Tech News Feed

Reddit communities are 'going dark' to protest changes that would hurt third-party apps

Engadget - Mon, 2023-06-05 11:41

Reddit's potential threat to third-party apps is prompting a high-profile protest. Dozens of subreddits, including major examples like Earthporn, LifeProTips, ReactionGIFs and Videos, have declared they're "going dark" (that is, going private) starting June 12th in response to an API pricing increase they believe will shut out third-party clients. Some will resume public access after 48 hours, but others will "permanently" isolate themselves until Reddit addresses their concerns.

The protesters are also calling on users to message Reddit administrators, leave negative app reviews and boycott the social site. At the same time, they want participants to be "restrained, polite, reasonable and law-abiding" — threats and other rude behavior won't win people over, according to the organizers.

We've asked Reddit for comment. Christian Selig, the creator of popular client Apollo, says the API pricing would cost him $20 million per year. The developers of other apps, such as Narwhal and Reddit is Fun, have also warned that they can't afford the new prices and will likely shut down soon as a result. In the past, Reddit maintained that its pricing is "as equitable as possible" and that it was working to improve the efficiency of apps and reduce their costs.

As The Vergeexplains, moderators are as worried about the price change as users. Third-party Reddit apps frequently include customizations and other features that don't make their way into the official app, including moderator tools that help keep subreddits in check. Developers also fear the new API structure would prevent displaying not-safe-for-work content and limit ads that are key to making revenue.

This isn't the first time Reddit communities have fenced themselves off in protest. In 2015, the IAmA subreddit went private in objection to the sudden firing of communications director Victoria Taylor. In 2021, dozens of subreddits made a similar move to draw attention to COVID-19 misinformation that was allowed to spread on the platform. Reddit's responses have been mixed. It banned one community and quarantined 54 others after the misinformation protest, but those actions were for abuse rather than the disputed content.

Reddit's decision comes a few months after Twitter banned third-party apps and severely limited free API access. In both cases, the strategies effectively force users to rely on official apps, where companies can control more of the experience and generate more money from ads and (in Twitter's case) subscriptions. The fear, as you might guess, is that this leads to a stagnant platform where outsiders can't improve on the core formula.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

All the big tech layoffs of 2023

Engadget - Mon, 2023-06-05 11:12

The tech industry is reeling from the combination of a rough economy, the COVID-19 pandemic and some obvious business missteps. And while that led to job cuts in 2022, the headcount reductions have unfortunately ramped up in 2023. It can be tough to keep track of these moves, so we’ve compiled all the major layoffs in one place and will continue to update this story as the situation evolves.

JuneSmall figurines are seen in front of displayed Spotify logo in this illustration taken February 11, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/IlustrationDado Ruvic / reutersSpotify layoffs

Spotify followed up its January layoff plans with word in June that it would cut 200 jobs in its podcast unit. The move is part of a more targeted approach to fostering podcasts with optimized resources for creators and shows. The company is also combining its Gimlet and Parcast production teams into a renewed Spotify Studios division.

MayAn employee works at Shopify's headquarters in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, October 22, 2018. REUTERS/Chris WattieREUTERS/Chris WattieShopify layoffs

Shopify's e-commerce platform played an important role at the height of the pandemic, but the Canadian company is scaling back now that the rush is over. In May, the company laid off 20 percent of its workforce and sold its logistics business to Flexport. Founder Tobi Lütke characterized the job cuts as necessary to "pay unshared attention" to Shopify's core mission, and an acknowledgment that the firm needed to be more efficient now that the "stable economic boom times" were over.

Polestar layoffs

Polestar delayed production of its first electric SUV (the Polestar 3) in May, and that had repercussions for its workforce. The Volvo spinoff brand said in May that it would cut 10 percent of its workforce to lower costs as it faced reduced manufacturing expectations and a rough economy. Volvo needed more time for software development and testing that also pushed back the EX90, Polestar said.

SoundCloud layoffs

SoundCloud followed up last year's extensive layoffs with more this May. The streaming audio service said it would shed 8 percent of its staff in a bid to become profitable in 2023. Billboard sources claim the company hopes to be profitable by the fourth quarter of the year.

AprilLyft logo is seen in this illustration taken June 27, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/IllustrationDado Ruvic / reutersLyft layoffs

Lyft laid off 13 percent of staff in November 2022, but took further steps in April. The ridesharing company said it was laying off 1,072 workers, or about 26 percent of its headcount. It comes just weeks after an executive shuffle that replaced CEO Logan Green with former Amazon exec David Risher, who said the company needed to streamline its business and refocus on drivers and passengers. Green previously said Lyft needed to boost its spending to compete with Uber.

