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Report: Apple retaliated against women who complained about misconduct

Thu, 2022-08-04 05:45

The Financial Times has published a lengthy report saying that Apple has fostered a culture of apathy toward reports of employee misconduct, and has actively retaliated against staff members who complained about colleagues, including those who reported incidents of sexual assault. If accurate, the allegations are at odds with the image of inclusiveness that Apple projects, and cast a pall on the real progress it has made in boosting its workforce diversity. 

Multiple women described filing complaints with Apple's human resources department over sexual abuse, bullying and other incidents. Former employee Megan Mohr complained that a colleague removed her bra and clothes while she was asleep and took photos of her after a platonic night out. However, the HR representative called the experience "a minor traffic accident."

"Although what he did was reprehensible as a person and potentially criminal, as an Apple employee he hasn't violated any policy in the context of his Apple work," Apple's HR department said in an email seen by FT. "And because he hasn't violated any policy we will not prevent him seeking employment opportunities that are aligned with his goals and interests." 

An Apple Store Genius employee complained about two instances of serious sexual assault including being raped, and said HR treated her not as a victim, but as the problem. "I was told [the alleged rapist] went on a ‘career experience’ for six months and they said: ‘maybe you’ll be better by the time he’s back?" She requested a transfer but it was declined, and she still works at the same store. 

IP attorney Margaret Anderson complained of a "toxic work environment" and "gaslighting," and said a male vice-president wanted to fire her, citing false allegations that predated her arrival at Apple. HR reportedly ignored a document she created refuting the allegations.

Employees have also complained about Apple suppressing worker organizing and blocking Slack channels used by employees to complain about bad managers and pay inequity. Software engineer Cher Scarlett said Apple retaliated after she filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The company offered her a $213,000 severance package, but she refused to sign it because Apple demanded she hand over a letter sent to the NLRB that included the names of other employees. 

That's their playbook. Offer me enough money to pay off my lawyers and debt, and they wanted a list of people to retaliate against. How do I talk about how egregious that truly is?

She accepted the deal when Apple withdrew the demand, but was forced to pull the NLRB complaint. However, she intentionally broke the agreement when Apple sent a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) saying it "supports the rights of its employees and contractors to speak freely." Scarlett then showed her exit arrangement to the media, which led to eight US state treasurers asking the SEC to investigate "whether or not Apple misled the Commission and investors." 

The highest profile complaint was from Jayne Whitt, a director in Apple's legal department. She told HR that a colleague hacked her devices and threatened her life, with the expectation that the complaint would be handled seriously. Instead, the employee investigative division said Whitt "failed to act in a professional and work appropriate manner" during their meeting, at a time when Whitt "said she was begging for help and reliving trauma," the FT wrote. 

She subsequently posted a 2,800 word essay on the whistleblower platform The Lioness describing the situation, prompting an outpouring of support from Apple employees. However, Apple proceeded to fire her based on what she called an "irrelevant" six-year-old indiscretion. 

Whitt is now challenging Apple legally, and said the Slack channels on gender-pay disparity helped open her eyes. "I was disadvantaged — this is how women struggle," she said. "Had these stories [on Slack] not been coming out, I would not have been compelled to do the right thing, to blow up my career."

Apple told The Financial Times in a statement that it works hard to thoroughly investigate misconduct allegations and strives to create "an environment where employees feel comfortable reporting any issues." However, it acknowledged not having always met those ideals. "There are some accounts raised that do not reflect our intentions or our policies and we should have handled them differently, including certain exchanges reported in this story. As a result, we will make changes to our training and processes." It wouldn't comment on specific cases "out of respect for the privacy of the individuals involved." 

US Attorneys General will take legal action against telecom providers enabling robocalls

Thu, 2022-08-04 01:56

The Attorneys General of all 50 states have joined forces in hopes of giving teeth to the seemingly never-ending fight against robocalls. North Carolina AG Josh Stein, Indiana AG Todd Rokita and Ohio AG Dave Yost are leading the formation of the new Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force. In Stein's announcement, he said the group will focus on taking legal action against telecoms, particularly gateway providers, allowing or turning a blind eye to foreign robocalls made to US numbers.

He explained that gateway providers routing foreign phone calls into the US telephone network have the responsibility under the law to ensure the traffic they're bringing in is legal. Stein said that they mostly aren't taking any action to keep robocalls out of the US phone network, though, and they're even intentionally allowing robocall traffic through in return for steady revenue in many cases. 

Stein said in a statement:

"We're... going to take action against phone companies that violate state and federal laws. I’m proud to create this nationwide task force to hold companies accountable when they turn a blind eye to the robocallers they’re letting on to their networks so they can make more money. I’ve already brought one pathbreaking lawsuit against an out-of-state gateway provider, and I won’t hesitate to take legal action against others who break our laws and bombard North Carolinians with these harmful, unlawful calls."

The Attorney General referenced data from the National Consumer Law Center, which previously reported that American phone numbers get more than 33 million scam robocalls a day. Those include Social Security scams targeting seniors and gift card scams, wherein bad actors pretend they're from the IRS. In that report, the center warned that consumers will keep on getting robocalls as long as phone providers are earning from them. 

Stein already has experience sparring with shady gateway providers. Back in January, he sued Articul8 for routing more than 65 million calls to phone numbers in North Carolina and inundating residents with up to 200 fraudulent telemarketing calls every single day. He previously urged the FCC to implement measures designed to put a stop to illegal foreign calls made through providers like Articul8, as well. And in 2019, Stein became instrumental in the development of an agreement between the US Attorneys General and 12 carriers in the country to use the STIR/SHAKEN call-blocking technology.

Lucid Motors has drastically reduced its production target, again

Wed, 2022-08-03 20:46

Luxury EV startup Lucid Motors changed its yearly production target again, lowering it to an expected output of between 6,000 and 7,000 vehicles, the company announced today. That’s only a fraction of the 20,000 cars that Lucid initially promised to deliver in 2022. The Tesla competitor has only produced 1,405 vehicles so far this year, giving it a mere four months to build thousands of new cars.

Supply chain woes and a shortage of parts and raw materials are to blame for the slow output, the company claims. In a call with investors, the California-based company’s CEO Peter Rawlinson said it is planning a number of structural changes to amp up production. "Our revised production guidance reflects the extraordinary supply chain and logistics challenges we encountered," said Rawlinson. "We've identified the primary bottlenecks, and we are taking appropriate measures – bringing our logistics operations in-house, adding key hires to the executive team, and restructuring our logistics and manufacturing organization."

