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Amazon's Echo Show 5 bundled with a Blink Mini is on sale for only $50

Engadget - Wed, 2022-12-07 08:44

The Echo Show 5 is one of Amazon's most versatile Alexa devices thanks to its 5.5-inch display, it's relatively solid sound quality and it's compact size. The online retailer discounted the smart display to $35 for the holiday shopping season, but it also has a deal on a bundle that would make a good smart-home starter kit. You can pick up the Echo Show 5 with a Blink Mini for a total of $50, which is 58 percent off the normal price of the bundle.

Amazon last updated the Echo Show 5 in 2021, giving it a 2-megapixel front camera that will slightly improve the quality of your video chats. Otherwise, not much about the Show 5 has changed since it originally came out — but that's not a bad thing. The Alexa-powered display has decent audio quality for its size, and it has onboard volume controls along with a mic-mute button and a physical camera shutter for when you need extra privacy.

The Show 5 is the smallest smart display in Amazon's lineup and it makes an excellent alarm clock thanks to its ambient light sensor, which adjusts the screen's brightness based on the light levels in the room, and its sunrise alarm feature. The latter slowly brightens the display before you're due to wake up to wake you more naturally from sleep. You can also tap to snooze your alarm, a feature that's unique to the Echo Show 5 (other Amazon smart displays don't have it).

Pairing the Show 5 with the Blink Mini can give you a better view of your home. Blink's smallest security camera may not be wireless like the rest of its gadgets, but it still records 1080p video and supports motion alerts and two-way audio. Once you plug it in, it'll watch over the inside of your home and you can use the Echo Show 5 to check out its camera feed from another part of the house. And like other Blink cameras, the Mini can also send motion alerts to your phone, so you can check in anytime from anywhere. This $50 bundle gives you both gadgets at the best prices we've seen, making it a good starter set for anyone who wants to make their home a bit smarter. If you're looking for a larger display that also provides even better sound quality, the same bundle with the Echo Show 8 and a Blink Mini is also on sale for $85.

Buy Echo Show 8 + Blink Mini bundle at Amazon - $85

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Shark's self-emptying robot vacuum is $300 off today only

Engadget - Wed, 2022-12-07 08:32

You can get Shark's AV2501AE AI Robot Vacuum at a deeply discounted price today at Amazon. As of this writing, you have less than 19 hours to grab the robotic vacuum for $350 only, or for 46 percent less than its retail price of $650. That's the lowest price we've seen for this particular model on the website. This vacuum uses LiDAR technology to map your house, so you can set up cleaning areas and zones it can't go to using its accompanying app. Its AI-powered navigation system also enables it to detect and avoid objects while doing row-by-row cleaning to ensure that it covers every area of your home that it can. 

The model comes with a bagless, self-emptying base that can hold up to 60 days of dirt. And in UltraClean Mode, it can clean carpets better, as well as pick up more pet hair even without a special attachment for hair and fur. Plus, Shark says the machine has true HEPA filtration that can suck in allergens as small as .3 microns and trap them inside the base. 

In case you want to start vacuuming beyond the scheduled times you set or want to activate UltraClean mode, you can simply issue voice commands through Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant devices. Take note that the vacuum can run for up to two hours on a single charge, after which it has to dock and charge itself before picking up where it left off. 

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Meet the Parents Who Use Video Games to Level Up Their Kids' Money Skills - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-12-07 08:15
From Animal Crossing to Minecraft, there are plenty of ways to use video games to teach your kids about money.

Best No-Contract Internet Service Providers - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-12-07 08:00
Say bye-bye to early termination fees and explore your broadband options with providers that don't require you to be locked down.

Are You Stress Eating? These 7 Foolproof Strategies Can Help You Stop - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-12-07 08:00
Daily stressors can trigger emotional eating. Here's how to stop.

