s ruling about whether SBF will be forced to use a feature phone and limit internet access as part of his bail terms. After it was revealed SBF was using a virtual private network (VPN) and possibly tampering with witnesses, District Judge Lewis Kaplan previously said he didn’t want SBF “loose on his garden of electronic devices.”

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/sam-bankman-fried-pleads-not-guilty-to-latest-fraud-bribery-charges-165445328.html?src=rss

A new Twitter alternative is trying to lure users about to lose their old checkmark

10 hours 47 min ago

With Elon Musk set to pull verification from thousands of users who were verified under the company’s previous leadership, one Twitter alternative is hoping to lure some of those “legacy” checkmarks to its platform. T2, an invite-only service led by two former Twitter employees, says it will allow users to carry over their “legacy” Twitter verification to its site

T2 is part of a growing crop of Twitter alternatives that have sprung up in the wake of Musk’s takeover. The platform is smaller than some more established rivals, like Mastodon, but is intent on recreating the “public square” associated with the pre-Musk Twitter. In fact, founder Gabor Cselle has been pretty clear that he intends to create “a pretty straightforward copy of Twitter with some simplifications” rather than an entirely new experience.

So maybe it’s not surprising that the site now known as T2 — the company is eventually planning on taking a new name — is launching a “Get the Checkmark” feature that will rely on Twitter’s legacy verification program. With it, users can fill out a brief form to go through a fast-tracked verification process for T2. The feature will also work for those on T2’s waitlist.

T2's interface will look familiar to Twitter users.T2

For now, users only have a couple days to take advantage of the program, since legacy verifications are set to disappear from Twitter on April 1st. But the company has a plan to offer verification via other means once Twitter’s legacy checks go away. (T2’s form-based verification won’t work for those who paid for the new, Twitter Blue-enabled check.)

Along with the new verification features, T2 is also announcing a couple other milestones. The company has hired a former Discord exec as its new CTO, and is launching a much-needed redesign that will look familiar to Twitter users.

As with all of the new Twitter rivals, T2 has a long way to go before it reaches anywhere close to the size of the platform it’s trying to emulate. But, as Mastodon founder CEO Eugen Rochko has pointed out, Twitter’s more influential users — like those with legacy verification — are incredibly valuable to any upstart platform. If T2 can snag more of those users, it could make it easier to recreate the public square they’re looking for.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/a-new-twitter-alternative-is-trying-to-lure-users-about-to-lose-their-old-checkmark-160011153.html?src=rss

Midjourney ends free trials of its AI image generator due to 'extraordinary' abuse

11 hours 8 min ago

Midjourney is putting an end to free use of its AI image generator after people created high-profile deepfakes using the tool. CEO David Holz says on Discord that the company is ending free trials due to "extraordinary demand and trial abuse." New safeguards haven't been "sufficient" to prevent misuse during trial periods, Holz says. For now, you'll have to pay at least $10 per month to use the technology.

As The Washington Postexplains, Midjourney has found itself at the heart of unwanted attention in recent weeks. Users relied on the company's AI to build deepfakes of Donald Trump being arrested, and Pope Francis wearing a trendy coat. While the pictures were quickly identified as bogus, there's a concern bad actors might use Midjourney, OpenAI's DALL-E and similar generators to spread misinformation.

Midjourney has acknowledged trouble establishing policies on content. In 2022, Holz justified a ban on images of Chinese leader Xi Jinping by telling Discord users that his team only wanted to "minimize drama," and that having any access in China was more important than allowing satirical content. On a Wednesday chat with users, Holz said he was having difficulty setting content policies as the AI enabled ever more realistic imagery. Midjourney is hoping to improve AI moderation that screens for abuse, the founder added.

Some developers have resorted to strict rules to prevent incidents. OpenAI, for instance, bars any images of ongoing political events, conspiracy theories and politicians. It also forbids hate, sexuality and violence. However, others have relatively loose guidelines. Stability AI won't let Stable Diffusion users copy styles or make not-safe-for-work pictures, but it generally doesn't dictate what people can make.