On top of ongoing production struggles, this May the company was forced to recall all of its 2022 Air EVs due to wiring issues — a total of over 1,000 cars. Such challenges haven't appeared to impact demand for the luxury vehicles. So far, there have been 37,000 reservations for Lucid Motor’s all-electric sedan, the Lucid Air, the company disclosed in the call. On top of that, Lucid plans to sell over 100,000 cars to the government of Saudi Arabia — which poured over $1 billion into the company and owns a 62 percent stake.

NASA says retired astronauts must act as sherpas on private flights to the ISS

Wed, 2022-08-03 19:07

NASA will soon require a retired astronaut to serve as mission commander on all private flights to the International Space Station, according to an agency notice posted today. The policy — which has yet to be finalized — is intended to both increase passenger safety and reduce any strain on existing ISS operations. The former astronaut would provide “experienced guidance for the private astronauts during pre-flight preparation through mission execution." A number of changes also impact space tourists themselves, including new medical standards for private astronauts, more lead time for private research projects, changes to the policy for return cargo and additional time for private astronauts to adjust to microgravity.

According to the notice, the new changes were a result of “lessons learned” on last April’s Axiom Space flight, where passengers paid $55 million each to fly on the first private astronaut mission to the ISS. The hectic, two-week trip — where passengers also worked on their own research — took a toll on both the ISS crew and the Axiom crew themselves, according to interviews with astronauts following the mission’s return.

The Ax-1 mission actually had a former NASA astronaut at its helm — Michael López-Alegría, who currently is the Chief Astronaut at Axiom. The company was considering crewing future missions without a professional astronaut on board as that would free up space for an extra (paying) passenger on board, Axiom president Michael Suffredini said at a press conference earlier this year. The new policy by NASA is likely an effort to prevent such unsupervised missions.

Capable astronauts aren’t exactly a dime a dozen. Currently, there are well over 200 living retired NASA astronauts, according to the agency’s website — though it’s unclear how many would be willing to command future missions or meet the medical requirements. NASA itself is in the middle of an astronaut shortage — its current corps of 44 astronauts is the smallest since the 1970s. An agency report from January said a lack of working NASA astronauts could complicate future missions to the ISS and the moon.

Google decided having two apps called Meet was a good idea

Wed, 2022-08-03 17:01

Google is moving forward with its merger of Duo and Meet, if not quite as elegantly as some might like. TechCrunchreports Google is rebranding Duo for Android and iOS as the Meet app, complete with the video calling-centric logo. The company had already migrated many of Meet's features. However, the old Meet app isn't going away for now — instead, it will be rebranded as "Google Meet (original)."

All Duo users should see the rebrand by September. You'll have to use your Google account for any meeting features, but familiar elements (like effects and contacts) will remain intact. The original Meet app will continue to work, but won't get ad hoc calling and will eventually disappear.

As a spokesperson explained in June, the merger is meant to adapt to the "evolving needs" of video calling, including meetings, by providing a unified experience. To some extent, it's also further acknowledgment that Google's communication app mix had grown too complex. The tech firm plans to shut down Hangouts this fall to focus on Chat, for instance, and it dropped Allo in early 2019. While the old Meet's existence could still prove confusing, it should soon be clearer as to just which Google apps you should use for work meetings or keeping up with friends.

Facebook Live Shopping is coming to an end in favor of Reels

Wed, 2022-08-03 16:25

Facebook Live Shopping events appear to be another casualty of Meta’s shift to short-form video. According to an announcement on the company’s website, live shopping events on Facebook will retire on October 1st. The little-known feature let Facebook Business owners showcase their products in live videos to their followers — sort of like a personal Home Shopping Network. Merchants could notify their Page followers of upcoming live shopping sessions and take payments through Messenger.

In lieu of such sessions, Meta is asking merchants to consider showcasing products via Reels, Reels ads and product tagging on Instagram Reels. “As consumers’ viewing behaviors are shifting to short-form video, we are shifting our focus to Reels on Facebook and Instagram, Meta’s short-form video product,” wrote Meta in its post.

It’s no surprise that Meta is pushing more merchants towards Reels and Reels ads, especially given the fact that the latter reached a $1 billion annual revenue run rate in the second quarter of this year. Much to the chagrin of users that miss seeing their friends, Instagram and increasingly Facebook has continued to emphasize in-feed ads and suggested posts on user feeds. But thanks to a recent user-led backlash, Instagram has agreed to scale back the testing of its recommendation and video-centric features — but only temporarily.

Over the past two years, TikTok’s status as the reigning app of Gen Z has led other social media platforms to make some strategic changes to cater to a younger audience. In light of Meta’s first quarterly revenue loss since going public, CEO Mark Zuckerberg pointed to Reels on Facebook and Instagram as a crucial part of the company’s recovery plan. Instagram users now spend nearly 20 percent of their time on the app watching Reels, though it’s likely a significant amount of this time was spent watching reposted TikToks — leading to the platform making some algorithmic tweaks to downrank videos from its competitor.

Meanwhile, Meta is continuing to make a push for users to create more original content on Reels. In a recent video, Instagram head Adam Mosseri said more of the platform would emphasize video “over time” — despite criticism from followers who miss Instagram’s earlier focus on photos. Last month Instagram began testing automatically turning videos shared on public Instagram accounts into Reels and adding a number of templates and tools to make it easier to create Reels.

College textbook maker Pearson eyes NFTs to claim a cut of second-hand sales

Wed, 2022-08-03 16:10

NFT advocates often tout the technology's ability to grant the creator a cut of second-hand sales as one of its major attributes. Artists can earn from one of their digital creations years after first selling it. Others are looking at NFTs to earn a buck from the secondary market too, including the publishers of college textbooks.

Pearson, which said in 2019 it would focus on digital textbook sales, wants a piece of the action. “In the analogue world, a Pearson textbook was resold up to seven times, and we would only participate in the first sale,” CEO Andy Bird told Bloomberg this week. “The move to digital helps diminish the secondary market, and technology like blockchain and NFTs allows us to participate in every sale of that particular item as it goes through its life."

There's an obvious reason why students resell textbooks. They're expensive! Students often have to spend hundreds of dollars on required materials each semester — or even hundreds of dollars on a single textbook. Selling on a textbook when it's no longer needed just makes sense.