GM opens its first Level 2 community charging stations in two states

Engadget - Wed, 2022-12-07 08:00

GM has installed its first Level 2 charging stations in Wisconsin and Detroit as part of a community charging initiative unveiled last year. A dealership in Marshfield, Wisconsin put up stations at locations including parks, a library and a sports complex, while another installed them at a healthcare/wellness center in Owosso, Michigan. The aim is to help dealers install up to 40,000 chargers in community locations (including underserved rural and urban areas) across the US and Canada. 

"Nearly 90 percent of the U.S. population lives within 10 miles of a GM dealership. Our dealers are... well positioned to determine locations that expand access to EV charging, including at small businesses, entertainment venues, schools and other popular destinations,” said GM VP Hoss Hassani. 

GM originally said it would offer a mix of 11.5kW and 19.2kW chargers, but it now says it will give dealers up to ten 19.2kW chargers that deliver "the most power available to a Level 2 charger." Those can be placed at "key locations" in neighborhoods, such as apartments, colleges and businesses. Crucially, the units won't be limited to GM drivers, so EVs from other brands can use them as well.

GM selected Canadian manufacturer FLO as the charging station provider, with manufacturing to take place at FLO's Auburn Hills, Michigan facility. While not nearly as quick as fast chargers, the 19.2kW 80-amp stations could get you from a 20 to 80 percent charge in under three hours — not bad if you're spending time at a library or park, for instance. Last year, GM said the chargers would be available to buy through dealers for home use, but it didn't mention that option in its latest press release.

Earlier this year, GM also unveiled plans for a coast-to-coast fast-charging network with 2,000 350kW chargers across 500 stations. It eventually plans to expand Ultium Charge 360 access to over 100,000 charge points across North America. Its current EV lineup includes the BrightDrop electric delivery vans, Cadillac Lyric and Celestiq, GMC Hummer and Sierra EVs, Chevrolet Blazer and Equinox EVs and the Bolt lineup. In an interesting twist, GM recently revealed that it has serviced over 11,000 Tesla EVs since last year. 

Google’s Year in Search 2022 was dominated by Wordle, Ukraine and a cricket World Cup

Engadget - Wed, 2022-12-07 07:35

Wordle topped Google's Year in Search for 2022, beating even the biggest events in the world over the past few months. Searches for the five-letter word game peaked shortly after it was acquired byThe New York Times in February, perhaps when people had to look for its new address or when those who haven't heard of it before wanted to see what the fuss was about. The second most searched term for 2022 is "India vs. England," which pertains to the countries' faceoff at the Cricket World Cup. Ukraine takes the third spot in the overall trending searches list, as well as the top of this year's trending News topics. Most people looking into the war in Ukraine searched for liveblogs to get the latest happenings and for information on casualties, refugees, donations and armed conflicts. 

"Queen Elizabeth" came in fourth for 2022, with the UK and former British colonies being responsible for most of the searches after the Queen passed away in September. The fifth most popular search term is another Cricket World Cup game, this time between India and Saudi Arabia, followed by even more cricket matches and the iPhone 14. COVID-19 is no longer at the forefront from people's minds, based on this year's list: Monkeypox and Roe v. Wade were the most searched health-related topics instead. Some of the other entries in the trending news list are pretty sobering, specifically "Texas school shooting" and Hurricane Ian. 

When it comes to the most searched people of the year, users seemed to be especially curious about celebrity happenings. Johnny Depp topped this year's list, followed by Will Smith and Amber Heard. Vladimir Putin also made it to the top five. Anna Sorokin and Simon Leviev, whose names blew up on the internet after Inventing Anna and Tinder Swindler came out, were among the most searched people, as well. 

