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Updated: 33 min 59 sec ago

One of these concept lunar vehicles could join NASA’s Artemis V astronauts on the moon

Sun, 2024-04-07 16:24

Three companies are vying for the opportunity to send their own lunar vehicle to the moon to support NASA’s upcoming Artemis missions. The space agency announced this week that it’s chosen Intuitive Machines, Lunar Outpost and Venturi Astrolab to develop their lunar terrain vehicles (LTV) in a feasibility study over the next year. After that, only one is expected to be selected for a demonstration mission, in which the vehicle will be completed and sent to the moon for performance and safety tests. NASA is planning to use the LTV starting with the Artemis V crew that’s projected to launch in early 2030.

The LTV that eventually heads to the moon’s south pole needs to function as both a crewed and uncrewed vehicle, serving sometimes as a mode of transportation for astronauts and other times as a remotely operated explorer. NASA says it’ll contract the chosen vehicle for lunar services through 2039, with all the task orders relating to the LTV amounting to a potential value of up to $4.6 billion. The selected company will also be able to use its LTV for commercial activities in its down time.

Lunar Outpost's Lunar Dawn LTV concept is pictured in a rendering showing it driving on the moonLunar Outpost Venturi Astrolab's concept lunar terrain vehicle, Flex pictured alongside renderings of a solar powered rover and lander on the moonAstrolab

Intuitive Machines, which will be developing an LTV called the Moon Racer, has already bagged multiple contracts with NASA as part of the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program, and in February launched its first lander, Odysseus, to the moon to achieve the first commercial moon landing. Venturi Astrolab will be developing a vehicle it’s dubbed Flex, while Lunar Outpost will be working on an LTV called Lunar Dawn. All must be able to support a crew of two astronauts and withstand the extreme conditions of the lunar south pole. 

 “We will use the LTV to travel to locations we might not otherwise be able to reach on foot, increasing our ability to explore and make new scientific discoveries,” said Jacob Bleacher, a chief exploration scientist at NASA.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/one-of-these-concept-lunar-vehicles-could-join-nasas-artemis-v-astronauts-on-the-moon-202448277.html?src=rss

Apple’s second-generation AirPods Pro are back on sale for $190

Sun, 2024-04-07 10:26

Apple’s second-generation AirPods Pro have dipped to under $200 in a deal from Amazon. The AirPods Pro, which normally cost $250, are $60 off right now, bringing the price down to just $190. That’s the same price we saw during Amazon’s Big Spring Sale. The AirPods Pro offer a number of premium features over the standard AirPods, including active noise cancellation for when you want to shut out the world, and an impressive transparency mode for when you want to hear your surroundings.

The second-generation AirPods Pro came out in 2022 and brought Apple’s H2 chip to the earbuds for a notable performance boost. It offers Adaptive Audio, which will automatically switch between Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency Mode based on what’s going on around you. With Conversation Awareness, they can lower the volume when you’re speaking and make it so other people's voices are easier to hear.

We gave this version of the AirPods Pro a review score of 88, and it’s one of our picks for the best wireless earbuds on the market. The second-generation AirPods Pro are dust, sweat and water resistant, so they should hold up well for workouts, and they achieve better battery life than the previous generation. They can get about six hours of battery life with features like ANC enabled, and that goes up to as much as 30 hours with the charging case. Apple says popping the AirPods Pro in the case for 5 minutes will give you an hour of additional listening or talking time.

AirPods Pro also offer Personalized Spatial Audio with head tracking for more immersive listening while you’re watching TV or movies. The gesture controls that were introduced with this generation of the earbuds might take some getting used to, though. With AirPods Pro, you can adjust the volume by swiping the touch control.

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

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/apples-second-generation-airpods-pro-are-back-on-sale-for-190-142626914.html?src=rss

Best Buy’s Geek Squad agents say they were hit by mass layoffs this week

Sat, 2024-04-06 14:57

Geek Squad agents have been flooding Reddit with images of their badges and posts about “going sleeper” after the company reportedly conducted mass layoffs this week. A former employee who spoke to 404 Media said they were sent an email notifying them to work from home on Wednesday and were then called individually to be told the news about their jobs. Some, per 404 Media’s sources and numerous Reddit posts, were longtime Geek Squad agents who had been with the company for more than 10 or even 20 years. Best Buy has not yet responded to Engadget’s request for comment.

There has been an outpouring of support for the laid off workers on the unofficial Geek Squad subreddit, where many have lamented the loss of jobs they’d dedicated much of their lives to and noted that things in the lead up had been heading in a concerning direction. Some commented that their hours had dwindled in recent months, with one former employee telling 404 Media it’s been “a struggle to get by.”

Best Buy conducted mass layoffs affecting employees at its retail stores just last spring, and as The Verge reports, CEO Corie Barry indicated during the company’s February earnings call that more layoffs were coming in 2024 as Best Buy shifts resources toward AI and other areas.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/best-buys-geek-squad-agents-say-they-were-hit-by-mass-layoffs-this-week-185720480.html?src=rss

OpenAI and Google reportedly used transcriptions of YouTube videos to train their AI models

Sat, 2024-04-06 12:35

OpenAI and Google trained their AI models on text transcribed from YouTube videos, potentially violating creators’ copyrights, according to The New York Times. The report, which describes the lengths OpenAI, Google and Meta have gone to in order to maximize the amount of data they can feed to their AIs, cites numerous people with knowledge of the companies’ practices. It comes just days after YouTube CEO Neal Mohan said in an interview with Bloomberg Originals that OpenAI’s alleged use of YouTube videos to train its new text-to-video generator, Sora, would go against the platform’s policies.