Turning textbooks into NFTs and banking on the blockchain to track ownership of them (from “owner A to owner B to owner C,” as Bird put it) seems unnecessary, though. Digital rights management already exists and doesn't need to go anywhere near cryptocurrency. Pearson has a $15 per month subscription service for its textbooks as well.

Bird could simply be bloviating about a zeitgeisty technology to try and keep Pearson's investors happy — even though NFT sales have plummeted this year. In any case, there's still not much he or Pearson could do to stop students from screenshotting every page of a textbook before selling it on.

Twitter hopes to revive Spaces with themed stations and daily digests

Wed, 2022-08-03 15:44

Twitter is overhauling its Spaces audio chatrooms. The company has confirmed to TechCrunch that it's developing an experiment for the Spaces tab in its social media app. While it didn't say just what that would entail, early screenshots of test code from Watchful hint at a revised interface with major feature additions. You could browse themed stations (such as music or sports), or play a personalized daily digest with a handful of content.

The company warned TechCrunch that the screens were outdated and didn't reflect what you'd see in the final product. The revamp appears to take advantage of Spaces' support for topic tags that help you quickly find a relevant chatroom.

The rethink could help newcomers discover Spaces, not to mention expand it beyond the business and cryptocurrency users that frequently dominate the discussions. While it's not clear how many people currently use Spaces, the current interface is aimed more at veteran users.

Whether or not the update is timely is another matter. The audio chatroom phenomenon has lost some of its momentum, with pioneer Clubhouse laying off staff as it shifts strategy. While Twitter, Meta and Spotify all leaped into the field soon after Clubhouse's rise to prominence, it's not clear these piggyback efforts took off. Internal data obtained by The Washington Post suggested that Spaces was already in decline last summer with under 1 million users by July 2021. The audio chat bubble might have popped a while back, in other words, and there's no guarantee a Spaces redesign will help.

Winamp, your parents' favorite MP3 software, is back

Wed, 2022-08-03 15:10

Winamp is the music software that just won't die, apparently. Pitchforknotes that the developers recently released the classic MP3 program's first update (5.9 RC1 Build 9999) in four years. While it isn't a dramatic change on the outside, the producers described it as the "culmination" of years of hard work, including two teams and a pandemic-dictated hiatus. There are significant under-the-hood changes, including a migration to a much newer development platform.

The software has a long history. Winamp gained fame as the playback software of choice during the early music download era — it was the home for all the MP3s you (or possibly your parents) got from fledgling digital stores and peer-to-peer apps. It played numerous common formats, and was well-known for its highly customizable interface skins and visualizers.

Parent company AOL (formerly Engadget's owner) shut down work in 2013, years after rival apps and streaming options like Spotify took hold, but that wasn't the end. Radionomy bought Winamp in 2014 to aid its online music plans. and the team has lately promised a "totally remastered" experience with podcast and radio features as well as a closer connection to artists.

Winamp's return won't revive the turn-of-the-millennium digital zeitgeist. Streaming still dominates, and there's a chance you listen on your phone or smart speaker more than you do your PC. If the llama-themed startup sound is permanently etched in your brain, though, this could be a welcome dose of nostalgia.

Apple might delay iPadOS 16 release until October

Wed, 2022-08-03 14:53

Apple tends to roll out its major software versions on a regular cadence, with iPhone and iPad updates usually dropping soon after its after its big annual hardware event in September. Things could be different this year, though. Bloomberg reports that Apple might delay iPadOS 16 by a month or so.

The main issue is said to be with the Stage Manager multitasking tool, which will only be available on M1-powered iPads. It allows users to resize windows and have them overlapping. However, those who tried the beta by and large found the feature buggy. 

"In its unfinished form, Stage Manager is a bit rough around the edges," Engadget's Nathan Ingraham wrote in his iPadOS 16 preview. "When I was using my iPad with an external display, the system crashed and threw me back to the home screen not infrequently, which obviously kills productivity gains. There are also quirks with apps behaving unpredictably when resizing their windows."

Previous reports indicated that Apple has new iPads lined up for later this year, including a souped-up base model with a USB-C port and an M2-powered iPad Pro. Delaying iPadOS 16 could mean it emerges closer to the arrival of new tablets as well. Pushing back the iPadOS 16 release will also allow Apple to prioritize and polish iOS 16, as Bloomberg notes.

For what it's worth, macOS Ventura also includes Stage Manager. In his preview of the operating system, Devindra Hardawar found that the feature was the standout addition. 

It's expected that Apple will release macOS Ventura in October. Given that Apple has long been trying to pivot away from the perception of the iPad as a big iPhone and make it more of an all-purpose productivity device, rolling out iPadOS 16 and macOS Ventura at the same time could send another subtle message about how the company is positioning its tablets.

Amazon Luna arrives on Samsung's latest smart TVs

Wed, 2022-08-03 14:32

Earlier this year, the Samsung Gaming Hub brought Xbox Game Pass, NVIDIA GeForce Now, Google Stadia and other gaming services to Samsung smart TVs and smart monitors, promising to add new services like Amazon Luna "soon." Soon, it turns out, is today: Amazon's cloud gaming service is now available on 2022 Samsung smart TVs.

Samsung says that with Luna, the gaming hub now has more than 1000 games available to play. Most of these games will require an extra subscription fee, though if you're an Amazon Prime subscriber, you already have access to a small library of games. Very small. Right now Prime users can play four games (Steel Assault, MYST, Control: Ultimate Edition and Garfield Kart: Furious Racing) included with their subscription.

The selection of free with Prime games changes every month, but users can subscribe to additional channels to expand their library. Luna Plus, for instance, includes games like Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Mega Man 11, Ghostrunner and Resident Evil VII. Luna's Retro Channel has a collection of classic games, from Centipede to Street Fighter II. Users can also subscribe to channels featuring Ubisoft and Jackbox game packs, all priced between $4.99 and $17.99 a month. If you do subscribe, your games won't be locked to your TV: Luna games are playable on PCs, Macs, tablets and smartphones.

How well all these games work, however, depends on your connection speed. Amazon Luna and Xbox Game Pass both recommended minimum internet speeds of 10Mbps to 20Mbps on a 5GHz WiFi connection — and of course, you'll also need the aforementioned 2022 Samsung Smart TV and a Bluetooth gamepad. If you have all that, Luna's Free with Prime games are a great way try game streaming on your TV.