Thor: Love and Thunder topped the list of most searched movies, but Google said "how to become a fighter pilot" trended thanks to Top Gun: Maverick. The tech giant also released the top image searches using Lens and the top song searches done by humming a tune. (Domestic short-haired cats and philodendrons seemed to have tickled most people's curiosity this year, for those wondering.) The Buckingham Palace was 2022's top cultural landmark, based on Google Maps searches, while the Dark Matter interactive installation in Berlin was the top exhibit. This year, Google also launched a local hub that can show interesting search trends across the US — New York City, for instance, had "rainbow mantis shrimp" as its top trending animal. 

You can see Google's full Year in Search for 2022 right here.

The Morning After: Apple Music is adding a karaoke mode

Engadget - Wed, 2022-12-07 07:15

Apple Music has introduced a Sing feature, best described as a karaoke mode. Not only can you adjust the voice levels, but you can also use multiple lyric views if you’re looking to share a duet or even just wail harmonize in the background. Apple has tweaked existing lyric views, so they’re now cued to the beat and light up slowly.

The company says "tens of millions" of tracks will get the feature in December on the new Apple TV 4K, as well as recent iPhones (iPhone 11 and later) and iPads (including last year's ninth-generation model). Competitor Spotify already has a singing mode, but it’s more for rating your vocal skills. Apple told Engadget its feature doesn't use microphones at all – so all you need to worry about is family members recording you during your rendition of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.”

– Mat Smith

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

The biggest stories you might have missed

HBO Max returns to Prime Video Channels in the USThe move comes after a two-year fight.

The long-running squabble between Amazon and HBO appears to be over. Amazon and Warner Bros. Discovery have returned HBO Max to Prime Video Channels in the US. For $15 per month, you'll have access to House of the Dragon and other HBO shows within Prime Video – and you won't have to manage separate apps or subscriptions. This will also provide access to the unified HBO Max and Discovery+ service (possibly called Max) when it goes live in 2023.

Continue reading.

​​Apple's Self Service Repair program comes to EuropeIt will encompass 'more than 200 individual parts and tools.'TMAApple

Apple's Self Service Repair program has arrived in eight European countries. Using it, you can perform many of the most common fixes on the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 lineups, along with MacBooks with Apple silicon – that is, non-Intel models. If you'd rather not purchase a tool for a one-time repair, you can rent a kit for a week at £54.90 (€59.95). You can send back replaced parts for refurbishment and recycling and potentially receive a credit. A few examples of part prices include a battery module for £70.78 (€77.04) and a camera module for £168.55 (€192.76).

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Waze is getting its own dedicated app in Renault carsIt's available in new Renault Austral Hybrids and Megane E-Tech EVs.

Waze is France's most popular navigation app, to the point that it was recently updated with three regional accents (Toulouse, Provençal and Ch'ti). So it makes sense that Waze partnered with French automaker Renault to launch a new, dedicated version of the app for cars. Sure, you can use Waze on Android Auto by installing it as an app from your smartphone. What's different is Renault drivers can now install the app directly to the infotainment system – and won’t need a phone to use it.

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Apple's rumored electric car may not be fully self-driving after allThe project also might not be ready until 2026.

More car news as Bloomberg sources say Apple’s EV, codenamed Project Titan, is no longer a fully self-driving machine. It will reportedly have a conventional wheel and pedals and will 'only' drive itself on highways. The company has also pushed the launch back by a year to 2026, according to those sources. The vehicle may offer enough autonomy for you to play games or watch videos on the highway, but it’ll ask you to take control to drive on city streets or in adverse weather.

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‘Elden Ring’ update will add multiplayer colosseum brawlsNew arenas and three vs. three battles arrive on December 7th.TMAFromSoftware

Bandai Namco announced that a free multiplayer-focused update will go live later today. The Colosseum update will open up the titular arenas in Limgrave, Leyndell and Caelid, where players can battle it out in "duels, free-for-alls and team fights," according to a YouTube video description. The colosseums have been in the game since launch, but were inaccessible. There aren’t a lot of details about the update, but having dedicated arenas for player-versus-player (PvP) battles should freshen things up for those who like to duke it out against other humans in Elden Ring. The trailer showed off some three vs. three combat as well. The video also includes text stating that players can "join forces to fight for the Elden Ring." That suggests there will be more robust co-op options, too.