Dropbox layoffs

Cloud storage companies aren't immune to the current financial climate. In April, Dropbox said it would lay off 500 employees, or roughly 16 percent of its team. Co-founder Drew Houston pinned the cuts on the combination of a rough economy, a maturing business and the "urgency" to hop on the growing interest in AI. While the company is profitable, its growth is slowing and some investments are "no longer sustainable," Houston said. 

MarchRoku layoffs

Roku shed 200 jobs at the end of 2022, but it wasn't done. The streaming platform creator laid off another 200 employees in March 2023. As before, the company argued that it needed to curb growing expenses and concentrate on those projects that would have the most impact. Roku has been struggling with the one-two combination of a rough economy and the end of a pandemic-fueled boom in streaming video.

Lucid Motors layoffs

If you thought luxury EV makers would be particularly susceptible to economic turmoil, you guessed correctly. Lucid Motors said in March that it would lay off 18 percent of its workforce, or about 1,300 people. The marque is still falling short of production targets, and these cuts reportedly help deal with "evolving business needs and productivity improvements." The cuts are across the board, too, and include both executives as well as contractors.

Meta (Facebook) layoffs

Meta slashed 11,000 jobs in fall 2022, but it wasn't finished. In March 2023, the company unveiled plans to lay off another 10,000 workers in a further bid to cut costs. The first layoffs affected its recruiting team, but it shrank its technology teams in late April and its business groups in late May. The Facebook owner is hoping to streamline its operations by reducing management layers and asking some leaders to take on work previously reserved for the rank and file. It may take a while before Meta's staff count grows again — it doesn't expect to lift a hiring freeze until sometime after it completes its restructuring effort in late 2023.

FebruaryRivian layoffs

Rivian conducted layoffs in 2022, but that wasn't enough to help the fledgling EV brand's bottom line. The company laid off another six percent of its employees in February, or about 840 workers. It's still fighting to achieve profitability, and the production shortfall from supply chain issues hasn't helped matters. CEO RJ Scaringe says the job cuts will help Rivian focus on the "highest impact" aspects of its business.

Zoom layoffs

Zoom was a staple of remote work culture at the pandemic's peak, so it's no surprise that the company is cutting back now that people are returning to offices. The video calling firm said in February it was laying off roughly 1,300 employees, or 15 percent of its personnel. As CEO Eric Yuan put it, the company didn't hire "sustainably" as it dealt with its sudden success. The layoffs are reportedly necessary to help survive a difficult economy. The management team is offering more than just apologies, too. Yuan is cutting his salary by 98 percent for the next fiscal year, while all other executives are losing 20 percent of their base salaries as well as their fiscal 2023 bonuses.

Yahoo layoffs

Engadget's parent company Yahoo isn't immune to layoffs. The internet brand said in February that it would lay off over 20 percent of its workforce throughout 2023, or more than 1,600 people. Most of those cuts, or about 1,000 positions, took place immediately. CEO Jim Lanzone didn't blame the layoffs on economic conditions, however. He instead pitched it as a restructuring of the advertising technology unit as it shed an unprofitable business in favor of a successful one. Effectively, Yahoo is bowing out of direct competition in with Google and Meta in the ad market.

Dell layoffs

The pandemic recovery and a grim economy have hit PC makers particularly hard, and Dell is feeling the pain more than most. It laid off five percent of its workforce in early February, or about 6,650 employees, after a brutal fourth quarter where computer shipments plunged an estimated 37 percent. Past cost-cutting efforts weren't enough, Dell said — the layoffs and a streamlined organization were reportedly needed to get back on track.

Deliveroo layoffs

Food delivery services flourished while COVID-19 kept people away from restaurants, and at least some are feeling the sting now that people are willing to dine out again. Deliveroo is laying off about 350 workers, or nine percent of its workforce. "Redeployments" will bring this closer to 300, according to founder Will Shu. The justification is familiar: Deliveroo hired rapidly to handle "unprecedented" pandemic-related growth, according to Shu, but reportedly has to cut costs as it deals with a troublesome economy.

DocuSign layoffs

DocuSign may be familiar to many people who've signed documents online, but that hasn't spared it from the impact of a harsh economic climate. The company said in mid-February that it was laying off 10 percent of its workforce. While it didn't disclose how many people that represented, the company had 7,461 employees at the start of 2022. Most of those losing their jobs work in DocuSign's worldwide field organization.

GitLab layoffs

You may not know GitLab, but its DevOps (development and operations) platform underpins work at tech brands like NVIDIA and T-Mobile — and shrinking business at its clients is affecting its bottom line. GitLab is laying off seven percent of employees, or roughly 114 people. Company chief Sid Sijbrandij said the problematic economy meant customers were taking a "more conservative approach" to software investment, and that his company's previous attempts to refocus spending weren't enough to counter these challenges.