Dead by Daylight's 'Hooked on You' dating sim spin-off is out now

Wed, 2022-08-03 14:00

Behaviour Interactive is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and it marked the occasion with a stream that showed off some things it has in the pipeline, including what's next for Dead by Daylight. Back in May, Behaviour revealed that a DBD dating sim would arrive sometime this summer. Fans can now dive into Hooked on You, since it has just landed on Steam.

Hooked on You is the first DBD spin-off and it was developed by I Love You, Colonel Sanders! studio Psyop. It's a visual novel in which you can romance four of the killers from the main game on (where else?) Murderer's Island. The stories it tells combine humor, romance and horror, though they aren't canon. Still, they could let fans live out some of their DBD fantasies.

As for Dead by Daylight itself, Behaviour shed more light on what to expect from the second Resident Evil chapter, which is coming soon. The Resident Evil: Project W DLC will introduce Albert Wesker (who is called The Mastermind in DBD) and two new survivors: Ada Wong and Rebecca Chambers. In addition, Behaviour is reworking the Raccoon City Police Department map that debuted as part of the original Resident Evil chapter, which arrived last year.

The first Behaviour Beyond showcase included some new game announcements as well. One of them is Meet Your Maker, a base building and raiding game that's slated to arrive next year. You can assemble deadly maze-like outposts packed with traps and guards to protect sought-after genetic material from other players. Of course, you (perhaps with a friend's help in co-op mode) will infiltrate other players' bases to try and steal material from them. A closed playtest starts later this month.

Also on the way is a 3D brawler called Flippin Misfits. Up to four players can battle each other in space. The game will hit Steam in September. In addition, the stream offered a look at a title codenamed Project S. It's an open-world puzzle game that features single-player, co-op and large multiplayer modes. Behaviour is working on Project S, which it plans to release next year, with Lunarch Studios. More details will be revealed soon.

Indonesia restores access to PayPal, Yahoo and Valve services

Wed, 2022-08-03 13:12

Indonesia has unblocked PayPal, Steam owner Valve and Yahoo (Engadget's parent company), allowing them to resume operations. The country prevented residents from accessing services of several companies that missed a July 29th deadline to register with a government database. The Communications Ministry reopened access to PayPal, Yahoo and Valve services after they signed up.

“PayPal is fully committed to complying with applicable laws and regulations in the markets where we do business," a PayPal spokesperson told Engadget. "We have registered as an Electronic Systems Operator in Indonesia, having connected directly with the Ministry of Communication and Informatics. PayPal customers can send, receive, and access their money as usual. We regret any disruption our customers may have experienced last weekend.”

Controversial licensing rules that Indonesia established in 2020 allow authorities to force registered platforms to turn over data from certain users. There's a content moderation aspect as well. Platforms are required to remove content that "disturbs public order" or is considered unlawful. If the content takedown demand is urgent, they have just four hours to comply. Otherwise, they have 24 hours to yank the offending content.

Even though the rules were brought in two years ago, some notable companies are said to have scrambled to register on time and keep their services available. According to Reuters, Meta, Amazon and Google signed up just days before the deadline. However, it seems Epic Games Store and EA's Origin service remain blocked.

Scientists revived organ cells in dead pigs

Wed, 2022-08-03 12:59

Medical science is nowhere near overcoming death, but it might be closer to delaying harm in dying and seriously damaged organs. The New York Timesreports that Yale University researchers successfully revived cells in the organs of pigs that had been dead in the lab for an hour. Hearts started beating, and the pigs' bodies didn't stiffen like they normally would. 

The team mixed the animals' blood and an artificial hemoglobin with OrganEx, a solution that includes anti-inflammatory medicine, nerve blockers (to prevent a return to consciousness), nutrients and drugs that fight cell death. The project is a follow-up to a years-old breakthrough where the scientists revived dead pigs' brain cells using a precursor solution, BrainEx. After that finding, the group wondered if it could revive an entire body.

The work isn't close to helping human patients. Further studies will show if the organs are functioning. Researchers will also have to gauge the effects of OrganEx without nerve blockers, and eventually test their work on humans. There are ethical concerns that pigs might regain brain function, and it's not clear just when it would be viable to experiment with people. If synthetic blood isn't yet ready for emergency rooms, this is even further away.

The ramifications could be huge if and when solutions like OrganEx are suitable for humans, though. They could extend the viability of organ transplants — it might be possible to collect healthy organs long after the moment of death. That, in turn, could make more transplants available and save additional lives. The technology could also limit the damage to organs after serious heart attacks and strokes. Ideally, this will give people a fighting chance to recover from potentially fatal conditions.

You can now buy Ticketmaster tickets on TikTok

Wed, 2022-08-03 12:13

TikTok has teamed up with Ticketmaster to help users discover events and buy tickets directly through the app. Creators such as music artists, comedians, sports teams and venues can search for relevant Ticketmaster events and link to them on their videos. The feature is only open to select creators at the outset, though more will gain access over time.

Demi Lovato, OneRepublic, Usher, the Backstreet Boys and WWE are among those who can use the feature at the jump. Event links will appear on the bottom left of the screen. Users can tap or click through to an in-app browser to buy a ticket.

Ticketmaster says the partnership with TikTok will help event organizers and creators reach more fans and potential ticket buyers. Along similar lines, Snapchat added a Ticketmaster Mini app in February to help users find events.

Earlier this week, it emerged that TikTok may be working on its own music streaming service. According to a trademark filing, the mooted TikTok Music service would allow folks to "purchase, play, share, download music, songs, albums, lyrics... live stream audio and video... edit and upload photographs as the cover of playlists... [and] comment on music, songs and albums."

Your favorite podcast might be making thousands for inviting guests

Wed, 2022-08-03 11:51

That big-name guest might not have appeared on your favorite podcast out of the kindness of their heart. Bloomberg has learned that podcast guests are routinely paying big money to appear on popular podcasts. Guestio, a marketplace for these deals, has seen huge transactions in the past six months. Four podcasters made $20,000 from charging for appearances, while one made $50,000. The most profitable show, Entrepreneurs on Fire, regularly charges $3,500 for guest spots and has sometimes taken a cut of product sales.

It's not clear how widespread this activity is. However, Bloomberg interviews suggest pay-to-appear systems are popular for business, cryptocurrency and wellness podcasts. Hosts like Entrepreneurs on Fire's John Lee Dumas see appearance fees as filters. Guests will be well-prepared if they're making an "investment" in airtime, the creator said.