According to the NYT, OpenAI used its Whisper speech recognition tool to transcribe more than one million hours of YouTube videos, which were then used to train GPT-4. The Information previously reported that OpenAI had used YouTube videos and podcasts to train the two AI systems. OpenAI president Greg Brockman was reportedly among the people on this team. Per Google’s rules, “unauthorized scraping or downloading of YouTube content” is not allowed, Matt Bryant, a spokesperson for Google, told NYT, also saying that the company was unaware of any such use by OpenAI.

The report, however, claims there were people at Google who knew but did not take action against OpenAI because Google was using YouTube videos to train its own AI models. Google told NYT it only does so with videos from creators who have agreed to take part in an experimental program. Engadget has reached out to Google and OpenAI for comment.

The NYT report also claims Google tweaked its privacy policy in June 2022 to more broadly cover its use of publicly available content, including Google Docs and Google Sheets, to train its AI models and products. Bryant told NYT that this is only done with the permission of users who opt into Google’s experimental features, and that the company “did not start training on additional types of data based on this language change.”

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/openai-and-google-reportedly-used-transcriptions-of-youtube-videos-to-train-their-ai-models-163531073.html?src=rss

Apple officially allows retro game emulators on the App Store

Sat, 2024-04-06 09:00

In addition to updating its developer guidelines to allow music streaming apps to link to external website, Apple has also added new language that allows game emulators on the App Store. The updated guidelines, first noticed by 9to5Mac, now say that retro gaming console emulator apps are welcome and can even offer downloadable games. Apple also reportedly confirmed to developers in an email that they can create and offer emulators on its marketplace. 

Emulator software wasn't allowed on the App Store prior to this update, though developers have been finding ways to distribute them to iOS users. To be able to install them, users usually need to resort to jailbreaking and downloading sideloading tools or unsanctioned alternate app stores first. This rule update potentially eliminates the need for users to go through all those lengths and could bring more Android emulators to iOS.

Apple warns developers, however, that they "are responsible for all such software offered in [their] app, including ensuring that such software complies with these Guidelines and all applicable laws." Clearly, allowing emulators on the App Store doesn't mean that it's allowing pirated games, as well. Any app offering titles for download that the developer doesn't own the rights to is a no-no, so fans of specific consoles will just have to hope that their companies are planning to release official emulators for iOS. While these latest changes to Apple's developer guidelines seem to be motivated by the EU's Digital Markets Act regulation, which targets big tech companies' anti-competitive practices, the new rule on emulators applies to all developers worldwide. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/apple-officially-allows-retro-game-emulators-on-the-app-store-130044937.html?src=rss

iOS music apps in the EU can now send users to external websites for purchase

Sat, 2024-04-06 07:15

Apple will make it easier for you to pay for music purchases and subscriptions outside of its payment system, if you're living in a European Union country. As first noticed by 9to5Mac, the company has updated its Apple Developer guidelines page to state that iOS and iPadOS music streaming apps "in specific regions" can now include a link to an external website where you can find alternative ways to pay for content and services. Developers can also ask you to provide your email address, so they could send you a link to that website. 

In early March, the European Union slapped Apple with a €1.8 billion ($1.95 billion) fine for preventing music streaming app developers from informing iOS users "about alternative and cheaper music subscription services available outside of the app and from providing any instructions about how to subscribe to such offers." This anti-steering practice, the European Commission said, is illegal under the bloc's new Digital Markets Act (DMA) rules, which became applicable in May 2023.

By the end of March, EU officials revealed that they were investigating Apple, Meta and Google over their compliance with the DMA. The commission wasn't happy with the changes the companies made in order to adhere to the law, and it was concerned that they were still constraining "developers' ability to freely communicate and promote offers and directly conclude contracts, including by imposing various charges."

With these recent changes, music apps can be more transparent about their pricing, so you can make an informed choice on whether to pay via Apple or use the other methods offered by the developers. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/ios-music-apps-in-the-eu-can-now-send-users-to-external-websites-for-purchase-111511085.html?src=rss

Tesla will unveil a robotaxi on April 8, according to Musk

Fri, 2024-04-05 21:38

Tesla is introducing a robotaxi on August 8, Elon Musk has announced on X a few hours after Reuters published a report that the automaker is scrapping its plans to produce a low-cost EV. Reuters also said that Musk's directive was to "go all in" on robotaxis built on the company's small-vehicle platform. Tesla has been promising a more affordable EV with prices expected to start at $25,000 for years, and Musk said as recently as this January that he's optimistic the model will arrive in the second half of 2025. In response to the report, the Tesla chief tweeted that "Reuters is lying (again)."