GoDaddy layoffs

GoDaddy conducted layoffs early in the pandemic, when it cut over 800 workers for its retail-oriented Social platform. In February this year, however, it took broader action. The web service provider laid off eight percent of its workforce, or more than 500 people, across all divisions. Chief Aman Bhutani claimed other forms of cost-cutting hadn't been enough to help the company navigate an "uncertain" economy, and that this reflected efforts to further integrate acquisitions like Main Street Hub.

Twilio layoffs

Twilio eliminated over 800 jobs in September 2022, but it made deeper cuts as 2023 got started. The cloud communications brand laid off 17 percent of staff, or roughly 1,500 people, in mid-February. Like so many other tech firms, Twillio said that past cost reduction efforts weren't enough to endure an unforgiving environment. It also rationalized the layoffs as necessary for a streamlined organization.

JanuaryAn exterior view of building BV100, during a tour of Google's new Bay View Campus in Mountain View, California, U.S. May 16, 2022. Picture taken May 16, 2022.   REUTERS/Peter DaSilvaREUTERS/Peter DaSilvaGoogle (Alphabet) layoffs

Google's parent company Alphabet has been cutting costs for a while, including shutting down Stadia, but it took those efforts one step further in late January when it said it would lay off 12,000 employees. CEO Sundar Pichai wasn't shy about the reasoning: Alphabet had been hiring for a "different economic reality," and was restructuring to focus on the internet giant's most important businesses. The decision hit the company's Area 120 incubator particularly hard, with the majority of the unit's workers losing their jobs. Sub-brands like Intrinsic (robotics) and Verily (health) also shed significant portions of their workforce in the days before the mass layoffs. Waymo has conducted two rounds of layoffs that shed 209 people, or eight percent of its force.

Amazon layoffs

Amazon had already outlined layoff plans last fall, but expanded those cuts in early January when it said it would eliminate 18,000 jobs, most of them coming from retail and recruiting teams. It added another 9,000 people to the layoffs in March, and in April said over 100 gaming employees were leaving. To no one's surprise, CEO Andy Jassy blamed both an "uncertain economy" and rapid hiring in recent years. Amazon benefited tremendously from the pandemic as people shifted to online shopping, but its growth is slowing as people return to in-person stores.

Coinbase layoffs

Coinbase was one of the larger companies impacted by the crypto market's 2022 downturn, and that carried over into the new year. The cryptocurrency exchange laid off 950 people in mid-January, just months after it slashed 1,100 roles. This is one of the steepest proportionate cuts among larger tech brands — Coinbase offloaded about a fifth of its staff. Chief Brian Armstrong said his outfit needed the layoffs to shrink operating expenses and survive what he previously described as a "crypto winter," but that also meant canceling some projects that were less likely to succeed.

IBM layoffs

Layoffs sometimes stem more from corporate strategy shifts than financial hardship, and IBM provided a classic example of this in 2023. The computing pioneer axed 3,900 jobs in late January after offloading both its AI-driven Watson Health business and its infrastructure management division (now Kyndryl) in the fall. Simply put, those employees had nothing to work on as IBM pivoted toward cloud computing.

Microsoft layoffs

Microsoft started its second-largest wave of layoffs in company history when it signaled it would cut 10,000 jobs between mid-January and the end of March. Like many other tech heavyweights, it was trimming costs as customers scaled back their spending (particularly on Windows and devices) during the pandemic recovery. The reductions were especially painful for some divisions — they reportedly gutted the HoloLens and mixed reality teams, while 343 Industries is believed to be rebooting Halo development after losing dozens of workers. GitHub is cutting 10 percent of its team, or roughly 300 people.

PayPal layoffs

PayPal has been one of the healthier large tech companies, having beaten expectations in its third quarter last year. Still, it hasn't been immune to a tough economy. The online payment firm unveiled plans at the end of January to lay off 2,000 employees, or seven percent of its total worker base. CEO Dan Schulman claimed the downsizing would keep costs in check and help PayPal focus on "core strategic priorities."

Salesforce layoffs

Salesforce set the tone for 2023 when it warned it would lay off 8,000 employees, or about 10 percent of its workforce, just four days into the new year. While the cloud software brand thrived during the pandemic with rapidly growing revenue, it admitted that it hired too aggressively during the boom and couldn't maintain that staffing level while the economy was in decline.

SAP layoffs

Business software powerhouse SAP saw a steep 68 percent drop in profit at the end of 2022, and it started 2023 by laying off 2,800 staff to keep its business healthy. Unlike some big names in tech, though, SAP didn't blame excessive pandemic-era hiring for the cutback. Instead, it characterized the initiative as a "targeted restructuring" for a company that still expected accelerating growth in 2023.