Misleading content isn't the only problem for AI image production. There are longstanding concerns that the pictures are stolen, as they frequently use existing images as reference points. While some companies are embracing AI art in their products, there's also plenty of hesitation from firms worried they'll get unwanted attention.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/midjourney-ends-free-trials-of-its-ai-image-generator-due-to-extraordinary-abuse-153853905.html?src=rss

‘Star Trek: Picard’ embraces its nihilism

12 hours 42 min ago

The following discusses Star Trek: Picard, Season Three, Episode 7, “The Dominion.”

I reckon there’s a couple of generations who were raised, in whole or part, by their televisions. With surrogate parents who showed us a better way of living was possible and that the easy solution isn’t always best. Jean-Luc Picard was a leader of principle, with backbone and a belief that humanism should always prevail. When given the chance to eradicate the Borg, who had tortured, dehumanized and used him as a meat puppet to murder thousands of his colleagues, he demurred. In his own version of the Trolley Problem, he was initially in favor of wiping them out until his colleagues, including an aghast Dr. Crusher, convinced him otherwise. Their objections helped reawaken his humanity and reminded him that there was a better way.

Star Trek: Picard doesn’t just feel its lead made the wrong decision back then, it abdicates any sort of debate to justify why the alternative is better. Holding an unarmed Vadic prisoner on the Titan, Picard and Crusher agree the only course of action is to execute her. This comes after Crusher has already conceived building a new anti-changeling virus, only giving a second’s thought to the notion that it would be genocidal. Crusher, so often Star Trek: The Next Generation’s most moral compass, even says that Picard’s trap has invited death upon the Titan. When Jack is threatened, there’s no contemplation of alternatives or smarter solutions beyond those found at the business-end of a phaser. Are we watching Star Trek or 24?

But, to be even-handed, it’s also possible to offer a weaker, but present, argument that Picard is wrestling with America’s position in a post-Iraq world. Since the Dominion War has been retrofitted (pretty perfectly) as a War on Terror analog, then the changeling virus must now be seen as equivalent to the invasion itself. Shaw has given voice to the idea more than once that the changeling virus has radicalized a generation of zealots looking for revenge. But if that’s the case, why is there not a greater examination of what any of that would mean in the real world? Maybe because it’s so hard to imagine what a peace would look like that there’s no point even trying.

I’d love nothing more than to see Star Trek convincingly argue for the opposite just to see what that would look like. And it’s clearly something that Trek of old engaged with, in “Descent,” Picard wrestles with the decision made in “I, Borg,” telling Riker “the moral thing to do was not the right thing to do.” A better venue for this, however, was in Deep Space Nine, a show much better suited to painting its canvas in shades of gray than The Next Generation’s beige-carpeted explorers. “In The Pale Moonlight,” arguably the best hour of Trek ever made, makes the case that killing two people will save billions more, and makes it well. But Avery Brooks and Andrew Robinson’s performances both show that while they can make that case intellectually, neither has anything close to a clean conscience.

As for the rest of the episode, Picard hatches a plan to trap the Shrike and lure Vadic on board by playing possum, which leads to some phaser-fu fights when Jack realizes that he’s telepathic, enough to pass his punch-fight knowledge onto LaForge. Meanwhile, we learn that Vadic is, or was, a sinister Section 31 scientist who merged with one of her changeling captors, and a changeling that she was torturing and experimenting on has vowed revenge on the Federation. At this point, my sympathies are almost lurching toward the changelings.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/star-trek-picard-307-dominion-review-140506376.html?src=rss

Polestar 3 first look: Possibly the best-looking EV for 2023

13 hours 12 min ago

Polestar started out as a racing team that was then turned into a performance tuning division for Volvo before becoming its own brand in 2017.And after testing the waters with the Polestar 1 and Polestar 2, the company is poised to take another big step forward with the upcoming release of its first EV SUV: the Polestar 3. So when the car recently came to New York City for its North American debut, we couldn’t pass up the chance to check it out because it might just be the best-looking new SUV in 2023.

