Subscribe to Engadget feed
Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics
Updated: 27 min 9 sec ago

Anker charging gadgets are up to 40 percent off for Prime members

Mon, 2022-08-08 08:37

Now's a good time to pick up a new charger for your phone, tablet and other devices while a number of Anker's charging accessories are down to record-low prices for Amazon Prime members. Standouts among the discounts are Anker's 521 magnetic battery pack for MagSafe-compatible iPhones, which is 40 percent off and on sale for $30, and Anker's 511 2-in-1 power bank, which is 30 percent off and down to $35.

Shop Anker deals at AmazonBuy Anker 521 magnetic battery pack at Amazon - $30Buy Anker 511 2-in-1 power bank at Amazon - $35

Both portable batteries have a 5,000 mAh capacity, but they're each versatile in their own ways. The 521 magnetic power pack will snap onto the backs of the latest iPhones, charging them up wirelessly. It'll provide almost a full extra charge for your iPhone, depending on the model you have, and it'll even snap on and power up the handset when it has a MagSafe case on it.

The 511 battery pack is essentially a wall charger and a portable battery in one. If you're near an AC outlet, it can act as a USB-C adapter for all of your mobile devices — provided you have a USB-C charging cable with you. And when you're not near a power source, you can use its built-in battery to charge up your gadgets. Unlike the 512 magnetic pack, the 511 battery will work with iPhones as well as Google Pixel smartphones, Samsung devices and others.

Prime members can also get the Anker Nano Pro 20W charger with a USB-C to Lightning cable for $28, which is 30 percent off its usual rate. The bundle gives you everything you need to charge your iPhone as quickly as possible, and we like that Anker's 20W adapter is more compact than Apple's version. Other accessories on sale include the 623 MagGo 2-in-1 wireless charging station, which you can pick up for a record low of $70, and a two-pack of wireless charging stands, which is on sale for $35.

Anker Nano Pro 20W charger bundle at Amazon - $28Buy Anker 623 MagGo charging station at Amazon - $70Buy Anker wireless charging stands (2 pack) at Amazon - $35

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter and subscribe to the Engadget Deals newsletter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

The Morning After: Amazon buys the company behind Roomba robot vacuums

Mon, 2022-08-08 07:15

Amazon made a $1.7 billion offer for iRobot, the company that makes Roomba robot vacuums, mops and other household robots. The deal will keep Colin Angle as iRobot's CEO but is still contingent on the approval of regulators and iRobot shareholders.

iRobot has an intriguing origin story. Founded in 1990 by MIT researchers, the company initially focused on military robots like PackBot. It marked a major turning point in 2002 when it unveiled the first Roomba — the debut robovac racked up sales of a million units by 2004. The company eventually bowed out of the military business in 2016.

There are many iRobot rivals now, including Anker's Eufy brand, Neato, Shark, even Dyson. But with the power of Amazon, iRobot should be able to dominate. Just think of the Prime Day deals! Some of Amazon’s own robots often look like Roombas already — like its first fully autonomous warehouse robot, Proteus.

— Mat Smith

The biggest stories you might have missedPhysicist posts a photo of chorizo to troll James Webb Space Telescope fansLooks like a planet to me.

On July 31st, Étienne Klein, the director of France’s Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, shared an image he claimed the JWST captured of Proxima Centauri, the nearest-known star to the sun. "It was taken by the James Webb Space Telescope,” Klein told his 91,000-plus Twitter followers. “This level of detail... A new world is unveiled every day."

Except, it was actually a photo of a slice of chorizo against a black background. "In view of certain comments, I feel obliged to specify that this tweet showing an alleged picture of Proxima Centauri was a joke,” he said. Klein added he posted the image to educate the public about the threat of fake news.

Continue reading.

Samsung’s Z Fold 3 durability one year inTougher than you might think, but…TMAEngadget

Samsung has made major strides with its foldable phones, paving the way for innovative (though sometimes quite pricey) alternatives to the typical glass brick. On the advent of the fourth-generation of foldables from the company, likely to include both a new Galaxy Z Fold and the Galaxy Z Flip, Engadget’s Sam Rutherford reports on his own foldable purchase of a Z Fold 3 last year. The phones are increasingly tough, but that foldable display innovation gets derailed by bubbling under the screen protector after roughly half a year.

Continue reading.

