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Updated: 44 min 33 sec ago

A Ghostbusters VR game is coming to Meta Quest 2

Wed, 2022-04-20 13:53

Meta hid a heck of a surprise up the sleeve of its boiler suit for the end of its Quest gaming showcase. A Ghostbusters VR game is in the works for Meta Quest 2. Sony Pictures Virtual Reality (SPVR) will publish the four-player co-op game, which is being developed by Far Cry VR: Dive Into Insanity studio nDreams.

Ghostbusters VR (as the game is called for the time being) shifts the action from the franchise's home base of New York City to San Francisco. No prizes for guessing that you'll hunt down and trap ghosts with the help of your proton pack and particle thrower. SPVR says the game will have an "extensive and engrossing campaign" that you can experience solo or with up to three friends. No release window was announced, but SPVR says more will be revealed in the coming months. 

It's not the only Ghostbusters title in the pipeline either. Friday the 13th: The Game developer Illfonic is making Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed, which will pit a team of four players against someone else who controls the ghost. That game is scheduled to arrive on PC, PlayStation and Xbox later this year.

'Among Us VR' will arrive later this year with literal finger pointing

Wed, 2022-04-20 13:26

Meta just held its latest Quest gaming showcase and it included some fresh looks at previously announced games as well as reveals of new titles. The stream offered a more in-depth look at Among Us VR gameplay for one thing, as well as a release window. It's coming to Meta Quest 2, Rift and S, Steam VR and PlayStation VR later this year.

This version looks like it'll completely shake up the dynamics of Among Us. It shifts the perspective to first-person rather than a top-down view. You'll still be running around the level to complete tasks, but you won't be able to see if there's a potential impostor right behind you. Hilariously, during the voting phase, you'll be able to literally point fingers at sus crewmates. Meanwhile, Schell Games, which worked on the VR version, has teamed up with Meta Quest to develop three unannounced projects.

Meta also showed off the initial gameplay trailer for the first officially licensed NFL VR game, NFL Pro Era. Developer StatusPro is using actual game data in a bid to make the experience feel authentic. You'll play as a quarterback and you can build up your skills in drills, read the defense and call audibles. If you can avoid getting sacked too many times, you can take your team to the Super Bowl. Alternatively, you can just play catch with friends in a virtual NFL stadium. NFL Pro Era, which features all 32 teams and will also be available on PS VR, will arrive this fall.

Speaking of PS VR, one game that platform initially had as an exclusive will land on Quest 2 this summer: Moss: Book II. Polyarc's sequel to Moss (which is already available on Quest) is well regarded, and more players will be able to check it out in the coming months. The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners - Chapter 2: Retribution will arrive this year too. 

In addition, a Mercenaries horde mode for the VR version of Resident Evil 4 just arrived as a surprise free update. You'll need to take out as many Ganados as possible before time runs out. There are online leaderboards and challenges. Completing challenges will earn you rewards like a black-and-white classic horror mode and golden skins for weapons. Unlocked features will be available in the main game too.

Elsewhere, an electronic mixtape pack is coming to Beat Saber, including songs by Deadmau5, Marshmello and Pendulum. A release date for Cities: VR (a virtual reality take on Cities: Skylines) was announced as well: it's coming to Quest on April 28th.

The event included trailers for some other titles, including an impressive-looking follow up to sci-fi puzzle game Red Matter, espionage sequel Espire 2, narrative-driven JRPG Ruinsmagus and action-adventure title Bonelab.

'Sonic Origins' brings four remastered games to console and PC on June 23rd

Wed, 2022-04-20 12:18

Never mind the movies and endless spinoffs — Sega knows you want to replay the classic 2D Sonic the Hedgehog games, and it's ready to deliver. The company has announced that its Sonic Origins collection will debut June 23rd on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and Switch. The $40 (£33) standard version will include remasters of Sonic the Hedgehog 1, 2, Sonic 3 & Knuckles and Sonic CD, while a $45 (£37) Digital Deluxe edition adds difficult missions, exclusive music and cosmetics.