The Polestar 3 is built on the same platform as the Volvo EX90, but the company has made some significant changes that ensures there won’t be confusion between the two. Instead of three rows of seats, the Polestar 3 maxes out at two, with slightly less rear storage in favor of a more spacious cabin. So despite a relatively low roof line, the combination of a glass roof, a long wheelbase and rear seats that are reclined a bit more than usual gave me and my 6-foot frame a very relaxed seating position with tons of leg room. There were even a couple throw pillows in the back seat, which might be a bit unnecessary, but really adds to the premium loungey feel Polestar is going for.

Meanwhile, in front the Polestar 3 features a more enclosed cockpit-style layout, mixed with a bit of Scandinavian minimalism. There’s a big armrest and an extended console featuring a built-in wireless charger. As for infotainment, Polestar is continuing to use a system based on Android Automotive centered around a big 14.5-inch touchscreen with Google Maps as your default navigation system and a very familiar touch-based UI. Like in a lot of modern cars, pretty much everything from climate control to music is handled on the display, with the only physical controls being a big knob on the console for volume/play/pause along with some additional haptic touch points on the steering wheel.

On the outside, the Polestar sports a much more aggressive design than the EX90, thanks to dual wings (one on the hood and one above the rear window), a front splitter, big wheels (either 21 or 22 inches depending the spec) and a new two bladed-version of the company’s signature Thor’s Hammer headlights. I know not everyone will agree, but I think the Polestar 3 looks fantastic. It’s got just enough futuristic sci-fi design cues without going overboard like Tesla’s Cybertruck.

Powered by Android Automotive, the Polestar 3 has a very intuitive UI centered around a big 14.5-inch touchscreen. Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

The Polestar has the tech to back up its sci-fi looks too. In addition to things like automatic lane keeping and blindspot detection, it features a bevy of monitoring components including 12 ultrasonic sensors, five exterior radars, five cameras, two driver monitoring sensors and even four interior radars spread throughout the car. The most important use of these new sensors is that alongside the EX90, the Polestar 3 will be one of the first cars to offer an onboard passenger detection system as standard.

This means in the event a child or a pet is left in the back seat (or the trunk), the car will warn the driver, prevent the car from being locked and will continue to maintain a safe climate unless a manual override is given. The goal is to prevent any occupants from overheating if left in the car, which is sadly a very preventable cause of death that’s occurred to more than 900 children in the U.S. since 1998.

Another interesting feature is the Polestar 3’s headlights which feature a 1.3-megapixel DLP sensor that allows the car to more easily focus and adjust its beams to suit the driving conditions. And while it wasn’t on the model we saw, Polestar says the 3 will also have an optional Pilot Pack that includes a LiDAR sensor from Luminar and an NVIDIA Drive Orin chip, which will support some level of autonomous or semi-autonomous driving capabilities.

Finally, as part of the company’s commitment to making a fully carbon-neutral car by 2030, the 3 also includes a number of sustainability features including paneling and pieces of trim made from flax fiber, “Microtech” upholstery made from a pine oil-based vinyl (instead of petroleum), and floor mats created from recycled PET bottles.

That said, possibly my favorite thing about the Polestar 3 is the way the carmaker has integrated the vehicle’s design, tech and sustainability into a single cohesive package. Little elements like labeling the size of the Polestar 3’s battery on the outside of the car, right next to its name, help add a sense of transparency to its construction. As a part-time design nerd, the little labels everywhere are like a typographer's dream. On top of that, Polestar is even using blockchain technology to trace the origins of the components that go into the car's battery, to make sure they are coming from conflict-free regions. And when you pair all this with a striking design, you get a really enchanting vision of where the EV market is heading.

However, I still have two main concerns about the Polestar 3: its pricing and its energy efficiency. With the standard dual-motor long-range model starting at $83,900 or $89,900 for the Performance Pack model, this clearly isn’t an EV for the masses. And with the number of luxury electric SUVs like the BMW iX and others hitting the roads, Polestar is wading into an increasingly competitive market.