Steam is finally adding support for Nintendo Joy-Con controllersYou can use the gamepads individually or as a matched pair.

Valve is finally adding Steam support for the console’s controllers. In an announcement spotted by PC Gamer, the company said the latest Steam beta adds Joy-Cons support. With the new software, it’s possible to use Joy-Cons either individually or as part of a matched pair for playing games. If you want to try the feature, you need to opt into the Steam beta. You’ll either need a Bluetooth adapter or a motherboard with Bluetooth connectivity to use your Joy-Cons with Steam because there’s no way of connecting a cable to the Switch controllers.

Continue reading.

Baidu's robotaxis can now operate without a safety driver in the carThe company says it's running the first fully driverless service in China.

Baidu has permits to run a fully driverless robotaxi service in China. It says it's the first company in the country to obtain such permissions. Back in April, Baidu got approval to run an autonomous taxi service in Beijing, as long as there was a human operator in the driver or front passenger seat. Now, it can offer a service where the car's only occupants are passengers. There are some limits to the permits. Driverless Apollo Go vehicles can roam designated zones in Wuhan and Chongqing during daytime hours only. This does cover a good 13 square kilometers (5 square miles) in Wuhan alone, though.

Continue reading.

Arrival pauses work on its electric bus and car projects

Mon, 2022-08-08 05:35

Anglo-American EV startup Arrival is putting its groundbreaking bus and car projects on ice as it struggles to manage its cash reserves. The Financial Times reports that the company, which said it would lay off a third of its staff last month, would now focus on completing its delivery van. Arrival said that it had anything up to 20,000 orders with UPS for the vehicle, and is expecting to get the first models out of the door later this year. That will hopefully reduce the pressure on the company’s bottom line, and boost its share price, which has fallen 90 percent since it went public via a SPAC last year.

The company was unable to comment to Engadget about the FT’s report, as it is preparing to release its financial results this week.

Arrival actually started with its electric bus project, and has already built several models ready for real-world testing. Its car, designed to be sold to ride-share drivers, was at the prototype stage (I saw it first hand last December), and the company had recruited Tom Elvidge from Uber to run the program. The FT’s report says that both projects are in stasis for now, and are likely to be revived as soon as Arrival begins making money. The car project may, however, find itself squeezed by the looming recession and that so much VC money, which was dumped into transportation startups like Uber, has now dried up, leading to a wave of closures.

The biggest tragedy from all of this is that Arrival’s focus on revolutionizing public buses was a genuinely different approach from most EV makers. Buses are a fixture in pretty much every city, and while it’s always better for the environment to use one over a car, making them even cleaner was a great plan. That the public project has been iced in favor of the fleet of logistics vans is not surprising, but it’s certainly not a great sign for the future of public transport.

MG's new all-electric hatchback will cost just $31,400 when it arrives in the UK

Mon, 2022-08-08 03:55

Last month, MG revealed the all-electric MG4 hatchback with range of up to 281 miles (on the WLTP system). Now, we know it will be one of the least expensive EVs available in the UK with a starting price of £25,995 ($31,400). It's set to arrive in the UK in September this year.

As a reminder, China's SAIC Motors now owns the MG brand following the collapse of MG Rover in 2005. The vehicles are manufactured in China, but SAIC has a design studio in London. It also has joint venture partnerships with Volkswagen, GM and others to produce branded vehicles in China.

The MG4 first arrived as the Mulan in China, built on SAIC's MSP (Modular Scalable Platform) architecture that will be used on future MG EVs. It'll come in three versions in the UK. The starting SE Standard Range model is priced at £25,995 with a 51kWh battery delivering 218 miles of WLTP range, compared to £36,195 ($43,800) for the ID.3 with a 58kWh battery and 265 miles of range.

The £28,495 ($34,490) Long Range SE model uses a 64kWh battery to go 281 miles on a charge, which takes about 35 minutes to go from 10-80 percent thanks to the 135kW charging capacity. 

And finally, the EV Trophy costs £31,495 ($38,120) and offers 270 miles of range with the 64kWh battery. The extra cash gets you features like an upgraded version of the MG Pilot system (with lane-keeping, blind spot warnings, etc.), a leather interior and more.