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6 Weird and Wild Animal Behaviors Revealed in 2022

Scientifc America - Wed, 2022-12-07 07:00

Octopus outbursts, evading sexual cannibalism, and a human-cockatoo arms race—here are strange animal behaviors we learned about in 2022

What Its Like To Use A Phone With A Pop-Out Portrait Camera - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-12-07 06:52
Tecno's global flagship, the Phantom X2 Pro, features a retractable portrait camera complete with 50-megapixels on the rear.

Global Population Growth Is Slowing Down. Here's One Reason Why

Scientifc America - Wed, 2022-12-07 06:45

In 2022 the world’s population hit the eight-billion mark. But such milestones could top out by the end of the century

Tecno's Phantom X2 Pro phone has a pop-out portrait lens for 'pure' bokeh

Engadget - Wed, 2022-12-07 06:30

Many smartphones these days offer artificial bokeh in their portrait photography modes, but with the help of a retractable camera, you can achieve true optical bokeh without missing any edges. Chinese brand Tecno is now bringing such a feature to its latest flagship device, the Phantom X2 Pro 5G, which packs a "world-first" pop-out portrait lens. This is just a little over two years after Xiaomi showed off a retractable 120mm-equivalent wide aperture lens, but it never left the prototype stage.

Tecno's intriguing portrait camera has a 50-megapixel resolution with a relatively large 1/2.7-inch sensor and 1.28um pixel size. Optically, this 2.5x zoom lens offers an f/1.49 aperture, 65mm focal length and 18.9cm depth of field. When you switch to portrait mode in the camera app, you can see (and hear) the portrait lens physically pop out on the back of the phone. This is complemented with Tecno's "self-developed" beautification mode with upgraded make-up settings — up to three faces are supported in each image. 

I had a chance to shoot some portraits with my Phantom X2 Pro 5G earlier today, and with the exception of the aggressive skin smoothing, my subjects were quite pleased with the natural bokeh, optimized brightness and virtually non-existent distortion.

Tecno Phantom X2 Pro 5GRichard Lai/Engadget

There's more on this amusingly large camera island. The 50-megapixel main shooter uses Samsung's 1/1.3-inch GNV ISOCELL 3.0 sensor, which offers 1.2um pixel size and is supported with an f/1.85 aperture. You'll also find a 13-megapixel ultra-wide angle camera nearby, as well as a 32-megapixel front camera on the other side of the phone — in the form of a punch-hole near the top of the curved 6.8-inch AMOLED screen (2,400 x 1,080 resolution, 120Hz refresh rate; Gorilla Glass Victus).

The Phantom X2 Pro 5G is powered by a MediaTek Dimensity 9000, which is a 4nm octa-core processor — similar to the faster Dimensity 9000+ found in ASUS' ROG Phone 6D series. It also packs 12GB of LPDDR5X RAM and 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage, along with a generous 5,160mAh battery with 45W fast charging support. While this phone lacks an IP rating, a company rep claimed that the retractable portrait lens is waterproof and dustproof — the interior of the lens is apparently sealed, and likewise with the connection between the lens and the body. Still, it's probably best to avoid the water when you're carrying this device.

Tecno's new phone runs on a customized Android 12 system dubbed HiOS 12, which features an AI gallery with face recognition and editing functions, along with some productivity tools (built-in translator, file scanner with text and PDF conversion etc.) and a connection speed optimization engine. Tecno added that its device passed TÜV Rheinland's fluency test over a 36-month simulation, meaning its storage memory performance shouldn't deteriorate much (read: fragmentation) during the same period in real life; but we'll take this claim with a pinch of salt for now.