Spotify layoffs

Spotify spent aggressively in recent years as it expanded its podcast empire, but it quickly put a stop to that practice as 2023 began. The streaming music service said in late January that it would lay off 6 percent of its workforce (9,800 people worked at Spotify as of the third quarter) alongside a restructuring effort that included the departure of content chief Dawn Ostroff. While there were more Premium subscribers than ever in 2022, the company also suffered steep losses — CEO Daniel Ek said he was "too ambitious" investing before the revenue existed to support it.

Wayfair layoffs

Amazon isn't the only major online retailer scaling back in 2023. Wayfair said in late January that it would lay off 1,750 team members, or 10 percent of its global headcount. About 1,200 of those were corporate staff cut in a bid to "eliminate management layers" and otherwise help the company become leaner and nimbler. Wayfair had been cutting costs since August 2022 (including 870 positions), but saw the layoffs as helping it reach break-even earnings sooner than expected.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Apple’s third-gen AirPods have dropped back down to $149

Engadget - Mon, 2023-06-05 10:49

Apple’s WWDC kicks off today and the company may well reveal some fresh Macs. Before you pick up one of those, though, you may be looking to snag some new AirPods. As it happens, several models are on sale, including the third-gen AirPods. Those have dropped by 12 percent to $149, which is just $10 more than the record low price.

The latest AirPods marked a major improvement over the second-gen model. We gave them a score of 88 in our review, lauding them for having much better audio, a more comfortable design and a substantially improved battery life. That said, the lack of onboard volume controls remained a disappointment and the fit and visual appearance may still not work for everyone.

The third-gen AirPods don't have active noise cancellation either, but you will find that feature on the most recent AirPods Pro, which are also on sale. You can snag a pair for $200. That's $50 off the regular price. We gave the second-gen AirPods Pro a score of 88 as well. The transparency mode impressed us and the earbuds delivered better audio quality than the previous model. The finicky touch gesture, so-so battery life and Apple's choice to retain the same design were negative points, however.

If you're looking for a less expensive set of AirPods, it's worth considering the second-gen model. While they might be showing their age a bit (Apple released them in 2019), they're still a good choice for true wireless earbuds, especially for those who use Apple devices. The second-gen AirPods are on sale for $99, which is $30 off.

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The God of War: Ragnarok PlayStation 5 bundle is cheaper than ever

Engadget - Mon, 2023-06-05 10:01

If you're ready to pull the trigger on a PS5 and want the popular title God of War: Ragnarok as well, Amazon has them on sale in a bundle at a new all-time low. The PS5 God of War: Ragnarok bundle is currently on sale for $500, or $60 off the usual price. That means you can get the game for just $1, considering the disc version of the console on its own is normally $499. Amazon has a big sale on a number of other games too, including Horizon Forbidden West and Gran Turismo 7 Standard Edition, along with God of War: Ragnarok by itself. 

Sales for Sony's PS5 exploded once supply constraints disappeared, with Sony announcing it sold 19.1 million units in the last year alone, compared to 11.5 million the year before. Still, the console rarely goes on sale, so this is one of the best deals we've seen, effectively giving you both the disc version of the PS5 and God of War: Ragnarok for the price of the console alone. 

Meanwhile, God of War: Ragnarok made Engadget's list of the best PS5 games for 2023. We called it a "massive adventure" and lauded features like an incredible combat experience, greater variety of enemies and more realms to visit. It also provides visuals up to 4K or high 120Hz frame rates, assuming your TV can handle it.

Along with the bundle, Amazon is offering deals on a bunch of PS5 games as part of its Days of Play sale. As mentioned, you can grab significant savings on Horizon Forbidden West ($40 or 43 percent off), Gran Turismo 7 Standard Edition ($40), and God of War: Ragnarok ($50 or $30 percent off). Other titles on sale include Spider Man: Miles Morales Ultimate Edition ($40), Demon's Souls ($30) and Ghost of Tsushima Director's Cut ($30). 

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Spotify is laying off 200 employees from its podcast division

Engadget - Mon, 2023-06-05 09:47

Spotify isn't done with layoffs this year. The company is cutting 200 jobs in its podcast division, or about 2 percent of its workforce, as part of a "strategic realignment." Spotify is moving to a more "tailored approach" that optimizes resources for each podcast creator and their shows, and the streaming service believes this requires a leaner team.

The new strategy will also see Spotify merge its Gimlet and Parcast production houses into an updated Spotify Studios unit. They'll continue to produce well-known originals and start new shows, although there will be a new emphasis on frequent content that fosters large audiences. Spotify as a whole will work on "maximizing consumption" from the existing audience, encouraging them to listen more often and to more podcasts. The firm is also growing its Spotify For Podcasters analytics, refining its ad options and adding "more business models" to help creators profit.