As for performance, the highest-powered 201 bhp version with the 64kWh battery can go from 0-62 MPH in under eight seconds, with the top speed limited to 99 MPH. On all vehicles, MG is promising copious storage, an "Active Grille Shutter" that improves aerodynamics, a 10.25-inch infotainment screen, Car Play and Android Auto connectivity and more. However, the price will likely be the main draw, particularly as the UK recently eliminated its EV rebate incentive.

'Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II' multiplayer reveal set for September 15th

Mon, 2022-08-08 01:36

Activision and Infinity Ward are set to reveal Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II's multiplayer mode along with other details at the Next showcase event on September 15th. They also announced that the early access beta will start rolling out on September 16 and 17 on PlayStation consoles and arrive in an open crossplay beta to all consoles and PCs starting September 24th.

As shown below, you'll need to pre-order to get the open and early access beta releases, with PlayStation owners getting first dibs. After the early access, PlayStation 4 and 5 users will get the open beta from September 18-20, and then Xbox and PC will get early access (crossplay beta) from September 22-23, with PlayStation getting the open crossplay beta on the same dates. Finally, the open beta (crossplay) will be available on all platforms from September 24-26.

 Modern Warfare II' multiplayer reveal set for September 15thInfinity Ward

Along with the multiplayer mode, Infinity Ward said it would show "the imminent future of [what] Call of Duty will look like, including many more details regarding Modern Warfare II, information on the next Call of Duty: Warzone, and more on the mobile version of Call of Duty: Warzone (also known as Project Aurora)." It also promised you'd see YouTubers streamers playing the games in real time, along with surprise information. 

If you haven't pre-ordered, you may still be able to get a beta code for early access from various streamers and YouTubers. Modern Warfare II is the successor to 2019's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, based on the original Modern Warfare subseries launched in 2007. The new title is set to arrive on October 28th and cost $70 across all platforms. 

Samsung rolls out Android 13-based One UI 5 beta on Galaxy S22 smartphones

Sun, 2022-08-07 23:54

Samsung has launched its Android 13-flavored One UI 5 OS in beta for Galaxy S22 smartphones, the company announced. Much like Android 13 itself, most of the changes are minor, with some cosmetic improvements along with enhancements for security, notifications, the camera and more. However, Android 13 may offer significant improvements for foldable phones like the Galaxy Fold 4 set to arrive at Samsung's August 10th Unpacked event. 

One UI 5 takes advantage of Android 13's theme makeover with 12 new color options for the home screen, icons and quick panels. It also lets you save a bit of space by stacking widgets, while adding accessibility options like a Magnifier tool to zoom in on texts and objects. It also adds a system that can read your keyboard entry out loud. 

Samsung rolls out Android 13-based One UI 5 OS beta on Galaxy S22 smartphonesSamsung

You'll also see Android 13 updates like new notification settings that require apps to request permission before sending notifications. A new security dashboard can check perform a security and privacy check, and you'll be able to setting your preferred language on an app-by-app basis. 

Android 13's foldable enhancements appear designed for devices like the Fold 3 that have different sizes, resolutions and pixel densities on the inner and outer displays. Samsung already offers that feature for the Fold 3, but native Android 13 support might open up more options like enhanced productivity tools.

We'll find out more in a few days at Unpacked, set for August 10th at 9am ET. Meanwhile, if you live in the US, South Korea or German and have a Galaxy S22, you can try out the One UI 5 update using the Samsung Members app — just bear in mind the usual risks of using beta software.

Baidu's robotaxis can now operate without a safety driver in the car

Sun, 2022-08-07 22:00

Baidu has obtained permits to run a fully driverless robotaxi service in China. It says it's the first company in the country to obtain such permissions. Back in April, Baidu received approval to run an autonomous taxi service in Beijing, as long as there was a human operator in the driver or front passenger seat. Now, it will be able to offer a service where the car's only occupants are passengers.

There are some limits to the permits. Driverless Apollo Go vehicles will ferry paying passengers around designated zones in Wuhan and Chongqing during daytime hours only. The service areas cover 13 square kilometers in Wuhan's Economic & Technological Development Zone (WHDZ) and 30 square kilometers in Chongqing’s Yongchuan District. The WHDZ has been overhauled over the last year to support AV testing and operations.

Baidu says its robotaxis have multiple safety measures to back up the core autonomous driving functions. Those include monitoring redundancy, remote driving capability and a safety operation system.