However, there are ethical and legal concerns surrounding the practice. This could be considered a modern take on payola, or the pay-for-play schemes used to boost songs on the radio — is a guest appearing because they're relevant, or just because they're willing to pay? And while disclosures are mandatory for those radio plays, the situation isn't so clear with podcasts. While many shows on Guestio have disclosures, not all of them properly reveal when an interview subject is paying to show up.

That could pose a problem in the future. A Federal Trade Commission spokesperson said that there's deception whenever consumers are mislead about the nature of advertising and promotional messages, regardless of the media format. The regulator didn't say if it would crack down on podcasters who improperly disclose paying guests, but the message could serve as a warning to show hosts.

OnePlus 10T review: Speed above all

Wed, 2022-08-03 11:30

When OnePlus does a mid-year refresh of its phones, typically you end up with a slightly snappier device with a handful of slight refinements. But with the new OnePlus 10T, it feels like a lot was sacrificed for the sake of going all-in on speed. Updates include a faster Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip, a 120Hz display with an adaptive refresh rate, even faster charging and some tweaks for improved wireless connectivity. Unfortunately, OnePlus’ signature Alert Slider and wireless charging have been removed, and water resistance is weak. So while the 10T is a solid device with an affordable price of $649, it doesn't have the same mass appeal as some of OnePlus’ previous offerings.

Design

For the 10T's design, OnePlus recycled the template it created for the 10 Pro, but with some cost-saving tweaks. You get Gorilla Glass 5 in front and back, with the jade green model sporting the smooth, shiny finish you'd expect. But on our Moonstone black review unit, OnePlus used two different processes to add a textured finish the company says was inspired by basalt. This makes the phone sparkle in the sunlight, which might be nice for Twilight fans or people who aren't planning on immediately throwing this thing in a case. That said, I think you could get a similar effect with glitter, but more than that, it makes the back of the phone feel kind of plasticky, as if it came out of a cheap 3D printer. Don't get me wrong, this is a really minor offense, but if I was buying one, I'd go with the jade version.

The OP10T also features three cameras in back with a smoothed-out hump, a speedy in-screen optical fingerprint scanner and stereo speakers that are relatively loud, though there isn't much to say about its overall audio quality. Sadly, what you won't find is an Alert Slider, which is a feature that has been present on nearly every OnePlus phone since the OnePlus 2 way back in 2015. OnePlus claims its removal is due to space requirements for larger antennas, a bigger battery, faster charging and more, and that the slider will make a return on future devices. But all that kind of makes not having it on the 10T feel even stranger, while also removing one of the few features that gives the phone a bit of personality.

Furthermore, as a downgrade from the OnePlus 9, the 10T only gets IP-54 dust and water resistance, which is only rated to withstand a splash or two instead of a full 30-minute dunk (up to five feet) like you used to get. All around, it feels like OnePlus is regressing a bit on the design front.

DisplayThe OnePlus 10T features a large 6.7-inch OLED screen with an adaptive 120HZ refresh rate.Sam Rutherford/Engadget

The 10T packs a big 6.7-inch 2412 x 1080 OLED display with flat edges and a 120Hz refresh rate, there's very little to complain about here. Colors are bright and punchy while still delivering lovely inky blacks. Meanwhile, using a light meter I found that the OP10T's screen delivers a peak brightness just shy of 800 nits, which is great. And thanks to the addition of an adaptive refresh rate that can switch from 120Hz to 90hz or 60hz depending on the content, you also get improved battery life without impacting image quality.

Performance

When it comes to speed, one of the biggest upgrades is the move to Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip, which offers 30 percent better power efficiency and 10 percent faster graphics compared to the standard SD8 Gen 1. You can also configure the OP10T with up to 16GB of RAM, which OnePlus claims is enough to hold up to 35 apps open in the background, along with up to 256GB of storage.

The Moonstone black version of the OnePlus 10T features a two-process finish on its back inspired by basalt that sparkles in the sunlight. Sam Rutherford/Engadget

All this makes the phone feel rather spritely, though there's not much that can really tax a phone with flagship-level performance nowadays. Honestly, I can't think of 35 or even 20 apps I'd want to keep running all the time, and in side-by-side comparisons with SD8 Gen 1 phones, it's hard to discern much of an advantage in speed. But if you absolutely need to have the fastest silicon you can get in an Android phone, well here you go.

In addition to its new processor, the 10T also gets the same 1,000Hz touch sampling rate you get on the 10 Pro, alongside OnePlus' HyperBoost Gaming engine which attempts to smooth out any hiccups or stutters in your framerate. And for people who care about getting the best Wi-Fi speeds, OnePlus also created its Smart Link feature, which is designed to proactively seek out strong networks. This works in tandem with the OP10T's 360-degree antenna design, so you can get optimal signal strength regardless of how you're holding the phone or where your connection is coming from.

Cameras a 50MP main cam, an 8MP ultra-wide cam and a 2MP macro cam.Sam Rutherford/Engadget

When it comes to photography, the 10T's cameras are one of the biggest departures from its more expensive sibling. Not only does the 10T not have any features or tuning from Hasselblad like you get on the 10 Pro, it also lacks a dedicated telephoto lens. Instead, you get a 50MP main camera based on a Sony IMX766 sensor, an 8MP ultra-wide cam and a 2MP macro cam.

Thankfully, even without help from Hasselblad, the 10T's image quality is still pretty good. During the day, you get rich saturated colors and relatively sharp details. It was only after I compared the 10T's pics with similar shots from the $500 Pixel 6a that I noticed it sometimes oversharpens things a touch or exaggerates more vivid colors like the oranges on a flower. At night, the 10T holds up pretty well too, though I still have to give the Pixel 6a an advantage in low light thanks to Google's Night Sight mode. In general, the 10T captured sharp, well-lit images that were a touch behind what I shot using the Pixel 6a.

As for the other cams, the ultra-wide is totally serviceable and provides a more expansive 120-degree field of view compared to the 50MP main lens. Unfortunately, the macro cam is kind of a bust, because while it can take photos from just an inch and a half away (4cm), its low resolution and hit-or-miss focus means you’re often better off just using the main cam and cropping.