The provider is keen to tout its growth since it started investing heavily in podcasts in 2019, including the acquisitions of Gimlet, Parcast and the creator platform Anchor. It now claims to be the most popular podcast platform in "most corners" of the planet, with over 100 million listeners and 5 million shows. Usage has grown over 1,400 percent, Spotify says. It also says it's the top publisher in the US. 

Even so, the layoffs add to a string of blows for the company. Spotify reportedly dropped numerous shows last fall, shedding nearly 5 percent of its podcast team in the process. The service also laid off 6 percent of its total staff in January, with chief content officer Dawn Ostroff (credited with growing podcast content 40-fold) stepping down at the same time. There have also been difficulties with the content itself, including misinformation concerns with Spotify exclusive The Joe Rogan Experience. The company may be a powerhouse in the category, but it's no longer as secure as it once was.

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The best backpacking and camping gear for dads

Engadget - Mon, 2023-06-05 09:15

We’ve finally fully emerged from winter and dad might be feeling a little cooped up. (I know I am, at least.) Now that the days are getting longer, they’re probably itching to get outside ASAP. If your dad or father figure is the type to wander off into the woods — perhaps for days at a time — we’ve got some suggestions for Father’s Day gifts. Whether they’re an ultra-light backpacking maniac or a car-camping comfort seeker, or maybe they dabble in a little bit of both, we’ve got just the thing.

JetBoil MiniMo

The Jetboil Flash is basically inescapable on the trail. Its lightweight, easily packable design and fast boil times make it attractive to backpackers. But the MiniMo is worth the extra money and weight. It’s only one ounce heavier, but the MiniMo’s wider, shorter cook cup is easier to handle. Plus it can actually simmer things, unlike the Flash. And let me tell you, dehydrated eggs are bad enough as is, even without burning them in what amounts to a coffee tumbler mounted on a jet engine. Trust me, this is one of the best upgrades you can make to your dad’s setup.

Leatherman Free series multitools

The Leatherman Free series has been a staple of Engadget buying guides ever since it debuted in 2019. There are plenty of options out there when it comes to multitools, and many of them are great. But, the Free series was a serious game-changer with its one-handed access to every tool. Plus everything, including the knife, locks into place so you’re less likely to pinch or cut yourself. It even requires less regular maintenance and cleaning than older Leatherman like the Juice series which, while great, tended to collect lint and dust in every nook and cranny at an alarming rate. Your dad might not need every tool while hiking the Appalachian, but he’ll appreciate having options other than a knife or a rock.

Biolite Headlamp 425

After food, water and shelter, the next most essential thing on the trail is light. This year we’re recommending the Biolite Headlamp 425. It’s similar to the Headlamp 330 we’ve recommended in the past. It’s ever so slightly bigger and heavier, at 10 millimeters thick and 79 grams, but it also lasts significantly longer. You get up to 60 hours of illumination on low and four hours on high. That’s up from just 40 hours on low and 3.5 hours on high with the Headlamp 330. The 425 is also quite a bit brighter – hitting 425 lumens as the name suggests.

The rear battery pack now has a red light on it, with both solid and strobe modes, so that your father’s hiking companions can easily spot him if it starts to get dark. And Biolite has finally ditched MicroUSB for USB-C. All the same basic features and modes are still here that you’d expect on any decent headlamp too, including spot, flood and strobe modes, plus eye-sight-saving red light.

Sea to Summit X-Mug

I love my old-school enameled steel camp mug. It’s indestructible and has an undeniable classic look. But, it also conducts heat like nobody’s business. I’ve burned my hands and lips on enough white hot cups of instant coffee to know they’re just not that practical. Sea to Summit’s X-Mug with cool grip promises to protect your little fingies from your boiling hot beverage. Plus, it collapses into a neat little puck for easy storage. Admittedly, I have not tried the Cool Grip model yet, but I’ve been using the company’s collapsible bowl for over a decade. And my hiking buddy uses the regular X-Mug, so I’m pretty confident in recommending Sea to Summit’s gear.

Therm-a-rest NeoAir XLite

I skipped a sleeping pad on my first backpacking trip. I regretted it immediately. Therm-a-Rest pads are the industry standard. And the NeoAir XLite is pretty much smack in the middle of their backpacking lineup. It’s not the lightest or the warmest, but it’s probably the most versatile. The R-value (a measurement of insulating power) of 4.2 is good enough for three-season camping. And it packs down to about the size of a water bottle. This particular model has been around for a long time, and it will probably continue to be a staple of Therm-a-Rest’s lineup for years to come.