Hands-on phots from the Polestar 3's North American debut in New York City.Photo by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

On top of that, despite costing $30,000 more than a Tesla Model Y and having a big 111 kWh battery (versus just 75kWh for the Tesla), the Polestar 3 is currently only expected to get around 300 miles of range compared to 330 for the Model Y. And it’s a similar situation for the Polestar’s 250 kW DC charging, which isn’t quite as fast as what you’d get from a similar but less expensive rival like the Hyundai Ioniq 5. Granted, the Polestar has yet to receive its final official range figures from the EPA, but just going by the numbers we have so far, its battery and charging tech aren't quite as impressive as you might expect. Still, the Polestar 3 looks great and hopefully we'll know more later this year when the car goes on sale for real sometime in Q4.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/polestar-3-first-look-possibly-the-best-looking-ev-for-2023-133508992.html?src=rss

Roku will lay off another 200 workers

13 hours 18 min ago

Roku isn't done cutting jobs in a bid to turn its fortunes around. The streaming company has warned that it will lay off another 200 workers, or about six percent of its current headcount. It also plans to either close or sublease offices that aren't in active use. The layoffs will help the firm limit its expenses and focus on projects that will have a "higher return on investment," Roku says.

The device and platform creator expects to pay between $30 million and $35 million to handle the layoffs and building closures. Most of those costs should be paid in the first quarter, or by the end of this month. The layoffs should be finished by the end of Roku's second quarter, or June.

In November, Roku said it would eliminate 200 jobs in response to rough "economic conditions." It expected a year-over-year drop in revenue, and had already been struggling with slowing revenue growth in the second half of 2022. Like fellow internet video rivals Disney and Netflix, Roku is grappling with the combination of a looming recession and the end of a pandemic-era boom that kept many people at home watching TV. The company wasn't helped by the failure of Silicon Valley Bank earlier this month — it said it could have lost over 25 percent of its cash if regulators hadn't stepped in to protect deposits.

Roku is far from the only large tech company laying off staff this year. Alphabet, Amazon, Meta and Microsoft have all slashed their workforces, among numerous others. However, Roku's reductions come at a pivotal moment. It just released its first self-made TVs, and it's facing stiff competition in hardware and services from the likes of Amazon, Apple and Google. Roku is under pressure to invest heavily in its technology to keep up with its frequently wealthy challengers.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/roku-will-lay-off-another-200-workers-132908304.html?src=rss

Apple’s 'Tetris' movie trades real-life drama for spy fantasies

14 hours 16 min ago

No, the origins of Tetris didn't involve a high-speed car chase, but the true story behind the game still reads like a spy novel. There's corporate intrigue, nefarious government agencies and an envious amount of globe-trotting. But the reality wasn't enough for the creative minds behind Apple's Tetris film, which premieres on March 31st. Director Jon S. Baird and writer Noah Pink couldn't help but spice up the story with hyperactive pixel art, cartoonishly evil villains and wildly discordant tonal shifts. The result is a film that may entertain general audiences – or critics who have somehow never heard of Tetris before – but will probably leave true aficionados of the game cold.

From its opening scenes, in which a young Henk Rogers (The Kingsman's Taron Egerton) recounts the magical moment he encountered Tetris at CES, the film aims for the snappy dialog of Aaron Sorkin's scripts for The Social Network and Steve Jobs. But it never reaches those heights. Rogers is the entrepreneur responsible for working together with Alexey Pajitnov (Nikita Efremov), the Soviet programmer who created Tetris, to bring the game to the rest of the world. He makes for a compelling main character on paper, and yet the film doesn't delve too deeply into why he'd risk his life and business (he was the founder of Japan's Bullet-Proof Software) for a single game.