He didn't clarify which part of the report was a lie, but considering he confirmed that Tesla is unveiling a robotaxi, he likely meant the news organization's claim that the company pulled the plug on a more affordable EV. At the moment, Tesla's cheapest vehicle is the Model 3, but its prices start at $39,000. It'll be interesting to see how the company will make a robotaxi work with its camera-only system — it dropped radar and other sensors, which robotaxi companies like Waymo use extensively, from its driver assistance technologies a few years ago. 

Tesla Robotaxi unveil on 8/8

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 5, 2024

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/tesla-will-unveil-a-robotaxi-on-april-8-according-to-musk-013853363.html?src=rss

Meta asks a judge to throw out an FTC antitrust case

Fri, 2024-04-05 16:39

Meta has asked a judge to dismiss a Federal Trade Commission antitrust case against the company before it goes to trial. Alongside 48 states and territories, the FTC sued Meta in 2020 in an attempt to force the company to divest Instagram and WhatsApp, which it bought in 2012 and 2014, respectively.

The agency and dozens of attorneys general claim that Meta (then known as Facebook) bought the two platforms to stifle competition. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg “recognized that by acquiring and controlling Instagram, Facebook would not only squelch the direct threat that Instagram posed, but also significantly hinder another firm from using photo-sharing on mobile phones to gain popularity as a provider of personal social networking,” the FTC asserted. “Just as with Instagram, WhatsApp presented a powerful threat to Facebook’s personal social networking monopoly, which Facebook targeted for acquisition rather than competition.”

Meta notes that not only did the FTC approve both acquisitions in the first place, but its initial complaint was dismissed for failing to to state a plausible claim. While a judge has allowed an amended complaint to move forward, Meta claims that "the agency has done nothing to build its case through the discovery process" to show that the company holds monopoly power in the “personal social networking services” market and that it caused harm to consumers and competition through the purchases.

In its motion for summary judgment, the company points out that Instagram, which accounted for nearly 30 percent of the company's total revenue in the first half of 2022, wasn't making any money when it bought the service for $1 billion in 2012. Instagram had just two percent of the billion-plus users it has now, Meta says, adding that it introduced features such as direct messages, livestreaming, Stories and shopping. As for WhatsApp, Meta made the service free to use, added end-to-end encryption and implemented voice and video calling.

Meta argues that it has invested billions of dollars and millions of hours of work into the apps. It claims that both Instagram and WhatsApp are in a better place as a result, to the benefit of consumers and businesses.

Elsewhere, Meta argues that the FTC failed to establish a relevant antitrust market, claiming that the agency's definition of an “personal social networking services” market used "an artificially limited set of only four companies – Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and MeWe – ignoring many of the most popular activities people engage in on Facebook and Instagram." For instance, Meta points out that YouTube and TikTok offer similar short-form video features to Reels.

What's more, the FTC's allegation that Meta has a “dominant share” of the artificial “personal social networking services market” doesn't hold up, according to the company. Meta says that's because the FTC's "market share numbers are meaningless without a properly defined market."

Meta, which accused the FTC of wielding "structurally unconstitutional authority" against the company in a separate case last year, also took the opportunity to take more potshots at the agency and antitrust rules. "The decision to revisit done deals is tantamount to announcing that no sale will ever be final," Jennifer Newstead, Meta’s Chief Legal Officer, wrote in a blog post. Newstead claims the Instagram and WhatsApp "lawsuit not only sows doubt and uncertainty about the US government’s merger review process and whether acquiring businesses can actually rely on the outcomes of the regulatory review process, but it will also make companies think twice about investing in innovation, since they may be punished if that innovation leads to success."

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/meta-asks-a-judge-to-throw-out-an-ftc-antitrust-case-203950108.html?src=rss

Tesla is reportedly focusing on robotaxis over its planned budget EV

Fri, 2024-04-05 15:08

Tesla has scrapped plans to make an affordable electric vehicle (EV), according to Reuters. CEO Elon Musk said as recently as January that he was “optimistic” the low-cost EV would arrive in the second half of 2025. The automaker will instead reportedly “go all in” on robotaxis, which Musk has described as the future of transportation.

The canceled entry-level EV project — often called “Model 2” — was reportedly codenamed “Redwood.” The automaker had predicted a weekly production volume of 10,000 vehicles, and Musk said, “We’ll be sleeping on the line” to make it a reality. He had previously claimed Tesla was working on two new EV models expected to sell up to five million units annually.

For nearly two decades, the CEO has described his long-term goal as using luxury vehicles to build Tesla’s brand before using those profits to fund budget models. “When someone buys the Tesla Roadster sports car, they are actually helping pay for development of the low cost family car,” Musk wrote in a 2006 “Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan” memo. In the following years, he often echoed those sentiments to customers and investors.

The cancellation would leave the $39,000 and up Model 3 sedan as Tesla’s cheapest vehicle. The scrapped budget model was expected to start at around $25,000.

Reuters’ sources told the outlet they were told about the cancellation in a late February meeting “attended by scores of employees.” The publication says it reviewed internal Tesla messages about the pivot, including one advising staff to hold off on telling suppliers “about program cancellation.” Other messages allegedly told staffers that “suppliers should halt all further activities related to H422/NV91,” referring to the budget model’s external and internal codenames.