Every game has remastered graphics and other "enhancements" for modern hardware. You can play all of them as they were originally intended (including the old aspect ratio), but you can also experiment with features and modes that were never available on your Genesis or Mega Drive. You can play as Sonic, Tails or Knuckles in any of the games, and an "Anniversary Mode" brings in a widescreen ratio with infinite lives. You can earn medallions to unlock content by completing missions.

This won't satisfy completists. Where's the remaster of the classic 32X title Knuckles Chaotix, Sega? If you can forgive that oversight, though, this may be the easiest way to either indulge your nostalgia or introduce kids to the other iconic platformer of the 16-bit generation.

Glorious PC Gaming Race is ditching its Nazi-linked name

Wed, 2022-04-20 12:01

Glorious PC Gaming Race, the maker of the Model O gaming mouse, the GMMK Pro mechanical keyboard and other popular peripherals, is changing its name. In rebranding as Glorious, the company is hoping to leave behind a name tinged with racial overtones.

The company was formed in 2014. Its original name was a spin on the term "the Glorious PC Gaming Master Race." Game reviewer Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw of Zero Punctuation fame sarcastically coined the expression to poke fun at the elitist attitude held by some PC gamers that their platform of choice was superior to consoles. However, some gamers embraced the term despite the phrase "master race" having roots in Nazi ideology.

“While we remain committed to serving PC gamers and not taking ourselves too seriously, we have also grown and matured significantly as a brand.” Shazim Mohammad, the founder and CEO of Glorious said in a statement. “When I started this company I never could have imagined we’d be where we are today. This new brand identity is more inclusive, accessible and representative of who we’ve become and the direction we’re going long into the future.”

Glorious, which said its new name "inspires positivity," will start updating its branding in the coming weeks. It will introduce a fresh logo and relaunch its online store with a different, to-be-revealed URL. Its upcoming products will bear the new branding, as will the existing product lineup. However, Glorious said completing the transition with its current peripherals will be a multiyear process.

Indi One first look: Part EV, part gaming PC

Wed, 2022-04-20 11:30

While established automakers try to come to grips with the electric revolution, fresh EV startups are thinking up innovative ways to cater to a new generation of drivers. And after checking out an early version of its upcoming car at the New York Auto Show, it feels like INDIEV may have created the first electric car made for gamers.

When it comes to general specs and performance, INDIEV’s Indi One seems to be using the Tesla Model Y as a template. The base model is slated to cost around $45,000 and features a 75 kWh battery, all-wheel drive and 230 miles of range. Meanwhile, the $65,000 premium version will sport a 95 kWh battery with 300 miles of range and a 0 to 60 time of 4.2 seconds. Even the shape of the Indi One is somewhat reminiscent of Tesla’s popular electric crossover, sporting a shortish hood, room for five passengers and a sloping rear end.

The Indi One's VIC or vehicle integrated computer is located beneath the car's hood, where a frunk might be in other EVs. The Indi One's VIC lives beneath the hood, which means you won't get a frunk. Sam Rutherford/Engadget

However, where INDIEV is changing things up comes on the inside. That's because unlike other cars, the premium version of the Indi One features a VIC, or vehicle integrated computer designed to let occupants play games, edit photos and videos, or even live stream while on the go.

Now other car makers like Tesla have dabbled with in-car gaming, with owners enjoying support for titles like the Witcher 3, Stardew Valley, Cyberpunk 2077, and more on its vehicles. But the few dozen or so games available in Tesla’s Arcade feature are still a far cry from what you can get from PC marketplaces like Steam or the Epic Game Store. Additionally, due to NHTSA regulations, you can’t game on a Tesla’s main screen while the car is in motion, which makes a lot of sense, but is a bummer for any passengers seeking alternative entertainment.

 one running Android Automotive, and another powered by Windows. Sam Rutherford/Engadget

But on the One, INDIEV gets around that restriction by having two large screens on the car’s dashboard. There’s a main infotainment screen powered by Android Automotive, along with a second screen on the passenger’s side running Windows. Not only does this mean guests can play while moving, it also means you can install pretty much any PC app you want. The car’s gaming credentials aren’t too shabby either. At the show, INDIEV reps told me the car currently features an Intel Core i7 CPU and an Nvidia RTX 2080 GPU. But by the time the One officially goes on sale next year, the company is hoping to upgrade that to an RTX 3080 or better (assuming we’re still not in the midst of a chip crunch).