Taron Egerton, Sofya Lebedeva and Nikita Efremov in Tetris.Apple

Call that a failure of storytelling, or perhaps it's just dramatic shorthand. Rogers is one of the first people to become truly obsessed with Tetris, and that alone defines his actions. Throughout the movie he and others experience the "Tetris effect" – hallucinating falling blocks after playing the game. That's a practically universal response to playing Tetris for an extended period. The world quickly fades out of view while you're focusing on those shapes, and its effect on you lingers for days.

In this film, that's shown in the most basic way possible: A hallucinatory display of shapes right in front of someone's eyes. But I couldn't help but imagine how a more artful take would have looked. Think Tetris by way of Darren Aronofsky's Pi, a movie where the lead character starts to see evidence of math in every corner of the natural world.

That being said, there's still plenty to enjoy in Tetris. Rogers’ early glimpse at a Game Boy prototype, the system that would make Tetris a global phenomenon, is treated like he's encountering the Holy Grail. He immediately sees the potential for appealing not just to kids with NES consoles but even adults. You could easily call it the first casual video game. Ben Miles and Togo Igawa also do a fine job of embodying Nintendo royalty, former Nintendo of America chairman Howard Lincoln and the company's third president, Hiroshi Yamauchi.

Togo Igawa, Nino Furuhata and Taron Egerton in Tetris.

“The very important role of Tetris of that time was that it started to break down the barrier between people and computers,” Pajitnov told me in an interview. Early on, he said people were embarrassed to admit they were hooked on Tetris, and others were quick to say they don’t play games, “just Tetris.” Now gaming, especially those of the casual mobile variety, can reach just about anyone.

At the very least, Tetris the film understands the power of games. But it would be stronger if it embraced the reality of the story, rather than try to position itself as a cheap spy movie. British billionaires Robert and Kevin Maxwell are more James Bond villains than actual humans (admittedly, that may not be far from the truth), as they wrangle with Soviet leaders and Rogers over distribution rights to the game. Soviet intelligence officers, who repeatedly threaten Rogers and Pajitnov, are even more cartoonish. By the time we reached an obligatory car chase that, for some reason, also turns into pixelated graphics, I was almost completely checked out.

Nikita Efremov in Tetris, experimenting with physical blocks.Apple

It’s doubly disappointing since the movie didn’t need to do much of this. The real-world licensing dilemma, which kicked off after the British software seller Robert Stein sold rights to the game before the Soviet Union’s approval, could be compelling enough. Prior to Rogers’ discovery of the game, Stein had sold rights to the Maxwell’s Mirrorsoft for European distribution, and to Spectrum Holobyte in the US. Rogers’ snagged Spectrum’s rights, but quickly realized that Steins’ contracts were likely illegitimate. To the movie’s credit, it also covers this licensing drama, but it’s almost always overshadowed by the more fantastical elements added by the filmmakers.

While the pieces don’t entirely fit into place (sorry), if Tetris pushes more people to explore the actual history of the game through other media, like the BBC's documentary Tetris: From Russia with Love, Dan Ackerman's The Tetris Effect and the graphic novel The Games People Play, it may have been worth it. Still, its existence also means we won’t get to see any other adaptations, like a Halt and Catch Fire-esque limited series, anytime soon.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/apple-tetris-movie-review-123020220.html?src=rss

Faraday Future finally starts FF 91 production after repeated delays

15 hours 2 min ago

When Faraday Future released its earnings report for 2022 earlier this month, it said it's on track to begin the production of its first vehicle. The company had a lot of false starts since it was founded in 2014 and had to push back the model's production and shipment dates again and again. This time, the company was finally able to stick to its timeline: Faraday Future has announced that it has started production for the FF 91 Futurist electric vehicle at its factory in Hanford, California. 

Faraday Future unveiled the FF 91 Futurist in February 2022, with the intention of kicking off the manufacturing process in the third quarter of the year. It obviously didn't happen, and the company told investors that it was because it needed more cash for its commercial launch. Indeed, the automaker grappled with a string of financial woes over the years and even almost ran out of cash in 2017 before Season Smart, later acquired by Chinese company Evergrande Health, agreed to fund it with $2 billion. 

