Tech News Feed

AppLovin Makes $20B Offer to Acquire Unity - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-08-09 13:14
Unity says its framework powers 70% of the top mobile games.

Nvidia Sees a Metaverse Populated With Lifelike Chatbot Avatars - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-08-09 13:00
The next step in digital interaction will be talking to computers with a human face, chip designer Nvidia predicts at the Siggraph conference.

Cellular Home Internet: Who's Got It and What It Could Mean for You - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-08-09 12:53
Mobile carriers like Verizon and T-Mobile are expanding access to cellular home internet, including plans with 5G. Here's what to know before signing up.

Never Forget Your Reading Glasses Again With 30% Off This Readers and Universal Pod Set - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-08-09 12:47
This $17 readers-and-case set are slim enough to attach to the back of your phone so you're always prepared.

Rainwater Everywhere on Earth Unsafe To Drink Due To 'Forever Chemicals,' Study Finds

SlashDot - Tue, 2022-08-09 12:42
Rainwater almost everywhere on Earth has unsafe levels of "forever chemicals," according to new research. saulgood shares a report: Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a large family of human-made chemicals that don't occur in nature. They are known as 'forever chemicals' because they don't break down in the environment. They have non-stick or stain repellent properties so can be found in household items like food packaging, electronics, cosmetics and cookware. But now researchers at the University of Stockholm have found them in rainwater in most locations on the planet -- including Antarctica. There is no safe space to escape them. Safe guideline levels for some of these forever chemicals have dropped dramatically over the last two decades due to new insights into their toxicity. "There has been an astounding decline in guideline values for PFAS in drinking water in the last 20 years," says Ian Cousins, lead author of the study and professor at the Department of Environmental Science, Stockholm University. For one well-known substance, the "cancer-causing perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)," water guideline values have declined by 37.5 million times in the US.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Free Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak Update Adds New Monsters, Quests and More - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-08-09 12:30
Sunbreak's first free post-launch update arrives Aug. 10.

Save 15% On Furniture and More Sitewide at Apartment 2B's Bigger and Better Sale - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-08-09 12:28
Whether you're just shopping for a new dresser, or you're giving the entire living room a make-over, you'll find all the pieces you need for less at this sale.

1Password's big app redesign brings desktop features to mobile

Engadget - Tue, 2022-08-09 12:15

It took several months, but you now have access to 1Password's major updates on your phone. The company has released 1Password 8 for Android and iOS, and many of the desktop version's features have carried over to mobile. For starters, there's a new home screen that provides quicker, customized access to frequently-used passwords. There's also a new navigation bar to help you find info across every account you use.

The updated 1Password is also better at dealing with an era when data breaches are all too common. The Watchtower dashboard has reached mobile devices, providing alerts when a breach compromises your login. The tool also helps you randomly generate answers to security questions, and even encourages you to strengthen your sign-ins by generating an overall security score. More advanced passwords, two-factor authentication and other changes can boost your rating.

The additions won't necessarily persuade you to switch from LastPass and similar password managers. However, they might make a good case for trying 1Password f you routinely search for passwords or want a broader picture of your digital security.

Biden Signs China Competition Bill To Boost US Chipmakers

SlashDot - Tue, 2022-08-09 12:01
President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed a bipartisan bill that aims to strengthen U.S. competitiveness with China by investing billions of dollars in domestic semiconductor manufacturing and science research. From a report: "Today is a day for builders. Today America is delivering," Biden said at the signing ceremony outside the White House. He was joined by a crowd of hundreds, including tech executives, union presidents and political leaders from both parties. The bill, dubbed the Chips and Science Act, includes more than $52 billion for U.S. companies producing computer chips, as well as billions more in tax credits to encourage investment in semiconductor manufacturing. It also provides tens of billions of dollars to fund scientific research and development, and to spur the innovation and development of other U.S. tech. The Biden administration also contended that the legislation will "unlock hundreds of billions more" in private spending in the industry. The White House said Tuesday that multiple companies, "spurred" by the chips bill, have announced more than $44 billion in new semiconductor manufacturing investments.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Google's learn-to-read app for kids is now available on the web

Engadget - Tue, 2022-08-09 12:00

You no longer have to reach for your Android phone to try Google's learn-to-read tool. Google has launched a beta web version of Read Along that offers a similar experience on your computer. As before, the virtual helper Diya encourages your kids to read aloud and offers correctional feedback. Children can read at different skill levels and receive digital prizes for completing goals.