While it probably won’t be easy, INDIEV says the car’s GPU may even be user-replaceable, so you shouldn’t have to worry about buying a whole new car after a few years when it struggles to play the latest AAA games. And while I didn’t get a chance to game on it myself, I was able to pull up Twitch, get a glance at the standard Windows UI running underneath and see the One’s in-car streaming setup in action. INDIEV even lets users access one of the car’s built-in cameras to capture your face, so there’s no need for an external webcam. That said, because there isn’t a built-in mouse, keyboard or gamepad, you’ll need to figure out a control setup that works for your needs.

The Indi One's Windows-based computer allows users to install practically any app they want, including live streaming software and games. The Indi One's VIC will run Windows so you can install games or apps like Streamlabs, which you can see running here. Sam Rutherford/Engadget

INDIEV also teamed up with markers of ARK Park so guests can dive into in VR, with the game set to mimic the motion and turns of the car to reduce motion sickness. Additionally, the VIC will be open-sourced and will have an SDK for developers, so if you’re not afraid of some code, you can create custom apps and routines. And thanks to military-grade vibration reduction surrounding the VIC, the car’s gaming components shouldn’t come loose due to unforeseen bumps in the road. How’s that for geeky?

Finally, INDIEV says the One supports blockchain integration, allowing the car’s computer to function as a node for an unspecific decentralized ledger. This means the car could rake in a bit of passive income when you’re not driving it, which sounds like a nice idea in an alternate world where crypto has overtaken cash and credit, but I don’t think we’re yet. I should also point out that it’s hard to say how much juice gaming or running a node will have on the One’s range, which could render both of these features moot if you’re low on battery.

Of course, EV startups are kind of a dime a dozen these days. And for every Tesla that makes it big, there are sure to be others that crash and burn before reaching critical mass. But as someone who has always wondered why car makers don’t try to get more utility out of the computers inside them, I appreciate the ambition. And as we seen from Tesla and other EV makers have already proven, the tech inside a car matters just as much as how it looks or drives.

Now I admit that the newness of being able to game in your car makes it difficult to say if INDIEV’s endeavor will be a success or even help sell an extra car or two. But as someone who never has enough time to play games as it is, the idea of fitting in a quick round of Apex Legends while recharging or poking away in Civ 6 as a passenger during a road trip sounds fantastic. So if you’ve ever dreamed about an EV that can push pixels just as well as your rig at home, the One provides an interesting glimpse at a next-gen driving machine.

Reservations for the Indi One are available now ahead of its official release date next year in Q2 2023.

Zoom's desktop apps now respond to raised hands and thumbs-up gestures

Wed, 2022-04-20 11:25

You no longer need to bring out an iPad or iPhone just to use Zoom's gesture recognition. Zoom has updated its Mac and Windows apps with visual gesture support. Raise your hand or give a thumbs-up and you'll send the appropriate reaction. As you might imagine, this promises more natural interaction in virtual classrooms and meetings than you'd get from clicking buttons.

The feature requires the latest version of Zoom as of this writing (5.10.3). It's disabled at the individual level by default, but you can enable it per user, per account or entire groups.

Gesture recognition comes alongside multiple updates that include a revamped Zoom Whiteboard collaboration tool that now exists as a full-fledged feature, not just a meeting extension. A chat etiquette tool helps administrators block or warn about rude behavior, and events now have a "Backstage" that lets organizers and panelists talk without facing the audience. Simply speaking, Zoom is adapting to reflect a world where remote and hybrid workplaces are likely here to stay. 

Apple Music now offers DJ mixes in spatial audio

Wed, 2022-04-20 11:00

Apple Music's spatial audio is now available for those who'd rather spend their nights at the club than the concert hall. The service is now offering DJ mixes in Dolby Atmos that promise a more immersive dance music experience — not quite like sweating through an all-night rave, but considerably closer. The initiative kicks off today with an enhanced One Mix set from Detroit techno legend Jeff Mills (above) as well as 15 Boiler Room sets from stars like Boys Noize and The Blessed Madonna.