Musk posted on X (Twitter) on Friday, “Reuters is lying (again)” in response to the story — without listing any points of contention.

Tesla has its work cut out for it. Not only has EV demand slowed in the US, but competition in China is fierce, with the fast-growing BYD leading the country’s entry-level market. The Chinese automaker said earlier this month that its sales increased 13 percent year over year. Meanwhile, Tesla said on Tuesday that its deliveries dropped eight percent annually while falling 20 percent from the previous quarter.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/tesla-is-reportedly-focusing-on-robotaxis-over-its-planned-budget-ev-190833687.html?src=rss

Annual Max subscriptions are still 40 percent off, plus the rest of this week's best tech deals

Fri, 2024-04-05 13:26

As another week winds to a close, it's time for Engadget's roundup of the best deals we spotted this week. There's no giant sale happening right now, but we still found a few decent discounts on some of our recommended tech, including 40 percent off a year's subscription to Max's streaming service, $130 off our favorite Android tablet and a new low price on our top mouse for gaming. If you've been considering a foldable phone but have been (understandably) turned off by the high prices, a both Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Google's Pixel Fold are currently on sale and going for $400 and $500 off, respectively. Here are the best tech deals from this week that you can still get today. 

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

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/annual-max-subscriptions-are-still-40-percent-off-plus-the-rest-of-this-weeks-best-tech-deals-172622166.html?src=rss

Samsung is doubling its semiconductor investment in Texas to $44 billion

Fri, 2024-04-05 11:43

It looks like President Biden’s CHIPS Act is starting to pay off. Samsung is planning on doubling its investment in Texas, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. This will bring the total investment in the state’s chip-manufacturing sector to $44 billion, as Samsung already spent nearly $20 billion to build a factory back in 2021.

The ambitious expansion will reportedly take the form of a new chip manufacturing facility, a packaging site and a research and development space. It’ll all be located in or near Taylor, Texas, as that’s where the pre-existing semiconductor facility was built. The current manufacturing hub isn’t operational yet, but will begin building “crucial logic chips” later this year. For the geographically challenged, Taylor is around a 40 minute drive from Austin.

If this actually happens, it’ll be a huge win for the Biden administration. One of the main goals of the CHIPS Act, after all, is to lure global chipmakers to build on US soil. To that end, Washington plans on awarding more than $6 billion to Samsung as further incentive to keep things running in the good ole USA.

The CHIPS Act has allowed the federal government to award funding and offer loans to many tech companies to encourage domestic spending. Back in February, the multinational semiconductor company GlobalFoundries received a grant of $1.5 billion to help pay for a major US expansion, in addition to a $1.6 billion loan. It plans on building a new fabrication facility in Malta, New York, which will handle the manufacture of chips for the automotive, aerospace, defense and AI industries.

More recently, Intel received the largest CHIPS grant to date, snagging up to $8.5 billion to continue various US-based operations. The current plan is for Intel to use that money to manufacture plants that make leading-edge semiconductor chips meant for use in AI and other advanced applications. The company’s building two new fabrication facilities in Arizona and two in Ohio. Additionally, it’s going to use the money to modernize two pre-existing fabs in New Mexico and expand one location in Oregon. All told, Intel is going to invest $100 billion in US-based chip manufacturing. The various projects are expected to create 20,000 construction and 10,000 manufacturing jobs.

The Biden administration signed the CHIPS and Science Act into law back in 2022 to foster domestic semiconductor research and manufacturing and to lessen America’s reliance on Chinese suppliers. It sets aside $52 billion in tax credits and funding for firms to expand stateside production.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/samsung-is-doubling-its-semiconductor-investment-in-texas-to-44-billion-154322399.html?src=rss

Meta plans to more broadly label AI-generated content

Fri, 2024-04-05 11:29

Meta says that its current approach to labeling AI-generated content is too narrow and that it will soon apply a "Made with AI" badge to a broader range of videos, audio and images. Starting in May, it will append the label to media when it detects industry-standard AI image indicators or when users acknowledge that they’re uploading AI-generated content. The company may also apply the label to posts that fact-checkers flag, though it's likely to downrank content that's been identified as false or altered.

The company announced the measure in the wake of an Oversight Board decision regarding a video that was maliciously edited to depict President Joe Biden touching his granddaughter inappropriately. The Oversight Board agreed with Meta's decision not to take down the video from Facebook as it didn't violate the company's rules regarding manipulated media. However, the board suggested that Meta should “reconsider this policy quickly, given the number of elections in 2024.”

Meta says it agrees with the board's "recommendation that providing transparency and additional context is now the better way to address manipulated media and avoid the risk of unnecessarily restricting freedom of speech, so we’ll keep this content on our platforms so we can add labels and context." The company added that, in July, it will stop taking down content purely based on violations of its manipulated video policy. "This timeline gives people time to understand the self-disclosure process before we stop removing the smaller subset of manipulated media," Meta's vice president of content policy Monika Bickert wrote in a blog post.

Meta had been applying an “Imagined with AI” label to photorealistic images that users whip up using the Meta AI tool. The updated policy goes beyond the Oversight Board's labeling recommendations, Meta says. "If we determine that digitally-created or altered images, video or audio create a particularly high risk of materially deceiving the public on a matter of importance, we may add a more prominent label so people have more information and context," Bickert wrote.