Garmin Enduro

Full disclosure: I haven’t tested the Enduro. Nor has anyone else at Engadget. But, we’re big enough fans of Garmin’s sports watches to feel comfortable recommending it. But why pick this particular one? Simple: battery life. Garmin says it lasts up to 80 hours in GPS mode, which is frankly absurd. If your dad likes to quantify everything in his life, including multi-day hikes, this is a pretty great way to do it. It not only has a giant battery, but also a built-in solar charger. Plus VO2 max estimates for trail runners, heat and altitude acclimation tools for the parent that’s into mountain climbing or desert hiking, and even navigation features to keep him from getting lost. And, once he’s found his way back to civilization he can snag a coffee at Starbucks using Garmin Pay.

Sawyer Squeeze water filter

More than even food or shelter, water is essential on the trail. But, dad can’t just go drinking from streams and ponds, nor can he carry enough with him for a multi-day trip. That’s where the Sawyer Squeeze filter comes in handy. There are tons of different ways to purify water, from old-school iodine tablets to boiling to pump filters. But a squeeze filter system is often the fastest and easiest to use. Sawyer’s are probably the best known for good reason — you can fill up the pouch and drink straight from the filter or use the to fill up a reservoir or water bottle. They’re not ideal for places where dad might be reduced to getting water out of shallow muddy springs or where viral pathogens are a concern. But they’re perfect for more developed and regularly trafficked trails.

Ultralite PackTowel

Your dad will need a towel on the trail. Trust me. Maybe he’ll be lucky enough to find a shower. Or perhaps he’ll go for a dip in a lake. Or, maybe like me, he just sweats enough to drown a small animal. Regardless, an Ultralite PackTowl is an absolute must-have. They’re incredibly small and lightweight, yet seem to have unlimited absorption power. I’m pretty sure they’re actually a portal to another dimension where the water is stored. I have two that I take with me on every trip: one body-sized and the other a face towel that stays clipped to my shoulder strap for when I need to mop my brow.

Snow Peak Titanium Spork

This should go without saying, but your dad needs a utensil to eat. Yes, even on the trail. And there’s nothing better than a good old fashioned spork to save space and weight. I’m a big fan of this titanium model from Snow Peak. The company makes a ton of great gear, but this simple and indestructible essential is probably my favorite. Plus, it comes in a handful of fun shades like blue, green and purple in case your dad is known for his colorful personality.

Aeropress Go

If your dad would prefer to burn his lips on real coffee, consider getting him an Aeropress for his adventures. This is, admittedly, a luxury when you’re backpacking. But, I’ve tried instant coffee, coffee “tea” bags, mesh coffee steeping contraptions, camping french presses and honestly, nothing makes better coffee with less cleanup than an Aeropress. You could go for the full-size model, but the Go version shaves off a few precious ounces, which could be crucial when trying to cut weight for a long trip. But, I actually bring the full-size version when I hit the trail and have had no problems.

Goal Zero Lighthouse 600

Not every dad wants to strap three days worth of gear to his back and walk off into the woods. Some are perfectly content driving up to a campsite, pitching a tent and building a fire. For them the Lighthouse 600 is a great gift. It is, first and foremost, an LED lantern perfect for food prep, reading or even playing cards around camp. But, he can also use its 5200mAh battery to charge his phone or headlamp. And, if he does happen to sap all its juice it has a hand crank for recharging through manual labor, and an optional solar panel.

Joby GripTight Action Kit

Obviously, part of the reason dad disappears into the wilderness is to escape from technology and enjoy nature. But I’m sure he wants to capture at least some of it for posterity. Dragging a DSLR or even a mirrorless camera into the woods is overkill, especially when he’s probably got a pretty good camera with him already: his cellphone. Joby’s unique GorillaPod tripods are perfect for the outdoors. And the affordable Action Kit is pretty flexible. It comes with a Bluetooth remote, it can hold most phones or even a GoPro camera, and it has a cold shoe adapter for a light or microphone.

Lodge Cast Iron Cook-it-All

Look, if he’s driving up to the campsite anyway, there’s no need to fight with alarmingly thin steel pans or tiny fuel canister stoves. The 14-inch cast iron Cook-it-All from Lodge is the perfect campfire companion. It can be a dutch oven, a griddle or a skillet. You can even bake a pizza inside it. ( I’ll admit, though, that I’ve never considered baking a pizza while camping.) Cast iron is heavy and bulky, but it’s also damn near indestructible and holds on to heat for a long time, which is good when you’re dealing with a finicky campfire. Plus, if seasoned properly and treated with care, cast iron is reasonably nonstick. So, dad might even be able to make some sunny-side-up eggs for breakfast.