You can expect more spatial audio mixes throughout the year, including monthly One Mix episodes and Boiler Room albums. Apple hasn't teased future artists, although it is promising the "finest DJs" from the dance and electronic music realms.

Spatial audio is only automatically enabled for AirPods and some Beats headphones. You can use capable third-party gear, but you'll need to manually enable support and forego head tracking.

It's not surprising to see Apple expand Atmos support to the mix-and-scratch crowd. Spatial audio is a selling point for Apple Music and AirPods, of course, but electronic artists were also some of the first to embrace surround sound — just ask anyone familiar with Amon Tobin's gigs. In theory, you're more likely to keep your Apple Music membership knowing that a favorite DJ might produce an Atmos mix you won't get at rival services.

You can update your DualSense controller through Windows

Wed, 2022-04-20 10:41

You've long been able to use a DualSense controller with your PC, but it wasn't quite so appealing when you couldn't update the firmware without access to a PlayStation 5. Thankfully, that's no longer necessary. Sony has released a firmware update tool for Windows that lets you upgrade the DualSense through a USB connection on your PC — no console required. You won't miss out on bug fixes or refinements just because you prefer computer gaming.

The software requires Windows 10 or 11. You'll need to update multiple controllers one at a time.

The tool will be helpful for PC-only gamers who want the same controller functionality as their PS5 counterparts, of course. At the same time, it might also useful for Remote Play. You can keep a DualSense by your computer knowing that you won't have to visit the living room (and partly defeat the purpose of Remote Play) just to bring the gamepad up to date.

PC players can now update their DualSense wireless controller with the latest firmware from Windows 11 and select Windows 10 devices, without connecting to a PS5. Details: https://t.co/PF5E3VnoXMpic.twitter.com/PF2ASo8Fw6

— PlayStation (@PlayStation) April 20, 2022

Amazon’s latest renewable energy projects include its largest solar farm to date

Wed, 2022-04-20 10:23

Just ahead of Earth Day on Friday, Amazon has announced investments in 37 more renewable energy projects around the world. The company says these will increase its renewable energy capacity by almost 30 percent, up from 12.2 gigawatts to 15.7 GW.

The company claims the new investments will help it to power its operations entirely with renewable energy by 2025, five years ahead of the original timeline. The latest projects are in the US, Spain, France, Australia, Canada, India, Japan and the United Arab Emirates. They include wind farms, solar farms and eight solar rooftop installations on Amazon buildings. A 500 MW solar farm in Texas will be Amazon's largest renewable energy project to date in terms of capacity.

Amazon has now invested in 310 projects in 19 countries. It says that when they're all up and running, they'll generate enough energy to power 3.9 million homes. The quantity of carbon-free energy they'll generate will help avoid 17.3 million metric tons of emissions each year — the equivalent of taking more than 3.7 million combustion engine cars off roads.

In 2019, Amazon co-founded The Climate Pledge, a vow to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. That's 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement's deadline. Along the more than 300 signatories that have joined the pledge are Microsoft, IBM and Best Buy.

Amazon said it will invest $2 billion into decarbonization efforts through the Climate Pledge Fund. Along with the accelerated timeline for fully switching to renewable energy, Amazon aims to make its shipments net-zero carbon. It hopes to be halfway to that goal by 2030 and to help it get there, the company placed an order with Rivian for 100,000 electric delivery vehicles.

BMW's first all-electric 7 series starts at $120,295

Wed, 2022-04-20 09:27

BMW isn't letting Mercedes' EQS go unanswered. The German marque has introduced its first completely electric 7 series, the i7 xDrive60. The long-wheelbase luxury sedan offers solid performance, with a dual-motor setup providing 536HP, a 0-60MPH sprint in 4.5 seconds and a preliminary EPA range of 300 miles. As with the conventional 7 series, though, the focus is on creature comforts — this is designed as much for chauffeured executives as it is for drivers.

That driver will see a curved dual-display interface that includes a 12.3-inch instrument panel and a 14.9-inch infotainment screen. BMW is touting a smartphone-like interface, but you'll also find a new "Interaction Bar" that provides touch-sensitive controls for common features like climate settings and hazard lights. You can even customize the bar's lighting to react to certain events, such as incoming calls or invoking BMW's Intelligent Personal Assistant (including from the rear seats, for the first time).