While the company generally believes that transparency and allowing appropriately labeled AI-generated photos, images and audio to remain on its platforms is the best way forward, it will still delete material that breaks the rules. "We will remove content, regardless of whether it is created by AI or a person, if it violates our policies against voter interference, bullying and harassment, violence and incitement, or any other policy in our Community Standards," Bickert noted.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/meta-plans-to-more-broadly-label-ai-generated-content-152945787.html?src=rss

Our favorite cheap Android tablet is on sale for $170

Fri, 2024-04-05 11:16

We highlight Samsung's Galaxy Tab A9+ in our Android tablet buying guide for those who just want a competent slate for as little money as possible. If that describes you, take note: The 11-inch device is now on sale for $170 at several retailers, including Amazon, Walmart and Best Buy. This deal has technically been available for a couple of weeks, but it still represents the lowest price we've tracked. For reference, Samsung typically sells the tablet for $220. Both the Graphite and Silver finishes are discounted.

Do note, though, that this price applies the base model, which includes 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. The latter is expandable with a microSD card, but the limited memory can cause some stutters if you want to push the the tablet for anything beyond casual streaming and web browsing. Samsung sells a higher-spec model with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage: That one will be a better buy for gaming and more involved use, and it's also $50 off at $220, another all-time low.

As my colleague Sam Rutherford notes in our buying guide, the Galaxy Tab A9+ isn't likely to wow you in any one area, but it covers the basics well. Its 11-inch LCD display is well-sized and has a faster-than-usual 90Hz refresh rate, which helps the UI feel smooth to scroll through. The screen has a wide 16:10 aspect ratio, so it's better suited to landscape mode than the 4:3 display on an iPad. The metal and plastic frame is slick for the price, while the 7,040mAh battery should hold up for a day or two of casual use. And though no Android tablet really nails the software experience, most people should find Samsung's One UI to be cleaner than something like Amazon's Fire OS. The company says it'll provide OS updates through the eventual Android 16 and security updates through October 2027.

That said, this is still a cheap tablet. The Galaxy Tab A9+'s Snapdragon 695 chip is speedy enough but no powerhouse, and its charging speed tops out at a relatively meager 15W. There's no fingerprint reader, included stylus or formal water-resistance rating, either. If you're not beholden to Android, one of Apple's iPads will still be more well-rounded (though we expect to see new models arrive in the coming weeks). Still, at these prices, the Galaxy Tab A9+ is a solid buy if you're on a tighter budget.

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

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/our-favorite-cheap-android-tablet-is-on-sale-for-170-151624727.html?src=rss

Apple Vision Pro owners now have more decent controller options

Fri, 2024-04-05 11:00

The Apple Vision Pro is an impressive piece of hardware, and the eye-tracking/hand gesture input combo is fantastic for navigating menus and the like. It’s not so great for gaming. There haven't been many easy ways to connect a third-party controller for playing iPad or cloud games. This is changing, however, as accessory manufacturer 8BitDo just announced Vision Pro compatibility for a number of its controllers.

These accessories are officially supported by Apple, so they should work as soon as you make a Bluetooth connection. No muss and no fuss. All told, eight devices got the Apple seal of approval here. One such gadget is the company’s Ultimate Bluetooth Controller, which we basically called the perfect gamepad for PC.

A person wearing a headset and playing Pac-Man.8BitDo

Other compatible devices include various iterations of the SN30 Pro controller, the Lite 2 and the NES-inspired N30 Pro 2. The integration isn’t just for game controllers, as 8BitDo also announced AVP compatibility for its Retro Mechanical Keyboard. Of course, the Vision Pro works out of the box with most Bluetooth keyboards.

This is pretty big news, however, as media consumption is one of the best parts of the Vision Pro experience. Video games fall squarely in that category. Just about every iPad title works on the device. If playing Cut the Rope on a giant virtual screen doesn’t do it for you, the headset also integrates with Xbox Cloud Gaming and Nvidia GeForce Now for access to AAA titles. 

8BitDo announced official controller support for Apple devices last year, though this was primarily for smartphones, tablets and Mac computers. The integration was thanks to new controller firmware and Apple's recent iOS 16.3, iPadOS 16.3, tvOS 16.3 and macOS 13.2 updates. It looks like all of the accessories that work with iPhones and iPads also work with the Vision Pro. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/apple-vision-pro-owners-now-have-more-decent-controller-options-150055872.html?src=rss

Logitech’s Litra Beam key light is 10 percent off right now

Fri, 2024-04-05 10:18

Having a fancy webcam is all well and good, but another thing you might need to seriously upgrade the quality of your video calls and livestreams is a decent key light. It will illuminate your face to help you stand out from the background and help the camera discern your features more clearly. You don’t need to break the bank to get a decent key light either. Logitech’s Litra Beam is currently $10 off at $90. That’s only $5 more than the lowest price we’ve seen for it.

The Litra Beam looks a bit like an LED reading lamp and it would be a fairly stylish addition to many setups. It has a three-way adjustable stand, allowing you to tweak the height, tilt and rotation as needed, while its ability to run on either USB or AC power gives you more placement options.