Battery life and charging

Ok, let's talk charging because while the 80-watt charging on the 10 Pro was anything but slow, the new 150-watt Super VOOC system on the 10T is ridiculously fast and actually lives up to OnePlus’ lofty claims. Starting with just a one percent charge, the OP10T added just shy of 60 percent battery in just 10 minutes, before going on to hit 86 percent in 20 minutes and 100 percent in less than half an hour. That's more than twice as fast as what you get from a lot of other high-end Android phones, including stuff like the $1,200 S22 Ultra and its slower 45-watt fast charging.

The bottom of the OP10T features a single speaker which works with the phone's earpiece to deliver stereo audio. Sam Rutherford/Engadget

That said, there are a number of caveats about the 10T's 150-watt Super VOOC charging you should know. The first is that you can only get these speeds when using OnePlus' included power adapter and cable. (But hey, at least you get a charging brick in the box unlike a lot of other phones.) When I tried charging the phone with two other 130-watt or higher third-party adapters, the 10T added less than 20 percent battery in 10 minutes, and that was even when using OnePlus' cable.

Additionally, because OnePlus' power brick doesn't support the 110 or 120-volt outlets that are most common in the US, charging actually caps out at 125 watts. However, if you're in Europe or India, you will get that full 150 watts. Finally, for anyone dreaming of juicing up a laptop or some other gadget with OnePlus' big brick, you should know that standard USB-PD charging is capped at 45 watts. And despite having a label on the brick that says 160 watts, regardless of where you are, charging speeds cap out at 150 watts.

Unlike almost every other OnePlus phone, the 10T doesn't feature the company's signature Alert Slider. Sam Rutherford/Engadget

As for battery life itself, the 10T is downright fantastic. Even though it has a slightly smaller capacity than the OP10 Pro (4,800 mAh vs. 5,000 mAh), it lasted almost 22 hours on our video rundown test (21 hours and 59 minutes to be exact). That's the best time we've seen this year, even beating out the Pixel 6a's mark of 19:30.

And for those worried about what the 10T's rapid charging might do to its battery health, OnePlus says the phone has 13 temperature sensors to make sure it doesn't overheat while charging, while its duel-cell power pack helps spread electrons more evenly and efficiently. This is meant to help the 10T retain 80% battery health after 1,600 charging cycles, though obviously, we haven't had time to test that out fully.

Software

When it comes to software, nowadays most Android phone makers have gotten their custom skins in a pretty decent spot. However, with OnePlus's OxygenOS having transitioned to a platform based on Oppo's ColorOS starting with the 10 Pro and now the 10T, things can feel a bit jarring for long-time OnePlus fans. That's because while you still get things like the OnePlus Sans font, other elements like the settings menu, UI, and even some of OxygenOS 12's new sounds constantly remind you that this isn't the operating system you're used to.

The OnePlus 10T features an in-screen optical fingerprint reader that's both fast and accurate. Sam Rutherford/Engadget

There’s a new Shelf that’s sort of like a blend between the Control Center on iPhones and a dedicated place for widgets that feels somewhat redundant. I've also noticed some odd bugs and inconsistencies like not getting a pop-up to enable file transfers when connecting the phone to a PC over USB-C. To fix this I had to manually enable Android's developer settings, which isn't something that an average user should need or have to do.

On the bright side, the 10T should enjoy solid software support, with OnePlus promising at least three major Android updates and four years of regular security patches. The company even says it plans to upgrade some of its phones to Android 13 later this fall, starting with the OnePlus 10 Pro, not the 10T, and moving on from there.

Availability

The OP10T will be available in Europe on August 25th starting at €699 for the 8GB/128GB config, or on September 29th in the US starting at $649. For US customers, there will also be a handful of pre-sale dates on OnePlus.com on August 3rd-6th, 10th-13th, 17th-20th and 24th-27th. OnePlus says anyone who buys a phone during early access will also be eligible for a free upgrade to the 16GB/256GB config along with zero interest if you opt for the company’s 24-month payment plan.

Wrap-up

So, the big question is should you get one? For the kind of people who crave speed, the OnePlus 10T is an interesting device. It has top-of-the-line performance, a big OLED screen and stupidly fast charging for just $650 for 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, or $750 for the 16GB + 256GB config. Its camera quality is solid too, even though I wish OnePlus had opted for a zoom lens instead of a macro. And its battery life is truly superb.

Unlike a lot of other phones nowadays, the OnePlus' super fast charging brick comes included.Sam Rutherford/Engadget

The somewhat disappointing part are some of the cuts made to achieve all this speed. You don't get OnePlus' signature Alert Slider, there's no support for wireless charging, and its water resistance is mediocre. Another annoying wrinkle is that OnePlus has yet to detail carrier compatibility for the US (the company says more info will be available closer to launch, stay tuned for updates) .So while it's super fast, the OP10T isn't as well-rounded as phones like the Pixel 6. To complicate things even more, alongside the 10T's release, OnePlus is permanently reducing OP 10 Pro's starting price from $899 to $799. That puts the 10T in a tough spot between great values like the $500 Pixel 6a or the $600 Pixel 6 and more full-featured phones like the S22 and OP10 Pro. But if you gotta go fast and want an affordable phone with excess haste, the 10T might be exactly what you need.

New 'FIFA Mobile' mode puts the focus on strategy, not action

Wed, 2022-08-03 10:56

Would you rather oversee your FIFA Mobile team than control your players' every last step? You now have your chance. EA has introduced a Manager Mode to the Android and iOS title that has you focusing on strategy and tactics rather than action. You choose the starting lineup, set the tactics in real-time (such as attacking or countering) and let your team play. You can even queue multiple matches as you climb the division ranks.

The corresponding game update also improves goalkeepers, adds player switching options and offers kits for 30 national teams. The upgrade is available now.

This doesn't turn FIFA Mobile into a management sim like Football Manager. You aren't scouting talent, shaping training programs or wrestling with the team's board. Think of this more as the soccer equivalent to an auto battler like Auto Chess or Teamfight Tactics — it's a slightly more relaxed experience that does more to reward situational awareness than fast reflexes.

The best PlayStation 5 games for 2022

Wed, 2022-08-03 09:45

Welcome to our first update to Engadget’s best games list for PlayStation 5. As always, we have looked for games that generally offer meaningful improvements over their last-gen counterparts when played on PS5, or are exclusive to the system. Our 2022 update sees two third-party titles – Deathloop and Final Fantasy VII Remake – join the overwhelmingly Sony fray. We'll be updating this periodically, so, if a game's just been released and you don't see it, chances are that the reason for its absence is that we haven't played through it yet. Either that or we hate it.