As we mentioned, though, the best experience is likely in the back. Spring for the optional Theater Screen and you'll get a 31-inch, 32:9 ratio 8K rear display with a Fire TV interface. Rear window shades will even close when you switch the system on. Each rear door has its own 5.5-inch touchscreen for climate, media and seating controls, while a standard panoramic LED roof can produce a light show in addition to showing the sky above. You'll have access to 5G, including a "Personal eSIM" that can migrate between cars. 

Other tech upgrades include an optional Highway Assistant (part of a Driving Assistance Professional Package) that provides hands-free driving up to 80MPH, a smarter Parking Assistant Professional with remote control and a Maneuver Assistant that can replicate tricky driving scenarios (such as a tight parking garage). An augmented reality view on the instrument screen merges video with directions and similar info, while the doors will both detect potential hazards and (with another option) automatically open by touching the handles or Interaction Bar. Owners of recent, UWB-equipped iPhones can also use Digital Key Plus to automatically lock and unlock the doors, and eventually open the doors or activate the alarm system.

Unsurprisingly, this excess will cost you. The i7 xDrive60 will start at $120,295 ($119,300 plus a destination fee) when it reaches the US in the fourth quarter of the year, and that's before you add extras like the 36-speaker Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System. That's not an outlandish price for BMW's target audience, though, and it undercuts the $125,900 of the EQS 580.

UK regulators will allow drivers to watch TV in autonomous cars

Wed, 2022-04-20 08:15

With self-driving vehicles possibly arriving on UK roads later this year, the government is starting to put rules in place to accommodate them, the BBC has reported. As part of that, it will allow drivers in autonomous vehicles to watch TV from an infotainment screen in self-driving mode, as long as they're ready to take back control. That's a modification of a law that has been on the books since 1986 that prohibits drivers from viewing a "television-receiving apparatus" when behind the wheel.

It will still not allow the use of mobile phones, which were officially banned in the UK last year. That's because automakers can implement technology to stop a car's built-in screen from displaying content when the driver needs to take back control, but can't do the same on a smartphone. The government also decided that insurance companies and not people will be liable for accident claims in a number of circumstances. The changes will be an "interim measure" until an all-new set of rules can be put in place by 2025.

Self-driving cars are not yet legal in the UK, but the Department for Transport (DfT) said they may be ready later in 2022. A year ago, the government announced that basic self-driving cars with automated lane-keeping systems could arrive on British roads by the end of last year. 

The UK government predicted that self-driving tech could "improve road safety across Britain by reducing human error, which is a contributory factor in 88 percent of all recorded road collisions." In the meantime, though, self-driving tech has gone nowhere over the last few years, apart from a few exceptions like GM's Cruise offering public driverless taxi rides in San Francisco. 

UK court orders US extradition of Julian Assange on espionage charges

Wed, 2022-04-20 07:25

A court in London has formally issued the order to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the US. That puts his fate in the hands of UK home secretary Priti Patel, who'll be the one deciding whether Assange will be sent back to the US where he's set to face espionage charges. WikiLeaks made waves in 2010 after publishing thousands of classified documents and diplomatic cables sent to the US State Department. Assange is wanted in the US for 18 criminal charges due to those leaks, and he could face up to 175 years in prison if convicted.

Assange sought refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy of London in 2012 and stayed there for years until his asylum was withdrawn in 2019. WikiLeaks claimed back then that the embassy spied on its founder and took photos, videos and audio recordings of him. He was arrested from the embassy, and the US government has been trying to get him extradited since then. 

In January 2021, a British court ruled that he shouldn't be extradited to the United States to stand trial, because "the risk to his mental and physical wellbeing was too great." However, the US government appealed and argued that he had no history of "serious and enduring mental illness." A UK appeals court reversed the previous ruling in December 2021, opening the doors for his extradition. 

Assange joined the most recent trial via video call from the Belmarsh Prison in London. The extradition order was issued by Paul Goldspring, the chief magistrate, who said during the trial: "I am duty bound to send your case to the secretary of state for a decision." According to The Guardian, Assange's side will have the chance to sway Patel's decision by sending the home secretary "serious submissions" and could also challenge issues he lost in court but haven't appealed yet. And it is possible to convince a home secretary to block extraditions — former UK home secretary Theresa May blocked Scottish hacker Gary McKinnon's extradition on human rights grounds. British activist Lauri Love also successfully convinced the UK High Court to side with him when he appealed his extradition orders. 