This is a notable step forward for Baidu as it looks to offer robotaxi services at a large scale. The company has also been testing its vehicles in the US for several years and it could ultimately prove a competitor to the likes of Waymo and Cruise.

LG's T90 earbuds come with Dolby Head Tracking technology

Sun, 2022-08-07 21:00

LG has launched its Tone Free wireless earbud lineup for 2022, and the new flagship model comes with built-in equalizer and support for Dolby's Head Tracking technology. Similar to Samsung's Galaxy Buds Pro, which also has Dolby's 360 audio feature, the T90 has the capability to recalibrate sounds as you move your head to make it appear as if they're truly coming from all around you. LG says the T90s are also the first earbuds to feature an audio virtualizer that Dolby designed for the form factor in order to expand its "spatial dimensionality" for a more immersive experience. 

The company's other new Tone Free model is its first fitness-focused earbuds called the Tone Free Fit or TF8, which were designed with a secure fit to keep them in place so they don't fall out in the middle of workout sessions. This model can last for up to 10 hours without its hybrid Active Noise Cancellation switched on, while the T90 can last for up to nine hours so long as its adaptive ANC is not in use. 

Both models' charging cases come with a feature that kills 99.9 percent of bacteria on the earbuds using UV-C light. Plus, the T90's charging case doubles as a Bluetooth transmitter that lets you add wireless connectivity to source devices that don't it. If you have sensitive skin or get an allergic reaction to most earbuds, it's worth noting that the T90s have medical-grade, hypoallergenic ear gels, as well.

LG Tone Free T90LG Tone Free T90

LG has yet to reveal how much the new earbuds cost, but they will be available in the US starting in September. 

Senate passes sweeping climate-focused Inflation Reduction Act

Sun, 2022-08-07 17:44

After more than a year of infighting, President Joe Biden’s climate agenda has cleared a significant hurdle. On Sunday, Senate Democrats passed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 in a 51-50 decision that went along party lines and saw Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote, reports The Washington Post. If passed by the House, the 755-page bill would authorize the single largest expenditure to combat climate change in the nation’s history. In all, the legislation calls for $370 billion in spending to reduce US greenhouse emissions by approximately 40 percent by the end of this decade.

Among the climate change provisions most likely to affect consumers is a reworked federal EV tax credit. The Inflation Reduction Act would provide up to $7,500 in subsidies for electric SUVs, trucks and vans that cost less than $80,000 and cars under $55,000. It would also allow people to claim up to $4,000 when buying a used EV. In both cases, an income ceiling would prevent those who make more than the average American from taking advantage of the legislation.

On top of EV subsidies, the $370 billion in investments set aside by the bill would incentivize the building of wind, solar and other renewable power sources. The act also calls for the creation of a $1.5 billion program that would pay companies that reduce their methane output.

With Sunday’s vote, the Inflation Reduction Act now moves to the House, which will return from its summer recess on Friday. For much of 2021 and the first half of 2022, President Biden’s Build Back Better plan looked doomed to go nowhere due to opposition from Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. In late July, however, Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced they had come to a compromise. 

In exchange for his support, the Inflation Reduction Act includes a provision that would see the federal government reinstate canceled oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska's Cook Inlet. While that concession upset environmentalists, it’s not expected to undo the good the Inflation Reduction Act is poised to do for the environment. According to one estimate by Princeton University’s Zero Lab, the bill could reduce US greenhouse emissions by about 6.3 billion tons through 2032.

Apple reportedly tells suppliers to avoid 'Made in Taiwan' labels on shipments to China

Sun, 2022-08-07 15:55

Apple has reportedly warned Taiwanese suppliers to ensure shipments to China comply with a longstanding labeling regulation following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit to Taipei. According to Nikkei (via The Guardian), the company recently told manufacturers on the island that parts bound for the mainland must list “Chinese Taipei” or “Taiwan, China” as their source. 

That’s in line with a policy China has had in place for years but only began enforcing after tensions with the US flared up following Pelosi’s visit last week. Under the policy, officials can delay and even reject shipments that say “Made in Taiwan.” The self-governing island has its own set of labeling rules. Shipments must list “Taiwan” or “Republic of China” as the point of origin.