Helinox Chair Zero

Had you asked me ten years ago, I’d have said there’s no way I would drag a chair backpacking with me. But, as age (and fatherhood) have started to catch up with me, I’m ready to at least consider giving my poor broken body some respite while I’m on the trail. There are a few lightweight and packable options out there, but the Helinox Chair Zero is the most highly recommended, and it’s easy to see why. It’s durable, reasonably comfortable, not to mention ridiculously small and light.

At just one pound for the Zero and one pound, seven ounces for the Zero L, it’s one of the few chairs – and I mean actual chairs, not one of those foam mats you put on the ground – that someone would want to take on a multiday hike. They also pack down small enough that your dad might not mind sacrificing valuable pack space to them. The Chair Zero fits in a stuff sack just 13.8 x 3.9 x 3.9 inches, while the L is a little larger at 14 x 4.5 x 4 inches. The difference between the two is that the L is wider and taller and can support up to 320 pounds for big and tall types.

Gear Aid Medium-Duty 325 Paracord

Paracord is one of the most useful things dad can bring on any camping trip, whether it’s from the comfort of a car or thru hiking the Appalachian. The medium-duty stuff is good enough for tying down tents, hanging food bags or replacing boot laces. It can even be split open and the inner threads used as a fishing line, but hopefully your father never finds themselves in a situation that desperate. This isn’t a flashy gift, but it might get more use than anything else on this list.

Tribit StormBox Micro 2

One of our favorite portable Bluetooth speakers makes an excellent camping companion. The StormBox Micro 2’s twelve-hour battery should be more than enough for casually unwinding around a fire after a day of hiking. And its IP67 rating means it should be able to take a solid beating without giving up the ghost. Add to that a strap that makes it easy to clip to a backpack or just hang from a nail in a lean-to and the ability to act as a battery bank in case you need to top up your phone in an emergency, and this is a versatile little speaker for dad to keep in their hiking bag. The sound isn’t going to blow anyone away, but it’s good enough, especially at just $60.

BackpacksOsprey Aura 65 backpackEngadget

Last year we recommended Osprey’s Atmos AG 65 for anyone looking to be as comfortable as possible while backpacking. This year, we’re doing the same, just with some updated Osprey designs. The Atmos has been given a minor face lift, but the bigger deal is that it’s now made with 100-percent recycled materials. You still get an integrated rain cover, Anti-Gravity suspension and fit-on-the-fly adjustment system. It’s just now more eco friendly.

As part of the redesign, the capacity has been increased to better reflect the pack’s name. Before, if you bought the Atmos 65 in a small, you actually only got 62 liters of storage. Now the small is a full 65 liters. The one downside is that the new materials and carrying capacity have led to a slight increase in weight too, with the S/M Atmos AG 65 coming in at four pounds, 10 ounces.

The women’s equivalent of the Atmos is the Aura AG 65, which is slightly smaller and lighter, but has the same suspension system and similar lugging capacity. And if you’re on a tight budget this year, you can still find the older model available in some places at a steep discount.

TentsColeman Skydome 6Coleman

Obviously, one of the most important pieces of camping equipment is a tent. Not everyone’s dad wants to spend their nights in a lean-to. But their needs will dictate what kind of tent to buy. If your giftee is an avid backpacker who needs something ultra light to take on the trail, I heartily recommend Big Agnes’ Tiger Wall UL 2. It’s not their lightest offering, but it strikes a great balance between weight and convenience. It can sleep two, and has two vestibules for stowing gear, but as a single person tent it’s borderline luxurious. Even with the optional footprint (which I highly recommend for any tent), the pack weight weighs under three pounds, and the mtnGLO light system means no fussing with a lantern or headlamp to read and sort gear after dark.

If unabashed luxury is more your dad’s thing, consider REI’s Wonderland 6. At $599, this is no casual investment, but it should last quite some time. The walls are nearly vertical and it reaches a height of six and a half feet in the middle, meaning all but the tallest of humans should be able to stand upright inside. The 83-square feet of floor space is plenty of room for a family of six to sleep in, and it has large ventilation windows to keep the inside cool during the hottest months. The one caveat is that, if you happen to do most of your camping in rainy environments, you might want to shop around for something with fewer windows and better rainfly coverage.

Neither the Wonderland, nor the Tiger Wall are cheap. So if budget is an important factor, or if dad is just looking to dabble in the world of car camping, consider the Coleman Skydome 6. Coleman gear is nothing fancy. You can find it in practically any Walmart or Dick’s Sporting Goods across the country. But it’s so ubiquitous because of its rock solid reliability and reasonable prices. The Skydome 6 is nearly the same size as the Wonderland, but comes in at just $130 (or $199 if you opt for the Darkroom model). The ceiling is shorter, and the walls more angled, but if you’re only using the tent to sleep in, that shouldn’t be a major concern.