Tecno will initially be launching the Phantom X2 Pro 5G in markets including India, Nigeria, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Colombia, Turkey, and the Philippines from the end of December, and it'll reach over 60 markets globally later (we're waiting for specific details on Western markets). The device will be available in "Stardust Grey" and "Mars Orange," with the latter featuring an eco-friendly back cover composed of plastics recovered from the shores around the Indian Ocean. Tecno claims that this "Eco-Friendly Edition" reduces carbon emissions by approximately 38 percent when compared to virgin plastics, "with each individual cover producing an estimated 2.4g fewer emissions on average." 

If you manage to come across a Phantom X2 Pro, the asking price is around $930 (based on the 3,499 Riyal price tag in Saudi Arabia), which is probably difficult to justify for just some natural bokeh. There's also the Phantom X2 which is around $215 cheaper and looks very similar, but it only has 8GB of RAM and lacks a retractable portrait camera; you'll instead get a 64-megapixel main camera and a 2-megapixel depth camera, along with the same 13-megapixel ultra-wide camera and 32-megapixel front camera as the Pro model. The orange option is also replaced by a "Moonlight White" design.

Uber and Motional's robotaxis arrive in Las Vegas

Engadget - Wed, 2022-12-07 06:00

Uber has launched public robotaxi rides in Las Vegas using Motional's Hyundai Ioniq 5 autonomous EVs with the aim of offering a full driverless service to the public in 2023. It will eventually expand to Los Angeles, where the two companies have been testing autonomous Uber Eats deliveries since May 2022. It's all part of a 10-year agreement between Uber and Motional to offer autonomous ride-hailing and deliveries. 

The taxi rides will be monitored by safety drivers, with the goal of launching a fully driverless service to the public in 2023. "Today, Motional becomes the first AV company to conduct all-electric autonomous rides on the Uber network for public passengers," said Motional VP Akshay Jaising. (Uber offered "autonomous" taxi rides using its own self-driving tech back in 2016, but riders were accompanied by engineers ready to take the wheel.) 

Lyft also partners with Motional, a joint venture between Hyundai and Aptiv. It beat Uber to the punch by launching Motional rides in Las Vegas in August this year with safety drivers on board. Lyft has also said it will ditch those drivers and offer true autonomous service by next year. 

Don't be surprised if that timeline changes, though. Apart from Motional, only Alphabet division Waymo and GM's Cruise are offering true driverless services at a reasonably large scale. The Waymo One service is operating in Phoenix and San Francisco, while Cruise rides are currently limited to San Francisco. Both operate only in specific areas of cities (which can be mapped out in great detail) and some vehicles still use safety riders.

Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick once said that the his company had to be "tied for first, at least" in the race to offer true driverless rides. Since both Uber and Lyft rely on Motional for self-driving tech, that's exactly what might happen.

T-Mobile Releases New Study on the Acceleration of Fixed Wireless Access Across the US - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-12-07 06:00
The mobile carrier has made significant inroads in the broadband market with T-Mobile Home Internet and has the data to prove it.

Boost Infinite Launches in Beta With $25 Unlimited Plan - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-12-07 06:00
It's Dish's long-awaited next step to becoming a rival to AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon.