Apple did not immediately respond to Engadget’s request for comment. The tech giant and many other American companies have a complicated relationship with China. If the report is accurate, it wouldn’t be the first time Apple has sought to appease the Chinese Communist Party. In 2019, the company removed the Taiwan flag emoji from iOS in Hong Kong amid the pro-democracy protests that occurred in the city that year. 

In this instance, Apple may have felt it had no choice but to comply with China’s policy on Taiwanese shipments. In April, Tim Cook said semiconductor shortages significantly impacted the company’s iPad business. Ahead of its iPhone 14 launch later this year, additional delays due to a customs dispute would likely be disastrous for Apple.

Twitter confirms vulnerability exposed data of anonymous accounts owners

Sun, 2022-08-07 13:32

Twitter has confirmed a vulnerability in its code led to a data exposure late last year. In a blog post published on Friday, the company said a malicious actor took advantage of a zero-day flaw before it became aware of and patched the issue in January 2022. The vulnerability was discovered by a security researcher who contacted Twitter through the company’s bug bounty program.

When Twitter first learned of the flaw, it said it had “no evidence” to suggest it had been exploited. However, an individual told Bleeping Computer last month that they took advantage of the vulnerability to obtain data on more than 5.4 million accounts. Twitter said it could not confirm how many users were affected by the exposure. The vulnerability allowed the bad actor to determine whether an email address or phone number was tied to an existing Twitter account. In turn, they could use that information to determine the identity of an account’s owner.

“We are publishing this update because we aren’t able to confirm every account that was potentially impacted, and are particularly mindful of people with pseudonymous accounts who can be targeted by state or other actors,” Twitter said. “If you operate a pseudonymous Twitter account, we understand the risks an incident like this can introduce and deeply regret that this happened.”

Twitter said it would directly notify every account owner it could confirm was affected by the exposure. For users trying to keep their identity hidden, the company recommends not adding a publicly known phone number or email address to an account. It also suggests adding two-factor authentication.

Apple could be developing a smart display

Sun, 2022-08-07 11:51

Apple could significantly expand its smart home product line within the next two years, according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. In his latest Power On newsletter, Gurman reports the company has “at least four new smart home devices in its labs.”

Included in that list is the new HomePod model Gurman first wrote about back in June, in addition to a refreshed HomePod mini. The former will reportedly look and sound like the original 2018 model. Apple discontinued the HomePod in 2021 without announcing a direct replacement. The two other devices represent entirely new products for the company.

According to Gurman, one is a kitchen accessory that combines an iPad with a speaker. Meanwhile, the other reportedly brings together the functionality of an Apple TV, camera and HomePod into a living room device. He says Apple could release one of those two products by the end of next year or early 2024 but warns that “not all will see the light of the day.” 

A kitchen device would see Apple competing more closely with Amazon and Google. The two are most closely associated with the smart display category thanks to releases like the Nest Hub and Echo Show 15. It would be interesting to see what Apple thinks it can bring to the field since most smart displays don’t feel essential.

Hitting the Books: How much that insurance monitoring discount might really be costing you

Sun, 2022-08-07 11:30

Machine learning systems have for years now been besting their human counterparts at everything from Go and Jeopardy! to drug discovery and cancer detection. With all the advances that the field has made, it's not unheard of for people to be wary of robots replacing them in tomorrow's workforce. These concerns are misplaced, argues Gerd Gigerenzer argues in his new book How to Stay Smart in a Smart World, if for no other reason than uncertainty itself. AIs are phenomenally capable machines, but only if given sufficient data to act on. Introduce the acutely fickle precariousness of human nature into their algorithms and watch their predictive accuracy plummet — otherwise, we'd never have need to swipe left. In the excerpt below, Gigerenzer discusses the hidden privacy costs of sharing your vehicle's telematics with the insurance company.

Black and white text on mustard backgroundMIT Press

Excerpted from How to Stay Smart in a Smart Worldby Gerd Gigerenzer. Published by MIT Press. Copyright © 2021 by Gerd Gigerenzer. All rights reserved.

When Your Car Reports You to the Police

If self-driving cars are not going to happen, one alternative appears to betraining humans to use AI as a support system but to stay alert and retain control if it fails — which is called augmented intelligence. It amounts to partial automation, that is, to sophisticated versions of Level 2 or 3. Yet augmented intelligence entails more than just adding useful features to your car and may well lead us into a different future, where AI is used to both support and surveil us. That possible future is driven more by insurance companies and police than by car manufacturers. Its seeds are in telematics.