The device uses TrueSoft tech, which, according to Logitech, provides "balanced, full-spectrum LED light with cinematic color accuracy for a natural, radiant look across all skin tones." A frameless diffuser helps mitigate harsh shadows, according to the company. 

You'll be able to adjust the Litra Beam's brightness, color temperature, presets and other settings through the Logitech G Hub desktop app, which also allows you to manage multiple lights at once. In addition, the key light has five physical buttons on the rear for quick switching between brightness and color temperature settings.

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This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/logitechs-litra-beam-key-light-is-10-percent-off-right-now-141839351.html?src=rss

NASA will be studying the total solar eclipse. Here's how you can help

Fri, 2024-04-05 10:00

On Monday, April 8, a total solar eclipse will be visible across a swath of North America, from Mexico’s Pacific coast to the easternmost reaches of Canada. And in those few minutes of daytime darkness, all sorts of interesting phenomena are known to occur — phenomena NASA would like our help measuring.

During a total solar eclipse, temperatures may drop and winds may slow down or change their course. Animals have been observed to behave unusually — you might hear crickets start their evening chatter a few hours early. Even radio communications can be disrupted due to changes in the ionosphere while the sun’s light is blocked. And, the sun’s corona — its outermost atmosphere — will come into view, presenting scientists (and those of us helping them) with a rare opportunity to study this layer that’s normally invisible to the naked eye.

NASA has lots of research efforts planned for the eclipse, and has sponsored a handful of citizen science campaigns that anyone can take part in if they’re in or near the path of totality, or the areas where people on the ground can watch the sun become completely obscured by the moon. The path of totality crosses 13 US states, including parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. It’s an event of some significance; the next time a total solar eclipse passes over that much of the contiguous US won’t be until 2045.

All you’ll need to join in is equipment you already own, like a smartphone, and a few minutes set aside before the eclipse to go through the training materials.

A map showing the path of totality across the United StatesNASA's Scientific Visualization Studio Help measure the shape of the sun

One such citizen science project is SunSketcher, a concerted effort to measure the true shape of the sun. While the sun is closer to being a perfect sphere than other celestial bodies that have been observed, it’s still technically an oblate spheroid, being a smidge wider along its equator. The SunSketcher team plans to get a more precise measurement by crowd-sourcing observations of Baily's Beads, or the little spots of sunlight that peek out from behind the moon at certain points in the eclipse.

The Baily’s Bead effect is “the last piece of the sun seen before totality and the first to appear after totality,” NASA explained in a blog post. “For a few seconds, these glimmers of light look like beads along the moon’s edge.” They’re visible thanks to the uneven topographical features on the lunar surface.

You’ll need to download the free SunSketcher app, which is available for iOS and Android on the App Store and Google Play Store. Then, a few minutes before totality (the exact time is location-dependent), put your phone on Do Not Disturb, hit “Start” in the app and prop up the phone in a place where it has a good view of the sun. After that, leave it be until the eclipse is over — the app will automatically take pictures of Baily’s Beads as they show up.

There’s a tutorial on the SunSketcher website if you want to familiarize yourself with the process beforehand. When it’s all said and done, the pictures will be uploaded to SunSketcher’s server. They’ll eventually be combined with observations from all over to “create an evolving pattern of beads” that may be able to shed better light on the size and shape of the sun.

The SunSketcher images probably won’t blow you away, so if you’re hoping to get some great pictures of the eclipse, you’ll want to have another camera on hand for that (with the appropriate filters to protect your eyes and the device’s sensors).

 (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)NASA / Aubrey Gemignani Record changes in your surroundings

Eclipse-watchers can also use their smartphones to record the environmental changes that take place when the sun dips behind the moon as part of a challenge run by Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (Globe). You’ll need an air temperature thermometer as well for this task, and can start logging observations in the days before the eclipse if you feel like being extra thorough.

Temperatures at the surface can, in some cases, drop as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit during a total solar eclipse, according to NASA. And certain types of clouds have been observed to dissipate during these brief cooldowns, resulting in unexpectedly clear skies in the moments before totality. Data collected with the help of citizen scientists during the 2017 total solar eclipse showed that areas with heavier cloud cover experienced a less extreme drop in surface temperatures.

To participate this time around, download the Globe Observer app from the App Store or Google Play Store, and then open the Globe Eclipse tool from the in-app menu. There, you’ll be able to jot down your temperature measurements and take photos of the sky to record any changes in cloud cover, and make notes about the wind conditions. Plan to dedicate a few hours to this one — NASA asks that you include observations from 1-2 hours before and after the eclipse in addition to what you’ll record during. “You will measure temperature every 5-10 minutes and clouds every 15-30 minutes or whenever you see change,” NASA says.

You can keep using the Globe Observer app for citizen science beyond eclipse day, too. There are programs running all year round for recording observations of things like clouds, land use, mosquito habitats and tree heights. The eclipse tool, though, is only available when there’s an eclipse happening.

Listen to the sounds of wildlife

Observations going back nearly 100 years have added support to the idea that total solar eclipses temporarily throw some animals out of whack. Inspired by a 1935 study that gathered observations on animal behavior during an eclipse three years prior, the Eclipse Soundscapes Project is inviting members of the public to take note of what they hear before, during and after totality, and share their findings.