Astro’s PlayroomAstro's PlayroomSony

It’s odd to start a best games list with a title that comes free with the console, but if you’re anything like my son, who swiftly deleted Astro’s Playroom to make space for various Call of Duty titles, I’m here to tell you to give the pack-in title another shot. Astro’s Playroom is a love letter to both 3D platformers and the PlayStation itself. It’s also, to date, the title that makes the best use of Sony’s DualSense controller, with incredible haptic feedback and clever usage of the pad’s adaptive triggers. (Although, eight years on, I’m still not convinced anyone has found a compelling reason for that touch pad.) It’s a game that even completionists can finish within six hours or so, but those six hours were among the most fun I’ve had with the PS5 so far.

Final Fantasy VII Remake: Intergrade IntergradeSquare Enix

We thought it would never happen. Final Fantasy VII was an iconic JRPG that’s credited with opening up the genre to the west. It peppered the Top 10 lists of the best games of all-time and introduced the long-running Japanese RPG series to polygons, 3D maps, and countless other innovations of 32-bit consoles. 23 years later, and three PlayStation iterations later, Square Enix dared to remake, not remaster, the game. It would be, contentiously, episodic, expanding out the story of Midgar and the opening part of the game into a single game.

It’s all very different. It’s also gorgeous, with a modern battle system that no longer focuses on static characters and menu choices. Somehow, and we were ready to be underwhelmed, the battle system works. FF7R’s fights are slicker and more enjoyable than those in Final Fantasy XV, the latest entry in the series. Each character, from iconic mercenary Cloud through to eco-terrorist Barret and flower girl Aerith, play in entirely different ways, using the space between themselves and enemies in very different ways. Some sub-missions and distractions feel like they’re there solely to eke some more hours out of your playthrough, but the world of the original has been thoughtfully reimagined, so it’s a minor complaint.

For anyone that bought the PS4 iteration, the upgrade to PS5 is free. However, it costs money to gain access to the PS5-exclusive DLC chapter featuring ninja Yuffie. Offering another battle style to experiment with and master, two new extra chapters run alongside the events of the first installment of this remake. Moments of the game feel like they were built to tease how capable the newest PlayStation is, with Yuffie zipping down poles through vertiginous levels, wall-running and mixing up long-range and short-range attacks in a completely different way to Cloud, Aerith and the rest. It suffers a little from trying to tie in FF7 lore from old spin-off titles, but it’s a satisfying distraction as we wait for the second part – Final Fantasy VII Rebirth – to arrive in 2023.

Buy Final Fantasy VII Remake: Intergrade at Amazon - $70Demon's SoulsDemon's SoulsSony

Bluepoint’s Demon’s Souls remake won’t be for everyone — no Souls game is. The original Demon’s Souls was a sleeper hit in 2009 on the PS3, establishing the basic formula that would later be cemented with Dark Souls, and then aped by an entire industry to the point where we now essentially have a “Soulslike'' genre. Today, that means challenging difficulty, grinding enemies for souls to level up, the retrieval of your corpse to collect said souls, a labyrinthine map to explore and, if you’re doing Soulslike right, some show-stopping boss fights to contend with. As a progenitor to the genre, Demon’s Souls has most of those in abundance. But rather than a huge sprawling map, it uses a portal system, with mini labyrinths to work through. Its bosses are also not quite on the level of impressiveness or difficulty of a more modern Dark Souls game.

Bluepoint has been faithful to the original, then, but graphically Demon’s Souls is a true showcase of what the PS5 can do, with gorgeous high-resolution visuals, smooth frame rates and swift loading. While the graphics certainly catch your eye, it’s the smoothness and loading times that are the most impactful. The original ran at 720p, and… depending on what you were doing 25 to 30 fps, while the remake lets you pick between a locked 30 or 60 fps at 4K or 1440p. And in a game that will likely kill you hundreds of times, waiting two seconds to respawn instead of thirty is transformative.

Buy Demon's Souls at Amazon - $70God of WarGod of WarSony

Sony's God of War series had laid dormant for half a decade when its latest incarnation hit stores in early 2018, and for good reason. Antiquated gameplay and troubling themes had made it an ill-fit for the modern gaming landscape. No more. SIE Santa Monica Studio's God of War manages to successfully reboot the series while turning the previous games' narrative weaknesses into its strengths. Kratos is now a dad, the camera is now essentially strapped to his shoulder and Sony has what is sure to become a new series on its hands.

The first outright PS4 game on this collection, God of War has at least been patched for better performance on PS5, allowing it to output at 4K/60. For those subscribed to PS Plus, this one’s available for free as part of the PlayStation Plus Collection on PS5.

Buy God of War at Amazon - $20Ghost of Tsushima: The Director's CutGhost of TsushimaSony

This tale of samurai vengeance is like Japanese cinema come to life. There are multiple betrayals, the sad deaths of several close allies, tense sword fights, villages and castles under siege, and even a ‘Kurosawa mode’ black-and-white filter you employ for the entire game. The world of feudal Japan, with some creative liberties, is gorgeous, with fields of grass and bullrushes to race through on your faithful steed, temple ‘puzzles’ to navigate around and fortresses to assess and attack.

As you make your way through the main story quest, and more than enough side quests and challenges, you unlock more powerful sword techniques and stances, as well as new weapons and forbidden techniques that are neatly woven in the story of a samurai pushed to the edge. It still suffers from one too many fetch quests, artifacts scattered across Japan’s prefectures, but the sheer beauty of Ghost of Tsushima tricks you into believing this is the greatest open-world game on PlayStation. Don’t get me wrong — it’s up there.

With the new Director’s Cut edition on the PS5, you also get dynamic frame-rates up to 60 FPS, ensuring the game looks and feels even more like a tribute to Japanese cinematic auteurs of the past. There are also DualSense tricks, like a bow that tangibly tightens as you pull on trigger buttons, and subtle rumble as you ride across the lands of Tsushima, Director’s Cut adds a new, surprisingly compelling DLC chapter. As you explore the Iki isle, the game adds a few more tricks to Jin’s arsenal, and deepens the relationship and history between the game’s hero and his father.

Without spoiling what happens, the game smartly threads the original story into the DLC, ensuring it feels solidly connected to the main game, despite DLC status.

