Tech News Feed

TikTok Deal Faces More Delays Due to US Security Concerns - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-12-07 10:27
Government officials have been slow to reach an agreement with the social media company.

Microsoft Reaches 10-year Deal With Nintendo for Call of Duty

SlashDot - Wed, 2022-12-07 10:22
Microsoft says it has reached a 10-year agreement with Nintendo to make Call of Duty available on Nintendo consoles if the Activision Blizzard acquisition closes. From a report: The deal is similar in length to what Microsoft has offered Sony, and the Xbox maker has also committed to continue to offer new versions of Call of Duty on Steam at the same time they launch on Xbox. The deal is clearly designed to put pressure on Sony to accept a similar offer, just days after Microsoft president Brad Smith said "Sony has emerged as the loudest objector" to Microsoft's proposed $68.7 billion acquisition and that "it's as excited about this deal as Blockbuster was about the rise of Netflix." Microsoft confirmed earlier this week that it had offered Sony a 10-year contract to make each new Call of Duty release available on PlayStation the same day as it launches on Xbox.

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WhatsApp now supports Meta's bitmoji-like avatars

Engadget - Wed, 2022-12-07 10:20

Meta's bitmoji-style 3D avatars have made their way to WhatsApp. As of today, you can use your digital persona either as your profile photo or as part of a 36-sticker pack that mimics popular emoji and actions. If you want to show that you love someone or aren't sure about an idea, you can now use your virtual face instead of a generic icon.

WhatsApp sees avatars both as personalization and as a privacy feature. You can represent yourself in a conversation without having to share a photo that could be misused for stalking or other sinister purposes. The avatar system works across platforms, so the character you create for WhatsApp can be used with Facebook, Instagram or VR spaces like Horizon Worlds.

The expansion to WhatsApp was expected when Meta said it would make its new avatars usable across services. If anything, the feature is overdue. Snapchat, arguably the inspiration for the avatars, has had bitmoji reactions and replies since the start of the year. Even TikTok has avatars you can use in videos. Apple's Messages, meanwhile, has offered "Memoji" for years.

Still, this could be a welcome addition. It should help WhatsApp compete for attention with those other services, of course, but it also promises a more consistent experience whether or not you use Meta's other social platforms. You won't have to give up avatars just because your friends and family depend on WhatsApp, even if they aren't always identical to the ones you use in other apps.

19 Gizmos and Gadgets at Amazon You Didn’t Know You Needed in Your Life - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-12-07 10:17
Whether you're looking for a trinket or two to flesh out your holiday shopping or you're buying for yourself, you won't regret grabbing these knickknacks.

Best Heated Blankets for 2022 - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-12-07 10:00
Cozy up this winter season with the best heated blanket.

Save $90 on Apple's Magic Keyboard and Make the Most of Your iPad Pro or Air - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-12-07 09:51
This sleek keyboard doubles as an adjustable stand and protective case, and right now you can pick one up on sale for $210.

Snag Discounted Prices on Thousands of Chairs at Office Depot - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-12-07 09:45
Who doesn't love a good chair? You'll find everything for your home from office to gaming chairs.

Grab a Shark Robot Vacuum With a 60-Day Self-Emptying Base for Just $350 -- Today Only - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-12-07 09:41
Save $300 and skip the hassle of daily cleaning. This vac can tackle your everyday messes automatically.

VW Begins Much-Anticipated ID 4 Software Upgrade - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-12-07 09:40
The update brings new features and the promise of additional upgrades in the future.

US To Spend $1.5 Billion To Jumpstart Alternatives To Huawei

SlashDot - Wed, 2022-12-07 09:40
The federal government plans to invest $1.5 billion to help spur a standards-based alternative for the gear at the heart of modern cellular networks. From a report: Experts say -- and the government agrees -- that there are economic and national security risks in having such equipment made only by a handful of companies overseas, with the most affordable products coming from China's Huawei. The most likely effort to benefit from the new funding is known as ORAN (Open Radio Access Network), which uses standard computing gear to replace what has been proprietary hardware from companies like Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei. The federal government is kicking off the program with a public comment period, which will run through Jan. 23. Funding for the effort was provided by the Chips and Science Act. The U.S. has largely banned use of Huawei's devices over security concerns amid deepening U.S.-China tensions.

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Feel Your Best With These Discounted Liquid I.V. Hydration Boosters - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-12-07 09:37
These mix-in packets can help improve your hydration, immune system and energy levels, and right now you can snag some for 26% off.

NASA posts high resolution images of Orion's final lunar flyby

Engadget - Wed, 2022-12-07 09:30

Orion just made its final pass around the moon on its way to Earth, and NASA has released some of the spacecraft's best photos so far. Taken by a high-resolution camera (actually a heavily modified GoPro Hero 4) mounted on the tip of Orion's solar arrays, they show the spacecraft rounding the Moon then getting a closeup shot of the far side. 

The photos Orion snapped on its first near pass to the Moon were rather grainy and blown out, likely because they were captured with Orion's Optical Navigation Camera rather than the solar array-mounted GoPros. Other GoPro shots were a touch overexposed, but NASA appears to have nailed the settings with its latest series of shots. 