The Morning After: Electric chopsticks that make food taste saltier

Wed, 2022-04-20 07:18

Researchers in Japan have developed a set of electric chopsticks they claim enhance the taste of salt. The device is attached to a wristband computer. It uses electrical stimulation to transmit sodium ions from food to the eater's mouth, according to Meiji University professor Homei Miyashita, who developed the chopsticks with food and drink maker Kirin.

TMAReuters

Miyashita is also the person behind the lickable TV that was announced a few months ago. Japan was also where I first saw a similarly specced-out electric fork, using the same theories, but with the Western implement. It’s an unusual sensation: like air-fried food compared to actually fried food, it was a different, almost salty, kind of experience.

— Mat Smith

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Samsung's Pokémon-themed Galaxy Z Flip 3 is a delightIt comes with a Pokédex pouch.TMASamsung

If this doesn’t get you into foldables, nothing will.

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Audi’s Urbansphere EV concept is for tomorrow's megacitiesWhat can a car be when it has to be more than a car?TMAAudi

Audi is reimagining the role of the vehicle’s cabin space — from a rigid, safety-centered, face-forward setup to a more open, communal design. This is the biggest Audi concept vehicle to date. It sits on 24-inch rims and measures a whopping 18 feet in length — the same as GM’s Hummer EV; it's over 6.5 feet wide and 5.8 feet tall. And because the Urbansphere doesn’t have to account for a conventional arrangement of a combustion-powered car's components, “it prioritizes the occupants’ need to experience ample space as a distinctive comfort factor.”

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The best webcams you can buyTime to upgrade from your tiny laptop cam.

Even if you’re back to taking some of your meetings in the office, chances are back-to-back Zoom calls are now a permanent part of your professional life. Once an afterthought, your computer’s webcam has become one of its most important components — and the fact remains that most built-in cameras are not able to provide consistent high-quality video chat experiences. We tested out a bunch of the latest webcams to see which are worth your money and which you can safely skip.

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This third-party Sony camera battery has a built-in USB-C portWhy isn't this how all rechargeable batteries work?

Nitecore's UFZ100 has a built-in USB-C port so you don’t need to use a proprietary Sony power adapter to charge it. The battery also includes a handy LED indicator to tell you when it’s below 10 percent charge. With a 2,250mAh capacity, it’s only slightly smaller than Sony’s 2,280mAh NP-FZ100 and works with many of the company’s most recent camera models, including the A6600 and A7 IV. One thing we don’t know about the UFZ100 yet is how much it’ll cost. Third-party battery manufacturers tend to price their offerings lower than Sony, Canon and Nikon, but the added USB-C port on the UFZ100 could make it more expensive.

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Lexus announces the RZ, its first purpose-built EV

Wed, 2022-04-20 07:05

Lexus has today announced the RZ, the luxury marque’s second entry into the EV market, and the first designed from the ground-up as an electric vehicle. With a 71.4kWh battery and a claimed range of around 280 miles, the RZ will also show off a new active four-wheel drive system dubbed DIRECT4. That will, so the company says, enable the car to automatically distribute force to each wheel according to its need. And Lexus says that DIRECT4 will offer “excellent driving performance” with a “stronger human-machine connection.”

Given this is Toyota’s luxury brand, there’s plenty of mention of omotenashi, the Japanese concept of overwhelming your guests with hospitality. Here, Lexus says that owners can expect lots of interior space and plenty of comfort, both for the driver and their passengers. Rear passengers look like they’ll get decent legroom, and a dimming panoramic roof will help make those seats feel a little more spacious, especially compared to most Lexus crossover SUVs.

Image of the Lexus RZLexus

Of course, the only thing anyone will likely want to focus on is the steering yoke, because you can’t drive a futuristic EV with something as old-fashioned as a wheel, come on. (Don't worry, it's an option, the default version comes with a wheel). 