Buy Ghost of Tsushima: The Director's Cut at Amazon - $79DeathloopPhoto Mode in DeathloopArkane Studios/Bethesda

Deathloop, from the studio that brought you the Dishonored series, is easy enough to explain: You’re trapped in a day that repeats itself. If you die, then you go back to the morning, to repeat the day again. If you last until the end of the day, you still repeat it again. Colt must “break the loop” by efficiently murdering seven main characters, who are inconveniently are never in the same place at the same time. It’s also stylish, accessible and fun.

While you try to figure out your escape from this time anomaly, you’ll also be hunted down by Julianna, another island resident who, like you, is able to remember everything that happens in each loop. She’ll also lock you out of escaping an area, and generally interfere with your plans to escape the time loop. (The online multiplayer is also addictive, flipping the roles around. You play as Julianna, hunting down Colt and foiling his plans for murder. )

As you play through the areas again (and again) you’ll equip yourself with slabs that add supernatural powers, as well as more potent weapons and trinkets to embed into both guns and yourself. It’s through this that you’re able to customize your playstyle or equip yourself in the best way to survive Julianna and nail that assassination. Each time period and area rewards repeat exploration, with secret guns, hidden conversations with NPCs and lots of world-building lore to discover for yourself.

Buy Deathloop at Amazon - $25Marvel’s Spider-Man Ultimate EditionMarvel's Spider-ManSony

Finally, you don't have to pick up Spider-Man 2 on the GameCube to get your web-slinging fix anymore. For almost 15 years, that game was held as the gold standard for a Spider-Man game, and I'll let you into a secret: It wasn't actually that good. Marvel's Spider-Man, on the other hand, is a tour de force. Featuring the best representation of what it's like to swing through New York City, well, ever, Insomniac's PlayStation exclusive also borrows liberally from the Batman: Arkham series' combat and throws in a story that, although it takes a while to get going, ends up in a jaw-dropping place.

With the launch of the PS5, Insomniac released a Miles Morales spin-off game, which follows the eponymous character as he attempts to protect NYC in Peter Parker’s absence. Both parts are available packaged together as Spider-Man Ultimate Edition— it has a longer name than that but let's not — and benefit from improved framerates, resolution and ray tracing (although not necessarily all at the same time!) With the full graphical package enabled, you’ll be playing at 30 frames per second in 4K, or you can pick between a pair of performance options: 4K/60 with no ray tracing, or 1080p/60 with ray-tracing. Whatever mode you pick, you’ll benefit from loading times that finally make the game’s fast travel system… fast.

Buy Marvel’s Spider-Man Ultimate Edition at Amazon - $60Resident Evil VillageResident Evil VillageCapcom

Resident Evil Village is delightful. It’s a gothic fairy tale masquerading as a survival-horror game, and while this represents a fresh vibe for the franchise, it’s not an unwelcome evolution. The characters and enemies in Village are full of life — even when they’re decidedly undead — and Capcom has put a delicious twist on the idea of vampires, werewolves, sea creatures, giants and creepy dolls. The game retains its horror, puzzle and action roots, and it has Umbrella Corporation’s fingerprints all over it. On PS5, the game is gorgeous and it plays nicely with the DualSense controller, adding haptic feedback to weapons and terrifying situations alike. It simply feels like developers had fun with this one, and so will you.

Buy Resident Evil Village at Amazon - $60ReturnalReturnalSony

Returnal is a third-person action game, a roguelite, a bullet-hell shooter and very hard, perhaps not in that order. The setup is basically that you’re stuck in a death loop, but you’re aware of it, and must learn the patterns and weaknesses of enemies — and master your own — in order to progress. As Devindra Hardwar explains, it leans heavily on the dark sci-fi of Alien, Edge of Tomorrow and Event Horizon but makes something new and unique in the process.

It’s made by the team behind Resogun, Nex Machina and Super Stardust HD, and you can tell, for better or worse. As you’d expect from a team that’s spent the past decades making shooters, the movement, gunplay and enemy attack patterns are incredibly well tuned. But on the flipside, from a studio used to smaller productions, the complexity and ambition of Returnal leads to a lack of polish that some may find unacceptable in a $70 game. If you can look past that, there’s a hell of a game waiting for you here.

Buy Returnal at Amazon - $70Sekiro: Shadows Die TwiceSekiro Shadows Die TwiceActivision

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice isn't just another Dark Souls game. FromSoftware's samurai adventure is a departure from that well-established formula, replacing slow, weighty combat and gothic despair for stealth, grappling hooks and swift swordplay. Oh, and while it's still a difficult game, it's a lot more accessible than Souls games — you can even pause it! The result of all these changes is something that's still instantly recognizable as a FromSoftware title, but it's its own thing, and it's very good. While the game has yet to receive a proper PS5 upgrade, the extra grunt of Sony’s next-gen console does allow the game to finally run at a locked 60fps — something the PS4 Pro couldn’t handle.

Buy Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice at Amazon - $60

Tinder scales back its plans for dating in the metaverse

Wed, 2022-08-03 09:15

Don't expect to find a Tinder date in the metaverse any time soon. The Vergereports Match Group chief Bernard Kim has asked Tinder's Hyperconnect unit (acquired in 2021) to scale back its metaverse dating plans. In his shareholder letter, Kim said "uncertainty" about success with virtual worlds required that the team "not invest heavily" in the metaverse. Match further blamed the Hyperconnect purchase for a $10 million operating loss in the latest quarter where it made a $210 million operating profit in the same period a year earlier.

The company is also taking "a step back" on plans to introduce its in-app Tinder Coins following questionable test results, Kim said. While he didn't scrap the digital currency outright, he wanted it to "more effectively contribute" to Tinder's bottom line. Any virtual items would have to be a serious contributor to Tinder's next phase of growth, the executive added.

Tinder is facing a leadership upheaval at the same time. CEO Renate Nyborg is leaving the company after joining last September. It's not clear why she's leaving, but Kim said Match was looking for a replacement.

There's little doubt Tinder is dealing with an uncertain future. On top of the Tinder loss, Match forecast a only small growth and said it was still grappling with changes in behavior prompted by the pandemic. While there was a jump in activity in the second half of 2021 as vaccines made it safer to meet others, there hasn't been a similar spike in 2022. The willingness of first-timers to try online dating hasn't returned to pre-pandemic levels, Kim said. The exec hopes more aggressive product rollouts will spur newcomers, such as live video and "alibi" dating services.

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