Space photos were obviously not the primary goal of the Artemis I mission, but they're important for public relations, as NASA learned many moons ago. It was a bit surprising that NASA didn't show some high-resolution closeups of the Moon's surface when it passed by the first time, but better late than never.

Orion's performance so far has been "outstanding," program manager Howard Hu told reporters last week. It launched on November 15th as part of the Artemis 1 mission atop NASA's mighty Space Launch System. Days ago, the craft completed a three and a half minute engine burn (the longest on the trip so far) to set it on course for a splashdown on December 11th.

The next mission, Artemis II, is scheduled in 2024 to carry astronauts on a similar path to Artemis I without landing on the moon. Then, humans will finally set foot on the lunar surface again with Artemis III, slated for launch in 2025. 

Microsoft Teams takes on Facebook groups with community hubs

Engadget - Wed, 2022-12-07 09:15

Microsoft Teams is now useful for organizing more than just your company meetings. Microsoft has introduced a communities feature on Android and iOS that effectively offers an alternative to Facebook groups for more personal uses — think of your softball team, a carpooling group or the local parent-teacher association. You can chat and make video calls, of course, but you can also arrange events, post messages and share documents.

As on Facebook, owners can moderate communities by setting rules and removing people or content. You can create both virtual and real-world events. If someone wants to join, you can invite them through email, phone numbers or scannable QR codes.

Communities in Teams are only available on mobile for now, but Microsoft says they'll reach the desktop "soon" and that you only need the free app. In 2023, Microsoft will offer access to SignUpGenius to help you coordinate fundraisers and other good causes by helping you enlist volunteers and otherwise planning events.

The community hub expansion may seem odd, but it reflects a gradual shift away from Teams' original role as a pure workplace collaboration tool and more as a general-purpose chat and socialization app. It became free for personal use last year, and recently received casual games to help break the ice with colleagues. This newest addition ventures even farther afield — Microsoft isn't really creating a social network, but it is hoping to take over some of those duties.

First Drive: BMW M Mixed Reality M2 Is a Real-World Racing Sim - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-12-07 09:12
By combining a real, power-sliding sports coupe with virtual reality visuals, BMW has created the most realistic racing simulator.

Motional's 'Autonomous' Ride-Hailing Launches on the Uber Network in Las Vegas - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-12-07 09:02
The cars will still have human operators for the time being, but that could change next year.

Amazon's Echo Show 15 now doubles as a Fire TV

Engadget - Wed, 2022-12-07 09:00

Amazon's Echo Show 15 is now useful as a tiny TV. The company has released a promised free update that brings the Fire TV interface to the smart display. As on other devices, you can stream from a range of apps (including Netflix, Prime Video and YouTube) with an on-screen carousel that helps you find content and resume shows. This will be familiar to anyone who's used even a basic Fire TV Stick, but the Echo Show's design offers a few interface twists.

Buy Echo Show 15 bundle at Amazon - $195

You can use Alexa to open apps or stream specific content, and use either a paired Alexa Voice Remote or the controls in the mobile Fire TV app to navigate without smudging the screen. However, there's also a virtual remote on the Echo Show 15 itself. You won't need a separate controller for those apps that don't recognize touch.

The Echo Show 15 normally costs $250, but Amazon is sweetening the deal to mark the Fire TV launch. A new "limited time" bundle includes both the display and an Alexa Voice Remote for $195. Existing Echo Show owners, meanwhile, can buy the remote for $10 ($20 off) through the touchscreen.

As we explained in our review, the Echo Show 15 still isn't for everyone. The camera and speakers are merely so-so, and there's still only a limited range of widgets. With that said, the Fire TV expansion may go a long way toward justifying the design. This may be a viable option for a kitchen or bedroom TV, particularly if you'd also like to see the family calendar or the weather.

Current Mortgage Rates for Dec. 7, 2022: Rates Decline - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-12-07 09:00
Today some important mortgage rates sank, though rates have mostly been on the rise this year. See how the Fed's interest rate hikes could affect your mortgage payments.

Here Are Today's Refinance Rates, Dec. 7, 2022: Rates Dip - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-12-07 09:00
Multiple benchmark refinance rates receded today. If you haven't locked in a rate yet, now's a good time to assess your options.

Give the Gift of Style With a Stitch Fix Gift Card - CNET

CNET News - Wed, 2022-12-07 09:00
Need a last-minute gift idea? This e-gift card is a quick and easy way to send your friends or family a personalized gift they'll love.

Telegram is Auctioning Phone Numbers To Let Users Sign Up To the Service Without Any SIM

SlashDot - Wed, 2022-12-07 09:00
Ivan Mehta, writing for TechCrunch: After putting unique usernames on the auction on the TON blockchain, Telegram is now putting anonymous numbers up for bidding. These numbers could be used to sign up for Telegram without needing any SIM card. Just like the username auction, you can buy these virtual numbers on Fragment, which is a site specially created for Telegram-related auctions. To buy a number, you will have to link your TON wallet (Tonkeeper) to the website. You can buy a random number for as low as 9 toncoins, which is equivalent to roughly $16.50 at the time of writing. Some of the premium virtual numbers -- such as +888-8-888 -- are selling for 31,500 toncoins (~$58,200). Notably, you can only use this number to sign up for Telegram. You can't use it to receive SMS or calls or use it to register for another service.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.