The beta currently supports reading on Chrome, Edge and Firefox, with functionality for Safari and other browsers due "soon." Kids can learn in several languages, including English and Hindi. You can sign in for a personalized experience, but Google makes clear that you don't need an account. All speech recognition also happens in your browser, so you don't have to worry that someone might grab your child's voice recordings.

Read Along's web version won't change your mind if you prefer the personal touch. However, Google isn't pitching this as a full substitute for human contact. It helps kids improve their reading in moments where their parents aren't available, and could help schools teach literacy when one-on-one time isn't practical.

The One Daily Activity That Can Make or Break Your Health - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-08-09 12:00
No, it's not exercise -- but it's just as important.

Get Rid of Stubborn Pests With This $21 Electric Fly Swatter - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-08-09 12:00
Flies, gnats, mosquitos and other flying insects are no match for this Zap It racket.

Ford will reopen F-150 Lightning orders this week at a much higher starting price

Engadget - Tue, 2022-08-09 11:45

Ford will open up orders for the next wave of F-150 Lightning reservation holders this Thursday, but those buying the electric pickup as of this week will need to dig deeper in their pockets. The automaker is bumping up the prices by between $4,200 and $8,900, depending on the trim. It cited "significant material cost increases and other factors" as reasons for the adjustments.

“Current order holders awaiting delivery are not impacted by these price adjustments,” Model E chief customer officer Marin Gjaja said in a statement. “We’ve announced pricing ahead of re-opening order banks so our reservation holders can make an informed decision around ordering a Lightning.” Those who have a reservation and already received an invite order but chose to wait for their preferred configuration to be available will "receive a private offer for use in upcoming waves," Ford said.

The base F-150 Lightning now costs $46,974 (up by $7,000) and the standard mid-range XLT is $59,474, which marks an increase of $6,500. At the higher end of the scale, Ford bumped up the price of the Platinum Extended Range by just over $4,000 to $96,874. The biggest increase, per The Verge, is for the Lariat Extended Range, which has jumped up by $8,900 to $85,974. Those prices don't include the delivery fee.

As somewhat of a makegood for the price increase, models with the standard-range battery will have a target EPA-estimated range of 240 miles, an increase of 10 miles per charge. That battery is available for the Pro, XLT and Lariat trims. Ford is also adding Pro Trailer Hitch Assist tech, which it says will make it easier for drivers to hitch trailers thanks to automatic steering, throttle and brake controls. It's available as part of the Tow Technology Package on Pro, XLT and Lariat trims and as standard on some Lariat trims and the Platinum trim.

Ford is changing up the color options too. Avalanche Gray and Azure Gray metallic tri-coat options will replace Atlas Blue, Ice Blue Silver and Smoked Quartz Metallic. Those will not be available on models it builds as of this fall.

The automaker temporarily capped reservations at 200,000 last December, after receiving enough to fill three years of production capacity. Ford began making the F-150 Lightning in April and it started deliveries the following month. It has sold more than 4,400 to date. Starting in 2023, the company aims to produce 150,000 units per year at a plant in Dearborn, Michigan.

AT&T is using amphibious vehicles, drones and more to restore its network during disasters

Engadget - Tue, 2022-08-09 11:29

In a nondescript warehouse outside of Atlanta, nestled among the office parks and chain restaurants that pepper suburban America, AT&T is preparing for catastrophe. This is one of the company's Network Disaster Recovery (NDR) sites, a place where a volunteer group of AT&T workers can test and train on equipment that can quickly spin up connectivity when a local office is destroyed. 

Longtime Engadget readers may remember our 2008 visit to a similar Chicago-area site, only a year after the launch of the iPhone and long before the company started deploying 4G LTE. Given just how much the world has changed since then — with smartphones in practically every pocket, and billion-dollar weather and climate disasters on the rise.

Originally launched in 1991, AT&T has spent over $650 million in the US building up the NDR program (up $100 million since 2008). Since 2017, AT&T has also provided network support for FirstNet (First Responder Network Authority), which delivers a public safety wireless network throughout America. Both T-Mobile and Verizon have their own disaster response initiatives, but AT&T’s cellular division has the advantage of launching more than a decade before either of those competitors arrived in the US. Neither company has publicly stated how much they invest in disaster recovery, and our inquiries for more specifics have gone unanswered.

It’s one thing for AT&T to claim it’s spending a huge chunk of change on disaster recovery (the cynic in me can’t help but wonder how that figure is calculated). But seeing the vast amounts of gear the company has devoted to its NDR program makes one thing clear: This is more than just good PR. It’s a moral mission for AT&T’s volunteer staff, many of which come from military backgrounds. While it’s not as mission critical as supplying food, water and shelter, providing connectivity could still save lives by making it easier for first responders to communicate with each other, not to mention giving people in danger a way to reach out for help.