Young drivers are reckless, overconfident, and an insurance risk, according to the stereotype. Some indeed are, but many are not. Nevertheless, insurers often treat them as one group and charge a high premium. Telematics insurance can change this by offering better rates for safe drivers. The idea is to calculate the premium from a person’s actual driving behavior instead of from that of the average driver. To do so, a black box that connects to the insurer is installed in the car (using a smartphone is possible and cheaper but less reliable). The black box records the driver’s behavior and calculates a safety score. Figure 4.6 shows the scoring system of one of the first telematics insurers. It observes four features and assigns them different weights.

a table of driver telematicsMIT Press

Rapid acceleration or harsh braking is assigned the greatest weight, followed by driving over the speed limit. Each driver starts with a monthly budget of 100 points for each of the four features. An “event” results in points being subtracted, such as 20 points for the first rapid acceleration or for driving over the speed limit. At the end of the month, the remaining points are weighted as shown and summed up to a total safety score. Although telematics is often called black box insurance, the algorithm is not at all a black box like most love algorithms. It is explained in detail on the insurer’s web-site, and everyone can understand and verify the resulting score.

Personalized tariffs are advertised as promoting fairness. They do so by taking individual driving style into account. But they also create new sources of discrimination when driving at night and in cities is punished. Hospital staff, for instance, may have little choice to avoid working at night and in cities. Thus, some of the features are under the driver’s control, but not all. Interestingly, one feature that is under the driver’s control is absent in virtually all personalized tariffs: texting while driving.

And the black box that allows fairness also enables surveillance. Consider a possible future. Why should the black box send a record of speeding only to the insurer? A copy to the police would be extremely handy and save them much effort. It would make all speed traps obsolete. If you speed, the car prints out the ticket on time or, more conveniently, deducts the fine automatically from your online account. Your relationship to your beloved car may change. There is a slippery slope between fairness and total surveillance.

Would you be in favor of a new generation of cars that send traffic violations directly to the police? In a survey I conducted, one-third of the adults said yes, more so among those over sixty and less among those younger than thirty. The technology for this future already exists, as most new cars come with a black box installed. The data it collects do not belong to the car owner and can be used in court against the driver. In Georgia, the police obtained black box data without a warrant after a deadly accident, and the driver was found guilty of reckless driving and speeding.

While the motives for surveillance vary, digital technology supports all of them. One need not even buy telematics insurance. Modern cars have built-in internet connections, and — without it being made transparent inthe owner’s manual — most send their car manufacturer all the data they can collect every couple of minutes, including where the driver currently is, whether harsh braking occurred, how often the position of the driver seat was changed, which gas or battery-charging stations were visited, and how many CDs and DVDs were inserted. Moreover, as soon as you plug in your smartphone, the car may copy your personal information, including contacts’ addresses, emails, text messages, and even photos. Car manufacturers are remarkably silent about this activity, and when asked with whom they share this data, they typically do not reply. That information helps to find out many other things of interest, such as how often drivers visited McDonald’s, how healthily they live, and whom they occasionally visit at night. Connected cars can support justice and improve safety but also spy on you. Telematics insurance embodies the double face of digital technology: surveillance in exchange for convenience.

Physicist trolls James Webb Space Telescope fans with a photo of a chorizo sausage

Sat, 2022-08-06 18:29

With its captivating images of far-flung galaxies, it’s safe to say the James Webb Space Telescope has captured the imagination of the world over. It was also recently the subject of a not-so-charming prank. On July 31st, Étienne Klein, the director of France’s Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, shared an image he claimed the JWST captured of Proxima Centauri, the nearest-known star to the sun.

"It was taken by the James Webb Space Telescope,” Klein told his more than 91,000 Twitter followers. “This level of detail... A new world is unveiled every day." Thousands of people took the post at face value and retweeted it without comment. 

Photo de Proxima du Centaure, l’étoile la plus proche du Soleil, située à 4,2 année-lumière de nous.
Elle a été prise par le JWST.
Ce niveau de détails… Un nouveau monde se dévoile jour après jour. pic.twitter.com/88UBbHDQ7Z

— Etienne KLEIN (@EtienneKlein) July 31, 2022

A few days later, Klein admitted that what he shared was actually a photo of a slice of chorizo against a black background. "In view of certain comments, I feel obliged to specify that this tweet showing an alleged picture of Proxima Centauri was a joke,” Klein said. “Let's learn to be wary of the arguments from positions of authority as much as the spontaneous eloquence of certain images."