Faraday burned through Season Smart's initial $800 million cash injection too quickly, however, and ended up feuding with the investor. The company furloughed (and ultimately let go) hundreds of employees while the dispute was ongoing. It also had to abandon its plans to build a $1 billion Las Vegas production facility and sell the site for $40 million.

The FF 91 Futurist promises 1,050 horsepower, a range of 381 miles as certified by the EPA and the ability to go from zero to 60 mph in 2.27 seconds. It will be sold both stateside and in China — in the US, customers in Los Angeles will get their units first, followed by those in San Francisco and then buyers in New York. According to Reuters, deliveries in the US are scheduled to begin in April 2023. The company itself didn't mention a specific date for when deliveries will start, but it did announce a final launch event for the FF 91 Futurist on April 26th.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/faraday-future-finally-starts-ff-91-production-after-repeated-delays-114510625.html?src=rss

The Morning After: Will we see Apple's mixed-reality headset at WWDC 2023?

15 hours 31 min ago

Apple has set the dates for WWDC 2023, which will run between June 5th and June 9th. It's still an online-only affair, but there will be a "special experience" at Apple Park on the 5th for developers and students.

While we expect to see software-centric upgrades, with iOS, macOS and the rest, this could also be when Apple finally debuts its mixed-reality headset. Rumors suggest it could be called Reality Pro or Reality One, and it’s believed to be a standalone device with an M2 chip, dual 4K displays, advanced body tracking and controller-free input. It could be a pricey piece of hardware, even by Apple’s standards, with some reports suggesting it’ll cost $3,000.

– Mat Smith

The Morning After isn’t just a newsletter – it’s also a daily podcast. Get our daily audio briefings, Monday through Friday, by subscribing right here.

The biggest stories you might have missed

Kia's EV9 electric SUV will offer Level 3 autonomy and a 336-mile range

Apple's M2 Pro Mac mini is back to a record-low price at Amazon

Google unveils AI-powered planning tools to help beat climate change's extreme heat

'The Last of Us Part I' for PC was a buggy mess at launch

Lenovo has shut down its Legion gaming phone business

Sony's 12-megapixel full-frame ZV-E1 is a low-light vlogging beastIt comes with 5-axis stabilization and AI-based auto-framing.TMAEngadget

Sony has unveiled its latest, and by far greatest vlogging camera to date: The full-frame ZV-E1. Equipped with the same backside-illuminated (BSI) 12-megapixel sensor as one of the company’s flagship cameras, the A7S III, it promises excellent low-light performance and 4K video at up to 120p. The $2,200 price tag also makes it enticing for vloggers as it offers features found on the $3,500 A7S III, thanks to a full-frame sensor. Crucially, for people like me obsessed with the older ZV-1 vlogging camera, it uses the same Z-batteries as larger Sony models, meaning more video capture without having to keep it plugged in or swapping out batteries. It goes on pre-order tomorrow, with shipping set to start in early April.

Continue reading.

Tech leaders and AI experts demand six-month pause on 'out-of-control' AI experimentsThe open letter warns of risks to humans.

An open letter signed by tech leaders and prominent AI researchers has called for AI labs and companies to "immediately pause" their work. Signatories like Steve Wozniak and Elon Musk agree risks warrant a minimum six-month break from producing technology beyond GPT-4 to allow people to adjust and ensure they are benefiting everyone. The letter adds that care and forethought are necessary to ensure the safety of AI systems, and that may not be happening. Companies are racing to build complex chat systems that utilize the technology. Microsoft recently confirmed that its revamped Bing search engine has been powered by the GPT-4 model for over seven weeks, while Google also debuted Bard, its own generative AI system powered by LaMDA.

Continue reading.

Renewable power generation overtook coal in the US last yearNatural gas is still the largest electricity source, however.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) has determined that renewable power generation overtook coal in 2022, with 4,090 million megawatt-hours coming from solar, wind, hydroelectric, biomass and geothermal technology. The shift came through increased renewable capacity and coal's years-long decline. Wind was the dominant source of clean electricity, with the capacity jumping from 133 gigawatts in 2021 to 141 gigawatts a year later. However, natural gas still remains the top power source, with a 39 percent share.