The RZ isn’t Lexus first foray into making a battery electric vehicle, and offered a EV version of its UX series (the 300e), which garnered lukewarm praise from critics. The Lexus build quality and luxury on offer might have been appreciated, but with a range under 200 miles, cramped rear space and poor charging dimmed its shine. Thankfully, the RZ is based on the same e-TNGA EV platform you’ll find underpinning both Toyota’s new bZ4X and Subaru’s Solterra. And we’d expect the RZ to sit as a fancier-pantsier version of the bZ4X, with better interior options and the already-mentioned longer range.

Lenovo's Smart Clock Essential with Alexa falls to a new low of $45

Wed, 2022-04-20 06:45

Lenovo launched a new smart clock at CES earlier this year, and it improved upon its previous models by giving it a pogo docking pin at the bottom and support for Amazon's Alexa. If you've been thinking of picking it up but haven't gotten the chance to until now, you may want to head over to the device's listing at Best Buy. Lenovo's Smart Clock Essential with Alexa is currently on sale for $45 on the retailer's website only for today — there's less than 20 hours left for the deal as of this writing. That's $25 off the smart clock's $70 retail price and lower than a previous deal at Amazon

Buy Lenovo Smart Clock Essential with Alexa at Best Buy - $45

The Smart Clock Essential with Alexa retains the brand's Smart Clock 2 cloth design. While its predecessors only supported Google Assistant, though, this model only supports the Alexa voice assistant. It has a 4-inch LED display that shows the time, day and real-time decibel levels in white text on a black background. Lenovo clearly kept things minimal for the model and gave it just a few buttons for the volume, for activating assistant and for setting the alarm.

Lenovo's compatible docks for the device are optional, but they do improve the experience. The brand has docks that can accommodate the clock along with a wireless charging-capable device like smartphones, for instance. It also sells the Ambient Light Dock in either a sea lion or a squid design that works as a nightlight. You can get the Lenovo Smart Clock Essential from Best Buy at a discount right now in both Misty Blue and Clay Red. 

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

Okta says Lapsus$ breach affected only two customers

Wed, 2022-04-20 05:57

Following a breach of its systems in January, Okta has released a forensic report finding that the threat group Lapsus$ accessed just two active customers via a third-party company. Lapsus$ "actively controlled" a workstation belong to an engineer at support firm Sitel for 25 minutes on January 21st, the company said. 

"The threat actor actively controlled a single workstation, used by a Sitel support engineer, with access to Okta resources," wrote Okta chief security officer David Bradbury. "During that limited window of time, the threat actor accessed two active customer tenants within the SuperUser application and viewed limited additional information in certain other applications like Slack and Jira that cannot be used to perform actions in Okta customer tenants."

While just two customers were accessed, many more users might have been affected, as Otka has 15,000 customers but over 100 million individual users. Despite the access, though, Lapsus$ was not able to do any MFA or password resets, configuration changes or customer support impersonation, Okta said. "The threat actor was unable to authenticate directly to any Okta accounts." 

It took Okta two months to notify customers of the Lapsus$ breach, and eventually released a statement saying it "made a mistake" in how it handled things. In a blog post last month, it revealed that 2.5 percent of its customers may have had their data viewed or acted upon during a five day window.

It now looks like the breach was far more limited in scope, but Okta said it took lessons from the situation. It terminated its relationship with the contractor in question and promised to strengthen audit procedures for others. It's also going to directly manage the devices of third parties with access to customer support tools so it can respond more "effectively" to incidents. Finally, it's adopting new systems to "help us communicate more rapidly with customers" on security issues. 

Brave's browser can automatically bypass Google's AMP pages

Wed, 2022-04-20 05:05

Brave is putting Google's Accelerate Mobile Pages (AMP) on blast with a new feature called De-AMP, The Verge reported. It's designed to bypass any pages rendered with AMP and take users directly to the original website. "Where possible, De-AMP will rewrite links and URLs to prevent users from visiting AMP pages altogether,” the company wrote in a blog post.

If that's not possible, then "Brave will watch as pages are being fetched and redirect users away from AMP pages before the page is even rendered, preventing AMP/Google code from being loaded and executed," it added. 