Klein subsequently apologized for the prank and told French news outlet Le Point (via Vice) he posted the image to educate the public about the threat of fake news. “I also think that if I hadn’t said it was a James Webb photo, it wouldn’t have been so successful,” he noted. After everything was said and done, Klein shared the recent image the JWST captured of the Cartwheel galaxy. This time he was quick to assure his followers that the photo was authentic.    

Elon Musk challenges Twitter CEO to a ‘public debate’ on fake accounts

Sat, 2022-08-06 16:46

A mere two days after accusing the company of fraud, Elon Musk has challenged Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal to a public debate about the percentage of bots on its platform. “Let him prove to the public that Twitter has <5% fake or spam daily users,” Musk said in a tweet spotted by Reuters.

The Tesla and SpaceX executive issued the challenge after responding to a thread in support of his legal case against the company. “If Twitter simply provides their method of sampling 100 accounts and how they’re confirmed to be real, the deal should proceed on original terms,” he said.

I hereby challenge @paraga to a public debate about the Twitter bot percentage.

Let him prove to the public that Twitter has <5% fake or spam daily users!

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 6, 2022

Musk then began polling his followers, asking them whether they believe fake accounts make up less than five percent of Twitter’s daily user base. The two options are “Yes” and “Lmaooo no.” With 66.6 percent of vote as of the writing of this article, the latter is ahead at the moment. Voting ends on Sunday.

The stunt is unlikely to prompt a response from Twitter. The company’s trial against Musk will start on October 17th and could finish in a matter of days. In the complaint it filed this week, Musk’s legal team said a Botometer analysis found a much higher number of fake accounts than the less than five percent claimed by Twitter. The company quickly shot back, calling Musk’s statements "factually inaccurate, legally insufficient and commercially irrelevant.”

Fitbit will end support for PC syncing this fall

Sat, 2022-08-06 14:56

Fitbit is discontinuing support for PC and Mac syncing. On a support page spotted by 9to5Google, the company said it would remove the option for users to sync their trackers over its Connect app on October 13th, 2022. After that date, the only way to transfer your data off your Fitbit wearable will be through the Fitbit mobile app. While the shutdown is unlikely to affect many people, it does mean there will be one less way to transfer your favorite songs to your wearable for offline playback.

“On October 13, 2022, we're removing the option to transfer playlists to your Fitbit watch through your computer,” the company says on a separate support page. “You can continue to play personal music stored on your watch and transfer music to your watch with the Deezer app and Pandora app.” 

In other words, if you use your Fitbit tracker or smartwatch for listening to music, you’ll need to depend on two music services that aren’t the most popular options out there. With the Pixel Watch set to offer deep Fitbit integration, that probably won’t be much of an issue with new Fitbit wearables, but it is something current users will have to consider.

Steam is finally adding support for Nintendo Joy-Con controllers

Sat, 2022-08-06 13:17

Five years after the Nintendo Switch’s release, Valve is finally adding Steam support for the console’s controllers. In an announcement spotted by PC Gamer, the company said the latest Steam beta adds Joy-Cons support. With the new software, it’s possible to use Joy-Cons either individually or as part of a matched pair for playing games.

If you want to try the feature out, you need to opt into the Steam beta. You can do that by navigating to Steam’s Settings menu and clicking “Change” under the “Beta participation” heading. Keep in mind you’ll either need a Bluetooth adapter or a motherboard with Bluetooth connectivity to use your Joy-Cons with Steam since it’s not possible to connect the controller to your PC through a cable like you would most gamepads.

Instagram will test extra-tall photos to go along with Reels

Sat, 2022-08-06 11:47

Instagram will soon allow users to post 9:16 photos to their feed as part of a test the company plans to undertake “in a week or two.” The tidbit of news came out of Adam Mosseri’s weekly Q&A. “You can have tall videos, but you cannot have tall photos on Instagram,” the executive said. “So we thought maybe we should make sure that we treat both equally.”