AT&T NDR site visitAT&T NDR's Flying COW (Cell-on-wings) drone.Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

During our 2008 visit, we learned the NDR team was using a standard Chevy Suburban jam-packed with cellular gear to restore parts of its network. Today, they’re looking to the sky and beyond. (That Suburban has also been replaced by a 4x4 emergency response club cab pickup.) AT&T has been using drones called Flying COWs (Cell-on-wings) for several years, but its upcoming iteration can spit out 5G coverage to around ten square miles from 300 feet in the air, while the drones currently being used deliver Band 14 LTE.

For safety reasons, all of the company's drones are currently tethered to stations on the ground, which provide power for as long as their generators can stay fueled. They also require two people to operate — one to fly the drone, and another to keep an eye out for obstacles. The drone I saw looked larger than any consumer model I've seen, and it can hold a payload up to five pounds.

Looking ahead, AT&T has patented a remote flight system that lets operators control drones from thousands of miles away, and it's exploring solar-powered units that could fly autonomously for days. (Unfortunately, I didn't get to see AT&T's 55-foot long blimp, which flies 1,000 feet in the air to provide connectivity across 100 miles for up to two weeks.) NDR staffers tell me AT&T is also testing robodogs that can deal with a variety of scenarios – from running up a mountain during a forest fire, to helping with bomb disarmament.

The company has also beefed up its ground and water game with the Amphib. With its enormous treads, it looks like a red mini-tank, but it can also float and make its way through water using rear propellers. It's the sort of vehicle that can make dealing with hurricanes much easier, according to AT&T's Kelly Morrison, who is also a longtime NDR volunteer. The Amphib is basically a people and payload mover, but it gives the company more flexibility when dealing with flooded areas. Given the historic rainfalls we've recently seen in St. Louis and Kentucky, in addition to inevitable rising sea levels, the Amphib could end up being one of the NDR team's most useful tools.

AT&T NDR's amphib rotosThe rotors on the rear of AT&T's Amphib vehicle.Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

Of course, these new toys are great and all, but the core of AT&T'S NDR team continues to be its COLTs (Cell on Light Truck). They can tap into the company's existing fiber backhaul lines and deliver cellular connectivity within a few hours. If local infrastructure is completely down, AT&T can use SatCOLTs to reach satellites instead. And for hard-to-access areas, the company now has "Compact Rapid Deployables" (CRDs), which can fit on the back of a truck or be hiked to the top of a mountain. The company also has thousands of generators on-hand – a necessity for every disaster site. While the main goal is to restore connectivity for first responders and customers, AT&T’s FirstNet commitment also ensures interoperability with competing carriers too.

During the devastating Marshall Fire in Colorado, which destroyed more than 1,000 homes, FirstNet responders rushed to set up two SatCOLT's over New Year's Eve. Additional teams came in from Kansas, Texas, New Mexico and Missouri, leading to a peak of eight SatCOLTs being used to support FirstNet works and local businesses. The fire wasn't the only challenge: Additional calls required a team to cover two mountain passes during heavy snow conditions.

AT&T NDR site visitServers and other cellular equipment stored in an NDR trailer.Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

The NDR team hasn't gotten many breaks throughout the year. According to AT&T, three SatCOLTs helped first responders during Yosemite's wildfire in July. And as of August 1st, FirstNET also deployed another two SatCOLTs to assist rescue operations during the recent flood in Kentucky. The team has been deployed more often since 2018, when AT&T was tapped to support FirstNet, and it’s also responding to the increasing number of wildfires we’re seeing in the US.

And, of course, NDR workers are always keeping an eye on new ways to improve their disaster response. The team tells us they're looking forward to using low-Earth satellites eventually, which would offer more bandwidth and lower latency than the existing fixed satellites. Virtualizing their work would also be a huge help. Currently, much of their response involves moving workers and setting up control centers in dangerous areas. But as they move towards smaller and easier to deploy assets, like drones and CRDs, they may not have to set up a trailer at all.

AT&T NDR site visitCOVID-ready sleeping and shower units for NDR workers.Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

After my tour of the NDR site, I couldn’t help but notice the cellular equipment dotting the sparse Georgia landscape. I could see towers at practically every high point in the area, delivering robust 5G speeds on the same roads where I used to struggle to get 2.5G Edge reception over a decade ago. It’s easy to take this blanket of connectivity for granted. And now that we’re starting to see more frequent extreme weather events, it’s clear that AT&T’s NDR team, and similar initiatives from competitors, will be more necessary than ever.