The new feature was implemented in the name of privacy, security and internet experience, according to Brave. "In practice, AMP is harmful to users and to the Web at large," the article states. "Just as bad, AMP helps Google further monopolize and control the direction of the web." It adds that the next iteration of AMP "will be even worse." 

Google originally promoted AMP as a way to improve the mobile web experience by loading pages faster. However, it has recently been a target of critics who see it as a way for Google to increase its hegemony in the internet ad market by hosting content on its own servers. A group of publishers recently announced it was moving away from AMP, and a lawsuit filed by several US states accuses Google of running a monopoly that harmed ad-industry competitors and publishers.

Brave promises "the best privacy online" with its browser, so of course attacking Google is part of its business strategy. Despite its efforts, though, it lags well behind most other browsers in mobile market share, sitting in the "other" category behind Internet Explorer on Statcounter. De-AMP is now available in beta and "will be enabled by default in the upcoming 1.38 Desktop and Android versions, and will be released on iOS soon after," Brave said.

Delta confirms it worked with Starlink to trial in-flight satellite internet

Wed, 2022-04-20 04:12

Delta Chief Executive Ed Bastian has revealed in an interview that the airline held talks with SpaceX and conducted "exploratory tests" of Starlink's internet technology for its planes. According to The Wall Street Journal, Bastian declined to divulge specifics about the test, but SpaceX exec Jonathan Hofeller talked about the company's discussion with several airlines back in mid-2021. Hofeller said back then that the company was developing a product for aviation and that it's already done some demonstrations for interested parties. 

SpaceX chief Elon Musk tweeted in the same period last year that Starlink antennae for planes would have to be certified for each aircraft type first. He added that the company is focusing on dishes for 737 and A320 planes, because they serve the most number of people.

Schedule driver there is regulatory approval. Has to be certified for each aircraft type. Focusing on 737 & A320, as those serve most number of people, with development testing on Gulfstream.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 25, 2021

Hofeller reiterated SpaceX's quest to put Starlink on planes at the Satellite 2022 conference last month, saying that the company believes "[c]onnectivity on airplanes is something [that's] ripe for an overhaul." He said SpaceX is developing a service that would allow every single passenger on a plane to stream content like they're able to do in their homes.

SpaceX filed an application with the FCC in August last year for a ruggedized type of Starlink antenna that can withstand harsh environments meant for use on planes, ships and other types of moving vehicles. A couple of months later, another FCC filing had revealed that SpaceX was going to test the new "mobile user terminal" on an aircraft for six months. 

Even though Delta had already tested Starlink's technology, Summit Ridge Group (a consulting firm with expertise in satellite communications) founder J. Armand Musey told The Journal that it could take several years for SpaceX's satellite broadband to see widespread adoption. It still has to schedule time with airlines to install terminals on their planes, after all, while more established competitors are also taking steps to improve their service. 

Netflix plans to offer cheaper ad-supported subscription tiers

Wed, 2022-04-20 00:50

Netflix might offer cheaper ad-supported plans in the coming years. In the company's most recent earnings call, co-CEO Reed Hastings has revealed that the streaming giant is currently working on the offering and that it will be finalizing details for those plans "over the next year or two." Hastings said he finds ads complex and he's a huge fan of the simplicity of subscriptions, but giving consumers who don't mind watching ads the option to pay less "makes a lot of sense."

And it could make a lot of sense for the company, too. The service lost around 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2022, a development it blamed on stiffer competition, inability to expand in some territories due to technological limitations and account sharing. Apparently, 222 million households are paying for Netflix, but over 100 million more are sharing those accounts. 

Back in March, Netflix started testing a feature in Chile, Costa Rica and Peru that allowed subscribers to add two "sub-members," who'll get their own log-ins and profiles, for $3. It may just be a fraction of what a full membership costs, but at least Netflix is getting something from people who'd normally just borrow their friends' accounts.

Hastings clarified during the call that the ad-supported memberships will be added as tiers and members who don't mind paying full subscription fees don't have to be subjected to advertisements. "It is pretty clear that it is working for Hulu, Disney is doing it, HBO did it. We don't have any doubt that it works," he said. The executive also added that Netflix will merely be a publisher and that it will not track user data to match ads like some of its competitors do.

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