While it’s already possible to share 9:16 photos through Instagram, you have to do so through the app’s Stories feature, meaning those images will disappear unless you save them as a Highlight. Currently, vertical photos you post to your feed will top out at 8:10 as long as you crop them correctly.

It's been a busy week at Instagram. I'm doing an AMA shortly – https://t.co/aM4JODvskg – like I do every Friday. Ask a question there and I'll do my best to answer it.

— Adam Mosseri (@mosseri) July 29, 2022

The timing of the test comes after Mosseri recently announced Instagram would walk back its unpopular full-screen interface. The company had been testing the redesign since mid-June, only to find that most people didn’t like it. “For the new feed designs, people are frustrated and the usage data isn’t great,” Mosseri told Platformer last week. Among the most vocal detractors of the redesign were photographers who found the new interface would overlay captions on top of their images, obscuring part of their work in the process. Instagram’s latest test would suggest the company still intends to move towards a more TikTok-like experience.

California DMV accuses Tesla of falsely portraying its vehicles as fully autonomous

Sat, 2022-08-06 09:03

Tesla uses advertising language on its website for its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving products that's untrue and misleading to customers, the California DMV said. According to The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal, the agency has filed complaints with the California Office of Administrative Hearings, accusing the automaker of making statements "not based on facts" that make it seem like its vehicles are capable of full autonomous driving. The DMV pointed to the name of the products themselves in the complaints, as well as to other misleading language on Tesla's website. 

One example the DMV noted in its complaints is language Tesla used for its Full Self-Driving product, which says:

"All you will need to do is get in and tell your car where to go. If you don’t say anything, your car will look at your calendar and take you there as the assumed destination. Your Tesla will figure out the optimal route, navigating urban streets, complex intersections and freeways."

Tesla vehicles come with the hardware needed to activate Full Self-Driving, which customers can unlock for a payment of $12,000. The automaker's active Autopilot features include the ability to automatically change lanes and do parallel or perpendicular parking for the driver. There's also a smart summon feature that will have the vehicle navigating complex parking lots to find its owner. And those who pay for FSD, which is currently in beta, have access to a feature that identifies stop signs and traffic lights. The technology will then automatically slow their car down on approach. 

Neither technology, however, can drive a car without the need for a person behind the wheel. Tesla chief Elon Musk recently said that FSD would have that capability next year, but the executive is known for his aggressively optimistic timelines.

While Tesla already warns drivers not to take their hands off the wheel even while they're using Autopilot or FSD, the DMV says that disclaimer isn't enough. The worst result the company could get is for its licenses in the state to be suspended or revoked, but a DMV spokesperson told the publications that the agency isn't seeking to put the company out of business in California. It will merely ask Tesla to "better educate Tesla drivers about the capabilities of its ‘Autopilot’ and ‘Full Self-Driving’ features, including cautionary warnings regarding the limitations of the features, and for other actions as appropriate given the violations."

Back in 2016, Tesla also got in trouble with Germany's Federal Motor Authority, which told the automaker to stop using the term "autopilot" in its advertising out of concerns that people would misinterpret its capabilities. Last year, Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the company over its "misleading advertising and marketing" of the Autopilot and Full Self-Driving technologies, as well.

Toyota will buy back your recalled bZ4X EV

Fri, 2022-08-05 16:21

Toyota recalled the bZ4X in June over concerns the electric crossover's wheels could fall off at speed, and now it's taking extra steps to satisfy upset customers and keep vehicles off the road. Electrek has learned (and Engadget has confirmed) that Toyota's US branch is offering to buy back the bZ4X. The terms will vary based on your state and "particular circumstances," according to a letter to customers.

The automaker outlined compensation for those who still want the EV. You can continue to drive a loaner at no cost, complete with free fuel for the temporary car and storage for the bZ4X. You'll also get $5,000 credit towards your loan, lease or full purchase price. There will also be extensions to your warranty and free EVgo charging time.

Toyota is offering the buybacks and other perks "until a remedy is available." The recall also covers pre-orders for Subaru's sibling model, the Solterra, although that SUV hasn't yet reached American buyers.

There's no mention of just when or how Toyota will fix the bZ4X wheel fault. That makes the situation difficult for owners. The buyback gives them a chance to purchase another vehicle rather than wait indefinitely for a fix, but auto industry supply shortages could leave them either waiting months for a replacement or settling for a less-than-ideal alternative.