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The Morning After: Amazon reportedly exploring free cell phone service for Prime subscribers

Engadget - Mon, 2023-06-05 07:15

According to Bloomberg, Amazon is in discussions with multiple US-based phone carriers about offering cheap – around $10 a month – or even free phone service to Prime customers. The company is reportedly negotiating with Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile as well as the Dish Network, though it sounds like talks with AT&T have fallen off in recent weeks.

It'll likely be awhile before you see such an offer – if a deal is struck at all. Bloomberg says talks have been underway for about six to eight weeks. Given how expensive mobile plans can get, especially in the US, this could be a potentially interesting offer for Amazon customers.

If you're not already hooked on a Prime subscription, with its delivery perks, video service, music service, free games and things I’ve already forgotten about, would this convince you to sign up?

– Mat Smith

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Final Cut Pro for the iPad makes a compelling case for a tablet-based studioAnd Logic Pro, too.TMAEngadget

The latest argument for making Apple’s iPad your go-to work machine received a boost when the company revealed its own powerful chips – and put them to work in its tablets. But to push those chips hard, you needed some tough software. Now, with versions of Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro for the iPad, we get audio and video workstations to make your iPad even more versatile. And while it comes with a subscription cost, ($5 a month or $49 a year, each), on the Mac, you’re looking at a $200 one-time purchase for Logic Pro, or $300 for Final Cut Pro. It could be a cost-effective way to get more powerful software in your hands.

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Scientists claim they're the first to transmit space-based solar power to EarthThis appears to be the first-ever successful attempt.

Solar space power is a thing now. We recently reported that Japan’s space agency, JAXA, aims to send solar power to Earth from space by 2025. Now a team of Caltech researchers have accomplished early success in practical experiments last week. Their space-borne prototype, called the Space Solar Power Demonstrator (SSPD-1) collected sunlight, converted it into electricity and beamed it to microwave receivers on a rooftop at Caltech's Pasadena campus.

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Even the cheapest Tesla Model 3 now qualifies for the full $7,500 tax creditThe Model Y, too.

Tesla has updated its website to show the rear-wheel drive Model 3, including long-range and performance options, now qualifies for the full federal tax credit for EVs. You'll also get to enjoy the same amount of savings if you're buying the all-wheel, long-range or performance Model Y. This means you can now get the maximum possible tax credit of $7,500 no matter which model you're getting.

To comply with the Inflation Reduction Act, the US government issued a revised set of guidelines for which electric vehicles qualify for the federal tax credit in March. When these guidelines went into effect on April 18th, vehicles using battery components 50 percent made or assembled in the US qualified for a tax credit of $3,750, but shoppers could only get the full $7,500 credit if their manufacturer sources at least 40 percent of their critical minerals from the US or its free trade partners, which don't include China.

Continue reading.

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Google's Pixel 7 falls to $499 and also offers a $100 Amazon gift card

Engadget - Mon, 2023-06-05 04:02

Google's Pixel 7 is still one of the best value smartphones available and now you can grab one at the lowest prices we've ever seen. Amazon is selling the 128GB Pixel 7 at $200 off for just $499, and throwing in a $100 Amazon gift card, effectively bringing the price down to $399. It's also selling the 256GB Pixel 7 Pro at an all-time low of $699, for a savings of $200 (22 percent) over the regular price. It's all part of a huge Amazon sale on Google Pixel 7 devices, offering discounts on nearly every model, colorway and memory configuration. 

The Pixel 7 offers a lot of refinements over the previous model, making it Google's most polished smartphone to date. It uses the company's own Tensor G2 chip, and while it's not quite as fast as Qualcomm's latest processors, it unlocks some nice AI camera tricks like Super Res Zoom, Photo Unblur and Cinematic Blur features. The 6.3-inch, 90Hz display offers smooth performance, while being small enough to do most things one-handed. It comes with a 50-megapixel main and 12-megapixel ultrawide camera, both among the best in the industry. 

The Pixel 7 Pro, meanwhile, offers 5X telephoto and ultra-wide-angle lens that has a solid macro function. Meanwhile, the 6.7-inch 120Hz display allows for smooth gaming performance. You can also expect modern features like wireless charging, strong water resistance and an improved design.

Best of all for many buyers, both devices offer Google's bloatware-free Android experience with first crack at updates and exclusive features like Clear Calling and a free VPN. The only downside is a slightly laggy fingerprint reader and temperatures that can get a bit warm under load. 

Those aren't the only two models with nice discounts, either. Amazon has slashed prices on nearly every Pixel 7 model as part of a larger sale, including different colors and memory configurations, with and without Amazon gift cards. So if you've been waiting for a deal, now is the time to act. 

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