Gut Bacteria Are Linked To Depression

SlashDot - Wed, 2022-12-07 05:00
Two studies published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications found a link between several types of bacteria in the gut and depressive symptoms. The first study, titled "Gut microbiome-wide association study of depressive symptoms," reports: Here we investigate the relation of fecal microbiome diversity and composition with depressive symptoms in 1,054 participants from the Rotterdam Study cohort and validate these findings in the Amsterdam HELIUS cohort in 1,539 subjects. We identify association of thirteen microbial taxa, including genera Eggerthella, Subdoligranulum, Coprococcus, Sellimonas, Lachnoclostridium, Hungatella, Ruminococcaceae (UCG002, UCG003 and UCG005), LachnospiraceaeUCG001, Eubacterium ventriosum and Ruminococcusgauvreauiigroup, and family Ruminococcaceae with depressive symptoms. These bacteria are known to be involved in the synthesis of glutamate, butyrate, serotonin and gamma amino butyric acid (GABA), which are key neurotransmitters for depression. Our study suggests that the gut microbiome composition may play a key role in depression. The second study, titled "The gut microbiota and depressive symptoms across ethnic groups," reports: Both the microbiome and depressive symptom levels vary substantially across ethnic groups. Thus, any intervention for depression targeting the microbiome requires understanding of microbiome-depression associations across ethnicities. Analyzing data from the HELIUS cohort, we characterize the gut microbiota and its associations with depressive symptoms in 6 ethnic groups (Dutch, South-Asian Surinamese, African Surinamese, Ghanaian, Turkish, Moroccan; N=3211), living in the same urban area. Diversity of the gut microbiota, both within (a-diversity) and between individuals (B-diversity), predicts depressive symptom levels, taking into account demographic, behavioural, and medical differences. These associations do not differ between ethnic groups. Further, B-diversity explains 29%-18% of the ethnic differences in depressive symptoms. Bacterial genera associated with depressive symptoms belong to mulitple families, prominently including the families Christensenellaceae, Lachnospiraceae, and Ruminococcaceae. In summary, the results show that the gut microbiota are linked to depressive symptom levels and that this association generalizes across ethnic groups. Moreover, the results suggest that ethnic differences in the gut microbiota may partly explain parallel disparities in depression. The Wall Street Journal shared (paywalled) the findings.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

San Francisco reverses approval of killer robot policy

Engadget - Wed, 2022-12-07 04:27

In late November, San Francisco's Board of Supervisors has approved a proposal that would allow the city's police force to use remote-controlled robots as a deadly force option when faced with violent or armed suspects. The supervisors voted 8-to-3 in favor of making it a new policy despite opposition by civil rights groups, but now they seem to have had a change of heart. During the second of two required votes before a policy can be sent to the mayor's office for final approval, the board voted 8-to-3 to explicitly ban the use of lethal force by police robots. As San Francisco Chronicle notes, this about-face is pretty unusual, as the board's second votes are typically just formalities that echo the first ones' results.

The San Francisco Police Department made the proposal after a law came into effect requiring California officials to define the authorized uses of their military-grade equipment. It would have allowed cops to equip robots with explosives "to contact, incapacitate, or disorient violent, armed, or dangerous suspects." Authorities could only use the robots for lethal force after they've exhausted all other possibilities, and a high-ranking official would have to approve their deployment. However, critics are concerned that the machines could be abused. 

Dean Preston, one of the supervisors who oppose the use of robots as a deadly force option, said the policy will "place Black and brown people in disproportionate danger of harm or death." In a newer statement made after the board's second vote, Preston said: "There have been more killings at the hands of police than any other year on record nationwide. We should be working on ways to decrease the use of force by local law enforcement, not giving them new tools to kill people."

While the supervisors voted to ban the use of lethal force by police robots — for now, anyway — they also sent the original policy proposing the use of killer robots back for review. The board's Rules Committee could now amend it further to have stricter rules for use of bomb-equipped robots, or it could scrap the old proposal altogether.

Wordle, Elections Dominated Google Searches in 2022 - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-12-07 03:02
Ukraine and Queen Elizabeth II were popular searches around the world, as were Johnny Depp, Will Smith and Amber Heard.

How to Watch Argentina vs. Netherlands Quarterfinal World Cup Match - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-12-07 03:00
Can Virgil van Dijk and the Dutch slow down Lionel Messi and Argentina? These two football powers meet in an elimination game on Friday, and you can stream it live from anywhere in the world.

How to Watch England vs. France Quarter-Finals World Cup Match - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-12-07 03:00
Two of the most powerful nations in football face off in an elimination game this Saturday, and you can stream it live from anywhere in the world.