Continue reading.

Lamborghini's plug-in hybrid supercar runs for only six miles in electric modeYou’re not buying it for fuel economy anyway.TMALamborghini

The Lamborghini Revuelto, which translates to “scrambled,” can reach 6.2 miles from a full charge. That is likely not enough juice to get you to Costco and back, but this is a hybrid vehicle not exactly intended for all-electric usage. With that said, the combustion engine charges the rather minuscule 3.8kWh battery on its own in just six minutes. If you’re waiting on an all-electric Lamborghini, the company still plans to introduce one by 2030.

Continue reading.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-morning-after-will-we-see-apples-mixed-reality-headset-at-wwdc-2023-111530966.html?src=rss

Nintendo extends deadline to redeem 3DS and Wii U eShop codes until April 3rd

15 hours 57 min ago

Nintendo was supposed to shut down its Wii U and 3DS eShops for good on March 27th at 5PM PST, but it looks like you'll have a little more time. The company has announced that it has extended the ability to redeem download codes until April 3, 2023 at 9:30PM. The reason? "The feature to redeem download codes was disabled earlier than scheduled," Nintendo wrote in a customer support FAQ seen by Game Developer

The company announced the eShop closures back in February 2022, and barred users from adding funds to their accounts on August 29th. The final shutdown was set for March 27th, so it's been extended nearly a week. After that time, you'll no longer be able to purchase new titles, but you can continuie to redownload 3DS and Wii U titles for now. Any remaining funds in your Nintendo Network ID wallet will be transferred over to your Nintendo Account wallet used in the Nintendo Switch until March 2024.

As we wrote in an explainer earlier this week, the Wii U and 3DS eShop closures mean that a vast library of games has essentially vanished. It was home to a large number of exclusives like Pushmo, Attack of the Friday Monsters, Dr. Luigi and more, that we may never see again. In a now deleted FAQ, Nintendo said that "we currently have no plans to offer classic content in other ways," meaning access may soon be limited to preservationists and, unfortunately, pirates. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/nintendo-extends-deadline-to-redeem-3ds-and-wii-u-eshop-codes-until-april-3rd-105014518.html?src=rss

Uber adds 14 new cities to its EV rideshare service

16 hours 46 min ago

Uber announced today that it’s adding 14 new markets to Comfort Electric, its EV rideshare service. The program allows you to hail electric vehicles like the Tesla Model 3, Ford Mustang Mach-E and Polestar 2. It’s another small step toward the company’s goal of phasing out gas-powered vehicles by 2030.

Beginning today, Uber’s Comfort Electric program adds availability for Detroit, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Minneapolis / St. Paul, Montreal, Nashville, New Orleans, Orlando, Palm Springs, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Tampa Bay and Toronto. The program’s rollout began last May in California and expanded to 25 US markets in September. Comfort Electric is separate from Uber Green, which costs the same as UberX but includes hybrid vehicles in addition to electrics. The company also offers e-bikes and e-scooters in partnership with Lime for customers who can skip cars altogether.

Uber says it will spend $800 million to help its drivers transition to EVs. It partnered with Hertz to help supply EVs while offering a (limited-time) Zero Emissions incentive, letting EV drivers earn an extra $1 on every trip (up to $4,000 per calendar year). Other driver perks include $100 off a Wallbox EV charger and another $100 off installation. In addition to its 2030 goal of zero emissions in North America, the company plans to cut its carbon emissions in half by 2025, and it wants to hit zero emissions globally by 2040.

Comfort Electric rides cost more than a standard UberX — usually by around 20 to 40 percent. However, Uber is enticing you to try it out by offering 25 percent off two rides with the coupon code “GOELECTRIC” from April 11th through the 30th.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/uber-adds-14-new-cities-to-its-ev-rideshare-service-100055807.html?src=rss