To be an Observer for the project, it’s recommended that you first sign up on the website and go through the brief training materials so you can get a sense of what type of information the project is looking for. The website also has printable field notes pages you can use to record your observations on eclipse day. You should start taking notes down at least 10 minutes before totality. Only after the eclipse is over will you need to fill out the webform to submit your observations along with your latitude and longitude.

If you happen to have an AudioMoth acoustic monitoring device and a spare microSD card lying around, you can go a step further and record the actual sounds of the environment during the eclipse as a Data Collector. You’ll need to set everything up early — the project says to do it on Saturday, April 6 before noon — and let it record until at least 5PM local time on April 10. At that point, you can turn it off, submit your notes online and mail in the SD card. All of the details for submission can be found on the project’s website.

A chart showing what time the eclipse will begin and end in 13 cities across the USNASA Take photos of the solar corona

The Eclipse Megamovie 2024 is an initiative designed to study the sun’s corona and plasma plumes from locations in the path of totality, building off of a previous campaign from the 2017 total solar eclipse. It’s already selected a team of 100 Science Team Alpha Recruits (STARs) who underwent training and were given 3D-printed tracking mounts for their cameras to shoot the best possible images. But, the project will still be accepting photo submissions from any enthusiasts who have a DSLR (and a solar filter) and want to participate.

The Photography Guide is pretty exhaustive, so don’t wait until eclipse day to start figuring out your setup. You’ll be able to submit your photos after the eclipse through a form on the website.

However you choose to spend the eclipse, whether you’re collecting data for a citizen science mission or just planning to kick back and observe, make sure you have everything in place well ahead of the time. While the partial eclipse phases will last over an hour, totality will be over and done in about 3.5-4.5 minutes depending on where you’re watching from. You wouldn’t want to miss out on some of that time because you were fumbling with your camera.

Totality will start shortly after 11AM local time (2PM ET) for western Mexico, moving northeastward over the subsequent two-or-so hours before exiting land near Newfoundland, Canada around 5:30PM local time. There will still be something to see for people outside the path of totality, too. Most of the US will be treated to a partial eclipse that day. You can find out exactly when the eclipse will be visible from your location with this tool on NASA’s website, along with the percentage of sun coverage you can expect to witness.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/nasa-will-be-studying-the-total-solar-eclipse-heres-how-you-can-help-140011076.html?src=rss

Engadget Podcast: Why pay $10 a month to get away from Google search?

Fri, 2024-04-05 08:30

Google has gone from being the go-to search engine to something people are paying to avoid entirely. This week, Cherlynn and Devindra chat with 404 Media co-founder Jason Koebler about his experience moving away from Google and towards Kagi, a $10 a month search engine without ads or data tracking. Funny enough, Kagi is still relying on Google’s index, so it’s a lot like using that site before the onslaught of ads, sponsored posts and AI results. Also, we discuss the company’s lies around Chrome’s incognito mode, as well as the news that it would be deleting user data collected in that mode. (Be sure to check out the 404 Media podcast too!)

Listen below or subscribe on your podcast app of choice. If you've got suggestions or topics you'd like covered on the show, be sure to email us or drop a note in the comments! And be sure to check out our other podcast, Engadget News!

Topics
  • Why Jason Koebler moved from Google to Kagi's paid search engine – 0:45

  • Google says it will destroy data collected from users using Incognito mode – 15:01

  • Gurman report: Apple is working on personal home robots – 24:55

  • Amazon just walked out on its self check-out tech – 30:43

  • FCC set to vote to restore Net Neutrality – 43:00

  • Apple adds Spatial Personas to make the Vision Pro experience less lonely – 45:09

  • Proposed California state law would give tech workers the “right to disconnect” – 47:17

  • Tekken director responds to fighting game fans’ request for a Waffle House stage – 49:57

  • Around Engadget – 51:22

  • Working on – 54:31

  • Pop culture picks – 59:13

Subscribe! Credits 

Hosts: Cherlynn Low and Devindra Hardawar
Guest: Jason Koebler
Producer: Ben Ellman
Music: Dale North and Terrence O'Brien

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/engadget-podcast-google-search-kagi-incognito-123049753.html?src=rss

YouTube CEO warns OpenAI that training models on its videos is against the rules

Fri, 2024-04-05 08:15

AI models using individual's work without permission (or compensation) is nothing new, with entities like The New York Times and Getty Images initiating lawsuits against AI creators alongside artists and writers. In March, OpenAI CTO Mira Murati contributed to the ongoing uncertainty, telling The Wall Street Journal she wasn't sure if Sora, the company's new text-to-video AI tool, takes data from YouTube, Instagram or Facebook posts. Now, YouTube's CEO Neal Mohan has responded with a clear warning to OpenAI that using its videos to teach Sora would be a "clear violation" of the platform's terms of use.

In an interview with Bloomberg Originals host Emily Chang, Mohan stated, "From a creator's perspective, when a creator uploads their hard work to our platform, they have certain expectations. One of those expectations is that the terms of service is going to be abided by. It does not allow for things like transcripts or video bits to be downloaded, and that is a clear violation of our terms of service. Those are the rules of the road in terms of content on our platform."