AppLovin Offers To Buy Unity Software For $17.5B in All-Stock Deal

SlashDot - Tue, 2022-08-09 11:20
Mobile app marketing company AppLovin on Tuesday made a $17.54 billion all-stock offer to buy online gaming business Unity Software. From a report: Palo Alto-based AppLovin said the deal would have an enterprise value of about $20 billion, an 18% premium on San Francisco-based Unity's Monday closing price. AppLovin said in a news release that its offer would create a company with a combined market cap of about $35 billion. The non-binding offer appears to be aimed at warding off potential damage to AppLovin's business by a plan Unity announced about a month ago to buy Israel-based app monetization company ironSource for $4.4 billion. A number of Unity shareholders and game developers have reportedly expressed dissatisfaction with the IronSource deal, which may help AppLovin win support for its offer. While Unity investors would hold 55% of shares in the combined company, AppLovin's would have 51% of the voting power. Unity chief John Riccitiello would be CEO under the proposal and AppLovin chief Adam Foroughi would be chief operating officer. A Unity spokesperson acknowledged the offer in a neutral statement the company issued on Tuesday morning, saying, "We have received the offer from AppLovin and our board will thoroughly evaluate it."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

President Biden signs CHIPS Act to boost semiconductor production

Engadget - Tue, 2022-08-09 10:58

Following successful votes in the Senate and House of Representatives, President Joe Biden has signed the CHIPS and Science Act into law. The $280 billion measure will provide significant financial assistance to American semiconductor firms. It sets aside $52 billion in tax credits and funding for US chipmakers to expand domestic production. In a rare episode of bipartisan unity, the Senate voted 64-33 in favor of the bill. It was later passed by the House thanks to a 243-187 vote.

“America invented the semiconductor, but over the years we let manufacturing of semiconductors move overseas. As we saw during the pandemic, when the factories that make these chips shut down, the global economy came to a screeching halt, driving up costs for families” Biden said ahead of the ceremony. “A third of the core inflation last year was due to the high price of automobiles, which was driven by the shortage of semiconductors. For the sake of our economy, jobs and national security, we have to make these semiconductors in America again.”

The CHIPS and Science Act is unlikely to affect domestic production immediately. It takes years to build new foundries and upgrade existing ones to increase output. When Intel recently broke ground on two new $20 billion facilities in Arizona, the company said it would take about three years to complete construction on those plants.

The signing comes shortly after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took a trip to Taiwan, despite warnings from China that there would be “resolute and strong measures” if she went ahead with visit. Before her arrival on the island, Taiwan’s presidential website went down to an apparent cyberattack. The self-governing island is home to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the most important chip foundry in the world. On its own, TSMC supplies the majority of all semiconductor parts used by US companies.

Serena Williams to Retire: 'I'm Evolving Away From Tennis' - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-08-09 10:53
In an essay for Vogue's September issue, Williams says the transition won't be easy but she's ready for what's next.

Make the Switch to a Robot Vacuum With $174 Off the Roborock Q7 Max Plus - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2022-08-09 10:53
With this offer from Amazon, you can finally ditch that clunky corded vacuum for good.

How Russia Took Over Ukraine's Internet in Occupied Territories

SlashDot - Tue, 2022-08-09 10:45
Several weeks after taking over Ukraine's southern port city of Kherson, Russian soldiers arrived at the offices of local internet service providers and ordered them to give up control of their networks. From a report: "They came to them and put guns to their head and just said, 'Do this,'" said Maxim Smelyanets, who owns an internet provider that operates in the area and is based in Kyiv. "They did that step by step for each company." Russian authorities then rerouted mobile and internet data from Kherson through Russian networks, government and industry officials said. They blocked access to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, as well as to Ukrainian news websites and other sources of independent information. Then they shut off Ukrainian cellular networks, forcing Kherson's residents to use Russian mobile service providers instead. What happened in Kherson is playing out in other parts of Russian-occupied Ukraine. After more than five months of war, Russia controls large sections of eastern and southern Ukraine. Bombings have leveled cities and villages; civilians have been detained, tortured and killed; and supplies of food and medicine are running low, according to witnesses interviewed by The New York Times and human rights groups. Ukrainians in those regions have access only to Russian state television and radio. To cap off that control, Russia has also begun occupying the cyberspace of parts of those areas. That has cleaved off Ukrainians in Russia-occupied Kherson, Melitopol and Mariupol from the rest of the country, limiting access to news about the war and communication with loved ones. In some territories, the internet and cellular networks have been shut down altogether.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.