A lot of uncertainty and controversy still surrounds how OpenAI trains Sora, along with ChatGPT and DALL-E, with The Wall Street Journal recently reporting the company plans to use YouTube video transcriptions to train GPT-5. On the other hand, OpenAI competitor Google is apparently respecting the rules — at least when it comes to YouTube (which it owns). Google's AI model Gemini requires similar data to learn but Mohan claims it only uses certain videos, depending on permissions are given in each creator's licensing contract.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/youtube-ceo-warns-openai-that-training-models-on-its-videos-is-against-the-rules-121547513.html?src=rss

Roku looks into serving you ads on whatever you plug into its TVs

Fri, 2024-04-05 08:00

Roku already serves ads through its platform, but it's also apparently exploring the idea of showing you ads while you're using third-party devices connected to its TVs. Based on a recent patent filing unearthed by Lowpass, the company is looking to develop a system or a method "for ad insertion by a display device coupled to a media device via a high-definition media interface (HDMI) connection." That means if you've connected another streaming device or console — say, an Apple TV, a Chromecast or a PlayStation — to a Roku TV via HDMI, the company would still be able to serve you advertisements. 

In particular, Roku is hoping to show you commercials while whatever you're watching or playing on the third-party device attached to it is on pause. In its patent, it described several methods on how it can detect whether the show or game on screen is paused, such as receiving a pause signal from the remote control, detecting a pause icon, looking at several video frames and determining that the image on screen hasn't changed for some time and getting a silent audio signal from the HDMI connection. 

If it works as intended, those ads wouldn't impact your viewing or playing experience (much), assuming you're truly stepping away or doing something else in the meantime. While you'd probably prefer those experiences to be free of ads altogether, Roku is at least looking to make sure that it's serving you relevant ads. It could analyze frozen video or audio frames and use automatic content recognition (ACR) technology to identify what's on screen. Or it could analyze metadata to show ads connected to what you're playing or watching. It could also serve commercials based on what third-party device is attached to your TV. 

As Lowpass notes, the company could have conjured the idea because manufacturers typically don't make a lot of money from hardware sales. For the fiscal year of 2023, Roku lost $44 million on smart TVs. Similarly, Samsung's visual display and digital appliances division posted $37.5 million in operating losses for last year's fourth quarter. Meanwhile, ads and services generated $1.6 billion in profit for Roku. This idea could potentially make it more money... if the prospect of watching commercials while your show or game is paused doesn't turn you off buying Roku TV, of course. This is just a patent at this point in time, though, and Roku may very well end up scrapping it and not implementing it at all. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/roku-looks-into-serving-you-ads-on-whatever-you-plug-into-its-tvs-120016754.html?src=rss

The Morning After: 80 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions comes from just 57 companies

Fri, 2024-04-05 07:15

A new Carbon Majors Database report, which examines carbon dioxide emissions, found that just 57 companies were responsible for 80 percent of the global carbon dioxide emissions between 2016 and 2022. ExxonMobil, which topped the list of United States companies, contributed 1.4 percent of all global carbon dioxide emissions. It has net zero emissions targets.

Nearly 200 parties adopted the 2015 Paris Agreement, committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, 58 of the 100 state- and investor-owned companies in the Carbon Majors Database have since increased their production.

The International Energy Agency found coal consumption increased by eight percent over the seven years to 8.3 billion tons — a record high. State-owned Coal India is one of the top three carbon dioxide producers. Russia’s state-owned energy company Gazprom and state-owned oil firm Saudi Aramco rounded out the group.

— Mat Smith

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The chaos of YouTube’s multicam Coachella stream When you apply sports logic to a music festival. TMAYouTube

YouTube is hyping its exclusive Coachella streaming coverage, which starts next week. The headlining feature is the platform’s multiview experience (already familiar to sports fans) — but who wants to watch up to four stages simultaneously, with audio for one of them. It’s… a music festival. Coachella runs from April 12 to 14 and April 19 to 21.

Continue reading.

The latest Razer Blade 18 is now available to order If you want 4K 200Hz display, you’ll need an extra $1,700 and a bit of time. TMARazer

Finally, after a reveal at CES, the 2024 edition of the Razor Blade 18 arrives for $3,099. The base system has an i9-14900HX processor, 32GB of RAM, 1TB of SSD storage, Wi-Fi 7, a triple-fan cooling system and a six-speaker array with THX spatial audio support. You can equip the laptop with up to an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 (the base model has a 4070 graphics card). In what Razer claims is a first for a laptop, there’s Thunderbolt 5 connectivity, but only if you opt for a 4080 or 4090 GPU.

Continue reading.

Apple cuts over 700 jobs as it closes car and display projects Eight offices in Santa Clara, California were affected by the layoffs.

Over 700 people at Apple have recently lost their jobs, mostly from offices in Santa Clara. The location that dealt with the company’s electric vehicle projects has lost 371 people. There may not be enough space at that new home robot project.

Continue reading.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-morning-after-80-percent-of-global-carbon-dioxide-emissions-comes-from-just-57-companies-111514748.html?src=rss

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